Pakistan has twice as many women MPs in India


Times of India
Reservation to ensure fair representation of women in national legislative bodies seems more the norm than the exception globally, with almost 100 countries having some kind of quota system or the other in place. India happens to be in a minority group of over 20 countries that have no system at all to ensure a more gender-balanced national legislature. Hopefully that is soon set to change.

The average proportion of women in the national legislature is 18.5% for the Asian region, considered low by international standards, but almost twice as high as in India (11%). Even within South Asia, only Sri Lanka with 6% has a worse record. Both countries have no quota system for women in their parliaments.

In Pakistan, 22% of the National Assembly seats are held by women, made possible through the quota policy that reserves 17.5% of seats for women. In Nepal, the proportion of women members is 33% thanks to the constitutional stipulation that women must constitute at least 33% of the candidates and electoral laws that mandate that 50% of any party’s candidates should be women. In Bangladesh, a constitutional amendment was brought in to reintroduce quotas for women, by which 45 seats out of the total 345 seats are reserved for women. Following the 2008 election, Bangladesh’s parliament has 65 women MPs, which is 19% of the total seats. Incidentally, China has 21% women in the National People’s Congress without any quota policy.

Rwanda, which has reserved seats for women, happens to be the only country in the world with more women (56%) than men in their national legislative body. This is followed by Sweden with 47%, South Africa (45%), Iceland (43%), Argentina (42%), the Netherlands (41%) and Norway and Senegal with 40%. In the list of 11 countries with the highest representation of women in their national legislature, five (Sweden, South Africa, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway) have voluntary political party quotas for women. Angola and Costa Rica, both with 37% seats occupied by women, have electoral laws granting quotas. Only two countries in the list Denmark (38%) and Senegal have no quota system.

The widely accepted benchmark to ensure a critical mass of women parliamentarians is 30%. Yet, the proportion of women in parliaments globally stood at just 18.8% in December 2009, according to the Inter parliamentary Union (IPU). By July 2008, 21 countries had successfully met the 30% critical mass target and about a quarter of these were Nordic countries known for long-standing efforts to increase the participation of women, according to the Parliamentary Research division of Canada. Another quarter were so-called post-conflict countries, which took advantage of rebuilding efforts to implement electoral reforms and political party practices, thus jump-starting the effort to boost the representation of women.

It was also noted that a majority of countries that reached the 30% benchmark had done so through measures such as proportional representation systems and electoral quotas. Countries that rely solely on the usual majority electoral system show low levels of representation of women.

The data put together on countries with quota mandated through electoral law or the constitution also indicates that having strict legal sanctions for contravention of the quota system also can show results. For instance, in Argentina, where party lists that do not comply with the electoral law will not be approved, the proportion is 42%. In Belgium, where if a party fails to comply with the gender composition , their list shall be refused by electoral authorities.

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Myth of South Waziristan Broken: Gen. Kayani


ISLAMABAD: Sitting under a portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with a huge blazing red calligraphy on his left and an impressive piece of framed Chinese embroidery on his right, recalling the deaths at the Parade Lane of four young sons of his officers who were Hufaz-e-Quran, COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani emerged as the first Army chief to resort to speak to the Americans and their Western allies in words and images that they cannot fail to understand.

One of the last few senior generals to have undertaken military training in the US until the Pressler Amendment was slapped on Pakistan, the US and its allies are now not only listening but also understanding as the COAS uses the symbols of American legendary golfer Tiger Woods on his power point display and comparing full bases at a baseball game to some of the war situations on the Pak-Afghan border.

In a meeting at the GHQ, with analysts and retired senior generals, some under whose command he had served, the COAS opened up his mind and heart to dwell on the dangers facing Pakistan militarily, and the region, and ways and means that the military leadership thinks are the solutions to ensure that at the end of the war, Pakistan does not find itself in the ‘wrong corner of the room’. The interaction continued for nearly three hours.

Speaking on and off therecord, the COAS shared with the participants the presentation that he had made at Nato headquarters in Brussels, where generals from 45 countries heard him, and which many Western military analysts told The News, was a “make and break” presentation, which got the Western military leadership not only ‘educated’, but confess amongst themselves “all” that they were doing “wrong” inside Afghanistan.

One of the direct results of this Brussels presentation, which even the Foreign Office agrees, resulted in the final push which made India coming reluctantly to the negotiating table. The COAS had convinced Nato and others why it was important for him to have his eastern border peaceful.

The proudest moment for any Pakistani was to hear and readily believe that the ‘myth’ of South Waziristan had been broken and the military operations before that in Swat and Malakand in the words of the Army chief, “We did it with no help from the United States. Daily I would receive calls if we needed any help and we replied we needed nothing”.

