See what Nawaz Sharif stymied… Zardari’s speech that never was

The proposed Constitutional amendment package that Nawaz Sharif backed away from at the 11th hour (after having promised to support it) was to have restored federalism, provincial rights, and Parliamentary sovereignty, besides doing away with the President’s powers to dissolve assemblies.

Here’s a front page report from The News, Saturday, March 27, 2010:

Zardari’s speech that never was

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari was all set to deliver the speech before a joint sitting on Friday to take the lead in announcing the omission of Article 58(2)b, empowering the president to dissolve the National Assembly.

The draft of the speech (available with The News) nullifies the rumours that the president may have been reluctant to give away his power to dissolve the Assembly. Sources say that the president did not even interfere in the affairs of the constitutional committee leaving its head Senator Raza Rabbani absolutely independent in deciding things. Continue reading


Fifth installment of Dilip and my weekly email exchange, published in The News on Sunday (still the best weekly English language paper in Pakistan) Political Economy section, Aman ki Asha page, March 21, 2010.


March 18 2010

Dear Beena,

To begin with, my salaams to the memory and spirit of Aziz Siddiqui, whom you mentioned in your last letter. He’s right, of course: is giving up the fight for your beliefs even an option?

The interesting thing about this exercise is that we agree about a lot of things. Which might raise the question, are we the right people to be doing this exercise at all? But that raises another question: why not? Why should voices that tend to agree on some things not be raised and heard? Continue reading

CONVERSATIONS-4: It’s about time

Published in The News on Sunday Aman ki Asha page, Political Economy section, on March 14, 2010

Conversations 4: It’s about time

Dilip D’Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their correspondence, attempting to share thoughts honestly, without fear and hostility, exploring what divides our countries, and seeking ways to bridge the divide

March 11, 2010

Dear Beena,

Again, so much to address! But since I asked what annoys you about Indians, and since you answered so frankly, let me make that the theme for this installment of our exchange, and in two ways.

First, your beef is with “the hard-nosed nationalism and sense of superiority of many Indians, the refusal to introspect and see flaws within their own society.” Personally, I’m bothered too by this reluctance to see flaws, by the sense of almost manifest destiny and even entitlement that a lot of us Indians nurse. Continue reading

Dance, drama and literature festivals, Karachi

Below, details of two exciting and significant cultural events in Karachi starting this weekend (for more events, visit the Danka website)


Venue: Arts Council Karachi. All programmes will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for Rs 300/- available at venue (also has food and handicraft stalls). Contact Tehrik-e-Niswan tel: +92-21-35857190 email: Programme details at Tehrik website,- also copied below. The festival is a tribute to Mr Ghanshyam, who introduced generations of Pakistanis to dance and yoga. See Sheema’s note below.
And the KARACHI LITERATURE FESTIVAL, Mar 20-21, 2010, 10 am – 7 pm, Carlton Hotel (next to Creek Club, D.H.A. Karachi).
Evening Performances start at 9 pm at the Karachi Arts Council

TLISM: Sheema Kermani writes: “Mr Ghanshyam was my first dance teacher and it is to him that I owe the success of my career as a dancer and performer. I learnt not only many dance forms from Mr Ghanshyam but also learnt what goes into making a good performer, choreographer and director. For almost 35 years Mr and Mrs Ghanshyam ran their training institute in Karachi where Classical and Folk dance, Classical Vocal and Instrumental Music and Yoga were taught. In 1983 they were hounded out of the country and sought asylum abroad. They are returning to Pakistan and I want this Festival to be a tribute to them.” Continue reading

‘And there shall be more caravans of passion…’

Title for documentary 'Aur nikleiN Ge Ushhaq ke Qafley' - design by K.B. Abro

Several items uploaded to the Dr Sarwar blog over the last month:

1. Learning from history in an age of bombs
– my article based on research done for the 30-min documentary on the 1953 student movement directed by Sharjil Baloch, that I produced (we are making some final changes after which it will be available for distribution upon request).

2. Articles specially written for the Jan 9, 2010 Event Book on the 1953 student movement:
Keep the fire burning – End Note by Zakia Sarwar
Continuing Stories: Social Action and Change – by Ruqaiya Hasan
The High School Students’ Association and my rite of passage – by Ghazi Salahuddin

3. Scans of the Event Book, Jan 9, 2010 – Copies available upon request

Young Pakistani prisoner released from Indian jail

Policemen escort Pakistani prisoner Mohammad Ateeq (13) to the India-Pakistan Wagah border on Friday. AFP photo published in The Hindu, March 13, 2010

Great news – Ateeq, the 13-year old boy imprisoned at Hoshiarpur Juvenile Prison in India, reached home late last night “amidst mayhem in Lahore” as advocate Asad Jamal put it, “and jubilation among family members and mohalladars”.

See initial report inAman ki Asha page Feb 24 – written prior to Asma Jahangir and I.A. Rehman going to Amritsar to plead his case on Feb 26.

See report in The News, Saturday, March 13, 2010: Boy returns home after two months in Indian jail Continue reading

Personal Political: Plays and books, not bombs

Pakistan's foremost sculptor Shahid Sajjad at the Retrospective exhibition at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Feb 2010

My monthly column for Hardnews, India, also published in The News on Sunday, (March 7, 2010)

Feb 25, 2010

Beena Sarwar

“New Karachi literary festival hopes to turn page on bombs,” trumpeted a headline in the Independent, UK.

Inspired by Jaipur, the festival in March “may not turn the page on the bombs,” as Siraj Khan, a Boston-based Pakistani commented in an email, “but it is very inspiring. In my recent 7-month stint in Karachi, I saw and felt this breath of fresh air myself. This has not happened overnight and it’s not just the new crop of writers who are turning the tide.” Continue reading

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