Friday, October 7, 2011

The Karachi judgement


The Supreme Court has read out its judgement in the Karachi suo motu case and here’s the bottom line: federal and provincial authorities have failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to protect law and order and, right under their noses, hundreds have been butchered on the turbulent streets of Karachi. The court has also candidly highlighted the role of political parties namely the MQM, the ANP, the PPP, Sunni Tehrik and Jamaat-e-Islami, etc – in nurturing and patronising criminals now involved in target killings, land grabbing, drug mafia, recovery of ‘bhutta’ (extortion money) as well as the forcible collection of skins of animals during Eid-ul-Azha. Due to the vested interests of these parties, and the criminals in their ranks, Karachi has turned into a turf war, says the SC. More depressingly, in light of overwhelming material brought before the court in daily situation reports of the Special Branch, IB and other sources, the court has been compelled to say that it will be hard to punish criminals for their crimes. The court was, after all, informed by none other than the inspector general of police that 40 percent of police officials had been recruited on political grounds and that he had little say even in transferring them. Thus, unless there is a complete change in the investigation process and improvement in the prosecution system by inducting non-political, honest and competent officers, nothing will change in Karachi. The court has also ordered the government to depoliticise the administration and prosecution. For this, it will monitor the functioning of Anti-Terrorism Courts through a nominee of the chief justice so that the vacancies of presiding officers and prosecutors are filled as early as possible and by following the right procedures. The court has ordered the deweaponisation of Karachi, banned ‘no go areas,’ and formed a committee to monitor the city’s law and order situation. The DG Rangers and IG police have been told to act without discrimination and a committee headed by the chief justice of Sindh will monitor their performance.

The SC has done a great job in its judgement of summing up the complexities of the Karachi situation and directly and tacitly pointing to those responsible for the grim state of affairs. What was till now public knowledge has become certified judicial fact. For this, the court deserves much praise, as it does for venturing into the murky issue of Karachi, full of pitfalls for the court itself. In sum, the SC deserves a tug of the forelock for its attempt to be more transparent, to educate the public, as well as adjudicate. However, it would have been even better had the court come up with more concrete short, medium and long-term measures for improving the situation – tangible milestones for the executive to follow to alleviate the plight of the masses. Nevertheless, with all said and done, the court’s suo motu notice of the Karachi situation and its subsequent ruling are the beginnings of a step in the right direction. In the next round, one hopes that the executive will do its part and follow the court’s guidelines, instead of being indifferent and hence creating room not just for more violence but also for the court to have to step in once more.

VIDEO: OCCUPY WALL STREET Protesters pepper sprayed by New York Police

Occupy Wall Street movement: Obama acknowledges protests as a sign of frustrations of US public

Concerns over Wall Street practices and economic inequality that have led to rallies across the United States reverberated up to the White House on Thursday, with President Barack Obama saying the protesters are expressing the frustrations of the American public.

Thousands of protesters, including many in union T-shirts, marched the day before in Manhattan. Protests continued Thursday in several cities, with about 500 union members, students, activists and others marching through Los Angeles. Police arrested about a dozen people who sat down in a Bank of America during that demonstration and refused to leave. The protests have slowly grown in size and attention over more than two weeks from their sleeping bag-strewn base in a city park, with Obama's acknowledgment a sign they might be forming into a political movement.

Obama told a news conference he understood the public's concerns about how the nation's financial system works and said Americans see Wall Street as an example of the financial industry not always following the rules.

``It expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street,'' the president said. ``And yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.''

He said, though, that the US must have a strong and effective financial sector for the economy to grow, and that the financial regulation bill he championed ensures tougher oversight of the financial industry.

The Occupy Wall Street protests started Sept. 17 with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp nearby in Zuccotti Park and have become increasingly organized, lining up medical aid and legal help and printing their own newspaper.

The protesters have varied causes and no apparent demands, but have spoken largely about unemployment and economic inequality, reserving most of their criticism for Wall Street. ``We are the 99 per cent,'' they chanted Wednesday, contrasting themselves with the wealthiest 1 per cent of Americans.

``The great thing about Occupy Wall Street is that they have brought the focus of the entire country on the middle class majority,'' said George Aldro, 62, a member of the United Auto Workers, as he carried the union's flag over his shoulder.

``We're in it together, and we're in it for the long haul.''
The unions were donating food, blankets and office space to the protesters, said Dan Cantor, head of the Working Families Party. But he said the young protesters would continue to head their own efforts. The movement lacks an identified leader, and decisions are made during group meetings.

