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Pakistan Press (12 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



It’s A Girl! By Hafsah Sarfraz: New Age Islam's Selection, 12 October 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

12 October 2017

It’s A Girl!

By Hafsah Sarfraz

Pakistan’s Path to Sanity

By Talat Masood

A Frustrated Establishment

By Obed Pasha

Where Are We Heading?

By Imtiaz Alam

Our Perception Problem

By Raja Omer Shabbir

A ‘White Mutiny’ In Store

By Zulfiquar Rao

The Crisis Of Pakistani Democracy

By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Another Trump Blunder

By Harlan Ullman

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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It’s A Girl!

By Hafsah Sarfraz

October 11, 2017

“It’s a girl.” In Pakistan, this statement scares most families regardless of their socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Pregnant women are seen hiding the gender of their child, gynaecologists are hesitant to inform future parents that they are having a girl and people in our part of the world reach all limits to try and ensure they have a son.

It’s a sad reality, one that I came to terms with when a friend of mine who was expecting for the first time told me that she wants to have a son, because if her first child is a son, her life will be easier. Another friend tried to inquire the gender of the baby so she could shop accordingly, but the gynaecologist insisted that the gender isn’t clear in the reports. After much insistence and admitting that the couple really indeed wants a daughter, the gynaecologist hesitantly admitted that it’s a girl.

The girl-child phenomenon may seem big in Pakistan but it prevails across the globe, being more prominent in developing countries and particularly the subcontinent. Even in today’s day and age, girls are seen struggling for their right to education, health and safety. It is, thus, that the United Nations declared October 11th the International Day of the Girl Child in 2012 aiming to address the challenges and highlighting the needs that girls face. The day aims to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights, which is also an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

While the UN may be investing their efforts in realising the true potential of young girls, upholding their rights and promising them a more just and equitable future across the globe and in Pakistan, their efforts alone are insufficient. These efforts need to be backed with support from the grassroots level and communities, which can only be done when all of us join hands to empower the girl-child.

In Pakistan, it is a painfully gradual process but fortunately, the first step has been taken and we are already on the path to women empowerment. However, as with any journey, continuing and remaining dedicated on the path is more challenging than taking the first step. The development sector and the government are joining hands to create equal educational opportunities for both boys and girls. They are channelling their efforts to give girl-children access to health services, stop child marriages and give the girl-child the right to life. However, it is now time that society played a role, too.

It begins with ending discrimination at homes, which may start with small steps like buying the same toys for both genders, giving equal pocket money and sending sons and daughters to the same school so they grow up with similar aspirations and an equal self-confidence. On an individual basis, if we check off these items during a self-evaluation, we need to take the next step, which can begin by encouraging your driver or maid to send their daughters to school and invest in them. Volunteering at girls’ schools and sponsoring education of a girl-child are some of the many ways we can eliminate the impression that the girl-child is a burden.

The change has begun. It began when Malala spoke about her rights and her father stood behind her, it began when our audiences were prepared for a TV show called Sammi, which ended with a father of five daughters admitting that he doesn’t want a son. It began when a close friend, who may not be proud to call himself a feminist, told me that he wants to raise his daughter like a tigress and not a princess. I knew the change has begun when the maid who works at my place told me that her only child is a daughter and she would be happy to put her through school and make sure she leads a successful life, instead of giving birth year after year in an attempt to have a son. The change has indeed begun and we just need to make sure it continues till we reach that day when the gynaecologist doesn’t hesitate to say, “It’s a girl.”

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1527849/its-a-girl-2/

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Pakistan’s Path to Sanity

By Talat Masood

October 11, 2017

Pakistan remains mired in its own follies. There is not one but several examples that one can quote when its policies have been self-destructive. But the most frequent, damaging and obvious is the civil-military divide.

