Pakistan Iran gas pipeline politics

By Faheem Belharvi

Despite bitter opposition from the US and warnings of economic sanctions, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad on 11 March 2013 officially inaugurated construction work of a delayed $7.5 billion gas pipeline. The ceremony, which the President’s office described as a ‘big event’, was held in the Iranian border city of Chabahar. Both Presidents were accompanied at the ground-breaking by delegations comprising ministers, top officials as well as representatives of several Arab states.

Pak Iran gas pipeline is one of the important historic deals of the world especially in Pak and Iran horizons. The project will bring economic prosperity and opens new avenues of relationship between both the countries. Basically, Pakistan is energy stricken country and its growing economy failed to generate revenue requirements. Hence, it is need and necessity of the time to import cheap energy from neighboring country Iran in order to meet energy requirements and lessen our debt burden. The pipeline project will prove to be as the permanent energy bailout package for our energy deficiency.

The other impacts of this project could be; opening up new avenues of economic prosperity, extends business, commerce and trade activities and enhancing cultural relations with a country that has contributed so much, to our history, languages, literature, art and architecture. Meanwhile, tourism and sports activities will also increase which ultimately brings both countries closer.

Although the pipeline projects formal completion date is December 2014, a detailed feasibility plan is still being worked out and the source of funding is yet unclear. In July 2011, President Ahmadinejad has offered to fund construction of the 761 kilometers inside Pakistani territory. Iran declared at the time that it had laid the pipeline on its side to within 50 kilometers of Pakistans border. But the Iranian offer has to be taken with a good meanwhile, Irans economic difficulties are rapidly mounting. Chinas largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has backed out from its earlier commitment.

In June of that year, members of the opposition benches in the Balochistan Assembly exhibited unprecedented unity and passed a resolution seeking royalty for the province in the proposed multi-billion dollar IP gas pipeline project. Further, the assembly also demanded Balochistan`s representation in the IP talks, free gas for adjacent populations, a 100 per cent job share and a major share in any royalty. It is added that, there is no constitutional or legal guarantee that royalty in any form, including security, jobs or gas, will be supplied to the people of Balochistan.

Islamabad cannot deny the fact that Balochistan represents 44 per cent of the country`s landmass and shares strategically significant coasts and border areas with the energy-rich Middle East, through Iran.

Pakistan took a firm stand on the issue. In this regard last week, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, addressing a joint press conference with her Swedish counterpart, said that Pakistan was committed to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. She also laid to rest any doubts that a Chinese bank’s decision to back off from funding the project would affect plans to import gas from Iran. She said: “There are multiple sources available and this is a very viable project.”

For Pakistan the IP gas pipeline project is its energy lifeline for the future as it will provide the cheapest and most suitable fuel for power generation. According to an estimate that, the gas to be supplied by Iran would help generate around 4,000MW of electricity, besides providing job opportunities in the backward areas of Baluchistan and Sindh.

Anyhow, US factor again mounted pressure on Islamabad to forego with the project, otherwise sanctions could be imposed on Pakistan. In this connection, Hillary Clinton said that the Turkmenistan pipeline was a better alternative, predictable and would avoid business with Iran and added that embarking on the construction of a Pak-Iran pipeline is in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act. She said, “We all know what the consequences of that law are.” Else the U.S shall isolate itself away from a goal that is truly important, the fight against global terrorism.

On March 7, another US Departments spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, spoke on the subject and said: The proposed deal will violate UN sanctions laws. She acknowledged that Pakistan has a lot of unmet energy requirements. The US, she added, was aware of these requirements and has been working in close partnership to find better ways to meet these needs.

But Pakistan totally rejected American stance since Iran-Pakistan pipeline project is vital to her flourishing economic and meeting future energy requirement.

Another factor which need serious attention that fast friend of Pakistan Saudi Arabia is not very pleased over the Pak-Iran project. The Saudi attempt to create divisions and distrust with a neighboring country is plainly insidious and deserved a response from Pakistans leaders one no less firm than the one delivered to the Americans. The Saudi plan is just as unworkable as the TAPI pipeline, which the US is pushing as an alternative to the IP pipeline. TAPI would run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. But with Afghanistan likely to be embroiled indefinitely in civil war after 2014, only a wild idealist can believe that a pipeline traversing its hostile and intractable terrain could provide secure oil supplies.

Let us hope the next elected national government would have to complete this Peace Pipeline Project with vision, will and capability to make up for the last decades and move fast to lift the society and the state to higher levels and scrupulously work for the development of the country development and welfare of the people. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline can prove to be the starting point of a new era of peace and prosperity for the entire region. US and others opposing western countries should stop playing power politics with the developing and under developing countries in the name of nuclear proliferation . They should not forget US-India nuclear deal before yelling against Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline Project.

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Why doesn’t Government establishes Writ in Karachi

By Saeed Qureshi

How many more dead bodies, the human draculas want to devour in Karachi? Why the government does not restore its write in troubled Karachi? The governments of both Sindh province and the federal are unconcerned spectators to see the bloodletting mayhem going on. The murderous mafias and monstrous gangs have divided Karachi into various zones and maintain their merciless sway on these.

Their operatives freely and daringly loot the banks, grab the land, occupy the houses, trade in narcotics and lethal drugs and force the business community to pay them the demanded sums of money. If they refuse they are kidnapped, tortured and killed.

The people of Karachi have been living through this nerve-shattering situation for a decade or so. The outlaws challenge the government law-enforcement agencies and kill the policemen and intelligence operatives with impunity. Many prominent social activists and public figures engaged in the service of the people have been eliminated. There is a hair-raising escalation in the bloody feuds in Karachi and there seems to be no let up in that savagery.

The latest gruesome murder is that of an academic, Professor Sibte Jaffar ostensibly for sectarian vendetta. The callous assassin refuse to acknowledge that the deceased professor besides being a Shia faithful, was also a human being and had a family to support. Prior to that grisly assassination, the Director of Orangi housing project and a highly dedicated social figure Perveen Rehman was gunned down. Are the sectarian mafias getting too strong as to wrest the control from the police and law enforcement agencies and kill anyone on their own bidding?

