Saturday, September 30, 2006
The Pakistani government has committed numerous human rights violations as a result of its cooperation in the US-led "war on terror". Hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained. Many have been subjected to enforced disappearance - held secretly, incommunicado and in undisclosed locations, with the government refusing to provide information about their fate and whereabouts. Many have been tortured or ill-treated. Their families, distressed about lack of information about fate or whereabouts of their loved ones, have been harassed and threatened when seeking information. The right to habeas corpus has been systematically undermined: state agents have refused to comply with court directions to provide information about the whereabouts of detainees or have denied any knowledge in court. Many detainees have been unlawfully transferred to the custody of other countries, notably the USA.
In May 2006, Pakistan was elected to the newly established UN Human Rights Council which, in June, unanimously adopted the draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The draft Convention bans enforced disappearances and declares widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearances a crime against humanity. Amnesty International calls on the Pakistani government to uphold the standard that it has contributed to developing.
On the capture and incarceration of children:
Several children of varying ages have been detained in the "war on terror" and denied necessary safeguards contained in international and national law. Some were arrested alongside their adult relatives, some were themselves alleged to be terror suspects and some were held as hostages to make relatives give themselves up or confess.When Tanzanian terror suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was arrested in Gujrat, Punjab province on 25 July 2004, three women and five children were also arrested. They reportedly included a baby and a 13-year-old Saudi boy, Talha. Nothing is known about the fate and whereabouts of the women and children.
The secrecy surrounding the detention of terror suspects provides conditions in which torture and ill-treatment flourish. Forms of torture reported by detainees include: being beaten; being hung upside down and beaten, including on the soles of the feet; sleep and food deprivation; hooding; prolonged solitary confinement; and threats to the detainee and their families. These methods are often used in combination. Torture was reportedly inflicted in many places of detention; some former detainees reported seeing rooms apparently specifically set up for torture.
On enforced disappearances:
Hundreds of people have been subjected to enforced disappearance since Pakistan joined the "war on terror" in late 2001. The government has failed to acknowledge that enforced disappearances have occurred. In habeas corpus proceedings before provincial high courts, state representatives have consistently denied knowledge of the fate and whereabouts of detainees, despite eyewitness accounts of arrests and even in cases where the individuals have subsequently reappeared.
On ineffective remedies:
Ineffective remedies Relatives of persons subjected to enforced disappearance can either file a complaint with the police, who are then obliged to investigate, or assert their right to habeas corpus by filing petitions in provincial high courts. In the context of Pakistan’s cooperation with the "war on terror", both options have proved ineffective in tackling the violations. Many relatives have turned to informal mechanisms for tracing victims of enforced disappearances, usually without success.Police have in virtually all the cases monitored by Amnesty International refused to register First Information Reports (FIR) on the basis of which a police investigation begins. In some cases police have said that they have no competence to do so as the individuals were reportedly captured by intelligence agencies.
On extrajudicial killings:
Amnesty International is also concerned that the clandestine nature of the conduct of the "war on terror", particularly in the tribal areas of Pakistan, may conceal widespread and systematic human rights violations. In particular, the organization is concerned about reports that Pakistani and US law enforcement and security forces may have used force, including lethal force, unnecessarily and excessively, and have extrajudicially executed a number of individuals, some suspected of links with al Qa’ida and others unconnected with any terrorist activities. Under international law, extrajudicial executions are prohibited at all times. In none of the cases reported do Pakistani or US forces appear to have made any attempt to arrest the suspects before using lethal force.
The comment was a clarificiation - or obfuscation? - of Musharraf's claim, in his own memoir no less, that Pakistan received payments from the American government for delivering captured terrorists.
Pakistanism No. 1
Thursday, September 28, 2006
After making a show of serving Musharraf jasmine tea and twinkies, Stewart tried to blindside Musharraf by asking, 'Where is Osama bin Laden?' A relaxed Musharraf replied, 'I don't know. You know where he is? You lead on, we'll follow you.'
And at the end of the interview Musharraf drew a roar of laughter from the audience. When asked by Stewart who, between Osama and George Bush, would win the popular vote in Pakistan, Musharraf mischievously responded, 'I think they'll both lose miserably.' Musharraf was so pleased with his joke that he threw his head back and giggled like a schoolboy, failing to notice the extended hand of Stewart's for a few seconds.
If only the general could remember his sense of humour while dealing with his own countrymen.
Monday, September 25, 2006
| Cyril Almeida || |
Daily Times and other newspapers received a clarification from Transparency International Pakistan itself, expressing exactly the same opinion on the interpretation of the NCPS 2006. What was Daily Time's reaction? A preposterous editorial suggesting that dark powers were at work to force TI to contradict the findings of it's own survey.
Two questions arise. Why should the TI office in Islamabad rise in defence of the present regime by trying to obfuscate the conclusions of its own survey? More intriguingly, why didn’t any of the other newspapers of Pakistan carry the results of the survey like we did even though they were quick to carry the clarification? Something is clearly rotten somewhere. Did this government lean on the local office of TI to issue a pathetic clarification? Does TI’s head-office know about this and approve of it? Did this government lean on the other papers not to carry the original story because it was so embarrassing?
No, sir. You, the editors of the Daily Times, got it wrong on the first instance, and now are compounding the original error with chutzpah unbecoming of a serious news organisation. Shame on you, Daily Times!
To recapitulate the disputed aspect of the NCPS 2006:
Respondents were asked two separate questions : firstly, of the four civilian governments since the late-80s which was the most corrupt? And secondly, which of the pre- and post- election Musharraf governments has been more corrupt?
