Monday, May 7, 2012
Russia’s newly sworn-in President Vladimir Putin on Monday proposed his Kremlin predecessor Dmitry Medvedev as the country’s new prime minister under a job swap agreement that sparked protests last year. The lower house of parliament’s speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Putin submitted Medvedev’s name for confirmation shortly after taking the oath of office for a third Kremlin term. Putin was expected to personally present Medvedev’s candidacy when the State Duma holds a special session that may include an official vote on Tuesday. The Duma is all but certain to approve the candidacy after both the ruling United Russia party and the LDPR group of the veteran populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky promised to support Putin’s choice. Medvedev now has the support of about 290 lawmakers in the 450-seat chamber while needing only a simply 226 vote majority to become Putin’s premier. Putin had served as Medvedev’s prime minister after ceding his Kremlin seat to his close ally upon completing his constitutionally-mandated first two terms as president between 2000 and 2008.
The Express Tribune
The Express TribuneIntolerance is a universal phenomenon that exists even in western countries, said Clive Straford Smith, Director Charity Reprieve. He was speaking at a 10 day international conference on intolerance in society titled “Face Off”, jointly organised by Directorate of Culture, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Hunarkada College of Visual and Performing Arts. The conference, attended by prominent artists representing literature, visual and performing mediums of art as well as media and journalism is aimed at sensitising society to the growing intolerance. Rejecting western portrayal of Pakhtun society as extremist and terrorist, Clive Smith said “Guantanamo Bay, where 51 per cent detainees were declared innocent, demonstrates how a so-called civilized society can also be intolerant as detainees are still struggling through life every day.” Smith emphasised that he felt no fear in Peshawar and proposed building a fully funded memorial for all innocent victims of US drone strikes. Expressing his anguish at the negative image of the province, K-P Provincial Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain noted that Pakhtun’s were a peace loving people who have been demonized by foreign elements as extremists. “Unless the world awakens to our plight and hears our point of view, situation in the region will not normalise,” Hussain added. Other prominent participants at the workshop were US Consul General in Peshawar Marie Richards, Rahimullah Yusafzai, Jamal Shah, Zeba Bakhtiar, Saad Muhammad, and Prathab Chatterjee.
Frontier PostThe Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government will allocate 4 percent of GDP for education sector in the next budget which in the past, has never exceeded two percent. This was stated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Culture and Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussain while addressing the cheque distribution ceremony amongst the local artists at Nishtar Hall Peshawar, the other day. Secretary Culture Azmat Hanif Orakzai was also present on the occasion. Those who received cheques of Rs. One lac each was Abdul Wahab Dasti, Mumtaz Ali Shah, Salahuddin, and Widow of Rafiqe Shanwari Safia Rani, Noshaba and Maazullah Nigar. The minister said that all our artists were highly respectable for us and they were our precious assets. The government would do all its best to ameliorate their lot, he added. He said that they love their artists from the core of their heart and the money so provided to them was nothing but a token of recognition of their service. He regretted, in the past, our artists were humiliated and they were compelled to flee the country adding that even some decided to abandon their jobs. Mian Iftikhar continued, after coming into power, the government not only revived cultural activities but also give Rs. One million to Pushto legend singer Khial Muhammad with a view to convey a message that we love our artists and no one could harm our culture. He furthered that they have arranged special programs in honour of their living, passed and legendary people of this region. He said that they were conducting cultural programs to encourage the people and discourage the terrorists. The minister mainted that Islam is the only relgion of the world that accept modernism and not a hurdle in the way of the culture. That is why it rapidly spread and continue to spread in the world, he concluded.
EDITORIAL:Daily TimesAt a rally in Taxila the other day, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif announced the launch of his party’s movement to topple the government of the PPP-led coalition. He issued a call to the people to get ready for a long march for the purpose. There then followed the litany of usual criticisms of the government for its faults and failures, spiced up by rude remarks about Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani being a “puppet” and “pawn” of President Asif Ali Zardari. He went on to raise the accusation once again of the president’s alleged ill-gotten money stashed in Swiss banks, which Nawaz vowed would be returned to their rightful owners, the people of Pakistan. By raising this bogey once again, Nawaz Sharif risks, and is in fact being accosted with, tit-for-tat accusations and allegations by the PPP, Interior Minister Rehman Malik in particular, about his own past transgressions of various types. Whether this kind of exchange will lead anywhere is anyone’s guess. Nawaz Sharif also exposed his frustration with the president, accusing him of misusing the agreement he had made with the late Benazir Bhutto (the reference is to the Charter of Democracy). Although he did not explicate the broken promises he accused the president of, one can surmise that the breach in trust between the two began over the issue of the restoration of the judiciary, which the president agreed to early in the life of the government when the PML-N was still a coalition partner of the PPP, but which did not get implemented until Nawaz Sharif launched his long march for the purpose, with some help, it is reported, from COAS General Kayani. It has been downhill ever since in the relationship between the two erstwhile partners. Meanwhile the PPP’s coalition partners, the PML-Q, the MQM and the ANP have called upon Nawaz Sharif to behave responsibly and not contemplate destabilising the democratic system. Instead, they advised him to adopt a democratic and constitutional path even if he wanted to see the back of the government. What is intriguing is why Nawaz Sharif has abandoned his policy of restraint vis-à-vis the PPP-led government, a restraint informed by the bitter experience of the military taking advantage of the politicians’ falling out to intervene and pack up the democratic system altogether. The restraint shown by Nawaz Sharif over the past four years may have earned him the sarcastic jibe of acting like a ‘friendly’ opposition, but it now appears he has allowed himself to be persuaded by the hawks in his party (led by Chaudhry Nisar and backed up by younger brother Shahbaz Sharif) to go all out against the government. The timing of the change is also intriguing, given that the country is in the run up to general elections. The opportunity for the turn has been presented by the contempt conviction of the prime minister by the Supreme Court but the PML-N has displayed its impatience with the legal and political process to be gone through before the verdict can take effect. Nevertheless, the argument that a street agitation may destabilise democracy, if not provide once again an opportunity to anti-democratic forces to wrap up the system per se has not lost its validity, historically or at the present conjuncture. The other, more practical argument against the launching of such a move at this point is that the PML-N seems to be embarking on a solo flight, given that none of the opposition parties, inside or outside parliament, have come on board. This reluctance permeates the stance of the PTI, JUI, JI, et al. Certainly there is much ammunition available to pillory the incumbents, but it must be clarified that the problems facing the country are grave and complex, even if it is conceded that the government has failed to tackle them effectively and may therefore have to answer to the charge of ineptness. The PML-N and its leadership needs to remind itself of the risks and dangers of an all out confrontation between the two mainstream parties on the streets, especially since the aggressive stance of the PML-N has invoked an equally aggressive reaction from the PPP. Mutual criticism within the parameters of a democratic system are inherent in the process of politics, but taking such differences to the level of a confrontation between the workers and supporters of each side is playing with fire. All sides must realise that it in their own mutual interests not to let politics descend once more to the level of an irredeemable enmity, whose advantage can only go to the anti-democratic camp. Democracy has its discontents, but dictatorship is far worse, as Pakistan’s history has witnessed.