Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
A raft of equipment — from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment — was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age.
While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used.
That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing.
The American program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration debated whether to share with Pakistan one of the crown jewels of American nuclear protection technology, known as “permissive action links,” or PALS, a system used to keep a weapon from detonating without proper codes and authorizations.
In the end, despite past federal aid to France and Russia on delicate points of nuclear security, the administration decided that it could not share the system with the Pakistanis because of legal restrictions.
In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret “kill switch,” enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons.
While many nuclear experts in the federal government favored offering the PALS system because they considered Pakistan’s arsenal among the world’s most vulnerable to terrorist groups, some administration officials feared that sharing the technology would teach Pakistan too much about American weaponry. The same concern kept the Clinton administration from sharing the technology with China in the early 1990s.
The New York Times has known details of the secret program for more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.
Since then, some elements of the program have been discussed in the Pakistani news media and in a presentation late last year by the leader of Pakistan’s nuclear safety effort, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who acknowledged receiving “international” help as he sought to assure Washington that all of the holes in Pakistan’s nuclear security infrastructure had been sealed.
The Times told the administration last week that it was reopening its examination of the program in light of those disclosures and the current instability in Pakistan. Early this week, the White House withdrew its request that publication be withheld, though it was unwilling to discuss details of the program.
There's also a piece describing the Bush-Mush relationship.
White House aides said Mr. Bush is clear-eyed about his pact with the general, a pact that was sealed on a Saturday evening in November 2001, over an intimate dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They had just met face-to-face for the first time, during a meeting of the United Nations, and, despite past tensions between their countries, an air of cozy familiarity filled the room.
“It was a lovely dinner, very sociable,” said Wendy J. Chamberlin, the former ambassador to Pakistan, who attended. “I wasn’t nervous, because I knew Musharraf and I knew how charming he is, and I could see that they would get along fine. And besides, the mood was exuberant. Musharraf was like a conquering hero, Musharraf had done the right thing. He was the man of the day.”
Today, of course, the general is hardly the man of the day. On Friday, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte — who was the host at the Waldorf dinner as the ambassador to the United Nations then — arrived in Pakistan to press General Musharraf to end Pakistan’s state of emergency. Back in Washington, Mr. Bush was close-mouthed, saying little about the man he once praised as “a courageous leader and friend of the United States.”
The two have spoken just once, on Nov. 7 by telephone, in the two weeks since General Musharraf imposed de facto military rule. Mr. Bush, who initiated the call, termed it “a very frank discussion” — Washington code for a pointed airing of differences.
“My message was very, very plain, very easy to understand,” the president said. “And that is: the United States wants you to have elections as scheduled and take your uniform off.”
The “Bush-Mush relationship,” as some American scholars call it, has always been complicated, more a bond of convenience than a genuine friendship, some experts said. When he was running for office in 2000, Mr. Bush didn’t even know General Musharraf’s name; he couldn’t identify the leader of Pakistan for a reporter’s pop quiz during an interview that was widely replayed on late-night television.
Relations between the nations had been tense over Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions even before Mr. Bush took office, and American aid to Pakistan had been all but cut off. But Sept. 11 threw the United States and Pakistan together. Mr. Bush demanded General Musharraf’s allegiance in pursuing Al Qaeda — and got it. General Musharraf demanded military aid that could help him maintain power — and got it.
Experts in United States-Pakistan relations said General Musharraf has played the union masterfully, by convincing Mr. Bush that he alone can keep Pakistan stable. Kamran Bokhari, an analyst for Stratfor, a private intelligence company, who met with General Musharraf in January, said the general views Mr. Bush with some condescension.
“Musharraf thinks that Bush has certain weaknesses that can be manipulated,” Mr. Bokhari said, adding, “I would say that President Musharraf doesn’t think highly of President Bush, but his interests force him to do business with the U.S. president.”
In his autobiography, “In the Line of Fire,” General Musharraf writes glowingly of the trust Mr. Bush placed in him. But he passed up a chance to praise Mr. Bush on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” where he was promoting the book. Mr. Stewart asked who would win a hypothetical contest for mayor of Karachi, Mr. Bush or Mr. bin Laden.
“I think they’ll both lose miserably,” the general replied.
Well, if I were meeting someone for the first time, I'd have pretty good impressions of them too if the meeting was here. I also love the fact that the intimation is that Mush thinks Bush is kind of a dumbass. Him and 6 billion other people. Anyway, go read both articles. Really interesting stuff.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
While living in America in the early 1970s when I attended Harvard, I saw for myself the awesome, almost miraculous power of a people to change policy. And now I am seeing the power of the people coalescing once again. Journalists, judges and political and civil activists have joined together against Gen. Musharraf’s second martial law. They now see him as the obstacle to the democratisation of Pakistan.
Several senior administration officials said that with each day that passed, more administration officials were coming around to the belief that General Musharraf’s days in power were numbered and that the United States should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to Pakistan’s generals.
