DWS Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June

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DWS Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June Powered By Docstoc
                D A W N W I R E S E R V I C E

             Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June


The DAWN Wire Service (DWS) is a free weekly news-service
from Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, the
daily DAWN. DWS offers news, analysis and features of
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                         C O N T E N T S


+ 23 killed in Landi Kotal explosion
+ Coalition stresses parliament’s supremacy
+ US offer of ‘soft apology’ under consideration
+ TV leaks: veterans’ tips for anchors
+ Taliban link anti-polio drive to cessation of drone
+ PM vows to foil ‘plots against democracy’
+ Quetta police open fire, kill protester
+ Five policemen among eight killed in Kohat blast
+ Bolan land dispute claims eight lives
+ Perera hat-trick inspires Lanka to victory
+ Two police stations, Mepco offices set ablaze: Violent
power protests rock Punjab cities
+ Nayef laid to rest as condolences pour in
+ Allies want govt to exercise restraint
+ Proactive policing in Karachi planned
+ US to allay Pakistan’s concerns over new Afghan forum
+ Taliban praise India for resisting Afghan entanglement
+ Fauzia Wahab passes away
+ Europe has done too little, too late in debt crisis, says
WB chief
+ Five troops injured in Kashmir
+ • Train set on fire in Kamoki • Public and private
property attacked: Disorder in Punjab as riots rage: •
Protester dies as guards of Hamid Yar open fire
+ US, Russia join hands on Pakistan, Afghanistan
+ Four dead, 72 hurt as bomb rips through university bus in
+ PPP exploring various options
+ Aitzaz concludes arguments in crucial PM case
+ Security men arrested in Kashmir for militant links
+ FIA seizes record of Fauzia Wahab’s treatment
+ Saudi officer barred from returning home
+ Election Commission denotifies: Gilani a few hours after
SC verdict: Prime minister is sent packing
+ Gilani loses record of longest-serving Pakistan PM
+ SC verdict accepted despite ‘reservations’: PPP says
party is still on
+ A judicial blow to parliament
+ Power riots subside, except in two small towns: House of
another PML-Q legislator attacked
+ Headmaster shot dead in Quetta
+ US hopes Pakistan will resolve its issues
+ Pakistan, India to find amicable solution to Sir Creek
+ President enhances status of Levies Force
+ Ashura attack planned in Peshawar, alleges Kabul
+ Armed forces’ preparedness reviewed
+ UN asks US to justify use of killer drones
+ PPP lawmakers meet at Presidency: Search for a Gilani-
like loyalist
+ PPP’s likely candidates for PM post
+ Allies ditching PPP to be backed by PML-N
+ NAB asked to probe Arsalan case
+ NA session convened to elect short-term PM
+ Missing persons: SC orders action against agencies
+ Rs49bn deficit budget presented for AJK
+ HRCP laments elected PM’s removal
+ Key Al Qaeda leader held
+ World polio eradication drive faces fund shortfall
+ •Best & worst moments for Shahabuddin •Fazl throws his
cap in the ring •Kaira also files papers: Rental Raja gets
the spot, for now
+ No end to trying times for PPP
+ PPP’s allies share blame for crisis, says Nawaz
+ Procedure for PM’s election
+ ANF’s ambush fells Shahabuddin
+ Peshawar Panj Pir shrine blast kills three
+ Seven die in Balochistan violence
+ Dual national MPs will have access to secrets, warns SC
+ Political crisis won’t affect war on terror, hopes US
+ Coalition rethinks choice for PM
+ Raja elected PM; opposition sneers at olive branch
+ Standing ovation for Gilani at ceremony
+ Only 300 votes polled in house of 342
+ US, Pakistan heading towards collision
+ Kasauti-fame scholar Obaidullah Baig dies
+ Ephedrine case: PHC grants pre-arrest bail to Shahabuddin
+ US complains diplomats being harassed
+ Pakistan hits back
+ Dir post raided by Afghan Militants
+ CJ pulls himself out of bench hearing Bahria Town cases
+ By-poll on Gilani seat on July 19
+ Court orders FIA to continue probe into NICL land scam
+ Kidnapped Security personnel butchered


+ National drama
+   Crime spree
+   Magic wand
+   EU trade concessions
+   Polio vaccination ban
+   Fire safety at hospitals
+   Lawyers’ reactions
+   Mob justice
+   PM’s disqualification
+   Power riots
+   Quetta carnage
+   The way forward
+   Witness protection
+   Critical juncture
+   Gender insensitivity
+   Polio ‘talks’ with Taliban
+   PM election
+   Economic loss
+   Peshawar blast


+   Masters of the (Pakistani) universe
+   Fall from grace
+   The great moguls
+   Give Greece a chance
+   The two judgments
+   The news from Russia
+   A bad movie plot

                   N A T I O N A L N E W S


17, June, 2012


23 killed in Landi Kotal explosion

By Ibrahim Shinwari

LANDI KOTAL, June 16: At least 23 people were killed and 62
others injured in a powerful bomb blast at a taxi stand in
Landi Kotal bazaar in Khyber Agency on Saturday.

Adil Khan, a paint shop owner, told Dawn that he saw a man
parking his double-cabin passenger pick-up truck outside a
bakery near the stand. “The moment that person entered the
bakery, we heard a deafening bang,” he said, adding he saw
human flesh scattered all over the place.

Khasadar and Khyber Rifles cordoned off the place as
shopkeepers pulled down shutters in panic. Khalilullah, a
witness, said he heard a huge blast while he was at work in
his shop in the Kacharo Kusa Street. “I saw a thick column
of smoke engulf the place soon after the explosion.”

The blast caused a huge fire as two gas cylinders in the
bakery also exploded.

Amjad khan, a Khasadar official, said several shops and
vehicles were damaged and the task of retrieving the dead
and injured was hampered by the raging fire.

Landi Kotal Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Nazir
Wazir said the army, Khyber Rifles, ICRC, Al Khidmat
Foundation and Jamrud Civil hospital had helped shift the
bodies and injured.

He said of the 62 injured who were brought to the Agency
Headquarters Hospital (AHQ), 34 were referred to Hayatabad
Medical Complex in Peshawar, 11 admitted and the rest
allowed to leave after first aid.

“We counted 19 bodies in the AHQ hospital, while another
four succumbed to injuries in the Peshawar hospital,” he
said. “Most of the dead and injured had head injuries,” he

The dead included two students of a school, while two other
students of the same school were injured.
Landi Kotal Assistant Political Agent Khalid Mumtaz Kundi
said four bodies were charred beyond recognition . “Almost
all the dead were ordinary people and mostly belonged to
poor families,” he said.


17, June, 2012


Coalition stresses parliament’s supremacy


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 16: Leaders of the ruling coalition sat
together on Saturday to review the political situation and
discuss options to deal with any possible adverse decision
from the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing various
petitions challenging the National Assembly speaker’s
ruling on the issue of the prime minister’s

A handout issued by the presidency after the late-night
meeting said the coalition partners had “reiterated resolve
to uphold supremacy of parliament as envisaged in the
Constitution”, indicating that the government was ready for
a fight to the finish on the issue of the prime minister’s
disqualification in the wake of his April 26 conviction by
the apex court on charges of contempt for not writing a
letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a money
laundering case against PPP co-chairman and President Asif
Ali Zardari.

A source told Dawn that Law Minister Farooq Naek had been
specially invited to the meeting presided over jointly by
President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to
brief the participants on possible outcomes of the hearing
of the petitions.
The meeting was attended by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and
Mushahid Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, Haji
Muhammad Adeel and Zahid Khan of Awami National Party,
Babar Ghouri and Haider Abbas Rizvi of the Muttahida Qaumi
Movement and Senator Abbas Khan Afridi and Munir Khan
Orakzai from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(Fata). PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah and the president’s
spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present.

Briefing reporters about the meeting, the spokesman said it
praised a resolution passed by the National Assembly
endorsing the decision of the speaker against sending a
reference to the Election Commission under Article 63(2) of
the Constitution for the disqualification of the prime
minister. It said the speaker represented the dignity of
the house.

The meeting called for an expeditious and impartial inquiry
into the case involving Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar
in accordance with the Supreme Court’s verdict.

The meeting rejected notions of any conspiracy involving
the government in the case and termed such reports as
baseless and unfounded.


17, June, 2012


US offer of ‘soft apology’ under consideration


By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, June 16: Pakistan, weighing the latest US offer
of a soft apology for death of 24 troops in the Salala
attack last year, is staring at a fast closing window on
prospects of a rapprochement with Washington.

A senior western diplomat disclosed that the US offer on
the apology issue had been communicated to Islamabad.
“The ball is once again in Pakistan’s court,” said the
diplomat, who was cautiously optimistic about an impending
breakthrough because of the domestic context in both

Details of the US offer weren’t available, but it could be
easily made out from background discussions with some well-
informed sources that the apology to be tendered at a lower
level would be mild in language.

The offer has coincided with some positive vibes from
Washington. Senators Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the
powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, and McCain – two
influential voices on the Hill – have urged the Obama
administration to move forward in relationship with

The bipartisan Congressional advice helped White House ease
its tough stance on apology. Furthermore, the disclosure
that the US was losing $100 million every month because of
suspended supply routes, analysts say, may have been
designed to minimise the political cost of an apology for
the Obama presidential campaign.

The move has also got the backing of some European friends.

“The Americans have showed a lot of flexibility,” a
Pakistani official, who was aware of the latest offer,

Contrary to expectations in Islamabad of getting a package
deal involving apology, cessation of drone attacks,
assurance against a repeat of Salala-like attack and
reimbursement of Coalition Support Fund, the offer is just
about a toned down apology. Separately, there has been some
movement on CSF repayments also.

“A package deal seems to be attractive, but may not be
happening,” a US diplomat noted.

The Friday night huddle at the Presidency in Islamabad
looked into the offer with a caution from one of the
government’s top advisers that the time for a decision on
the latest offer would not be much long.

The previous lost offer of apology weighed heavily on minds
of the participants as they decided on expanding their
consultations on the issue by convening the top national
security coordination forum — Defence Committee of the
Cabinet — that would also finally decide the matter. The
date for the DCC meeting is being discussed. It was to meet
on June 11, but was put off because there was no settlement
in sight.

The apology, if accepted, may provide a space for the
government to move forward towards the new normal with the
US by providing the right face-saver in the form of
acceptance of one of the parliamentary demands made through
a joint resolution on new terms of engagement with the US.

The immediate quid pro quo from Islamabad will be reopening
of the transit routes suspended since November last year.
Pakistani and American negotiators have been discussing a
new agreement on the routes for almost a month and are said
to have settled on most of the issues before Washington
pulled back its team last week.

In private discussions, American diplomats had then blamed
Pakistan for scuttling the Nato route deal by renewing the
demand for apology.

The biggest challenge in the way of getting the soft
version of apology accepted by Pakistan will be to persuade
the military to give its consent. The army was ready to
accept the offer of an unconditional apology in February,
which was on that occasion fumbled by the political
leadership. But it may not be very keen about the milder
version. The top brass, however, is also said to be mindful
that relations with the United States stand at a critical

The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Khalid
Shameem Wynne, said on Friday: “We will accept no pressure
for standing up for our principles.”

His comments at the graduation ceremony of National
Security and War Course at the National Defence University,
which was attended by senior military officials, came
shortly after the US offer was conveyed to the Pakistani

17, June, 2012


TV leaks: veterans’ tips for anchors


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, June 16: The leaked video footage of two TV
anchors featuring their controversial conversation with
property tycoon Malik Riaz has not only put credibility of
journalists under a cloud, but also raised a question why
cameras and recording devices remain operational during
commercial breaks and informal discussions in TV

Background interviews with a number of TV hosts, producers
and technicians working in different organisations showed
that such pilferages and thefts can easily be avoided by
adopting certain checks in studios and following the
available SOP (standard operating procedure).

Renowned TV anchor Syed Talat Hussain told Dawn that he had
made it a practice in very early days of his career to mute
audio and block visuals to the main control room from the
studio during commercial breaks and informal sittings.

“I have been doing this since long. I became more careful
after Dr Amir Liaquat’s episode,” he said, referring to the
leaked footage of the host of a popular religious programme
showing him using slang and objectionable language while
talking to his guests and other staff in the studio during
unguarded moments.

Mr Hussain was of the opinion that such embarrassing
pilferages could be checked by adopting the SOP for media
organisations all over the world.

Sabir Shakir, the bureau chief of ARY News in Islamabad,
endorsed Mr Hussain’s viewpoint, but said it would be
impossible to stop video theft if someone from within the
organisation decided to violate the procedure.
Moreover, Mr Shakir claimed, it was very easy to grab the
transmission of a TV channel by an individual or any other
organisation if they had specified equipment.

He explained that most of the talk shows and other
programmes involving politicians, lawyers, news analysts
and other experts on current affairs were conducted in
Islamabad, being the capital seat, but shows were telecast
and recorded at the main control room in Karachi or Lahore,
where head offices of most of the channels were situated.

The audio-video beam from the studios, he said, was sent
directly to the central control room via satellite through
an allocated frequency which was known to even a junior
technician working in a channel.

Giving an example, he said it was a routine practice that
the state-run Pakistan Television informed other private
channels about their frequency address so that they could
get the “clean feed” of any function for onward live
telecast with their own logos.

He was of the opinion that the leaked video of the
exclusive interview of the property tycoon on Dunya TV
showing the two anchorpersons -- Mubashar Lucman and Mehr
Bokhari -- exchanging highly incriminating remarks with
Malik Riaz had been the work of an outsider.

Nadeem Ihsan, a senior manager technical (operations) in a
news channel, said according to the SOP for live shows, the
audio should be muted and the source should be changed from
cameras during commercial breaks. He said his organisation
had strictly been observing the SOP, but regretted that
generally people working for TV channels did not care about

Editor (North) DawnNews Mubashar Zaidi said everyone was
now talking about the need for observing the code of
conduct without knowing that no such code was available.

The director news of a private TV channel said that after
the release of the footage his management had directed
studio crew to adopt certain special measures to avoid such
incidents as it could cause embarrassment not only for the
channel but also for the guests. Despite repeated attempts,
no-one from the Dunya TV management agreed to speak on the
issue on record.
However, the channel issued an official handout saying:
“The management of Dunya TV regrets to admit a serious
breach of its security protocols which resulted in theft of
its ‘off-air’ footage by elements who wanted to scandalise
both the judiciary and the media.

“Dunya TV has lodged an FIR against the theft of its ‘off-
air’ footage. Dunya TV will be extending full cooperation
to the two-member inquiry committee formed by the Supreme
Court to unearth the facts of a well-planned conspiracy
against the judiciary and the media.

“It must be noted that Dunya TV did not air any ‘off-air’
footage of its recording which was stolen by unknown
conspirators and leaked on the internet the same way social
media has been used to malign the honourable Supreme Court.

“The management of Dunya TV did not prompt any of the two
anchors to ask any particular question at any stage during
the transmission in question. It must be noted that the
management of Dunya TV facilitates its editorial staff to
the maximum, even at the expense of commercials, in special
transmissions as has been happening in the past.

“We have also launched an internal investigation into the
unfortunate incident and action will be taken against
anyone found involved in facilitating the conspirators from
within the organisation.”


17, June, 2012


Taliban link anti-polio drive to cessation of drone attacks


By Pazir Gul

MIRAMSHAH, June 16: The Taliban have linked the anti-polio
campaign in North Waziristan to cessation of US drone
“After consultation with the Taliban Shura, servant of
Mujahideen in North Waziristan Agency Hafiz Gul Bahadur has
decided that there will be a ban on polio campaign as long
as drone strikes are not stopped,” said a press release
issued on Saturday.

Officials said the warning would deprive about 140,000
children of anti-polio drops in North Waziristan, which had
already been declared a high-risk area for the crippling

“This warning is a serious blow to the anti-polio drive in
the volatile area where the situation is already not
encouraging,” a member of an international group working
for eliminating polio from the region told Dawn in

Sources said residents of 17 villages had already boycotted
the anti-polio drive in North Waziristan and people in
Derpakhel Sarai area, near Miramshah, had snatched kits
from health workers and destroyed vaccines.

“What will be the benefit of such well-wishers who, on the
one hand, are spending billions of rupees on eradication of
polio and, on the other, they (Americans) in connivance
with their slave (Pakistan) are carrying out drone
attacks,” the Taliban Shura said.

The US has intensified drone attacks on suspected targets
in North and South Waziristan and claimed to have killed Al
Qaeda number two Abu Yahya al Libi in a strike on a
compound near Mirali early this month. Gul Bahadur argued
in his statement that polio affected one person in millions
while drone strikes killed a large number of innocent
women, children and elders. The attacks, he added, had made
people mentally sick, a problem more dangerous than even

Another risk involved in anti-polio drives, the statement
said, was that the US could use such campaigns for spying.
It cited the case of Dr Shakeel Afridi who was accused of
running a fake vaccination campaign for the CIA in
Abbottabad to collect DNA samples of members of Osama bin
Laden’s family.

17, June, 2012


PM vows to foil ‘plots against democracy’


By Jamal Hoti

MARDAN, June 16: With the support of the masses, the PPP-
led government would foil all conspiracies being hatched
against the democratic dispensation in the country, Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday.

Addressing a public meeting here, the prime minister said
his party had rendered great sacrifices for the restoration
of democracy in the country. “That’s why we will not let
anyone derail democracy,” he remarked.

Mr Gilani said that several conspiracies had been hatched
against the PPP since the party came into power in 2008.
However, all of them were foiled with the help of the

Some politicians had accused the PPP of disrespecting
national institutions, he said. “But the fact remains that
it was only the PPP which was fighting for strengthening
these institutions when important people were fleeing to
Saudi Arabia.”

The PPP-led coalition gave the people of the province known
formerly as the NWFP their identity, by renaming it as
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the prime minister.

He praised the people of Mardan for providing food and
shelter to the people displaced by conflicts in Swat and
Buner districts.

Earlier, Mr Gilani inaugurated several development schemes,
including two for supply of natural gas and one road

APP adds: Speaking at the passing-out ceremony for the
participants of the 39th Common Training Programme at the
Civil Services Academy in Lahore, the prime minister said
his government had largely been successful in forging a
culture of political harmony and accommodation.

“Our mission for achieving consensus on all issues of
national interest will continue despite differences, which
are normal for a democratic dispensation,” he remarked.

He said that despite a global recession, two devastating
floods and other challenges faced by the country, the PPP-
led government made remarkable progress on several fronts.

“The federation has been strengthened by restoration of the
1973 Constitution.

“The adoption of the 18th, 19th and 20th constitutional
amendments has brought parliamentary democracy back. And
the provinces have been empowered in the real sense through
greater provincial autonomy and devolution of powers to

Mr Gilani said his government was aware of the aspirations
of the people of southern Punjab and was committed to their
cause. “We are working on ways and means to turn the
people’s demand into reality.”

Terming his government’s energy policy a failure would be a
grave mistake, he claimed. “So far, we have added 3,400MW
electricity to the national grid. The present government
initiated a number of projects on short-, medium- and long-
term basis. “These include Thar coal project, Diamer-
Bhasha, Dasu, Bunji and Munda dams, Neelum-Jhelum
hydropower project and Tarbela extension project.

“We are pursuing the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, CASA-100
and TAPI gas pipeline projects as well,” he said.

The prime minister said that upon completion of the
projects Pakistan would not only be self-sufficient in
energy resources but would also be in a position to export

On the occasion, Mr Gilani also announced plans to build a
new auditorium at the academy.

17, June, 2012


Quetta police open fire, kill protester


QUETTA, June 16: A mob attacked a police station near here
on Saturday, demanding that a man detained for allegedly
desecrating the holy Quran be handed over, leaving one
person dead and 19 others injured.

Violence erupted after police arrested a “mentally
retarded” man said to have burnt pages of the holy book in
Kuchlak, about 16km north of Quetta, senior administration
official Qambar Dashti said.

“Angry protesters, mostly Afghan refugees, torched several
vehicles and pelted police with stones,” Mr Dashti said.

“Chanting that the man should be killed for blasphemy, they
later entered the police station and started firing,” he
said, adding that a senior police officer narrowly escaped
while his guard was wounded in the shooting.

Police fired tear gas shells and opened fire in self-
defence, Quetta police chief Qazi Wajid said.

The clash left one protester dead and 19 people injured
including eight policemen, he said. “All the wounded people
have bullet injuries,” he added.

The protesters said the man deserved death for blasphemy
and demanded police hand him over to them, he said.

“The man appeared to be mentally retarded, we have taken
him into custody and ordered an investigation,” Mr Wajid
said, adding that the situation had been brought under


17, June, 2012

Five policemen among eight killed in Kohat blast


By Abdul Sami Paracha

KOHAT, June 16: Eight people, five of them personnel of
elite police force, were killed and six others injured when
a bomb went off near a police van in Dhoda area on

A police official said that about 10kg of explosives was
used in the bomb.

The terrorists detonated the bomb with remote control when
the van passed through the area.

The area where the incident took place is in control of the
people who have come from Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency,
Hangu and Darra Adamkhel and settled there permanently.

Three passers-by also died in the blast while all the
injured were policemen.

The slain policemen were identified as Constables Tasawwur
Hussain, Naqeebullah, Hafiz Qaiser and Faheem.

The names of the three dead civilians could not be
confirmed till late in the night. The station house officer
of the Riaz Khan Shaheed police, Omer Hayat, Gul Janan and
Sepoys Sabir, Adil Badshah, Muhammad Zubair and Faheem were
injured and taken to the divisional headquarters hospital.

The administration declared a state of emergency in


17, June, 2012

Bolan land dispute claims eight lives


By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, June 16: Eight people were killed and

four others injured when rival groups clashed over a piece
of land in Hafat Wali area of Bolan district on Saturday.

Levies Force sources said two groups of Rind tribe took
positions and attacked each other with heavy weapons.

“Eight people lost their lives in the gunbattle,” a senior
official of Levies Force said, adding that AK-47 rifles,
rockets and machineguns were used in the


The injured were taken to a hospital in Sibi.

Firing continued for several hours before personnel of the
Levies Force and Balochistan Constabulary brought the
situation under control.

The cause of the fighting was said to be a land dispute
between the two groups.

Those who died were identified as Mir Majeed Khan, Mohammad
Omer, Qayyum Bakhsh, Mir Bakhsh, Mohammad Yousuf,
Sanaullah, Mohammad Javed and Sheral.


17, June, 2012


Perera hat-trick inspires Lanka to victory

COLOMBO, June 16: All-rounder Thisara Perera registered a
rare hat-trick to lead Sri Lanka to an unlikely 44-run win
over Pakistan in the fourth one-day international on

The visitors chasing 244 for victory were cruising at 166
for two in the 38th over, only to collapse to 199 all out
as Sri Lanka took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. The
third game had been ruined by bad weather.

Saturday’s turnaround came in the 41st over when Perera had
Younus Khan caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara for one,
Shahid Afridi snapped up by Dinesh Chandimal at short cover
for a duck and Sarfraz Ahmed caught by Mahela Jayawardene
at slip.

Perera ended with figures of four for 42 to take his second
successive man of the match award.

Pakistan’s scoreboard made sorry reading as six of the
batsmen were dismissed without scoring.

The only redeeming feature was the partnership of 113 for
the third wicket between Azhar Ali (81 not out) and Misbah-
ul-Haq (57). —Reuters


18, June, 2012


Two police stations, Mepco offices set ablaze: Violent
power protests rock Punjab cities


Dawn Report

LAHORE, June 17: An unprecedented power shortage touching
almost 70 per cent of the demand and the resulting outages
and loadshedding triggered violent protests across Punjab
on Sunday with angry people setting on fire public
property, including police stations, and blocking roads and
railway lines.

A number of cities witnessed violent protests when power
outages stretching up to 22 hours forced people to take to
the street. In some cities, including Lahore,
demonstrations were led by PML-N leaders and supporters.

In Chichawatni, protesters set ablaze two police stations,
Mepco’s offices, vehicles and motorcycles and attacked the
residence and election office of a PPP MNA.

Reports said that an unruly mob was almost in control of
Chichawatni for eight hours with police remaining silent

In Khanewal, protesters ransacked Mepco offices, residences
and factories owned by politicians, damaged vehicles and
clashed with police.

There were massive protests in Gujranwala where enraged
people blocked the Railway Line, GT Road, set ablaze tyres
and smashed windows of a bus and an ambulance. The
protesters also did not allow a PML-N MNA to take part in
their rally.

In Toba Tek Singh, protesters blocked the rail track for
about two hours. In Kamalia, people pelted private vehicles
with stones and blocked the Kamalia-Chichawatni Road for
two hours.

In Faisalabad, dozens of people pelted police with stones
on Samundri

Road during a demonstration against power outages. Police
used teargas to disperse them.

The protesters, most of them power loom workers, converged
on the Samundri Road and blocked the thoroughfare for more
than two hours by placing burning tyres on the road.

According to the power planners, the generation dropped to
a paltry 9,400MW against the total demand of 17,400MW. But
of the 9,400MW, 600MW was diverted to the Karachi
Electricity Supply Company (KESC).
Another 600MW went to transmission losses, bringing
supplies for the common man down to only 8,200MW. Of that,
around 2,200MW was supplied to 184 feeders which were
exempted from loadshedding and to the industry where
loadshedding was limited to only six hours. It left only
6,000MW for general supplies against a demand of 17,400MW.

Power plants which are out of operation because of the fuel
supply crisis include Orient Power (213MW), Halmore
(207MW), Saif (210MW), AES Lal Pir and Pak-Gen (700MW) and
Saphire (209MW). Hubco is producing 300MW less than its
capacity and Kapco only 876MW against its capacity of
1,350MW. It is a simple fuel crisis.

“No-one really knows who is running the power show in the
country,” said an official of the Ministry of Water and

“The cabinet decides that power sector should be getting
207 million cubic feet gas (mmcfd) a day. Both the SNGPL
and the SSGPL refuse to provide gas, claiming that they
don’t have it. How would one know whether the prime
minister is in-charge or MDs of these two companies? The
federal minister (Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar) is new and still
trying to find his feet. The Pepco is officially dissolved
but is still working with an MD in the chair. If there is
no-one in-charge, where should the proverbial buck stop?
And, even dangerously, who should regulate generation and
distribution. The sector has become a rudderless ship, with
things worsening by the day,” the official said.

“The sector collects around Rs1 billion a day in bills,
whereas it needs Rs3 billion for fuel,” a Pepco official

“If distribution companies improve their recoveries, they
can double that amount. Since they are not doing it, it is
a daily loss of Rs2 billion only on account of fuel. Who
can run the sector without this money? All official claims
and shuffling of people around is a survival effort by the
government. Otherwise, everyone in the sector knows the
problem and its depth; it is an existential threat,
spinning out of hand by the day,” he warned.

18, June, 2012


Nayef laid to rest as condolences pour in


By Syed Rashid Husain

MAKKAH, June 17: Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Nayef
bin Abdul Aziz, who passed away on Saturday, was laid to
rest in Makkah’s Al Adl cemetery on Sunday.

King Abdullah, members of the royal family, thousands of
Saudis and expatriates and a large number of dignitaries
from around the world attended the funeral prayer in Masjid
Al Haram.

King Abdullah had arrived in Makkah on Saturday evening to
look into arrangements for the burial of his younger
brother who had also served as interior minister for 37

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accompanied by federal
Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah
and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani
represented Pakistan at the funeral.

Other dignitaries who bade farewell to Prince Nayef
included Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Emir Sheikh
Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah of Kuwait, Abdelkader Bensalah,
Speaker of Algeria’s National Council Speaker, President
Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, President Idriss Deby Itno
of Chad, Sudanese Minister for Defence Abdulrahim Mohammed
Hussein, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian
Authority, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Chairman of the
Supreme Military Council of Egypt and President Sharif
Sheikh Mohammed of Somalia.

Meanwhile, a number of world leaders have sent condolences
to Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari expressed his deep
sorrow and grief and noted that the death of Prince Nayef
was a great loss not only to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
but also to the Muslim world, particularly Pakistan as the
late prince was a strong friend of the country, the Saudi
Press Agency reported.


18, June, 2012


Allies want govt to exercise restraint


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, June 17: Political parties in the ruling
coalition have advised the PPP against adopting a
confrontationist stand at a time when the Supreme Court was
about to take a decision on various petitions challenging
the National Assembly speaker’s ruling on the issue of
prime minister’s disqualification, Dawn has learnt.

Representatives of Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi
Movement, Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Fata told the PPP
that they supported the government in upholding the
supremacy of parliament but believed that exercising
restraint was a better option than going for confrontation.

