Saturday, March 3, 2012

China offers plan on Syria but nixes intervention

China offered a proposal Sunday to end the violence in Syria, calling for an immediate cease-fire and talks by all parties but standing firm against any intervention by outside forces.

The proposal, released by China's Foreign Ministry, comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to allow immediate access to humanitarian workers as Syria presses a military crackdown against anti-government groups.

Beijing's plan is part of renewed efforts by Beijing to seize the diplomatic initiative in an increasingly vital part of the world for China after being roundly criticized by the U.S. and others for joining Russia in vetoing a U.N. resolution. That plan similarly called for an end to hostilities, but Beijing feared it would open the door to intervention against Assad's authoritarian government, as it had in Libya.

The proposal reflects those concerns. Saying "the situation in Syria remains grave," the proposal calls for an immediate end to all violence, as well as humanitarian relief and negotiations among all parties mediated by the U.N. and the Arab League. At the same time, it rejects any outside interference, sanctions and attempts to replace the Syrian government.

"We oppose anyone interfering in Syria's internal affairs under the pretext of 'humanitarian' issues," said the proposal from an unnamed "leading official" and posted on the Foreign Ministry's website. It later said: "China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for 'regime change' in Syria and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve the issue."

Beijing is usually reluctant to authorize sanctions or intervention against another country, fearing the precedent may one day be used against China, with its authoritarian government.

U.N. report: Human rights abuses continue in Libya

The Washington Post

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi carried out mass executions and tortured suspected regime opponents, amounting to crimes against humanity, while the anti-Gaddafi militias now governing the country carried out war crimes, according to a year-long inquiry by a U.N. commission.

The report, by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, provides the most detailed account to date of atrocities committed in Libya during the uprising and subsequent Western-backed military operation there.The commission also raised the prospect that NATO forces may have inadvertently killed dozens of civilians, citing reports that five airstrikes killed 60 civilians and injured 55 others.

While crediting NATO commanders for taking “extensive precautions to ensure civilians were not killed,” the commission could find no evidence to support NATO claims that the five strikes that resulted in civilian casualties were aimed at command-and-control centers or troops staging areas.

Two airstrikes damaged civilian infrastructure “where no military target could be identified,” the commission found.

“The commission found NATO did not deliberately target civilians in Libya,” according to the 220-page report, which was compiled by a three-member team of international jurists. “On limited occasions, the commission confirmed civilian casualties and found targets that showed no evidence of military utility.”

NATO did not release an official response. A NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance had previously acknowledged that it had caused some civilian casualties. “It’s clear we did everything humanly and technically possible to minimize the risk of civilian casualties,” the official said.

According to the report, anti­Gaddafi militias carried out reprisal killings of suspected regime loyalists and mercenaries, as well as the wide-scale torture of detainees.

Serious abuses continue to be carried out by militias aligned with Libya’s new government, the commission found. It said Libyan authorities have failed to provide access to an autopsy report for Gaddafi or any information on the circumstances of the death of his son Mutassim. Both died in the custody of anti-regime forces.

The report’s authors said they would provide a sealed list of the names of suspected perpetrators of crimes to the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The U.N. commission, chaired by Philippe Kirsch, a former International Criminal Court judge, places the greatest responsibility for abuses on Gaddafi’s regime, saying it has left a 40-year legacy of impunity for political repression and a dysfunctional justice system.

It “concluded that international crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, were committed by Gaddafi’s force in Libya. Acts of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture were perpetrated within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population.”

The report includes a litany of alleged crimes sanctioned by Gaddafi’s regime, including the use of lethal fire against unarmed demonstrators and the torture and murder of detainees at numerous government facilities, including a “boy scouts’ camp” used by Gaddafi’s forces as a military camp in Al Qalaa.

The evidence included a videotape of a “purported senior regime figure giving instructions to ‘crush’ demonstrators in Benghazi and a firsthand account of an order from Moammar Gaddafi to suppress demonstration ‘with all means necessary.’ ”

Witnesses also uncovered a mass grave at the site, with the bodies of 34 men and boys, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.

