Original Articles

Pakistan Democracy Review 2009 – by Humza Ikram

In this article, Humza Ikram offers a comprehensive review of the performance of the PPP government in 2009.


OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)

In January 2009, BISP was officially  launched after its form   distribution  took place in 2008.

In financial year 2008-09  government announced income support program which was named after the PPP’s late chairperson Benazir Bhutto.  Late BB included the income support program in PPP’s 2008 election manifesto after going through a series of consultation meetings with renowned economist Dr Qaiser Bengali in order to immediately cater the poorest section of the society. The distribution of forms took place through the elected representatives of the parliament in autumn 2008.

MARCH  2009

Senate Election 2009

In March senate election took place .It was a historic election in many regards.It was the first election of its kind in Pakistan where the senators were named after passing resolutions in the  provincial assembly and thus ended the practice of selling votes and floor crossing .and for the first time we saw  central  government didn’t indulge in buying the votes of the  provincial  MP.

It was an election first of its kind where ruling part PPP gave the senate seats to Baloch nationalist who didn’t participated in general election 2008. Hasil Bizenjo of National Party was elected  to the Senate of Pakistan.  It was an historic election since it was 30 years since PPP got majority in Senate of Pakistan as two previous government of BB were dismissed days before the senate elections.


APRIL 2009


A Ministerial meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan was held in Tokyo on 17 April 2009 under the chairmanship of the President of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. (more)

MAY 2009


After fifteen years of negotiations over the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, Pakistan and Iran have finally signed the initial agreement in Tehran this may.

The project termed as ‘Peace Pipeline’ by the officials of both the countries has been inked by President Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on the sidelines of the tripartite summit on Afghanistan security.

Successful Malakand Operation

Military offensive was launched in Malakand ,Swat,Dir and Buner in may after the failed peace talk with Taliban and Maualana Sufi Muhammad. Even after government promulgated Nizam-e-Adal ordinance ,militant didn’t stop their activities and were threating to capture Islamabad.

million people were displaced from their homes but after going to terrible summer all the IDP’s reached back to  their homes before the monsoon.

JULY 2009


President Asif Ali Zardari  lead Pakistan in an all important first ever Pakistan-EU summit aimed at boosting ties with the European community.

“The European Union has for the first time realized the importance of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and the Pakistan-EU summit has mainly been made possible due to the democratic set up in the country,” Pakistan ambassador Shafkat Saeed said in an interview.

Sharam El Sheikh: Beginning of a bilateral ties

SHam El Sheikh


Fata reforms unveiled.

President Asif Ali Zardari announced on  political, judicial and administrative reforms for the tribal areas, allowing political activities in Fata, setting up an appellate tribunal, curtailing arbitrary powers of political agents, giving people right to appeal and bail, excluding women and children from the territorial responsibility clause and envisaging audit of accounts by the auditor general.


Pakistan-Iran-Turkey freight beigns trial run


The trial operation of a freight train service connecting the Pakistani and Turkish capitals via Iran has begun.

The 6,500-kilometer railroad is the first project run under the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani inaugurated the project on Friday while representatives from ECO as well as Iran and Turkey were also present.


Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued a landmark proclamation on August 29 joining his voice with those of more than 1.5 million people of Gilgit-Baltistan for self-rule, which they have been yearning for six decades.

The people of this hitherto Federally Administered Northern Areas through this act will virtually have a de-facto province enjoying political, administrative and financial rights, with constitutional and legal guarantees with the appointment of governor, chief minister and a judicature.

Besides, a 33-member Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has also been ordered in place; 24 of the members are to be elected directly on a party-based poll, while six seats have been reserved for women and three for technocrats in the assembly, which will have its own Rules of Business.


The new legislative assembly has been empowered to enact laws on 61 subjects. The ‘province’ will also have a six-member cabinet that will have the power of making and approving its annual budget. Steps have also been taken to give constitutional and legal cover to the new province.