He was very clear about what was best for Pakistan in these days of turmoil. “Partnership (with the US) does not mean you desire and I start doing it,” said the COAS. He said with the US military aid still in the pipeline, “In many cases I have eaten into my reserves.” While acknowledging he said there has to be a balance for a military budget and one for development as well.

The fear was, said Kayani, even if his military had accepted 5%, it would have been blown up to 50%. The COAS earlier had met General Stanley A McChrystal, Commander International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, at a time when everyone in the region was still waiting for the US to explain in detail the policies that will take them up to the time that they are ready to leave the region.

“I told McChrystal that the acid test of a policy is that options should increase,” he said, adding that he believed that the only way to measure success inside Afghanistan was to gauge the public support and not the number of people you kill.

“Today, this is McCrystal’s policy inside Afghanistan, where they talk of a political process and reconciliation. Finally, there is realisation today,” added the chief. Looking at the US Afghan strategy, Kayani says he has clearly told the US that raising an Afghan Army in the stipulated time is not possible, and weaning away of the Taliban will only happen if the US is seen willing inside Afghanistan.

“This has not happened and the perception has not been formed. Only when you win over 70%, you are really winning,” he added. He also does not shy away from telling his US visitors that the bulk of Nato supplies are still going through Pakistan and they will continue to do so, and threats of looking for alternative routes do not impress him.

South Waziristan “We had a history of mismanaged operations in South Waziristan and there was a myth that no-one has ever come here and controlled the area. If we had turned back, we would have destroyed the credibility of the military”.

The victory in South Waziristan, the chief said, was because of motivation of the troops, changed tactics of engaging the adversaries from the dangerous ridges of mountains instead of the customary land routes which also resulted in fewer casualties.

Swat operation The COAS said there was no example in history of what the Pakistan military accomplished in the Swat operation and which successfully changed the public opinion. It was the largest heliborne operation.

“So when we send foreign defence chiefs to Swat, we have a story to tell. When I accompanied Admiral Mike Mullen and showed him how we had done the operation, including showing him the gorges there, his response was, “I will send General McChrystal to see this”.

The last visitor was US National Security Advisor James Jones, who heard for himself from educated locals how unpopular the Americans were.

India-centric

Kayani says he did not mince his words when he told Nato that he was India-centric and there was logic behind this. There was no way he could relax on his eastern border to concentrate fully on the west.

“We have unresolved issues, a history of conflict and now the Cold Start doctrine. Help us resolve these issues. We want peaceful co-existence with India. India has the capability and intentions can change overnight,” Kayani had told his audience in Brussels.

Nato is also realising why it is important for Pakistan to help train the Afghan Army because Pakistan could strategically simply not tolerate an Afghan Army trained by the Indians and having an Indian mindset.

Pak-Nato ratio

It is not easy for any commander to count his dead when the killing fields are still alive. But Kayani told Nato how Pakistan in 2009, lost 2,273 soldiers with another 6,512 being wounded.

“Pakistan as one nation lost 2,273 soldiers while US/Nato in the same period lost 1,582. We have 10,000 troops on UN missions,” recalled the COAS. Pakistan has contributed 147,000 troops to its “silent surge” while 43 nations in Afghanistan have sent a mere 100,000.

Pakistan mans 82 posts at the Pak-Afghan border while the coalition and Afghan Army have only 112. “Pakistan’s operations have decreased cross border movements, there is control of areas, squeezing of spaces, and continuous flow of logistic flow,” pointed the COAS. For a man of “few words” when he was DG ISI, today Kayani is saying a lot more. All of which has to be heard loud and clear by the people of Pakistan.

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Naseem Hameed returns home to hero’s welcome


Naseem was mobbed by hundreds of fans and relatives at Karachi international airport and was then whisked to a formal reception. —AFP Photo

Naseem was mobbed by hundreds of fans and relatives at Karachi international airport and was then whisked to a formal reception. —AFP Photo

KARACHI: Pakistan overwhelmed athlete Naseem Hameed with a hero’s welcome Thursday after she became South Asia’s fastest woman by winning the 100-metre race in the regional games in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The 22-year-old clocked 11.81 seconds to clinch gold medal in the race in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games Sunday, becoming Pakistan’s first female athlete to win the sprint in the competition’s 26-year history.

Naseem was mobbed by hundreds of fans and relatives at Karachi airport, then whisked to a formal reception laid on by the southern province of Sindh.

