Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Video Report - Asfandyar Wali Khan Interview with Dawn News

#Pakistan - #PPP - Asif Ali Zardari will neither bow nor run away: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday said despite his illness Zardari stood firm on his principled stance and he will not bow come hell or high water. “We are proud of our leader, who neither bows, nor compromises, nor runs away,” he said while talking to newsmen after visiting the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to inquire after his father Asif Ali Zardari.

He said the cases against Asif Zardari were false and now the Supreme Court had taken up his petition against the trial of his case in Rawalpindi instead of Sindh. He said the apex court will have to decide whether the case be tried in Sindh or Rawalpindi adding that they expected justice from the court.
Bilawal said it was being heard that the PTI government was trying to save former military dictator General (R) Pervez Musharraf in the high-treason case but the nation was looking towards the judiciary.
“We are also looking that an absconder and a traitor is being tried in court and our chief justice has said that the case verdict is expected soon. Now it is being heard that the Imran Khan government is striving to protect this absconder, traitor and dictator,” he said. Bilawal said he was positive that the judiciary will pass through this test now.
“Pervaiz Musharraf's trial and the verdict will give the same message, which the chief justice has given that these courts have announced verdicts only against the former prime ministers. I hope a verdict is expected against a dictator and as a result the Pakistani democracy and its journey will be strengthened,” he said.
Asked whether the JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had taken them into confidence on his statement about a change in December and elections in three months, Bilawal said Fazl had not shared any details in this regard.
As for the issue of any deadline, deal or elections after three months, Fazl has not shared with us. We hope that it will also be shared with us tomorrow,” he said. To another question, he said Zardari was not ready to apply for bail but the party was requesting him to go for it on merit.
“After the judgment in Maryam Nawaz case, I believe everyone who is imprisoned without allegation should also get bail. We argue with Zardari sahib on these points but his stance is that all these cases are false, fabricated and he will face them himself and will not bow before anyone,” he said.Asked whether only political issues will be discussed in the APC or those being faced by the public will also come under discussion, he said in every APC the same points were discussed.
“As far as the PPP is concerned, from the first day till now, we have been talking about attacks on the people’s democratic rights, human rights and economic rights. These are the basic components of the PPP manifesto and we don’t think that this country can run like this,” he said.
He said the PPP always believed that if the common man received relief from taxes and benefitted from subsidies and had money in his pocket, then that money will circulate in our economy and the whole country's economy will prosper.
He said the PPP believe that when the government announced a tax amnesty scheme, which was for billionaires, then those billionaires keep that tax relief in their bank accounts, but for the farmers, laborers and students there was no tax amnesty scheme.
“This is injustice. This is not one but two Pakistans. The PPP always thinks about the people and will continue to work for them,” he said. Asked about Nawaz Sharif’s departure to London for treatment, he said Imran Khan himself wanted him to go abroad to save his government and politics. He said Nawaz Sharif got ill and Imran Khan got an opportunity and he sent him abroad. “We believe treatment is everyone's right but Imran Khan should clearly accept, as the chief justice has said, that he did all that.

Interview - Sher Mohammad Bugti - #Pakistan has been playing dubious role in war against terrorism

By Namrata Biji Ahuja 

'The state of media freedom is at its worst in Pakistan today than ever'.
Sher Mohammad Bugti, the central spokesman of Baloch Republican Party and a close aide of BRP president Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, has horrific memories of his family members being tortured and killed in secret operations launched by the Pakistan army in Balochistan. His brother, Shah Mohammad Bugti was the President of BRP in Dera Bugti district when he was abducted on December 5, 2010 by Pakistani secret agencies and paramilitary forces and after two days his bullet riddled and torture marked body was found. Sher Mohammad's eldest son Haq Nawaz Bugti was also killed by the Pakistan Army in Noshki in Balochistan. Struggling against complete media censorship by Pakistan's ISI, Sher Mohammad has recently taken the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan to various international forums including the United Nations' Human Rights Council(UNHRC). In an exclusive interview to THE WEEK, Sher Mohammad says there is a complete media censorship to even question, let alone criticise, the policies of the Pakistani military which controls all the matters of the country from behind the scenes.  Sher Mohammad Bugti is currently in exile in Geneva, SwitzerlandExcerpts from an exclusive interview:
Why do you think the Baloch Movement has not got visibility in the International media as other movements?There are so many factors in play as far as coverage by international media and action by the world community for a movement like the Baloch struggle is considered. All countries raise their voices and become proactive in supporting or denying such struggles based on their own interests.  
Unlike the other such movements where more than one country has stakes & interests and therefore internationalise the issue to benefit from the situation, the Baloch nation is fairly a case between the oppressor Pakistani state and the oppressed Baloch people.  
Besides, Pakistan has been playing dubious role in war against terrorism where it has been supporting and exporting terrorism on one hand and pretending to be an ally of the western world on the other . This has helped Pakistan to keep the struggle in Balochistan away from world eyes. Despite all this, the struggle and sacrifices of the Baloch people have gained international attention recently and more people are talking about and supporting the Baloch nation than anytime in the past.
Can Balochistan afford to sustain itself as an independent nation?
The nations do not base their struggle for their self-determination and rights on likelihoods of getting the objective and sustaining their rights. Baloch as a nation has all the rights that any nation in the world has and it should be given those rights.  
As far as achieving those objectives and sustaining them is considered, nations have faced more difficult situations than being in a 'conflict zone' neighbourhood regionally. Nations continue to fight for their national identity and its protection in spite of all the challenges.  

