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Showing posts from January, 2010

Taliban "should be given a second chance": Indian Foreign Minister

India 'could do business' with Taliban: reports
(AFP) – January 30, 2010

NEW DELHI — India may join world powers in engaging with moderate Taliban in Afghanistan, despite worries about repercussions for its own security, reports said Saturday.

India still considers the Taliban to be a terrorist group with close links to Al-Qaeda and other outfits.

But New Delhi would back proposals to reach out to them conditionally, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told the Times of India newspaper in an interview published Saturday.

"The international community has come out with a proposition to bring into the political mainstream those willing to function within the Afghan system," he said.

"If the Taliban meet the three conditions put forward -- acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and renunciation of violence -- and they are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business," ad…

Making room for the Taliban?

Making room for the Taliban
By Robert Grenier, Aljazeera, January 28, 2010

On September 20, 2001, just nine days after the devastating attacks by al-Qaeda, George Bush, then US president, stood before both houses of the US congress, with Tony Blair, then British prime minister, to deliver an address to the American people and to the world.

That America would react in some way to the attacks was already clear. It was Bush's task to explain the principles which would guide those actions, and to rally international support for them.

With all that has happened since, it may be difficult to remember the emotional tenor of that moment. In the wake of the attacks, there had been a great international outpouring of support for the US.

It appeared that this was a moment of great international solidarity, and that out of this shock great and new things might be possible.

We remember the essence of what Bush said on that occasion, even if we no longer recall the words he used: that hence…

Panacea to solve present problems - Fakhruddin G Ebrahim

Panacea to solve present problems
The News, January 29, 2010
By Fakhruddin G Ebrahim

I am a beneficiary of Pakistan. Whatever I have achieved or acquired is because of Pakistan. Therefore, if I sound ‘Jazbati’ or upbeat, you will please excuse me.

There is a lot of despondency and despair visible in Pakistan and it is not without any basis. Most of the people I meet are deeply concerned and asked me what is happening and what is going to happen. The very fact that such a question is being put makes me unhappy.

Let me start from the beginning to understand the present. Constitution is the ‘ROOH of a nation’ and an independent Judiciary is its heart. It is the Constitution which ensures well being and fundamental basic rights of its people.

In a federation like Pakistan, where one unit is larger than three others combined together it is the Constitution that holds the country together. The vital importance of the Constitution cannot, therefore, be underestimated; we call it the basic …

ANP wins elections in Swat Valley

ANP wins Swat by-election
The News, January 29, 2010

MINGORA: The joint candidate of ruling ANP-PPP alliance Rahmat Ali Khan won the by-election for PF-83 Swat-IV on Thursday and retained the seat that had fallen vacant due to the demise of his brother. According to unofficial results, the ANP candidate Rahmat Ali secured 6,952 votes while his close runner up Jalat Khan of the PML-Q bagged 3,304 votes. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s candidate Sher Khan obtained 3,208 votes and former minister of the NWFP and JI candidate Husain Ahmad Kanju secured 2,820. The constituency had fallen vacant due to the tragic demise of MPA Shamsher Ali Khan in a suicide attack at Kabal Tehsil.

Pakistan's Nuclear Posture: Implications for South Asian Stability By Vipin Narang

"Pakistan's Nuclear Posture: Implications for South Asian Stability"
Policy Brief, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Vipin Narang, January 2010

BOTTOM LINES

Pakistan's first-use asymmetric escalation nuclear posture has created a vicious circle where extremist organizations based in Pakistan, shielded by Pakistan's aggressive nuclear posture, can target Indian cities with virtual impunity.

Although this posture has seemingly deterred Indian conventional retaliation since 1998, its credibility requirements generate significant risks of theft and unauthorized or accidental nuclear use, particularly during crises with India.

This instability and these risks will amplify to intolerable levels if India moves toward a conventional "Cold Start" posture, which will place the Indian subcontinent on a permanent crisis footing.