In another case, Gaddafi loyalists threw hand grenades into a warehouse packed with prisoners; of 157 detainees, only 51 were confirmed to have survived.

The commission said that while the new Libyan government has taken “positive steps” to improve its human rights record, it has done too little to hold perpetrators from within its own ranks accountable for crimes, which include the “wide-scale” torture of detainees and systematic pillaging of towns and individuals suspected of supporting Gaddafi.

Bahraini demonstrators hold a week of sit-in protests

Thousands of Bahrainis have launched a week of daily sit-in protests to reiterate the democratic demands of their revolution which has been ongoing since early 2011.

On Friday, the Bahraini anti-government demonstrators assembled at a monumental venue renamed "Freedom Square" in Al-Muqsha village, around seven kilometers west of the capital Manama, to commemorate their revolution.

The protesters chanted anti-regime slogans and waved flags that called for the overthrow of the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty. Some banners directly referred to King Hamad, reading, "Down with Hamad."

Organizers say the rally will last for a week and will take place every afternoon until midnight.

"The Bahrainis will not go back on their demands," Abdul Jalil Khalil Ibrahim, head of Bahrain’s major opposition group, Al-Wefaq, told the Friday gathering.

Bahraini troops heavily rely on tear gas and stun grenades to disperse peaceful anti-government protesters. Several Bahraini civilians, mostly senior citizens and kids, have also died from asphyxia after regime troops fired tear gas in residential areas and into homes.

Amnesty International has warned about the Bahraini government's use of tear gas against anti-regime protesters and has called for an investigation into the tear gas-related deaths.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging demonstrations in Bahrain since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy which later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Scores of people have also been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.

28 dead as 'enormous outbreak' of tornadoes tears through U.S.

A devastating storm system moved across the United States on Friday, spawning a slew of tornadoes that contributed to at least 28 fatalities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon reported Friday afternoon the agency had about "half a dozen reports of tornadoes on the ground," as well as reports of "significant damage" -- making his comments before some of the worst twisters were reported.

"This is an enormous outbreak that's going on right now across Kentucky and the South," Gordon said. "It's crazy. It's just nuts right here."

Afganistan: Threats to Democratic Stability

Democratic stability in multiethnic societies was the topic discussed in an academic seminar in Kabul. Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. If ethnic cleavages are not managed properly and wisely, they could lead to plunging the country into ethnic conflicts once again. Dr. Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, the head of Ibn-e-Sin private university and a member of Commission for Overseeing Implementation of the Constitution, in a seminar on the occasion of seventeenth anniversary of Shahid Abdul Ali Mazari organized by Democracy and Development Studies Group on Friday, March 02, 2012 here in Kabul, said that it is the elites of the multi-ethnic society of Afghanistan that can make democracy in the country a success.

He stated that if the political elites that represent different ethnic and identity groups of the country do not act responsibly and or fail to assume their role in the success of democracy in an informed way, democracy will go bankrupt.

Over the last few years, democracy and human rights discourse has taken back seat in international support for Afghanistan. In the meanwhile, there are growing concerns among political parties and coalitions about the failure of the existing power structures and electoral system.

They believe that the current political system and government have led to decentralization of power in the hand of few people, and have consequently provided context for widespread corruption in the administration across the country, and generated a wide gap between the people and the government. The National Front of Afghanistan- a political alliance comprised of some of the most influential and popular political parties-was the first that launched a campaign to stimulate a national dialogue on fundamental political reforms.

Dr. Ahmadi believes that there are three formidable threats to democratic stability in Afghanistan. Ahmadi is of the view that Afghanistan is at war in 21th century, which is fought by a large network of fundamentalists against the new world order and its imperatives that includes democratization in post-conflict countries, such as Afghanistan.

If political elites fail to understand and fathom the logic of this war, it will bring democracy in Afghanistan to failure. The second factor that can threaten democratic stability in the country is absence of a national discourse of constitutionalism.