The federal government has tabled the long-awaited Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package based on 39 points at a joint sitting of parliament. Package prepared by committee headed by Senator Raza Rabbani proposed the facilitation of the return of political exiles, the immediate release of political workers and negotiation with all stakeholders in the province. Package prepared in four categories: constitutional, political, administrative and economic mechanism recommends setting up of a fact-finding commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a judicial inquiry into the killing of three Baloch nationalist leaders, no construction of cantonments in Sui and Kohlu, withdrawing the armed forces from these areas. Terming it a positive move political Pandits are of the view that Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package will help address grievances of the people of Balochistan. The PPP government started working on the package as soon as it assumed office, with a view to provide relief to the Baloch people. Balochistan package is a historic step, which will help end the feeling of deprivation among the people of the province The package was the right step towards addressing the issues of the Baloch people.

DEC 2009


The 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) award were finally decided in December. A consensus was reached among Center and provinces ,and between four provinces. Center decided to give provinces 56-58.5 % from the divisible pool and giving back provinces the right to collect the sales tax. and another landmark achievement of this award was mulitple crtieria horizontal distribution based on population 82% ,revenue 5%, backwardness&poverty10.3% ,inverse Population Density (IPD) 2.7 %.

The final percentage share of the provinces decided under NFC was as under: Punjab 51 per cent, Sindh 24 per cent, NWFP 14 per cent and Balochistan would be given 9.9 per cent share of the NFC, according to agreed formula.

As a gesture of support by all provinces and the federal government 1 per cent of the total divisible pool has been earmarked for the NWFP as additional sources for war on terror during the Award period.

Related :Pakistan Democracy Review 2009 -by Humza Ikram

Pakistan Democracy Review 2010

Did PPP implement its vision of Roti, Kapra, Makan? – by Raja Asad Abbas

Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme – by Saad Hassan

Stellar yet sadly affronted accomplishments of PPP Government – by Dr. Zaeem Zia

Some Unforgiven Crimes of Asif Ali Zardari -by Raja M Asad Abbas

‘Gift of Life’: An important step for the lives of millions of Pakistanis – by Hafsa Khawaja

Why the PPP government is good for Pakistan – by Fauzia Wahab

Benazir Model Village – Sinawan – Splendid execution

The politically asexual ‘good governance and corruption mantra’ and the PPP’s ideology – by Ayesha Siddiqa



About the author

Humza Ikram


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  • A new history of justice has been written today. Two appeals of same kind were treated distictively by the Chief of The Darbar e Pakistan. The Chief J. has proved himself as a personal servant of Mian Nawaz Sharif. just two days ago Nawaz Sharif directed the Chief two decide in favour of By election in NA 55. While presiding over PML N office bearers it Mr, Shakeel Awan was nominated as party candidate in NA 55 with clear hint to the Chief justice to give go ahead for the by election in that contituency. Their was no decision about NA 123 so the chief of Darbar e Uzma deffered the case and sought a reply from Punjab and Federal Govt. although same kind of appeal was for election in NA 123 by a candidate to that constituency. Mr. Iftikhar has brazenly proved himself as a personal servant of Nawaz Sharif. It seems that no election will be held in NA 123 till 12.10.2010 when the agreement between KSA and Nawaz Sharif will lapse which these liars are vhemently denying.

  • Thank you, democracy. Taliban were ousted and peace returned to Swat valley:

    New year in Swat

    Thursday, December 31, 2009
    Zubair Torwali

    Recently, in a meeting with the Hotel Association of Swat, the army decided to celebrate New Year with a festival to invite tourists to Swat. The hotels scattered in the valley will offer them free lodging. It was decided that the festival will begin on New Year’s Eve and would go on till January 10. Visitors would be provided with all necessary security and would undergo screening at the entry point to the city. Quite possibly, many tourists will not visit, but hopefully many will come to enjoy the snowfall; and many would certainly love to see the place. The people of Swat are hopeful that a large number of guests will visit the beautiful valley despite the winter. People also expect that they will not suffer much in the name of security in areas where the visitors would go.

    The move should be well advertised via the media. The people of the country can be urged to come to Swat to show their support for the locals who have gone through a great deal owing to the insurgency.

