Dr Reeza Hameed: Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot become Prime Minister

The question whether ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa is eligible to be appointed to the Prime Minister’s post if he has the support of a majority of members in Parliament following the August 17 poll is the subject of current debate. President Sirisena has made public his intention not to appoint Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister and has hinted that ‘there are enough seniors in the party to be the Prime Minister’. There are some within the UPFA who want Rajapaksa as their Prime Minister in the event of a UPFA majority in Parliament. A.H.M. Fowzie, for instance, has acknowledged that the appointment of the Prime Minister is the prerogative right of the President but that, after the elections are over, the UPFA ‘will prevail upon President Sirisena to accommodate Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister’.

Another UPFA candidate has threatened to do a Dahanayake and run around with the mace if Mahinda Rajapaksa is ignored for the post. G.L. Peiris has weighed in to say that nowhere in the constitution is it stated that a former President cannot become Prime Minister. The President, he said, must appoint as Prime Minister the member who commands the support of a majority of parliamentarians, and he must appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa if he happened to be that person. Former Chief Justice Sarath Silva has declared as untenable the argument that Rajapaksa is disqualified from acting as President simply because he has already been elected twice as President. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Discussion, Dr Reeza Hameed, Pakistan Horizon, Sri Lanka

War on Terror and Post-Operation Measures in FATA

Rampaging terrorism and bubbling militancy have menacingly plagued Pakistan since 2001. Parliamentary Secretary of Interior, Mariyam Aurangzeb, explained on 5 December 2014 that more than 50,000 people including army, police, and civilians had lost their lives in the war on terror, and the country had also lost 80 billion US dollars in this war. Before the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb, the government was sincerely immersed in perusing peace talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) leadership but then out of the blue seven gunmen affiliated with the TTP conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December 2014 killing 145 people, including 132 school children aged between eight and eighteen years.

At that critical juncture, both the civilian and military leadership agreed to vigorously conduct a counter-terrorism and counter-militancy operation against terrorists aimed at permanently flushing out terrorists of all strides particularly the outlawed TTP. The first year of the operation was completed on June 15, in which Pakistani security forces cleared the North Waziristan tribal areas. According to Inter Services Public Relations Director General, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, since the launch of the operation 2,763 terrorists had been killed and 837 of their hideouts had been destroyed (with 253 tonnes of explosives recovered). On the other hand, 347 army officers and soldiers were martyred in the operation. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Constitution 1973, Courts, CPEC, Discussion, Legislation, Peace building, Women

Jinnah and his young admirers

Jinnah could be kind to children. His reserved nature probably prevented him from making physical gestures of warmth and his affection may have been imbued with sternness. That he was devoted to his daughter, Dina, is borne out in all accounts of his life. She grew up in his homes in London and Bombay where she spent time also with her mother’s family, particularly with her indulgent grandmother. Jinnah denied Dina nothing, just as he had denied nothing to his wife, Ruttie. In London, she would coax him away from his briefs and persuade him to take her to pantomimes. She would lovingly address him as ‘Grey Wolf’ after the biography of Kemal Ataturk which he had urged her to read.

Despite his unhappiness with her marriage to a Christian, the bond between them remained strong. In her letters to Jinnah, written on the eve of Partition, Dina addresses her father as ‘Darling Papa’. The contents of the letters, apart from her concern about the sale of South Court as his house on Malabar Hill was known, are full of mundane matters which she apparently felt confident enough to write about. There is no record of how frequently she and her children met him as he fought for time, grappling with his frequent ‘breakdowns’ and ‘self-imposed’ burden of work. Jahanara Shahnawaz recalled, however, how Jinnah was the heart and soul of one of her parties, regaling the guests with stories about his grandsons. The Raja of Mahmudabad first met Jinnah as a child when he and Ruttie stopped at Qaiser Bagh during their honeymoon. Continue reading

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FCO: General Election 2015 does not impact historic UK-Pakistan ties

On 11 June 2015, His Excellency Mr. Philip Barton, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, addressed PIIA members on “UK-Pakistan Relations after the UK Elections

There will not be significant changes in the overall relationship between the United Kingdom and Pakistan after the recent General Election in Britain, said H.E. Philip Barton, the British High Commissioner. The high-ranking western diplomat articulated his thoughts at a talk he gave at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Thursday evening. He said even though now there was a different government in power in the UK the prime minister and top four senior ministers remain unchanged. “The two governments know each other well. They have a mature relationship allowing genuine partnership and where there are issues in which they differ with each other, they can discuss it without being rankled.”

