The minus one formula or the minus Pakistan formula?

gditpp said:

Though Ayaz Amir is a PMLN parlimentarian yet he is full balance and common sense. It is perhaps the precise reason you rarely find him on this show. He never agrees with Shahid Masood’s convulated, revengful and doomsday analysis. Dr Shahid has turned into a classic case of “Obsessive compulsive neurosis”- doctor its high time heal thyself or atleast consult some real doctor

Shahid’s permenant panel of ANALISTS only include right wing reactionaries like Hamid Gul, Roeedad khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Qazi Hussain, Aslam Beg, Asad Durrani Mushahid Hussain, Imran Khan, Irfan Sidiqqi and nicely named by notorius Saleh ZAFART. This is a show totally devoid of balance and equilibrium. It completely paints propagandist, one sided picture. Hardly objective journalism!

Following is a good analysis by Ayaz Amir on the two of Shahid’s most cherished issues: Article 6 for Musharraf and NRO and fate of Zardari.

Growing up, and acquiring new habits, takes time
Friday, August 21, 2009
By Ayaz Amir

If we see the political class floundering and taking false steps, if we see political gurus who have been in politics for a long time — and who perhaps for that reason are unable to free themselves from the clutches of the past — fighting yesterday’s battles, we should neither be surprised nor dismayed. Old mindsets are hard to conquer. The past is comfortable territory. Stepping into the future needs a new kind of mental equipment.

We are not the only country in the world with a history of military coups. Authoritarianism has had strong roots and a more pervasive presence in societies more sophisticated than ours. Spain had Franco ruling for decades. Salazar in Portugal ruled even longer than Franco. Greece in the 1960s was under a brutal military dictatorship. In all three countries democracy has established itself in such a way that it takes an effort of the imagination to remember their past.

The journey from national darkness to light is never easy. To succeed it needs farsighted leaders: pilots who can negotiate narrow straits and treacherous shores. Spain, Portugal and Greece had such leaders. We are in a similar transition and, as is only natural, having a rough passage as we transit from dictatorship to democracy. But whatever our difficulties, we should remember that voyages such as ours, on rolling seas, are never smooth.

We shouldn’t be such simpletons as to think that powerful quarters with a vested interest in authoritarianism would reconcile themselves to democracy so soon. Such elements will always conspire against democracy, always insidiously whisper that the Pakistani political class is irredeemably corrupt and incompetent. And there will always be sections of the media, and a section of the political class, willing to play into the hands of such elements.

There is nothing new about corruption in Pakistan. Pakistan’s dominant classes — political, military and bureaucratic — are all bathed in the same waters, drinking from the same stream, supping at the same table. About military and bureaucratic corruption what we usually encounter is the silence of the lambs. But let politicians come to power — Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari or Yusuf Raza Gilani — and we hear the roar of the lions.

Which is not to say that our politicians couldn’t do better. In a milieu such as ours they are, like Caesar’s wife, under a double obligation to be above suspicion and not give cause to slanderous tongues to wag. Spain, Portugal and Greece had a better cast of democratic leaders than we can lay claim to. Even so, some balance has to be kept if we wish to preserve the large scheme of things.

By all means excoriate the corrupt and inept politician. Hold him to a higher level of conduct. But do so in good faith, without falling into the trap of elements whose goal is not the good of the nation but their own good: individual interest overriding the collective interest, in the name of the smoothest promises.

And it is not only the political class or its leaders who are stuck in the past, fighting yesterday’s battles, flailing mightily at dead horses. Much of the national commentariat — pundits, analysts, and TV stars — are afflicted with the same syndrome, more at ease with familiar categories than with the agenda of the future. Why are some of our TV channels so mesmerized with such certified political comics as Shaikh Rashid Ahmad? Politics should rise above the level of buffoonery, even if the buffoonery is carried on with a serious face.

Why has a section of the commentariat honed such an expertise for kicking dead horses? Why do they go on and on about dead issues? They are not to blame. Walking old trails is easier than charting new territory.

Musharraf was swept aside by circumstances. History overtook him somewhere in 2006-2007 and then left him far behind. His exit was long drawn out but it was foretold. He is yesterday’s man. Why is a section of the political class so bent on keeping his memory alive?

Other countries have gone through worse dictatorships. South Africa’s past was more brutal and repressive than ours. But when white rule ended and the ANC came to power, South Africa, under Nelson Mandela’s inspiring leadership, drew a line under the past and moved swiftly beyond it. The country has huge problems, social and economic, but it is trying to grapple with them as best as it can, instead of shouting endlessly about the evils of white rule which, in the circumstances, would be little better than escapism.

