Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The two realities of Pashtuns and Baloch

By:Amir Mateen
People in Balochistan hate it when the self-styled armchair experts sitting in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi generalize about them. Baloch intellectual Dr Janazeb Jamaldini is incensed every time “my Punjabi friends” call him Balochi. “Well, I like to tell them that I am a Baloch and my language is Balochi.” Pashtuns are equally upset when others mix Baloch with Balochistani. “It pains me to explain that I am not a Baloch but a Pashtun who lives in Balochistan,” said former National Assembly Speaker Nawab Wazir Jogezai. Dr Jamaldini asked a group of media persons recently to “please go and tell your tv anchors to stop generalizing us as if we are a monolithic monster.” Balochistan is so huge-44 per cent of Pakistan and the size of Britain-that every area has its own set of unique issues. The issues of Mekran which does not have a strong sardari system and lively political culture are different from, let’s say, Dera Bugti where Nawab Akbar Bugti has left a huge vacuum. Or the issues of Zhob vary from the problems in Sibi or Mastung. But there is one generalization that can be safely attempted: the story of Pashtuns in Balochistan is different from the reality of Baloch. Both live in their own ethnocentric worlds. The Pashtun belt is relatively stable. Their lands are more fertile, endowed with finer flora and fauna. They also have better availability of water which translates into better orchards and agriculture, which remains the biggest employer in the absence of any industry. Pashtuns would like to claim that they are more industrious and hardworking. Their superior work ethics is reflected by their dominance in business, trade and transportation in Balochistan. Pashtuns are definitely better educated-girls more than boys. Loralai girls win most top educational positions in Balochistan. This places Pashtuns at advantage in job market, services and educational quotas wherever merit is concerned. These are, of course, also the bounties of living in a belt that is relatively safer. Pashtuns have their share of problems like the ever growing crime, the spillover of Afghanistan in the shape of talibanisation, drugs and arms smuggling. But the nature of their issues is different from the ones that Baloch face. Insurgency hardly exists in Pashtun areas. Never has. Here it is more kidnappings for ransom than target killings. This goes without saying that they are equally weary of army’s over reach in Balochistan and want more power and resources for the province. But their bigger grouse is now directed against the estranged bedfellows-the Baloch. Pashtuns feel they are being held back and squeezed by Baloch. “We don’t have any insurgency in our areas,” says Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami’s former Senator Raza Mohammad, “why should we suffer; Pashtuns are the biggest ethnic group and they should be adjusted in jobs and quotas accordingly.” Pashtuns, like Hazaras, fume that their students get admission in medical college by securing more than double marks of Baloch. Pashtuns claim they are equal in population if not more. However, they lag behind Baloch in area who are in majority in 20 out of 30 districts. Understandably, Pashtuns would like the distribution of resources on the basis of population and merit. Interestingly, Pashtun nationalists have always opposed Punjab for favouring the population formula but in a twist of irony they now want this to be exercised in Balochistan. It makes sense that Baloch should support the continuation of the affirmative action of sorts through district quotas. This is the only way Baloch can try to match Pashtun dominance such being the nature of their reality. The total collapse of law and order, the rampant targeted killings and bomb explosions in Baloch areas has exacted a huge tall on ordinary people. The abundant natural resources of the Baloch areas cannot be used because of lawlessness. The long coast line, including Gwadar Port, fails to take off under the circumstances. Business is down. Unemployment particularly among the youth is increasing. Movement is restricted because of insurgency. The clock of life stops ticking after sunset. Markets and offices remain frequently closed because of violence and strikes. People in most Baloch towns live without basic amenities like clean drinking water, sewage system or electricity supply. Life in thousands of remote villages that pockmark the rugged plains and barren mountains is even more miserable. The biggest loss is in education. The educational structure in the Baloch belt has crumbled in the face of lawlessness. Schools are either closed or partially functional in the absence of teachers and resources. Examination cheating is rampant. The ones who manage to get degrees are handicapped in skills because of bad schooling. They drop out even when they get admission in higher or professional colleges. Information Technology University in Quetta enrolls 90 per cent students from Balochistan on open merit. Only three students from Gwadar have managed to pass out in seven years out of an annual badge of 1500 students. The rest simply drop out. A whole generation of Baloch is growing up with little or no education. “Our future generations will also pay for the educational lapse,” said BNP’s Munir Baloch, pointing out that the leadership in earlier insurgencies was conscious about this. “The present lot of leaders who have no ideological training do not understand. Or they do not care.” Baloch dominate the executive political power-only one Pashtun became Chief Minister in 42 years. But their ratio in government machinery will continue to shrink because of the relative educational backwardness. Much to the Baloch chagrin, the gap left by the settler teachers is being filled by the better qualified Pashtuns. Almost all replacement of roughly 80 Punjabi teachers in the Balochistan University who left because of tension are Pashtuns. Baloch lag behind Pashtuns in competitive examination, promotions and postings because of their better schooling. As other ethnic groups are scared to work in Balochistan the gap is filled by Pashtuns from other provinces who easily gel with their local tribesmen. This will lead to more Pashtun dominance —hence more Baloch anxiety. The reality of Baloch and Pashtuns, it seems, is going to grow further apart.

