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Showing posts from August, 2007

Pakistani Lawyers Gearing Up Again to Challenge Musharraf's Bid for another Presidential Term

PBA-SCBA meeting convened to block president’s re-election
By Naveed Siddiqui: Daily Times, September 1, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The lawyers’ community has decided to block President General Pervez Musharraf’s re-election from the current assemblies, and has called a joint meeting of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Sunday to chalk out a strategy in this regard.

Sources told Daily Times that the lawyers’ community has, in principle, agreed to court arrests as part of their campaign against President Musharraf’s bid for re-election. “SCBA President Munir A Malik, Justice (r) Tariq Mahmood, Ali Ahmed Kurd, and Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan—if he leaves the Pakistan People’s Party, which he will if a deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto goes through—will lead lawyers in pressing for court arrests,” the sources said.

However, sources said there were still differences among the lawyers, with some suggesting they should not resort to court arrests in the first ph…

Scale of Military Bureaucracy in Pakistan

Steady growth in Army bureaucracy
By Ansar Abbasi: The News, September 1, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has presently more than 125 general officers in its strength. While a lot is said and written about the civilian bureaucracy, not many know about the military bureaucracy, which is today far more bloated compared to what it was a few decades back.

Today we have three full four-star generals, 30 three-star generals also called lieutenant generals while the number of two-star generals — major generals — is said to be almost 100. This number, however, includes those serving generals who are also presently occupying civilian posts including the Presidency.

Although the serving general officers currently holding civilian positions are not in a huge number,there are hundreds of retired soldiers including dozens of ex-generals who are now occupying civil service positions including the key posts like ambassadors in Pakistan’s missions abroad, heads of authorities, corporations and departme…

The Issue of Death Penalty in Pakistan

COMMENT: The death of compassion —Rafia Zakaria
Daily Times, September 1, 2007

On August 28, 2007, Amnesty International issued an urgent alert asking human rights activists around the world to take action against the imminent execution of Muhammad Ali, 45, a Pakistani citizen on death row. Ali was sentenced to death in 1998 and his first and second appeals were rejected by the high courts. In 2006, his final appeal was rejected by the Pakistan Supreme Court. A 15-day stay of execution order expired on August 24, 2007, and it is likely that a new death warrant will be issued in the next two weeks. If Ali’s family is unable to negotiate a settlement with the family of the victim, he will be executed.

News reports suggest that over 7,400 people are on death row in Pakistan which, according to Amnesty International, makes up almost one-third of the entire world’s death row population of 24,000. In addition, Pakistan is one of the few countries left in the world which still executes juvenile…

Reforming Afghanistan's Police: ICG Report

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Reforming Afghanistan's Police
Asia Report N°138: 30 August 2007: International Crisis Group

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Policing goes to the very heart of state building, since a credible national institution that helps provide security and justice for the population is central to government legitimacy. However Afghanistan’s citizens often view the police more as a source of fear than of security. Instead of emphasising their coercive powers, reform should focus on accountability, ethnic representation and professionalism, along with an urgent need to depoliticise and institutionalise appointments and procedures. It is counter-productive to treat police as an auxiliary fighting unit in battling the insurgency, as has been happening with increasing frequency in the troubled south. Afghanistan, like any other democracy, requires police service more than police force.

The state of the Afghan National Police (ANP) nearly six years after the fall of the Taliban reflects the int…

Nawaz to land in Islamabad — on Sept 10 & BB-Musharraf Deal on the Verge of Collapse

Nawaz to land in Islamabad — on Sept 10
By M. Ziauddin: August 31, 2007 - Dawn

LONDON, Aug 30: Announcing that he along with brother Shahbaz Sharif will return to Pakistan on Sept 10, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif advised President General Pervez Musharraf to hand over power to the Senate chairman forthwith and go home.

He said his entourage would land at Islamabad and then proceed to Lahore taking the GT road.

Mr Nawaz Sharif made this announcement at a crowded press conference here on Thursday in the lobby of a four-star hotel in Central London. He was accompanied by Mr Shahbaz Sharif, Raja Zafarul Haq, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Ahsan Iqbal.