PAKISTAN'S ASYMMETRIC ESCALATION POSTURE

Terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba—a group historic…

Taliban are ready for talks!

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From Daily Times, April 2, 2008

Afghanistan between India and Pakistan

Indian role in Afghanistan needs to be spelt out: US
By Anwar Iqbal, Dawn, 28 Jan, 2010

WASHINGTON: The United States urged India on Wednesday to be transparent with Pakistan about their activities in Afghanistan.


At a briefing at the Pentagon, spokesman Geoff Morrell also discounted Indian role in training Afghan security forces.

The Pentagon press secretary said that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had discussed the Afghan situation with Indian leaders, including the issues that concerned Pakistan, when he visited New Delhi last week.

“We did discuss Afghanistan with the government in Delhi and discussed the need for the Indian government to be as transparent as they can be with the Pakistani government about their activities in Afghanistan,” he said.

Asked if the United States would like India to train Afghan security forces, Mr Morrell said that the international community was not contemplating any such role for India.

“They clearly have contributed much in the monetary sen…

Negotiating with Taliban!

US, allies plan $500m fund to woo Taliban
By Anwar Iqbal, Dawn, 27 Jan, 2010

WASHINGTON: The United States and its allies are expected to set up a $500 million integration fund at a conference in London this week to lure Taliban fighters to join the political mainstream.


“We are going to go to London to affirm our international support for it,” said US special envoy Richard Holbrooke. “Money will be forthcoming for it. I can’t say how much. The Japanese are going to take the lead.”

In an interview to MSNBC television on Monday evening, Mr Holbrooke said that the initiative would fill a gap in dealing with the Taliban because “there’s no good programme to invite them back into the fold”.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is hosting the London conference, said the summit would “cover both our military and our political strategies, but concentrate on the political strategy for Afghanistan”.

About 60 countries are expected to attend the conference. The United States is offerin…

Obama and the World: Afghanistan and Pakistan: WorldFocus PBS

Obama and the World: Afghanistan and Pakistan
Worldfocus PBS, Jabuary 25, 2010

Ahmad Kamal, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, and Hassan Abbas, a former Pakistani government official who is now with the Asia Society, join Edie Magnus for a roundtable on AfPak.

They discuss power-sharing with the Taliban, drone strikes along the Afghan border in northwest Pakistan and broader American foreign policy challenges in the region.

Pakistan Hesitates, Again: NYT Editorial

Pakistan Hesitates, Again
New York Times Editorial, January 23, 2010

For years, Pakistan’s leaders denied that extremists — in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan — posed a mortal threat to their country. After the Pakistani Taliban got within 60 miles of Islamabad last April they decided that they had no choice but to fight back. They were right. Unfortunately, their understanding of self-interest seems to stop at a border that the Taliban certainly does not respect.

During his visit to Pakistan this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed Pakistan’s military leaders to open a new front against Afghan militants using Pakistani territory to stage attacks into Afghanistan — and was promptly rebuffed.

Displaying an alarming denial about the nature and urgency of the threat, an Army spokesman said there would be no offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan — where the Afghan Taliban are based — for at least six months and perhaps as long as 12 months. Given the speed and…

Conscience of the constitution: The Judicial Crisis in Pakistan

Conscience of the constitution
The News, January 22, 2010
By Ayaz Amir

The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was a dead duck the moment the National Assembly refused to have anything to do with it. If it still needed another shot in the head, a division bench of the Supreme Court (SC) could have done the needful, no extraordinary issue of constitutional theory being involved in the outcome.

But we have not been that lucky, all 17 of their SC lordships hearing the NRO case whose detailed judgment -- written by My Lord the Chief Justice -- is now out, and about which the shrillest comments are coming from the already committed or the already biased.

This judgment is not for the fainthearted because it doesn't make for easy reading. This is not syntax at the point of a rapier; more a sledgehammer driving home its many obvious points.

