Tag Archive | "NRO"

LIVE WITH TALAT on Aaj Tv: Nov 18

Status Quo and options going forward. Guests: Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N), Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi (PPP) and Wasim Akhtar (MQM)

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ISLAMABAD TONIGHT with Nadeem Malik: Nov 18

Gallup Pakistan latest poll. Guests: Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed (President AML), Fouzia Wahab (PPP), Anjum Niaz and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra (PML-N)

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Zardari attempt to fend off moves by military, intel

By Robert Windrem
Senior investigative producer
NBC News

Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders are tangling in a series of political confrontations that could lead to a constitutional crisis or worse after the New Year, officials in both Islamabad and Washington tell NBC News.

With the tenor and volume of debate rising over America’s commitment to Afghanistan, that struggle is complicating U.S. strategy to stabilize the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

It’s not only that dozens are dying every week in suicide bombings or that there are concerns that the Pakistani military will not be able to hold the territory it has won in hard-fought battles in South Waziristan. The more profound issue, say Pakistani and U.S. officials, is the fate of President Asif Ali Zardari, who is engaged in a seemingly never-ending battles with the country’s powerful military and intelligence establishments.

In recent weeks, say officials, opponents of Zardari have begun raising the stakes, setting up what some are calling a “soft coup … a legislative coup” – an attempt to force Zardari out.

End to amnesty
On Nov. 2, legislators opposed to Zardari, along with the military and intelligence community, thwarted an attempt by his Pakistani People’s Party to hammer through an extension of the National Reconciliation Ordinance.

The innocuously named law, pushed through at the behest of the U.S. in 2007, froze criminal prosecutions against Zardari, his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, and their allies. Without the NRO, Bhutto would not have returned to run for president. Not long after she did return, she was assassinated, and her husband succeeded her as head of the PPP, winning the presidential election last year. Parliament has until Nov. 28 to renew the NRO. But on Nov. 2, other parties in the PPP-led coalition, along with the parliamentary opposition and the military, thwarted Zardari. Analysts in Pakistan and the U.S. say there is no chance the NRO will be renewed by the deadline, and in fact, Prime Minister Yusef Reza Gilani said this week it’s dead.

As a result, say Pakistani officials, several cases involving Zardari cronies — some of them high-ranking officials — are likely to move forward. One Pakistani official familiar with all the parties said that while he can’t see the president stepping down, he expects a constitutional crisis early in the year, as the prosecutors close in first on his aides, then him. “Nothing before (next year), but almost certainly by then,” said the official.

One potential issue is whether Zardari has presidential immunity for any crimes committed before he was elected. He may have it for his time in office, but it’s uncertain that he does for any crimes alleged before he assumed office.

Deep rift in power structure
U.S. officials are said to be alarmed by the development. It cannot have come as a surprise, however.

The top of the Pakistani power structure is riven by deep, personal and professional animosity between military and civilian leaders. As one senior Pakistani official reports, Zardari and Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani “hate each other” — and each is trying to ensure that other can’t threaten him, often against U.S. interests.

The stalemate over the NRO extension is just the latest move by the military. What Zardari will do to counter that is uncertain, but he is certainly trying to get help from his allies in the U.S. government.

The prospect of a military takeover — long an option in Pakistan — is overblown, say officials in both the government and the military. Kayani is indeed ambitious but he understands the consequences of a military takeover, particularly with regard to continued U.S. military aid, said one official.

“This government does not believe we are trying to be supportive,” said an officer in the Pakistani intelligence community. “There are no political ambitions in the army. The past relationship between the army and government … the previous experiences have been very bad … This government still does not believe that a transformation has occurred.”

“We want them to do their jobs, we want to do ours,” he concluded.

But does Kayani want to be a kingmaker? Under one scenario, he eschews a coup but instead maneuvers to have a “government of national unity,” populated with technocrats, replace Zardari.

