Saturday, August 23, 2014
Eight terrorists have been executed with the approval of the Supreme People's Court in Xinjiang, according to the publicity department of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Saturday. Their crimes involved five cases including the terrorist attack in the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, the gun-seizing and police-assaulting case in Aksu, the illegal manufacturing of explosives and intentional killing case in Kashgar, and the establishment of terrorist organization, murder of government officials and incineration of checkpoint in Hotan. Huseyin Guxur, Yusup Wherniyas and Yusup Ehmet had been sentenced to death and deprived of political rights for life by court for organizing and leading terrorist organization and jeopardizing public security with dangerous means. They masterminded the terrorist attack in the Tian'anmen Square of Beijing which killed 3 and injured 39 on Oct. 28 in 2013. Rozi Eziz, also sentenced to death by court, was convicted of gun seizing and intentional killing of police officers. He committed the crime on June 28, 2013 in Wushi County of Aksu. Abdusalam Elim had organized a terrorist gang with himself as the ring head since May 2011. The court found that Abdusalam Elim and others listened and watched religious extremist audio-visual materials and conducted illegal religious activities. They raised funds for members to conduct physical training and manufacturing, storage and transportation of explosives devices. He was sentenced to death and deprived of political right for life by court on charges of organizing and leading terrorist organization as well as illegal manufacturing, transportation and storage of explosives. The court found that Memet Tohtiyusup had watched audio-visual materials on religious extremism, violence and terror since February 2013. He killed an innocent civilian on April 18, 2013. He was sentenced to death and deprived of political rights for life by court for intentional killing. Abdumomin Imin had organized terrorist training since March 2008 and became a ring leader. He led Bilal Berdi and other members to have burned two checkpoints and two police vehicles in 2011 and murdered an officer with the forestry bureau of Hotan on Dec. 13, 2013. They were both sentenced to death and deprived of political rights for life by court on charges of organizing and leading terrorist organization, arson and intentional killing.
Cagri OzdemirThe Republican People's Party (CHP), the main parliamentary opposition of Turkey is in turmoil. Muharrem Ince, a prominent figure in the party, resigned as parliamentary group deputy chairman on 18 August, after delivering a lengthy press conference on the current party leadership. He stated that it the opposition not currently capable of mounting a real challenge to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP/AK Party). On 10 August, the electoral failure of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the party's joint candidate with the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) led some CHP MPs to voice their objection against the party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Emine Ulker Tarhan, an outspoken critic of Kilicdaroglu declared that the party no longer represents its fundamental pillars, and has been taken away from social democracy by nominating a conservative elitist like Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Tarhan has been accompanied by five other deputies during a press conference last week. In response to rising voices, Kilicdaroglu called for an extraordinary party convention to be held on 5-6 September. Just after this move, Ince announced he will run as a candidate to become the chairman of the party. "The honourable chairman [Kilicdaroglu] decided individually who will become a mayor, MP or presidential candidate," Ince said during the second press conference in one week. He blamed Kilicdaroglu of becoming more authoritarian and less democratic. A long-time coming This is not the first time that CHP is facing such a crisis. After almost all election failures, similar statements have been made and dissident voices have been raised from within the party establishment. These debates usually revolve around the ideological pillars that define the party; and though CHP clearly profiles itself as a social democratic and secularist party, for many it is neither. Perhaps the nomination of Ihsanoglu to run as their presidential candidate was one of the best examples. According to some ultra-secular cadres, Ihsanoglu’s Islamic background and former links to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation were deemed to be conflicting with the party principles. It is not surprising that the same MP's now have become dissidents. Riza Turmen, a CHP MP and former judge of the European Court of Human Rights challenges the existing mantra. Regarding the party principles he stated "You cannot be a neo-nationalist and social democrat at the same time. CHP must take steps to change this." Neo-nationalist (ulusalci) is a controversial term often used to define Kemalist, statist and ultra-secular cadres with nationalistic sensitivities. He then linked the current distress to the ongoing transformation process. "CHP has changed and it will continue to change" he told the national daily Birgun newspaper. "What we are witnessing is labour pain. […] We need a new understanding of politics and vision; therefore we need new faces." However, Ali Yasar Saribay at Uludag University does not believe that