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GOOD BYE 2008! (NATIONAL REVIEW)

As the year drew to a close, so did many chapters of history. From the national perspective, the year started with a promise that a lot will change, and it actually did. At one side the assassination of B.B left the nation in shock and grief, with the future of democracy in doldrums, On the other the lawyer and civil society movement, entered the new year in full swing. But above all the uncontested Emperor of Pakistan, Gen® Pervaiz Musharaff was still maintaining an iron fist on all the matters, especially after assuming additional powers by imposing the state of emergency, on 3rd November 2007. Then came what we have all waited for so long in the shape of February 18th elections. They were free, they were fair (though many still argue), but no single party could emerge as the sole victor. The King Party of Musharaff was shown the exit door and then started the honeymoon between Zardari and Nawaz. This was set in motion by many declaration made earlier and it was further consolidated by new promises, but to no avail. PM House found its new resident in shape of Mr Gillani, but the orders were still originating from President House.But not any more, for Musharaff it seemed the time had stopped. He had lost all his cards, and fearing a certain impeachment, he ultimately resigned. For the 9 years he had ruled Pakistan, he had never let the power slip out of his hand and was determined to do so but this time his calculations were wrong and he had to depart, he managed to get a safe exit though. Anyhow his departure was a welcoming move. The real story starts when out of no where Mr Zardari is sworn in as the President and takes charge of every thing. With his place secured, the incompatibility between PML-N and PPP also came to open and cracks were visible in this “un-natural” alliance that was still in its infancy, with the latter moving into opposition. But the question still remains, was it already too late. Against all odds Zardari assumed the role of President, but failed to disperse the rumors and controversies surrounding him. Rather I am compelled to say that somehow he has opted to remain under the shadow of his past. He reinforced the speculations by not restoring CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry and by not abandoning the dictatorial powers of the President. But he dragged his limitations to the edge very early. In less than 3 months open comparisons were made between the present rule, and that of Musharaff’s. The way he pardoned Mr Musharaff showed that he had inclination toward his ideas. But there is a difference between Musharaff and him which he probably forgot to figure out. He possesses neither the outspoken and charismatic personality like Musharraf, nor he had the iron will of the former President. But for Zardari one attribute is worth mentioning, the way he outplayed a seasoned politician like Nawaz Sharif, it was simply amazing. Although Shahbaz Sharif did become the CM of Punjab, Zardari had a perfect gift in the shape of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer waiting for him. This along with the sword of cases hanging over there head, was enough to give the Sharifs sleepless nights. On the other hand the state of governance was pathetic, both on international and national matters. The economy carried on its sorry state, with no end in sight. The bailout of $7.6billion from IMF did save the country from the bankruptcy, but the question still remains: has the government learnt from it, or it has just taken it as a routine matter. The shameful protest to the ever increasing missile attacks by the US, the pursuance of the same policies in FATA and tribal belt, and follies like in the matter of ISI are some of the examples. Mr.Zardari, being the Chairman of National Command Authority, announced a fundamental change in Pakistan’s nuclear posture by offering a “No First Use” of nuclear weapons against India. It actually shows that he does not have the clear understanding of the ground realities. Unfortunately the list doesn’t end here. In short the way Mr. Zardari is running the show holds serious implications, not only for him but the entire 180 million Pakistanis. The return of democracy in Pakistan is still questionable. I say it on the basis that now the row has truly emerged between those elected by us, and those who are appointed to administer all the affairs. In simple term the game is in the hands of the unelected lot. Headed by the President himself, his aides in Finance, Law, Interior and Information have simply hijacked the parliament. The PM seems helpless in this matter, and so does the opposition. The best example is the Farah Dogar case, where the establishment in order to save its skin, has put sovereignty of the entire parliamentary system into question. The gulf has widened between the Presidency and the other institutes and only time will tell how it turns out this time around. The terrorist activities continued to make headlines through out the year 2008. We witnessed the most destructive attack in the history of Pakistan, in the shape of Marriot bombing, NATO supply line was entirely paralyzed by the frequent attacks on the convoys, kidnapping of foreign diplomats and of course the siege they have laid around Peshawar. The government did respond with tribal lashkars, but found little success. The provincial government is not only helpless,, but also incapable when it comes to counter action. But in the basket of government’s mismanagement I must add important attributes, which it performed on international level. The first is the way they remained mum over the Indo-US nuclear deal. Secondly the way our leadership totally ignored China especially under current circumstances, and lastly the way they responded to the Mumbai drama toward the end of 2008. From the decision of sending DG-ISI to the silence over the UN resolution against Jamaat-ul-Dawah, both the Foreign policy and the diplomacy totally collapsed. These developments lead Pakistan to virtual isolation from the rest of the world. The present crisis also has some positive impacts. The way our political leadership came closer was a high point. But the government failed to seize the opportunity and again they have split over different reasons. The establishment has projected an image that they are totally playing into the hands of big powers. Can somebody please tell me, which head of state can call President Bush a man of peace? Simply amazing. For the time being it is the armed forces of Pakistan that have emerged victorious in the current scenario. The way General Kiyani is leading them has totally reversed the fortunes of the forces. I am saying this in the light that just 8 months back this institute was solely blamed for all the miseries. From the firm stand over ISI to the open ultimatum to US and India, Kiyani has made his mark more firm than ever before. Now that he has been named 20th most influential person, it clearly reveals how the policies of the establishment have defamed the democratic forces. The struggle of CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry is still on, though he acquired international recognition in 2008, thanks to the mega trip to the US.