    Things seem to be okay now but one has to wonder if those days when jubilant Lahorites would come to Swat to celebrate will ever return? Those days when they used to come and play bhangra in the bazaars of Bahrain and Kalam. Gone are the days when girls from the universities and colleges would rush to Swat and celebrate their birthdays there. We have seen many such great times when we would enjoy the car drives in full moon on the Swat roads running between lush green fields and orchards. Many a honeymoon couple would come to Swat to celebrate the beginning of a new life. Sadly, Swat has also seen the days when their women were publicly lashed when beheaded bodies were found strung over the poles each morning.

    We have really experienced the Kabul of 1995 in Swat. During the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the only entertainment for the people seemed to be the daily lashing and beheading at the playgrounds in Kabul. We have also witnessed such scenes in Swat when the children would gather and watch the lashing for recreation. Kabul was described during that period as an ‘entertainment-starved capital’. We in Swat were also forced to entertain ourselves with songs about brutality and with sickening videos of butchering and lashing.

    The people of Swat now deserve all kinds of entertainment. To provide them with such occasions will provide them with some much-needed respite. Having said, we still remain fearful as much needs to be done in Swat. It is winter now in the region. We don’t expect too much from our fellow Pakistanis except for support. Hopefully, our economic conditions will improve when spring comes and the orchards of the region begin to bloom. In the words of Shelley: “The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

    The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: ztorwali@ gmail.com

  • آصف زرداری ہی کیوں؟

    آخری وقت اشاعت: بدھ, 30 دسمبر, 2009, 18:09 GMT 23:09 PST
    انور سِن رائے
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، لندن

    اس پس منظر میں پیپلز پارٹی نے جو کچھ گنوایا ہے کر کے گنوایا ہے۔ یہاں تک کہ لوگ جوتوں اور پیاز کی کہانی دہراتے اور ہنستے ہیں اور پیپلز پارٹی کے ہم خیال اور کارکن دکھ بھری آنکھوں سے انہیں دیکھتے رہ جاتے ہیں۔ ان میں سے کچھ تو دباؤ میں آ کر خود بھی اپنے آپ میں کیڑے نکالنے لگتے ہیں۔

    جنہیں بھٹو کے بعد بینظیر ہضم نہیں ہو سکیں ان کی یقیناً یہ کوشش ہو گی کہ آصف زدرادی کو پارٹی کا بوجھ بنا دیا جائے
    لیکن ان میں سے کچھ ضرور سوچتے ہوں گے: جوہری کمانڈ کنٹرول کی وزیر اعظم کو منتقلی، عرصہ دراز کے بعد این ایف سی ایوارڈ پر اتفاق، بلوچستان پیکیج، جلا وطن بلوچ رہنماؤں کو اعتماد میں لینے کا عزم، شدت پسندوں کے خلاف آپریشن، آپریشن سے اندرون ملک ہونے والی دنیا کی سب سے بڑی نقل مکانی اور اس سے کامیاب نبرد آزمائی کیا یہ سب ایسے کام نہیں جنہیں گنا نہ جائے۔ کیا یہ سب میثاقِ جمہوریت پر عمل نہ ہونے کے شور، بے وفائی کے طعنوں، عدلیہ کی بحالی کی مختلف حکمتِ عملی، آٹے کا بحران، چینی کا بحران، بجلی کا بحران، این آر او کے غوغے میں گم ہوجائے گا۔

    اگر آئندہ تین سال میں یہ تاثر بھی پیدا ہوا کہ پیپلز پارٹی نے بہت کچھ کرنے کی کوشش کی ہے یا کیا ہے تو پارٹی سرخرو ہو گی اور سرِ فہرست ہوں گے آصف زرداری اور اس قابل ہوں گے کہ بھٹو خاندان کی سیاسی وراثت اپنی اگلی نسل کو منتقل کر سکیں اور یہی بات انہیں ہضم نہیں ہو سکتی جنہیں بھٹو کے بعد بینظیر ہضم نہیں ہو سکیں۔ شاید اسی لیے ایسی کوششیں ہوتی دکھائی دیتی ہیں کہ زدرادی کو پارٹی کا بوجھ بنا دیا جائے۔

  • The democratic transition is gradually taking place, while this if often hampered by terrorist attacks we must give elected representatives the chance to prove their worthiness. The extremist forces are looking for a political turmoil from which they can benefit

  • @Sadia Hussain
    you are absolutely right about extremist forces. Thanks to God Peoples Government has started the New Year by inauguration of Dam in Lasbella (Baluchistan). But the most importantly peoples government gave the dam’s land to poor woman of Baluchistan .