This is no ordinary matter that can continue to be overlooked and accepted as fait accompli for it has cost the nation grief, lowered its international image, reduced national power and allowed foreign powers to exploit the weakness. The latest manifestation of this is when Ahsan Iqbal was denied entry into the courtroom where the trial of Nawaz Sharif was in progress. It was a bizarre spectacle and should be a matter of serious concern. Who was right or who was wrong can be debated endlessly. But what is significant it demonstrates the lack of trust and divisions between civilian and military outfits. Adding to these concerns was the marathon corps commanders’ conference that lasted seven hours and ended without the formal ISPR statement or a tweet giving a clear signal that all is not well. And the subsequent press briefing by the DG ISPR left no one in doubt as to who was in charge.

Irrespective of which institution is more or less credible, Pakistan clearly is its first casualty when institutions lack harmony. Its reputation, dignity, national power and international prestige do get compromised. This clearly indicates that in Pakistan narrow institutional interests supersede genuine national benefits.

What event or (God forbid) greater catastrophe would shake us to correct our national direction? Loss of East Pakistan, the shame that the Kargil adventure brought us to name a few, was not enough. To expect that the current joint US-India pressure will shake us from this slumber will be an over-optimistic expectation.

We have a history when institutions have tried to weaken political parties through manipulation by making them fight one another. Or play with election outcomes and maintain their superiority. The most classic example of this meddling occurred in the 1990s with one of the major political parties being an accomplice in it. One only hopes that political parties and the military have learnt from the past and will not make the same mistake again.

When General Musharraf wanted to make peace with India and settle the Kashmir dispute by accepting the status quo with minor changes, it found broad acceptability. But when the PML-N leadership and other political parties want to engage with India and open trade and commerce and place the issue of Kashmir at the back burner until relations between the two countries improve there is a completely different response. Although in the not too distant future, with resistance to Indian occupation increasing especially in the valley, it is very much in the realm of possibility that India may be left with no option but to seek a political resolution of the dispute. This may turn out to be a better option for the beleaguered Kashmiris.

Having a different approach or policy should not be branded as a sell-out of core interests. Apart from being a democratic norm to hold different views there is no exclusivity or monopoly in patriotism.

What is conveniently ignored that foreign countries, especially India and the US, take full advantage of this civil-military divide. Washington prefers to talk to the military command in Pakistan rather than the civilian leadership. The latest meetings of President Ashraf Ghani with the COAS indicate the same. They know where the hub of power lies.

A more distressing feature is that the civil-military divide is getting wider. This trend is more obvious since removal of the Prime Minister by the judiciary. There is little realisation that internal feuding is harming the country. In all probability it will intensify, as we get closer to election time.

Just as individuals do not voluntarily abandon power so do institutions as experience of ours and other countries reminds us. If our civilian leadership on both sides of the aisle were to rise above the present quibbling, make a determined effort at improving performance in governance, legislation and addressing economic challenges there is possibility that it will instill confidence in the people and the military leadership to move towards being a normal democratic country. But it is a big “if” and my readers probably would tell me “dream on”. They would be justified in being dismissive and pessimistic but my question to them and others, is there an alternative. Can this country afford this slippery path with all the challenges hovering around?

As a first initiative, the Senate chairman’s proposal to initiate a dialogue between institutions should be taken seriously. I would suggest that if there are constitutional or traditional impediments a retired chief justice or Supreme Court judge could be a part of this panel instead of the serving one. There is, however, an urgency of constituting this body as elections are round the corner and more importantly to deflect external pressure that keeps mounting, as they perceive our internal weaknesses. In parallel our think tanks should seriously address this problem and suggest ways how other nations struggling with similar problems were able to overcome them.

All this would only be possible when the stakeholders recognise the seriousness of our internal crisis and are willing to and have the ability to take a more radical approach at setting it right.

It would be no exaggeration to expect that if progress were made in this sphere space for improvement in several areas of governance and policy would emerge. If need is felt that Pakistan due to its unique history and circumstances requires transitional solutions without losing sight of the ultimate goal of a true democratic state these could also be adopted by consensus.

