Learning Lessons, Moving On

From the very first, the controversy begun by news reports that the government was secretly planning to withdraw the reinstatement of judges was a bit ridiculous. At this point, though, the non-story has become simply a waste of everyone’s time. Now that Prime Minister Gilani has publicly and nationally addressed the controversy and assured that the government has no intention of sacking the judges, it’s time to take our lessons and move on.

From the very beginning, the story was a bit silly. Whatever you think about Zardari’s political mistakes, it’s hard to imagine that he would do something so obviously self-destructive as sacking the Supreme Court. If the PPP thinks they are getting attacked now, the result of sacking the judiciary would be nuclear annihilation in comparison.

There are some important lessons to take as we move on from this fiasco, though, and Dawn does a good job of pointing them out:

There are, however, clear lessons to be drawn from the latest near-upheaval in the country, if such incidents are to be avoided. First of all, the media regulators, industry-run and public, need to conduct a thorough inquiry into the events leading up to certain news channels airing the de-notification claim. The results of the inquiries should be made public, not just to ascertain what happened that fateful evening, but to prevent recurrences. The media — which now appears able to wield political power of its own — must open itself up to fair and proper scrutiny.

Next, the superior judiciary must reflect on behaviour unbecoming for an institution which is supposed to be cloaked in an air of calm and dispassion. Flip through news channels day or night and one is likely to find some outrageous news or the other that is soon either denied officially or quietly taken off the airwaves. Anything is possible in Pakistan, but some things are less likely than others. A judiciary which even a military dictator could not sack is unlikely to be undone by a weak political government saddled with fractious coalition partners and surrounded by opponents. Politics does not happen in a vacuum.

Finally, the PPP-led government. Its bona fides would not be so casually suspected if it were serious about governance and developed a reputation for smart but fair play. The party may feel aggrieved, but that is part of the reason a media rumour can instantaneously turn into political ‘fact’ in the minds of many.

This is good advice to all the players involved. We’re still suffering from the psychological scars of the past, but we must work together to move forward. Rather than treating everyone with suspicion and jumping immediately to wild accusations, let’s inject a bit of civility into the political discourse, shall we?

Revitalizing the NWFP

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the comprehensive NWFP aid package will be a tremendous help to the troubled region.

 

Pakistanis have watched in agony as the NWFP and nearby areas have been ravaged with violence and terrorism. The government hopes that this thorough aid program will enable federal and local authorities to revitalize the economy and strengthen ties with minorities in the regions as well. Prime Minister Gilani stressed this package was a direct result of careful analysis, thoughtful research and democratic government.

 

Pakistanis everywhere can be proud of the Zardari administration’s initiative in this region sadly ignored by previous leaders. Not only do we see military intervention trying to defeat the militants, we see leaders who want to build up the local economies for the long-term future.

 

Inshallah these initiatives will succeed and we can one day see a strong NWFP.

Taliban are losing and they know it

On Monday, Al Jazeera reported a spokesman for the Tehrik-I-Taliban claimed responsibility for only some of the devastating bombings in Pakistan, laying the blame for over a hundred deaths on President Zardari‘s political party, the intelligence agencies and Blackwater.

In the midst of the ridiculousness of the claim lies a silent hope for the future. What we are seeing is an extremist lashing out at the federal government, the ISI and any foreign group he can think of. His argument proves the Taliban are indeed at their wits’ end.

As they should be.

Soldiers have advanced faster than expected in this month-long offensive, with many of the main roads and bases seized immediately. Local villages and towns have been cleared, with the federal government deploying food, clothing, shelter to the displaced persons.

According to chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, “After taking complete control of the roads and the tracks, we are going to chase them in the forested areas, wherever they are hiding in the countryside.” So far, the army estimates 500 militants have been killed.
Brigadier Mohammad Shafiq praised the hard work, tenacity and determination of his soldiers. By cutting off vital roads, the army forced the militants into their defenses and steadily captured strongholds throughout the region.

Prime Mininster Yusuf Raza Gilani expressed hopes the offensive would be over ahead of schedule and civilians would be allowed to return home soon after.

With Waziristan under control, Pakistan will then be able to help Afghanistan cope with its extremists — a plan President Obama has often mentioned.

The Zardari administration’s  results-oriented approach is bearing fruit. The fact that we are seeing the Taliban come out swinging in every direction is a sign they are desperate and aware they are losing.