  • BBC, Friday, 1 January 2010

    Swat diary: ‘A new beginning’

    Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as a result of the Pakistani military operation again the Taliban in the Swat region of north-west Pakistan in 2009. Munir (not his real name), an administrator in Swat, reflects on a difficult year but is hopeful about the future.

    Exactly a year ago, I remember coming home one evening and learning that four women, two men and a child were killed by the Taliban in our village.

    Our worries now are more about the future of the country as a whole

    I remember that time so clearly and I’ll remember it till my last breath – the cruelties done to us have never happened in another part of the world.

    We couldn’t talk freely outside our homes because there were spies of the Taliban all around us. We couldn’t listen to music: satellite dishes had to be removed and TV sets broken or sold.

    Men had to grow beards and go to the mosque for prayers by force. Many girls were forced to marry Taliban militants against their will and many were killed as there were doubts about their character.

    This year has proved to be both fruitful and disastrous for me. It was fruitful because I got married and we got rid of the militants – perhaps forever. It was disastrous because I lost my close friend and because we were displaced from our home.

    The year was indeed a bad year for us, just like 2008 and 2007. But nothing is completely bad. We learnt a lot throughout the year.

    During our displacement we learnt to appreciate peace, we learnt the importance of education, the availability of water. We learnt that we had been a bit ungrateful for the blessings Allah had bestowed on us.

    We missed our home and our village. We learnt never to be deceived in the name of Islam and Sharia again.

    We learnt what true hospitality is, particularly from our brothers and sisters from Mardan, Swabi and other districts who showed us kindness during our suffering.

    ‘Bright future’

    But after all the misery we’ve been through I can now say that everything is fine in Swat. I think that Swat is safe and that the militants will never return again – their network has been completely destroyed by the security forces.

    Some people are fearful that the militants will come back and the reason for these fears is the frequent suicide attacks in every corner of the country. People were so oppressed by the Taliban and the fear hasn’t gone away.

    But peace has returned to Swat. Only a recent attack on our provincial assembly has aggravated the situation again.

    Militants are no longer here and if they were, at least we don’t see them carrying weapons as we used to only a year ago.

    We can listen to music again and do what we want. Girls are free again to go to school without any hindrance.

    The biggest problem is the useless checking at the checkposts. I say useless, because if militants want to carry out attacks, they can move through fields and rivers, avoiding checkposts.

    People are not happy with this constant checking. We hope that the checkposts will be removed and we’ll no longer be harassed.

    We have great expectations from the government and particularly from the army. We hope the government will start rebuilding our schools and colleges next year. And we hope that militants in government custody will get severe punishment for what they’ve done to us.
    Nearly everyone around me is positive about the bright future of Swat. Our worries are more about the future of the country as a whole as suicide attacks happen so often these days in Pakistan.

    We don’t have the tradition of celebrating the arrival of the new year. But personally, I like to make an effort for a good start of the new year. I’ll get up early, I’ll recite the holy Koran and I’ll go for my duty on time and do all things which are good. I believe in the saying ‘all that starts well, ends well’.


  • On the economic front, the rate of inflation has come down from a high of 23 per cent at the beginning of 2009 to about half that much. The trade deficit — and the current account deficit — is also shrinking. The trendlines on inflation and trade account are both improving

    By April 2009, militants had established strongholds in some 10,000 square-kilometres of Pakistani territory in and around Swat, Malakand, Shangla, Buner and Lower Dir. Operation Rah-e-Rast, commanded by Major-General Sajjad Ghani of the 19th Infantry Division and Major-General Ijaz Awan of the 37th Mechanised Infantry Division, cleared areas held by militants.

    Our second military success was in South Waziristan where some 5,000 square-kilometres of Pakistani territory had been taken over by militants. On October 17, troops from XI Crops commanded by Lieutenant-General Masood Aslam began their advance towards Makeen, the militant stronghold, from three directions. By December 12, the entire area lost was brought back under government control.

