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EDITORIALS

ULFA at it again
North-East remains neglected
The serial blasts — the third this year — by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) that killed 10 innocent people and injured over 60 are as a grim reminder that the menace of terrorism continues unabated in the North-East. The five blasts in various parts of the state on Monday occurred on the eve of the Prime Minister’s election visit, which also reflects a sinister design.

N. Korea’s missile tests
It’s an alarming development
A
T this crucial time when the world is showing some unity in finding a cure for the global economic crisis, North Korea has sent out an alarming signal by blasting off what it called a rocket to place into the earth’s orbit a communication satellite. The world is feeling perturbed because it was actually North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile that flew over Japan.


EARLIER STORIES



So little, after so long
Left Front performance comes in focus
C
ommunism, critics say, is somewhat like prohibition. It is a good idea but it seldom works. That impression is likely to get reinforced by the development report card of West Bengal released by the Congress on Sunday. The report, compiled by a party known till recently in the state as the ‘B’ team of the CPM, may have come a little late in the day but has hardly come as a surprise.

ARTICLE

BJP reviving old agenda
Return to the nineties may be harmful

by Amulya Ganguli
I
N his biography of Indira Gandhi, Dom Moraes quoted her as saying about Sanjay, “You see, he isn’t a thinker. He’s a doer. I mean cent per cent a doer.” It is possible that Varun Gandhi has inherited this trait of his father.

MIDDLE

Untouchable royals!
by Rajbir Deswal
I
had never known that by standards of protocol, those who have blue blood flowing in their veins — so to say the royals, are “untouchables” too. President Obama’s wife Michelle’s hugging the Queen of England, in London at the G-20 meet, and the latter putting her hand around Michelle’s waist in a reciprocal manner, may be something to rejoice at, for the practitioners of the concept of “Equality for all”, but it reminds me of the healing qualities of a touch, or an embrace.

OPED

Globalisation unwound
Foreign professionals find it hard to get jobs

by Emily Wax
W
ITH his master’s degree in electrical engineering at North Carolina State University almost complete, Ravi, 24, received a promising job offer from a technology firm. He called his parents back in India, happy that he was on track for an H-1B work visa, which is seen as a steppingstone to U.S. citizenship.

Half-hearted police reforms in Haryana
by Hemant Kumar
I
N pursuance of directions of the Supreme Court Haryana has enacted and notified the Haryana Police Act (HPA), 2007. A close perusal of the legislation, however, reveals that it has failed to incorporate the SC directives in letter and spirit.

Inside Pakistan
Insensitive government
by Syed Nooruzzaman
T
HE public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Pakistan’s Swat valley by Taliban activists has evoked large-scale condemnation of the barbarous act. People feel outraged after seeing the naked display of lawlessness on their TV screens. Yet the government in Islamabad remains almost undisturbed.

“Zia’s children”
Problems of provinces

 


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ULFA at it again
North-East remains neglected

The serial blasts — the third this year — by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) that killed 10 innocent people and injured over 60 are as a grim reminder that the menace of terrorism continues unabated in the North-East. The five blasts in various parts of the state on Monday occurred on the eve of the Prime Minister’s election visit, which also reflects a sinister design.

In January, five people were killed and 60 injured in three blasts set off hours before the Home Minister was to reach Guwahati. In March, there was a blast minutes before Mr Pranab Mukherjee was to address an election rally.

Monday’s blasts also coincided with the 30th anniversary of the formation of
ULFA, a terrorist group which has been fighting for Assam’s secession by resorting
to violence, massacres, extortions and attacks on crude oil pipelines, trains and
government buildings and bomb blasts. ULFA, which is suspected to be behind
all three incidents of bomb blasts this year, has changed contours — from
initially protesting against illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh with
which Assam shares a 272-km border, to targeting fellow Indian settlers from
other parts of the country.

Behind this lie the machinations of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi intelligence agencies which have been trying to destabilise this region by arming, training and financing ULFA. The Chinese will be delighted to see India’s North-East destabilised.

ULFA is not the only terrorist group at play. The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, believed to have been behind the 18 serial blasts in October last year that claimed over 80 lives and left about 450 injured in Assam, is one of the several Islamic terrorist groups that have become operational in this strife-torn state.

