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Sort out LGs!
Sir: It is disappointing that so far, despite all the noise generated earlier in the year, the issue of local governments as constituted in 2001 remains unresolved. The main parties are united on the stance that the way local governments are constituted right now is not acceptable, but they have also not proposed any immediate alternative that can help keep the process of local governance going. It is clear that these political parties simply wanted to get rid of this system for their own political ends and did not give much thought to what would happen once the LGs were gone. One hopes they figure this out soon, as LGs, despite their flaws, had done much good for local governance.
Bombing in Iran
Sir: The suicide bombing in Iran, which claimed the lives of some top military officers, is very worrying as it has the potential to destabilise relations between Iran and Pakistan and also the region at large. A group named Jundallah has claimed responsibility, and accusations and denials have already started flying regarding the location of this group. While Pakistan has assured full cooperation to Iran in investigating this attack, one hopes that saner heads will prevail and we will not have to deal with yet another diplomatic disaster in the region. It is clear that apart from inflicting harm on Iran, this group, given its leanings, wants to destabilise Pakistan and its position as well. Both countries should recognise this motive and work to ensure that the perpetrators of this bombing are brought to justice and that sanity prevails.
Stick to your word!
Sir: Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PMLN’s leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, while speaking to the press in Karachi, said that his party supported the Waziristan operation. That is commendable and one hopes that the PMLN sticks to this line as it is in the best interests of the country, regardless of the time it has wasted in coming to this position. However, one must also stress that the PMLN, if it really does support the operation and acknowledges that we are a nation at war with those spreading terror in our cities and murdering our fellow citizens, must also maintain a posture that encourages stability during these tough times, rather than inciting its mid-tier leadership to issue inflammatory statements that only cause further tension. We need both major parties, as well as regional political entities, to work together and with an eye on Pakistan’s interests, rather than their own, if the country is to succeed in defeating the current challenges.
Sir: This is with reference to the excellent two-part series on the environmental catastrophe unfolding in the Himalayas, especially Kashmir, by Iftikar Gilani. (Daily Times, October 18-19) Mr Gilani is right to ask the governments of both India and Pakistan to work together to figure out the best possible way to restrict the damage being done to the glaciers that feed rivers on both sides of the border, and also to evolve mechanisms that will help them deal with the damage done by the receding of glaciers over the coming decades.
Climate change and its impacts will not respect nationalisms or boundaries, and people in both India and Pakistan will be affected by the adverse affects of this phenomenon. Given the gravity of the situation, it would be best for the environment ministers of both countries to sit down and work out a plan to deal with this problem aside from the other issues under dialogue. Also, both governments, and indeed both peoples, should have no objection to the elevation of this issue to critical status so that we can have forward movement on this. Further, success on this front would mean that the larger SAARC area can be brought in as well, so that cooperative mechanisms can assist countries like Bangladesh and the Maldives as well, who will be worst hit by climate change in the coming few decades.
Myths and facts
Sir: This is with reference to Shahzad Chaudhry’s article “Kerry-Lugar Bill: myths and facts”. (Daily Times, October 19) Mr Chaudhry’s done a good job of not only pointing out the various ups and downs of the bill itself, but also the problems with our media and politicians in how they address such issues of national security. However, aside from the usual talking points in the media, Mr Chaudhry has done well to raise the issue of institutional negligence. If the Foreign Office is indeed deliberately neglecting its duties so it can have “one of its own” as the ambassador, then it would prove harmful for Pakistani interests. Indeed, as Mr Chaudhry suggests, institutions should be on their toes to do their best for the country regardless of their institutional or personal interests. What is being done now, in terms of building consensus and educating the public about the Kerry-Lugar Bill, should have been done months ago. One hopes that the government and various institutions will not repeat this mistake.