Discrimination -- favouring a certain classification of people, to the exclusion of others -- was enough of a touchstone by which to fell the N…

Gates offers Pakistan U.S. drones

Gates offers Pakistan U.S. drones
Julian E. Barnes, Reporting from Islamabad
Baltimore Sun, January 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has agreed to provide Pakistan with unmanned spy drones, granting a longstanding request as it seeks new ways to persuade a key ally to do more to fight militant groups within its borders.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, on a visit to Pakistan, stopped short Thursday of providing Islamabad with U.S. Predators, the armed drones used to carry out air strikes inside Pakistan that have been denounced by the government, even as it has requested the technology for its own use.

Instead, Defense officials said Washington would provide Pakistan with 12 unarmed Shadow aircraft. While the Shadow drones do not have missile capabilities to strike the targets they observe, they nonetheless represent an advancement in the growing U.S. military relationship with Pakistan.

The step follows efforts by U.S. military officials last year to give Pakistan a f…

More bias in US against Muslims than other faiths

More bias in US against Muslims than other faiths
By RACHEL ZOLL (AP), Washington Post
January 20, 2010

NEW YORK -- Americans are more than twice as likely to express prejudice against Muslims than they are against Christians, Jews or Buddhists, a new survey found. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have little or no knowledge of Islam. Still, a majority dislike the faith.

The analysis, for release Thursday, is from the Gallup World Religion Survey and is part of a project on finding ways to increase understanding between Americans and Muslims.

President Barack Obama and his administration want to improve America's image in the Muslim world. Many analysts who study extremism also say that U.S. Muslims who feel alienated from broader society resist integrating, potentially becoming more vulnerable to radical ideas.

In the poll, just over half of Americans said they felt no prejudice against Muslims. However, 43 percent acknowledged at least "a little" prejudice ag…

India-Pakistan: Inching closer to a great reconciliation

Inching closer to a great reconciliation
Amitabh Mattoo, 21 January 2010, The Times of India

It is time for people of the Indian sub-continent to face up to an extraordinary reality — the conflict between India and Pakistan is easy to An Indian schoolboy holds a painting with a message of peace for his Pakistani counterparts describe, but painfully difficult to understand.

“Enduring rivalry”, “sustained conflict”, “ugly stability”: these terms, often used by scholars of international relations to capsule the relationship, are sadly “occidental” attempts at forcing an Eastern intellectual puzzle into a preconceived Western mould. Unfortunately, the India-Pakistan relationship is and has been about almost everything that matters: history, memory, prejudice, territory, identity, religion, sovereignty, ideology, insecurity, trust, betrayal and much much more, in a very desi way.

At what level does one, therefore, analyse the relationship — at the level of the international system or in …

Securing South Waziristan

Securing South Waziristan could take a year: army
Dawn, January 21, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Securing and stabilising the Pakistani Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan in the northwest tribal belt will take between six months and a year, the chief military spokesman said Thursday.


Islamabad sent about 30,000 troops backed by fighter jets and helicopter gunships into battle in the lawless region bordering Afghanistan in October, and says they are making progress and militants are fleeing.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters it would take “between six months to a year to completely stabilise” South Waziristan, which was needed before security forces opened up any new fronts.

His comments came as visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he planned to ask Pakistani leaders about plans to broaden their campaign to North Waziristan, which borders South Waziristan.

Abbas dismissed criticism that Pakistan had been slow to move against the Haqqani network said the CIA …

What Sirajuddin Haqqani is up to?

New Wave of Warlords Bedevils U.S.
Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2010
By Mathew Rosenberg

In his teen years, Sirajuddin Haqqani was known among friends as a dandy. He cared more about the look of his thick black hair than the battles his father, a mujahideen warlord in the 1980s, was waging with Russia for control of Afghanistan.

