victimisation’ of PPP leaders condemned
HYDERABAD, February 17, 2007: President
Sindh People’s Youth Aajiz Dhamra on Tuesday condemned the “political
victimisation” of PPP leaders and announced a protest against Sindh Chief
Minister’s remarks against PPP women leaders.
Addressing a news conference at the Hyderabad press club, he said the
government has broken all records of “rigging” in the by-elections to NA-250
Karachi and PS-71 Kotri seats, where state machinery was “freely” used to
suppress the opposition candidates and their voters.
He said the police played the role of silent spectators during an “armed
attack” on PPP leaders Syed Qaim Ali Shah and others during the Jamshoro
by-poll “on the instructions of the chief minister”.
He said provincial ministers and advisers remained busy in bogus voting and
PPP voters and workers were “victimised” and “tortured”.
He condemned the remarks of chief minister against PPP leader Naheed Khan.
He also criticised the government for registering a “fake” case against the
PS-71 candidate and announced protests all over the province against the
government’s “victimisation campaign” against PPP leaders.
Our Thatta correspondent adds: Local leaders and workers of the Pakistan
Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) staged a protest demonstration in
front of the Thatta press club here on Tuesday.
Led by PPPP district office-bearers Pir Ghulam Rahmani, Dr Abdul Wahid
Soomro and Baboo Ghulam Hussain Memon, the protesters chanted slogans
against the Sindh chief minister for making what they called “indecent”
remarks against their party chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
use of state power to deny constitutional rights
Islamabad February 15, 2007: A Pakistan
Peoples Party spokesperson has condemned the abuse of power to infringe on
the constitutional right of citizens to freely gather and peacefully protest
policies that are detrimental to the welfare of the Nation.
In a statement today a spokesperson of the Party condemned the imposition of
section 144, preventing more than five people gathering together by the
Nazim of the Musharaf-Shaukat Aziz regime in Dadu district. He said that
section 144 is imposed only in the face of violent and bloody protests and
is not a tool against peaceful political protests in a peaceful environment.
Former Law Minister Pir Mazhar ul Haq was forcibly stopped from leading
recently a protest march against the abusive language used by military
puppet Chief Minister Sindh with the illegal imposition of Section 144. Dadu
Nazim instituted a criminal case against him at the behest of chief minister
forcing him, like so many other citizens at the receiving end of a brutal
military regime, to seek bail from the court that was granted on Wednesday
The spokesman said that the Musharaf-Aziz duo of the military regime,
through its henchmen in the Punjab and Sindh have repeatedly been resorting
to section 144 for stopping political opposition instead for the maintenance
of law and order. Most notoriously it was used to break up the welcome
reception to Senator Asif Zardari upon his return to Lahore on April 16,
Giving a litany of the regime’s high handedness he said that on February 10
during by elections in Sindh a provincial minister Altaf Unar ordered his
bodyguards to kill Parliamentarian Dr Azra Pecheho, the sister in law of
former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the former Chief Minister and
member Sindh Assembly Syed Qaim Ali Shah and others travelling in a car. The
members miraculously escaped as they were travelling in a bulletproof car.
Both the back and front windshields of the car were shattered and a bullet
lodged in the roof as volleys were fired from sub machine guns.
He said that the police refused to file a criminal complaint of attempted
murder against the provincial minister. Subsequently on a reference to the
court only a criminal complaint was filed on February 12.
He said that the Police officers who refused to file the criminal complaint
have abused their positions and it was a fit case for concerned
international bodies like UN Rapporteur on Judges and Judiciary and the
International Parliamentary Union to take up.
The PPP condemned the attempt to turn Pakistan into Pinochet's Chile with
disappearances, goon squads to intimidate opposition and murder attempts by
members of the regime including Nazims and provincial ministers. The PPP
called upon all citizens to save Pakistan from such thugs by supporting the
PPP and its allied parties and rejecting the present tyranny.
On February 10 also as the PPP was winning the bye-election in Karachi, its
candidate Nafees Siddiqui, his family members and other polling agents were
beaten and intimidated by the MQM members of the ruling coalition. No action
has been taken against those who used the goon squads to thrash male and
female polling agents and also physically abused the PPP candidate.
On February 14 the PPP decided to protest the rigging and use of force in
front of the Election Commission office in Karachi. The goon squads sent
someone on top of the open vehicle in which the female Information Secretary
of PPP, and a sitting Parliamentarians Ms Sherry Rahman was standing. With a
blunt instrument they hit her on the neck. She had to be hospitalised with
the MRI scan showing the injury.
He said that in all these cases, the Musharaf-Aziz military regime has
colluded by giving political protection to the violators of law, he said.
Had the ministers, mayors, thugs and police officers who refuse to do their
duty arrested or proceeded against the perpetrators of these heinous and
violent crimes against political opponents it would served as a deterrence.
However, by giving political protection to the perpetuators of violent acts,
the regime is colluding in the murder and mayhem.
The spokesperson recalled that the murderers of the three PPP workers in the
Attock bye election of Shaukat Aziz two years ago are still free while the
families of victims are grieving for justice. Six PPP workers were killed in
Attock on February 9 in which the suspect is the district Nazim Attock who
is related to the Chief Minister of Punjab.
The PPP condemns the attempt to turn Pakistan into Pinochet's Chile with
disappearances, goon squads to intimidate opposition and murder attempts by
members of the regime including Mayors and provincial ministers. The PPP
called upon all citizens to save Pakistan from such thugs by supporting the
PPP and its allied parties and rejecting the present tyranny.
The PPP spokesman said that those who violated the law could not hide
forever as the wheel of history turned and as it turned with the triumph of
democracy and the rule of law, the thugs would have to face the majesty of
law just as they had to do the same in Pinochet's Chile
wants local govts suspended before elections
DADU, Feb 13: The People’s Party
Parliamentarians President Makhdoom Amin Fahim demanded on Tuesday
suspension of local bodies governments three months before general elections
arguing that the local governments would affect the elections process.
Talking to journalists after offering condolences to the cousins of Pir
Mazharul Haq Pir, Pir Najeeb, Pir Yousuf and Pir Kaleemullah on the death of
their uncle Pir Abdul Hameed at Pir Jo Goth Mr Fahim said that the
government machinery was openly used in the by-elections in Kotri and
Karachi and PPP MNAs were attacked, which threw into doubt the election
He demanded that an independent election commission should be constituted
and a caretaker government should be put in place with national consensus to
hold general elections in a transparent manner.
He denied the party had struck up a deal with the government and claimed
that Ms Bhutto would return to the country to participate in the polls after
the announcement of elections schedule.
He said that all the opposition parties would have to sit together and
decide whether they should participate in elections or not. People should
play their role against rigging in general elections otherwise they would
have to regret, he said.
Mr Fahim who is also chairman of the Alliance for the Restoration of
Democracy said that the Indian government was not following the water accord
on Baglihar Dam and slammed the government for not bringing the dams’ issue
in the parliament. The issue should be discussed in the parliament, he said.
He regretted that the government was terminating the jobs of people who were
recruited during PPP governments and assured that the party would reinstate
all the fired employees once it came to power and would also create more job
The old Sindhi villages were being destroyed under a planed conspiracy, he
said and expressed fear that the Sindhis’ homes in interior Sindh might also
be demolished. The one man show had led to worsening law and order situation
in the country where women were not safe even within the walls of their
homes, he said.
poet passes away: A local poet and writer Allah Nawaz Rukanai died here late
on Monday night due to cardiac arrest. He was aged 77 years.
Late Rukanai has left behind two sons, three draughters and a wife to mourn
He was buried at Shakir Pir graveyard near Dadu on Tuesday evening in the
presence of hundreds of people including poets and writers from across the
govt for 'assassination bid' on sister-in-law
Islamabad, Feb 12: Former Pakistan Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto has blamed the government for an "assassination bid"
on her sister-in-law, a PPP parliamentarian, during Saturday's by-election
polling in Sindh.
Alleging that the regime had been "gripped by fear and panic and was
resorting to violence" as the general election was coming close, Bhutto
demanded action against a provincial minister, Altaf Unar, for the attack on
Azra Fazal Pacheho, sister of Asif Ali Zardari.
The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chief alleged that the minister
accompanied by his armed body guards fired and shattered the windscreens of
the jeep Pacheho was travelling in, the Dawn said today.
"The attack on a woman leader is not only a shameful act but also a worst
manifestation of cowardice and is condemned in the strongest terms," Bhutto
said in a statement.
Bhutto said that such "assassination bids" would not deter the party from
pursuing its "democratic agenda" aimed at restoring democracy in the
The PPP has filed a criminal complaint with the area magistrate naming
provincial ministers, including Altaf Unar, and their bodyguards for the
attack on the PPP leader.
Six PPP activists were gunned down in Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's
constituency in Attock two days earlier.
protests against ‘rigging’: Woman MPA, 269 others booked
THATTA, Feb 14: Activists of People’s
Party Parliamentarians (PPP) and its sister organisations staged rallies,
demonstrations and token hunger strikes across the province on Wednesday
against alleged rigging in the by-elections in Karachi and Dadu and attacks
on party leaders on the polls day.
Party activists staged a peace march in Gharo town. The marchers gathered on
the National Highway where they staged a sit-in in protest against chief
minister’s use of derogatory and abusive language against PPP leaders Naheed
Khan, Sassui Palijo and Makhdoom Amin Fahim and fictitious cases against
Ghulam Qadir Palijo, said Luqman Malkani, local party leader.
Gharo Police later booked MPA Sassui Palijo, Abdul Sattar Lohar and 268
other party activists on charges of blocking the highway, creating public
nuisance, obstructing police in performing duties and creating law and order
Gharo TPO Gul Abbas said that party activists staged a procession in the
town and gathered on the highway where they staged a sit-in and used
libellous language against the chief minister. The blockade resulted in
suspension of traffic for over three hours and caused great inconvenience to
commuters, he added.
A party activist Mumtaz Jokhio told journalists on phone that 20 leaders and
activists including Sassui Palijo, her father Ghulam Qadir Palijo, Syed
Iqbal Shah, Abdul Sattar Lohar, an Awam Dost councillor Ms Shahnaz Jokhio
and 20 other party men and women were on the FIR besides 250 other activists
included as unidentified.
TANDO MOHAMMAD KHAN: Activists staged a demonstration and a sit-in on
the Phulelli Road and vowed that they would continue their protest against
the chief minister.
PPP city president Mashooq Ali Bhatti, general secretary Ali Nawaz Bhutto,
SPSF leader Allah Bux Bhatti and Sindh People’s Youth (SPY) leader Gulzar
Bhatti said that the chief minister’s use of inappropriate language against
the chairperson and other women leaders was a bid to please Gen Musharraf.
KHAIRPUR: A large number of lawyers of Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF)
staged a procession and a demonstration on the Court Road.
PLF President Liaquat Ali Shar, Sajjad Kolachi and Bachal Shah slammed
attack on Qaim Ali Shah and Dr Azra Pechuho on the by-elections day. The use
of insulting language against women ran counter to the culture and
traditions of Sindh, they said.
DADU: Activists of SPY staged demonstrations and observed token
hunger strikes in Khairpur Nathan Shah and Dadu and made an appeal to the
chief election commissioner to take notice of rigging and attacks on MNAs,
MPAs and party workers.
NAWABSHAH: Activist of SPY staged a demonstration on the Sakrand Road
against attack on party leaders and workers and warned the chief minister
against using abusive language against the women party leaders
SPY leaders Saalim Zardari, Kashif Ali Noorani, Sarwar Khaskheli and
Mouladad Gaho charged that state machinery was used in by-elections in
Karachi and Kotri.
MIRPURKHAS: Activists of SPY observed a token hunger strike at the
Post Office Chowk bringing traffic to a halt for a few hours. SPY leaders
Tharo Khan Panhwar, Hanif Memon, Abdul Razzaq Khaskheli, Abdul Razzaq Sonara
and others participated in the token hunger strike.
JACOBABAD: Activists of SPY staged a rally which marched on different
roads of the city before staging a sit-in at the DCO Chowk.
Similar protests were held in Larkana and other cities and towns of Sindh.
alliance wins by-polls against Bhutto`s PPP
Islamabad, Feb 11: The pro-Musharraf
ruling Muthahida Quami Movement and Pakistan Muslim League have won the two
key by-elections to the National Assembly from Sindh defeating the nominees
of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto- led Pakistan Peoples Party.
Seen as a dry run for the general elections due later this year, MQM and PML-Q,
which are part of the coalition in the federal and provincial Sindh
governments, won the seats with comfortable majorities in the polls held
The by-polls in one of the seats in Karachi and Jamshoro evinced interest at
the national level as PPP contested the two seats in its stronghold Sindh.
Musharraf, who is planning to get elected for yet another five-year term by
the existing assemblies before their term ends in November wants the PPP to
join his pro-military coalition to reinforce his rule for the next five
Bhutto, who is confined to her self exile for over eight years, has
apparently linked any deal with Musharraf to her return to take part in the
The by-polls were seen as a test case for PPP to battle against the two
ruling coalition partners who had full support of the state machinery.
PPP has alleged rigging and violence and accused the Election Commission and
the security forces of inaction.
The party said a number of its activists have been injured in the clashes in
some of the polling booths in which it accused the rival candidates of using
Meanwhile, Bhutto is expected to attend an all party opposition meeting
called by deposed premier Nawaz Sharif in London next month.
Bhutto's publicly acknowledged talks with Musharraf created misgivings in
the opposition ranks specially the validity of charter of democracy, she
signed with Sharif last year to oppose Army rule in future.
PPP to revive
By Noshad Ali
LAHORE: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s
new ‘think tank’, in its first meeting, has decided to revive the slogan of
‘Roti, kapra aur makkan’ (Food, clothing and housing) first made popular by
the party’s founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The think tank also recommended that the PPP would contest the next general
elections despite pre-poll rigging, and that the find fresh blood to make
future politicians who would ensure a prosperous and democratic Pakistan.
The PPP leaders on the think tank said that ZA Bhutto was unable to fulfil
his promise of providing food clothing and shelter to every Pakistani
because he was only allowed five years in power. It should be fulfilled now
when the world is speedily becoming a global village, they said. About
ongoing controversies between various leaders within the party, PPP General
Secretary Jahangir Badar told Daily Times that these issues were also
discussed and proposals in this regard had been framed. He said that the
proposals would be announced after PPP Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto’s approval.
