SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Fund of goodwill
And challenges ahead for Omar Abdullah
J
AMMU and Kashmir is back under popular rule with the swearing in of Mr Omar Abdullah of the National Conference as Chief Minister and Mr Tara Chand of the Congress as Deputy Chief Minister and eight others as ministers. The two parties have shown remarkable sagacity in forming the coalition, a natural fallout of the hung Assembly thrown up by the voters. Equally commendable is their decision to bury the idea of rotational chief minister, tried out, unsuccessfully though, during the Congress-PDP regime.

Marriage register
Implement Law Commission’s report 

T
he
Law Commission of India has rightly recommended the enactment of uniform legislation on the compulsory registration of marriages and divorce and its strict enforcement in all the states and Union Territories. The Union Government should see the merit in the 211th report of the commission and take suitable measures to amend the law. Admittedly, in the absence of a uniform law throughout the country, the intended measure, which was originally suggested by the Supreme Court, has not been pursued. Most states have not enacted any general law on marriage registration applicable to all communities.



EARLIER STORIES

Painkillers, not a cure
January 5, 2009
Fight against terrorism
January 4, 2009
Warning from Assam
January 3, 2009
LeT’s admission
January 2, 2009
Hasina returns to power
January 1, 2009
Generational change
December 31, 2008
Sonrise
December 30, 2008
Voters’ victory
December 29, 2008
Transformation of polity
December 28, 2008
Abandoned by Pakistan
December 27, 2008
Triumph of democracy
December 26, 2008
Guillotine at work
December 25, 2008


Given a wide berth
Awake, Lalu comes back on the track

W
hen
Railway Minister Lalu Yadav had increased the number of berths in three-tier sleeper and AC coaches by squeezing in a third window- side berth, he had called it a gift to the passengers. His logic was that it would reduce the waiting lists. Well, he has now given them another gift. He has decided to remove the berths! Good riddance, most will say. No, not about the Railway Minister, but about the berths. Those did not generate much revenue in any case; only a lot of heartburn. It was very difficult to get into these berths.

ARTICLE

Fight against terrorism
Use diplomacy to mobilise world support
by I. S. Chadha

I
ndian
diplomacy rose to unprecedented heights when we defied all forecasts of doom to clinch the nuclear deal. It now faces a bigger challenge — of building a global consensus to put pressure on Pakistan to destroy the terror regime operating from its territory. The government must be lauded for launching a massive diplomatic offensive to this end and deserves the fullest support for its success. However, it appears that the exact scope and objectives of this offensive have not yet been properly appreciated in the public mind.


MIDDLE

Maska maar ke!
by S. Zahur H. Zaidi

B
oss
is always right”. This is the success mantra of most organisations. Though, not for my kind. Folks! I wear khaki to work. And in a khaki uniform, the boss is not just always right, but a situation is right only because of the boss.


OPED

News analysis
The meaning of elections

by Ashfaq Wares Khan, our Dhaka correspondent

L
ast
Monday’s victory for the centre-left Awami League in Bangladesh’s first elections in seven years not only returned democracy to the country, but also revived much-needed hopes for the country’s chances to fight two of the biggest threats to the country — corruption and terrorism.

Socialites turn security experts
by G.S.Bhargava

R
avi Shastri,
one of the cricket commentators, asked Sachin Tendulkar about his views on the Mumbai terrorist attacks as a Mumbai man. It was after the first Test between India and England at Chennai. The master blaster did not utter a single word in anger. He spoke more in anguish than in rage.

Delhi Durbar
Antony’s good manners

The mild-mannered Defence Minister, A K Antony, gladdened the hearts of the defence personnel when he gave the duly deserved respect to Marshall of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. At a function to release a coffee-table book “Soldiering on” to mark 100 years of Sainik Samachar, Antony did not occupy his seat on the dais until Marshall Arjan Singh got into the chair that was positioned next to the minister’s.

Inside Pakistan
Arrest of senior Bhutto

by Syed Nooruzzaman

As expected, Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, a cousin of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, has been taken in custody by the Sindh police. However, his arrest on Sunday has sparked off protests all over Sindh by workers of his party, the Sindh National Front, according to a report in The Daily Times (January 5). He is the chief of the powerful Bhutto tribe too.

