Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Discriminatory Nuclear Policy towards Pakistan

Courtesy:- Momina Ashier

Pakistan and India, the only two nuclear states of South Asia, share a relationship of conflict and cooperation. For the past three decades, India and Pakistan have been engaged in a nuclear rivalry that is both a symptom and a cause of their bilateral discord. India’s decision to acquire nuclear weapons and demonstrate its nuclear weapons capability in 1974 resulted in the Pakistani adoption of a nuclear weapons program. When in May 1998 India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, abandoning nuclear ambiguity for overt nuclear weapons capability, international community raised concerns that each step up the nuclear ladder by India and Pakistan introduces a new tension in their troubled relationship. The apprehension possesses that nuclear expansion between these two states will threaten the international security generally and South Asian regional stability particularly.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Relying on gumption

Courtesy:-  Malik M Ashraf

The ruling by the Speaker National Assembly that no question of disqualification of the Prime Minister had arisen as a consequence of his conviction by the SC in the contempt of court case, has stirred up yet another furious debate on the legitimacy of the conclusions drawn by her. The opponents of the government and the section of the media essentially hostile to the government are shouting at the pitch of their voices dubbing her decision as partisan and against the constitution that might pit the parliament against the judiciary, whereas the permeating view in the government circles is that the speaker has used her constitutional powers under article 63(2) to giver her verdict and it has resolved the matter for good. The conflicting view taken by the two sides are quite understandable in the backdrop of an ambience of confrontation reminiscent of the crass politics of nineties.

Chicago and the aftermath

Courtesy:-  Zafar Hilaly

There’s scarcely a dull moment in US-Pakistan relations. The two countries are frequently at odds, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As Aristotle said: “To get angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time is something to be commended.” Loosely understood, this means a certain degree of constructive tension is useful in interstate relations as it is in personal relations. If nothing else, it prevents either party taking the other for granted.

Peace Activist Mossarat Qadeem Enlists Mothers to Fight Terrorism in Pakistan

Courtesy:- Swanee Hunt

Activist Mossarat Qadeem is fighting extremism in Pakistan one child at a time—with the help of their moms.

Her phone rang at 9 p.m. “Can you come tonight? He’s home.” The voice was anxious. “My son left those extremists he took up with, but maybe just for the night.”

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Prime Minister

Courtesy:- Mehr Tarar

May 27, 2012. Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani will become the longest serving prime minister in the history of Pakistan. Hallelujah. Pakistan, a proud democracy. After 65 years, 16 prime ministers (a couple of lifetime chairpersons of their respective parties served twice), four military dictators, six caretaker governments later, here we are. Doing our best, and sometimes even that ain’t enough to throw the incumbent off his democratically gained seat. Déjà vu? Time to let go of the pretence, presumably. We will not let any government serve its full tenure. Period. That is not part of our psyche, our conditioned personalities, and our conscious and subliminal knowledge. There is impatience, a misplaced anticipation, and an undignified rush to topple one and take his place. If a morally indignant and spiritually superior military general will not oust a civilian leader, why go through the agony of waiting for one? The pristine, untainted, dry-cleaned garbed — the pious ones — are all set to get rid of the beast, all the while letting go of the one simple truth. It is not their turn yet. The scratching and the scrambling and the shoving perseveres, nonetheless. Why?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Free but fair trade

Courtesy:- Dr Maleeha Lodhi

The economic conference organised earlier this month by the Jang Group and the Times of India did more than bring together business leaders from Pakistan and India. The meeting in Lahore offered a timely opportunity to assess progress in the trade relationship, review the benefits of liberalisation, identify the hurdles, and propose ways to overcome them.

The PM’s visit to UK

Courtesy:- Dr Rashid Ahmad Khan

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani’s just concluded visit to Britain is certain to further enhance understanding and cooperation between Pakistan and Britain

The dust raised by unremitting domestic political crises has tended to obscure largely from the public eye certain outstanding successes the PPP-led coalition government has achieved on the external front during the last four years. To bring India around to accepting Pakistan’s proposal for the resumption of stalled peace talks without any preconditions is not a small achievement. It has won Pakistan worldwide acclaim, and endorsement by almost all the mainstream political parties and business community of the government’s decision to expand trade ties with India is reflective of its success in pursuing the country’s foreign policy in the correct direction.

Gilani’s UK trip was mother of all visits in 25 years

Courtesy:-  Wajid Shamsul Hasan

LONDON: Despite hopes to the contrary of the hullabaloo of media doomsayers the official visit to the United Kingdom by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has triumphed as mother of all visits during last 25 years by the previous prime ministers except martyred Mohtarma Benazir Bhuttoís in 1994.

Difference in his visit and others was quite obvious. He was representing a democratic Pakistan while others were totalitarian rulers. And this was the fact recognised by host Prime Minister David Cameron when he praised Prime Minister Gilani for his unprecedented efforts in strengthening democracy.