Successive governments at the Centre have neglected the north-eastern region, incidentally 98 per cent of which is surrounded by five countries and only 2 per cent by the Indian mainland.

Clearly, the Centre needs to pay more attention to this state and region where alienation of the people has turned into anger which is wantonly exploited by organisations like ULFA. The country cannot let it remain unattended.

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N. Korea’s missile tests
It’s an alarming development

AT this crucial time when the world is showing some unity in finding a cure for the global economic crisis, North Korea has sent out an alarming signal by blasting off what it called a rocket to place into the earth’s orbit a communication satellite. The world is feeling perturbed because it was actually North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile that flew over Japan.

It is capable of hitting targets in Alaska or Hawaii in the US. Pyongyang’s action is seen as an attempt to acquire nuclear warhead delivering capability. This is clearly a violation of a Security Council resolution passed in 2006 when North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests.

US President Barack Obama has described it as a “provocative act” and pointed out that North Korea has “ignored its international obligations … and further isolated itself from the community of natitons.”

The US and Japan forced the Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the development, but it could not adopt a resolution condemning the irresponsible behaviour of North Korea.

The Council is unlikely to impose any fresh sanctions on North Korea, as China and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding powers, are opposed to such a course of action, which could jeopardise the efforts to ensure that Pyongyang completely dismantles its uranium enrichment programme.

This was agreed to during the 2005 six-nation talks comprising the US, Russia, China, Japan and North and South Koreas.

Many reasons are being mentioned behind what North Korea has done by announcing it in advance. One of them is that Pyongyang is unhappy with South Korea’s abandonment of its 10-year rapprochement programme with North Korea.

This may be Pyongyang’s way of attracting US attention to prevail upon Seoul to review its decision. Whatever the truth, North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions have created new tensions in the region.

Japan and South Korea are greatly upset particularly in view of Chinese friendship for Pyongyang. What President Obama does to lift Japan’s morale remains to be seen. It cannot let Japan down; at the same time, it does not want to annoy the Chinese, particularly because of the economic crisis.

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So little, after so long
Left Front performance comes in focus

Communism, critics say, is somewhat like prohibition. It is a good idea but it seldom works. That impression is likely to get reinforced by the development report card of West Bengal released by the Congress on Sunday. The report, compiled by a party known till recently in the state as the ‘B’ team of the CPM, may have come a little late in the day but has hardly come as a surprise.

One of the country’s poorest states, with a very high rate of unemployment, are facts that exist not just in government reports but which have also been pointed out by independent bodies. Professor Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Trust, for example, has also come out, from time to time, with damning reports on the state’s performance in health and education sectors.

The Left Front has always taken pride in claiming that West Bengal is a safe
haven for women and minorities. But first the Sachar Committee report called
the state government’s bluff on the treatment of minorities and now comes this
reminder from the Congress.

The ruling Left Front in the state has routinely blamed New Delhi for the sorry state of affairs, accusing the Central government of not giving enough money to the state. But the Congress report card has deftly dealt with the complaint by recording the state government’s failure to utilise central grants year after year.

The decline of West Bengal that begun in the sixties under Congress rule has
clearly not been arrested by the Left Front government that has been in office
for the past three decades.

Having failed to deliver in the one state where they have been in power for so long, can the Left Front be trusted to govern the country as Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who should know his state, asks?

Even if the report card has been prepared by a rival party, the Left Front should not take it lightly. The dismal report card does not reflect the Left Front’s failure to deliver good governance. Land reforms and panchayat reforms initiated during the early years of the Left Front rule were commendable steps that did yield results.

But then the Left Front lost the script and West Bengal seems to have paid
heavily for the various misadventures of the state Government, ranging from
the flip-flop on teaching English in schools to the resistance to administrative
and labour reforms. It should have done better than just staying on for over 30
long years in power at a stretch.

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Thought for the Day

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!/
Shades of the prison-house begin to close/
Upon the growing boy.
— William Wordsworth

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BJP reviving old agenda
Return to the nineties may be harmful

by Amulya Ganguli

IN his biography of Indira Gandhi, Dom Moraes quoted her as saying about Sanjay, “You see, he isn’t a thinker. He’s a doer. I mean cent per cent a doer.” It is possible that Varun Gandhi has inherited this trait of his father.

