Operation in NWA – Not too soon, apparently

The Americans aren’t used to hearing no. Specially from the Pakistani military, traditionally its principal partner-in-dialogue throughout Pakistan’s history, be it a military regime or otherwise. That all has changed, however, yielding a territory previously uncharted by the State Department. With the US now betting more on Pakistan’s civilian government, coupled with the Pakistani military’s suspicions about the American game plan in Afghanistan, the army has not been as cooperative

Necessary evil?

The hike in the prices of petroleum products, from 5.4 per cent to as high as 9 per cent, has rightly been termed as a “phenomenal increase”. The arguments advanced by Ogra in defence of its decision however carry considerable weight. The prices of the petroleum products have increased from 3 to 9 per cent in the international market and as Pakistan imports most of the petroleum products it needs, the import bill is bound to shoot up. Further, the government will have to bear the

Plugging loopholes

It’s easier said than done. Prime Minister Gilani’s call for further tightening of anti-terror laws was backed by the Army’s demand for plugging the loopholes in the existing Act to prevent the suspected terrorists from escaping punishment. The issue repeatedly raised in the Cabinet’s Defence Committee meetings figured in the National Assembly following a State Department report that brought into question extrajudicial killings by our security forces.
The Prime Minister defended

A New League

Four years, ago the PML(Q) celebrated the centenary of the Muslim League. And the Q’s were perhaps the only centenary celebrations that were widely reported. This time round, the only Muslim League birthday celebrations that have made the rounds in the media are the PML(N) sponsored ones. How befitting the perennial spirit of the Muslim League. Whoever is in power, then, owns the League.
The Leagues have been practicing the politics of the establishment ever since the country

Memo from the US

Suddenly, an otherwise well-informed Washington has discovered that its partner in the fight against the extremist militants is violating human rights in Balochistan. The media and human rights organisation in Pakistan have protested for nearly a decade against the way political workers of nationalist leanings were being made to disappear in the province. During the last four years, the Supreme Court has tried without much success to recover the missing persons. Finally, the task has

Hitting the nadir

The viewers who saw PML(N) and MQM leaders entering a mud-fest on Wednesday night were utterly dumbfounded. Never in the history of this country had political discourse touched the depths that it has done now. Whenever something of the sort happens, aspersions are also cast on the character of the female family members of the opponent’s family, an unfortunate aspect of the patriarchal structure of our society. On the issue itself, though both sides behaved immaturely, one could

More equal

Well, of course he won’t appear in any Benazir murder probe. No one touches anyone from the Old Boys Club, even if they nurse a lit cigar in one hand and a smoking gun in the other. This whole accountability and due process mumbo jumbo is for the great civilian unwashed, where leaders can be dug up from the grave and hung for all to see. We don’t treat our gentlemen officers like that.
Double standards become clear yet again. Former dictator Pervez Musharraf, in an interview to a

Options and more

After knocking practically at all doors, a frustrated Maulana Fazlur Rehman has left for Umrah while MQM chief Altaf Hussain has said he is unhappy over the decision to leave the federal cabinet and ‘if the government works for the welfare of the people, then the MQM would continue to support it’. This is a come down from the fuming and fretting witnessed just a couple of days back. Meanwhile, JUI(F) chief’s demand for the removal of Prime Minister Gilani has met with strong

IMF extension

Would it have been a tough decision for the IMF to extend Pakistan’s loan program? The Fund can be as testy as a coalition partner except, as opposed to the JUI(F), or even the MQM, it can wreak much greater havoc. An increased number of target killings here and there, deplorable as they may be, would pale in comparison with the machine of the state unable to keep afloat.
As opposed to coalition partners, however, it has to be granted that the Fund has been more than

Gone, sort of

Old habits die hard. Even in quitting government, the MQM hasn’t quite quit the government. We’re only quitting the cabinet, they say, not the treasury benches. Or the Sindh cabinet. And we’re doing this for the sake of democracy, which is, no doubt, very charitable.
Many reasons are being postulated by analysts for the decision though the MQM has yet to give a specific one. The party leaders have given many vague statements about unaddressed concerns. Like, one presumes, the one

BB’s murder

It is unfortunate that after three years of Benazir Bhutto’s murder the affair still remains a mystery. That this should happen with the PPP ruling the country is all the more worrisome. Many had hoped that with the resources at the disposal of the government, there would finally be breakthrough providing answers to a number of disturbing questions. Within months of the two attacks on Musharraf, security agencies had succeeded in discovering the culprits and in bringing them to the

Being cool

The PPP and PML(N) are gradually realising the need for sobriety while making comments about each other. This was evident from Law Minister Babar Awan’s press briefing as well as from the address delivered by Mian Nawaz Sharif at a rally in Muzaffarabad. While PPP’s central executive committee has strictly restrained its members from offering provocations to other parties, the PML(N) chief deflected the criticism that he had turned the party into a friendly opposition not by indulging

Words of praise

It was always very counter-intuitive. The late Richard Holbrooke, a career diplomat, was the straight-talking, undiplomatic bad cop. As opposed to professional solider Gen David Petraeus, boss of international forces in Afghanistan, who exudes the kind erudite diplomacy one would expect from a State Department official. Asked about a year ago about allegations that Pakistani spy agencies were maintaining links with terrorist networks, he replied, it is impossible to know about the

Stable government

Three different public addresses. The President in Karachi, PML(N) leader Nawaz Sharif in Muzaffarabad and MQM chief in Bhit Shah, Sindh through telephone. Though there was much huffing and puffing in all three, only the last two went about naming names. President Asif Ali Zardari’s address at the launch of a housing scheme for PIA employees was about the vaguely defined “killers of the Bhuttos”. He seemed to exude a confidence that belied the dire straits his coalition is in these

Three years on

The 27th of December is a day that will endure in the national consciousness as one of its worst. It was one of those few public tragedies that translate into quaintly personal ones. Regardless of one’s orientation on the political spectrum, the incident stabbed at the very same emotions that bind us all together. Even Lahore’s trading community, that ancient, immovable object, impervious to emotions, even for their own leaders, pulled down their shutters; not because the city was

The trilateral summit

With the US and its allies determined to complete combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, there is a dire need for increased cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Unless this happens, it may not be possible to ensure that the departure does not lead to lawlessness and a chaotic situation as it did in 1989. The recent trilateral summit between the Presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey has agreed upon two measures to make a beginning in the removal of the

A long war

Militants once again seem to have sprung into action in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Just a day after a bloody clash in Mohmand Agency which left 24 insurgents and 12 security personnel dead, 45 people were killed and more than 60 wounded when a suicide bomber ripped through a crowd at a distribution point of the World Food Programme in Khar, the main town of Bajaur, on Saturday morning. The bombing was the latest in a string of attacks in the troubled region. Militants