“We have advised the government to avoid confrontation with
the judiciary on any matter because it could be detrimental
not only to democratic institutions but also to the PPP,”
said a source who was privy to the Saturday night meeting
at the Presidency.

He said there was a consensus at the meeting that an
impartial inquiry into the case involving property tycoon
Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar be carried out in
accordance with the Supreme Court verdict, considering it
as an issue between the two individuals.
Similarly, he said, the PPP had been asked to exercise
restraint and not to take any step that could lead to a
clash between institutions in case the SC issued an adverse
decision on the petitions challenging the speaker’s ruling
on the disqualification issue.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain proposed the setting up of a
commission to investigate the bribery scam involving Malik
Riaz and Dr Arsalan.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, the PML-Q chief
suggested the commission should conduct open proceedings
and there should be no restriction on anyone’s entry.

He regretted that some people had launched a one-sided
propaganda to create an impression that there was a
confrontation between institutions instead of individuals
and, therefore, the early setting up of the commission was

He said that no-one could even think that the matter was
against the Supreme Court or could harm the sanctity of the
apex court.

An official handout issued by Presidential Spokesman
Farhatullah Babar after the Saturday meeting had said the
coalition partners had “reiterated resolve to uphold
supremacy of the parliament as envisaged in the

The announcement, according to some political analysts, is
an indication that the government is set to fight on the
issue of the prime minister’s disqualification in the wake
of his April 26 conviction by the apex court on charges of
contempt for not writing a letter to Swiss authorities to
re-open a money laundering case against President Asif Ali

Besides Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q,
the meeting was attended by Haji Adeel and Zahid Khan of
the ANP, Babar Ghouri and Haider Abbas Rizvi of MQM and
Senator Abbas Khan Afridi and Munir Khan Orakzai of Fata.

The spokesman had said the meeting appreciated the
resolution passed by the National Assembly endorsing the
decision of the speaker against sending a reference to the
election commission for disqualification of the prime

In a related development, some Fata legislators led by
Hameedullah Jan Afridi distanced themselves from all
decisions taken in recent meetings of the coalition
partners with particular reference to the hearing of
different cases by the apex court.

“Our consultation continues and we will announce a
unanimous decision after reaching a conclusion,” Mr Afridi
told Dawn. According to Mr Afridi, the group comprises
Senators Haji Khan Afridi, Hilalur Rehman and Malik Rasheed
Ahmed and MNAs Zafar Baig Bhitani, Bilal Rehman and Kamran

He said that because of the participation of a few Fata
legislators in the coalition meetings it should not be
assumed that Fata was behind the government’s decisions.

“We are not part of current coalition meetings,” he said,
adding that senators and MNAs who had formed the Fata Joint
Parliamentary Group held their own viewpoint and “we have
certain reservations on national issues as well as matters
relating to Fata”.

Mr Afridi complained that members of his group had not been
taken into confidence on various policy decisions and their
concerns had not been properly addressed by the government.

Haji Adeel said his party believed in the supremacy of
parliament and that the speaker’s ruling should be
considered final in the light of the 18th Amendment.

He said the ANP wanted to see all institutions functioning
within the parameters given in the Constitution to avoid
any confrontation.

Mr Babar said the PPP also was not in favour of any
confrontation with the judiciary.

He said endorsing the decision of the speaker against
sending the reference to the election commission for the
prime minister’s disqualification did not mean that the
government wanted to confront the judiciary.
Mr Babar said a meeting of the party’s central executive
committee had already been convened by Co-chairman and
President Zardari on Tuesday to review the situation.


18, June, 2012


Proactive policing in Karachi planned


By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI, June 17: Conceding that there is an anarchy-like
situation in Karachi, Additional Inspector General of the
Crime Investigation Department Ghulam Shabir Shaikh has
promised to introduce proactive policing, especially in the
business districts where extortion-related killings have
been taking place over the past weeks. But he stopped short
of saying that shoot-on-sight orders had been issued.

He was addressing a press conference along with the SSP of
Karachi South.

“On seeing suspicious persons brandishing firearms, police
will act in self-defence,” he said. “Traders will also be
given arms licences to defend themselves.”

He said policemen in civvies would be deployed in business
districts and other public places.

The situation was anarchic as far as law and order was
concerned, he said, adding that a stricter policy would be
pursued by police.

The AIG expressed concern over apprehensions about ‘capital
flight’ from the city and said that although extortion had
been a longstanding problem it was seldom that a person was
killed for refusing to oblige extortionists.
He said police presence in streets should be visible in
order to restore people’s confidence that had been
shattered by killings and violence.

Mr Shaikh said the SSP and his team would visit crime
scenes to take corrective measures. “Passing instructions
on phone while sitting in office will not be enough.”

He said arson attacks had been taking place after crimes
and warned that police would come down hard on arsonists
and make them compensate the losses.

The AIG warned that if a policeman was found to have lodged
a fake case he himself would be booked in the same case.

He said he learnt on Saturday night that the owner of a
licensed wine shop had been booked by police for possessing
charas. “I don’t see any logic in this case and I have
assigned SP Dr Furrukh Ali to conduct an inquiry.”

Replying to a question about alleged involvement of the CID
and other police units in extortion and kidnappings, he
said he had heard such complaints from traders at a meeting
held on Saturday.

He said anyone with a complaint about extortion or
kidnapping by police should contact him directly and he
would take stern action if an official was found involved.

The Additional IG said 13 people had been killed in 24
hours since Saturday. Five of them were incidents of target
killing and three of murder because of enmity. The motive
of the remaining five killings, he said, had not yet been


18, June, 2012


US to allay Pakistan’s concerns over new Afghan forum

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, June 17: A trilateral forum, which brings the
United States and India in a new arrangement with
Afghanistan, is not directed against Pakistan, says a
senior US official.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Robert Blake claims that the main goal of this forum,
announced in Washington this week, was to bring stability
and economic development to war-torn Afghanistan.

“This is certainly not in any way seen as directed against
Pakistan,” said Mr Blake. “On the contrary, it's to talk
about the situation inside Afghanistan but also how we
continue to support Afghanistan.”

Official US sources say that the assurance, given at a news
briefing in Washington, is more than a conciliatory
statement aimed at allaying Pakistan’s fears.

They say that American policy makers genuinely believe that
they need to address Pakistan’s fears on three major
issues: (1) The US is encouraging India to squeeze Pakistan
from both ends, (2) it wants to create an independent
Balochistan, and (3) it has only short-term tactical
interests in Pakistan.

The fears were sparked by recent statements by US Defence
Secretary Leon Panetta and some other officials who
publicly criticised Pakistan for continuing to support the
Haqqani network.

During a visit to New Delhi last week, Mr Panetta
encouraged India to play a greater role in Afghanistan and
the next day he told reporters in Kabul that the US was
running out of patience with Pakistan.

The statements hurt sentiments in Pakistan and some US
media reports also noted that this would isolate a country
which would continue to be important for the United States
even after Americans troops pulled out of the region. But
the first on the record reminder that Mr Panetta had
“overspoken” came from the US Congress where apparently
Pakistan does not have many friends. A top Republican
lawmaker, Senator John McCain, reminded the Obama
administration that encouraging India to take a more active
role in Afghanistan while simultaneously criticising
Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.

But a greater display of camaraderie with Pakistan came
from a senior Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads
the Senate Intelligence Committee. She told a recent
congressional hearing that apologising to Pakistan over the
Salala incident would improve America’s relations with a
key ally.

Senator Feinstein enjoys a key position in the Democratic
Party and is also believed to have close links to the Obama

Diplomatic observers in Washington do not rule out the
possibility that the Obama administration encouraged her to
make that statement to end the deadlock over the Nato
supply routes.

Salala apology

Pakistan closed the routes after the Nov 26 US air raid on
one of its military post in Salala which killed 24
Pakistani soldiers.

Although a US team recently spent six weeks in Islamabad
trying to get the routes reopened, it returned to
Washington last week without achieving that objective.

Secretary Panetta initially said that Pakistan was trying
to “price gouge” the Americans but the Pakistanis rejected
his claim, saying that they were even willing to accept the
previous tariff of $250 a truck if the Americans apologies
over the Salala incident.

This made the Americans realise that the Pakistanis were
serious over the apology and that Washington would have to
come up with a statement that satisfied Islamabad without
hurting the Obama administration in the November elections.

So far, the two sides have discussed three drafts but are
yet to finalise a statement that satisfies both. It is felt
that a magical word that does wonder in mending individual
relations — sorry — could also help defuse tensions between
the US and Pakistan.

While saying ‘sorry’, the Americans would also like to
convince the Pakistanis that their interest in Pakistan is
not tactical and that they want a long-term relationship
with Islamabad.

The US cannot afford to “cut off all relations with
Pakistan because then it could become even more unstable
and we could have even greater challenges since they have a
nuclear inventory, among other things”, as Senator McCain

Policy makers in Washington believe that the Indians will
not send their troops to Afghanistan even if the Americans
want them to. And therefore, the US will have to deal with
Pakistan if it wants long-term stability in Afghanistan.

“This also means that there is no question of squeezing
Pakistan from both sides,” said a US observer. This also
explains why some senior members of President Barack
Obama’s Afghan team are urging the administration to
apologies to Pakistan over the Salala incident.

Balochistan issue

Another issue that can hurt US ties with Pakistan is that
of Balochistan. The Americans are concerned that the
Pakistani people, if not the government, feel that they
want to break up their country by creating an independent

In every meeting that they have with Pakistani journalists,
US officials assure them that “they have no desire to do
so”. Their concern, they say, is confined to human rights
violations, by the army as well as the militants. They want
the Pakistani government to find a political solution to
the issue, which ends the insurgency.

The Americans also say that even India does not want to
help create an independent Balochistan, although they
acknowledge that the Indians do want to “keep the pot
boiling” to stop the Pakistanis from supporting Lashkar-e-
Taiba and other militant groups in Kashmir.
The Americans say they believe that the Pakistani military
also wants to get rid of this group but only after it
overcomes insurgency in Fata.

“It is a question of capacity, not desire. The Pakistanis
feel that they cannot open too many fronts at this stage,”
said an US observer.

Military’s attitude

The Americans say that they also have sensed a change in
the attitude of the Pakistani military over some key
issues. The Pakistani military, they say, is concerned
about the national economy and therefore it understands the
importance of improving ties with India.

The Pakistani military, the Americans say, also seems to
have realised that its search for a strategic depth in
Afghanistan is not helping it and appears willing to
abandon this search.

But at the same time, it wants to retain its influence in
Afghanistan and that’s why it is reluctant to abandon the
Haqqani group.

The Americans want the Pakistanis to know that this is one
issue over which no US administration can compromise
because the Haqqanis are killing American soldiers.

The Americans are urging Pakistanis to at least prevent the
Haqqanis from launching another major attack inside
Afghanistan. “An attack on US targets during the election
season will be a disaster. It will force the Americans to
retaliate,” warned one diplomatic source.


18, June, 2012


Taliban praise India for resisting Afghan entanglement

KABUL, June 17: India has done well to resist US calls for
greater involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban said in a
rare direct comment about one of the strongest opponents of
the militant group that was ousted from power in 2001.

The Taliban also said they won’t let Afghanistan be used as
a base against another country, addressing fears in New
Delhi that Pakistan-based anti-India militants may become
more emboldened if the Taliban return to power.

The Afghan Taliban have longstanding ties to Pakistan and
striking a softer tone towards India could be a sign of a
more independent course.

Direct talks with the United States — which have since been
suspended — and an agreement to open a Taliban office in
Qatar to conduct formal peace talks have been seen as signs
of a more assertive stance.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta this month encouraged
India to take a more active role in Afghanistan as most
foreign combat troops leave in 2014. The Taliban said Mr
Panetta had failed.

“He spent three days in India to transfer the heavy burden
to their shoulders, to find an exit, and to flee from
Afghanistan,” the Taliban said on its English language

“Some reliable media sources said that the Indian
authorities did not pay heed to (US) demands and showed
their reservations, because the Indians know or they should
know that the Americans are grinding their own axe.”

There had been no assurance for the Americans, Taliban
spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters on Sunday.

“It shows that India understands the facts,” he said.

India is one of the biggest donors in Afghanistan, spending
about $2 billion on projects ranging from the construction
of highways to the building of the Afghan parliament. It
has also won an iron ore concession in the $11 billion
But New Delhi has avoided involvement in bolstering Afghan
security, except for running courses for small groups of
Afghan army officers at military institutions in India.

“No doubt that India is a significant country in the
region, but (it) is also worth mentioning that they have
full information about Afghanistan because they know each
other very well in the long history,” the Taliban said.

“They are aware of the Afghan aspirations, creeds and love
for freedom. It is totally illogical they should plunge
their nation into a calamity just for the American

India backed the Northern Alliance during the civil war and
was frozen out of Afghanistan once the Taliban took over in
1996 until their ouster by US-led invading forces. It has
since developed close ties with Kabul, prompting Pakistani
fears of encirclement.

Pakistan has strong traditional links with the Afghan
Taliban and other militant groups. Islamabad denies that it
uses them as proxies to gain leverage in Afghanistan ahead
of any settlement to the war, or in case civil war breaks
out after foreign troops leave.

Vikram Sood, a former chief of India’s intelligence agency,
said the Taliban statement held an implicit warning for

“It’s more a gentle reminder asking India not to mess
around in Afghanistan after the Americans leave,” he told


18, June, 2012


Fauzia Wahab passes away

KARACHI, June 17: Fauzia Wahab, a central leader of
Pakistan People’s Party, who had been fighting for the past
three weeks against complications arising out of successive
surgeries, passed away on Sunday. She was 56.

Her funeral prayer will be held on Monday after Zuhr
prayers at Sultan Masjid in Defence and she will be laid to
rest in the Gizri graveyard.

Ms Wahab, a People’s Party MNA and special secretary at the
presidency, was admitted to the OMI hospital on May 25 for
a gallbladder operation. After two operations she was put
on ventilator for convalescence.

A board of senior doctors comprising Prof Badar Siddiqui,
Prof Tipu Sultan, Prof Shafiqur Rehman and Prof Tasleem
Ahsan was looking after her. On Saturday night, she went
into a coma. She died at around 8pm on Sunday.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and many other
party colleagues visited the hospital a couple of hours
before her death.

Ms Wahab got her initial education in Bonn, Germany, where
her father was posted in the Pakistan Embassy.

She did her BA (Hons) and MA in International Relations
from the University of Karachi.

During her education at the university she was an active
member of the Progressive Students’ Front and was elected
its joint secretary.

In 1978, she married journalist Wahab Siddiqui and they had
four children.

After the death of Mr Siddiqui she remained devoted to her
children. When her children had grown up she married Dr
Athar Hussain, a heart specialist.

She leaves behind her husband, three sons and a daughter
and scores of party comrades to mourn her death.

Ms Wahab started her political career in 1979 when she
contested local bodies election on a PPP ticket.
In 1994, she joined the PPP’s advisory committee in Sindh
as its member and was later given the PPP ticket to contest
election from the National Assembly constituency, NA-193.

In 1998, she was made in charge of the PPP’s human rights
cell. She also served as information secretary of the
party’s Sindh chapter.

Ms Wahab was elected MNA in 2002 on a reserved seat and re-
elected in the 2008 elections.

Ms Wahab was given the post of the party’s information
secretary after Sherry Rehman stepped down from the office
in 2009. She resigned from the office before Qamar Zaman
Kaira was made information secretary.


18, June, 2012


Europe has done too little, too late in debt crisis, says
WB chief


BERLIN, June 17: European leaders dealing with the
sovereign debt crisis have done too little, too late,
outgoing World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said, warning
that Europe risks losing influence and developing nations
now face increasing market uncertainty.

In interviews with European publications this weekend, Mr
Zoellick urged Europe to act quickly. He spoke on the eve
of an election in Greece on Sunday that has financial
markets on a knife-edge.

“European politicians always act a day late and promise one
euro too little. Then, when it gets tight, they add new
liquidity,” Mr Zoellick told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine
in an interview published on Sunday.
While that bought time, it did little to address the euro
zone’s structural problems, Mr Zoellick said.

“It’s no longer so much about which model the Europeans
choose. They should just decide on one. Quickly.”

“If Europe continues to falter, it will lose global
influence. European leaders must be aware of that,” Mr
Zoellick said, adding that Germany should take a leadership
role and keep pushing for fiscal and structural reforms.

He said that while a Greek exit from the euro would have
enormous consequences, Europe should not allow itself to be
held hostage by Athens.

“That feeling of uncertainty should not lead to Europe
giving Greece everything that the government there wants.
If the Greek leadership threatens to leave the euro zone,
then the rest of Europe must have developed a mechanism to
cushion that,” he said.

In a separate interview with Britain’s Observer newspaper,
World Bank President Zoellick warned of the risk of a
“Lehmans moment” if the crisis is not properly handled — a
reference to the bankruptcy of US bank Lehman Brothers in
September 2008 that triggered a global financial slump.

Mr Zoellick steps down as World Bank president on July 1
and will be succeeded by Korean-born US health expert

Jim Yong Kim, who was nominated

by President Barack Obama for the


He told the Observer that developing nations needed to
brace for “uncertainty coming out of the euro zone and the
wider financial markets”.

“Uncertainty in markets is now starting to increase costs
for developing countries,” Mr Zoellick was quoted as
saying. “The ripple effects are making everybody’s life
The euro zone will be on the agenda at a G20 summit from
Monday in Mexico, overshadowed by mounting fears about
Spain and Italy.—Reuters


18, June, 2012


Five troops injured in Kashmir


SRINAGAR, June 17: A hand-grenade has exploded outside a
paramilitary bunker in the disputed region of Kashmir,
injuring at least five Indian soldiers.

Police blamed anti-India militants for the attack on Sunday
in Sopore town. No Kashmiri group has claimed
responsibility, and no suspects have been arrested.

Sopore police Chief Imtiyaz Hussain said one of the wounded
soldiers was in critical condition.—AP


19, June, 2012


• Train set on fire in Kamoki • Public and private property
attacked: Disorder in Punjab as riots rage: • Protester
dies as guards of Hamid Yar open fire


Dawn Report

LAHORE, June 18: With no respite from outages and
loadshedding, power riots spread across Punjab on Monday
and an anarchic situation prevailed in many cities and
towns of the province. Protesters damaged public and
private property, torched a passenger train and blocked
highways. Rail traffic on the Lahore-Pindi section was
suspended after an arson attack on a passenger train in

The worst-affected towns were Gujranwala, Faisalabad,
Khanewal, Kasur, Okara, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Chiniot and Toba
Tek Singh where stick-wielding youths were seen trampling
whatever came their way with police doing almost nothing to
keep the situation under control.

The protests against power outages stretching over 20 hours
started in the morning in several cities and towns
continued till the evening. The situation in Khanewal,
Gujranwala and Kasur remained tense till late night.

A protester died and six others were injured when gunmen of
prime minister’s adviser Hamid Yar Hiraj opened fire in
self-defence in Khanewal. The unruly mob wanted to attack
the residence of the adviser in the town.

Attacking residences of public representatives during the
power riots is a new phenomenon witnessed over the past two
days. On Sunday, protesters had attacked the residences of
a PPP MNA and the Punjab’s Zakat minister in Sahiwal

In Narowal, angry protesters blocked the Shakargarh-
Zafarwal road for more than five hours and attacked the
motorcade of PPP MNA Chaudhry Tariq Anis. The firing caused
a stampede in which three protesters were injured.

In Khanewal, a strike called by local traders closed the
town and a large number of people gathered outside the
house of Mr Hiraj. When the protesters started hurling
stones, the guards deployed at the residence opened fire
and injured seven protesters, one of whom died in hospital.
He was identified as Muhammad Ali, 15.

As the size of the mob surrounding the residence of Mr
Hiraj grew, police used teargas to disperse them.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the national highway near
Khanewal for about six hours and clashed policemen who
tried to restore traffic.
Another group of protesters stopped the Sargodha-bound
Millat Express by lying on the tracks at Khanewal station.
Police used batons and teargas and arrested one protester.
The mob later moved to the city police station and got the
detainee freed. Protesters from various localities and
adjoining villages were continuing to gather outside the
residence of Mr Hiraj till late in the night and a police
contingent was called from Multan and Lodhran to keep the
situation under control.

Three bogies of the passenger train which was set on fire
in Kamoki in Gujranwala district were destroyed. The train
was on way to Sialkot from Lahore. The protesters first
pelted the train with stones, forcing the passengers out,
before setting it on fire. No casualties were reported.

Protesters blocked the GT Road in Gujranwala for over nine
hours. They torched the office of a Gepco executive
engineer and several motorcycles amid teargas shelling by

In Kamoki, protesters also ransacked a police station and
torched the motorcycle of a milkman who suffered serious
burn injuries and was admitted to local DHQ hospital in a
critical condition.

In Faisalabad, a large mob looted a shopping mall and
damaged banks and CNG stations.

The worst-hit was the Jaranwala Road area where more than
2000 stick-wielding protesters attacked and damaged five
banks and three CNG stations. They also looted several
shops. Some policemen and protesters were injured in

Protesters attacked a hotel and damaged a CNG station and a
number of vehicles on the Canal Road.

In Kasur, which has been facing over 20 hours of outages
for several months, highly-charged protesters set ablaze
electricity supply company’s offices, a grid station, a van
and residential quarters of its officials in Kanganpur

In Sahiwal, villagers hit by three days of power blackout
blocked the national highway near Akhterabad bridge.
In Toba Tek Singh, the Business Express train going to
Lahore from Karachi was stopped by hundreds of rioters for
about 45 minutes. They also blocked the Toba-Gojra road for
more than two hours.

In Sargodha, protesters damaged Fesco offices and

In Okara, protesters damaged Lesco offices and blocked
Faisalabad Road.

Being tired of power outages stretching up to 18 hours,
residents of Rawalpindi and adjoining areas also resorted
to violent protests and blocked roads by burning tyers.

Loadshedding made tubewells out of order causing an acute
shortage of water. Traffic on the city’s busiest Benazir
Bhutto Road came to a standstill when angry protesters
blocked it for hours.

In Chakwal, protesters set on fire the main office of the
Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), an old grid
station, the city’s sub-divisional office and a police van
in Odherwal Chowk.

In Attock, an angry mob torched a sub-divisional office of
Iesco and blocked roads.

In Taxila, protesters blocked the main road and pelted
power transformers with stones.


19, June, 2012


US, Russia join hands on Pakistan, Afghanistan


WASHINGTON, June 18: In their first meeting since Vladimir
Putin returned to the presidency, US President Barack Obama
and the Russian leader identified Pakistan and Afghanistan
as one of the issues on which they needed to work together.

The two leaders also noted that “both our nations face
persistent and evolving domestic and transnational
terrorist threats, including from terrorists based in …
Afghanistan, and Pakistan”.

In a joint statement issued by the White House in
Washington, Presidents Obama and Putin also referred to the
presence of “a common threat from Al Qaeda and other
terrorist groups operating in and around Afghanistan”.

In the two-hour Obama-Putin meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico,
Russia also agreed to help the United States deal with the
problems it was facing due to Pakistan’s decision to close
the Nato supply lines to Afghanistan.

“We will explore opportunities to strengthen the Northern
Distribution Network,” the statement said.

The northern network passes through Russia and Central
Asian states. Since Pakistan closed the supply routes more
than six months ago, the US has been increasingly using
this route to supply American and NATO troops in

Besides strengthening the alternative supply routes, the
two countries also agreed to bolster regional security in
Afghanistan’s neighbourhood, and to “expand cooperation as
we fight terrorism and narcotics trafficking, taking
advantage of the capabilities of the Collective Security
Treaty Organisation and the Nato-Russia Council to enhance
law-enforcement training for the region”.

Acknowledging “the global character” of these challenges,
the two countries reaffirmed their readiness for further
joint work to implement the UN’s Global Counter-terrorism
Strategy, the UN Security Council resolutions and
statements on terrorism.—Anwar Iqbal


19, June, 2012

Four dead, 72 hurt as bomb rips through university bus in


By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, June 18: At least four people,   including three
students of the Balochistan University   of Information
Technology, Engineering and Management   Sciences (BUITEMS),
were killed and 72 others injured in a   suicide car bomb
blast that ripped through a university   bus in Jinnah Town
on Monday.

Among the injured were 28 students of the university, five
of them women, four police officials and five children.
They were admitted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH),
where doctors said the condition of at least 10 of them was

A spokesman for the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claimed
responsibility for the bombing.

Police said the explosion took place when two out of three
university-bound buses entered Jinnah Town. Most of the
dead and injured were travelling in one bus.

Two students died on the spot and another in hospital.

Some reports said the attack had claimed five lives.

“Two of the students killed in the blast belonged to
Afghanistan and they were studying at the BUITEMS on
scholarship,” sources said.

Several passers-by, including children, were also injured
in the attack.

The suicide bomber parked an explosives-laden Mini-Pajero
near the entrance to Jinnah Town and detonated it when the
buses were crossing the place.
The powerful blast resounded across the city and damaged
adjoining buildings, including two private schools and the
home of a provincial minister.

“Injured students and passers-by were crying for help, “a
witness, Zulfiqar, said.

After the blast, emergency was declared in all hospitals
and doctors and paramedics were called in, but later all
the injured were taken to the CMH because of lack of
adequate facilities and shortage of medicines in the
Sandeman Civil Hospital.

Mangled pieces of the vehicle used by the bomber flew over
a 500-metre area in Jinnah Town and on Samungli Road.
Pieces of the explosives-laden vehicle and the university
bus also fell on nearby buildings, including houses.

“Limbs of the bomber were found on rooftops of nearby
houses,” police official Sardar Tariq said.

The explosion set off panic and parents rushed to schools
to pick up their children.

Students and government employees were going to their
educational institutions and offices when the attack took

The injured included occupants of huts located near the
place, motorcyclists and rickshaw drivers.

A niece of Balochistan Excise and Taxation Minister Mir
Mohammad Ameen Umrani and his two security guards were
injured and his home was badly damaged. “My niece was
sitting inside my house and the two guards were at the gate
when the bomb exploded,” the minister said.

City police chief Mir Zubair told Dawn that the bus that
had been attacked was coming from Marriabad area of Hazara

A police vehicle escorting the university buses was also
hit and four policemen were injured, he added.

An official of the bomb disposal squad said about 50kg of
explosives was used in the attack and the affected bus was
about 40 metres away when they were detonated. Students in
the other bus remained safe.

The dead were identified as Irfan, Aqil Raza, Shahid and
Abdul Hadi.

The city was rocked by another explosion late in the night
when a bomb placed on a bicycle parked near a petrol
station on the Sariab Road injured four passers-by. They
were taken to the CMH.

Mohammad Farooq was shot dead on Adalat Road, near Quetta
Press Club, by men on a motorcycle when he was going home
after closing his cloth shop.


19, June, 2012


PPP exploring various options


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, June 18: With the Supreme Court likely to
conclude its hearing of petitions challenging the National
Assembly Speaker’s ruling in favour of the prime minister
on Tuesday, the ruling People’s Party is busy exploring
options to deal with any eventuality.

A source in the party told Dawn that over the last couple
of weeks, the leadership has been deliberating on its
response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The PPP official said that in case the apex court
straightway directed the Election Commission of Pakistan
(ECP) to de-notify Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as
member of the National Assembly following his conviction in
the contempt case, “we will definitely be in a bind”.
In that case, the party will have no other option but to go
for Mr Gilani’s replacement, said the source. “This will be
the worst possible outcome that the party is bracing itself
for at the moment.”

On the other hand, the source went on, if the court asked
the ECP to review Mr Gilani’s membership in the light of
his conviction, the prime minister would keep his
membership of the National Assembly and contest his case
before the election commission.

Under the Constitution, the Election Commission will have
90 days to decide the premier’s fate. If it rules against
the prime minister, he can again challenge this decision in
the Supreme Court, buying time for his party.

A federal minister told Dawn that during a recent meeting,
the ruling coalition also debated the option of calling
early elections in case the SC overturned the Speaker’s
ruling. A lot depends upon wording of the court order,
added the minister.

However, the minister said: “After the passage of a couple
of parliamentary resolutions in favour of Prime Minister
Gilani and the Speaker’s ruling, the party leadership is
confident that it can tackle any development.”

Last but not least, all coalition partners have assured the
People’s Party

of their support in its hour of trial, he claimed.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief
Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, had taken up multiple
petitions challenging the ruling of Speaker Fehmida Mirza
last month in which she had refused to forward a reference
to the Election Commission for the prime minister’s


19, June, 2012

Aitzaz concludes arguments in crucial PM case


ISLAMABAD, June 18: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad
Chaudhry observed on Monday that petitions filed against
the National Assembly speaker’s ruling on the issue of
disqualification of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
stated that Mr Gilani was ineligible to hold the office
after his conviction by the Supreme Court.