So when the Daily Times wrote in its latest editorial "(the statistics) prove one evident comparative fact. On both counts of first and second term, more Pakistanis thought the Musharraf regime to be corrupt than did those for the Bhutto and Sharif governments" the newspaper itself is guilty of obfuscation. Of course, in absolute terms more Pakistanis would think either of the Musharraf governments were more than the four civilian governments. When given four options the statistical spread is likely to be greater than when given only two. The Daily Times has fallen into the age-old trap of comparing oranges and apples.
Earlier in his American trip, Gen. Musharraf dismissed fears of domestic instability and boasted to journalists:
“The fact that I am roaming around shows how confident and relaxed I am,” he said, adding that there was no problem in Pakistan. “This is my longest trip and it shows my confidence.”
Musharraf may want to take note; his countrymen don't share his optimism.
The strategy provides (i) reforms in education with changes in curricula (ii) elimination of use of religious places for extremism (iii) stoppage of publication of hate material (iv) dissemination of knowledge (v) reduction of poverty and (vi) effective check on the activities of disgruntled elements.
Reforms in education - anyone recently hear of news on the government's plan to register madressahs? No, apparently not. Dissemination of knowledge - more like dissembling; read Dawn's editorial on education in Pakistan. Reduction of poverty - when the government isn't fudging numbers, it's strategy to reduce poverty is being knocked by international organisations. As for the disgruntled elements - appeasement of the Taliban in Waziristan and crushing the Baluch will only effectively ensure more problems down the road.
Musharraf also referred to the most urgent matter for citizens, inflation:
Musharraf acknowledged that the prices of essential commodities have increased in the recent months. “This is because of the demand and supply situation where the former has increased due to the overall development of the country,” he added. “The government is working on a mechanism to tackle the spiraling prices.”
Curiously when talking about supply and demand, he made more mention of the former. Undoubtedly referring to supply issues would have raised awkward questions regarding the sugar scam.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The worrying trend in
A worsening trade gap leads to downward pressure on the rupee because Pakistani importers will require more US dollars to pay for the higher levels of imports, rendering dollars dearer in the local market. In principle the higher demand for foreign currency can be met in one of two ways: one, an inflow of foreign currency into
The first, inflow from abroad, route, while preferable, is unadvisable or problematic, especially keeping in view the rapid deterioration of the trade balance. The inflow of currency can be achieved in several ways: an increase in foreign investment; increased remittances; foreign aid and/or loans; and an increase in exports. Other than resorting to foreign loans – the least desirable option – the other avenues cannot be short term solutions. Foreign investment will not experience a steep increase so long as the country’s political climate and law and order situation remain volatile and infrastructure bottlenecks persist. The flow of foreign remittances is already considered to be near its potential following the post-9/11 crackdown on alternative, non-official channels.
Enhancing exports may be the most economically sound course of action; however,
A depreciation of the rupee may provide a small, short-term boost to the competitiveness of
The second route that
The conclusion then is that the current level of imports is unsustainable. Tightening fiscal and monetary policy can help reduce the demand for imports by reducing aggregate demand. However, as sustained, high growth rates are vital for
The starting point for identifying possible cutbacks in the country’s import bill must be petroleum products, the single largest imported commodity according to the FBS. In July 2006 the import of the petroleum group of commodities rose by 43.73% as compared to July 2005 to Rs. 43.717 billion. With few economists forecasting a significant reduction in oil prices over the next few years,
July 2006 also saw Rs. 2.269 billion spent on the import of foreign assembled cars. In light of the required belt tightening this is an unwarranted expense. However, it should be noted that were such a cutback established a caveat must be better regulation of the local car industry in order to prevent local manufacturers from exploiting consumers.
The FBS also indicates that in July 2006 Rs. 3.746 billion worth of sugar was imported – an increase of 293.49% over July 2005. While the government continues to prevaricate over the sugar crisis and refuses to launch an independent and transparent investigation of the sugar cartel, the real need for such quantities of imported sugar cannot be established. Clean governance may directly help reduce the country’s import bill in this instance.
Beyond these areas the opportunities for targeted import reductions are limited, suggesting grim choices lie in the months ahead. Macroeconomic measures to reduce imports across the board will hurt economic growth, but so will the alternative of financing the import binge. The present government is truly caught between a rock and a hard place, but it is a situation of its own making; the economic cul-de-sac the government finds itself in is a logical and predictable outcome of its economic policies since 1999.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
From the National Corruption Perception Survey 2006:
Comparative assessment about the previous of government of Ms.Benazir , Mr.Nawaz
Sharif, the first phase of each one has been rated as less corrupt than second phase. In
case of General Pervaiz Musharaf the 1st period (without assemblies) is cleaner than
the 2nd period (with assemblies), and the corruption has been linked with inflation,
unemployment, Power shortage, ris ing trend of street crimes.
Click here for the main page of Transparency Internatinal's Pakistan site.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The HRCP's endorsement of a strike was contrary to its purpose and seemingly undermined the tremendous work carried out over the years. I e-mailed Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of the HRCP, requesting her to explain the HRCP's position. Below are excerpts from the correspondence:
| Cyril Almeida || |
To: Cyril Almeida
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Cue the beards to denounce women, freedom, sex, and all-around depravity of modernity.
Update (Sept. 6): Government reaction
“In Pakistani culture, there is a tradition of cattle shows only, whereas women are connected with respect and honour of the family,” an official told The News in a bid to distance itself from the bikini contest.