pullout
A deserted Bagh
Closure of UN offices in a quake-hit area is something that calls for improvement in relations between locals and workers of relief agencies
By Naveed Ahmad

On the evening of May 9, 2007, the United Nations along with many other international humanitarian organisations announced closure of its offices in tehsil Bagh and suspended operations for a fortnight while blaming "the current security situation and the prevailing tensions" in this part of Azad Kashmir.

In cold blood
While investigations into SC additional registrar's killing are far from complete, the police is bent upon declaring it a murder during dacoity
By Aoun Sahi

On May 14, just two days after the Karachi bloodshed, four armed-men sneaked into the official residence of Supreme Court (SC) Additional Registrar Syed Hammad Raza in Islamabad and gunned him down. He was a prime defence witness in the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

interview
'The protest changed attitudes on the bench'

Wednesday, May 16. The wait was over at 11.05 am when a long queue of lawyers came out from Court Room 3 of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Time for a half-hour tea-break. The crowd gathered outside the court room looked anxious. The lawyers wore a serious look, fully aware of their burden in what's perhaps the most crucial period of our judicial history. A time when all fundamental legal questions facing the country have been put before the apex court, in the hope they will be decided once and for all. The air in the Supreme Court premises was tense; security at the gates like never before.

Blair's legacy
Whether one hates or loves him, he will always be remembered as the boy-faced English leader who thought of the Iraqi people as his sheep and cried wolf
By Aziz Omar

Tony Blair's era, bolstered with a Labour Party government, might have yielded beneficial results at home in Britain. Yet the international legacy of the outgoing British premier will be identified as being blackened due to his 'eyes-man' stance in relation to the US so-called War against Terror. The assumedly positive outcome of the operation in Afghanistan may have justified UK's involvement, but it was the eruption of utter chaos in the case of Iraq that cast a grim shadow on Blair's past accomplishments.

RIPPLE EFFECT
Laugh or cry
-- or just die
By Omar R. Quraishi

One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at some of the things that have happened in the country in the past couple of weeks. What is worse: the mayhem and carnage of May 12 or the way in which the provincial and federal governments allowed it to happen? 

On the evening of May 9, 2007, the United Nations along with many other international humanitarian organisations announced closure of its offices in tehsil Bagh and suspended operations for a fortnight while blaming "the current security situation and the prevailing tensions" in this part of Azad Kashmir.

Currently, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration, UN Habitat, as well as a number of international NGOs like ActionAid, ARC, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Relief International and Save the Children are amongst the humanitarian organisation having a significant presence in Bagh .

UN sources claim that the house of UN officials in Bagh was set alight by 'extremists' who had earlier issued several warnings to humanitarian organisations to hire unemployed but skilled men instead of local women.

Senior UN officials in Islamabad confirmed to TNS on conditions of anonymity that the operations may resume in Bagh area any time after May 21. The United Nations has not suspended its emergency services, they say.

Ever since the closure of the operations, United Nations officials have launched an internal inquiry into the events leading to such a precarious working relationship. At the same time, UN is negotiating with the government of Pakistan for increased security and facilitation for better working relationship with the people. Raabiya Amjad, a member of UN's media team tells TNS that though "we are reviewing the situation, we cannot exactly by when will we be able to resume work in this area."

Tension had been simmering between the two sides for the last one year as the roots of community's concern can be traced back to July 2006. Bagh district made headlines in regional as well as national newspapers when a local group, Awami Action Forum (AAF), asked the humanitarian agencies to stop hiring local females and choose men instead.

Being equal-opportunity employers, the foreign NGOs and UN did not pay heed but consulted with the community leader explaining their human resource policy and work ethics. With the intervention of the civil administration and dialogue with the local community, the situation could be normalised. For want of jobs and lack of opportunities, the local men using AAF platform yet again started demanding jobs with UN and other foreign humanitarian agencies.

Though the Kashmiri people are not as religious as the quake victims of the Frontier province are, the social and cultural values still are similar, if not exactly the same. For these reasons, it is believed that seeing women working along males involved in earthquake relief activities may have come as a cultural shock for the people of the area.

According to the UN side of the story, local people harassed a female worker of the American Refugee Council (ARF) who was spending time with her cousin at a picnic spot.