The government with its resources and a huge network of police, rangers and army has remained aloof and from its silence one would be tempted to infer that the power wielders and the political parties could also be behind this tattered social peace in Karachi. One of the strident reasons that would deter the people from voting for the PPP and its coalition partners is the governments utter failure to protect the lives of the citizens and save businesses of this country from killers and extortionists.

On daily basis headless or tortured corpses are found in various areas of Karachi. Businesses and industrial activity is grinding to a standstill as a result of the specter of horror let loose on Karachi by the heinous criminals stalking in the length and breadth of Karachi. There is no check on them and no conscious or planned operation has been launched to stem this macabre piling of dead bodies of the human beings.

Elections apart, the most pressing need is to stop the killer gangs and dangerous mafias from killing the people at free will or in mutual fight for controlling their delineated zones in Karachi. Is Karachi a city becoming like Beirut where similar horrendous environment was in vogue for years together? Even in Baghdad, where sectarian bad blood between Sunnis and Shias has been rife for ages, is no match to Karachis worsening spectacle. Karachi is not a war zone like Syrian cities yet life is equally unsafe in this city as in Kabul, Damascus and Aleppo.

Karachi is burning and the social and business life is turning into ashes due to the utter apathy and callous indifference of the authorities. Who else can bridle these raging orgies of human blood and an avalanche of civil war and from turning this largest city into a killing-field? I have no hope. Let us not wait for the elections as that would take a couple of months more and one can only shudder how many precious lives would be lost by that time.

Even elections cannot be held peacefully in such a dangerous and unstable environment as the rival parties could use the goons to either snatch votes, coerce the voters for the candidate of their choice. There could be shooting and gun battles and kidnapping of the voters on the polling stations. Such sinister happenings could jeopardize the pristine objective of fair and free elections.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

The PPP’s Election Manifesto is Funny

By Saeed Qureshi

The ruling partys election charter is least groundbreaking or revolutionary. It seems to be written as if to fill in the blanks with a hodge-podge of overblown objectives. Unveiled by the partys parliamentarians, the manifesto proffers a heavy load of commitments that it could not fulfill during its previous five years in power.

The manifesto was announced in English before the media, by the commerce minister Amin Fahim who himself has been involved in creepy financial scams. Makhdoom Amin Fahim is also the senior Vice Chairman of the PPP.

The parliamentarians, in tandem with Amin Fahim, espoused seven priority issues that the new government of the PPP would take-up in the first 100 days at both the federal and the provincial level. The most outstanding hallmark of the new manifesto is to raise the minimum wage ceiling of the ordinary workers to Rs. 18000 by the year 2018 which is 5 years away.

Besides, poor sections of the society would be given Roti, Kapra Aur Makan (bread, clothing and housing).This slogan is a refrain from the past. It was the central theme of the founder of the PPP, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the eve of launching the PPP in 1967. That became the symbol and slogan of the PPP and that hugely burnished its image as the party of the downtrodden and poor.

The other salient features of the manifesto are, mass education and health, jobs for all, elimination of terrorism, and upholding and hoisting high the democratic culture. The manifesto calls for the creation of a separate province in South Punjab. Eradication of polio by 2018 is part of the newly revealed election agenda of the PPP.

The new PPP government would make the military budget accountable, ensure workers representation in the parliament, facilitate employment of women, and provide security to the minorities; it would give freedom of expression. It would also generate additional 12000 MW electricity. All this stuff is run of the mill and part of every political partys agenda.

The unveiling of the manifesto was tagged and supplemented with the achievements of the PPP government in the preceding five years. The speakers claimed providing jobs to Lakhs of people, sustaining democracy and establishment of the Counter Terrorism National Authority and passing Anti-Terrorism Law Bill.

All these sparkling promises and new lofty goals unfolded by the PPP stalwarts ring hollow. It appears that the PPP had to draft this heavily nourished menu of dainty pledges in a hurry. One would wonder and rather question that if the PPP could not offer a semblance of good governance for five years, how could it fulfill all these marvelous and high sounding undertakings in the coming five years.

However, one feather in the cap of PPP is that it resisted derailing of the bandwagon of the democracy for five years. It did so despite tough challenges and heavy stumbling hurdles, though that resistance was predominantly motivated for an urge to remain in power. Its other notable achievement is amendments in the constitution devolving due powers to the provinces.

But other than that, it has earned more flak and discredit for its misdeeds and glaring shortcomings that kept the country on the tenterhooks of an unremitting trauma. The package of reforms did not make any meaningful difference in the lives of the common man. As a matter the people of Pakistan judged the PPP leaders from their conduct which on the whole was unblemished.

From a crippling load shedding to pervasive corruption to the callous indifference in curbing lawlessness, violence and terrorism have eclipsed the meager achievements of the PPP. The PPPs high command has not given any importance to the murder of its chairman under one pretext or the other.

Of late one of the talkative stalwarts asserted that although PPP knew the names of the assassins, yet could not divulge because they were more powerful than the state and the government. If this in the level of coyness and compromise of the PPPs leaders then how could it pick up courage during the next tenure in office to take bold decisions in public and national interests.

There has been incessant and running tussle between the apex judiciary and the PPPs outgoing government for these preceding five years. From the treason trial of former president Musharraf to Memogate to rental power plants scams, to import of ephedrine, to Swiss bank case, and investigating several high profile murder cases, the government deliberately dithered and no conscious efforts were made or willingness shown to execute supreme courts orders.

All these five years, the executive has been playing hide and seek with the judiciary with regard to the implementation of the decisions of the Apex court. The obvious reason for such a devious conduct was that in these cases several PPP heavy weights were involved. The rental power plants scandal is the elephantine case in which the outgoing interim prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is the principal actor. He was ordered by the Supreme Court to be arrested yet he remained in the office.