This member of the Commission for Overseeing Implementation of the Constitution maintains that such a discourse can lead to the development of a social movement that is a must for a democracy to take root and become consolidated. In his opinion, elites, in particular academic elites, have the potential to initiate such as discourse and bring about a social movement in support of constitutionalism and democracy.

He also highlighted the importance of international support for democratization in Afghanistan, saying that since democratization is one of the imperatives of the new world order, there should be sustained backing for democratization and democratic consolidation on the part of international community so that democratic political system becomes stable. Ahmadi believes that it is not right and correct to analyze international presence under the paradigm of imperialism. He had a note of critique of those political commentators and analysts that put the presence of international community in Afghanistan into such a context.

Afghan army says Taliban infiltration very sophisticated

The Taliban have a sophisticated system in place to infiltrate Afghanistan's security forces and vetting of recruits must be severely tightened, an Afghan army general said on Saturday.

Infiltration has come under sharper focus because of a string of fatal attacks by Afghan security forces on U.S. soldiers since the burning of copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base last month ignited widespread protests.

"Placing the rogues inside the army is well-planned by the enemies. The Taliban give them special training," General Abdul Hameed, top army commander for the southern region of Afghanistan, told Reuters by telephone.

"We must enhance intelligence gathering on the movements of recruits, tap their cellphones and we must find out who they are in contact with outside the army."

Two U.S. soldiers were shot and killed on Thursday in an attack involving at least one Afghan believed to be a soldier and a civilian, Western and Afghan officials said.

The killings at a base in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan came less than a week after two senior U.S. officers were gunned down in the Afghan Interior Ministry by what Afghan security officials say was a police intelligence officer.

About 70 members of the NATO-led force were killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 through the end of January this year.

These attacks have become more frequent as the United States has sent tens of thousands of more soldiers to Afghanistan as part of a surge to fight in Taliban strongholds.

Some of these incidents have been carried out by Afghan security forces reacting to the recent Koran burning, some have been due to private grievances and others have been carried out by Taliban insurgents who infiltrated the security forces.

The killings in the Interior Ministry stunned NATO and cast doubt on its strategy of replacing large combat units with advisers as it tries to wind down the war, now in its 11th year.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the double murder but there has been no independent confirmation of that.

Such attacks cast doubt on the effectiveness of Afghan government forces, which will be tasked with taking over security in one of the world's most unstable countries once foreign combat troops head home at the end of 2014.

The Taliban have proven remarkably resilient in the face of far superior Western firepower.

But poor management of the recruiting process for the army and police has also given them an opportunity to infiltrate.

"One of the reasons enemies infiltrated inside the army is because they are not properly identified when they are enrolled," said Hameed.

"The procedure is that new recruits must present birth certificate or any other documents to prove their identity but many present fake documents or don't have any."

A Ministry of Defence official said the large size of the Afghan army and police -- about 250,000 -- made it difficult to stop infiltration. Afghanistan hopes to create a force of about 350,000 and then trim some of it.

"We have identified and detained a number of suspicious soldiers recently who planned to carry out such (insider) attacks," said Hameed.

US Determined to Complete its Mission in Afghanistan

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said the United States is determined to complete its mission in Afghanistan despite the spate of killings of Isaf forces there.

Six Isaf soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in just over a week, apparently in revenge for US servicemen burning Korans at Bagram Air Base. Last Saturday, an Afghan policeman shot dead two US advisors at the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

Speaking at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, Mr Panetta said the United States has considerably weakened al-Qaeda and decimated its leadership.

"Let me be very clear," Panetta told the students, "the brutal attacks that we have seen on our troops in the last few days will not change or alter our determination to see this through. We have demonstrated that we will continue to do everything possible to protect our citizens and our security."

There are around 90,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting insurgents.

"Our goal is that by the end of 2014, the Afghans will have the responsibility to govern and secure themselves," he said.

Mr Panetta said the United States must maintain the world's strongest military while maintaining effective diplomacy and building a strong economy.

