Pakistan has crossed a major milestone last week by achieving a historic consensus on the 18th Amendment with 105 clauses, additions and deletions to the Constitution. The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many skeptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.
Leaving aside the discourse of corruption, the NRO, and a vociferous media campaign against the President, the achievements in the last one-year by all political parties have been tremendous. The Awami National Party, after its initial truce with the militants, has stayed the course and resisted Talibanisation by giving full support to the army operations against the militants. The PPP and PML-N, despite their rhetoric and political point-scoring, have worked together on the national finance commission award (NFC) and now on the implementation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that has become the basis for the amendments to become a reality.
The nay-sayers of democracy and the political process forget one fundamental fact: a federal structure cannot work without a robust political process. A start has been made through the recent successes after a decade of ‘controlled democracy’. However, despite the march towards the democratic ideal, there are clear and present dangers that democracy is as fragile as ever. Continue reading
While much of Pakistan’s civil society celebrated a famous victory in the restoration of the judges it continued to display suicidal indifference to the existential threat to itself.
President Zardari’s misjudgment and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s ambition brought welcome relief to the jihadi apparatus at the precise moment when the international noose around it appeared to be tightening. The road map to democratic transition was obscured, and the contours of the abyss became a little clearer. Extraordinary acts of leadership are needed. Unfortunately, it is not clear if they will be forthcoming or sufficient. Continue reading
by Hafsa Zaneb
“Her death has been the worst political blow to us during this war against terror”
Almost a year back we witnessed one unforgettable sequel of national tragedies. Bhutto escaped death very thinly, where many less fortunate ones could not. Almost two months later, away from the London Xmas sales and hype, I was with a friend in Surrey. While browsing through the TV channels, a scene of absolute chaos made her stop at a news channel. It was Pakistan; some election rally in disarray. It was still not altogether shocking, keeping in mind the emotional temperature of my countrymen when it comes to the expression of their political affiliation. Then a subtitle appeared saying that it was a suicide attack on an election gathering of Benazir Bhutto. Still it did not make me jump out of my seat. Continue reading
Masood Sharif Khan (NEWS)
Having known Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto since 1987 I am proud of the fact that this exceptionally outstanding leader had chosen me to be the Director General, Intelligence Bureau (DG IB) in her government. I thus worked under her direct command. The unbearably tragic assassination of a leader as brilliant, brave and incomparable as her brought an untimely end to a very vibrant and purposeful life devoted to an unending effort to bring about true democracy in Pakistan. One could write unendingly on Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s personal courage, political acumen and her love for the people of Pakistan. She knew she was being hunted by ruthless assassins. Yet, this great courageous leader held rallies all over the country. The assassins finally caught up with her in Rawalpindi. Her biggest tribute is that she lived with the masses, commanded their love and respect and died amongst them, bravely, with a smile on her face and hand waving at the cheering crowds.
Seventeen days before Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s coldblooded assassination I had expressed Continue reading
I am reminded of something my father, a professor of history and political science, said about 20+ years ago: “Over the decades, Pakistan has made wonderful progress in everything–except politics.” [On my father, today, the 6th of Ramazan is his first “barsee”, as we say in South Asia–the first anniversary of his passing by the Islamic calendar. Please do keep him, and us, in your prayers.] I am attaching an op-ed from the person who is Editor Reporting for The News in Karachi (one of the two largest English papers in Pakistan; this one is owned by the Jang Group) and is a family/childhood friend. Over the years, I have been amazed as I watched him evolve into something really rare–and almost unheard of in the US mainstream media today 😉 –a truly objective journalist.
Two paras I’d like to quote in next comments:
“Pakistan is a somewhat strange country, one may concede. We are happy to give an unelected military general nine years in power but balk at allowing the same to be given to someone who is not rigging the elections. Only because we think one is a “decent man” and the other, in our eyes, is not. An officer who violates his own pledge to protect the Constitution is acceptable to us because of circumstances but a politician who breaks an agreement with a fellow politician cannot be trusted.” Continue reading
Just wrote this in reply to a birthday wish I got from a friend on Facebook, who mentioned that he will always remember this as the day we elected Mr. 10% as our President:
The supreme irony is that he got elected on a day that is celebrated as “Defence Day“.
You and I don’t have to like it, but the man–or should I say Da Man aka Maanroo Saeen–has more legal right to be President of Pakistan than Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ever did. He might be as corrupt as his wife, Nawaz Sharif, and Imran Khan rolled into one, but he’s also more politically savvy than all of them combined. Paradoxes are us, man! Democracy is messy, and all that cool stuff, what? After all, American elected–or gave 49% of the vote to–George W Bush not once but twice.
More later. I have a major project to launch today.
Technorati tags applicable to this post: Benazir – Pakistan – Zardari
Since the announcement of Asif Ali Zardari as the candidate till this date, on the eve of the presidential election, the newspapers are full of verbal vitriol against the man who is going to be most likely voted as the next President of Pakistan.
The elite writers of this country and elsewhere love to have a go at him and this is almost pathological, if I can use a medical metaphor. Asif Zardari is the hangman, the fall guy, responsible for everything, including bad weather, bad times and bad everything. He is presented variously as the feudal lord, as the man who breaks promises, and now the two that I find quite below the belt are, the stories of his supposed mental illness and an informal reference to Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s ambassador to the UN. Continue reading