Whether he thought through the implications of his dramatic foray into politics
cannot be known till much later. Nor is it known whether he acted on his own,
or had the support of his party. But the fact that he enjoyed his rhetorical
flourishes was clear from the hazy visuals of his speeches that have become
the staple of television channels.

If the BJP endorsed his venture, then there was obviously a game plan behind the whole enterprise of first targeting the minorities and then claiming, when things became hot, that the CD was doctored. The similarity between this excuse and the one on the eve of the 2007 UP assembly elections when the BJP disowned a similar anti-Muslim CD is worth noting.

Whatever the truth, it appears that the BJP is entering yet another phase in its history. As is known, its political journey has been something of a roller-coaster ride - down at one time to only two seats in Parliament and up a few years later to the corridors of power at the Centre.

The fact that during the earlier phase in the mid- to-late-eighties no one presumed that it would soon rule from Delhi is significant if only because it shows that some of the party’s tactics have been immensely successful.

But, if that earlier period carried the stamp of a typically irresponsible opposition outfit, the years from 1996 had the mark of a party which was becoming aware of the compulsions of being in power at the national level.

The first indication of this infusion of sobriety was the shelving of its Hindu agenda of building the Ram temple, scrapping Article 370 and introducing a uniform civil code. At the same time, the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government also decided to revive the Srikrishna Commission probing the Mumbai disturbances of 1992-93. The commission had earlier been wound up by the Maharashtra government under the Shiv Sena and the BJP.

It may have been these signs of distancing the party from its earlier anti-minority positions which enabled the BJP to return to power in 1998 following the failure of the two unsteady Congress-supported united front governments.

After the assumption of power, the BJP continued in its restrained mode, making only occasional and fairly harmless concessions to the hardliners.

These included the setting up of a commission to review the Constitution as a sop to those hawks who felt that the present one resembled the 1935 Government of India Act too closely to serve the Hindu cause.

However, the commission’s decision not to change the basic structure of the Constitution frustrated the basic objective of the Hindutva brigade, which was reflected in the suggestion of the RSS to constitute an all-powerful Guru Sabha, elected by a restricted franchise, in its version of the constitution of Bharat.

The Sabha would have under its aegis the three “estates” of modern governance
- the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. In a way, it would have been
much like the theocratic Iranian model where the supreme council of the
Ayatollahs has the final say.

But just when the Vajpayee government was settling down, the Gujarat riots of 2002 introduced two contradictory trends in saffron politics. While reinforcing the BJP’s anti-minority image, the outbreak also made its alleged patron, Narendra Modi, realise - perhaps for the first time in his life as a pracharak - the negative fallout from such a tragedy.

Evidently, it was his sojourn in power which made him perceive the event from a new angle. Since then he has been shunning all references to the riots and concentrating on the state’s economic development.

Not only that, several other BJP chief ministers like Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh have been emulating Modi. To them, the bijli-sadak-pani factor has seemingly become more important than the Hindu agenda.

However, another change may be in the offing as Varun’s recourse to inflammatory rhetoric suggests. It is possible that the BJP’s loss of the temple and the terror cards has made it realise that it needs another emotive issue to boost its prospects.

While the development plank may work in the states, it isn’t an issue which can assure the party of sweeping successes of the kind which it enjoyed at the time of the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation when its vote share went up from 7.4 per cent in 1984 to 20.1 in 1991 and then to 25.5 per cent in 1998.

Since it dropped to 23.7 per cent in 2004 and the BJP suspects that it will stagnate at that, or an even lower, level for the time being, the party needs an atavistic plank like the earlier one.

It may have felt the need all the more when it realised during last November’s elections that its terror card was no longer working. The Congress, for instance, won handsomely in Delhi and was able to defeat the BJP in Rajasthan although the voting took place even as the terrorists were creating havoc in Mumbai. But their murderous antics evidently did not make the voters opt for the BJP.