“Isn’t it a reality that a convicted person is currently
representing 180 million Pakistanis,” said the chief
justice who heads a three-judge bench hearing a number of
identical petitions challenging the NA speaker’s ruling
which had saved the prime minister from being disqualified
after his conviction in the contempt case.

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain
are other members of the bench.

The chief justice said that according to the applicants a
convicted prime minister was presenting the budget and
presiding over cabinet meetings, adding that the prime
minister was representative of the country and not of a
single party.

Concluding his arguments, prime minister’s counsel
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan contended that the court had no
authority to disqualify a parliamentarian and, therefore,
the matter should be referred back to the NA speaker or
sent to the Election Commission. He argued that the case
was not maintainable because the speaker’s ruling could not
be challenged at any forum.

He said the sentence awarded by the apex court to the prime
minister did not fall in the purview of disqualification.
The verdict had not disqualified the prime minister, he

The chief justice said the supremacy of law and
Constitution was judiciary’s top priority and asked Mr
Ahsan to avoid giving references of controversial cases,
including that of Gen Musharraf, Nusrat Bhutto and Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto.
The counsel said he had never compromised on the law and
the Constitution because of his political affiliations. He
said he wouldn’t have supported the lawyers’ movement in
2007 if it was not the case.

The court observed that debates were held on the media
without thoroughly reading the court’s verdicts. The chief
justice said the speaker was a respectable person and
custodian of the house, but some of her actions were
different from parliament’s functions. “There are many
cases that allow review of the speaker’s ruling,” he said.
Barrister Ahsan said the prime minister had not been
convicted of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary and,
therefore, the question of disqualification did not arise.

He said the petitioners who had approached the court under
fundamental rights could not establish what kind of their
basic rights had been violated.

Citing the reason for not filing an appeal in the contempt
case, he said the decision did not disqualify the prime
minister so there was no need to move it. He contended that
since the issue of disqualification of a member of the
parliament was not the matter of public importance, none of
the petitioners was able to invoke provisions of
fundamental rights.

Barrister Ahsan said the speaker was not a mere post office
after the 18th Amendment and it was incumbent upon her and
her inescapable duty to decide if any question concerning
disqualification of a member had arisen or not.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir contended that the seven-
member bench which convicted the prime minister had moved
beyond its jurisdiction as the issue before it was whether
the respondent had committed contempt or not.

He said the Supreme Court had no role to play in matters to
be decided either by the National Assembly speaker or the
Election Commission.

“The issue before the bench was not disqualification of the
prime minister, but it was required to decide whether he
has committed any contempt or not,” he contended.
The chief justice disagreed with his viewpoint about the
court’s directives in the NRO judgment and said these
reasons could be taken up in an appeal.

Answering a question, Mr Qadir said all aspects of the
issue had been taken care of by the speaker and she had
written a very soft-worded ruling. There was no contempt of
court law in the country and the prime minister could not
be held guilty for what was unimplementable in the NRO
judgement, he added.

Objecting to an additional note of a member of the seven-
judge bench, he said the honourable judge had supported the
verdict against the prime minister with mere six-page
poetry. He said it was unique in judicial precedents of the
country that a criminal case had been decided on the basis
of poetry.

The chief justice warned him and stopped him from repeating
the arguments.

The attorney general said the petitions should be dismissed
because their movers had not approached the court with
clean hands, especially the petitions of PTI chief Imran
Khan and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif which had been filed to
settle political scores and gain public attention.

Referring to an incident involving himself, the attorney
general said he had never posed any indecent or vulgar
gesture during the proceedings, but a wrong impression was
created which also forced members of his family to question

He said Khawaja Asif was the ‘greatest liar’ who had
presented the wrong impression on a TV programme.

The chief justice told him that he had already observed
that there should be decorum in courts and everybody should
respect it. Mr Qadir said the court should allow live
coverage of the proceedings so that everybody should know
what was going on or at least such kind of misreporting
should be banned.

Responding to another question put by the court, the AG
said there was no need to file an appeal or move an
application under Article 183 of the Constitution because
it was evident from the past precedents that old cases
could be revisited without an appeal like Iqbal Tikka’s

The AG will resume his arguments on Tuesday.—Agencies


19, June, 2012


Security men arrested in Kashmir for militant links


SRINAGAR, June 18: Four police officers have been arrested
in Indian-held Kashmir for alleged links with militants
fighting against Delhi rule, the police chief of the
disputed Himalayan region said on Monday.

The case has rattled Indian authorities who administer the
tense region, where Mujahideen have waged a violent
campaign for decades demanding independence or a merger
with Pakistan.

The alleged militant ties were discovered last week during
a routine investigation into a recent shooting attack on a
former militant, police Chief Rajendra Kumar said.

Authorities arrested two intelligence officials and two
low-ranking police officers, and two more suspected
officers were at large, he said.

Mr Kumar said the six are believed to have links to
Kashmir’s largest militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen.
Officials are investigating whether they might have helped
militants stage attacks, procure arms, avoid arrest or move
undetected through the region.

One of the suspects, a constable who has worked undercover
infiltrating militant groups in the past, was arrested
briefly in 2008 for allegedly buying cellphone cards used
by gunmen in deadly attacks that year in Mumbai. However,
the constable, Mukhtar Ahmed, was released after
authorities said he had made the purchase as part of his
undercover work.

Ahmed’s re-arrest follows new evidence that suggests he may
have operated outside of his official mandate on behalf of
the militants, Mr Kumar said.

This is not the first time Indian law enforcement officers
have been implicated in militant activities in Kashmir,
where some 700,000 Indian troops are deployed for a
population of 12.5 million.

In 2006, three Indian soldiers and two police officers were
detained for alleged links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The
police officers were removed from service, while the army
has remained quiet about the status of the soldiers.—AP


19, June, 2012


FIA seizes record of Fauzia Wahab’s treatment


Dawn Report

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, June 18: The Federal Investigation
Agency has seized medical records of PPP leader Fauzia
Wahab who died in a Karachi hospital on Sunday night after
fighting complications arising out of three surgeries over
the past three weeks.

The action was taken by the FIA on Monday after Prime
Minister’s Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik set up
a committee comprising senior doctors to ascertain if the
death was natural or was caused by negligence as is being
alleged by certain quarters.

The deceased member of the National Assembly was admitted
to the Orthopedic Medical Institute (OMI) on May 25 for a
gallbladder operation which reportedly went wrong and
necessitated another two surgeries. A board of senior
doctors, including Prof Badar Siddiqui, Prof Tipu Sultan,
Prof Shafiqur Rehman and Prof Tasleem Ahsan, was looking
after her.

Mr Malik announced the formation of the inquiry committee
after he had visited the house of the bereaved family to
offer condolences. It was reported that relatives of Fauzia
Wahab requested the adviser to set up an inquiry committee
and get the matter investigated.

The committee headed by the Director General of Health will
look into the medical record of Fauzia Wahab since her
admission to the hospital, including examination,
investigation and nursing care. It will also be
investigated if there were professional lapses on the part
of any of physicians, surgeons, micro-scopists and nurses.
It will determine the reasons of the failure of medical
treatment and if it could have been avoided.

The committee will also determine the age at which a
surgeon ceases to be efficient and professionally sound and
recommend the age of retirement. It is required to submit
its report within two weeks after undertaking the inquiry.

Mr Malik said senior doctors would be included in the
committee. A senior official said that the FIA team visited
the OMI and obtained photocopies of the history of her
treatment. “We have acquired the documents only for
government assistance,” FIA’s Additional Director Abbas
Baloch said.

Reports about a raid by the FIA triggered panic among
doctors at the hospital. Dr Idrees Adhi, president (Karachi
chapter) of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Dawn
that he had been informed by the OMI administration that a
couple of FIA personnel had visited the hospital and taken
photocopies of Fauzia Wahab’s treatment record.

In Islamabad, meanwhile, Quran Khawani was held at Aiwan-i-
Sadr. It was attended by President Asif Ali Zardari,
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for
Railways Haji Ghulam Bilour, President’s Secretary General
Salman Faruqui and staff of the president’s secretariat.

19, June, 2012


Saudi officer barred from returning home


By Mohammad Asghar

RAWALPINDI, June 18: A Saudi military officer who was
reportedly manhandled by Airport Security Force (ASF)
personnel at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on May 31
over a security clearance issue was not allowed to travel
to his country on Monday and was asked to get his case
cleared before leaving Pakistan.

A source said ASF staff at the airport had been informed
that Group Captain Shukri Al Shehri of Saudi Air Force was
leaving after completing his professional course at the
National Defence University (NDU) in Islamabad.

A senior security officer said Mr Shukri did not turn up at
the airport although he had a confirmed ticket for a Saudi
Arabian Airline flight for Jeddah.

He was not allowed by the authorities concerned to leave
the country until the conclusion of the case he had lodged
against ASF personnel for manhandling him.

Mr Shukri’s son, who was to travel with him, was allowed to

An investigation report about the May 31 incident has
already been sent to the defence ministry and the prime

According to sources, the report contains statements of the
ASF personnel on duty at the time and passengers’ record of
flight SV-723 for Riyadh and relevant CCTV footage.

The sources said efforts were being made to get the two
sides to reach a patch-up and resolve the issue.
The sources said an ASF inquiry held to pinpoint the
security personnel responsible for the incident had also
been completed.

They said the investigation report suggested that the Saudi
officer and his younger son were not travelling on flight
SV-723, although they held a ticket which Mr Shukri used to
get into the passenger lounge to see off his elder son.

Mr Shukri had not informed the authorities concerned that
he was leaving the country.

The incident happened when the Saudi officer’s younger son
was stopped by ASF personnel while bypassing a walk-through
gate. Seeing his son having been stopped by security
personnel enraged him and he started arguing with them.


20, June, 2012


Election Commission denotifies: Gilani a few hours after SC
verdict: Prime minister is sent packing


By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, June 19: Finally, the government was sent
packing. Tuesday turned into reality the fears of many who
had been predicting for weeks, months and years that this
time around the government would be sent home through an
order of the higher judiciary.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani disqualified from holding a seat in the
parliament from the date of his conviction on April 26 by a
seven-member bench for contempt of court.

Though the court had then desisted from categorically
disqualifying him, on Tuesday a three-member bench did so;
the latter was hearing the petitions against the National
Assembly speaker’s ruling in which she declared that Mr
Gilani was not disqualified despite his conviction for
contempt of court.

By doing so, the SC has also robbed the former prime
minister of claiming credit of being the ‘longest serving
prime minister’. Liaquat Ali Khan’s record stays intact

A quiet farewell

Hours after the pronouncement of the short order, the
Election Commission de-notified Mr Gilani as member of the
National Assembly and declared his seat vacant.

There were reports that by night he had moved out of the
official residence, driving into the darkness in a car that
no longer carried the Pakistani flag.

Before moving out, he chaired an informal meeting of his
erstwhile cabinet that concluded shortly after the
notification by the EC. Members of his cabinet are also
believed to have returned the protocols.

As usual opinion over the judgment was divided. Politician
and lawyer S.M. Zafar, who is a member of the PML-Q, said
the judgment was expected as the former prime minister had
defied the orders of the apex court on a number of

However, others did not agree with him.

Barrister Fawad Chaudhry, a former adviser to the former
prime minister, said the decision had put a question mark
on various judicial appointments made in the recent days.
He was of the opinion that it would take about four days to
elect a new prime minister and it was a big question as to
who would fill the gap.

He also wondered how a three-member bench had interpreted
the judgment of a seven-member bench.

The order which came around four in the afternoon did not
take many people by surprise – including the government.
Cabinet members and PPP leaders had said in background
discussions that they had been prepared for this ‘worst
case scenario’. The former prime minister too had read the
writing on the wall – this was one reason he had cancelled
his trip to Brazil and sent Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani
Khar instead. However, no one had expected that the
disqualification would be applied retrospectively.

Some legal experts believe that this move by the court will
open a new Pandora’s Box as it will put a question mark on
the legality of the actions and orders of the prime
minister and his cabinet after Mr Gilani’s conviction on
April 26. One of them pointed out that this could even make
the federal budget for the next financial year

What next for the PPP

Nonetheless, most observers and legal experts were pre-
occupied on Tuesday with the most pressing legal crisis –
the constitutional limbo created by the SC order. The
country lacked a chief executive till the PPP and its
allies managed to nominate and elect a new prime minister.

“There is a void and a constitutional crisis in the country
right now and the only way out is by electing a new prime
minister,” said S.M. Zafar. This issue kept the PPP and the
rest of the government busy on Tuesday. The party
leadership was already in a huddle when the court ruling
came and it remained in consultations till late at night.

However, statements by its leadership made it clear that
the party was not going to opt for confrontation. Instead
it appeared as if the PPP’s first choice would be to select
a new prime minister and keep going on for as long as
possible. Some felt that an announcement for fresh
elections was also a possibility.

All in a day at the court

At the conclusion of arguments for and against the
petitions challenging the National Assembly speaker’s
ruling on the prime minister’s disqualification filed by
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leaders, Pakistan Tehrik-i-
Insaaf chief Imran Khan and others, a three-judge bench of
the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad
Chaudhry said the court would announce the judgment at 3pm.

In its short order pronounced in the packed courtroom at
about 4pm, it was announced that on April 26 a seven-member
bench had found Mr Gilani guilty of contempt of court and
had sentenced him till the rising of the court – about 37

The court on Tuesday felt that as the government had not
filed an appeal against the conviction it had accepted it.
“Since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the
conviction has attained finality. Therefore, Syed Yousuf
Raza Gilani has become disqualified from being a member of
parliament… from … 26.04.2012… he has also ceased to be
Prime Minister with effect from the said date and the
office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan… will be deemed to
be vacant accordingly,” the order said.

Speaker’s ruling

It said the Election Commission was required to issue a
notification of disqualification of Mr Gilani from April 26
and the President was required to take necessary steps to
ensure continuation of the democratic process through
parliamentary system of government in the country.

The order also explained why it did not consider the
speaker’s ruling sufficient. It said the speaker’s ruling
was not covered by the definition of parliamentary
proceedings. Therefore, it said, the court was not debarred
from inquiring into the order passed by the speaker on May

Based on the April conviction of the prime minister, the
speaker had ruled that the prime minister was not
disqualified in her opinion.

The order was passed in a packed courtroom and the premises
of the SC were overrun by lawyers, activists and
journalists on the day. Once the order was passed, the
charged lawyers chanted slogans in favour of the judiciary
and the activists against it.
Prime minister’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and
Attorney General Irfan Qadir were not present in the
courtroom when the order was pronounced.

Earlier during the proceedings, Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry said there was no confrontation between
institutions. “We respect the parliament and are here to
protect its dignity,” he remarked.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain also said the Supreme Court had
no reason for clash with institutions, adding that its job
was to prevent actions repugnant to the Constitution and
the law.

During the proceedings, the judges had been warned by the
attorney general that the parliament could strike down an
adverse decision given by the court against the speaker’s

“We will do our job and let the parliament do its work,”
the chief justice responded.


20, June, 2012


Gilani loses record of longest-serving Pakistan PM


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, June 19: Despite remaining in the eye of the
storm because of allegations of corruption levelled against
members of his family and cabinet colleagues, former prime
minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will be known as a diehard
party loyalist. The politician who preferred losing his job
to going against the party decision, regardless of the fact
that he had to disobey a Supreme Court order in the
process, which eventually led to his disqualification as
member of the National Assembly.
Besides sacrificing premiership, Mr Gilani has   put his
entire political career at stake because after   the
conviction by the apex court which he accepted   by not
filing a review petition he may not be able to   contest any
future elections.

Nonetheless, Mr Gilani has become the second longest
serving prime minister with 1,494 days in power after
Liaquat Ali Khan (1,524 days).

During his initial years as prime minister, there were
rumours that he had developed serious differences with PPP
co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari. Some even drew
parallels between him and former president Farooq Leghari
who had sent the Benazir government packing in 1996. For
the PPP’s rank and file, the word Leghari is synonymous
with betrayal.

But in the end, Mr Gilani proved everybody wrong. For all
times to come, he will be remembered as a trusted PPP
worker who stood by his party. After winning the 2008
general elections when the PPP leadership was busy choosing
a candidate for the premiership, President Zardari once
said: “I will opt for a PPP worker as PM who will happily
go to jail with me.”

Mr Gilani eventually proved his selection correct. Although
many in the opposition believed that the ultimate
beneficiary of the corruption cases allegedly committed
over the past few years was President Zardari and it was
the former prime minister who faced criticism.

Except for the past couple of months since he had taken a
hard line towards the PML-N leadership, Mr Gilani
throughout his days in power tried to be on good terms with
his opponents. On many occasions, he travelled to the
residence of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in Raiwind even when
the two parties were at loggerheads on certain issues. His
meetings with Mr Sharif in March 2009 when the PPP had
imposed governor’s rule in Punjab played a key role in
bringing normalcy to the political arena of the country.

In January last year when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement
opted out of the coalition, Mr Gilani’s sojourn to ‘90’,
MQM’s headquarters in Karachi, broke the ice and the party
rejoined the government. His regular meetings with PML-Q
leaders have been a routine affair since the party joining
the PPP government in May 2011. According to a PML-Q
lawmaker, Mr Gilani had personally favoured lawmakers of
all political parties, either on the treasury or opposition
benches, which helped him keep on playing an important role
in politics.

During National Assembly sessions which Mr Gilani regularly
attended, he was always surrounded by lawmakers across
party lines, getting their files signed by him. Mr Gilani
always took pride in not getting involved in political
victimisation of his opponents. He was also known for his
generous distribution of development funds among all
members of the National Assembly, regardless of their party

“On the political front, I consider him the most successful
and polite prime minister who managed to go this far with
ever fractious coalition partners,” said a veteran
journalist who has been covering parliament since General
Ayub’s days in the 60s. After presenting all five budgets,
he had become the only civilian prime minister to achieve
this milestone, he added.

Mr Gilani will also be remembered as the first prime
minister who publicly challenged the dominance of the
military top brass in public sphere. His remarks that he
will not accept “a state within a state”, a direct
reference to military authorities, and later the sacking of
defence secretary Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Lodhi in January this
year will remain a highlight of his career.


20, June, 2012


SC verdict accepted despite ‘reservations’: PPP says party
is still on


By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, June 19: The Pakistan People’s Party and its
coalition partners accepted on Tuesday the Supreme Court
verdict which unseated Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani from the
office of prime minister and authorised PPP Co-Chairman and
President Asif Ali Zardari to nominate his successor.

According to sources, President Zardari is expected to
announce his choice at a PPP parliamentary party meeting on
Wednesday evening and the National Assembly may be called
into session over the next 48 hours to elect a new leader
of the house.

The president has cancelled his visit to Russia, scheduled
from Wednesday, due to the changed political scenario after
the court’s verdict.

“I know democracy is under threat from all sides,”
President Zardari is reported to have said at the coalition
partners’ meeting. Despite that, he added, “no-one can
force us into early elections”.

This apparently was in reference to a demand made by
opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif who welcomed the
expected but momentous SC decision.

“We stuck to our agreed ‘no confrontation’ line so that the
system is not derailed,” said a coalition party leader who
attended the meeting at the presidency that continued for
almost two hours.

He claimed that no specific name had been discussed in the
meeting for the next prime minister, except for those which
had already been in circulation in the media since the
announcement of the court’s verdict. The meeting did take
notice of speculations about various names, including
outgoing ministers Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar (water and
power), Makhdoom Shahabuddin (textiles), Syed Khurshid
Ahmed Shah (religious affairs) and Qamar Zaman Kaira
(information and broadcasting), but no decision had been
taken, said one of the participants. Those who attended the
meeting included Afrasiab Khattak and Haji Muhammad Adeel
of the ANP, Babar Ghauri and Haider Abbas Rizvi of the MQM,
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q
and Munir Khan Orakzai and Abbas Afridi from Federally-
Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Despite the fact that the no specific names were discussed,
the sources said, the PML-Q expressed its reservations over
the name of Ahmed Mukhtar as the possible candidate for the
office of the chief executive for obvious reasons. It may
be mentioned that Mr Mukhtar and the Chaudhrys share the
constituency of Gujrat.

The meeting was also attended by former prime minister
Gilani who had arrived at the presidency after vacating his
official residence and chairing a meeting of his erstwhile
cabinet colleagues from the PPP.

According to the sources, during his informal meeting with
former PPP ministers before shifting to the elite Islamabad
Club, Mr Gilani said the party was accepting this “adverse
decision” only to save the system from getting derailed.

Citing instance from history, the sources said, the former
prime minister said Socrates, the Greek philosopher, had
once refused to escape from the prison despite having an
opportunity to do so. He then quoted Socrates as having
stated that if he would not accept the wrong decisions
today the people would not also accept the right decisions
in future.

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of PPP was already in
session at the presidency when the three-judge bench headed
by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry announced the
verdict. The meeting was presided over jointly by party
chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and President Zardari.

Later, briefing reporters about the CEC decisions, PPP
secretary general Jahangir Badar and information secretary
Qamar Zaman Kaira said the party had authorised President
Zardari to take a decision after consulting the coalition

When asked if the court’s decision had been accepted by the
PPP, Mr Kaira said the party had “reservations” over it.
However, his response that at present there was no chief
executive in the country, according to some political
analysts, was an indication that the PPP had accepted the
court’s decision.

“Technically, there is no prime minister after the court’s
verdict. And the cabinet does not exist if there is no
prime minister,” said Mr Kaira, who was accompanied by a
number of PPP leaders, including former federal ministers,
at the party’s makeshift central secretariat.

“We have reservations over the verdict. However, keeping it
aside we will disclose our future course of action after
consultations with legal advisers and coalition partners,”
he said.

Mr Kaira said President Zardari had advised party workers
to exercise “restraint” and “not to hold protest
demonstrations” in reaction to the court’s order.

Referring to the ongoing violent   protests against power
outages in Punjab, Mr Kaira said   the provincial government
had announced a “revolt” against   the central government and
the PPP did not want to push the   country into a “civil

“If we give a call (for protest), there is a danger of a
civil war,” he said, adding the PPP had always saved the
country from any damage by offering sacrifices.

The PPP information secretary categorically refuted reports
in a section of the media that the government was
considering the option to promulgate some ordinance to
nullify the court’s verdict.

PPP secretary general Jahangir Badar told reporters that
the CEC members had authorised President Zardari to take
any decision after consultations with coalition partners.
He said the decision of the SC had come at a time when the
CEC was already in session.


20, June, 2012


A judicial blow to parliament


By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD, June 19: Parliament has a red hot ball in its
court after receiving a severe judicial blow from Tuesday’s
Supreme Court ruling disqualifying Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani whom its majority wanted to keep.

But considerations of practical politics, rather than past
proclamations of parliamentary supremacy, are likely to
determine the ruling coalition’s response to an apparent
judicial coup that has plunged Pakistan into political
uncertainty and will figure high in a bitter political
drama leading to next elections.

While the immediate task before the ruling Pakistan
People’s Party and its allies, commanding more than two-
thirds majorities in both houses of parliament, is the
election of a new prime minister by the National Assembly,
the controversy about Mr Gilani’s disqualification as prime
minister and member of the lower house on grounds of a
contempt-of-court conviction are sure to ring through
parliament’s chambers and streets of Pakistan in the coming
days and months.

Less than a month ago, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida
Mirza made a strong assertion of parliamentary supremacy
with her ruling that spared Mr Gilani the mischief of
disqualification and, then, only five days ago, the lower
house, to the exclusion of a protesting opposition Pakistan
Muslim League-N, passed a resolution endorsing the
speaker’s ruling which it said “cannot be questioned”.

That position was undone by a three-judge Supreme Court
bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry,
which said in its short order that it was “not debarred
from inquiring into” the speaker’s May 25 order, which in
effect the judges overruled.

The order renewed reminiscences of a famous legal fight of
country’s another celebrated speaker, Maulvi Tamizuddin
Khan, in the early years of Pakistan with then governor-
general Ghulam Mohammad over the 1954 dismissal of the
Constituent Assembly and with the then chief justice
Mohammad Munir, whose endorsement of the governor-general’s
so-called “constitutional coup” in effect denied the
sovereignty of the then-parliament.

It is also expected to deflect public attention, to some
extent, from a controversy over an alleged financial scam
between a son of the chief justice and a property tycoon
and the role of some private television channels.

The government’s legal experts have been arguing that after
the landmark Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution, the
position of the National Assembly speaker, or of the Senate
chairman, is no longer that of a post office to just refer
a court ruling about a question of disqualification of a
lawmaker to the Election Commission but an incumbent has to
apply his or her mind on whether a question of
disqualification has arisen.

While the coalition reeled from the shock of the term of
its prime minister cut short by about 10 months, there was
no immediate indication whether it will knuckle under and
risk of its next prime minister facing a similar
disqualification or stand up at the risk of heightening
political tensions already created by a PML-N campaign over
the issue.

And a decision by the ruling coalition -- which also
includes the Muslim League-Q, the Awami National Party, the
Muttahida Qaumi Movement and some smaller groups and
independents from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas –
will also determine the next course of action by the
National Assembly speaker and of the advocates of the
concept of trichotomy of power – parliament, executive and
judiciary -- in a parliamentary system of democracy.

Mr Gilani was convicted by a seven-judge bench in April for
abiding by a party decision against writing to Swiss
authorities to reopen disputed money-laundering charges
against President Asif Ali Zardari on grounds of a
presidential immunity.

Another party nominee for prime minister will hardly be
expected to do otherwise about charges brought against
former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Mr Zardari in
1990s by the government of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif
in those days of bitter political fights but which were
withdrawn under a controversial 2007 National
Reconciliation Ordinance of former military president
Pervez Musharraf, which in turn was nullified by the
present Supreme Court in Dec 2009.

With Mr Gilani standing disqualified even as a member of
the National Assembly, the lower house is expected to meet
soon this week to elect another member, most likely from
the PPP, as prime minister by the votes of the majority of
the 342-seat house.?


20, June, 2012


Power riots subside, except in two small towns: House of
another PML-Q legislator attacked


Dawn Report

TOBA TEK SINGH, June 19: A boy was killed and 18 people
were injured when guards of MNA Riaz Fatyana of the PML-Q
opened fire on a mob attacking his house in Kamalia on
Tuesday.In other parts of the town, at least 32 people were
injured in clashes between police and large crowds
protesting against power outages and prolonged

Police later arrested MNA Fatyana and his eight gunmen who
had opened fire on protesters.The intensity of protests
which had engulfed almost the entire province over the past
few days declined on Tuesday and except Toba Tek Singh and
Khanewal, most other cities and towns remained largely

T. T. Singh DPO Ahsan Younis also suffered a minor bullet
injury and rioters assaulted DSP Akbar Niazi and SHOs of
Rajana and Kamalia police stations.

They set five police vehicles and some vehicles of MNA
Fatyana on fire.

Regional Police Officer Aftab Cheema said at a press
conference that Mr Fatyana and his eight guards had been
charged with murder.
Mr Cheema confirmed that a boy had been killed and said
that 34 people had been injured.

But newsmen based in Kamalia put the death toll at two,
saying that one of the injured had died in a hospital in

The protests against the power outages had been called by
the Kamalia traders’ association.

Thousands of protesters marched on different roads and
reached the house of MNA Begum Beelum Husnain of the PPP
and attacked it. Her gunmen fired in the air and the
protesters dispersed. Then they moved to Mr Fatyana’s house
and attacked it. His guards opened fire, killing the 14
year-old-boy, Murtish.

People overpowered one of the guards and thrashed him. He
was seriously injured and admitted to the Kamalia THQ
Hospital in a critical condition.

According to officials, 17 of the injured were admitted to
the Kamalia tehsil headquarters hospital and nine others,
including a private TV channel reporter Rana Tajammal
Hussain, were taken to the DHQ hospital.

Five vehicles of police and eight motorcycles were torched
and eight vehicles and a portion of Fatyana’s house were

Heavy police contingents were called from all police
stations in the district to bring the situation under

Because of the riots, traffic remained suspended for more
than five hours on the Kamalia-Chichawatni, Kamalia-
Mamonkanjun, Kamalia-Toba and various link roads.

Mr Fatyana told reporters before his arrest that his house
had been attacked by PML-N activists. He also suspected the
involvement of some religious groups. He said a man wearing
helmet fired at his house.

The mob also damaged a grid station and general bus stand
and 15 shops in Kamalia.
Meanwhile, protests continued for the second day in
Khanewal and demonstrators attacked the General Post
Office, TMA office, Mepco office and three banks and the
residence of Prime Minister’s adviser Ahmed Yar Hiraj.