Mr Nawaz said his party in consultation with the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) had decided that the time had now come for the exiled PML-N leadership to return home and launch a decisive struggle against what he called the eight-year dictatorship and pave the way for genuine and lasting democracy.

Answering questions, he said he was not a…

Photo the Bangladesh army cannot stand: BBC

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Photo the Bangladesh army cannot stand
By John Sudworth: BBC News, Dhaka: August 28, 2007

If a single image can sum up the thorny mess into which Bangladesh has once again stumbled, then this perhaps is it.
A sandaled demonstrator in mid-air kick and a hatless army officer in terrified retreat.

In the background, bystanders hurry away. Out of shot, a military vehicle burns and the security forces are in danger of losing control to the angry mob.

The photo gives a momentary glimpse of just how bad things got during three days of violent protest that rocked cities across Bangladesh last week.

But the picture is significant for another reason. As we found out on the first night of the curfew imposed to contain the trouble it was an image that deeply upset the Bangladeshi rank and file.

Its publication was seen as a humiliation, every bit as great as if that flying sandaled foot had been aimed at the behind of the army chief himself.

Shortly after the curfew came into effect on Wednesday n…

A moment of truth in Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto

A moment of truth in Pakistan
For the sake of the civilized world, democracy must overcome extremism.
By Benazir Bhutto: August 30, 2007: Los Angeles Times

LONDON -- There are moments in history that prove decisive and mark a turning point for the future. The Civil War was such a moment in the United States. The fall of the Berlin Wall was such a moment for Germany and the European Union. Today is Pakistan's moment of truth. Decisions made now will determine whether extremism and terrorism can be contained to save Pakistan from internal collapse. The stability of not just Pakistan but the civilized world is at stake.

In a democratic Pakistan, extremist movements have been minimal. In all democratic elections, extremist religious parties never have garnered more than 11% of the vote. But under dictators -- most notably Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, but unfortunately also Gen. Pervez Musharraf during this decade -- religious extremism has gained a foothold in my homeland.

Whether leaders…

Elite consensus under strain in Pakistan

Elite consensus under strain
By Tasneem Siddiqui: Dawn, August 30, 2007

IF you watch television these days or read the newspapers, you will find nothing but heated discussions and screaming headlines about political bargains, predictions and pronouncements about the return of the exiled leaders. Excited discussants make us believe that some sort of a revolution is round the corner.

To an outsider, issues like ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’, the difference between ‘agreement’ and ‘understanding’, the president’s election in uniform or without it, would appear quite amusing, if not surrealistic. But to those who know the Pakistani political scene well, it is nauseating to watch retired generals talk about the pernicious effects of military rule in Pakistan, or former civil servants become hysterical about the virtues of democracy.

Would these stalwarts have the courage to say that Pakistan was achieved through a democratic process and was supposed to be a social welfare state? That it soon was convert…

Bugti's shadow on Musharraf's future: Adil Najam

Bugti's shadow on Musharraf's future By Prof Adil Najam
The News, August 28, 2007

August 26 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. There was a partly successful strike in parts of Balochistan, some reported clashes that left a number of people injured and property damaged, and a general sense of relief amongst the authorities that things did not get as out of hand as they had feared. However, while the immediate apprehensions and anxieties about this anniversary might have passed, the shadow of what happened on August 26, 2006 in the hills of Kohlu's Tartani area remains large on Pakistan's politics and the significance of this date must not go uncommemorated.

Of course, the most important element of this 'shadow' is the growing ethnic unrest that preceded, precipitated and has followed the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti. August 26 has become -- and is likely to remain -- an iconic date for Baloch nationalists. Although this unres…

Iran Versus Saudi Arabia in Iraq

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Iraq: Iran Versus Saudi Arabia, Minus the United States?
Aug 28, 2007: Stratfor

Summary

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Aug. 28 warned that a power vacuum is imminent in Iraq and said Iran is ready to help fill the gap. This statement represents the shift Stratfor was expecting in Iranian behavior toward Iraq, wherein Tehran is no longer interested in negotiating with the United States because it expects Washington to withdraw from the country. This does not mean the road to Baghdad is clear for the Iranians, which explains why they have said they would work with regional Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Analysis