Both fear Sharif
On the other side, Pakistani officials say Zardari understands the very real and dire consequences of firing Kayani. So there is a stalemate and no clear leadership. Both sides fear Zardari’s chief political rival, the charismatic but more religious Nawaz Sharif, and would band together to thwart any power play he might attempt. At least, that’s long been Zardari’s plan. (Sharif is banned from serving as head of government under a constitutional amendment pushed through by former President Pervez Musharraf. Zardari promised to remove the ban but hasn’t followed through.)

But the NRO stalemate, say officials in Pakistan and the United States, is just the latest in a string of crises. Only last month, there was the controversy over whether the U.S. had put onerous burdens on Pakistan in return for a $7.5 billion aid package.

With Congress unhappy about reports that previous counterterrorism aid had been diverted to conventional forces and fearing that some of the money might be funneled to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development, the bill laid out restrictions and requirements on how the money was to be spent.

The military began a public relations campaign assailing the restrictions. The officer in the Pakistani intelligence community told NBC that clauses in the bill were believed to be “instrusive,” “derogatory” and a “legislative indictment – assumptions we’re not doing all we can against militants.”

So the military leaked the details of the U.S. objections. In a particularly telling choice of words, the intelligence officer said the leaks occurred because Kayani is, “in some ways, leading a political party. His public has to know why he does what he does.”

Not meant ‘to cause trouble’
The officer said it was not done “to cause trouble for government. It was to show rank and file (in the Pakistani military) that that army is taking a stand for what’s best for country, and to make clear these clauses we felt were detrimental to the long-term security of the country.”

Specifically, the officer as well as others in the Pakistani government friendly to the army said none of the three drafts of the U.S.-Pakistani agreement “were ever discussed with anyone in the Army or ISI” (Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate).

Zardari’s people deny that. One official said Kayani was briefed “in full and in person” on the details of the bill and is playing the “babe in the woods” claiming to be blindsided for reasons that are unclear. He said that under Musharraf, who is also a former army chief, the previous aid bills had similar language and “no one cared.” This time, it’s a bigger deal because of the rift and lack of trust between the two leaders.

If that was the case, however, why didn’t Zardari leak the communications showing the military was briefed? asked one military official. Indeed, the military feels confident it will emerge as the survivor in all this, with Zardari’s popularity now measured in the teens in almost every Pakistani public opinion poll.

How does this all play out in terms of relations with the U.S.? Often, the Americans are caught in the middle.

Amid the dispute over the Kerry-Lugar bill on the aid package and who got briefed and when, the U.S. and Pakistani governments had to issue a “joint explanatory statement” that was attached to the legislation. In essence, it tried to assuage the military’s fears while renewing the U.S. commitment to “help strengthen the institutions of democratic governance.”

Seen as a victory for the military, the four-page statement was interspersed with underlined sentences that emphasized a hands-off approach regarding Pakistani national security. The key one: “The legislation does not seek in any way to compromise Pakistan’s sovereignty, impinge on Pakistan’s security interests or micromanage any aspect of Pakistani military or civilian operations.”

While the bill has passed the U.S. Congress, it now must be accepted by Pakistan’s parliament — and that is not a done deal, in spite of Pakistan’s dire economic straits. The reason: an increasingly virulent anti-Americanism that now reaches every level of Pakistani society, including the military.

“Americans may think General Kayani is pro-American,” said one senior Pakistani official. “He is not.”

The anti-Americanism is manifested particularly in Pakistani fears of abandonment. Pakistanis have seen this before: The U.S. denied all aid to Pakistan in 1992 after U.S. intelligence determined the Pakistani military had assembled nuclear weapons during a crisis the year before, violating the Pressler Amendment on aid to Pakistan. The experience left Pakistani leaders bitter – and, according to U.S. officials, paranoid.

Two recent stories being passed around Islamabad are indicative of the sentiment. Both are associated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit with Kayani on Oct. 29, one of several she was required to have, given Pakistan’s deeply divided government.

In one story, Kayani presented Clinton with “evidence” of a conspiracy involving the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and India’s intelligence agency, RAW. According to the story, the three agencies had been responsible for some of the terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds in Pakistani cities.