Population Day on 11th

World Population Day will be observed on July 11 across the world including Pakistan. It is an annual event, observed on July 11, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, approximately the date on which the world’s population reached five billion people. The world population on the 20th anniversary of Five Billion Day, July 11, 2007, was estimated to have been 6,727,551,263. This year’s theme is Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services.

Hurdles to Muslim women's rights

BY IDA LICHTER From:The Australian
AN injured horse last month disqualified equestrian Dalma Malhas from representing Saudi Arabia at the London Olympics. She would have been the first female athlete from the kingdom. Brunei and Qatar have entered several women for the first time, and although most Muslim countries send female athletes to various events, few boast outstanding women contestants. Why are they lagging so far behind the rest of the world and does the Arab Spring herald any change? In May, the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation in London honoured a number of athletes, including Halet Ambel, the first Muslim woman Olympic competitor, who represented Turkey in 1936; African American Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will fence for the US this year wearing the hijab, and Sadaf Rahimi, a 17-year-old boxer from Afghanistan. The Kabul stadium where Rahimi trained for the London Olympics was a former Taliban site for women's executions.Other outstanding sportswomen include Pakistani Naseem Hameed, who won a gold medal in the 100m track event at the South Asian Games in 2010, and Moroccan hurdler Nawal El Moutawakel, who won gold at the 1984 Olympics and later became minister of sports. Since 1993, the Islamic Federation of Women's Sport has held female-only, multi-sport, Women's Islamic Games every four years, adhering to Islamic dress code and hosted by Iran. In ancient Greece, women also held their own games every four years, as women were excluded from the Olympics. International perspectives on Muslim women's sport are invariably influenced by Islamist states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran and their economic clout. Religious opinions vary, and in Saudi Arabia they range from an obligation to keep fit and healthy to accusations of immorality, destruction of virginity and subversive Western corruption. Reformer Halima al-Muzaffar has noted the large number of Saudi women who suffer from obesity or osteoporosis. Exercise would be beneficial, but the government closed many ladies' gyms in 2009 and 2010, claiming they were unlicensed. New applications were refused. The few private women's soccer teams compete clandestinely, and women are barred from sporting events in stadiums. To be fair, King Abdullah has embarked on reform, reducing the power of the mutaween or religious police and promising voting rights for women in the 2015 municipal elections. As in the case of lifting the driving ban, granting women freedom to pursue sports could unravel the sexual segregation, full body cover and male guardianship of women demanded by the religious autocracy that legitimises the monarch's rule. Women might leave the house without their husband's permission or spend time in mixed company. Dress codes have proved contentious in soccer. The International Federation of Association Football banned the hijab in 2007 because of the danger of choking and this led to the exclusion of the Iranian women's soccer team from the London Olympics. The ban was reversed after introduction of a Velcro fastener and was recently ratified. Anita Defrantz, US member of the International Olympic Committee, has denied claims of discrimination against women who wear the hijab, but in order to remain true to its values, the IOC should observe religious neutrality in athletic dress code. They could also suspend Saudi Arabia and Iran for discrimination, sanctions they applied against South Africa between 1964 and 1992, and Afghanistan under the Taliban at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The Arab Spring has borne bitter fruit, as the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood advance an Islamist agenda that may spell oppression for women. Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egypt's ousted president, organised the Womathon for Peace event to promote women's health and cultural diversity through sport, but her initiative is probably buried in the dustbin of odious association. Muslim sportswomen already have a forum for piety at their own Games, and international sporting organisations should, at least, resist bending their own rules to accommodate Islamist countries that legislate against women's rights. The real hurdles are entrenched, archaic traditions authorised by religion and legislated in state politics. Ida Lichter is the author of Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression

