Stay away

Words to the wise
One occasion that might pacify the pro-democracy detractors of the current judiciary. The chief justice called it like he saw it in his address to a visiting delegation of the military staff college, Quetta. Urging the army officers to stay away from politics, he reminded them that it was the military that had weakened democracy in the country. What prompted the candour with which the chief justice spoke to these up and coming officers was, he said, his

The projects

Not just about the money
Public policy issues in the developing world are often framed around the fact that governments here don’t have enough money. That can be misleading. Though limited fiscal space does have a great bearing on what transpires in the development profiles of these countries, there is also the limited capacity of the state to respond to challenges. And that capacity is not limited to immediately having funds in hand. Consider: the district of Rawalpindi has

Strange bedfellows

The power-sharing talks between the PPP and the PML(Q) are suggestive that a fundamental change is underway in the political landscape of the country. The two parties, earlier referred to as each others’ nemesis, are now believed to have entered the final stage of negotiations and the PML(Q) is likely to get six to eight slots in the federal cabinet in the second phase of its expansion. It may also include the portfolio of a senior minister.
There are also reports indicating that

Trip to Kabul

The joint trip by Prime Minister Gilani, COAS Kayani and DG ISI Pasha was needed to dispel a growing perception at home and abroad that the civil and military establishments were not on the same page on a number of security related issues vital to win the war on terror. Further, that the military had the final say on these issue when it came to the crunch. An annoyed Washington resorted to enhanced drone attacks and sent hundreds of CIA undercover agents to operate from inside the

A watt saved…

Environmentalists call energy conservation the fifth fuel. Yes, beyond petroleum, coal nuclear and alternative energy (all lumped together) there is the one fuel given the least attention: conservation and efficiency. And it is a wonderful sort of a fuel. It does not have a carbon footprint; in fact, it takes away from the footprint of other sources. It does not cost much; it is the only “source” of energy that saves you money if you use it. It is, in a manner of speaking, both

Bhutto case

It would be doing injustice to ZAB and the nation at large to take the reference questioning the hanging of the first elected prime minister lightly. The punishment meted out to him by the courts under Zia-ul-Haq’s influence had made millions unhappy in this country while many outside Pakistan also shared their grief. The verdict continues to perturb many even today. Babar Awan took a great responsibility on himself when he volunteered to pursue the reference in the SC. One had

Mutual interests

A weathered friendship it is, a battered one it is not. Mutual respect and decades-long friendship aside, it is the convergence of political and economic issues, that too at such a crucial time, that have become the driving force for our outstanding relations with Turkey. With the distinction of being the only Muslim Nato country, Turkey is in a position to assess the malaise of terrorism from the West’s point of view. Its efforts to play a meaningful role in the Afghanistan endgame

Mysterious mission

If the idea was to seek an end to the drone attacks, ISI DG’s meeting with the CIA Chief in Langley ended up in total failure. This raises a number of questions. Was the issue of drone strikes at all on Pasha’s agenda? If so, did the General demand a complete end to drone attacks or he only sought prior consultation with the ISI? The attack in South Waziristan on Wednesday indicates that either the issue was not taken up at all by or the other side simply refused to oblige. The

The unending crisis

Adopting a hard stance on power sector reforms, energy companies have demanded an end to slab benefits to consumers, accelerated deregulation and price rationalisation. Moreover, they have alleged that the government is more interested in scoring political points than working on a viable energy policy. A particular point of contention is excessive demand placed on the overstretched state gas sector due to ‘political’ commitments.
During the three-day energy conference organised

Retrial of the century

The atmospherics in the Supreme Court on Tuesday provided confidence to many that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto would finally get justice from an independent judiciary. What the CJ said indicated a chastening of the mindset through first hand experience of how far military dictators can go in their pursuit of manipulating the superior judiciary. The CJ noted in his opening remarks that Bhutto was held in high esteem not only inside the country but also abroad. He also appreciated the decision

State of suspicion

Distrust is and has always been, by all means, the operative word in the Pak-US relations paradigm. We owe this to the turbulent history of cooperation between the two nations which was primarily transactional and based on a milk-it-while-it-lasts mode of thinking. These relations are again not so hunky dory and they couldn’t have picked a worse time. As things in Afghanistan stand, this state of suspicion between the two disaffected allies could be the undoing of even the best-laid

Protect thyself

Ch Nisar is being one-sided when he puts the entire blame on the ISI for getting Raymond Davis released and ensuring the tenure of its DG extended in the bargain. Whatever the forces who bargained for the release were, the fact remains that Davis was set free from a jail under the control of the Punjab government. If the provincial administration really wanted it could have easily rearrested him on some other charge, like espionage, that fitted him well. That this was not done leads

Critical discussions

Two important government functionaries are in Washington at the same time on different assignments. The ISI chief is on a mission to resolve misunderstandings with the CIA. The Finance Minister’s visit is aimed at seeking another bailout package from the IMF. It is widely understood that the relations with the US play a significant role in dealings with the IFI’s.
The cooperation between the ISI and CIA against Al-Qaeda and Taliban, already marred by mutual suspicions, hit a new

Quite a show

Notwithstanding the assessment and adverse reaction of its detractors, the MQM made a mark by holding an impressive show in Lahore on Sunday as it ventured into mainstream politics. The success came after a hectic effort by its top leadership which spent the last two weeks addressing corner meetings across the city and interacting with a cross-section of society in a bid to garner support and mobilise the crowd for its first public meeting in Punjab.
Mr Altaf Hussain’s address to

Exploiting the gaps

The state ceding ground
A casual stroll through the sessions court in Swat is a learning experience, albeit a disturbing one. Though litigants all over the country have an axe to grind against the judicial system, the bleak reality of the inefficiencies of our system is nowhere more evident than in the Malakand division. One can even, upon inquiry, come to see some unresolved cases that had been registered way back in the 70s, when the princely states were converted into

Free bureaucracy?

Not as good as it sounds
Much has been written and said about our ailing system of bureaucracy. A direct descendant of the “iron-grid” of district administrators right from the days of the Company, our system of civil service has been rightly identified as one that does not belong to a democratic republic. Those fondly remembering a time when the standards of the civil service were much better are, in effect, remembering a caricatured simulacrum. For, at the critical initial

The economy

Projection, in many cases, is reality. The expectation of inflation can drive inflation as much as all the factors that cause inflation in the first place. That is why much of economics is about the management of expectations. News of the government making the central banks print a particular value of notes everyday makes it to the public and the expectations of the consequences become an integral part of price and wage setting. The State Bank’s quarterly report, which was released