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The Queen is Dead
Columnist FAZAL HABIB CURMALLY dwells on the politics of Dynasties, Sardars and Nawabs, and hopes that a new group of thinking Pakistani politicians will emerge to serve this country, instead of themselves.

“Because it is recognized at this moment of crisis the party needed a close association with my mother through a blood line——” Bilalwal Bhutto-Zardari - London 8th January 2008.
Pakistan is essentially an agricultural country. Bulk of Pakistan’s population live by exploiting the land capable of agriculture, in other words anything that is based on land holding. This way of life has been transplanted into the urban centers because when Pakistan was created, it had a very small but not powerful urban population, that was both vocal and wielded a modicum of power. With population migrations, they were soon outnumbered and disappeared into the background. An interesting example is the city of Karachi which had a population of around 250,000 at the time of Partition. In 1936 Karachi boasted of 30 odd automobiles. The city’s claim to fame was that it was the western most port in British India.....more

Bemoaning Benazir
Columnist Dr S M RAHMAN mourns the loss of Ms Benazir Bhutto and takes a brief look at former military rulers of Pakistan.

Benazir was not an ordinary mortal. Both in life as well as her death, she maintained the grace and dignity and demonstrated to what heights humans can rise to leave a legacy, which lends pride to a nation. The fact that she is rated the second woman only to Hillary Clinton, the prospective female leader of the most powerful nation of the world – USA - is itself a great recognition to her well-rounded qualities. That she was the first Muslim woman to become the Prime Minister of a country is again a great achievement. She was elected twice as the popular leader of Pakistan, and had she not been eliminated, through dastardly death, she was bound to emerge as the leader of crisis to extricate the nation from the lingering shadow of dictatorial rule that has sapped the morale of the people and created a climate of diffidence that perhaps the country’s political culture is beyond repair. Her return to Pakistan and the massive crowd that came to welcome her is a testimony to the rekindling of the hope that some flickering light is still there and the sixty years’ excruciating national trauma will at least recede to bring into focus that Pakistan will actualize into what it was destined to be, as per vision of the founder of the nation. I am reminded of a couplet of Faiz:.....more

Nuclear weapons’ safety
Columnist Gp Capt (Retd) SM HALI illustrates the long list of US nuclear accidents since 1944.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has been suspect ever since its inception. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s resolve to go nuclear after the Indian atomic tests at Pokhran in 1974 was shrouded in secrecy but the baton passed from one government to another despite their diverse political dispositions. Pakistan was forced to cross the nuclear threshold in 1998 in tit for tat tests, forced by Indian saber rattling after their own tests. The west however, has alternately been critical of Pakistan’s nuclear program or chosen to look the other way, depending on Pakistan’s efficacy to the plans of the west in the region. In the early eighties, USA turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program to solicit its support to check the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s fortunes waned with the Soviet retreat, and the infamous Pressler Amendment was slapped on Pakistan in 1991. After 9/11, when the USA needed Pakistan’s support to launch an invasion of Afghanistan, all was forgiven and forgotten.With the war against terror in Afghanistan going awry, the pressure against Pakistan began to mount. The Al-Qaeda and Taliban seeking recluse close to the Pak-Afghan border and the political turmoil in Pakistan caused the west to mount pressure on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons’ programme. In the last nine months, disapproval has been heard from western leadership along with US Presidential candidates and the western media being outright critical, expressing fears and painting doomsday scenario of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling in the hands of religious fanatics........more

Security of Pakistan's Nuclear Assets
Contributing Editor Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN allays international apprehensions about Pakistan's nuclear assets falling into wrong hands.

US media has been publishing doomsday scenarios about Pakistan’s nuclear assets falling into the hands of terrorists. It is said that “Pakistan’s military enjoys the strongest ties with the US government, but the partnership is suffering as anti-military and anti-American sentiment in Pakistan fuels an Islamic insurgency that continues to capture new territory.” What kind of territory? Newsweek issue of October 29, 227 with a picture of Taliban on the front page, chanting anti-American slogans, and a caption that, “The most dangerous nation in the world isn’t Iraq, its Pakistan”, has sent jitters across America, Europe and rest of the developed world. The world is worried about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda, Taliban terrorists or extremist Mullahs. An article by Peter Wonacott in the Wall Street Journal dated Thursday November 29, 2007 titled “Inside Pakistan’s Drive to Guard its Atom Bombs”, should be of very special interest to the reading public, politicians, rulers and military officers, because, it brushes aside doubts about Pakistan’s ability to safe-guard its nuclear assets, while cynically observing that Pakistan’s nuclear scientists grow long beards, pray five times a day, and sympathize and vote for Islamic parties and politicians....more

Terrorism: Beyond Condemnation!
Columnist Brig (Retd) AFTAB AHMAD KHAN.

