Archives for July 2008

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s Visit to America


Why he is going there?
What he is going to get there?

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is going to the US
to seek political support. During this visit, the US Administration is going to
deliver some key policy messages to him.

America’s main concern is inability of Pakistan’s government
to curtail terrorist activities in the border areas with Afghanistan and
Taliban’s use of tribal areas as safe heaven.

While Pervez Musharaf’s policies were very clear on this
issue, the new government has not been able to devise a coherent policy to deal
with this issue. Americans are going to tell Mr. Gilani about their dissatisfaction in stern words. In fact, they have already told Pakistan on many occasions.

Pakistani diplomatic sources are saying that Americans have
told them that Pervez Musharraf issue will not be discussed. Pakistanis are giving
the impression, as if America is going to unload Musharraf. I believe these types of statements are for local consumption. My interpretation is that America is fed up with Sharif and Zardari’s anti-Musharraf politics. America is going to
tell Zardari and Sharif that America means business.

Pakistan government has been lobbying for some time to
persuade Washington to drop its support for Musharraf. Mr. Hussain Haqani has been instrumental in these efforts since his only credentials for being Pakistan’s Ambassador in the US are that he is staunch anti-Musharraf.

America was instrumental in drafting the NRO (National
Reconciliation Ordinance 2007) and bringing Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif back into the mainstream politics. Probably America was thinking that way Pakistan would have a government that will be more credible and stable. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way and Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have become now a
liability. Both had their own personal agendas so there was no national consensus on the real issues facing Pakistan, hence no effective government and no stability. In fact, Pakistan has become more unstable then it was before the election.

To make its previous decision work America is going to throw its full weight behind the present government. That would be the carrot but at a price. Top US military, intelligence and government leaders in Bush Administration have already shown their annoyance and dissatisfaction on the failure of Pakistan to deal with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in FATA and border areas with Afghanistan. Present government has been doing a lot of propaganda on their peace talks with Taliban and tribal leaders in FATA area giving the impression that these efforts are becoming successful. America wants some decisive action, and favors military force. America will give some political space and time may be six months to a year to this new government to be effective, try his peace talk option and show some results. Bush is under pressure at home to show some success in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. American military leaders have convinced Bush Administration that Pakistan is not doing enough to stop Taliban and Al Qaeda’s fighters attacking from Pakistani areas. Hence, pressure on Mr. Gilani.

To show their support, America is going to offer besides political support economic and military aid during Prime Minister’s visit.

America is not interested in the domestic affairs of Pakistan like reinstatement of judges which is life and death issue for Nawaz Sharif and to some extent Asif Zardari, but would like to see a government who have control over the domestic problems including economy, domestic terrorism and other political issues.

Report: Taliban Using Sophisticated Media Network


By: NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jul 24, 10:50 AM ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban have created a sophisticated media network to undermine support for the Afghan government, sending threats by text message and spreading the militia’s views through songs available as ring tones, according to a report released Thursday.

The International Crisis Group report comes as the Islamist militia that was ousted from power in Afghanistan by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion is making a violent comeback, particularly in the country’s south and east.

The Taliban’s propaganda exploits civilian killings by foreign forces and corruption in the U.S.-backed government to add to Afghans’ disillusionment about their lives, according to the report by the Brussels, Belgium-based group. It said the Afghan government and its foreign allies should respond more quickly to their mistakes and highlight the Taliban’s atrocities.

Many of the messages that have been distributed — apparently not always directly produced by the Taliban — come in the form of songs, religious chants and poetry that appeal to Afghan nationalism and Islamic pride.

Some of the tunes are available as ring tones for phones, and cassettes include songs such as “Let me go to jihad,” the report said. Some people reported that they kept the cassettes as a form of protection in case they were stopped by Taliban.

One poem — “Death is a gift,” on Al Emarah — included the phrase, “I will not kiss the hand of Laura Bush.”

The Taliban movement also has a Web site, Al Emarah, or The Emirate, which has various domain names due to attempts to block it. The Taliban also publish pamphlets and magazines, and their communications come in multiple languages including English. DVDs and audio cassettes also are used.

Because illiteracy is widespread in Afghanistan, and many Afghans have little to no access to the Internet or television, the Taliban also use traditional means of communication to spread their message. They often send shabnamahs — fliers that are often distributed at night in an area. Often the letters threaten people who work with international forces or the government, the report said.