In the other, Kayani supposedly told Clinton that Pakistan was aware the U.S. has been talking to the Taliban through the good offices of Saudi King Abdullah and didn’t appreciate it. Indeed, Kayani did dispatch his ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, to Riyadh to meet the king.

The U.S. denies both stories.

There is also something else at work here. At their core, Pakistanis are angry, not just about the upheaval and violence that threatens civil society, or the inability of their government and their army to deal with it. They are angry because their rival, India, is now seen by the U.S. public as a land of opportunity, where even a “slumdog” can make his fortune, while their homeland is viewed as a basket case of political intrigue and intractable Islamic militancy.
Bottom line: The next few months are likely to produce even more grist for that belief, as winter closes in on the mountainous border regions of South Waziristan, bogging down the Pakistani military, amid increasing terrorist attacks and collapsing leadership.

“Until and unless Pakistan views security and stability as internal and not related to India or the United States, chaos and confusion will threaten it,” said a western security official. “Right now, the prognosis is not very good.”

(Note: Article sourced from NBC News website)

Robert Windrem is an NBC News producer and research fellow at the NYU Center for Law and Security. Contributing to this report were NBC News’ Carol Grisanti from Islamabad and Amna Nawaz from Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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MERAY MUTABIQ with Dr. Shahid Masood: Nov 16

NRO, Balochistan package, PPP CEC meeting today, Zardari’s status in future. Guests: Dr. Qadir Magsi (Baloch leader), Dr. Farruk Saleem (Analyst)and Haroon Rashid (Columnist)

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MERAY MUTABIQ with Dr. Shahid Masood: Nov 15

How the NRO-affected one’s including President Zardari will handle themselves after Nov 28. Guest: Qazi Md Anwar (Pres SCBA), Shafqat Mehmood (Analyst)

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Gilani rules out change in Presidency

Multan, Nov.15: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ruled out any change in Presidency, thus putting to rest all speculations regarding removal of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Following the government’ s failure to table the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in parliament, speculations about Zardari being dethroned was doing rounds in Pakistan’s political quarters.

Interacting with media persons at the airport here, Gilani said he and Zardari were ready to face the challenge, and would never compromise on their policies.

“President Asif Ali Zardari and I have gone to jail, but we never compromised. Even now, we do not fear trials,” The Dawn quoted Gilani, as saying.

He criticised people for comparing former President General Pervez Musharraf with Zardari, saying the latter has always worked for establishing the supremacy of democracy.

“He (Musharraf) was a dictator while the PPP leadership always upheld democracy and struggled for its supremacy,” Gilani said.

Responding to a question regarding the safety of country’s nuclear installations, Gilani said Pakistan would never compromise on its nuclear programme and that the country’s nuclear assets were safe under the Nuclear Command and Control Authority.

“Although there are some enemies who do not want to see a nuclear-armed Pakistan, but I want to make it clear that there will no compromise on the country’s nuclear programme,” he added.

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BOLTA PAKISTAN on Aaj Tv: Nov 13

Callers’ day. Mushtaq Minhas and Nusrat Javed discuss visitors’ issues and currect political and security crisis.

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NRO after Nov 28 and allegation of Zardari kickback in French Agosta submarine case. Guests: Justice (R) Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, Iqbal Haidar (PPP) and Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N)

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Money-laundering charges may come to haunt Sharifs again

PKonweb Monitor

As November 28 approaches - the day the infamous NRO will automatically slip into sunset, news reports of several high-profile cases have now started appearing in the electronic and print media.

One such report relates to the Sharif brothers.

Citing one of their close associates and a high-profile PML-N leader, Ishaq Dar, a private TV channel (DawnNews) reported today that the Sharif brothers had allegedly indulged in money laundering.

Quoting the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sources, the channel claimed that a 43-page confessional statement of Senator Ishaq Dar was recorded on April 25th, 2000 before the District Magistrate Lahore.