    Sunday, January 03, 2010
    Dr Farrukh Saleem

  • Zardari performs ground-breaking of Darwat Dam


    “Whether it’s the internal conspiracy against democracy, or it’s the external conspiracy against Pakistan, we will strongly fight these (conspiracies) with the support of masses,” President Zardari said this while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of Darwat Dam here.

    The Darwat Dam with a storage capacity of 119,546 acre feet and hydropower generation of 450 KW, will irrigate about 50,000 acres of land.

    He said the foundation stone of Darwat Dam had been laid under the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as her vision based on the socio-economic uplift of the masses.

    He said similar steps would be taken to improve the conditions of the common man and give them all basic amenities of life. Zardari said Benazir Bhutto was martyred because she always raised the voice for the poor.

    “The Bhutto’s can be murdered but their vision, philosophy and love cannot be eliminated,” he said.

    The president said it was according to the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that the poor women were being allotted 25 acres of agricultural land each, adding, “Those who killed her were wrongly thinking that after her death the people would not be taken care of.”

    “But it was the directive of Shaheed Benazir for me to look after the people. That order is a sacred trust for me,” he remarked.

    The president said the women who were getting agricultural land would also be provided with the facilities like given under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Card and their record would be maintained through a modern automated system.

    He said: “The PPP is a thinking, a philosophy, given by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and forwarded by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and is spread across the country from Kashmir to Bhit and to K-2. “That is why, the slogans of Zinda Hai Bhutto Zinda Hai and Zinda Hai Bibi Zinda Hai are raised,” he added.

    The president expressed the resolve to initiate and carry out thousands of development projects across the country, including dams and water reservoirs.

    The president also laid the foundation stones of the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) and Gharo-KT Bandar Road.

    The project has been initiated at an estimated cost of Rs 13.5 billion and will take 30 months to complete.

    The 130-km-long motorway with conversion from 4 to 6 lanes will stretch from Sohrab Goth to Jamshoro.

    The project also incorporates the construction of 32 bridges with creation of seven new inter-changes, 46 box culverts and 335 pipe culverts.

    The project has been divided into nine packages, including seven for roads and two for inter-changes.

    President Asif Ali Zardari also performed the groundbreaking for rehabilitation of the coastal highway from Gharo to Keti Bandar.

    The project will connect Keti Bandar to Gharo, which is also connected with Karachi through the National Highway.

    The 90-km-long highway will be completed in 18 months at a cost of Rs 3.3 billion.

    The highway will have six bridges, 87 box culverts and 109 pipe culverts.

    The highway will open up the area of Gharo-Keti Bandar for agri and aqua culture as well as preservation and development of marine life with focus on development of mangrove forests.

    It will also facilitate the development of the state of the art fish harbour at Keti Bandar besides allied cottage industries. It will also lead to the development of renewable energy resources and development of natural resources for the benefit of the national economy.


  • At a ceremony at the Chief Minister’s House, the president unveiled the plaque of the Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas Dual Carriageway road project.

    The carriageway, which would serve as a model for other districts of Sindh, is a joint venture between the Sindh government and a Korean firm.

    Speaking on the occasion, Mr Zardari said the project was part of efforts to carry forward the vision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto who had promised many such projects to improve the quality of life of the people.

    “This is a dream of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and we are only implementing it,” he said.

    Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and chairman of Korea’s Deuche Construction Company Kim Sun Ho attended the ceremony.

    President Zardari said Benazir Bhutto had a vision to empower women and to distribute land among the landless haris and her vision was now being transformed into reality.

    He said Ms Bhutto wanted that each and every acre of land should be given to the poorest of the poor and the government was now implementing her wish. He offered that if four families get together and buy a bus or a truck, the government will exempt it from taxes.

    Mr Zardari suggested to Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin that once the project was completed, efforts should be made in collaboration with the stock exchanges to develop public-private partnership for future projects.

    He said that this model should be analysed and work on other similar projects should be started in three months. The step would help the Sindh government to save uplift funds which could be given to MNAs and MPAs for development, he added.

    The president also referred to the Poverty Alleviation Card and said Pakistan was the first country in the world to introduce such a scheme.