The younger Mr. Haqqani is still a stylish sort, say those who know him. But now, approaching middle age and ensconced as the battlefield leader of his father's militant army, he has become ruthless in his own pursuit of an Afghanistan free from foreign influence. This time the enemy is the U.S. and its allies.

From outposts along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, his Haqqani network is waging a campaign that has made the Afghan insurgency deadlier. He has widened the use of suicide attacks, which became a Taliban mainstay only in the past few years. U.S. officials believe his forces carried out the dramatic Monday gun, grenade and suicide-…

Interview with Muhammad Umar Memon - A must read for those with interest in Urdu literature

Muhammad Umar Memon
Interview with Muhammad Umar Memon By Anjum Dawood Alden
Madison, Wisconsin
http://www.pakusonline.com/, January 14, 2009

Learning a new language is not just a matter of learning the semantics and linguistic structure of a new dialect, but it is also a discovery of the culture that surrounds that language. In some cases, it can even be a rediscovery of a culture. I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and went to a school that taught Urdu as a second language. Our daily classes were primarily conducted in English. Urdu was often taught to us in a completely different way than English. Teachers relied heavily on verbal drills, memorization and uninspiring reading opportunities. I never mastered my own mother tongue in Pakistan because I found it boring and tiresome to study. Also, it was never encouraged as such. At home nearly all my school friends and I spoke English with our families. English was always considered superior on many levels. We were all very comfortable, in…

Minhaj-ul-Quran to issue Fatwa against terrorists in London today

Minhaj-ul-Quran to issue Fatwa against terrorists in London today
The News, January 18, 2010
News Desk

LONDON: The 600-page document, drawn up by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, declares that attacks on innocent citizens are “absolutely against the teachings of Islam”.

The Minhaj-ul-Qur’aan, a Sufi organisation based in East London, which advises the British government on how to combat radicalisation of the Muslim youth, will launch the 600-page Fatwa against suicide bombings and terrorism, declaring them un-Islamic, tomorrow.

It condemns the perpetrators of terrorist explosions and suicide bombings. The document, written by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, declares the suicide bombings and terrorism as “totally un-Islamic”. It is one of the most detailed and comprehensive documents of its kind to be published in Britain.

The Fatwa, which was released in Pakistan last month, uses texts from the Holy Qur’aan and other Islamic writings to argue that attacks against innocent citizens are “absolutely against the te…

The Zardari-Kayani Tussle?

General Pasha assigned to bring Presidency, GHQ closer
The News, January 18, 2010
By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is said to have quietly asked DG ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to play a role in bringing the military establishment and the Presidency on one table and remove their widening differences, which are now even threatening the whole system, particularly after a new potential row with the judiciary, which erupted last week over the appointments of judges to the Supreme Court.

The sources said PM Gilani had decided to involve the DG ISI to bring the otherwise volatile political situation under control, particularly after the government decided to move the Supreme Court to review its verdict on the NRO as President Asif Zardari gave a clear indication that he would not make the latest appointments on the recommendation of CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. But one official source claimed that all this was just a coincidence and the role of DG ISI had n…

Rallying the diaspora — Dr Mohammad Taqi

VIEW: Rallying the diaspora —Dr Mohammad Taqi
Daily Times, January 17, 2010

Painting the current war as just the Pashtuns’ war might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It compartmentalises and isolates the Pashtuns even from their direct neighbours in Peshawar, Kohat and DI Khan. It is our war — of the Pashtuns, Hindko and Farsi speakers of Peshawar, Hazara-wals, Chitralis, the Shiite of Kurram and Barelvis of Swat. It is as much a Punjabi, Baloch or a Sindhi war

One freezing night in January 1948, a woman landed in New York on a campaign to raise funds for the state of Israel and its armed forces. She had no winter clothing on, carried only a handbag and a single ten-dollar bill in her pocket. When asked by the customs official how she planned to manage here in the US, she replied: “I have family here!”