Corrections and clarifications

 


Top








 

Fund of goodwill
And challenges ahead for Omar Abdullah

JAMMU and Kashmir is back under popular rule with the swearing in of Mr Omar Abdullah of the National Conference as Chief Minister and Mr Tara Chand of the Congress as Deputy Chief Minister and eight others as ministers. The two parties have shown remarkable sagacity in forming the coalition, a natural fallout of the hung Assembly thrown up by the voters. Equally commendable is their decision to bury the idea of rotational chief minister, tried out, unsuccessfully though, during the Congress-PDP regime. Rotational leadership does not instil confidence as it is against the grain of mutual confidence, which alone can sustain a coalition government. In the instant case, nobody doubts Mr Abdullah’s ability and competence to lead the coalition, though he is the youngest-ever chief minister of the state.

The Omar Abdullah ministry that comprises veterans from the two parties has a huge task on its hands. The divide between Jammu and the Valley and between Hindus and Muslims that got reflected during the agitation over the allotment of land for the Amarnath shrine by the erstwhile Governor, Lt-Gen S. K. Sinha (retd), needs to be bridged. That Mr Abdullah received a massive response from Jammu when he reached the city for the oath-taking ceremony suggests that it is not difficult to restore amity between the Jammu region and the Valley. To succeed in this task, Mr Omar Abdullah, of course, will have to make a big effort to tackle the serious issue of regional disparity. A corruption-free government has also been a dream of the people of J&K. The new Chief Minister has the wherewithal to provide it if his track record as a minister at the Centre and his public life so far is any indication. It is not for want of Central funding and help that development and governance have taken a backseat in the state.

The separatist elements, who gave a call for poll boycott, have received a drubbing in the elections but they cannot be said to have disappeared from the scene. It is by stepping up development work and by providing employment opportunities to the youth that the challenge the separatists pose can be met. On its part, the PDP which has expectedly quit the UPA, should provide constructive opposition to the government rather than indulge in negative politics which the state cannot afford. In no case should development of the state suffer on account of political differences among the four major parties of the state — the National Conference, the Congress, the PDP and the BJP.

Top

 

Marriage register
Implement Law Commission’s report 

The Law Commission of India has rightly recommended the enactment of uniform legislation on the compulsory registration of marriages and divorce and its strict enforcement in all the states and Union Territories. The Union Government should see the merit in the 211th report of the commission and take suitable measures to amend the law. Admittedly, in the absence of a uniform law throughout the country, the intended measure, which was originally suggested by the Supreme Court, has not been pursued. Most states have not enacted any general law on marriage registration applicable to all communities. Though some states have enacted laws, these are either flawed or ineffective. As a result, there is considerable confusion among the officials and those wanting to get registered. Matters pertaining to marriages, divorce and other related issues fall in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Therefore, to make the legislation effective, both the Centre and the states are jointly responsible for its success.

The Law Commission has rightly suggested that while Parliament should take the initiative to enact a uniform law for the entire country, the states, on their part, should formulate rules and regulations under the proposed Act by taking into consideration the local “social variations”. There are many advantages of enacting a uniform law. It will check bigamy and polygamy and child marriages. It will prevent marriages without the consent of parties and enable women to claim, despite separation, their right to continue living in the house and seek maintenance from husbands. It will help the poor families most, giving them social security. If a marriage is duly registered, a husband cannot just terminate it according to his whims and fancies.

The Centre and the states would do well to heed the Law Commission’s suggestion to ensure clarity in the proposed legislation with regard to the advantages of registration and disadvantages of non-registration of marriages and divorce. Through proper education and publicity by the government, there is need for spreading awareness about this in villages and towns. The new law should incorporate the Law Commission’s suggestion against granting any judicial relief if the marriage or divorce is not duly registered. This will ensure that the law is strictly enforced and not circumvented by any citizen.

Top

 

Given a wide berth
Awake, Lalu comes back on the track

When Railway Minister Lalu Yadav had increased the number of berths in three-tier sleeper and AC coaches by squeezing in a third window- side berth, he had called it a gift to the passengers. His logic was that it would reduce the waiting lists. Well, he has now given them another gift. He has decided to remove the berths! Good riddance, most will say. No, not about the Railway Minister, but about the berths. Those did not generate much revenue in any case; only a lot of heartburn. It was very difficult to get into these berths. Waitlisted passengers had nowhere to sit, and there was extra pressure on toilets in the crowded coaches. Wiser counsel has at last prevailed and Laluji has mercifully decided to withdraw the scheme midway. His ministry bigwigs had surely seen into the future. They had never programmed the ticket issuing software to indicate the third side berth. So, no going back will be required in that now. But it is another matter that the confusion about the berth numbers used to lead to many right royal fights among passengers.