In seeking an emotional issue, it is only natural for the BJP to turn to its old habit
of minority bashing. Interestingly, it has chosen to foment tension in a state like
UP where it is not only out of power, but has also little chance of gaining it in the
near future. Varun apparently is its stalking horse in this respect, mainly to test
the popular mood.

In this respect, the crowds that gathered on the day of his arrest in Pilibhit must have reminded the BJP of the heady days of Advani’s rath yatra.

The reference to the Ram temple, Article 370 and the uniform civil code in the
party’s election manifesto suggests that it is harking back yet again to that period
in the early nineties.

However, this is a dangerous game not only because of the possibility of lighting communal fires in UP and elsewhere, but also because it can damage the BJP itself. Any chance of the party emerging as an alternative pole on the national scene will be undermined by this revival of the old, anti-minority agenda.

What it could do as an opposition party would be fatal for it now when it is again aspiring for power at the Centre. For Advani, too, a revival of communal sentiments will be a severe disadvantage during his quest to present a moderate face.

For Varun personally, the anti-minority label will make him someone who is closer to the likes of the VHP’s Pravin Togadia rather than the mainstream party. If he is serious about carving out a political future for himself as a member of the BJP, he cannot find himself labouring under the stigma of being so blatantly communal.

As it is, he is burdened by the unhappy legacy of being Sanjay Gandhi’s son
since the enfant terrible of the Emergency is not a very widely admired figure
in Indian politics.

His mother, Maneka, too, despite her longish political career, remains a marginal figure in the profession and is known more as an animal lover than a politician.

Whether Varun was misled into making his virulent speeches or whether he
chose the path deliberately in search of quick fame, he has done himself and
his party considerable harm.

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Untouchable royals!
by Rajbir Deswal

I had never known that by standards of protocol, those who have blue blood flowing in their veins — so to say the royals, are “untouchables” too. President Obama’s wife Michelle’s hugging the Queen of England, in London at the G-20 meet, and the latter putting her hand around Michelle’s waist in a reciprocal manner, may be something to rejoice at, for the practitioners of the concept of “Equality for all”, but it reminds me of the healing qualities of a touch, or an embrace.

During a tour of Haryana, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi chose to drive an open Jonga. He stopped to greet the crowds in Rohtak, when an elderly woman finding herself enough close to Mr Clean, beseeched him saying, “Re Raju beta terai haath la kai dekh lyoon(May I feel you by touching you O’ son!)” Rajiv Gandhi is said to have gladly obliged her.. I can imagine the exuberance of the Haryanavi woman on being allowed a “touch and feel” of Rajiv’s cottony, pink cheeks.

The legendary saint Kabir was once accused of spreading hatred against Hindus and Muslims for what he preached was against the hardcore fundamentalist stance in both religions. A complaint was made to the then ruler Sikandar Lodhi.

On inquiry it was found that Kabir claimed to be a disciple of Saint Ramanand. Ramanand refused to own Kabir and informed the king that he didn’t even know as to who Kabir was.

Sikandar Lodhi is said to have summoned both. Since Kabir was a low caste weaver, a curtain was erected between Ramanand and Kabir as per tradition. Ramanand then asked Kabir as to when he received initiation at his hands.

Kabir replied from behind the curtain, “O’ Noble soul, do you remember when on your way to having a bath in the Ganga one day, unmindfully you hurt me on the steps leading on to holy waters, where I lay deliberately to have your blessings. You had then said to me-Ram ka naam le beta (Go son! Have faith in God Almighty!”

Kabir then informed Guru Ramanand that from that day onwards, he had been
practising his “dhyan” and “bhakti” in the name of his Guru that was Ramanand
himself. That was enough for Rama Nand to have himself torn off and pulled
down the curtain between him and Kabir. He then rushed to embrace Kabir in
the royal court and in the presence of the King to demonstrate his love and
blessings for a true disciple.

Embraces are great levellers while bear hugs of course can be dangerous. I am also reminded of Munna Bhai’s “jadoo ki jhappi” and another scene from “Mere Mehboob”—a movie of yesteryear. Rajendra Kumar, feeling the sensation of a touch of Sadhna’s cushiony fingers, sings:
Meri rug rug main koi burq si lehar aayee thi
Jab tere marmari haathon ko chhua tha maine

While I hail the ease with which the First Lady of the US could advance to hug the Queen of England, I am also sanguine on the reciprocal gesture shown by the Queen who unlike her predecessors may drop that stiff upper lip to appear more human like.