The Benazir Income Support program (BISP) is an eyewash mega corruption project for helping the poor families or removal of the poverty. An unbelievably hefty amount of 72 billion rupees was allocated every year for distribution among the needy people. For five years it comes to staggering 350 billion rupees. No one knows where 350 billion rupees have gone and why still the poverty could not be eradicated. Had this amount been spent on building highways, new dams, bridges and power generation units, the country would have hugely benefited both socially and economically?

The blackouts, the persistent water crisis, the ramshackle transportation, the explosions, the insecurity, the robberies, extortions and a host of other crimes are driving the people crazy with no hope for a better future. The studied debilitating and destruction of Railways, PIA and several similar nation building organizations have pushed the country backward for several decades. There is a universal outcry and deep seated repugnance about the PPPs five years dismal performance not only in Pakistan but also aboard.

As such giving even a slim benefit of doubt to the PPP and voting it into power again by the electorate seems to be a far cry and a hard to achieve tall order. The PPP of today suffers from a tarnished image. On the contrary what can be surmised is that a whole litany of charges could be opened up against the respective PPP leaders, keeping them busy for pretty good time. If they slip out of the country, like Hussain Haqqani, then it would be an entirely different scenario.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

Hats off to Mr. Asif Ali Zardari

By Ch. Sajjad Ahmad:

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the policies of education tolerance and stability of the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari are proven on right path after 5 years.

There is not doubt that, at least, this time Mr. Prime Minister has spoken the truth and delighted the nation with and only with the truth about the policies of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari on education, Tolerance and stability.

As far as education is concern, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari had made sure that no office of the government, during his rule would be able to develop and deploy the educational policies of the country according to the wishes of Pakistan.

As per wishes of his foreign masters, who in return assured him the security and safety of his looted wealth in his foreign bank accounts, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari gave free hands to their educational experts to transform the nation’s educational system to support the liberal values and religion and national integrity had taken completely off the priority list.

Further consolidation has been done to this Ibleesee educational system by decentralising it. Under the rule of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the government school systems are further destroyed and free play is allowed to private education systems, which are mostly foreign affiliated and specifically designed on class or ethnic bases, such as those under Agha Khan, Roots, Educators and Beacon House.

After such a hard work has been done by Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, it was evident that these educational policies of his regime in Pakistan will see nothing but success.

Although, a minor (or major) blame could also be accepted by all of us who voted them and elected them to rule this country, established on the name of Islam, execute such a successful educational policy. Who cares if this educational policies of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari suite the moral, national, social or, most importantly, religious needs of the country or not. It was, and we should acknowledge it open heartedly, a successful educational policy, whether it was, or is, in favour of the nation or not. This is completely a separate debate, by the way.

On the second front, tolerance, Mr. Asif Ali Zardaris regime proven itself the best of all. And there is no doubt into it. It was his tolerance, actually a very high level of tolerance, which made it possible for him to complete his five-year tenure.

Even knowing the fact that Karachi is bleeding due to heavily armed political parties in the city, he tolerated. He tolerated till today and will keep tolerating them for as long as he is in office. He knew that one of his ally, MQM, is directly involved in various criminal and terrorist activities, but, for the sake of his “bacha” government in Sindh, he tolerated them.

He also knew that, including his own PPP, MQM and ANP not only involved in killings of each other’s workers (target killing) but they are also targeting other parties and groups, such as religious scholars. He must have been given a report by the concerned intelligence agencies on the daily basis. But he decided to tolerate and tolerated successfully.

He also knew that every single MPA in Balochistan is also a minister, which is becoming yet another reason of Pakistan bashing in the world and this is happening under his own “bacha” government in Balochistan. He decided to tolerate that too and we all know, he succeeded there too.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also tolerated ANP in Sarhad province and pleased them with name change, which was actually a step further for the followers and preachers of Ghaffar khan.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also tolerated death and destruction in Occupied State of Jammu & Kashmir (OSJK), where more than 7,00,000 Indian army men are given free hand to destroy any house, kill any Kashmiri and rape any of their sisters and daughters.

It is the fruit of his tolerance that today Pakistan is giving business to the same Hindu chankyas, who are killing our brothers and raping our sisters in OSJK.

Therefore, his tolerance will be remembered as long as the humanity exists.

Now comes the matter of stability. Well, if you thinking about the national stability, you are wrong. He never dared to care that. It is about the stability of his own polity and then stability of his growing financial wealth.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari knew that educated and peaceful Pakistani nation will never be helpful for his vested interests. Therefore, in order to secure his polity and to avail future opportunities of looting more national wealth to further stabilise his finances, he ruined our education system and provided full access to liberal fascists to destroy every fabric of Islami society in Pakistan.

He further strengthened armed political parties like MQM and ANP, including his own PPP, worked fully against the national interests and tried his best to malign the guardians of geographical and ideological boundaries of Pakistan.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also tolerated of harbouring Pakistani criminals and terrorists by its enemies like India, Israel and USA in Afghanistan, Europe and America. All these factors have played key role in his stability and in the stability of his looted wealth in western countries.

Hats off to him.

Ch. Sajjad Ahmad is the Chairman of One Nation Development Forum. He could be reached at: sajjad_pak.

NRO-2 taking shape

By Brig. (Retd) Usman Khalid, Director Rifah Institute of Foreign Affairs (RIFA)

The Press in Pakistan has been talking about another NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) being imminent like the one promulgated by former dictator General Musharraf which paved the way for Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan and take part in 2008 Elections. But no such ordinance has been promulgated; the focus of attention has been fair elections under an impartial election commission and caretaker administration.

What could be wrong in that? There was nothing wrong with allowing Benazir and Nawaz Sharif coming back to Pakistan; that was thought to be a pre-requisite for fair elections. This time, no Ordinance is needed; we have the 20th Amendment passed unanimously by the parliament to ensure that the elections are conducted by an impartial non-political administration.

