May 2009

Karachi: the final frontier? —Rafia Zakaria

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The residents of Karachi are entrepreneurial, highly educated and without the feudal connections and conservatism that typify other parts of Pakistan. This makes them most likely to suffer in the event of a pro-Islamist Taliban regime that forces women indoors, shuts down businesses arbitrarily deemed un-Islamic and extracts taxes from minoritiesrafia.zakaria@gmail.com

As the temperature of the Taliban insurgency rises, all eyes are focused on Karachi as the final venue of the face-off between the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan and its opponents. In the political developments of the past few weeks, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has emerged as the sole political adversary to the TTP’s project of forcing the nation to accede to its demands.Read More »Karachi: the final frontier? —Rafia Zakaria

The wild side of Islamabad

Myra Imran
For people, Margalla Hills is not only an excellent place for hiking but also provides an opportunity to watch rich and diverse flora and fauna of two important bio-ecological regions.

Those who prefer to hike before rush hours or early in the morning come across a wide range of animals and birds that are no doubt a treat to watch out in the wild. Hikers often report having spotted snakes on the winding track, monkeys, colourful lizards and a variety of birds.

Ask any regular hiker and she would tell you that it is not the physical activity that makes them come here but it’s the serene environment, fresh air and the chirping of birds that attracts them. “Being close to nature is a great feeling which makes me come here every day,” said Sabiha Arshad, who is a Trail III regular.
Read More »The wild side of Islamabad

Islamabad: SalinaWardah’s newest flair in summer lawn

Schezee Zaidi
An exhibition of SalinaWardah’s exclusive collection of lawn, Swiss voile and chiffon from Lahore opens at the Melange here today (Saturday 02-May-2009).

After conquering the fashion market with their contemporary and fresh take on pret and couture, SalinaWardah, spreading their fashion flair even further, have entered the world of summer lawn. Popularly acknowledged as the youngest designers, SalinaWardah are credited with radically changing the rules of fashion and crafting a casual yet feminine style that defines the contemporary apparel.Read More »Islamabad: SalinaWardah’s newest flair in summer lawn

Islamabad diary: Who will teach the army the virtues of the long haul?

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Ayaz Amir

We are as abrupt with our peace deals as with our military operations. Into both we plunge hastily and, more often than not, unthinkingly. We were desperate about the Swat accord and, after barely a fortnight, equally desperate about military action in Buner and Dir.

We are like Faiz’s lover – in his lovely poem “kuch ishq kiya, kuch kaam kiya” – forever torn between the siren calls of love and the demands of work. Both in war and peace our Islamic Republic excels at half-measures.

The failure of the military operation drove all those who mattered into clasping the Swat accord as if it was the only talisman left to save Pakistan. But the adverse western and domestic reaction to the accord has swung the pendulum the other way.

Earlier there was no shortage of Taliban apologists in the ranks of the Pakistani commentariat. Now there is no shortage of armchair hawks, advocating the strictest military action. We have seen how in Waziristan, the other tribal agencies and then Swat, operations were eagerly started and, when the going got tough, as hastily abandoned. It remains to be seen whether the latest resort to arms is going to be any different. Read More »Islamabad diary: Who will teach the army the virtues of the long haul?

Obama throws a ton of bricks on Zardari

By Shaheen Sehbai

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama’s 100th day prime TV time press conference on Wednesday night has created a grossly uneven playing field for President Asif Ali Zardari’s upcoming visit to Washington, as the candid and frank, almost brutal, observations of Obama have cut Zardari to a very small size besides giving the Pakistan Army much more importance than the Pakistani leadership would like to hear.

Likewise, the US president has also revealed some fundamental shifts in Pakistan’s India policy and the thinking of the Pakistan Army vis-a-vis India. Such a shift, willingly or unknowingly, has not yet been remotely reflected in the policies or statements of the civilian leadership of Pakistan. Obama’s assertion that the Pakistani civilian government was very fragile, without any capacity to deliver almost anything of consequence, was made in the same breath when he made several statements showing a superb degree of confidence in the Pakistan Army. It dug deep into the credibility and future of the civilian set-up, specially the fate of Zardari himself, who everyone in Washington knows, has been running Pakistan as a one-man show. So the criticism hits the Pakistani president right where it hurts.
Read More »Obama throws a ton of bricks on Zardari

Pakistan eases fears by sharing nuclear secrets

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·         Briefings to Western diplomats meant to ‘reassure’ them of safety measures.

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Diplomats say nukes reside in a safe, ‘ring-fenced’ part of military.


Senior civil and military officials are sharing tightly-held information about the country’s nuclear arms programme with Western countries in an effort to allay fears about the security of weapons in the face of a Taliban advance, a Financial Times (FT) report said on Thursday.

The decision highlights global concerns about the safety of up to 100 atom bombs in Pakistan’s possession, as the Taliban advanced last week to within 100km of Islamabad.

A senior Western envoy in Islamabad said diplomats had been assured about the security in place for the weapons systems and also their distance from Taliban-held territory.
Read More »Pakistan eases fears by sharing nuclear secrets