He spelled out the six areas which he and his team would be focusing on during his tenure in Pakistan: furthering of business relationship between UK and Pakistan, access to EU markets, increasing the tax revenue base, regional relationships, development and security. Continued efforts will be made in making both the countries prosperous, said Mr Barton while speaking on commercial relations between Britain and Pakistan. “We are promoting Pakistani companies to the British ones, finding ways of doing business with ease. Retail sector will see a potential increase as more British brands coming into Pakistan. Information technology is another area will there be a potential increase both ways.” Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Europe, FCO, Immigration, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics

Cheers for the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Women’s Movement

It was a landmark decision which brought both joy and tears of emotion to the eyes of those who have long struggled for women’s rights in Pakistan. In a short order, on 2 June 2015, a full bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan declared null and void the by-election held in PK 95, Lower Dir II, on grounds of the disenfranchisement of women in that constituency. A re-polling will take place. It seems forever now that women have been barred from casting their votes in some parts of Pakistan. Over the years, women have not only participated defiantly and vibrantly in elections at all levels, they have also reached the highest level of representation in the houses of parliament both on reserved seats and general seats. But some areas have kept their women indoors on every election day.

It has been customary for political parties operating in these areas to arrive at prior agreements among themselves that women would not be allowed to cast their votes. This includes conservative and religious parties as well as the so-called ‘secular’ parties. It seems that custom and patriarchical tyranny has always prevailed over the agendas of ‘progressive’ parties. The agreements are verbal but have often been reduced to writing as they were in this case. Aurat Foundation has worked for the participation of women in politics at all levels. It has facilitated the participation of women in local, provincial and national elections by getting their national identity cards made Continue reading

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Filed under Aurat Foundation, Constitution 1973, Courts, Discussion, Pakistan, Women

Sarwar Hasan: The Library and the Research Worker

PIIA’s founder Barrister Sarwar Hasan thought that the test of a real scholar is whether he has been published by a publisher of world repute.

khwaja-sarwar-hasanIt has been said of the great Arab historian, Tabari, that he wrote forty pages a day for forty years. Edward Gibbon took fifteen years to write the eight volumes of his famous book, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. We have taken these two examples of writers of multi-volume works for the reason that, while they belong to two different cultures and periods, the nature of their effort was the same. Undoubtedly it was in both cases a purely personal effort. The material which they drew upon for their books was also self-collected. And, of course, their purpose was not monetary gain. They were motivated by a passion for enquiry and zeal for making available to others the knowledge which they themselves were deeply interested in acquiring. The times in which Tabari or Gibbon wrote were more spacious than present. There was then more leisure than there is today and practically no competition.

The problem of earning a livelihood to maintain oneself and one’s family was also not so acute. Thus it was that men of learning read books which they themselves collected or books to which they had access in private collections or such public libraries as then existed. They were research workers who fended for themselves. Circumstances have now changed. The research worker of today is not a man of leisure. He has generally to earn his living by his writing. He has to work under severe pressure of time. He knows that he has competitors in the field and must finish his work before his rival does. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Sarwar Hasan

CPEC: Ambassador Masood Khan Addresses PIIA Members

Balochistan will be main beneficiary of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a single road. Instead, it is a network of opportunity which will spur the growth of industrial zones supported by energy plants, connecting Kashgar in China to Gwadar. Balochistan should be the primary beneficiary of the project. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also benefit from it as there is no discrimination against any province. These were some of the points canvassed by Masood Khan, Director-General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and Pakistan’s former permanent representative to the United Nations in a lecture titled ‘Pakistan: security challenges and opportunities’ in the library of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday.

Before his talk, Mr Khan expressed his sadness at the tragedy that had taken place in the city in the morning in which 43 members of the Ismaili community were murdered in a bus. He termed the dastardly act “a sad day in our history”. Mr Khan commenced his lecture by focusing on national security underlining four important things — ideology of Pakistan, sovereignty and territorial integrity, social and economic development and development of democracy. Drawing parameters for that he said, “national security is human security,” a synthesis of aspirations and intentions of the people of Pakistan where “people are the centre”. National security, he said, depended upon internal and external environments.

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Filed under Afghanistan, China, CPEC, Discussion, Energy, Events, India