Muharrem Ince and the wing of the party he represents could become the new face of CHP. He also questions the change and transformation patterns of the party. "He [Kilicdaroglu] claimed that he would change the intra-party participation mechanisms and democratic norms for the better, increase transparency and remove the cumbersome bureaucratic structure," he told MEE. "After so many years, we do not see any of these changes." "We have witnessed so many party conventions in the last four years and have to acknowledge that unfortunately the party cannot rejuvenate itself, and bound to face personal struggles," he further added. "I do not see a particular difference between Kilicdaroglu and Ince in that sense." To further elaborate, Can Atakli stated that "The presidential election failure of the CHP added yet another trauma to the party’s supporters". The former columnist at Vatan newspaper thinks that the main reason for the failure is the party’s inability to exhibit confidence and persuasiveness. For Atakli moreover, CHP cannot develop policies and challenge the government party due to its weakened position in parliament. "Whilst AKP ignores the constitution, and does whatever it wants to do, the CHP is paralysed," he told MEE. Besides, the difficulties that CHP encounters in the political realm and its consequent inability to make a stand against the government party can also be explained by deeper problems in Turkish democracy. According to Yunus Emre at Istanbul Kultur University, the anti-democratic political culture in Turkey, party legislations and intra-party regulations make it impossible for parties to evolve. "The party organisation and establishment are weak, and they are very limited in setting policies and nominating candidates," Emre told MEE. "Because of this reason, calls for change do not reach the leadership level." A false dawn? Should he become the next chairman, many believe Muharrem Ince could not really make a difference as a result of the troubles within the party as well as the underlying structural problems. There are two main hurdles Ince will have to take to get himself elected in the convention. On one hand, he faces structural and timing difficulties as the convention will take place in a relatively short period of time, which might prevent the dissidents to mobilise party delegates. "The law on political parties and the delegation structure of CHP would not make it easy for Ince to get elected," Atakli argues. On the other hand, though Ince is an outspoken and popular figure for many, what he stands for is somewhat unclear. For Saribay, who he is and what he represents is unknown. "We cannot say that he represents the left wing of the party, nor could we claim that he is the mouthpiece of the secularists," he argued. Saribay added that Ince does not have any real platform, and no goal other than becoming the chairman. Though Ince claimed that he would change the party regulation and introduce drastic reforms to strengthen intra-party democratic mechanisms, Atakli believes that he does not stand a chance against Kilicdaroglu. "He is not a strong figure and he does not have strong backing either," he told MEE. Besides, the outcome of this existential crisis and CHP's self-identification are greatly influenced by the rivalry with AK Party according to Emre. For him, potential changes could only come from the shifting structure within the government party. "Until the upcoming general elections, the only factor that could affect CHP's future is what would be the future of AKP," he said. CHP's matchup with AKP constrained the party to such an extent that the real power struggle takes place within the party, rather than challenging the government. "There is practically no mental difference between the CHP administration and other cadres within the party," Emre argued. "Therefore, the future of CHP will be determined by the factors which are not controlled by the party." Atakli supports this idea of intra-party power struggle, and deconstructs Kilicdaroglu's moves. "The right thing for Kilicdaroglu to do would have been resigning on election night and going to the convention with a fresh team," he reasoned. "By calling for a convention at short notice and only after being challenged, as well as setting a small venue, he sends the message of 'I am the boss'. In a way he acts like Recep Tayyip Erdogan, taking all the power into his hands." According to Atakli, under these circumstances the intra-party opposition made a faulty attempt to challenge Kilicdaroglu. He will probably have the party's backing during the convention. Taking a broader perspective, Saribay reiterates that the current and recurring deadlock facing the CHP is an existential problem. "Only when CHP can identify this, it could change the conditions in its favour," he said. He speculates that more drastic changes are needed to reverse the party’s course. "Maybe a neo-nationalist surge in the party and a seizure of the party administration would result in an exodus of the leftist wing to form a new party, which eventually would be a fortunate moment in Turkish politics," Saribay concluded. - See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/soul-searching-time-turkey-s-opposition-215309165#sthash.lS2BsP1t.dpuf