The protesters gathered near the vegetable market for the
funeral prayers of Azhar Qureshi who died on Monday when
guards of Mr Hiraj opened fire on a mob attacking his

After the funeral, protesters gathered outside the City
Police Station to get four demonstrators released. They
pelted policemen deployed there with stones and police
fired teargas shells.

Protesters then attacked the TMA office, torched a vehicle
and the office record. The mob again moved to the house of
Mr Hiraj. But police used teargas to keep them away.

Another group attacked three banks on the Jamia Masjid Road
in Khanewal and damaged furniture and record.

The protesters torched the motorbike of a policeman and
looted furniture, computers and other equipment from banks
and the TMA office.


20, June, 2012


Headmaster shot dead in Quetta


By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, June 19: A senior schoolteacher was shot dead in
Arbab Karam Khan Road area here on Tuesday and the killing
sparked protests in parts of the city.
Nazir Ahmed, headmaster of the Government High School Killi
Sheikhan, was going to school when armed men on a
motorcycle opened fire on him. He died on the spot.

Law-enforcement personnel took the body to civil
hospital.The school was closed in mourning.

“We are investigating the incident,” a senior police
officer said, adding the cause of the murder was not clear.

Hundreds of students took to the streets in protest against
the killing of Mr Ahmed, who was a relative of veteran
Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.

Chanting slogans against the government and law-enforcement
agencies, the protesters paraded various streets.

They blocked roads and burned tyres at various places,
suspending traffic in parts of the city. They pelted
vehicles, shops and government buildings with stones and
pulled down signboards.

Police used tear gas and baton charge to disperse the angry
youths who after some time called off the protest.


20, June, 2012


US hopes Pakistan will resolve its issues


By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, June 19: The United States urged Pakistan on
Tuesday to determine through an internal process what the
Supreme Court’s decision disqualifying Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani meant for the government as a whole.

Hours after the Supreme Court announced its verdict, State
Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a news
briefing in Washington that the US hoped Pakistan would
resolve its internal issues in a just and transparent

“They’ve got to now come to some internal conclusions about
what this means for the government as a whole, et cetera,
but our hope and expectation is that we will continue to be
able to work with Pakistanis to try to finish some of these
issues that we need to finish,” the US official said.

“We expect that Pakistan will resolve any of these internal
issues in a just and transparent manner in accordance with
Pakistan’s own laws and constitution.”

The State Department official noted that the Pakistani
government itself was meeting now to decide how to forward
from here.

Although the legal dispute over Mr Gilani’s status and
future has been going on for some time, the US has
continued to work with the Pakistani government throughout
this period, “trying to get through some of these issues
that have been difficult”, she said.

“So it is our hope and expectation that we’ll be able to
continue to do that, but they obviously have to work their
internal issues internally,” Ms Nuland said.

Responding to a question on the reopening of NATO supply
routes to Afghanistan, Ms Nuland said the technical
negotiations were almost over and it’s the political
process that needed to be worked out.


20, June, 2012


Pakistan, India to find amicable solution to Sir Creek

NEW DELHI, June 19: Pakistan and India have reiterated
their desire to find an amicable solution to the Sir Creek
issue through sustained and result-oriented dialogue

According to a joint statement issued at the end of two-day
talks in New Delhi on Tuesday, the discussions were held in
a friendly and cordial atmosphere.

The two sides discussed the land boundary in the Sir Creek
area and delimitation of International Maritime Boundary
between the two countries.

They reiterated their desire to find an amicable solution
of the issue through sustained and result-oriented talks.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Rear admiral Farrokh
Ahmed, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, and
Indian delegation was headed by Dr Swarna Subba Rao,
Surveyor General of India.

The two countries agreed to hold the next round of talks on
the issue in Pakistan at mutually convenient dates, to be
determined through diplomatic channels.

The Pakistan delegation also met Shekhar Agarwal,
Additional Secretary in the Indian Ministry of Defence. —


20, June, 2012


President enhances status of Levies Force


By Bakhtawar Mian

ISLAMABAD, June 19: President Asif Ali Zardari has signed a
bill enhancing the status of Levies Force and bringing it
on a par with those of police and the Frontier Constabulary

Levies Force will now have all the facilities enjoyed by
the FC and will be equipped with latest weapons. The
government will allocate sufficient resources to improve
the capacity of the force.

Rules and regulations will be formulated to enable the
force to act according to the circumstances faced by its

These views were expressed by Shaukatullah Khan, the
Minister for States and Frontier Regions in the cabinet of
former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, at a press
conference here on Tuesday.

He said the regulations had been issued to decentralise the
command and administration of the Levies forces in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Provincially
Administered Tribal Areas (Pata).

He said the step had been taken in order to make the forces
more efficient, organised and disciplined to meet the
challenges arising out of the prevailing situation in the
tribal areas.

Mr Khan said the heirs of the martyrs of the forces would
get compensation of at least Rs3 million, in addition to
other privileges. Levies personnel would get pension
facility also.

He said that by passing the bill the democratic government
had fulfilled a longstanding demand of the masses and
elders of the tribal areas. This bill would give them job
security, he said.


20, June, 2012


Ashura attack planned in Peshawar, alleges Kabul

KABUL, June 19: Afghan authorities on Tuesday said
`regional spy agencies’ were behind a rare suicide attack
targeting a Shia gathering that killed more than 80 people
in a veiled reference to Pakistani intelligence.

Attorney General Eshaq Aloko said two men had been arrested
over the December attack, which struck a crowd of
worshippers on Ashura in Kabul.

President Hamid Karzai blamed Pakistani sectarian extremist
outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi for the atrocity, which was
unprecedented on such a holy day, and urged Islamabad to

Mr Aloko said the attack was planned in Peshawar, by
“regional spy agencies” aimed at “provoking sectarian

“Although the Jhangvi group claimed responsibility, it was
masterminded by some spy agencies in our neighbouring
countries,” Mr Aloko said.

The prosecutor said one of those arrested came from
Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan’s militant-
infested tribal belt, and was paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees
to bring two suicide attackers to Kabul.

“One attacker blew himself up, the second fled the area,”
Mr Aloko said.

He said the two arrested men had confessed over the plot.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, the
deadliest in the Afghan capital in three years.

“The case is closed for us now. We have completed our
investigation, and the case will be sent to the court,” Mr
Aloko said.—AFP


20, June, 2012

Armed forces’ preparedness reviewed


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 19: A meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Committee (JCSC) held at the Joint Staff Headquarters on
Tuesday discussed issues related to national security and
emerging regional environment.

Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Committee, presided over the meeting which was
attended by two services chiefs and other senior officers
of the defence establishment.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani did not attend
the meeting. According to an Inter Services Public
Relations statement, issues related to national security
and emerging regional environment along with progress on
the agenda points of the last meeting came under

The meeting was attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral
Muhammad Asif Sandila, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal
Tahir Rafique Butt, the defence secretary, additional
secretary for defence production, chief of general staff,
director general of joint staff, DG of Inter Services
Intelligence, DG of strategic plans division and other
senior military officers from the three services.

The participants expressed satisfaction over the standard
of preparedness of the armed forces to take on challenges
faced by the country.

The JCSC meeting is a quarterly moot of senior military
officers held to assess and evaluate the operational
preparedness of the armed forces. ISPR chief Maj-Gen Asim
Salim Bajwa could not be reached despite repeated attempts
to tell the reason of the army chief’s absence from the
meeting. Another official, however, said the army chief was
very much in town but he could not make it due to some
unavoidable engagement. He said nothing should be read
between the lines.


20, June, 2012


UN asks US to justify use of killer drones


GENEVA, June 19: A UN investigator has called on the Obama
administration to justify its policy of assassinating
rather than capturing Al Qaeda or Taliban suspects,
increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that
also take civilian lives.

Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial,
Summary or Arbitrary Executions, urged the United States to
clarify the basis under international law of the policy, in
a report issued overnight to the United Nations Human
Rights Council. The 47-member Geneva forum is to hold a
debate later.

The US military has conducted drone attacks in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to
conventional raids and air strikes, according to Mr Heyns,
a South African jurist serving in the independent post.

“Disclosure of these killings is critical to ensure
accountability, justice and reparation for victims or their
families,” he said in a 28-page report.

“The (US) government should clarify the procedures in place
to ensure that any targeted killing complies with
international humanitarian law and human rights and
indicate the measures or strategies applied to prevent
casualties, as well as the measures in place to provide
prompt, thorough, effective and independent public
investigation of alleged violations.”
Citing figures from the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan, he said US drone strikes killed at least 957
people in Pakistan in 2010 alone. Thousands, including
majority of civilians, have been killed in 300 drone
strikes there since 2004.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week defended
Washington’s use of drone strikes, days after such an
attack killed one of Al Qaeda’s most powerful figures in
Pakistan, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Dramatic increase

“Although figures vary widely with regard to drone attack
estimates, all studies concur on one important point: there
has been a dramatic increase in their use over the past
three years,” Mr Heyns said.

“While these attacks are directed at individuals believed
to be leaders or active members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban,
in the context of armed conflict (e.g. in Afghanistan), in
other instances, civilians have allegedly also perished in
the attacks in regions where it is unclear whether there
was an armed conflict or not (e.g. in Pakistan),” he said.

Human rights law requires that every effort be made to
arrest a suspect, in line with the “principles of necessity
and proportionality on the use of force”, the investigator

Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram took the floor in Monday’s
opening session to say that his country consistently
maintained that the use of drones was illegal and violated
the sovereignty of Pakistan, “not to mention being counter-

“Thousands of innocent people, including women and
children, have been murdered in these indiscriminate
attacks,” he said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who
visited Pakistan this month, said in a speech on Monday it
was “unclear that all persons targeted are combatants or
directly participating in hostilities”.—Reuters

21, June, 2012


PPP lawmakers meet at Presidency: Search for a Gilani-like


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, June 20: Like its CEC and coalition partners
overnight, the PPP’s parliamentary party on Wednesday also
left it entirely to President Asif Ali Zardari to name the
party’s candidate for the next prime minister.

“No names were suggested or discussed at the meeting which
was attended by about 100 parliamentarians,” a PPP lawmaker
told Dawn after the two-hour meeting at the Presidency
presided over jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and
former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani who is the
vice-chairman of the party.

But one significant decision taken at the meeting was to
hold “a full-fledged debate in the National Assembly on the
removal of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani” from the office of
prime minister through a court order.

Political analysts believe that it will be a real challenge
for President Zardari, who won accolades for his choice of
Mr Gilani for the coveted office of the country’s chief
executive some four years ago, to find another “true

This time the task is more daunting for Mr Zardari because
he needs a person ready to sacrifice his political career
because like Mr Gilani he also may face legal wrangling and
may be asked by the Supreme Court to write a letter to the
Swiss authorities to reopen the alleged graft cases against
the president.

Background interviews with a number of PPP leaders,
including some senior members who are considered to be
close to the president, reveal that Mr Zardari has once
again adopted the same old strategy of keeping his choice
close to his chest and is assessing the feelings within the
party ranks and among the coalition partners by letting the
people indulge in a guessing game.

Soon after becoming the single largest party in the 2008
general elections, Zardari House, the residence of the PPP
co-chairman, became a hub of political activities with a
series of meetings with party leaders and other political
players when the PPP was in search of a suitable candidate
for the prime minister’s office.

At that time the media had established permanent camps to
keep a watch on visitors to the Zardari House and kept on
floating various names which the party never confirmed or
denied. But now all activities are taking place at the
Presidency, away from the media glare. Besides Mr Gilani,
the media in 2008 had mentioned the names of Makhdoom Shah
Mehmood Qureshi and Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar as possible
candidates for the prime minister’s office.

Later, President Zardari in some interviews confirmed that
he had considered all those names before nominating Mr
Gilani, thus implying that perhaps the names had
intentionally been leaked by him to assess the political
reaction and the response of the party.

And again names of several PPP leaders as the country’s new
prime minister have been in circulation since Tuesday when
Mr Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court. But,
according to sources, not even a single name came under
discussion in all the meetings which have taken place at
the Presidency to discuss the post-Gilani situation.

The names of Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Makhdoom Shahabuddin,
Qamar Zaman Kaira, Syed Khursheed Shah, Manzoor Ahmed
Wattoo, Faisal Karim Kundi, Hina Rabbani Khar and Samina
Khalid Ghurki are being mentioned by the media as possible
PPP candidates for the PM’s office.

But as the media goes on discussing the plus and minus
points of all the possible candidates the Presidency has
chosen to keep mum.


21, June, 2012

PPP’s likely candidates for PM post


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 20: Although the ruling Pakistan People’s
Party is yet to announce its nominee for the office of
prime minister after disqualification of Syed Yousuf Raza
Gilani, the names of some prominent party figures have been
in circulation in the media and PPP circles as possible

Following are brief profiles of some of them:

Makhdoom Shahabuddin: Belonging to the southern Punjab city
of Rahimyar Khan, he is being tipped as a front runner for
the office of prime minister.

He is a senior PPP leader. He held the portfolios of health
and textiles in the Gilani cabinet. He also served as
minister of state for finance in the second government of
Benazir Bhutto.

The main hurdle in his selection as the country’s new chief
executive is his alleged involvement in the ephedrine scam.
He was the man who as health minister issued quota for
import of the controlled substance to two pharmaceutical
companies, allegedly under the influence of Ali Musa, son
of Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar: The 66-year-old Chaudhry from
Gujrat was also in the race of premiership after the 2008
general election with Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Yousuf Raza
Gilani and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Mr Mukhtar, who started his political career from the PPP
platform in 1990, was recently appointed as minister for
water and power. Earlier, he served the Gilani cabinet as
defence minister for more than four years. A businessman by
profession, he served the government of Benazir Bhutto as
commerce minister in 1993-96.
He is a central PPP leader and an arch rival of the
Chaudhrys of Gujrat. He defeated PML-Q president Chaudhry
Shujaat in the 1993 and 2008 elections.

His brother, Ahmad Saeed, was managing director and
chairman of the PIA during the Musharraf regime.

He is brother-in-law of former Pakistan Cricket Board
chairman Ijaz Butt.

Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo: A new entrant to the PPP, he belongs
to Okara district of Punjab. He has been a part of the
country’s political landscape for almost three decades. He
joined the PPP in 2008 soon after winning a National
Assembly seat as an independent candidate.

Mr Wattoo was minister for Kashmir affairs in the Gilani
cabinet. His daughter, Rubina Shaheen, was elected member
of the previous National Assembly on PML-Q ticket. He was
considered to be a close friend of Pervez Musharraf. He
agreed to merge his political party, PML-Jinnah, into the
PML-Q on the advice of Gen Musharraf. He had formed PML-
Jinnah in 1995 after parting ways with his cousin, Hamid
Nasir Chattha, who wanted to become president of PML-

Mr Wattoo has also served as Punjab chief minister and
speaker of the Punjab Assembly. His son, Khurram Jahangir,
was elected MNA on PPP ticket. He was convicted by an
accountability court on corruption charges, but his
sentence was set aside by higher courts.

Qamar Zaman Kaira: A true PPP ‘jiyala’ is the party’s
central information secretary. Mr Kaira has been actively
and forcefully defending policies of the party and its
government for the past four years on almost every issue –
be it the war on terror, energy crisis, law and order or
the judicial crisis. He was information minister in Mr
Gilani’s cabinet.

He is representing the PPP in the National Assembly for a
second time.

Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah: A PPP stalwart and true party
loyalist from Sindh, he has been elected as MNA for a
fourth term. He was minister for religious affairs in the
Gilani cabinet.

Mr Shah is PPP’s chief whip in the National Assembly.
Because of his good connections with all political parties,
he is always considered to be a trouble-shooter as far as
relations with other parties are concerned. He has been
part of all negotiations with coalition partners and even
with the opposition on almost every issue.

He also heads the parliamentary committee on the
appointment of chief election commissioner.Mr Shah was
federal minister for education in Benazir Bhutto’s second

In 1988, he was elected member of the Sindh Assembly and
served as provincial minister for education, imports,
finance, information and transport.


21, June, 2012


Allies ditching PPP to be backed by PML-N


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, June 20: Will the main opposition party, the
PML-N, be able to torpedo the PPP’s attempt to bring in
another prime minister of its choice when the lower house
of parliament meets to elect a new leader of the house on

The PML-N has offered support of its 92 members of the
National Assembly to any other party, except the PPP,
including those sitting in the coalition, for the election
of a new prime minister.

At a consultative meeting at Punjab House on Wednesday, the
party’s leaders decided that the PML-N would contest the
election for the leader of the house on its own in case no
other parliamentary party agreed to their proposal.

Although the PML-N has not made an announcement in this
regard, party sources said Sardar Mehtab Khan, a former
chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and MNA from
Abbottabad, would be its candidate.

“The PML-N has invited all coalition partners of the
government to agree on another candidate, apart from the
PPP, to bring the country out of current crisis, to ensure
elimination of loadshedding and holding of immediate,
transparent and fair general elections,” a press release
said. The meeting was presided over by the party’s
president, Mian Nawaz Sharif.

If this suggestion was endorsed by other parties, the PML-N
would give a positive response, it said. A senior PML-N
leader told Dawn that the party wasn’t really excited about
the election of the new prime minister, but had decided to
take chance, “and see if it can attract other parties
sitting in parliament with its 92 MNAs”.

In the house of 342, the winning candidate needs to bag 172
votes, a simple majority, “which the PML-N cannot manage
without the support of the PML-Q (50), MQM (25), ANP (13)
and JUI-F (8),” said the PML-N leader. “And as of today,
all these parties are very much with the PPP, which has 124
MNAs,” he said. There are 17 MNAs who had won election as

“We just want to let other parties, excluding the PPP, know
that the PML-N is very much open and if they forge a
collective stand, our party will not field its own
candidate and will vote for the joint candidate who can be
from any other party,” another PML-N leader said.

“Yes, on the face of it it looks a far-fetched calculation,
but one must not forget there is no final word in
politics,” answered another PML-N leader when asked if the
party was serious about the election.

The party’s deputy secretary general said: “We have offered
all parties a simple three-point agenda -- implementation
of SC orders, ending loadshedding and selection of an
impartial caretaker set-up for early general elections.
“I have met Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, Senator
Ishaq Dar talked to MQM leaders and some leaders of the
PML-Q, excluding the Chaudhry brothers, have also been
conveyed our message at a personal level.”

He said if the coalition parties again stood with the PPP,
they would stand exposed and be held responsible for the
sufferings which people had been undergoing since it came
to power. According to the press statement, the PML-N
leaders said the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify the
prime minister was a victory of law and justice.

The meeting also reviewed the financial and energy crisis,
criticising the government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani for mismanaging the country.

“PPP’s confrontation with judiciary has placed the country
in multiple crises putting its security, stability and
solidarity in jeopardy,” the statement said.


21, June, 2012


NAB asked to probe Arsalan case


By Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD, June 20: The National Accountability Bureau has
received a letter from the attorney general asking it to
investigate the Dr Arsalan Iftikhar-Malik Riaz case.

A Joint Investigation Team comprising officers of NAB,
Federal Investigation Agency, senior police officers and
legal experts will be formed to look into allegations of
bribe allegedly given by property tycoon Malik Riaz to Dr
Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry, to get relief in court cases being heard against
him (Malik Riaz).
According to an official of the bureau, NAB chairman
Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari decided to constitute the JIT
in line with the Supreme Court order of June 14, asking the
federal government to take necessary action against Dr
Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and his son-in-law.

After the SC order, Admiral (retd) Bokhari had told
reporters that it was a case between two individuals and
had no financial implications for the national exchequer,
so the case did not come under NAB’s jurisdiction.

But Zahid Bokhari, counsel of Mr Malik Riaz, said on June
15 that NAB could investigate the case because in
accordance with Section 9 and 18 of the National
Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, NAB could investigate
such cases.

NAB spokesperson Zafar Iqbal confirmed that the bureau had
received a letter from the office of Attorney General
asking it to form a JIT to investigate the case.


21, June, 2012


NA session convened to elect short-term PM


By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, June 20: Smarting from a shock dismissal of
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court,
President Asif Ali Zardari moved fast on Wednesday to fill
a rare government vacuum, calling a National Assembly
session to elect a short-term successor on Friday.

The presidential order summoning the special session at
5.30pm on Friday came a day after a three-judge bench,
headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry,
disqualified Mr Gilani as prime minister and member of the
lower house on the ground of an earlier contempt-of-court
conviction, plunging the country into political

The National Assembly secretariat also issued a schedule
for the prime ministerial election, which the Pakistan
People’s Party and its coalition allies seem to sure to win
against a likely opposition candidate because of their
overwhelming majority in the 342-seat house.

The schedule requires nomination of the candidates to be
delivered to the National Assembly secretary by 2pm on
Thursday, their scrutiny by the house speaker an hour later
and an open voting to be recorded on Friday from 5.30pm
onwards through a parliamentary process of division.

While a meeting of the PPP’s parliamentary group on
Wednesday authorised President Zardari, as party co-
chairman, to name the party candidate, speculation has
already begun about the fate of a successor if a legal
controversy that led to Mr Gilani’s dismissal is raised
again in the Supreme Court before the five-year term of the
present National Assembly runs out in March 2013.

Mr Gilani was convicted in April and sentenced to a
symbolic “imprisonment till the rising of the court”
lasting about 30 seconds for following a party directive
against writing to Swiss authorities -- as directed by an
earlier court order -- to reopen disputed money laundering
charges against Mr Zardari on the grounds of a presidential

The PPP insists it will not allow what it calls “the trial
of the grave” of its assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto,
who was the main accused in the charges brought in the
1990s by the then government of Pakistan Muslim League-N,
now the main opposition party in parliament which wants the
controversial charges to be reopened.

Tuesday’s court order, which overruled a ruling of National
Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza sparing Mr Gilani the
mischief of disqualification due to his April 24
conviction, came as a bombshell against the government just
five days after the National Assembly in effect gave the
prime minister a fresh vote of confidence by passing his
fifth budget and adopted a resolution endorsing the
speaker’s May 25 ruling as one which “cannot be
The first dismissal of a prime minister by a court order in
Pakistan’s history left the country without a federal
cabinet, forcing President Zardari, who had already been
divested of executive powers under the Eighteenth Amendment
of the Constitution in 2010, to cancel a visit to Russia
that would have begun on Wednesday, and that vacuum will
continue until a new prime minister takes office after
Friday’s vote.


21, June, 2012


Missing persons: SC orders action against agencies


By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, June 20: The Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday
recovery of 93 people still missing in Balochistan and
action against law-enforcement agencies involved in
enforced disappearances in the province.

In an interim order, a three-judge bench comprising Chief
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif
Hussain and Justice Jawad S. Khwaja said enforced
disappearances should be immediately stopped and action
taken against culprits.

The court is hearing a petition on the law and order
situation and human rights violations in Balochistan.

The court directed security agencies to produce the missing
persons at the next hearing to be held at the Quetta
registry of Supreme Court on July 9. “Individuals involved
in anti-state activities should be formally arrested,” it

The court ordered the authorities concerned to formulate a
policy for payment of compensation to families of the
victims of enforced disappearances and human rights
violations in Balochistan.

The bench summoned Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi and asked
her to ensure the implementation of its orders.

“Protecting people and their property is responsibility of
the state. The agencies’ helplessness in recovering the
missing persons is beyond our understanding,” the court
regretted. Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted a report
of a high-powered commission on Balochistan.

According to the report, the commission is working on 43
cases of missing persons. It said the names of 29 of the
118 people had been added twice to the list of missing
persons. The bodies of nine missing persons were recovered
and 16 were found alive.

Another 17 people, the report said, there were only
allegations that they had been missing. It said that some
elements were trying to benefit from the situation in
Balochistan. A joint team was set up to recover the missing
persons but it made no headway.

When the court objected to the formation of the high-
powered commission, the attorney general said it had been
constituted by the federal government on the orders of the
Supreme Court and its report had been prepared by the
Punjab IG.

“How can someone who was not posted in Balochistan prepare
a report on it?” Justice Khwaja asked.

Noting that Balochistan police could not enter the
cantonment areas without a permit, the chief justice asked
who would cooperate with a powerless probe commission.

At the previous hearing, the bench had expressed
displeasure over a press conference held by Inspector
General of Frontier Corps Maj-Gen Ubaidullah Khan Khattak
and said it would summon Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani on the matter.

The FC chief had held the press conference shortly after
appearing before the apex court and said 20 foreign
intelligence agencies were active in the province. He also
said that a campaign had been launched against the
paramilitary force.


21, June, 2012


Rs49bn deficit budget presented for AJK


By Tariq Naqash

MUZAFFARABAD, June 20: Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Rs49.59
billion deficit budget for the next financial year was
presented before the Legislative Assembly here on

Termed by Finance Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Ashraf a
“balanced and people-friendly document,” the budget
proposed Rs40.05 billion for recurring expenditures and
Rs9.547 billion – 19 per cent of total budget – for
developmental activities.

The entire opposition boycotted the proceedings, accusing
the government of disregarding its mandate.

The minister claimed that the budget had been prepared in
keeping with suggestions from people from different
segments of society, including the opposition. The
government, he said, had inherited huge fiscal problems;
nevertheless, it had initiated a number of major projects
with assistance from the federal government and by
enforcing strict financial discipline.

“The basic obligation of this government is to struggle for
liberation of Kashmir. We make a pledge that the Kashmir
issue will be highlighted across the globe and not only
political, moral and diplomatic support to the struggling
Kashmiris will be continued but our blood will also be part
of their sacrifices,” he vowed.
Apart from that, the AJK would be converted into a modern
welfare state by stopping the wastage of its national
resources and enforcing financial discipline, he added. But
he stopped short of outlining specific measures to achieve
this goal, including enforcement of much-needed austerity

Regarding the estimated income during 2012-13, Mr Ashraf
informed the house that Rs15.31 billion would be generated
from AJK’s internal resources, such as excise duties,
electricity etc, Rs840 million from water use charges of
Mangla Dam, Rs7.4 billion as (80 per cent share of the)
taxes generated from the AJK territory by the AJK Council
manned Income Tax Department Rs11.4 billion as AJK’s share
in federal taxes.

The difference (deficit) of Rs5.1 billion between the
income and recurring expenditures (Rs40.05 billion) would
be met by the central government, he said.

The minister announced that the government would give 20
per cent salary raise to its employees on the pattern of
the federal government.

He said the federal government had decided, in principle,
to give a “bailout package” to help the AJK government
overcome its financial problems.

Regarding the reconstruction in earthquake-affected areas,
Mr Ashraf said that over Rs32 billion was required in the
current year but Erra had got Rs10 billion from the federal
government of which Rs2.571 billion was released to the


21, June, 2012


HRCP laments elected PM’s removal

By Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE, June 20: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
has termed the disqualification and removal of Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a sad occasion in a country
where democratic traditions have perpetually been denied
the nourishment they need to take roots and called for
maximum possible understanding among political parties.

“The Supreme Court judgment was perhaps not unexpected. The
removal of the elected prime minister, especially in a
country like Pakistan where democratic traditions are very
weak, is saddening and certainly not a matter for
rejoicing,” a statement issued on Wednesday by the HRCP

“Nobody can deny the imperatives of legal dispensation, but
the implications of the judgment in a far from stable
society and the severe crisis that it seems to give rise to
have perhaps not been taken into consideration.

“It needs to be remembered that after repeated spells of
dictatorship the state’s capacity to sustain the democratic
system cannot be expected to be very strong.”

It said democratic institutions needed to be nourished and
helped to grow through advice and persuasion rather than
punitive action that often did more harm than good.

“The principle that judges should be extra careful in
deciding matters regarding their own contempt demands much
greater respect than has apparently been accorded to it in
this instance.”

The commission said the judgment would raise questions
about the whole concept of contempt of court and the nature
and extent of the punishment that could be awarded,
especially imprisonment.

“At this critical time, the threats to democracy require
the maximum possible understanding among political parties
and the country’s democratic future will be undermined if
they continue to fight among themselves for narrow partisan
ends. Ultimately, the people have to decide who governs
them and we hope that the environment will not be polluted
to the extent that a fair determination of electoral will
becomes impossible.”

21, June, 2012


Key Al Qaeda leader held


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 20: Security forces have arrested an
important Al Qaeda leader, Naamen Maziche, from a place
near the Iranian border, highlighting Pakistan’s role in
the war on terror.

According to a security official, the French national of
Algerian origin was a ‘most wanted’ figure for his
suspected role in the 9/11 terror attacks and was in charge
of some of Al Qaeda’s international operations. He is
believed to have links with terrorist groups in Europe.

Maziche was a close aide to Al Qaeda leader Younis Al
Mauritani who had been arrested by Pakistan’s security
agencies in September last year from Quetta along with
three other people.

