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Saturday, 28 February 2009

PML-N engaged in horse-trading in Punjab

PML-Q forward bloc to support PML-N: Maneka

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) forward bloc leader Ata Maneka claimed on Friday the support of 35 members, and said all of them would support the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz unconditionally. Addressing the media after meeting the Sharif brothers at their Raiwind farmhouse, Maneka said, “Not a single PML-Q leader, including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain wants to support the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), with the exception of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi – who, for certain reasons, is in favour of contacts with the ruling party.” He said, “As many as 33 members of the forward bloc have come to Raiwind to meet the Sharifs.” The Online news agency reported that 29 members met Shahbaz Sharif on Friday at his Raiwind residence. Replying to a question, he said that nobody could disqualify the forward bloc members. Maneka said Punjab was the major province of the country, and “if something goes wrong here, the entire country will suffer”. staff report



Also read:

Who will lead a Long March against horse trading in Punjab?


Moonis Elahi "should be" the next Chief Minister of Punjab...

Manipulations in full swing for top slot
Nasir Jamal
Saturday, 28 Feb, 2009 | 05:22 AM PST |
Former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (R) and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.—Reuters/File
Former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (R) and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.—Reuters/File

LAHORE: Three days after imposition of the governor’s rule in Punjab, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is yet to come up with a feasible plan to form its government in the province.

All that it has been able to conjure up so far is meek voices that have been drowned by the emotional chorus whipped up by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the disqualification of its leaders and fall of its government in the province.

Governor Salmaan Taseer, who had predicted formation of a PPP government in Punjab – the first in more than 30 years – long before the Supreme Court verdict against the Sharif brothers, never tired of giving controversial statements till taking charge as the chief executive of Punjab but he is nowhere to be seen or heard now.

His aides told Dawn that the governor was ‘busy in urgent administrative and other official matters relating to provincial government’.

PPP leader Tanvir Ashraf Kaira claimed at a press conference on Friday that his party was going to form the next provincial government. But he appeared to have no clue as to who was going to be the PPP’s candidate for the chief minister’s post. Nor did he say how the party planned to go about forming the government.

Earlier, PPP parliamentary party leader Raja Riaz had said that the party leadership was in contact with all political forces represented in the provincial assembly – including the PML-Q, some PML-N dissidents, the PML-F and the MMA.

If the former senior minister in the Shahbaz Sharif government were to be believed, the PPP should have finalised arrangements for forming a coalition with the PML-Q, the party holding the balance in Punjab.

PML-Q information secretary Tariq Azeem appeared to suggest to the contrary when he said a majority within his party felt that the PPP had violated the popular mandate by imposing the governor’s rule in the province.

‘The feeling in the party is that it would negate the spirit of democracy to side against the popular mandate,’ he said while talking to Dawn from Islamabad by telephone.

At the same time, he said it would be premature to say what position his party would take. ‘It’s a crucial issue and will be taken up by the party leadership at its central executive committee meeting next week. None of our leaders, including Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, has taken a definitive stance on whether to side with the PPP or the PML-N (when the provincial assembly elects the leader of the house).’

The PML-Q’s ‘indecisiveness’ is popularly being interpreted as its efforts to raise the stakes in the power game in Punjab. It is believed that the PML-Q is demanding chief minister’s post for Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s son, Moonis Elahi, or Senate chairmanship for Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the defence ministry.

But Mian Atta Mohammad Maneka, the leader of dissident PML-Q members of the Punjab Assembly is supporting the PML-N ‘unconditionally’. ‘

We have no demands or conditions. If the need arises, the Unification Group (the name of the PML-Q forward block in the Punjab Assembly) will side by the PML-N for the formation of its government,’ he told reporters after attending the Punjab PML-N parliamentary party meeting at the Sharif’s Raiwind Estate.

Maneka claimed that 35 PML-Q legislators, out of a total of 85, were supporting the PML-N and 33 had attended the meeting. The remaining two could not come as one of them was in France and the other could not be informed about the meeting.

The claim, however, could not be verified independently. Some of the PML-Q dissidents later participated in the protest against the governor’s rule outside the Punjab Assembly under the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif.

He claimed that no PML-Q leader or legislator favoured an alliance with the PPP. ‘Only Pervaiz Elahi wants it to win chief minister’s post for his son.’

The dissident PML-Q leader, who was critical of the PPP for imposing the governor’s rule, said the survival of the federation without Punjab was difficult. To a question, he said the Unification Group was not afraid of the threats of disqualification for voting for the PML-N, ruling out the remotest possibility of going with his party if its leadership decided to cooperate with the PPP.

The participation of the PML-Q dissidents and PML-F legislators in a meeting led PML-N Rana Sanaullah to claim that his party had support of 217 legislators. It needed only 186 votes to win the election of the leader of the house.

‘We have numerical strength to form our government whenever the assembly session is convened. Nobody should doubt it,’ he said, adding the PPP would not have imposed the governor’s rule if it could muster the support of the required number of legislators to install its government.

It may be recalled that the PML-N’s candidate Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui had secured 201 votes from Punjab in the presidential elections in September last year.



Abbas Ather's analysis and a 'free of charge advice'


A sincere advice by Ataul Haq Qasmi

Some relevant comments:

pakistanthinks said:

Sharif’s can’t sustain an agitation in absence of favorable govt, bureaucracy, army and courts. They have either shown their muscles when they had power behind them or have opted for fleeing out of country. This time it seems, they will fizzle out in months.
In all honesty, I see them marginalized in next elections to even fewer districts and vultures like Imran Khan will be happy in their heart at their demise. Their best bet to be flexible and be part of the system and negotiate a middle way with PPP. Else they will lose all…. They should be part of the system and wait for their moment - that’s the only chance they have…. Lawyers, Imran Khan etc have nothing to lose - Sharif’s have a lot to lose.

Vision said:

My sincere advice for PML(N) is that they should just not only say but show; first of all they must tell their followers that they should not destroy public and private property, they can protest but why should they damage their own assests, it is not AZ’s or someone else’s property.

Rampaging the courts and their disrespect, tradition has been started by no one but PML(N), and now no court seems to be the pillar of the state. When PML(N) comes in power they will do similar or worse. Both the parties have been well tried out.

doublepolitics said:


Sharifs have already lost all of what they have. Nawaz shahbaz cnnot contest elections, nawaz cannot become prime minister for third time, shahbaz has now by default lost the opportunity to become CM for third time.

If they want to be in the major helm of affairs now they will be needing a constitutional ammendment by the Parliament. This is the only way for which they are protesting too much and are trying to bring government to that.

Have not you heard Mian Nawaz sharief saying that If this issue is not resolved, they will extend the protests and de-stababilization all acroos the country. I think he gave his clear message to zardari.

doublepolitics said:

Nawaz sharif has played wrong. i agree with Zardari’s statemtent that if Sharief’s would have talked to him rather than going for turmoil, they could have sorted out some way to end this situation.

I dont know why Mian sb is playing in the hands of lawyers and Imran khan type of people. He must have realised that PML N has its own rules of the games and it must not be swayed by any of such elements who want a clash just for their own sake.

BY the way PML Q is playing a very mature role. They asked zardari to come to their home rather than chaudhries going to zardari. Mushahid is amazingly saying that they are just observors as they are not interested to form goverment and that the mendate of PML N must be respected. WOW :D

mediawatch said:

Nawaz must not play in the hands of those who even dont have a seat in any of the assemblies. They are playing at the hands of hidden forces and want Mian nawaz sharief to be out of the game of politics and Bhuttos are out of it.

Mian needs to recognize such people, good or bad but its the reality that Shariefs have to go with Zardari and Zardari has to go with Shariefs no matter either of them is in government or opposition.

Nawaz Sb hosh say kaam lain josh say nahin.

doublepolitics said:

By the way Mian sb is too innocent. IF the decision would have been in his favour for him Zardari would have been the best person on earth. Anyhow, its great to listen from him that he is ready to talk through Parliament. Now its time for Zardari to come forward as Sharif’s are the aggrieved party.