BY NATASJA SHERIFFThe Reverend Al Sharpton led thousands of chanting but peaceful activists in a march across Staten Island on Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner, who died after New York City police put him in a banned chokehold last month. Protesters traveled by bus and ferry to join the rally over Garner, a 43-year-old black father of six, whose killing has become part of a larger national debate about how U.S. police use force, particularly on people who are not white. "We are not here to cause riots, we are here because violence was caused," Sharpton said to a crowd of cheering supporters who filled streets in the borough where Garner died. Sharpton was joined by former New York Governor David Patterson, other civil rights leaders and Garner's widow, Esaw. "Let's make this a peaceful march and get justice for my husband so that this doesn't happen to anybody else," Esaw Garner said in a somber tone to protesters. Garner's sister, Ellisha Flagg, also spoke, saying the march was not anti-police, but was against police brutality and violence in general. "We have to stop killing one another, hating one another," Flagg said. The demonstration was also in response to the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American who was shot dead by a white police officer this month in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking more than a week of violent confrontations, Sharpton said. Protesters carried signs demanding justice for Garner and Brown and shouted slogans including, "Hands up don't shoot." They began Saturday's march just after noon, walking past the district attorney's office, and ending a few blocks from the terminal for ferries to Manhattan. Dawn Edwards, a human resource executive from Brooklyn, said she chose to march out of fear that negative stereotypes will have an impact on her two young sons as they grew older. "I hope when my boys grow up to become men, those stereotypes will no longer exist," she said. Michelle Johnson, a 34-year-old pharmacist from Long Island, said her sons had also inspired her to join the march. "It's a sobering lesson for a mother to tell her child that your country doesn't judge you simply on your character but on the color of your skin," Johnson said. New York Police Department officers lined blocked streets near the march. Still, police said no arrests were made by the time the rally wound down in the late afternoon, and some officers handed bottles of water to protesters. A New York City prosecutor plans to present evidence to a grand jury next month to determine whether anyone should be criminally charged in Garner's death. The city's medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, saying police officers killed him by compressing his neck and chest as they restrained him for selling loose cigarettes. His health problems, including asthma and obesity, were contributing factors, the medical examiner said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan People’s Party has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of seven people following heavy downpour in Peshawar. In a press statement issued today, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the innocent lives lost in natural vagary in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa should create sympathy in the hearts of Chief Minister KPK and provincial government and both should divert their attention towards the sufferings of the people of Peshawar in the monsoon instead of attending music concerts in Islamabad. He expressed sympathy with the families of victims and asked PPP’s Peshawar chapter to personally visit the affected families and provide solace to them.
http://tribune.com.pk/Internally displaced persons of North Waziristan staged a protest in Bannu on Friday against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri for hijacking media attention towards their protests in Islamabad. IDPs in Bannu took out a protest rally from Milad Park, Bannu City and marched through various districts to the Bannu Press Club. The protesters held placards which were inscribed with slogans against K-P government, Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri. Led by North Wazirstan Affected People Committee president Nisar Ali Khan, the protesters said that PTI and PAT had occupied Islamabad and started a sit-in for an indefinite time and that the move was hiding problems of the IDPs from the world. They termed sit-ins by both leaders as a drama. The protesters demanded that the PTI chairman should remove ‘Khan’ from his name because he was not representing their interests. They argued that if he was a leader representing them, he would have been there with the IDPs rather than dancing and singing with a mob in Islamabad. The speakers further claimed that relief items that were dispatched for the IDPs were being sold in the market openly. Further, the IDPs claimed that they were being evicted from government schools without providing an alternate residence, and that they were being provided substandard food items. They claimed they were being fleeced for their domiciles and identity cards.
PPP leader and former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira today urged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to withdraw its resignations, saying that it was premature to demand Prime Minister’s resignation. Speaking to media persons, Kaira said that Imran Khan should not put the whole system in test. “There is a need to resolve this impasse within the ambit of constitution,” he opined. He also called upon the government to show some flexibility to end the deadlock. “PPP believes in democracy. We have rendered huge sacrifices for the sake of democracy,” he added. It is noted here that Imran Khan has recommended the name of Kaira as a mediator for talks with the government.