This is one rare gift which is being formally withdrawn. But many earlier brainwaves are only on the backburner (which is no longer lit up). For instance, the scheme to replace cups with kulhads was not really given a formal burial. One just hopes that the one step back on the third berth will not lead to the revival of the kulhad scheme.

The redoubtable Laluji does not need old schemes anyway. He is going to Japan on a lecture tour and will surely come up with novel ideas from there, predictably Japan’s legendary bullet train. The introduction of the bullet train will be the real gift if he remains the Railway Minister for long. Come to think of it, the scheme has already been partially launched. 

Top

 

Thought for the Day

Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see. — Samuel Johnson

Top

 

Fight against terrorism
Use diplomacy to mobilise world support
by I. S. Chadha

Indian diplomacy rose to unprecedented heights when we defied all forecasts of doom to clinch the nuclear deal. It now faces a bigger challenge — of building a global consensus to put pressure on Pakistan to destroy the terror regime operating from its territory. The government must be lauded for launching a massive diplomatic offensive to this end and deserves the fullest support for its success. However, it appears that the exact scope and objectives of this offensive have not yet been properly appreciated in the public mind.

The unprecedented outrage in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack provoked knee-jerk reactions about the possible strategy vis-à-vis Pakistan. The loose talk about “exercising the military option” and “surgical strikes inside Pakistan” only served to whip up war hysteria across the border, thereby playing into the hands of the extremist elements in the Pakistani establishment. The resultant increase in the tensions on the border is precisely a part of the game plan that prompted the terror attack in the first place.

The consequences of an all-out military conflict are too horrendous to contemplate. Ruling out war as an option, as we have wisely done, must not, however, be seen as a sign of weakness. There are other ways of asserting our firm resolve to seek the end of terror attacks from across our borders.

What then are the options available to us? The government has rightly realised that the answer lies in what has come to be known as “coercive diplomacy”. Although this term is fast becoming a part of our jargon, its precise implication needs to be better understood. Oxford Dictionary defines “coercion” as “controlling voluntary agent or action by force” (emphasis added). It follows that for such a diplomatic offensive to succeed, it must be backed, implicitly or explicitly, by the threat of force. Force, however, does not necessarily mean — nor does it exclude - military force. Again to quote Oxford Dictionary, “force” implies compulsion “to adopt policy unwillingly”. The test of our diplomacy lies in exerting enough pressure on Pakistan to compel it to adopt a policy on terror that it has been unwilling to do.

Although we have made some progress on the diplomatic front, we still have a long way to go. There is a belief in some quarters that Pakistan has scored a diplomatic victory in the way it has exploited the build-up of tension on the border with India. It has been argued that this has provided them with a convenient alibi for inaction on the Afghan border as well as an additional lever of pressure on India to settle the Kashmir question. In my view, we can turn this argument on its head by making it absolutely clear that we cannot even begin to address the Kashmir issue unless and until there is credible evidence that Pakistan has actually demolished, and not just promised to demolish, its terror infrastructure and that there are cast-iron guarantees that it will never again allow its territory to be used for terror attacks against India. In other words, the very situation that Pakistan is trying to exploit to pressurise India to act on Kashmir can be used by us to force Pakistan to act against terror.

In our diplomatic offensive we need to involve not only the US, which is of course in a position to exercise the maximum influence on Pakistan, but the entire global community, including countries such as China and Saudi Arabia, which are close to it. The fact that the nationals of many powerful countries have lost their lives in the Mumbai attack presents an unprecedented opportunity for doing so.

Insofar as the US is concerned, it is true that they have gone much further than ever before in telling Pakistan in no uncertain terms that they simply have to match their words with their deeds. Nevertheless, their primary goal in this region remains the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and their dependence on Pakistan in this battle severely limits their room for manoeuvre. A supreme test of our diplomacy will be somehow to ensure that the pursuit of this goal does not conflict with — but rather reinforces — the pressure on Pakistan. A possible avenue we need to explore is to assist in the efforts to reduce the dependence on Pakistan for the military operations in Afghanistan. We must use whatever clout we have with the countries bordering Afghanistan to facilitate this process.