More than a dozen officials in Washington and Islamabad from a number of countries spoke on condition of anonymity because of the fragility of Pakistan’s current political situation. The doubts that American officials voiced about whether General Musharraf could survive were more pointed than any public statements by the administration, and signaled declining American patience in advance of Mr. Negroponte’s trip.[...]
If General Musharraf is forced from power, they say, it would most likely be in a gentle push by fellow officers, who would try to install a civilian president and push for parliamentary elections to produce the next prime minister, perhaps even Ms. Bhutto, despite past strains between her and the military.
Many Western diplomats in Islamabad said they believed that even a flawed arrangement like that one was ultimately better than an oppressive and unpopular military dictatorship under General Musharraf.
Such a scenario would be a return to the diffuse and sometimes unwieldy democracy that Pakistan had in the 1990s before General Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup.
But the diplomats also warned that removing the general might not be that easy. Army generals are unlikely to move against General Musharraf unless certain “red lines” are crossed, such as countrywide political protests or a real threat of a cutoff of American military aid to Pakistan.
Since he invoked emergency powers on Nov. 3, General Musharraf has successfully used a huge security crackdown to block large-scale protests. Virtually all major opposition politicians have been detained, as well as 2,500 party workers, lawyers and human rights activists, and on Wednesday, a close aide to General Musharraf said the Pakistani leader remained convinced that emergency rule should continue.
Pakistan’s cadre of elite generals, called the corps commanders, have long been kingmakers inside the country. At the top of that cadre is Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General Musharraf’s designated successor as army chief. General Kayani is a moderate, pro-American infantry commander who is widely seen as commanding respect within the army and, within Western circles, as a potential alternative to General Musharraf.
General Kayani and other military leaders are widely believed to be eager to pull the army out of politics and focus its attention purely on securing the country.
And this from The News:
The US military has begun making contingency plans in case its supply lines to its forces in Afghanistan due to turmoil in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell also said the United States had no concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. "We believe they are under the appropriate control," he said.
He said that so far the political unrest has had no impact on the extensive US military supply operations in Pakistan.
But he said the supply lines were "a real area of concern for our commanders in Afghanistan because 75 percent of all our supplies in Afghanistan flow through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of all fuel."
"There are efforts underway right now to figure out contingency supply lines to our troops in Afghanistan if it becomes necessary."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Remember this yellowed-out, fossilized document? "This week, an adviser to Nawaz Sharif, president of the Islamic Democratic Alliance and the leading candidate for Prime Minister if Ms. Bhutto's party is defeated, circulated a letter purporting to be written by Ms. Bhutto to Peter Galbraith. Mr. Galbraith, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff, is a friend of Ms. Bhutto's from college days at Harvard.
Well, its back from the dead and was reprinted today in a huge ad at the bottom of page 16 of the Daily Jang. It also appeared in the Nation yesterday and the News today. The PML-Q is hoping that people have forgotten that everyone originally thought it was a forgery. If your wondering when it first appeared, well this is what the New York Times had to say about Benazir's dead sea scroll, on the 18th of October in 1990, just over 17 years ago.
The letter, however, is so patently a forgery that it has made the Islamic Democratic Alliance look foolish.
Apart from the inexplicably formal salutation, ''Dear Peter Galbraith,'' the letter misspells as Solarzs the name of Representative Stephen J. Solarz, the chairman of the House subcommittee on Asian affairs, It asks Mr. Galbraith to ''please use your influence on V. P. Singh the Indian Prime Minister, to engage the Pakistan Army on the borders, so that they do not impede my way.''
As the NY Times points out, the salutation is bizarre when you consider that BB and Peter Galbraith are actually old friends. They first met in 1962 when Galbraith's father was on a diplomatic visit to Lahore, and then at Harvard where they both studied (source).
I have identified some of the prevalent themes in the letter, some bits are perhaps more true than others:
"This week, an adviser to Nawaz Sharif, president of the Islamic Democratic Alliance and the leading candidate for Prime Minister if Ms. Bhutto's party is defeated, circulated a letter purporting to be written by Ms. Bhutto to Peter Galbraith. Mr. Galbraith, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff, is a friend of Ms. Bhutto's from college days at Harvard.
A) I owe you (and not Pakistan) so much,
B) you have a personal interest in me and my family, as opposed to Pakistan and it's people.
I know what they [Pakistanis] feel about the emergency when all these suicide bombings were taking place. Their view is, Why have I done it so late.
You go and meet human rights activists. Ninety percent of them may have never cast their votes. They sleep on the day of elections.
The media is independent. We have taken certain actions against the media because we want to bring some responsibility to them.
Popular emergency, lazy human rights activists, independent media. Got it. It's all clear to me now. Thanks, Mushy! You always were so good at explaining things.
Update: Here's a nine minute video clip of excerpts from the interview.