Abdus Salam:Pakistan shuns its only Nobel laureate - physicist linked to discovery of 'God particle'

The pioneering work of Abdus Salam
, Pakistan's only Nobel laureate, helped lead to the apparent discovery of the subatomic " God particle" last week. But the late physicist is no hero at home, where his name has been stricken from school textbooks. Praise within Pakistan for Salam, who also guided the early stages of the country's nuclear program, faded decades ago as Muslim fundamentalists gained power. He belonged to the Ahmadi sect, which has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view its members as heretics.Their plight along with that of Pakistan's other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Christians and Hindus has deepened in recent years as hardline interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. Most Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims. Salam, a child prodigy born in 1926 in what was to become Pakistan after the partition of British-controlled India, won more than a dozen international prizes and honors. In 1979, he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, which theorizes how fundamental forces govern the overall dynamics of the universe. He died in 1996. Salam and Steven Weinberg, with whom he shared the Nobel Prize, independently predicted the existence of a subatomic particle now called the Higgs boson, named after a British physicist who theorized that it endowed other particles with mass, said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist who once worked with Salam. It is also known as the "God particle" because its existence is vitally important toward understanding the early evolution of the universe. Physicists in Switzerland stoked worldwide excitement Wednesday when they announced they have all but proven the particle's existence. This was done using the world's largest atom smasher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, near Geneva. "This would be a great vindication of Salam's work and the Standard Model as a whole," said Khurshid Hasanain, chairman of the physics department at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Salam wielded significant influence in Pakistan as the chief scientific adviser to the president, helping to set up the country's space agency and institute for nuclear science and technology. Salam also assisted in the early stages of Pakistan's effort to build a nuclear bomb, which it eventually tested in 1998. Salam's life, along with the fate of the 3 million other Ahmadis in Pakistan, drastically changed in 1974 when parliament amended the constitution to declare that members of the sect were not considered Muslims under Pakistani law. Ahmadis believe their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet of God a position rejected by the government in response to a mass movement led by Pakistan's major Islamic parties. Islam considers Muhammad the last prophet and those who subsequently declared themselves prophets as heretics. All Pakistani passport applicants must sign a section saying the Ahmadi faith's founder was an "impostor" and his followers are "non-Muslims." Ahmadis are prevented by law in Pakistan to "pose" as Muslims, declare their faith publicly, call their places of worship mosques or perform the Muslim call to prayer. They can be punished with prison and even death. Salam resigned from his government post in protest following the 1974 constitutional amendment and eventually moved to Europe to pursue his work. In Italy, he created a center for theoretical physics to help physicists from the developing world.Although Pakistan's then-president, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, presented Salam with Pakistan's highest civilian honor after he won the Nobel Prize, the general response in the country was muted. The physicist was celebrated more enthusiastically by other nations, including Pakistan's archenemy, India. Despite his achievements, Salam's name appears in few textbooks and is rarely mentioned by Pakistani leaders or the media. By contrast, fellow Pakistani physicist A.Q. Khan, who played a key role in developing the country's nuclear bomb and later confessed to spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is considered a national hero. Khan is a Muslim. Officials at Quaid-i-Azam University had to cancel plans for Salam to lecture about his Nobel-winning theory when Islamist student activists threatened to break the physicist's legs, said his colleague Hoodbhoy. "The way he has been treated is such a tragedy," said Hoodbhoy. "He went from someone who was revered in Pakistan, a national celebrity, to someone who could not set foot in Pakistan. If he came, he would be insulted and could be hurt or even killed." The president who honored Salam would later go on to intensify persecution of Ahmadis, for whom life in Pakistan has grown even more precarious. Taliban militants attacked two mosques packed with Ahmadis in Lahore in 2010, killing at least 80 people. "Many Ahmadis have received letters from fundamentalists since the 2010 attacks threatening to target them again, and the government isn't doing anything," said Qamar Suleiman, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community. For Salam, not even death saved him from being targeted. Hoodbhoy said his body was returned to Pakistan in 1996 after he died in Oxford, England, and was buried under a gravestone that read "First Muslim Nobel Laureate." A local magistrate ordered that the word "Muslim" be erased.