Prime Minister Cameronís further endorsement that ìthe enemies of Pakistan were enemies of Britain and friends of Pakistan were Britainís friendsî must have thrown cold water on the critics of Pakistanís democratic government who had not only done their dirty best in undermining his visit in Pakistan but had also carried on a vicious campaign in UK.

On arrival Prime Minister Glani was given a rousing reception befitting a democratically elected Prime Minister. His official visit began on May 9 when he was the only foreign head of government invited to attend to the state opening of mother of all parliaments addressed by Her Majesty the Queen.

Later he was a shining star at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associationís reception attended by the parliamentarians and ambassadors. Later prime minister was chief guest at a reception by me for the members of the British Parliament in the prestigious Pavilion Terrace of Westminster. It was attended by over 60 MPs, five UK ministers, members of House of Lords and other dignitaries.

May 10 was the crucial day when the two prime ministers met along with their teams for the first Summit Review of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD), which was initiated by them in 2011 during Prime Minister Cameronís visit in April.

Prime Minister Cameron warmly welcomed Prime Minister Gilani and his entourage and expressed his profound hope that the progress so far made on the five strands would be further accelerated by the visit.

The two prime ministers covered extensively the areas of the ESD and had intense discussions on the issues institutionalized in the framework for cooperation in five strands (i) trade and business relations (ii) financial, macro-economic stabilization and development cooperation (iii) education and health (iv) defence and security, and (v) cultural cooperation. Both the prime ministers were confident that the two countries would achieve the target of enhanced trade and investment target of £2.5 billion by 2015. Both Prime Minister Cameron and Prime Minister Gilani reiterated that Pakistan and UK were bound together by long standing ties of shared history, values and enormously rich people-to-people links that were sure to grow from strength to strength with the passage of time.

They emphasised that through the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue, the two countries were intensifying co-operation in areas of shared interests and mutual benefits. In addition to the deliberations on ESD Prime Minister Cameron acknowledged unequivocally tremendous sacrifices by Pakistan in men and material in the ongoing war on terrorism. He was confident that the unflinching resilience by the people and armed forces of Pakistan would soon triumph over the evil of extremism and open floodgates of prosperity for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two leaders had also frank and in-depth exchange of views on the regional situation and all other areas of mutual concerns. Prime Minister Cameron expressed satisfaction over the recent developments for improving ties with India especially in the areas of trade and economic co-operation. Prime Minister Gilani acknowledged with gratitude the UKís support in achieving the WTO tariff waiver for Pakistan. He also thanked Mr Cameron for his pledge to continue to advocate Pakistanís case for enhanced trade access to the EU through GSP+. He conveyed to him the enormous success of the visit by British trade Minister Lord Green. It went a long way in removing misconceptions about Pakistan. He was glad Lord Green had firsthand experience for assessing the tremendous trade and investment potential offered by Pakistan, FDI and business friendly environment and that it was an ideal country to do business with. The two leaders expressed satisfactions over the fact that both sides have evolved a roadmap for the promotion of trade and cultural ties. Subsequently with the concurrence of the two prime ministers, the roadmap was launched to further provide impetus and focused approach in accelerating bilateral trade. On the understanding that economic growth and poverty reduction in Pakistan were pivotal for prosperity of future generations and root out terrorism, the two sides agreed that the global economic crisis required both countries to make tough decisions in order to deliver future growth and prosperity.

In this regard they agreed to a regular dialogue between the two governments in the economic, investment and trade sector, more exchange of people-to-people contacts and opportunities for businesses from the two countries were welcomed by both prime ministers.

Regarding cooperation in the security area, the two leaders took note of the work being undertaken on shared national security challenges, including on counter-terrorism through the Joint Working Group and the National Security Discussions to address the common challenges we face. While acknowledging the huge sacrifices made by ordinary people in Pakistan, Prime Minister Cameron assured UKís complete support to Pakistan, as a partner against the menace of militancy, terrorism and extremism. The two leaders welcomed the growing cultural exchange between our museums and in academia. In this context, last year 17 new partnership agreements were signed between universities in UK and Pakistan. The Cultural Roadmap launched during the visit will pave way for further cultural cooperation for bringing the people of the two countries closer together.

The two prime ministers also noted the contribution made by over one million strong British Pakistanis to UK for enhancing the relationship between our two countries. The evening spent with the British Pakistan Foundation provided a useful opportunity to Prime Minister Gilani to meet enterprising British Pakistanis.

Six cabinet ministers including, foreign secretary, home secretary, DFID secretary, defence secretary, secretary energy & climate change and Minister for Trade Lord Green also called on the prime minister to discuss the scope of cooperation in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

On the business front, the prime minister was hosted by the chairman of Standard Chartered Bank for a meeting with seven top British companies including Stemcore Steel, GSK, Mother care, Monsoon, Unilever, Premier Oil and Oracle Coal fields investors besides attending a roundtable with prominent British businessmen and investors at the London Stock Exchange hosted by LSE CEO Mr Xavier Rolet. In the education area, the adoption of the National Declaration on Education, committing all stakeholders to undertake necessary steps to develop education roadmaps and tackling under-nutrition were welcomed by the two Prime Ministers. A group of vice chancellors of prominent British universities also called on the prime minister to discuss prospects of further cooperation between the two countries on the education side.