Apart from Badar, Aftab Shaban Meerani, Ali Nawaz Shah, Yousaf Talpur, Dr
Fehmida Mirza, Balakh Sher Mazari, Abida Hussain, Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali,
Latif Khosa, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Nawabzada Lashkari Raeesani, Masood Kausar,
Adnan Bashir and Mian Abdul Waheed attended the think tank meeting. Sherry
Rehman and Dr Safdar Abbasi missed the meeting.
Later, think tank members addressed local party leaders in the evening at a
PPP Labour Bureau dinner at Balawal House. Raeesani said that Pakistan’s
present situation was worse than in 1971 – when East Pakistan broke away as
Bangladesh - which is why the PPP should speed up its mass awareness
campaign against the government. “Now the country faces more problems than
in the 70s, thus the party should work hard and speedily to meet its
objective,” he said.
Abida Hussain said that Bhutto was among Pakistan’s biggest leaders and his
mission should be completed by resisting dictatorship. “A people’s force is
organising against the present rulers due to their increasing hatred of the
armed forces, which once enjoyed a respectable position in this country,”
The PPP could provide direction to that public force, she said. She said the
armed forces and the second biggest power in Pakistan, the judiciary, would
have to accept if people properly organised at the PPP platform. Sardar Asif
Ahmed Ali said that the PPP was the only party that could bring the nation
out of its present crisis. He said Gen Pervez Musharraf would hold
presidential elections from the current assemblies because he knew that was
the only way he could get re-elected president. “The all parties
conference’s decisions will worsen General Pervez Musharraf’s position,” he
said, though adding that the PPP’s participation in the conference was yet
to be decided.
Badar told the dinner participants that the next three meetings of the PPP
think tank would be held in Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP. He said the think
tank would continue its consultations until the PPP achieved its objective
of establishing real democracy in Pakistan. Before the dinner, PPP Punjab
and Lahore officials inaugurated a PPP office at Old Anarkali besides
addressing a public gathering at Kareem Park.
Bhutto party activists
ISLAMABAD: Six workers of the main opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP)
were killed and two others injured when gunmen ambushed their van in the
town of Attock, 120km west of the capital Islamabad.
PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the attack was meant to frighten party
workers in a district where Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said he will
contest general elections that are due late this year or in early 2008.
"It seems to us that now the elections are near, a message has been sent to
the PPP supporters to desist from supporting the party," Babar said.
"We demand the arrest of the culprits. One of the men murdered in the attack
was a local office-bearer (a party leader at village level)," he said,
adding the dead included three brothers.
Three of the party's workers were also killed in the same district during
the by-elections in 2004 when Aziz won a national assembly seat, Babar said.
The moderate PPP, headed by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who lives
in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London, is the largest opposition party
activists shot dead
The PPP is gearing up for elections
Unidentified gunmen in Pakistan have killed six members of the main
opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), police say.
They say that two other people were wounded in the attack.
The attack took place in the town of Attock, 120kms (57 miles) west of the
A general election is due in Pakistan in late 2007 or early 2008, and rival
political parties have already begun manoeuvring for support.
Correspondents say that Pakistani elections are traditionally plagued by
violence between rival supporters.
"We do not know what the motive is behind the attack. We are investigating,"
police spokesman Najab Khan told the AFP news agency.
Ms Bhutto has been told she cannot take part in the vote
PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the attack was meant to frighten party
"It seems to us that now the elections are near, a message has been sent to
the PPP supporters to desist from supporting the party," Mr Babar told AFP.
"We demand the arrest of the culprits. One of the men murdered in the attack
was a local office-bearer (a party leader at village level)," he said,
adding the dead included three brothers.
Correspondents say that three PPP workers were killed in the same district
during the by-elections in 2004 when the current Prime Minister, Shaukat
Aziz won a national assembly seat.
The PPP is led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who has lived in
self-imposed exile since 1998.
She has said she that will return for the election, although President
Musharraf has warned that she will not be allowed to compete in the vote.
He has accused her of corruption during her time in office, but she denies
Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi
In one of her addresses, Benazir Bhutto floated the idea of linking economic
assistance with the holding of fair and free elections. This suggestion is
likely to attract attention if serious doubts arise about the credibility of
the election process
Elections provide the voters with an opportunity to elect their rulers and
reaffirm the political system’s identification with democracy. However, the
available evidence suggests that the forthcoming elections in Pakistan are
not likely to give a free hand to the voters to choose between the present
incumbents and the opposition.
The government is confident that it would secure an electoral endorsement
for staying on for another five years. This is going to be an up-hill task,
because the needs of securing an electoral victory do not always reconcile
with the imperatives of holding fair and free elections.
The outcome of the presidential and parliamentary electoral exercises would
have implications far beyond the territorial boundaries of this country. It
will have a definite impact on efforts to control extremism and terrorism in
and around Pakistan. As these issues are of direct interest to the West,
especially the United States, international attention is likely to be
focused on how Pakistan manages the elections.
There is another reason for the interest the US and the European Union are
taking in the Pakistani elections. They have been supporting the Musharraf
government since 2001-2002 in the context of the war against terrorism. This
support has continued despite their current reservations about the Musharraf
government’s approach towards Taliban activities in the Pakistani territory
adjacent to Afghanistan.
However, if the Pakistan government fails to hold credible elections, these
governments might distance themselves from the Musharraf government in order
to avoid the embarrassment of elections mismanaged by the latter. They will
be equally concerned if the elections cause street agitation and instability
Traditionally, Pakistan’s military governments have used referenda and
elections to civilianise and extend their rule and co-opt pliant political
leaders. Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq held carefully managed referenda to secure
legitimacy for hanging on to power. General Pervez Musharraf pursued the
Though the political support base of the Musharraf government is narrow, not
many people expect that it would be knocked out of power in the next
elections. Military-dominated governments do not lose elections in Pakistan,
especially when the president continues to hold on to the office of army
As the president derives his main strength from the army the electoral
exercise loses much of its relevance. His government has a clear advantage
over the opposition because of its control over the bureaucratic apparatus
and the availability of the civilian and military intelligence agencies. It
can also use state patronage and resources to build electoral support.
A heavy reliance on these mechanisms is likely to cause serious doubts about
the credibility of the elections. The domestic and foreign election monitors
are expected to make a detailed review of the election process, covering the
run-up to the elections as well as what happens on the polling day and the
procedures for announcing the results. Their strategies will be based on the
experience of the 2002 elections in Pakistan and recent elections in other
If they come to the conclusion that the Pakistan vote was a dubious
electoral exercise, the Musharraf government is expected to face major
censure at that international level. This is likely to have serious
implications for the government, which places a premium on building a soft
image abroad and relies heavily on international economic and military
Several key issues require immediate attention for ensuring credible
elections and safe democratic transition in Pakistan. The presidency and the
federal government plan to seek General Pervez Musharraf’s re-election from
the current parliament and provincial assemblies in total disregard of
political ethics and the spirit of democracy. On top of this, the ruling
Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the federal cabinet want him to continue to
hold on to the army command.
It is well known that President Pervez Musharraf went back on his commitment
to quit as army chief and the PML managed new legislation to provide a legal
cover to the combining of the two offices until 2007. This arrangement
served the power interests of General Pervez Musharraf at the expense of
democracy and constitutionalism.
If this arrangement remains in place it would amount to changing the basic
character of the Constitution and exposing the military to criticism by the
political circles and other societal groups.
The opposition parties are not expected to let the government get away with
presidential elections from the current assembly. Most opposition members
are expected to resign after the announcement of the schedule for the
presidential elections. The opposition would not find it difficult to resign
at this stage because the tenure of the National and Provincial Assemblies
would expire shortly after the presidential election. The government would
have to hold the presidential elections with an incomplete electoral
The opposition is also expected to launch protest meetings and marches
against the presidential election. As the political situation would be
geared to the elections, the opposition would find it relatively easy to
launch a street agitation. Election-related activities could be easily
turned into agitation against government policies.
The government will face additional pressures if Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz
Shairf decide to return to Pakistan after its electioneering in the run-up
to the presidential election has gained momentum. As the government cannot
afford to let these leaders engage in political mobilisation, it will have
to rely on the coercive apparatus of the state to ward off this threat. It
is difficult to predict the outcome of such a confrontation. However, the
Musharraf-led government would be the main loser in the domestic and
The presidency needs to undertake a dispassionate and realistic assessment
of the domestic situation rather than rely on the PML’s advice that they
would easily win the presidential and parliamentary elections. Pakistan’s
domestic political situation is more troubled now than was the case in the
2002 elections. The opposition is more desperate now because the official
plan of action does not give them any autonomous space. The government
appears quite determined to restrain Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from
returning to Pakistan and leading their parties in the elections. Such a
partisan approach and contravention of the spirit of the Constitution and
democracy would not facilitate political continuity and stability.
Benzair Bhutto’s recent visit to Washington DC showed that Pakistan watchers
in this city are concerned about Pakistan’s presidential and general
elections. In one of her addresses, Benazir Bhutto floated the idea of
linking economic assistance with the holding of fair and free elections.
This suggestion is likely to attract attention if serious doubts arise about
the credibility of the election process.
The number of votes it gets will not decide the future of the Musharraf
government. What is going to matter most is how it manages these elections
and if it can ensure that they are fair and free, giving an equal
opportunity to all political parties to seek a popular mandate under the
leaders of their choice.
Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst
Musharraf: Pakistan's big beast unleashed
It's boom time under the rule of General Pervez Musharraf. But can you ever
really trust a dictator? Ahead of this year's elections, the novelist Mohsin
Hamid takes an ambivalent look at the top cat who dragged his country into
the 21st century
In Lahore, where I grew up, there were three distinct types that you found
in every school and playground. The intellectuals were, by and large, known
as chutiyas, a term which translates both literally and metaphorically into
English as "pussies". Then there were the bubber shers. Though this is the
Urdu word for lion, it is used mockingly more than admiringly, connoting not
so much strength as overfed laziness. And then there were the true heroes,
the studs; we called them cheetas and they were named, of course, after the
cheetah, the deadly, fast-moving, great cat of Africa.
I was reminded of these teenage labels when I started to read In the Line of
Fire, the autobiography of Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf. I
had expected bombastic, excessive prose from my supreme leader, but was
surprised to find myself rather liking the man. I remain deeply concerned
about the implications of his rule for the future of Pakistan, it is true,
but insofar as he bears any similarity to the narrator, he strikes me as
quite a pleasant sort of fellow to have as one's dictator.
On recent visits to the country, my younger relatives tell me that the
taxonomy of weak chutiyas, fat bubber shers, and exalted cheetas is still in
common use in Pakistan today. I hypothesised that Pervez Musharraf might
well be a cheeta. To confirm this I first set out to compare the elements
one would expect to find in the life story of a cheeta with those present in
his book. From my training as a management consultant, I realised that such
a benchmarking is best done within a framework. Accordingly, I devised the
double-M double-I double-H (or MMIIHH) framework, which is composed of
Mischievousness, Machismo, Impetuousness, Intelligence, Heart, and Honour.
Every cheeta I knew growing up took great delight in what we called "a bit
of mischief". One favourite pastime was to throw raw eggs from automobiles
at passing pedestrians (for the most part, impoverished manual labourers
with no access to a change of clothes) in the dead of night, and then speed
away, laughing. This was known as "egging". A true cheeta, even if he did
not engage in egging himself, would at the very least come along for the
ride and recount the story with some glee. Musharraf amply satisfies this
requirement with anecdotes such as the one in which he is taught by his
uncle how to go up to a "baldy" (in this case a "man [who] had oiled his
bald pate, making matters worse, for it was shining like a mirror and
inviting trouble"), "give him a tight smack right in the middle of his shiny
head...[which] must have stung like hell", and get away without any
Yet an instinct for mischief alone does not a cheeta make. Escaping
automobiles can sometimes stall and baldies can sometimes retaliate, and in
such circumstances machismo is called for. The cheetas of my youth were
perhaps most famous for their ability to take a beating while giving as good
as they got in the face of overwhelming odds (having an arm fractured by a
hockey-stick, for example, and still being able to break the other guy's
nose). Musharraf is no exception. Whether joining "the street gangs" of
Nazimabad (which he likens to the "South Bronx") as "one of the tough boys,"
or being told by a professional bodybuilder that he has "a most muscular
physique", or leading his commandos through training exercises such as
running at full speed "on a yard-wide beam 300ft high, spanning the top...
of a metal bridge... with a fast river flowing underneath", he proves his
machismo time and again. This serves him well in the face of multiple
assassination attempts, which he confronts with remarkable equanimity.
Machismo leads, perhaps inevitably, to impetuousness. Impetuousness explains
why so many of us in Lahore died at the wheel in automobile accidents at the
ages of 16 and 17, before we were legally entitled to drive. It also
explains why our national cricket team seems to have an endless supply of
fast bowlers and a desperate lack of opening batsmen - a delivery left well
alone is categorically not the mark of a cheeta. Here again Musharraf does
not disappoint. Repeatedly in his autobiography, when confronted or
slighted, he informs us he "saw red". After September 11, 2001, when made
aware of Richard Armitage's statement that Pakistan would be "bombed back to
the Stone Age" if it did not support the US, Musharraf has to resist telling
the American official "to go forth and multiply, or words to that effect".
And he does not always hold back. At a tense meeting of South Asian leaders
he extends his hand, "on the spur of the moment", to Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee in apparent violation of diplomatic procedure, with the result that
"a loud gasp of awe [and I daresay admiration] went through the hall, full
of stuffy officialdom, that the prime minister of 'the largest democracy in
the world' had been upstaged."
