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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Media Watch Desi: Humayun Gohar, Prices, Karachi Sea Shore ... March 15, 2008

This is Sunday March 16 wrap-up of news and comments from the media selected by me. I started off doing one Media Watch column but soon broke it into two: one for Desi and the other for World news and comments. As you have probably already discovered, I keep on adding more to them as and when I read something of interest or when I am sent a link that I find worth sharing.

Dear reader, your feedback and ideas would be appreciated. You can reach me a

A Has Been To Debate a Wannabee Has Been: While the Assembly That Can Decide Meets Today

Islamabad, March 16: Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Aitzaz Ahsan and attorney-general of Pakistan (AGP) Malik Mohammad Qayyum will soon be seen debating live on some television channel, arguing for and against the reinstatement of superior court judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf in November.

No More Reservoir Build-up?

ISLAMABAD (APP): Indus River System Authority (IRSA) on Saturday released 69,996 cusecs water from various rim stations. According to IRSA, an overall water inflow from various reservoirs was recorded at 69,380 cusecs. Water level at Tarbela dam reached at dead level of 1369 feet on Saturday. Water inflow at the dam was recorded at 19,800 cusecs while outflow was also 19,800 cusecs. The water level at Mangla dam was recorded at 1046.75 feet which was six feet higher than the dead level of 1040 feet. Water inflow at the dam was recorded at 23,384 cusecs while outflow was 24,000 cusecs. The contribution of Kabul and Chenab was recorded at 12,500 cusecs and 13,696 cusecs, respectively.

Table of Discontent - Naila Inayat

A comparative look at the rise in prices of some of the essential commodities of daily use over the past three months

Item 2007 2008

Cooking Oil/ 41/2 kg Rs 350 Rs 700

Flour (5 kg bag) Rs 70 Rs 120

Tea/kg Rs 200 Rs 220

Sugar/kg Rs 20 Rs 32

Packed Milk/lit Rs 35 Rs 44

Rice/kg Rs 45 Rs 75

Pulses/kg Rs 40--80 Rs 60--100

Soaps (1 bar) Rs 20 Rs 30

Detergents/kg Rs 100 Rs 150

Butter/kg Rs 150 Rs 190

M. J. Akbar is back at his Blog

The two Indias were as unlike as the two finance ministers. Liaquat Ali Khan was finance minister of united India, or, more accurately, British India, for the princely states did not come under the purview of the government in which he was a Cabinet minister. He held the finance portfolio in the interim government formed a year before independence, in which both Congress and the Muslim League participated, a sort of partnership in regress. The two parties had nothing in common, not even a country. Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister: Gandhi and Jinnah, as symbols of their people, were above the latitude of mere governments. Finance was allotted to the Muslim League. Liaquat Ali Khan's most notable achievement was to throw dust in the machinery of government so that it ground to a halt; no one accused him of actually helping anyone, though he did hurt some businesses because, in the lexicon of that period, they were "Hindu". His name has been forgotten not only in India, and I suspect is barely remembered in Pakistan, although he was Jinnah's successor. That service was brief, since he was assassinated in Rawalpindi in 1951. I doubt if millions of votes will take a fast short cut to the BJP's ballot box because of its reference to Liaquat Ali Khan but there could be an inadvertent, minor revival of Khan's name.

Humayun Gohar on Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf, Zardari

As to Nawaz, he is so single-mindedly consumed and by the desire for revenge from Musharraf that he cannot see the wood from the trees. He is a driven man. Hatred is an emotion that negates even the pretence of sincerity. Why can't Nawaz accept the fact that it was his hijacking of Musharraf's plane and asking the pilot to take it to India that caused the suicide of his government? It was Musharraf who agreed to let him go to Saudi Arabia and who agreed to his return. He need not have and there is nothing anyone could have done about it.

"Nothing is permanent," Musharraf has said many a time.

So when he is no longer there, will Nawaz's old hatred for Zardari resurface, he whose wife made (fabricated?) so many cases against him and imprisoned his old father? And will Zardari's resentment against Nawaz return, he who made (fabricated?) all those cases against him and his wife, caused her to flee into exile and imprisoned him, an incarceration that lasted for eleven years? (Fabricating cases, by the way, is in itself a huge crime).

If the presence of one man is all that binds this new Bhurban Alliance, one cannot hold out much hope for a tasty pudding.

Anyway, despite inordinate US pressure to prevent a Zardari-Nawaz coalition, this is precisely what they agreed to in a woolly declaration last Sunday. On the face of it, it may seem that Zardari won and Nawaz lost because he climbed down from all the three demands on which he seemed intransigent - his ministers not taking oath from President Musharraf, impeaching him and restoring the sacked judges. The document makes no mention of the president or impeachment, Nawaz's ministers will take oath from Musharraf and the National Assembly will pass only a resolution within 30 days asking for the judges to be restored. A resolution is not a law. It is only the expression of a desire, a suggestion, especially on financial matters. It is not binding on the government. Read Chapter XV (Rules 157-169) in the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly and Chapter IV on resolutions and their scope in the National Assembly Procedural Manual.

