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Govt’s credibility will be strong thru uniformity of actions

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The government’s decision to invite three eminent international legal experts on human rights and war crimes to advise its Commission of Inquiry into Missing Persons was unexpected.  It caught even senior cabinet ministers by surprise. The government had been steadfast in denying that serious human rights violations and war crimes took place from the commencement of such allegations more than five years ago.  So far all inquiries conducted by the government have reaffirmed the government’s position that no such offenses took place.  But as those have been a case of the military investigating the military and exonerating the military, the inquiries have not been internationally credible.  The appointment of the independent UN investigative team to probe into these matters following the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of this year appears to have jolted the government to reconsider its past position.
It is noteworthy that the UNHRC resolution of March 2014 had two operative parts to it. The first was to call for an investigation into the past by the Sri Lankan government that met with international standards. The second was to call for the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner to commence an independent investigation if the Sri Lankan government failed to carry out such an investigation itself. The appointment of the experts and expanding of the mandate of the Commission comes after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched its own investigation on the war and appointed three experts, also of the highest international calibre and credibility, to oversee the probe. Now by appointing its own three member advisory panel, the government seems to be striving to operationalise the first part of the UNHRC resolution with the hope of diminishing the need for the implementation of the second part.
The government appointed advisory panel is of the highest competence and credibility.    Its three members are Sir Desmond de Silva, Queen’s Counsel, a prominent British lawyer and a former Chief War Crimes Prosecutor at the UN Tribunal for Sierra Leone, who is also of Sri Lankan origin and will be Chairman;  Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British lawyer who headed the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague; and Professor David Crane of the United States who was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and who indicted, among others, the then Liberian President Charles Taylor.  In revamping the mandate and term of reference of the Commission on Missing Persons, the government has reserved the right to expand the numbers in the advisory panel which is a possible point of controversy if future appointments are less credible.

Sceptical assessments
The three international experts will serve on an Advisory Council to the Commission of Inquiry to advise it, at their request, on matters pertaining to the work of the Commission.  In addition, the government has expanded the mandate of the Commission on Missing Persons to include the facts and circumstances regarding the loss of civilian life during the war, and whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regard by reason of a violation or violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law. Also to inquire whether the adherence to or neglect of the principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality under the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, by the Sri Lankan armed forces and whether the LTTE as a non-state actor was subject to international humanitarian law in the conduct of its military operations.
The question is whether the Commission on Missing Persons which had a more restricted mandate will be able to cope with the much wider mandate that has now been cast upon them. So far they have been doing their investigations with quiet determination.  The Commission held several sittings to cover the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mulaithivu and Batticaloa and has received over 19,000 complaints.  However, those who are skeptical about the government’s motivations in appointing the advisory panel would remember the experience of another commission of inquiry in the past.  This was the International Independent Eminent Group of Persons (IIEGP) which was appointed in 2007 to advise the Commission of Inquiry into Serious Human Rights Violations.  The IIGEP, comprising of 11 members was invited by the President to observe the investigations and inquiries of the Commission of Inquiry, in order to ensure transparency and observance of international norms and standards. The IIGEP terminated its operations after a year citing lack of progress in the investigations.  There is no doubt that the government would be mindful of this debacle and the higher stakes that exist at this time, with a parallel independent UN investigation taking place. 
There is another matter that the government needs to consider seriously.  This is whether it can deal in compartments with different issues, and achieve international standards in looking at the past while failing to reach those standards in dealing with issues of governance within the country at the present time.   Since the end of the war, impunity has been most marked in regard to violence and harassment against the Muslim community and undertaken by groups that are seen as allied to the government.   The government has also been restricting the freedom of civil society groups in a manner that goes counter to international standards.  Most significant of all is its failure to stand by its commitments with regard to the devolution of power.  This is a serious problem as a reconciliation process cannot run on parallel tracks, where internationally the government shows itself to be a in a reconciliatory mode, while within the country there is confrontation and antagonism.  The situation on the ground will be seen by all who are interested in Sri Lanka and will undermine their belief in the sincerity of the reconciliation process.