But impetuous as he is, a cheeta is no fool. He may not study, but he is
invariably clever. A street-smart operator is a cheeta; a buffoon is a
bubber sher. Perhaps it is this applied intelligence that explains why many
of my schoolmates who were cheetas have done so well in the rough-and-ready
world of Pakistani business, while many of the purely book-smart chutiyas of
my acquaintance have been paralysed by over-analysis and now languish in
less lucrative careers. Musharraf neatly captures the distinction when he
points out, referencing Napoleon, that "two thirds of decision-making is
based on study... but the other third is... based on one's gut". Moreover,
like a true cheeta, he confesses of his youth, "if, from all this, you have
concluded that I was not intensely focused on my studies, you would not be
If mischievousness, machismo, impetuousness, and intelligence were their
only attributes, cheetas would not be so popular. But there are two more:
heart and honour. When I was growing up, a cheeta could be forgiven for
getting into needless fights, doing excessive amounts of drugs, harassing
girls, and generally causing mayhem - so long as he had a good heart. By
good heart, what was meant was that a cheeta was true to those he loved:
true to his family, his friends, his team, his country. This test Musharraf
passes with flying colours. He has great loyalty to each of the units in
which he serves, to the army as a whole, and to Pakistan - often to the
point of risking his own life. He also writes of his compassion for the
Bosnians while on a peacekeeping mission: "When the Pakistani Brigade
Group... finally came, all its personnel fasted one day of every week, and
distributed the food they had saved among the more needy Bosnians."
Similarly, honour is of great importance to the cheeta. The cheeta is
expected to publicly assert that he always keeps his word. But unlike the
more foolish bubber sher, who actually tries to fulfil his promises no
matter how disastrous the consequences, the cheeta is expected to be more
discerning. In practice, like a company issuing quarterly earnings reports,
the cheeta must almost always do what he has said he will do but also be
prepared on rare occasions to depart from expectations. This concept can
rarely have been better expressed than by Musharraf in the following passage
about a vow he made soon after becoming President: "I was quite serious when
I announced that I would remove my army chief's hat... But events that soon
began to unfold started putting serious doubts in my mind... Therefore, much
against my habit and character, I decided to go against my word."
So the real question is not whether Musharraf is a cheeta. That he is, his
autobiography makes abundantly clear. The real question is, what happens
when a cheeta takes over one's country?
As it turns out, part of what happens is a great deal of good. When I first
met the woman I would later marry and asked her what she did for a living,
she told me that, among other things, she was an actress on television. We
were in London, where she was visiting on holiday, and I remember being
surprised. I had grown up in a Pakistan with only one television channel -
conservative, state-run, and featuring newsreaders with veils atop their
heads - and I personally knew no actresses. My wife-to-be informed me that
she acted in a show called Jutt and Bond, an Urdu sitcom about a Punjabi
folk hero and a debonair British secret agent, and that she was the love
Like many men, I had always wanted to date a Bond girl. It took me less than
a month to come up with a fictitious excuse for travelling to Lahore in hot
pursuit. There, my wife-to-be exposed me to the incredible new world of
media that had sprung up in Pakistan, a world of music videos, fashion
programmes, independent news networks, cross-dressing talk-show hosts,
religious debates, stock-market analysis, and dramas and comedies like Jutt
and Bond. I knew, of course, that the government of Musharraf had opened the
media to private operators. But I had not until then realised how profoundly
things had changed.
Not just television, but also private radio stations and newspapers have
flourished in Pakistan over the past few years. The result is an
unprecedented openness. In cities like Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, young
people are speaking and dressing differently. Views both critical and
supportive of the government are voiced with breathtaking frankness in an
atmosphere remarkably lacking in censorship. Public space, the common area
for culture and expression that had been so circumscribed in my childhood,
has now been vastly expanded. The Vagina Monologues was recently performed
on stage in Pakistan to standing ovations.
Similarly, higher education has benefited from being opened to the private
sector, as well as from a huge increase in state funding. After finishing
her MA in journalism at Goldsmiths three years ago, my sister found herself
with multiple teaching offers from universities back in Lahore. Our father,
an economics professor for much of his professional life, says he cannot
remember a time since the heady years of the 1960s when there was so much
excitement in academia.
My sister's experience bears this out. Her salary, at around £50 a week,
might not seem much by London standards. But it goes a long way in Lahore. A
few years ago, top MBA graduates in Pakistan would have been lucky to earn
that amount. And if my sister becomes a full professor or a department head,
she can expect to earn far more. The sudden attractiveness of her profession
is fuelling a surge of interest in pursuing research degrees. In the
sciences and engineering alone, the government is expecting to graduate
1,500 doctoral students annually by 2010, a hundred-fold increase on the
Going to speak at the small urban campus at which my sister teaches, I was
taken aback by the subjects on offer. Students were studying to be beat
reporters, literature professors, sound engineers, magazine editors,
sculptors, and costume designers. They were putting on an original rock
musical. And enrolment was soaring, with ever-increasing demand for places.
My sister told me some of her students were working nights in the city's
call centres to pay their tuition.
All of this has taken place against the backdrop of a staggering economic
boom. Over the past five years, Pakistan's economy has been one of the
fastest growing in the world. Foreign firms are investing billions of
dollars in sectors such as telecoms, where Pakistani mobile-phone users have
gone from under a million at the start of the decade to 30 million today. In
London, one often reads of people of Pakistani descent travelling to
Pakistan to attend terrorist training camps. Far more common, but virtually
unreported, are the stories of successful Pakistan-born expatriates
returning home for better financial prospects.
My buddy OH is one of them. An architect, he trained at the Rhode Island
School of Design and joined a small firm in Boston for several years,
working on projects ranging from baseball stadiums in the US to nightclubs
in China to cliffside residences in Venezuela. But he wanted to be his own
boss. So a couple of years ago he moved back to Lahore and started his own
firm. Now he is so busy that he has to turn away assignments. "Nothing works
here, yaar," he tells me. "It frustrates the hell out of you. But I love it.
I wouldn't go anywhere else."
For despite the inefficiency of Pakistan's construction practices and the
corruption of its bureaucracy, the skyline of Lahore is being transformed.
With the economic boom has come a demand for offices, hotels, and housing.
Gleaming new towers are beginning to rise out of deep pits in the fertile,
alluvial soil of Lahore's newer neighbourhoods, dwarfing the slender
minarets of the old walled city that feature so prominently in postcards and
All this, it seems, is the upside of having a cheeta for your president.
Why is it, then, given the remarkable progress made by Pakistan under
Musharraf, that so few other countries are clamouring to be led by cheetas
of their own? Perhaps it is because their people desire greater say in the
running of national affairs. I recall my own participation in the referendum
of 2002. Its purpose (omega) was to give Pakistanis a chance to decide
whether Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, should continue to be
President. I was in Islamabad at the time, so I cast my vote in Pakistan's
I arrived at the polling station with the intention of voting in support of
Musharraf. My reasons were threefold. First, it was shortly after September
11, and the invasion of Afghanistan, and I felt Pakistan needed strong
leadership if we were to avoid the fate that had befallen our neighbour.
Second, I approved of what appeared to be a genuinely progressive approach
that the government was taking in a number of areas. Third, I thought that
returning to the rule of either Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif, the
democratically elected Prime Ministers who had presided over the decline of
Pakistan's economy and institutions in the 1990s, would be an unmitigated
I immediately noticed at the polling station that staff far outnumbered
voters. Indeed, my sister and I seemed to be the only voters there. I showed
my identity card, had my finger marked with indelible ink, and was given a
ballot to take with me into a booth. I expected a simple: "Pervez Musharraf
for President: yes or no?" Instead, I encountered the following text: "For
the survival of the local government system, establishment of democracy,
continuity of reforms, end to sectarianism and extremism, and to fulfil the
vision of Quaid-e-Azam, would you like to elect President General Pervez
Musharraf as President of Pakistan for five years?"
As I struggled to decipher what precisely it was that I was being asked, a
man came in and ordered me to hurry up. I had seen him lurking about the
entrance to the polling station, but he was not one of the officials. "Who
are you?" I asked him. "Can't you see I'm voting? Get out of here."
He eyes hardened. "People are waiting," he said
"What people? There's half a dozen booths here and one voter."
"I said," he snarled, "hurry up."
"Who the hell are you? Get out of my face." I appealed to the officials.
"I'm trying to exercise my right as a citizen. I need my privacy. Who is
this person? Why don't you do something about him?"
The officials seemed alarmed by all this but did nothing to intervene. The
man was clearly a soldier or policeman in plainclothes. He evoked in me that
typically belligerent Pakistani reaction to being ordered around for no
reason, the product no doubt of our history of colonialism and dictatorship.
So we exchanged unpleasantries for a bit. Eventually he stepped back,
although not as far as I would have liked, and I voted, although not as
quickly as he would have liked, and that was that.
My sister emerged from the women's section and we left. In the 10 minutes we
had spent at the polls, neither of us had seen another voter. Yet when the
results of the referendum were announced, the country was told not only that
97 per cent of votes had been in support of Musharraf, but that the turnout
had been 43 million people, or a massive 56 per cent of the electorate.
These figures were so obviously ridiculous that even someone who had
actually voted for the man, as I had (having resisted the urge to change my
mind in protest at the low-grade intimidation I experienced), felt deeply
disheartened by the exercise.
Rigged elections rankle, of course. But surely it is churlish to keep
insisting on democracy when the cities one visits, the metropolises of
Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, are witnessing a boom unlike any in recent
memory? The problem is that there is more to Pakistan than its cities. And
it is in the hinterlands to the west of the country, in the provinces
bordering Afghanistan, that the downside of cheeta-style military rule
becomes most apparent.
In 2004, I made a reporting trip out to Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan
province. Gwadar is one of the government's showcase development projects, a
deep-water port and model city being constructed with Chinese help on the
site of a small fishing village near the straits of Hormuz, through which
most of the world's oil flows. The province is also home to an insurgency
against the perceived heavy-handedness of the central government in general
and the army in particular. I arrived shortly after a bomb had killed
several of the Chinese engineers who were working on the port.
I expected to find strong anti-Pakistani sentiment. I found nothing of the
sort. Children were even playing street cricket in the uniforms of the
Pakistan national team. But while I was in Gwadar I was stopped and
questioned menacingly by a pair of undercover security operatives. No
outright threat was made, but the tone of the encounter was so unsettling
that I later complained of it over the telephone in a call home I made from
Overhearing me, a shopkeeper and his cousin began to commiserate. They told
me of daily rudeness and regular beatings at the hands of the security
forces. "We think of ourselves as Pakistanis," one of them said, "but they
treat us like terrorists." And then, out of sympathy for what I had
experienced, they refused to let me pay for my lunch.
I left Gwadar deeply concerned about the consequences of the confrontational
approach being taken by the government to the unrest in Pakistan's western
provinces. Of course, the state must act when faced with violence and
terrorism. But it must also guard against the abuse of power by its security
forces, and it must hold back from victimising entire populations in the
pursuit of a few criminals.
Unfortunately, cheetas are not known for their restraint.
Since the schoolyard is the cheeta's typical stomping-ground, it may be
useful to compare the rule of Musharraf to the reign of a bully in a rough
inner-city secondary school. For a time, if the bully is a progressive and
fair-minded one, some benefits may accrue. Other ruffians may become less
likely to steal the lunch money of their classmates. Weak children with
glasses may feel less frightened as they head off to class in the mornings.
But resentment against the bully will grow, and eventually someone stronger
will come along - or someone weaker will get his hands on a knife - and the
bully will be replaced.
Acknowledgment of the bully's short shelf-life is implicit in the title
Musharraf has chosen for his book, In the Line of Fire. What he seems not to
understand are the implications of this: the urgent need, if his policies
are to survive him, to broaden his support base and to plan for a Pakistan
without him at its helm. In this he is following in the footsteps of the
many army chiefs who have preceded him as dictators of Pakistan, men like
Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq, very different in their policies but very similar
in their failure to bequeath lasting national institutions or to provide a
sustainable platform for Pakistan's growth.
"The issue of democracy is a recent, post-Cold War obsession of the West,"
Musharraf writes. "I am still struggling to convince the West that Pakistan
is more democratic today than it ever was in the past." Yet the issue of
democracy is more than merely a recent obsession of the West. It was
fundamental to the notion of Pakistan as envisaged by our nation's founder,
Mohammad Ali Jinnah, before the Cold War had even begun. And it is not just
the West that is unconvinced Pakistan is democratic today; Pakistanis like
myself are unconvinced as well.
Democracy matters because without it the entire nation is in the line of
fire, one bullet away from unpredictable change. And it matters because even
progressive policies feel illegitimate to broad swathes of the nation's
population when they are dictated by a president with a general's stars on
his shoulders. There are trade-offs to be made when one allows scantily
dressed models to walk the catwalks of Lahore but empowers the security
forces to seize people on the streets of Balochistan merely for looking
suspicious. And these trade-offs must be decided upon by the nation as a
It is the cheeta's natural inclinations away from inclusiveness and
consensus that perhaps best explain why so few cheetas have proven popular
with democratic electorates. But these values are of paramount importance in
a country as vast and diverse as Pakistan, the world's sixth largest by
population. We are increasingly divided between our more prosperous and
progressive cities to the east and our more restive and conservative tribal
areas to the west. Bridging our divisions has become essential.
Pakistanis are scheduled to go to the polls again in 2007, our 60th year of
independence. I for one would like to see models continuing to walk the
catwalks. But I would also like to see whether the rest of the country
agrees. If he wants to leave a lasting legacy, Pervez Musharraf would do
well to put in place the preconditions for truly free and fair elections and
to build alliances with politicians based on a shared vision of the future
rather than on a willingness to support a President in uniform.
Cheetas are celebrated for their speed, not for their endurance.
Paradoxically, it is only by laying the foundations for his democratic
departure that Musharraf is likely to be an exception.
Mohsin Hamid's novel, 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist', is published by Hamish
Hamilton in March
elections under uniformed president won’t be fair: Benazir
ISLAMABAD: The upcoming general
elections in Pakistan would not be free and fair as long as a serving army
chief continues to occupy the president’s post, keeps popular political
leaders away from the electoral process and refuses to take steps for
holding credible elections, said Benazir Bhutto, chairwoman of the Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP).
Addressing a meeting at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in
Washington on Thursday, Benazir said that by supporting military
dictatorship in Pakistan, the West was inadvertently promoting militancy and
terrorism. “If the West wants to win the war on terror it must support
genuine democratisation in Pakistan and demand transparent elections in
which all political parties and leaders are allowed to contest,” she said.