Former President Asif Zardari has appreciated the efforts of Jamat-e-Islami Ameer Siraj ul Haq and said him to continue efforts as mediator to defuse tension. JI Ameer Siraj-ul-Haq has said that negotiation is the only way to resolve political issues.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) received a vote of confidence from some unlikely allies, as the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – formerly known as the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – rallied in support of the ruling party after Friday prayers. The demonstrators, led by ASWJ chief Ahmed Ludhianvi, marched from the Lal Masjid to the National Press Club, in opposition to what they called “attempts to replicate an Iran-style revolution in Pakistan”. However, the rally was punctuated by sectarian slogans. ASWJ and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) members who spoke at the rally also used derogatory language towards Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri and Raja Nasir Abbas of the Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM). Participants of the rally, titled the ‘Defence of Islam and Stability of Pakistan’ also denounced J. Salik, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and the Chaudhrys of Gujrat for siding with Mr Khan and Dr Qadri. ASWJ rallies in support of democracy, alleges Qadri wants to impose Iran-style revolution on Pakistan Consisting mostly of students and teachers from local Deobandi ASWJ-affiliated madressahs and Lal Masjid, rally participants even carried placards bearing incendiary slogans, including one that said: “Those opposing the PML-N government would do so over our dead bodies”. The primary thrust of all the speakers was the claim that Allama Tahirul Qadri was trying to force a revolution on the country, along the lines of the Ayatollah Khomeni-led Iranian revolution of 1979. Ludhianvi said that Dr Qadri was “conspiring against Sunnis in Pakistan by importing the Iranian Revolution”. “Ahle Sunnat is the majority (sect) in Pakistan and we want our brand of Sharia in the country,” he said, stopping short of hurling direct threats against both the PAT and PTI. Challenging both party leaders, he said his party could call so many people to the capital that there will be “no space left”, adding that the protesters on Constitution Avenue would “all run away after seeing the numbers of our supporters”.Mr Ludhianvi also had a word of advice for both PAT and PTI. “I regret the 14 deaths in Model Town, but more than 7,000 of our workers have been assassinated, yet we have never taken to the streets in protest. Imran Khan is upset about electoral rigging; I too am a victim of rigging but I’ve taken a legal recourse,” the ASWJ chief said, adding, “My advice to both of you: learn from our example and don’t act like extremists”. JUI-S Islamabad chapter head Sheikhul Hadis Abdul Rauf called the PTI and PAT marches “a conspiracy against Islam and Pakistan” and called upon all Sunnis to rise up in defence of their religion and country. PML-N youth wing leaders and members of the party’s Islamabad chapter, who were also present on stage at the time, lauded the ASWJ for coming out in support of Islam, Pakistan and democracy. As the participants raised sectarian slogans, PML-N Youth Wing’s Yasir Abbasi said that neither Imran Khan nor Dr Qadri had ever stood up against threats to Islam or the country. “Maulana Ludhianvi is the real defender of Islam. He is our leader – we look to you whenever Islam faces hard times,” Mr Abbasi said. Senior ASWJ leader Masoodur Rehman Usmani even went as far as to suggest that the term ‘Mustafavi Revolution’ – being used by Tahirul Qadri and his supporters – had nothing to do with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).“This refers to the name of one of Ayatullah Khomeni’s daughter, who was called Mustafavi. She would indoctrinate Tahirul Qadri with ideas from the Iranian revolution,” Usmani told the crowd, branding Dr Qadri “an infidel” and denouncing Imran Khan for “spreading obscenity and shamelessness among the women of Islamabad”. However, political analysts have a grave view of the ASWJ’s decision to join the fray in defence of ‘democracy’. “It seems the PML-N has unleashed its ally among extremist groups, but it is dangerous to give them space,” senior journalist and commentator Zahid Hussain told Dawn, adding, “The government needs to resolve the issue through political means, not by bringing proscribed groups to its aid”.
