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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ikram Sehgal, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Babar Sattar

While Ikram Sehgal is perhaps right, he could also be (perhaps) wrong about Nawaz Sharif`s motives and options. To me the bigger and more disruptive perception Nawaz and his PML (Zia) has inadvertently created since the election is that of a rubber stamp Opposition. His (lip service aside) spinelessness is becoming apparent by the day. --t

Nawaz Sharif's Catch 22 was that if he had refused to accept Zardari's visit to Raiwind he would have confirmed himself as an "extremist"; in being received and the signing of a meaningless document there, Zardari seems to have taken Mian Nawaz Sharif politically to the cleaners again. Mian Sahib is taking a calculated risk in believing he can contain this perception without falling prey to Zardari's machinations again. Given the total support from the US and the single-handed efforts of Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Zardari is presently sitting pretty in the President's House. The Raiwind visit calls for exchanging "high fives" with his close circle for effectively filibustering (temporarily at least) the erosion of such presidential powers that would put an absolute monarch to shame. Zardari probably cares two hoots about being the most unpopular man in Pakistan. It is most surprising that the Obama administration does too. Ikram Sehgal.

Asia Times Online has learnt that Pakistan has gradually moved its forces into Bannu, the principal city of Bannu district in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and Dera Ismail Khan, another city in NWFP. It has also stationed troops in the Waziristans. Tension is rising there, with the Taliban having disrupted the supply lines of troops based in North Waziristan. The deadline for the beginning of an all-out operation is not known. It will be the first time that all Taliban groups are targeted - the Sirajuddin network has traditionally been pro-establishment. "In principle, Pakistan has agreed on a stable government, cordial ties with India and support of the war on terror. But for the first time, Admiral Mike Mullen and Ashfaq Parvez Kiani have made a joint initiative to implement this principle under a set mechanism so that there can be no deviations," a senior Pakistani diplomat told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. Pakistan-US plan falls into place By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Morocco: Less jail sentences, but more libel cases during King Mohammed's reign
Resurgence of violence against journalists in Iraq after US troops withdrawal
Moroccan reporter turned back on arrival in Algeria
Moldovan journalists report increasing incidents of harassment
Newspaper confiscated in Turkey town for reporting allegations of police rape
Six bloggers arrested in Chinese province for reporting gangrape death
Chinese propaganda department censors stories linked to President Hu Jintao's son
Associated Press correspondent forced to leave Sri Lanka for coverage of real war toll

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor in chief, tonight threw his support behind a plan to give public funding to Britain's national press agency to allow it to provide news from public authorities and courts as local newspapers withdraw because they can no longer afford it.
Rusbridger, speaking at a seminar on the future of journalism at the Media Standards Trust in London, also outlined his vision for a new digital world in which the public grows much closer to journalists. Speaking in front of guests including film director Lord Puttnam, BBC business editor Robert Peston and Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, Rusbridger said local news needed to be supported, or "corruption and inefficiency" would grow as scrutiny lessened. Decline of local news may allow corruption in public institutions to grow, Guardian editor warns

So let the court rule on the culpability of Musharraf under Article 6, and the Parliament can then debate the merit or desirability of actually punishing him if he is found guilty. Judicial matters are to be decided on legal principle, which leaves no room for expediency and political considerations in judicial discourse. However, the Parliament can draft law and make exception on the basis of policy compromises, and should it choose not to punish Musharraf in some "larger good" of the country, so be it. Further, even if the Parliament wishes to punish Musharraf, President Zardari can always pardon him in exercise of his discretionary powers under Article 45 of the Constitution. If the constitutional jurisprudence of Pakistan is to be resurrected and another khaki saviour is to be deterred from conquering his nation yet again, there is need to breath life into Article 6. The actual fact of Musharraf serving a sentence is not as relevant. But his getting convicted for molesting the Constitution certainly is. Babar Sattar


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