Daily Archives: April 13, 2010

Whither civilian governance?

Raza Rumi

While the gurus of security and international affairs continue to unpack and make sense of the high-profile and much-hyped Pak-US ‘strategic dialogue’, the people of Pakistan continue to ask questions about its direct relevance to their lives. If increased US investment in the energy sector and other poverty alleviation programmes would be outcomes of this exercise, perhaps there may be some hope for an ordinary Pakistani. However, it appears that the process of dialogue has harped on familiar tunes, adding to the sound and fury that defines Pak-US relations.

If anything, the re-emergence of the Pakistan Army’s ascendancy over national affairs has been a direct result of the much touted “strategic” dialogue. The Pakistan Army and its leadership have already taken over the foreign policy and recent developments suggest that their command and control over domestic policies of public interest remains as entrenched as ever. Whether this pertains to the meeting of top bureaucrats presided over by the Chief of the Army Staff, or the capitulation of the civilian government before the obsessively India-centric policy of our military-bureaucratic establishment, we are sure about who is calling the shots in the Land of the Pure. Continue reading

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Bootlegging, Pakistan-Style

By ADAM B. ELLICK (NYT  story yesterday)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Even the threat of death cannot deter one 30-year-old entrepreneur here from his appointed rounds supplying the Pakistani elite with expensive contraband Scotch.

The bootlegger employs an elaborate scheme to conceal his business, renting a private house that doubles as a secret warehouse and hiring teenage motorbike drivers to deliver his supplies. Such inventiveness is a requirement in this line of business: to hide from the police, who want his money; the Taliban, who want his head; and his family, who would disown him.

Alcohol products have been illegal in Pakistan since the 1970s, when religious groups reacting to a spike in consumption persuaded Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to institute a ban.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Bhutto silenced the moralists and softened the prohibition when, addressing a crowd of constituents, was asked if he drank. He responded by saying, “Yes, I do drink wine, but at least I don’t drink the blood of the people.” Continue reading

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