Politics of hate and continuous lashing of political opponents further weakens our fragile democracy and makes the task of improving the lives of the people difficult. For years the country has suffered from religious, sectarian and ethnic bigotry and civil-military imbalance. It is time institutions started working in unison to actualise the positive potential of our nation.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1527845/pakistans-path-sanity/

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A Frustrated Establishment

By Obed Pasha

12-Oct-17

This is a moment of deep crisis for the Pakistani establishment. Its troubles began with Nawaz Sharif’s unexpected decision to protest his disqualification by holding rallies along the GT Road as he travelled from Islamabad to his home base in Lahore. The outpouring of massive crowds in his support turned him into the most popular leader of the country almost overnight. Since then, the powers-that-be have been struggling to preserve their control over the socio-political order of the country.

They understand that their strength comes not from the barrel of the gun, but from a perception among the citizens that the true power lies with it instead of the elected government. Any threat to this perception is aggressively countered using influence in the media, the judiciary, and the opposition political parties. These tactics were perfected under General Kayani when the Zardari government was successfully weakened through judicial activism backed by extensive media coverage and agitation by opposition parties, including the PMLN. Meanwhile, the establishment enjoyed absolute control over the country’s policy matters behind the scenes without taking the blame for direct intervention.

The same formula was successfully used under General Raheel Sharif to keep the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ambitions in check. Although Nawaz Sharif withdrew his claim over security and international issues early in his tenure, he refused to extend Raheel Shareef’s stint as the Chief of Army Staff despite considerable efforts from the establishment including sit-ins by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri. Furthermore, Nawaz snubbed Raheel Sharif’s recommendation for his replacement and chose General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief instead of General Nadeem Ashfaque. Soon the then Prime Minister started sitting in commanding positions during his meetings with General Bajwa, which dented the establishment’s boastful image in the public.

The powers-that-be understand that their strength comes from a perception among the citizens that the true power lies with them. Any threat to this perception is aggressively countered using influence in the media, the judiciary, and the opposition political parties

These events coupled with the imminent win for Nawaz Sharif in the 2018 elections should have sounded the alarm for the establishment. Setting a precedent to refuse extensions for army chiefs would put prime ministers in the privileged position to select new chiefs every three years, encouraging junior three-star generals to seek favour from the Prime Minister to move up the ranks. Once regular election cycle becomes the accepted norm, a gradual reduction in the establishment’s control over the society is only inevitable. In reaction to this looming threat, the powers-that-be had to act quickly before the 2018 elections are called by banking on their tested formula of ousting the prime minister using the judiciary, opening floodgates of media-led denunciation of the ruling party, and encouraging the opposition parties to pounce on the opportunity to cripple the government.

However, strategies developed to keep elected governments on their toes were hastily applied to pull the rug under the Nawaz government, and the move backfired. Far from embarrassing Nawaz Sharif, the ouster has allowed him to amass public sympathy for being disqualified over frivolous charges. His rallies have turned into a populist movement and further strengthened his control over the party as mid-tier leadership realised that the voting masses stand with Nawaz. The anti-establishment Maryam Nawaz has emerged as a capable leader and improved her profile within the party. She proved her mettle in the NA-120 by-election, securing a win for her mother Kulsoom Nawaz amid ecstatic displays of popular support during the campaign.

The establishment had probably wished someone like Chaudhary Nisar or Shahbaz Sharif to replace Nawaz as the prime minister. Instead, Nawaz Sharif appointed his loyalist Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the top slot. Although General Bajwa now gets to sit next to the Prime Minister in televised meetings, Abbasi echoes the need for putting the house in order. Such talk frustrates the establishment as it is not yet ready to forego its assets in the militant Islamist organisations. The newly appointed Foreign Minster Khawaja Asif has emerged as an articulate defender of Pakistan’s foreign policy in a very short time, which not only dispels propaganda about the incompetence of elected leaders, but also allows the government to reclaim the foreign policy domain.

Ahsan Iqbal, the new Minister for Interior, created history last week by challenging the insubordination of Rangers as it occupied the court premises where Nawaz Sharif was appearing before an accountability judge. Not only did Ahsan Iqbal made his objection public, he promised to hold an inquiry into the matter. This does not bode well for the powers-that-be as this is clearly a move by the minister to take some control over the country’s national security issues. The former should be getting nostalgic about simpler times when only a few months back there was no foreign minister to speak on international affairs, and Chaudhary Nisar served as an ineffective Minister of Interior towing their policies.

