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Monday, March 31, 2008

Mediawatch Desi Mar 30: PM's Speech Coverage, FP on Nawaz, Khushwant Singh, Ghazi Salahuddin, M J AKbar, Sehba Sarwar

The Gillani speech in the NA is the most widely covered event today in the news, editorials and columns. You, me and the people of Paksitan will be the judge of it in time to come.

PM Gillani's Speech Highlights

* Frontier Crimes Regulations and Industrial Relations Order repealed
* A “truth and reconciliation commission” proposed
* PM House budget cut by 40 per cent
* Special counters at airports for parliamentarians to be removed
* No money to be spent on the renovation of government buildings and residences
* A freedom of information law to be framed, while Pemra will be made a subsidiary of the information ministry
* Talks will be initiated with extremists who lay down arms and ‘adopt the path of peace’
* A new package for tribal areas promised
* Employment commission to be set up
* Madressah authority to implement a uniform curriculum
* One million housing units to be built annually for low-income groups
* Irrigation channels to be bricklined.

From Dawn, (editorial), Cowasjee, (Irfan Hussain - not really), Daily Times, The Nation, (editorial), Humayun Gohar, The News, In Urdu - Hussain Haqqani

Not even has he emerged as the regional leader; yet Mian Nawaz Sharif is funnily behaving like a tsar. In Sindh and Balochistan, the electorate had shrugged him off like a nauseatingly smelling rag, electing his PML (N) not even on a single seat in the February poll. The NWFP was a bit charitable, with the voters doling out some alms to him, but only scantily. It was only in Punjab that his PML (N) could muster up a sizeable support; but here too, it was no landslide for him; not even a majority to let him form a government of his PML (N) in the province on his own. And if after the poll he has made PML (N) a majority party in the province, it is a sheer feat of his notorious businessman’s no-holds-barred cunning. Unscrupulously has he poached on the prostrated PML (Q) rump and the wayward independents’ phalanx, buying out wholesale horses that had offered themselves for sale, with the money that he has made in mountains with means mostly foul. And yet he has the gall to flaunt imperial airs of an imperious emperor, which he is not. He is just a pretender, perfidiously laying claim to a status and an authority that do not belong to him by any means and which do not fit his head at all. Frontier Post Editorial on Nawaz Sharif

Let me begin with a question that I have posed this week to friends, acquaintances and even some strangers: How many days do you give President Pervez Musharraf? Some of the responses that I have collected were made at emotionally heightened moments that have marked the dramatic turn of events in our politics. And this week has had its tally of exciting stimuli, with more to come almost on a daily basis. Go Musharraf Go - Ghazi Salahuddin

He is 94 years old. He is perhaps India's most widely known English columnist, novelist and translator of Urdu poetry. His remarks are polemical, arrow-straight and honest. His pen as a newspaper columnist can make the mighty shiver in their boots. His short stories can compare with the best of Maupassant and the very best of Manto. His longer novel, written half-a-century ago -- Train to Pakistan -- is a classic: it probably ranks in the top ten in its genre of sub-continental writings in English; in the anguish of this novel he tries to come to terms with the tragedy and bloodshed of Partition. M P Bhandara on Khushwant Singh

What do Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Altaf Hussain (chief of the MQM), Asfandyar Wali Khan (leader of the Awami National Party of the North West Frontier Province, soon to be renamed Pakhtunkhwa) and influential opinion-makers in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have in common? They have all come to a calculated conclusion: that the Indo-Pak impasse over Kashmir is now seriously detrimental to the economic and strategic health of Pakistan; that Pakistan has been held hostage to the Kashmir dispute and it is time to shake off the fetters of history and move on. These fetters have imprisoned travel and trade between neighbours and placed an expensive and unnecessary, if not quite unbearable, tension on the defence forces of Pakistan. They understand what common sense tells us: that free travel and mutually beneficial trade between India and Pakistan could transform the subcontinent, if not into a modern Europe then at least into the Europe of circa 1955. M J Akbar

I have been living in Houston for some time, but I often return to Pakistan to visit my parents. In December, when I arrived in Karachi with my 3-year-old daughter, Minal, the city was spinning with more than the usual winter weddings, parties and reunions. President Musharraf had issued emergency rule to hold back a possible Supreme Court ruling against him, and Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan at her own risk. There had been suicide bombings, the lawyers were battling for restoration of an independent judiciary and parliamentary elections were a few weeks away. My husband, René, wanted me to postpone our trip, but my father wasn’t well, and it was important to go. I assured René I’d do my best to stay away from the political action. Karachi's Winter Days - Sehba Sarwar


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