Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Evening with Greg Mortenson

Upright Opinion
Dallas, November 14, 2010

An Evening with Greg Mortenson
By Saeed Qureshi
The legendry humanitarian Greg Mortenson spoke on the evening of November 13, before a mammoth audience in the spacious banquet hall of Hilton Anatole hotel that was proverbially packed to its capacity. Almost all the 1200 guests who were invited to attend the august assemblage turned up to listen to this illustrious philanthropist of the present times. Of these 20 per cent were the white Americans, while the remaining were from other communities.
Dressed in the Afghanistan cum Pakistan’s Tribal traditional dress of shalwar Kameez and a vest, Greg was glaringly conspicuous on the stage with his silhouetted imposing physical frame and a generous smile. His address delivered with force and fluency, was listened with rapt attention, and punctuated intermittently with thunderous applause from the mesmerized audience.
Greg looked like a monument of simplicity, modesty, humility, and abiding dedication. With his signature broad smile, he kept moving back and forth on the stage during his address, which was an abridged narration of his accomplishments spread over almost two decades now. His most outstanding yet unsurpassed achievement is to establish 168 schools in the most dangerous terrains of Pakistan and Afghanistan where 68000 students including around 40000 girls have received education.
As he told his audience, his noble mission to educate the young students in the remote and far-flung regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan began with an incident that became the stepping-stone for this life-long endeavor geared towards spreading literacy in such parts of the world where even Angels tread with fear.
His younger sister Christa Mortenson, patient of epilepsy died in 1992 at the age of 23. As if to pay homage to her, he decided to scale the K-2, the second highest peak in the world. He did not quite succeed in his adventure but met with impoverished mountain dwellers who infused in him an irresistible passion and profound compassion to build schools in the Northern regions situated on the high altitudes.
In my previous article on Greg captioned “Greg Mortenson--a role model humanitarian” the broad features of his success story soaked in untold sufferings and unspeakable travails, have been given. You can also read his book,” Three Cups of Tea” that he wrote to unravel a multi-layered strategy premised on interaction with the people to promote his altruistic mission. The three cups denote three steps of relationship: one that of the family, one with friends, and one beyond. During his journey to build schools, he has risked his life and has passed through indescribable hardships. Still all these afflictions could not derail or detract him from his chartered path, weaken his indomitable resolve or subdue his spirit to waver from pursuing his sublime yet abiding undertaking.
The November 13 event with a grand gala dinner was convened to launch his new book, “Stones into Schools” in Dallas. His earlier publication, “Three cups of Tea” has been New York Times” bestseller for 189 weeks. That book has become a required reading in 200 universities, in over 1000 high schools, thousands of books clubs, and also a ‘must read’ for the Pentagon officers.
Greg’s philosophy of creating awareness and spreading education is simple. His CAI (Central Asia Institute) that he heads follows the motto of prompting peace by building schools and bridges in place of firepower. His belief is that education was the best weapon to empower the impoverished, uneducated, and backwards communities around the world. He exhorts that it was better to empower than help and that empowerment comes through knowledge. Greg unflinchingly stresses more on the female education that the male. He reasons that educating girls was vital because it helps in alleviating poverty, reducing infant mortally, decreasing population growth, improving quality of life and to continue the cycle of education.
The local organizers performed a marvelous and commendable job from registering the guests to providing them the allocated seats. They have been toiling for several months now to make this occasion a memorable success. It was due to their effective publicity and brilliant public relationing blitz (Azad Khan’s radio is one among these) that the event turned out to be an amazing accomplishment. Although the lighting was comparatively dim and the chandeliers switched off during the speeches, yet there must be some method or wisdom in this kind of madness.
The exorbitant parking fee was unnecessary because it was not a business promotional event. It was primarily a cultural come charitable event. Alternatively, the parking charges should have been part of the ticket cost. The Qawwali program presented at the end was a marvelous soul stirring novelty that lifted the spirits with its mystical aura and spiritual ambience.
What do you think about the food served in the “grand gala dinner?”