Dar was produced before the court by the then Assistant Director Basharat Shahzad, of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Dar, in his statement had admitted that he had been handling the money matters of the Sharif family and he also alleged that Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif were involved in money laundering. In this context, Ishaq Dar accused Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

Senator Ishaq Dar was the main witness against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif in the case.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is still pending in the National Accountability Bureau. If the case is reopened, the Sharif brothers may discover that the tightening noose around them was originally prepared by no one other than one of their own family members and trusted lieutenant Senator Ishaq Dar, the channel added.

The National Reconstruction Ordinance (NRO) which was promulgated by General Musharraf (Retd) on October 06, 2007 essentially to provide legitimacy to Peoples Party leaders’ participation in the February 2008 elections, actually lapsed on January 04, 2008, even before the polls were held, according to former President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Ch Aitzaz Ahsan.

Aitzaz has maintained that the cases of those who got benefited under NRO before January 04, 2008 would not reopen, however, the cases of those who got benefited after February 04 will reopen.

He advised such people to approach the courts for pre-arrest bail in criminal cases.

“In case of NAB cases they should move the Supreme Court for bail before arrest,” Aitzaz said. He said President and Governors have immunity under Article-248 and no court could summons them.

It is not clear if Sharif brothers’ Hudaibiya Paper Mills case will be or could be reopened. PML-N claims that none of its party leaders had any corruption related cases withdrawn or set aside under NRO. Even PML-Q maintains similar stance. MQM says none of its cases were corruption related but it is claimed that many of its party workers and cadre leaders had cases pending in court but they call these eseentially of ‘political in nature’.

Details of Dawn report on Sharif ‘white paper’ case:

The Musharraf government prepared a money laundering reference against PML-N leaders Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif in 2000 on the basis of a statement recorded by one of their trusted lieutenants, Senator Ishaq Dar, according to a court document seen by Dawn here on Thursday.

Senator Dar’s handwritten statement, given before a magistrate back on April 25, 2000, had alleged that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.

The reference was prepared on the orders of then president Pervez Musharraf, but it was shelved after the Sharif brothers went into exile in December of the same year.

The Musharraf government tried to reopen the reference in 2007 after Nawaz Sharif announced his return to the country.

The confessional statement of Senator Ishaq Dar was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore. He was brought to the court from a jail by Basharat Shahzad, who was then serving as assistant director in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

According to legal experts, the senator’s deposition was an `irrevocable statement’ as had been recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Senator Ishaq Dar has always been regarded as one of the closest aides of the Sharif family, and is now also a relative as his son is married to Nawaz Sharif’s younger daughter.

However, the NAB record clearly shows that back in 2000 he had agreed to give a written statement against the Sharifs about their alleged involvement in money laundering.

The top PML-N leaders had hit a rough patch by then as some of their lieutenants were busy developing a new political system for Gen Pervez Musharraf after his Oct 1999 military coup.

In the statement, Ishaq Dar accused Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

At one point in the 43-page statement, Mr Dar said that on the instructions of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, ‘I opened two foreign currency accounts in the name of Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi with the foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family in the Bank of America by signing as Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi’.

He said that all instructions to the bank in the name of these two persons were signed by him under the orders of ‘original depositors’, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

‘The foreign currency accounts of Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi were opened in Bank of America by Naeem Mehmood under my instructions (based on instructions of Sharifs) by signing the same as Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi.’

The document shows Dar stated that besides these foreign currency accounts, a previously opened foreign currency account of Saeed Ahmed, a former director of First Hajvari Modaraba Co and close friend of Dar, and of Mussa Ghani, the nephew of Dar’s wife, were also used to deposit huge foreign currency funds provided by ‘the Sharif family’ to offer them as collateral to obtain different direct and indirect credit lines.

Senator Dar had disclosed that the Bank of America, Citibank, Atlas Investment Bank, Al Barka Bank and Al Towfeeq Investment Bank were used under the instructions of the Sharif family.

Interestingly enough, Ishaq Dar also implicated himself by confessing in court that he — along with his friends Kamal Qureshi and Naeem Mehmood — had opened fake foreign currency accounts in different international banks.