The PPP leader said that her party had submitted proposals for holding
transparent elections to the chief election commissioner, but he had not yet
responded to them. Benazir said that the government spokesman had invited
suggestions from political parties for free elections, but there had been no
response to the opposition’s proposals.
She said that the peace treaty in Waziristan had failed because terrorism
incidents were increasing in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The former prime minister claimed that several people in Pakistan had
started suspecting President General Pervez Musharraf’s sincerity in his
claims of moderation and fight against terrorism. “The general had backed
out from his commitment to amend the blasphemy law, reform the madrassas and
banning extremist organisations, she said.
Benazir said the Charter of Democracy signed by the opposition parties aimed
at strengthening the federation, ending the military’s role in politics and
bringing the state’s intelligence agencies under parliament’s control.
By Mir Jamilur Rahman
Last week, while addressing a siasi jalsa in Okara, President Musharraf
declared that general elections will be held this year. He refrained from
mentioning the timeframe for his own re-election. That, ostensibly a
deliberate omission, has triggered a flurry of statements by the government
ministers and opposition leaders speculating on the timeframe and method of
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, who is also the secretary-general of the PML-Q,
has said that the country needs President General Pervez Musharraf and he
will be elected president again by the present assemblies later this year.
Federal Minister Ijazul Haq said in Medina that the present assemblies will
elect the next president. Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi has
declared that it is our duty to keep electing uniformed President Musharraf
again and again, even ten times, because his election guarantees the
security of the country.
Dr Sher Afgan Khan is playing a different tune. He has disclosed that if
Iran was attacked, the tenure of the current assemblies would be extended by
one year under the emergency clause of the constitution. He has rejected the
leadership of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declaring that Musharraf is our
(PPP-Patriots) leader. He has made unwarranted and unsolicited comparison
between President Musharraf and President Zia. According to him, President
Musharraf is a straightforward and clear-cut general who never exploited
Islam, while President Zia was a hypocrite and a big liar.
Former caretaker prime minister and PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat
Hussain, who was recently in Paris for medical check up has said that
doctors have give him clean bill of health. He said now he would play his
innings with more vigour. How will Dr Afgan fit in the PML-Q if he does not
recognise Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as his leader?
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has reiterated that the PML-Q would decide in due
course of time about the next prime minister. It means that in the case of
the PML-Q, the people would go to vote without knowing who would be the
party's prime ministerial candidate. It is a little odd because it is
usually the would-be prime minister who leads the election campaign with the
clear-cut knowledge that if his party won, he would be elected as prime
minister. Perhaps Chaudhry sahib is having different thoughts after getting
a clean bill of health.
Benazir Bhutto on the other hand has come out with a different hypothesis
about the re-election of President Musharraf. She is of the view that the
tenure of President Musharraf expires in Dec 2008. According to her,
presidential elections held before that date would be illegal. She explained
that President Musharraf first took oath of office in 2000 when he replaced
President Rafig Tarar. He was re-elected after the referendum for five years
and again in 2003 for another five years. His term, she said, therefore
expires in Dec 2008. She said that nobody, including the government and the
federal cabinet, has the authority to hold presidential elections before the
date as set in the constitution. Benazir Bhutto has stated that even the
Election Commission and the judiciary cannot hold presidential elections
before the constitutionally scheduled dates.
Benazir Bhutto has suddenly become big-hearted towards President General
Musharraf. She says that constitutionally his present tenure ends in Dec
2008 so he cannot have his re-election before that date. She has offered
gratis legal advice -- that the presidential post is not up for election
until Dec 2008. It is a little complicated legal innovation and the court
would be the right forum to find the answer to the tenure riddle. However,
there could be a catch in this seemingly generous offer. Perhaps Benazir
Bhutto wants the next assemblies to decide the fate of President Musharraf
rather than the present docile assemblies.
Although Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Shaukat Aziz and
scores of other government ministers have stated repeatedly that President
Musharraf will be re-elected by the current assemblies, the president
himself has not uttered a word so far on this matter. Obviously, he is
keeping his options open and would decide on his re-election and uniform at
the time of his choosing.
Air Marshal Asghar Khan told a press conference a few days ago that
politicians who have received money from the ISI should be disqualified from
elections. He has appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan that a writ
petition filed by him 10 years ago about this matter should be heard. In his
petition, Asghar Khan has reportedly given the names of the beneficiaries of
a government slush fund of over Rs140 million. He has asked the court that
this money should be recovered from the recipients with interest.
I have no idea that taking money from the government or its agencies is a
wrongdoing, a criminal act. And who is committing the crime: the giver or
taker of the money. I think it is time the Supreme Court settles this matter
once and for all.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of the JI and the MMA, has complained that
politicians have become victims of tension and consequently patients of
heart ailments due to the bad policies and attitude of the government
towards politicians. Disagreeing with this, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has
said that politicians who suffer from tension should change their lifestyle.
In this context, they should abandon what he called negative politics and
adopt positive thinking.
Qazi sahib ought to realise that his statements, which come aplenty, are the
major source of national tension. Hardly a day goes by when he does not
threaten million-strong march on Islamabad or resignations from assemblies.
He rejects the authority of the parliament to legislate and instead wants to
arrogate legislative powers to himself. To be certain, he is harming his own
cause by indulging in such rhetoric. In the matter of resignations, the
proverbial phrase 'to be hoist by one's own petard' aptly applies to Qazi
The prestigious Young Presidents Organisation of Canada has conferred the
'Global Leadership Award 2007' on President Musharraf in recognition of his
outstanding services for world peace and leadership qualities. The leader
leads and is not led as President Musharraf has shown time and again. His
decision to wage jihad against terrorism after 9/11 was not popular but
later events proved how right he was. He saved the country from impending
catastrophe by joining the world community against terrorism and extremism.
His Kashmir initiative has brought peace to the region. His domestic
policies have empowered Pakistani women politically and economically. The
abrogation of laws which are discriminatory against women or minorities is
also a reflection of his leadership qualities.
The writer is a freelance columnist. Email:
Looking for a
We need to step out of the parameters of the former democratic paradigm to
get more from General Musharraf's regime than the crushed essence of
democracy extracted from the people and vested in mufti/khaki. Yet Ms Bhutto
and Mian Nawaz, whose leadership role none can deny within political
paradigms past, present and future still speak in terms of the political
process that revolved around them as if elections that included both and
returned one or the other as majority leader would satisfy popular demand.
Even if seven years were not a long time, 9/11 and Pakistan's entanglement
with the war on terror make fresh definitions of political posture and
purpose an imperative. If Pakistan's exiled leaders continue to approach
local re-engagement in the vocabulary and moods of yesteryear they could
return only to demonstrate obsolescence. What could suit the regime better?
In debating current legislation such as the Women's Protection Bill (WPB)
the PPP and PML-N restricted discussion to areas determined by a regime
independent of the public pulse. Leaders whose relevance derives from
connectivity with the people cannot afford the insensitivity to public
opinion leaders with military backup enjoy.
When Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif chose to have the party faithful contest the
elections in 2002 they may have been thinking of a lesson learnt when the
PPP did not contest General Zia's 'party-less' elections. What they failed
to anticipate was that the opposition in parliament would inevitably be
weighed in the same scale as the treasury. The electorate finds both sides
wanting. The parliamentary opposition has only been effectual in support of
the regime: the MMA when endorsing President Musharraf in uniform and the
PPP in going along with the WPB.
It is one of those unforeseen political ironies that personal disbarment
from this inert parliament helped keep both Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif vibrant.
Nonetheless, doubts surround their own and their parties' capacity outside
parliament to challenge the existing political mode.
It is not just a matter of street power. Whenever Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif do
return the first thought people would have is: why now if not then? To make
use of Pakistan's expressive political idiom: Is the General's
quasi-democracy co-opting another B-team?
People crave a depoliticised military. Without that change electoral
transitions cannot serve Pakistan's true need: A polity that recognises
civil rights in a state that is sovereign and felt as such because the
citizen, not his COAS, president or prime minister feels sovereign. Without
popular participatory democratic empowerment Pakistan is a failed state for
its citizens even if it is reassuringly safe from being categorised rogue
and its mainstream democratic leaders regain local presence.
But does the supreme national interest of our politically anaemic and sadly
weakened Pakistan now demand that leadership first satisfy external
auditors? And is that why hopeful exiles work harder at persuading outsiders
of their value than on seeking a direct appeal to the people? This makes the
public suspect American policy interests need new surrogates.
For although General Musharraf was rather clever about not declaring martial
law -- functioning de facto as a military dictator while crafting his way
through constitutional exigencies -- he has been clever too long. He has
boxed himself into a corner where no one is sure what he truly endorses
other than his own continuity which is underwritten by simple force: the
power of the army he will not stop commanding and the power of the sole
superpower that lauds his rule. The interaction of his two constituencies
scarcely requires popular consent.
Anything other than a military government would not have survived the events
his regime is identified with in Balochistan and the NWFP. Why then pressure
to effect a more convincing democratic arrangement? Ironically that is
becoming the exigency of the sole superpower. Force is but a tamp in a
bleeding wound and liable to saturation and the problem with Talibanism is
nowhere near settled.
Tackling misapplied fundamentalism was not a survival priority for General
Musharraf after he seized political office so he ignored it. One consequence
of that initial inactivity is that his patrons suspect there was a core of
aggressive orthodoxy in his military constituency he feared to tackle or did
not mind leaving intact. Possibly he thought the ousted Mr Sharif could have
exploited Islamist sentiment, although the religious factor (like the ethnic
one) in Pakistan's politics is traditionally used to thwart civil democracy.
Without army backing both factors lack critical mass. This last though may
no longer hold good.
General Zia's internal politics skilfully conflicted democracy and Islam and
his Kabul engagement was perceived as anti-Marxism. The popular mood
resembles the one the PNA exploited to the hilt in toppling Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto. The problem is the jihadis who suited their western utilisers then
and are no longer considered user-friendly.
That is the bind for opposition leaders: They have to persuade Pakistan's
disenchanted public they are not as subordinated by the US as the existing
regime at the same time as they persuade the extremely active American
interests at work in the region that they can tackle the job of containing
local fanaticism for them better than the general with his current setup.
The prerequisite is to get the factors right: hidden extraneous and missing.
An honest election would help establish these. The glaringly apparent common
factor is that khaki-blended is never civil. Should Ms Bhutto or the Sharifs
ignore that they will be of no use as tuning forks for anybody in Pakistan's
dissonant political context?
The writer is a freelance columnist. Email:
West to support Real Democracy in Pakistan
By Khalida Mazhar 'Pakistan Times' US Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON: Pakistan's ex-Premier and
PPP Chairperson Ms Benazir Bhutto has said that no fair and just general
elections are possible in the country under the umbrella of a president in
uniform and without the popular leadership of country.
Addressing a luncheon at American Enterprise Institute Washington on Friday,
she said that the West acquiesced to the autocratic rule in Pakistan and
thus empowered it consequently.
“The West should favour the real democracy in Pakistan, if it wants the
upper hand in the fight against terror,” she said adding that such elections
should be supported that entitled all parties to an equal opportunity for
taking part therein.
Ms Bhutto warned the world community of the same situation in Pakistan as
that of Afghanistan, if it continues to support the dictatorship in Pakistan
for just short-term interests.
PPP chairperson said that the peace treaty in Waziristan fizzled out and the
terrorist activities are on the surge in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The government has gone back on the promises regarding banning the extremist
organizations and reformation of madaris, she added.
MMA to participate in APC
Meanwhile, a report from Okara says that Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MM) leader
Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said Friday that MMA would inevitably participate in All
Parties Conference (APC) headed by whether Ms Benazir Bhutto or Mian Nawaz
Talking to journalists here, he said that Benazir’s deal with the government
has fizzled out, adding that once the differences between Mian Nawaz Sharif
and Benazir Bhutto were of serious nature.
Expressing his desire for the sustained coalition of MMA and ARD, Hafiz
Hussain Ahmed said he does not want separation between Mian and BB either.
“We would demand the army to stop President Musharraf from canvassing for
the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), in case chief election commissioner fails in
restricting him,” he remarked.
MMA coalition is strong and is destined to stay, while the government needs
to take care of its coalition, he added.
America and Europe for supporting Musharraf – ‘why are they always on the
Feb. 7, 2007: Slamming the West for
supporting the "dictatorship" of President Pervez Musharraf, former premier
Benazir Bhutto has said that by doing so they have "empowered" the General
to defy the world and "cooperate" with the forces of terror.
"By acquiescing to the Musharraf dictatorship, the west has empowered him to
defy the world and cooperate with the forces of terror. West chooses to
apply human rights standards when politically expedient," the PPP leader
"By supporting military dictatorship the west was inadvertently supporting
militancy and terrorism," she said in her address to the John Hopkins
University School of Advanced International Studies in the US yesterday.
Bhutto said the international support for the military dictatorship in
Pakistan for short-term strategic reasons was a mistake.
warns of ‘Orange Revolution’ if polls are rigged
ISLAMABAD 2/5/2007: The Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP) leaders have warned President Gen Pervez Musharraf to
hold free and fair general elections otherwise there would be an ‘Orange
Revolution’ in Pakistan akin to the people’s movement against poll rigging
in Ukraine in 2004.
They were speaking at a seminar titled ‘Democracy and Elections’ organised
by the Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) of the party to launch the booklet
‘How Elections Are Rigged in Pakistan’.
The booklet elaborates on how state machinery and resources have been used
for pre-poll, poll and post-poll rigging.
I A Rehman, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) who
was chief guest at the seminar, said political parties should not wait for
the elections and advised them to launch their struggle now because there
could be no free and fair polls under Gen Musharraf.
“The government, in my opinion, has already completed half of its homework
for the general elections and will complete the remaining half before the
day of the election.
“No drama can be called election in a country where corruption is legalised,
judiciary is under control and there is no law or constitution in place,” he
Rehman said that keeping political leaders in exile out of the race was also
a form of rigging.
Aitzaz Ahsan, member of central executive committee of the PPP, said that
the establishment had always rigged elections.
“In Pakistan, power has always remained in GHQ and President’s House with
dummy and powerless prime ministers playing to their tunes,” he said.