A friend of mine here at U of C is working on the motivations of female suicide bombers. She wrote her MA on it and it appears that her dissertation will be on the same topic. Anyway, she needed a title for her paper before she submitted it for publication. Unable to come up with one on her own, she asked her friends and family. Of course, we responded the only way we know how: in the most sexist ways possible. The following are the best suggestions Lindsey received for the title of her paper on female suicide bombers:
"Does This Belt Make Me Look Fat? A Study On Female Suicide Terrorists"
"She Bangs, She Bangs"
"Blowing Their Loads: What's Special About Female Suicide Terrorists?"
"Personal Military Strikes: The Other PMS"
"All Blown Up, And Nowhere To Go"
"You've Come A Long Way, Baby...Or At Least Bits Of You Have"
"Women In The Workplace: Finally Serving A Purpose"
"Calm Down Toots, Don't Blow Your Lid: A Study of Female Suicide Bombers"
"Dressed To Kill: A Study of Female Suicide Terrorists"
"No one Left To Clean Up The Mess: A Study of Female Suicide Bombers"
"I Shaved My Unibrow For This? A Study On Female Suicide Terrorists"
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Here's a news item from Dawn today:
Mr Azeem told Dawn that the issue was now between Pemra and TV channels which needed to follow rules and regulations and a certain code of conduct.
“TV channels can resume their transmissions if they pledge not to indulge in deliberate defamation,” the minister said, adding that criticism of the armed forces and judiciary would not be tolerated.
The minister said that TV channels would have to avoid showing gory scenes and discourage obscenity to get their transmissions resumed.
Responding to a question, he said that TV channels had earlier held out an assurance that they would voluntarily enforce a certain code of conduct. “But so far they have not come up with their own code of conduct,” the minister said.
He said that rumours spread by certain TV channels about the house arrest of the president caused the stock market to crash on Nov 5 and rumours like these could not be allowed to be aired by TV channels.
“How can you broadcast such sensitive news without getting it confirmed from the government,” Mr Azeem asked.
About entertainment channels, the minister said that they also needed to be regulated to ensure that there were no vulgar scenes in TV dramas and ads and that dresses of artistes in dramas were also not improper.
When reminded of the suspension of transmissions of CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera channels, he said the government was reviewing its policy about them.
“At times you watch highly objectionable scenes on foreign news channels such as gay marriages etc which is unacceptable in our society,” the minister said.
Similarly, he said, foreign TV channels sometimes made derogatory remarks about Islam and the people of Pakistan and government functionaries. He said Pemra was looking into these issues and would soon come up with a policy about these channels.
Deliberate disinformation? You mean lying? Perhaps something like, oh I don't know, lying about elections being held this year and no emergency being imposed? Vulgarity? You mean something like scratching your balls on national television? Gay marriage? Derogatory remarks about Islam? Are you fucking kidding me?
Listen, you prick. Don't insult our intelligence. Just stop it. Next time someone asks you about curbs on the media, just say "We don't feel like we should hear criticism." Bus, khatam. End of story. Saying this is about gay marriage and vulgarity is so far removed from the truth that it doesn't just insult our intelligence, it insults the concept of insulting our intelligence. So please: shut the fuck up.
Prior to taking oath as the Chief Justice, Mr. Soomro had the distinction of being under an official investigation for corruption charges, we are talking about bribes in the millions. Mr. Soomro had remained suspended for several months but as Mr. Soomro belongs to a prominent political family, he automatically has friends in 'high places' and mounting political pressure wasn't far away. Mr. Soomro, still under investigation, was reinstated to the High Court a couple of weeks prior to the imposition of emergency - and now he stands as the Highest legal authority of the province, and there are now murmurs that he may even be elevated tothe Supreme Court.
Mr. Soomro regained his honour through a single bursh stroke. He of course can't be called upon to adjudicate, not because he is allegedly corrput but because he is utterly lacking in grey matter; glorious is the day on which he is able to muster a string of words that form a coherent sentence.
The man he replaces, the Honourable Sabihuddin Ahmed, was one of the finest legal minds of the country and an unsurpassed authority on Constitutional Law. Well I guess when you no longer have a constitution, what use a judge who understands it.
For over a week we have not gone to the Court because we are protesting against the emergency, which means no new cases filed, and revenue being zilch; sooner or later something must give way, our livelihood depends on that. Being a lawyer in Pakistan can be economically rewarding but no where near rewarding enough for you to build millions in cash reserves over night. Our litigation wing is only 5 years old so it does not have reserves that will sustain it for months; in fact, persevering beyond a month will stretch us.
On top of this the High Court Judges (post-PCO) have started dismissing cases if lawyers fail to make an appearance at the Court. Dismissal of a case means the case being completely thrown out of the Court, any injunction, restraining order, recorded evidence, is wiped off the record; thus years of work could be undone in 20 seconds.
This is an unprecedented step and an alarming development; this is the first time in Pakistan’s legal history that ‘civilian’ Judges have failed to respect a strike call by the Bar (the lawyers union, if you like).
On the other hand the Bar Council has stated that it will take action against any lawyers who proceed with their cases at the High Court (one hour strike is to be observed in the lower Courts). The Bar Council contains the power to expel you from its ranks, and if the Bar Council kicks you out, you can not practice law in that jurisdiction.
