Sunday, August 5, 2012

Al Saud betrays, fools Muslim Ummah: Political analyst

A political analyst says the repressive regime of Al Saud betrays and fools the Saudi citizens and the entire Muslim world, Press TV reports. “What they (Saudi regime) are doing is they are betraying the common Muslims in the name of Mecca and Medina, and their sacredness,” said Syed Ali Wasif, the president of Society for International Reforms and Research in Washington, in an interview with Press TV on Sunday. “The sacredness of Mecca and Medina is being used by the Saudi regime to fool around, to fool the Saudi citizens and to fool the Muslim Ummah and the international community at large.” Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in the oil-rich Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the Eastern Province. On August 3, Saudi security forces killed 18-year-old Hussain Yousef al-Qallaf in Qatif. Wasif stated that the anti-regime protesters in Saudi Arabia “are under a single leadership, under a single banner and they are moving ahead in the right direction to oust the Saudi regime in that region.” According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”

Visa Scandal: Abid Chaudhry sent to jail on 14 days remand

Olympic Visa scandal accused Abid Chaudhry was ordered to be sent to jail by a local Court in Lahore on 14 days physical remand. These instructions were given by the COurt on Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials appeared in the Court along with Abid Chaudhry. The FIA was granted a 2 day physical remand of Abid Chaudhry on Thursday. The FIA officials informed the Court that their investigation had concluded. After receiving the information, the Court ordered a 14 day judicial remand of the accused and further instructed the concerned officials to take him to jail. With respect to the passport scandal, a two-member FIA team would be leaving for London on Tuesday in order to investigate the matter, sources stated. According to sources, the team would be led by Muazzam Jaa and it would travel to London in order to record the statement of Asad Ali aka Mohammad Ali, the main character of the scandal.

Pakistan ‘Immune’ govt not to write letter

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, coming hard against the recent verdict of superior judiciary of striking down the new contempt of court law, has said that parliament is supreme, so no institution can declare null and void any of its legislation. Addressing a hurriedly-called press conference at Sindh Secretariat on Saturday, Sindh Information Minister declared that present judiciary was restored because of NRO of a dictator Pervez Musharraf, who quit as chief of army staff due to contract with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, which paved way for restoration of superior judiciary. Flanked with leaders of the Peoples Lawyers wing of ruling PPP, he counted the history of cases and said that the PPP and its leadership always victimised under baseless political cases and not received justice in past from the present judiciary. He said that though the PPP never received justice from the courts, but it will continue its respect and regards for the judiciary. Mouthpiece of PPP-led Sindh government said that the PPP workers and lawyers sacrificed their lives in the struggle for the independence of judiciary and rule of law. “We don’t want confrontation among the national institutions as every institution must stay in its constitutional limits.” The PPP accepted the decision of disqualification of elected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with protests, but will continue raising the voice for our rights, he said. Everyone knows that the legislation and amendment in the constitution was the only right of parliament, which could not be snatched by any institution neither it could be given this constitutional right to any other, he declared. PPP leader said that case being heard in the Supreme Court and NRO had connection. He said that the PPP was loser in the NRO, and all others including Nawaz Sharif and other parties were the beneficiaries of it. He termed the signing of NRO by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto as wise move, which paved way for quitting of Pervez Musharraf as the army chief, holding of new general elections in the country. Even, the restoration of judiciary and return of Mian Nawaz Sharif in the country was because of NRO, he claimed, adding that Pervez Musharraf would remain as army chief if NRO was not come. Memon questioned that all the agreements and cases of the Nawaz Sharif was pardoned under NRO than why the judiciary insisting for reopening of trial of grave of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto through reopening of the Swiss case as Asif Ali Zsardari was already completed his term in the jail of 11 years despite baseless and political cases under the regime of the Nawaz Sharif. He declared that constitution of Pakistan allows immunity for the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardri, so present government will never write letter to the Swiss government for reopening of the fake cases. He further questioned that when 8,000 other cases of rape, murder and other crimes was also involved in the NRO, but why the Supreme Court was not asking for reopening of these cases. Why Supreme Court is in hurry of reopening one case, in which the President has got immunity by the constitution, he questioned. He advised the superior judiciary to wait for one and half year when Asif Ali Zardari completes its tenure as President. He further said that money laundering cases against President Zardari was baseless, which was not proved by Nawaz Sharif during its regime as President remained behind the bars for 11 years political victimisation. Emphasize from the superior judiciary for reopening of one case is aimed to create a crisis in the country, he alleged, declaring that PPP will not let to create such situation and will not write the letter against its own President. To a question, he said that PPP was ready to sacrifice 1,000 prime ministers for safeguarding the constitution of Pakistan. Memon assured that PPP will continue its policy of restraining about judiciary and its decisions, adding that the PPP will not follow the policy of attacking the Supreme Court like the Nawaz Sharif government did in the past. He alleged that that the superior judiciary has ‘soft corner’ for Nawaz Sharif as not a single case was being opened against him and other parties. He questioned that why the accountability for PPP leadership. He underlined the need for accountability of each and everyone including judges, who validated the military rulers under the ideology of necessity. During the press conference of the Sindh information minister, a video was played on the multimedia, in which PML-N leaders was trying to climb on the walls of Supreme Court building. Another video clip was played, in which Awami Muslim leader Shaikh Rashid was allegedly saying that Chaudhry Iftikhar (CJ) had visited his Lal Haveli a number of times to get some ‘favour’. Raising questions on behalf of public, he asked for clarification of reports that all commercial deals of Arslan Iftikhar done at the house of his father Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar’s official home. Besides, he asked for clarification that why the Supreme Court has blocked the investigation into alleged corruption cases against CJ’s son Arslan Iftikhar. Information minister further asked that when over 100 PCO judges was removed or resigned, why one PCO (CJP) was holding the office. He declared that the PPP never bow before any unconstitutional steps or blackmailing and will protect its right of rule to complete its five years term of the government. He said that PPP was the symbol of unity for four provinces, so it would foil all conspiracies.