LAHORE: Dengue returns, 2 new case reported in Lahore

All the towering claims of the government have fallen flat as dengue has returned.
Two more patients were taken to Mayo Hospital Lahore for medical checkup including 22-year-old Muhammad Farooq of Chonian and 40-year-old Razia Bibi of Shadipura.
The doctors diagnosed that they were suffering from dengue fever who were shifted to dengue ward of the hospital, however, their condition was said to be out of danger.

Nationalists keep away from meeting of religious parties

The religious and Jiahdi parties enjoying support of turn coats and some individuals held their public meeting in Quetta in which the nationalist political parties did not participate for political reasons. The nationalist and secular parties are opposed to the ideologies of the jihadis and sectarian parties who waged jihad against Afghanistan and interfered in the internal affairs of Afghanistan on the pretext of holy war. Those parties were created and promoted by former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq only to destroy the political and social fabric of Pakistan. They were armed and giving military training to overthrow the Government in Kabul and install a Government desired by the imperialist forces and their agents in Pakistan. During the holy war of 1980s, the Baloch people kept away from the Jihad and did not join the holy war as it was no waged by the State of Pakistan. The holy war was waged by individuals, mainly public functionaries and their paid agent to the satisfaction of the United States of America. These elements were responsible for the civil war in Afghanistan in 1980s and finally we are felling and experiencing the spill over of afghan civil war on the Pakistani soil.
This time again, those elements are trying to start another covert war in our neighborhood only to undermine the security interest of Pakistan. Such a covert war in Afghanistan or Iran will have serious implications on the security and solidarity of Pakistan as an independent State. Knowing this, the Baloch and Pakhtoon nationalists are keeping themselves away from such a dirty game or another dirty war in our neighborhood and advising fellow Pakistanis not to support the so called non-State actors in this dirty war. Pakistan is already under severe pressure from the US and its allies in Afghanistan leveling serious charges against Pakistan for the trouble in Afghanistan. Pakistan Government had been denying these allegations for the past many years. Now the Afghan conflict is taking a serious turn and the world community is interested in a quick end to the conflict in the interest of regional peace and security. We Pakistanis should play a more safer role in this conflict discouraging all the non state actors from interfering in the Afghan affairs. Any misunderstanding with the international community on afghan conflict can be disastrous for Pakistan and Balochistan will suffer the most for being the front line State for the past three decades.

The fire called Balochistan
BY:Aasim Zafar Khan

Things have reached a boiling point in Balochistan. And sooner or later, something’s bound to give. All stories come to an end. Good or bad, happy or sad, there’s always an ending. It may not be what we want, it may not be what we expect, but that depends, on how the journey has been. Here in Pakistan, there are many stories unfolding concurrently, the saddest of which is the tragedy of Balochistan.

Balochistan appears now at the point of no return. Come what may, the stakes in Pakistan’s largest province have been raised so high, that good or bad and sooner rather than later, something is bound to happen.

For decades now, the Baloch sardars have been poisoning their locals with delusions of grandeur and modernity, with promises of equality, justice and an honest day’s work. After years of taking royalties from the state and not passing anything forward, they are now under pressure to come good on their word to their people. Or face a mass revolt.

At stake now is the age-old tribal sardari system in Balochistan, which can definitely be thought of as one of the major reasons for Balochistan’s backwardness. If the sardars don’t take their Baloch population to prosperity, they will be taken down by their own kin. Balochistan then, in the absence of the sardars will be in a state of a deadly vacuum. And as the saying goes, if you leave a vacuum, someone or something will eventually fill it. The Baloch sardars could also take a stand. Stand firm, putting pressure on Islamabad for deliverance. For dues of 60 years past.

These are two completely different paths, and in Balochistan, there is a difference of opinion amongst the sardars as to which path to tread. One path champions dialogue with Islamabad, in search for a solution, whereas the other path is breaking away from Pakistan into an independent Balochistan; to quote Martin Luther King, by any means necessary.