(INTERNATIONAL)

 

The analysts of global developments have always been divided into two broad schools of thought. The first, more precisely conservatives, usually stick to there guns and keep a restricted approach to the new developments, terming them just as a passing cloud. At the same time there is another group, not at all rebel but enthusiastic in some sense, which are always keeping different options on the table, regarding what to expect next. I will rather be more than willing to be a part of the 2nd one, as at TRUTH DENIED we have always given you the other side of the story. 2008 was a special year in itself. For some one like me, the way things moved clearly showed that a silent yet devastating storm has started building. My assumption, you may call it is closely associated with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. This nightmare for the Capitalists started from United States of America. The first sector to be infected with this virus was the mortgage. But later in the year as an epidemic, it has spread to all financial institutions of the US. But remember we live in a globalize world, and you can not restrict two things, fortunes and misfortunes. Europe was second in line to face the music, and so it did. Britain economy has hit recession for the 1st time since 1980’s, the intrest rate has been lowered to the equivalent of 1952, and yet we say Northern Rock Bank nationalized, other institutions filing for bankruptcy and yet the worst is still to come. On the other hand Hungry had to get a $25 billion IMF bailout, while Iceland received 4 billion Euros, as it was on the verge of bankruptcy. China, the world fastest growing economy is also suffering and so is the case with India. This was a preview of what is taking place on the economical front and there is no need to go again into a debate, that economy and global power are closely linked. In this regard 2008 clearly revealed that a lot will change very soon, from what we have been accustomed to see as the global power circle. US offers the best case. It is a different story if we want to find where the roots of the current crisis lie, but its impact were visible very clearly. From March onward, US economy was on a free fall, with Wall Street crashing, 1.5 million jobs lost and reluctant bailouts on behalf of Bush administration. We saw top names like Citibank, AIG Insurance, Freddie Mac & Fennie Mae and numerous others turning themselves into state custody, yes. We are not talking about a nationalist state, this is the situation for the torchbearer of free market, America. Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela and an all out Socialist, remarked by terming “ Our Comrade Bush”. The most debated topic for the last 7 years, of course the “ War on Terror” was totally overshadowed by this development. As far as I can see, practically the same is on the table for 2009. US engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq has left them virtually bankrupt. There is no denial to the fact that US has the most efficient and effective military force, but what we saw in 2008 was the result of miscalculation. Remember 2004, where Bush announced proudly that the major war in Iraq and Afghanistan is over. He was somewhat right too, because Taliban and Al Qaeda were on the run and Saddam was on his way, waiting to be hanged. After 4 years from that speech, the picture is entirely different. Taliban controls 52% of Afghanistan and US has bid farewell to Iraq in the shape of Iraq-US pact. Logically, US forces will be on there way home as early as July 2009, as the scheduled referendum for there stay will decide against them. The battlefield of Iraq turning silent in the past few months is part of this deal, where US has been granted a graceful defeat and departure by Iran. In Afghanistan, Karzai guaranteed Mullah Omar a safe return, yes. Another sign that after 8 years of war, US has found no other way than to return home, leaving Taliban stronger than ever. For those interested in history, this is not something new. This is the same what US tasted in Vietnam, and now it is the same they will experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. The architect of this scheme, evil Bush will leave his office as a defeated man. For his accomplishment, he got the perfect reward in the shape of an Iraqi journalist shoe, missing him be a few inches. 