"We only asked about his identity and the relationship between the two as the man was new to the area," says Sardar Kaleem, a local resident, while adding that the couple was visiting a picnic place called Sudhan Gali. He denied any harassment charges. Local journalists endorse the community version.

A noted Bagh resident Sarfaraz Minhas tells TNS that the couple was behaving decently and there was nothing wrong about their posture. "In fact, one of the persons, who spotted the NGO worker near the Sudhan Gali rest house, had a land dispute with the family of the worker. He concocted the story which the community bought without hesitation, given its bias against female NGO workers."

The local police were called in and the matter was taken to the police station. The Station House Officer (SHO) allegedly booked the cousin of the NGO worker and misbehaved with him. Realising the gravity of the situation, the local police tried to divert the vehicles of UN and NGOs to a different road. However, a UN vehicle with a female on board crossed paths with the angry mob. The vehicle was stopped and the driver beaten. The police escorted the UN vehicle and its passenger to a safe place.

The police, meanwhile, lodged an FIR against AAF and arrested seven persons allegedly involved in harassment of the female NGO worker. On top of it all, the police raided the Bagh Press Club premises to arrest the eighth suspect, Abdul Mannan, who was holding a press conference along with other office-bearers of the AAF. Despite the insistence of journalists, the police refused to let him finish the press conference and resorted to tear-gas shelling while the locals pelted stones. The police managed to arrest the eighth suspect after creating mayhem at the press club.

The emotions ran high that evening with the AJK ministers intervening to calm the situation down. DSP Raja Shabir and SHO Mirza Zahid claimed that they were only following orders from the bosses while raiding the press club with full force. The DCO and SP police denied ordering any such steps and eventually suspended SHO Mirza Zahid.

As a result of this ministerial level intervention, all the arrested suspects were released but Bagh city remained tense with emotion running high against the police as well as the humanitarian organisation.

The United Nations claims of burning of houses has proven too far fetched. The police sources tells TNS that UN employee Zamir Khan's house caught fire due to short-circuiting on May 7 and they have a proof to support the claim.

A senior UN official in Bagh tells TNS on phone, "No un-Islamic or anti-cultural activity was going on in our offices here. We hire people on merit and we have clearly spelled out work ethics and above all, we are sensitized with the cultural and religious landscape of our project area," he explains.

Sardar Tasnim, an educated youth running his own shop, says, "There are a variety of vested interest groups here who malign the NGOs after failing to achieve their goals." For example, he says, certain people want to rent out their houses to these humanitarian organisations to get better money, whereas others want to give their vehicles on rent. They are still those who want jobs in these organisations, he adds.

"We don't want the NGOs to go but to understand the socio-economic ground reality as well and enable us run our kitchens," says Subedar (retd) Zahoor Shah who is currently visiting Rawalpindi .He says like many others, he could never forget the vital supplies of medicine, food and shelter from the foreign NGOs soon after October earthquake.

With growth in educational institutions throughout AJK and decline in the government jobs, livelihood remains a vital concern for the people of the earthquake zone.

There is a silver lining behind these dark clouds of uncertainty as the UN and other foreign NGOs have agreed to follow a 17-point code of conduct but many await final bureaucratic approvals from their Islamabad head offices.

The government as well as UN led foreign NGOs hope that the Bagh operations would resume in the coming week. However, the sad incident also highlights a missing link i.e. communication gap with the community.

Interestingly, the UN's May 9 press release did mention a need for the same, saying: "A communication plan will be developed to better inform the local community in Bagh on the policies and activities. UN officials will be in contact with relevant government authorities and will monitor the situation with a view to resuming normal operations when the situation improves."

 

Email: [email protected]


In cold blood

 By Aoun Sahi

On May 14, just two days after the Karachi bloodshed, four armed-men sneaked into the official residence of Supreme Court (SC) Additional Registrar Syed Hammad Raza in Islamabad and gunned him down. He was a prime defence witness in the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Raza was basically a civil servant (from 23rd batch of the District Management Group). He was among the top 10 position holders in CSS examinations held in 1996. Raza was appointed additional registrar on deputation about one and a half year ago by the CJP. Raza's hailed from Sharqpur tehsil of district Sheikhupura Punjab.

