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Archive for September, 2005

Justice Sits Up

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has constituted a two-member committee to prepare draft rules and procedures for accountability of judges. For this one must commend the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, this initiative was long overdue. If the superior judiciary has no self-accountability, what can one expect down the line? The Council approved a proposal to amend the code of conduct for judges to make it more elaborate, objective and specific.

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The Bitter Economic Pill

For those who are starving, are without adequate shelter or potable water, living in absolute poverty and in unhygienic filthy conditions without necessary medical care, etc “trickle-down” economics has as much meaning as gibberish. Regretfully unpalatable measures taken to resuscitate the economy adds to the miseries of the poor and downtrodden. Sacrifices being necessary to make things economically better, the underprivileged are the only ones who have to do all the sacrificing they are the only one swallowing a bitter economic pill. “Efficiency” means reducing overheads, during “downsizing” jobs are lost. There is a time lag before a revitalized economy creates job opportunities again. The middle class gets on the gravy train gradually, in direct proportion many more are beggared in the process. This is the time-tested route to economic emancipation, unless off course we have a major strike of oil and/or gas, etc. Even then endemic corruption can take the stash away to Zurich or some other money-haven, look at the state of many of the former East European countries, Russia included. The government’s responsibility is to maximize the number of people benefiting from the new economic opportunities, while minimizing the number suffering from rising prices attempt to keep the gap between the rich and the poor close. The poor have to be cushioned against the hard times they have to endure to make the economy dynamic.

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First Year Scorecard

In a country where Prime Ministerial longevity is counted in days, weeks and months, survival past the one-year mark is by itself is no mean achievement for any PM, if only for that Shaukat Aziz fully deserves the congratulations the President showered him with on receiving his government’s one year performance report. Skeptics abound, Mr. JI Hussain of Rawalpindi in a recent letter to the “NEWS” Editor opined, to quote, “it is difficult to comprehend what is there to rejoice about, not much has been accomplished in the last one year”, unquote. Taking the liberty of prioritizing eight issues of concern enumerated by him in a slightly different sequence, and dovetailing a couple for the sake of clarity and brevity, examination thereof is required in more explicit detail.

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Coping With Disaster

The TV images from New Orleans were unreal. Was this really happening? And in the first world? With ample warnings days before Hurricane Katrina actually hit the US Gulf Coast, why were effective steps not taken to anticipate the impending disaster? Why was relief not pre-positioned, why was a possible law and order problem overlooked, particularly when a million residents had evacuated the city by road? Problems compounded in the affected cities because of the breakdown of the city’s dykes, causing flooding, destruction of electricity and sewerage facilities, lack of potable water and medical facilities, etc further aggravated by looting by armed gangs and the administration’s inability to remove corpses. Far beyond the capabilities of the States of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the Federal relief effort did not go into full gear until riding a severe tide of criticism from friend and foe alike US President George Bush belatedly visited the affected area 5 days after the storm. His “political damage control” effort included calling the Federal relief response “unacceptable”.

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Separating Fact From Fiction

As individuals we need to face upto the truth. One of the great contradictions of life is how knowing the truth we pretend it to be otherwise. Sooner or later this failure to recognize facts as they are creates problems of some magnitude. Regretfully, even academics of good knowledge and standing tend to have their judgment coloured by emotions on major issues. How can we then blame the masses for being blind to the obvious? We have a collective propensity as a nation to follow individual inclinations to look a fact in the eye and than blithely deny its existence. In the present world environment where we are held culpable for our words and deeds, particularly after 9/11, this can have dangerous consequences.

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