Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pakistani Prime Minister found guilty in contempt case by the Supreme Court

In a unanimous 7-0 verdict, the Supreme Court of Pakistan found the Prime Minister, Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt under Article 63.1 (g) of the Constitution. Anyone found guilty under this clause, is barred from holding a public office for a period of five years.

Anywhere else in the world, the Prime Minister would have resigned immediately on moral ground, but this is Pakistan, where politicians morals rank pretty low. The ruling Pakistan People's Party is in defiant mood and will try to stretch it out as much as possible, but there is a constitutional limit to that too.

Two years ago, Supreme Court threw out the despised 'National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)', an outrageous law shamelessly crafted by then U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice and Musharraf the military dictator. It was to facilitate Benazir Bhutto's return to politics and to wipe out all corruption cases against her and her husband, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the current Pakistani President.

The Supreme Court instructed the Government (headed by the Prime Minister) to re-open  cases withdrawn earlier under NRO, regarding muti-million dollar kick backs received by and lodged in Mr. Zardari's Swiss bank accounts. The Prime Minister refused and this led to the guilty verdict today. The court gave a rather lenient punishment as it could have sent the PM to prison for up to six months, but not wanting to create a precedent of handcuffing a sitting PM, the punishment was only until rising of the court, which was less than a minute, however, the guilty verdict stands.

There is a difference of opinion amongst constitutional lawyers whether PM is disqualified immediately as  Member of National Assembly, thus ineligible to hold the office of PM or a due process has to follow. Chances are, a due process will follow. Once detailed judgment is available from the Supreme Court, Speaker of National Assembly has   to refer it to the Chief Election Commissioner within 30 days. The CEC is the final authority that can unseat a Member of National Assembly. So, Mr. Gilani may have a few more weeks.

There is also the appeal process to a larger bench of the Supreme Court, which the Prime Minister will most certainly go for, however, his chances of being exonerated are rather minimal. This being a matter of national and Constitutional importance, the Chief Justice may even consider forming a full bench, comprising all 19 justices, so as to give finality to the verdict. The larger bench could stay the current verdict or the 30 day clock could run side by side with the appeal process.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Nicholas Sarkozy is the only sitting French President to have lost first round ballot. According to latest results of Sunday's elections, Socialist candidate M. Francoise Hollande received 28.6% votes compared to Sarkozy's 27.3%. The extreme right wing candidate Marie Le Penn received 18% votes and the left wing party 11.1%. In the next round due on May 6, 2012, only the top two candidates take part. So, Sarkozy will now go head to head against Hollande. The question that everyone is asking, is Sarkozy toast? French public opinion polls show that the socialist candidate Hollande will defeat Sarkozy 55% to 45%, which means it may be all over for Mr. Sarkaozy. However, all may not be lost for Sarkozy yet. If all those who voted for Marie Le Penn vote for Sarkozy in the second round, he will have a head start at 45.6%. Holland will pick up the left wing vote bringing his total to 39.7%' which means he has higher hill to climb. But there is also the very high unlike ability factor for Sarkozy and that may play in the second round tilting voters towards Hollande. Sarkozy is in fact fighting for his political life. It is hard to predict at this stage, but there is a fair chance that France may have a new President come May 6.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Former Taliban leader flees for safety - Al Jazeera English

Abdul Salam Zaeef is the man who offered his services to the U.S. from Day one to bring Taliban to the negotiating table and accomplish peace in Afghanistan. U.S. first locked him up at Guantanamo and now raid his home, what kind of stupidity is this?

Why is the U.S. committing folly upon folly, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan? Have they learned no lessons in ten years that arrogance and bull headedness does not wins hearts and minds of an 'occupied' nation. Is it any wonder that U.S. is staring defeat in the face just like the Soviets, the British and so many others suffered before them.

President Obama needs to take the decision making out of the hands of Military commanders in Afghanistan and let someone like Hillay Clinton take charge of bringing an end to this war, just as President Nixon manadated Henry Kissinger to end the war in Vietnam.

He needs to get rid of the hawks like Leon Panetta, Petraus etc., who think they can win militarily, but have achieved virtually nothing in ten years. Afghanistan is not Iraq, Taliban are resilient and in a position to continue inflicting damage to U.S. morale and its forces. It is the Taliban who made the first move in wanting dialogue with the U.S. But Qatar talks have stalled because U.S. reneged on its promise to release Taliban detainees from Guantanamo to the Afghan Government.

The window of opportunity may close soon in Afganistan and if President Obama does not take advantage of it, this may turn out to the biggest folly of his Presidency.

Former Taliban leader flees for safety - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English