Author Archives: Arif Nizami


Arif Nizami

Most bullied ally

Whatever credibility the US had amongst ordinary Pakistanis has been inexorably eroded by the Raymond Davis incident. The American, certainly not a diplomat in the traditional sense of the term, by his act of murdering two Pakistanis has unwittingly unleashed currents and cross-currents which have exposed the inherent weaknesses in Islamabad’s “strategic partnership” with Washington.
The manner in which the US has gone about seeking the release of its citizen and the refusal of


Arif Nizami

Governance sans consensus

In a brainstorming session organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT) the other day, participants were asked to suggest the way forward in the light of the multifarious challenges of governance being faced by the country. In the words of its executive director: endemic corruption, weakening writ of the state, growing economic crisis and deteriorating law and order posed a real danger to democracy.
The participants, which included a former governor, a


Arif Nizami

Not quite Jasmine

Fred Halliday, the celebrated specialist on Middle Eastern affairs, taught international affairs at the London School of Economics until his death last year. A few decades ago, he wrote a book titled “Arabia without Sultans”, which from a Marxist point of view, lamented the fact that the kings, sultans and sheikhs still lorded over it. In the context of the present turmoil in Tunisia, this excellent work is still very relevant as nothing much has changed in the region.
With the


Arif Nizami

Too good to be true?

Finally there is a modicum of consensus between the PPP and PML(N) on fixing the economy. Mr. Ishaq Dar has promised the nation “good news'” on 26th of January when the joint committee of the two parties meets to discuss Nawaz Sharif’s ten-point agenda – a sine qua non for co-operation with the government.
But given the dire economic straits that we are in, it is easier said then done. As it is, none of the International Financial Institutions, IMF inclusive, are willing to give


Arif Nizami

Quaid’s Pakistan

Events have moved so fast since the advent of the New Year that it is difficult to keep pace with them. Salmaan Taseer’s tragic assassination coincided with Nawaz Sharif’s ultimatum in the wake of the virtual falling apart of the ruling coalition. MQM is back in the folds again and now we are told by no less than Nawaz Sharif himself, that his ultimatum was not an ultimatum at all.
Governor Latif Khosa’s oath-taking ceremony was almost surreal in the sense that the PML(N) that


Arif Nizami

How safe are we?

Salmaan Taseer’s ghastly murder by the guard assigned to him by the administration of the province he headed as its governor has raised a number of important questions. A chill must have passed though the spines of the vast array of VVIP s and lesser real or self-styled VIPs who take pride in the state appointed posse they prefer to move with, even though they aren’t necessarily under threat.
Shahbaz Sharif created the Elite Force, during his last stint as chief minister of


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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