Faarigh Jazbati said:

The biggest loss of the current political crises is not the PLMN or PPP. It is Imran khan who has been pushed to the side completely. If you look into the demographic of the voters, IK is fighting for the same voters and the center right political views.

I think IK is in a political shock and does not know how to react to the current situation. This is what you get when oneswhole politics is based upon emotional subjects/issues and devoid of any political calculation of different political scenarios.

PLMN has taken the center stage of pakistani politics and they are the one who are dictating the events. IK is sitting on the sideline only to follow the events and unable to generate/create a political reality which will/can take the focus away from the PLNM/PPP politics.

Adonis said:

Behaviour of PTI diehards is really weird ……. If NS does not fully support Lawyers decisions, he is accused of betrayal, if he fully supports lawyers decisions he is accused of hijacking lawyer’s movement ……

So these guys should make up their mind about what they want NS to do …

But then we all know what they want…..they want NS to simply disappear some where… so that “mirza yaar can roam freely in deserted streets”…..

This reminds of an old joke …

—The son of village mirasi asked his father what would happen if the chaudhri of village dies. The elder mirasi replied that chaudhri’s son will become the next chaudhri. If chaudhri’s son also dies then, asked the junior mirasi. Then his nephew will become chaudhri, came the reply. What if the nephew also dies? asked mirasi’s son. Now the elder mirasi understood what the real question was and replied, “Son! even if the whole village dies, still you can never be a chaudhri”. —–

So my commiserations to these PTI diehards who are so used to day-dreaming….

Source: pk politics


Yusuf Raza Gilani, Amjad Ali Chajra and the chrages of corruption - by Khalid Masud Khan




PM promises uplift of Jalalpur Pirwala

Later, the Prime Minister proceeded to the residence of Mian Amjad Ali Chajra at Manakwali village, some 10 kilometres away from Jalalpur Pirwala city, to express his heartfelt condolences to Amjad Chajra on the sad demise of his mother.

He also offered Fateha and prayed that may Almighty rest the departed soul in peace and give the bereaved family the courage to bear this loss.

MPA Malik Ahmad Hussain Dehar, Malik Salahuddin Dogar, tehsil nazim Shujabad Rana Suhail Noon, former Punjab minister Rana Qasim Noon and president Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi besides a number of people were present on the occasion.



Tlaiban kill shia school children in ambush in Hangu, Update 28 February 2009

Pakistani school children killed in ambush
Fri, 27 Feb 2009 13:44:50 GMT

Unidentified assailants have reportedly ambushed a van carrying Shia children to school in the troubled tribal region of northwest Pakistan.

At least four students lost lives and five others sustained injuries as gunmen fired bullets at the school van outside the town of Hangu. The driver was also killed in the attack, Press TV's Muhammad Shafiq, reported.

The report added that seven students appear to have been kidnapped by the attackers.

The school van was traveling from Hangu to Kohat when it came under attack. The bodies and the wounded were shifted to Hangu's Civil Hospital.

Meanwhile, local police station chief Saeed Khan noted that authorities have closed all entry and exit points in the town, launching search operations in the nearby mountains to recover the kidnapped children and capture the attackers.

Hangu is located about 175 km (109 miles) west of Islamabad in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan and is plagued by sectarian, pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked violence.



The incident happened on Friday morning outside the town of Hangu in the troubled North West Frontier Province, state-run television PTV reported.

The driver of the minibus was also killed in the lethal attack.

The death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured children are said to be in critical condition, according to medics.

Hangu is located about 175 kilometers (110 miles) west of the capital Islamabad.

Taliban-linked militants in Parachinar, Hangu towns and the other areas of the Kurram tribal agency have killed 25 to 30 people on a daily basis during the last six months, local media reports say.

Some reports have cited grave human rights abuses against Shias in the northwestern Pakistani city of Parachinar.

Taliban has established its rule in the restive Swat valley and its influence is also rapidly increasing its grip on the major cities and even the so-called settled areas of the country.

Shia sources say that the community makes up one-third of Pakistan's 160 million-strong population. Since the 1980s, thousands of people have been killed in violence-related incidents in Pakistan by extremist groups.

Moderate Pakistani Sunni groups believe that leaving Shias at the mercy of the Taliban is a conspiracy against the country.

Earlier, Tehran cautioned Islamabad over the 'silent massacre' of its Shia community by the Taliban in the country.

"The incidents that have occurred against Pakistan's Shia community are a plot to create conflict between the region's Sunni and Shia population," said Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

"We have warned Islamabad over the incidents and we will pursue the matter," he added.


4 students kidnapped in Hangu
By Abdul Sami Paracha
Saturday, 28 Feb, 2009

KOHAT, Feb 27: The driver of a college van was killed and four students were kidnapped in Hangu district on Friday.

Two students of Al Asr College were injured in the attack near Moebak Kandao. It was suspected to have been carried out by Taliban. They were sent home after treatment. Another student reached home after escaping from the van.

Abid Hassan, Asif Ali and Said Haleem Shah, all class XI students, and

Shahi Abbas of class VII, were taken by the kidnappers to Orakzai Agency.

Driver Asghar Hussain’s body was brought to Kohat for burial.

According to district police chief Sajjad Khan, a large-scale operation launched to recover the students and arrest the kidnappers ended in failure in the evening.

“We have asked the administration of Orakzai Agency to remain vigilant and help locate the missing students,” he said.

The official said helicopters were also being use to trace the kidnappers in mountains and thick jungle.

The Hangu bazaar was closed after the incident because of fear of sectarian clashes.

People in Bangash area of upper Kohat district took to the streets to vent anger over the incident.

The Bangash community threatened to block the highway if the students were not recovered by 10am on Saturday.

The deadline was given to the district administration, after a meeting held at a police station, by the chairman of the Ittehad Bainal Muslimeen group, Mahatabul Hassan, and a former chief justice of Peshawar High Court, Syed Ibne Ali.

The ambush took place at the scene of a firing incident on Ashura day when mourners who wanted to enter Hangu from Kohat amid curfew were targeted by unknown men.

A jirga formed after last year’s Muharram clashes in the area is yet to start negotiations. The government has asked the jirga to give its verdict by March 4 for restoring peace. (Dawn)


Pakistan Shia children 'attacked'


Taleban gunmen in north-west Pakistan have attacked a school bus, killing the driver and injuring three pupils in a sectarian attack, police say.

Some reports say several children were abducted in the attack in Hangu.

Police say the children in the bus were Shia Muslims. It follows the murder of a Shia lawyer in Hangu on Thursday.

The Taleban are active in Hangu - where there is tension between Shias and Sunnis - and have imposed their version of Sharia law in parts of the area.

Hangu - in North West Frontier Province - has seen especially violent clashes in the past between Shias and Sunnis during the Shia religious ceremony of Ashura.

The hardline Sunni Taleban say they consider the Shias heretical.



Letter by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Shia killings on the rise again

The Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms Asma Jahangir, has written to The Friday Times, expressing her concerns of the rising trend of killing Shias in Quetta: “The killing of Shia notables in Quetta has sadly become a frequent occurrence. Some of the killings have been owned by an extremist organisation flying a religious standard. The number of the Shia community members killed there over the recent years has exceeded 300. The government’s failure to track down the culprits has understandably enraged the targeted community, and it has also emboldened the perpetrators to kill with impunity. Besides religious figures, liberal politicians, businessmen and government officials have been targeted”.
Quetta is an unlucky “frontline” city. It has received two sets of refugees from Afghanistan. The Shia Hazaras who have escaped sectarian prejudice in Afghanistan have been coming to the safe haven of Quetta over centuries. They became naturalised in the normal course because of the wonderfully tolerant environment of Balochistan and have arisen on the social ladder as useful citizens. Before 2001, the city was host to a large number of Afghans fleeing Taliban rule; after 2001, it was the Taliban commanders with their Al Qaeda links who were allowed to take shelter here. Sectarian violence has followed.