During interrogation he revealed that Maziche was in Iran
and planed to travel to Africa.

The security official did not say exactly when and from
where Maziche had been arrested. But, he said the man was
in the custody of a ‘sensitive agency’ and was being
questioned about the purpose of his entry into Pakistan.

Maziche and a group of around a dozen people he headed left
Germany in 2009 to fight US-led forces in Afghanistan.


21, June, 2012

World polio eradication drive faces fund shortfall


LONDON, June 20: An almost $1 billion shortfall in funding
for the fight against polio is putting global efforts to
eradicate the crippling viral disease in jeopardy, global
health experts said on Wednesday.

In a report released 10 years after Europe was declared
polio-free, the independent monitoring board of the Global
Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said there is now “a
unique window of opportunity to stamp out polio for good”
with global case numbers at their lowest levels since
records began.

“But it will not happen if the programme remains so
desperately under-financed,” Liam Donaldson, the
independent board’s chairman, told reporters.

A disease that until the 1950s crippled thousands of people
every year in rich nations, polio is a virus that attacks
the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis
within hours of infection.

It remains endemic in three countries — Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Nigeria — after India in January became the
latest country to become polio-free, after going a full
year without registering a new case.

Polio often spreads in areas with poor sanitation — a
factor that has helped it keeps a grip on those endemic
countries for many decades — and children under five are
the most vulnerable.

The disease can be halted, as it was in Europe, with
comprehensive, population-wide vaccination programmes.—

22, June, 2012


•Best & worst moments for Shahabuddin •Fazl throws his cap
in the ring •Kaira also files papers: Rental Raja gets the
spot, for now


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, June 21: After a full day of twists and turns
and meetings and phone calls, which provided Islamabad the
chance to indulge in its favourite activity — speculation —
Raja Pervez Ashraf managed to scrape past the finishing
line and end up as the ruling party’s designate for the
post of prime minister.

The high drama, which ended on Thursday night, began late
on Wednesday night. Shortly after one, the state-run
television broke the news that President Asif Ali Zardari
had decided on Makhdoom Shahabuddin as the PPP’s new prime
minister-designate and Raja Pervez Ashraf, the former water
and power man, as the latter’s covering candidate.

The names were obviously made public with a wink and a nod
from the men at the top of the government. In fact, there
was a point of view that the information was made public to
gauge reaction.

That there was going to be an adverse reaction was perhaps
rightly expected; on Wednesday morning a newspaper had
reported — out of the proverbial blue — that Makhdoom
Shahabuddin was allegedly involved in the famous ephedrine
scandal that had already threatened to take down the prime
minister’s son and principal secretary.

It is perhaps now safe to say that both these developments
ensured that the Makhdoom probably experienced his best and
worst moment on the same day. As the news channels were
reporting how he presented his papers for the election of
the prime minister, along came the news that his arrest
warrants had been obtained by the Anti-Narcotics Force,
which is run by military men.
Apart from the Makhdoom, the PPP was delivered a second
shock within the same week – it had just lost its prime
minister on Tuesday to a court decision.

The party went into another huddle. Shortly afterwards came
the news that Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had
also submitted his papers for the impending election as did
the report that Mr Ashraf would be the party’s candidate
instead of Shahabuddin. However, nothing was said
officially or with finality.

The whole country was kept guessing. And what added to the
uncertainty was the back and forth between the various
political parties which gained momentum, adding to the
sense that the situation was fluid – fluid enough to even
lend credence to those who predicted the end of the
system.The PML-N announced its candidate formally while
also making it clear that their final goal was the next
election; the party chief, Nawaz Sharif, said that if their
candidate won, his first act would be to announce fresh

But more than the PML-N, it was Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s
decision to jump into the prime ministerial fray that had
caused pulses to race – and not in a positive manner.

The Maulana, who has never lost his image of being a friend
to the khaki establishment and who has also maintained good
relations with President Zardari, submitted his papers to
contest the race. Had he deserted the sinking PPP ship and
sided with the all-time winners? The answer was not clear
even though he spent most of the evening talking to various
news channels in vague terms about the threats to

The uncertainty, coupled with the sense of panic afflicting
the PPP, was enough to create a sense of déjà vu – a repeat
of hushed whispers and gossip galore about the PPP being
sent home and fresh elections being called. This mood has
often descended upon Islamabad at times of crisis such as
during the days of the memogate affair.

The PPP leaders who came out from meetings and made it to
talk shows spoke of conspiracies and threats to the system
while those who were too busy to step outside sent text
messages suggesting Armageddon – one such text spoke of the
“Byzantine intrigues of the deep state… [which were never]
fought back with such tenacity”. Journalists roared on
television about technocratic governments being formed and
imposed on the people.

However, the only fighting back that the PPP did was no
different from what it has done earlier – call a meeting of
its allies and ask for unqualified support. And though
there were rumours galore about which party rejected Mr
Ashraf and which party refused to accept Mr Kaira, and what
the MQM had demanded in exchange for support, the meeting
at the presidency ended before midnight with a tame
announcement – all allies had agreed to support the PPP and
that the party would announce its candidate at eleven in
the morning (today), though participants of the meeting
confirmed that Mr Ashraf of the rental power fame had won
the coveted spot.

But as the formal announcement was still withheld,
observers pointed out that with the PPP and President
Zardari being what they are and their invisible enemies
being what they are, there was still a small chance that Mr
Kaira may be nominated on Friday morning. After all, the
president could have a last-minute change of heart or Mr
Ashraf’s chances are scuttled as were Mr Shahabuddin’s on
Thursday morning.

Nonetheless, two things were pretty clear on Thursday
night. One that the allies had already or will claim their
pound of flesh for coming to the PPP’s rescue at such a
critical moment.

Second, that Mr Ashraf’s choice may not go down well
because of the power shortage and the subsequent riots in
Punjab. “Raja Rental”, as he is popularly known, is
associated in popular imagination with incompetence and
corruption. His incompetent handling of the power sector in
the first half of this government’s tenure has not been
forgotten (despite his successor’s lacklustre performance)
and for his alleged corruption in the infamous rental power
projects, about which the nation was promised that it would
end all energy woes, but achieved nothing.


22, June, 2012

No end to trying times for PPP


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, June 21: “It’s beginning of the end,” remarked
an outgoing federal minister belonging to the PPP, when
asked if President Asif Ali Zardari was serious enough to
form a government that could last until next March when the
incumbent National Assembly would complete its five-year
constitutional term.

Referring to the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrant
for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the PPP’s nominee for the
premiership, the lawmaker requesting anonymity said: “One
only needs to use common sense to foresee predicaments
which the future PPP government is set to face.”

Mr Shahabuddin, a senior PPP leader from south Punjab, was
yet to celebrate his nomination for the highest office on
Thursday when he was told that a non-bailable arrest
warrant had been issued against him by a Rawalpindi court
at the request of the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) for his
alleged involvement in the multi-billion-rupee ephedrine

The former minister said that in the coming days the PPP
leadership would be virtually embroiled in many old and new
cases in courts. He said he feared the memo commission
might be used again to target President Zardari. He said it
was written on the wall that as soon as the new prime
minister was administered oath, the Supreme Court would
definitely ask him about the status of its NRO judgment
according to which the sitting prime minister is supposed
to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening
graft cases against President Zardari.

Another PPP lawmaker also agreed that tension between the
executive and the judiciary would further escalate in the
coming days and the party was bracing for a tough fight.
“We will effectively project the party’s point of view both
inside and outside the parliament and let people know how
the PPP has been hoodwinked,” the MNA said.

During an informal chat when a senior PML-Q leader was
asked to explain his party’s position in the new set-up, he
said that only the Chaudhrys of Gujrat were negotiating
with President Zardari and they were not sharing much with
the rest of the party lawmakers. “We are only told that the
PML-Q will get its due share in the next government.”

H said the party was being run on a day to day basis,
knowing the fact that only a handful of its lawmakers were
actually under the control of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. As
a result, he added, the PML-Q leaders would only bargain on
the number of ministries.

Throughout Thursday the federal capital was abuzz with
rumours and saw a lot of political activities. Heads of
coalition parties repeatedly met each others to fine-tune
contours of the future government.

The opposition PML-N, which has filed its own candidate for
the office of leader of the house, also approached other
parties with its three-point agenda -- implementation of
the SC orders, ending of loadshedding and setting up of an
impartial caretaker government for early general election.

However, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was the most
active among all who personally approached all political
parties, apparently for a broad-based government aimed at
smooth transition towards the next general election. At a
TV programme, he warned that if the political leadership
did not understand the gravity of the crisis the country
was facing at the moment, some ‘military men’ would take
advantage of the situation and things would go out of their


22, JUne, 2012


PPP’s allies share blame for crisis, says Nawaz

By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 21: The opposition PML-N accused PPP’s
coalition partners on Thursday of being equally responsible
for the prevailing crisis in the country, but at the same
time indirectly sought their support for its candidate for
the office of prime minister.

“The role of coalition parties (of the PPP) is very
crucial. The nation will be watching who puts his weight
where — on one side there are problems of loadshedding,
corruption and disobedience to court orders and on the
other there are people who are protesting against
loadshedding,” said PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif at a news
conference after presiding over a meeting of the party’s
parliamentary group at the Punjab House.

He alleged that prime ministers were being sacrificed only
to save Rs6 billion stashed in Swiss bank accounts. “How
many prime ministers will be made scapegoats only to
protect the corrupt?”

Mr Sharif regretted that the PPP had already declared that
the new prime minister also would not write any letter to
the Swiss authorities for reopening the money laundering
case against President Zardari.

“They are not taking any moral high ground,” he said,
adding that it was actually a ‘dirty cause’ and people
resented it.

The PML-N chief alleged that the PPP had put the entire
democratic set-up in danger to protect the money that had
been taken as “commissions and kickbacks”.

Defending his party’s decision to challenge the speaker’s
ruling (on the issue of Yousuf Raza Gilani’s
disqualification) before the Supreme Court, he said he had
done so with a heavy heart and only when he saw that
parliament was not playing its role in carrying out
accountability. He said the court had provided an
opportunity to the speaker and parliament to play their
role, but this was not done.
Mr Sharif said the SC decision was “unprecedented” because
previously such situations had led to military takeovers.

Formally announcing the name of Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan
Abbasi as his party’s candidate for the office of prime
minister, the PML-N chief outlined five major challenges
which were needed to be dealt with immediately.

The challenges, he said, were restoration of the shattered
economy, resolving the energy crisis, implementation of
court orders and controlling the law and order situation in
Balochistan and Karachi.

Meanwhile, a PML-N delegation led by Leader of Opposition
in the Senate Ishaq Dar met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur
Rehman to persuade him to withdraw his candidature for the
office of prime minister.

When contacted, Mr Dar said that the PML-N was determined
to contest the election even if Maulana Fazlur Rehman
stayed in the field.


22, June, 2012


Procedure for PM’s election


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: While Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Qamar Zaman Kaira
are all set to withdraw their candidature for the coveted
slot of prime minister, three candidates will be left in
the run including PPP candidate Raja Pervez Ashraf, PML-N’s
Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan and JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rahman
— if the opposition fails to reach a decision on a
consensus candidate.

Under the Article 91 (4) of the Constitution, amended
through the 18th Amendment and rules of procedure and
conduct of business in the National Assembly 2007, if no
member secures majority in the first poll, a second poll
shall be held between two of the candidates securing the
highest numbers of votes in the first round and the member
who secures a majority of votes of the members present and
voting shall be declared to have been elected as prime

If the number of votes secured by two or more members
securing the highest number of votes is equal, a further
poll shall be held between them until one of them secures a


22, June, 2012


ANF’s ambush fells Shahabuddin


By Malik Asad and Mohammad Asghar

RAWALPINDI, June 21: Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the first choice
of the PPP for the office of the prime minister, was
stunned on Thursday when he was informed soon after he had
filed his nomination papers and made a speech thanking the
party and his supporters for reposing trust in him that a
special court had issued warrants for his arrest in the
ephedrine case.

Similar warrants were also issued for the arrest of Ali
Musa Gilani, son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani, although the names of neither Mr Shahabuddin nor
Musa Gilani were included in the incomplete original
challan submitted by the Anti-Narcotics Force.

The ANF moved before Special Judge (Narcotics) Shafqatullah
Khan an application expressing the possibility of their
involvement in the scam on the basis of statements of
witnesses recorded by an investigation team over past two
months and the judge issued the non-bailable arrest

The ANF contended that its investigators required their
custody to investigate the sale of 9,000kgs of ephedrine to
smugglers by two pharmaceutical companies -- Berlex Lab
International and Danas Pharmaceutical (Pvt) Ltd.

According to an ANF investigation officer, some witnesses,
including former officials of the health ministry who
worked under the supervision of then health secretary
Khushnood Akhtar Lashari and Mr Shahabuddin, linked the
former health minister and Musa Gilani to the controlled
chemical scam.

ANF sources said the application for their arrest had been
moved after they did not appear before the investigation
team for recording their statement in the case.

According to the ANF challan, Tauqeer Ali Khan, an alleged
frontman of Musa Gilani, was intermediary in the scandal.

The scam came to limelight in March 2011, when Makhdoom
Shahabuddin while responding to a point of order assured
the National Assembly that a thorough investigation would
be carried out into the alleged illegal allocation of
ephedrine to the two pharmaceutical companies.

The ANF was assigned the task in October last year which
started a formal probe on October 10, 2011. According to
the ANF investigation, former director general of health
Rasheed Juma illegally allowed the allocation. Another
former director general of health, Asad Hafeez, and
Khushnood Lashari also allowed the allocation and sale of
the chemical to the companies.

The challan said Tauqeer Khan was a frequent visitor to the
office of the health secretary and was behind all the
alleged illegal dealings in ephedrine. The chemical was
procured from Alpha Chemicals and delivered to one Zari
Mohammad, who was neither a licensed dealer nor worked for
any of the pharmaceutical companies.

The challan disclosed that Danas Pharmaceutical had claimed
that it produced over 80 million tablets of meton from the
ephedrine but could not produce any evidence to prove the
claim. The company’s claim that it distributed the tablets
in Gilgit and Skardu also turned out to be wrong as its
chemists in these areas mentioned in the list provided by
the company denied having received any tablet from it.

Likewise, Berlex also claimed to have distributed 210
million tablets of meton, but it also failed to prove it.

ANF springs into action

ANF’s Director General Maj-Gen Malik Zafar Iqbal said on
Thursday that after the issuance of arrest warrants for
Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Musa Gilani in the ephedrine case,
efforts were being made to arrest them and requests had
been sent to the authorities concerned to put their names
on the exit control list (ECL).

“Efforts are on to arrest them and the ANF will proceed
with in accordance with the law,” he said while talking to
reporters in his office.

The ANF chief dispelled a perception that the special judge
had issued the warrants because of the prevailing political
situation. “It should not be treated as an issue of timing
because the ANF was already investigating the scam and it
was to be completed by the end of this month in line with
the Supreme Court’s order. Eight months had already passed
since the order was issued.”

Maj-Gen Iqbal said the ANF team completed the investigation
two days ago. He said the special court had issued last
summons on June 16, but the accused did not respond which
led to the issuing of arrest warrants. “The follow-up
action by the ANF will be in accordance with the law and
there is no pressure on it.”

He said that according to the ANF law, there was no bar on
an accused from taking part in political activities.

Asked about the involvement of other politicians in the
scandal, he said: “I cannot mention the names and the
number of other politicians involved in the scam; however,
some other pharmaceutical companies have been found
involved in it and the number of accused could be more than

The ANF chief said that to stop Makhdoom Shahabuddin and
Musa Gilani from going out of country, their names had been
sent to the authorities concerned for putting them on the
ECL. “The names of some of the accused have already been
placed on the ECL, but I cannot disclose their names at the

Maj-Gen Iqbal did not answer a question about the ANF’s
plans to conduct raids to arrest Mr Shahabuddin and Musa

Legal experts were of the opinion that the accused had to
be arrested within 30 days after the issuance of warrants.
Otherwise, they added, the process of declaring them
proclaimed offenders would be initiated.


22, June, 2012


Peshawar Panj Pir shrine blast kills three


By Ali Hazrat Bacha

PESHAWAR, June 21: Two children and an elderly man were
killed and 31 others injured when a bomb exploded near a
Panj Pir (five Sufi saints) shrine in Hazarkhwani area of
the city on Thursday.

A large number of people visit on Thursdays this and other
shrines located in a compound.Peshawar SSP (operations)
Tahir Ayub said the bomb, in a pressure cooker, had been
placed in a donkey cart. He said the target appeared to be
visitors. The blast destroyed a portion of the compound

Bomb disposal official Hukam Khan said the bomb contained
about 10 to 12 kilograms of explosives.

The bomb was apparently detonated by remote control.
“We have collected several ball-bearings and pieces of the
pressure cooker and it was similar to the bombs which
exploded in different areas of the provincial metropolis in
the past,” he said.

Atteq, a young man who was injured, said he and his family
regularly visited the shrine and could never imagined that
such an incident would take place at the shrine.

He said that people screamed for help but nothing could be
seen because of dust and smoke.

Those killed were identified as Muzamil (9), Sumbal (5) and
Zahir Shah (60).

The injured were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital and
five of them were said to be in critical condition.

An official of the Yakatoot police station said devotees
from Peshawar and tribal regions visited the shrines, but
Thursday was considered to be a special day.

He said that mostly youths visited the shrines and prayed
for their early marriage.

Those injured are: Hidyatullah (28), Wajid (25), Zeeshan
(25), Shoaib Shah (25), Roohullah (25), Atteeq (24), Said
Shah (24), Shakoor (24), Basit (22), Ajmal (22), Mohammad
Shehzad (21), Akif (20), Tufail (19), Saifa (18), Mohammad
Adil (18), Kashif (18), Haidar Ali (17), Tahir (16),
Mukhtiar Bebi (42), Sania (30), Seema (20), Rzeena (18) and
Sana (17).

The rest of the injured were 12 years old or younger.


22, June, 2012


Seven die in Balochistan Violence

QUETTA, June 21: At least seven people, including two
Levies men, were killed and 15 others injured in a bomb
blast, a landmine explosion and an attack in Balochistan on

Two people died in the bomb explosion that took place at a
‘tablighi markaz’ (centre for religious instruction) near
Farooqia mosque in Ghausabad, near Quetta. “The blast took
place when people had gathered at the centre after offering
Asr prayers,” a police officer said, adding that most of
the worshippers had come from different areas of the
country for attending a weekly congregation.

One person from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was killed on the spot
and another died later in Civil Hospital, while 15 people
were injured. Mohsin Shah and Inyatullah were killed in the

Initial investigation showed that explosives had been
placed in a bed that was lying by a pillar in the building.
“We are investigating who had brought the bed into the
tablighi centre,” a police official said.

It was the second bomb blast in the provincial capital in
four days. On Monday, a suicide car bomb blast had hit a
bus of the Balochistan University of Information
Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, leaving
four people dead and 72 others injured.

Two personnel were killed and another injured in an armed
attack on a Levies ‘thana’ in the remote Nag area of Washik

According to official sources, the attack took place early
in the morning and Dafidar Naseer Ahmed and Constable
Muhammad Yousuf were killed.

The attackers also took away weapons and other items from
the Levies station, Washik Deputy Commissioner Dr Saeed
Jamali said.

In Dera Bugti district, Muhammad Irfan, Hafeezullah and
Ahmed of Bugti tribe were killed when their motorcycle hit
a landmine in Pat Feeder area, Levies sources said. —Saleem

22, June, 2012


Dual national MPs will have access to secrets, warns SC


By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, June 21: Making it clear that dual nationals
cannot be part of assemblies, the Supreme Court observed on
Thursday that foreign nationals could not be allowed to
have direct access to country’s nuclear programme and other
state secrets.

 “If dual nationals are allowed to enter assemblies,
imported prime ministers will come to power and rule over
us,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked.

He was heading a bench hearing a case pertaining to
lawmakers holding dual nationality. Other members of the
bench were Khilji Arif Hussain and Jawad S. Khwaja.

The petitioner, Advocate Waheed Anjum, had accused as many
as 14 lawmakers belonging to PPP, PML-N and MQM of holding
foreign passports despite a clear bar in the Constitution
on dual nationality holders from becoming a lawmaker.

The chief justice also made it clear that the Constitution
could not be amended for a few individuals.

“The Constitution cannot be negated due to international
law either,” the chief justice said.

Advocate Waheed Anjum   submitted in the court photo copies
of American passports   of Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal, MNA, and
Tariq Mehmood Aliona,   Member of the Punjab Assembly (both
from PPP); and a copy   of the British passport of Farhat
Muhammad Khan, an MQM   MNA. The parliamentarians with dual
nationality, however,   claimed that they were loyal to
Senator Wasim Sajjad, the counsel for MNA Farah Naz
Ispahani, who holds citizenship of both Pakistan and the
US, argued that it was unrealistic to question someone’s
loyalty on the basis of nationalities they held and to
suspend their membership.

He also asked as to why there was no such restriction on
positions like that of the Auditor General of Pakistan and
the chief justice and judges of the high courts of the

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said that high court judges
never sat in the defence committee meetings nor had they
any direct access to Kahuta nuclear facility.

Mr Wasim Sajjad said that high court judges were authorised
to suspend a prime minister and could also seek records of
sensitive meetings of the defence and parliamentary

He was of the view that such interpretation by the court
would affect a number of overseas Pakistanis.

The chief justice said the law allowed citizens to hold
dual nationality, but did not extend the concession to
lawmakers. Justice Jawad S. Khwaja observed that overseas
Pakistanis helped the country by sending remittances of
around $13 billion every year.

Nobody was present in the court to represent Farhat
Mehmood, Nadia Gabol and Dr Ashraf, who are among the
lawmakers holding dual nationality. The chief justice took
a strong notice of this and said members were not turning
up despite notices.

“We will ask the Election Commission to issue a
notification like the one it issued a few days ago,” he
said, in a clear reference to the notification de-notifying
Yousuf Raza Gilani as member of the National Assembly.

Mansoor Alam, appearing before the court as counsel for
Rehman Malik, said that since his client’s British lawyer
was currently in Spain, the evidence of renunciation of his
British nationality could not be obtained. Mr Mansoor Alam
will complete his arguments on June 25 (Monday), the next
date of hearing.

22, June, 2012


Political crisis won’t affect war on terror, hopes US


WASHINGTON, June 21: The United States hopes that the
current political transition in Pakistan will not affect
the country’s efforts to fight terrorists, says the State

“They’ve now announced plans of their own for their own
political transition, so our hope and expectation is that
we can continue to try to work through these issues,” the
department’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a
briefing in Washington.

She noted that the US administration continued to work with
the Pakistani government throughout this period.

Earlier, a journalist suggested that terrorists hiding in
Fata had been going in and out of Afghanistan as they
pleased and the current political turmoil in Pakistan could
make it easier for them to operate as the Pakistanis would
be focusing on developments inside their country.

Ms Nuland pointed out that cross-border militancy had been
there for more than a decade and the US had always
emphasised the need to work with Pakistan to deal with this

“And that’s why it’s important to have action against
terror on the Pakistan side, on the Afghan side, and for
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Isaf to continue to work
together,” she said. The US official disagreed with another
suggestion that the US plan to withdraw its combat troops
from Afghanistan by 2014 was encouragingmilitants to
continue their insurgency.
“The goal, the expectation is that Isaf forces will begin
to flow home as Afghan forces take on lead responsibility
for security, that we will continue to equip and train them
and to support them in paying salaries and all those kinds
of things,” she said.

“But the transition is based on an expectation that Afghans
will be able to secure themselves using Afghan National
Security Forces. So that’s what we are working towards, not
a diminution of any kind in capacity, but just the ability
of Afghans to manage their security themselves.”—Anwar


22, June, 2012


Coalition rethinks choice for PM


By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, June 21: Till late on Thursday night, the
majority coalition appeared to be struggling to find its
best choice to be elected prime minister for a short term
of maximum nine months, and possibly for another braver
role: political martyrdom like his predecessor’s.

Earlier on Thursday, former federal minister Makhdoom
Shahabuddin of the Pakistan People’s Party filed his
nomination for the job vacated by the court-dismissed
Yousuf Raza Gilani two days ago, with two other party and
cabinet colleagues, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Qamar Zaman
Kaira, as what were described as “covering candidates”.

But doubts arose about the candidature of the affable
politician from southern Punjab after the army-controlled
Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) created a stir afterwards by
announcing that a magistrate in Rawalpindi had issued
unbailable warrants for the arrest of Mr Shahabuddin to
investigate if he had a role in an alleged violation of
controls on the import of ephedrine drug, used in the
manufacture of medicines, when he was health minister until
two years ago.

Leaders of coalition parties went into a second huddle with
President Asif Ali Zardari until late on Thursday night
possibly to reconsider the choice, for which he had earlier
been given the mandate as PPP co-chairman.

The final candidate of the coalition, which has more than
two-thirds support in the 342-seat house, can be certain to
win Friday’s vote, for which the 92-seat opposition
Pakistan Muslim League-N has put up one of its senior
parliamentarians, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, and the eight-
seat opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam its chief Maulana
Fazlur Rehman.

The new prime minister can hold office until late March,
when Mr Gilani’s five-year term would have expired, before
a caretaker set-up must come into being to oversee the next
national election.

But speculation has been rife whether the Supreme Court’s
sword of Damocles will swing also at the next premier as it
did at Mr Gilani to make him a political martyr for his
party for refusing a court order to write to Swiss
authorities to reopen disputed money-laundering charges
against Mr Zardari on the ground of a presidential

The PPP has made clear none of its prime ministers would do
it so long as the president enjoys the constitutional
immunity against prosecution when he is in office and that
it would not let “a trial of the grave” of its assassinated
leader Benazir Bhutto, who was the main accused in the
charges brought in 1990s by the then PML-N government, with
her late mother Nusrat Bhutto and Mr Zardari as co-accused.

The charges were withdrawn under a controversial National
Reconciliation Ordinance issued in 2007 by then president
Pervez Musharraf but overturned by the Supreme Court after
its sacked judges were reinstated by Mr Gilani following a
nationwide lawyer-led agitation.

23, June, 2012


Raja elected PM; opposition sneers at olive branch


By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, June 22: Propelled by a dramatic turn of events,
Raja Pervez Ashraf was elected prime minister by a big
majority of the National Assembly on Friday to oversee a
daunting last phase of the PPP-led government, which began
with the main opposition party cold-shouldering his olive

In a policy speech after winning the vote 211-89, he
offered dialogue to opposition parties to tackle national
problems, including the prevailing energy crisis, in
pursuing what he called the philosophy of reconciliation of
assassinated leader of his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),
Benazir Bhutto.

“To solve these problems, I invite the opposition for
talks,” he said. “I hope the opposition will consider and
accept this invitation.”

But Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan of the opposition Pakistan
Muslim League-N, who lost the contest with 89 votes, said
his party could discuss a pending accountability bill for
an early passage by parliament and called for new elections
“within a few coming months”, apparently disregarding Mr
Ashraf’s call for a dialogue on other issues.

Mr Ashraf’s election for the remaining nine months of a
five-year term of the coalition government came only three
days after a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court
disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister on the
ground of a previous contempt-of-court conviction.

The PPP had first named former textile industry minister
Makhdoom Shahabuddin as its main candidate to fill in the
vacancy while Mr Ashraf and former information and
broadcasting minister Qamar Zaman Kaira filed their
nominations as covering, or backup, candidates.

But a virtual ambush by the army-led Anti-Narcotics Force,
which has had problems with the PPP government in recent
months, in issuing non-bailable arrest warrants for one-
time health minister in an alleged drug import scandal,
came as a mortal blow to Mr Shahabuddin’s candidacy,
forcing the PPP to pick up Mr Ashraf from the two backup
candidates to avoid the embarrassment of putting up one who
could be arrested even before the vote.

Mr Shahabuddin came to the house to cast his vote for his
substitute after getting an interim bail earlier in the day
from as far as Peshawar High Court.

Slogans of “Jeay Bhutto” (long live Bhutto) — referring to
PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — rang through the house
and some visitors’ galleries after Speaker Fehmida Mirza
announced the result of the open vote taken through what is
known as division in which lawmakers record their votes for
their preferred candidates in separate registers.

To cheers from the ruling coalition benches, Maulana Fazlur
Rehman, chief of the eight-seat Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam,
withdrew from the contest, as did Mr Shahabuddin and Mr
Kaira, from the contest, which was followed by speeches of
the two contestants before the newly-elected prime minister
and prospective members of his cabinet drove to the nearby
presidential palace to be sworn in by President Asif Ali

The five-year tenures of the present federal and four
provincial governments will run out in late March next year
when a caretaker set-up will come into being to

oversee the next general election.