South Africa
There was anticipation of a breakthrough in the reconciliation process following the visit to Sri Lanka of South African special envoy Cyril Ramaphosa.   However, the government failed to show any shift in its approach to addressing the issue of national reconciliation.  No sooner did Mr Ramaphosa leave Sri Lanka that the government extended the term of the Governor of the Northern Province, although the TNA has been consistently asking for a replacement who will cooperate with the Chief Minister and the Northern Provincial Council instead of acting in opposition to them.  The reappointment of the Governor of the Northern Province is seen by some of the key actors in the international community as a violation of a pledge given to them by the government.  In particular, when President Rajapaksa pledged to hold elections to the Northern Provincial Council he also gave assurances that he would appoint a new Governor. He delivered on one part of the promise but not on the other.
In the aftermath of the Ramaphosa visit there has been no publicly visible manifestation of the spirit of accommodation or goodwill that is necessary for any reconciliation process.  The role of South Africa would be to ensure that there will be fair play to all sides, not only targeting the government. Such a partnership with South Africa in pursuing the path of truth and reconciliation can go a considerable part of the way to support a nationally driven process of truth and reconciliation that feeds into international investigations. The only item of discussion between the government and Mr Ramaphosa that has become public from the government side is that the government requested him to persuade the TNA to join the PSC process.  The Ministry of External Affairs website stated that “The government asked Mr. Ramaphosa during his visit to Sri Lanka to convince the TNA of the importance of participating in the PSC process for a solution to the national question.” 
The PSC remains the government’s chosen mechanism to pursue a political solution to the national question.  The government remains adamant in its position that only a discussion by all political parties represented in Parliament can lead to a political solution.  However, the opposition parties that are presently boycotting the PSC remain unconvinced that it will lead to a solution being found.  They are mindful of the fate of the All Parties Representatives Conference (APRC) that lasted nearly three years between July 2006 and June 2009 and held 128 sessions. But the final report has not yet been officially released, nor has any action been taken on it. If South Africa is able to facilitate a revision in the terms and mandate of the PSC to enable the TNA and other opposition parties to participate in it, there could be a breakthrough.   In line with the government’s appointment of an expert panel to advise the Commission of Inquiry, there could be another expert panel that is established to advise the PSC.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The government’s decision to invite three eminent international legal experts on human rights and war crimes to advise its Commission of Inquiry into Missing Persons was unexpected.  It caught even senior cabinet ministers by surprise. The government had been steadfast in denying that serious human rights violations and war crimes took place from the commencement of such allegations more than five years ago.  So far all inquiries conducted by the government have reaffirmed the government’s position that no such offenses took place.  But as those have been a case of the military investigating the military and exonerating the military, the inquiries have not been internationally credible.  The appointment of the independent UN investigative team to probe into these matters following the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of this year appears to have jolted the government to reconsider its past position.
It is noteworthy that the UNHRC resolution of March 2014 had two operative parts to it. The first was to call for an investigation into the past by the Sri Lankan government that met with international standards. The second was to call for the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner to commence an independent investigation if the Sri Lankan government failed to carry out such an investigation itself. The appointment of the experts and expanding of the mandate of the Commission comes after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched its own investigation on the war and appointed three experts, also of the highest international calibre and credibility, to oversee the probe. Now by appointing its own three member advisory panel, the government seems to be striving to operationalise the first part of the UNHRC resolution with the hope of diminishing the need for the implementation of the second part.
The government appointed advisory panel is of the highest competence and credibility.    Its three members are Sir Desmond de Silva, Queen’s Counsel, a prominent British lawyer and a former Chief War Crimes Prosecutor at the UN Tribunal for Sierra Leone, who is also of Sri Lankan origin and will be Chairman;  Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British lawyer who headed the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague; and Professor David Crane of the United States who was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and who indicted, among others, the then Liberian President Charles Taylor.  In revamping the mandate and term of reference of the Commission on Missing Persons, the government has reserved the right to expand the numbers in the advisory panel which is a possible point of controversy if future appointments are less credible.

