Author Archives: Arif Nizami


Arif Nizami

A year of living dangerously

While 2010 was a year of living dangerously, the New Year does not bring any better prospects for the country. In the field of politics, economy or foreign affairs there was little to cheer about during the past year and the prospects do not look any better in 2011.
The very fact that democracy survived the vicissitudes of the past year is a miracle in itself. The PPP-led coalition has managed to remain in power by a mixture of good luck, shrewdness and bravado of its chairperson


Arif Nizami

The Machiavelli

Barring the lone nay vote of Kashmala Tariq, the 19th Constitutional Amendment has gone through the National Assembly unanimously. This rare consensus has only been reached on the process of judicial appointments and not on other contentious issues. Hence too much should not be read into it.
But even on this count, the parliament has jealously guarded its supremacy by not granting the superior judiciary a veto over judicial appointments. After the exit of the JUI(F), the real


Arif Nizami

Friends but masters

While the David vs. Goliath saga continues, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is clearly the winner. The sole superpower and its allies, with all their might and advances in cyber technology, have not been able to block the outpouring of information from the trove of downloaded cables.
While it is still being assessed whether Pakistan’s vital interests have been compromised by the leaks, the people are being treated to a wide variety of information that they could not have even


Arif Nizami

Writing on the wall

Diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks has all but exposed the tenuous nature of relations between the Pakistani military establishment and the civilian government. What was generally perceived to be true is now in black and white.
It is revealed that the politicians as well as the military leadership loved to cry on the matronly shoulders of former US ambassador Anne Patterson. Examples include General Kayani telling her in the midst of the judicial


Arif Nizami

Condemned by history

NATO’s Afghan exit strategy, which was recently unveiled in Lisbon, is symptomatic of the West’s desperation to cut and run. After President Obama’s now well-known ‘draw down’ deadline by July 2011, another time frame given at the Summit envisages 150,000 NATO-led forces in Afghanistan to start withdrawing by the end of 2014, transferring part of the battlefield to the Afghan army and police.
The declared strategy does not quite gel with the optimistic note struck by the top US


Arif Nizami

The last straw

The hapless people of Pakistan are facing the full brunt of the country’s perennial economic downturn. Prime Minister Gilani however wants more time and more money to fix the problem. Our traditional international donors, on the other hand are becoming increasingly impatient with the snail pace of our reforms, poor governance and lack of transparency at the state level.
At the recently concluded Pakistan Development Forum (PDF), Gilani said, “The government believed in leading


Arif Nizami

The reluctant radical

Both for his supporters and detractors, PML(N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif’s present politics are an enigma. On one side he has started espousing radical views, anathema to the rank and file of the party he heads. While on the other, he seems quite unsure of how to play his role as the leading opposition figure.
He has written to President Zardari to end corruption and cronyism, urging him to present a consensus accountability bill in the current session of the parliament. He has


Arif Nizami

Jilted lover?

Barack Obama’s sojourn to India – sixth by a US president, starting today, is causing jitters in Islamabad. Our India-centric foreign policy mandarins and defence analysts are worried that the visit will be detrimental to Pakistan’s vital interests.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, sounding like a jilted lover in a recent interview with the Time magazine, complained that as a longtime ally and friend, Pakistan has been consistently spurned by the US.
The symbolic


Arif Nizami

Politics of expediency

Confusion worst confounded! It all started with PML(Q) Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain in a surprise move visiting Kingri House, the abode of octogenarian Pir of Pagara in Karachi and announcing the merger of his party with PML(F). Later on, this enthusiasm for ‘unifying the Leagues’ somewhat waned when the Pir cut a separate deal with the PML (Likeminded), a breakaway faction of the PML(Q).
Ch. Shujaat, through his emissary, made it plain to the Pir that the Likeminded were part of


Arif Nizami

On the media

Thanks to our 24/7 electronic media and the perennial punditry of it anchors, there is rarely a dull moment in Pakistani politics. An unconfirmed report on a Karachi based channel the other day about the intention of the government to sack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, forced the Prime Minister to address the nation, in order to clear the air.
The very next day, judges of the apex court disposed of the case without a whimper despite the fact that the government had


Arif Nizami

Much ado about nothing?

Despite the government getting a temporary respite till November 1st, when its review petition regarding the declaration of National Reconciliation Ordinance as illegal by the Supreme Court will be heard, the gauntlet thrown at Mr. Zardari and his cohorts is still very much in place. In the end analysis, being allowed to change the lawyer representing the government proved to be a pyrrhic victory.
The tension in the air can be judged by the crisis created by media reports on

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