To add to the internal pressure, the international community is showing its displeasure toward Pakistan for harbouring designated terrorist groups such as the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed. All signs show that the US is serious this time and won’t allow the establishment to continue such policies without consequences. The establishment has used these groups since long to leverage its position in Afghanistan and India. It is also accustomed to use these groups to consolidate its position in local politics. In the recent NA-120 by-election, for example, extremist militant organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehreek Labbaik were allowed to contest elections to weaken the PMLN’s position.

Such moves show that the powers-that-be are quickly running out of options to manage the fallouts of Nawaz Sharif’s ouster. The more they try to use the courts, the media, and the opposition parties; the more they expose themselves to the public and lose control over the country’s affairs. It remains to be seen whether this frustration will make way for desperate steps.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/12-Oct-17/a-frustrated-establishment

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Where Are We Heading?

By Imtiaz Alam

October 12, 2017

Everything seems to be going wrong; the path of self-destruction that we took in the 1970s is not letting us avert the doom which now seems imminent. It is a total crisis and everybody is at war with everybody as we become more vulnerable to our suicidal temptations. Is this a revolutionary situation or an impending doom?

New rounds of brinkmanship are setting the shape of things that may further deteriorate the conditions of our survival amid frantic calls to foil ‘foreign security threats’ and ‘internal enemies’. New clouds of uncertainty are emerging as we seem to be trying to play around our fault-lines with the same delusional mindset or tactical manoeuvres. Even though some of the indicators are self-explanatory, we are not inclined to act in a rational and objective manner.

The subsidiary games that we played too long as a client state of the US are now boomeranging on our domineering national security structures in a reversed strategic environ. For too long we saw the Afghan Taliban leadership as an asset – at a very high cost for our own people and our soldiers in the hope of  maintaining leverage in the post-war settlement in Afghanistan. This very strategic asset is now being seen by the US and Nato as “agents of chaos” being harboured by Pakistan. The tables were turned against us when India became a strategic partner in the coalition of forces holding seat of authority in Kabul (instead of the Taliban). And the TTP also got sanctuaries on the other side of the Durand Line.

As the strategic environ turns hostile to us, we are again trying to mitigate it by some tactical appeasements. Our security paradigms have largely failed and we are averse to critical retrospection. Our so-called defence analysts are too busy selling phony justifications for our fatal blunders on the pretext of, as Gen Ehsan puts it: ‘that was right at that time, this [the policy today] is right now’. It means that the masters of our security were never wrong and whoever dares to disagree is an ‘enemy agent’. The chips will be down this very month or the next month about where we stand. The only option is ‘with us’ – and strictly on their terms.

On the other hand, the World Bank, which we hate, is rightly cautioning against a brewing financial crisis on the external account that may lead to a state of insolvency by 2018-19. The current account deficit is going to climb up to $17 billion in this fiscal year. It is yet to be seen whether the Abbasi government will go to the IMF or leave it to an interim setup one doesn’t know about. It’s just not a fiscal or financial crisis that the IMF can help postpone. It is in fact a crisis of economic dependency of an unsustainable model of growth of a client state that nurses temptations of defiance while suspecting the whole world and fighting all its neighbours. Not just economics but political economy has pushed us on the path of a warrior state with a fragile economic base and disappropriation of its people. Certain leading economists are not ready to say all this in the face of the establishment – since they have always been a part of it.

The political crisis created with the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has further deepened the conflict among the country’s institutions, despite a smooth change of government. Even though the Abbasi government is trying to observe the rules of governance, opposite pulls are keeping the kettle boiling. The smear campaign against politicians as a class, the PML-N and the PPP in particular, is now at its zenith with Imran Khan desperately trying to replace an assertive Nawaz Sharif as an establishment candidate. Parallel to the weakening and de-legitimisation of mainstream politicians, we are witnessing the mainstreaming of fringe extremist outfits as a counter-weight to liberal parliamentary forces.