When Golda Meir left the US, she had collected $ 50 million — twice her original target, ten times the demand of their resistance officials and three times the Saudi oil revenues for …

Headley attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan: The Hindu

Headley attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan
Special Correspondent , The Hindu, January 15, 2010

Conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years
Headley made five extended trips to Mumbai
Before each trip he was instructed on specific locations

NEW DELHI: The federal grand jury indictment in Chicago says that in 2002 and 2003, Headley attended terrorism training camps in Pakistan maintained by the Lashkar, and conspired with its members and others, including Rana, Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, in planning and executing the attacks in Denmark and India. He allegedly conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years preceding the November 2008 attacks that killed 164 people and left hundreds injured.

According to the charges, unnamed Lashkar member ‘A’, who served as a “handler” for Headley and another person associated with the Lashkar, advised Headley in late 2005 that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance…

Military and Politics in Pakistan: Arif Nizami

The military and politics
The News, January 16, 2010
Arif Nizami

Civilian control over the armed forces is a sacrosanct principle of democracy but has never been practiced in Pakistan. Even When Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over in the aftermath of the military debacle in East Pakistan he could not rein in the army. He first succumbed to its demand that a film showing the surrender of Pakistani forces to India be withdrawn from PTV. Later, keeping the sensitivities of the army in mind, he decided to put the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report in cold storage. Ultimately he was ousted and hanged on trumped up charges by his handpicked army chief, Gen Zia-ul-Haq.

Much later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, heady with a heavy mandate, tried to emasculate all institutions, one after another. He got away with sacking Gen Jehangir Karmat just a few months before his term was to expire as army chief. But when Nawaz tried to sack Gen Karamat's successor, Gen Musharraf, he had to pay the price …

Pakistani author, teacher inspires Korbel audience with hopes for Pakistan's future: Denver University

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Pakistani author, teacher inspires Korbel audience with hopes for country's future
By Shane Eric-Eugene Hensinger, Master's Candidate in International Security & Nirvana Bhatia, Master's Candidate in Human Rights
Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, Denver University, January 15, 2010

Acclaimed Pakistani author and educator Hassan Abbas told a packed Josef Korbel School of International Studies lecture audience that, despite increasing terrorist violence, his country's people embrace democracy and seek to put books, not guns, in the hands of their children.

In the well-attended lecture on the future of Pakistan, Abbas focused on current challenges and possible solutions rather than historical events.

"Too often, when people say they want to talk about the future, all they do is look to the past," Abbas said.

About 150 Josef Korbel School students gathered to hear Abbas, a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the New York-based Asia Society and author of th…

For Pakistan, no turning back from reform: President Zardari

For Pakistan, no turning back from reform
By Asif Ali Zardari
Washington Post, January 15, 2010; A23

When I was elected president more than a year ago, Pakistan was in grave condition, strained by terrorism and a ravaged economy. Countering the effects of a decade of dictatorship requires bold actions, some of which are unpopular. I am working with Parliament to run a country, not a political campaign. The goal of our democratic government is to implement policies that will dramatically improve the lives of Pakistanis. In time, good policies will become good politics.

Our economic crisis demanded unprecedented response. On taxes, education, agriculture and energy, we have shown that we must adapt, reform and become self-sufficient. Terrorists do not want Pakistan to succeed. They want to distract us from preparing for a stable and prosperous future. After a suicide bomber killed 75 people in northwestern Pakistan this month, U.S. media reports noted that "the militants' obj…

Lashkar-i-Jhangvi carried out Karachi Ashura Blast

Malik blames LJ for Karachi Ashura blast
By Amir Wasim

Dawn, Friday, 15 Jan, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The government disclosed in the National Assembly on Thursday that the banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) had carried out the bomb blast in Karachi’s Ashura procession that killed 45 people and injured 46 others.

Speaking at the start of a debate on an opposition-moved adjournment motion on the Karachi violence, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed the government had sufficient evidence that showed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jaish-i-Muhammad and Al Qaeda had formed a network which was behind terrorist activities.