Afghan immigrants are the biggest threat for the peace of Balochistan, said Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs of Balochistan, Sarfraz Bugti in a press conference yesterday. Addressing a Press conference in Frontier Corps Madadgar Center, Sarfraz Bugti said that Afghan immigrants should be sent back to their country soon. He further added that data of Afghan immigrants living in vicinity of Samungli airbase is being collected by government. In past, Afghan immigrants have been involved in major terrorist attacks in Balochistan. A suicide car bomb attack on the residence of DIG frontier Corps was carried out by an Afghan Immigrant in September 2011.
By Husain HaqqaniThe elaborate diplomatic dance between India and Pakistan has been interrupted once again. The two sides remain far from a major breakthrough in their troubled relationship. As long as the Pakistani Army continues to view India as an existential threat and maintains its grip over security policy, the twain may never achieve permanent peace. India has called off the meeting between its Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh and her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry scheduled for August 25 in Islamabad, after Pakistan's High Commissioner in Delhi met Kashmiri separatist leaders. This has ended the euphoria following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's journey to New Delhi for the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last May. Pakistan's decision to remind Indians of their dispute over Kashmir followed Modi's comments about Pakistani support for terrorism during a recent visit to Kargil, where the two countries fought a war in 1999. Both Sharif and Modi spoke of the need to bury the hatchet during their meeting on the occasion of Modi's inauguration. But the expressions of desire for normalization could not contain the more substantive problems in the India-Pakistan relationship. India remains unhappy over Pakistan's failure to prosecute terrorists involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Sharif, on the other hand, must deal with hardliners in Pakistan's military who insist on seeing India as their country's permanent enemy -- unwilling to look too closely at the terrorists involved in the attack. For India, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were as much a challenge as the 9/11 assault was for Americans. The 12 coordinated shootings and bombings carried out by ten Pakistani terrorists killed 164 people and terrorized India's commercial capital for almost three days before commandos flushed them out of various buildings, including five-star hotels and a Jewish community center. The images of the attacks, telecast live into Indian homes, are seared in the memory of most Indians. Although Pakistan arrested several individuals involved in planning and executing the Mumbai attacks, prosecution has been repeatedly delayed. Intelligence reports, including some from U.S. sources, have indicated that the detained commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, enjoy amenities not available to prisoners. Some have been found passing instructions on the phone to operatives. Recently, their trial was once again postponed without recording evidence or other substantive proceedings. LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed remains free, appearing on television spouting venom against India, Israel and the United States from his massive headquarters near Lahore. Indian officials read Pakistan's refusal to prosecute the 26/11 accused or clamp down on Hafiz Sayeed as a sign of reluctance in shutting down anti-India jihadi groups. In July, Pakistan's military launched a military operation against terrorist safe havens along its border with Afghanistan, yet the Pakistani state is far from shutting down the jihadi infrastructure built since the 1980s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and the subsequent militant uprising in Kashmir during the 1990s. The Pakistani military continues to seek military advantage against India even though the possession of nuclear weapons by both countries should deter the prospect of war. Jihadis offer a sub-conventional deterrent to Pakistan against India's overwhelming advantage in conventional military capability. Most Pakistani civilian politicians recognize the dangers of reliance on terrorism as an element of Pakistan's strategic planning, but the military retains tight control over foreign and national security policy despite return to civilian rule in 2008. Like his civilian predecessor Asif Ali Zardari, Sharif has declared normalization of relations with India as a priority. Zardari's government tried to open travel and trade and, in 2011, agreed to Most Favored Nation status for India. Despite completion of legal formalities, the status has not yet been granted, demonstrating