He served in Balochistan, the most insecure part of the country to work for government officials, especially those belonging to Punjab province, for eight years at a stretch. Though his designation was additional registrar, he in a way acted as the personal staff officer of CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Raza's family has no doubts that he fell victim to an incident of target killing. However, Islamabad police is not yet clear whether it was a dacoity-cum-murder case or a target killing. According to Islamabad Police Inspector General Iftikhar Chaudhry it is too early to say that the incident was that of target killing. He says the investigation team constituted to probe the matter is working on different lines and is likely to come out with concrete findings soon. Answering a question about the progress of the ongoing investigations, he told the media on May 15 that though there had been no major breakthrough yet he was seeking God's guidance.

On the other hand, Raza's widow Shabana is dead sure that the intruders' only purpose was to kill her husband. "They came around 4:30 am and shot him. They just snatched his mobile and ran away," she told the media. "If it was a case of dacoity, then why didn't the intruders take away the expensive gold bangles she was wearing?"

It has been learnt that Raza was under pressure from agencies after the filing of the presidential reference against the CJP. 'The agencies were asking him to provide them with details like the number of plots the chief justice has. Raza also shared information with his friends and family that he was asked frivolous questions like the character of the chief justice's son, Dr Arsalan, and his relations with his wife,' says a media report.

The CJP's legal counsel Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has also told the court, during the hearing of CJP's petition against his removal, that Raza's murder was a targeted killing and very much linked to the case. "He was under pressure from various government agencies," Aitzaz further tells the court.

Munir Malik, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and one of the counsels of the CJP, tells TNS that Raza was being pressurised to provide evidence against the CJP. He refused every time and that is the reason he was killed ruthlessly, he says. Malik tells TNS that CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry had confirmed that Raza could appear in the court as a witness and his murder at this time was suspicious.

The interior ministry is not ready to believe that Raza became a victim of target killing. "Preliminary investigations have revealed that it was an incident of dacoity," says Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman of the ministry of interior. He, however, says that the scope of investigations has been expanded by obtaining finger-prints and taking sniffer dogs to the crime scene.

Raza's widow has expressed dissatisfaction over the quality of the ongoing investigations as so far the police have not made any arrest related to this murder. Meanwhile, the acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas, taking suo motu notice, has appointed two senior Supreme Court judges, Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, to supervise the police investigation into Raza's murder. The order says the judges will examine the police reports, monitor the investigations and pass appropriate judicial orders in the case. The order also states that the Islamabad deputy inspector general and senior superintendent of police have been directed to submit daily progress reports on this murder investigation to these two Supreme Court judges.


interview
'The protest changed attitudes on the bench'

Wednesday, May 16. The wait was over at 11.05 am when a long queue of lawyers came out from Court Room 3 of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Time for a half-hour tea-break. The crowd gathered outside the court room looked anxious. The lawyers wore a serious look, fully aware of their burden in what's perhaps the most crucial period of our judicial history. A time when all fundamental legal questions facing the country have been put before the apex court, in the hope they will be decided once and for all. The air in the Supreme Court premises was tense; security at the gates like never before.

As Munir A. Malik walked to the Supreme Court Bar office, he was surrounded by lawyers who talked to him in whispers -- presumably about the proceedings inside. Once in the president's office, the bustle about the hunger strike camp began. There were too many volunteers for the day. They only wanted four, the rest could get themselves registered for next days.

Soon he found time for the interview and seemed in no hurry to get back to the court. The next hour -- or a little more -- was all about Karachi and the lawyers' movement, with no time for tea because Munir Malik spoke and we wrote -- the recorder having been deposited at the gate security.

Excerpts follow:

The News on Sunday: Where is the lawyers movement heading now?

Munir A. Malik: First of all we must define what the movement is about. It is a movement for civilian supremacy over the three pillars of state. The role of armed forces is to defend the borders. Now it's our belief that an independent judiciary watched over by the press will ensure that the three pillars of the state work within their own limits. The parliament makes the laws, the judiciary interprets them and the executive implements them.

It is our belief that the judiciary in this country has historically served as the B team of the army. We want to make it the A team of the people of Pakistan.