``They're giving more to us than we're giving to them,'' Cantor said. ``The labor movement is following the youth of America today and that's a good thing.''

Nawaz Sharif staging sit-ins to hide own follies
Federal Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Wednesday reacting over Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s sit-in outside the Presidency, has said that its chief Nawaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan have become threats for democracy just like ‘dengue virus’.
Talking to media persons outside the Parliament House, the Information Minister said that PML-N should do its politics inside the Parliament House following the rule of law to bring an in-house change if it wanted. “It should give tough time to the government inside the Parliament as well as do politics of issues while avoid politics of confrontation outside the House,” she said adding that Nawaz was creating new crisis to appease his foreign masters. She further said that PML-N should stage protests while living within the parameters of democracy.
The Information Minister told reporters that PML-N had staged a sit-in against an elected President while its leadership never dared to take such steps against any dictator of military general. “Perhaps Nawaz Sharif did not like an elected president to sit in the presidency,” she said.
The Minister said that Nawaz League was doing this only to conceal its bad governance and mismanagement in Punjab. She said that President of Pakistan was a symbol of the Federation and Chaudhry Nisar was humiliating the Parliament and democracy by resorting to unnecessary criticism
She said that PML-N would have to face same defeat in the general election as that of elections of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. “Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party has always done politics of confrontation having negative behaviour as he is also a creation of same kind of politics,” the minister further informed. She said that the politics of sit-ins would not succeed in Pakistan as the nation was facing many other problems.
The Minister requested to the PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif to do politics of issues while reining in his unnecessary wishes for getting hold of power warning him other wise PPP parliamentarians while sitting in the Punjab Assembly would be bent upon agitation against the sitting government there. She said that PML-N leadership used to opt for migration from the country when the country was faced with any crisis like situation.
She informed that 3000 Mega Watt more electricity was being provided to the national grid on the directions of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and this would provide relief to masses.
The Information Minister said the government was taking all necessary steps to generate electricity from all available resources to end the menace of load shedding.
While responding to a question, the Information Minister said that such sit-ins were not a threat for the incumbent government as far as PPP had majority in the House.
To another question, she said that the decision of the apex court on unrest in Karachi would be implemented adding that the former interior minister Sindh Zulfiqar Mirza has given statement against MQM in its individual capacity not from the platform of the party.

Anti-Wall Street Protest Spreads To Washington

The anti-capitalist protests that began near Wall Street in New York are spreading to other cities. Unlike the Tea Party movement, which blames big government for America's economic problems, the so-called Occupy movement holds big business responsible. Our reporter went to its first rally in Washington, DC.

The drumbeat of the so called "Occupy" movement is getting louder, as it spreads from Wall Street to Washington, and spans generations.

"We have spent $3-trillion to send our kids to war," a group of older women sang from the stage. "Well no not all the kids, just the brown, the black, the poor."

Susan Arnett came from California to be at the protest.

"It is about the war," she said. "It is about the corruption. It is about the greed."

As in New York, anti-capitalism was a key theme of Occupy DC. The rally was symbolically held amidst the edifices of the U.S. government on Washington's Freedom Plaza.

There are a lot of different kinds of people here. There are war veterans, students, artists, even government employees, who feel that there is a lot wrong with America in areas like education, infrastructure, the spending on the war. And they are blaming a lot of it on the corporations in this country."

Jim Goodnow says America has changed since he was drafted for the Vietnam War.

"When I grew up we thought this was a country of 'We the people. Of the people, by the people, for the people.' Today, it is not. It is a corporation. It is a country of the corporations," said Goodnow.

Many young protesters say they were inspired by the Arab Spring and the "indignados" of Spain.
Lourdes Parallobre of Miami says she is about to graduate from university owing $20,000 in student loans.

"I have an endless amount of friends who have masters degrees, bachelors degrees, and are working in restaurants," said Parallobre. "And I am terrified that is going to happen to me."

The protesters marched to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and decried the power of the business interests it represents.

"They are sitting on $2-trilliion in profits right now, corporations are," said a protester. "Their taxes are at their lowest level in 50 years. Our unemployment rate is at nine percent."

The marchers, many of whom voted for Barack Obama, also stopped at the White House. Inside, the president acknowledged the movement for the first time.

"I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel," said President Obama. "

The Occupy protesters also got the support of organized labor on Wednesday. They are now setting up camp in Washington and hoping their movement gains momentum.