For Islamabad, an independent Balochistan is simply unacceptable; they cannot have another December 1971. Hence only the path of dialogue remains. But all the actions that come under dialogue, like the All Parties Conference (APC) and the Aaghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (AHB) package, have been completely ineffective in redressing 60 plus years of injustice against the Baloch population. Therefore, Islamabad needs to act, and act quickly to ensure that the issue of Balochistan can be resolved peacefully via dialogue. Or else they could soon be hearing a unified call for independence from Zhob to Quetta and Turbat. What then?

The state will not sit back if the cry of an independent Balochistan rises above a certain level. Expect a massive military and covert operation against Baloch freedom fighters, expect human rights to be overlooked, expect forced abductions, and extra-judicial killings. This will only add more fuel to the fire, and in the long run, more fuel will be added to the fire called Balochistan.

The political leadership must realise that its current actions, inactions and political point-scoring are not helping Balochistan. It has 60 years of injustice to reverse, and it must act now.

All the prominent separatist leaders say that the backlog of what’s owed to Balochistan is so large; one won’t know where to begin. But begin we must. How about royalties, jobs, education, health, security, growth, modernity, and freedom of speech? These are good starting points. If the state was to take these steps, wholeheartedly, in good faith and without failure or delays, it could, sometime in the near future, be able to bring to the table those who are currently singing the song of independence in Balochistan.

Otherwise we can expect more of the same reaction as we saw a few days ago when Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced that cases against two Baloch separatist leaders, Hyrbyair Marri and Brahamdagh Bugti would be withdrawn. A prominent Baloch leader and current member of the Senate Mir Israr Ullah Khan Zehri scoffed and replied: The interior minister can’t even remove one check post!

Spreading tolerance: ‘Bhatti’s sacrifice not in vain’

The Express Tribune

An intimate gathering of about a hundred assembled for a candlelight vigil near Super Market in F-6 on Friday to mark the first death anniversary of the former minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti. While some were disheartened by the relatively low turnout, Haris Khaleeq pointed out that it’s not that individuals are not against brutal assassinations of those who speak against repression, but that few people have the courage to participate in such demonstrations.

Bhatti, who held the portfolio of Federal Minister for Minorities, was shot dead in broad daylight in the sector of I-8. He was killed within two months Governor Punjab Salman Taseer’s assassination.

All the participants chanted slogans to show their unfaltering support for combating intolerance.

Christian representative Basharat Masih said, “We shouldn’t be disheartened by small numbers and should still strive to break the culture of silence and show our strength in character and resolve.”

In addition to Bhatti, demonstrators remembered others who were killed while trying to mold a more liberal Pakistan, including Benazir Bhutto and Salman Taseer. The latter’s son, Shehryar Taseer, surprised participants with his unexpected presence at the vigil and stressed on the importance of tolerance in a short address.

Paying tribute to Bhatti, Naeem Mirza, of Aurat Foundation, said, “Sometimes great men are forgotten in history, but the values of these men will live on for generations to come and will inspire others to speak.”

PPP member Captain Wasif went on to elevate unity within Pakistan and said, “Shahbaz Bhatti was not a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. He was a human being, and he was a Pakistani.” Following this address, rights activist Tahira Abdullah led chants calling for the arrest of Bhatti’s killers.

Comparing the bravery of Taseer and Bhatti to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Father Rehmat Hakim of Our Lady of Fatima Church, F-8/4said, “They were well aware of the repercussions of speaking against the blasphemy laws, which makes their actions even nobler.”

He added, “We need to get out the minority-majority rut. I never think of myself as a minority, but as a citizen who has rights and responsibilities, and as long as one fulfills their responsibilities, they are entitled to their rights.”

While talking to The Express Tribune, Tariq Khoso, a 23-year-old accounting student, said, “We need to break out of this cage of intolerance and practice an ideology of humanism and the only way to achieve that is through literacy and education.”

The event ended with Tahira Abdullah extending an open invitation for Shahbaz Bhatti’s first death anniversary at 2 pm on March 6 at the Convention Centre.

The vigil was organised by civil society members, Insani Huqooq Ittehad members, Workers Party Pakistan, Labour Party, Awami Party, Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party and the National Students Federation.

