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Pakistan

ARE we still too naive to determine our enemy?

 

Over the past few days, five Pakistani activists including the poet Salman Haider have gone missing. The incidents have left the rights groups, already under pressure from the military and extremist outfits, alarmed. Nobody has claimed responsibility, and the family members haven’t got any ransom calls.

 

We are not good at facing dissent. And, over time, things have gone from bad to worse. Instead of talking, making an effort to understand the point of view of others — giving space for their views and agreeing to disagree, at times, but still managing to live with each other — we have slowly gone down the route of trying to shut others up.

 

The Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms (PCER) deserves credit for finalising its proposals for reform of the election system before next year’s polls. The National Assembly speaker had perhaps been unduly ambitious when he had asked the committee, set up 29 months ago, to complete its work in three months.

 

A DISMAL response to recent notices sent by Pakistan’s top tax collector — the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) — to more than 400 individuals who owned shares in offshore companies, carried a familiar ring. Less than a fifth of the targeted individuals chose to reply, echoing an all too familiar defiance of the rule of law.

 

MANY in the West view Pakistan as a safe haven for transnational terrorist organisations, and India is attempting very hard to exploit this global opinion. In reality, however, terrorist violence kills more innocent civilians and security personnel in Pakistan compared to all of Europe in any given year.

 

Last month, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari did something that no man with a conscience could have thought of doing: He gave his word to Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Siraj ul Haq that the Sindh Assembly will strike down a recently passed law meant to protect non-Muslim girls from being forcibly converted to Islam. Hindu and Christian girls have been forced to convert, so that Muslim men can take them as wives. The law would have addressed the abuse of Muslim law which forbids forcible conversion.

 

In one of the most noticeable statements from the country’s military leadership, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa has proposed that a “people-centric approach based on local ownership” should be adopted as far as securing the “ongoing developmental activity and future trade” in Balochistan under CPEC is concerned.

 

Pakistani police said they arrested 150 hard-line Muslim activists on Wednesday as they tried to rally in support of the country’s tough blasphemy law on the anniversary of a provincial governor’s assassination over his call to reform the statute.

 

The new year has been rung in around the world in already a less than auspicious way. For Pakistan, 2016 may not have been entirely annus horribilis, with a few positive developments taking place with regard to the economy amid the negative ones, but it was far from being annus mirabilis either.

 


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