behind-the-scenes military influence. After his election last year, Sharif renewed talk of normalizing relations with India, with special emphasis on trade. India and Pakistan have a combined population of 1.4 billion, share a 2,000-mile border and a common history until 1947. Their languages are mutually understandable, and parts of their populations have overlapping ethnicity. There is also significant complementarity in the two neighbors' economies. Still, trade between them amounted to only $2.6 billion last year, less than 0.5 percent of India's total commerce. As a businessman, Sharif says he understands the benefit of freer trade between the two countries. Rhetoric and expressions of desire for more trade notwithstanding, security remains the overarching consideration in India-Pakistan ties. Sharif's participation in Modi's inauguration was billed as the first time a Pakistani prime minister had attended such celebrations in India -- an opportunity for laying foundations of a new relationship between India and Pakistan. The prospect of a new beginning, however, was soon undermined by incidents of firing along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The two countries have fought for the control of Kashmir since 1947. According to Indian officials, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire in the disputed territory 54 times this year through July 16 and 19 times since the Modi government took office May 26. Defense Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament recently that Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement 199 times last year. Pakistan flatly denies reports of these incidents, just as it denies support for jihadi groups operating in Kashmir -- though they operate in full view of Pakistani and international media. There are many logical reasons for why and how India-Pakistan ties can be normalized. Psychological, not logical, factors have held the relationship back so far. Since the country's birth through India's partition in 1947, Pakistanis have sought to define their national identity through denial of commonality with India. Disputes, such as the one over Jammu and Kashmir, have over the years become more symptom than cause of tensions in the subcontinent. At the heart of the problem is Pakistan's carefully nurtured national narrative and state ideology, diametrically opposed to India's view of itself as the region's preeminent power. "Two nations share a 2,000-mile border and common history. Pakistanis seek national identity by denying ties with India." Since independence, Pakistanis have been told, and with greater vehemence since 1977 with the rule of military dictator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, that their country is a "citadel of Islam," that its destiny is to be an Islamic state and its army is "the sword of Islam." Advocates of modern, secular values, even pluralism, are denigrated as "enemies of the ideology of Pakistan," therefore cast as "traitors to Pakistan." Pakistan's establishment, led by its military, also seeks parity with India, not only in the legal sense of sovereign equality between nations but in military and political terms. This ideological milieu has helped religious-political groups exercise greater influence on national discourse than is justified by either the size of their membership or number of votes in Pakistan's sporadic general elections and led to the outgrowth of jihadi groups, one more extreme than the other. Pakistan's state ideology has undermined prospects for peace with India since 1950, when Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan travelled to Delhi and signed the first major agreement. The optimism about the agreement died within a year with the assassination of its Pakistani signatory. Pakistan has since gone through years of political instability while the army has gained influence in policymaking. Over the years, Pakistan participated in U.S.-led anti-communist military alliances to secure military hardware that would enable it to deal with a larger, ostensibly hostile neighbor. It has fought four wars with India, including the one in 1971 resulting in the creation of Bangladesh, leaving Pakistan with half its 1947 territory. Although Pakistan has acquired nuclear weapons capability, its insecurity in relation to India has not diminished. Soon after independence, Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said that he expected India and Pakistan to live alongside each other like Canada and the United States. But as long as Pakistan's establishment continues to paint India as an existential threat and a permanent enemy in the minds of its people, no Pakistani leader -- civilian or military -- can embrace the Canada-U.S. model. For now, the two sides will maintain their well-worn pattern of diplomatic engagement interspersed with periods of intense hostility.