Balochistan: Their dangerous monkeyshines


Could there be as reckless political class and media galaxy as are ours, playing so playfully with an otherwise very serious Balochistan conundrum? Their monkeyshines replete with resounding hypocrisy, hyperbole and thoughtlessness are shudderingly dangerous. Yet, unmindful of their insanity’s dire consequences, they are chasing their adventurous pursuit spiritedly. While politicos are so obviously playing worst malodorous politics with the problem, media eminences are artificially exalting some dubious characters to Baloch icons pedestal. The act of both stinks, and intolerably pungently, showing them up for chicaners they innately are.
Mian Nawaz Sharif, his own PML faction’s head honcho, chimes again and again nowadays that he will attend an all-parties conference (APC) on Balochistan if only first Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killers are arrested and missing persons recovered. But wasn’t it he who had originally announced to convene an APC on Balochistan? Had then Nawab Bugti’s murderers been arrested and punished? And had missing persons been recovered? Or does he think it is kosher for him to convene this politicos’ jamboree but not for others?
But can he speak so glibly of the centre’s injustices to Balochistan when he himself was very much part of this step-motherly treatment of Balochistan and its residents? Wasn’t he the country’s prime minister twice? Can he refute the irrefutable factuality that he too did nothing for a fair deal to this long-neglected province of Pakistan and to redress its residents’ nagging grievances? And wasn’t it he who had pulled down Sardar Attaullah Mengal’s elected government in Balochistan, even though he too has throughout been its repressive sardars’ friend, not their repressed Baloch people’s?
If he could rope in the banks to launch a yellow cab scheme for favourite urbanite fortune-makers’ benefit, which in reality was a patent huge rip-off, couldn’t he mount a sincere effort to help Balochistan’s fishermen community to modernise their outdated fishing fleets? But it is not he alone who is just faking and shedding crocodile tears for Balochistan. This fakery runs from end to end of the political class. The imposters are too many, all speaking of the Baloch people’s rights. Yet dissect their devious chant and you are horrified to know they are actually talking of sardars, not of the suppressed and oppressed Baloch commoners tied down with their exploitative stranglehold.
What else could you make out when MNS’s younger sibling Shahbaz Sharif squawks that for Pakistan’s sake he is prepared to even to fall on “estranged” Baloch leaders’ feet, beg their forgiveness and woo them back to the fold? So he too, like the media eminences, is all out to court some sardari scions, not the Baloch commoner who indeed needs to be taken care of, emancipated, and uplifted to become a fuller human being. But who will tell him those princely scions are not their own masters now but proxies and hatchet men of their alien handlers in whose hands is held the plug on them. It is the handlers not the princes who will decide. And what the handlers’ decision would be can easily be imagined. To create more turbulence in the troubled province; what else could it be?
There indeed is too much of chicanery going on in Balochistan’s name. None is taking a pause to read the objective ground realities in Balochistan. For the first thing, no injustices have ever been done to the sardars. Over the time, they have variously savoured all the bounties flowing in from the centre, passing on all the deprivation to their enslaved tribal folks. The collusive hobnobbing of the central power with the nawabs and sardars had only helped tightening up of the sardari stranglehold over the suppressed tribal folks. But that stranglehold is now under assailment of rising tribal folks, who are becoming increasingly assertive, and aggressively. The mollycoddling of sardars and their scions is thus tending to enfeeble the rising tribal people and obstruct their struggle for liberation from the oppressive sardari order, whereas their struggle needs to be bolstered for them to become respectable, dignified and equal citizens of the nation.
Furthermore, tribes are no more the tight-knit units they were erstwhile. Rival power centres have long been in emergence, with the once-overbearing sardars’ overlordship now almost in tatters. Even the sardari clans are themselves deeply divided houses, in cases with their members not even on talking terms with one another. Most tribes are presently enmeshed in internecine rivalries, disputes and fights. In the given conditions, wooing the spurious “estranged Baloch leaders” simply means getting involved in their clannish infightings and their tribal internecine squabbles. Not just that. It also means getting embroiled in their inter-tribal feuds. The whole of this will ultimately work negatively for the Pakistani state. Those standing by its side will possibly get alienated and cross over to the other side.
In greater national interest, the focus has to be on the emancipation and empowerment of the Baloch commoner, especially the Baloch youth. And if the Islamabad hierarchy is any honest and sincere, it must at once unveil and work a massive development programme for the Baloch commoner’s benefit, their youths’ uplift and their province’s advancement, together with a constitutional guarantee to protect their rights in every manner and ensure the flow of all progress’s benefit to them predominantly. No APC or package is really called for. It is the intent to bring up the Baloch commoner that is actually called for and immediately.