The history of military coups in Pakistan will not end with political gimmickry or rhetoric. It will only end when politicians can prove by their competence and understanding of things that they are superior to any alternative. But if they are caught in petty squabbles, if the quality of their discourse is not uplifting, and if, on the other hand, the military remains a powerful and disciplined institution, no Article Six of the Constitution can be a sufficient safeguard of democracy.

The question of Musharraf’s trial has proved a nine-days’ wonder, PM Gilani neatly stepping out of this complication by declaring that as he was a consensus prime minister he would only go for a trial if there was a consensus of the entire National Assembly behind the move. With the National Assembly divided on this issue it is now as good as dead, which is some embarrassment for those crying, so to speak, for Musharraf’s blood. Gilani’s further admonition that we should do only that which is doable amounts to rubbing salt into this discomfiture.

Gilani is proving a more adept politician than most people gave him credit for when he became prime minister. He is cool and unflappable and measures his words carefully. As a self-proclaimed consensus prime minister he is proving true to the description by tending to the legitimate concerns of everyone — repeat, everyone — in the National Assembly. For this reason it is scarcely surprising that he enjoys enormous goodwill across the house, regardless of party affiliations, which is a feat unrivalled in the parliamentary history of this country.

Reports of his differences with President Asif Zardari are exaggerated. Insofar as he is more his own man than when he was picked as prime minister, some friction between his office and the presidency is inevitable. Chairmen of the board and chief executive officers always have their differences: two swords in one scabbard, etc. But this doesn’t amount to a revolt or anything like it. Gilani’s only political home and base is the PPP, without which he would be out in the wilderness. And he knows it, or should.

For reasons we are all familiar with, Zardari is a divisive figure. While inspiring loyalty among his close friends he doesn’t have much of a reputation (except for things he would gladly forget) as far as the public is concerned. The unifying figure is Gilani and when the succession in the PPP finally takes place, the torch passing from Zardari to Bilawal, Gilani will have played a role in this process. Gilani as keeper of the PPP flame: whoever could have thought it possible a year and a half ago?

The minus-one formula is less formula than fantasy, the wish to see Zardari put on a flying suit and disappear from the presidency. It is not going to happen. Indeed, there is no way to make this happen short of an intervention by Triple One Brigade. And if those trucks ever roll we can all go to the mountains and seek nirvana there. So whether anyone likes it or not, if we want to preserve democracy the first requirement is to abide Zardari. Admittedly a tough choice but then who said life was easy?

The times are critical. We are slowly stepping out of the wreckage of the Musharraf era. Amongst other things, the Taliban are on the run, for which we owe our soldiers our deepest thanks. They have performed splendidly, redeeming the army’s reputation tarnished by Musharraf’s many follies and blunders. At this of all junctures we can afford no disruption in our national life.

The people of Pakistan paid no heed to the gloom pundits on Aug 14. It was a joy to see them celebrate. We should take heed from the people and leave the pundits to their devices.



Jamaat-e-Islami delegation meets Holbrooke

The News

By Muhammad Anis

ISLAMABAD: A Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) delegation in a meeting with US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke on Tuesday conveyed the party’s concerns over the expansion in the US embassy in Islamabad and the drone attacks, besides raising the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s detention. The delegation comprising JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch and Naib Ameer Dr Muhammad Kamal met the US special envoy at the US Embassy. The JI delegation was invited by the US Embassy for the meeting, which continued for over 90 minutes. The US envoy and over a dozen other officials were also present on the occasion. The JI team also handed over a document to the US official containing their stance on US policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (The News)

U.S. special envoy meets Pakistan’s army chief

The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, Tuesday met Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army said.

The visiting senior diplomat remained with the Chief of Army Staff for some time and discussed matters of mutual interest, an army statement said.

No other details of discussions were given in the brief statement.

Earlier local TV channels reported that the U.S. envoy also met chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Holbrooke arrived in Islamabad on Saturday for a four-day visit and has met Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and held talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

He also met former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and chief of main Islamic group Jamiat ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman. He is scheduled to meet a delegation of Jamaat-e-Islami and several other political leaders, according to diplomatic sources.

Holbrooke, a frequent visitor of Pakistan, praised Pakistan’s success against Taliban militants in parts of the northwest.