Sceptical assessments
The three international experts will serve on an Advisory Council to the Commission of Inquiry to advise it, at their request, on matters pertaining to the work of the Commission.  In addition, the government has expanded the mandate of the Commission on Missing Persons to include the facts and circumstances regarding the loss of civilian life during the war, and whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regard by reason of a violation or violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law. Also to inquire whether the adherence to or neglect of the principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality under the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, by the Sri Lankan armed forces and whether the LTTE as a non-state actor was subject to international humanitarian law in the conduct of its military operations.
The question is whether the Commission on Missing Persons which had a more restricted mandate will be able to cope with the much wider mandate that has now been cast upon them. So far they have been doing their investigations with quiet determination.  The Commission held several sittings to cover the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mulaithivu and Batticaloa and has received over 19,000 complaints.  However, those who are skeptical about the government’s motivations in appointing the advisory panel would remember the experience of another commission of inquiry in the past.  This was the International Independent Eminent Group of Persons (IIEGP) which was appointed in 2007 to advise the Commission of Inquiry into Serious Human Rights Violations.  The IIGEP, comprising of 11 members was invited by the President to observe the investigations and inquiries of the Commission of Inquiry, in order to ensure transparency and observance of international norms and standards. The IIGEP terminated its operations after a year citing lack of progress in the investigations.  There is no doubt that the government would be mindful of this debacle and the higher stakes that exist at this time, with a parallel independent UN investigation taking place. 
There is another matter that the government needs to consider seriously.  This is whether it can deal in compartments with different issues, and achieve international standards in looking at the past while failing to reach those standards in dealing with issues of governance within the country at the present time.   Since the end of the war, impunity has been most marked in regard to violence and harassment against the Muslim community and undertaken by groups that are seen as allied to the government.   The government has also been restricting the freedom of civil society groups in a manner that goes counter to international standards.  Most significant of all is its failure to stand by its commitments with regard to the devolution of power.  This is a serious problem as a reconciliation process cannot run on parallel tracks, where internationally the government shows itself to be a in a reconciliatory mode, while within the country there is confrontation and antagonism.  The situation on the ground will be seen by all who are interested in Sri Lanka and will undermine their belief in the sincerity of the reconciliation process.

South Africa
There was anticipation of a breakthrough in the reconciliation process following the visit to Sri Lanka of South African special envoy Cyril Ramaphosa.   However, the government failed to show any shift in its approach to addressing the issue of national reconciliation.  No sooner did Mr Ramaphosa leave Sri Lanka that the government extended the term of the Governor of the Northern Province, although the TNA has been consistently asking for a replacement who will cooperate with the Chief Minister and the Northern Provincial Council instead of acting in opposition to them.  The reappointment of the Governor of the Northern Province is seen by some of the key actors in the international community as a violation of a pledge given to them by the government.  In particular, when President Rajapaksa pledged to hold elections to the Northern Provincial Council he also gave assurances that he would appoint a new Governor. He delivered on one part of the promise but not on the other.
In the aftermath of the Ramaphosa visit there has been no publicly visible manifestation of the spirit of accommodation or goodwill that is necessary for any reconciliation process.  The role of South Africa would be to ensure that there will be fair play to all sides, not only targeting the government. Such a partnership with South Africa in pursuing the path of truth and reconciliation can go a considerable part of the way to support a nationally driven process of truth and reconciliation that feeds into international investigations. The only item of discussion between the government and Mr Ramaphosa that has become public from the government side is that the government requested him to persuade the TNA to join the PSC process.  The Ministry of External Affairs website stated that “The government asked Mr. Ramaphosa during his visit to Sri Lanka to convince the TNA of the importance of participating in the PSC process for a solution to the national question.” 
The PSC remains the government’s chosen mechanism to pursue a political solution to the national question.  The government remains adamant in its position that only a discussion by all political parties represented in Parliament can lead to a political solution.  However, the opposition parties that are presently boycotting the PSC remain unconvinced that it will lead to a solution being found.  They are mindful of the fate of the All Parties Representatives Conference (APRC) that lasted nearly three years between July 2006 and June 2009 and held 128 sessions. But the final report has not yet been officially released, nor has any action been taken on it. If South Africa is able to facilitate a revision in the terms and mandate of the PSC to enable the TNA and other opposition parties to participate in it, there could be a breakthrough.   In line with the government’s appointment of an expert panel to advise the Commission of Inquiry, there could be another expert panel that is established to advise the PSC.