What does this victory mean for the PPP?

The Express Tribune

The announcement of unofficial results of Senate elections, being held here on Friday, has completed.

Lawmakers cast their votes for candidates contesting in the Senate elections. Polling was held on 45 Senate seats, while 9 senators were elected unopposed.

Despite all the rhetoric of conspiracy, the Senate polls did take place. The party that stands victorious following the polls, as expected, is undisputedly the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – which now holds 41 seats (including the 3 withheld Balochistan seats) of the 104-member Senate.

It was therefore no surprise that it was the PPP that was, for months, crying foul about plans to somehow postpone the polls. From theories that said that the National Assembly would be dissolved by undemocratic forces to theories of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) dissolving its own Punjab government in order to leave the electoral college of the Senate polls incomplete, conspiracy was abound.

According to the PPP, including no less than the prime minister himself, forces opposed to it wanted to deny the party a massive Senate presence – the argument being that such massive presence would mean a perpetuation of its power beyond the next elections, which are expected anytime inside the next year.

But how significant, really is the PPP’s victory?

The answer lies in a grey area.

Firstly, the PPP was already the single largest party in the Senate with 27 members. That lead has just been enhanced – dramatically, though – up to 41 members, which is still not a clear majority (requiring 52 seats).

In any case, the Senate, at the end of the day, is not nearly as powerful as the other house of the Parliament, the National Assembly.

While the Federal Cabinet has been made “responsible and accountable” to the Senate under the 18th Amendment, according to constitutional expert SM Zafar, this accountability is only on paper.

Nor are yesterday’s gains reflective of new voter confidence or fresh mandate – after all, the electoral college is the same one that saw the PPP come to power back in 2008. It is, in essence, a delayed victory.

It is true that the any legislation by the National Assembly also requires the Senate’s approval. But at the end of the day, objection by the Senate is not enough to stop legislation. According to constitutional expert SM Zafar, if the deadlock persists, a joint session is called for and the bill voted for again. A joint session would obviously give a heavier advantage to the 342-member National Assembly as opposed to a 104-member Senate.

On a money bill, such as the budget, the Senate cannot even vote. They can “recommend” changes, but the changes are not binding.

But let’s not get that far.

According to analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi, a PPP-dominated legislature will not have “a major impact”, even for a non-PPP government, because “[the two] fight but they do cooperate.” He says that it has happened in the past, and cites the example of the executive in the United States being run by the Democratic Party, while the House of Representatives is run by the opposing Republicans. It still works.

The opposition doesn’t seem too intimidated either.

PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal doesn’t see the PPP’s domination of the Senate as a big problem – even for a future government that will be run by his party. “For all reasonable legislation, they will have to give support … else they will be exposed.”

“Even if they oppose, there will be a joint session.”

Iqbal also recalls that the PMLQ-MMA alliance that ruled the Senate when the incumbent government came to power did not really cause any trouble for the PPP.

While he did once again mention the “conspiracies and hurdles” to the Senate elections, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira also played down the victory on Friday, simply saying that the victory was another step in the effort to strengthen the democratic system. “It is a victory of the system.”

He continued: “Yes, it will be an advantage, but we will not misuse it (if faced with an opposing government).”

So what was all the commotion about?