America is betting on the wrong horse

Upright Opinion

November 12, 2010
America is betting on the wrong horse
By Saeed Qureshi
On the face of it, the visit of American president Barrack Obama to India appears a rarity. But intrinsically it is going to be counterproductive in the longer run. In the aftermath of the era of the so-called cold war between former Soviet Union and the United State, America has virtually snatched India from the Soviet orbit. The American overweening bid to forge an alliance with India cannot be dismissed as wooing. It is a monumental strategy that primarily aims at the containment of People’s Republic China and to hinder her spreading influence around the world.
America wants to re-play on China, the same containment strategy that it applied to the Soviet Union during the cold war era with epoch-making success. Despite the fact that China is a powerful economic partner of the United State, this anti- China containment policy’s fundamental thrust is to debilitate China as a well-entrenched communist state. As such, the ideological war is still being carried on by the United States as the leader of the free world.
But as the episode of the Soviet Communist Empire’s disintegration bears out, the successor Russian Federation, emerged economically more powerful than before. It is, more geographically and nationally cohesive with less backlog of communism, although it is still embracing a diluted version of socialism. Russian politico-economic system is in a melting pot and would crystallize in several decades to come. This at best can be characterized as a mix of the features of both the free world and of socialism.
The story of China is different. Way back between 1978 and 1992, the wise, and wizard Deng Xiaoping, known as paramount leader, fundamentally transformed the essence and character of the Chinese economic system. It was a metamotphosis of the stagnant and closed Chinese socialism based economic paradigm. As a result, China leapt into an aura of economic miracle that converted its economy into a dynamic, vibrant, and progressive form.
China’ economy and industrial sectors have been moving ahead with terrific speed with no let up during the last three decades. Under Deng Xiaoping, China opened its doors to the foreign investors in earmarked regions with unprecedented safeguards, facilities, and tax exemption that brought interminable heavy rainfall of foreign investments into China. Chinese’s labor is one of the cheapest in the world.
The heaviest investment came from the arch capitalist America’s entrepreneurs and investors who produced goods in China in pennies and sold in America in dollars. The socialist market economy that ingenious Deng propelled in China has no cotemporary parallel and is a novel economic theme that integrates the best hallmarks of both the capitalism and socialism.
Chinese has currently, $2.5 trillion in her foreign exchange reserves making this figure as the highest in the world. It lends money to the Unites States. Chinese poltical system leaves no room for dissent and as such, the decisions taken are not stalled or consigned to red tape. Its accountability system has no mercy or tolerance for defaulters, felons, crooks, adulterators, and sideline manipulators. Chinese government does not compromise on quality. The latest instance is the prompt sentence to the people trading in tainted milk. There are no marked interest groups like feudalism and economic robber barons in China thriving on loot and kickbacks. There are billionaires in China but their wealth is all accounted for and the sources of earnings are transparent.
Chinese army is one of the strongest and numerically largest in the world. The Peoples’ Liberation Army ( PLA) is the world's largest military force, with approximately 3 million members. China also has the world's largest standing army, with approximately 2.25 million members. China does not import the military hardware. On the contrary, she manufactures all the military equipment from a rifle to submarines to aircraft carrier ships. It is self sufficient in the military assortment of weaponry, including missiles, nuclear weapons, destroyers, warships, and combat vessels.