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Malnutrition hits Syrians hard as UN authorises cross-border access

Shelly Kittleson in Beirut

Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
Most who make it across the Syria-Lebanon border live in informal settlements in extremely poor hygienic conditions, which for many means diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, and – for the most vulnerable – sometimes death.
By the end of January, almost 40,000 Syrian children had been born as refugees, while the total number of minors who had fled abroad quadrupled to over 1.2 million between March 2013 and March 2014.

Most vulnerable
Most who make it across the Syria-Lebanon border live in informal settlements in extremely poor hygienic conditions, which for many means diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, and – for the most vulnerable – sometimes death.
Lack of proper healthcare, food and clean water has resulted in countless loss of life during the Syrian conflict, now well into its fourth year. These deaths are left out of the daily tallies of ‘war casualties’, even as stunted bodies and emaciated faces peer out of photos from areas under siege.
The case of the Yarmouk Palestinian camp on the outskirts of Damascus momentarily grabbed the international community’s attention earlier this year, when Amnesty International released a report detailing the deaths of nearly 200 people under a government siege. Many other areas have experienced and continue to suffer the same fate, out of the public spotlight.
A Palestinian-Syrian originally from Yarmouk who has escaped abroad told IPS that some of her family members are still in Hajar Al-Aswad, an area near Damascus with a population of roughly 600,000 prior to the conflict. She said that those trapped in the area were suffering ‘’as badly if not worse than in Yarmouk’’ and had been subjected to equally brutal starvation tactics. The area has, however, failed to garner similar attention.
The city of Homs, one of the first to rise up against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, was also kept under regime siege for three years until May of this year, when Syrian troops and foreign Hezbollah fighters took control.
With the Syria conflict well into its fourth year, the U.N. Security Council decided for the first time on July 14 to authorize cross-border aid without the Assad government’s approval via four border crossings in neighbouring states. The resolution established a monitoring mechanism for a 180-day period for loading aid convoys in Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
The first supplies will include water sanitation tablets and hygiene kits, essential to preventing the water-borne diseases responsible for diarrhoea – which, in turn, produces severe states of malnutrition.
Miram Azar, from UNICEF’s Beirut office, told IPS that  ‘’prior to the Syria crisis, malnutrition was not common in Lebanon or Syria, so UNICEF and other actors have had to educate public health providers on the detection, monitoring and treatment’’ even before beginning to deal with the issue itself.
However, it was already on the rise: ‘’malnutrition was a challenge to Syria even before the conflict’’, said a UNICEF report released this year. ‘’The number of stunted children – those too short for their age and whose brain may not properly develop – rose from 23 to 29 per cent between 2009 and 2011.’’
Malnutrition experienced in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from pregnancy to two years old) results in lifelong consequences, including greater susceptibility to illness, obesity, reduced cognitive abilities and lower development potential of the nation they live in.
Azar noted that ‘’malnutrition is a concern due to the deteriorating food security faced by refugees before they left Syria’’ as well as ‘’the increase in food prices during winter.’’
The Syrian economy has been crippled by the conflict and crop production has fallen drastically. Violence has destroyed farms, razed fields and displaced farmers.
The price of basic foodstuffs has become prohibitive in many areas. On a visit to rebel-held areas in the northern Idlib province autumn of 2013, residents told IPS that the cost of staples such as rice and bread had risen by more than ten times their cost prior to the conflict, and in other areas inflation was worse.
Jihad Yazigi , an expert on the Syrian economy, argued in a European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR) policy brief published earlier this year that the war economy, which ‘’both feeds directly off the violence and incentivises continued fighting’’, was becoming ever more entrenched.
Meanwhile, political prisoners who have been released as a result of amnesties tell stories of severe water and food deprivation within jails. Many were detained on the basis of peaceful activities, including exercising their right to freedom of expression and providing humanitarian aid, on the basis of a counterterrorism law adopted by the government in July 2012.
There are no accurate figures available for Syria’s prison population. However, the monitoring group, Violations Documentation Centre, reports that 40,853 people detained since the start of the uprising in March 2011 remain in jail.
Maher Esber, a former political prisoner who was in one of Syria’s most notorious jails between 2006 and 2011 and is now an activist living in the Lebanese capital, told IPS that it was normal for taps to be turned on for only 10 minutes per day for drinking and hygiene purposes in the detention facilities.
Much of the country’s water supply has also been damaged or destroyed over the past years, with knock-on effects on infectious diseases and malnutrition. A major pumping station in Aleppo was damaged on May 10, leaving roughly half what was previously Syria’s most populated city without running water. Relentless regime barrel bombing has made it impossible to fix the mains, and experts have warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe for those still inside the city.
The U.N. decision earlier this month was made subsequent to refusal by the Syrian regime to comply with a February resolution demanding rapid, safe, and unhindered access, and the Syrian regime had warned that it considered non-authorised aid deliveries into rebel-held areas as an attack.
— IPS