Terrorism has become an uncontrollable threat, weakening the foundations of this country. The cowardly act of assassination of Benazir Bhutto is the latest heinous work. Although all leaders and media condemn acts of terrorism, especially suicide bombings, but there is a need to do something more than mere condemnation. The main motivational factor to prepare the suicide bomber is the brainwashing of simple people through religious indoctrination. The ordinary ignorant Muslims are prepared to be martyrs in Jihad that is claimed to be conducted for the cause of Allah. There are many questions which need to be emphasized by the scholars through the media, especially the print and electronic media, in the language of potential suicide bombers (Pushto, Punjabi, Urdu) like What is Jihad? What is the cause of Allah? Who is competent to organize and declare Jihad? How it is to be conducted? What are the rules laid down by Qur’an and Hadith for conduct of Jihad? What is the role of government of an Islamic Republic in this regards?.......more

Pakistani Democratization
Is Turkey A Model?
Columnist MUZAFFAR K AWAN looks at Turkey as a model for democratization in Pakistan.

Democratic core values, ideological openness, freedom of conscience, compassion even for those who are different (pluralism), as well as the capacity to tolerate those who remain intolerant: these pillars of the modern social order will not stand unless exactly equivalent pillars are erected to reform- and thus secure-the institutions of traditional faith. Faith and social order are inseparable-that should come as no surprise to anyone who shares a common belief that the Creator is inseparable from his creation. True Islamic faith is certainly compatible with democratic values. The Muslim reformers have a great resource in the Islamic tradition of Covivencia that even for the West, was the very incubator of tolerance— both political as well as religious.

The classical Islamic notion of justice (‘adala) as a hierarchical order implemented by a ruler in order to avoid social chaos overlaps with modern liberal rights-based conceptions of justice. In my own characterization, modern culture is a rights-based culture, whereas pre-modern or religious culture was duty- or obligation-based. It does not mean that these two are totally at loggerheads, but the emphasis is different. Modern man is seen as freed from the bondage of religion, and as having exiled God to the remote heavens; but he is very close to a morally deterring kind of egoism. In the religious atmosphere, we are supposed to be more humble and conscious of our obligations. Now can duty- and rights-based views be reconciled?

Political Developments
of Pakistan (1999-2007)
Columnist Taqueer H Taki Sirgana takes a critical look of political developments in the country since Oct 1999.

To understand the internal dynamics of Pakistani politics one should have some insight on the archive of political developments during General Musharraf’s period of rule both as a military and a civilian (ruler). By reading the upcoming paragraphs one can easily smell the taste of political surprises. Surprise is a familiar phenomena in the history of statecraft, and the constant companion of the statesman. In the fluid and dangerous realm of contemporary world affairs, military governments are more concerned than ever about their vulnerability to surprise. Their rate of return on these outlays is less than ideal; ‘Generals’ periodically find themselves caught in situations they did not adequately anticipate, where the consequences of having failed to do so are quite nasty. Since the last eight years of military rule in Pakistan, it seems appropriate that the political surprises would be a prominent target of analysis and research, regardless of when, why, and how it occurs.......more

Global food prices and its
socio-economic implications
for Pakistan

Columnist SHAZIA MEHMOOD KHAN underlines the implications of the rising prices of food items.

The price of food, the basic necessity of life, is on the rise. Alarm is growing about rising food prices throughout the world and Pakistan is not an exemption. In Europe and America food accounts for only about one-tenth of the consumer-price index which is constantly on the rise. Inflation in food prices in emerging markets nearly doubled in 2006 to 11%; meat and egg prices in China have gone up by almost 50%. In the case of Pakistan inflation remained almost double digit. The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (December 2007) says the global cost of imported food will rise to $745 billion in the current fiscal year, the highest level on record. Food prices have led to 18 percent rise in China, 13 percent in Indonesia, 11.5 percent in Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America
The price of wheat, maize, corn and other commodities that make up the world’s basic foodstuffs is seriously hurting the poorest people in the poorest countries the most. It is estimated that throughout the world, food costs increased by more than 50% over the past five years. According to World Food Organization (December 2007) the food prices may increase by another 35% in the next two years. Countries around the world will have to pay 21 percent more for imported food this year than they did a year ago......more

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