    He emphasised that if 12,000 vehicles could ply daily between Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad, a survey should be carried out in respect of other districts and such projects should be replicated there.

    He asked the governor, the chief minister and the chief secretary to hire a special team for such a survey.

    The president asked the finance ministry to sit with the State Bank and help work out such a concept whereby investors might not have to borrow money locally.


  • We decry Asif Ali Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani for various reasons. Often, that criticism is well deserved. One must also give credit where credit is due. History will record the NFC Award as a crowning achievement. Had the same award been worked out during the Musharraf regime, it would have lacked the credibility the democratic umbrella provides right now. The NFC Award was worked out by the peoples’ representatives without coercion or else no one would have accepted it. Let us not forget the man made it possible: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. Instead of media-grandstanding that seems to afflict some of his cabinet colleagues, this man did his homework, quietly working with each province to allay their reservations. Of special importance was Balochistan. Its mineral resources were being utilised by other provinces without proper compensation. Why should they accept their rightful share as mere hand’outs being bestowed by the federal government? Meanwhile, Sindh and NWFP felt they were being short-changed by the federal government in the formula apportioning the revenues. This perception was also quietly corrected by Shaukat Tarin. Sane counsel and concerted logic as well as optimum use of credible back channels saved the day.

    The finance minister was given an awful economic mess but he still managed to contain the situation, no thanks to the IMF. Presently, however, his austerity measures are a failure. They must go hand in hand with effective implementation of a coherent economic plan otherwise the goodwill fostered by the NFC Award will disappear in the fog of economic uncertainty that seems to envelop Pakistan.

    The PPP has reason to be proud of forming the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) province, a long-standing demand of the people of northern areas. It is incongruous that while demanding freedom for Kashmir, we failed to give right of adult franchise to a part of the territory on our side of the Line of Control (LoC). Similarly the Balochistan package is now a fact of life and may isolate separatists in the province. However, the fate of the package will depend upon its implementation with sincerity and in letter and spirit. The fact remains that it will go a long way in unifying the federation.

    The army paid quite a price for the successful counter-insurgency campaign in Swat and South Waziristan Agency (SWA). We have heard only a torrent of criticism and only occasional but tepid praise from our partners in the war against terrorism. Thus, the recent plaudits from the blunt and no-nonsense General Stanley McChrystal, was well deserved. With only 25 per cent of the optimum effort necessary, the going was tough in the mountainous terrains in the face of dogged resistance in Swat. The army’s performance was nothing short of magnificent. The application of overwhelming force with sound battlefield tactics was handicapped by a strict time-table. A record million-plus refugees needed to return quickly to their homes and the rebuilding of infrastructure was imperative. This race against time meant the officers had to lead from the front, reflected in the officer-to-men killed ratio that was quite high. That the refugees returned in 60-90 days is no mean feat. The precision strikes carried out by the PAF avoided collateral damage as much as they could, despite the militants using the civil population as human shields.

    The terror campaign against Pakistan is (or was) based in the South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Logistics and on-going operations in Swat took time to launch an offensive in SWA. The foreign militants comprising Uzbek, Chechens and Arabs had nowhere to go so they decided to fight. However, the outer core of Mehsuds, mostly mercenary, chose to disappear. Several militants have been killed, vast amounts of arms and ammunition captured, and their logistic infrastructure destroyed. The Al Qaeda leadership mostly managed to get away by re-locating to Yemen. Rooting out the remaining recalcitrants may take time but at least the SWA base for terrorist operations has ceased to exist. The terrorist infrastructure along with a loose association of like-minded terrorists still remains a problem through mainland Pakistan. Military operations must have popular will of the masses behind it. The Musharraf regime could never get public support because of its lack of democratic credentials. The success of the counter-insurgency was the democratic cover given by the Zardari-Gilani regime.

    Ikram Sehgal


  • Free legal aid
    Dawn Editorial
    Monday, 18 Jan, 2010

    The proposed bill may reduce the discrepancy that exists between the rich and the poor for a fair shot at justice. –Photo by AP

    The National Assembly recently adopted a bill which, if passed by the Senate, will help rectify a glaring fault in the country’s justice system: the limited access of poor people to legal defence and advisory counsels.