As the ‘deep state’ gets alarmed at the gathering storm of new security challenges, it seems to be worried by civilian disorder. It seems to be increasingly inclined to interfere in various spheres – from the economy to constitutional irritants and information to governance. The way the media has been influenced and the way politicians have been so maligned show how wonderfully the Pasha-Kayani model has worked to overwhelm the civilian setup. As things have not changed the way it was expected they would, despite the ouster of stubborn Nawaz Sharif, old and rotten technocratic recipes are being brought into the public discourse on a tamed and soulless media. In a recent television show, two retired generals and a brigadier were quite vocal in their impatience about the civilian disorder; one of them even shared the ‘good news’ of turning the page on prevalent politics “soon”.

There cannot be a worse recipe than a so-called ‘technocrat government’ in these testing times of international isolation and near-insolvency. We have seen these kinds of shenanigans in the past and we have also seen their horrible consequences. The solution lies not in the overthrow of the representative system but in making the system work and letting the democratic transition move ahead. Unfortunately, politicians from across the opposition are too obsessed with expeditiously benefiting from the plight of former prime minister.

As efforts are afoot to dislodge the former prime minister from Punjab and the PPP from Sindh, Imran Khan is trying to win the space as an alternative of the establishment – what Nawaz Sharif once was against Benazir Bhutto. Before losing his democratic credentials again, Khan must learn from the ouster of a popular prime minister that a popular leader like him cannot fit into the shoes of the establishment. Interestingly, its only Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari who are well aware of the ongoing game, with the latter trying to make his way through the political puzzle. But Zardari is trying to be too clever, and may eventually have to join hands with his adversaries to stop the democratic transition from being derailed again.

This is a very complex and demanding situation. The major players in the power game must know that there are much greater restraints, which if crossed would hurt the country most. Are we actually clear about the extent of the ‘external threats’ and the nature of our ‘internal enemies’? Do we know the art of not increasing enemies while not clinging to those who are our real ‘internal enemies’? If not, then are we moving towards another disaster?

If we go by our history, it may yet be another national catastrophe in making. This is also not a revolutionary situation that could have suited a revolutionary republican party – which is also not there.  This is rather the coming of doom. I wish I am proven wrong.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/236384-Where-are-we-heading

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Our Perception Problem

By Raja Omer Shabbir

October 12, 2017

One doesn’t have to be a diplomat based in Washington to know that Pakistan is facing bit of an image problem internationally. In fact the word doing the rounds is ‘growing international isolation’.

The US is increasingly vocal about its frustration and lack of results in the Afghan theatre. The new narrative being cast is that Pakistan is the last hurdle to the elusive victory. This only means that Pakistan is going to be the whipping boy of the West yet again.

I get to travel occasionally to client sites abroad as part of my profession. At present, I am in the UK, and it’s been almost six months here. Here I have met a lot of people from different walks of life, from bus drivers, receptionists, barmen, amateur athletes, and street performers to CEOs, managers and business executives. My interest in current affairs drives me to learn what all these people think about the world, particularly Pakistan. The news from here is that the negative branding we are getting in the media as Pakistanis is adversely impacting how we are perceived here.

Our second identity as Muslims is also viewed with suspicion because of rising Islamophobia in the West. Unfortunately, a majority of the acts classified under terrorism in the international press have been linked with Muslims or those organisations which preach ultra-violence as a tool to further presumably Muslim causes; this only adds to the current atmosphere of mistrust. This is not to say that Western reporting on covering acts of terrorism has been completely impartial. In the Las Vegas terror attack a significant portion of social media users bemoaned the refrain in using the word terrorism for the incident; it was obvious that the word terrorism is used selectively for Muslims alone.

If things stay their current course we should all foresee an increased challenge in finding acceptability as individuals and as countrymen in the West. Our narrative on world affairs is not finding any traction in power centers across the world from where it can be echoed further to the rest of the world.

However, this is not to say that all our ills boil down to just external factors. We have learnt through deadly trial and error that our policies of the past need to be shunned. It is encouraging to see major stakeholders in the country appealing to the public to reject all forms of extremism. Still there is more to do in terms of reaching a consensus.

