My choice today: Thursday 5 June 2008

Research and agriculture

New theatre

Sabiq foji afsaraan…. (Ex-Servicemen’s Association and its intentions)
By: Asadullah Ghalib

Brahmdagh speaks out!

Despite clear signals by the new civilian government in Islamabad that it wants to reconcile with all elements in Balochistan, a decision towards which it has taken concrete steps, the province remains troubled. Speaking to a TV channel on Monday from somewhere in Balochistan, Mr Brahmdagh Bugti, a rebel grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the late chief of the Bugti tribe, declared that the aim of his Baloch followers was now the liberation of Balochistan and repossession of its resources. He denied that he was in India — as reported in the Indian press — to receive financial help from there, but he said that if any foreign help in the shape of weapons was on offer he would gratefully accept it. He seemed to imply that the natural resources found in the areas occupied by the Pakhtuns in Balochistan should belong to them alone. He was however not clear whether the non-Baloch in Balochistan would be treated as minorities under his rule.Mr Bugti accepted responsibility for the recent killing of six cricket-playing youths in Quetta by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) but refused to condemn the act and insisted that the boys were all agents of the ISI. On the other hand, the chief minister of Balochistan, Mr Aslam Raisani, continues to insist that the BLA is not involved in the killings despite its announcement of ownership. From this it is quite clear that the PPP government in Quetta and its counterpart in Islamabad are going to face a lot of hitches in their coming dialogue of reconciliation in Balochistan. Development in Balochistan is crucial and the completion of some of the projects requires quick-paced work. There is also the pressing issue of the IPI which requires that the province remain peaceful. However, if some elements in that province continue to be intransigent, the problems of the PPP government will accentuate because the national security establishment will not see eye to eye with it, given the avowed admission of separatism and terrorism by the BLA. This is not exactly a happy scenario and could force a review of the reconciliation strategy. If that happens, we may well be thrown back to square one. (Daily Times)

Revisiting Kargil

THE timing of former Lt Gen Jamshed Gulzar Kyani’s outburst on the Kargil conflict and other major events that have taken place under Gen Pervez Musharraf’s tenure as the COAS and president is at once remarkable and unsettling. Indeed a probe should be held into Kargil for the military high command allegedly going to war without the approval of the elected government, but if nothing else the motive of the general for speaking up long after retirement when neither his job nor privileges are on the line remain open to question. Why is it that after so many years of Mr Musharraf’s being in power so many ex-servicemen have ganged up on him, as it were? Taking his cue from Gen Kyani, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for an investigation into the Kargil conflict, which is not surprising given his desire to punish President Musharraf for overthrowing his government in October 1999 in the aftermath of the episode. Mr Sharif says he was not ‘fully’ aware of the details of the operation; he stands vindicated by Gen Kyani and feels now is the opportunity to hit back at Mr Musharraf.However, this is at a time when the country is facing a crisis of governance due to the ruling coalition’s differences over the reinstatement of the judges who were sent packing under the Provisional Constitution Order of Nov 3 last year. The PPP has refused to honour its commitment made in the Bhurban Declaration stipulating that the judges be restored through a resolution in parliament followed by an executive order. This exposes the party’s lack of homework on the issue before it signed the declaration. The PML-N has also refused to budge from its position, rejecting the restoration of judges and reforming the judicial system through a wider constitutional package proposed by the PPP. The demand for a probe into Kargil may pressure the PPP but given the tacit US backing of the party, it has sustained such pressure so far.As for the people pinning their hopes on the government while bearing the brunt of issues like food inflation, the energy crisis and terrorism targeting government personnel, foreign missions and ordinary citizens alike, the picture that emerges is not very comforting. Parliament has yet to open the budget debate, Baloch nationalists have yet to be calmed while lawyers threaten to march on the capital to press for the reinstatement of judges. These are some of the challenges that need to be addressed immediately. The people are more interested in getting their pressing issues resolved rather than letting a former general or a politician, howsoever popular, settle a vendetta, as Mr Sharif’s demand for a Kargil probe may well be seen at this time. (Daily Dawn)