But the real string pullers sitting far away in Washington DC and London have no concern for fairness of elections; they want an administration in Pakistan that is unpopular and dependent on them for its viability and stability. But they do want the rules to be followed so that the unpopular administration is able to resist the popular judiciary and the powerful military.

When NRO -1 was promulgated no one, not even General Musharraf, had any idea that the end result would be the emergence of Asif Ali Zardari as the leader of a coalition of parties which have been opposed to the very idea of Pakistan. The handlers of President Asif Zardari Altaf Hussain, Rehman Malik, Salman Farooqi and Hussain Haqqani etc- have been the real rulers of Pakistan over the last five years.

The identity of the handlers of President Asif Zardari has been well known to the judicial as well as security establishment of the country but they have been powerless to do anything about it. The puppeteers who authored NRO-1 are aware that NRO-2 must entail a change in the puppet as well as the parties in power i.e. radical change in political complexion of the administration but no change in policies and governance.

The main tools in the hands of the puppeteers are still the MQM, ANP, JUI (F) and other ethnic nationalists. Asif Zardari is supported by the MQM, ANP and JUI while other ethnic nationalists and religious parties are supporting PML(N). The stage is now set for Mian Nawaz Sharif to assume office as the PM as the head of another coalition. That is how NRO-2 seeks to ensure that there will be no change in policy, particularly foreign policy; the puppeteers would continue to have control over politics as well as the economy.

The authors of NRO-2 are not satisfied with a single simple narrative because the judiciary and the military enjoy considerable public adulation and support which may increase if the next government is also incompetent and unpopular. The caretaker administration has huge importance in the development of alternative narratives.

The three name for the caretaker PM given by PML(N) give an idea that Mian Nawaz Sharif is a willing party in the game; all the names are obviously unacceptable to President Zardari and none enthuses either the people or the constituency of PML(N). The next PM would most likely be the choice of President Zardari. Since Asma Jehangirs name was included in the short list of PML(N), her nomination by the PPP would make her a consensus candidate.

She is also well known to be close to puppeteers. She is the favourite of both the PPP and the PML(N) because she is one person who has for decades demonised the Pakistan Army as the enemy of the kind of Pakistan she and her ilk want. She has accused the ISI to want to assassinate her; and she is on the hit list of the TTP.

If she is appointed caretaker PM there is every likelihood of her being assassinated. Like the assassination of Benazir paved the way for the PPP to win the 2008 Elections and Asif Zardari becoming a despotic ruler of Pakistan to plunder the state with impunity, her assassination would either result in military rule or the triumph of the present coalition that seems to have no chance at the moment to win the 2013 Elections. One wonders if that is the end game of the NRO-2.

Imran Khan of TIP has already said that Asma Jehangir would be unacceptable as the caretaker PM. If PML(N) also rejected her right away as the constituency of the party wants, her candidature would be dead in water. That would clear the way for PML(N) and its allies to win a clear victory and would leave Pakistan with a lesser problem the problem of him being anti-Army and his blunder prone way of making decisions.

That is a lesser problem because Pakistan has several reliable friends China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey who would surely hold him back when Mian Sahib asserts his error prone self. That is why I am sanguine about the prospects of Pakistan. If we are able to avoid the appointment of someone remotely suspected of being a foreign agent as the caretaker Prime Minister, Pakistan would survive the current crisis.

But sectarian and ethnic bloodletting may well be exacerbated by the puppet masers. The victims of violence in Pakistan, particularly the Shia community, have already asked for the military to protect them. Under the present political dispensation which is hostile to the military as evidenced by the memogate affair, the military is constrained. Under an impartial caretaker administration the military without much direct intervention would be able help deal with terrorism, reverse financial sanctions and recover funds illegally or fraudulently spent by the present rulers, and end the load shedding that has blighted life as well as the economy of Pakistan.

The situation in Balochistan

Special Report by Brig. (Retd) Usman Khalid: Law and Order Situation, 1- 6 Feb. Bodies of two missing persons belonging to Turbat were found near Karachi. A taxi driver kidnapped from Quetta was released after his family paid ransom. One man each was shot dead, in Quetta and Turbat, for unknown reasons by unknown killers. On 6 Feb two men were killed in Quetta by unknown assailants. A bomb exploded near Brewery Road. A rally was taken out where tribal elders said that Quetta was ruled by killers, thieves and dacoits. Dr. Malik of National Party said that good governance was not possible without strict accountability. Yaqub Nasir, former minister PML(N) a Pashtun of Duki, and former Senator Mohabat Khan Marri from Kohlu admired the Army and judiciary stating that the nation had pinned hopes on these institutions and condemned 5 years corrupt rule of PPP. A mutilated body of a local man was found near Panjgur. A blast near Police Station Kuchlak killed one man.

Apex Committee Meets, 6 Feb. The Apex Committee headed by Governor Magsi, comprising Commander Southern Command, IGFC and civil bureaucracy met on 6 Feb and noted that the crime rate had dropped in the province. Civil bureaucracy was reshuffled, again.

Law and Order Situation, 7- 10 Feb. A rocket killed two FC personnel near Turbat on 8 Feb. A dead body was found near Dera Bugti. Commander of Southern Command, Lt Gen Alam Khan Khattak, visited Loralai along with IGFC; addressing the tribal elders he emphasized that the Army endeavours aimed at welfare and prosperity of the people with assistance in various socio-economic projects. Political/religious leaders expressed their concerns in a seminar on 10 Feb, over sectarian killings, target killings, terrorism and over all poor law and order situation. Anti-polio campaign has been halted in 25 out of 30 districts of the province due to attacks on the polio-teams.