Developing FATA: Split over local govt regulation 2012

The Express Tribune
With elections looming in the near future, tribal elders and various political party leaders are still divided over the government’s introduction of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Local Government Regulations 2012. The Fata Secretariat had sought proposals from local legislators for the introduction of a local government (LG) system in the Fata. A pilot project in this regard was started almost ten days ago in Bajaur Agency. The Express Tribune had asked various local political leaders, parliamentarians and tribal elders for their views on the coalition government devised draft of the LG system. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) National Assembly member (MNA) Akhunzada Chittan said that the party backs the move and demands the election mechanism be based on adult franchise and the party system. He lamented, however, that the funds allocated for the tribal areas had not been utilised properly and were instead being diverted for the development of other sectors across the country. Chittan hoped leaders elected under the LG system would help solve problems that continued to plague the region. He suggested setting up a Fata council to decide the future of the tribal areas. Senator Hilal Rehman urged the need to discard decades-old draconian laws and introduce a proper judicial system. He said the council should keep a strict check on financial matters and supervise the execution of welfare projects across the tribal belt. Rehman further suggested that tribal leaders and representatives be taken into confidence before introducing any legislation. Zahir Shah Safi, a political reformer and tribal lawyer, told The Express Tribune that elections should be held on union and tehsil levels before merging Fata with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) or keeping the region independent, and Fata councils should have the final say on the decision. He supported the setting up of a municipal system in Bajaur Agency’s Khar headquarters. President of the Awami National Party’s (ANP) Mohmand Agency chapter, Nisar Mohmand said their party supports the plan. He added that it should not follow the Nazim-based system introduced by Pervez Musharraf. “The regulation should be like that of the provincial LG system.” He opposed the Fata council, however, saying the time was ripe to merge the tribal areas with K-P. Mohmand criticised the role of political agents in the process and stressed the need to reduce the political administration’s role and make the process more result oriented. Tribal elder and Halemzai peace committee leader Muhammad Ali Halemzai also opposed the plan and called upon the stakeholders to forge unity for the restoration of peace. He said normalcy was necessary to implement any regulation and introduce a new setup. He wished for the tribal areas to be brought at par with other parts of Pakistan in terms of peace, development, rules and regulations.