Quetta has additionally fallen victim to Baloch militant organisations that kill Punjabis and others seen by them as renegades to their cause. Taking advantage of the turmoil in Afghanistan and the ongoing Indo-Pak proxy war, they have taken on a sharp edge they never had before. They kill and kidnap at will and have weapons at their disposal they never had before. But Quetta is not alone in its vulnerability. In the tribal areas, Kurram has suffered Shia killing for the last two years or more. The roads coming down from there to the settled areas of Hangu, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar in the NWFP have all seen their own share of killings.

The latest news from Hangu is that a van of school children was fired upon by sectarian terrorists, killing one and kidnapping six of the children. Kohat next door is not exempt from this bloodbath, so much so that the killers are now accepted as a part of the local administration. Ms Jahangir’s warning is timely. The wave of Shia-killing is not going to remain confined to Balochistan and the tribal areas. In fact, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bhakkar in Punjab are already feeling the pressure; and it is linked to Pakistan’s war against terrorism. (Daily Times)


Friday, 27 February 2009

Cruelty with dog in Peshawar. A specimen of moral character of PML-N

This site has moved to http://criticalppp.com, click this link if you are not redirected

Ahmed Rashid: The Taliban has its own agenda for Pakistan

‘An Appendage Of The Al Qaeda, The Taliban Now Has Its Own Agenda For Pakistan’

Ahmed Rashid, author of a book on the Taliban, tells HARINDER BAWEJA (of Tehleka.com) that even India needs to worry enormously

Cover Story

How do you read the ceasefire pact with the Taliban?
It can be serious. We have had a spate of ceasefires, which have been very controversial. They have been opposed by a large section of the population because the ceasefires are only seen as a consolidation of the Taliban and their spread to other areas. On the other hand, other people are saying that it will bring peace and improve the justice system in the Swat valley. These may be short-term gains, but the longterm implications of this ceasefire are very very dangerous for the country. I think the fact that the state has been willing to change the legal system in Swat is a very bad precedent for the future. And something like that has not happened even in Afghanistan where the Taliban have controlled many provinces. But the state has never compromised with the Constitution and the legal system. So talking to the Taliban is one thing. It is necessary. But to talk to them and accede very hastily to accepting some of their demands regarding Sharia is a very serious risk.

Would you see it as a surrender? Some strategic experts are talking in terms of the Zardari dispensation having surrendered to the Taliban.
I wouldn’t say it is a surrender because it is still very much up in the air. Zardari hasn’t signed the agreement yet. He has to sign it in order for it to be enforced. And the agreement is still being negotiated both in Swat and Bajaur. But certainly, if it does go ahead and it holds for any length of time, it will be a serious infringement of the state’s authority.

Does the word balkanisation come to mind when you think of the ground situation?
What we are seeing is a growing state of anarchy rather than balkanisation. I don’t think the Taliban are in a position to separate the country or the northern part of the country. But certainly they are in a position to increase anarchy and law and order problems, and there are criminal elements who have joined up with them. There are robberies, beheadings and kidnappings taking place under their name. Some of which they are doing, and some of which is being done by criminal gangs. It is a very complicated situation.

Does it bother you that Pakistan and Afghanistan are now being mentioned together?
Well, I think it certainly bothers a lot of people, especially in the establishment. But I think it’s fair enough because neither country can deal with this issue alone. The fact is that there are Pakistani Taliban fighting in Afghanistan and there are Afghan Taliban fighting in Pakistan. I think it would very immature for us to be in a state of denial about that. The Afghans are not in denial about that but elements in Pakistan certainly are.

Would you say that the Taliban has succeeded in imposing their ideology and political agenda through the barrel of a gun?
That’s absolutely true. Through terror, fear, beheadings and hangings carried out in Swat. I don’t believe that the majority of the Swatis want the Taliban. As we know, something like 350,000 out of a population of 1.5 million have fled Swat. The educated liberal Swatis, teachers, doctors, policemen, and civil administrators have all fled.

Could you briefly describe life in the Swat valley in terms of the parallel judiciary, women in burqas, no music, no barber shops…
That is the situation. For example, the Taliban leader Maulvi Fazalullah has said that NGOs will not return to Swat. A lot of social, health, and education activity was being carried out by NGOs. It’s still uncertain whether girls will be allowed to go back to school and under what conditions. Will male teachers be allowed to teach them? The very fact that the state is having to negotiate these things is a huge sign of weakness.

Who would you say is in control? Is it the Prime Minister? Is it the President?
As far as this deal is concerned, it seems everyone has been on board. The lead was taken by the ANP in Peshawar and I think the ANP has lost a lot of ground because of this deal. I don’t think the lead was taken by the army. The army has followed with the ANP initiative. And the PPP and the President have also come on board. But within all these parties, even within the ANP and the PPP, these deals remain very controversial.

Was the army having a tough time handling the Taliban militarily, having played a role in its creation in the first place?
The phenomenon now is that the Pakistani Taliban have their own agenda for Pakistan. Before, there was a situation where they were an appendage of the Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban fighting in Taliban. Over the last two to three years they have developed their own agenda for northern Pakistan. And that is what is most worrying. I certainly don’t think that the army is on board with that. The army is very much opposed to that, but it has limited capacity to deal with it now that the spread of the Pakistani Taliban has become so vast.

They are literally 150km from Islamabad. Right?
Yes. And they are spreading south. And the danger is that they will use Swat as a base to spread south of the valley and then closer towards the capital.

So deal or no deal, ceasefire or no ceasefire, the situation remains pretty serious and alarming.
It is serious and alarming. And it is worrying people in Punjab. There have been Taliban attacks in Punjab also. South Punjab is filled with some of these Punjabi groups, who ally with the Taliban. Karachi is filled with both neo- Taliban and Punjabi groups. Certainly there is a big danger of this spreading to other parts of the country very rapidly.

Isn’t it ironic that the Zardari dispensation is on the verge of signing a pact with the Taliban, which includes Baitullah Mehsud, accused of masterminding Benazir Bhutto’s assassination?
Certainly. It’s very damaging to the prestige of the PPP Government, the ANP who opposed it and who have been facing death threats and attacks by Baitullah’s men. In fact, one MP of the ANP has been killed and the others ministers and MPs are being targeted. It’s difficult to imagine how we are going to be able to have a truce with such a person.

So what were the compulsions for going ahead with the ceasefire if one were to specifically see it from the PPP’s point of view?
I think there is an inherent weakness of the state at the moment. Both in political and military terms. I think the government and the army are exhausted by the heavy fighting that has taken place over the last six to nine months in Bajaur and Swat. At the moment, retaking Swat by the army is not an option because you would need perhaps as many as a hundred thousands troops to do that and the army can’t spare that at the moment.

The PPP has only just completed a year in power and they are already on the verge of a pact with the Taliban?
Well, there has been a steady weakening of the state’s response to this threat over the past year. And I don’t think the government has been properly focused on that. It’s been more focused on the political rankling inside Punjab and the Centre and Nawaz Sharif and the lawyers movement and other things rather than focusing on the threat of extremism.

So are you amazed a little by the US reaction to the ceasefire because they are not openly opposing it, saying the Sharia is part of Pakistan’s Constitution?
Well, I think the US has to work with the Pakistani Army. It doesn’t have a choice. I think they were surprised by what happened in Swat. I don’t think they were properly informed about it especially when Richard Holbrooke was visiting the region. But they still realise that they have to work with the army.