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Globalisation unwound
Foreign professionals find it hard to get jobs
by Emily Wax

WITH his master’s degree in electrical engineering at North Carolina State University almost complete, Ravi, 24, received a promising job offer from a technology firm. He called his parents back in India, happy that he was on track for an H-1B work visa, which is seen as a steppingstone to U.S. citizenship.

But just before Thanksgiving, Ravi got a call from his future employer. “They told me that because of the economic downturn they couldn’t hire me in anticipation of tougher times ahead. They were laying off other American employees, and cutting my job would be a proactive measure,” said Ravi, who gave only his first name because he did not want his job prospects affected.

“I do feel bad for anyone losing a job, whether it’s an American or an H-1B foreign worker. But for foreign students, if we don’t get a job, we have to go back to our home countries. When I talk to my parents, they tell me not to worry, to just come home. But I had really hoped to stay.”

As the U.S. economy slows, highly skilled foreign professionals seeking work under various visa programs are finding it harder to get jobs. President Obama’s stimulus package stops U.S. companies, largely in banking and financial services, that take federal bailout money from hiring H-1B visa holders for two years if they have laid off American workers in the previous six months. The administration has vowed to tighten restrictions and step up oversight of all work visa applications.

The H-1B program brings in about 85,000 skilled foreign workers every year, ostensibly to fill jobs that U.S. workers cannot or will not do. But some companies in the science and technology fields, afraid of a backlash over hiring foreign professionals rather than American ones, are rescinding job offers.

Analysts say it is part of a wave of mounting anger in the United States over
work visas, especially at a time when more than half a million Americans are
being laid off every month.

“Hiring H-1B visa holders has become as toxic as giving out corporate bonuses,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University professor and Harvard University research fellow.

The United States is not the only nation making it more difficult for foreigners to get work. Persian Gulf countries have reduced the number of work visas they offer, forcing unemployed Indians to return home.

Britain has begun to review its immigration policies to determine whether there should be more restrictions on the types of workers who can obtain visas.

“This is part of the broader story of the unwinding of globalization in the current economic crisis. As goods have moved more freely around the world, so did people, but now that’s ending,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations and author of the book “The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11.”

The stimulus bill contained the Employ American Workers Act, which was sponsored by Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. They say they are worried that laid-off Americans struggling to find work are being displaced by foreign junior investment analysts, computer programmers and corporate lawyers who accept a fraction of the pay commanded by Americans.

“This H-1B program is a sweetheart deal for employers, in many instances, to be able to gain cheap labor from abroad,” Sanders, the son of a Polish immigrant, said in a telephone interview.

“Immigration made this country great. But ask those American laid-off workers if they want $40,000-a-year engineers from Russia or India taking the place of an American engineer who would earn $80,000 a year. I don’t think anyone is going to tell me with a straight face that they can’t find some of that American talent right here on the unemployment lines.”

During the past several months, the largest banks in the United States have announced 100,000 job cuts, Sanders said.

Those same banks, which are receiving $150 billion in a taxpayer-funded bailout package, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions such as senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers and human resources specialists, Sanders said, citing an Associated Press review of visa applications that the banks filed with the Labor Department.

As the economy worsened last year and employees were laid off, the number of visas sought by the dozen banks in the AP analysis increased by nearly a third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

More than 5 million jobs have been lost since the U.S. economy fell into recession more than a year ago, according to the Labor Department.

But many immigration experts say shutting out the talent from abroad will only hurt U.S. competitiveness in the long run.

“It’s really unfortunate because we will lose an entire generation of wonderful minds as a by-product,” Wadhwa said. “The next Google or Silicon Valley will be in Bangalore or Beijing.”

Nations such as Canada, Singapore and Australia have created “fast-track” immigration policies and incentives to attract foreign professionals.

Immigrants founded more than half of all Silicon Valley start-ups in the past decade, Wadhwa said. These immigrant-led, U.S. technology companies employed more than 450,000 workers and grossed $52 billion in 2005.

