Month: August 2009

This is a Defining Moment for Pakistan – A Clarion Call

Part I Azhar Aslam The current situation in Pakistan is chaotic rapidly descending into anarchy. Despite a democratic set up in place, the state institutions are absent. Rule of law is non-existent. Terrorism and unchecked and unabated criminal activity has become the order of the day. Sate is failing to provide even the basics: peace, security of life, food, justice and environment for economic opportunity to earn a dignified living. Then there are internal conflicts of all hue and kind: provincial, political, social, institutional. Emotionally charged and labile we Pakistanis continue to carry so much historical baggage that we are almost being crushed under the sheer weight of it. Finally to top it all we are under external ‘pressures” from ‘friends and foe’ alike. Governed by a group who even the outsiders are reluctant to hand aid money to, for the lack of trust and transparency, this vicious combination of mainly internal deficiencies and external threats have brought the country to the edge of a precipice.

Anti-corruption reform

Governance Dr Sania Nishtar The release of Transparency International’s National Corruption Perception Survey, 2009, which assessed citizens’ perceptions as to the level of corruption in the four provinces of Pakistan, has sparked a debate about the prevalence of corruption in the country and the inter-provincial variations in the reported pattern. First of all, it is important to appreciate that corruption assessment is a challenging area in governance diagnostics because of definitional ambiguities, complexities in categorisation, overlap of forms and its linkage with the cultural and social milieu, within which activities are perceived as being corruptive. Most of the commonly used methods for corruption assessment globally—of which perception surveys, expert opinions and measurements of indices of corruption, are the commonest—have their limitations. Perception surveys can be influenced by actual events surrounding data collection, whereas expert evaluations can be biased. There are other more robust methods for corruption assessment such as forensic investigations, economically modelled estimates and expenditure tracking surveys. However, these are usually not regarded appropriate for broad-based countrywide assessments owing to cost and time constraints. …

Homosexuality & Islam: History Repeats Itself

Posted by Huma in Featured Articles, Dawn Earlier this week, I attended a talk about Islam and homosexuality at a medical school in Karachi. The very fact that medical practitioners, particularly psychiatrists, were gathering to discuss the subject piqued my interest. After all, a variety of psychological and physical ailments have been documented in patients who suppress or conceal their sexual identities in conservative societies. But I was disappointed to learn that the lecturer was taking a historical perspective and simply tracing the history of homosexuality in Muslim societies. It would have been far more interesting to hear a debate about the prevalence of homosexuality in contemporary Muslim societies and consider ways in which psychiatrists and GPs respond to patients who are gay, and whether approaches differ if patients embrace their sexual identity or consider it an affliction.

Power with Responsibility

By Haris Gazdar Thursday, 06 Aug, 2009 | 12:24 AM PST THE Supreme Court’s ruling on July 31 striking down some of the actions taken by former President Musharraf as unconstitutional has been hailed as historic. This is hyperbole. What is more important is how the judges and their supporters plan to use the power they are acquiring with respect to the key challenges facing the state and society. The constitutional petitions before the Supreme Court related to the legality of judicial appointments during the 16-month period when Mr Iftikhar Chaudhry had been removed from his position as chief justice. The court ruled these judicial appointments to be illegal. The jobs of 110 judges of the higher courts were put on the line. In effect, a few judges of the Supreme Court gave themselves veto power over the composition of the higher judiciary as a whole. Those declared as ‘non-judges’ included not only the so-called PCO judges but also all those judges appointed to the higher courts between Nov 3, 2007 and March 22, 2009.