Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mehdi Hassan hospitalized

Ghazal maestro, Mehdi Hassan is in intensive care unit of a private hospital, Geo New reported. According to his son, Arif Mehdi, he was rushed to hospital after he suffered a bout of obstructive breathing disorder. Doctors have decided to keep him under observation for now.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari could be disqualified by top court

www.montrealgazette.com Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday warned it could disqualify both the president and prime minister from office for disobeying its orders to re-open high profile corruption cases. The court gave the government a one-week deadline to move forward stalled corruption proceedings against President Asif Ali Zardari and others but made no ruling, only outlining options to be reviewed by a larger panel of judges. The top court has been locked in a standoff with the government since December 2009, when judges ruled to scrap an amnesty that had allowed Zardari and 8,000 other people to escape possible corruption charges. There are more than 30 politicians who had cases against them withdrawn under the amnesty, which was passed in October 2007 by then-president Pervez Musharraf. The amnesty covers 3,478 cases ranging from murder, embezzlement and abuse of power to write-offs of bank loans worth millions of dollars. The court has insisted that with no amnesty now in place, the government must proceed with all corruption cases, including a multi-million-dollar money laundering case against Zardari in Switzerland that remains on hold. But the government has so far stalled on the court's request to send a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the case and to make progress on all other corruption cases. The Supreme Court said it was "dismayed" over the "brazen and blatant failure" of the government to implement court orders. Judge Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, presiding over a five-judge panel, said there was "at least prima facie evidence" that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was not an "honest" person because he had violated his oath, and accused Zardari of the same. Reading the order, Khosa said both Gilani and Zardari could be disqualified from parliament, effectively removing them from office, for violating their oaths of offices. The court listed six possible outcomes for the case, including the disqualification of the country's two top civilian leaders. Other options included the initiation of contempt proceedings against top officials, the setting up of a commission to implement the court's order or to put the issue to a countrywide vote.

'Sharif introduced NRO by signing agreement with Musharraf'

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday made public the agreement signed between former president Pervez Musharraf and the then prime minister, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif in 2000. Malik said that Sharif was the one who had introduced National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by reaching an agreement with the former military dictator. The agreement, which is titled “Confidentiality and Hold Harmless”, had been signed by Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Hussain Nawaz on December 6, 2000. Sharif, in the undertaking, acknowledges that he had approved the assistance in the negotiations on his behalf for his release from incarceration in Pakistan. “I’m thoroughly satisfied with the course and results of the negotiations – I also have been kept fully advised on the negotiations,” said the agreement signed by Sharif. Malik said that the Sharif family had violated the agreement as they had returned to Pakistan before the completion of 10 years. He added that Sharif had been in jail before the agreement had been signed and there were criminal cases pending against him.

Musharraf-Nawaz agreement disclosed

Interior Minister Rehman Malik presented the pardon agreement between former President Pervez Musharraf and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Geo News reported. The agreement was signed by Nawaz Sharif,Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Husain Nawaz. Malik said Nawaz Sharif was in jail and there were criminal cases pending against him.

