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April 14, 2011

Alif

The Politics of Raymond Davis
Javed Chaudhry in his Daily Express article is critical of Pakistan Muslim League (N)’s role in Raymond Davis’ release. He suggests that while it would have been impossible for Raymond Davis to be released without the acquiescence of the army, the Punjab government isn’t faultless either. Mr. Chaudhry suggests that President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Chief Minister Sharif were inclined to release Mr. Davis on January 28, but because of pressure from the media and the subsequent filing of an FIR against Mr. Davis, this did not materialize. Mr. Chaudhry challenges the Punjab government with several questions on the circumstances leading to Mr. Davis’ release. First, the writer inquires as to how likely it is that PML(N) was completely unaware that the U.S. airplane that flew Mr. Davis out had arrived in Lahore 48 hours before his release? Second, after the wife of one of Mr. Davis’ victims committed suicide, both victims’ families were under Special Branch observation. He asks whether the PML(N) was aware of the deal between Mr. Davis and 19 members of the families, and if it wasn’t, what action does it plan to take against members of the Special Branch for failure to report it. Third, Mr. Chaudhry asks why the courts accepted the plea to personalize the crime (i.e., accept blood-money or diyyat) for the Raymond Davis case, when several other such pleas have either been denied or pending its review in Punjab? Fourth, Mr. Chaudhry asks why Mr. Shahbaz Sharif departed to London 4 hours before Mr. Davis’ release, while there was no mention of his impending trip in any of his recent press statements. The writer is further suspicious of statements about the health of Mr. Nawaz Sharif that were issued after Mr. Davis’ release. Mr. Chaudhry concludes by suggesting that the Punjab government played a pivotal role in Mr. Davis’ release (despite its statements), compromised the trust Pakistanis instilled in them, and that it is now no different than the PPP.

Qatari Support for Libyan Intervention
Qatar’s state-run al-Raya throws its weight behind the UNSC resolution implementing a “No Fly Zone” (NFZ) in Libya. It holds Col. Qaddafi responsible for the recent events in Libya, who it criticized as having campaigned to assault with military force citizens demanding democracy and political and economic reforms. The editorial argues that Col. Qaddafi did not lean from the events in Tunisia and Egypt and thought he could quell the uprising by employing terms such as “fundamental terrorists” and accusing other Arab countries of conspiring against him. It argues that Col. Qaddafi’s declaration of a ceasefire in response to the implementation of a NFZ was just “publicity” when in fact he continued to attack innocent civilians in his push to reclaim Benghazi. The editorial reminds its readers that Libyans “are brothers,” and all they have done is ask for freedom and dignity and a decent life bereft of the shackles of a dictatorial regime — these requests were responded to by the Colonel with a series of aerial bombardments. It hopes that international intervention can yet save the lives of Libyan citizens, like it did in Rwanda. It applauds the international community for rising up to its moral responsibility of protecting Libyan citizens.

Arms-Importer India Not Peaceful?
In his article in the Jang, Agha Masood Hussain criticizes India on reports published by a Swedish think-tank that it is the world’s largest importer of arms. Mr. Hussain says that on the one hand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks of peace with Pakistan, and on the other pursues a path of procuring the most advanced weapons in the world. The writer suggests that India obtains technology for nuclear weapons from the United States and is also in the process of building a substantial inventory of chemical weapons, for which it relies on Israel to provide assistance. India, he says, has increased its defence budget by 40 per cent in each of the past two years. He is unconvinced with explanation that India has pursued military modernization not because of Pakistan, but because of China. The writer argues that China is a peaceful nation that has devoted its entire energy and over 70 per cent of its annual budget to the welfare and betterment of its citizens. He contrasts this against India, where he says over 50 per cent of the population lives below poverty, despite that fact that India has maintained an annual growth rate of about 8 per cent over the past several years. He suggests that no where in the world is the disparity between the poor and rich greater than in India. Mr. Hussain suggests that while it is always important for Pakistan to maintain dialogue with India to hopefully solve bilateral issues, it must also keep in mind India’s increasing eagerness to tilt the strategic balance in the region and must adopt adequate countermeasures to protect itself.

Iran Accused of Involvement in Bahrain
Samar al-Muqrin accuses Iran of fomenting Shia separatism in Bahrain’s al-Ayam . He suggests that Iran has vested interests in overthrowing Bahrain’s Sunni ruling family with the aim of gaining a foothold in the Arab world. He is confident Bahrainis will see through what it terms Iran’s “machinations” and defeat its “evil designs.” Mr. al-Muqrin appeals to Bahraini Shias that Iran does not have their interests at heart . The writer suggests as “dangerous” the categorization of the uprisings that began at the Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain as the demands of Bahraini Shias, when in fact it was orchestrated by Iran. Mr. al-Muqrin urges citizens to be patient and allow Sheikh Hamid to implement the promises he has made to the nation. He dismisses suggestions from Iran about freedom and democracy and asks how concerned they were of such things during their election years. The writer applauds Saudi Arabia’s defence of a “brother Arab nation” and the invocation of the GCC’s collective defense agreement. He concludes by suggesting that the Arab world has demonstrated that it is more united and stronger than “the mullahs of Iran.”


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