The interior minister said a final report on the Karachi bombing would be presented in the house in 10 days.

He said that so far 30 people had been arrested on charges of involvement in looting and burning shops in Boulton Market soon after the Ashura blast on Dec 28.

These people, he said, were identified through CCVT footages collected by security offi…

"Prospects for Pakistan": An Interesting Report

From CFR website
Prospects for Pakistan
Legatum Institute, January 12, 2010

Legatum Institute's Jonathan Paris analyses the prospects for Pakistan over a one to three year time horizon. It looks at economic, political, security, and bilateral issues.

There are three possible scenarios for Pakistan over this relatively short time horizon; Pakistan probably will avoid becoming a "failed state" and is unlikely to find a "pathway to success" but, as Pakistan confronts a myriad of vexing challenges, the most likely scenario is that it will "muddle through".

1. Economy

Looking at the economy optimistically, in just over 20 years, Pakistan will surpass Indonesia and become the fifth most populous country and the one with the most Muslims. Its youth bulge provides it with a baby boom which, if educated and employed, could provide its economy with a demographic dividend long after the equivalent bulges in China and India have aged and retired. Pakistan has an …

Myths about Yemen

Al Qaeda’s Shadowland
By EDMUND J. HULL, New York Times, January 12, 2009

Washington
AMERICANS are scrambling to understand Yemen, where Al Qaeda has recently surged and the Christmas Day plot against Northwest Flight 253 was hatched. It’s not easy. Yemen has 5,000 years of history, complicated politics and daunting economic challenges. But we’ve made it more difficult to understand by allowing several myths to cloud our vision. Challenging these misconceptions is a first step toward comprehending and overcoming significant threats to American, Yemeni and international security.

Myth 1: The Yemeni government’s control does not extend much beyond the capital, Sana.

It’s true that the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh faces several security problems. Al Qaeda has operated there since the early 1990s, with its strength waxing and waning depending on the effectiveness of the government’s counterterrorism efforts. Since 2004, the government has faced an insurrection in the north f…

Pakistan suffers record number of deaths due to militant violence: Declan Walsh

Pakistan suffers record number of deaths due to militant violence
3,021 people killed in terrorist attacks in 2009 – a 48% rise, according to Islamabad thinktank

Declan Walsh in Islamabad guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 January 2010

A record number of Pakistani civilians and security forces died in militant violence last year as the country reeled from an onslaught of Taliban suicide bombings that propelled it into the ranks of the world's most perilous places.

Pakistan saw 3,021 deaths in terrorist attacks in in 2009, up 48% on the year before, according to a new report by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based defence thinktank. Researchers counted a total of 12,600 violent deaths across the country in 2009, 14 times more than in 2006.

At least half of the dead were militants who were killed in US drone strikes or, mostly, sweeping army offensives against their mountain strongholds of Swat and South Waziristan along the Afghan border. Another 2,000 or so P…

‘Why not have a joint Kashmir?’

‘Why not have a joint Kashmir?’

* PDP president calls for having ‘dual currency’ to encourage trade
* Says LoC should be made ‘irrelevant’
Daily Times, January 11, 2009

NEW DELHI: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Indian-held Kashmir has called for unifying both Kashmirs and having a “dual currency” to encourage trade.

Speaking at an Indo-Pak conference on Sunday, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said, “Can’t there be any joint mechanism between the two Kashmirs? Why can’t we have a joint council consisting of representatives from both sides?”
LoC: She said the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir should be made “irrelevant”. She said the recent militancy-related incidents in IHK should not influence New Delhi’s decision to withdraw troops from the disputed territory. “We know that the aim of any terror attack is to sabotage the dialogue process. The Lal Chowk attack should not influence the intention of the Indian government to withdraw forces [from IHK],” she said. The PDP lead…

Afghania: Renaming NWFP through Consensus - By Dr. Mohammad Taqi

Afghania: Renaming NWFP through Consensus - By Dr. Mohammad Taqi
Politact.com; January 8, 2010

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

At this time in the constitutional history of Pakistan, there apparently is a lot in a name; a name for the NWFP, that is.