Ahsan said the current regime had not only rigged the elections but also
rigged the constitution with the 17th Amendment in connivance with mullahs.
The PPP leader warned that if the PPP and its allies were stopped in the
elections through unfair means, there would be an ‘Orange Revolution’ and
nobody would be able to stop them.
“We will contest the elections for the empowerment of the people rather than
getting the government,” he said.
Mian Raza Rabbani, deputy secretary-general of the PPP, accused the regime
of depriving people of their vote by ignoring them in the electoral rolls,
especially in areas where the PPP had strong support.
“There are reports that about 2.5 million people have been disenfranchised
in the new voter lists,” he said.
Sherry Rehman, PPP information secretary, said that boycotting the elections
was an option but they were in favour of change by a free and fair vote.
Farhatullah Babar, spokesman of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, said the
party was compiling a compendium of missing people and those who kidnapped
Earlier, Bhutto has asked Pakistan Muslim League-N Patron-in-Chief Nawaz
Sharif to put his proposed All Parties Conference (APC) on hold till an
“appropriate time”, political sources said here yesterday.
condemns attack on Islamabad airport
Says dictatorship and mis-governance causes of rising terror and crime
Islamabad February 7, 2007: "Mis-governance
by dictatorship has made the life of citizens miserable as terror and crime
stark the land as never before" said Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party and
former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in a statement today while
condemning the armed attack on Islamabad airport on Tuesday.
She said that the PPP demands immediate probe into the armed attack on
airport in the capital and arrest of the culprits and masterminds adding,
‘it is simply unacceptable that crime and terror increased on a daily basis
while the regime spent time scheming how to get a serving military chief
re-elected as President from the same Assemblies’.
The former Prime Minister said that the worsening law and order and surge in
terror were the result of unrepresentative government. Dictatorship in
itself is based on terrorism and terrorists find safe heaven in a
dictatorship, she said.
She said that while rulers were luxuriating ordinary citizens had been
thrown before the criminals and extremists as the law and situation had gone
haywire in the country and the life of no body was safe.
The Pakistan Peoples party condemns the worsening law and order situation in
the country and calls upon the regime to attend o its basic job of ensuring
the safety and security of people instead of wasting national resources and
time on witch hunting of political opponents.
She said that almost daily there were gruesome incidents of terror, murder,
mayhem, dacoity and robbery right under the nose of the law enforcing
agencies but the regime failed to take any action against the criminals who
The PPP Chairperson demanded zero tolerance for crime, which she said could
come when a representative government was in place that was accountable to
She called upon the youth of the country to come forward and help the PPP in
regaining the lost rights of the people.
She asked the people to support the PPP and resist regime’s attempt to rig
the polls so that the nation could be rid of extremism through the
collective will and action of the people.
She said that the PPP had courageously taken on the criminal elements from
Khyber to Karachi and broken their back but after the overthrow of the PPP
government criminals, mafias and terrorists and extremists had once again
reared their heads, she said.
Muslim World and Pakistan essential to avert dangers
Mohtarma Bhutto addresses John Hopkins University
Islamabad February 7, 2007: Former Prime
Minister and Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party Mohtarma Benazir
Bhutto has said that democracy in Pakistan and the Muslim world at large was
crucial at this point of time to avert the dangers posed to its future by
terrorism and sectarianism.
She was addressing the John Hopkins University School of Advanced
International Studies in the US Tuesday afternoon on the subject of
'Pakistan: Politicially at the Cross Roads'.
The democratization of Pakistan is important to the war against terror, to
the interpretation of Islam as a message of freedom and enlightenment as
well as to the empowerment of the people of Pakistan, she said.
She said there was an opportunity this year for the restoration of democracy
because of the general elections. Free and fair elections were critical for
the restoration of democracy and that is why the PPP had prepared a paper
which she said must be adopted by the rulers if they were really committed
to holding free and fair polls as claimed by it. She said that the Party was
still waiting to hear from the Chief Election commissioner to whom a copy of
the paper had already been sent.
The best exit route for the Musharraf’s military regime was to adopt the ARD
demand that a national government be formed to hold fair and free elections
with election reforms as suggested by the Opposition.
It has become vital to save the federation from disintegration, terrorism
and poverty and this could be done through holding a free, fair and
transparent elections under an impartial and independent Election
Commission. She asked the Chief Election Commission to take notice of
pre-rigging efforts of the government party including the campaign by
General Musharraf in favour of the King’s Party. She said that the nation
needed and deserved free and transparent elections.
She said that the Opposition believes that the elections cannot be free and
fair under an army Chief occupying the office of the President. She said
that the assemblies elected for five years terms couldn’t elect a President
twice giving him ten years as President. She said that the government should
read the writing on the wall as international analysts are of the view that
holding free and fair elections may result in the victory for the Pakistan
She said that by acquiescing to the Musharaf dictatorship, the west has
empowered him to defy the world and cooperate with the forces of terror.
Unfortunately, we do not always view the world -- its peoples, its cultures
and its religions -- with a single moral standard, she said adding that the
West chooses to apply human rights standards when politically expedient, not
as a central and universal principle of policy.
By supporting military dictatorship the west was inadvertently supporting
militancy and terrorism, she said.
Regarding her achievement during the two tenures in the government she said
that revolution in information technology, integration into the global
economy, attracting over 20 billion dollars in foreign investments,
particularly in power generation, eradication of polio and dramatic
reduction in infant mortality were some of the achievements. Outlawing
domestic violence, establishing special women's police forces to protect and
defend the women and appointment of women judges to our nation's benches for
the first time in its history were the achievements of PPP governments under
Debunking the claim of moderation she said, “We cannot claim to believe in
moderate enlightenment if we do not fight for it in our own homelands. We
cannot say Islamabad respects human rights. While elected Prime Ministers
are forced into exile, we cannot say Pakistan has human rights. While NAB
finds corruption only in the opposition and not in the ruling party, we
cannot say Pakistan has Justice”.
She said that international support for the military dictatorship in
Pakistan for short-term strategic reasons was a mistake. Afghanistan was a
tragic case in point of how retreating from the principles of human rights
and democracy can have the most tragic unanticipated consequences.
The goal of the international community’s foreign policy agenda must also be
to simultaneously promote stability and to strengthen democratic values --
not selectively but universally, not just because it is convenient but also
because it is right, she said.
About the political situation in Pakistan she said that military
dictatorship has resulted in the domination of the country's political,
financial and social class by the military. Twenty five years of military
rule since 1977 had led to the rise of extremist religious parties,
militancy, poverty, hunger, unemployment, conflict and sectarianism she
said, adding, “only by the restoration of civilian control and supremacy the
tide could be reversed”.
On relations with India she said that the PPP supported peaceful and
negotiated settlement of all disputes between India and Pakistan.
It was during the PPP government that extraordinary progress was made with
the fist nuclear confidence building treaty not to attack each other’s
nuclear facilities. Borders were reopened to travel and tourism, and a South
Asian preferential tariff agreement that established a free-trade zone
between Pakistan, India and the other nations of the region was adopted. She
said that the PPP government also called upon all the nations of the region
to declare the sub-continent a nuclear free zone.
The PPP government she said was making dramatic progress in relations with
India and with containing terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan but
moderation and progress is not what supporters of military dictatorship
A democratic and stable Pakistan, gaining strength economically and moving
forward socially under a popular government was their threat. The PPP
government was eliminated and every attempt made to eliminate the Party and
its leadership, she said.
She said that restoration of democracy in Pakistan was lined with stability
in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this context she said that the peace treaty
with elements in the Waziristan had failed because act of terrorism both in
Pakistan and Afghanistan not only continued to take place but were even
stepped up in intensity. She said that the poor and the middle classes could
prosper only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in which the people
were not held hostage to militancy.
The former Prime Minister also called upon the moderate forces in both the
Muslim and the Non Muslim world to cooperate to promote equality and
religious tolerance. “We can do this only if we adhere to the values of
democracy, equality and development on a non discriminatory and
She said that the Charter of Democracy signed by the majority of the
Opposition is a document, which strengthens the federation, guarantees
justice for all and peace and development for the people of Pakistan.
The lesson of the history is that democracy and development go together.
Democracy gives the country honour and pride whereas dictatorship leads to
neglect of peoples problems, undermining of the armed forces and culmination
of conflicts of several types.
She said that through freedom and the rule of law Pakistan can return to the
path of progress and development.
It is time to get our priorities right and putting country’s resources into
education, health and providing the necessities of life to the people, she
By Jackson Diehl;
Monday, February 5, 2007: In the months
after Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was a new and
shaky U.S. ally. He decided to side with the Bush administration against
al-Qaeda, but there were persistent reports that elements of his army still
supported the Afghan Taliban. He was an autocratic ruler who had seized
power in a military coup against a democratic government, but in a televised
speech to his nation in January 2002, he promised to turn Pakistan into a
tolerant, "moderate Muslim" society. Largely because it had little choice,
the Bush administration decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Five years later, little in Pakistan has changed. Musharraf is still
promising a moderate and tolerant regime -- but there are still reports that
his army is quietly helping the Taliban. He's also still promising democracy
-- but just as in 2002, he's preparing to rig Pakistan's upcoming
presidential and parliamentary elections to ensure that his term is extended
and his power unchallenged.
What has changed is the response of the Bush administration. Five years ago
it portrayed itself as giving Musharraf a chance to perform. Now it defends
and apologizes for the general, despite his chronic failure to deliver.
The most recent example of this came 10 days ago, during a visit to the
country by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Gastright. Islamabad was
in an uproar over the news that Musharraf intends to seek a new five-year
term next fall in a way that most of the country's civilian politicians
consider undemocratic and unconstitutional. The other subject of
conversation was legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House
during its "100 hours" blitz. It would condition future aid to the Pakistani
military on Bush's certification that Pakistan "is making all possible
efforts to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign
The House measure, backed by the new Foreign Affairs Committee chairman,
California's Tom Lantos, was a logical response to recent reports by U.S.
commanders that the Taliban leadership is based in Pakistan and that
cross-border movements of insurgents are increasing. But Gastright rushed to
assure Musharraf's government that the administration opposed it. "The
president can certify that," Gastright said of the Taliban metric without
explaining the basis for his confidence. "The issue is, he shouldn't have
Gastright went on to endorse what he said were steps by Musharraf to promote
press and political freedom ahead of the elections: "That's an impressive
track record," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. Then he said the
administration was pleased with Musharraf's handling of the greatest
criminal proliferator of nuclear weapons in history, A.Q. Khan, who was
quickly pardoned in 2004 and then shielded from U.S. or U.N. interrogation.
Musharraf had "a superb record addressing the legacy of the A.Q. Khan
network," Gastright said.
It's at this point in a column like this that administration officials pop
up to point out that the relationship with Musharraf is "complicated," that
he has the right intentions and that he needs to be supported as well as
urged to do more. Whatever his performance or lack of it, the argument goes,
Musharraf is better than the alternatives in Pakistan, which include Islamic
extremists and anti-Western generals. It's the same argument that's used to
defend continued U.S. pandering to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In Musharraf's case it's particularly perverse. That's because the second
most popular leader in Pakistan behind Musharraf, according to polling by
the International Republican Institute, is not an Islamist but former prime
minister Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the moderate and pro-Western Pakistan
People's Party. Bhutto and her party have made it clear that they would be
willing to accept Musharraf in exchange for fair parliamentary elections and
an end to criminal charges that keep Bhutto in exile. The PPP and the Muslim
League party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif have formed the Alliance
for Restoration of Democracy; they are the obvious partners for a government
that genuinely aims to modernize the country and marginalize Islamic
Only Musharraf refuses to deal with them. His supporters say he intends to
extend his mandate by staging a presidential vote by the existing parliament
and provincial assemblies -- which make up Pakistan's equivalent of the
electoral college -- though they were elected in the rigged balloting of
2002 and their terms expire on the same day as the president's. For that
maneuver he won't need Bhutto or Sharif or their parties -- and so he won't
have to meet their demands for fair parliamentary elections.
In private, the Bush administration has been urging Musharraf for some time
to come to terms with Pakistan's moderate democrats. And they've been asking
him for years to stop allowing sanctuary for the Taliban. He's not
responding. So what's wrong with congressional conditions? They might just
produce what's been missing from Musharraf the past five years: results.
Bhutto’s return date after election schedule
Islamabad February 5, 2007: Spokesperson
of the PPP has isued the following statement today.
“Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has not formally announced the date of her return to
Pakistan as reported in a segment of the media today.
“Once the election schedule is announced, the Media office of the
Chairperson will announce the date of her return”.
Change in US
From Quiet Disagreement To
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
London: The dawn of 2007 has not brought
any happier tidings in the global atmosphere strewn with terrorism,
divisiveness, sectarianism, greater schism between people of different races
and religions, deepening of polarization, confrontation, intolerance and the
gradual build up of a class war between the haves and have-nots. One of the
worst areas afflicted with all the above mentioned ailments is Pakistan and
the adjoining region that includes Afghanistan.
It was more than conspicuous that General Pervez Musharraf’s overall
performance in American war against terrorism did not deserve any iota of
mention by President Bush in his state of the union address. Not only the
General was ignored so was Islamabad despite it being in the front line of
the anti-terrorism war.
The message from Washington is obviously very clear. Its lack of praise for
its key ally –especially for one who owes his political existence, fig-leaf
of legitimacy and credibility entirely to President Bush’ acceptance of him
as his Knight Templar—seems to be a clear manifestation of the growing
realization that Islamabad remains stubbornly as part of the problem of
global terrorism rather than a solution.
Despite careful diplomatic wordings that are being used officially vis-à-vis
Pakistan’s role and General Musharraf’s balancing act, other important
means, however, have been unleashed to call a spade a spade and expose
Islamabad’s duplicity in the game of terror. When the American intelligence
Czar John D. Negroponte declares Pakistan as the heaven for Al-Qaeda and
when Washington Post –among others--joins in chorus with him—it clearly
points to the fact that American patience with the General is on the verge
General Musharraf’s deceptive balancing act has also added to the widening
gulf between a skeptical Democratic Congress and Washington that has relied
on his promises to do wonders since 9/11. Only recently Congress passed one
of its first and most controversial pieces of legislation: a bill
stipulating sanctions on military aid if Pakistan cannot control militants
in its borders. In language unusual in its specificity and bluntness – and
echoing the international community's concern – the legislation calls for
President Bush to certify that "the Government of Pakistan is making all
possible efforts to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its
sovereign control, including in the cities of Quetta and Chaman and in the
North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas."