Comment

Shelly Kittleson in Beirut

Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
Most who make it across the Syria-Lebanon border live in informal settlements in extremely poor hygienic conditions, which for many means diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, and – for the most vulnerable – sometimes death.
By the end of January, almost 40,000 Syrian children had been born as refugees, while the total number of minors who had fled abroad quadrupled to over 1.2 million between March 2013 and March 2014.

Most vulnerable
Most who make it across the Syria-Lebanon border live in informal settlements in extremely poor hygienic conditions, which for many means diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, and – for the most vulnerable – sometimes death.
Lack of proper healthcare, food and clean water has resulted in countless loss of life during the Syrian conflict, now well into its fourth year. These deaths are left out of the daily tallies of ‘war casualties’, even as stunted bodies and emaciated faces peer out of photos from areas under siege.
The case of the Yarmouk Palestinian camp on the outskirts of Damascus momentarily grabbed the international community’s attention earlier this year, when Amnesty International released a report detailing the deaths of nearly 200 people under a government siege. Many other areas have experienced and continue to suffer the same fate, out of the public spotlight.
A Palestinian-Syrian originally from Yarmouk who has escaped abroad told IPS that some of her family members are still in Hajar Al-Aswad, an area near Damascus with a population of roughly 600,000 prior to the conflict. She said that those trapped in the area were suffering ‘’as badly if not worse than in Yarmouk’’ and had been subjected to equally brutal starvation tactics. The area has, however, failed to garner similar attention.
The city of Homs, one of the first to rise up against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, was also kept under regime siege for three years until May of this year, when Syrian troops and foreign Hezbollah fighters took control.
With the Syria conflict well into its fourth year, the U.N. Security Council decided for the first time on July 14 to authorize cross-border aid without the Assad government’s approval via four border crossings in neighbouring states. The resolution established a monitoring mechanism for a 180-day period for loading aid convoys in Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
The first supplies will include water sanitation tablets and hygiene kits, essential to preventing the water-borne diseases responsible for diarrhoea – which, in turn, produces severe states of malnutrition.
Miram Azar, from UNICEF’s Beirut office, told IPS that  ‘’prior to the Syria crisis, malnutrition was not common in Lebanon or Syria, so UNICEF and other actors have had to educate public health providers on the detection, monitoring and treatment’’ even before beginning to deal with the issue itself.
However, it was already on the rise: ‘’malnutrition was a challenge to Syria even before the conflict’’, said a UNICEF report released this year. ‘’The number of stunted children – those too short for their age and whose brain may not properly develop – rose from 23 to 29 per cent between 2009 and 2011.’’
Malnutrition experienced in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from pregnancy to two years old) results in lifelong consequences, including greater susceptibility to illness, obesity, reduced cognitive abilities and lower development potential of the nation they live in.
Azar noted that ‘’malnutrition is a concern due to the deteriorating food security faced by refugees before they left Syria’’ as well as ‘’the increase in food prices during winter.’’
The Syrian economy has been crippled by the conflict and crop production has fallen drastically. Violence has destroyed farms, razed fields and displaced farmers.
The price of basic foodstuffs has become prohibitive in many areas. On a visit to rebel-held areas in the northern Idlib province autumn of 2013, residents told IPS that the cost of staples such as rice and bread had risen by more than ten times their cost prior to the conflict, and in other areas inflation was worse.
Jihad Yazigi , an expert on the Syrian economy, argued in a European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR) policy brief published earlier this year that the war economy, which ‘’both feeds directly off the violence and incentivises continued fighting’’, was becoming ever more entrenched.
Meanwhile, political prisoners who have been released as a result of amnesties tell stories of severe water and food deprivation within jails. Many were detained on the basis of peaceful activities, including exercising their right to freedom of expression and providing humanitarian aid, on the basis of a counterterrorism law adopted by the government in July 2012.
