Category Archives: Contributors

Learning from His Death

This article was published by Pakistan Today on January 11th, 2011. It  highlight the difficulties with which one can proceed on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan!

Salman Taseer will forever remain a hero of mine for the bravery he showed. But those who wish to change the blasphemy law need to adopt a different course of action.

“The Ornament of the World” is a wonderful book written some years ago by Maria Menocal, a professor at Yale University. The title of the book refers to 13th century Cordoba – a city which in those dark ages had libraries with hundreds of thousands of books, more than in all of England, a city in which Muslim, Jew and Christian all lived in the greatest harmony. But as Professor Mendocal notes, even in those days of peace and brotherhood, defamation of the Prophet was regarded as being so completely and utterly unacceptable that death was the only punishment.

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Ansar Abbasi Misleads Public On 18th Amendment

Stumbling across various articles in regards to the newly minted 18th Amendment, I found this particular one rather intriguing.  One of the primary objectives of this blog is to diminish the irrational voices in our society.  We have suffered for far too long at the hands of those who wish to maintain their power and dominance through suppressing others.  Below is an interesting article written by Sibtain Naqvi.

Since the inception of the 18th Amendment, The News has been constantly attacking the newly minted legislation. Being a major publication, it is the paper’s duty to pinpoint the flaws of the legislation and enlighten the public of discrepancies they may find. However, the two main articles that have been published only look to manipulate the public’s perception of the legislation by creating bogus facts or twisting the clauses to misrepresent what has been passed.

In the first article published by The News “PM to stay a puppet”?, Ansar Abbasi suggests that Prime Minister Gilani will still remain a dummy premier, even though he would have amassed all the constitutional powers granted to him. Although the 18th Amendment is a long piece of legislation the important migration of powers from the President to the Prime Minister should not go unnoticed. The President no longer has the authority to dissolve the Parliament or appoint the head of the military. These two powers, previously belonging to President Zardari did not sit well with the “independent” media. From the second Mr. Zardari took his Presidential oath, media personalities constantly lambasted him for retaining such powers. After passing on this authority to the Prime Minister, Ansar Abbasi seems to be dumbfounded.

The author backs up his argument by stating “After the insertion of the 18th Amendment…the PPP-head he can remove the prime minister, get unseated any number of ministers or the members belonging to his party”. He further articulates “there is no more room left for any member to vote according to his or her conscience except at the risk of getting unseated”. Now, to a layperson, such bold statements would truly make our members of government look like lame ducks.

It is the basic art of writing that when one makes an assertion he backs it up with a source. In the 627 word article “PM to stay a puppet”, Ansar Abbasi has not once given a reference from the 18th Amendment. After all, he is making such sweeping statements that the party head can get his politicians removed, I am sure there would be a clause somewhere in the text of the 18th Amendment. Being an amateur journalist, I took the liberty of reading the Constitution of Pakistan and the new legislation.

Article 63A. Disqualification on grounds of defection etc, (1)“If a member of a Parliament Party composed of a single political party in a House

(a) resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party,

(b) votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relation to

i. election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; or
ii. a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or
iii. a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill
he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Party Head may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer.

The “a Constitution (Amendment) Bill” is the only addition to this article in the 18th Amendment. Therefore, in no way have the political Party Head’s received greater power under the new law. If Ansar Abbasi believes that this is the case, I would request him to show me the article or clause by which he made this assumption.

I was going to take the higher route and let this particular Mr. Ansar Abbasi make himself look like a fool, but when he wrote another article today “Convicts can grab top political posts” it was difficult for me to let this article slide. Being fair to the author, this time around he did manage to give a reference to a particular clause in the 18th Amendment from which he drew his assumption. In “Convicts can grab top political posts”, Ansar Abbasi states “The 18th Amendment inserted a new Article 63 (1) (j). This is not true as such clause was already present in the Constitution. Furthermore, clause (j) as quoted by the author is incorrect, it is actually clause (g) to which he should be referring to.

Ansar Abbasi is trying to make the case that due to the addition of the statement “unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release” to Article 63 (1) (g)(h)(i), all convicts will now automatically become office bearers. I would like to reiterate that in order to become any “public –official” one needs to win an election. The power of the vote lies with the people and if the electorate is content on handing a public office to a convict, than that is the democracy. Furthermore, an elected convict could still be challenged under “Article 62 (1) (d) he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions” and Article 62 (1) (f) he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and amen, and there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law”. There are still laws protecting irrational characters from being elected to office. The electorate is a strong minded body and I would ask Ansar Abbasi not to under-estimate the power of the vote.

The purpose of my writing this article is to identify the incorrect and misleading manner by which our reporters have started to pen their assumptions. It is unprofessional and irresponsible for journalists such as Ansar Abbasi to mislead the public by misinforming them of the facts. I should have been studying for my exams instead of writing this article. But since what was written in the newspaper was so outrageous and deceiving, I am going to be getting an earful from my parents about procrastinating on my academics. Thanks a lot The News!

A herd of sheep?

By: Nadeem Paracha

There have been three major occasions when the Pakistani middle-class has broken away from its traditionally conservative disposition to come out and announce its ‘revolutionary’ political aspirations. The first incident of demonstrating political assertiveness was in the late 1960s when the bulk of the youth began to air their grievances against Pakistan’s military-industrialist nexus headed by military dictator, Field Martial Ayub Khan. Continue reading

Zaid Hamid and the strategic depth

By: Farhat Taj

FATA continues to be used and abused as a strategic space by the security establishment of Pakistan in violent pursuit of strategic depth in Afghanistan. In short, strategic depth means Pakistan must have a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan by any and all means. People of FATA have suffered more than people in any other part of Pakistan due to this policy. They dread and hate ‘strategic depth’. Continue reading

Coming full circle

By: Cyril Almeida

A very interesting analysis presented by Almeida in regards to the role of the Pakistan Army.  Many seem to bypass the role this ‘institution’ has played. Don’t get me wrong, the Army has done a tremendous job for Pakistan on various fronts throughout the course of our history.  But it is high time, they share the brunt of our misery today rather than solely blaming the corrupt elite and politicians. Continue reading

Saving Pakistan’s Heartland

By: Ahmed Humayun

In recent weeks, Washington has sptrongly urged Islamabad to expand counterinsurgency in Pakistan’s tribal areas. This encouragement is vital: Despite some military gains, a wide range of militant groups continue to enjoy sanctuary in northwestern Pakistan. At the same time, however, a spate of bloody attacks in major cities — such as a recent assault on a Shiite religious procession in Karachi — has underscored the Taliban’s growing presence beyond the border regions. The United States should not underestimate the strategic importance of countering the Taliban advance into key urban centers. In particular, Washington should increase the attention paid to Islamabad’s civilian counterterrorism efforts in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Continue reading

Has Jinnah’s Pakistan become an intolerant nation?

An interesting take on what we were meant to be and what we have become. Originally posted on New-Pakistan.com

The calamitous reality of the situation can no longer be denied; nor can we hide behind political correctness whilst the ideals and principles Pakistan was founded upon go up in ruins. Pakistan has indeed become a dangerous place for minorities. The Quaid’s nation – which was supposed to be a free and safe haven for all to live in peace – has had blood spilt for decades. Continue reading