In considering the options available to the world community, maximum reliance must be placed on exploiting Pakistan’s economic vulnerability. Given the precarious state of its economy, it cannot survive even for a day without external aid. We must launch a vigorous campaign to persuade all the aid givers, including the multilateral agencies, to ensure that such aid is not diverted for funding terrorism. A message that we need to put across, much more aggressively than we have done in the past, to all concerned is that maximum efforts must be exerted to strengthen the democratic forces in Pakistan and that further military aid to that country must be withheld until the desired objectives are achieved.

This is a process in which we must seek the active involvement of the UN. We can, for example, work towards a UN resolution to oblige Pakistan to cooperate fully in bringing the culprits to book and to demolish its terror infrastructure within a time-bound framework under international supervision. Recent pronouncements from Pakistani leaders have shown that they do take UN directives seriously.

For our diplomacy to succeed on the international front, we need to manifest much greater faith in our new —found clout after securing a place on the global “high table” than we have done so far.

Whatever we do, we must clearly understand that in the globalised environment in which we live, no nation — not even the mighty US — can wage and win a war on terror on its own. The effectiveness of our efforts will depend on the success of our diplomacy to mobilise world support.

Top

 

Maska maar ke!
by S. Zahur H. Zaidi

Boss is always right”. This is the success mantra of most organisations. Though, not for my kind. Folks! I wear khaki to work. And in a khaki uniform, the boss is not just always right, but a situation is right only because of the boss.

Over the years we have developed a standard, everyday operating manual whose preamble reads thus : WORK HARD. BUTTER UP THE BOSS HARDER. This is timeless wisdom that has been handed down the khaki generations and has stood the most rigorous tests of time and situations.

I learnt it as an Assistant Superintendent of Police. A gang of vehicle thieves suddenly became active in the area. Not a day would pass when these rogues wouldn’t go around the town picking up cars and bikes. There came a situation when leaving a vehicle safely behind became impossible.

Fresh in service I was charged with endless ideas, extra-high levels of energy and abysmally low levels of tolerance. A series of such irritating thefts in my area was completely unacceptable. After all, I was in the process of building my reputation. The SP of the district called up and gave me instructions to get cracking.

Doubly charged, a plan of day and night patrolling was drafted. Some policemen were sent around in plain clothes. People were sensitised through the media. But the thefts continued unabated giving us sleepless nights.

Then in the wee hours of an exceptionally lucky morning, a vigilant motorcycle owner found two of these fellows trying to steal his bike. He raised an alarm. Conscious citizens got together to give them a dose of instant justice after locking them up in a garage. Thereafter they were dragged to the police station.

The SHO was a smart fellow. Another dose of instant justice and he was able to get three more names from them. In a matter of hours all five were in police custody. Then he called me over the wireless to inform that the gang of vehicle thieves had been rounded up.

I felt very relieved and headed straight for the police station to be greeted by our beaming Thanedaar. He saluted and said, “Sir, congratulations! It is only because of Janaab’s foresight, brilliant planning and perfect execution that the most notorious inter- state gang of vehicle thieves was busted. Without your meharbani and good wishes the case could never have been solved.”

I felt good. Though, a moment later I began wondering about the extent of my role in actually solving this case.

All doubts were put to rest when the SP announced his intention to visit the police station to see the catch. We all went outside the station building to receive him.

The moment the SP stepped out of the car our dear SHO saluted and said excitedly, “It is only because of Janaab’s meharbani that we got this gang. What would we do without your able directions and ideas? What foresight and perfect planning? It is yet another feather in Janaab’s cap!”

Another lesson learnt. This one is particularly useful as it lasts an entire career!

Top

 

News analysis
The meaning of elections
by Ashfaq Wares Khan, our Dhaka correspondent

Last Monday’s victory for the centre-left Awami League in Bangladesh’s first elections in seven years not only returned democracy to the country, but also revived much-needed hopes for the country’s chances to fight two of the biggest threats to the country — corruption and terrorism.

The election itself is a massive boost for the beleaguered nation. Saddled with a caretaker administration that shelved major policy decisions for two years, Bangladesh is desperate for a host of policy decisions that will restart its economy and bring about political stability.

Although much larger problems of poverty and the effects of climate change loom large over Bangladesh’s future and are unlikely to be resolved by any particular government in the near future, the new government can effectively deny spaces for widespread corruption and the Awami League’s pro-secular policies can stem rising militancy that threaten to hold the country back for decades.