Taliban politics....Pakistan's pro-taliban Politicians

DAILY TIME By: Kahar Zalmay The power base of anti-Taliban parties like the PPP is receding in Punjab, which should definitely worry the moderate elements in the country Pakistani politics is at a crossroads. It is torn between two extremes, a pro-Taliban and an anti-Taliban politics, and the coming years will determine which direction our politics take and so does the country. This is obvious from the support base that Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and his party enjoy. On the one hand, the politics of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have been leaning toward pro-Taliban elements but on the other hand three leading politicians, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Aftab Sherpao and Maulana Fazlur Rehman were directly attacked by the Taliban even though the latter refused to point fingers at the perpetrators for fear of more attacks. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been an irritant to the Taliban mindset and lost its leader, Benazir Bhutto, when she felt victim to a suicide attack apparently carried out by the Taliban. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has also stood its ground against the Taliban in Karachi and is determined to stick to its anti-Taliban politics in future. This theory of pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban politics gained momentum when the fortunes of Imran Khan changed during the latter part of last year and many politicians swarmed to his party, making him a potential contender for forming the new government. In his latest interview to a local TV channel he categorically said that he would not criticise the Taliban as he does not deem it good for his party and politics.
Shahbaz Sharif had also requested the Taliban not to attack his province — Punjab — as his party and the Taliban were on the same page.
Nawaz Sharif’s recent statement of setting up military courts in Karachi and his attempt in the late 90s to become Amir-ul-Momineen shows his tilt towards pro-Taliban politics. Politics is a process by which groups of people, say political parties, make collective decisions and run governmental and state affairs. A question arises that in the present circumstances, is it possible to do politics in Pakistan? Recently we have seen large gatherings from political parties across the country that to some analysts is an attestation of the readiness of the country for elections. Even though some believe that the space is shrinking for the anti-Taliban political groups after the Istehkam-e-Pakistan rally where even leaders of the banned militant groups delivered speeches with fiery denunciations, the way the pro-Taliban elements asserted themselves on the first death anniversary of Salmaan Taseer (may his soul rest in peace) gives a hint of the direction the country is heading. Previously it was Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the stage was set for pro-Taliban politics and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government was the natural outcome but in the coming elections, the pendulum seems to be shifting towards Punjab where the two major pro-Taliban parties (PTI and PML-N) will be competing against each other that will set the course of Pakistani politics as it is the power centre in Pakistan. Members of the banned groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) may switch their support from the PML-N to the PTI for its politics of anti-American sensationalism. Some even go a step further and predict a coalition government of the PML-N and PTI joined by the MQM in Sindh. The power base of anti-Taliban parties like the PPP is receding in Punjab, which should definitely worry the moderate elements in the country.
The rising support for Imran Khan, especially among the youth, will worry many political commentators who believe that the way Imran Khan has been supporting the Taliban and tribal justice is dangerous for future politics in Pakistan. But to add to their disappointment, another major party, the PML-N, is leaving no stone unturned to carry the audience.
Some analysts do argue that as long as the American forces are present in Afghanistan, the pro-Taliban politics will flourish for the simple reason that our politics is American-centric. Others may reject that argument on the outcome of the last elections when anti-Taliban parties like the Awami National Party (ANP) and the PPP came into power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province directly affected by the Afghan conflict for more than three decades. The latter bunch of analysts believes that the element of the American presence in Afghanistan is just a propaganda used for fomenting pro-Taliban politics in Pakistan. So far the province of Sindh is immune to pro-Taliban politics. In the urban centres, the MQM is not willing to lose its power base to the religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Sunni Tehreek, which staunchly support pro-Taliban politics. In rural Sindh, the PPP seems to have the support of the people for reasons that it is a Sindh-based party and Talibanisation has not seeped into the province so far. The concept of modern politics is yet to hold ground in Balochistan as tribal affiliation is more important than making an independent decision to vote for a candidate in the elections. The small population of Balochistan is also a factor that makes it irrelevant to national politics. But the critical question is where does the military establishment stand and which politics will it lend support to. The military support to any of the two politics, pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban, will determine which politics will prevail in Pakistan. That is a question whose answer needs to be sought in the coming years.

Pakistan bomb kills 35 in deadliest attack in months

A remote-controlled bomb blast killed 35 people and wounded more than 60 others on Tuesday in the deadliest attack in months in the Taliban-hit tribal region of northwest Pakistan. The explosion took place in a market in Jamrud, one of the towns of the troubled Khyber tribal region, which also used to serve as the main supply route for NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. "The total number of deaths in the blast is 35 while 69 people were wounded, and of them the condition of 11 is critical," a senior administration official, Shakeel Khan Umarzai, told AFP. Another top official in Khyber, Mutahir Zeb, said the target of the attack was not immediately clear. "According to initial information, it was a remote controlled device planted in a passenger pickup van," he said. Pakistan's remote and lawless northwestern region is a stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives and other Islamist militants opposed to the government. Insurgents largely based in the tribal border lands have carried out bomb and gun attacks killing more than 4,700 people across Pakistan since July 2007. But the market attack was the first major Islamist militant attack in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 46 people, targeting anti-Taliban militia at a funeral in the northwestern district of Lower Dir on September 15. Pakistan has battled a homegrown insurgency for years, with more than 3,000 soldiers killed in the battle against militancy. On Monday Pakistani authorities recovered the bodies of 10 soldiers in an exchange of bodies with Taliban militants following a clash two weeks ago in the tribal belt. An official with the military's media wing said the soldiers had been missing in Orakzai district since December 21 when rebels attacked a checkpost and killed 13 others. That exchange came four days after the corpses of 15 members of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Constabulary were found in the northwestern town of Shawa, in North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, almost two weeks after they were kidnapped. There were about 120 bomb attacks in Pakistan in 2011 and the same number in 2010 according to an AFP tally -- an increase from 2009, but far below the violence of 2009 when there were more than 200 bomb blasts. The latest attack comes as the northwest border crossing for NATO supplies remains closed to trucks bound for foreign troops fighting in neighbouring Afghanistan following a crash in US-Pakistan relations in the wake of deadly NATO airstrikes on November 26 that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan rejected the results of the military coalition's investigation into the incident and said the strikes had been a deliberate act of aggression, leaving relations floundering between the uneasy anti-terror allies.