But speculation has been rife whether Mr Ashraf will be
able to exhaust the remaining nine months of the federal
government if, like Mr Gilani, he is asked by the Supreme
Court to write to Swiss authorities to reopen disputed
money-laundering charges against President Zardari. The PPP
says any PPP premier will refuse to do it as did Mr Gilani.

In his speech, Mr Ashraf pledged loyalty to the legacy of
his predecessor, which he said was marked by landmark
constitutional amendments and strengthening of democratic
institutions, and added: “I will not tell torch transferred
to me to be dimmed.”

He said it was the duty of political parties to “move
democracy and democratic process forward”. The new premier
cited “seeking solution to the problems” of insurgency-hit
Balochistan as his first priority and, acknowledging
“excesses” done to

the Baloch people, said

his government would talk to their leadership.

Other domestic priorities he mentioned included making
parliament’s sovereignty a certainty in which “nobody else
could usurp the power given to it by the people”, impartial
and transparent elections, strengthening national
institutions and not allowing confrontation between them,
and promoting agriculture and industry. He appealed to
“religious extremists” to surrender arms and join the
“national mainstream”.

In foreign affairs, he vowed to work for promoting peaceful
co-existence with neighbours, including India, further
strengthening friendship with China and Islamic countries,
consolidating ties with the European Union and promoting
relationship with the United States “on the basis of

Mr Abbasi blamed the new premier for prevailing power
shortages because of his tenure as power minister in the
present government, provoking PPP chief whip Khursheed
Ahmed Shah to propose the formation of a parliamentary
commission to fix blame for power shortages from 1993 to
2008 and then onwards.

Later the speaker read out a presidential order proroguing
the house after only a day’s special session.


23, June, 2012

Standing ovation for Gilani at ceremony


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 22: In a departure from usual practice,
President Asif Ali Zardari made a brief speech after
administering oath to new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
and members of his cabinet on Friday and praised the
performance of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

His remarks were greeted by those attending the ceremony at
the Presidency with a standing ovation for Mr Gilani.

The president said that detractors of democracy had long
been hounding Mr Gilani and they hoped that the PPP and its
allies would not be able to agree on a new leader of the

This would give them a chance to send the parliament
packing, said Mr Zardari. But they had been proven wrong.

He said the ultimate court was the court of the people and
the ultimate verdict was pronounced by history. “The people
and history will give their verdicts sooner rather than
later,” he remarked.

Referring to the election of Mr Ashraf as prime minister,
he said: “The election of the new prime minister has come
on the birth anniversary of our great leader Shaheed
Benazir Bhutto and we have another reason to celebrate her


23, June, 2012


Only 300 votes polled in house of 342

By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, June 22: Only 300 of the 342 members of the
National Assembly cast their votes in the election for the
new prime minister on Friday.

The winning candidate, Raja Pervez Ashraf of the PPP,
bagged 211 votes with PML-N’s Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan
securing 89.

At the moment, four National Asssembly seats are lying
vacant. Elections could not be held for the NA-42 seat in
tribal areas because of the law and order situation and the
seat vacated by former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is
yet to be filled.

Membership of Farahnaz Ispahani, a PPP lawmaker on reserved
seat, has been suspended because of her dual nationality
and the party is yet to nominate a member on the reserved
seat which fell vacant with the death of Fouzia Wahab.

The PML-N has 92 members in the assembly. Three of its
members are out of the country and one abstained because of
his differences with the party leadership. Of 89 votes
polled by Mr Abbasi, 88 were from his party while Aftab
Ahmed Sherpao, who is head of his own faction of the PPP,
also voted for him.

Khwaja Mohammad Asif, senior party leader and MNA from
Sialkot, Raja Mohammad Safdar Khan from Jhelum and Advocate
Anusha Rehman Khan, a lawmaker on reserved seats for women,
are abroad.Sardar Mohammad Mushtaq Khan, the PML-N lawmaker
from Haripur, was the party’s fourth absentee. But he did
not turn up to cast his vote for Mr Abbasi for a different
reason. He has recently met President Asif Ali Zardari and
is reportedly considering to join the ruling party.

Others who did not attend the special session included ANP
Chief Asfandyar Wali Kha, who also is out of the country,
Kashmala Tariq, Humayun Saifullah of the Likeminded faction
and former federal minister Amir Muqam who recently joined
the PML-N.

Awais Leghari, son of former President late Farooq Leghari,
who has joined the PTI of Imran Khan, was also absent. All
eight members of JUI-F though present in the house,
abstained from voting.
Talking to journalists outside the parliament after the
election of Raja Pervez Ashraf, Leader of the Opposition
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said time had come for new
elections. But he declined to make any comment when asked
about the new prime minister’s offer for talks with the
opposition on holding free and fair elections.

Chaudhry Nisar criticised ANP, MQM and PML-Q for supporting
the PPP candidate, saying the people should ask the
coalition partners on what moral grounds they had voted for
Mr Ashraf, whose only credential was his involvement in


23, June, 2012


US, Pakistan heading towards collision


By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, June 22: The US-Pakistan relationship appeared
to be heading towards a head-on collision as an American
general blamed Friday’s deadly attack on a Kabul hotel on
Fata-based militants and the White House vowed to take the
steps needed to mitigate this threat.

Earlier on Friday, the US media reported that Washington
had considered launching retaliatory attacks at terrorist
targets inside Fata but concerns about destabilising
Pakistan prevented it from doing so.

“We'll take steps necessary to mitigate that threat,” said
a White House official, while commenting on AP report.

Asked if the White House could send US soldiers across the
border to chase down those militants, White House Principal
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “I won't preview
the kinds of things that are being discussed, and frankly,
whether or not they're even being discussed by the

But, he said, he could share with the reporters that “this
threat is something that we have talked about quite
extensively both publicly and privately.”

The White House official pointed out that the US had raised
this issue with the Pakistanis and remained committed to
finding ways to work with them to combat the threat that
these groups posed both to US forces and innocent Pakistani

Earlier, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan said
that the deadly attack on the Kabul hotel bore the
signature of the Haqqani group which he said continued to
operate from Pakistan.

Commenting on the statement, State Department spokesperson
Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington that the
United States had been pushing Pakistan for a long time to
‘squeeze’ this terrorist outfit.

Also on Friday, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta indicated
that the US was not going to accept Pakistan’s demand for
an apology over the Salala incident, which caused Islamabad
to block Nato supply routes to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is unwilling to reopen the routes without an

Asked whether he would oppose any further apology, Mr
Panetta told the Reuters news agency: “We've made clear
what our position is, and I think it's time to move on.”

He added: “If we keep going back to the past, if we keep
beating up each other based on past differences, we'll
never get anywhere.”

But the most detailed analysis of US-Pakistan relations
came in a televised discussion between Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and one of her predecessors, James A.

Secretary Baker noted that the relationship was in a
‘terrible’ shape, adding that this was “really sad, because
for the duration of the Cold War they were our ally, and
India was the ally of the Soviet Union, and now all of that
is changed”.

Mr Baker disagreed with those who suggested severing ties
to Pakistan.

“I think we need to maintain a relationship with them
because they’re a nuclear power and because it’s really
important that we not see nuclear conflagration in the
subcontinent. And we don’t want to see any more
proliferation than we’ve seen from Pakistan,” he said.

He suggested cutting off US aid to Pakistan to “get their
attention” while maintaining a relationship with them.

Secretary Clinton observed that America’s relationship with
Pakistan has been challenging for a long time.

“Some of it is of our own making,” she said, adding that
she believed the US should have been more concerned about
“what was going to happen to the Pakistanis” after the
Soviet withdrawal from Pakistan.

“First of all, I completely agree it is not in our
interests to cut off our relationship,” she said while
explaining her approach. “It is in our interest to try to
better direct and manage that relationship.”She said there
were several things that the US was now asking the
Pakistanis to do: “Number one, they’ve got to do more about
the safe havens inside their own country” because “the
extremists have an ace in the hole. They just cross the
border; they get direction and funding and fighters, and
they go back across the border.”

She urged Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network as
well as the LET, noting that the militants had already
killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis.

“Secondly, they have to be willing to recognise that as we
withdraw from Afghanistan, it is in their interest to have
a strong, stable Afghan government” and they should stop
“doing everything possible to try to undermine it.”

“And at the very least, they ought to stop double-dealing
us,” said Secretary Baker. “Yeah, at the very least,”
Secretary Clinton agreed.
“And they should release Dr Afridi,” she added.


23, June, 2012


Kasauti-fame scholar Obaidullah Baig dies


By Peerzada Salman

KARACHI, June 22: Distinguished scholar, documentary
filmmaker, media person and novelist Obaidullah Baig died
of cancer on Friday at 5.30am. He was 75.

He is survived by his wife, Salma Baig, who once hosted a
show on PTV, and three daughters.

Born in India in 1936, Baig was in his early twenties when
he wrote his first novel Aur Insaan Zinda Hai.

In the 1960s Baig produced and presented on Pakistan
Television a series of documentaries titled Sailani Ke
Saath. It was one of the most watched and critically
acclaimed programmes on television at the time. He would
visit far-off and culturally rich areas of the country and
introduce them to TV viewers. Some of the most successful
of the episodes were on the Khirthar Range and the Lahut
Valley in Balochistan.

But it was the quiz show Kasauti on which Baig exhibited
his extraordinary knowledge of history, literature,
geography and environmental sciences that he is most
remembered for.

Baig’s namaz-i-janaza held at Sultan Masjid in Defence
after Friday prayers was attended by a large number of
people and he was laid to rest in the Defence Graveyard.
Among those who took part in the funeral procession were
actor Rahat Kazmi, TV producers Zaheer Khan and Zafar
Akbar, writer Anwar Maqsood, music composer Arshad Mahmood,
media persons Farhad Zaidi and Ghazi Salahuddin, poet
Naseer Turabi and scholar Quraish Pur. Moving scenes were
witnessed as some of his close relatives and friends
couldn’t control themselves and became teary-eyed.

Soyem will be held at Baig’s residence — 6 Qamar Court, 111
Clifton opposite Amir Khusrau Park — on Sunday after Zuhr


23, June, 2012


Ephedrine case: PHC grants pre-arrest bail to Shahabuddin


By Waseem Ahmad Shah

PESHAWAR, June 22: The Peshawar High Court on Friday
granted pre-arrest bail to former federal minister Makhdoom
Shahabuddin, a day after warrant for his arrest had been
issued by a special court in Rawalpindi in the ephedrine

The warrant was issued after Mr Shahabuddin had filed his
nomination papers as the main PPP candidate for the post of
prime minister.

A single-judge bench of Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan
granted the bail on a petition filed by Mr Shahabuddin and
directed him to appear before the court concerned within a
week. The bench asked him to furnish two sureties of Rs2
million each.

Mr Shahabuddin filed the petition through Barrister Zahoor-
ul-Haq and Shahnawaz Khan with a plea that the warrant had
been issued with mala fide intentions because the same day
he had submitted his nomination papers and was a front-
runner in the election for the office of prime minister.
Special (anti-narcotics) court judge Shafqatullah Khan had
issued the warrants against Mr Shahabuddin and Ali Musa
Gilani, son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Barrister Zahoor pointed out in the court that the FIR in
the case filed on Oct 10, 2011, by the ANF police station
in Rawalpindi had not charged the petitioner.

He said that warrants had been issued the day the
petitioner had filed his nomination papers for the election
of prime minister which showed mala fide intentions of the
authorities. He said the name of the petitioner was not
there also in the final charge-sheet of the case submitted
before the court.

Barrister Zahoor said if the petitioner was arrested he
would face an ‘irreparable loss’ because he would not be
able to contest election. He said the petitioner might be
treated in accordance with law and given time so that he
could appear before the court concerned.

Makhdoom Shahabuddin told reporters that there was no case
against him and his warrants were issued after he had filed
his nomination papers. He said a conspiracy had been
hatched to stop him from contesting the polls. He said that
the warrant would not have been issued, had he not been
nominated for the prime minister’s office.


23, June, 2012


US complains diplomats being harassed


By Our Correspondent

WASHINGTON, June 22: US diplomats in Pakistan are facing
“deliberate, wilful and systematic” harassment at the hands
of the Pakistani government, says an internal State
Department report released on Friday.
The report claimed that interference by Pakistani officials
reached “new levels of intensity” in 2011.

The report identified the US raid on Osama Bin Laden’s
compound and a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani
soldiers as “turning points” in the treatment meted out to
their diplomats in Pakistan.

The State Department complained that American officials in
Pakistan had long been subjected to “unusual” obstructions.

The obstruction included delayed visa issuances, blocked
shipments for both assistance programmes and construction
projects, and surveillance of, and interference with,
mission employees and contractors.

The department, however, blacked out details of this
harassment along with several recommendations to rectify
the situation.


23, June, 2012


Pakistan hits back


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has responded to the US complaints that
diplomats are being harassed by the government and said
that all diplomats in the country are treated in accordance
with international law.

The foreign ministry released a terse, two-sentence
statement on Friday, which said that all diplomats in
Pakistan were extended “full courtesies and privileges” as
required under the Vienna Conventions. The statement reads,
“The same courtesies and privileges are also extended to
duly accredited US diplomats (and) consular representatives
in Pakistan.”—AP

23, June, 2012


Dir post raided by Afghan Militants


UPPER DIR, June 22: Two soldiers and five militants were
killed when security forces repulsed an attack by
terrorists on a check-post in tehsil Barawal of Upper Dir
district on Friday.

Sources said the militants from Afghanistan’s Kunar
province attacked the checkpost in Karakar area. Five of
the attackers were killed when the security forces returned
fire. Two soldiers were killed in the attack.—Correspondent


23, June, 2012


CJ pulls himself out of bench hearing Bahria Town cases


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, June 22: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad
Chaudhry has excused himself from sitting on the bench
hearing pending cases against Bahria Town of property
tycoon Malik Riaz.

The decision was announced on Friday by the chief justice
who was heading a three-member bench hearing a case
relating to the murder of a guard of Bahria Town.
Other members of the bench are Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.

The court said in its order that former chairman of Bahria
Town, Malik Riaz, had levelled allegations against the
chief justice and the Supreme Court on various occasions
and for that reason the court had instituted a contempt of
court case against him which was pending before a three-
member bench.

“Let the case be heard by a bench in which the chief
justice is not a member,” it said.

The court pointed out at the very outset that the counsel
for Bahria Town, Hamid Khan, had expressed his inability to
appear in the case, without citing the reason.

Justice Khilji   Arif Hussain observed that a lawyer’s job
was to protect   the rights of his clients within the legal
limit. “We all   are here to dispense justice. We should not
be personal to   anyone,” he said.

Advocate Zahid Bokhari informed the court that he had been
engaged by Malik Riaz to defend him in the case.

A bench without the chief justice will take up the case on
June 25 after disposing of the cases already fixed before


23, June, 2012


By-poll on Gilani seat on July 19


ISLAMABAD, June 22: The Election Commission announced on
Friday that by-election for the NA-151 (Multan-IV) seat
would be held on July 19.
The seat fell vacant after disqualification of Yousuf Raza
Gilani as member of the National Assembly.

According to the commission, nomination papers will be
received on June 25 and 26 and scrutinised by the returning
officer on June 28 and 29.

Candidates may file appeal against decisions of the
returning officer on July 2. The appeals will be decided by
July 4 and nominations may be withdrawn on July 5. —


23, June, 2012


Court orders FIA to continue probe into NICL land scam


By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, June 22: The Supreme Court directed the Federal
Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday to move ahead with its
investigation into the NICL land scam and appointment of
its former chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi in accordance with the
law and without any fear or favour.

The order was issued by a three-judge bench comprising
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S.
Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain hearing a case about
alleged corruption in the affairs of National Insurance
Company Limited.

S.M. Zafar, the counsel for Makhdoom Amin Fahim, said his
client was innocent and asked the court to avoid making
observations which might amount to directing the
investigation. “When you do it who will not follow it,” he

“Then let us close the case,” the chief justice remarked.
But Mr Zafar said he just wanted justice to be done.
Justice Khwaja observed that gone were the days of
injustice when there were different laws for the haves and
have-nots. “There is no room for sentiments. We are here to
uphold the Constitution with open heart.”

Director FIA Karachi Moazzam Jah submitted a report on
progress in the investigation into purchase of 10 acres of
land in Karachi by the NICL at an exorbitant price and
transfer of millions of rupees from the account of Zafar
Salim, a cousin of land seller Khwaja Akbar Butt, into the
joint account of Amin Fahim, his son and wife.

He said that a loss of Rs490 million had been caused to the
NICL and the entire amount had been recovered and deposited
in the NICL account.

Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood conceded before the court
that Ayaz Khan Niazi had been appointed as NICL chairman in
violation of rules. No application from Mr Niazi was on
record, he added.

He said a summary proposing three names, including those of
civil servants Naveed Arif and Anisul Hasan Mousvi, had
been moved by his ministry and the prime minister approved
the name of Ayaz Khan Niazi. He said that an advertisement
for the contract post was necessary, but it was not done.

The court noted that the appointment of Mr Niazi was not in
accordance with the law which required a candidate to have
direct experience of insurance business. “Rules are
subservient to the statute. This is a public company as
people have paid millions of rupees to keep it alive. You
are to supervise it in a manner that has been specified by
the legislature,” Justice Khwaja observed.

The chief justice said the NICL had an annual turnover of
Rs6 billion and the case against Ayaz Khan Niazi should
have been sent to NAB and the FIA by now.

This agitated Mr Niazi’s counsel Tariq Asad who complained
that “I am being condemned unheard.” He said an impression
was being created that his client was not eligible for the

“We are just asking questions,” the chief justice said.

But the counsel said that the proceedings were one-sided.
He said Mr Niazi had worked with leading banks at handsome
salaries and stressed that management of funds had direct
relevance with the insurance business.

Justice Khilji said: “He may be a very good banker but
under section 12 of the insurance law, he is required to
have direct relevance with the insurance business.”

The hearing was adjourned for one week.


23, June, 2012


Kidnapped Security personnel butchered


By Sailab Mehsud

LADDAH, June 22: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said
on Friday they had beheaded seven security personnel they
had kidnapped on Thursday after a clash with security
forces near Laddah in South Waziristan tribal region.

TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called journalists from an
unspecified location and said the Taliban had killed all
the seven security personnel.

He said the heads of the slain soldiers would soon be
produced before the media.

The beheading claim was also made by Taliban’s spokesman
for South Waziristan Agency Asim Mehsud.

The TTP spokesman said that only two Taliban fighters had
been killed in the Thursday’s clash with the security
forces, and not 10 as claimed by security forces.

He said the Taliban had seized 11 LMG, two G-3s,
Kalashnikovs, binoculars and cameras.



                 E D I T O R I A L N E W S


17, June, 2012


National drama


BRANDISHING a copy of the Quran, business tycoon Malik Riaz
makes serious allegations about the chief justice in press
conferences and television talk shows. Lawyers opine in
front of cameras at length while hearings involving their
clients are under way. Talk-show hosts go after each other
in social media and on live television. During breaks the
camera keeps rolling, revealing an alarming familiarity
between politicians, journalists and big — and corrupt —
business. And now the Supreme Court is in on the game,
going after the media in a televised full-court meeting
designed to confront that industry on its own turf.
Pakistan’s latest national crisis, in which rivalries among
some of the country’s most influential and important people
and institutions have been played out in a shockingly
public fashion, started out as overblown drama and is now
descending into farce.

Yes, the issues involved are extremely serious: high-level
corruption possibly involving the supreme judiciary, media
ethics and suspicions about Mr Riaz’s real motives. Is he
simply a frustrated briber, or has someone promised him a
bigger prize? These matters are not insignificant, and they
need to be exposed. But much of that could have taken place
less publicly — through legal channels, for example — and
less hysterically, avoiding some of the drama that is
distracting from a host of other problems and making
average Pakistanis lose what little faith they still have
in the country. Instead, the very open back-and-forth seems
designed to settle scores and attract attention rather than
solve the real issues at stake. Mr Riaz could have opted
for legal routes if he thinks he has been wronged. Instead,
he is still dangling the carrot of further revelations in
press conferences yet to come. Against the backdrop of a
case that has raised questions about the chief justice, the
SC has simply appeared defensive by broadcasting its
attempts to uncover violations possibly committed by
certain talk-show hosts. Meanwhile, the media

has been focused mainly on keeping audiences hooked to a
steady diet of drama — words like ‘dhamaka’ and ‘zalzala’
are bandied about casually and accomplish nothing more than
raising viewers’ blood pressure — and on individual
journalists using airtime to take swipes at each other or
establish their own moral uprightness.

The net result of all this posturing and duelling? Some
evidence of corruption has come to light. But Malik Riaz
and Arsalan Iftikhar have yet to be investigated. Questions
about the chief justice’s possible involvement remain
unanswered. The media has only called into question its own
independence. What have we achieved? Lots of sound and
fury, signifying not much at all.


17, June, 2012


Crime spree

IT is a sad reflection on both the police and the
administration in Karachi that few measures have been taken
to contain the rising graph of violent crime in the
metropolis. On Friday, robbers made off with over Rs4.5m in
a bank heist in the city’s Nazimabad area, the second such
incident in two days. At least seven bank robberies have
been committed in the city this year, in which over Rs20m
has been looted. Such is the level of official apathy that
criminals, brushing off any fears of being caught and
tried, are robbing banks with impunity without hiding their
identity and in full view of CCTV cameras. At the same
time, street crimes and hold-ups during traffic jams have
become so common that most people don’t even report these
incidents to the police. All of this points to the complete
collapse of the policing system in Karachi.

Police say that several groups are involved in bank
robberies, including extremists, criminals based in rural
Sindh as well as urban bandits looking for major hauls.
Though they claim to have solved several bank robbery
cases, the numbers prove they have to do a much better job
in neutralising criminal gangs. There were close to 20 bank
robberies in 2011, while figures from 2010 and 2009 are not
too different. If religious militants are indeed involved,
then the situation is all the more alarming. Meanwhile,
trying to cover up for their failure, the official law-
enforcers put the entire blame on security companies. True,
much of the criticism levelled at these firms is valid, but
surely this amounts to the police passing the buck and
shirking their own responsibility. Where the administration
is concerned, the maintenance of a crime-free society is
hardly a priority. Few government officials raise the issue
of rampant crime in Karachi at the relevant forums. A
centrally coordinated system needs to be put in place to
check bank robberies as well as street crime, while elected
representatives need to question the police about the
latter’s role in this dismal situation and recommend
measures that could improve the performance of the law


17, June, 2012

Magic wand


IF Mr Rehman Malik has a magic wand that he can wave to do
away with our power-sector problems, why on earth did he
not tell us sooner? We are very encouraged by the offer he
made in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy held
on Friday that he can “sort out” the DISCOs and bring their
recoveries to “100 per cent”. And while he’s at it, could
he also ensure that the power sector does not resort to any
form of ghost billing in the process? And that disputed
billing becomes a thing of the past? We would also like to
ask him whether his magic wand works for the circular debt
that has been dogging our economy for so long and for which
we appear to have no solution.

Watching this government deal with the power crisis now
inspires jokes of the ‘how many ministers does it take to
install a light bulb’ variety. In the same cabinet
committee meeting, we are told Mr Qamar Zaman Kaira growled
at the senior management of the DISCOs and the finance
minister formed two more ‘subcommittees’. The newly
inducted minister for water and power, Mr Ahmed Mukhtar,
could apparently only listen. If growling at the management
is what it takes, one wonders why the government is so
helpless before the power bureaucracy that it cannot see
through a simple reform to empower the independent boards
placed atop the DISCOs. If reform consisted of forming
subcommittees, we would have solved this mess much earlier.
The answer to our energy woes lies only in the slow and
incremental road of power-sector reform. Unfortunately,
from what we have witnessed so far, that is a road the
government has clearly no wherewithal for. Instead, we’re
left with these cabinet jamborees and clownish proposals.


18, June, 2012


EU trade concessions

THE European Union Parliament has partially redesigned its
Generalised System of Preferences Plus scheme and amended
its rules to increase the threshold of imports from
countries applying for trade concessions under this
arrangement from one to two per cent. This will allow
Pakistan, along with Ukraine and the Philippines, to be
eligible and apply for zero-duty on its exports from 2014.
While the modified GSP-plus rules will improve Pakistan’s
chances to get trade concessions from the 27-nation bloc,
the country will not qualify for the scheme automatically.
There is still a big ‘if’ attached to its successful entry
into the club of countries enjoying trade incentives
offered by the EU. Islamabad will have to implement 27
international conventions on human and labour rights,
environment and good governance before our exporters are
able to take advantage of the opportunity and increase
their exports to the EU.

Given our past record on these issues the government will
have to make serious efforts to improve its performance to
demonstrate to the EU its commitment to “core universal
values of human and labour rights, environment and
governance”. Even after its entry into the GSP-plus club,
Pakistan will have to continually show improvement in its
performance on the implementation of these conventions. The
amended GSP-plus rules provide for an “effective monitoring
and evaluating implementation of the relevant international
conventions”, which requires the beneficiary countries to
provide positive and regular proof that they are indeed
implementing them. Failure to do so will result in
temporary or permanent ouster from the arrangement, which
is the key EU trade instrument to promote human rights,
reduce poverty and promote sustainable development and
governance in beneficiary countries. Thus, entry into the
scheme will bring more responsibility along with economic

While it is important for Islamabad to move ahead to cash
in on the opportunity, it should also press the EU to
implement the temporary, limited duty waiver for 75
Pakistani textile and other exports announced to help the
country recover from floods losses of 2010. In spite of a
WTO waiver to the package, its final approval by the EU
remains uncertain. The implementation of these temporary
incentives is crucial to help our industry, especially the
textile and clothing exporters, prepare itself for enhanced
trade discounts under the GSP-plus arrangement. Moreover,
it will also push the industry to make investments to
expand capacity and improve the quality of products. With
the world economic situation too dismal to expect the much-
needed foreign investors to come to Pakistan, the EU trade
incentives must revive domestic investment.


18, June, 2012


Polio vaccination ban


AS we get tired of the intense drama being played out on
the national stage and look away in the hope of some
relief, what do we see? Hafiz Gul Bahadur issuing a decree
banning polio vaccination in the North Waziristan Agency.
The militant is considered one of the ‘good’ Pakistani
Taliban, a pro-army commander with whom the authorities
have cut many deals. By banning polio vaccination and
linking its resumption to the cessation of US drone
strikes, he now imperils some 140,000 children in the area
he controls. What is left to be said when children are used
as pawns in a game they are unlikely to understand? This is
not only evident in the case of the ban but also in the
CIA-sponsored fake vaccination campaign that was carried
out by Dr Shakil Afridi in Abbottabad to verify Osama bin
Laden’s presence there. While a direct link has yet to be
established between that operation and the reluctance of
people in the tribal areas to have their children
vaccinated in its wake, the number of cases in which
parents have refused polio drops for their offspring has
been on the rise. Such unwillingness on the part of the
parents will only serve to enhance the effectiveness of the
propaganda tool in the hands of the militants, especially
with Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s declaration that the CIA is known
to use polio vaccinators as spies.
In an area where polio is endemic, vaccination has now
stopped and there are reports that kits have been snatched
and destroyed, and many villages have decided against
vaccinating their children. Where is the state in all this?
Has it abdicated all responsibility? Will its obsession to
remain onside with forces it feels are vital to its
national security objectives weigh heavier in its decisions
than its duty towards its children? We wish we knew.


18, June, 2012


Fire safety at hospitals


THE recent tragedy at Lahore’s Services Hospital, where
flames in the nursery resulted in the deaths of 10 infants,
has focused attention on fire safety at health centres. It
was to be hoped that the absence of fire safety measures
witnessed at Services was uncommon, but, sadly, that seems
not to be the case. Reports that have come in from other
parts of the country indicate a similar picture: fire-
fighting equipment is missing in hospitals and the relevant
staff is not properly trained to handle it. Investigations
into the situation in large Rawalpindi hospitals, for
instance, found three government-run and several private
health centres lacking in this regard. While rules about
safety and standards do exist — the City District
Government Rawalpindi’s Civil Defence Department is
responsible for inspecting fire-safety measures in
hospitals and other public buildings — they are often not
followed with the appropriate level of stringency.

This is hardly surprising given the perennially cash-
strapped position of state-run health centres and the
sluggishness of government departments. But fire safety at
hospitals is far too important an issue to allow standards
to slip. Fires are a risk in any building and all
appropriate measures including equipment and escape routes
should be in place. But medical centres, especially the
large public-sector ones, usually have on the premises
medical equipment that is highly combustible, oxygen or
methylated spirit being just two examples. The fire at
Services was, in fact, accelerated by the oxygen lines to
the incubators. There has been some stir in official
quarters after the Services fire: the provincial health
department has issued letters to all public-sector
hospitals to survey safety measures and plug the gaps. This
should be done at speed with extra-vigilant oversight,
duplicated all over the country and include private medical
centres. Hospitals are there to save lives, not expose them
to added risk.