Election and Governor Rule, 1- 28 Feb. Although many parties who were beneficiaries of being in the government are unhappy on the imposition of the Governor Rule, but it is the JUI (F) which appears to be really very angry. Maulana Sherani keeps meeting various party leaders and demanding removal of even this benign, easy going Governor and bringing the criminal gang of MPAs back in control. The ANP is also very vocal demanding reinstatement of their minister who has been hauled up by NAB for massive corruption. The Governor promulgated an ordinance enhancing compensation to victims of terrorism. Fazalul Rehman, the leader of JUI, has been accusing the government and agencies of exploiting sectarian elements. He is also advocating start of negotiations with the TTP. Mahmud Achakzai, Chairman PKMAP, has said a united Pashtun Province is his partys objective. He desired that the provinces be drawn on ethnic/racial boundaries for progress. By end of the month, PKMAP, which remained silent over the ethnic cleansing of Punjabis and massive corruption in the province, was making statements that partisan Caretakers would not be acceptable to them.

Law and Order Situation, 11 15 Feb. Two rockets were fired on Quetta city injuring 7 persons, including 4 children. A local mullah was killed in Kalat by unknown persons. One person was killed in Khuzdar area and one abducted. FC recovered a cache of arms and ammunition from smugglers near Gulistan, killing one man in a shootout. Another large cache was recovered in an operation by FC near Quetta on 12 Feb.

Kirani Road Carnage Against Shia-Hazaras, 16 Feb. Nearly a ton of explosive hidden in a water tank was driven to Hazaras-Shias market at Kirani Road and exploded when the market was full of shoppers, mostly women and children. 95, including 25 children and 36 women died besides injuring over 180. Government announced mourning for a day and removed the IG and DIG Police. An air force cargo plane flew more seriously injured to Karachi for treatment. Shias started their sit-in demanding targeted operations against the known persons of Sipah-e-Sahaba (SS), now called Jamat-ahl-a-Sunnat and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. After 3 days, the PM allowed FC to undertake such operations. Some 117 suspects were arrested within 2-3 days mostly from Baloch/Brahui areas from the south of Quetta, including the master-minds of present as well as previous massive attack on Hazaras. However, defunct SS supporters took to the streets after their 4 of their activists were killed in a shootout with FC. 7 activists were also shot by unknown persons. The provincial government tried to appease the SS by registering FIR against the FC. The dead bodies were buried on the 3rd day. However, this time the Hazaras were more furious and threatened to take law in their own hands if the government persisted in its passive attitude. The incident drew nationwide condemnation and sympathy for Shias. Even the Secretary General and Mr. Putin, President of Russia, sympathized with the victims and condemned the attack on Shias. Several Shia and national leaders, including the entire Sindh Assembly, also demanded that the Army should be given control of the administration of the city. However, the CJ of SC who had taken suo-moto notice said he would never consider calling in the Army, but he wants a cleanup operation in Balochistan. He keeps inviting various functionaries to report to him as to why do these attacks go on but ignores the performance of federal/provincial governments in the past 5 years where lawlessness was promoted by the CM, his ministers and even the PM and the President. It has since been reported that the explosive used in Kirani Road blast was about 10 kg but the explosive-power was enhanced by use of certain chemicals to equal to 1000 kg blast.

Law and Order Situation, 17-19 Feb. The FC continued carrying out targeted operations against criminals in Kharan and Mangocher and not only arrested some persons but also recovered incriminating arms and ammunition. However, the Baloch political parties leaders wasted no time in condemning the arrests. Their oft-repeated chador-n-chardewaris violation and calling such operations anti-Baloch action is quickly aired and the media dutifully prints it, lest the goons attack the offices of the newspapers. Dead bodies of two missing persons were found near Khuzdar.

Shazain Bugti Released by Court, 20 Feb. Shazain Bugti, son of Talal Bugti, grandson of Akbar Bugti, along with his accomplices was released from Jail. He had been arrested, in the presence of IG Police and IGFC under live coverage by TV channels some 6 months ago near Quetta while smuggling arms and ammunition worth Rs.140 million from Chaman in 16 smuggled vehicles. His release is said to be due to close relations of CJ of the Supreme Court with the Bugti family. The CJ used to be the lawyer of Akbar Bugti who had then appointed him as a Judge of the High Court. The CJ keeps visiting Talal Bugtis residence whenever he visits Quetta. Without yet hearing the case of Akbar Bugtis death, the CJ has already said it was the worst political murder of Pakistan. Talal and Shazain both are claimants of the Throne of Dera Bugti and want to contest it with weapons and violence on the massive bonanza of Rs.200 million annual rent from Sui gas field.

Law and Order Situation, 21- 28 Feb. Annual Sibi Mela started on 20 Feb and continued without any violence till it ended 4 days later. 5 Pashtun labourers belonging to Zhob working in Pasni were gunned down by unknown gunmen. Strong statements were made by local Pashtun leaders. The Governor announced a million rupees each as compensation for the victims families. A bullet riddled body was found from suburbs of Quetta on 26 Feb. 3 dead bodies of kidnapped persons were found from Qila Abdulla area. Shutter down in Panjgur continued for the 4th day against checks by FC and arrests of suspects. A landmine injured two men in Dera Bugti. Prosecutor General of Baluchistan High Court was kidnapped while travelling from Zhob to Islamabad.

Gwadar Ports Handover to Chinese Company 18 28 Feb. Gwadar Port was officially handed over to a Chinese company on 18 Feb which has drawn mixed response from home and abroad. India has loudly expressed its anxiety calling it a threat due to its proximity to Indias sea lines of communications. Foreign media opined that China will use it for military purposes which were promptly denied by China. Militant Baloch/Brahui leaders, especially those living abroad residing under the MI6 and CIAs protection, including Akhtar Mengal, have condemned the handover while Hasil Bezanjo and other pro-Pakistan Baloch/Brahui leaders have appreciated it calling it a good step for the development of the area. However, domestically, the move was welcomed by politicial parties as well as the media in Pakistan.

Zardari Visits Quetta, 28 Feb. President Zardari visited Quetta for two hours on his way back from Iran. He met Hazaras delegation and reassured them. In the Governor House he inaugurated a dam in the Governors home district some 300 km away. Then he was busy listening to MPAs who want the Baluchistan Assembly to be reinstated. He visits Quetta rarely and the security measures cause disruption and pain to the citizens as the entire area was blocked.