To what extent should India worry?
India needs to worry enormously about it because many of these groups who ally to the Taliban, have an agenda in India. The last thing you want to see is the Taliban actually reaching upto the Indian border. In which case India will be faced with having part of the Pakistan border under the control of the Taliban, which is not something India will like very much.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 9, Dated Mar 07, 2009

Source: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main41.asp?filename=Ne070309an_appendage.asp


PPP protests against burning of Benazir, Zardari portraits


PPP protests against burning of Benazir, Zardari portraits
Friday, February 27, 2009
By By our correspondent
HYDERABAD: Activists of the ruling Pakistan Peopleís Party (PPP) on Thursday took out rallies and staged demonstrations against the burning and disgracing of portraits of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari in the Punjab cities.

Activists of the Sindh Peopleís Youth took out a rally, led by divisional president Ahsan Abro and others, with activists chanting slogans against the workers of the PML-N.

Another protest rally was brought to the Hyderabad Press Club, which was led by provincial minister Zahid Bhurguri, Amanullah Siyal, Aftab Khanzada and others. The protesters were carrying placards inscribed with slogans against the PML-N workers and demanding President Zardari to take action against those involved in damaging the portraits of the slain chairperson.

The protesters also set on fire the effigy of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif. They said protesting against the decision of the apex court was the right of the PML-N but damaging the portraits of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari had hurt the sentiments of millions of supporters of the PPP.

Large contingents of police and Rangers were deployed to prevent violence as the PML-N workers were staging a demonstration at the press club when the PPP workers arrived.

Our Khairpur correspondent adds: The students wing of the PPP protested against the destruction of the monument of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi by the PML-N workers.

The students of the Shah Abdul Latif University staged a demonstration and alleged that the PML-N was instigating the PPP workers but said the PPP was a party of democratic personalities. They said the Supreme Court had announced the disqualification decision on merit.

However, they said, the PML-N was accusing President Asif Ali Zardari for the verdict. The tone of the Sharif brothers towards the president of Pakistan was intolerable, they said. They said if the Sharifs did not change their tone of criticism, then they will react.

The PPP women wing protested against the disfiguring of portraits of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The women workers said the PPPP will not tolerate such acts of the PML-N.

Our Naushahro Feroze correspondent adds: Hundreds of activists of the PPP staged a protest and a sit-in outside the local press club against the disfiguring of portraits of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi and other cities of the Punjab.

The rally started from the PPP district office and went round the entire city before terminating at the local press club. The rally was led by Sadruddin Ujan, president PPP Lawyers Forum, Ubaidullah Rajpar, Shahnaz Ansar, district president PPP Women Wing, Bakhtawar Vistro and others.

The protesters raised slogans against the PML-N and the Chaudhry brothers. Speaking to a large gathering, the local leaders said Benazir Bhutto had sacrificed her life for democracy in Pakistan and its masses. (The News)

PML-N workers attack PPP office, Benazir memorial

Staff Report

RAWALPINDI: Dozens of PML-N workers on Thursday pelted a PPP office and a memorial of Benazir Bhutto on Liaquat Road with stones during a demonstration against the disqualification of their leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif from contesting election. They also destroyed PPP hoardings and banners carrying pictures of Benazir Bhutto in the vicinity. There followed exchange of hot words and scuffle between the PML-N and the PPP workers. However, the police’s intervention led the mob’s peaceful dispersal. No damage to public life was reported. The PPP workers later turned up in front of the memorial and stayed put till night. They erected a large portrait of Benazir Bhutto at the site, lit candles and laid floral wreath there. PPP Central Executive Committee’s member Sultan Mehmood Qazi, PPP, Rawalpindi City, President Aamir Fida Paracha, Nargas Fayyaz Malik and other leaders visited the place. They announced an FIR would be lodged with police against the Benazir’s memorial and PPP office attackers.

FIR registered: According to APP, on the directive of higher authorities, the City Police Station on Thursday registered an FIR against 60 unidentified Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) workers allegedly involved in burning of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed’s monument at Liaquat Bagh.

PPP workers protest: A few dozen PPP workers on Thursday protested at Zero Point against the PML-N activists’ attack on a memorial of Benazir Bhutto outside Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi. They said the memorial attack was an attack on democracy. They said the PPP believed in peace and democratic process. (Daily Times)


Talat Hussain: Nawaz Sharif's dream or reality?




Lahore is the best - Funny pictures

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Nawaz Sharif invites his followers to mutiny in Pakistan. Strike call fails.

The PMLN’s policy of not recognising the “PCO Supreme Court” anticipated its decision to reject the verdict the Supreme Court reached Wednesday to disqualify the Sharif brothers.

However, desperate to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is trying to create law and order situation in the country, by encouraging his workers to break all laws and create chaos.

His call was widely neglected all over Pakistan. Only a few dozen law-breakers turned up in Lahore and Rawalpindi.


حکم ماننے سے انکار کر دو: نواز شریف

میاں نواز شریف
پاکستان مسلم لیگ ن کےسربراہ میاں نواز شریف نے شیخوپورہ میں ایک جلسہ عام سے خطاب کیا

پاکستان مسلم لیگ ن کےسربراہ میاں نواز شریف نے پنجاب کی انتظامیہ اور پولیس کے افسروں کو کہا ہے کہ وہ پنجاب کے موجودہ حکمرانوں کے احکامات ماننے سے انکار کردیں۔

یہ بات انہوں نے شیخوپورہ میں ایک جلسہ عام سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے کہی۔


* Mob attacks Lal Haveli, blocks Islamabad-Rawalpindi highway

Doezens of protesters rallied across the country on Thursday, setting cars ablaze to protest the Supreme Court decision disqualifying the Sharif brothers.

Rangers were called to control law and order in Rawalpindi and Lahore, a private TV channel reported.

Small crowds of PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islami and PTI clashed with police and closed the highway between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Supporters of the PML-N also attacked Lal Haveli – the residence of former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was not at home at the time. The protesters dispersed when security guards inside the building fired gunshots in the air.

In Lahore, protesters stormed the barricades for a sit-in outside the Governor’s House, punching their fists in the air, witnesses said.

Protesters stoned a bank during a protest in Multan.

Dozens also rallied in Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Muzaffarabad, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar. agencies/daily times monitor


Speech invitation to mutiny: Sherry

LAHORE: Information Minister Sherry Rehman has said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif’s speech in Sheikhupura is an open invitation to mutiny and his comments against President Asif Ali Zardari are regrettable, a private TV channel reported on Thursday. According to the channel, Sherry said provoking the government and law enforcement officials by Nawaz was akin to taking the country towards disaster and confrontation, and weakening state institutions. She appealed to the PML-N’s ‘responsible’ leadership to rein in their emotions and avoid making personal comments. She said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had said the “review option” was still open, and the PML-N should avoid politics of confrontation. About governor’s rule in Punjab, she said it was imposed under Article 234 of the constitution, the channel quoted its sources. daily times monitor


Strike call fails

ISLAMABAD: The masses rejected the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) call for observing a strike on Thursday to protest against the Sharif brothers’ disqualification, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik said. Talking to reporters outside Marriott hotel on Thursday, the adviser said the country needed development, not strikes in the current crises. He said traffic plying on roads was a clear indicator of how successful the strike had been, adding the masses did not pay heed to the PML-N’s call. Malik was satisfied with the law and order situation in the country. “Everything is under control.” tahir niaz


Harris Khalique writes in The News:

What we may see in the months to come is the right-wingers, including the Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehrik-e-Insaf, rallying around the PML-N, pushing the Sharifs further to the right and the supporters of the PPP pitched against them, without sensing the betrayal of their leadership. The real issues, including terrorism, the struggle for rights in Balochistan, food and energy shortages, the breakdown of law and order and lack of basic services, will all be moved to the back burner. The military must not intervene at any cost, for its imminent failure in governance soon after taking over resurrects the old-timers, thus preventing them from becoming irrelevant. The otherwise incompetent and corrupt are absolved of their wrongdoings due to the illegitimacy of military rule. We mustn’t forget that the National Reconciliation Ordinance was passed by a military dictator when sand shifted under his feet.


Zardari is a cheater whereas Nawaz Sharif is a man of principles?