Sindh governor Ishraul Ibaad announced that Naseem would be receive one million rupees from President Pakistan Asif Zardari and half a million rupees from his office.

“You have made the nation proud,” said Ibaad. “We are very happy and honoured by your tremendous win and hope that you will not sit on this laurel and win more medals at higher level like Olympics.”

Other cash prizes came flooding in – 500,000 rupees from Pakistan’s sports ministry, 200,000 rupees from Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal and 100,000 rupees from the Pakistan Athletics Federation.

Pakistani lawmakers demanded a full-time job and house for Naseem, who comes from Karachi’s impoverished slum area of Korangi.

The athlete said she was elated by the reception.

“I am on cloud nine,” Naseem told reporters at the airport. “I had forgotten the world for six months and trained really very, very hard under my coach Maqsood Ahmed to achieve this.”

Pakistan’s Shabana Akhtar won two gold medals for long jump in the 1993 and 1995 SAF Games.

Naseem said the win has encouraged her to go onto greater heights.

“It is a great moment for me to have brought glory to the country in my event since our athletics standards have been poor of late.

“And I will do my best to compete and win at higher levels like the Commonwealth Games and Olympics,” she vowed.

Pakistan’s Sports Minister Ijaz Jakharani pledged full support.

“These athletes are our assets and we will send them to the Commonwealth Games as well as the Olympics in the future,” Jakharani said Wednesday.

Marvi Memon, a member of Pakistan’s national assembly, demanded special funds for female athletes.

“Naseem’s victory is superb and to achieve more of this we must establish a specific fund to support female sports in the country, particularly to encourage those from poor families,” Memon said on Wednesday.

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Hafiz Saeed To Chidambaram: ‘Meet Me First Before Heading To Islamabad’


‘India Has Always Betrayed Pakistan’ – JuD Chief

LAHORE: Banned Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed says that India has always betrayed Pakistan in the name of talks.

Addressing a Kashmir Solidarity Rally here on Friday, he has asked Indian Home Minister Chidambaram to meet him first in Lahore before heading to Islamabad. Earlier, he led a rally from Chobrgi to Punjab Assembly to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day. The participants of the rally were holding placards inscribed with Kashmir slogans.

“There is only one solution to all the problems – liberate Indian-held Kashmir. Otherwise the option of JIHAD is open for us,” Saeed said.

He also warned India that the liberation of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was also on the JuD’s agenda.

Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, warned the Pakistan government not to fool the people in the name of the composite dialogue with India.

“Our rulers get happy whenever India expresses its wish for talks with Pakistan. I want to tell them that India will never talk about liberating Srinagar and Jammu and Pakistan must understand this,” he said.

“When the United States is failing to stay in Afghanistan, then how could India remain in Kashmir,” he said. The JuD chief stated India has always deceived Pakistan in the name of dialogue.

Thousands rally for Kashmir in Pakistan

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan — Thousands of people rallied across Pakistan on Friday to denounce Indian rule in Kashmir, the disputed mainly Muslim state divided between the nuclear-armed rivals.

A Pakistani public holiday, Kashmir Solidarity Day, supports the region’s right to self-determination in line with UN resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir on whether it should be ruled by India or Pakistan.

This year’s event came a day after it emerged India had proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, a breakthrough in relations that were frozen after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, blamed on Pakistani militants.

Banners and hoardings calling for Kashmir’s freedom from Indian rule were put up by main roads and intersections across Pakistan.
In the capital Islamabad, several thousand activists from hardline party Jamaat-e-Islami demonstrated and formed a human chain, an AFP photographer saw.

In Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, thousands of people took to the streets chanting “Allah Akbar” (God is greatest), “We want jihad against India” and “Kashmir will become Pakistan”, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Pakistan observed a one-minute silence at 10:00 am (0500 GMT) as a mark of respect to the more than 47,000 people killed since an insurgency broke out in mainly Muslim Indian Kashmir in 1989.

In the Pakistani-administered zone, hundreds of people from the hardline Sunni Muslim party Jamaat-e-Islami rallied in the regional capital Muzaffarabad, while hundreds of other people formed a human chain in the town of Kohala.

“I warn India to stop human violations in Indian Kashmir and pull out its forces from there. The UN and America should also stop India from its cruelties,” Raja Mohammad Naseem, a provincial minister, told participants.

Demonstrators rallied in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi and the other major cities of Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.

Kashmir was split in two in the aftermath of independence on the subcontinent when British rule ended in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim the entire territory, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring the Islamist insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the claim but has often spoken in support of the fighters.