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Despite the Governors Rule, criminal activity has continued all over Balochistan more or less as before. It has now extended also to Pashtun areas as lack of governance in the province during the last 5 years has encouraged anti-social elements to become bold and more active. Afghani adventurers also now commit crime in Pashtun areas and escape to Afghanistan. However, the so called BLA and various other militant anti-Pakistan groups seem to have gone in hibernation. The anti-Pakistan and anti-Army/Punjabi wall chalking are no more visible. The militants statements now emphasize fighting for Baloch Rights not independence. Handing over of Gwadar Port to a Chinese company has dampened the spirits of those who had been waiting for US Forces to walk in any day and liberate Balochistan.

Election and favorable-Caretakers are now the politicians agenda. JUI is most restless and it keeps demanding the end of Governor Rule, reinstatement of PA and provincial government. It seems it is eager to lay its hands on huge sums of allocated to MPAs for Development which is now stuck up in gravy train that has come to a halt. However, there is a general feeling that the entire PA must first be scrutinized for corruption and their connivance with criminals investigated. Indeed, many, including the CM are blamed for direct crimes. Zardaris two-hours visits was more focused on bringing back the PA so that a favourable Caretaker set up can be agreed upon.

The Apex Committee meets periodically with senior provincial officials and Army brass but the Army is vociferously being criticized by the public for doing too-little and too-late. The Army is accused of looking the other way leaving the internal and national security matters in the hands of totally corrupt and incompetent politicians. The PPP regime has been allowed to create and spread anarchy in Balochistan; A areas were reverted back to B Areas; target killings of Punjabis/Hazaras continued without check. Out of the budget of 172 billion Rupees, the federal government doled out of 168 billion which has been looted by the CM and the MPAs (all of who have been ministers or advisors) with no accountability. The 18th Amendment has effectively converted the Federation into Confederation further promoting fissiparous tendencies. The patriotic majority expects the Army to take responsibility, at least now, for bringing in patriotic, non-partisan Caretakers Administration to carry out strict accountability of elected persons who are again ready for a come back in the next elections, now far richer and stronger. Political polarization has peaked. Elections have become a very high stake game. Should the PPP regime and the Friendly-Opposition be allowed to form a Caretaker set up, it will be contested by those who would find it partisan. Violence and bloodshed would follow.

The CJ has become highly controversial and is criticized the most. He does not want the Army and insults in public the FC and Army, is a great admirer of democracy, wants elections on time and yet expects anarchy be controlled and peace prevail. With the Army and the FC demonised, he does not explain who will deliver? The police that is scared and unsupported by political masters? He visits Talal Bugtis house periodically and saw to it that his son who smuggled a huge cache of arms and ammunition is acquitted and released from jail. He allows the trial for murder against former President Musharraf, the federal Interior Ministers, the then Governor and Home Minster of Baluchistan and many more who had nothing to do with Akbar Bugtis death. Recently, FIR was registered against the FC when four suspected murderers were killed in a shootout with FC while courts routinely release criminals. FCs operations against religious fanatics and criminals enjoy publics general approval but now militant Sunnis are now gearing up to oppose and resist arrests of their maulvis. Murder of five Pashtun labourers in Baloch area is first such case which confirms that foreign elements are still trying to create ethnic clashes. Both developments point towards serious sectarian and racial/ethnic conflict in Baluchistan.

PMLN Stands Bright Chance to Win the Elections

By Saeed Qureshi

The credible indications are that Pakistan Muslim League under its leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif would capture maximum seats in the forthcoming general elections and thus emerge as the majority party. Since it is entering into electoral alliances with ANP, Jamaat-e-Islami, Pir Pagaras functional Muslim League and National Peoples Party, it may form the next coalition government at the center.

It appears that since presently, the PPP does not enjoy the traditional popularity with the masses; it may not be able to win adequate numbers of seats in three provinces of Balochistan, NWFP and Punjab. In Sindh, it could have a split mandate to be equally claimed by MQM in Karachi and Hyderabad. The level of disenchantment is quite high against the incumbent government in the center and also in the Sindh government. But since MQM vote bank is always safe due to ethnic unity and because of severe backlash against those not voting for the MQM, it may win all or most of the seats in their controlled constituencies.

It would be desirable for the PPP to take the backseat and re-formulate its strategy for the next elections in 2018. The PPP leadership should go for introspection as to how it could not robustly deliver this time and therefore reorient its programs and policies to gear up for the next election season. If PPP returns to its pristine image and reboots the manifesto unfurled by the chairman of the party ZAB in 70s, it has the potential of staging a comeback.

Despite PMLN being betrayed after initial political alliances with the PPP, it has been vehemently opposing hijacking of power by the army. It opted out of the coalition with PPP and preferred to play the role of the so-called friendly opposition that facilitated democracy to survive for five years. Despite a chaos ridden five years period of PPP in power, the PMLN refrained from making efforts to oust the PPP from power or proverbially fish in troubled waters.

Now elections must be fair and free and without malpractices. There is a danger of turmoil if the parties that lose allege rigging or fraudulent practices against the party that carries the day. The country cannot afford further agitations and protests and lockouts and mess and crisis. The parties that lose should accept their defeat in good grace and in the supreme interests of the nascent democratic caravan to move forward.

If Pakistan can sustain another five years democratic spell, it would by all reckoning, have a safe and glorious future. Democratic bond is the strongest bond in the contemporary world to keep the nation together and govern the country with consensus. It is an effective recipe to foster internal cohesion and unity. It commands universal respect.

Notwithstanding, the bitter political rhetoric and scathing polemics, the glaring fact is that the PMLN government in Punjab has achieved several milestones for the progress and advancement of the province. Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif is sincerely trying to make the social environment better by providing indispensable facilities like infrastructure, roads and comfortable transportation. He has zealously labored to promote education and health facilities in his province. The lawlessness and violence that is relentlessly endemic in other provinces, is much less in Punjab.