There needs to be more harmony amongst all segments of society that working with proscribed organisations is counter-productive to voicing our concerns internationally. There should be increased awareness that these organisations are mostly a tool for furthering proxy wars as we have seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria where the greatest victims of a proxy war are the ordinary citizens and public infrastructure. The stigma attached with a country which becomes a playground for proxy wars is hard to wash away. Vivid visuals make for vivid memories which are like stubborn stains, hard to erase, and whose ripple effect is felt for years to come.

Expat Pakistanis also have a greater responsibility in these trying times. I have found Pakistanis abroad getting into their comfort zone far too quickly by finding fellow Pakistanis and sticking with them rather than having a greater drive to meet new people and showcase our culture and what we have to offer to them. The focus of expats should be their role as positive influencers in society. Once this aspect is recognised, our narratives and our perceptions will change automatically. Encouragingly, I have met a lot of people abroad who are kind hearted and well-meaning individuals who are more than willing to accommodate Pakistanis and Muslims in their societies.

Our perception abroad should also be viewed as an extension of our domestic politics. The local media is a microcosm of the extent of political polarisation in our society at the moment. Panellists and opinion makers are driving the caustic attitudes of people towards each other. The image of a deposed prime minister running from pillar to post to plead his case amidst a trial makes for a poor showing abroad. Despite our realisation of our internal and external challenges, the way forward is murky for major stakeholders. This is a time for national unity and cohesion but the entire nation watches every news bulletin with bated breath. Need one say more?        

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/236387-Our-perception-problem

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A ‘White Mutiny’ In Store

By Zulfiquar Rao

12-Oct-17

In the history of British India, Lord Ripon is remembered as the most humane viceroy that the Crown ever sent to rule the subcontinent. Having repealed the Vernacular Press Act in 1882 that the Indians had demanded so vociferously, Lord Ripon encouraged CP Ilbert, law member of his viceroy council, to draft an extraordinary bill, which, along with local government powers to Indians, aimed to empower local Indian judges to try the British and European residents of India. The idea of Indian judges trying British defendants was hitherto unimaginable for the colonisers. Consequently, the backlash from British and Europeans was unprecedentedly harsh.

The white expatriates of India boycotted Lord Ripon. British politicians and media in England too were equally incensed. Reporting that a White Mutiny was stirring in India, leading newspapers such as Daily Telegraph commented, “On the day when we surrender the rights and privileges of superior strength and ethnical rank in India, we invite our own expulsion”. Other newspapers also criticised the proposed law with similar racial disdain against Indians. Pressure from opposition parties back home, British expatriates in India, and English media was so overwhelming that the bill was modified beyond recognition. Ripon had to be removed prematurely within a year of this crisis.

The Ripon episode came to my mind as I saw last week Supreme Court rejected the petition to make judges and generals accountable on the same yardstick with politicians and civil servants, calling it mala fide; then, an in-camera meeting of the parliamentary committee on new accountability law also failed to reach a consensus on how judges and generals could be brought under the purview of this law. While we have started seeing resistance to such an across the board accountability of the public office holders beyond politicians and civil servants, the uproar and clamor against such an inclusive accountability will likely get harsher if the parliamentarians move forward with law.

The current law of accountability was the brainchild of General Pervez Musharraf, a military usurper, in 1999. While Musharraf's accountability law could try public office-holders, civil servants, politicians and even civilians, it so conveniently excluded the officers of the armed forces as well as judges of superior courts

Hitherto the civilian regimes were never any close to having a will and strength to legislate laws for an inclusive accountability where none is spared and where the accountability is not just internal. The current law of accountability was the brainchild of General Pervez Musharraf, a military usurper, in 1999. While Musharraf’s accountability law could try public office-holders, civil servants, politicians and even civilians, it so conveniently excluded the officers of the armed forces as well as judges of superior courts.

Oft-repeated justification for excluding the judges and generals from a common and transparent accountability is derived from the potential threats to, for instance, independence of judiciary and national interest in case of military. Consequently, the judges and generals are subjected to internal accountability mechanism, which has led these mechanisms to be rather secretive and lacking transparency in the eyes of public. As for the judiciary, the fact is that we haven’t seen a single judge of the High Courts and Supreme Court removed from office on charges of corruption as a result of internal accountability through Supreme Judicial Council. The system is such that we even don’t have briefest information about any past cases or how many complaints the supreme judicial council has addressed so far since 1973.