Two major political parties of Pakistan viz. Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) have nominated a five member committee each, to meet and hopefully agree upon rechristening the NWFP.

In and of itself this may not be a major development for rest of the Pakistan, but on its resolution apparently hinges the forward movement in repealing the 17th Amendment to the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is likely to bless the consensus developed by the ANP and PML-N.

The North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) was so named, when in November 1901 the Viceroy of British India, Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, the First Marquess…

Reforming khakis - By Babar Sattar

Legal eye: Reforming khakis
The News, January 09, 2010
Babar Sattar
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

The end of Musharraf's rule, return of leaders of our mainstream political parties, restoration of the representative electoral process, restitution of independent-minded judiciary, recent rulings in the PCO judges case and the NRO, together with the role of our diligent media and civil society all mark the advent of an age of constitutionalism, rule of law and democracy. This journey might be slow and perilous, but rule of law and constitutionalism are the only mechanisms available to resurrect a peaceful, strong and stable Pakistan wherein equality and justice thrive along with hope and economic well-being.

We are rightly becoming more cognizant of the need to hold the feet of our corrupt and inept politicos to fire, in order to transform dilapidated structures of representative politics into an effective, sustainable and beneficial democracy. However, the province of kh…

Afghanistan: What Could Work - Rory Stewart

Afghanistan: What Could Work
By Rory Stewart
New York Review of Books, Volume 57, Number 1 · January 14, 2010

Cool poker-players, we are tempted to believe, only raise or fold: they only increase their bet or leave the game. Calling, making the minimum bet to stay, suggests that you can't calculate the odds or face losing the pot, and that the other players are intimidating you. Calling is for children. Real men and women don't want to call in Afghanistan: they want to dramatically increase troops and expenditure, defeat the Taliban, and leave. Or they just want to leave. Both sides—the disciples of the surge and the apostles of withdrawal—therefore found some satisfaction in one passage in President Obama's speech at West Point on December 1.

I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

But the rest left them uneasy. This was not, as they might have i…

Security Developments in Pakistan

Six killed in blast in Pakistan's Karachi: police
(AFP) – January 8, 2010

KARACHI — Six people were killed Friday when an explosion flattened a house being used by militants in Pakistan's economic hub Karachi, police said, adding that the blast appeared to have been accidental.

Gun, grenades and suicide vests were recovered from the house in a western Karachi neighbourhood, and police said they were working to determine the exact cause of the blast and the circumstances surrounding it.

"There was a blast in a house in Baldia Town in which six people were killed. The house collapsed," said senior police official Abdul Majeed Dasti.

He said hand grenades, a Kalashnikov rifle and suicide vests were also found at the scene, while city police chief Waseem Ahmad told AFP that the explosives appeared to have been detonated unintentionally.

"It seems that explosives which were stored in the house caused the explosion in which six people were killed," he said.

"…

Kashmir: Toeing the line

Toeing the line By Luv Puri
Dawn, 06 Jan, 2010

On February 28, 2007, Barkat Bi, 70, living in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir was united with her husband, Niaz Mohammad, 72, after a gap of 42 years. Her husband had crossed over to Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir during 1965 Indo-Pak war and could never return. The couple could not meet until Niaz Mohammad got permission to cross the Line of Control (LoC) three years ago.

Jammu and Kashmir remains the root of India-Pakistan tensions in South Asia. Notwithstanding the constraints that bind the policy making elite in New Delhi and Islamabad, there had been tangible progress as the two countries facilitated interactions between the two sides of the LoC: points were opened along the LoC and a process initiated to end the pain of divided families living on both sides. Last year, trade began between the two sides creating an economic stake for peace process.

The mistrust which developed between the two countries after the Mu…