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Archive for March, 2004

A Last Stand?

Over the past 10 days the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of South Waziristan is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Afghanistan has remained in turmoil even after the fall of the Taliban in November 2001, the US led Coalition-imposed Hamid Karzai Government failing to impose its authority anywhere in the country except the city of Kabul and a few outlying towns. Hamid Karzai himself is protected by a security detail of the US Diplomatic Corps, his Presidency subject to the sufferance of late Ahmed Shah Masood’s Northern Alliance. Dostum’s Jumbish militia troops continue to face off Atta Mohammad’s force in Mazar-I-Sharif, in recent fighting several hundreds were killed before Kabul could manage a ceasefire. The Afghan Aviation Minister, son of the Governor of Herat Ismail Khan, was recently killed when the Karzai-appointed commander of the regular Afghan forces in the city tried to overturn Ismail’s authority over his fiefdom and was soon routed.

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The Plastic, Boom or Bust?

One of the lessons learnt rather late in our economic life was that the Harvard model for developing countries was flawed, economic emancipation does not come about by “exports” alone, it is necessary to invigorate the domestic economic sectors and invest in the infra-structure to fuel growth. Financial modus operandi has two modes, “how to do it” and “how not to do it”. Regretfully in Pakistan we usually go the “how not to do it” route, with disastrous results.

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Dated Dean, Married Kerry

The early frontrunner among the Democratic Party hopefuls to be the nominee to challenge President George W Bush Jr for the US Presidency for the next four years, Governor Howard Dean (of Vermont) mobilized an army of young and dedicated volunteers, and with innovative use of the internet he raised US$ 35 million for electoral campaign expenses. Through most of 2003 the Democratic Party’s hopes for upsetting a confident Bush, with his approval ratings hovering plus of the 70% mark, had remained an impossibility, Dean revived the Democrat grassroots with his strident anti-Iraq war rhetoric. If the print and electronic media at the end of 2003 were to be believed Dean was confirmed as the Democratic nominee bar the shouting, striking a resonant chord among the electorate by mobilizing dormant populist causes. The average vote is deeply suspicious of the Establishment in Washington DC, Dean was the ultimate outsider who was going to clean up government.

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Unending Onslaught

Normally it is calm in the eye (center) of the storm, not where Pakistan is concerned. When we are not sitting astride two or more storms at one time, we seem to be hopping from one storm into another. As if Dr AQK’s escapades in nuclear proliferation were not bad enough, a blissfully ignorant vast majority within Pakistan is increasingly skeptic and either (1) believes or (2) likes to believe, that he was framed, the man in the street truly taking AQK to be “a fall guy”. True to the vocation of every known Parliamentary Opposition in Pakistan’s chequered democratic history, i.e. opposition for the sake of opposition and damn the consequences for the country, the Opposition is running wild in the media (but failing in trying to in the streets) ascribing all sorts of motivation on the part of the President, the Government and the Armed Forces. They sense a weakness and are homing in on it.

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