I believe we have made substantial headway in raising the consciousness of ordinary citizens and in changing the attitudes in the judiciary. Were it not for the lawyers, they would've convicted the chief justice in three days.

TNS: Your take on the violence in Karachi on May 12?

MAM: (His reply to this question appears as a detailed account of what happened at the airport and outside as Munir A Malik experienced it on the Special Report pages).

TNS: Do you realise that the issue is not confined to CJP's reinstatement and what you are fighting for now is a systemic change which may not be possible unless this turns into a political movement?

MAM: No. The issue of whether everyone has to function within the limits of the constitution is something that the courts will decide. Mind you it is these courts that have been giving legitimacy to military takeovers. We are struggling to change their attitudes. As for political parties, we welcome them, because we believe that everything in life is political, the water you drink, the dress you wear, the schools your children go to and also whether to privatise the steel mill or not is a political question.

TNS: Aren't you frustrated then that political parties are not active enough to use this catalyst for a larger change?

MAM: It's a defining moment for them too and they've got to stand for the people. The bar, meanwhile, will ensure that no particular ideology is thrust upon it. We are mature enough to keep our protest distinct and separate from any ideology.

Lawyers have a common commitment to rule of law no matter what political party they belong to. When the CJP travelled from Islamabad to Lahore, there were more ordinary citizens welcoming him than workers of political parties.

We are conscious that some people are pointing a finger at Aitzaz Ahsan to align our movement with PPP. But I must tell you that the decision-making about the nature and direction of the movement is in the hands of the bar, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).

TNS: What is it that has sustained lawyers as a meaningful civil society organ in all these years of sheer depoliticisation?

MAM: I am amazed myself. But I believe the catalyst has been that television image of uniformed people asking for the CJP's resignation on March 9. And then the television image of March 13 when the CJP was dragged by his hair.

TNS: But what was the lawyers' underlying strength, the regular elections of various bars or what?

MAM: We've been quite divided within various bars. The elections have been rigged and then re-election held in my case. I think this is only a consequence of pent up emotions that were always there; they only needed a catalyst.

TNS: Do you see any good coming out of the day to day hearings in Supreme Court and do you hope that all legal matters will be settled according to the legal fraternity's satisfaction?

MAM: You see what we're being asked to do now is to go home and await the verdict of the Supreme Court. Now this is something we can ill-afford. We believe that it was the protest on the streets that changed the attitudes on the bench. It was only after the bar rose that the majority of the judges in Sindh and NWFP and even Lahore High Court went to receive the chief justice. And now Justice Falak Sher has refused to sit on the bench.

TNS: Do you hope as many others do that this time round any move to impose emergency or martial law will be immediately struck down by the courts?

MAM: No, I don't think so. We are fighting 60 years of an entrenched system. We've made some irreversible gains though. One, the ordinary man knows it is not being produced in the court that's enough; it's having justice that matters.

Two, the judiciary knows it has to face the bar of lawyers and the bar of public opinion.

And lastly, we've destroyed the myth of invincibility. They thought they were invincible. Not anymore.

TNS: Up until now your movement seemed to have had an unqualified support of the people. But after the killings in Karachi some quarters are now throwing the blame at your side?

MAM: The press is not really free. The government will use electronic media to cast a slur on the CJP. I can bet that every ordinary citizen knows as to who's responsible for the Karachi killings. You are asking the CJP of the country to call off his attendance for Supreme Court jubilee celebrations because a political rally has to be held the same day?

TNS: Are you worried about your safety?

MAM: I am more worried about the safety of my children. My daughter is lucky to be alive because she missed the bullet shot only by three inches.

TNS: Are you worried about the safety of the CJP?

MAM: Yes, especially after the target killing of his assistant registrar. He was a material witness on March 9. But I must admit that the chief justice is a very brave man. I have only known him more as a person in that 27 hour journey from Islamabad to Lahore.

TNS: Is the CJP going to Balochistan and what about the perception that cities in Balochistan have not protested as vociferously as others?

MAM: We have an in invitation from Balochistan for the second week of June and the CJP would like to go because that's his CJP's hometown. As for the second part of your question, the perception is not correct because one of the gains of the movement is that we've strengthened the federation. Lawyers from all over have come together for this cause.