To expect that India can prove to be an effective bulwark against the Chinese prodigious military capability and can shape up as a befitting counterpoise nuclear power is simply fanciful and unequivocally far removed from reality. If history is any guide then let us see in the hindsight the 1962 war fought between China and India. The then prime minister of India Pundit jawahar Lal Nehru ordered the India army to throw Chinese out of the Indian soil. What happened in that brief skirmish? Instead, that Indian army could accomplish that mission impossible; it fell like leaves from a tree in a strong wind. It fled from the battlefield and mercifully, the Chinese retreated from the Indian territory voluntary. So much for the prowess and valor of Indian army to fight!
As far equipping India with nuclear arsenal, it is drastically doubtful that a nuclear war can ever take place on earth because such a war can never remain confined to the two belligerents. If India and China start trading nuclear warheads then neither China nor India would survive extinction of both biology and human race for centuries together. The Indian and Chinese leadership is aware of the horrendous outcome of nuclear clash and would never take that ruinous course because the loss would be colossally collateral.
Indian leadership might get all the perks and privileges from the mighty United States but would never act as a proxy or mercenary of the United State, a role that Pakistan has been willfully playing for several decades now. If India wants to destroy mother India it would resort to that irreparable blunder that would neutralize whatever India has gained so far.
It would, therefore, be in the best interests of United States to come out of the mindset of cold war and discard the erroneous fantasies that by creating protégés and proxies it can annihilate the global rivals. It should also be borne in mind that China is not the Soviet Union and the 21st century is not the 20th century. The attrition and guerrilla war can be an effective strategy to wear down the enemy. But such a war of attrition can be successful only is fought on foreign lands between the adversaries as was done in Afghanistan.
If India or United States intend to start an insurgency against China a la Afghanistan, then it would be not only unattainable but would be a sheer mad man’s dream. China has rather an effective and foolproof domestic mechanism to curb or to foil any attempt for internal disintegration either by the domestic elements or by the foreign agents.
The containment of China and raising a matching Sphinx in the form of India is an extremely flawed proposition and would not be beneficial for either the United States or India. A policy of appeasement between China, Pakistan, and India should constitute the best option that the United States can sponsor and promote in the Far East and South Asian regions. But for goodness sake why at all does United States want China to go the way the former Soviet Union went? Cannot these two power work in tandem for the global peace and jointly undertake and advance such projects as space research, eradication of poverty, hunger, diseases epidemics from the planet earth?
The baits of providing civilian nuclear technology and paving way for India to become the permanent member of the United Nations Security Council are not going to work if these are meant to burden India for posing as anti-China contender in the region at the behest of the United States. If the goal is to make India as an economic partner, spur the bilateral trade, and promote world peace, then those are laudable motives and should be pursued with all the vigor and speed.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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Democrats’ Staggering Debacle