So we are in a bit of a jiffy here. If we go to the Courts we’ll be chastised by our peers and if we don’t go, our client’s could face serious damages (Imagine the Court throwing out a case against the counterfeit of Tapal Tea, ten other manufacturers are going start counterfeiting Tapal Tea, by the time we take action Tapal would have lost millions).
Then there’s the fact that we really don’t want to appear in front of these opportunist PCO judges. The good legal minds have all disappeared and we are now left with judges whose legal aptitude is limited who became judges, in the first place, due to their political affiliation and through other social affiliations.
As of today all the lawyers have been informed that appearance in the High Court is entirely at their discretion.
As far as new cases are concerned we will be taking more of them in the lower Courts (District, Civil), which comes at huge risk because
a) Lower Court Judges deal primarily with criminal cases and have a hard time understanding corporate and commercial law, especially Intellectual Property matters;
b) They are highly corrupt.
Most lawyers in Karachi have some form of ‘setting’ with the administrative branch of the High Court and through this we are able to delay putting up our important cases (to meet the ends of justice of course!). The judges have however, taken notice of this and issued a strict directive against this practice, so yeah, we’re a bit screwed and really don’t know what to do.
So tell us what we should do? I’m serious, tell us what to do!!! Any and all suggestions are welcome. Meanwhile, I’m considering a career in the media or maybe in the sub-prime credit sector of the Banking Industry, wish me luck!
Monday, November 12, 2007
There has been constant pressure on AAJ, Geo and ARY to sign PEMRA's newly amended PEMRA "Code of Conduct" - as per which, all electronic media outlets (TV Channels and Radio Stations) are prohibited from 'criticising' the Pakistan Army, members of the Judiciary and the Head of State.
Police had earlier raided AAj Tv's offices in Islamabad while Talat Hussein spoke to Daily Times about "constant pressure" from the government stating that “the government wants us to sign the code of conduct under duress before they allow the channels to go on air.”
Till now TV One, Rang TV, Din News, Khyber News, Apna Channel, Kook, Sindh TV, KTN, Business Plus, CNBC, Indus News and Punjab TV have signed the amended Code of Conduct. Which leaves us with GEO, ARY, AAJ TV, DAWN News and Rohi TV (?) as non-signatories of the Code of Conduct (source: The Post).
The financial pressures on the media outlets are huge and its only the truly large media conglomerates who can sustain such a challenge. At the same time it is the large media conglomerates who have the most to lose, a company like GEO with 5 operational channels (and a staff in the hundreds) have already lost millions. (report)
It then comes as no surprise that there are unconfirmed reports that ARY has now relented to government pressure and its broadcast will be resumed soon.
So here we have PTV's version -
Host: A young man or woman - good looking in a very typical pakistani way e.g. a chubby fair and lovely model (& no NB i'm not being jealous OK!)
Guest 1: Establishment type - An old face who, many believe, was born a Senator, no set agenda just a voice box of whoever's in power e.g. Wasim Sajjad.
Guest 2: A firebrand Politician - And by firebrand I mean retarded; a member of the ruling party (PTV's subliminal message of the day appears to be: Opposition to the Great Leader is Zionist Propoganda) e.g. Dr. Sher Afghan Khan (true story: a resolution was proposed, a while back, by an opposition politician, demanding the removal of Dr. Sher Afghan, owing to his unstable mental condition!)
Guest 3: A fresh voice, of the youth - Of course a fresh youth hear means a 35 year old buraucrat, with really bad hair and disturbingly right wing views - not as in 'I like Taliban' but more 'I hate India' and 'Freedom of Expression is the biggest threat to national security.'
An excerpt from the Heated Discussion runs like this:
Guest No.1 - "Musharraf is the best because he is a 'bold leader'" (you hear this a lot);
Guest No.2 - "No Musharraf is the best-est because he has led us closer to 'true democracy'"
Guest No.3 - "No Musharraf is the best-est-est because he is a 'true Pakistani'"
Host - "No Musharraf is the best-est-est-est because he has a large cock and rode me like a stallion last night."
Ok so the last bit may be a lie - what the host actually said was that there is no Martial Law in Pakistan. The Court Martial of civilians, fucking civilans man, are neccessary for the security of the country (mulk ki salamati); oh and who are these traitors of the motherland, so far charged with treason:
Mr. Javed Hashmi (PML-N)
Leaders of the National Party - the National Party is a leftist party in Baluchistan that heads the Baluchistan National Movement; it fielded 7 candidates in the last elections (all charged with treason) and received 0.35% of the total votes. (Source)
At this point the program ends and is followed by In -credible- dia (there's meant to be a line cutting through 'credible'). The show is hosted by a clone of the talk show host and has a guest who is a clone of Guest No.3. The only purpose of this show is to sling as much mud on India as possible. Oh and the tag line is derived from the slogan 'Incredible India' which is used by India's tourism department in its promotional campaign. This show is unbelievable petty and also terribly scary; it is well produced and far apart from the normal PTV propoganda and echos North Korean styled social engineering.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
For the uninitiated, let me sum up what happened yesterday. BB promised a rally of thousands of protesters; the police surrounded her house and barricaded her in; and at the end of it all, she went on state television to give a speech. State television! Even the Americans are saying stuff like "We hope we’re seeing a little bit of political theater here."