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Aug. 28 that his country is ready to fill the power vacuum in Iraq. Addressing a press conference in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said, "The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly. Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and reg…

Musharraf's Changing Tactics

Musharraf may trade army post for re-election
By M. Ziauddin: Dawn, August 28, 2007

LONDON, Aug 27: President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s team of emissaries, led by ISI chief Lt Gen Ashfaq Kiani, and PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto are understood to have discussed, at a ‘final meeting’ here on Monday, the possibilities of convening an all-party conference for achieving a ‘grand national reconciliation’.

According to sources, President Musharraf has offered to doff the uniform even before the presidential elections. But in the trade-off, he wants all political parties to agree to elect him president for the next five years after the new assemblies come into being following the next general election.

He, however, is said to want the powers of the office of the president to remain untouched _ at least up to the end of his new term.

According to the sources, the package of offers being discussed at the meeting includes formation of a national government, which would then appoint a chief election com…

Iran Resolves Plutonium issues with IAEA: Reuters

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Iran resolves plutonium issues under atom pact - IAEA
Tue Aug 28, 2007: Reuters
By Mark Heinrich

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has resolved U.N. questions about tests with plutonium, a key fuel for atomic bombs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency considers the matter closed, according to the text of an IAEA-Iran accord released on Monday.

It would be the first major issue relating to the scope of Iran's disputed nuclear programme closed by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in a four-year investigation stonewalled up to now, with other questions to be settled within the next few months.

Iran and the IAEA reached a deal on Aug. 21 meant to clarify questions about indications of illicit attempts to make atomic bombs in Iran's declared drive for peaceful nuclear energy -- suspicions that helped lead to U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

The plan's other goal is to ensure regular, effective access for IAEA inspectors to Iran's underground uranium enrichment plant where it plans industrial …

New Political Hero of Pakistan

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Justice and the general
Aug 27th 2007: From Economist.com

Our correspondent meets Ms Bhutto's best advocate

Monday: SOMETHING is eating Aitzaz Ahsan. He is a new star, a hero of a trampled-upon democracy—the most popular man in Pakistan, some say. With an election looming, Mr Ahsan, a lawyer and member of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), should be pitching for greatness. So why, sitting in his charmingly chaotic chambers in Lahore, amid stacks of paper smelling faintly of mildew in the monsoon air, does Mr Ahsan look so glum?

First, some background. Mr Ahsan acted for Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, in a legal stand-off with General Pervez Musharraf that may have changed Pakistani history. In March General Musharraf tried to sack Mr Chaudhry. It seems he wanted a pliable top judge, which Mr Chaudhry, a vain and stubborn man, was not. But, in an act of civilian defiance previously unknown in Pakistan, Mr Chaudhry refused to go.

Cheering up slightly…

Changing Political Scenario in Pakistan

VIEW: Confrontation or reconciliation? —Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times, August 28, 2007

Three decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan — restoration of the chief justice; the missing persons’ case; and the Sharifs’ right of return to Pakistan — have rapidly changed Pakistan’s political scene. None of these decisions have made President General Pervez Musharraf and his political allies happy. Indeed, the political fallout of the independence of the judiciary, which these decisions amply demonstrate, has vitiated the environment for the regime.

The regime has faced continuous shocks since the refusal of the chief justice to step down on March 9 when he was summoned to the president’s camp office and asked to resign. In taking the decision to send the CJ home and later compounding that folly, the regime and its advisors utterly failed to understand the anger of the people over the dismissal of the chief justice and his public humiliation by security officials.

While public resentment again…

Record Production of Opium in Afghanistan: Who is Responsible?

UN reports record production of opium in Afghanistan
By Masood Haider: Dawn, August 28, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 27: Opium production in Afghanistan has hit a record $3 billion this year, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the world’s illegal output, a United Nations report said on Monday.

The production concentrated mainly in the strife-torn south of the country, where the Taliban, who once banned poppy cultivation, now profited from the drug trade, the report alleged.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that the area under opium cultivation rose to 193,000 hectares from 165,000 in 2006, while the harvest soared by more than a third to 8,200 tons from 6,100 tons.