“My view is that we need to always bring in the best talent from everywhere —
more skilled and educated people end up creating jobs and making the pie bigger
for everyone,” Wadhwa said.

Roughly 2 million nonresident Indians, or NRIs, as they are known here, live in the United States, according to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in New Delhi. Worldwide, NRIs send home more than $30 billion a year, making up about 3 percent of India’s gross domestic product, the International Labor Organization estimates.

With elections across India this month and next, political parties have rallied around the new restrictions on H-1B visas, mobilizing the Indian diaspora to lobby U.S. lawmakers, calling on India’s government to intervene and threatening to boycott some American products.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Half-hearted police reforms in Haryana
by Hemant Kumar

IN pursuance of directions of the Supreme Court Haryana has enacted and notified the Haryana Police Act (HPA), 2007. A close perusal of the legislation, however, reveals that it has failed to incorporate the SC directives in letter and spirit.

Section 26 of the HPA provides for a State Police Board whose constitution is not in fully consonance with the guidelines of the apex court.

It was clearly directed that such a commission should be headed either by the Chief Minister or the Home Minister and include other members to be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independent of the government’s control.

The states were asked to choose one of the models proposed by the NHRC, the Riberio Committee or the Sorabjee Committee. Unfortunately, none of the models has been fully adopted by Haryana.

The Police Board comprises the CM, the Home Minister, two senior bureaucrats instead of one and a retired judge of the high court whose position can even be filled by a state Advocate -General.

Further, in case of appointment of three non-political or independent members, the Haryana law provides that one will be a retired IAS officer and one retired IPS officer, thus leaving only one slot to be filled from representatives of civil society, social organisations, human rights activists, NGOs etc.

Also, these members are to be nominated by the state government as per the
HPA rather than to be chosen through a selection committee as was suggested
by the Sorabjee Committee.

Under these circumstances whether the Police Board will be able to function independent of government control is anybody’s guess.

The functions provided for the State Police Board are also different from those assigned to the State Security Commission by the SC.

Neither the recommendations of the Police Board are binding on the state government nor there is any provision to place its reports before the state legislative assembly in complete disregard of the directions of the SC.

In respect of the second direction of the apex court for the manner of the selection of the state DGP from a panel prepared by the UPSC, Section 6 of the HPA provides for the appointment of the DGP by the state government from amongst the officers holding the rank of DGP, thus retaining the power of selection of DGP wholly in the hands of powers-that- be contrary to the SC directive.

Whenever there is a change of guard in the state, the incumbent DGP is one of the first officers to be removed or transferred.

It is not the distinguished or meritorious service record, but loyality or proximity of the prospective officer with the ruling elite (read the Chief Minister) which plays a vital role in his selection as DGP. This practice needs to be abolished.

Rather than providing for a minimum tenure of two years for the DGP as was directed by the SC, the Haryana law provides for only one year.

Section 13 of the HPA provides for a fixed term only in respect of an IG and a SP and that too only for a period of one year rather than two years as was directed.

It is difficult to understand why the SHOs have not been considered for a fixed tenure despite the fact that they are the very first investigating officers in a case well conversant with facts and incriminating evidence and as such they need a fixed tenure albeit with exceptions.

The separation of the investigating police from the law and order police seems to be only one direction which has been complied with to certain extent in the HPA.

It would have been better if a separate state level cadre of investigators or state bureau of investigation, as suggested in the fifth report on “Public Order” submitted by the second Administrative Reforms Commission in June, 2007, was provided for in the legislation with a provision of well-equipped infrastructure, trained manpower and modern state-of-the-art technology.

Section 34 of the HPA provides for a Police Establishment Committee, the functions of which like preparing an action plan for improving infrastructural facilities, professionalism, modernisation, training and police welfare etc. are quite different from the one as directed by the apex court.

While the directions of the apex court were clear and unambiguous that police complaint authorities should be headed only by retired members of the judiciary and have members from different fields, the Haryana Police Bill provides for only one-man state-level Police Complaint Authority that can even be headed by a retired civil servant or a criminal lawyer.