At least there are frequent cases of accountability within military corridors. Just last year, we saw around a dozen senior officers of armed forces sentenced through military’s internal accountability mechanism. However, in cases of corruption at a senior level, it’s actually a collegial mechanism exposed to empathy as a result of Espirit De Corps. Many in public have often found the punishments through internal mechanism of military, especially in cases of corruption as too soft, compared to what a civilian is subjected to in similar cases.

Besides, there are instances where the accused ex-servicemen could not be brought to justice. One such case is of a retired General, who as a minister was accused of leading the controversial leasing of railways land worth Rs 25 billion in Lahore to a private company which built a golf course there.

Seen from the perspective of our societal character, we all know how favoritism, nepotism, greed, fears and graft are rampant in Pakistan. This is not only practiced by the politicians and civil servants, but the judges and generals are guilty of the same acts. How come while politicians and civil servants are so frequently found fallible but the judges and generals are able to escape the human temptations which are the hallmark of our society? In that context, what kind of accountability is it when the process is internal and remains shrouded in mystery and flimsy excuses? We are no longer a colony run by alien rulers to justify an apartheid-driven governance, where some are left to enjoy ‘white’ privileges.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/12-Oct-17/a-white-mutiny-in-store

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The Crisis of Pakistani Democracy

By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

October 11, 2017

Any democratic rule merely resting on the procedure of elections and winning a comfortable number of seats to form a government may not remain legitimate or provide political stability to a country. The lesson we can learn from the development of democracy in other countries is that there are certain pre-requisites, which are social-structural, institutional and cultural which make consolidation and growth of democracy possible. It is the absence of some of these necessary requirements due to which we see a consistent historical pattern of conflictive civil-military relations, confrontation among the political forces to make the system collapse and persistent cycles of instability in the country. The contemporary political scene of Pakistan symbolises a much deeper crisis of democracy more than the individuals, institutional imbalance and the courts exerting their constitutional power.

What are these necessary elements that are absent or weak in Pakistani democracy? For brevity of space, let us consider only three most important requirements. First is a democratic leadership that is intellectually rooted in democratic philosophy and embraces its foundational values, norms and attitudes. In countries like ours, there is hardly any meaningful debate or even basic education about what democratic philosophy or its values are. In this philosophy, the right to govern belongs to people which the elected representatives exercise as a matter of delegated trust and only in support of public interest. The understanding of ‘right to rule’ is perverted and limited to seeking votes, getting elected and forming governments. These are basic and procedural matters to transfer right-to-rule from people to the representatives.

Getting elected and assuming public offices imposes obligation of empowering people through education, good governance and economic welfare — the most important part of the social contract. Never in history, have the representative governments in Pakistan honoured their part of the contract with the spirit and commitment that democratic philosophy would require one to do. The reason is that ruling classes in feudal societies use democratic procedures to legitimise their traditional social power. They feel insecure about the spread of true democracy, as it would empower lower and middle classes that might successfully challenge their power.

The ruling groups have formed cliques, terming them political parties that a few individuals dominate and maintain a dynastic control. The social structures of the country being predominantly feudalistic in orientation have sustained a class of leaders from members of the assemblies to the cabinet and highest offices that are part of the dynastic politics. The democratic competition remains confined only to members of that social class. The political contest is theoretically opened but practically closed to other classes. This demonstrates the fact that true democracy from one social class to another has yet to take place. Compared to our country, many other parties, leaders of other countries, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi have emerged in India that have successfully challenged and replaced the conventional ruling groups.

Unlike many other transitional democracies, the political culture of the ruling classes of Pakistan has remained authoritarian, class based and discriminatory. Their style of governance favours the privileged, protects privileges and runs on patronage. They use public funds from running commercials to announcing inauguration of development projects to even some ordinary achievements to employment in public sector along with administrative interventions to garner and maintain a support base. This is pure politics at public expense. This has generated discontent and low ownership of democracy among the general masses. That is the reason why the ruling groups when thrown out of power unconstitutionally find little sympathy or support.

