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Archive for November, 2014

PROTECTING THE ECONOMIC SKIES

Striving to liberalise the economy, the Nawaz Sharif regime in 1993 set about deregulating the aviation industry. The bureaucrats of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in cahoots with their private sector partners in crime at that time misled the Nawaz government, circumventing the spirit of liberalisation to suit certain vested interests. This open-ended approach was against the national interest and PIA took a sustained hit. While “letting a hundred flowers bloom” was a positive move for domestic skies, a proliferation of non-sovereign, fly-by-night operators started a cut-throat price war on the Dubai-Karachi-Dubai sector.

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The Making of History

History was in the making on the afternoon of Friday Nov 14 2014. Throwing aside diplomatic norms, Ashraf Ghani on his first State visit to Pakistan after being sworn in as Afghanistan’s President, visited GHQ immediately after landing at Islamabad. Former Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Rustam Shah Mohmand commented that a foreign Head of State heading straight towards a military HQ on arrival carries a lot more than ceremonial importance, “the Afghan President means business, he knows where the real power rests”. He does indeed!

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FAIL-SAFE LINE OF CONSTITUTIONAL MORALITY?

The Supreme Court (SC) recently dismissed several petitions contesting the 2013 elections for various deficiencies. Interestingly just before the 2013 elections the SC ordered the defective electoral rolls to be corrected, because of time constraints the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was instructed to go ahead with the elections, verification of voters being mandated for Karachi only. Such anomalies added to the suspicions and allegations about electoral rigging, culminating in the present protests. On Mar 19, 2014, the SC ordered the long overdue “Local Bodies” elections be completed by Aug 18, 2014, only Balochistan complied. Almost three months after that timeline has expired, feudal pressure has kept democracy from functioning at the grassroots level.

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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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ELIMINATING THE SCOURGE OF TERRORISM

Success creates its own problems, a gross misperception created by the outstanding “Operation Zarb-i-Azb” is that terrorism having been dealt a decisive blow we have little to worry about. Nothing can be further from the truth! True that the loss of training camps, hideouts, military dumps, ammunition and bomb manufacturing factories, medical centres etc has been devastating for the insurgents once in almost total occupation of North Waziristan. Previously roaming around with impunity, mostly on 4 x 4 vehicles, worse was their loss of freedom of movement. They are now footing it in very difficult terrain like the Shawal Mountains, etc. Their logistics chain being badly disrupted has certainly emasculated their potential for wide ranging “blowback” in the Pakistani hinterland, diminishing their capacity somewhat but given the extensive infrastructure established over years, only limiting their capability for targetted mayhem.

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