The Lisbon Summit

The Nato summit has begun at a time when President Karzai is increasingly under attack from his American patrons for criticising Gen Petraeus’ “kill or capture” night raids on the Taliban. Karzai’s problem is that he occasionally tends to forget that he holds his position as President courtesy the US and its allies and that he is supposed to carry out orders without throwing tantrums. His latest fits of pique have landed him in hot soup and he is being asked to explain which side he

Musharraf’s defenders

Coming out of the virtual world of the Facebook, Musharraf finds himself abandoned by former colleagues, both civilian and military, while his adversaries are anxiously waiting for his arrival to drag him to the courts. Like a scared person preparing himself to face a hostile situation Musharraf continues to repeat “I am determined to go back to Pakistan” almost on a daily basis without moving a step towards the direction. Getting frustrated with his own handiwork, called the PML(Q)

A house in disarray

Biases and knee-jerk responses are known to tear down the wall of any reasonable argument. But not without a measure of damage. The standard quote of both opposition and treasury members on the floods is the US is giving a disproportionately low amount of aid in the face of one of the worst natural disasters that Pakistan has faced in its history. Ditto for analysts, columnists and TV anchors. But it sure must rankle when the Americans respond by asking a simple question: why should

Spooks in the court

How does one read the Supreme Court’s notices to the chiefs of the intelligence agencies in what is, after all, a missing persons case? The court stepping up to the plate? Most certainly. The spooks should most certainly be taken to task. The notices are in a case related to prisoners who had gone missing from the Adiala Jail. Some reports in the press allege that the prisoners were picked up by the intelligence agencies. The Chief Justice also did well to refuse to hear the

A new dispute in Balochistan

Some of the recent statements by the Chief Minister Balochistan implying that the center was unresponsive and was acting arbitrarily had created doubts about the way the recently expanded provincial autonomy was being implemented in the province. The charge by Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani that the federal government intends to sell 70 thousand hectares of land in Lasbela to some gulf princes for hunting despite opposition by the provincial government would further


Blasphemy is a crime; no one should be allowed to slander the good name of our Prophet (PBUH). But our blasphemy laws border close to the blasphemous themselves when the love for the Prophet is allowed to be used for ulterior motives and, perhaps, xenophobia. Our blasphemy laws should protect the good name of our Saviour, not be confusing enough for anyone to take advantage of. The recent death sentence of a Christian woman highlights this. She should be provided ample protection


Was it at a gathering of the old boys club that the Minster of Interior, a former veteran of the FIA, declare that the FIA is now going to be given more powers to crackdown on corrupt officials? On the face of it, the steps, including a rumoured granting of police powers to the agency, seem like solid action. But to what end? There is a need, granted, for accountability but why not through more transparent channels? There needs to be a consensus on the accountability bill. This is one

Attack inside red zone

The bomb cum gun attack in Karachi killing at least 24 and injuring over 1,000 indicates that the city which had till recently avoided bigger attacks by Taliban militants is no more immune. Like the strike on the Marriot hotel in Islamabad in 2008, this too was an audacious but well planned adventure. The CID building, where recently arrested Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) activists were also being interrogated, was chosen despite its location in the red zone. The attack was presumably aimed

New taxes

Well, is it a mini-budget? Given by the major restructuring in the scheme of revenue generation, coupled with the costs to be incurred in flood relief, we can safely say that it is. These taxation measures aren’t going to be too practical. For instance, there is the one-time flood surcharge, which is an additional tax on the salaried classes for a period of six months. Then there is the increment on withholding tax, one that many economists believe businesses will transfer on to the


The PPP and PML(Q) have reportedly reached an agreement on toppling the PML(N) government in Punjab through vote of no confidence. This is bound to revive in many the bitter memories of the 1988-99 period ending in a military coup. But will the PPP be willing to pay the price demanded by the PML(Q), which is the post of the province’s chief minister for the PML(Q) nominee?
The PPP can maintain that the battle was actually initiated by the PML(N) by failing to fulfill the promises

Sugar goes sour

What to do about our perennial sugar problem, if anything at all? Well, conditions of international donor agencies seem to imply that we shouldn’t do much. Just the day before, the government agreed to the proposal to end the role of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan in the import and supply of sugar. In effect, letting millers and wholesalers work the whole thing out themselves. This would then mean an end to the system of direct subsidies that the government gives for the

Nawaz in Khairpur

Nawaz Sharif’s address in Khairpur was widely reported the next day by the vernacular Sindhi media. It was noted, with ironic connotations, by some that this was the first interaction on the part of the chief of the major opposition party with interior Sindh during the last two years and a half. The visit came in the wake of an announcement by Nawaz early this month that he was working on a new social contract that he called the Charter of Pakistan and which, according to him, was

On Constitution Avenue

Any unusual activity by the army personnel on the Constitution Avenue is liable to arouse public curiosity. Such is the unhappy history of the relationship between the army and the civilian government that this is bound to revive bitter memories among many. It was unusual for the army controlling traffic at the Avenue checkpoint instead of police. For the soldiers to stop a federal minister in a car flying the national flag was regrettable and to point guns at him, a really serious

Obama charms India

A bomb would have been kinder. Hysteria has set in the Pakistani establishment after US President Barack Obama formally endorsed India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Having played the jilted lover’s role of late, at least as far as relations with the US are concerned, Pakistan is going to interpret this bombshell as the last straw on the camel’s back. It is being viewed, not incorrectly, as the most significant development in US-India relations.
Should we worry,

Obama’s India visit

President Obama’s three day tour of India is the most important part of his trip to Asia that will also take him to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. The US president has been at pains to explain that his mission is aimed at seeking avenues for US exports, crucial for resolving the issue of unemployment, which continues to erode Obama’s popularity at home. This explains why a large number of US business executives form part of the President’s entourage. An India flush with money and

Darra tragedy

Of late, the Taliban’s version of Islam has been referred to as tribal. It is a misnomer. There is nothing tribal about this, or, at least the interpretation of the word tribal that we have come to apply to the area bordering Afghanistan. No traditional conflict amongst the tribals bombs mosques, kills women and children. And none of it was beyond the control of senate of the spingiri, translated, literally, as the white beards. The control of old men can be at the same time a problem

Limited capacity?

Times are tough. It doesn’t take an economist to figure this out. Making ends meet has never been this difficult, especially for the salaried classes and the sustenance wage earners. The peculiarities of our polity are such that inflation has never become a focal point in anti-government movements, if not general strikes. Maybe the reason for this is that the political opposition feels it also would not be able to do a good enough job in stemming the tide of the great price hikes.