Mr Dar said an amount of $3.725 million in Emirates Bank, $ 8.539 million in Al Faysal Bank and $2.622 million were later transferred in the accounts of the accounts Hudaibya Paper Mills.

He said that the entire amount in these banks finally landed in the accounts of the paper mills.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is still pending in the National Accountability Bureau.

If it is opened again, the Sharif brothers may be in for a rude shock: a confidant is to blame for the albatross around their necks.

In this regard Dawn made repeated efforts to contact Senator Dar on telephone, but without luck as his mobile number was switched off and he did not reply to text messages.

However, a PML-N spokesman Siddiq ul Farooq alleged that the signed statement was extracted from Mr Ishaq Dar under duress.

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BOLTA PAKISTAN with Aaj Tv: Nov 11

Gilgit-Baltistan elections pre-poll analysis and each party’s slogan. Guests: Shakeel Ahmed, Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman, Ch. Manzoor Ahmed (PPP), Marvi Memon (PML-Q) and Sajid Ahmed

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3,576 corruption cases disposed of per NRO in Sindh

Some 3,576 corruption and criminal cases were disposed of under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in Sindh province alone after the present government came to power after perliamentary elections in 2008.

This was stated by Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro here on Wednesday. He said amongst those who benefited from the ordinance are well-known political figures, government officials, industrialists and capitalists.

He, however, declined to release the list of names of those who benefited under the NRO stating that the Law Ministry officials were still compiling data of the cases decided and it would take some time before the exercise was complete.

NRO, described by all and sundry as a ‘black law’ was promulgated by the former military dictator and president Pervez Musharraf allegedly to prolong his power.

“After we are fully satisfied that the list of the beneficiaries is complete then it will be forwarded to the Federal Law Ministry. The release of the list will be decided by the federal government,” said Soomro.

Federal Law Ministry on directive from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered all the four provincial governments to compile lists of the NRO beneficiaries after he came under tremendous pressure from civil society and the opposition parties to make public the names of those who benefited from the controversial ordinance.

The government was to table the NRO in Parliament, but decided against after its coalition partners, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), Pakistan Muslimm League-Functional and majority of Fata members of National Assembly decided to vote against the bill.
{Source: Khaleej Times}

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BOLTA PAKISTAN on Aaj Tv: Nov 10

Time to establish Mohalla Committees and civil vigilantism to fight suicide attacks? Gas loadshedding issue. Guests: Dr. Gulfrazr Ahmed and Sen Dr. Safdar Abbasi (PPP)

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Talk Shows

  • BOLTA PAKISTAN on Aaj Tv: Nov 18
    November 19, 2009 | 11:35 am

    Moon issue during Eid. Guests: Sardar Yaqoob Khan, Anwar Sajidi, Babar Ayaz, Ch. Daniyal Aziz and Dr. Pervaiz Tahir.

  • KAL TAK with Javed Choudhry: Nov 18
    November 19, 2009 | 11:26 am

    Transparency International Report on Pakistan placing it on 139nd position. Guests: Firdous Ashiq Awan (PPP), Athar Minallah (Sr Advocate) and Dr. Farrukh Saleem (Analyst)

  • LIVE WITH TALAT on Aaj Tv: Nov 18
    November 19, 2009 | 10:45 am

    Status Quo and options going forward. Guests: Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N), Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi (PPP) and Wasim Akhtar (MQM)

  • ISLAMABAD TONIGHT with Nadeem Malik: Nov 18
    November 19, 2009 | 7:02 am

    Gallup Pakistan latest poll. Guests: Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed (President AML), Fouzia Wahab (PPP), Anjum Niaz and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra (PML-N)

  • OFF THE RECORD with Kashif Abbasi: Nov 18
    November 19, 2009 | 6:58 am

    Corruption in Pakistan and Transparency International’s latest report. Guests: Asma Arbab Alamgir (PPP), Capt. (R) Safdar (PML-N) and Haroon Rasheed (Analyst)

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