19, June, 2012


Lawyers’ reactions


OVER the last few days, bar councils and associations
across the country have been expressing their solidarity
with the chief justice and the supreme judiciary in the
wake of business tycoon Malik Riaz’s revelations. Some of
the actions they have taken, and the language they have
used, call into question the objectivity that, as lawyers,
we expect them to display. Advocates Aitzaz Ahsan and Zahid
Bokhari have, for example, been banned from entering
several of these organisations for representing the prime
minister and Mr Riaz and some associations in Rawalpindi
have threatened to revoke the membership of any lawyer
defending Mr Riaz. The higher echelons of the bar,
including the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court
Bar Association, have not endorsed these decisions, which
were made in some areas of the country at more local
levels. And they go against one of the very basic
principles of justice — every individual, whether innocent
or guilty, and no matter how heinous the crime he or she
may have committed, has the right to representation.
Second, the chief justice’s involvement remains an open
question. Yes, the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mr Riaz’s
cases do not seem, on the face of it, to have been
affected. But the businessman has made a number of
troubling allegations outside the courtroom. Neither the
SC’s suo motu case nor the SC registrar’s statement has set
the matter to rest. As professionals for whom the
independence of the judiciary is supposedly of critical
importance, lawyers should be calling for more information
rather than automatically taking sides and focusing on the
theory that a conspiracy has been launched to clip the
judiciary’s wings.

The lawyers’ community is reportedly divided over what
course of action to take next: whether or not protests
should take place, and whether they should call for both Mr
Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar, the chief justice’s son, to be
investigated, rather than just the former. To preserve
their reputation as professionals who value justice over
politics, it is critical that they take an objective
approach. This is even more important against the backdrop
of recent unacceptable behaviour in which lawyers have
physically assaulted judges, media persons and policemen.
Once seen as a section of civil society that had taken
action to change the course of Pakistan’s history for the
better, they are now becoming notorious for flouting the
rule of law and taking partial, even politicised positions.
In this moment lies an opportunity for them to reclaim the
reputation they developed earlier on as defenders of
democracy and a strong judiciary.


19, June, 2012


Mob justice


WHERE cities are forever smarting under violence and where
the grip of the law is loose, it is not unusual for
citizens to act as police and judge. With faith as a motive
the mix becomes lethal and the protesters turn into a
vigilante mob with ready justifications for murder. Mob
justice has been witnessed in several places, and lately
the vigilantes have appeared in the lawless streets of
Karachi and near Quetta. On Sunday, a mob attacked a police
station in Karachi, angered by the alleged blasphemous act
of a man — reportedly a drug addict — who had been booked
and arrested by the law-enforcers. The police managed to
disperse the raiders with aerial shooting of bullets and
firing teargas shells, even though the situation was tense
enough for Rangers to have been called in. Given the
prevailing atmosphere, this was an instance where an ugly
incident was avoided. A similar angry raid on a police
station near Quetta which was holding a blasphemy suspect
on Saturday turned more violent. It ended in the death of
one protester and caused bullet injuries to no less than 19
men, eight of them policemen.

Such incidents are linked in no small part to the blasphemy
laws on our books and the increasing atmosphere of
religious intolerance that is crowding out all voices of
sanity. Moreover, a judicial system which has failed to
deliver has aggravated the general frustrations of a
society that has increasingly come to feel that for its
grievances to be addressed adequately, it must take the law
into its own hands. Rights activists, both in Pakistan and
abroad, have time and again questioned the inability of
governments in the country to effectively check these
violent protests that have a tendency to get out of control
and to result in acts of extreme brutality. Quite often, it
has been noticed, the law-enforcers fail to fully
anticipate the repercussions of holding a blasphemy accused
and are late in putting remedial measures in place. While
theirs is certainly a sensitive job, they must take all
precautions to protect a suspect from the anger of the mob.


20, June, 2012


PM’s disqualification

IN disqualifying a sitting, democratically elected prime
minister, the Supreme Court has taken an extraordinary —
and unfortunate — step. This whole story could have played
out very differently, in ways much less disruptive to the
nascent democracy this country is trying to build, if the
SC had steered clear of a course of action that has now
brought the judiciary, parliament and the executive in
direct confrontation with each other. At a number of
junctures the court could have avoided pursuing the
contempt of court case as doggedly as it did, especially
considering that the larger issue — corruption — was a
matter involving the president, not the prime minister.
Legally there might have been a case against the prime
minister, but it was best for the supreme judiciary not to
have waded so deep into such obviously political waters.
Even at a later stage, it could have let the speaker’s
ruling — which has the backing of a parliamentary
resolution — stand. If that was not possible, it could have
declared her ruling unacceptable and referred the matter to
the Election Commission rather than simply asking that body
to issue a denotification. Even if the outcome had
ultimately been the same, at least the court would not have
taken on the role of directly disqualifying an elected
prime minister. By doing so, it has both disrupted an
existing democratic set-up and set a worrying precedent for
the future.

But the damage has been done. And the PPP has an important
choice to make. The party should now take the high moral
ground and focus on the system rather than the individual.
There are disruptive options: refusing to accept the order,
for example, or delaying the matter by using the
constitution to argue that the president can ask the prime
minister to continue in office until a new one is
appointed. For the sake of preserving the system, if the
party has reservations against the judgment it should
express these, perhaps even througha strongly worded
parliamentary resolution, have Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani step
aside and parliament elect a new prime minister as soon as

Indications are that the ruling coalition has already
embarked on this course. But it is still deeply unfortunate
that matters have come to this stage; completing the five-
year tenure of both an elected government and its chief
executive would have been a much-needed win for Pakistan.
What is critical now is that elections are held, whether
early or on time and as free and fair as possible, so that
the final judgment can be left to the people’s court.


20, June, 2012


Power riots


THERE are three aspects of the violent power protests
gripping several cities of Punjab that stand out. The
protests have come at a time when the ruling PML-N has held
its own rallies against long hours of electricity
suspension. Second, the police have shown little ability,
and, significantly, little inclination to stop the rioters
and arsonists. Three, assets wearing a federal tag, such as
electricity supply offices and railways and residences of
lawmakers linked to the PPP government in Islamabad have
been a favourite target of rioters who have also blocked
highways and attacked private property. The police inaction
and delay were largely to blame for the loss of life and
damage to property and livelihoods. The railways had to
suspend 25 trains after the police failed to respond to its
calls for help to save a train from arsonists in Kamoki,
not far from Lahore.

The Shahbaz Sharif government has a bigger role to keep the
protests violence-free than the one it seems to have
assigned to itself, while the government is using
taxpayers’ money to call for ‘peace’ through newspaper
advertisements. However, given the freedom the genie has
become accustomed to in the presence of an almost helpful
administration, it will not be easy to put it back into the
bottle. The violent monster threatens to inspire others to
resort to even bloodier antics against future set-ups. The
federal government badly failed to go beyond promises on
the issue of power generation. Among other major problems,
the politics of acrimony prevented a dialogue on the
subject that could have held out hope for the ultimate
identification of the best-possible solution to the energy
crisis. As the politicians and governments stand apart in
the wake of Mr Gilani’s disqualification, the answer to the
problem has not changed. The road to an illuminated
Pakistan begins right here and all parties must understand
this. It is not that these riots do not reflect public
sentiment but a more responsible course for the federal and
provincial governments would have been to sit down together
and jointly find a way out of the darkness.


20, June, 2012


Quetta carnage


THERE seems to be no end to the relentless murder of
members of the Shia Hazara community in Balochistan. Many
of the victims of Monday’s suicide car bombing that
targeted a university bus in Quetta, in which at least four
people died and over 70 were injured, belonged to this
beleaguered ethnic group. Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has claimed
responsibility for the attack saying that its latest
atrocity was ‘revenge’ for the bombing of a madressah in
Quetta earlier this month. Members of the Balochistan
Assembly have rightly questioned the role of intelligence
agencies, particularly their inability to pre-empt such
acts of terrorism. The deadly violence in Balochistan,
especially in its capital city, has created a state of fear
and mistrust between the ethnic and religious communities
that reside in the province. However, while the provincial
government has largely played the role of spectator as
violence consumes Balochistan, it is the security
establishment that must primarily explain why terrorist
outfits have been allowed to operate with impunity in the
As we have argued before, trying to stop a suicide bomber
when he is about to strike is next to impossible. Also, it
is not possible for the security forces to be everywhere
all the time. The fact is a police vehicle was accompanying
the ill-fated bus in Monday’s tragedy, yet it could do
little to prevent the carnage. The key, then, to checking
the violence is to dismantle the infrastructure of
terrorist groups through better intelligence gathering and
pre-emptive action. The intelligence agencies’ role in this
regard has been woeful to say the least, with militants
striking at will in Balochistan. These shortcomings need to
be addressed and the authorities in Islamabad as well as
Quetta need to shake off their apathy so that the lives of
the people of Balochistan can be secured.


21, June, 2012


The way forward


PAKISTAN no longer has a chief executive, and the most
urgent issue now is to have one in place as soon as
possible and reactivate the cabinet. Aside from the legal
and constitutional vacuum created by a missing prime
minister, this is not a country that can afford to muddle
along without a set of people monitoring it constantly.
Accepting the Supreme Court’s judgment, having Mr Gilani
step down quickly and calling a National Assembly session
for Friday were the right steps for the ruling coalition to
take, paving the way for quickly putting a new government
in place.

But the matter doesn’t end there. The new executive then
needs to focus on whatever governance is possible over the
next few months. Disturbing as it has been to watch the
judiciary unseat an elected prime minister, the reaction to
this development should be a sobering moment for the ruling
coalition. The bad-to-worse trajectory of the country over
the last four years has meant the man on the street was
more than happy to see the prime minister go. Bad
governance is not, of course, any justification for
disqualification by the judiciary, nor was it made out to
be — that is a judgment that can only be made in the
people’s court. Which is all the more reason the country’s
reaction is a warning to the ruling coalition that if it
manages to spend the next few months in power, it will need
to do whatever it can to at least try to improve the state
of the nation. Playing the martyrdom or victim card will
only go so far in the face of problems that range from
loadshedding and economic mismanagement to poor law and
order and limited success in counterterrorism.

Overshadowing all of this is the question of whether the SC
will give the new prime minister a chance. This will not be
easy to do, given how far the judiciary pursued the matter
of the letter to the Swiss authorities during Mr Gilani’s
tenure. But it is also important for the SC to consider
what going after the issue again will realistically
achieve. Institutional and legal concerns have their place,
but should not be focused on to the exclusion of the
country’s broader needs at a given time, in this case
political stability and the need to strengthen the
democratic process. At this point, so close to the end of
the election cycle, it is best to let the people themselves
determine whether or not the ruling coalition deserves to
continue in office.


21, June, 2012


Witness protection


IT is no surprise that over the past few months several
witnesses in cases of sectarian murders and extortion being
tried in Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts have turned
hostile. Others have failed to show up in court. In the
absence of a proper witness protection programme in the
country, when faced with having to testify against hardened
religious or political militants, it is understandable that
people will not put their lives on the line, knowing the
state will do nothing for their protection. Last year,
Sindh’s home minister at the time had announced that a
witness protection unit would be set up in the province.
Yet the provincial government has taken no practical steps
to set up such a unit. Moreover, judges and prosecutors
connected to terrorism cases have expressed concern about
the lack of security provided to them. And despite the fact
that the Supreme Court had instructed the Sindh government
last year to provide adequate security to anti-terrorism
court judges, the provincial authorities have shown no
inclination to act upon these orders. In the past judges
have received death threats while some have been murdered.

As we have argued before, until there is an effective
countrywide system in place that protects witnesses as well
as judges and prosecutors, the legal battle against
militants and terrorists cannot be won. It is also
unsurprising that in an atmosphere where witnesses and
judicial authorities can be openly threatened and
intimidated, the conviction rate is appallingly low and
notorious suspects often walk free. What is needed is a
strong prosecution which builds cases on solid evidence, an
effective witness protection programme to assure those who
testify that their lives and those of their families will
be protected, as well as courageous judges who can pass
sentences without feeling threatened if terrorism suspects
are to be brought to justice.


22, June, 2012


Critical juncture


FOR a space of nearly 48 hours, everything appeared to be
going as well as possible under the circumstances. The PPP
had accepted the Supreme Court verdict, Yousuf Raza Gilani
had stepped down and a candidate for the role had been
announced. There were no large-scale protests and matters
were proceeding in line with the constitution and
parliamentary procedure. But this is Pakistan, and another
day without more political upheaval was perhaps too much to
ask for. Makhdoom Shahabuddin may not have been the wisest
choice for prime minister, given that he had been linked to
the ongoing ephedrine case. But it is impossible not to
raise eyebrows at the timing of his arrest warrant,
especially since his name was first raised in connection
with the scandal a couple of months ago.

The move has raised fresh tensions in Islamabad, with the
ruling party speculating that extra-constitutional forces
were unable to stomach the smooth transition that was under
way. But while late-night developments might change the
picture, as things stand at the moment the PPP is sticking
to the right plan of following parliamentary procedure and
avoiding confrontation. At the same time it is resisting
the opposition demand for early polls. And that makes the
PML-N’s moves crucial as well. So far the largest
opposition party has played its part in respecting and
strengthening the parliamentary process by fielding its own
candidate despite the fact that getting him elected will be
nearly impossible given the configuration of the National
Assembly. The PPP’s acceptance of the verdict and the PML-
N’s decision to challenge the coalition within parliament
are promising signs of political maturity.

At least on the face of it, then, the major political
players seem to be working within, and therefore
reinforcing, the system. But given the uncanny timing of
yesterday’s developments, we cannot rule out the
possibility that there are forces working behind the scenes
to prevent Pakistan’s fledgling democracy from weathering
the current crisis. Despite its obvious flaws, particularly
on the governance front, the endurance of the post-
Musharraf system has been an achievement in itself. To keep
it going a new prime minister needs to be elected as soon
as possible, following which the ruling coalition and the
opposition should work together to appoint a chief election
commissioner and can negotiate an interim set-up and the
timing of elections. For all of this to fall into place,
today is a critical day. It will require political leaders
to keep their wits about them, continue to avoid
confrontation with each other and with other institutions,
and keep their eyes on the real prize — preserving
Pakistan’s hard-won democracy.

22, June, 2012


Gender insensitivity


BOTH in politics and in the media, language used regarding
female colleagues has in recent days betrayed a shocking
lack of gender sensitivity. MPA Sheikh Allauddin’s tirade
in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday against some women
members focused not on the quality of their arguments, but
on their gender. They were lumped together and criticised
not for their political points of view, but essentially for
being women of what he considers objectionable character.
The implication is depressing: simply by venturing outside
the home to participate in the public sphere, Pakistani
women open themselves up to allegations of not being
‘respectable’. And voiced by an elected official, this
point of view will only reinforce some of our society’s
worst stereotypes. But a mindset that singles women out on
the basis of their gender is not limited to the political
sphere. In one television talk show that aired after the
Malik Riaz interview scandal, an anchor argued that Mehr
Bokhari, co-host on that programme, was given the
professional opportunities she has had because channels
want to hire pretty faces. Regardless of any questions
about Ms Bokhari’s journalistic ethics, she does not
deserve to be evaluated on the basis of her appearance.
This is a deeply sexist point of view — when was the last
time someone claimed a male journalist was hired for being
good-looking? The work any woman does deserves to be judged
on its merit, or lack thereof, and not by any other factor
that would not be applied to her male colleagues.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that some women have
internalised these stereotypes. Take, for example, women
MNAs throwing glass bangles at the finance minister last
year as a form of insult, or the war of words between two
women MPAs from the Sindh Assembly in which one thought it
would be amusing to accuse the other of trying to assert
herself by wearing more make-up than others. The media and
our politicians set the tone of the national debate, and
they are doing Pakistani women a disservice by reinforcing
sexist viewpoints.


22, June, 2012


Polio ‘talks’ with Taliban


A LETTER sent by the Prime Minister’s Polio Eradication
Cell to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor on Monday removes
the thin cover for all to see reality in its absurd form.
The letter requests Governor Masood Kausar to not force but
convince the Taliban into lifting a ban on polio
vaccination in North Waziristan Agency. The message is
evidence of the Taliban’s writ in the agency as it is a
sign of desperation on the part of a government whose
efforts to protect its children against a crippling menace
have been frustrated by all kinds of barriers. The
Pakistani Taliban, who link the lifting of the vaccination
ban to the cessation of drone strikes, are not the only
hurdle anti-polio campaigners face, but they appear to be
among the toughest. These militants are not just preventing
the children of the area they control from being
vaccinated, they pose a genuine danger to the vaccinators

The letter acknowledges the help of religious leaders and
public representatives in forwarding the anti-polio drive.
It also expresses disappointment that no headway has been
made on this front this year in Fata. In general terms, it
gives enough cause for lamenting the lack of awareness
among groups of Pakistanis and their insistence on self-
destruction arising from their suspicions regarding a
crucial vaccine. Yet the call for dialogue with the Taliban
has resonance beyond the subject of health. Beyond politics
and beyond the recognition of militant power this call
expands to a point where several aspects of a wider
dialogue crop up. At this moment, though, the Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa government has little option but to try out the
route that it has suggested in order to have the ban
lifted. This is in the interest of the thousands of
children that the government seeks to save from the effects
of polio.


23, June, 2012


PM election


DESPITE drama worthy of a political thriller, the system
seems to have scraped through — with a significant bruise
or two, but largely intact. The judiciary sent home an
elected prime minister and the timing of the first
replacement candidate’s arrest warrant was a reminder that
Pakistani democracy still treads on dangerous ground. But
ultimately a new prime minister was elected with relatively
little fuss, and even faced a competitor from within
parliament. No assemblies were dissolved and no
constitution violated, at least not by the khakis, who
stayed inside their barracks this time despite having moved
in on the basis of much less upheaval and discontent in the
past. For that, and for the maturity shown by most major
political parties, this should be a moment of celebration
for Pakistani democrats.

Be that as it may, the nomination of Raja Pervez Ashraf was
a snub to millions of citizens who are suffering hours of
loadshedding in the Pakistani summer. In the face of
electricity cuts, the former water and power minister was
an insensitive choice — and an unwise one, in an election
year — sending a signal that the PPP is unconcerned about
one of the nation’s most painful problems. Political
considerations were obviously at stake: the preferences of
coalition partners, not wanting to send a more useful
politician to the gallows, and other calculations the
president may have made. All of this has signalled that the
PPP is either more concerned about political strategy than
the people or is entirely out of touch with the people’s

To prove itself worthy of re-election, the party now needs
to reorder its priorities and take some immediate and
concrete action on the governance front. In particular, Mr
Ashraf will have to take noticeable steps to alleviate the
energy problem. The challenges are difficult, but that is
no excuse; in making some landmark constitutional
amendments, the party has demonstrated that when it wants
to it can produce both vision and the ability to get things
done. For the few months — or weeks, or days, depending on
how the Supreme Court proceeds — that the PPP-led
government has left, it owes it to the country to at least
try to improve the day-to-day realities of life in
Pakistan. Meanwhile, despite the precedent it has set, the
SC needs to give the executive a chance. Sending the new
prime minister packing too will only worsen the clash
between institutions and disrupt the system again. Pakistan
has weathered one crisis; let’s focus on constructive
action instead.


23, June, 2012


Economic loss


RIOTING and looting sparked by power cuts of up to 20 hours
a day in some cities of Punjab earlier this week have done
more than leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
They have also contributed significantly to the province’s
economic losses. In Rawalpindi, for example, city
authorities have estimated the losses suffered by public
infrastructure to be approximately Rs8.5m. In other cities,
such as Faisalabad, the scale of the destruction caused by
rioters and arsonists was even more pronounced. While it is
still too early to arrive at a cumulative figure for the
economic loss incurred by the province in the wake of the
riots, it can safely be assumed to stand in many millions
of rupees. For the small store owner and vegetable hawker,
looted by furious mobs, it meant the loss of individual
earnings. For larger industrial units that take export
orders, it has meant dwindling confidence on the part of
foreign importers in their ability to deliver the goods on
time. If such riots become commonplace in the months ahead
as outages continue and people’s frustrations increase, a
climate of uncertainty in the industrial sector could make
foreign parties wary of placing orders. Even if larger
industrial units with their own energy set-up are able to
complete and deliver orders, the general lawlessness will
deter importers.

While striving to tackle power outages for the sake of the
general public, this is the larger picture that the Punjab
and federal authorities should keep in mind. Protests
against long hours without electricity were not unexpected
and have been witnessed earlier as well. True, such
violence cannot be excused, but the frustration of people
losing livelihoods and suffering sleepless nights and
disturbed morning routines is understandable. Add to this
the financial blow incurred and it is clear that instead of
politicking and pointing fingers at each other the federal
and provincial authorities must work together to find an
answer to Punjab’s power woes. That is the only way to calm
nerves and to ensure that the province’s industrial sector
is not dealt further blows.


23, June, 2012


Peshawar blast


THE attack on the Pakistani way of life continues. The
latest such attack targeted a complex housing the Sufi
shrines of five pirs in Peshawar on Thursday — a special
day of the week that sees more activity than usual at
shrines. Three people were killed and more than 30 injured
in the bomb explosion which did not appear to be directed
at a particular group of people. It was targeted at
visitors to the shrine in general and bore all the
hallmarks of a faith-based crime. A remote-controlled bomb
placed in a pressure cooker — also an apt symbol of the
pent-up rage and negative energy inside the country today —
appears to have been used, in line with similar ‘low-
intensity’ explosions in the past.

The blast was a grim reminder of the dangers that still
stalk Peshawar, a city which has served as the meeting
place for various cultures for ages, but which has gone
through extreme suffering in the recent militancy-ridden
years. Following the blast, one can expect the usual pleas
for the law-enforcers to tighten their defences and for the
intelligence apparatus to show more vigilance in carrying
out its responsibilities to preempt such attacks. However,
even bolstered security measures are unlikely to strike at
the root of the problem, which goes far beyond the
immediate tragedy. The larger issue is that of the space
the militants have occupied to carry out their attacks on a
way of life they deem un-Islamic. Shrines have been a
regular target across the country and any attack on them
can only be seen as one on a peaceful, tolerant version of
Islam. As for Peshawar, where tragedy has struck so many
times, we hope that as the keeper of our heritage, it will
march forward to eventually triumph over the forces of




          C O L U M N S / A R T I C L E S N E W S


17, June, 2012

Masters of the (Pakistani) universe


By Cyril Almeida

ANCHORS in the dock, owners’ resources being questioned,
secrets tumbling out, rumours flying — the media is
supposed to report the story, not be the story.

But since things here don’t quite follow a plan — at least
one that makes much sense — the great media debate is what
we have this week.

(Next week or the week after, it’ll be something else,
since attention spans here are short and a new jester will
pop up to confound and titillate.)

There’s a reason it’s the anchors, the masters of the
Pakistani media universe, who are flailing in the mud and
flinging it at each other at the moment, and even in these
days of unusual candour they won’t tell you what that is.

But if you’re not one of them, the reason is clear as day:
there’s no institutional check on a star anchor.

You only really get a sense of what that means and how
damaging it is when you see other, more tightly controlled
news organisations do it the right way.

I once happened to watch an international star at work at
close quarters. She wanted to talk about X; her producer
asked: why this issue and why now? She wanted to interview
Y; her producer asked: why is this person relevant and what
do you want to ask?What was interesting — for someone who
has seen how it’s done here — is that the producer had real
power. The producer, plugged in to head office, part of a
strictly monitored and accountable chain, had a veto.

If the producer wasn’t convinced or wanted things done
differently, there’s nothing the star could do. Yes,
there’s some give-and-take and a savvy star is very
persuasive, but if the producer was unmoved, that was that.
Here in Pakistan, a channel boss once lamented that his
biggest problem was exercising editorial control over the
big talk-show hosts. Star chooses who comes on, star
chooses the topic of the evening, star chooses what he
wants to ask and which tangent he wants to go off on.

The staff, including that all-important producer, assigned
to work with the star are often little more than personal
assistants, there to please and facilitate rather than to
press for good journalistic practices and accountability.

Most are visibly star-struck and it’s not unusual to see a
star with a producer or sundry other staff in tow,
admiringly looking on while their star hobnobs with the
political, military and social elite.

Yes, if a star crosses an editorial line too often or too
blatantly, there are recriminations. Angry emails are
exchanged or if the misdeed is particularly egregious, a
face-to-face verbal ticking off is delivered.

But there are limits to which management can go, and the
star knows it.

A star host gives you three to four hours of content
(counting repeat telecasts) four or five days a week. The
show pulls in big money for the sums shelled out — the
panel of guests is assembled for free; sets are still
fairly basic by international standards; and the technical
support and hardware doesn’t cost vast sums — so some other
channel is always more than happy to lure an unhappy star
to a new address.

Of course, owners are far from helpless, high-minded sorts.
They give the star a long editorial leash and grant them
direct, privileged access (useful for a star who wants to
throw a tantrum, which they often do) because there’s a
quid pro quo at work.

The boss has a business interest — sometimes the financial
health of the channel itself — at stake; a pal is in
trouble and needs to get his message out; a particular
party needs support (and in this game, count the army as
the biggest, most well-organised of political parties); or
the boss fancies himself as a kingmaker or backroom
operator — for such purposes you trot out the star anchor
with ratings of gold to push the boss’s agenda.
For the most part, the news business here is a business
first and then about journalism, a commitment to informing
the public and about genuinely holding a government to
account (which excludes beating up on a government to
benefit its rivals).

You scratch my back, I scratch yours — the viewer is none
the wiser.

(Newsrooms are for the most part still very different
animals from talk-show sets, and folks on the news, as
opposed to opinion, side are more likely to fight and win
the good fight — though there are limits there too.)

With an arrangement as messy as that and the stakes so
high, the wheels are bound to eventually come off.

Add one final element — call it the anchor personality
element — so vividly on display in that interview, the
faux-journalistic ménage à trois everyone can’t stop
talking about, and you end up with a spectacle that makes
the heart sink and the stomach churn.

Some of the stars you almost feel pity for, controlled as
they are by forces beyond their understanding and desperate
as they are to just be at the party; others you feel
contempt for because they’ve learned to play the game to
the advantage of the only one who matters to them:

So it was in that interview. One star is eager to please,
to do the best she can to keep her seat at the table of
high intrigue, to please her fickle fans and prove her
worth to the big boys who play out their adventures on a
national stage.

The other is sneering and full of contempt, secure in the
knowledge that you win some and you lose some but you
always bounce back if you play the game harder and more
aggressively than the rest.

Insecure or cocksure, they are the masters of the Pakistani
media universe.

The writer is a member of staff.



18, June, 2012


Fall from grace


By Hajrah Mumtaz

‘ROUND and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows’.

That’s the thought I’m left with in the wake of the various
‘gates’ of recent months, culminating in Malik Riaz’s
allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar and the video of Mehr
Bokhari, Mubashir Lucman and Al Capone.

Why should we care? Mud-slinging is a common enough
practice in Pakistan and elsewhere amongst the people who
pace the corridors of power. Malpractice, corruption and
taking the people for a ride are old, old stories in this
country, so much so that if by some miracle we alighted
upon a figure free of controversy, we wouldn’t perhaps know
what to do with him.

Such practices are, in fact, the meat and drink of the
general societal discourse. They can elicit awe at the
often Machiavellian way in which deals are struck and
opponents neutralised, but they don’t often cause outrage.

No one is surprised when yet another figure does the rounds
regarding the allegedly corrupt practices of President Asif
Ali Zardari. There was little shock or horror when Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son was implicated in the
ephedrine-smuggling scandal. Yet another story about who
siphoned off money and abused not just his position but
also the public trust causes no great waves.

Why, then, this outrage, this polarisation, over the
disgrace of two television anchors and the swirl of
controversy around the family of Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry? In a country that has become inured to having its
heroes proving to have feet of clay, why this sense of
betrayal in specifically these two cases of a fall from

Perhaps that statement provides its own answer. There are a
number of points of commonality between the seemingly
disparate positions of television anchorpersons on the one
hand and the highest judge of the land on the other (apart
from Mr Riaz, of course).

They represent the media and the judiciary, two of the
country’s institutions that were elevated to the status of
heroes only recently, and both at the same time. Along with
the lawyers, these are the primary groups that led the
impetus in the series of events that were sparked off in
2007 when the chief justice was suspended.