Remnants of General Zia-ul-Haq oblige by assuring Nawaz Sharif of their full support. The pro-Taliban politicians are re-uniting in Pakistan.


Hanif Abbasi, ex-Jamaat-e-Islami, and now PML-N goonda involved in creating law and order situation in Rawalpindi:



Column by Latif Chaudhry in Daily Express, 27 Feb 2009


Hangu: Taliban attack a school van killing 3 Shia children, kidnapping 6 Shia children

Gunmen ambush Pakistan school minibus, 3 Shia students killed, 6 taken captive


Children injured in a bombing at the Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad

Shia children injured in a previous bombing at the Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad. Photograph: AP

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Gunmen on Friday ambushed a minibus carrying children to school in remote northwest Pakistan, killing the driver, wounding two children and apparently kidnapping six others, police said.

The bus was ambushed outside the town of Hangu in the country's troubled North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan and is plagued by sectarian violence as well as Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

"Unknown gunmen fired at the school van carrying Shiite students. The driver was killed, two children were injured, while six appear to have been kidnapped by the attackers," local police station chief Saeed Khan told AFP.

"Police are searching for the attackers in the nearby mountains," he added, saying he had no further details about the missing students.

Hangu, which has been a flashpoint for sectarian violence in the past, is located about 175 kilometres (110 miles) west of the capital Islamabad.

Shiite and Sunni Muslim groups signed a peace accord in Hangu last month after days of sectarian clashes in which at least nine people were killed.

Shiites account for about 20 percent of Pakistan's 160-million-strong, Sunni-majority population.

The groups usually coexist peacefully but outbreaks of sectarian violence have claimed more than 4,000 lives across Pakistan since the late 1980s.

AFP 27 Feb 2009

Meanwhile, gunmen opened fire on a school van near the northwestern town of Hangu on Friday, killing its driver and injuring three students before abducting six other children, police officer Arshad Khan said. Those abducted were between the ages of nine and 18, he said.

Pakistan's northwest is a violent, lawless region, where criminal gangs and Islamist militants take refuge.

Associated Press writer Hussain Afzal contributed to this report from Parachinar.



Driver killed in Hangu school van firing

Updated at: 0955 PST, Friday, February 27, 2009 HANGU: A driver was killed and two students sustained injuries when unknown persons opened fire at a school van in Hangu. The attackers also kidnapped six students.

Police sources said a school van travelling from Hangu to Kohat when unidentified persons opened fire at van near Merobik Banda area killing driver Asghar Ali on the spot and injuring two students Zafar and Farhan.

Eyewitnesses said the attackers also abducted six students. The body and injured were shifted to Civil Hospital. Heavy police contingents launched search operation for the recovery of the children.



12 men abducted in Hangu

HANGU: Unidentified armed men on Monday opened fire on a Peshawar-bound vehicle before abducting 12 of its passengers near Kurram Agency’s border with Hangu district, officials said. An official told Daily Times that the vehicle was on its way to Peshawar when the armed men intercepted it in Tootkas area and abducted 12 of its 15 passengers.Hangu District Police Officer Sajjad Khan confirmed the incident. He added that even though the Khasadar force was deployed in the area, the Taliban were openly operating there. saboor khan (Daily Times)



Kurram Agency Toori abducted persons couldn’t be recovered

The News, 27 Feb

PESHAWAR: Even after lapse of five days twelve abducted persons of Toori tribesmen could not be recovered.

Sources said that that some armed persons had abducted twelve persons of Toori tribesmen on way from Kuram Agency to Peshawar from Tootkas area and one trying to escape was shot dead. Despite lapse of five days, the kidnapped persons could not be recovered.

Toori tribesmen have demanded immediate release of the abductees and ensuring safe travel on the Peshawar-Kurram main highway.


سکول بس فائرنگ میں ڈرائیور ہلاک

ہنگو میں کشیدگی: فائل فوٹو
ضلع ہنگو سُنی شیعہ فسادت کے لحاظ سے انتہائی حساس ہے
صوبہ سرحد کے ضلع ہنگو میں پولیس کا کہنا ہے کہ نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے سکول کے بچوں کی ایک گاڑی پر فائرنگ کی ہے جس کے نتیجہ میں گاڑی کے ڈرائیور ہلاک جبکہ دو بچے زخمی ہوگئے ہیں۔زخمی بچوں کو ہنگو کے سول ہسپتال میں داخل کرا دیاگیا ہے۔

پولیس کے ایک اہلکار عمر حیات نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ جمعہ کو ہنگو شہر سے چار کلومیٹر دور جنوب کی جانب بہادر بانڈہ کے علاقے میروباک میں نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے سکول کے بچوں کی ایک گاڑی پر فائرنگ کی جس کے نتیجہ میں گاڑی کے ڈرئیور ہلاک جبکہ دو بچے زخمی ہوگئے ہیں۔

پولیس اہلکار کا کہنا تھا کہ اس واقعہ کے بعد ہنگو سے پولیس کی بھاری نفری علاقے میں پہنچ گئی اور مختلف راستوں میں ناکے لگا کر تلاشی شروع کر دی۔لیکن تاحال کسی قسم کی گرفتاری عمل میں نہیں آئی ہے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ فائرنگ کرنے والے مسلح لوگ پیدل تھے اور فائرنگ کے بعد فرار ہوگئے ہیں۔

علاقے میں موجود ایک مقامی صحافی نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ جمعہ کی صبح آٹھ بجے مسلح افراد نے سکول کے قریب ایک سپیڈ بریکر کے اوپر گاڑی پر فائرنگ کی جس کے نتیجہ میں گاڑی کے ڈرائیور اصغر خان ہلاک جبکہ دو بچے ظفر علی اور فرحان علی زخمی ہوگئے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ بچوں کا تعلق اہل تشیع سے بتایا جاتا ہے جو ایک گاؤں سے سکول جا رہے تھے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ علاقے میں سخت کشیدگی پائی جاتی ہے۔اور اس واقعہ کے بعد تمام راستے غیر اعلانیہ طور پر بند کر دیےگئے ہیں۔


SOS from Pakistan - Save Pakistani Shias Petition


Thursday, 26 February 2009

In appreciation of Shahbaz Sharif's Danish Schools Project - Ataul Haq Qasmi

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Holbrooke: Only 5pc Afghan Taliban are hard-core militants

Only 5pc Afghan Taliban are hard-core militants: Holbrooke
By Our Correspondent
Thursday, 26 Feb, 2009

WASHINGTON, Feb 25: Only five per cent of the Taliban militants in Afghanistan are hard-core, others can be persuaded to abandon violence, says Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr Holbrooke, appointed a special envoy on Jan 22, however, opposes a similar engagement with the militants in Pakistan. He strongly opposed an arrangement Pakistan reached with the Taliban militants in Swat earlier this month, saying that this would allow the militants to rearm and regroup.

In a television interview, Mr Holbrooke said he agreed with an assessment that divided the Taliban into three groups: the hard core, about five per cent, those frustrated with the Afghan government, about 25 per cent, and those who joined the Taliban movement for guns or cash, about 70 per cent.

The US envoy quoted a cousin of the Afghan president as describing the 70 per cent of the Taliban militants as “mostly young, unemployed men, who either get paid by the Taliban to take up guns or they just love guns”.

Mr Holbrooke said that while there could be no negotiations with the hard core five per cent, others could be engaged. “The 25 per cent who joined because of perceived injustice or corruption from the government — that is our mission, to help the Afghan government eliminate those issues,” said the US envoy while explaining how the US planned to win over the Taliban militants.

“And the other 70 per cent, the floating people who pick up guns in a culture where guns are very popular and it’s a long-standing historical tradition, that you have to deal with by a much better public information programme.”

Mr Holbrooke said the US needed to reach out to at least a portion of the Taliban to make real progress in Afghanistan. “We have to, because, as everyone has said, you don’t — you can’t defeat the Taliban by a military victory, World War II style.”The US envoy also urged Pakistan to withdraw most of its troops from the Indian border and use them for fighting militants. “If you were to ask me the biggest thing we could do that would help everyone, it would be to get the Pakistanis to redeploy more troops to the western border,” he said.