The Pakistani flying carpet — Khalid Hasan

Capt Javed Muzaffar, a retired PIA captain who lives in Houston wrote, “Once I had Begum Shafiqa Zia travelling on a routine DC-10 commercial flight from Islamabad to London. I was the operating captain. She was going for medical treatment. The traffic staff informed me that she was carrying 11 enormous suitcases (no extra baggage charges had been paid). Before take-off, I saw her sprawled on two first class seats. Gen Zia had come to see her off and he waved to me from the tarmac. Another time, I had to ferry back a VVIP configured DC-10 from Islamabad to Karachi after Gen Zia and his entourage had deplaned. I was astounded when I boarded the aircraft, wondering if it was the same DC-10 I knew so well. There were leather seats, plush carpets, a conference room, new curtains, a large curtained-off bedroom area, special cutlery and crockery and what have you. The leftover food my skeleton crew and I were served was out of this world. I just could not help thinking about the enormous cost of all that to our poor nation.

“It seems that the general public does not know that whenever a PIA aircraft is requisitioned for VVIP travel, it is luxuriously “refurbished”, only to be reconfigured later for the plebians who pay to fly. There are already 15 aircraft, including helicopters, in the Pakistani VVIP fleet. There is a Boeing 707, an almost new luxuriously fitted Boeing 737, a Falcon executive jet, a Cessna Citation and an Airbus 310 gifted by Qatar. On top of that, three new Learjets have been purchased recently at a cost of $60 million. I would ask readers to think about the astronomical cost of hangaring, maintaining, certifying, fuelling, crewing and catering involved here. Take India. Once I was parked in an Airbus 300 at Bombay Airport when I saw an Indian Airline Airbus taxiing in. It was a normal passenger flight. The door opened and out walked Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi. One man took her briefcase, another held an umbrella over her head and she got into a beat-up white Ambassador and drove away.”

Cowasjee: Threat to Karachi’s seashore

Dharti (sacred land) is a coalition “to synergise the diverse capacities of civil society organisations convinced about the centrality of the environmental framework within which all human activity takes place, in order to ensure that all actions undertaken by official and non-official sectors in Sindh, in particular, and in Pakistan, in general, respect the abiding values of ecological sanctity and of human well-being.” Membership comprises the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Baanhn Beli, Shirkatgah, WWF, Women’s Action Forum, Pakistan Maheegir Tehrik, Sahil Bachao, Helpline Trust, Indus Earth, Institute of Architects, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research, Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum. Dharti is spearheaded by Naila Ahmed of Shehri.

Last week, Dharti conducted a seminar on the threat to the coastline around Karachi and the attending citizens passed this resolution:

“The Dharti coalition of concerned citizen groups resolves that any development, especially along the coastline, shall be carried out in line with the principles given below. Consequently, the ‘Sugarland’ project at Hawkesbay/Sandspit, which is in violation of these standards, is opposed.

“1) The common-law ‘Public Trust Doctrine’, which mandates free and unfettered access to the shores of the sea for citizens to facilitate fishing, swimming, navigation, recreation, etc, for all, must be respected. 2) The rights of the local fishing communities along the coast cannot be compromised under any circumstances. 3) There must be an EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] and public hearings on all waterfront development projects. 4) Any extravagant development on the seashore (private beaches, etc) meant only for the wealth-laden will be opposed. People from all socio-economic classes must have unhindered right to use the natural resource of the beach. 5) The government must frame master plans of the coastal areas to preserve them for our future generations. The greed of builders and developers cannot be allowed to dictate utilisation of coastal areas. 6) Existing residents of the city have the first right to adequate/enhanced basic utilities (water, sewerage, electricity) and infrastructure. Diversion of these resources to high-class coastal development cannot be allowed to rob the citizens of Karachi of their birthright. 7) The governments, federal, provincial and city, must come clean about the waterfront development projects in all jurisdictions. 8) Sustainable development must be distributed uniformly across the geographical space, rather than being concentrated along the coast.”

Nikahnama released by Muslim law board

Lucknow, March 16: The All-India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) on Sunday released its "women-friendly" nikahnama that claims to give equal rights to women in marriage and divorce.

The nikahnama has three forms that are to be filled in during the marriage. One form will be for the bride and the groom, the second for the marriage bureau and the third for the qazi who solemnises the marriage.

Talking to reporters, AIMWPLB president Shaista Amber said that the new nikahnama was more stringent on the practice of triple talaaq.


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