    The Public Defender and Legal Aid Office Bill envisions the provision of free legal aid to indigents, including “a convict or accused who does not have resources to engage an advocate to represent him or her in any stage of the proceedings or case in a court or under investigation before police”.

    The 21-clause bill envisions a public defender office operational down to the district and tehsil levels. Advocates will be employed in accordance with a contract recruitment policy, and the government shall control and supervise the institution. It will also have the power to direct the institution’s officials to represent or provide free legal assistance to any indigent person. The machinery may reduce the discrepancy that exists between the rich and the poor in terms of legal aid: a fair shot at justice can hinge on whether or not an accused or convict can afford counsel. If enacted into law the bill may also lead to less overcrowding in jails — many under-trials remain behind bars for lack of legal counsel.

    One hopes that the bill is passed by the Senate that has, unfortunately, allowed other bills, including those related to women, to lapse. Much will depend on the mechanisms by which the Public Defender’s Office is governed. The qualifications for the chief public defender and his assistants have been spelt out but these must be adhered to strictly, in order to prevent the misuse of funds that are to come from the national exchequer.

    Furthermore, fears have been expressed that the proposed bill impinges on the provincial legislative sphere. Law Minister Babar Awan has stated that while the provinces are not barred from legislating on the subject, the federal law — if passed — would have an overriding effect. Efforts must be made to prevent conflict between the federal and provincial spheres, since this would undermine the very intent of the bill and negate any benefit accruing from a public defender’s office.


  • Empowering women

    Finally the National Assembly passed the Protection Against Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2009 after the Criminal Law Amendment Bill was adopted by the Senate. The latter was part of the comprehensive bill passed by the National Assembly on workplace harassment and had been passed there in November 2009 but due to the opposition of the religious parties in the Senate, it faced some delay.

    The religious parties wanted women to observe an ‘Islamic dress code’ at workplaces to safeguard and protect their modesty. The absurd opposition to this bill is indeed reflective of the anti-women mindset of these so-called ‘religious’ parties. Though the bill had the overwhelming support of all political parties, the religious parties and some ministers, including Law Minister Babar Awan, were involved in obstructing its passage in both houses of parliament. The women parliamentarians had to continuously lobby for the bill. Some religious leaders were of the view that the NGOs were “behind this amendment…[and] after the passage of this bill, our society will be transformed into a European society” and that Islamic principles will be “bulldozed”. It seems as if these so-called guardians of Islam have not actually understood Islam. Our religion is one of the most progressive religions in the world and has a liberating message, especially for women. Not only does it give women the right to inheritance and divorce, it tells women to educate themselves and be an integral part of society. The religious leaders today are hell bent on bringing about anti-women laws. At the same time, these ‘leaders’ seem to be obsessed with women and sex. They think that the root cause of ‘immorality’ is the fairer sex, which is not only obnoxious but also highly degrading for women. If they think that by observing an ‘Islamic dress code’, men would stop being lecherous, they need to be reminded that even in a country like Saudi Arabia where the women are forced to wear hijab, the incidence of rape is quite high. If men cannot control their ‘urges’ and turn into monsters, it is not the fault of the women or their dress sense. We would also like to make it clear here that the criticism against the NGOs for ‘vulgarising’ society is utterly wrong and baseless. The NGOs have worked for the cause of women’s rights for years in this country, which is why the anti-women lot in this country have had a problem with them and castigated them.

    Sexual harassment is a commonplace occurrence and it was high time that the government did something about it. We have to remember that 51 percent of Pakistan’s population is female. Whether we acknowledge this fact or not, we are a majority female society but the irony of the situation is that male chauvinism still rules the Pakistani mindset. Due to inflation and the ongoing economic crisis, many women have started working. This alone is not the reason. With the advent of the 21st century, there has been an increase in the education of women, especially among the urban middle class of Pakistan. More and more women have come out of the shackles of ‘chadar aur chaar-divari’ and stepped out into the public space to make a mark. The passage of this bill will provide protection to women against sexual harassment at the workplace and make them feel safe. A country cannot develop in real terms unless and until there is equality amongst the genders and this can only be brought about by the actual implementation of pro-women’s rights laws.