The report also said that Taliban media play up civilian casualties caused by foreign forces but deny involvement in most bombings that kill a large number of ordinary Afghans. Because of the poor security situation, independent journalists often have a difficult time verifying claims of either side.

Obeidullah Jan, a Barekzai tribal leader from Dand district in Kandahar province, said the Taliban had tremendous influence on local media and that journalists in the area often reported their claims. But even if the Taliban had no media outreach, their impact — from suicide attacks to gunbattles — is hard to miss, he said.

“Whether they use the media or not, the people are witnessing their activities,” Jan said.

The media messages at times underscore the loose, disorganized nature of the militancy.

The report notes that the Taliban as well as the Hezb-i-Islami network of warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar each claimed credit for a suicide attack in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in November 2007.

Later that year, the Taliban Web site announced the dismissal of a Taliban commander, but the commander’s spokesman rejected it, telling reporters it was a “conspiracy by some elements within the Taliban movement,” the report said.

Associated Press Writer Noor Khan contributed to this report.

Aitzaz Ahsan – Public Intellectual?


In the recent issue (July/August 2008) of Foreign Policy magazine they have published a so called Top 20 Public Intellectuals survey where Mr.Aitzaz Ahsan has been ranked on number 5.

Pakistan media particularly GEO TV and Aitzaz Ahsan himself seem to be proud of this ranking.

First let us see the definition of the word "intellectual". The word intellectual is an adjective. The noun is intellect. According to American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language, the meaning of the word ‘intellect’ is as follows:

The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.

The ability to think abstractly or profoundly.

So the person who can do that is called intellectual. Fair enough.

Now let us see what profile Foreign Policy magazine has mentioned of Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan. Here is the verbatim quote;

"President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, Ahsan has been a vocal opponent of President Pervez Musharraf’s rule. When Musharraf dismissed the head of the Supreme Court in March 2007, it was Ahsan who led the legal challenge to reinstate the chief justice and rallied thousands of lawyers who took to the streets in protest. He was arrested several times during the period of emergency rule last year.
Today, he is a senior member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, formerly led by Benazir Bhutto, and one of the country’s most recognizable politicians


Do the activities which Foreign Policy have mentioned on which he has been ranked in the ‘Top  20 Public Intellectuals’  makes someone intellectual?

If this is the criteria then we have lots of intellectuals in our country.
What do you think? What is your opinion? Write your opinion in the comments.

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Stock Markets Plunged in Pakistan


You may already have read this news in the newspapers or watched on the TV Channels.

First the news.

Yesterday, Thursday July 17, 2008 Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index (KSE 100 Index) plunged to two years low at 10,000 then closed at 10,213 by the end of the day. Its lowest close in two years. In Karachi hundreds of investors got angry at plunging share prices and smashed the glass windows in the main hall of the stock exchange. Police was called in. The angry protesters had scuffle with police. Two persons got injured when the protest turned violent.

The angry protesters wanted to stop the trading for two days to cool down the market. But Razi-ur-Rahman, Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan stated there is no need to shut down the trading and plunge continued.

In Lahore, around 100 small investors burnt tires and blocked the road to the local bourse. They wanted the government to take some action.

Similarly in Islamabad, the affected investors gathered outside the Stock Exchange and chanted slogans. Interestingly, as the newspapers reported the slogans were “Go Democracy, Go”.

Naturally, a question comes to one’s mind why Pakistani people use violent protests to resolve their political, religious or any other issue for that matter.

I could list the following reasons.

This is the way their political leaders have shown them.

People don’t believe that there is any other way to make them heard.

There are no safe guards to protect the investors.

People don’t have patience to solve their problems through legal system.

They don’t believe in the legal system.

They know from their experience that nothing will change until there is big uproar on any given issue.

There may be many other reasons. You are welcome to say what is on your mind on this subject. Comments section is for this purpose. So I encourage you write your thoughts.

Stock Markets go up as well as down all over the world. So Pakistani stock markets are not any exception. This is a phenomenon of the capital markets. This is the way markets work. So the investors have to be more smart and educated to protect themselves from such fluctuations of the market place.

When you open a brokerage account usually there is a statement on the form where you sign to accept the risks. Sometimes there is a warning also that don’t put that money in shares which you cannot afford to lose. I don’t know that is practiced in Pakistan or not.

This is the responsibility of the government to protect the investors through proper legislation including monitoring the rules and regulations of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and other such semi autonomous bodies.