There are seemingly no indications that Bush administration has learnt any
lesson. It would oppose the bill before it becomes law, and has reiterated
its satisfaction with Islamabad's efforts although “this satisfaction” is
becoming a target of increasing criticism in Washington. January's bill,
officially called "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of
2007" still has to pass the Senate. And President Bush has ultimate
authority to waive the provision on sanctions. But the bill's critique is
one of the strongest linking Pakistan to Afghanistan's growing violence.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her recent visit to Islamabad signaled
in her meetings that a change in tone toward Pakistan – from quiet
disagreement to blunt accusation – is sweeping the Democratic-led Congress.
That is a clear manifestation of a growing rift over how the US should deal
with one of its most trusted allies in the war on terror and that it was
time to accord the due role to the democratic forces within Pakistan.
In the light of this obvious wind of change, notwithstanding increasing
sectarian violence in Pakistan and recent cases of suicide bombings,
Washington's Pakistan policy is being thoroughly x-rayed by the experts who
challenge General’s capacity to deliver both internally and externally.
According to latest figures violence in Islamabad's backyard has reached
unprecedented heights. More than 140 suicide attacks occurred in Afghanistan
in 2006, as compared with 27 in 2005. Experts believe that this increase in
cross-border terrorism was due to Pakistan’s signing of peace treaty in
Waziristan that provided the Taliban/Al-Qaeda a secured enclave to launch
their attacks into Afghanistan.
According to experts, if enacted, the bill threatens to alter a
relationship, which, although flagging on its rhetorical surface, has been
well fortified by cash. Since 9/11, Pakistan has received $1.5 billion in
direct security-related assistance, in addition to billions for
counterterrorism efforts – about $66 million per month. All told, Pakistan
received the lion's share of $6.65 billion appropriated to the Defense
Department for coalition support payments to "Pakistan, Jordan, and other
key cooperating nations" between 2002 and 2007, according to Congressional
The much publicized peace treaty between Islamabad and pro-Taliban leaders
in the district of North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan stands exposed as
a relief for the terrorists operating from the Pakistani side into
Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai continues to accuse Islamabad of
harboring Taliban/Al-Qaeda terrorists and allowing them cross-border
terrorism. As a matter of fact extremists have been violating the peace
accord with utmost contempt and have increased their attacks on US and NATO
forces. There are indications that President Bush previously ever indulgent
of Pakistan's autocratic ruler is now getting wary of him and his promises.
Senior Bush administration officials now acknowledge, General Musharraf's
assurances were empty -- as they have been many times before.
Instead of ceasing to be an operative camp for the Taliban/Al-Qaeda
terrorism, the post-peace accord Waziristan has been thoroughly Talibanized.
They are spreading their writ and influence through adjacent border
districts. According to Washington Post, “Cross-border attacks and the
deaths of American soldiers that they cause are up significantly. Al-Qaeda
is reliably reported to be operating training camps in North Waziristan with
the help of scores of foreign militants who are schooling recruits in
suicide bombing and the use of improvised explosive devices.”
According to yet another shocking report in the recent edition of Newsweek,
the Taliban/Al-Qaeda are also preparing Western citizens who could carry out
major terrorist attacks in Britain or the United States. Although so far
nothing substantive has come out of the investigations, the recent arrest of
nine suspect terrorists in Birmingham sounds much similar to apprehensions
raised in the Newsweek report.
Those who have had an access into the Pakistan's border areas say that the
territory has started looking a lot like eastern Afghanistan before Sept.
11, 2001. American media—alarmed by the worsening of the scenario--wants
President Bush and Mr. Negroponte to do some soul searching and ask
themselves if they are repeating history by tolerating the rapid
deterioration in the situation while GPM continues to play with them his own
game of deception—i.e.—running with the American hare and hunting with the
Bush administration is being rightly advised to call a spade a spade and
call off the General’s bluff. Since Washington has provided him credibility,
strategic cover and unaccountable billions of dollars in military, economic
aid since 2001 and sustained his undemocratic rule much to the annoyance of
the democratic forces and people in Pakistan, the need of the hour for him
was to put his act together instead of providing Taliban/Al-Qaeda Pakistani
territory through a so-called peace accord that is almost surrender to the
Ever since 9-11 the situation in our part of the world is worsening. Though
a sort of functional democracy has been brought about in Afghanistan, the
country remains strife torn and highly unstable. And with next door Pakistan
continuing to play its game of deception, chances of any improvement are
hinged out to change within Pakistan. While not underestimating the
international community’s enormous efforts to help the country recover from
its stone-age existence to modernity, the key players involved in the
recovery operation continue to keep their eyes closed to tackling the
problem that is at its very root -- Islamabad. In his statesmanlike
observations late last year Lord Patten had succinctly summed it up: “Truth
is, Afghanistan will never be stable unless Pakistan's military government
is replaced with a democracy.”
Lord Patten sanguinely believes Pakistan's primary export to Afghanistan is
instability. On the most basic level, attacks in Afghanistan, including
suicide bombings, are often planned and prepared at Taliban training camps
across the border. “Islamabad claims to be doing all it can to stop this
infiltration. But President Pervez Musharraf's protests ring hollow when he
has done so little to address the concerns raised by his Afghan counterpart
Hamid Karzai, that Taliban leaders are operating out of sanctuaries in
Lord Patten has also firmly nailed General Musharraf’s propaganda that he
has done enough to fight militants. “One needs only to look at the
military's close relations with religious radicals to understand how
unreliable a partner it is in stabilizing Afghanistan. Militant Islamist
groups that Mr. Musharraf banned under the international spotlight following
9/11 and the 7/7 London bombings still operate freely. Jihadi organizations
have been allowed to dominate relief efforts in the aftermath of the October
2005 earthquake. The military has repeatedly rigged elections, including the
2002 polls, to benefit the religious parties over their moderate, democratic
alternatives. In short, Pakistan is ruled by a military dictatorship in
cahoots with violent Islamist extremists. The military has no interest in
democracy at home, so why does the outside world expect it to help build
democracy next door?
Lord Patten is the leading light among the various geo-political experts who
believe that Afghanistan can only be stabilized by tackling Pakistan first.
And that, according to him, would mean returning Pakistan to democratic
rule. “After seven years under the military, this is not an easy task, but
some institutions are still surviving -- just. The judiciary, for example,
has been badly degraded under Mr. Musharraf and his army colleagues; but
there is enough left to give hope for some kind of gradual resuscitation.”
The greatest harm that the General has done to Pakistan and its liberal
polity is by closing doors of participation in politics on former Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto and other secular forces. According to a survey by
London Economist late last year,
while he had his way in breaking other parties, the PPP has remained “much
harder for Genera Musharraf to co-opt” and it is PPP under Bhutto, that has
become “a rallying–flag for all Pakistanis who object to the army’s
political meddling.” In contrast, the Economist reminds, he fared badly when
he went for a referendum which he had to rig to win. “It was so grossly
rigged that he apologized on national television for the “excesses” of his
Other moderate political parties are also struggling to survive. They are
down but not yet out, “they could recover relatively quickly if given a
democratic chance. Pro-dictatorship voices regularly argue that those
parties were highly corrupt and that it was their corruption that justified
the 1999 coup that brought the General to power. But they refuse to condemn
or even acknowledge the military's large-scale, institutionalized
Lord Patten is of the opinion that: “So much has been grabbed by the
military that it will take years just to catalogue it. The military has
acquired vast tracts of state-owned land at nominal rates; its leaders
dominate businesses and industries, ranging from banking to cereal
factories. Their control of the economy has grown so great it will present
an enormous challenge to any future democratically elected government.”
There is a general consensus among experts that an elected civilian
government, when it takes over in Pakistan, will also be moderate in
character and far more inclined to tackle, in earnest, the scourge of
Islamic radicalism. Even in the rigged 2002 election, the religious parties
polled only 11% of the vote and Pakistan People’s Party got the highest
number of votes. It is a considered view that a fully free and fair race
will squeeze out radical forces that have thrived under military rule and
which play havoc with Pakistan's weak neighbor to the northwest. In
addition, unlike the military, which always thrives in a hostile
environment, a civilian government will have a stronger interest in peace
Besides, democratic governance would also bring a much-needed opportunity to
overhaul the country's obsolete education system. As the state system has
consistently failed young people for decades, madrassas have taken up the
slack, with the most extreme religious schools helping to radicalize tens of
thousands of Pakistanis -- and Afghans -- filling heads with intolerant
visions of Islam, far from the mainstream of South Asian Muslim society. The
country needs a properly funded, state-run, secular education system.
It has been rightly observed that bringing all this about is a gigantic
task, but demilitarizing and deradicalizing Pakistan is truly the key to
bringing about stability in Afghanistan and the wider region. Those who are
working for stability in the region will only be spinning their wheels until
they make return to democracy in Pakistan a top priority and apply maximum
pressure on Islamabad to ensure the 2007 elections are actually free and
fair, open to all including the two former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto
and Nawaz Sharif by applying clearly defined benchmarks and insisting on
competent international observers. As long as Pakistani military calls the
shots, Islamabad will remain hostage to terrorists and Afghanistan will
never be stable nor have peace.
condoles with Shakil Shaikh and Azim Siddiqui
Islamabad, 2 February 2007: Former Prime
Minister and Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and
her husband Senator Asif Ali Zardari have condoled the death of the father
of noted journalist Shakil Sheikh.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in a condolence message to Shakil Sheikh wrote, “The
loss of a parent is a great tragedy. Our sympathies are with you at this
difficult time. Please accept our heartfelt condolences and convey the same
to other members of the bereaved family.”
She also prayed to Almighty Allah to grant eternal peace to the departed
soul and courage and fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this
irreparable loss with equanimity.
In a separate condolence letter to the journalist Azim Siddiqui over his
wife’s death, she wrote to Azim Siddiqui, “Senator Asif Ali Zardari and I
are deeply grieved to hear about the death of your wife after remaining in
coma for two month following a traffic accident. Her death was yet another
tragedy that you and your family have faced in the recent past. Please
accept our heartfelt condolences on the death of your wife. May Allah rest
their soul in eternal peace and give you and members of your family
fortitude to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.”
With things falling apart the generals may soon have to beg the politicians
living abroad to return before the country becomes totally ungovernable. Six
years of military rule have made Pakistan unstable and weakened the
federation to a level reached only at the time of the separation of East
Pakistan. The increasing gulf between the rich and the poor keeps the unrest
simmering which finds expression in violent reactions like the one during
protests against the publication of Holy Prophet’s sacrilegious pictures.
Increasing poverty, unemployment and food inflation are turning more and
more young people to crime and violence. On Monday, a third suicide attack
within four days reminds one that under the present rulers the country is
sliding towards the type of anarchy prevailing in Afghanistan, Iraq and the
Middle East. What adds to one’s worries is that Pakistan stands isolated in
the region and the world at large as never before. Corruption is so
widespread that Transparency International has put us in the category of the
20 most corrupt nations at the bottom of a list of 163. Land mafias having
connections with powerful figures in the government continue to thrive, as
do gangs of criminals. Security agencies have been assigned to shadow
government’s opponents rather than deal with anti-state elements and
criminals. This has further led to the deterioration of law and order.
General Musharraf’s attention remains focussed on measures aimed at
strengthening his hold. The devolution plan, referendum, and a politically
engineered system were all aimed at achieving the purpose. The initiatives
led to consequences detrimental to national unity while they took toll of
good governance. The devolution plan broke the time tested steel frame of
bureaucracy, created administrative confusion and negatively impacted on the
quality of governance. What is more it extended the center’s tentacles to
the Union Councils, thus further alienating smaller provinces.
The ruling coalition hammered together by the security agencies and NAB
comprises heterogeneous groups that have nothing in common except a desire
to stick to power for whatever it takes. In return for political support to
the President they have been allowed to indulge in corruption and misuse of
During the last six years the President has paid full attention to the
pursuit of the war on terror, a task assigned by the US. Aware that his
utility for Washington is diminishing, he is looking for a new assignment.
He is working hard to convince the West he can play a useful role in the
Middle East. Aware of the incompetence of his supporters the President is
also required to micromanage the affairs of the ruling alliance. This has
led to his attention to be diverted from pressing national issues. Vital
matters thus continue to be neglected. Seven years after the military
takeover, the country faces a severe power crisis that threatens both
industry and agriculture. Had the government made plans to improve the power
sector soon after taking over, the country would not have to face this kind
of situation. What has complicated the situation further is the military
mindset of the regime, which has sought the solution of complex
socio-political problems through the use of force alone. In the case of
Fata, the tendency was strengthened by the American demand for quick fixes
to put an end to militancy. Instead of eradicating extremism nurtured over
two decades by the security agencies themselves through long-term measures
emphasis continues to be put on urgent and lethal military action. The
indiscriminate use of force in tribal areas has not only led to unnecessary
bloodletting but is responsible for the ongoing suicide attacks. The same
military mindset has led to the worsening of the law and order situation in
Balochistan. Ignoring the lessons from Iraq where the mightiest and the
richest power in human history is bogged down in fighting an unconventional
war, Gen Musharraf retained the misconception that military action against
ill-quipped tribesmen combined with the elimination of Nawab Akbar Bugti
would bring the Baloch to their knees. Balochistan continues to burn months
after the physical elimination of the Nawab. Protests and shut downs on the
one hand and attacks on gas pipelines, government installations and security
forces on the other continue to take place unabated.