He noted that Pakistan had deployed 120,000 regular army and 50,000 Frontier Corps soldiers on the western area. And far more, double or triple that, on the eastern border. “If they could shift more to the west, that would be critically valuable. And not just shift them in regular army formations, but train them for counter-insurgency,” he said.

“They are a regular army trained since independence to defend against India. And like the American army in Vietnam, they’re looking backward to the past wars, and not forward.”(Dawn)


Taliban alliance only against US, says Maulvi Nazir

* Tells South Waziristan elders Taliban factions will remain independent
* Wana tribesmen fear deal with Baitullah may cause Uzbek influx

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: The top three Taliban factions in Pakistan have unified “only to act together against the United States”, Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir told Ahmedzai Wazir elders in South Waziristan in a meeting earlier this week, a tribal elder told Daily Times on Wednesday.

A delegation of Ahmedzai Wazir elders met Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban chief in Wana, to ask him why he had formed the ‘United Council of Mujahideen’ without consulting them, a senior member of the delegation said. “Gul Bahadar (the Taliban chief in North Waziristan) and I have reached an understanding with Baitullah Mehsud (the chief of the defuct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) to fight the US together, because we are concerned over the surge in American troops in Afghanistan,” Nazir reportedly told the delegation. He denied the groups had joined hands against Pakistani troops.

US President Barack Obama has ordered 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and Washington is currently meeting top officials from Islamabad and Kabul to put together a new strategy on tackling the Afghanistan problem.

Maulvi Nazir told the Ahmedzai Wazir elders that the understanding with Baitullah did not mean a merger of the three groups. “Each group will have its own independent status and emirates, and each group will be sovereign in their territory,” the Taliban leader said. Maulvi Nazir did say who had helped them forge the alliance, the delegation member told Daily Times. “I think someone from across the border may have influenced the move,” he added. The understanding comes despite serious differences between Maulvi Nazir and Baitullah Mehsud over Uzbek fighters among the latter’s ranks. The Ahmedzai Wazirs and Maulvi Nazir had made a peace deal in April 2007 after the latter flushed out the Uzbek men from the area. The new understanding alarmed the tribesmen the foreigners might return to their land. “We told Maulvi Nazir if his understanding with Baitullah brings any harm to our areas, then the peace accord we reached with him will also be in jeopardy,” the delegation told the Taliban chief, the elder said. (Daily Times)


Allama Iqbal, Bacha Khan and terrorists - Suroosh Irfani

Iqbal, Bacha Khan and terrorists —Suroosh Irfani

It might well be that the heartless war our homegrown jihadis and Afghan Taliban are waging against Pakistan exemplifies Islam’s dangerous inversion that Iqbal had warned against some three generations ago. Such inversion has virtually displaced Bacha Khan and Iqbal’s spiritual humanism by a jihadi extremism at war with humanity

“Muslims are at war with one another, in their hearts they only harbor schism. They cry out if someone else pulls a brick out of a mosque which they themselves shun” — Allama Iqbal, Armaghan e Hijaz (verse translated by Mustansir Mir)

When Muhammad Iqbal, the ‘spiritual founder of Pakistan’, wrote the above verses shortly before his death in 1938, the blowing up of mosques and beheadings of fellow Muslims had not yet become part of everyday Muslim life. Nor was the destruction of schools, or the ban on girls’ education and music part of a freedom struggle that led to the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Indeed, by the 1930s when Iqbal’s Islamic rethink had earned him the appellations of ‘Poet of Islam’ and ‘Wiseman of the Ummah’, non-violence was shaping the freedom struggle against British rule in much of India. While Gandhi was emblematic of such a struggle, shades of non-violence also permeated Muslim political discourse. Such a discourse was as much in evidence in the ‘martial’ North West Frontier Province — the cradle of jihadi terror in Pakistan today — as the rest of India.

However, as Britain started discussing India’s future in a series of Round Table Conferences during the 1930s, Iqbal was apprehensive that Britain might “transfer political authority to the Hindus” for its “material benefits”, leaving Muslims marginalised in India. Such a development, he warned, could be “disastrous...You will drive the Indian Muslims to use the same weapon against the [Hindu] Government...as Gandhi did against the British Government.” (Iqbal’s Letter to Sir Francis Younghusband, The Civil and Military Gazette, July 31, 1931).

Clearly, his poetics of Muslim ascendancy notwithstanding, non-violence for Iqbal was integral to India’s democratic experiment as it “educated people...without destroying the structures of government itself”.

However, as the Round Table Conferences continued in London, the NWFP was swept by a populist upsurge for social reform and political rights never before seen in Muslim history: a non-violent movement led by Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, just after his return from Haj in 1929. Called the Servants of God Movement (Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek), it reflected the onset of a radical transformation in popular imagination in a tribal culture, where violence constituted mutual deterrence under the rubric of ‘badla’, or revenge.

Convinced that Pashtun would be denied their rightful place in the modern world so long as they remained mired in colonialism, poverty and violence, Ghaffar Khan struggled to undo the triple curse by invoking non-violence as “the weapon of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]” and the driving spirit of his movement. The Prophet’s [PBUH] non-violence, Khan argued, exemplified “patience and righteousness”, and so long as the Servants of God remained true to the Prophet’s [PBUH] example, no power on earth could subdue them.

Consequently, as social and educational reforms of the Servants of God began transforming lives, people hailed the saintly Khan as a ‘saviour king’ — Bacha Khan.

Indeed, one could say that the spiritual politics of servanthood that Bacha Khan invoked in the name of God and the Prophet [PBUH] was, at one level, the social corollary of an ideal that Iqbal espoused in his poetry. In Javid Nama, Iqbal’s magnum opus reflecting the creative imagination of a new Muslim consciousness, he expounds the mystical meanings of the concept of servanthood as a deepening of consciousness with diverse expressions, its high point being the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as His servant, abday’hu.

In a sense, while Bacha Khan and Iqbal stood at opposite ends of Indian politics — the former struggled for a united India, the latter for Muslim separation — they exemplified different facets of the same discourse of non-violence. This is borne out by an inner vision of Iqbal that inspired him to write Armaghan e Hijaz — his last poetic work composed in both Persian and Urdu.

In the vision late one night, a tall saintly figure appeared in Iqbal’s room, emphatically urged him to raise a grouping of 500 men, and then disappeared in the night, leaving the ‘Poet of the East’ deeply shaken. It is worth noting that Iqbal’s vision occurred in a political context, when several radical Indian Muslims were secretly crossing over to Afghanistan to organise armed struggle against the British Indian government. Given such context, did the vision imply that Iqbal, too, should raise an army of 500 holy warriors for jihad against the British?

Iqbal discussed the vision with his father, a Sufi of the Qadiriya order, who interpreted it as a call for writing a poetic work of 500 verses to educate Muslims and deepen their humanity. As Faqir Wahiddudin notes in his biography of Iqbal (Rozgar e Faqir, p.117), the truth of the father’s interpretation was borne out when Iqbal composed Armaghan e Hijaz. Comprising just over 500 verses, the work unfolds with an allusion to Iqbal’s vision: here Iqbal declares that he is “raising a new army of Love”, to counter a dangerous revolt that’s brewing against the heart of Islam from within.

It might well be that the heartless war our homegrown jihadis and Afghan Taliban are waging against Pakistan exemplifies Islam’s dangerous inversion that Iqbal had warned against some three generations ago. Such inversion has virtually displaced Bacha Khan and Iqbal’s spiritual humanism by a jihadi extremism at war with humanity.

Clearly, Pakistan’s survival as a modern democratic state is hinged on healing an inner Muslim split that has turned Iqbal’s dream state into a nightmare. Such healing entails, on the one hand, an urgent recovery of Iqbal and Bacha Khan’s spiritual politics; and on the other hand, rethinking of a flawed security outlook that sees India as mortal enemy and Taliban as strategic asset.

