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Archive for April, 2004

Shooting Horses And Pensioners

On December 7, 2003 the decomposed bodies of 70-year old Professor Ghazi Khan Jakharani and his 65-year old wife were found in their house in Gulshan-I-Akbar, Malir. The couple had no children. During autopsies it was found that both had cancer and had been dead for fifteen days. Professor Jakhrani taught at the Jamia Millia College at Malir and after his retirement, for as long as his health held, gave private tuition. According to people living in the vicinity, the two actually died of starvation because of long delays in the payment of Dr Jakhrani’s pension and other dues owing to him by the education department. This is a truly tragic case, possibly involving pensions. Whatever the cause of their death, they died in painful and miserable circumstances.

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NSC In Position

Now that the National Security Council (NSC) bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, we should be able to get on with our on-off “democratic” life, the raison d’etre for electing our legislators in the first place. Given that the opposition did not allow themselves to be rolled over, they should accept, albeit grudgingly, what is now a law of the land. If they still feel so strongly about it, and they have the necessary numbers in Parliament sometime in the future, they can always repeal it! Using the streets agitation modus operandi inside of Parliament only strengthens the case of those who want an NSC-like buffer, after all if Parliament is to behave like a fish market, why bother about Parliament?

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Special Tribal Economic Zone

The Afghan Government finds Pakistan a convenient scapegoat for its failure to extend its fiat over rebellious warlords like Ismail Khan in Herat and Dostum in Mazar-I-Sharif, it uses Taliban and Al-Qaeda hostiles using the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as sanctuaries as an excuse for its own shortcomings. Explicit threats of “hot pursuit” across the Durand Line are frequent, most recently by the US Ambassador (and Viceroy in all but name) to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (who has no love lost for Pakistan due to being largely ignored during the Afghan War). Ambassador Khalilzad has since denied this but such remarks are cause for considerable annoyance in Pakistan, which despite limited resources and political compulsions has been heavily engaged in trying to deny hostiles using our tribal areas as a sanctuary. The present military operation in South Waziristan is the fourth after 9/11.

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Iraq, One Year After

In its determination to create a modern Iraqi regime and society based on western values, the US is pitted against an anti-western and anti-American combination of secular Ba’athist and religious fundamentalist forces trying to sabotage these goals, their aim being to accelerate the exodus of US forces from Iraq sooner rather than later. More and more local groups and individuals not directly involved in this struggle and in agreement with the American vision and the progress it would bring, are increasingly swept with pessimism, questioning whether the US vision for them about their post-Saddam fortunes has any real chance of success. Questions in the US also are begun to proliferate, criticism about Iraq is fairly rampant. The quantum of stability which the US is able to instill will have a decisive impact not only on Iraq and on America’s prestige in the region but may well decide who will be the US President in 2005. The time factor is becoming critical.

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