2008 was also historical, as US had its first ever Afro-American President in the shape of Barrack Hussein Obama. His climb to the White House is a fairy tale, from his party nomination instead of seasonal Hillary Clinton, to the victory against a veteran John Mckain, is no less than a miracle. From my side this was the high point of the year. From him I will steal his tagline “ Change we believe in”, and imply it on the future, that for sure we will witness a great change in the top hierarchy. For those who have written off Russia long ago, 2008 was a true eye opener. Till 2007, the ever aggressive Putin had opened the “ New Cold War” in theory, 2008 was its practical implementation. The way Russian troops bisected Georgia was simply marvelous. The new formed countries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia left NATO and most importantly US, recognizing that they were up against an old but a more stronger and resolute enemy, Russia. This was a score settled on behalf of Putin, for what NATO did in Kosovo. He did not stop there at all, both him and Medvedev teamed up to stab US right in its back yard, Latin America. Extensive military exercises with Venezuela and Cuba was the last thing US and Europe wanted, and now there most feared nightmare is coming true. So keep an eye on Russia. Oil also played its part in the political landscape of 2008. It reached $ 150 per gallon in the mid of the year, to see petro-dollars flowing into the pockets of Russia and OPEC states. But later in the year, it fell dramatically to around $40 per gallon, ofcourse due to the ongoing global slowdown. On the other hand China, India and Iran moved a step further to make there global political presence felt, by launching there respective space missions, and in some cases advancing them even further. In the Middle East, Iraq was somewhat silenced by the above mentioned reality. But Isreal was still reluctant to stop itself from its evil desires. For most of the year the troubled area remained silent, thanks to the cease fire between Hamas and Israel. It was also due to the political turmoil, both in Palestine and Israel and also that Israel was still scared to launch any operation after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon. But toward the end of the year, Israel launched a brutal and bloody campaign in Hamas controlled Gaza, more because of the fact that it is feeling the pressure that US will restrict its role, after its withdrawal from Iraq, sucession of Obama and also because of the struggling economy. India was terrorized after Mumbai attacks, and reacted in an aggressive manner but was equally responded, not by our leadership, but by the military. Human Rights abuses continued in Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Kasmir, Palestine, Tibet and Sudan, with UN still helpless and the big powers sticking to there national interests. Toward the end I will bid farewell to the year 2008 with the good memory that Bush will be gone finally, and somewhat responsible Obama(though yet to be seen) will be in office for 2009. From my side 2008 Oscar for the biggest odd for the future goes to Iran. If it wins the battle field of Iraq, and joins the two side under Shiite context, they will be in a position to control the black gold, oil and also turn themselves as a big player. With the resistance they have shown in the case of there nuclear programme, odds are at there side. May Allah turn the fortunes of Muslim world in 2009, unite them together and give Pakistan the courage and opportunity to lead them. Ameen.

