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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beena Sarwar, Irfan Hussain, A Count Ability, Anjum Niaz,

Beena Sarwar Personal Political: Plays and books, not bombs “New Karachi literary festival hopes to turn page on bombs,” trumpeted a headline in the Independent, UK. Inspired by Jaipur, the festival in March “may not turn the page on the bombs,” as Siraj Khan, a Boston-based Pakistani commented in an email, “but it is very inspiring. In my recent 7-month stint in Karachi, I saw and felt this breath of fresh air myself. This has not happened overnight and it’s not just the new crop of writers who are turning the tide.” Read more

Irfan Hussain: Given Nawaz Sharif’s distrust of the military, the army is hardly likely to prefer him to a pliant Asif Zardari. From GHQ’s perspective, it is a choice between bad and worse. So even though the army high command might loathe and despise Zardari and the PPP, they fear Nawaz Sharif and a resurgent PML-N. Another factor in the army’s calculation must be that unlike the past when a pliable judiciary gave coup-makers a blank cheque, this time they will not have an easy ride in the Supreme Court.

Book review: Chilling truths —by Afrah Jamal

The Al Qaeda Connection By Imtiaz Gul Penguin Global; Pp 320

Today, the landscape has been transformed into a hunting ground as the showdown between the military and militants gets underway and retaliatory strikes against the public intensify. While attempting to curb insurgency within its borders, Pakistan’s security forces have been accused of stage-managing militant outfits that once served as counterweights against traditional enemies. Never disarmed, and left unguided, these heat-seeking entities latched on to a new target.

Anjum Niaz: Taseer's nitpicking against the LinkSharifs is unending. "Look at the kind of people being voted into the assemblies on PML-N tickets. They belong to qabza groups, are accused of molesting women, are fraudsters and barbaric law- breakers…they are the dregs of the earth! Daily we hear their MPA or MNA featuring in the press for breaking the law." Isn't Asif Ali Zardari too breaking the law, employing jailbirds, bank defaulters, outlaws, villains, NAB convicts to sensitive posts? Two wrongs don't make a right.

Let us look at the assets that allegedly belong to our two-timer: “The Raiwind estate spread over several thousand acres; Ittefaq Sugar Mills set up in 1982; Brothers Steel in 1983; Brothers Textile Mills in 1986; Brothers Sugar Mills Ltd in 1986; Ittefaq Textile Units in 1987; Khalid Siraj Textile Mills in 1988; Ramzan Buksh Textiles in 1987; and Farooq Barkat (Pvt) Ltd in 1985.” Naeem Tahir's A Count Ability: This is obvious and ‘tangible’, but there are said to be other ‘intangible’ but useful ‘assets’. The examples are quoted: $ 60 million from the famous road contract known as GT road (connecting Lahore-Islamabad); $ 140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s State Bank to fund companies owned or controlled by the two-timer. He did not pay the loans back to the bank, instead got them pardoned from President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar. Rs 60 million from government rebates on sugar exported by mills controlled by him and his business associates, Rs 58 million from inflated prices paid for imported wheat from the US and Canada. There may be an endless list of gains by using authority, gains in taking over foreign exchange, levying of duties after the Ittefaq Group imports and so on, and of course the prime properties in London and elsewhere.


Maxim Cartoon


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