A military run administration drawing strength from elements brought
together by the security agencies is not in a position to either comprehend
or resolve the dynamics of the highly dangerous situation where it has
landed the country. The situation has in fact deteriorated so badly that no
single political party would be in a position to retrieve it even if it was
to acquire commanding majority in the elections. The least that the
establishment needs to do is not to delay the return of the exiled
politicians, ensure that the forthcoming elections are fair and free and
power is handed over to the elected civilian set up. In case this does not
happen, the country is going to face in the coming months a political crisis
of unprecedented magnitude.
democratic, prosperous Pakistan; at peace with its neighbors and itself"
Bhutto’s Return Will Weaken the Establishment’s Control Over Pakistan
Pakistani Public Intellectual Explains the ‘Bhutto Factor’ in Pakistani
By Husain Haqqani
Pakistan’s opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has
made it clear that she will return to Pakistan in time for the 2007
elections and that her Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) would not accept any
deal with the present government that allows General Pervez Musharraf to
retain his military uniform. “The raison d’etre of the PPP is to end
military rule, not to perpetuate it,” Ms Bhutto recently told this
Given the PPP’s long history of opposition to military rule and the
sacrifices of Ms Bhutto and her family for the restoration of democracy,
this categorical stance should surprise no one. Ms Bhutto’s return to
Pakistan will likely lead to massive mobilization against military rule,
much like her 1986 return from exile marked the beginning of the end for
General Ziaul Haq’s entrenched military regime.
The rumours of an impending deal between the PPP and General Musharraf have
been periodically spread by the Pakistani establishment and denied by the
PPP. These rumours served the purpose of confusing and dividing the
opposition, in addition to making Musharraf look invulnerable. The
persistence of these rumours was partly a reflection of the establishment’s
effective media manipulation and partly a manifestation of the willingness
of some elite Pakistanis to believe the worst about the PPP and the Bhuttos.
Pakistan’s elite loves to hate the Bhutto family. Before Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
founded the PPP in 1967, Pakistan’s politics were confined to the drawing
rooms of Karachi and Lahore. Rawalpindi- Islamabad had not yet emerged as a
major elite centre and populist politics of undivided Pakistan usually took
place in the country’s eastern wing, now Bangladesh.
Mr. Bhutto brought the unwashed masses of present-day Pakistan into the
political equation, a “sin” for which he has not been forgiven by the
country’s oligarchy of senior military officers, civil servants,
international bankers, industrialists, major landowners and multinational
corporation executives. It is not hard to run into someone in a Lahore
drawing room even now, forty years later, complaining after his fourth peg
of Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey that “If it was not for Bhutto, the
poor would have remained in their place. That man disturbed the order of
things, gave a voice to these wretches.”
Mr. Bhutto, and for that matter the PPP and other members of his family,
were not perfect and much can be (and is) said about their mistakes,
especially while in power. But the fact remains that the real reason for the
Pakistani establishment’s resentments towards the Bhuttos and the PPP has
little to do with their real and perceived flaws.
Since General Ziaul Haq deposed Mr. Bhutto in a military coup in 1977, the
establishment has recognized the Bhutto name and the PPP as the major
challenge to the establishment’s dominance of Pakistan. After executing Mr.
Bhutto in what is now universally recognized as a show trial, Ziaul Haq
initiated a major campaign of demonization against the PPP and the Bhuttos.
Ms Bhutto underwent imprisonment and exile while Ziaul Haq held sway but was
swept into power as soon as the people were given an opportunity to exercise
their franchise after the military dictator’s death in 1988.
Ziaul Haq’s successors continued the vilification of the Bhutto family and
persisted with efforts to divide and break the PPP. Ms Bhutto’s two terms in
office were cut short by establishment-orchestrated dismissals from power.
She lost both her brothers to assassinations under mysterious circumstances
that are still unresolved. One cannot ignore suspicions that these murders
were most likely managed by Pakistan’s ubiquitous covert spy agencies.
Ms Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has been a target of particular
disparagement. He was first imprisoned from 1990 to 1993 on corruption
charges, only to be released without being convicted in any of the 18 cases
brought against him. The current Auditor General of Pakistan questioned,
last July, the spending of Rs. 28 million in fees for special prosecutors
hired to persecute Mr. Zardari as “wasteful.” Not learning any lessons from
the failed prosecutions of 1990-93, Mr. Zardari was imprisoned again in
1996, only to be released eight-and-a-half years later on bail. None of the
charges against him has yet been proven and Mr. Zardari is quite confident
that his persecutors will end up with egg on their faces once again.
Since assuming power in 1999, the military regime has tried to use the
prosecutions against Mr. Zardari as a bargaining tool to seek the PPP’s
cooperation. As a moderate politician, Ms Bhutto has not been averse to the
idea of dialogue. But having paid the high price in personal suffering, it
is clear that she will not accept Musharraf’s uniform in return for the
withdrawal of cases against herself and Mr. Zardari.
Ms Bhutto has now been out of office for a decade and as any prosecutor will
tell you, if a criminal case has not been successfully prosecuted during
this period it probably has no legs to stand on. Any power of blackmail
Musharraf might have had through the cases against them has diminished over
time, freeing Ms Bhutto and Mr. Zardari to revert the PPP to its
The Pakistani military leadership’s aversion to the PPP is similar to that
of the oligarchies in Latin America to the leftist parties in their
respective countries and to the consistent efforts by the Turkish military
to keep any Islamic-oriented political party out of parliament and power.
Ironically, in several Latin American nations the parties detested by the
oligarchs have eventually come to power. Turkey’s generals have to deal with
a moderate party rooted in Islam, this time with an absolute majority in
The politics of exclusion practiced by self-righteous and self-centered
oligarchs eventually come to an end. Nations suffer less when the ruling
oligarchies realize the long-term trends and voluntarily relinquish power.
The country’s people have generally not shared the folly of Pakistan’s
establishment. Each of Pakistan’s military patriarchs has based his claim to
power on grounds of US support and his own ability to provide good
governance and the President is not different. But good governance is not
merely about some good guys making the right decisions. It is also about
allowing ordinary people the right to appoint and remove those that govern
Ms Bhutto and the PPP have suffered many blows and have still managed to
survive. The PPP is the only major political party in Pakistan that has not
turned to the establishment for sustenance. The various factions of the
Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the assortment of Islamist and ethnic
parties have all allowed themselves to be managed and manipulated by the
The establishment has consistently rebuffed the PPP’s efforts to transform
itself into a party acceptable to the establishment. In attempting to
emulate the Muslim League’s patronage based model, the party alienated the
idealistic progressive intelligentsia.
Allegations of corruption and a somewhat loose party structure have also
been grounds for criticism of the PPP. But the party was never given a
chance by either General Ziaul Haq or his successors, who have consistently
considered it as the party that might bring change in the military-dominated
polity of Pakistan.
It seems that the people of Pakistan are willing to give Ms Bhutto and the
PPP another chance because they have never been given the opportunity to
vote out the party after voting it into office. For once, the Pakistani
establishment should give the people of Pakistan a free choice in selecting
their leaders. Ms Bhutto will leave Pakistan’s political scene only when the
people vote her out in a manipulation-free election. Otherwise, the
Pakistani elite can eat its heart out; she is coming back for one more
showdown with coup-makers and behind-the-scenes political fixers.
Husain Haqqani is Director of Boston University's Center for International
Relations, and Co-Chair of the Islam and Democracy Project at Hudson
Institute, Washington D.C. He is author of the book 'Pakistan between Mosque
China's shot in the dark
By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE,
WASHINGTON, February 2, 2007:
China is making geopolitical hay while the sun isn't shining for America.
Chinese leaders have seen President Bush's approval ratings continue a
downward slide all over the world, according to the BBC's latest universal
survey. More important, previous public opinion polls showed China with a
better image than America in friendly European countries -- with the notable
exception of Poland. The rest of the world has watched the defection of some
of President Bush's Congressional supporters. China's topsiders have heard
from their close ally president Musharraf -- "a major non-NATO ally" -- he
doesn't think the United States can avoid what the world will perceive as a
defeat in Iraq. And perception trumps reality the world over.
The global newspaper Financial Times wrote, "As authority drains from Mr.
Bush, so Washington is losing its capacity to determine outcomes elsewhere.
Iran is the principal beneficiary."
A defector from Musharraf's camp has informed U.S. authorities the Pakistani
leader's "agonizing reappraisal" about the future of Afghanistan stems from
his perception the United States cannot pull a victory rabbit out of the
Iraqi hat. Hence, his perception neither the United States nor NATO can
muster what it takes to complete their mission in Afghanistan. Hence, in
turn, Musharraf's decision to authorize his all-powerful Inter-Services
Intelligence agency to assist Taliban "moderates" in their bid to reconquer
power in Kabul. ISI greatly assisted the original victory of Taliban in
Assessing the American scene as conveyed by CNN, FOX, BBC and al-Jazeera,
Chinese leaders can be forgiven if they have concluded the American Century
-- the 20th -- may not be renewed in the 21st. While the American body
politic has been almost totally immersed in and absorbed by Iraq and
Afghanistan, China's Hu Jintao's upcoming trip to Africa is the third to the
continent by a top Chinese leader in a year.
Last November, China demonstrated its growing global clout by inviting 48
African heads of state and government to a summit in Beijing where they were
wined and dined in a style unmatched by their former French, British and
Portuguese colonial masters. China has been buying up their production of
raw materials years in advance. Pledges have been made to double aid to
Africa, train 15,000 professionals and grant 4,000 scholarships.
Vertiginous double-digit yearly growth for the fourth consecutive year has
put China on track to leapfrog Germany as the world's third-largest economy.
Its foreign currency reserves are accumulating at the rate of $30 million
per hour and recently topped the $1 trillion mark -- about 70 percent of
that in U.S. paper. It is outspending Japan on technology R&D. China is
preening with self-confidence.
As Ford posts a record $12.7 billion loss, China's "Chery" (which started
with machines and engine technology purchased from Ford Europe for $25
million), in alliance with China's "Visionary Vehicles," is getting ready to
invade the U.S. market with five different models in 2008, all designed by
Pininfarina (known for Ferrari and Lamborghini designs). The Las Vegas Sands
Casino, with 800 gaming tables, is now the world's largest -- not in Nevada
but in Macau, China.
To offset America's enormous strategic military superiority, the Chinese
military concluded in the 1990s information warfare -- or cyberwarfare --
could give China an "asymmetric" advantage over the United States. In 1998,
the PLA newspaper Jiefangjun Bao said priority should be given "to learning
how to launch an electronic attack on an enemy ... to ensure electromagnetic
control in an area and at a time favorable to us."
How to take down the computer-driven sinews of a modern industrialized state
quickly became a top priority for the major powers and Israel. Since then
the United States has more than matched China's arsenal of cyberweapons --
from ultra sophisticated logic bombs, to Trojan horses, worms, viruses and
denial of service decoys.
The 1990-91 Desert Shield and Desert Storm and the 2003 invasion of Iraq
(when 50 military-specific satellites and numerous commercial birds were
used) showed the Chinese how utterly dependent the United States had become
on "satcoms." In 1998, the failure of a single satellite disabled 80 percent
of the pagers in the United States.
Unmanned aircraft like the Predator achieve pinpoint bombing accuracy over
the Pak-Afghan border while flown by a pilot/bombardier in a simulated
cockpit thousands of miles away in Washington. Signals from Global
Positioning System's satellites guide precision weapons to their targets in
the same role played by a rifle's gunsight.
Modern battlespace's eyes and ears are in orbit and vulnerable. The space
equivalents of bullets and shells -- kinetic energy weapons -- to destroy or
damage a target in space is the next phase of modern warfare. The 2001
Congress-mandated Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space
Management said the United States "is an attractive candidate for a space
Pearl Harbor -- or a surprise attack on U.S. space assets aimed at crippling
U.S. war-fighting and other capabilities."
Chinese strategists view U.S. dependence on space as an asymmetric
vulnerability while Chinese scientists are known to be working on ASAT
(anti-satellite weapons, such as kinetic kill vehicles). Last week, China
decided the time had come to demonstrate the fragility of the U.S. military
dependency on communications satellites.
Without warning, Jan. 11, China fired a missile aimed at one of its own
aging communications satellites. With pinpoint accuracy, the missile
pulverized the Feng Yun 1-C 500 miles above earth, scattering thousands of
tiny fragments that could easily puncture the metal skin of other satellites
in orbit. The former Soviet Union did it first in 1971, followed by the
United States in 1985, before Congress banned further tests lest they
imperiled one of the several hundred satellites, many from other nations.
Space as a sanctuary free from armed conflict will most probably come to an
end over the next 20 years. Speaking in flawless English at the World
Economic Forum in Davos last week, one-star general Yao Yunzhu, who directs
China's Asia-Pacific Office at the Academy of Military Science in Beijing,
predicted: "Outer space is going to be weaponized in our lifetime." She is
52. If there's going to be "a space superpower," she said, "it will have
company" -- China.
China also has -- untested -- the ultimate weapon to silence an enemy: the
E-bomb, or electromagnetic pulse. In the nosecone of an ICBM, or even MRBM,
set to explode at an altitude of 75 miles above the east coast of the United
States, EMPs can knock out all communications (except small handheld radios)
from Maine to Florida and from Manhattan to the Mississippi River.
Anti-satellite artillery and the EMP threat would be powerful equalizers if
it ever came to Sino-American hostilities over Taiwan. Following
disengagement from Iraq, U.S. defense priorities are likely to remain
focused on combating terrorism while Europe's defense agenda will become
increasingly unsupportive of U.S. policies. China is eyeing an emerging
geopolitical vacuum with interest. And it has no intention to play the game
of nations by U.S. rules.
Zardari to contest case in London court
Islamabad February 1, 2007: Senator
Farooq Naek Counsel of Senator Asif Ali Zardari has issued the following
Senator Asif Ali Zardari challenged the jurisdiction of the English courts
to hear matters in relation to alleged corruption charges in Pakistan, since
it would be duplication and a waste of costs for the same issues to be aired
in London and in Pakistan.
The Court in London today decided that it has jurisdiction to hear the case
in London even if a case of similar nature is pending in Pakistan.
The case will therefore be defended in London by Mr. Zardari in the same way
it was defended and won in the Isle of Man court last year.
The Judgment in the Isle of Man courts concerned facts almost identical to
the issues in London. Mr. Zardari’s position is that the eventual conclusion
will be the same.