For example, New York Stock Exchange requires to halt the trading if Dow drops to 2% at any given time. Do we have such rules in Pakistan? I don’t know. In the present case, KSE 100 Index dropped to 2.7% (279 points) but the chairman of the SECP gave the verdict, trading to continue. There should be such barriers and filters to protect the investors.

Unfortunately, our politicians take the violent route to protest so that is what their followers do. Is it going to change anything in near future? Probably not. The other category of individuals who can change the peoples behavior is intellectuals. Do we have such intellectuals in Pakistan? I think you are in best position to answer this question. A couple of days ago in the program Capital Talk on the GEO TV, Hamid Mir was congratulating Chaudary Aitzaz Ahasan (who was also present in the program) on his listing in “The World’s Top 20 Public Intellectuals” by Foreign Policy magazine.  I will write on this subject at some other time. But for the time being let us assume he is an intellectual then unfortunately he has also chosen to use agitation and violence to get the judges reinstated who had left the job voluntarily.

In a nutshell, the investors should educate themselves and the government should ensure the rules and regulation exists to protect the investors and there are no malpractices by either brokers or movers and shakers to change the direction of the market into their favor.

Rafiq Tarar Given Government Residence


Rafiq Tarar, an Ex. President and buddy of Sharif family has been given government residence and he has moved from his private home to government provided housing according to GEO TV Channel .

Rafiq Tarar said that according to rules and regulations any ex. president is entitled to live in government housing for the rest of his life after leaving the office. I don’t know the rules. But the question is if that was his entitlement, or for any ex. president for that matter, then why he did not demand that earlier? Or better yet, why he moved out of the presidential housing when he left the office?

Is it not something also called nepotism?

Sometimes back, Shaikh Rashid Ahmed said in a GEO TV program 60 Minutes that the judges who did not take the oath according to new PCO on November 2, 2007 and took the option to leave the office and now want to get the job back are presently paid their salaries from the special fund of Prime Minister.

Are there any such rules and regulations to pay salaries to judges who voluntarily did not take the oath and preferred to leave the job?

What you would call this bribery, social welfare or helping the poor unemployed judges?

Speak up your mind and write in Comments what ever you think on this subject.

Pakistan’s Political Scene – Part 1


Let us see first to what agony people of Pakistan are going through at present.

Prices of daily commodities are going sky high
Prices of petroleum products are going out of control
There is load shedding of electricity to the full extent all over Pakistan Terrorism.

Five months ago people of Pakistan elected their representatives but they turned out to be incapable to comprehend and control the situation.

In my opinion these are the core problems. Particularly the last one. And that is the biggest problem.

Nawaz Sharif told to one packed election rally when his party will come to power they will make the price of Atta, petrol and electricity to half. Was it verbose, ignorance of economic facts and realities or telling us total lies. Nawaz Sharif party has all the powers in the Punjab province why they are hesitant to do that what they said. Why he is not putting pressure on federal government on this subject.  After all this is his promise to people particularly to the people of Punjab. But after the elections, he himself or none of his party officials talked on this subject. Chaudary Fazal Ilahi of PML-Q reminded PML-N in the opening session of National Assembly  about their half price promise.

All members of the government are telling us that these problems were hand over to them by the previous government. Fine. We hear you. But nobody is telling us what they are going to do NOW to alleviate the problems or at least improve the situation. On the subject of electricity, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (PPP) minister once threatened KESC (Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation which is a private  company now) if they did not increase the output government will take over the Corporation. The question is, was there any clause like that in the agreement of privatization. Or by threatening KESC generators will start producing more electricity. These are our problem solver. What will be its effect of foreign investment in Pakistan, if somebody is still interested. That is the professionalism of our leaders.

Part 2 will continue.

Qazi Courts Set Up in Mohmand Agency


The following news has appeared today in the daily DAWN newspaper of Karachi.

GHALANAI, July 14: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has set up Qazi courts in four places in the Mohmand tribal region.

Taliban spokesman Dr Assad told Dawn on Monday that the Qazi courts had been set up to settle disputes in accordance with Sharia. He said that Mohammad Ziad had been appointed chief Qazi. Other Qazis would be named later. He said the courts had been established in Pandialai, Khwezai, Lakaro and Dawezai.

Taliban have established similar courts in the adjacent Bajaur agency.

This would be interesting to see how the federal and provincial governments as well as opposition parties react to this news.