DO TOLERATE, BUT DON’T EMBRACE INDIA PAKISTAN SITUATION AFTER MUMBAI CARNAGE

During the time of President Musharaff, an impression was given that Pakistan and India have groomed so much that now they will not even think of a war. President Musharraf went on to term it an “irreversible” peace process. The Kashmir will be passed over to them as we love peace, they may stop our water as we don’t hate them, but we will live side by side. But what has happened in the last few days of November is not less than an eye opener for those who have viewed and propagated India as a liberal and friendly neighbour. If things were to get so friendly after 60 years, why were we separated at the first place? What ever we presume in our minds, Indians have and will always view Pakistan as their greatest enemy, and it will not miss any chance to destroy us. The way the so called free media of India spelled hatred against Pakistan has made it clear that whether they install a Muslim President, deep inside they are firm that they have the right to over run us. Peace is what we want; not only for us but for a prosperous future of our children also. But a lasting peace and friendship is only possible when it is on equal footings. At the same time we must not forget that the only guarantee for peace is our own strength to deter an aggressor like India. Though morally when our President said that Pakistan can assure India that we will have a no 1st strike nuclear policy, the Indians must have started planning how to end our 2nd strike capability, rather than an equal response. The lesson for our future approach can very easily be derived from the world history. After the end of World War II, the Western Europe and The US was in an awkward position. For 6 long years they have sacrificed there millions of citizens to save the world from the menace of Nazi Germany. But after the war, they were not only living together (geography cannot be changed) but also they had to rebuild West Germany to curtail Soviet threat. Neither Churchill nor Truman told their nations to forget the past and remove the borders, but they advocated “tolerance”. In simple term always remember what they are capable of and be prepared for it, but for the time being cooperate with them. This is the same policy we need regarding India. We must remember that it our firm will to remain independent that has saved us from becoming Bhutan or Nepal. Pakistan’s military and nuclear technology have deterred and repelled any threat so far to the existence of this state and these will help us now even. The comparison of our policy with that of Indian policy was clearly stated in the last month editorial” Appeasing the Aggressor”. Thus for the time being it is important that the government of Pakistan and we as a nation should stand firm against the aggression and threats coming from the East. After all Tipu Sultan, the tiger of Mysore is best remembered for his bravery, dignity and his famous quotation “It is far better to live like a Tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years”. No doubt that it is the armed forces under General Kiyani who rose to the occasion. The way they responded to the Indian aggression has given a new life to the morale of the nation. But it is high time that the establishment also come out of there bunkers, in order to resolve this issue on equal terms.

“WAR ON TERROR & ITS FUTURE”