It is important to realize that the proceedings in Court today did not
concern the merits of the case, but simply as to whether the English courts
had jurisdiction to hear matters in relation to charges of alleged
Mr. Zardari will defend all cases wherever the Government of Pakistan will
file against him on concocted charges to settle political scores and
politically victimize him. He is certain that the English courts will arrive
at the same conclusion as the courts in the Isle of Man,
It may be recalled that the allegations of corruption were raised against
Mr. Zardari in 1998 and till date not a single case on merit has been
decided against him in any jurisdiction.
On the other hand, he has been acquitted in two cases of alleged corruption
and in one them, the Supreme Court, while setting aside the Judgment of the
NAB court, held that there was Government interference and the judges of NAB
court were biased against him.
Mr Zardari has also been acquitted in more than six other cases falsely
filed against him.
Benazir Bhutto Calls for sectarian harmony
Spirit of Yom-i-Ashur is resistance to tyranny and injustice
Islamabad, February 1, 2007: Former
Prime Minister and Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party Mohtarma Benazir
Bhutto has issued following message on Yom-i-Ashur, the day of martyrdom of
Hazrat Imam Hussain, falling on the 10th of Moharram, corresponding to
Tuesday January 30, 2007.
"Hazrat Imam Hussain (May Allah be pleased with him) sacrificed his own life
and the lives of his dearest family members and faithful followers on this
day for the cause of truth and justice and to resist oppression and tyranny.
This supreme sacrifice offered by the Imam teaches us that tyranny,
oppression and falsehood must be resisted no matter how heavy are the odds.
"As we pay homage to the great martyrs of Karbala and reflect on the lessons
of their supreme sacrifice today, we must also look inwardly and do some
soul searching. Today the need for learning a lesson from the martyrdom of
Hazrat Imam Hussain (May Allah be pleased with him) is even greater because
tyranny and oppression continue to stark the land in different forms and
"On this day therefore we reiterate our resolve that no matter what the odds
we shall neither submit before tyranny and injustice nor let evil have its
"On this day I also urge my countrymen to rise above sectarianism, forge
unity among their ranks and dissociate themselves from all those elements
who driven by frenzy are fanning sectarianism and anarchy. The need for
harmony and tolerance has never been as great as it is today.
“I also urge the countrymen to challenge and drive out those who behind the
façade of seeking to curb extremism and terrorism are only conspiring to
perpetuate their illegal hold on power".
answer to questions about air bases
Condemns Defense Ministry’s refusal to inform PAC
Islamabad January 28, 2007: Pakistan
Peoples Party has demanded that the Parliament be taken into confidence
about the agreements allowing the use of country’s air bases by foreign
troops in the war on terror, the revenues received thus far from leasing air
bases and how the revenue had been utilized.
The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly asked for this
information the other day but the Defense Ministry declined saying it was
‘not in the purview of the Committee’. Earlier the Defense Ministry had
refused to answer questions about real estate developers using the name of
the armed forces.
“The self serving refusal to trust the PAC is not only a mockery of the
Parliament, smacks of arrogance and raises serious questions of transparency
but also gravely undermines the public image of defense forces”, said
spokesperson of the Party in a statement today.
It is preposterous to claim that the PAC was not competent to ask questions
that revolved around financial propriety, he said.
If the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament cannot ask questions
about revenues generated from leasing the air bases and building housing
societies in the name of defense services then who can, he asked?
The spokesperson said that under Article 78 of the Constitution, ‘All
revenues received by the Federal Government shall form part of Federal
Consolidate Fund’ and all payments and withdrawals from it are to be
regulated by an Act of the Parliament.
Telling the Public Accounts Committee to shut up smacks of a smoking gun, he
said. “Tongues can be silenced temporarily by use of brute force but doubts
and misgivings once sown in the minds refuse to vanish”.
He said that it is not for the first time that Parliamentary questions about
revenue generation and utilization relating to the defence services had
raised serious misgivings.
In reply to a question # 35 asked in the Senate in December 2003 it
transpired that the income derived from the Lahore Fortress Stadium was also
not being credited to the Federal Consolidated Fund as the defence ministry
itself claimed that it was utilized for the construction of houses and
maintenance of vehicles, he said.
“If the armed forces have to remain in public consciousness as defenders of
the land and not anything else the defense ministry must come out clean and
not skirt the issues”.
report on forced disappearances
By Asim Yasin
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People's Party
Parliamentarians is producing a detailed report on the mysterious
disappearances of citizens and international laws that make individuals
committing the crime of detaining citizens liable to be produced before
international tribunals even long after the commission of the crime.
Speaking at a seminar on elections and democracy here on Saturday, former
senator Farhatullah Babar said that the compendium is being produced by the
People's Institute of Democracy, a subsidiary of the recently-launched NGO
called Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF).
PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto is the patron-in-chief of the Foundation and
former interior minister Major-General Naseerullah Babar is the chairman of
the its board of governors. Senator Farhatullah Babar is coordinator of the
Peoples Institute of Democracy that has six other human rights activists,
intellectuals and academics as members.
Under the international law forced disappearances of citizens is crime
against humanity and individuals committing such a crime could also be tried
at any time in future, he said, adding that the state agencies must take
heed of the fact that the relatives of victims and human rights bodies
could, in future, seek recourse to justice under this law.
He said that the provision in the international law was a powerful tool in
the hands of victims and citizens to end mysterious disappearances by
warning the perpetrators that they can be held accountable for kidnappings.
Another most disturbing aspect of the deteriorating human rights and erosion
of democracy is the absence of parliamentary control and oversight over the
security apparatus and the state's intelligence agencies.
The Peoples Institute of Democracy also plans to undertake a study on this
critical issue and to suggest ways and means for bringing the security
apparatus under the ambit of parliamentary scrutiny, he said.
'Mother of all elections' will be certainly rigged, cautions Babar
Peshawar, Feb 2 2007: Pakistan's former
interior minister and PPP leader Naseerullah Babar has said that the motive
behind Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf declaring the next general
elections as "mother of all elections" was to "rig the polls to bring his
'blue-eyed' boys back to power".
He said that the nation was well aware of the fact that all the previous
elections were also rigged to sideline popular political forces and install
a non-political entity instead.
Babar was addressing a news conference organised by the Bhutto Shaheed
Foundation (BSF) here yesterday.
He said that majority of PPP leaders were willing to take part in the
elections in 1985 as per the wish of the founding party chairman Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto, but they were put behind bars. He said Bhutto had advised them
not to abandon political platform otherwise "undeserving" elements would
rise to replace them. "And, on the basis of the said statement of ZA Bhutto,
we will never boycott the next elections despite the fears of massive
rigging," he said.
Babar, who is also chairman of the BSF board of governors, said the
Foundation would launch a book titled "How Elections Are Rigged in Pakistan"
at the inaugural session of BSF in Islamabad tomorrow (Saturday). He said
that the book was compiled by the People Institute of Democracy of BSF under
the chairmanship of Farhatullah Baber and is an attempt to unearth the
unethical mechanisms employed by the previous administrations to rig the
elections and tamper with poll results to get the people elected who did not
"The book is a research work based on pre-poll rigging, post-poll rigging
and rigging during the elections," he said. (ANI)
PPP-P warns govt against bloody revolution in the event of polls rigging
Sunday February 04, 2007: ISLAMABAD:
Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) has warned the government
that any attempt by the rulers to rig the polls will trigger bloody
revolution in the country.
This was warned by PPP-P leadership while addressing a seminar held here
under Shaheed Bhutto Foundation entitled election rigging in Pakistan.
Opposition leader in senate Raza Rabbani said it was not correct to think
about holding of fair elections in the presence of international observers.
These observers are supportive of the present military government. It is not
correct to rely on them. They will say like before that 15 to 20 percent
rigging takes place. Pre polls rigging will move forward as general
Musharraf will get him re-elected.
Voicing concern over electoral lists, he said these lists are defective as
majority of voters have been deprived of the right to vote through these
lists. The electoral lists are not being prepared in PPP-P dominated
constituencies. We have provided list to the election commissioner but he
seems to be helpless, he alleged.
The passage to Islamabad passes through Mochi gate, Qissa Khawani bazaar and
Quetta rather than Washington, he noted. " I give warning to the rulers that
it is not 2002. If any rigging is carried out then bloody revolution can
rage into the country.
Naseer Ullah Babar said people like Sher Afgan and Sharif ud Din Pirzada are
showing wrong doorway to general Pervez Musharraf to the corridors of power.
General Musharraf is launching election campaign of a political party, he
PPP-P information secretary Sherry Rehman said every political party has
right to participate in the electoral process.
Jahangir Badar alleged generals in power devised new methods of polls
rigging in the country.
Syeda Abida Hussain urged her party to convene national conference with
reference to polls rigging.
Aitzaz Ahsan said the polls rigging is only aimed at depriving the people of
power who deserve for it. The power in fact rests with GHQ, Aiwan-e-Sadr and
bureaucracy. Shaukat Aziz does not look to be prime minister. The prime
minister has been relegated to a cartoon which keeps on sitting in the feet
of the president. This thing is acceptable only to Jamali, Shujaat and
Shaukat Aziz and not to Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, he observed.
PPP leaders warn of ‘Orange Revolution’ if polls rigged
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)
leaders on Saturday warned President Gen Pervez Musharraf to hold free and
fair general elections, otherwise there would be an ‘Orange Revolution’ in
Pakistan akin to the people’s movement against poll rigging in Ukraine in
They were speaking at a seminar titled ‘Democracy and Elections’, organised
here at a local hotel by the Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) of the party,
to launch the booklet ‘How Elections Are Rigged in Pakistan’. The booklet
elaborates on how state machinery and resources have been used for pre-poll,
poll and post-poll rigging.
IA Rehman, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), who
was chief guest at the seminar, said political parties should not wait for
the elections and advised them to launch their struggle now because there
could be no free and fair polls under Gen Musharraf.
“The government, in my opinion, has already completed half of its homework
for the general elections and will complete the remaining half before the
day of the election. No drama can be called elections in a country where
corruption is legalised, judiciary is under control and there is no law or
constitution in place,” he said.
He added that keeping political leaders in exile out of the race was also
Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, member of Central Executive Committee (CEC) and senior MNA
of the party, said that the establishment had always rigged elections. “In
Pakistan, power has always remained in GHQ and President’s House with dummy
and powerless prime ministers playing to their tunes,” he said.
Ahsan said that the current regime had not only rigged the elections but
also rigged the constitution with the 17th Amendment in connivance with
mullahs. He warned that if the PPP and their allies were stopped in the
elections through unfair means, there would be an ‘Orange Revolution’ and
nobody would be able to stop them. “We will contest the elections for the
empowerment of the people rather than getting the government,” he said.
Mian Raza Rabbani, deputy secretary-general of the party, accused the regime
of depriving people of their vote by ignoring them in the voters lists,
especially in areas where the PPP had strong support. “There are reports
that about 2.5 million people have been disenfranchised in the new voters
list,” he said.
Sherry Rehman, PPP information secretary, said that boycotting the elections
was an option but they were in favour of change by a free and fair vote.
Farhatullah Babar, official spokesman of Benazir Bhutto, said the party was
compiling a compendium of missing people and those who kidnapped them.
Mir Lashkari Raisani, Maj Gen (r) Naseerullah Babar, Jahangir Badr and Syeda
Abida Hussain also spoke on the occasion.
attend Bush breakfast with Asif
WASHINGTON February 1, 2007: Former
prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari will attend the
White House prayer breakfast together here today to dispel media reports
that they had separated, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) officials have said.
Bhutto arrived in New York over the weekend to attend the annual event,
which includes a two-day conference at the Washington Hilton.
"It is totally baseless," said former PPP senator Khawja Akbar while
commenting on the report. "Of course, she is staying with Zardari in New
York and they will attend the prayer breakfast together."
The prayers, although called the White House prayer breakfast, are also held
at the hotel where president Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded on March 30,
1981, as he came out after addressing a gathering.
Since the US Congress hosts the conference, a large number of lawmakers from
both Republican and Democratic parties attend the entire proceedings.
This year's conference is particularly important because of a change in
Congress which passed from Republican to Democrats' control in November's
"We hope that this change will also help the cause of democracy in
Pakistan," Akbar said and noted that the new Congress had already taken up
the issue of democracy in Pakistan in a resolution it adopted earlier this
"The new Congress has shown that it is not focused on the war on terrorism
alone. For them, insurgency and democracy are both major concerns," he said.
The senator said that Bhutto would spend six days in Washington, meeting US
lawmakers, government officials, members of the academia and media.
Prominent politicians, religious leaders, government officials and scholars
come from all over the world to attend the prayer breakfast, which President
Bush is scheduled to address as well.
Bush, Benazir meet today
LAHORE February 01, 2007: US President
George W Bush and Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto are
expected to meet today (Thursday) at the National Prayers Breakfast in
Washington, Geo television reported.
According to the channel, Bhutto will be accompanied by her husband Asif Ali
Zardari and two senior leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). US
congressmen and think tank members will also attend the breakfast, among
other renowned personalities from around the world, the channel said. daily
Bhutto likely to attend open meeting
ISLAMABAD February 1, 2007: Backdoor
contacts between Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif’s
Pakistan Muslim League-N on the issue of timing of the opposition All
Parties Conference (APC) seem to be moving in the right direction, official
sources said here yesterday.
The sources said that there are now positive indications from PPP that a
final reply about Bhutto’s participation in the APC would be communicated
within the current month.
According to sources in Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, the PPP has
dropped a positive hint that Bhutto may be participating in the APC.
Words of Shaheed
There was a great Prime Minister, the first Prime Minister, the father
of the present Prime Minister of India, who said, "We were too old, we
were too tired to oppose Pakistan, and Pakistan had to come into being.
But we hope that one day we will get together gain." I too hope so, not
that Pakistan will emerge as subservient to India but in the sense that
we will get together again as equal friends, in a common fraternity,
living in a common subcontinent and sharing the common effort of seeing
that poverty, ignorance and misery are wiped out. If there are any two
countries in world that are the poorest in the world, they are Pakistan
and India. Our resources might be tremendous, but the fact is that we
two are the poorest in the world. Yet in the last 24 years, we have gone
to war three times. Three times there has been conflict in the
subcontinent. I remember that Prime Minister of the Soviet Union once
telling me that even rich nations try to avoide war; poorer nations
should make a greater attempt to avoid war.
Speech at the Security Council, New York
December 12, 1971