Upright Opinion
November 3, 2010
Democrats’ Staggering Debacle
By Saeed Qureshi
The Democrats party that scored a sweeping victory in November 2006 elections by capturing the House of Representatives, the Senate, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures from the Republican Party, has suffered a serious setback in the current mid-term elections.
Out of the total 435 seats in the House, its strength has plummeted from 233 to 185 against the Republican Party’s ascension from 202 to 239. In the Senate, it retains a marginal majority with 52 seats against the GOP’s (Republican Party) 46. In 2006, this ratio was 51 to 49. The number of governors elected on the Democrats platform in 2006 was 28 and that of the GOP 22. Now the ratio has changed from 19(democrats) to 29(GOP) with 4 undecided and I independent.
The underlying catalysts of this watershed debacle for Democrats and particularly president Obama are obvious. The slogan on the basis of which president won his 2008 elections that he would bring a change has not materliased practically. The change that president Obama promised was essentially a vague term that had multiple dimensions. But the fundamental change that the American expected was to reorder the debilitating economy and restore the prosperous image of the United States. It was a tall order that could not be achieved in two years.
But still president Obama did his best to restrain the downslide trend of the economy by adopting various drastic measures such a stimulus package, bailouts, and some tax reliefs. But these were effective only in stemming the decline but fell short of addressing other issues that related to the life and living of majority Americans, especially the middle and the lower classes.
To be fair, it would not be possible for any human being to restore the economic vibrancy of the United States and revive the Clinton era when jobs were plentiful and the budget was surplus for the first time. The economy has immensely debilitated and weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mounted after 9/11 incident. The huge US budget was allocated every year for those disasterous yet futile wars draining the national exchequer and diverting the resources and funds from pressing domestic projects and economic uplift.
The Americans are not in the habit of rationalizing the underlying reason for a crisis. They want results and if Obama’s administration gave, a clarion call for gubernatorial revolutionary changes and a big break from the past, its salubrious effects should have been seen on the ground.
Equally, injurious was president Obama’s entire emphasis on healthcare reforms, which was a huge social benefit or facility but affected a narrow segment of society. The people were used to the health care system already in vogue and the change would have mattered marginal in their lives for the health coverage. President Obama made the grievous mistake by wrongly calculating that his health care was an unprecedented achievement that would ensure the continuation of his popularity and good public image.
He did recall the major portion of troops from Iraq but it would still not affect the economic well being of the ordinary Americans especially the youth and students who looked up to Obama as the apostle of new hope, promising change and as the leader of a new generation.
Obama dithered and wasted time in not moving effectively, resolutely and rapidly on such vital issues as immigration for Mexicans and other illegal countless immigrants whose legal relatives voted for Obama in 2008 under the express hope that he would take decisive decision on this gubernatorial issue and grant them some kind of legal status. This did not happen. As such, this time the Latino votes were mostly cast against his party.
On the Middle East’s thorny issues with Israel-Palestinian conflict on top, Obama did try and pull his strings but was stuck us with impasse that did not throw up any tangible progress and improvement in the stalemated situation already prevailing.
But the overriding reasons that were behind this debacle could be counted as stiff opposition from the special interest groups, the corporate America, the stock exchange, the banks, the ruthless wealthy classes, and the religious conservatives. The color bias was too a negative factor that perhaps did not give enough confidence to get his decisions and visions aggressively implemented. The antagonism from CEOs of mega companies and multinational corporations also stood in the way of his economic reforms to succeed.
They were poised to stop him from rolling back an economic system that thrives and is anchored in huge financial gains for the top wealthy and affluent robber baron classes. His economic measures or reforms were widely publicized and dubbed as bringing socialism in the United State. His health reforms were defined and characterized as hastening the death of the serious patients. His credential as a true Christians were doubted and called into question.
There are very powerful sections in America, which would not want the wars in distant lands to end because of their roaring business of weapons sale, supply of merchandise of all kind, the provision of the security apparatus for soldiers and countless other businesses that flourish on the continuation of war. The companies like Blackwater and Halliburton would not the wars to be wound up and thus slashing their fabulous incomes.
Democrats may finally withdraw the American troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Republicans who are intrinsically conservative would not want to curtail and end the American distant war so soon. The three trillion dollars that have been shoved into these two wars created a vacuum in the American economy that even many Obamas no matter how wizard and charismatic they may be, cannot fill in.
But in the hindsight of the American politics, there were such despondent reverses that for instance happened in case of President Jimmy Carter and President Clinton but ultimately those bleak situations proved to be silver lining on the clouds. Likewise, a visibly looking disheartened and distressed Obama could still produce some breakthroughs that would be instrumental in keeping him as the president for another term after 2012.
He should entirely focus on refurbishing economy and provide genuine relief and benefits to the grassroots Americans. He should unswervingly find a solution to the hard issues such as Middle East Israel- Palestinian imbroglio. He should not waver or delay on recalling American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. If there is a chance for revision of the health care reform package, he should be willing to do so in cooperation with the Republicans in the House.
President Obama should create solid conditions for jobs as the unemployment graph is perpetually soaring and people are genuinely frustrated. The housing sector is in a woeful situation with umpteen foreclosing and the depressing slow sale and purchase of houses. If the internal economic situation shows signs of stabilization and swings back, the lower and middle classes once again, may repose their confidence and trust in Obama and his administration.
On the other hand, if the House dominating Republicans think that they would give a further tough time to the Democrats, they should understand that it would prove to be counter-productive for them as well. If their attempt would be to demoralize and create stumbling blocs in the way of passing the Democrats’’ sponsored legislation, they will have to face the public ire. Therefore, the time is ripe for both the sides, which are visibly equally poised in both House and the Senate, should join hands, and work in close collaboration to uplift the United State of America from the morass of graver issues it is steeped in.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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Cain and Abel