Now, I don't normally believe in conspiracy theories, mainly because I have an IQ in triple figures. But, honestly, this entire drama was staged. There's no doubt about it. None.
Anyway, I was thinking about what exactly it is BB is trying to do here. If we assume that BB is primarily consumed with attaining power - a safe assumption, I would say - and that there are broadly speaking two ways to go about attaining said power (cutting a deal with the military vs. joining hands with the opposition and then getting elected), then, at some point, is it not the case that the expected utility from joining the opposition is greater than the expected utility from cutting a deal? In other words, the more unpopular Musharraf gets, the less likelihood there is of BB either (a) attaining power or (b) wielding power. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that while cutting a deal with Musharraf even as late as September 2007 was in BB's instrumentalist interests, at what point does the balance shift to the contrary? What hypothetical set of events will it take to convince BB she is better off without Musharraf than with him?
I think the key to that question is her experience in her first two terms. BB - better than most people - knows you cannot govern Pakistan effectively without the military at least quasi-supportive of you. While dreams of a military-free utopia might be pervasive in the Pakistani political psyche at present, please allow me to disabuse those notions. It simply isn't going to happen - the military is too entrenched in the system, and you cannot ignore it or wish it away. With that in mind, it becomes imperative for any leader, even democratically elected ones with large mandates, to have support of the military. That is why I suspect BB is unwilling to let her alliance with Musharraf go at this point. It's almost as if she's decided: either I should be in power with the military (or a military man and his buddies) behind me, or I shouldn't be in power at all. Anything in between is completely pointless.
I close with an excerpt from an article by everyone's favorite BBC newscaster, Lyse Doucet.
Ms Bhutto is back from eight years in self-imposed exile, having done a deal with Gen Musharraf to come home. Some hope she will fight and win another election.
I reminded her of a press conference in 1988 after her first election victory.
Back then, there was also the issue of how she would be able to work with a military which has always distrusted her Pakistan People's Party.
I still remember raising my hand at that press conference and asking about reports she would be meeting army brass who brought an end to martial law after the mysterious death of the former leader of the country, Gen Zia ul-Haq.
"Who had requested the meeting," I asked then. "You or the army?"
In other words, who was really in charge?
She did not really answer my question in 1988.
So I asked it again, in a different way this week, just before we started recording the interview - remarking on how it now seemed she was still in the same place, trying to find a way to work with the military.
Her reply was a startled angry look. I realised I had struck a sensitive nerve.
Mourinho, who prior to his dismissal from Chelsea this season had said he was more "serene" than ever, seems to have flown into a rage when his 11-year-old daughter told him about playground taunts that another boy had made, comparing her with her father.
Mourinho went into the playground at the £6,500-a-year school his daughter attends in Setubal, near Lisbon, on Wednesday afternoon and found the boy who had been taunting his daughter, Matilde.
He then appears to have pulled the 12-year-old boy by the ears and gave him a thorough dressing down, as other parents and pupils looked on in bemusement. It is not clear whether he employed the "hairdryer" technique favoured by his former rival, Sir Alex Ferguson.
One witness told the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha that he was left "speechless" as he watched Mourinho scold Pedro Antonio.
Mourinho, 44, was then hauled into the office of the headmistress like a naughty schoolboy and made to apologise to his tearful victim and his family.
Isabal Simao, the headmistress of St Peter's school, said Mourinho appeared truly embarrassed and later wrote to the boy and the school to apologise for his behaviour.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The newspapers are quoting a figure of 1700, it could of course be much higher. Those arrested include Judges, the family members of judges (son of the CJ Sabihuddin - Ahsan he's the friend of a painter ! - son of Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany; Brother of Justice Khilji - a lawyer in his 70's; Justice Bhagwan Das's family is reportedly under house arrest, these are the ones I know). Many, many lawyers have been arrested.
Then there are the students, teachers and professors from BNU and LUMS who have reportedly been picked up as they constitute a naitonal threat.
A large number of those arrested do not belong to any political parties; many aren't even politcally active, even amongst lawyers there are many who have never taken part in Bar Room politics.
Take for example Mr. I. A. a Customs Lawyer belonging to a notable Bohri family. His father was a judge of the Sindh High Court ages ago, and known for his left wing views. But the last time his family was active in politics was when his great grandfather was made the first mayor of Karachi. Mr. I.A.'s family run various schools in impoverished areas of the city and devote a lot of time to many good causes. The family through its civic duties symbolises civil society.
Now Mr. I.A., married mid-30's, young children, did not go out and protest, even though he might have wanted to. He stayed home and minded his own business, until the police came knocking at his door; yet another threat to our national security has been neutralised.