TNS: When is the CJP going to address SCBA and are the Supreme Court judges going to attend the function?

MAM: It's been fixed for May 26. We do not want to extend the invitation to the sitting judges because they're hearing the case.

TNS: What do you see as the worst case and the best case scenario?

MAM: The worst is that we get crushed and the best is that the CJP is reinstated.

TNS: With Musharraf gone at the same time?

MAM: That's not my business. My concern is civilian supremacy.


Blair's legacy

 

Tony Blair's era, bolstered with a Labour Party government, might have yielded beneficial results at home in Britain. Yet the international legacy of the outgoing British premier will be identified as being blackened due to his 'eyes-man' stance in relation to the US so-called War against Terror. The assumedly positive outcome of the operation in Afghanistan may have justified UK's involvement, but it was the eruption of utter chaos in the case of Iraq that cast a grim shadow on Blair's past accomplishments.

Even prior to Tony Blair being elected as the prime minister, his leadership of the labor party was mired in controversy. In 1994, after the death of the then leader John Smith, both Blair and Gordon Brown were likely successors. Nonetheless, Brown being the senior of the two, the mantle passed onto Blair allegedly amid an infamous Blair-Brown deal. As party leader he touted the 'New Labour' face, embellished with the priorities of 'education, education and education'. His overwhelming popularity with the British public brought him a landslide victory in the 1997 general election, whereby becoming the second youngest to attain the office of the Prime Minister.

At the helm of power, Blair trumpeted his party's social vision of a pro-market economy with an emphasis on increased public spending. He is also credited with bring about landmark changes within the constitution, such as The Human Rights Act in 1998. This accord granted more rights to gays and bisexuals and culminated in the Civil Partnership act of 2005 that legalised transgender relationships. A significant achievement on his government's part was the signing of the Belfast Agreement with Northern Ireland in 1998. Generally known as the Good Friday agreement, it brought about an end to the communal violence that had plagued Britain's island neighbour since the 1960s.

Yet his most glaring policies have and will remain those regarding lending his support to the Bush Administration's retaliatory war post September 9/11. Even in the follow up of this phase, his association with the Clinton administration had been one of advocating a pro-offense take on global hotspots. During the 1999 Kosovo crisis, Blair expressed his strong views in urging that NATO adopt a harsher line against Slobodan Milosevic. Blair went to the extent of declaring 'Doctrine of the International Community' and even linked Milosevic and Saddam Hussein by calling them 'two dangerous and ruthless men'. After the successful NATO operation in Kosovo, Blair was convinced that nations amassing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) posed the most threat and should be dealt with promptly.

The attacks of 9/11 cemented Tony Blair's views regarding Iraq's possession of WMDs and assuming a likely US strike-back he extended Britain's full co-operation. Although George W. Bush acknowledged his allegiance with remarks such as "America has no greater friend than Great Britain", for the traditional leftists he had become the US president's poodle. However, the British Prime Minister justified his actions as simple being the 'right thing to do' and the successive removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein as not imperialist in nature. But of course as history stands testament now, the so-called liberation of the oppressed Iraqis has proven to be more like the liberation of the infernal fires of hell upon the accursed citizenry.

Even though only 67 Britons died in the attacks on the World Trade centre, Blair established a 'special relationship' with Bush along similar lines as that between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. So much so that Blair even awarded a Congressional Gold medal by the United States Congress for being 'a staunch and steadfast ally of the United States of America'. The only Briton before his to receive such an 'honor' was Churchill for his support for the US in the Second World War.

Blair had assumed himself to be a worthy war leader after the successes of Kosovo and Sierra Leone. He had firmly believed that Saddam had developed chemical and biological WMDs and was selling them to terrorist organisations such as the Al-Qaeda. Being the much more articulate of the Bush-Blair duo, the latter became the face and voice of the international community's support for the US led war on terror. Blair's foreign policies regarding the War rendered a high cost on his popularity at home as well as his relations with his European counterparts, especially with Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder. Although it became clear after the Iraq war against Saddam's forces that no alleged WMDs existed, Blair nevertheless still managed to secure a third term as Premier in the 2005 British general election.