Pakistan: Downcast, disheartened and hopeless

The common man's status of mental health is getting low increasingly - and greatly characterised by pessimism - and a growing sense of inadequacy. In other words, he's in a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage. There is no gainsaying while the people in Pakistan strongly believe that democracy and rule of law are sine qua non for the country to make progress they fail to elect equal to the task leadership. Not too late after the elected representatives take seats in assemblies their real worth starts coming to light, with media and gossip exposing how blatantly they exploit the people's mandate for their personal gains. Almost on a day-to-day basis the scandals surrounding their murky deals make headlines in the media, and with that the people's enchantment with their democratic choice begins losing its luster. At the end of the day if and when the system is wrapped up on a note of 'dear countrymen' the people pour unto the streets and distribute sweets. Given the judiciary's repeated commitment to uphold the constitution and the waning interest of the 'guardians of state' for a 'patriotic' action this time we hope the pattern will undergo a change. The chances are that the coming electoral exercise would throw up better political leadership. Nonetheless, abundant caution has to be exercised to ensure that the pre-election ambience doesn't get nasty enough, a vulnerability to which as suggested by the recent PML (N)-PTI tit-for-tat sword rattling the parties can succumb. Having received quite a bit of negative flak over the alleged accumulation of Rs 50 billion worth of foreign assets owned by a son of Nawaz Sharif the PML (N) has launched a matching counterattack. At a press conference on Wednesday, one of its leaders, Khwaja Asif, accused Imran Khan of committing 'money-laundering and gambling on charity funds' meant for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. Imran Khan hasn't taken it lying; he immediately called the media persons to tell them that there is no truth in what the PML (N) was saying. This is match of accusations and counter-accusations. Unless there is a professional probe there is no way to find the veracity in these personal attacks. However, the fact remains that in this crossfire helplessly caught is the cancer treatment hospital that is serving humanity with great dedication. We wish both sides had shunned the path of personal attacks, for these not only tend to cast political leadership in bad light they also cause a lot of collateral damage which hurts the public cause in many ways. If there is a case that a politician or his party feel should be investigated and culprit brought to justice in that case the courts should be approached and meanwhile wait for the court orders. Being public leaders they all live in glass houses as people know them through and through, accusations or no accusations by the opponents. What they can do and shall do for the betterment of people if elected that is of interest to the people. These are not the ordinary times in the life of an average Pakistani, caught as he is in the eye of a swirling storm of corruption, high inflation, deepening poverty and unrelenting fear of insecurity. In the larger context, he finds the country beset with serious existential threats stemming from terrorism, sectarianism and lawlessness. Rightly then his love-affair with political option is badly jilted given his experience that successive political governments could not deliver. Obviously, the man in the street would like to hear something positive, pragmatic on his problems instead of watching dirty linen of political opponents being washed in public. Since most of players in the political field are old hands and people are well aware of their capacity or otherwise to deliver it is all the more necessary for them to trying at inventing an entirely new culture for the national politics. Yes, the past political performance of elected governments was never up to the mark and it is also admitted that not many hands are clean either. But with a grim and uncertain future standing in front of us the past performance is no more an issue; the issue relevant to our times is what these contenders for national power can do to turn over this page and write a new paragraph that aptly rhymes with people's hopes and aspirations. They must not ignore the fact that people are increasingly feeling downcast, disheartened and hopeless.

Pakistan: Threat from within

Five senior military officers have been convicted by a court martial for having links with a banned outfit, Hizbut Tahrir (HT). They received from five to eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment. Brigadier Ali Khan, the main protagonist, had been actively pursuing the cause of HT of indoctrinating military personnel to foment a rebellion against the alleged pro-US military and civilian leadership of the country. Following the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US forces in Abottabad in early May last year, Ali Khan expressed his displeasure to the COAS over the failure of the Pakistan army to prevent the killing of OBL. This led to a probe into Khan’s activities by the army’s Special Investigative Branch, and he was finally arrested on May 6, 2011. Though this is not the first time the military has prosecuted officers on disciplinary grounds, the invasion of Islamic extremism into the rank and file of the armed forces makes this case sensitive and a test case for future reference. The state of denial on the involvement of extremist elements in the assassination attempts on Musharraf, the attack on the Mehran naval base in Karachi, and the storming of GHQ in Rawalpindi should end now. HT is not the only Islamist outfit having influence in Pakistan. This is a widespread phenomenon with its tentacles spread over the length and breadth of the country and even into the defence and security services. Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Governor Salmaan Taseer, is one example, hardened by extremist Islamist views and averse to any other interpretations of Islam. It is about time the government, taking cognizance of the situation, launches an across-the-board crackdown on the extremist elements in our society. One of the major intelligence or tactical failures of Pakistan has been its inability to stop the ‘banned’ organisations from operating in the country. Banned, yet they have been allowed to operate with different names. Unless we cut the umbilical cord, i.e. the operational, financial and tactical alliances of the religious outfits within and without, the ban would remain a farce. The glory of Islam that HT and other Islamic organization are idealising and for which the return to a Caliphate is seen as the only alternative, is an ideology out of touch with present day realities. Therefore any attempt towards that end would end up as a non-starter, given the present state of and divisions in the Muslim world. HT’s bellicose anti-western imagery coupled with promoting anti-state sentiments, especially within the armed forces of Muslim countries, belies its claim of being non-violent. That is why the organisation should not be allowed to disarm opponents by its declarations of non-violence and be dealt with as a dangerous and insidious threat.

Demonstrators voice support for Bahraini revolution at Saudi Embassy in Berlin

A demonstration has been held outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Berlin to protest against the Saudi intervention in Bahrain and to express solidarity with Bahraini revolutionaries. The protesters, who gathered outside the embassy on Saturday, also called for the establishment of democracy and freedom in the Persian Gulf kingdom. The demonstrators waved Bahraini flags and held up pictures of slain Bahraini activists and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from the country. The protesters also called for the release of all political prisoners held in Bahraini prisons, including Bahrain Center for Human Rights President Nabeel Rajab. Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protesters. According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the crackdown. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Riyadh for helping the Bahraini regime’s efforts to quash popular protests in the island nation.