Month: July 2009

The Americas re-elect: George Washington’s ghost

John M Carey, 28 – 07 – 2009 The attempt of Latin American presidents to extend constitutional term-limits should take account of past experience, says John M Carey. (This article was first published on 27 July 2009) 28 – 07 – 2009 In the early hours of 28 June 2009, Manuel Zelaya was removed from the Honduran presidency and deported to Costa Rica by his own military. A month on, a key issue in the unfolding Honduran crisis remains Zelaya’s ambition to change the Honduran constitution to allow himself to run for a second term. A day after the drama in Tegucigalpa, the presidents of Colombia and the United States met at the White House. Barack Obama and Álvaro Uribe discussed the future of the US-Colombia free-trade pact, human rights, and drug policy; but looming over the conversation was the question of whether in the coming months Uribe would himself attempt to alter the Colombian constitution to allow himself to run for a third consecutive term in the 2010 elections.

Who’s afraid of Silvio Berlusconi?

The lack of a serious opposition is a political lifeline for Italy’s scandal-drenched prime minister, says Geoff Andrews. (This article was first published on 27 July 2009 in OpenDemocracy) The exposure of Silvio Berlusconi’s public-personal behaviour continues. The website of L’Espresso magazine has made available audio-tapes containing sordid details of the Italian prime minister’s alleged overnight tryst with a prostitute on the very evening of Barack Obama’s election as United States president, 4-5 November 2008. In a sense, however, it is the way such revelations have been handled in Italy as much as the evidence itself that is most telling. What the reception confirms is something that is now also becoming apparent to the wider world: that Silvio Berlusconi presides over a regime. The Italian public broadcaster Rai is directly under his control and refuses to discuss the scandal; Berlusconi himself owns most of the other TV stations. The consequences for Italian democracy, and for Italy’s credibility within the European Union, are now matters of grave concern (see “Berlusconi’s scandal, Italy’s tragedy”, 29 June 2009).

Making Pakistan a Tenable State: What Needs to be Done

By Zulfiqar Gilani, iftikhar haq, Anis Haroon, Dr. Mubashir Hassan, Shahid Hafiz Kardar, Tahir Mohammad Khan, Afrasiab Khattak, , Khalid Mehboob, Hussain Naqi, M.B. Naqvi, Yousaf Nazar, I. A. Rehman, Rafi Raza, Fareeda Shaheed, Anwar Syed, Dr. Parvez Tahir, Hasan Jafar Zaidi What Needs to be Done The state of Pakistan is gradually moving towards the brink of failure. The federal and provincial governments and the military have proved to be incapable of protecting life, liberty, property and dignity of an overwhelming majority of its citizens; to dispense justice on the basis of equality and fairness, and to provide equality of economic opportunities with diverse classes, nations, sects, religions and sexes. Crime, corruption, poverty, disease, ignorance and obscurantism abound.  The overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan have no share in governing themselves. The country is ruled by the government of the elites, by the elites and for the elites. The authoritative and exploitative structure of governance s responsible for the never ending constitutional crises that have plagued Pakistan and for its earning the reputation …

Solutions or management?

Dawn-Editorial Thursday, 23 Jul, 2009 | 01:09 AM PST     WITH power protests continuing unabated across the country, President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have attempted to intervene in the crisis. The president has talked of the need for out-of-the box solutions to the unprecedented crisis while the prime minister has constituted a high-powered cabinet committee which, according to a report in Dawn, will “make a fresh study of the situation and formulate short- and long-term strategies to overcome the crisis”. It is good that the power crisis is attracting the attention of the highest officials in the land and if some good can come out of their initiatives then we wholeheartedly support them. However, some points need to be noted. With summer in full swing, it is not so much a time for crisis resolution as simply crisis management. While power generation, transmission and distribution cannot be overhauled in days or weeks that does not mean nothing can be done in the near term. Where circular debt has hamstrung electricity generation, the federal government and …

Credit for the poor- Dawn Editorial

The Govt. must ensure that recipients of its micro-credit scheme are deserving and political interference is not allowed.   THE federal capital’s administration recently decided to extend micro-credit to rural women of the area by distributing cheques worth Rs20,000 each among 30 deserving candidates. The money was disbursed under a micro-credit scheme of the National Centre for Rural Development, Chak Shahzad. Some 500 women are said to have benefited so far. After the success of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, experiences around the world have shown micro-credit to be a highly efficient method of addressing poverty at the grass-roots level. Many of the poor would be able to improve their financial condition by setting up small, self-sustaining businesses if they had access to credit. Unfortunately, they cannot approach banks that demand collateral against loans. Research conducted by the Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi found that there is no shortage of market demand or productive labour, but that the lack of credit forces the poor to buy dear and sell cheap. Moreover, micro-credit schemes run by the …

Property Rights for Muslim Women are fundamental to prosperity of Muslim People

Azhar Aslam and Shaista Kazmi The status of women in the Muslim world is a controversial subject. The position accorded to women by Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet differs vastly from practice within various Muslim societies. Over the centuries, various pre- and post-Islamic cultural values have crept into the body of religious corpus and have become embedded as “God’s laws”.  Well-defined and well-enforced property rights are one of the fundamentals for prosperity. In particular, women’s property rights are fundamental to women’s own economic security as well as wider economic development. Our analysis of six different Muslim countries has concluded that the correct application of the rights granted by Islam can encourage female empowerment and promote the generation of wealth. The present lack of women’s property rights is classic example of institutional disconnect between theory and practice in Muslim countries.     In case of Pakistan particularly, the status of women’s property rights is different from the provisions of law in this context.

What’s gone wrong at the CIA, and should it be abolished?

By Rupert Cornwell   Tuesday, 14 July 2009 Published in ‘ Independent’. Why are we asking this now? The CIA is currently embroiled in two controversies that go to the heart of the problems surrounding the world’s largest intelligence agency. It is accused of keeping Congress in the dark about a secret post-9/11 project, on the orders of the former vice-president Dick Cheney and probably in violation of the law. Meanwhile the Justice Department is moving towards a criminal investigation of whether CIA operatives illegally tortured captured terrorist suspects. A rule of thumb about an intelligence service might be: the less you hear about it, the better it’s probably doing its job. Instead, the CIA seems to be eternally in the headlines.