Killings in Mohmand

While terrorist attacks in large urban centres are not taking place with the deadly regularity witnessed last year, the frequency of these attacks in tribal areas remains unchecked. The two suicide attacks on the premises of the Political Agent in Mohmand Agency leading to the death of over 50 persons indicates that there is no respite to the severity of these attacks either. Besides concentrating on soft targets like schools, dispensaries and government installations, the terrorist

Breakfast at Lahore

The way to a Lahori’s heart is through his stomach. It is a meandering path, with many clogged arteries. Ambassador Cameron Munter sure did earn his hazard allowance the other day, when he publicly had a desi breakfast, along with his Consul, Carmela Conroy. Also known as the heart-attack-on-a-plate, the typical Lahori breakfast invokes warm feelings in the hearts of the good citizens of the city like nothing else can. The venue was the sterile environment of cantonment because

Gilani in Turkey

After meeting President Karzai, Prime Minister Gilani is in Turkey on a four-day visit. Ankara has over the last few years assumed a special importance for Pakistan. Since 2007 Prime Minister Erdogan has hosted meetings between the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a bid to overcome their differences and promote cooperation against the extremist militants. Turkey also extended valuable help to Pakistan during the 2005 earthquake and recent floods.
While Pakistan, Turkey and

Need for restraint

The call by a Peshawar cleric for executing Aasia Bibi, who was sentenced to death by the trial court for blasphemy, comes at a time when the matter is pending before the Lahore High Court and the government has been restrained from granting her swift pardon. The cleric also announced a Rs 500,000-bounty for anyone who killed the blasphemer.
Aasia’s case raised an international outcry, including pleas for mercy from Christian leaders and human rights organisations around the

Af-Pak relations

Prime Minister Gilani’s Kabul visit takes place at a time highly crucial for Afghanistan. Two weeks back, NATO countries set forth a plan in Lisbon to gradually start handing over the lead role in the war to Afghan forces with the aim of ending the ISAF combat mission by 2014. Later this month, President Obama is scheduled to review the Afghan policy worked out last year with a surge and a counter-insurgency strategy as main features. Unless conditions are created to ensure that the

The next tranche

A little tough love now and then wouldn’t hurt our economic managers but the IMF should know how much is too much. The Fund’s patience, granted, is not unlimited, but it should cut the government some slack for the precarious political conditions it is in. The pressing issues of fiscal space that the present government was confronted with at the beginning of its term, a legacy of the previous regime, forced it to go running back to the international donor agency. The latter’s pound of

Why go cry to the US?

No agenda for the meeting of the DCC was issued which has naturally led to guesses about what the participants were likely to discuss. It has been suggested that issues of internal and external security would be thrashed out along with a briefing by General Ashfaq Kayani over the adjustment of the army in Swat and the security situation in Afghanistan. The DCC however cannot afford to ignore the revelations made in the WikiLeaks which have become the most widely debated issue.<br

Hail to the Chief

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The current dispensation of power in the military has had more than its share of good press, both in the local and foreign media. This was a military leadership of professional soldiers, determined not to go the Musharraf way. Yes, tensions might exist, analysts would say, but only on account of institutional memory; otherwise the military leadership is clear on matters political: it will stay away. Well, some disgruntled

Provincial autonomy

On Wednesday, the first step was taken towards the extension of provincial autonomy by devolving five ministries to the provinces. This was in accordance with the letter and spirit of the 1973 Constitution which over the years had been beaten out of shape by successive military rulers who strongly believed in a strong centre and introduced constitutional amendments which deprived the basic law of its federal spirit. The exercise conducted by Musharraf in the name of devolution had


Times are tough and this is no country for old men. Condemned to destruction are states that respond inadequately to the challenges of the time. What to say, then, of states that are not even at par with responses that are already being jettisoned by the world at large? Case in point: the Pakistani government’s demand to gag those leaking information to websites like WikiLeaks and to take stern action against officials who were responsible. As if they could just be hauled up and put

Two more

The addition of two ministers of state to the federal cabinet at a time when five more ministries are being devolved to provinces under the 18th amendment is highly unreasonable. All the more so when the country is facing unprecedented fiscal constraints and pressure is mounting on it to cut down non productive expenditure from the IFIs as well as from State Bank of Pakistan which has held increased government lendings from banks responsible for the double digit inflation. It is clear

Foreign policy and security

What a top military official told a group of media persons underlines some of the paradigm issues faced by the government and army in their interaction with the US, Afghanistan and India. Pakistan is not taken on board when the US and its Nato allies formulate the Afghan policy despite the fact that this policy has an immediate and direct impact on the law and order, economy and people of Pakistan. Islamabad is, however, blamed for the consequences of the blunders committed by policy

Hiked interest rate

Don’t expect any hurrahs from the banking community on the State Bank’s latest interest rate hike. And don’t expect the central bank to care what the bankers say. It has enough on its plate already. Facing vast inflationary pressures and more pressure still from a government that seems to think that it is the monetary, not fiscal policy that causes inflation, a couple of angry bankers are far removed from what the Governor would be thinking about right now.
On top of Mr Shahid


Terrifying for the US, it is like having one’s innermost thoughts revealed unto the world at large. To create an analogy, confidential correspondence between civil servants are the innermost thoughts of the state. Unarticulated, granted, but forming the very basis of its actions. If the despatches were not intentionally leaked, as conspiracy theorists will often surmise, the US diplomatic establishment would be feeling, for lack of a better word, naked right about now.
The leaks

Sinking in Afghan quagmire

There is enough evidence available now to indicate that but for the superpower hubris on the part of the Bush administration, Taliban leadership could have been persuaded in 2001 to gradually get rid of Osama bin Laden and, with further pressure from the international community, to tone down its extremist hype. Confident of the highly lethal and devastating war machinery at his disposal Bush thought he could achieve its objective through military action alone. He even agreed to

Mumbai attacks

The Indians have enough reason to be angry. The Mumbai attacks were one of the most coordinated and protracted terror attacks of recent times. It has become what to measure other attacks by; today, when intelligence operatives speak of similar threats to a city, as they are about London at the moment, they refer to the prospect as Mumbai style attacks. This would not be lost out on the perpetrators of the said carnage. Spectacle and symbolism was all that they sought and that is what

Misusing blasphemy laws

Totally unnecessary statements by certain quarters, keen to stand up and be counted, have created complications for Aasia, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, instead of helping her. A number of Muslim religious parties, in search of a cause, have taken to the streets threatening to unloose anarchy if the woman was to be pardoned. A presidential spokesman has, meanwhile, maintained that no papers for pardon have so far been received by the Presidency.
The sentence against