Alleged Taliban Execution Shatters Image Of 'Taliban-Free' Province

Just months ago, it was billed as "Taliban-free." How, then, did Afghanistan's Parwan Province come to be the target of international condemnation over the public execution of a young woman for adultery? The village of Qimchok, located in the province's remote Shinwari district just 100 kilometers from Kabul, today finds itself at the center of a large-scale manhunt. Reports from Parwan on July 9 say foreign troops and members of the Afghan National Army have entered Shinwari in a bid to apprehend militants involved in the killing. Their arrival shatters any notion that Parwan Province's proximity to the Afghan capital translates into greater security. Global attention is now set squarely on the shocking video of the execution and news that the Taliban has established its own shadow government and laid down its own laws in several of the province's northern districts. And whereas officials once spoke about relative tranquility in a province that is home to Bagram Air Base -- the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan -- observers find themselves drawing comparisons to public executions carried out during Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001. Only in February, Parwan Governor Abdul Basir Salangi went so far as to declare the province "the backbone of security" in Afghanistan. Recent Appearance? Pressed on his previous claims regarding Parwan, Salangi on July 9 was quick to insist that the Taliban had only recently entered the province. "The Taliban recently appeared in this area and the government had no other option than to launch a military campaign," Salangi said. "The Taliban would from time to time arrive and disrupt the roads in the Shinwari and Siagird districts. Eventually, the government launched an operation and set up checkpoints." The governor says that operation was carried out "about a month ago," highlighting late May or early June on the calendar as a point of increased Taliban activity. In an interview with RFE/RL, Salangi also shed light on the execution that was described on July 9 by Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a "heinous and unforgivable crime." Contrary to widespread media reports, Salangi said the execution of the young woman took place three weeks ago, not last week. Video of the execution, obtained by the Reuters news agency, shows a burqa-clad woman kneeling by a ditch before a crowd of onlookers. After a sentence is read out against her, a man with an assault rifle shoots her repeatedly at close range. Salangi says he does not know how the video was obtained initially by the government, but that Afghan authorities decided to release it on July 8. According to Salangi, two Taliban commanders involved in the execution were sexually involved with the woman, either through rape or romantically. In order to save face, the two men, Mullah Azatullah and the other known only as "Qader,” held a makeshift trial and hastily executed her within a few hours to settle their dispute. The Taliban has officially denied responsibility for the execution, but Salangi insists the men involved were members of that Islamist group. He believes the Taliban has denied responsibility because the actions of the two commanders contravenes Shari'a law, in which the defendant must always be tried in an Islamic court, or in this case in the presence of other Taliban members. There are unconfirmed rumors that Mullah Azatullah and "Qader" were subsequently killed by Murza Khan, a Taliban commander in the same group. Salangi believes Khan personally intervened after the execution and killed the two commanders for their disobedience. "[The Taliban] is a criminal that is an enemy of Shari'a law," Salangi says. "In one hour they came to a decision and killed [the victim]. That's the reason why they didn't reveal their crimes. They didn't want it to [appear in] the media. Usually, even when a car crashes they take responsibility."