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India Begs US Not To Leave Afghanistan


Bharat Verma

Islamabad aims to create a caliphate with the help of the Islamic regimes running from Central Asia to West Asia and Southeast Asia. India stands in the way. Beijing desires to unravel India into multiple parts based on the pre-British model as it cannot digest the challenge to its supremacy offered in Asia by a liberal union of multi-religious and multi-ethnic States.

While China and Pakistan have joined hands against India and bide their time for the American forces to leave, New Delhi has appealed to Washington not to exit from Afghanistan

With the American declaration of an exit from Afghanistan, Beijing and Islamabad are upbeat. This leaves India in the lurch as it is ill prepared to face the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists and the Chinese Communists argues Bharat Verma.

The creeping invasion by authoritarian regimes will engulf Asia by 2020 as democracies continue to retreat. India is unprepared and unwilling to safeguard the Asian democratic space.

The growing clout of totalitarian regimes coupled with non-State actors is set to shrink the democratic space in Asia. If the onslaught is not reversed by the end of the next decade, Islamic fundamentalist regimes, Communist dictatorships, military juntas and non-State actors will redraw the international boundaries and largely govern Asia.

The squeeze on the democratic space in India will increase once the American forces begin to exit Afghanistan in July 2011. Islamic fundamentalists with the assistance of the sympathetic Pakistan army will take over Afghanistan and Pakistan. This Taliban stronghold will operate on a ‘hub and spoke’ principle to expand influence and territory. To begin with, India will lose $1.5 billion (about Rs 6,900 crore) worth of investment in Afghanistan, as it is unwilling to defend it.

Islamic fundamentalism will sweep into Central Asia once the American wall holding the spread disappears from Afghanistan. Gradually, the resource rich area will come under the spell of the dark forces. Russia will feel threatened. Americans and the International Security Assistance Force are in many ways fighting Russia’s war.

Unlike New Delhi, Moscow is always willing to fight its way out!

Islamabad aims to create a caliphate with the help of the Islamic regimes running from Central Asia to West Asia and Southeast Asia. India stands in the way. Beijing desires to unravel India into multiple parts based on the pre-British model as it cannot digest the challenge to its supremacy offered in Asia by a liberal union of multi-religious and multi-ethnic States.

The simple truth is that Indian democratic values contradict and thereby pose a threat to the authoritarian philosophy of both, the Communists in Beijing, and the Islamic fundamentalists in Islamabad. Similarly, many regimes in Islamic West Asia feel uncomfortable with India’s ability to generate unprecedented soft power. Regression to medieval times helps keep these autocratic regimes in the saddle.

The all-pervading Indian soft power, therefore, poses a serious challenge. Hence, Pakistan is supported by the petro-dollars dished out on a Wahabbi checkbook to neutralise the threat posed by liberal India.

It is obvious that if the Indian model wins, autocratic regimes like China and Pakistan lose.

Primarily, there have been no terrorist attacks on India after Mumbai 26/11 on two counts. First, the raging civil war within has kept Pakistan preoccupied. Second, the intervention of the American forces has forced diversion of the Pakistan army and its non-State actors’s resources away from India. The stated exit of the Western forces beginning July 2010 from the Af-Pak region will render India extremely vulnerable.

The truth is that American forces in many ways are fighting India’s war too. However, New Delhi’s expectation that they will continue to fight such a war without India chipping is being naive.

While China and Pakistan have joined hands against India and bide their time for the American forces to leave, New Delhi has appealed to Washington not to exit from Afghanistan, but is unprepared and unwilling to assist. The Catch-22 is that neither the West led by America can win without Indian help nor can India prevail without a concrete alliance with the West.

New Delhi’s strategic incoherence continues to encourage Beijing and Islamabad’s designs of destabilising the Union. Militarily, India remains underprepared due to the huge equipment shortages on land, sea and air, created by the ministry of defence over the last two decades.

Shirking its primary responsibility of equipping the military leaves it ill equipped to cope with the increasing intensity of the threat once the Western forces retreat.

The stalemate in Afghanistan predominantly occurs on two counts. First, superior technology in a guerrilla war where motivational level of the adversary is very high, unless combined with adequate boots on the ground cannot deliver victory.

The West does not have a large reservoir of manpower to mitigate the situation. Thus, the under-manned war for past nine years has produced difficult-to-reverse battle fatigue despite the most modern technology on display.

The result is the resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region. To win, a fair share of the soldiery needs to be drawn from Asian stock with equally high motivation and equipped with Western technology to surmount the challenge posed by Islamic fundamentalists.

Second, to defend Afghanistan, the war machinery should focus on Pakistan. However, the American strategy in Afghanistan is similar to the Indian fortress mentality.