There are no accurate figures available for Syria’s prison population. However, the monitoring group, Violations Documentation Centre, reports that 40,853 people detained since the start of the uprising in March 2011 remain in jail.
Maher Esber, a former political prisoner who was in one of Syria’s most notorious jails between 2006 and 2011 and is now an activist living in the Lebanese capital, told IPS that it was normal for taps to be turned on for only 10 minutes per day for drinking and hygiene purposes in the detention facilities.
Much of the country’s water supply has also been damaged or destroyed over the past years, with knock-on effects on infectious diseases and malnutrition. A major pumping station in Aleppo was damaged on May 10, leaving roughly half what was previously Syria’s most populated city without running water. Relentless regime barrel bombing has made it impossible to fix the mains, and experts have warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe for those still inside the city.
The U.N. decision earlier this month was made subsequent to refusal by the Syrian regime to comply with a February resolution demanding rapid, safe, and unhindered access, and the Syrian regime had warned that it considered non-authorised aid deliveries into rebel-held areas as an attack.
— IPS


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 ISLAMABAD DIARY 

Imran Khan to stage a huge protest march

Jonaid Iqbal

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief, Imran Khan, has threatened to lead a march of a million protestors on Independence Day – August 14 and shepherd them to D Chowk of Islamabad, a square cloose to the Capitol Hill.
Khan strongly criticized former chief justice of Pakistan and made four demands regarding the irregularities in the 2013 elections. Obviously, Mr. Zardari used the word in a different frame, as a lesson in good governance. “People elected a prime minister and not a king; so don’t act like one,” he advised Mr. Sharif who could be interfering in provincial affairs, so thought Mr. Zardari. The former president, seemingly backed Imran Khan’s claim to re-do audit votes cast in favor of Pakistan Muslim League-N, in May 11 elections last year.
This time though Khan has borrowed the idea from Afghanistan where presidential candidates - Mr. Abdullah - Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani- agree at Mr. John Kerry’s behest - to audit votes cast in Afghanistan election, and thus take care of each side’s fraudulent vote casting. Khan thinks he can replicate the same idea and succeed in his attempt to become the next Pakistan prime minister.
Perhaps the lackadaisical reason might be the approach adopted by the majority PML-N party, which might be in driving seat, but it is increasingly suffering many reverses in delivering usual daily requirements of the public. Its record might be as dismal as it was during PPP’s previous regime. Certainly PML-N has not delivered on the promise to end power outage, even at Lahore, Nawaz Sharif’s chief city, presently suffering power outage 12 hours each day.
Another question of poor delivery is manifest in public query seeking answers to what the government might have done to curb prices of eatables and goods even during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Public is not readily satisfied with this government claim to haves reduced cost of grocery and fruits in weekly bazaars, by about 30 per cent, in comparison with rates of open market.
According to daily market visitors, the price at the weekly bazaar is still at least 50 per cent higher over last year’s. Retail stores still charge cut throat prices, though they announce 50 % discount, in another trick of 50 per cent reduction, after increasing prices by about 200 per cent. The public wants to know what gains, if any, has come to the common man, after the dollar rates came down to Rs 98 and liquid foreign currency increased to US$ 14 billion?
As for Mr. Khan’s anticipated million marches the programme could have drowned in political cacophony had it not been taken rather seriously by Information Minister Pervez Rashid or Railways Minister Saad Rafique: the PML-N government that announced a separate rally near the same venue - or close to it - on the same Independence day.
The comments of these two government stalwarts could have added fillip to PTI’s project because at present mainstream parties such as the PPP and ANP are not with Imran Khan. They castigate PTI project as dangerous to democracy.
At present, the protest rally does not appear to be an act of fulmination. Some people seem to think that Mr. Khan might enjoy powerful backing from some quarters.