Indeed, the “strategic renaissance” the Pakistan Army needs for reclaiming the NWFP from Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, as Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood has pointed out, will remain elusive without Iqbal and Bacha Khan’s presence as a cultural force.

Suroosh Irfani is an educator and writer based in Lahore. He can be reached at suroosh@yahoo.com


Sharif brothers: Nov 25, 2007 — Feb 25, 2008 - Timed out?

"Not a single tear was shed"

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Not many protesters were visible in the streets of Lahore, Rawalpindi and other cities in Punjab. The Motorway party (PML-N) has its stronghold from Lahore to Rawalpindi but it seems that these 'choori khanay walay totay' are no match for the diehard supporters of the PPP. Except a few goons of Jamaat Islami, Taliban, Imran Khan's PTI who desecrated the Benazir Memorial in Rawalpindi, the situation was under control in all cities in Punjab. The largest 'demonstration' was seen within the provincial assembly in Punjab when about 100 MPAs belonging to PML-N protested in an unconstituional session of the Punjab Assembly; they were lamenting the loss of their lucrative ministries and positions.

Sharif brothers: Nov 25, 2007 — Feb 25, 2008

By Rana Tanveer

LAHORE: Despite having reservations over the judiciary’s legitimacy in the wake of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), the Sharif brothers have been engaged with the ‘PCO courts’ since they arrived in Pakistan on November 25, 2007.

The next day, November 26, both Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif filed their nomination papers with returning officers (ROs) for general elections, then scheduled on January 8, 2008.

On December 2, 2007, the ROs declared both Nawaz and Shahbaz ineligible to contest the general elections.

After then president Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency on November 3, the Sharif brothers announced on December 7 that they would not appeal against their ineligibility and would boycott the elections in protest against the judges performing under the PCO.

Instead of appealing against the ROs’ decisions before an election tribunal, they wrote letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan, saying they were being prevented from standing due to political reasons.

On December 10, the Sharifs said their party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), would contest the elections.

The party made the decision after it failed to achieve an understanding with Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

The two sides, however, maintained that elections under the emergency rule imposed by Musharraf would not be free and fair.

After Benazir’s assassination on December 27, Nawaz announced his party would boycott the general elections.

In the following few days, Nawaz met PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to advise him to boycott the January elections.

Zardari refused, saying Nawaz take part in the elections, as both parties, the PPP and the PML-N, were favourites to win.

Nawaz accepted the offer and publicly announced that the PML-N would contest the general elections.

After the elections were held on February 18, 2008, Nawaz announced on the 26th that he and his brother Shahbaz Sharif would run in by-elections.

Their nomination papers were accepted on May 15, but a verdict by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on June 23 disqualified Nawaz from contesting the by-polls.

It also conditionally allowed Shahbaz to hold office of the Punjab chief minister, referring the petition against Shahbaz to the Election Commission of Pakistan, directing it to constitute an election tribunal to decide the chief minister’s eligibility.

The federal government, and a proposer and seconder of Nawaz’s candidature filed an appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) against the LHC verdict on Nawaz’s behalf, as he had declined to file an appeal himself, saying he did not accept the SC’s legitimacy.

Similarly, Khurram Shah challenged the qualification of Shahbaz before the SC, which on February 25, 2009, disqualified both PML-N leaders. (Daily Times)

Sharifs have been ‘timed-out’

By Amjad Warraich

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has become critical to the current political scenario, as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has to tread a fine line now that the Supreme Court has disqualified the Sharifs.

The future course of action chosen by the PML-Q will define the party’s outlook as the state of affairs take a dynamic turn. Not only that, the strategy they opt will also be crucial for the party’s own outlook as power politics enter a new phase. According to sources in the PML-Q, the Chaudhrys – Shujaat Hussain and his cousin Pervaiz Elahi – are finalising their strategy on how to avail the various opportunities that emerge from confrontation between the PML-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PPP. Recent political developments and especially the Sharif brothers’ disqualification have placed the Chaudhrys on the centre-stage of power politics. They hold a strategic strength in the Punjab and the National Assembly and their support will be very important for both the PPP and the PML-N. The Q League has three options: supporting a PPP-led coalition, remaining neutral as an independent political entity or perhaps joining hands with Nawaz. The Chaudhrys are currently examining the pros and cons of these options and the bargains therein. While they weren’t expecting an early lifeline, now that opportunity is knocking at their door, it seems they’re letting caution override emotion.

It seems that the Chaudhrys are not in the mood to trust the Sharifs again and hence the alliance or merger with the PML-N is more of a theoretical possibility than a practical reality. This is largely because the Sharifs’ track record does not encourage the Chaudhrys to trust them. The twice-shy Chaudhrys have bitter recollections of the past from the days when both families were together in the PML-N. Their split into two separate factions has only aggravated this bitterness. There is a strong feeling in the Chaudhrys’ camp that they personally accommodated Sharifs during their rule and even helped Hamza Shahbaz get NOC to set up industry but the Sharifs have made all-out efforts to implicate them in cases during last one year of their government in Punjab. The PML-Q also doubts the Sharifs’ sincerity. Most of its leaders believe that the Sharifs are approaching their party because of its numerical strength in the assemblies. If the gulf wasn’t wide enough, it’s being dubbed that some Nawaz leaguers, including those who flanked the Sharifs on their recent trip to Zahoor Elahi Palace, don’t want an alliance with the PML-Q. Conversely, only a few Quaid leaguers want alliance with the PML-N but they are too weak to influence decision-making process in the party. The PML-Q sources strongly negate the rumours that there are differences between both the Chaudhry brothers in this regard. Clearly, Shahbaz Sharif’s visit was too little too late for any form of damage control. Although nothing can be categorically ruled out in politics, it is widely believed that the chances of a deal between Chaudhrys and the Sharifs are remote.

It is the stubbornness of the Sharifs, observers believe, that has pushed the Chaudhrys towards the PPP. It is partly because of this that the PML-Q has been cooperating with the PPP for the last few months. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer is in constant contact with Elahi. The Chaudhrys are indebted to the PPP for saving them from the embarrassment of losing the support of the majority in their Punjab parliamentary party by helping them hold a successful show of strength during Ramazan at their Gulberg residence. The PPP has also supported them to protect their district nazims against attacks by the Punjab government. It is due to this cooperation that the Chaudhrys now hold a strategic position in the political scenario.

However, joining the PPP-led government might harm the Chaudhrys' image of a committed Muslim League family and their claim on right wing politics but there are many who believe that this theory has become irrelevant as their arch rival Bhuttos have now become a legacy. In the quest of a moral high ground, staying neutral is another theoretical possibility: a choice that may lead to defections within the Q ranks. Legislators and electoral candidates like to join a party that can add reasonably to their vote bank. With this seemingly idealistic approach, the PML-Q will be positioned with the likes of APDM and the post-SC verdict PML-N. Since the realistic options for PML-Q are few and far between, a fact that may also be doing the rounds in PPP quarters, it seems that the negotiations between the two parties will be more tactical than strategic in nature. This notion is further endorsed by the appointment of loyalists in the top two slots in the bureaucratic set-up. Enter Naguibullah Malik and Khawaja Khalid Farooq as Chief Secretary and Inspector General of Police, respectively, and one could say that it’s game, set and match for PPP-PMLQ lobbyists. While this “short order of sorts” hints at how the cookie would crumble, it doesn’t give away everything. As the Chaudhrys move towards the federal capital, it remains to be seen whether the bandwagon would take them to The Mall or the Constitution Avenue. Territorially speaking, The Mall is much closer to Zahoor Elahi Road. (Daily Times)

Profiles of disqualified PML-N leaders

By Nauman Tasleem

LAHORE: The Supreme Court decision to disqualify Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif is the latest event in the careers of two of the most powerful politicians in Punjab.