Apart from assigning different roles to the Authority, the HPA does not regard the recommendations of the Complaint Authority as binding upon the state government in complete disregard of the directives of the apex court.

Haryana is still without a state human rights commission and the recent spurt in instances of police attrocities on hapless citizens, especially women, warrants that immediate setting up of an effective mechanism to tackle these.

It is clear the Haryana legislation falls short of kickstarting a new era of police reforms. As the apex court is already seized of a contempt petition filed against the non-compliant states in initiating police reforms, Haryana, being a partial-compliant state, should without delay amend its police legislation accordingly before the state is pulled up by the court on this count.

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Inside Pakistan
Insensitive government
by Syed Nooruzzaman

THE public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Pakistan’s Swat valley by Taliban activists has evoked large-scale condemnation of the barbarous act. People feel outraged after seeing the naked display of lawlessness on their TV screens. Yet the government in Islamabad remains almost undisturbed.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken suo motu notice of the happening and constituted an eight-member Bench to hear the case.

However, when Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry issued a directive to
government officials to submit a detailed report to the apex court and present
the victim, a married person, before the Bench, the government came out with
a written statement, saying that nothing like what had been reported by the
media had happened.

The News says, “It is shameful that the provincial government made an effort
to deny that an outrage had even been committed; that it has entered into
deals with extremists who openly defended the flogging on the grounds that
the girl had acted immorally.”

This clearly reflects insensitivity of the government. Treating a teenager in the manner as shown by TV channels is certainly not the way to enforce “Nizam-e-Adl”.

The paper points out, “When women were buried alive in Balochistan our government appointed a man who defended that act of barbarity as a minister; when another woman was thrown, quite literally, to the dogs in Sindh we seem to have witnessed a cover-up of events.

And now that an act of extraordinary evil has been played out on television screens and we hear nothing but silence from official quarters.”

The situation has come to such a pass that “There is nothing anyone can do against the deeds of those who rule Swat.

Sufi Muhammad (the virtual ruler of Swat) is more offended with Islamabad for not signing the Sharia deal and less worried about the flogging of the girl”, as Daily Times has commented.

“Zia’s children”

“In Pakistan, in particular, where the Hudood laws were formulated under the Zia regime, the objective was not to bring justice to society but to throttle all forms of justice. In this respect, the Taliban in Swat and those who ruled Afghanistan for some time are Zia’s children. They use force arbitrarily and apply laws without the real context to enhance their own power.”

These interesting observations have been made in an article in The News (April 5)
by Ayesha Siddiqa, author of “Military Inc”. She quotes the revelations made by
Tahir Wasti in his seminal work, “Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan:
Sharia in Practice”, to substantiate her argument that Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s attempt
to impose “Nizam-e-Islam” was mainly aimed at ensuring the execution of Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto. That is why he did not invoke “the law of Qisas and Diyat as part of his
Islamic regulations.”

In an article in The Frontier Post (April 4), Raja Muhammad Khan says that people (numbering 3.7 million) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) “follow a different life pattern than the rest of Pakistan.”

They live a life of “isolation and separation from the Pakistani mainstream”. This is the primary reason why the area, comprising seven political agencies and six frontier regions, has got transformed into “a safe haven for militants”, who prefer to be called Taliban activists.

Problems of provinces

Pakistan’s provinces have been losing and the Centre gaining over the years so far as the power structure is concerned. There are people who believe that this has also contributed to the spread of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

It was believed that the issue would be taken up after the lawyers’ Long March ended with all the deposed judges getting reinstated and Mr Shahbaz Sharif taking over again as the Chief Minister of Punjab. But nothing substantial has happened on this front so far.

Kanwar Idris says in an article in Dawn (April 5), “The denial of power is felt more acutely in Balochistan than in the other provinces.” The people there have shown little interest in religious extremism, but they may get infected by the social disease if no concrete steps are taken to redress their grievances.

According to Business Recorder, Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani made a fresh offer to the PML (N) to rejoin the PPP-led federal government when Mr Shabaz Sharif met him in the Prime Minister’s House last week.

Mr Sharif made a similar offer to the PPP also in the context of Punjab. But the issue of provincial powers did not find mention in their discussions. They are, after all, more interested in continuing their rule than anything else.

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