 The most debated topic for the last seven years has been the “War on Terror”, but will it remain so is a question very hard to answer. Already the Global Economic Crisis have over shadowed it and the best proof of this fact is the US elections of 2008. 67% of the voters chose there candidate for their economic policies. This shows that this war has lost its appeal even from the place where it all started. Keeping this view in mind, an impression can be derived that this whole affair was the brainchild of a single person i.e. Mr. Bush and his two loyal stooges Musharaff and Blair respectively. Certain important developments have taken place in the last few months which suggest that US is rushing toward closing this frontier as quick as possible. Keeping these in mind, it is not ruled out that lately Mr Bush has himself realized, that this campaign is beyond the limitations and capibilities of the Americans. Whether it is because of the strain US economy is undergoing or the overwhelming opposition, only the time can answer but for the time being US forces are on a retreat. The two primary theaters of this war are Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to analyze the developments that have taken place in the last few months, both these frontlines will be discussed separately. Iraq: After 2003, Iraq has managed to remain in the headlines for one reason or the other. Miseries kept on piling up for the Americans fighting in Iraq. Bush announced in 2004 that the major operation in Iraq has ended, only to prove himself wrong a few months later. Especially the execution of Saddam left Iraq on its own. US tried its best to implement the “Divide and Rule” strategy but it was without any success. Interestingly a few months back Western media was focusing on a cover story, that against all odds US is considering reopening its diplomatic relations with Iran. These relations broke off in 1979 after the hostage crisis where US embassy and its staff were taken hostage, for 444 days. Now from 2006 the insurgency taking place in Iraq was only limited to Shia dominated areas. We still remember scenes from Basra and sub urban Baghdad where allied forces were given a tough time by militias, like the one controlled by Muqtada Al Sadr. Of course Iran has great influence over these forces. On the other hand US succeeded in demolishing Al Qaeda with the strategy of “Awakening” in Sunni dominated areas. Since then US was trying massively to drag Iran into the conflict but due to Iran’s regional influence and of course, with the backing of Russia it was able to outplay Americans. Though the diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington are not restored officially, but the new developments reveal a different story. The proposed Iraq-US security pact comes after Iraq dramatically went calm. We are talking about the same country where less than a year ago, the US troops were only confined to the “green zone” but today they are busy in reconstruction all around Iraq. One is left thinking that how can an increase of 30,000 troops totally change the war in Iraq. The “Surge” administered by General Petreaus can not be the reason for this change. If in any case this is the reason, will somebody explain that all those fools sitting in Pentagon were just passing time that they never struck upon this idea before?, simply amazing. If a close examination is carried out on the proposed pact, practically US forces will withdraw from Iraq in 2009 when they will transfer the control of Iraqi cities to the native forces. Deep inside it seems that both Tehran and Washington have settled the question of Iraq. US will depart gracefully with the credit that they restored peace and democracy in Iraq while Iran will have the unlimited control of Iraq for good, and those who take it as a wishful thinking should see the Iraq-US pact passed in November. First the army personnel of US will come under Iraqi control and they have given the final date of 2011, not to be changed in any case. But deep within, the pact have to pass a referendum in July, 2009 which if it fails and that’s what will happen finally, they will have to pack there bags the same year. But what they will leave behind, a united Shia state of Iraq and Iran, the worst nightmare for the Israel, an accepted nuclear programme of Iran. If you don’t term it as a defeat, is there any other word to explain this phenomena. Afghanistan: The whole drama started from this place back in 2001 and as the events suggest, the drop scene will also take place here. The coalition was never in control of even half of Afghanistan and situation is still the same. Osama bin Laden is still alive and operating according to CIA even after the seven years when the biggest manhunt was launched and Taliban still controlling most of Afghanistan. From past few months a split was seen between US and British forces operating in Iraq. British commander came openly to announce that winning war in Afghanistan was next to impossible. Now the same view shared by the Karzai regime. His offer to Mullah Omar, in which he is guaranteed safety in exchange for cooperation, makes one feel if we are going to see the same offer extended to Bin Laden one day. US silence clearly shows that they have called it a day in Afghanistan, and they are eager to run back home. President-elect Obama has repeatedly argued that he will relocate the forces from Iraq to Afghanistan but the reality is that US economy and the public opinion will not permit him to do so. The only question that remains in my mind is what the tagline will be of US departure from Afghanistan. May be they will exclaim “Taliban have been tamed, groomed and re invented to run a liberal Afghanistan and Bin Laden has decided to return to take care of his business interests in Middle East”. Keeping the whole picture in mind it is crystal clear that US has signaled that from there side, this war on terror is over.??? May be sitting there in Washington they take it that way, but what they have done to the whole world cannot end so softly. Any new Al Saeda, Al Maeda or Al Faeda can rise once again out of no where. All they will require is another 9/11 but for US it will be another bloody and fruitless campaign. Having said this, I am very clear deep inside my mind that this campaign has proved to be the “Bleeding Wound” for America as it did for Soviets in Afghanistan back in 1979. The impact is quite evident with the way US economy has taken a nose dive to the bottom. For the time being the liberators turned invaders are on a run. The strikes inside Pakistan and Syria are just the acts of frustration that US has sunk into. The giant is definitely on the run, not caring what it leaves behind or destroys in the run for the cover.

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