The media and the judiciary: representatives of change, of
the new Pakistan in which the citizens would actually have
a say and in which their rights and expectations would
actually be considered.

The politicians are not fortunate enough to enjoy this
status in the minds of people, I would argue precisely
because they are a familiar, well-tested entity. Love them
or hate them, in the centre or out in the cold, they have
as a group been around as players for as long as Pakistan
has. But the judges and the journalists — they held all the
shiny sparkle of promise that is wielded by an as-yet-
unwrapped candy bar.

So it is hardly surprising that when this candy turned out
to be covered in lint, there was outrage and a degree of
‘no, it can’t be true’.

In the case of Arsalan Iftikhar, what is true or not is a
matter of investigations and court hearings and not much
can be said on that score right now.

In the case of the media, though, ‘no, it can’t be true’
does not apply. Whether or not Mr Riaz has managed to buy
the allegiance of journalists, it is undeniable that the
show was a set-up, akin to a story planted in the news.
It’s unarguable that the powerful closed ranks to protect
their own interests and if that meant duping the public,
well, that was really not much of a compromise.

This show is certainly not the only one in which this has
been done. Indeed, one of the first statements of defence
put out by Ms Bokhari on Twitter was along the lines of
‘but everybody does it!’

We’ll not go into the journalistic ethics argument here.
But isn’t this reminiscent of another recent media debacle,
the ladies chasing down couples in a Karachi park? Then,
too, Maya Khan initially defended herself with similar
reasoning; everybody does it.

The same defence could not be taken by Dr Amir Liaquat when
he, too, forgot that all the other people present on the
set were not just pieces of furniture. Where two persons’
integrity as journalists has been compromised in last
week’s video, his integrity as a spiritual man — a self-
styled religious leader — was rent apart when he was shot
expressing his true, and offensive, opinions.

Underpinning these humiliations suffered by four television
personalities is, for one thing, an attitude of dismissal
in terms of their audiences — the very people who elevated
them to the position of stardom that they achieved. As for
the politicians, for whom the voters are no more than the
vehicle to their goal — get elected — so too for at least
some media persons, their audiences are merely vehicles to
fame and fortune.

This is the realisation that is sticking in the throats of
the many that are outraged on moral rather than ethical
grounds on what has emerged. And if this is true for this
handful, why should it not be for everyone else in the
business, the media industry as a whole, people are
wondering. Underneath that is the old war injury, itching
again: they don’t really care, either.

Yet these people are not blameless either. As a society, we
tend to put individuals on a pedestal too easily, afford
them the status of a hero far too undemandingly. Is it
because we are so short of role models, so desperate for
someone on whom to pin our hopes that just about anyone
showing a bit of promise will do? Or is it because we, as a
society, have the sort of character that makes friends
easily, but walks away even more quickly once difficulties
raise their head? That answer to that question will,
perhaps, be clearer when we find out where the Arsalan
Iftikhar case is going. Let’s just hope the game doesn’t
turn out to be Russian roulette.

The writer is a member of staff.



20, June, 2012


The great moguls


By Rafia Zakaria

ONCE upon a time there was a rich man from Pakistan. He
flitted between Europe and the United States, sometimes in
Miami, other times in Monaco.

His was a charmed life, with beautiful cars and beautiful
people, such comfort and luxury as is available only to the
most blessed in a world full of want.

Mansoor Ijaz certainly had fortune, and then last year, he
also found fame when he came out with allegations that
Husain Haqqani, then Pakistani ambassador to the US, asked
him to deliver a memo to the Pentagon asking US assistance
against Pakistan’s military leadership. An avalanche of
accusations forced Husain Haqqani to resign and Ijaz became

Recently, Pakistanis were introduced to another man of
means eager to be the moral conscience of the nation. Malik
Riaz, a well-heeled property baron, came out with
allegations that the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry
accepted bribes amounting to several crores and demanded
lavish vacations to Europe.
The accusations are damning, coming from a man, who like
Ijaz before him, seemed to have no direct vendetta against
the chief justice himself. With the expositions came the
firestorm, the accompanying counter-scandals and

Around the pulsing centre of the hurricane that sought to
bring down the chief justice, a cabal of sycophants
emerged, each one threatening the character of the one man
whose morals seemed to be undergirding all justice in
Pakistan. In his moment of moral superiority, Malik Riaz
gave a press conference holding all the while a copy of the
Holy Quran.

When something happens once, there is some room to scratch
one’s head, puzzle over the architecture of accusations and
scandals and the possibility of some small and beat-up
kernel of truth among the lies.

When it happens a second time, the ingredients become
imbued with design, reveal themselves to have been amassed
by intent over coincidence — the served-up meal is a dish
prepared and not a sandwich of leftovers.

In this second iteration of the moral mogul, blowing the
whistle on the nefarious intentions of politically powerful
others, there is again a rich man, previously unknown and
seemingly lacking a direct motive.

In the first case, the target was a man whose power in
brokering relations was greater than what insecure others
shifting uncomfortably in their Pakistani seats could
tolerate; in the second it is a chief justice whose power
to prod just about anyone in Pakistan and ask annoying
questions about people made invisible had became too
threatening to too many.

In both cases, the accusations cut to the quick an
ambassador accused of treason, a judge suspected by some of
allowing his family to engage in corruption. The spice and
sauce was added by the media eager as always to act as
midwife to the deposition of the venerated few.

In some ways, the deposition of the powerful via moral
missiles delivered by rich moguls is an improvement. In the
past, Pakistan has had its share of powerful leaders, and
removing them has involved the grisly business of
executions and assassinations, murders that have occurred
with alarming regularity and remained shrouded in infinite
mystery that will always elude solutions.

This new form of destruction aims for a political death and
not a physical one and the easy proliferation of
information and counter-information so that the only truth
that remains is the one that insists that there is indeed
no truth. While the stage was being set for the chief
justice’s morality to be questioned, the commission
convened to investigate the allegations Ijaz made against
the former ambassador announced that they were truthful. No
one was listening, the nation was already on to the next
killing having learned long ago to expect nothing at all
from commissions.

While the emergence of the moneyed mogul as moral
executioner is better than eliminating political opponents
by actually killing them, it has its own problems. In the
current circus featuring Malik Riaz’s allegations, Arsalan
Iftikhar’s gluttonous expenditures and the chief justice’s
true capacity for providing or presiding over the provision
of justice, it is not simply the truth that is absent but
also the mechanics and frameworks provided by institutions.

Allegations are presented on television, argued about by
anchors and commentators whose own moral dubiousness is
also in question and judged by the average Pakistani in
breaks between loadshedding and CNG strikes.

It is perhaps precisely for these reasons that the new
moral hero in the country, the man who can lift a finger
and merely point it at others to invoke their demise, is
not an inventor, or a public servant or a doctor or social
reformer but just an extremely wealthy man.

Money then suggests that nothing is wanted and hence an
objectivity, a superiority that renders a person above the
fray. Tremendously wealthy men, because they already have
so much of what many others may crave, have been determined
by Pakistanis, the media and others alike, to be worth
listening to.

Their words are imbued with the authority that everyone
else by virtue of their lesser wealth simply cannot have.
Mansoor Ijaz can tell the truth because he already has his
mansion in Monaco; Malik Riaz can ‘expose’ powerful
individuals because his wealth ensures that he is himself
above the pettiness of needing justice to protect himself

This resurrected age of the magnate as Pakistan’s morality
police is one in which wealth has been solidly replaced the
truth in a country sick of craving for it, where money and
those who have it can insist that it is their judgments and
their accusations that will determine the survival of

The great moguls, have arrived, ready to depose and expose,
not because they are themselves better, truer or more
virtuous than those they take down, but because they are
simply, deliciously and unquestionably something that
everyone in Pakistan wants to be … a rich man.

The Writer is an attorney teaching political philosophy and
constitutional law.



20, June, 2012


Give Greece a chance


By Mahir Ali

“GREEKS are fond of pointing out that they invented
democracy,” John Lanchester pointed out in The New Yorker a
week or so ago; “they invented tragedy, too….”

That the two phenomena are hardly incompatible has been
underlined not so much by last Sunday’s elections but by
the overall Greek experience of recent decades.

The two parties that have alternated in power since the
demise of fascistic military rule in the mid-1970s, the
conservative New Democracy and the Pan-Hellenic Socialist
Movement (Pasok), were poised at the start of the week to
form a new government. New Democracy won about 30 per cent
of the vote on Sunday, a substantial improvement on its 19
per cent showing in last month’s elections, but not enough
for a simple parliamentary majority even with the 50 extra
seats that the Greek constitution awards to the leading

Hot on its heels was the leftwing Syriza, the bête noir of
Brussels, with roughly a 27 per cent share of the vote, 10
per cent more than it won in May. Pasok maintained its
sharply diminished vote bank of about 13 per cent.

The result followed what could only be described as a
concerted voter-intimidation campaign by a range of
European leaders and institutional heads, notably the
German chancellor Angela Merkel, the International Monetary
Fund’s Christine Lagarde and the World Bank’s Robert
Zoellick. Even France’s recently elected president,
François Hollande, pitched in.

They were all singing from the same hymn book, emphasising
that Greece’s only path to salvation lay in electing a
government that would abide by a memorandum agreed with the
European Union (EU), whereby financial assistance is
contingent upon stringent austerity measures ranging from a
sharp reduction in minimum wages and deep cuts in pensions
to wide-ranging privatisation.

The alternative would be eviction from the eurozone — a
prospect that’s unpopular in Greece even among most of
those appalled by the prospect of further Brussels-imposed

Even New Democracy’s electoral platform envisaged
requesting a moderate amelioration of the austerity
programme, and party leader Antonis Samaras, who is almost
certain to take over as prime minister, has indicated he
wishes to renegotiate the terms of a bailout that Greece
desperately needs.

A number of European officials, including some in Germany,
have indicated they wouldn’t be averse to a bit of
tinkering at the margins, although Merkel, speaking from
the venue of the G20 summit in Mexico, seemed adamant that
Greek voters could expect no reward for effectively voting
into power the sort of government she championed.
Perhaps she has noticed that almost 60 per cent of the
electorate opted for parties that oppose the austerity
measures. In the interim between the two electoral bouts,
Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras spent several days in
European capitals arguing that if his nation did not stand
up to the EU’s unreasonable dictates on this count, other
countries could expect the same treatment.

From the point of view of the EU hierarchy, a Syriza-led
government could indeed have set an unpalatable example of
resistance to neoliberal dictation.

The prospect of that variety of Greek ‘contagion’ arguably
evokes more fear among European financial institutions than
burgeoning sovereign debt and collapsing banks. The latter
can invariably expect more sympathy when their speculative
investments lead to spectacular losses than individuals
whose pay packets or pensions are stripped away for no
particular fault of their own.

In some quarters it has frequently been argued of late that
the people of Greece deserve the pain they have been ladled
with as punishment for electing governments that have
squandered the wealth that came their way after Athens
joined the eurozone in 1999.

It is much the same quarters, though, that have lately been
demanding that the same parties — New Democracy and Pasok,
most of whose policies are all but indistinguishable,
notwithstanding their traditional rivalry — be re-elected.

Some economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman,
argue that whereas poor policymaking at the domestic level
has indeed played a role in ravaging Greece, it’s European
structures and officials who are primarily to blame for the
eurozone crisis.

A common currency may have been an unworkable idea to start
with in the absence of a common government — and moves
towards closer financial and political integration face
considerable resistance.

In the past few days it has been speculated that,
notwithstanding a pro-austerity administration, Greek may
anyhow be compelled to abandon the euro by the end of the
Although not everyone in Greece shares the opinion that a
return to the drachma would necessarily exacerbate the
crisis, such a move would undoubtedly renew the periodic
turmoil that has become a part of the political landscape
over the past couple of years.

It is highly likely, of course, that unrest will anyhow be
unleashed in the months ahead as the new government seeks
to impose the measures agreed with the EU in return for a
cash injection, whether or not Samaras succeeds in winning
the odd concession.

This could turn very ugly indeed. Amid mass unemployment
and even more widespread impoverishment, comparisons are
being made with Weimar Germany. The ultra-right Golden Dawn
party, which encourages anti-immigrant violence and boasts
a symbol reminiscent of the Nazi swastika, won seven per
cent of the vote last month and, despite the histrionics of
its representatives, more or less maintained that level of
support this week.

It represents a Europe-wide phenomenon, but there are few
grounds for complacency about the spread of fascist
sentiments in the guise of Greek nationalism.

Like all similar movements, it feeds on fear, and Greece in
its present shape is a crucible of uncertainty. The
proposed austerity measures will only exacerbate this
trend. Europe can afford to be a great deal more generous.
It could at least try to stimulate growth without insisting
on its pound of


What is more broadly a crisis of capitalism ultimately
cannot be redressed without rethinking the underlying
fundamentals. That may well prove inevitable in the
slightly longer run.

For the moment, though, a concerted effort to ease or share
Greece’s pain — and to spare Spain, to cite the most
obvious example, the same sort of agony — could possibly
turn out to be the least excruciating remedy for Europe as
a whole.


21, June, 2012


The two judgments


By I.A. Rehman

ALL praises to the Almighty that the people of Pakistan
have been blessed with two history-making judgments of the
apex court and this within a matter of days.

The more momentous of the two verdicts has ended the
months-old agony of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani by pushing him
off the prime ministerial gaddi. Since the issue was
contempt of the highest court in the land the verdict was
not unexpected, though the scale of punishment is.

While all Supreme Court verdicts must always be honoured
even if they do not appear to be sound, it may not be
possible to avoid a prolonged discussion on the present
judgment. There are quite a few issues that will need to be

Only time will tell, after the current wave of emotional
frenzy has subsided, whether this judgment will be viewed
as a vindication of the judiciary’s authority or as an
avoidable encroachment on the political domain of
parliament, and whether the majesty of law only means the
majesty of judges. It hardly needs to be said that history
has not always upheld crucial judicial decisions, however
popular they might have been in the first instance.

To say this does not mean siding with Mr Gilani and his
party; it only means that regardless of any party’s guilt,
justice must not only be done, it should also seen to be
done. Besides, whatever the circumstances the near total
eclipse of parliamentary institutions is a prospect even a
stable and disciplined state cannot afford. The
consequences to Pakistan cannot be viewed with equanimity.
The ouster of a prime minister on a non-political charge
calls for solemn reflection and not dancing in the streets.

The PPP as the major partner in the ruling coalition has
done well to accept the verdict and start looking for Mr
Gilani’s successor. It might have been better for them to
vacate the stage altogether in favour of the people more
acceptable to both the permanent and ideological wings of
the establishment.

The other judgment, which disposed of the suo motu Case No
5 of 2012, regarding media coverage of some allegedly shady
deals, has been pushed into the background but it will also
be debated for long. This because the Supreme Court has
withstood another three-yearly test, and is saying that
“today, as ever, the court has endeavoured to uphold the
constitution and has stood up to unconstitutional forces
bent upon undermining it”.

The debate will be long because the court has chosen not to
identify the “unconstitutional forces” behind the Malik
Riaz-Arsalan Iftikhar affair. The only people taken to task
in the judgment belong to the electronic media, and they
cannot be suspected of possessing the capacity to undermine
the constitution or the judiciary.

By stopping short of exposing the invisible hands that
conspired against the judiciary the matter has been left in
the area of speculation. As a result the lawyers, who claim
to be friends of the judiciary, and who need not be guided
by it, may be looking for scapegoats in the wrong places.
They should know about the forces capable of using
carefully stored information to rattle any institution, the
judiciary not excepted.

A highly gratifying feature of the judgment is the
assurance that the tradition of replacing a few dry and
dreary paragraphs on an exposition of law with classical
verse is getting stronger. There is progress too inasmuch
as, instead of relying on translations, Hafiz is quoted in
his own language. The promotion of Persian poetry,
criminally neglected by the education bosses, is yet
another feather in the court’s already bulging plumage. And
one does not have words to thank the august court for
reminding us of the incomparable words of wisdom
(Everybody’s flight of mind is limited by his capacity).
Indeed, My Lords.

There is a danger, however, that the intoxicating poetry
may make us miss Justice Khilji’s observation that
“although family members of public functionaries are,
properly speaking, not performing state functions, the
alleged facts of this case highlight the necessity of
extreme caution and discretion in their private and public
dealings and conduct”. It is possible the good judge wrote
the four-sentence note only to issue this essential

The verdict will also be debated for offering media
celebrities a lesson in the ethics of reporting. The advice
to media persons to check and recheck the authenticity of
information they rely on is wholly valid. But it may not be
fair to blame journalists for failing to find out “what has
been ascertained by us with very little effort”.
Journalists in Pakistan cannot even dream of the power the
courts enjoy, especially these days.

It is for the privileged journalists to ponder the causes
of their fall from grace. Not long ago they were hailed as
leaders of the morality brigade when they were hounding the
government’s counsel and tearing into their submissions to
the court before the judges had looked at them. What made
them change? Or can it be said that they did not change,
only the beholder’s angle of vision changed?

As a sequel to Case No 5, quite a few media figures have
also been accused of picking crumbs from discredited
operators’ tables. This game has been played before. During
the past few decades incomplete lists of journalists who
received undue favours from the state or its services have
been leaked more than once but never pursued. Let us now
have all the lists published. Sadly enough, quite like the
politicians who quarrel among themselves to the amusement
of their common enemy, the media groups are piling calumny
upon calumny on their professional rivals alone.

Only a few should, however, be surprised at the allegations
against the media persons who have learnt the way to profit
from an order that is corrupt to the core. There can be no
islands of honesty in an ocean of corruption. Who does not
know about handout journalists that grew up under Ayub Khan
or the breed of lifafa (envelope) journalists raised by
Ziaul Haq! It is no secret that pliable scribes are planted
in various media establishments and retained by
intelligence operators and the most powerful employers
cannot think of touching them.

The sooner an across-the-board accountability is held the
better. The journalists’ unions should hold full-scale
inquiries and remind the people, including the born-
yesterday angels, of the Pakistan Federal Union of
Journalists’ code of ethics drawn up half a century ago.

True, there are black sheep in the media. Yet no holier-
than-thou institution has the right to paint the whole
media community as a bunch of galley slaves up for auction.
The fools who sweat day in and day out for a pittance, who
are not even paid their wages, greatly outnumber the
successful and popular celebrities.

The way to deal with the rot all around is not to make an
example of a few politicians, a few journalists, or a few
unmentionable names in this category or that; the entire
mosaic of Pakistan society needs to be replaced by better
quality pieces.

This task can be accomplished neither by the whip of the
law nor the preachers suffering from illusions of grandeur
and infallibility. Let normal political activity continue
uninterrupted, the people will themselves throw up their


21, June, 2012


The news from Russia

By Jawed Naqvi

NEWS is a subjective thing. It is different from fact. Some
news is based on a selection of facts, some on selectively
ignoring them.

Disinformation is a different genre. It uses half-truths
and plain lies to project what passes for news. Indian
journalist Syed Mohamed Kazmi is lodged in Delhi’s Tihar
Jail awaiting trial for three unending months because he
marshalled sacred facts to present events in Syria.

His accounts of the goings-on also in Iran and Lebanon
challenged the dominant western storytelling about the
chess moves currently under way there. Kazmi’s enviable
contacts in the Persian-Arabic speaking region made him
asset and villain in rival camps.

Israel and India contrived an untenable terror story
involving a mysterious bomb attack on an Israeli car in
Delhi. Kazmi was named as an accused, which effectively
silenced him as a reporter at a crucial time on the Middle
East chessboard. With the Indian reporter out of the frame
the Pilger-Fisk battery is left alone to stand up to the
Murdochian onslaught prevailing in Syria and elsewhere.

Because news is a subjective thing, Kazmi would be a hero
in Russia just as he is something of a villain for Israel
and its votaries in India. It is the season of white nights
over St Petersburg when the sun hardly gets to go down
before it bobs up again.

The Russians are not losing any sleep though — not over the
prolonged daylight hours, and not over the political mess
the world is wading through. On the contrary, Moscow has
taken a surprisingly assertive stand on Syria.

Not that it has not stood up recently on other key issues,
namely, Iran, the Nato-led anti-missile defence shield
proposed in Europe and over President Vladimir Putin’s
recent re-election itself, which the West resented.

It may not be a coincidence that I am thinking of Kazmi in
Moscow. His version of events in Syria tallies with the
Russian account of the facts from the volatile region.
For a South Asian readership-viewership that is heavily
dependent on the BBC-CNN-Fox News-vended information or
western wire agencies to glean global events on a regular
basis the Russian slant or for that matter the Chinese view
of the world almost doesn’t exist.

This is how Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may have
got to take the unusual step to spell out his perspective
on Syria in a 3,000-word piece he wrote in The Huffington

Most other foreign ministers would call a simple news
conference if they had to clarify a policy matter. But Mr
Lavrov perhaps knows that news is a subjective thing and
not all journalists, including the most professional ones,
would successfully decode much less purvey the nuanced
arguments of high-stake diplomacy.

The media has alerted us about Russian warships heading for
Syria. That’s an important aspect of the story no doubt.
But the cogent narrative of the issue would remain elusive
without some important points Mr Lavrov made.

Russia does not support Bashar al-Assad’s regime he wrote.
It was for the people to Syria to determine who should rule
and how. He makes a strong point against the way the Syrian
story has been reported.

“Unfortunately, qualified and honest analysis of
developments in Syria and their potential consequences is
still in short supply. Quite often it is replaced by
primitive images and black-and-white propaganda clichés.
For several months major international media outlets have
been reproducing reports about the corrupt dictatorial
regime ruthlessly suppressing the aspiration of its own
people to freedom and democracy,” Mr Lavrov wrote.

“It seems, however, that the authors of those reports did
not bother asking themselves how the government could
manage to stay in power without public support for more
than a year, despite the extensive sanctions imposed by its
main economic partners. Why did the majority of people vote
for the draft constitution proposed by the authorities?
Why, after all, have most Syrian soldiers remained loyal to
their commanders? If fear is the only explanation, then why
did it fail to help other authoritarian rulers?”
A major sticking point against a more comprehensive global
intervention in Syria was rooted in the misappropriation by
the West of the terms of the earlier resolution cleared by
Russia to deal with Qadhafi’s Libya.

“Unfortunately, the actions undertaken by Nato countries
under these resolutions led to their grave violation and
support for one of the parties to the civil war, with the
goal of ousting the existing regime — damaging in the
process the authority of the Security Council.”

The complicated situation in Iraq and the crisis in
Afghanistan, which Moscow believes is far from over, are
by-products of western zeal to intervene in a hurry. “There
are many indications that things are far from being good in
Libya after the ousting of Muammar Qadhafi. Instability has
spread further to the Sahara and Sahel region, and the
situation in Mali was dramatically aggravated.”

Similarly, the possibility of a military strike against
Iran should worry the world.

Independent of the Iran tangle, however, Mr Lavrov argues
that fuelling intra-Syrian strife could trigger events that
would affect the situation in the vast territory
surrounding Syria in the most negative way, having a
devastating impact on both regional and international

“Risk factors include loss of control over the Syrian-
Israeli border, a worsening of the situation in Lebanon and
other countries in the region, weapons falling into the
‘wrong hands’, including those of terrorist organisations,
and, perhaps the most dangerous of all, an aggravation of
interfaith tensions and contradictions inside the Islamic

Diplomats don’t trouble trouble till trouble troubles them.
Mr Lavrov took a veiled shot at Saudi Arabia for a reason.
Respect for human rights, he said, has traditionally been,
and continues to be, a major problem for the states of the
Middle East.

The good thing about Mr Lavrov’s assertions is that he
doesn’t have to worry about getting locked up for flaunting
his set of facts as has happened with the hapless Indian
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.



23, June, 2012


A bad movie plot


By Irfan Husain

ANOTHER day, another crisis in Pakistan. What else is new?
Given the roller-coaster ride we have been on these last
few years, nothing has the power to surprise or shock

Even the fact that a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom
Shahabuddin has been issued just as he was filing his
nomination papers for election to the prime ministership
causes a big yawn.

If a screenwriter had crafted the script we have been
following, a movie producer would have rejected it for
being too unbelievable. The whole business about a tycoon
bankrolling a series of multimillion dollar holidays for
the chief justice’s son and his family is bizarre enough.
But in a swift counterstroke, the prime minister is
dismissed by the top judge, pushing his son’s scandal into
the background.

And if this sequence of events wasn’t too farfetched, our
screenwriter also invents the leaked footage of two popular
TV anchors pandering to the same businessman during an
advertising break. The entire sick-making conversation is
then aired by a rival channel. As if the allegations of
corruption among the media that never tires of assailing
the political class for venality wasn’t bad enough, a list
of journalists alleged to be on the take from the same
tycoon makes the rounds.
I mean, give me a break! Who could possibly believe this
stuff? And while these dark deeds are gripping our interest
and consuming all our waking hours, other dangers are
threatening the country’s very foundations. Unfortunately,
our courts, government and the media are too preoccupied
with the many ‘gates’ that have opened up to pay any
attention to other issues.

We seem to have forgotten that violent insurgencies
bordering on civil war are raging in Balochistan and large
parts of our tribal areas. Indeed, the Taliban have
forbidden polio immunisation in Waziristan; so weak is the
writ of the state that it cannot ensure that children in
the area will be given these crucial polio vaccines.

In Punjab, thousands of people, driven to desperation by up
to 22 hours of power cuts in 40-plus degrees of heat, have
gone on the rampage. In over four years, this government
has been unable to sort out this problem. In Karachi,
nearly 800 people have been killed so far this year, with
no respite to this bloodletting in sight.

The rupee continues its slide against the dollar, and the
economy is in a tailspin. We are about to go back to the
IMF, begging bowl in hand, to ask for yet another bailout
package. Meanwhile, we remain at loggerheads with the US,
our biggest aid donor, over a spat caused by the killing of
24 Pakistani soldiers last November. But in truth, our sulk
is over the fact that American commandos entered our
airspace and killed Osama bin Laden without informing us.

Against this backdrop of pressing problems, what do our
major state institutions do? They engage in a destructive
fight in which the prime minister is sacrificed, and his
successor might be forced to walk the same plank. In the
old days, it used to be virgins who would be offered to the
gods; now, prime ministers are slaughtered at the altar of

Would any audience ever swallow this stuff? No, seriously,
if I were a movie producer, I would discard this junk as
unusable and tell the screenwriter to start again from
scratch. Abroad, events in Pakistan are followed with
bewilderment and scarcely concealed amusement: how can any
state calling itself a democracy shoot itself in the foot
so many times and still hobble around?
In Islamabad, the biggest junction is called Zero Point. I
would have thought that this grid reference would be
replaced with the name of a great Pakistani. Sadly, we seem
to be very low on heroes. Who among the current or recent
crop of leaders would we want to name roads or public
spaces after? Kayani-abad? Zardari Nagar? Musharraf Colony?

When the hapless Gilani was unceremoniously turfed out, it
was hoped he would soon be replaced to avoid a prolonged
power vacuum. But in reality, the poor man had very little
power, and so did not leave a very large vacuum: squeezed
between the president, the army chief and the chief
justice, to say nothing of a slavering media pack, Gilani
must be glad to be back home in Multan. His sons, however,
may not feel the same way.

When power is not exercised effectively, it has a habit of
slipping away to other centres. Thus, when this government
chose to focus only on completing its term, and not rocking
the boat, it saw its authority seep away. Zardari stays in
his bunker, and ministers are too busy making hay while the
sun shines to bother about boring stuff like education,
energy and health.

It is this larger vacuum that has been filled by other
players. From opposition parties to extremists to street
mobs, groups with their own agendas are challenging the
writ of the state. More entrenched institutions appear to
be pushing their own agenda — and it has nothing to do with
providing justice to ordinary Pakistanis.

The army has always enjoyed vast powers, and it doesn’t
need to stage a coup because it faces a supine civilian
government. The media is the uninvited guest at the high
table, and is behaving like an uncouth gatecrasher.

When so many power centres are tugging in different
directions, it’s no wonder nothing ever gets done. Foreign
governments complain they don’t know who to talk to about
security matters: the president, the army chief or the
prime minister? Answer: all of the above. But nothing gets
resolved because none of them wants to take a decision.

And when the pressure mounts, the easiest thing is to kick
the ball into the high grass of parliament. Here,
responsibility (and blame) can be widely dispersed.
So when the next prime   minister is duly sworn in, and
ordered by the Supreme   Court to write to the Swiss
government to force it   to reopen the money-laundering case
against Zardari it had   dropped four years ago, what then?
Well, then we may have   the sequel ‘Return of the
Judiciary’. So perhaps   there is a movie here after all…

The writer is the author of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan,
Islam and the West.



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