ANP balks at supporting partner

The 22nd amendment bill was placed before the Senate today. One of the primary clause in the introduced legislation is the removal of the bar on dual nationality in Pakistan’s parliament. The government’s coalition partner, the Awami National Party (ANP) has refused to put their weight behind the bill. Pakistan Peoples Party stalwarts, Senator Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan are reportedly hesitant in supporting the proposed amendment. Ex-chairman of the Senate, Farroq H. Naek presented the 22nd amendment bill. Naek said that Pakistan had agreements with 16 countries over dual nationality, and therefore citizens of such countries should be allowed to contest elections. The law minister said that Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution was unfair to Pakistanis residing in foreign countries. Members of ANP in the Senate questioned the motives of the proposed legislation, while clearly stating that the party will oppose such an amendment. The bill has been submitted before the relevant standing committee for deliberation. Naek stated that those members opposing the bill would have the opportunity to voice their concerns. While dual nationals have the right to vote in general elections, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified members of parliament as the court found them to be in direct violation of Article 63.

Peshawar: Badabare primary school blown up

A primary school located in Badabare in the outskirt here was blown up with explosives on Tuesday, however no loss of life occurred, Geo News reported. Police said that the blast took place in the night between Monday and Tuesday. The miscreants had planted explosives beside the boundary wall of a primary school located at Mashoo Gaggar in the vicinity of police station Budbare, which exploded with a big bang. The school was partially damaged, police said.

Pakistan's false blasphemy pretext:Savagery in the name of religion

The lynching in Bahawalpur of a man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran is symptomatic of a horrific brutalization of this society. The man, said to be mentally ill, was snatched from the custody of police and set alight. The police and the law of the land could not prevent the cruelty. He was murdered in cold blood without getting a chance to prove innocence. Ever since the Zia regime sowed the seeds of extremism in this country there have been several similar dreadful incidents of mob vigilante. In one case in Gujranwala, after the estranged wife of a Hafiz-e-Quran accused him of having desecrated the Holy Book, he too was burned to death by a horde and his body dragged in the city's streets. About three years ago, owner of a factory near Lahore was killed by a mob led by a disgruntled worker, on a false blasphemy pretext. Many others, mostly Christians, have been implicated in false blasphemy cases. These are but just a few of the numerous examples of savagery committed in the name of Islam, which places great emphasis on justice and compassion. As the present ghastly example shows the law enforcers are helpless to provide protection to the accused. And in instances where the law takes its course, lawyers are too afraid to defend the accused. In one such situation a few years ago, the Bishop of Faisalabad felt so frustrated at his helplessness to help a fellow Christian imprisoned on blasphemy charges engage a lawyer that he committed suicide. When cases are brought before the courts, judges are not free to apply their minds in pronouncing judgement. They can deliver justice at their own peril. About 15 years ago, a PPP-appointed judge of the Lahore High Court, Justice Arif Hussain Bhatti, was gunned down in his chamber after he exonerated two Christians in a blasphemy case; one of the men was shot dead while waiting for a bus to go home. It needs to be noted that often the accusers either have a personal score to settle with the accused or a property grab motivation. As a matter of fact, no one is safe on this account. Hence, rights groups have been demanding an amendment to the blasphemy laws, written by the Ziaul Haq regime, to prevent false allegations. Religious parties are fiercely opposed to any such amendment. Unfortunately they also remain silent when incidents such as the present one happen. That encourages people like the killers in Bahawalpur to take the law into their own hands.