So now lets all rejoice at our new found safety and security, don't you just love the smell of liberty now that freedom and the causes of freedom have triumphed; lets add to the merriment and sign a truce with the militants!
My cousin commented about how all these events made him nostalgic and made him remember his youth, mis-spect in the days of Zia. He reminsced how he would get together with his friends and they would go to the youth centre where the authorities put a show every friday evening - 'enemies of the people' would be brought into the centre and flogged.
That he found parallels with Musharraf's rule is alarming, and yet not. A General governing a police state, is a General governing a police state.
Upon imposition of the emergency the Honourable Justice was arrested and according to a source close to the agencies, handed over to the MQM with the agencies acting as mere spectators. The Judge was abused verbally and physically by the MQM workers before the agencies took charge; he remains locked up battered and bruised.
I had personally been present on a number of hearings and it was an amazing experience and had literally taken my breath away. The Court had appointed Mr. Qazi Faez Isa as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) and he was simply phenomenal. Every detail of that day was laid bare and Mr. Justice Osmany had taken no prisoners in naming names in an attempt at exposing the killers of May 12th. The culpability of every branch of the government was slowly exposed in an extremely meticulous manner and questions asked from the Governor to the Mayor, to the head of the KPT. The Honourable Justice was extremely vocal in assailing the MQM, not just the workers who were visible, but the entire leadership. This is especially noteworthy as in the 'usual course' (the term is relative and informed by the particular history of Pakistan) in that the Judges did not just order the arrests of the killers they were attempting to unearth where the orders came from, both within the government and within the MQM.
The media played a big role in this case, these were after all killings witnessed, live, by the entire country. Justice Osmany and his fellow judges took the unprecedented measure of asking all media outlets to provide video submissions; hours and hours of footage was submitted by Geo, Aaj and ARY and then assessed by the Judges. Journalists were also allowed within the court room whereas news cameras could be positioned outside so that the lawyers could be interview right after the hearing. This was a case that was accessible to the public and the judges persistence had ensured that May 12th wasn't easily forgotten.
The MQM had earlier tried to halt proceedings by sending hundreds of their workers into the Court Room, the MQM lawyers including Mr. Khwaja Naveed then submitted testimony from around 700 MQM workers stating that the MQM was innocent and had instead been attacked. This was a despicable attempt by the MQM lawyers to delay the matter tremendously and force the Court into taking measures that would divert the limelight. And it worked partially as the Court had no option but to stop Public Access during the hearing, only lawyers were allowed. Even then Mr. Jusice Osmany ensured that media personnel would be allowed in the Court so that they could report the progress.
It had become clear that the Judges would not cower and an Order against the MQM and the Government was due. What had also helped was the symbolic action by the Supreme Court against police officials in Islamabad, and though much derided by the General, had set the precedent that no one was above the law.
Well so much for that. The Judge heading this inquest is being abused and his whereabouts unknown. Oh and those despicable MQM lawyers, two of them have been appointed as judges of the Sindh High Court to replace the sacked Honourable Justices. Welcome to the era of the Honourable Mr. Justice Khwaja Naveed.
1. Ronaldinho looks to be rounding into form. He's still giving the ball away with maddening munificence in midfield (how's that for some alliteration?) but he basically constructed the two goals. For the first, he picked out Messi at the far post - who strangely enough had acres of space for this sequence - who headed it back across goal. I'm sure Messi was trying for goal but it ended up in the path of Henry who elbowed it home. The second goal was just brilliant. Ronaldinho got the ball at the edge of the penalty area, tapped it to Messi who went straight back to Ronaldinho, who had made a quick run. A quick dribble to settle himself and then the shot, which the goalkeeper stopped, but sent straight to Messi who had an easy finish. The entire sequence (Ronaldinho to Messi back to Ronaldinho to shot on goal) took less than a second (I swear to God). The Rangers defense could not be blamed - the movement and the passing was too good, and too quick. That said, Ronaldinho was still substituted and didn't look mighty pleased. I don't always understand Rijkaard - if the guy's getting better, and is playing well, why not just leave him out there? If you want to give Bojan a run, that's fine - take Henry off instead. He's the one that was strangely ineffective all game.
2. I absolutely detest teams like Rangers. For the first 70 minutes, they had almost 11 players at all times behind the ball. It was sickening. It reminded me of Greece in Euro 2004. God, I wish teams who can't stand up talent-wise would just admit it and move on, and not subject us to this crap. God knows what would have happened if Barca hadn't got the early goal. Thankfully, we didn't have to find out.
3. The Barca back four look mighty suspect. It wasn't one particular instance or mistake that caught my eye, just a feeling I got that teams like Arsenal and Bayern (who luckily aren't even in the tournament) could easily score tons of goals against this team. Puyol, for all his heart and virtue and spirit, is slow. S-L-O-W. Marquez, though he wasn't playing today, always seems vulnerable to making a mistake. And Thuram really shouldn't be a starting 11 player for a team hoping to win the Champions League, not at his age. The only two guys who are assured are Milito and Zambrotta. Everyone else scares me. All I'll say is: thank God for Yaya Toure.
