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PM summons parliamentary leaders for meeting on Senate polls

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday convened a meeting of the parliamentary leaders for thoughts on how to make the Senate elections transparent, said a report published on Radio Pakistan.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while talking to media representatives on Thursday evening, along with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Tareen, said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PTI are on the same page when it comes to restraining horse-trading in the upcoming Senate elections.

Jehangir Tareen had added that PTI would support all efforts of the government for working towards transparent elections in Pakistan.

Also read: Govt drafts ‘anti-horse trading’ amendment

The government has drafted an amendment bill to bring crucial changes to the Constitution in a bid to hold the upcoming elections to 52 Senate seats in a manner that will end the “undemocratic practice of horse-trading”.

Three new amendments are being considered to allow changes in existing procedures and rules for conducting election for senate seats. The proposed act will be called the Constitution (22nd Amendment) Act, 2015.

The draft suggests that elections to the Senate will be held through open voting instead of the secret ballot that is currently in vogue.

Comment: Moin Khan deserved a better deal

World Cup cricket is a special event and it is important for every participating team and its management to be at its best and make sure that every member of their team is fit and in form. Teams must avoid injuries and controversies so that they remain a lot more focused on the task at hand rather than worry on their injuries and things outside it.

Somehow, Pakistan compared to the other teams have had fair share of both injuries and controversies over the years while on tour and as well as at home which really puts us all in a spot of bother.

The recent controversy involving the chairman of the selection committee Moin Khan being called back home to explain himself for being sighted with his wife and friends at a casino in Christchurch by a Pakistani couple prior to his team’s match against the West Indies makes me think whether things at all levels in Pakistan cricket is being handled in a just or in a proper manner.

No doubt, the recent publicity involving Moin is disturbing, distasteful and revolting to say the least.

Only few months ago Moin was in charge of the team, not only as a manager in the UAE but also as chairman of the selection committee on a controversy free and successful Pakistan outing against Australia and New Zealand. Not much later, however, he was asked to retain only one of his assignments. Rightly or wrongly, he was then sent along with the Pakistan team as the head of selectors.

34061950.cms_That was neither rare nor unprecedented. Once that decision was taken by cricket authorities, he should have had the full trust of those who included him in the touring side and should have defended his presence in the World Cup rather than taking notice of a video put on the social media by a cricket fan in which Moin’s presence in a casino is seen as suspicious and an act of indiscipline.

As one who has travelled the world over the years with various cricket teams, I can tell you that it has not been not uncommon for players and management of the touring teams having an evening out to relax giving vent to the pressure which is around them of winning or losing.

Casinos round the world do some time provide good lunches and dinners. On my tours with teams I too did the same when invited by the TVNZ crew when I was their World Cup commentator in 1992 and would come across players and managers of various teams, some time even watched them having a flutter too.

Moin’s offence is not any bigger to attract such blinkered and hurried reaction. He should have been cautioned and reprimanded, if his presence in a casino was considered to be out of order, instead of calling him back home which provided an opportunity to cricket fans to do the same as did the Pakistani couple publicizing it in the media.

Teams and players and officials do not go on tours to remain confined to their rooms or remain all the time in prostration.

The decision to call him back, therefore, gives the ICC anti-corruption unit the opportunity to keep in focus even more the activities of the Pakistani players and its management wherever they play.

That reminds me of the 1992 World Cup Down Under. The then PCB officials had taken a few dignitaries as their guests from Pakistan to watch the event which included a former chief justice of Pakistan, a sports minister and few more government officials. In the Adelaide game against England in which Pakistan luckily survived because of rain, I noticed a high official of the Supreme Court, the sports minister and the rest hanging around the night clubs in the night life area of the city.

I as a journalist could have easily made up a sensational story to attract the wrath and anger of the people in Pakistan, but I decided not to because both the teams Pakistan and England were staying in that evening life area and so was I, not too far from it. Their presence there or mine had nothing unusual about it.

What I am really trying to let people know that imagining things and assumptions made over it do not really paint the truthful picture. You do not really take a person as a monkey if found perched on a branch of a tree, and if found in a stable you do not become a horse. That is exactly my point in the case of Moin Khan. I assure you that if Pakistan had not lost their match against India the reaction of the fans and also of certain officials on this trivial matter might have been different.

I feel that great care should have been taken in making a decision about him.

Let us accept the fact, however, that we had blundered initially when picking the players for this competition and I had expressed my concern in writing on the Jan 11th edition of this esteemed paper about it immediately afterwards.

I would have obviously preferred those who were part of the Pakistan team against Australia and New Zealand. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, fit and in form, were surprisingly dumped for those who were not with the team. Umar Akmal’s average in six limited-overs games in domestic cricket was just over 13 and Sohaib Maqsood was injured and had not played for three months for wrist injury. And yet they made the squad.

Sending an out of form Nasir Jamshed as replacement of Mohammad Hafeez was yet another strange decision and so was opening the batting with Younis Khan and keeping Sarfraz Ahmed, a specialist wicket-keeper batsman, away from the action.

Our focus should have been directed more on the team’s make-up rather than taking notice of where Moin Khan was sighted.

Pakistan’s support to LeT will likely be an irritant: US Intelligence Director

Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper. —AFP
Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper. —AFP

Pakistan’s continued provision of a safe haven to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) will probably continue to be a key irritant in Indo-Pak relations, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in his testimony on “World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” which he presented Thursday in a hearing of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee.

India recognises the proscribed militant group LeT as a major threat to regional security and has accused its chief Hafiz Saeed of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Saeed, who now leads the banned organisation Jamaatud Dawa (JUD), has denied any links to terrorist activities or having any association with LeT.

‘PM Nawaz’s promises fell short’

During his testimony, American spy chief Clapper commented on the progress made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in addressing local issues. He said PM Nawaz’s pledges to tackle energy, economic and security issues in the country “fell short of high public expectations”.

Clapper further said that the premier’s standing weakened when he reportedly sought the Pakistani Army’s assistance to handle the protracted opposition protests in the second half of 2014.

Islamabad will have trouble undertaking reforms

The former Lt Gen of US Air Force, while indicating in his testimony the steps that are likely to be taken by the Pakistani government in the future, stated: “Pakistan will probably continue to implement some economic reforms”.

Clapper and his fellow analysts believe that Islamabad will approve some additional economic reforms in 2015 but undertaking energy and economic reforms in the future will not be devoid of challenges and is likely to face opposition from the popular and political fronts.

Pakistan to ‘probably’ focus on combating militants in 2015

Predicting the future implications of the current security crisis in Pakistan on its leadership, Clapper said that Pakistan is likely to “target anti-Pakistan militants and their activities” in the upcoming days.

“The Pakistani government will probably focus in 2015 on diminishing the capabilities of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which claimed the attack on a [Army Public] school in December— leaving over 100 children dead,” he further said.

Distrust to impact Pak-Afghan ties substantially

Clapper acknowledged in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan is aiming to foster a positive relationship with the newly-elected government of neighbouring Afghanistan.

However, he appeared pessimistic about any significant progress in that realm. “We judge that Pakistan will aim to establish positive rapport with the new Afghan government, but longstanding distrust and unresolved disputes between the countries will prevent substantial progress.”