How ironic it is that 68 years on as an independent people we still nurture and relish a whole host of paradoxes instead of accepting soft and hard realities that come our way in our national life. Take, for instance, the anti-government sit-ins in front of the Parliament House; the fact is that by the end of the week these have morphed into a sort of carnivals contributing - in a significant manner - to the ongoing turmoil. Courtesy this prank whatever recovery of our national economy was in evidence it has been seriously undermined; people's faith in the democratic system has eroded and our image abroad has taken a serious battering. We have received warning from our friends in the West not to rock the boat and we have requested the Sri Lanka president to put off his visit. We vow to defend democracy whatever it takes, but just one ISPR statement has made us launch a series of 'muzaakraat' to explore ways and means for political co-existence. We have broken the back of terrorists in North Waziristan but we are not yet on the ground hospitable enough that the IDPs should return to their homes. If air strikes were to be our weapons of choice against terrorists' hideouts what is wrong then with the drones that cause much less collateral damage? Is the continuing turmoil in the Capital a perfect diversion from what is happening on the warfront? Nobody is talking about the tens of thousands of men, women and children, who are out in the open under the high noon sun as a token of their contribution to our national independence. Maybe, what the people are fed by the media as daily staple is projection of cultist populism and clash of big egos. We seem to be irretrievably addicted to saying one thing and doing just the opposite. This is a sorry state of affairs that the men in uniform have to act as monitors as if their political counterparts are unable to walk on their own two feet. We need to walk out of this make-believe world and come to grips with realities of life as they come. Those who are rocking the boat too hard need to revisit our political history. It was the unending political squabble resulting in a game of musical chairs that opened the door wide enough for General Ayub Khan to walk in. By the time he left the stage, all that squabbling lot was nowhere in existence. Yet another generation of squabbling politicians 'invited' General Ziaul Haq. For 11 years there was no democracy. Unless we shun paradoxical attitude of paying only lip service to democratic norms and practices, we keep alive a potent threat to the democratic system. Of course, there is a strong humanitarian aspect to Dr Tahirul Qadri's agenda; but there is no reason it should be executed by force resulting in derailment of the democratic system. His only option is walking the democratic path to reach the parliament and heading a majority big enough to amend the Constitution. By staging a sit-in in front of the parliament building he has no chance of implementing his agenda. Imran Khan is part of the parliament and a part of his agenda deserves to be implemented. But seeking its implementation under threat of force is not what the Constitution permits and the parliament should countenance. Under the Constitution, the prime ministerial slot gets vacated only, if he/she resigns or is voted out by the majority of the members or dies, which is not the case in the present scenario. The remaining five demands, however deserve attention and therefore should be addressed and discussed to determine their applicability under the Constitution. As regards the government it must take appropriate measures that should not only improve the climate for a meaningful dialogue but also walk some reasonable distance from its tightly-held 'heavy-mandate' fortress. Rejecting the idea of majority rule, Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of one of the world's oldest democracy with a written constitution, the United States of America, said: 'Though the will of majority in all cases must prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that minority possesses equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression'. The truth is that a hubris-ridden PML (N) government exhibited scandalous nonchalance over Imran Khan's call for vote verification posing as if it was not its but others' concern. But now, that it appears willing to review its position, we expect Imran Khan to return to the parliament and ask for this - instead of remaining defiant and unbending in his unenviable position of denial. The guru of pragmatic politics Winston Churchill once said 'a good politician should be able to tell you what would happen tomorrow, and if it doesn't happen he should be able to tell you why it didn't happen'.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has tasked opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah with helping defuse the political deadlock. This was decided in a meeting of the PPP central executive committee which took place with Zardari in the chair. The meeting also decided to engage former Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood in the dialogue process to get the prevailing political stalemate settled. The PPP leaders agreed that they would back the government in both the houses of parliament and not support any undemocratic move against the government. The PPP co-chairman also summoned a meeting of the party’s Punjab chapter. Separately, Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman talked to each other on telephone on Friday. According to media reports, the former president talked to the JUI-F chief on telephone after reaching Karachi on Friday. The two leaders discussed the ongoing marches in Islamabad and discussed different problems facing the country. Moreover, Zardari will contact all political parties on the current situation, and JUI-F chief has agreed to it. Zardari also telephoned founder leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain on Friday. The two men inquired after the well being of each other and expressed good wishes. They discussed the current political crisis and the overall situation in the country besides other issues of mutual interest. Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday met with senior party colleagues to discuss the current political situation in Pakistan. After a wide-ranging discussion on the subject, Zardari reiterated that the current political crisis be addressed through dialogue and within the framework of the constitution. The party members expressed concern at the “short-sighted and high-handed tactics of the government” and urged all parties in the conflict to resolve the issues at hand without recourse to further violence and disruption of public life in the capital and country. The meeting condemned the killing of PAT workers in Model Town, Lahore, on June 17 and demanded that an FIR be expeditiously registered. The party observed that any unconstitutional path taken to resolve the current stalemate will be detrimental to the future of democracy and the stability of the state. Zardari noted with concern that instead of focusing on providing relief to a million citizens of North Waziristan both the provincial and federal governments had entangled themselves and the country in a protracted dispute.