What is the state of media freedom in Pakistan ?
The state of media freedom is at its worst in Pakistan today than ever. It was limited to Balochistan before where journalists were abducted, tortured and killed for reporting the cases of human rights abuse by the Pakistani military there but it has been expanded to entire Pakistan.
Any journalist, newspaper or news channel that does not toe the line of Pakistan Army's media wing, the ISPR, is silenced by all means possible. There is a complete media censorship to even question, let alone criticise, the policies of the Pakistani military which controls all the matters of the country from behind the scenes.  

Have you taken up the human rights violations of Baloch people with the UNHCR?We have been highlighting the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan on all forums internationally, including the United Nations' Human Rights Council. We have presented in detail the cases of gross HR violations including military operations on civilians, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by the Pakistan Army in Balochistan on these forums.  
How do you see the political and economic future of Pakistan in context of the present crisis ?
With the current state of affairs concerning Pakistan, I do not see the future of Pakistan getting any better. Religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan are facing worst abuses, media is under complete control of the army as a result of censorship.  
Political and democratic voices of the countries are being targeted and put behind bars or silenced based on false charges. Judiciary is blackmailed to the extent that has become a tool at the hands of the Army against the democratic voices. Internationally, the country is completely isolated with no friends.  Financial crisis are so big that the country has virtually handed over the controls of state affairs to the IMF. The FATF is considering to move Pakistan from grey list to black list as a result of the country's policy of supporting and exporting terrorism to the entire world.  I don't think any country can survive for long in such circumstances.

#Pakistan: Bajwa, CPEC, and ‘acceptable opinion’

 The famous American scholar Noam Chomsky once said, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” It seems Pakistan’s current hybrid regime controlled by the invisible forces is doing the same thing. Opinions are made acceptable and unacceptable on the basis of the needs of the regime, and narratives have been built on misleading and distorted facts.
This has muzzled the already weakened press and freedom of expression and as a result, media and intellectuals instead of debating the real challenges faced by the country are only discussing the imaginary corruption of the opposition parties’ leaders. Such is the poor state of affairs that when on Tuesday the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the notification of the extension of General Qamar Bajwa’s tenure as Chief of Army Staff, the television channels were showing different news and the government acted as if nothing had happened.
The Supreme Court raised objections on the procedure of Prime Minister Imran Khan granting an extension to the army chief without the approval of all the cabinet members, and it also said the extension notification came from Prime Minister’s Office instead of the President’s Office.
Another objection was that if an extension is granted to the army chief on the basis of the regional situation, then every army officer would receive a reappointment.
It seems that Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is not happy with the way the government and the military establishment have tried to influence the courts to get former dictator Pervez Musharraf off the hook on treason charges. So in response, not only did Khosa strike back, but he has completely changed the dynamic of the power chessboard. The government and the establishment, which had been trying to save a retired general, are now trying to save a serving general who is the army chief. Even if the government reissues the notice of General Bajwa’s extension, the damage is already done, as this is the first time a powerful military chief’s extension of tenure has being suspended by the court.
After this, General Bajwa’s extension has become controversial, and to try and save the honor of the institution he represents, he should not accept the extension. But then this is Pakistan, where no one likes to give up power until it is snatched from him.

CPEC: Euphoria vs reality

A few days back, the trade war between China and the US affected Pakistan when acting US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells, speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Pakistan was faced with long-term economic damage from China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In reply, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a win-win for both countries.
To hush up the matter, Pakistani Planning Minister Asad Umar jumped in and said the US analysis of CPEC was wrong. But no serious debate was initiated about how to stop other countries from intervening in Pakistan’s affairs, nor any statement offered about internal matters. All we have seen are statements from political leaders based on euphoria and advocation of the CPEC project, as for now Pakistan is getting benefits out of it. This has been the tragedy in the country for a long time, that sensitive issues are given a spin and then hushed up.
Likewise, retired Lieutenant-General Asim Saleem Bajwa recently was appointed by the federal cabinet as head of the CPEC authority, but not a single TV channel or publication has started a debate on why retired generals are preferred over young professionals to oversee such big projects. There are many other organizations like the Pakistan Olympic Association and National Disaster Management Authority where retired generals get lucrative positions while young professionals must go looking for jobs abroad.