4. Messi has replaced Mohammad Asif as "the athlete most likely to lead me to orgasm". Just thought I'd throw that our there.
5. This was a weird sort of game in the sense that you were almost always expecting a moment of brilliance from Barca that would open up Rangers but it never really came. Messi and Ronaldinho dazzled a couple of times but there were few - by Barca's standards anyway - ooh and aah moments. A lot of that had to with Rangers' anti-football, as Messi called it after the first leg. But a lot of it was also Barca's own doing. There wasn't much creativity out of midfield, and it's when he's gone that you realize how important Deco is to this team. Wait, scratch that. Everyone knows how important Deco is to this team, even when he's playing. I'll rephrase and say that it becomes glaringly obvious how important Deco is to this team when he's not playing. Iniesta and Xavi are very, very good at what they do, but they don't do what Deco does, which is provide vision and playmaking. Barca need him healthy quickly if they're going to mount a serious challenge this year.
6. If you haven't seen 17 year-old Bojan play, let me tell you, you need to. Him, Giovani and Messi, health willing, are going to terrorize a lot of teams for a long, long time.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
"if things go as well as they can, carefully controlled elections will be held, Benazir will come to office, Musharraf will be able to retire from the army, leaving it in the hands of close and trusted advisors, and the army and Benazir, together, will tackle the extremist problem."
"First, the terrorists and insurgents of Pakistan may not cooperate, and surrender meekly to Pakistani forces. Recent battles over the Lal Masjid, in FATA, and now in Swat show that there is a large and dedicated cadre of true militants who are more than a match for the Pakistan army in a tactical environment. The PPP is weakest where the militants are strongest, and cannot be counted on to provide the political guidance to tackle them. The militants are not interested in ministerial bungalows in Islamabad, they want to turn Pakistan into a base from which they can attack other soft Muslim and Western states (and India), and even lay their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Musharraf may have sidelined the journalists, lawyers, and judges, but he has yet to demonstrate that Pakistan has the will, or the capacity, to develop a comprehensive counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency strategy. The recent operations in Swat, once a tranquil backwater but now under the control of Islamist fanatics, was done, according to press reports, without any regard for the refugees and innocent civilians; if past experience is any guide, the Pakistan army’s operations will merely serve to increase recruitment to the ranks of the militants.Second, bringing Benazir in to the “system” will be bitterly opposed by Musharraf’s civilian supporters. They detest her populist approach, they have no rejoinder to the developmental and educational agenda that she has set out, and only talk of how many roads and bridges Pakistan has built under this and previous military regimes. It is hard to imagine that they will work with a Bhutto government, and she may find it hard to work with them. As one Pakistan general remarked to me several years ago, the first preference of Pakistani politicians is that they govern the state, their second preference is that the military rules."
The United States can promote democracy — which is the only way to truly contain extremism and terrorism — by telling General Musharraf that it does not accept martial law, and that it expects him to conduct free, fair, impartial and internationally monitored elections within 60 days under a reconstituted election commission. He should be given that choice: democracy or dictatorship with isolation.
Maybe I'm seeing things that aren't there, but read this paragraph and tell me BB is not trying to absolve Musharraf of the blame for the imposition of emergency.
In my view, General Musharraf’s ruling party understood that it would be trounced in any free elections and, together with its allies within the intelligence services, contrived to have the Constitution suspended and elections indefinitely postponed. Very conveniently, the assassination attempt against me last month that resulted in the deaths of at least 140 people is being used as the rationale to stop the democratic process by which my party would most likely have swept parliamentary elections. Maybe this explains why the government refuses to allow the F.B.I. and Scotland Yard to assist in a forensic investigation of the bombings.
Read that again: General Musharraf's ruling party and their allies within the intelligence services. Why would she mention them unless she wanted to draw a distinction between them and Musharraf himself? Am I crazy, or is BB still trying to cut a deal? To further muddy the waters, she issued a call for street protests, the much talked about red line that many said she would not cross if she was still interested in a settlement with Musharraf. As always, BB has left me immensely confused.
As part of the emergency measures, the government has also blocked transmissions by privately owned television stations.
Hamid Mir, an anchor with Pakistan's independent Geo TV network, said Tuesday that Geo's chief executive had been taken to a safe house operated by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence service, or ISI, and accused of "anti-Pakistan activities."
That was followed up by an e-mail in which the CEO, Shakil Rahman, was warned that "Pakistan Army is the backbone of Pakistan, don't try to damage it." If he did, the e-mail continued, he and his family "would be hunted down like rats."
Meanwhile, our lawyers are keeping up with their protests. It's hilarious how the NYT felt the need to provide subtitles in their interview with one lawyer, despite his speaking English. I guess, to be fair, it's only us Pakistanis who understand that "murshel laa" actually means "martial law".
