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Ishaq Dar

BLINDLY FOLLOWING THE CONSTITUTION

Some petitions contesting the veracity of the 2013 elections were dismissed recently in the courts for various deficiencies. Interestingly, just before the 2013 elections, the Supreme Court ordered defective electoral rolls to be corrected. Because of time constraints, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was instructed to go ahead with the elections and the verification of voters was mandated for Karachi only. On March 19, 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that long overdue local bodies elections be completed by August 18, 2014. Only Balochistan complied. Almost three months after that timeline has expired, feudal pressure has kept democracy from functioning at the grass roots level.

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The State of Limbo

Yusuf Raza Gilani’s imprisonment on a contempt of court charge lasted a little over 30 seconds, the conviction was enough to set off a legal and political firestorm. Gilani’s defiance is pure political bluster, he will be history sooner rather than later. With his legal status as PM in limbo, Pakistan also remains in a state in limbo. Clearly not comfortable or his usual confident self, Aitzaz Ahsan is going through the motions expected of him as Gilani’s defence counsel. Grappling with one’s conscience as opposed to the responsibility towards one’s client is always a lawyer’s dilemma. Once a client’s brief is accepted, notwithstanding any reservations about duty towards a client being in conflict with moral convictions, the counsel must staunchly plead the case of the client, or at least make a credible pretense of doing so.

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It’s the Economy

Two hundred days plus into the military regime the prime problem remains the revitalisation of the economy. Miracle men with magic wands and smooth rhetoric notwithstanding, the economy remains sluggish. Granted that the financial haemorrhaging that was the hallmark of the past political governments has been contained, client-patron relationships that have bedevilled Pakistan for over 50 years continues to flourish, one set of patrons have simply been replaced by another, the clients keep ever increasing, to their credit much slower in this regime. Except for one or two dishonourable exceptions, the khakis have remained squeaky clean. Economic initiatives taken have been enough for the manufacturing sector to show some life but nature has played a cruel hand to the agricultural sector, the backbone of the economy. There is a shortage of water in our rivers and severe drought in many parts of Balochistan and Sindh, is a potential disaster staring us in the face. We expected a bumper wheat crop, in the face of fickle nature, if at the least we do not get a reasonable one, we face a very bleak immediate future. To add to additional outlays for oil, add to that for wheat.

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