Pakistan's Tribal Belt: Integrate FATA

Daily Times
By:Azizullah Khan
All spectrums of tribal society are unanimous on the point that the colonial era system should be replaced by a modern, regular system, which is in place in the other parts of Pakistan FATA is the backwater and black hole of Pakistan. Why would it not be? In the 65-year history of Pakistan, its strategy towards FATA has been ‘how not to heed it’ or, as dictated by the regional strategic environment, ‘how to exploit its battle-friendly environment’. The underlying principle is to apply myopic policy shortcuts and carry on with them. History testifies to this notion. For the first 34 years of its history, Pakistan’s policy for FATA was to feed its dwellers the propaganda that they were the real liberators of Azad Kashmir (as they fought against India in the 1948 war). It was to impress upon them that they were not only a part of Pakistan but also its defenders, although we know that official books of Pakistan know them as ‘bandits’. To cement this manufactured perception of tribals, terms like ‘ghayoor qabail’ (honourable tribes) were concocted and applied. This tactic worked effectively; the tribals felt and seemed content with this title, bragged about it, and forgot to demand provision of health, education and communication facilities. With the Soviet attack on Afghanistan in 1979, the scenario changed completely. A bloody war broke out in the neighbourhood of FATA, reckoned as a most suitable and effective launching pad for the so-called jihad against atheist communism. Pakistan enthusiastically became a frontline ally of the US with two prime objectives in mind. One was to push Pakhtun nationalism in the background, which was at its peak at that time, and the second was to get the US to acquiesce in the nuclear bomb on which Pakistan was working at that time. FATA’s harsh terrain and socio-political milieu was optimally exploited against communism (in other words, in favour of the two objectives) with sheer disregard for the social and political life of the hapless tribals. Now the term ‘mujahideen’ being supplemented by the decades-old ‘ghayoor’ became a tool of choice for the Islamic connection that was needed to be stressed upon. Mujahideen from across the world were gathered and trained in FATA in particular and the whole Pakhtun belt in general. From here, they were launched against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We know that thousands lost their lives but can the suffering of those mothers and sisters be felt whose beloved sons and brothers lost their lives in the war that is now admitted to be a war of aliens? The brutality continued through the Taliban era into the war on terror era of the 21st century. Now it became transparent that FATA was being seen through a foreign policy prism. Earlier, the Taliban regime was to be installed in Kabul and, after its ouster by the US, to help the now defunct regime have a respectable position in post-US Afghanistan, only to protect our vital interests, which are said to be at stake. Thanks to its geographic location, FATA predictably turned out to be of great help in both the projects. In this process, the exploitation of FATA reached its climax, which laid bare the exploitative nature/character of a political structure of the colonial era and so prompted an assertive demand for its replacement. All spectrums of tribal society are unanimous on the point that the colonial era system should be replaced by a modern, regular system, which is in place in the other parts of Pakistan. They are clamouring for their formal integration with mainland Pakistan. But so what? There are so many ways to dodge them. If one group expresses its demand of merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), you create another group to demand a separate province and so muddy the waters. If they press their demand, and warn that war might break out between these groups, it is better to throw the question on the backburner. The hardships borne by the tribals in the last decade precipitated two beneficial outcomes. First, they realised and acknowledged that their system was outdated and needed to be replaced and second, the Pakistan army has started development projects like constructing dams, building schools and health centres. The tribals are thankful, but that should not divert attention from the real issue, which is the formal integration of FATA. The tribals are divided over the integration issue; one group says that it should be declared a separate province and the other says that it should be merged in KP. Should FATA be merged into KP or declared a separate province? The first thing that needs to be done is to disallow traditional maliks and political agents any role in the process of integration of FATA because they are the beneficiaries of the status quo and would never want to disturb it. Also there is no need for a referendum as the majority of the people of FATA are uneducated, unable to take an informed decision, and hence open to manipulation. In my opinion, a different method should be adopted for settlement of the deadlock. Three two-member committees should be constituted. One should arrange sessions in major cities with bureaucrats from FATA. Another committee should arrange similar sessions with students and university teachers from FATA in the major universities of Pakistan. A third committee should visit every Agency and register the opinion of samples of laymen and influential personalities (other than traditional maliks). Two questions should be asked from every respondent: (1) Whether FATA should be a separate province or merged in KP? (2) Why? (Rationale behind the opinion should be inquired). The answer to the second question should be registered as a small comment, which will help in the further development of FATA. Due importance should be given to the opinions of students, bureaucrats and teachers as they are the people who know the pros and cons of the matter. They know about the system of KP and FATA, therefore they can judge the scenario better. Though this method is cumbersome, its output would be ideal. Besides an internal demand, there is also an external factor that calls for an urgent integration of FATA. Recently, a few articles appeared in the US press that hinted at the US’s intention to create trouble for Pakistan in FATA. The US is already blaming Pakistan for allegedly playing a negative role in the war on terror, so if her diktat is not capitulated to then there is a chance that she will try to create problems for Pakistan. FATA being a rugged territory will attract her negative designs. Lest it happen, we should integrate FATA so that no one can dare to cast doubt on its status. Its integration will end its suitability as a launching pad for extremist movements. The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be contacted at khetranazk@gmail.com

