October 17, 2010


[Speaking of her book ‘Songs of Blood and Sword: The Future of Pakistan: a daughter‘s memoir’ Ms. Fatima Bhutto, the Afghan born daughter of Murtaza Bhutto and niece of the slain leader Benazir Bhutto told  MSNBC  recently that the cycle of violence has gripped the country since last 20 years and it 'has become a part of political ethics in the country'. 

Ridiculing the electoral processes of her country she said, "a country  so politically centralized.., we do not call them elections, we call them selections. We are lucky enough to have them". 

In the book, she has accused Benazir Bhutto of her father's murder in 1996.  Actually the current President Asif Ali Zardari had informed on  the phone that her father had been shot dead. Please read her article in the Los Angeles Times also. Ms. Bhutto was the prime minister at that time.

The Karachi killing of 29 people on the eve of election, the row between judiciary and executive branches that lingers since the dismissal and reinstatement of the Chief Justice Iftikar Muhammad Chaudhry and more dangerously raising violence might lead to another military intervention in the country and in that case how would US adjust while  some retired army generals publicly express that  'Pak Army has been sharing their rations with the affected persons' which may open wide avenue for inclusion of the radicals. Who knows ? Editor]

Pak PM Yusuf Raza Gilani
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza on Sunday down  played fears of growing tension between the government and judiciary.

Speculation has swirled for weeks that Pakistan's Supreme Court would uphold the scrapping of an amnesty law, possibly opening the door to attempts to prosecute government leaders including President Asif Ali Zardari.

The amnesty law allowed some current politicians including Zardari to return after years of exile. It was thrown out in December 2009 by the Supreme Court, which must now pronounce on a government attempt to overturn that ruling.

"Nobody should expect that there will be any confrontation between (state) institutions as long as we (the government) are here," Gilani said in a televised address to the nation.

There are several cases outstanding against Zardari in Switzerland involving accusations of money-laundering, which were withdrawn in 2008 after he was elected president.

Government ministers, officials and Gilani often say the government cannot reopen cases against Zardari because the constitution gives him presidential immunity.

With the government facing a huge task in rebuilding after summer floods that made over 10 million people homeless, and in fighting Taliban insurgents who remain effective despite military offensives, analysts say the Supreme Court is unlikely to try to remove him now.

The opposition has also not indicated any intention to agitate for his downfall, although fears of fresh political upheaval persist.

Powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is apparently trying to ease tension between the government and the judiciary, and Gilani appeared to acknowledge this.

"If we can work with the military, if we can develop consensus with political powers, then we can definitely move forward with judiciary," said Gilani.

"Whatever the situation is, we should think of how the judiciary and government can provide justice to the people."

In London, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif was highly critical of Zardari, who has denied any wrongdoing.

"There are corruption cases inside and outside the country against him and he cannot get rid of them. The best way for him is to apologize to the nation and return the nation's money and respect institutions," Sharif told a news conference.

@ Reuters

KARACHI: Gunmen shot to death at least 29 people in Pakistan's commercial hub Karachi over the weekend, deepening tensions as a by-election was held to replace a lawmaker who was murdered in August.

Violence broke out Saturday night when gunmen opened fire in several parts of the southern Pakistani city of 18 million ahead of the vote. At least 29 people have been killed since then, police said.

The election was being held to replace lawmaker Raza Haider, a member of Karachi's dominant Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) whose killing by gunmen two months ago triggered violence that resulted in 100 deaths in a single week.

The MQM accused its rival, the ethnic Pashtun-based Awami National Party (ANP), of carrying out the attacks and killing some of its members. The ANP, which had boycotted the polls over rigging fears, denied the allegations.

"Soon after announcing its boycott of the by-election, ANP's terrorists began killing innocent citizens in a bid to sabotage the election process," the MQM, which was expected to win the election by a large margin, said in a statement.

Karachi has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence. But hundreds of targeted killings this year have raised concerns that violence would escalate and create a new crisis for the U.S.-backed government in Islamabad.

Besides trying to contain violence in Karachi, the government faces a Taliban insurgency and the task of rebuilding areas devastated by summer floods which inflicted $9.7 billion in damage and will strain the weak economy for years to come.

Stock market investors keep a wary eye on tensions in Karachi, home to Pakistan's main port, stock exchange and central bank and the main gateway for Western military supplies bound for neighboring land-locked Afghanistan.

The MQM's leadership was weighing options in response to the violence, including withdrawing from the provincial coalition government led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari, a source said. It has made similar threats in the past.

The party is influential in a federal alliance with the PPP. The MQM represents the Mohajirs, descendants of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

The provincial health minister said gunmen in several parts of Karachi attacked people from different ethnic and political groups to "ruin the peace of this city."

Zulfiqar Mirza, home minister of southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, said 60 people had been arrested.

Karachi was a main target of al Qaeda-linked militants after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, when Pakistan joined the U.S.-led campaign against militancy, and foreigners were attacked in the city several times.

© The Himalayan Times