Selective curfew

If the idea was to recover caches of weapons or nab terrorists in Karachi, the announcement of an impending curfew by Rehman Malik has made it doubtful by depriving the operation of the much needed element of surprise. By the time a selective curfew is imposed, the weapons would have been removed and wanted person gone underground. Targeted killings have gone on in Karachi during the last more than two years of Rehman Malik’s tenure without any interruption causing hundreds of deaths

More peaceful times?

The annual report card that the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies compiles ever so painstakingly is only marginally better this year. The total number of suicide bombings have reduced. And the total number of all terrorist incidents have also taken a downward turn, though not by too large a co-efficient. The reasons for this trend – and let us hope it is indeed one – could be many. PIPS itself postulates that increased military operations, better surveillance by the law and order

Clinton’s Yemen concern

Sanaa was in for a major surprise when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to visit. The first in 20 years by a US Secretary of State, Clinton’s visit was aimed at sending a strong message to Yemeni people. That of friendship.
There is growing recognition in Washington that counter-terrorism efforts will not succeed on military means alone. That is why, from Afghanistan to Yemen, the focus is shifting towards broader socio-economic support to help societies and check

Free hand for medicine mafia?

It was a different time when doctors used to identify the disease by checking the pulse of a patient. At that time, doctors were far more professional and excelled at their craft. No one greased their palms. These life savers were really God gifted and participated in this vocation without any selfishness. They had no interesting commissions and other incentives offered by various drugs makers. The value of a human life was way more than anything else.
But nowadays, this very

Meeting Obama

President Zardari’s one day visit to the US to attend the funeral of Richard Holbrooke is over. The 30-minute meeting with President Obama had not been scheduled earlier and the talks, as pointed out by the other side, were not a full bilateral meeting between the United States and Pakistan. The composition of the US team accompanying President Obama, however, was significant as besides Secretary Clinton it included National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Counter-terrorism Coordinator

Exception to the rule

The rule of law is meaningless verbiage and comes only next to discretion. That is precisely how Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s response to an adjournment motion regarding the allotment of a permanent official residence to former Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Kh Muhammad Sharif can be summed up. According to him, the Chief Minister had not violated the law but only exercised his discretionary powers to relax the existing rules.
The issue which figured in the Punjab

The SC steps in

After making Walters Power International return Rs 2 billion to the state exchequer, the Supreme Court has ordered power firm Techno Energy to refund Rs 780 million along with the mark up for failure to fulfill the terms of its contract with the government. The recovery is all the more welcome as it comes at a time when the country faces an unprecedented financial crunch. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has also summoned a former federal minister and three retired generals in the Rs 50

Karachi burns

How does one deal with the problem that is Karachi? A debate that ensues every time the city is gripped by violence, as it is now, with more than 30 people dying within three days. It is usually a fruitless debate, with pundits espousing unworkable solutions on the one hand and hesitating to call a spade a spade on the other. A particular solution, too ugly to be articulated on public fora, is also doing the rounds. That only proportional violence from all sides will yield an end to

An existential threat

President Zardari has done well to seek suggestions from coalition partners and Mian Nawaz Sharif regarding how to effectively present Pakistan’s position while in the US. Perhaps, at no other time in the past were the inputs from allies and the mainstream opposition needed so desperately. Of late, the US has realised that North Waziristan rather than Afghanistan presently constitutes the “hub of global terrorism”. What riles it is that the Pakistan Army is unwilling to launch an

Onion wars

The free market prevails (or arm-twists its way into) another day. The Prime Minister has finally allowed the export of onions to India after a ban that threatened to upset far more than the profits of vegetable growers in Pakistan. On the face of it, the ban could be interpreted as either a trade war or a necessary attempt at protectionism or needless bickering between countries that have a far from ideal past. But in essence, it captured that perennial debate on the free market

Joe Biden

He’s on a charm offensive. But charm is not US Vice President Joe Biden’s only utility. A keen Pakistan-observer, he helped draft much of his country’s aid policy towards Pakistan. The Kerry-Lugar Act was previously going to be the Biden-Kerry Bill, which Mr Biden had to jettison because of his elevation to the Vice President’s office.
American officials in general have always been puzzled by the Pakistani response to the aforementioned legislation. After all, they would reason,

Change of guard

Bringing speculations to an end, the president has appointed Sardar Latif Khosa as the 27th governor of Punjab. The selection of the governor for the country’s largest province where the PML(N) and PPP have had an uneasy partnership was considered to be indicative of the mood prevailing in the federal government. The choice of Khosa, a soft-spoken PPP loyalist, shows that the federal government is keen to maintain good relations with the PML(N). This was also reflected in the initial

Voices of reason

Call it the necessity of wading through the contours of the realpolitik or call it simple capitulation, the ruling PPP has not reacted to the recent murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer the way the liberal component of the civil society would have liked it to. There is, of course, no need for the PPP to satisfy them. It is a real political party that need not bother with armchair activists who won’t vote and think that the expression of righteous indignation amongst affluent

Missing in Pakistan

The observation by the Supreme Court that the year 2011 will be the year of recovery of the missing persons will provide a ray of hope to hundreds of families waiting for disappeared relatives, some unaccounted for over more than five years. The remark came while the SC pondered over a suggestion by a judicial commission appointed last March to investigate complaints about missing persons. According to a report submitted by the deputy attorney general 134 persons had been traced by

Crisis averted

The crisis created by Mian Nawaz Sharif’s notice to PPP to urgently implement a list of reforms or be prepared for parting of ways in Punjab and demands for mid-term elections has been averted after Prime Minister Gilani’s positive response. There is a need now to go ahead and, as Gilani put it, do the doable and discuss what the government thinks is not possible with the PML(N) team. The appointment of Senator Ishaq Dar, considered a soft-liner, as the team leader indicates a

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