Despite multiple attacks and infiltrations by the terrorists, New Delhi continues to fortify itself internally in futile attempts to repulse the attacks. Washington’s approach is similar in Kabul for the past nine years.

The Americans and the allied forces keep defending against the irregular guerrilla forces launched in to Afghanistan from Pakistan, clandestinely trained by the Pakistan army and its Inter Services Intelligence. The ghost forces from Pakistan, when attacked, disappear almost unscathed. They reappear in Kabul at will.

Washington and New Delhi cannot win since both refuse to face the fact that Pakistan is the problem.

To lend stability to Afghanistan, the threat from Pakistan covertly backed by China must be neutralised. Similarly to secure India, the joint threat from Pakistan and China needs to be resolved. In both, Pakistan is the common factor.

Beijing’s Communists back the Islamic fundamentalists in Islamabad to expel the American influence and subdue the Indians, even as Pakistan draws oxygen for sustenance from the economic bailouts from the West.

Logic dictates that to defend Kabul, with the intention of expanding influence of democracies in Asia, the focus must shift to Islamabad. However, an exit by the American forces set for July 2011 from Afghanistan will herald the process of colouring Asia in a dark hue.

With the declaration of the exit time frame, Beijing and Islamabad are once again upbeat.

This leaves India in lurch, as it is ill prepared to face the threat jointly posed by Islamic fundamentalists that includes the Pakistan army and the ISI, and the Chinese Communists. Both support the Maoists in Nepal and the non-State actors including the Maoists in India.

New Delhi therefore faces a simultaneous three-dimensional threat, — the external war on two fronts, worsening internal front aided by external actors, and lack of governance.

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Merkel: Pakistan must play bigger Afghanistan role


BERLIN (Reuters) – Pakistan should be more closely involved in solving the Afghan conflict, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview due to be published on Sunday.

“There will be no peace in this region unless Pakistan carries its share of responsibility,” Merkel told German weekly Welt am Sonntag.

Faced with an insurgency by indigenous Taliban allied with the Afghan militants, Pakistan wants a peaceful Afghanistan. It is viewed with deep suspicion in Kabul, however, because of its ties to the Taliban, whom Pakistan backed through the 1990s.

“For a comprehensive solution, we need a much greater involvement of Afghan authorities and the inclusion of neighboring countries, in particular Pakistan,” Merkel said.

Germany has said it is committed to boosting troop levels in Afghanistan and nearly doubling civilian aid to create the conditions to start a withdrawal from next year.

But Merkel has refused to set a date for the withdrawal of troops, saying this could encourage the Taliban to lay low for a while and then launch a big attack.

“A withdrawal without reaching our goals and a unilateral German pull out would not be a handover of responsibility but an act of irresponsibility,” she said.

Polls show that a sizeable majority of Germans favor an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. According to NATO figures, Germany had 4,280 soldiers in Afghanistan as of December last year.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Michael Roddy)

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PCB shuts door on Pakistanis in IPL


Ijaz Butt: "We will not take the insult lying down." © AFP

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has ruled out the participation of its players in IPL 2010 and has revoked the no-objection certificates (NOCs) granted to its players.

“No Pakistani player will go to the IPL this time,” Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, told Cricinfo. “Why should we allow them to go? They didn’t pick any of the players and it was an insult to us. Why should we let one or two players go? We will not take this lying down.”

Butt’s statement seems to have shut the door on the issue, though a PCB release issued minutes earlier held out some hope.

“All NOCs issued to Pakistani players for their participation in IPL 3 stand revoked,” the PCB statement said. “In the future if any player receives an invitation for participation in IPL events, PCB will decide the matter on a case-to-case basis after consulting the relevant government authorities.”

The decision came after Pakistani players were ignored at the player auction for the third edition held in Mumbai. Of the 11 players in the IPL’s final auction list of 66, none were bought by any franchise.

That sparked outrage in Pakistan and led to statements on both sides – including one from India’s home minister – regretting the blackout of Pakistani players at the auction. There has also been a warning issued by a regional party in Mumbai warning against Pakistanis being hired by the franchises, but recent reports indicated that Pakistani players could play a role in the next IPL season.

One player, allrounder Abdul Razzaq, has also been linked to two franchises though officials of both franchises deny any specific deal has been concluded.

The participation of Pakistani players in the third IPL season has been a subject of much controversy for the past three months, with some element of confusion over rules and eligibility. It was thought, when their names were included on the auction shortlist earlier this month, that the issue had been resolved but events at the January 19 auction suggest they are taking a new turn.

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