Editorials articles

The furious clerics

He did it in broad daylight, laid down his weapon and gave the reason for his actions on the spot. He was still at the scene of the crime, locked up in a police van, when the media rushed over. And within a couple of hours, his unsettlingly serene smiling face was beamed to viewers all over the world. So the confession that he made to a judicial magistrate yesterday did not make much of a difference apart from filling a procedural requirement. He said he had made up his mind to commit

Lone ranger? – Alarming possibility

As much as the search for the cleric who motivated late Governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder should be carried out, it just might be an exercise in futility. Though the murder may very well have been organised by a militant outfit, but that the killer was a lone ranger is a pretty plausible explanation. The aforementioned search might lead to a cleric who did indeed opine that the murderer Mumtaz Qadri should slay the Governor, but it is a view espoused by many. Does the state put them

Why so rude? – The US in Pakistan

The viceroy is dead. Long live the viceroy. Though Frank Ruggiero, the new US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan isn’t expected to last long at his current designation, there has to be continuity in the dialogue between Pakistan and the US. Mr Ruggiero met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday in the first meeting since the recently-announced US Strategic Review for Afghanistan. Equally importantly, this was also the first time the two met after the

On the clock

While the federal government is out of the doldrums for the time being, one is not sure when the MQM is going to spring another surprise yet again, sending alarm bells ringing in Islamabad. Meanwhile, the PPP is being required to face the next challenge in Punjab where the PML(N) has put it on notice to declare its readiness to implement Mian Nawaz Sharif’s charter of demands by Monday or be ready to be thrown out of the provincial cabinet.
When the charter of demands was

Too intrusive

There are things you just shouldn’t say even if you mean them. US Ambassador Cameron Munter must have ignored the basic principle of diplomacy when he tried to justify American meddling in Pakistan’s ‘financial and governance’ matters for being its largest aid provider in a lecture at an Islamabad-based think tank the other day. And he sounded too blunt when he said: “We appear to be intrusive because we care, we are the largest donor. Our aid comes as outright grant of assistance

Politicians and corruption

The JUI(F) just wouldn’t let go. They want the Prime Minister out. Or at least make him very uncomfortable. As far as the PM’s public image is concerned, the JUI-F becomes the first party to take him on. Otherwise, Yousuf Raza Gilani has come across in the media as a calm, decent statesman in flattering reviews and as a bumbling, ultimately ineffectual but clean politician in unflattering ones. Perhaps the Head of State is automatically a benchmark so everyone else glows in

Giving in?

Providing security of life to its citizens is one of the primary responsibilities of all governments. Rehman Malik’s advice to Sherry Rehman to leave the country if she wanted to remain alive comes therefore as a great shock. The statement would have been odd if given by any minister. That none other than the interior minister has issued the call is all the more reprehensible. One can understand that there is an attempt to create a mass frenzy by extremist elements in the country in

Feel good measures

In one of his last posts on the social networking site Twitter, the late Salmaan Taseer had mused out loud, in his inimitable style, that if the MQM had quit government because of the increase in the prices of petroleum products, then it should follow that they should come back when the prices go down. Well, they just went down, after the Prime Minister’s meeting with parliamentary heads of political parties. The Governor’s remark was tongue-in-cheek; a wry comment on the MQM’s excuse

Politicising the crime

While grounds are available to sustain the claims of security lapses that helped a fanatic target former governor Salmaan Taseer, there is a need to avoid politicising the issue. The killer was posted out of the Special Branch as a ‘security threat’ on account of his extremist views and one officer had recommended not deputing him for the VIPs’ security. Why was the man appointed on the escort duty of the governor, who had received life threats from religious extremists? Why did the

The aftermath

Braving both the cold and a decree by some cleric somewhere against attending the funeral of slain Governor Salmaan Taseer, the mourners filled up the sprawling lawns of Governor’s House on Lahore’s Mall Road yesterday. Though many political leaders did attend, such might be the guidelines of propriety in the political sphere. It was the presence of common people that yielded a sight of that elusive silent majority that the liberals keep speaking of.
It seems to be an embattled

This, or else

Despite there being a need for some clarifications, few could find fault with the demands put up by Mian Nawaz Sharif in return for lending support to the government. While the government is right to maintain that the recent rise in the international price of petroleum products has led to the hike announced consequently by OGRA, the suggestion to devise a new pricing mechanism needs to be discussed and, if found feasible, implemented. This will reduce the burden on the people as well

The man he was

He spoke his mind. From the beginning when he was a student PPP activist, right down to when he was Governor of the country’s largest province. Not for him, navigating through the no-go areas of public discourse, the ones that others have to approach obliquely or euphemistically, if at all. It was a habit that would, in the end, take his life. Though he was the gadfly of many, of late the religious right in particular had taken considerable offence at his public statements against the

Lameduck government

Whatever the real motivation behind the MQM’s departure from the government, the PPP-led coalition has turned into a minority government. The administration is no more in a position to introduce any bill with the confidence of the majority. In case of any of its bills being defeated, it would clearly indicate that the PM has lost the confidence of the National Assembly. It will make the government ineffective in two highly crucial spheres, economy and internal security. The country is

Gilani’s calculations

While the MQM has announced the withdrawal of support to the government, it says it has kept the door open, as does President Zardari, for reconciliation, Babar Awan has clarified that the President is not going to ask Gilani to seek a vote of confidence. Even if a no confidence move was to succeed, of which there is little chance on account of a lack of consensus in the opposition about a new prime minister, mid-term elections would be the only way out which suits no stakeholder.

Peace in Afghanistan

The grandly named High Peace Council which is due from Kabul today hasn’t really achieved much since it was formed last October. That is but understandable. What’s a year of attempts at peace in the face of a decade-long insurgency? But it does appear that the said council won’t be making much of a headway in the near future either.
Led as it might be by former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, the council simply isn’t empowered enough to make much headway. Some, however,

Regional Press – In a bind

When the federal government had agreed to bring changes in the economic system on the asking of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), only then had the IMF had approved a loan of $ 11.30 billion, which was to be received by the federal government in different installments. The conditions of the IMF’s loan directly result in price hike of the services and utilities being provided by the government such as energy, fuel etc. besides the imported goods made available to the masses

Sifting through the fog – Challenge and response

Statecraft and public policy are a notoriously difficult vocation. Not only do the political classes and the bureaucracy, between them, have to go about finding the best approach towards a problem but also navigate through public opinion at the same time. At a time when public opinion is shaped more and more by a media that is more populist than accurate, it becomes a thankless, arduous task.
But there can be a measure of appreciation when governments do, in fact, get their act