Upright Opinion
November 1, 2010
Cain and Abel
By Saeed Qureshi

Of late, I am somehow developing a symptom of sympathy and support for the president of Pakistan his Excellency Asif Ali Zardari. My change in perception stems from the feelings that why he alone has been singled out for all the crimes and misdeeds under the sun. Truthfully, he is not the only one who amassed wealth by devious means. The question is who else in Pakistan has not done it or if someone gets an opportunity to make extra buck will he or she would spurn or let it pass by unnoticed.

The baleful tradition or scourge of corruption in Pakistan is not confined to a few individuals. It is endemic and has become an integral loathsome part of our culture. There are rank hypocrites among the religious lot that swear upon holy book, sermonize all virtues that they can think of and still run after the ill-gotten money like a dog runs after the chickens.
At least in case of Asif Zardari, he does not exhort nor practice pious platitudes and fall back upon the false pretensions of not doing something that he has already done. One thing is sure, he is not a hypocrite, nor would he point-blank deny that he did not have the money that was earned ostensibly by way of kickbacks or other similar shady means.
I would rather recommend a national enquiry commission that would without discrimination or exceptions dig and investigate the assets and wealth of all the persons suspected of having illegitimate money earned by various dubious means. If the investigation and the follow up legal action is across the board then indeed Asif Zardari should also be brought into the net of accountability and process of enquiry. Otherwise, he should be ignored as others are beyond the net of law.
Otherwise, the whole exercise that either is underway by the courts or based on public recriminations seems Zardari -specific that might be better defined as vendetta. If one man has earned money through unfair means then why the whole focus on him while countless others too are chips of the same bloc.
For instance do we not know that Mian family of Lahore and Chaudhry family of Gujrat are not pious and purified angels or as guiltless as a newborn baby. What about Shaukat Aziz’s colossal economic bungling that filled his coffers to the brim but also brought enormous wealth to others. What about bureaucrats, army generals, ministers, mayors, NGOs, judges, police, and so?
We should be honest to admit that Zardari did not enter the power citadel from the back doors. He was unanimously elected by all the parties in the parliament. It is another matter that he outsmarted the politicians especially Mian Nawaz Sharif for extending support under the oath of implementation of charter of democracy and Murree Accord. It is not the betrayal of Zardari that is questionable. It is primarily the foolishness of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party affiliates that they placed blind faith into the political deals without preconditions or extracting watertight commitments.
The deceit, duplicity, and trickery are the part of poltical games all over the world. In fact, what was done to Zardari during the Mian Nawaz premiership was adequately repaid in the same currency later by Zardari? No heart burning or allegations of breaking pledges should be leveled by Mian Sahib and other political contenders because in politics it is the end that justifies the means. And in this game of outwitting others political forces Zardari has proven to be exceptionally shrewd and a maverick.
If today Zardari resists an accountability process solely focused on him in a crowd in which no one can claim to have clean hands and above suspicion of making money through foul mean and by misusing authority and political clout, then such a cleansing process should involve all the dirty thugs and looters of public money.
Admittedly, Zardari’ s level of tolerance is exceptionally high as he has not reacted vindictively against his opponents as was done by Mian Nawaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf and Ziaul Haq. He has rather keeping a low profile, not minding profanities, caricatures, and character assassination all these two years he has been in the presidency.
If he is holding two offices, one of the party chairperson and the other as the president of Pakistan then, this has been the practice by his predecessors and other parties thus far. If the opposition parties so desire as to hold one office, it should have been vociferously advocated and lobbied by their leaders. The 18th amendment was passed by consensus and therefore if the government of PPP with its coalition partners is responsible for this enormous anomaly, the opposition heads are too have to share the blame for this.
However, of late somehow, I have started suffering from a hunch that some supernatural power was behind Asif Ali Zardari and perhaps the Pakistan People Party (Parliamentarian). Otherwise, how would it be possible that in the wake of that colossal multi-faceted mayhem that these guys have created there could not be any protest or reaction from any quarter?
The devastating floods, the growing crippling poverty, the unbridled lawlessness, the perpetually spiking cost of living, the collapse of socio-civic services, the unending nightmares of power blackouts, the unrestrained greed and corruption of all the ministers and bureaucrats have failed to ignite a revolution and send the country and its population up in frenzy and commotion. No one bothers, not even the leadership in and out of power, about the proliferating lawlessness that is swallowing human lives of ordinary people every moment and every day.
Are the people of this country created in the name of Islam, are abandoned by the sustainer and caretaker of the universe and leave them at the callous whims of the heartless and insensate leaders? The invisible powerful forces appear to be on the side of Cain (bad son of Adam) and not Abel (good son of Adam, in this case (metaphorically) the people of Pakistan).
If the people of Pakistan are resigned to suffer in silence and bear all the indignities and deprivations, the Supreme Court helpless to get its verdicts complied with, the political parties indifferently docile not to lead, army not ready to burn its fingers in the Nimrod’s fire, and deities being on the side of the tribe of Cain, then the wishful prayers of a few conscientious Pakistanis who exasperate to see the fiendish nightmare to end, hardly matter.
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Asma Jahangir walks into a Glass House