The Sharif brothers have learnt bitter lessons during their exiles in foreign lands for almost 8 years. It is hoped that the stiffness of disposition and punitive tendency in Nawaz Sharif must have mellowed down after spending many grueling years out of Pakistan. Now he should, for the sake of the democratic order to continue, learn to accommodate divergent opinion and not jump to reprisals, such as attack on the supreme court of Pakistan in 1997. He should desist from removing one army chief after another unless there would be inevitable grounds for doing so.

Nawaz Sharif is a true son of the soil whose merits are quite a few and studded with landmark laurels. He was one prime minister who despite inexorable multi-dimensional pressures both internal and external, went ahead with atomic tests following the Indian explosions. He was the one in whose tenure Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled to Pakistan by bus and recorded indelible pro-Pakistan views at Minar-e- Pakistani. The signing of Lahore Declaration for mutual peaceful relations was a landmark achievement for both the countries.

Pakistan and India were well on the way to mending their fences and enter into a new phase of good neighborly relationship. There could have been the possibility of cutting the Guardian Knot of Kashmir, had he not committed the blunder of sacking the then COAS Pervez Musharraf in a clumsy manner resulting in the advent of military rule once again.

It would be safe and objective to hazard a guess that a quid-pro-quo would be possible between him and the religious extremist groups including Taliban. That might come as a soothing and most sought-after turn of events in the troubled and violence marred landscape of Pakistan.

During the times of Nawaz Sharif and late Benazir Bhutto, Karachi was bedeviled with violence and the outlaws and criminals of all sorts were at the rampage.

There were, thugs, rogues, killers, desperadoes, and brutal ethnic militants playing with the citys peace and the situation was horrendously precarious. But when the state machinery was mobilized with full force, the peace and normal life returned. Although many an innocence citizen may have perished in the cleanup operations yet a greater good was much better than a little infringement of the established rules.

One would hopefully believe that if PMLN forms the government, it would herald a new era in the troubled and chaotic history of Pakistan. The new Nawaz Sharif would not be a nonchalant and emotional young man of 90s but a much reformed, diligent and sober person who would do the right things for Pakistan.

He may not indulge in money making scams and shun bending laws and amending constitution for self perpetuation and for serving interests of party cadres. If he comes clean, he would make history both for himself as well as for Pakistan.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

Pakistan’s support to Kashmir cause reaffirmed

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Pakistan has reaffirmed its political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people for their just cause of securing their right of self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter and the relevant UN Resolutions, calling for an end to human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

According to Kashmir Media Service, President, Asif Zardari, and Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in their messages on the Kashmir Solidarity Day, paid rich tributes to the valiant Kashmiri martyrs who laid down their lives in their quest for realising their inalienable right to choose their destiny by themselves. The two leaders called for an end to human rights violations in the occupied territory.

President Zardari said that the Kashmiris had remained resolute and steadfast in the face of oppression spanning over six decades. Pakistan believed that the use of force, coercion and violation of basic human rights could never succeed in suppressing an indigenous struggle, he said, and hoped that perseverance would bear fruit. The President reassured the Kashmiris that Pakistan remained firmly committed to finding a just and peaceful solution of the dispute.

Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, reiterating Pakistans principled stand on the Kashmir dispute said, The government of Pakistan and its people reaffirm their commitment to the just cause of the Kashmiris and their right to self-determination. He promised that the Kashmiris would continue getting whole-hearted moral, diplomatic and political support from Pakistan for their struggle. We will stand by them until the realisation of their demands; they can count on us in their hour of anguish, the premier said.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said, the 5th February is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day by the people of Pakistan every year to reaffirm our steadfast resolve to stand by our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in their valiant struggle to achieve their legitimate right of self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. It demonstrates our commitment to support the just cause of the Kashmiri people.

The Prime Minister further said that the Kashmir dispute held the key to durable peace in South Asian region and Pakistan feels that a sustainable resolution of the dispute would only be possible if the aspirations of the Kashmiris were taken into account.

Democracy and Pakistan

By Aslam Kanwan

When I see that all opposition parties are together to save Democracy when Tahirul Qadri was leading a protest in Islamabad. I feel much strange because these were the people, who were always keep abusing each other and never agreed with each other on any matter of national interest. I try to think for what matter and for what reasons, these people are united.

The politicians call themselves, the guardians of democracy and are united to fight against any dictator.

I ask from these politicians that why do you not sit together to solve national problems. As my country is facing lots of problems these days such as terrorism, target killings, corruption, unemployment, injustice, inflation and many other evils are making my country weak.

Nation never see them united on any national issue including Kashmir, Water resources, Terrorism and other external and internal threats but when they feel that democracy is feeling any danger they become united to fight for democracy, which in turn assure their control over government.

The nation is aware from the tricks of these politicians and so, they can’t rob Pakistan more. It is clear to the masses that they are neither man of words nor trustworthy.

Nawaz Sharif is trying to become prime minister of Pakistan for the 3rd time but it is impossible for this time because he is not credible to be PM of this Nation because current government destroyed this country due to his friendly opposition and he remained silent for his turn.

Mian sahab should remember that this country is not charity. Peoples are aware the monkey’s distribution of current Government is their good governance.

We daily hear a slogan that “democracy is best revenge. I think the politicians are taking your revenge from poor nation.

I want to ask here what democracy gives us. Democracy deprived the poor people from the basic needs of life. There is load shedding of hours, there is load shedding of gas, terrorism is at the peak, unemployment is also un measurable but still some people says that “Agli bari phir Zardari ”

What this is all about? When these people will become aware.

The nation should awake to secure the future of their generations. These politicians are not sincere with the nation. These people will never let Pakistan to be green.

Some people are sitting silent and waiting for any revolution including me. We believe that Allah will send a reformer for us.