Now that Blair has announced his resignation and set a date for his leaving 10 Downing Street by June 27 2007, Gordon Brown the incumbent Chancellor of the Exchequer is all set to be the most likely replacement. Though Brown might not have been a wannabe rock star -- the former fronted a band in college called the Ugly Rumours -- he sure has been masterfully orchestrating Britain's economic policies. But due credit goes to Blair for accepting his mistakes and stepping down, although there is no limit set on the number of terms a prime minister can serve in Britain. So whether one hates or loves him, he will always be remembered as the boy-faced English leader who thought of the Iraqi people as his sheep and cried wolf.


One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at some of the things that have happened in the country in the past couple of weeks. What is worse: the mayhem and carnage of May 12 or the way in which the provincial and federal governments allowed it to happen? 

The MQM has blamed the opposition and the chief justice's visit for the violence (echoed the same day as the May 12 carnage by President Musharraf at that most inopportune rally held outside Parliament House in Islamabad) while the rest of the country has blamed the MQM, Sindh and federal governments for allowing its ally a free hand wreak havoc on its opponents. The party has also been accused of showing on May 12 that it had not changed its old ways. TV channels have been caught in the crossfire -- literally -- and the residents of the city are still unable to digest what has happened.

This is true particularly for those young enough to not have seen or have a lasting memory of what Karachi was like just 15 years ago. I remember in the early 1990s, on visits during the summer in between semesters, there came a time when you couldn't drive around in some decent neighbourhoods without risking being shot at -- so the trick was that your head only remained high enough (above the steering) to ensure that you could see the road ahead and no more.

One would have thought that such days would be a thing of the past, but one was proven wrong by what happened on May 12.

The following is quoted verbatim from Karachi Metblogs -- sensibly the person who has written it has chosen not to reveal his/her identity:

"I am a doctor. I work at a government-run, large and well-known hospital in Karachi. I have been at work for more than 32 hours. I attended to people with multiple gunshot wounds but nothing struck my soul more than what nine fully armed workers of a political party along with two sector office-bearers did [on May 12]. They tried to drag out a wounded man who had been brought in an ambulance to the hospital saying, presumably to 'finish' him off. When my junior resident tried to prevent that from happening, he was slapped by these men. Me and my junior were both dragged by these men to an alley and left there. The men, armed with shotguns, pistols and AK-47s, then went in to the lobby, presumably to look for the wounded man. I ran out to the Rangers and a police ASI standing at some distance from my hospital's main gate asking for their help. I was told: 'Jaante ho in logoun ko, phir bhi kyun lartay ho. Hamain upar say order hai kay inn ko char bajay tak karnay do jo karna hai. Char bajay kay baad dekhainge'. I immediately called a friend in Bohrapir who is related to a senior member of this party. Five minutes later, the armed men received a call on their cell phones and they left. One of them was wearing a bandana and threatened me as he left saying: 'Naam dekh liya hai tera. Koi shor sharaba karnay kee zururat nahi hai baad main -- warna samajh ja kya hoga'. He also took my junior resident's mobile phone saying 'chikna set hai'. The man they had come looking for had been shot more than once in the head."

Fast forward to May 16 (when this was being written) and the federal government through the ministry of information and broadcasting placed an advertisement in the national press with the pictures of the president and prime minister looking at you.

The advert had the following text (excerpts): 'Let's Give the City A Healing Touch! - Karachi belongs to all of us. On the 12th of May the unthinkable happened: So many valuable lives were lost at the hands of the (sic) merciless killers who are humans only in name. They are the common enemies of humanity and of Pakistan . Let us resolve to not fall prey to their machinations. Let us resolve to fight this common enemy: Not through violence, but through unity in or ranks and through complete rejection of violence (bold as in the ad).'

So where were you on May 12, Mr President and Mr Prime Minister? Oh yes, now we remember, you were both addressing a rally in Islamabad that evening, a rally that was more of a mela, with large sections of the apparent rent-a-crowd dancing. Normally one doesn't have a problem in the least with people dancing but when surely it cannot reflect too well on you if you happen to be the head of state and head of government when this happens at the same time as your largest city is in flames?

 

The writer is Op-ed Pages Editor of The News.

Email: [email protected]

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