The sheer scale of the victory— the League won 262 seats of the 300-seat National Parliament— reflects a new political landscape for Bangladesh where the electorate has decisively chosen a secular and left-leaning alliance over the centre-right Islamist coalition.

The five-year reign, between 2001 and 2005, by the four-party alliance led by centre-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its right-wing Islamist allies left the country debilitated with corruption and crippled by a string of unchallenged terrorist attacks .

The misrule of the coalition reached its zenith when its explicit attempt to rig the 2007 elections led to nationwide violence and compelled the military to declare a state emergency in January last year that kept the country under an unelected government for two years.

In the last two years, the unravelling of the coalition’s misdeeds in daily media reports and stark revelations of the reach and scope of their corruption shook the nation and horrified the world. So when voters faced a choice on December 29, the election served as a referendum on the coalition’s rule.

Moreover, the Awami League’s ability to harness the strong anti-BNP and Jamaat political forces and offer new candidates in one-third of seats to lure the massive number of new voters (33 per cent of all voters) made the League the most feasible alternative to the coalition. The result was an overwhelming mandate to defeat the twin scourges of corruption and terrorism.

The BNP may have not seen it coming, but the recent polls run by AC Nielsen provided tell-tale signs: Which party has nominated better candidates? AL over BNP: 54-26. Which party’s manifesto is better? AL over BNP: 53-25. Which party will deliver better? AL over BNP: 50-25.

This does not mean politics, governance, the economy or militancy will radically change under the new government, but it provides the Awami League with a strong enough mandate to take extraordinary, and often unpopular, policy initiatives to change Bangladesh’s direction towards a booming economy, better governance, secular society and a stable political system.

The most profound impact of Monday’s elections was the annihilation of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which bagged only two of the 300 seats; down from 17 in the 2001 elections. With two ministers in the last cabinet, the Jamaat enjoyed unprecedented power in the BNP-led coalition government.

This time around, voters overwhelmingly rejected the notion of electing a party based on religion. The BNP-Jamaat coalition campaigned on a platform of ‘Save Islam’, was destroyed by its association with terror and war crimes in 1971 - two elements that resonate deeply with the electorate.

The Awami League’s promises to be more secular, toughening up on terror, build regional counter-terror networks and prevent the use of terrorism on Bangladeshi soil may provide hope, their fear of a religious backlash and perpetual paranoia of the Bangladeshi security establishment jeopardise chances of effective counter-terror measures.

Similarly, corruption under the new Awami League regime may not be eradicated, but the anti-corruption drive by the army-backed government over the last two years would be hard to reverse.

The extent of corrupt governmental practices was laid bare and a number of accountability and transparency ordinances were passed by the caretaker administration, which are likely to be passed by the new League-dominated parliament.

If so, it would be much more difficult for the new government to exercise the same level of corrupt practices with impunity. Under the caretaker administration, Bangladesh had already relinquished the embarrassing title of the world’s most corrupt nation, but with new checks and balances in place the next government has an opportunity to improve governance.

Not only would this promise better services for Bangladeshis, it would also attract regional and global investment to the country that is potentially a prime candidate for low-wage manufacturing boom when wages are rising in China and India.

If the party needed a mandate to overwhelm the rough terrain of Bangladeshi politics, Monday’s landslide victory is the perfect armour for this historic battle.

Top

 

Socialites turn security experts
by G.S.Bhargava

Ravi Shastri, one of the cricket commentators, asked Sachin Tendulkar about his views on the Mumbai terrorist attacks as a Mumbai man. It was after the first Test between India and England at Chennai. The master blaster did not utter a single word in anger. He spoke more in anguish than in rage.

First asserting that the Mumbai terrorist attacks are not the concern only of Mumbai citizens, Tendul-kar added: “What happened in Mumbai was extremely unfortunate and I do not think by India winning (the Test) or me scoring hundreds (of runs), people who have lost their loved ones would feel better. It is a terrible loss for all of them and our hearts are with them.”

In contrast, socialite television commentators like Simi Grewal turned security experts and suggested, more in jest than seriously that India should go in for military ‘surgical strikes’ on select Pakistani terrorist centres. Did not Israel strike similarly at Iraqi nuclear facilities some years ago?