Revolution is near, elections are on the way and we can make coming elections a revolution. Please for this time don’t believe on these corrupt and selfish leaders who are promoting their families to occupy on the politics of this country and who are playing with your destiny.

If nation wants to get rid form corrupt leadership. They should get up now if they will not get up then these people and their unable generation will continue playing with their destiny.

Mian sahab and Zardari sahab, Pakistan doesnt owe any thing to you people. Please leave this country. Nation doesnt want leaders like you.

Who will Win 2013 Elections in Pakistan

By Usman Khalid, Director RIFA

The Economist of London has predicted on the basis of polls that Mian Nawaz Sharif, Leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N), would be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. I agree with that analysis. Having just returned from a six week long stay in Pakistan, I would like to say, why? The TUQ (Tahir ul Qadri) sit in took place a couple of hundred yards from my house in Islamabad. I would also like to share with readers what it meant something that the local and the international media missed.

Everybody in Pakistan believes that election results depend largely on the way the entrenched electables turn. The entire strategy of Imran Khan, leader of TIP, is based on that and the youth vote. President Asif Zardari a consummate politician has made a plan to win in 2013 Elections on the basis of sure winners issues as well as politicians. But I believe that Imran as well as Asif Zardari are mistaken. The people are no longer driven by kinship with candidates; they are mainly driven by their concern for national security internal as well as external. The nation of Pakistan is more patriotic, more united and more certain of what is good for the country is also good for them. A significant minority does take part in political meets and sectarian processions but often because of the attraction of a free meal and a chance take home chair or two. Every one was surprised at the discipline shown by TUQ followers in Islamabad. The same discipline had been shown only in the meetings of MQM and JUD, or processions by Shia organisations and Defence of Pakistan Council. Discipline is a value ingrained during upbringing or training. It is easily inculcated when the leaders demand and reward discipline.

Dr TUQ organises his followers in communes of sorts where members help each other through thick and thin. This is the same phenomenon that binds generous local leaders with their ilk. The MQM is one political party that organised its constituency in the cities as communes and the core of its leadership is Shia. That an important Shia leaders Agha Murtaza Ali Poya was always present by the side of Dr TUQ informed the country of the emergence of a new alliance one between Shia and moderate Sunnis. It is a benign alliance the objective of which is security in the face of rise of extremist led by the Takfiri cult. If the USA, Canada or other Western countries supported Dr TUQ it is a change in policy that is entirely welcome. Until the Iranian Revolution led my Imam Khomeni, the Shia were the allies of the USA and Israel. But everything changed after that revolution. Now Iran is the leading champion of Palestinian liberation. Shia led Hezbollah of Lebanon is the only force that ever defeated Israel in battle. The erstwhile friends have been bitter enemies since the Revolution. The joint sit in may well turn out to be return to days when Iran and the USA were friends and allies. This is not unexpected; this is practical politics. The Al-Qaeda and other Takfiri groups have had Saudi support which has sustained US ambivalence that is largely responsible for the rise of anti-US cults. After all, the Takfiri led by al-Qaeda have taken no notice of the change and persist in massacre of Shia in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Is it not time, they were sent a message?

There us yet no sign of a shift in the policy of Taliban towards the USA. But the sit in in Islamabad could well mark a watershed in politics of Pakistan. The MQM realised that its policy of defiance of the Executive and Judicial authority of the state that underpinned its absolute power in Karachi and other cities of Sindh until recently has become counter-productive; more Shia are being killed than members of other communities. The support provided by the MQM to Dr TUQ from within the Government was crucial to reaching a deal.. Imran Khan, as usual, said he welcomed the support by TUQ to what was the stand of TIP all along PML(N) responded by assembling an alliance of all opposition parties. Imran Khan was conspicuously isolated and sidelined. But there is another game in town being played by the very same players. The name of the game is public support as against the TUQ game which was about US support. The USA has realised that any role it gives to India in Afghanistan would end in the USA being completely ousted from Central Asia. Pakistan holds the key to peace in Afghanistan and the region.

Patriotism, which had been out of fashion in Islamabad, is the focal point of peoples power. The people see the MQM and ANP as India sponsored parties. The PPP, which was the nemesis of both under Benazir rule, is now the most allied ally of President Zardari. The constituency of the PPP does not approve of that. He has exacerbated the situation by playing the ethnic card naming the Frontier Province as KPK, giving in to MQM demand on local government, trying to sow discord in the Punjab loading the dice in favour of Seraiki speaking in South Punjab. But this is not working. The people see President Zardari as the ally of India sponsored parties and now giving entry to TUQ into his coalition. But there is another side to Dr TUQ. Under the cover of presenting a moderate and peaceful image of Islam, he has declared Jihad in Kashmir to be un-Islamic. All those impressed with the exemplary discipline of the sit in in Islamabad, took notice of his stand on Kashmir. The patriotic majority which, contrary to popular belief, in not a majority only in the Punjab but in all the provinces of Pakistan, will vote for Nawaz Sharif and the parties allied to him. That is the basis of my forecast that PML(N) would win Elections 2013.

The last time PML(N) won a big majority more than 2/3rd of all seats in the National Assembly was in 1996. Within a short period of time he had made so many mistakes that the people heaved a sigh of relief when his government was overthrown by General Musharraf in 1999. Electoral victory of the present opposition is in sight but end to misrule in Pakistan is not. Mian Nawaz Sharif has announced no new policies; added no new talent to his team; and he persists in calling his economic and security policies that resulted in the humiliation at Kargil and brought Pakistans economy to the brink of collapse as success. I remember having conveyed a message from eminent Lawyer Lord Gifford to Benazir Bhutto after her government has been dismissed in 1991. The message was: You will come back to power again, but you should know what to do when you do. No body ha asked me to give advice to Mian Nawaz Sharif. But if I was asked I would give the same advice that Lord Gifford gave to Benazir Bhutto. Mian Sahib is surrounded by the very same losers who helped him lose twice after the people gave him their trust and reposed confidence in him.

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