Upright Opinion
October 30, 2010
Asma Jahangir walks into a Glass House
By Saeed Qureshi
By capturing the presidency of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Asma Jahangir has opted to enter the glass house that would expose her to blemishes from her detractors. Already a smear campaign is underway that purports to paint her image in lurid colors. She has been accused of being an Indian agent that seldom expressed sympathy with the Kashmiri freedom fighters. Her meeting with the anti Pakistan Hindu extremist Bal Thakrey wearing orange dress has already become the hot topic for gossip in various lobbies. Her antagonists even accuse her of being invisibly anti- Pakistan and pro India.
Her pronounced secularism may be debated in circles known as religious right. Her opponents allege that she could throw herself in ecstatic bouts of dancing and raveling with her Indian friends but would keep mum on the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat by the Hindu fanatics. Certain detractors of Asma even stretch the argument to an untenable limit that she was in favor of one united India meaning Pakistan to become a part of Indian federation.
With a well-earned backlog of meritorious services for the womenfolk of Pakistan and as a front-runner human right activist, Asma’s election as the first women president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association is a landmark development. With a reputation of being thoroughly a woman of principles, she is expected not to budge or take sides in the face of making a decision to uphold the banner of justice or political righteousness.
Nevertheless, angels too are censured for being sinful in the game of power that more often than not degenerates into a morbid campaign of slur and diatribe. The fractious culture that pervades and dominates every organ of society, as well has, its pernicious shadows over the legal community and bar. There are quite distinct divisions among the lawyers’ ranks. There are factions that support the sitting government. There are those that oppose the government for many faults that they find in it. The lawyers are also divided into opposing camps with regard to the judiciary especially the superior judiciary for the decisions that it hands out against the government and the rulers. They might have personal rancor for decisions given against them in the judicial cases they represent.
In the recent past, we have seen some distasteful raucous demonstrations and uproarious protest rallies by lawyers condemning and decrying the judges. There were demands by the agitating lawyers for sacking certain judges of lower courts and even the chief justice of the Lahore high court Justice Sharif. So the lawyers being as one of the central pillars of the civil society are turning rabble-rousers and street agitators committing acts of arson, manhandling of the opponents, physical assaults on the police operatives and outrageous and derogatory sloganeering against the judiciary and their fellow lawyers from the opposite camps.
It is in the air that the federal law minister Babar Awan was hugely instrumental in facilitating the victory of Asma Jahangir who could even otherwise have carried the day by dint of her own brilliant merits and good reputation as a famed human rights activist. But th stigma that she was vigorously supported by the PPPP faction of the coalition government cannot be washed off by any means. The argument marshaled to substantiate this assertion is based upon the sudden generous disbursement of money to various bars in the country by the Law minister who seems not to be contained by any let or hindrance or public repugnance.
Asma’s suspected tilt towards the government is proven by her rivals from her anti supreme court statements, soon after the formation of the PPP government, in response to the December 16, 2009 judgment, which declared Musharraf’s November 3 emergency as unconstitutional and resulted in Dogar court judges packing home.
Asma’s rivals claim that her statement made after the victory, implicitly contains a warning to the judiciary to behave otherwise face the wrath of the lawyers. This statement might spur a kind of friction between the pro-judiciary and anti- judiciary groups within the lawyers’ community. Does it mean that her statement carries a message for the judiciary not to persist in the anti government trend of prosecution such as the insistence on compliance of the verdict on NRO and perusal of Swiss cases? Was she deliberately planted by the incumbent government to counter the chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in order to restrain him from moving further on this course?
Asma is said to be an uncompromising hawk that possesses the mettle and disposition to ruffle the feathers and gloat in predicaments. She can mount a challenge for the apex judiciary once she would be convinced for genuine reasons or the feigned ones that it was time to take on the supreme court judges individually or collectively. With the sizeable backing of an army of recalcitrant defenders of law, she can create embarrassing bottlenecks for the superior judiciary to operate without hindrance. These are pure presumptions. It is as well possible that she adopts neutral stance or extends unflinching support to the judicial decisions even detrimental to the people occupying high offices in the government.
Only the coming time would unravel what strategy Asma Jahangir adopts to play her role as the president of the Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association. If she remains neutral in the ongoing tussle between the Federal government and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she would enhance her stature and would earn kudos. If there is a salnt or tilt in favor of the government, she will face rebukes and even calumny that might wash off of what grand work she did in the past for the supremacy of law, democracy and particularly for the empowerment of women and for human rights.

She has landed in the glass house where every move and decision that she takes would be closely watched and evaluated by both friends and foes. Traditionally in the past, the SCBA presidents were mocked and decried by the opposite factions. Asma could also face scorn, ridicule, and flak even if her intentions would be pious. As such, she has to be extremely vigilant and be prepared to walk on a tight rope lest she falls on either side.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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