Prime Minister Gilani, alongside Prime Minister Cameron, also attended the launch of the Conservative Friends of Pakistan by Baroness Syeeda Warsi. The Forum is an important initiative and seeks to provide another political platform to energize Pakistani community into the British politics. Besides, it seeks to serve as a bridge between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The visit would go a long way in further upgrading our bilateral cooperation in all areas of common interest for the mutual benefit of the two countries and their people. The extensive support received from the UK to Prime Minister Gilani has been a blow to anti-democratic forces in Pakistan.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

While there are bigger issues at hand

Courtesy:- Malik Muhammad Ashraf

We are back to the crass politics of nineties marked by intense polarisation and political vendettas. The brand of politics that not only culminated in the derailment of democracy in the country but also left deep scars on the political landscape which continue to haunt the Pakistani nation. The Sharif brothers enjoy the dubious distinction of starting that despicable drama in collaboration with the establishment in the nineties and now again share the blame. They do not seem to have learnt from their past mistakes. They are crying hoarse from every convenient roof-top to urge the prime minister to abdicate power on moral grounds after the SC verdict but do not realise that it is also their moral obligation not to mislead the people on crucial national issues. Their actions are also politicising the judiciary.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ignoring Security Agencies' services in Balochistan

Courtesy:- Sajjad Shaukat

Since the Supreme Court of Pakistan has been hearing the cases of the missing persons in the country, the situation of Balochistan is more serious in this respect, where sense of deprivation and grievances has already accelerated among the people. But it is most regrettable that without paying attention to the facts, our own political leaders, media anchors and so-called human rights groups have continuously been maligning country's key security agencies regarding the disappeared persons of Balochistan. In this regard, these internal elements have ignored the services of Pak Army, Frontier Constabulary (FC), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

IEDs targeting Pakistan

Courtesy:- S M Hali

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are wreaking double havoc in Pakistan. Firstly, their incessant use by miscreants is resulting in the loss of precious human lives and limbs. Secondly, Pakistan is being blamed for alleged complicity in the transportation of raw material (Ammonium Nitrate) used in the preparation of the IEDs. A number of international bodies and think tanks have conducted research but trust deficit between Pakistan and its erstwhile allies in the war on terror has led the studies into the subject to be colored by wrong perceptions and accusations of Pakistan’s complicity in the heinous crime. One such report is by the “Perceptors Group”, which painstakingly conducted an in-depth study on the issue of human sufferings specifically due to IED attacks causing immense human loss in Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, some elements in the group, perhaps owing to their own biases or due to unreliable inputs, could not resist pointing fingers towards Pakistan’s alleged involvement or having lax control on IED material transportation.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

America’s hubris; Pakistan’s appeasement

Courtesy:-  Mohammad Jamil

Despite Pakistan’s vociferous demand to end drone strikes, eight suspected militants were reportedly killed in a U.S. drone attack on Saturday in Dre Nishtar area of Shawal valley. As if to add salt to injury, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in an interview said the same day that the US will continue to launch drone strikes against militants in Pakistan even if the Pakistani government opposes it. During an interview to PBS news, Panetta said: “The United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.” Pakistan’s Foreign Office condemning the drone attack in North Waziristan stated: “It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counterproductive.” The nation has been listening to the foreign office vows and resolve for a severe response to any alien transgression into Pakistani territory; however in case of the super power Pakistan appears to be helpless since it is confronted with challenges such as fiscal and trade deficits, apart from lack of unity in the nation and disharmony in the institutions.

An epoch making day

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Friday 4th May was an epoch making day in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, when the national assembly passed a bill for the establishment of National Commission for Human Rights, empowered to investigate cases of human rights infringement, create much needed awareness among the masses and hold the agencies and the army answerable to the Commission for any violation of human rights. The legislation, besides fulfilling our international obligations about improving human rights situation in the country, meets the demands of justice that require a uniform law to deal with such acts by the state agencies.

Friday, 4 May 2012

PTI slams PML-N govt for ‘double standards’

Courtesy:- Our Correspondent

Punjab PTI has criticized the Punjab government for its double standards on corruption and poor governance.

Flanked by Punjab general secretary Dr Yasmin Rashid and information secretary Andleeb Abbas, Punjab PTI president Ahsan Rasheed in a press conference on Wednesday stated that the PML-N had been criticizing the federal government but ignoring numerous cases of its own corruption and poor governance which had been highlighted by the media time and again.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Implications of 'US-Afghan Pact' on Pakistan

Courtesy:- Khalid Khokhar
 May 3, 2012

The new strategic pact titled "Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States", has redefined the US terms of engagement with Kabul that goes beyond another decade following NATO troops withdrawal in 2014.