There were variations on the theme with Kabir Bedi, one notch higher, temporising: “We don’t really want a war, but how about Mossad-style operations to take out specific targets —presumably in Pakistan, if necessary” (Mossad is the dreaded Israeli espionage agency).

Israel could get away with eliminating Iraq’s burgeoning nuclear weapon development programme in 1981 because first, Iraq was not a nuclear weapon power then. In fact, it was not one even in 2003 when the Bush Administration launched its invasion, along with Britain and its other allies, of Iraq for removing Saddam Husain.

The justification was its possession of “weapons of mass destruction.” The then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, spelt it out as “nuclear, chemical and biological” weapons. But neither the US nor Britain could detect any except remnants of old nuclear development programme, presumably what had been eliminated by Israel in 1981. That was over two decades later in 2003.

In contrast, Pakistan is a nuclear weapon power sustained reportedly by China and North Korea with ballistic missiles with nuclear weapon capability During the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the early 2000, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) joined forces when the US poured weaponry into Pakistan.

The ISI naturally retained quite a large quantity of it. On top of it, the then Pakistan President, General Zia-ul-Haque, acquired nuclear weapons from Pakistan’s Asian allies, with the connivance of the US. That was how Pakistan during the tenure of General Pervez Musharraf matched Indian development and testing of nuclear capable ballistic missiles in the 1990s.

It is, therefore, nothing short of brinkmanship to talk glibly of military strikes against Pakistan now. Also, Israel can get away with whatever it does as the massive Jewish population in the US makes the administration go along with it. It is so whether it is a Republican or Democratic dispensation. Presumably the incoming President Barack Obama will be no exception.

Those entertaining and advocating such fancy pleas do not obviously have any idea of the international ramifications of what they suggest.

Do they think India is a super power in the US league, capable of unilateral action? Do they think India has the resources and backing, which Israel has?

It would have been funny had it not been depressing coming from educated, elite Indians. But Pakistan-bashing is a sentiment shared across the political and social spectrum. It just happened to come out in an unguarded moment. Does that make it less scary? That’s hard to tell. 

Top

 

Delhi Durbar
Antony’s good manners

The mild-mannered Defence Minister, A K Antony, gladdened the hearts of the defence personnel when he gave the duly deserved respect to Marshall of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh.

At a function to release a coffee-table book “Soldiering on” to mark 100 years of Sainik Samachar, Antony did not occupy his seat on the dais until Marshall Arjan Singh got into the chair that was positioned next to the minister’s.

Again when the Marshall got up to speak, Antony did not forget his manners and got up from his chair as a mark of respect.

Arjan Singh patted Antony on his shoulder, signalling him to sit down. But the minister did not and rather just smiled back at the veteran soldier.

Woes of air passengers

Having been hit hard by the thick fog in Delhi, passengers flying into the Capital face another major trouble as the airport is being renovated by DIAL.

On the one hand, there is often a long queue of planes waiting to land in Delhi, on the other passengers after landing and wanting to hire pre-paid taxis have to actually fight it out to board the right cab.

First, there is a long queue to reach the taxi bay, then the personnel of the private security agency hired by DIAL have no idea how to distribute bay numbers to passengers.

As a result, at any given time there are at least three passengers on the same bay fighting to board the taxi. This is despite the fact that there is no dearth of taxis waiting in the line.

Azad nurtures Tulip Garden

Politics may be his first love but gardening is also equally dear to him. Ghulam Nabi Azad is no longer the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir but ensures that adequate care is taken of the Tulip Garden, one of his favourite projects in Srinagar.

In the midst of hectic negotiations with the National Conference over the formation of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad is believed to have telephoned the Horticulture Director of the Tulip Garden to remind him that the sowing season had begun.

A journalist recalled that earlier when he was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister at the Centre, Azad had once telephoned his gardner to ask him to prune the peach trees at his house in Lutyen’s Delhi while sitting in his room in the Parliament House in a tense atmosphere during one of the adjournments.

Contributed by Ajay Banerjee, Girja Kaura and Ashok Tuteja 

Top

 

Inside Pakistan
Arrest of senior Bhutto
by Syed Nooruzzaman

As expected, Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, a cousin of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, has been taken in custody by the Sindh police.

However, his arrest on Sunday has sparked off protests all over Sindh by workers of his party, the Sindh National Front, according to a report in The Daily Times (January 5). He is the chief of the powerful Bhutto tribe too.