Nawaz Sharif rose to prominence as Punjab finance minister during the regime of General Ziaul Haq in 1981. He also served as sports minister under General Zia. Nawaz became Punjab chief minister on April 9, 1985. When Zia dissolved the assemblies of Muhammad Khan Junejo in May 1988, the general appointed Nawaz as caretaker CM of Punjab. During the general elections of 1988, Nawaz was again elected the CM. However, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the assemblies in August 1990 and fresh elections were announced.

In November 1990, Nawaz became prime minister of Pakistan for the first time by contesting elections on the platform of an alliance of nine political parties – the Islami Jamhuri Ittehad. The government lasted for three years until it was dissolved in April 1993. However, the Supreme Court restored it in May 1993. The deadlock between Nawaz and Ishaq Khan resulted in the resignation of both the premier and the president in July 1993. The same year, Nawaz was elected president of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, the PML-Nawaz (PML-N).
The PML-N was unable to gain majority during the October 1993 elections but Nawaz became the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. However, the party achieved a two-thirds majority in February 1997 and Nawaz became premier for the second time. During this tenure, the PML-N chief took several controversial steps, including introducing the 13th Amendment that nullified the president’s powers to dismiss the prime minister. The regime is also remembered for PML-N party workers attacking the Supreme Court during a hearing.
The downfall of Nawaz Sharif’s administration started after the Kargil issue, with army chief General (r) Pervez Musharraf sacking the former in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999. Following the coup, Nawaz was convicted of hijacking and terrorism for allegedly preventing Musharraf’s plane from landing in Karachi. However, a plea bargain and intervention of the Saudi royal family spared Nawaz from a prison term and he was exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000. After seven years, the PML-N chief returned in November 2007.
During the February 2008 elections, a returning officer disqualified Nawaz. Following Wednesday’s Supreme Court verdict, Nawaz can no longer contest either the national or provincial assembly elections.

Shahbaz: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif started his career as special assistant to Punjab CM during Nawaz’s tenure in 1985. He then became a member of the provincial assembly and PML (Lahore) president in 1988. In 1990, he became a member of the national assembly. During the Pakistan People’s Party government in 1993, he was leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly. When the PML-N came into power in 1997, Shahbaz became Punjab CM for the first time. Like his brother, he was also exiled in 2000 and returned in 2007. He became Punjab CM for the second time in June 2008. Under the verdict, Shahbaz can no longer be elected to the chief minister’s seat.

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Some relevant comments:

afzaalkhan said:

Well politically speaking, zardari has finished off Sharif bros, they can’t be PM or CM again, till constitutional amendment happens. As it stands this is what PPP gained.

1 - No sharif bros in asssembly.
2 - Solidified thier position in Punjab with civil beuracracy and Nazims.
3 - With MQM they have made sindh in thier corner, With PML - Q they have Baluchistanm With ANP and Mullah Diesel they have NWFP, add new deal with sofi Mohammad they have FATA.
4 - In Punjab PPP has a core support, albeit not majority but sizable that will stay with PPP, couple with minority core support of PML-Q that hates Sharif bro;s and Mushy era remannt i.e establishment they can have minority govt and can hold status co.
5 - Backing of USA, India and other foriegn govt who never wanteed Nawaz in.
6 - Awwam would protest only in Punjab for a while then inflation and law and order situation couple with strong handed techniques will eventually bring things to mangeable level.
7 - Lawyer movement will eventually be defeated due to same above reasons i.e inflation, law and order and strong hand techniques.
8 - Media is next.

Until unless whole Pakistan stands up all this will happen.

Asha’ar Rehman: Punjab in a federation

Punjab in a federation
By Asha’ar Rehman
Thursday, 26 Feb, 2009

A: “Today I have everything… government, power (?), backing of the global masters (??). You…What do you have?”

B: “I have the people.”

If it weren’t for the solemnity that a still fresh Supreme Court verdict is required to be met with, we would be laughing all the way to Lahore’s Charing Cross. Governor rule has been imposed on Punjab. Get ready to celebrate the basant spring festival, we are living in the kingdom of Salman Taseer.

A and B have swapped roles one more time. Circumstances have placed the fate of the Sharif brothers in the hands of President Asif Zardari. Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif are dependent on Mr Zardari for their ‘re-entry’ into politics — dependent on the issuance of a Provisional Constitutional Order to get into the assemblies and getting the slots of the prime mister and chief minister for a third time? Unless they decide to bank on the people to gatecrash on their behalf.

Legal experts say the disqualified duo, or their ‘proposers’ and ‘seconders’, can ask for a review of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision that has shaken the country but they do not expect a reprieve. If any kind of relief is to come to the Sharifs in the present set-up, it will have to accrue from the presidency or the parliament where Mr Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party is in a majority. Even hopes of some kind of engagement within the parliament were dashed the moment Mr Nawaz Sharif came up with his reaction to the Supreme Court verdict. He is in no mood to connect to the president whom he accuses of stabbing him in the back. He does not want charity. He wants war and can do with lawyers while judges rule against him.

The Sharifs pointedly blame Zardari (and significantly not his party) for bringing this on the country. They say the president, who sports a far from perfect image in public, had offered them a deal which they turned down. At the press conference on Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif also questioned the wisdom of the people who advise Mr Zardari these days, basing his comment on the premise that the president has influenced the court in giving the verdict against him and his brother. That is open to inquiry. What doesn’t require a genius to figure out is that the decision will have calamitous effects on the affairs of the Punjab province.

The first part of this article was written in September 2008 in the wake of the presidential election. This today is the other side of the story. The September bit focussed on how the presidential election had isolated the biggest province from the three smaller units in the federation as the Pakistan Muslim League-N insisted on fielding its own candidate against Asif Zardari, a consensus candidate of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP. It was argued that the PML-N achieved nothing by running counter to the wishes of the smaller provinces other than adding to the sense of acrimony that existed in the smaller federating units against Punjab’s alleged hegemony. If the PML-N wanted to reconfirm its support in Punjab, it could easily have done so by abstaining from the presidential poll, thereby symbolically showing its willingness to tag along the other three provinces.

The PML-N thus chastened, the belief among some circles in Lahore was that, contrary to some statements, the presidential poll was no epitaph for the PML-Q, that it only reasserted the importance of the League group led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. There was also a word of caution for the PPP that the time for it to lay a claim on ruling Punjab at the head of a coalition had long passed. Now the Supreme Court’s decision in the disqualification case may have been taken on merit; politically, it’s clear that the warnings sounded from time to time since the general election in February 2008 have gone unheeded.

The PPP (or more significantly the president) now seeks to control Punjab through the governor -- disregarding the mandate the people had given to the PML-N in the election. The imposition of the governor’s rule denies the PML-N an opportunity to immediately replace the disqualified chief minister Shahbaz Sharif with another man from within the party. The PML-Q stands resurrected, if it was ever dead, as its 80-odd members hold the balance if and when the governor rule is lifted and assembly members, the true representatives of the people of the province, are allowed to resume their term. Above all, the federal government is guilty of isolating Punjab, of naively thinking that it can go along wielding power merrily without stability in Punjab, amid powerful voices from NWFP and Balochistan that condemn the supposed sidelining of the Sharifs. The governor’s rule, the whole situation that has emerged following Wednesday’s court ruling, defies all logic. The Sharifs may have lost in the court, but publicly they seem to have stolen a march on a president bent upon jeopardising his existence. The indecisive period is over. Reconciliation is no more. (Dawn)

PML-N 50 MPAs short of simple majority

LAHORE: Members of the Punjab Assembly belonging to the PML-N called a session of the Punjab Assembly in an apparent show-of-strength move after the proclamation of governor’s rule late on Wednesday, but were 50 members short of a simple majority. There were 136 members in the House. The PML-N members passed a resolution protesting against the Supreme Court verdict declaring their leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif ineligible to be parliamentarians. staff report (Daily Times)