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
General Musharraf invited Islamabad’s diplomatic corps to his official residence on Monday to brief them on the situation and on his reasons for declaring emergency rule. But two Western diplomats said the encounter only reinforced concerns that General Musharraf was more focused on vanquishing his political rivals than on fighting terrorism.
At the meeting, the general primarily railed against his political opponents, with special venom reserved for the Supreme Court. When asked by a diplomat to describe specific plans to crack down on terrorists, General Musharraf gave only a vague answer.
“He effectively dodged the question and turned to the military presence in the room and asked them to organize a briefing for ambassadors,” said one of the Western diplomats. “It wasn’t very clear in terms of what was actually being done.”
The second Western diplomat said: “There was serious concern that terrorism and security was not front and center. What was really amazing was him going on and on and on about how bad the judiciary was.”
During the meeting, Anne W. Patterson, the American ambassador, complained to General Musharraf about the “extraordinarily heavy-handed measures” he had used, in particular the arrest of human rights activists. “It would be hard to imagine a group less threatening to the security of Pakistan,” she said, according to a diplomat.
Other diplomats at the meeting made similar points, but General Musharraf, who did not wear his uniform but wore traditional Pakistani clothing, appeared unconvinced, the diplomats said. He said he was concerned that the ambassadors from developed countries did not “understand Pakistan.”
There is no doubt that there was “judicial activism” in the country not normally seen in third world states where institutions often malfunction. Before he got wrongly dismissed in March 2007, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had hundreds, some say thousands, of suo motu cases under his belt. He had already put the brakes on privatisation by reversing the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills. But after his reinstatement, the apex court underwent a radical and extremist transformation that, as it turns out, has harmed rather than helped Pakistan. The lawyers’ movement and its support among the general public made the judges square off against the government.
Unfortunately, many electronic media journalists, flushed by their new found freedom to say whatever they liked, motivated by the principle of subjecting the state to accountability, and offended by the government’s action to remove them from scenes of conflict, added to the tendency to push the executive to the wall. Regrettably, too, the Lal Masjid in Islamabad was returned by the Supreme Court to the terrorists under these conditions. A suo motu judiciary went after the “missing” people cases with a vengeance, regardless of the nature of the terrorist charges against them, threatening the civil servants with punishments, and indirectly causing them to lose initiative in the pursuit of their duties.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The US and Britain are today expected to demand that Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, honour pledges to hold elections in the next two months and step down as the army chief, or face a cut in western support.
The diplomatic showdown will come in the form of a meeting in Islamabad between the Pakistani leader and a group of ambassadors, two days after he declared emergency rule - and three days after giving assurances to the prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, that he would stick to an election deadline in mid-January, and step down as head of the country's army.
But the ruling alliance is divided on the question and it is expected that the ultimate decision would be taken in a week in this regard. Highly placed sources told The News that the meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, president PML Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and other leaders.
It was resolved in the meeting that the state of emergency would not be prolonged. The ruling alliance is reportedly divided over the schedule of the general polls and for that reason no decision could be finalised in the meeting.
One group of the alliance is asking for extending the tenure of the present assemblies by at least six months while the other group is of the view that the general elections must be held without any delay and for the purpose the dates already announced must be adhered to.
Aziz acknowledged that 500 opposition activists had been arrested. Opposition groups said the number was higher. Ahsan Iqbal, the spokesman for an opposition party led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said that as many as 1,000 activists from his party had been detained, including top leaders. Iqbal said Musharraf was "guilty of treason" for suspending the constitution.
Asma Jahangir, a leading human rights lawyer, reported in an e-mail that she had been ordered to stay confined to her home for 90 days. She said it was ironic that Musharraf "had to clamp down on the press and the judiciary to curb terrorism," adding, "Those he has arrested are progressive, secular minded people while the terrorists are offered negotiations and ceasefires."
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Daily Times correctly predicted in its November 2 edition that the government was planning to issue a new Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and hold the Constitution in abeyance, in a story headlined ‘PCO on the way any day’. The story reported that the PCO would be issued in a couple of days, which is what happened.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Aitzaz Ahsan, as he was being arrested: "Musharraf is acting like a spoiled child, holding the whole country hostage. These are the last days of Pervez Musharraf."
Nawaz Sharif, talking to a TV news channel: "We are heading towards a chaotic situation, heading towards anarchy."
The U.S. government: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called for a "quick return to constitutional law." White House spokesman called the move "deeply disappointing."
Imran Khan, talking to AFP: "He has committed high treason by negating the orders of the Supreme Court which bars him from taking any unconstitutional steps and by sending in troops after the Supreme Court decision. He is punishable by death."
The Indian government, in a statement by the Foreign Ministry: FM spokesman Navtej Sarna said that, "We regret the difficult times that Pakistan is passing through. We trust that conditions of normalcy will soon return, permitting Pakistan's transition to stability and democracy to continue."
Me, rolling out of bed and reading two texts sent by a couple of friends in Pakistan: "You've got to be fucking kidding me."