Comment

Jonaid Iqbal

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief, Imran Khan, has threatened to lead a march of a million protestors on Independence Day – August 14 and shepherd them to D Chowk of Islamabad, a square cloose to the Capitol Hill.
Khan strongly criticized former chief justice of Pakistan and made four demands regarding the irregularities in the 2013 elections. Obviously, Mr. Zardari used the word in a different frame, as a lesson in good governance. “People elected a prime minister and not a king; so don’t act like one,” he advised Mr. Sharif who could be interfering in provincial affairs, so thought Mr. Zardari. The former president, seemingly backed Imran Khan’s claim to re-do audit votes cast in favor of Pakistan Muslim League-N, in May 11 elections last year.
This time though Khan has borrowed the idea from Afghanistan where presidential candidates - Mr. Abdullah - Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani- agree at Mr. John Kerry’s behest - to audit votes cast in Afghanistan election, and thus take care of each side’s fraudulent vote casting. Khan thinks he can replicate the same idea and succeed in his attempt to become the next Pakistan prime minister.
Perhaps the lackadaisical reason might be the approach adopted by the majority PML-N party, which might be in driving seat, but it is increasingly suffering many reverses in delivering usual daily requirements of the public. Its record might be as dismal as it was during PPP’s previous regime. Certainly PML-N has not delivered on the promise to end power outage, even at Lahore, Nawaz Sharif’s chief city, presently suffering power outage 12 hours each day.
Another question of poor delivery is manifest in public query seeking answers to what the government might have done to curb prices of eatables and goods even during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Public is not readily satisfied with this government claim to haves reduced cost of grocery and fruits in weekly bazaars, by about 30 per cent, in comparison with rates of open market.
According to daily market visitors, the price at the weekly bazaar is still at least 50 per cent higher over last year’s. Retail stores still charge cut throat prices, though they announce 50 % discount, in another trick of 50 per cent reduction, after increasing prices by about 200 per cent. The public wants to know what gains, if any, has come to the common man, after the dollar rates came down to Rs 98 and liquid foreign currency increased to US$ 14 billion?
As for Mr. Khan’s anticipated million marches the programme could have drowned in political cacophony had it not been taken rather seriously by Information Minister Pervez Rashid or Railways Minister Saad Rafique: the PML-N government that announced a separate rally near the same venue - or close to it - on the same Independence day.
The comments of these two government stalwarts could have added fillip to PTI’s project because at present mainstream parties such as the PPP and ANP are not with Imran Khan. They castigate PTI project as dangerous to democracy.
At present, the protest rally does not appear to be an act of fulmination. Some people seem to think that Mr. Khan might enjoy powerful backing from some quarters.


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