Pakistan: Hidden forces trying to make grand alliance against PPP-led govt

Daily Times
Some clandestine powerful segments of the establishment and right-wing intelligentsia are in vigorous action to combine all the scattered opposition politico-religious parties on one platform to initiate a crushing movement to oust the PPP-led coalition government from the corridors of power, Daily Times has learnt from well-placed sources. The sources privy to this development confided to this scribe that certain sections of the establishment are engaged in behind-the-curtain activities to bring all big and small political parties to on one platform on the same pattern exercised in the past by making Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI). According to the sources, the first plan is to unite only political parties having strong reservations against the PPP-led coalition government and in the second phase the religious parties would be invited to strengthen the proposed move against the present regime. The toughest task for them is to bring Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on one platform, although PML-N is willing to join hands with PTI even on the ground of settling a formula of give and take in the upcoming elections, but Imran Khan is so pragmatic about the power of his tsunami that he thinks he needs no support from the PML-N for staging an anti-government move. The sources said the hidden hands are convincing them to act on ‘united you stand, divided you fall’. “The problem in uniting them on one platform is that Imran Khan, a sole decision maker of his party, is not convinced by his party’s inner group led by ex-PPP government’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi,” sources said. The sources said that the PML-N central leader is ready to shake hands with PTI on the ground that it could sacrifice some key constituencies for Imran Khan’s party if Khan withdraws his condition of quitting Punjab government. Just for a friendly gesture, the PML-N announced to support Shaukat Bosan, a brother of PTI leader Sikandar Bosan, an independent candidate for by-election in the constituency of Multan NA-151 against Abdul Qadir Gilani, a son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The sources said the dream of forming a coalition against the government could not be materialised until Imran Khan renounced his often-repeated saying that a “momin” would not put his finger twice in a hole to be bitten by a snake. PTI leader Mian Mahmood Rasheed without naming any leader of his party confirmed that some leaders are trying and favouring alliance with the PML-N to avoid the PPP’s next government. However, a majority of the leaders is against the move and anticipate that the alliance would cause real damage to the party, he added. PTI Central Information Secretary Shafqat Mahmood, categorically denying any move for electoral alliance with the PML-N, said the party leadership is confident to contest forthcoming elections independently. PML-N Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said political coalition was a part of democratic process and emergence of a grand political alliance comprising those parties, which are not part of the present collation government, including the PTI, could not be ruled out. He said an alliance before the general elections was necessary to oust the PPP from power.