Relentless propaganda

The establishment for sure does not want the masses to think beyond the boundaries it has drawn and the propaganda it has disseminated, but unfortunately, the press too is not ready to resist the invisible curbs and does not dare start meaningful debates and dialogues on these issues. The current government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is only a face on the hybrid martial law as in almost every key position sits a man from the security establishment or one of its allies, and as a result, we are witnessing chaos in every field.
The Finance Ministry is unable to provide relief to the masses by bringing down inflation and controlling price hikes, while the Foreign Ministry is clueless about ending the global isolation of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and the Financial Action Task Force “gray list” matter. Prime Minister Imran Khan is busy criticizing his opponents while his cabinet is terming every dissenting voice a traitor or accusing journalists of being on the payroll of the opposition.
The establishment is busy trying to keep the architect of the political game, General Bajwa, at the helm of affairs at any cost in order to rule the country from behind the scenes and enjoy the perks and privileges of being in the driver’s seat. The media owners are happy to remain silent and accept the state narratives, while the new breed of TV journalists is brainwashed to such an extent that they cannot see beyond the prism of treason vs patriotism.
That is the reason the PTI government’s appeal in Islamabad High Court to halt the reserved verdict of a special court against Musharraf is not given any coverage. It is perhaps one of the historic moments in the country, where for the first time a former military dictator is set to be convicted on a treason charge. Musharraf twice abrogated the constitution and imprisoned higher-court judges for not accepting the emergency imposed on November 3, 2007. However, the way the current government is trying to defend Musharraf clearly indicates that the backers of this regime do not want to see him convicted by a civilian court. In any case, a conviction will not impact Musharraf’s life, as he is living abroad and easily can stay there by saying that the conviction was made on a political basis, as this case was lodged against him in former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s era.
However, even a symbolic conviction seems too difficult while elected leaders are a soft target, as prime ministers have been hanged, imprisoned or disqualified in very controversial judicial decisions. While the majority of the media chooses not to discuss these sensitive topics, the state patronage narrative is spread constantly to keep the masses in a delusion that everything is all right and Pakistan is heading toward progress and prosperity. In reality, Pakistan remains hostage to the powerful civil and military elite and unfortunately, the masses are happy to live in the hallucination that every elected leader is corrupt, and every dissenting journalist and intellectual is unpatriotic and on the payroll of the opposition or foreign countries. So after discrediting democracy, elected leaders and the press, the establishment and its face of democracy, Imran Khan, should have been riding a roller-coaster of public opinion, but that is not the case.
Whether it is Washington, Beijing or Riyadh, no one gives a free lunch in the modern world. All the players have their own stakes: A financially weak Pakistan suits both Washington and Riyadh. Through the international financial institutions and coalition support funds or other grants, the US can control a politically and economically unstable Pakistan, while Riyadh would like to see Pakistan remain its proxy battlefield from where it can curtail Iranian influence and also help in its geopolitical problems. Beijing clearly is not happy with the lackluster performance of Khan’s government and is directly talking to the establishment, but China too has its own geopolitical interests, and CPEC is just a very small project in the greater scheme of things as far as it is concerned.
This raises the question: What is the goal of discrediting elected leaders and democracy, muzzling the press, keeping the masses hostage to unreal narratives and declaring every opposing and dissenting voice a traitor and unpatriotic? Or saving an ex-dictator from the law and trying to impose puppet leaders on the masses through a rigged political discourse? For sure this will not lead the country anywhere, and like a lost ship, the country will only be moving here and there searching for an island of temporary relief.
Right now not only is Pakistan caught between a rock and a hard place as the global players have their own interests and agendas, but the deep state also is not ready to learn from its previous mistakes and is still insisting on taking the driver’s seat. It needs to realize that after Supreme Court’s objections to General Bajwa’s extension, not only has Bajwa lost the moral ground, but his famous Bajwa Doctrine has almost collapsed. Even if this doctrine is imposed forcefully and Bajwa somehow survives the storm, it will only lead to more political chaos in Pakistan, and the global players will exploit this to their advantage.

In a blow to PM Imran Khan, court takes first step towards blocking General Bajwa from serving another three-year term.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has temporarily suspended an extension of the term of office for the country's army chief, putting it on a possible collision course with the powerful military.
The ruling comes as a blow to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had said earlier this year that he needed General Qamar Javed Bajwa to stay on, citing continuing tension with neighboring India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Bajwa was handed a three-year extension on August 19.
Pakistan suspended trade and downgraded diplomatic ties with India following New Delhi's decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status on August 5. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over the Muslim-majority region, which both countries partially control but claim in its entirety.
Tuesday's interim order is only temporary, and the court will hear the case again the following day.
In a hearing to validate Bajwa's extension on Tuesday, Pakistan's Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the court was suspending the decision until the army produced detailed arguments on its reasoning.
"If the [regional security] situation is so then the army as a whole body can deal with the situation, not the individual," Khosa said. "If this criteria is allowed then every individual in the army can demand an extension on the same grounds."
Good ties
Under Pakistan's constitution, the army chief of staff usually serves a three-year term. Since the role was established in 1972, only one general has had his term extended by a civilian government. Khosa issued a notice for a representative of the military to appear in court on Wednesday. If the extension is blocked by the court, Bajwa's term will end on Friday.
Khan's government has enjoyed good relations with the military, in contrast to the tensions between the civilian government and army under the party of his predecessor and rival Nawaz Sharif. During Bajwa's tenure, the military has been accused by opposition politicians of electoral manipulation that helped Khan come to power last year.
The military, which has ruled Pakistan for nearly half its 72-year history and takes the lead in setting security and foreign policy, has always denied interfering in politics.