There are other advantages – ones that may interest the PPP for different reasons – reasons other than governance and perpetuation of democratic systems. After all, the Senate is the electoral college for the presidential election – one that that has a major say at the end of the day.

Also, the chairperson of the Senate sits in for the president when he’s out of town or incapacitated. And we know the president wouldn’t like strangers in the palace.

Then there is the concept of perceived power. As much as anything else, the Senate elections are a symbolic victory for the PPP. According to Rizvi, “psychologically, it has an impact” … the effect will be more along the lines of “look, the PPP is not dead.”

And that’s where so much of the PPP’s strength is derived from, historically. Just the fact that the elections were held is a victory for the PPP as much as the result itself. Six months ago, people were thinking that the Senate polls would not happen – and would be stopped to stymie the PPP’s progress. That they have happened is a boost to the PPP, because the party had put the polls, which are routine, forward as their personal objective against the plotting of non-democratic forces. As one retired PPP old hand put it well: “When ‘they’ come – it doesn’t matter what system is in place.”

But, at the end of the day, nothing happened. They were just scheduled polls. That, too, for the Senate.

PPP dominates Senate elections


The announcement of unofficial results of Senate elections, being held here on Friday, has completed.

Lawmakers cast their votes for candidates contesting in the Senate elections. Polling was held on 45 Senate seats, while 9 senators were elected unopposed.

The results are as follows:


PPP candidate Hari Ram Kishori Lal was elected to the minorities seat, while Sehar Kamran (PPP) and Nasreen Jalil (MQM) were elected on the women seats.

Those elected to the general seats include MQM leaders Tahir Mashadi, Mustafa Kamal and Raza Rabani, Saeed Ghani, Ajiz Dharma and Dr. Karim Khawaja from the PPP.

Muzzafar Hussain Shah from the PML-F was also elected.

Abdul Hazfeez Sheikh (PPP) and Faroog Naseem (MQM) had been elected unopposed to the technocrat seats in Sindh.


PML-N leaders Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, Rafique Ranjwa, Zafarullah Dhandla and M Hamza were elected to the general seats.

PPP leader Babar Awan and independent candidate Mohsin Leghari were also successful.

From PML-Q, Kamil Ali Agha was elected.

Those elected unopposed include Nurdat Sadiq (PML-N), Khalida Parveen (PPP) on the women seats, while Kamran Michael (PML-N) was elected on the minorities seat.

Aitzaz Ahsan and Khalid Mohsin Qureshi from the PPP and Ishaq Dar (PML-N) were elected unopposed to the technocrat seats.


Mushahid Hussain (PML-Q) was elected unopposed to the technocrat seat, while Usman Saifullah (PPP) was elected to the general seat.


Those elected to the general senate seats in Balochistan include Mir Israrullah Zehri (BNP-Awami), Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi, Muhammad Yousuf Baloch and Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni from the PPP.

Syed Ul Hassan Mandokhel from the PML-Q and Hamdullah Saboor and Mufti Abdul Sattar Shahwani from JUI-F were also elected.

ANP candidate Advocate Dawood Khan Achakzai and Rozi Khan Kakar from the PPP was also successful.

Naseema Ehsan from the BNP-Awami and Rubina Irfan from the PML-Q have also been successful on the women's seat from Balochistan.

The minorities seat was won by Heman Kumar (JUI-F).


Hidayatullah, Najamul Hassan, Saleh Shah and Hilalur Rehman were elected as senators from FATA.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Rubina Khalid (PPP) and Zahida Khan (ANP) have been elected to the women seats while Amirjeet Malhotra (ANP) has been elected to the minorities seat.

Ilyas Bilour (ANP) and Farhatullah Babar (PPP) have been elected to the technocrat seats.

Shahi Syed, Baz Muhammad Khan and Azam Hoti from the ANP have been elected to the general seats while Talha Muhammad from the JUI-F was also elected.

Saifullah Bangash and Ahmed Hasan Khan from the PPP were also elected to the general seat.

Nisar Muhammad Khan (PML-N) also won a senate seat from the province.