Musharraf or Zia… A dictator is a dictator

20130408 Mush Tamil UnrealTimes

One-man rule is disastrous in the long term. Image courtesy: Tamil UnrealTimes

My opinion piece published in The News op-ed, and for Hard News, India

Former Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf ousted an elected civilian government from power, and usurped power illegally, holding on to it for over ten years, but there are those in India and in Pakistan who feel quite sympathetic towards him.

He had dash and bravado, they say. He nearly resolved the long-pending Kashmir issue with India. He encouraged the classical arts, liberalised the media, oversaw a telecommunications revolution, and partially revived the joint electorate system that the previous military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq had divided by religion (Ahmadis still are not allowed to vote as Muslims). Musharraf also took the teeth out of the controversial Hudood Ordinances, making it more difficult for false charges of zina (adultery) to be brought against women on various pretexts. Continue reading

Musharraf’s trial and Pakistan

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Below, my (un-populist) take on the Musharraf treason trial, in an opinion piece published in International Business Times, London, Jan 23, 2014. N.B. The recent attack on the bus in Mastung, Balochistan, that killed some 30  Hazara Shia Muslims, including women and children returning from pilgrimage in Iran is an example of the result of Musharraf’s policies of letting the home-grown ‘jihadis’ function. Plus I forgot to mention his role in the murder of Akbar Bugti… Continue reading

Jan 1 rallies across Pakistan in solidarity with victims of extremism; demanding a coherent Foreign Policy, empowered Local Government

Aman Ittehad rally, Hyderabad, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad , a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals around Pakistan has been commemorating Jan 1 every year with rallies around the country, in solidarity with victims of terrorism and to demand better governance, democracy and economic policies. Here’s the press statement for this year’s rallies, being held in dozens of cities including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places.

PRESS STATEMENT  Continue reading

Keen to talk to the Taliban?

Swat, 2009: A reminder of the Taliban's brand of 'justice' - public floggings were the least of their punishments. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Swat, 2009: A reminder of the Taliban’s brand of ‘justice’ – public floggings were the least of their punishments. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Keen to ‘negotiate’ with the Taliban in Pakistan? Really? First read Nazish Brohi’s oped in Dawn, reproduced below. 

Failure of the war

By Nazish Brohi

IT is ‘APC’ season again. Karachi residents associate the acronym with armoured personnel carriers that contain and occasionally protect besieged policemen.

The political APCs on the other hand contain besieged politicians who are hoping for occasional protection. Take it from the Lyari cops in Karachi — if you underplay what you are up against, APCs don’t work. Continue reading

Accountability is key. Along with the democratic political process.

Admiral Fasih BokhariAt a time when Pakistan is reeling under all kinds of attacks, the continuation of the democratic political process and the accountability this process entails is critical. On Jan 28, 2013 a copy of a letter to the President of Pakistan from Admiral (rtd.) Fasih Bokhari, the widely respected Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was released to the media. Admiral Bokhari is known to be under pressure from various elements in the judiciary, media, and cartels, and has been threatened repeatedly. At age 71, he is fearless, believing he has nothing to lose. His words to a friend in a private email: Continue reading

Pakistan: What the Tuq is going on?

Cartoon- Sab kuch Live hai by K.B. Abro. Listen to his blog in his voice http://bit.ly/13USxnO

Cartoon- Sab kuch Live hai by K.B. Abro. Listen to his blog in his voice http://bit.ly/13USxnO

Below, my take on what’s going on in Pakistan, written on Friday for the Sunday edition of The Telegraph, Kolkatta –  which published a slightly abridged version titled ‘Anna Hazare, anyone?

By Beena Sarwar

So this smooth-talking ‘moderate’ cleric called Tahir-ul Qadri (TUQ, as he has been dubbed on twitter), a dual Canadian-Pakistani national, announces a ‘million man’ long march to Islamabad, calling for changes to the electoral system just as the government’s five-year tenure is ending. He heads over to Pakistan’s capital on Jan 13 to lay siege to the elected government along with thousands of supporters. Continue reading

Pakistan: A Thousand Separate Worlds

constable.jpg

Constable cradles Apache, a dog she rescued while she was embedded with Marines in Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Chris Borouncle

I wrote this book review for the Brown Alumni Magazine, Nov 2011 issue, and didn’t get around to posting it earlier. This is a slightly longer version than the one BAM published.

Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself by Pamela Constable (Random House, 2011).

When it comes to Pakistan, veteran journalist Pamela Constable certainly ‘gets it’. Her latest book, ‘Playing with Fire: Pakistan at war with itself‘ is readable, thoughtful and nuanced. A veritable ‘Pakistan 101’ with much to offer even insiders like myself. 

As Kabul bureau chief and then deputy foreign editor at the Washington Post, Constable travelled extensively around the country. Her interactions with ordinary folk and newsmakers yield empathy and human faces often missing from discussions about Pakistan. Continue reading

Caviar to the General

“Even if the agencies in other countries play this ‘august’ role of interrupting the democratic process in their countries, does it justify ISI’s doling out money to keep a certain political party of the people’s choice out of government? Now that’s dangerous, if the army thinks whatever happened in 1990 was justifiable and is an established way of agencies’ working around the world, it should worry every law-abiding citizen of Pakistan. If the army is insisting on being right when it dictates the democratic process, we need to worry about our future. In this case we really need to reflect what has really changed despite the army’s lip service that they don’t want to mingle in politics…” Marvi Sirmed, Caviar to the General.

‘Any attempts to dislodge parliament will be resisted’

I. A. Rehman, Director HRCP:

National Dialogue on Challenges to Democracy and Role of Civil Society in Pakistan

Joint Declaration: Any attempts to dislodge parliament will be resisted

LAHORE, January 23, 2012: Civil society representative  and concerned  citizens (Intellectuals, legal activists, journalists, women, students trade union activists, religious minorities and academia) of Pakistan from all over the country shared their deep concerns over the current political situation and crises, while talking at a national consultation held in Human rights Commission of Pakistan’s office in Dorab  Patel  Auditorium, Lahore today. Continue reading

Media note on Statement about Pakistan democracy, human rights defenders

Journalists are welcome to use this note, based on a statement made public on Jan 5, 2012. 

Media note: Citizens express concern about Pakistan, safety of human rights defenders

Updated Jan 7, 2012

Prominent writers, doctors, intellectuals, lawyers, artists and journalists from all over Pakistan and around the world have endorsed a statement expressing “grave concern” at the threats to “Pakistani human rights defenders for their stance in the ‘memogate’ case” and “at the danger this crisis poses to Pakistan’s democratic political process that had taken a step forward with the elections of 2008”.

Nearly 200 endorsements from Pakistan and around the world, including some very prominent names, came in within hours of the statement being posted online on Jan 4, 2012.

Well known Pakistani signatories include Pakistan Bar Council Vice President Latif Afridi Continue reading

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