Finally, the present class of ‘democratic’ leadership that has flourished on corruption and patronage politics is not willing to embrace the rule of law and accountability so easily without which ‘democracy’ is bound to run into trouble.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1527835/crisis-pakistani-democracy/

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Another Trump Blunder

By Harlan Ullman

12-Oct-17

Bucharest, Romania: Last week, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump would decertify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If fully honored, that agreement would prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. However, the specifics of what the US would or and would not do especially regarding the re-imposition of sanctions will have to await the president’s planned speech to the nation.

Critics of the agreement argue that Iranian ballistic missile programs and Tehran’s ‘meddling’ in the region are unacceptable and should have been part of the JCPOA. Further, critics urged by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu predict that the agreement gives Iran a path to nuclearisation by delaying and not preventing that result. It is too bad these critics either never read the JCPOA or refuse to acknowledge its contents.

The fact is that this agreement’s sole purpose was to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons. Restraining Iran’s other weapons programs and engagement in the region was not and could not be accomplished by this or any agreement until some form of improved relations were re-established between Washington and Tehran. And it was clear in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that the real security experts in the administration — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford — believed that the US should abide by the JCPOA.

It is no accident that Saudi King Salman just visited Moscow in a flirtation with President Vladimir Putin even though Mr Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson performed the sword dance in Riyadh earlier this year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s journey to Tehran is also no mere coincedence. These and other leaders are well aware of Mr Trump’s shortcomings and will exploit them

It is true that the president is commander-in-chief. It is also true that prior to taking office, Mr Trump has absolutely no experience in national security issues. And it appears true that the president still has no understanding of what he is doing regarding national security and foreign policy.

The litany of errors, miscalculations and other blunders made by the White House is uniquely long even given that the first year of any new administration is always marked by such shortcomings. So far, the president has not presided over catastrophes such as the Bay of Pigs when a naïve young John Kennedy authorised the failed invasion of Cuba in April 1961 or when George W Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Still, the damage inflicted on the nation’s security by this administration is serious and is only likely to get worse.

What drove Mr Trump to this decision probably never will be known. Given his past performance, this was likely instinctive and reactive and not thoughtful or well-reasoned despite the caliber of his key national security team including Lt Gen H R McMaster. And what the president hoped to achieve by decertification is mind-boggling.

North Korea is far from resolved. Kim Jung Un has nuclear and possibly thermonuclear weapons and long-range missiles. At some point, the former will be mated to the latter. Then ‘rocket man’ will have the ability to destroy several cities even in the United States. Given that Kim will never abandon these weapons voluntarily, the last thing the US needs to do is to provide Iran with an excuse to become a nuclear weapons state.

The most likely consequence is that sanctions will not be re-imposed and decertification will be a warning to Iran. Hence, this brouhaha could be seen as much ado about very little. Unfortunately, what may play well to the president’s base and the right wing of the Republican Party will be taken as even more evidence abroad that the Trump administration cannot be trusted to honor its commitments including those that are in the nation’s best interest.

It is no accident that Saudi King Salman just visited Moscow in a flirtation with President Vladimir Putin even though Mr Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson performed the sword dance in Riyadh earlier this year. Nor did President Recep Tayyip Erdogan journey to Tehran on a holiday. These and other leaders are well aware of Mr Trump’s shortcomings and will exploit them. This is especially true in Europe where many Europeans have grave doubts that in a crisis, Mr Trump would standby NATO’s Article 5 meaning an attack against one is considered an attack against all.

In considering what to do about the JCPOA and paranoia about Iran, here is a simple question to answer. Given one choice, would you live in Iran or in Saudi Arabia? And if you were a woman, how would you answer?

Iran is certainly no friend. But an Iran bound by the JCPOA is infinitely better than decertification that panders to a small minority of Americans and inflicts further damage to the nation’s security.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/12-Oct-17/another-trump-blunder

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/it’s-a-girl!-by-hafsah-sarfraz--new-age-islam-s-selection,-12-october-2017/d/112850




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