The amount of Afghan land used for growing opium was larger than the total under coca cultivation in Latin America, it said.

No other country has produced narcotics on such a scale since China in the 19th century, the report said.

But the number of opium-free provinces in the centre and north of the country more th…

Winning Hearts and Minds of Muslims: The US Military Needs Help!

US military regrets ‘blasphemous’ ball for Afghans
Daily Times, August 28, 2007

KABUL: The US military in Afghanistan on Monday expressed regret for a publicity campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds that offended scores of Muslims.

US troops on Friday dropped dozens of free footballs for soccer-mad Afghan children from helicopters in an area of southeastern Afghanistan, all marked with flags of various countries.

But some of the balls depicted the Saudi Arabian flag, which features the Islamic declaration of faith and includes the names of Allah and the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). The idea of kicking something bearing their names is considered deeply offensive to Muslims.

“This ball...carries a message with it which, like an atom bomb, can cause carnage and insecurity in all parts of Afghanistan,” a leading Afghan private daily, Cheragh, said on Monday.

Fawad Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Kabul, said, “Americans themselves create insecurity by ignoring religious sensitivity, it is a…

The Case of Karachi

‘The Case of Karachi’ seminar: A minority should not rule Sindh: former CJP
Staff Report: Daily Times, August 27, 2007

KARACHI: A minority wants to rule the majority, as far as the problem of Karachi in particular and Sindh in general is concerned, argued former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice (retired) Sajjad Ali Shah, while cautioning that earlier Bangladesh had separated because a minority wanted to rule a majority. “Karachi can’t live without Sindh.”

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was one of the 22 old residents of Karachi who were invited by the Karachi Shehri Ittehad to speak on ‘The Case of Karachi’ at a local hotel Sunday. Illahi Bux Soomro, Justice Rashid A Rizvi and Hussain Haroon also offered input.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah suggested that the number of seats in the National Assembly should be the same all the provinces, a policy that would address a sense of deprivation such as that Balochistan is feeling while it has reached “a point of separation”. “The doctrine of necessity should…

Is Pakistan Army an Efficient Institution?

Military Inc. author feels safer in Karachi not Islamabad
By Urooj Zia: Daily Times, August 27, 2007

KARACHI: Karachi looks like a much safer city, observed best-selling military analyst Dr Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, whose new book ‘Military Inc. – Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy’ sold 10,000 copies within its first month. “I think all cities of Pakistan where ‘people’ live, are much safer. I spent almost my entire life in Lahore and I felt much safer there than I do in Islamabad.”

The military analyst, who argues that it is high time the military was sent back to the barracks, talked about her book and answered questions on the military business at a discussion organised Saturday evening at The Second Floor.

‘Military Inc.’ was effectively ‘banned’ by the government even before it was released on May 31. Oxford University Press (OUP) director Amina Saiyid spoke about how difficult it had been to book any public place in Islamabad to host the launch. Siddiqa added how the book is being tout…

"Women's Rule is a Curse" - Highly Condemnable Statement from Musharraf's Political Ally Arbab Ghulam Rahim (Chief Minister Sindh)

Woman’s rule is ‘unlucky’, says Arbab
Daily Times: August 27, 2007

LAHORE: Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim said on Sunday that a woman’s rule was “vicious” and people should avoid it, reported Geo News.

Addressing a public meeting near Thatha, Rahim said he was expressing his views with apologies to the women present in the meeting.

According to the channel, Rahim said it was regrettable, but fact nevertheless that a woman’s rule was “vicious” and that people should try to avoid it at all cost.

Commenting on Rahim’s views, Pakistan Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Asma Jahangir said it was surprising that Rahim was representing a moderate and enlightened government and saying a woman’s rule was vicious.

She said why Rahim did not have the same views when he was in the Pakistan People’s Party. She said Rahim was a “cruel landlord” from deep inside Sindh and was notorious for crushing the poor women of his constituency.

Arbab Ghulam must apologize to the nation particularly women, s…