The Express Tribune
By Taj HaiderThe present crisis of the right-wing extremist politics of Pakistan is the direct result of manipulations in the last general elections. Those shouting themselves hoarse over rigging in the previous elections were themselves the biggest beneficiaries of such rigging. They choose to ignore the fact that the three political parties, which were against extremism, were not allowed to run an election campaign. The son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was kidnapped at gunpoint for holding a small election-corner meeting in Multan (he has not been recovered to date) while the PML-N and the PTI were campaigning across the length and breadth of the country unhindered and unharmed. The difference made by militancy in the results of the elections can be gauged from the results of NA-1 in Peshawar where PTI chief Imran Khan won by a lead of 70,000 votes and had vacated the seat later. In the by-elections held just two months later, when the militants allowed the ANP to campaign, not only did the PTI lead of 70,000 votes vanish, but the PTI lost the seat itself. The agitators also chose to ignore the findings of the election tribunal on the rigging committed by the PTI on PS-93, Karachi West. The tribunal, in its judgment of August 7, found that the sitting MPA, who is the PTI’s Sindh general secretary, had changed the results of seven polling stations, had increased votes in his favour by more than 5,000 and reduced the votes of the JI candidate who was declared the ultimate winner by the tribunal. The same official took hundreds of PTI workers to Islamabad dharnas and stood next to his chief demanding “resignations and fair elections”. These weren’t elections. This was an arrangement worked out by the agencies (whom PPP President Makhdoom Amin Fahim rightly congratulated on the PML-N’s election victory) and supported on the ground by militants. This was an artificial arrangement, whose time was long past. This arrangement had to crumble down. The time for worn out ideas and their imposition at gunpoint is long gone. The Pakistan Peoples Party had opted for the continuation of the spirit of the Charter of Democracy. The spirit is that of reconciliation. It excludes dictation of the establishment. We had made the PML-N a part of the federal government. We, ourselves, were part of the Punjab government. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif thought it better to part ways and started using state institutions to destabilise our elected government. While we were acting boldly to oust militants from Swat and other areas, these elements were provided safe havens in southern Punjab. In the interests of democracy, the PPP decided not to protest on the streets. The highly abusive language used against us and our leadership by the PML-N hurt us. But at the present crucial juncture, the language being used against the PML-N leadership is hurting us more. The continuation of the democratic system remains, as always, our top priority. Democracy presupposes a civilised political culture, which is being ruined by these elements who have no stakes in the democratic system. Can the commission appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court investigate all of more than 1,300 seats of the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly? The record has been so badly messed up as a result of arrangements made before the polls that it has become impossible to correctly identify the bogus votes. The fact that the three parties, which were against extremist militants, were not allowed to campaign while the PTI and the PML-N enjoyed their full support, is reason enough to call the election unfair. The PPP has been saying that from day one. The most important question is: where do we go from here? The PPP, the biggest sufferer of rigging, believes in politics of reconciliation. Major successes for democracy — the Charter of Democracy, the NFC Award, the Eighteenth Amendment, the completion of the term of previous assemblies and the governments were all results of the politics of reconciliation. ‘Politics of confrontation’, which makes the headlines, has always resulted in setbacks, the loss of democratic gains and ultimately, dictatorship. We have seen enough of it in 1999. We do not understand why the PTI and the PML-N, which were the biggest beneficiaries of poll rigging, are pushing the country to the same abyss through confrontation. Everyone stands to lose. There are no winners in this confrontation or in any confrontation for that matter. Emotionalism has to make way for rationalism. Violence and democracy can never coexist. We shall have to jointly find way to exclude militancy and the role of agencies from the electoral system. The time for such a system has arrived. Attempts to postpone it will always result in one crisis after the other.
As Pakistan People’s Party supremo Asif Ali Zardari is coming to Lahore on Saturday (today) to give Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “a valuable piece of advice,” some PPP leaders are of the view that the premier should go for a “big sacrifice” in case he finds no way to avert the crisis. The PPP leaders also say any more delay in resolving the issue with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek will harm the government. Mr Zardari will tell the prime minister to show ‘large-heartedness’ to resolve the crisis.