He has been a bitter critic of President Asif Ali Zardari even before the PPP leader occupied the top position in Pakistan after the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, at the hands of terrorists. His latest charge against Mr Zardari is that the Pakistan President is not pursuing seriously the case relating to the killing of Benazir. The senior Bhutto accuses Mr Zardari of being involved in the murder of his niece.

Mr Mumtaz Bhutto’s drive to force the PPP government to come out with the truth about the murder of Benazir is surprising.

He today describes his niece as “that brave and beautiful woman, whom the world admired”. This is contrary to what he used to say earlier.

As Ms Shazia Marri, Minister for Information, Sindh, says in an article in The News International (January 1), on October 29, 2007, he was of the opinion that “she has disgraced not only the family but also the Bhutto tribe”. He also described her as “desperate, paranoid and hysterical”.

“Mr Bhutto once claimed that his niece ‘thrives on the politics of death and dead bodies’.

Yet after her shahadat, it has been he who has tried the hardest to make it an opportunity to further his politics”, argues Ms Marri. Her article was carried by The News after the publication of a write-up by Mr Bhutto on December 16, 2008.

In an article published on January 5, Mr Allahwarayo Soomro, Vice-Chairman of Mr Mumtaz Bhutto’s party, defends the senior Bhutto by pointing out that “he had political differences with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, but these differences were limited to issues and ideology”.

The Bhutto tribe Sardar has committed no crime by asking, “why no action has been taken against the killers” (of Benazir). In Mr Soomro’s opinion, the government’s “highest priority” should have been “to catch and punish her killers”.

Threat to govt’s survival

There is talk of toppling the PPP government though it is yet to complete one year in office. Opposition parties have alleged that the government has failed on almost all fronts. In their opinion, a government that cannot function has no right to survive.

PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif, who has been saying that he has no quarrel with the government, has announced that he will join the “long march” of lawyers in protest against the government’s refusal to restore the status quo ante of the judiciary. Things will become hotter in the coming weeks as the Senate elections are due in March.

But can Pakistan afford the fall of the PPP ministry, which may lead to snap elections? The Daily Times commented in an editorial on January 5 that this kind of politics amounts to working for political destabilisation in Pakistan. The paper said, “going back to the reflex of aimlessly toppling the government is not going to benefit the country. But politics in Pakistan is another name for following instinct rather than reason.”

PPP vs PML (N)

The PML (N), it seems, is going to declare an all-out war on the PPP government, taking the advantage of the sharp decline in its popularity. Mr Nawaz Sharif’s party may do so not only because of its unhappiness over the issue of judiciary, but also owing to reports of Islamabad trying to remove his brother Shahbaz Sharif as Chief Minister of Punjab.

A report in The Frontier Post, quoting PPP sources, says they (PPP leaders) are “looking for a new Chief Minister in Punjab from within their party or from any other political party in the case of an alliance with it”. If the PPP succeeds, the new head of government in Punjab may be from the PML (N), too, but he will not be Mr Shahbaz Sharif.

This will, however, not help the PPP so far as its public image is concerned. According Dawn, “So entangled is the party (PPP) in its effort to consolidate its hold on power and so unable is it to shrug off the legacy of Gen Pervez Musharraf that it appears to have totally run out of ideas of how to keep its pro-people image intact, or to react effectively to the doings of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his supporters.” 

Top

 

Corrections and clarifications

The name of the Rajasthan Pro Tem Speaker Devi Singh Bhati was wrongly spelt in the page 2 news-item “Language row erupts again” on January 2.

Monday (January 5) was celebrated as the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh. It was not his “balidan divas” as erroneously mentioned in the Spectrum (January 4). The error is regretted.

The report, “Ten years on, soldiers get benefits of fifth pay panel” by Vijay Mohan on December 11 had mentioned that “the High Court had ordered that the pension of the petitioners be recalculated on the basis of the revised pay scales with effect from January 1997”. On re-checking it has been found that it was to be with effect from January 1996 and not 1997.

In the editorial “Israeli overreaction”, the second headline should have been “Use of military might complicate the issue”, not “complicates”.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them.

We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error. We will carry corrections and clarifications, wherever necessary, every Tuesday.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Amar Chandel, Deputy Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is amarchandel@tribunemail.com.

H.K. Dua Editor-in-Chief

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |