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CCI rightly focuses on coal


Credit card security


LTHOUGH held belatedly, yet the meeting of the Council of Com mon Interests(CCI) on Tuesday took several important decisions, which, if implemented in letter and spirit, would hopefully go a long way in mitigating sufferings of the people, improve governance and address ills of the system. It is hoped that the remaining important issues including the already delayed national census, would be decided at the earliest as without basic data, no proper planning is possible. One of the decisions of the CCI pertained to provision of governmental guarantees for establishment of coal-fired power plants in the country, which would help exploit the country’s largest coal reserves in Thar. Other countries of the world especially India and China were producing most of their electricity through coal and as a result reaping the benefits but regrettably due to lack of vision, planning and corrupt practices, we pursued policy of setting up of oil based plants and as a consequence there is pressure on the precious foreign exchange reserves and the cost of electricity has also gone beyond the paying capacity of the ordinary consumers. There is, therefore, every reason to expedite utilization of the Thar coal for the purpose besides country-wide establishment of solar power parks and wind mills to rectify the energy mix. Similarly, some quarters were making the process of privatization controversial and this would have created problems during disinvestment of some of the state-owned entities in the months to come. Therefore, the endorsement of the privatization plan would improve prospects for successful progress towards the stated goal but the Opposition will have to exercise necessary vigilance to ensure that the national assets fetch due proceeds and the process is 100% transparent. Some of the entities were constant drain on the national kitty and their privatization should be on top of the list as we cannot afford luxuries at the cost of burden of taxes on the common man. There is rampant corruption and inefficiency of the highest order in the distribution companies and the answer really lies in their privatization and this should be done without wastage of further time. We would also point out that the latest approach of privatizing state owned entities to overcome budgetary deficit is fundamentally flawed and instead the objective should be to improve governance, end corruption and turn them profitable ventures.

Pakistan’s welcome agreement with Iraqi Air Force I

N a landmark development, Pakistan and Iraq, on Monday, signed two agreements for cooperation between Air Forces of the two countries. As per one agreement, Pakistan would provide assistance to Iraq in the fields of training and development while the other envisages sale of Super Mushakh aircraft to Iraqi Air Force. The two agreements have multi-dimensional significance in bilateral context and would bring the two countries back on the path of closer cooperation in different fields as they enjoyed before Gulf wars. Pakistan and Iraq had excellent ties extending to a number of areas but these received a visible setback because of the two wars. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rightly pointed out that Pakistan Air Force has rich background of training personnel from friendly countries and it would, therefore, feel honoured to extend similar assistance to Iraq Air Force. The fact remains that PAF has always been an efficient and highly trained and motivated force, which contributed not only to strengthening of the national defence but also provided valuable assistance to brother and friendly countries in putting their forces on modern lines. The incumbent Air Chief Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt has infused new life to the force through a combination of measures that would surely improve its preparedness and capacity to deliver as per expectations of the nation in the 21st century. Apart from training, the hard work done by Air Force in the field of defence production despite odds created by geo-strategic factors, is paying dividends as more and more countries are giving orders for modern training aircraft. Of course, such deals involve some financial benefit as well but more important is the goodwill that such sales create about credibility and potential of Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that in the past Pakistan had been extending training opportunities to friendly countries in institutions of Pakistan Army, Navy, PAF, Police, Foreign Affairs, Postal and Banking but the momentum could not be maintained due to the law and order problem. Once this phenomenon is over, it is expected that Pakistan would regain the glory of the past in this respect.

Crush foreign funded terrorists with force


The ball is in Mukherjee’s court Rahul Gandhi, the Prime Minister came in the way of Mukherjee’s political ambiKuldip Nayar tions. It was up to Mukherjee not to accept the post of President. But when he announced that he would RESIDENT Pranab not contest in the 2014 election, it Mukherjee has been making became clear that he was exasperspeeches verging on politics ated, waiting in the wings. Sonia from Day One. He has been com- Gandhi readily accepted the position menting on the problems confront- because he had himself cleared the ing the nation as if he is presiding deck for Rahul Gandhi. Mukjerjee over the affairs of the country. His had taken it for granted that the key Republic Day broadcast beats them role he had portrayed as a fire fighter all and has naturally evoked some during the troubled times that he angry comments. Several political could not be ignored for having parties like the Communist Party served the dynasty relentlessly. Unof India (CPI) have characterized fortunately, Mukherjee has not adthe speech as political. justed himself to the institution of What President Mukherjee President. He should refrain from says is generally correct. For ex- making such remarks which he ample, his remarks that populist could do so as a politician. I have anarchy is no substitute for gover- not liked the dharna by Aam Aadmi nance or that there is a rising trend Party’s chief minister Arvind of hypocrisy in public life are cor- Kejriwal on the demand of transferrect. But he forgets that he is only ring two police officials who had a constitutional head and has to reportedly insulted his Law Minisobserve the decorum which the ter Somnath Bharti. elected parliament and state legisBut Chief Minister Kejriwal has latures expect from a person who set a bad precedent by letting his occupies that position. Law Minister off the hook. He No doubt, he finds politics a fa- should have left it to the state chief miliar turf but he left it when he secretary to deal with “defiance” by was elected President. His griev- the police officials. His defence is ance with Congress president Sonia that he did not violate the constituGandhi may be genuine. But that tion. It is a strange logic when he is between her and him. The nation threw to wind the very letter and the is not concerned with what goes on spirit of the constitution which has in a political party. Mukherjee given all powers to the executive of would have been a natural succes- which he is only a figure head. sor after Prime Minister The chief minister’s defence Manmohan Singh steps down. Pre- that his dharna was not unconstitucisely this is the reason why a per- tional does not wash. He does not son who had wide contacts was realize that the middle class, his kicked upstairs. Sonia Gandhi’s forte, wants an orderly administradetermination to make her son, tion and feels let down over the tac-


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Yet the political leaders do that. That Mukherjee should also be doing so is a sad commentary on his sagacity and those like him. Yet another example is that Mukherjee’s silence when Mrs Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975. She delivered a severe blow to the institutions which her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, had fostered. Mukherjee was then a close collaborator of Sanjay Gandhi, an extra constitutional authority. The worst aspect of emergency was that morality was banished from politics. There was fear which made the then President, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed, to sign proclamation even before cabinet gave its approval. My experience is that a Prime Minister pays scant attention to a President. The constitution framers, who preferred parliamentary democracy to presidential form of government, have laid down what the President can do. But this has been nullified over the years because the Congress takes the President’s wishes for granted. By making political speeches, the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan only aggravates the problem. There is a very thin line dividing the right and the wrong, moral and immoral. Institutions are ought to protect that line. It is easy to say from the pulpit that such and such thing is dangerous to the country. However correct President Mukherjee’s observations may be, he should introspect whether what he did as a cabinet minister was correct, not only legally but also morally. The ball is in his court. —The writer is a veteran Indian journalist, syndicated columnist, human rights activist and author.

TTP dilemma


OUR women died and three others suffered injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a suburban village near Ring Road in Peshwar on Monday. Three teachers were killed in firing in Hangu by unidentified motorcyclists; six security personnel were injured in an attack on their convoy in North Waziristan; an explosive device was found in front of the house of a Qaumi Watan Party leader in Charsadda while detonators were recovered from a person in Swat. All these events on just one day speak volumes about the state of affairs and the motives of those behind the conspiracy to keep the country boiling. Such events are happening at a time when the dialogue process has begun with Taliban and both sides have noted positive progress. The fact that TTP has announced its disassociation from all these terrorist acts is a clear testimony that many other forces are at work to destabilize the country and undermine the peace moves. We have been emphasizing in these columns that apart from criminals that have sneaked into ranks of Taliban, there are foreign funded and trained elements advancing nefarious designs of our enemies. Taliban’s denial of involvement in terrorist acts these days is a further proof of existence of such elements and therefore, a mechanism should be evolved to expose them and deal with iron hand. Genuine peace would remain an elusive dream even if peace deal is signed with Taliban, if foreign agents and criminals are not crushed.

tics like dharna by the state chief minister. But why should President Mukherjee comment on political matters is really beyond me. President Mukherjee’s comment that the “government is not a charity shop” is criticism of the promises that the government makes to draw the electoral support. All political parties do so. Mukherjee was in the cabinet of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when she raised the slogan of Garibi Hatao. The Manmohan Singh government has doled out favours to the DMK to sustain its support. It is an open secret how the CBI case against Mulayam Singh Yadav was withdrawn to get his party’s support. Mukherjee was part of the government when there was a quid pro quo to save Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government from falling. If President Mukherjee felt so strongly, as his criticism indicates, why did he not speak out at that time? His opposition would have meted because he was a senior leader. For example, his recovery of tax retrospectively dried up foreign investment. As Finance Minister, he should have anticipated the adverse effect his decision would have on investment. Even today when reasons for stagnation are adumbrated, Mukherjee’s name is mentioned repeatedly. He lives in the luxury of Rashtrapati Bhavan while the nation is paying the price for his follies. Mukherjee was a minister when Mrs Gandhi had stopped sending any paper to the then President Giani Zail Singh who differed with her on Punjab. What Mrs Gandhi did was a violation of the constitution. I wish Mukherjee had raised his voice then. The office of President is an institution which should not be disfigured.

Mukhtar Ahmed Butt


VERY one knew talks with TTP is not bed of roses for just one main reason that they did not accept the constitution of Pakistan coupled with it demand for imposition of their own Sharia. Keeping this as a preamble it appears that government did not do its home work properly except that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif always reiterated to bring terrorists to come to negotiating table with one condition that they should stop violence. Even other wise when you start negotiations the hostilities must stop on both sides is prerequisite of any talks, so there was nothing new about it. What the PM should have insisted that attacks throughout Pakistan must stop to prepare ground for peaceful talks, any way the game is lost due to lack of vision and understanding of the whole issue in its true perspective Unfortunately having accepted the talk offer TTP continued with their attacks suiting to their will and place of choosing mainly on the law enforcement agencies. When you stand at a weaker wicket the other side takes over the initiative and that is what happened in our case. The attacks were provoking and it was mainly to test our nerves and course of action. The TTP once again was the winner as we did not retaliate except requesting them to stop their activities as government is determined to give peace a chance. There is no denying the fact that the team announced by the government comprises of good people and renowned journalists. But this was the beginning of our wrong direction. The war on ter-

ror is not restricted to Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa (KPK) but has spread in all the provinces and TTP is already operating in all the provinces and attacking targets of their choosing. If that be the case was it not appropriate to nominate team comprising of seasoned politicians drawn from all the four provinces? Who is at stake? Not only the KPK? Not the media but the State? But once team was announced the government should have given some time frame to start negotiations and ask TTP to nominate its team and if there were any reservations the programme could be adjusted accordingly. When the list of their nominees was made public it revealed that they were not only the intermediaries all known sympathizers and having deep links with the TTP living in Pakistan. The government should have at the first instance not agreed and should have insisted to name team from TTP shura. Having accepted the nominees we were trapped badly and now there appears no way out except the dead lock in talks. Who does not know Maulana Abdul Aziz a controversial person known for his rigidity on certain issues? He was bent upon imposing his own sharia sitting in Lal Masjid and what happened once he challenged authority of the government is history duly recorded. Let us put in his words what he said” I will not take back my demand for the enforcement of Sharia law. If Maulana Samiul Haq and the Taliban want to kick me out of the committee, they can”. That simply means end of talks. The main purpose of these talks was to bring an end to blood shed and bring peace in Pakistan. Unfortunately the media that has become stake holder is not playing constructive role in this grave hour and continues to air talk shows that are cre-

ating more problems for the government. They must stop muddling in the talks as these are neither in the national interest nor helping the government to move towards smooth sailing towards talks. They should at least realize the gravity of the situation instead looking for ratings. At present there is total confusion in government ranks as a result the people of Pakistan are living in state of fear and terror that is hurting badly our economy rendering thousands of people out of job. Government having no alternative given Taliban a chance to come and sit and discuss the issue for durable and lasting peace. TTP must understand that no one can impose his self declared agenda without any justification. No government can allow state with in a state. The TTP must avail this opportunity and show their sincerity in the peace talks without wasting time as it is not in the interest of both the parties. No fighter groups challenging authority of state have ever succeeded against any government and ultimately they sit and talk and finally have to surrender and lay their arms after some give and take. As a gesture of good will let there be no more attacks on law enforcement agencies any where in the country, enough blood has been shed of innocent people on both sides without driving any advantage. After having agreed to talks the TTP should have refrained from attacks but series of terrorist attacks are in a bad taste and cast doubts about the intent and sincereity. Some of the recent examples are Bomb blast in Bannu, targeting military check post in R A Bazaar Rawalpindi and attack on Tablighi Markaz Peshawar We derive our ideology spirit and look towards home of Allah why we are not accepting the religious decree issued by Great Muftie-Azam Sheikh Abdul Aziz of

Saudi Arabia that suicide bombs are illegal (Haram). Our media has failed to project the brighter side of the issue at least they could motivate the terrorists to respect the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and persuade them to stop fighting their own people. Here a point may be raised that army is also attacking the terrorists, yes but army is only retaliating against the attacks to save innocent lives. There is no denying the fact that the TTP has gained strength due to certain political forces and parties by taking openly their sides and are busy in point scoring. This is no time to score points that too at the cost of indiscriminate killing of innocent people. Political parties must support the Government peace efforts in letter and spirit. They must stop point scoring against each others. The state is confronted with serious challenges and party lines need to be kept at side while decisions are made to end bloodshed and violence in the country. No amount of compensation can satisfy or substitute life of an individual. Our political forces should have pity on the people who are under constant threat and fire. TTP must understand that this is God given opportunity to settle the issues peacefully and stop challenging the writ of the government. Since independence they have been allowed free hand to handle their affairs according to tribal laws and there was no interference and everything was going on smoothly. They must realise he consequences and lay their arms before all options of peaceful dialogue are exhausted and they are taken to task by force, the last option of state. —The writer is Karachi-based political analyst.

F you worry about your privacy and carry a credit card, Tar get data breach ought to be a startling wake-up call. A massive theft from card-swiping machines between Nov.27 and Dec.18 took information such as numbers and names from about 40 million customers and compromised personal information — names, addresses, email addresses or phone numbers — from about 70 million. Although there may be overlap, perhaps one in four people in United States were exposed to fraud and potential loss of privacy. The data were siphoned off by crooks and sent abroad. How did it happen? According to John Mulligan, Target’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, who testified Feb. 4 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, intruders crept into Target’s network and installed malware designed to skim off credit- and debitcard information. How they did that is not known, although cybersecurity sleuth Brian Krebs has reported that they may have gotten into the network through a vendor to Target; vendor said it was a “victim of a sophisticated cyber attack operation.” The crooks then spread the stealthy malware to the point-of-sale machines. The data were skimmed off in the seconds after customers swiped their cards during the busy holiday season. Chastened, Mr. Mulligan told Senate panel that Target was accelerating a $100 million investment to convert to so-called chip-and-PIN technology that is more secure. He pledged that Target would have it in place early next year, six months earlier than planned. Mr. Mulligan’s response raises a larger question: Why isn’t the United States as a whole moving more quickly toward chip-and-PIN technology? The answer is that it is coming, next year, but the transition involves costs that stores, card companies and banks have been reluctant to bear. When Europeans adopted the technology more than a decade ago, they lacked a continent-wide online verification system, so the new approach made sense, allowing verification on site. But such an online verification system did exist in North America. Since then, however, the magnetic swipe cards have become much more vulnerable. The chip-and-PIN technology is now widely used in Europe and is being adopted around the world. These cards have data embedded on a chip, and the user inserts the card and inputs a personal identification number. This two-step verification process is more secure, although not ironclad, since the data still can be transmitted through networks and subject to theft. American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa have all announced plans to move toward a chip-and-PIN payments system, and after October 2015 merchants who don’t use the more secure technology will face greater liability for fraud and higher penalties. A next-generation technology, contact-less cards, is on the horizon. Consumers in the United States have generally been shielded from liability for fraud on their cards and have grown complacent. They ought to be angry at the industry’s lag. Privacy needs to be protected. — The Washington Post


Lowering legal age of driving


HE proposal to lower the driving age in the UAE to 16 or 17 is bound to generate much debate. The Federal Traffic Council is considering lowering the minimum age limit to obtain a driving licence with certain terms and conditions. A senior police official, backing the move, said if teenagers were allowed to get driving licences at 16 or 17, it would prevent them from driving dangerously. On the other hand, our roads would be much safer if those who drive dangerously are kept away from driving altogether. The UAE has a set of good regulations. Strict policing, issuing of fines and implementation of the laws that are already in place will ensure that those who drive without licences stay off the road. Driving on the highways requires a certain amount of maturity, presence of mind and judgement, all of which come with age and experience. Allowing those barely out of school to navigate the busy streets may not be in the best interests of the driver and could well put the lives of many road-users at risk. — Gulf News As soon as man is born he begins to die. —Proverb