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sacw dispatch (1 June 00)

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch 1st June 2000 ... #1. Pakistan s leader faces growing unrest. #2. Pakistan: How 2 sisters defied tradition & started a
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2000
      South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch
      1st June 2000


      #1. Pakistan's leader faces growing unrest.
      #2. Pakistan: How 2 sisters defied tradition & started a women's cricket team
      #3. Fiji / India: What is common between George Fernandes & George Speight?
      #4. UNIDIR fellowships : South Asia



      Far Eastern Economic Review
      Issue of June 1, 2000


      By Ahmed Rashid/ISLAMABAD Issue cover-dated June 1,
      FROM A LEGAL POINT OF VIEW, Pakistan's leader stands strong. On May 12, the
      country's Supreme Court validated the military coup last October that
      brought Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf to power. The court also gave Musharraf, now
      chief executive, sweeping powers to amend the constitution and over two
      more years to carry out social and political reforms and return the country
      to democracy.
      The court mandate raised hopes that the glacial pace of the army's promised
      reform agenda--and reform was Musharraf's justification for the coup--is
      about to change. Instead, a riotous week of growing instability and
      backtracking on reforms has prompted doubts about whether Musharraf can
      even last for two years.
      Rock-throwing Islamic militants shut down Karachi on May 18 and 19 after an
      Islamic scholar was shot dead in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia
      extremists. As rioting ended, traders launched a three-day national strike
      that brought the country to a halt. Traders called the strike to oppose a
      new general sales tax of 15% that's due to be included in the budget on
      June 3.
      This kind of breakdown in law and order would have been considered normal
      under earlier, elected regimes. But even in this volatile country, such
      instability was not expected under military rule. Despite the newfound
      legitimacy it has gained from the court ruling, the army has been left
      struggling to retain its credibility in the eyes of an increasingly worried
      and sceptical public.
      In Islamabad, the aftermath of the strike left growing concern that
      Musharraf's only means to ensure stability is martial law. While the army
      refrained from imposing such measures when it seized power last October, it
      may now be left with little choice.
      Outside the military, Pakistan's most powerful organized force--and the
      political force to be reckoned with--are the fundamentalist mullahs. If
      recent gestures are any indication, the army is not prepared to tackle the
      escalating power of Islamic fundamentalist parties. On May 16, Musharraf
      unexpectedly gave in to their demands and withdrew a proposal by his
      government that would have made it harder for individuals to accuse others
      of blasphemy. The surviving law is considered to be discriminatory by
      The proposed change, though relatively minor, was bitterly opposed by a new
      alliance of some 40 of the country's Islamic fundamentalist parties. The
      army had hoped that by backing down it would stop fundamentalists from
      supporting the traders' strike. Instead, Islamic parties not only supported
      the strike but also stepped up their demands for the full Islamicization of
      Pakistan's laws. By backing down to the mullahs on a small issue, the army
      may inadvertently be allowing the Islamic parties to set the regime's
      future agenda.
      The mullahs are too powerful to ignore. "We have to take the Islamic
      parties with us," says a senior army officer. "We cannot afford to confront
      them." In fact, an increasingly powerful group of generals around Musharraf
      already has close links to the fundamentalists.
      Despite concerns about an ideological divide in the army, Musharraf is
      still seen to have the backing of key generals, and with it the power to
      act decisively. But military officials say they are reluctant to push
      through multiple reforms for fear of antagonizing many sections of society.
      As for martial law, while it might stabilize things at home, it would do
      little to help relations with the West, particularly the International
      Monetary Fund, with which the government is trying to negotiate a $2.5
      billion loan.
      Musharraf does have another, though highly unlikely, escape route: If
      unrest persists, the army could throw in the towel and order early
      Copyright ©2000 Review Publishing Company Limited, Hong Kong. All rights


      Newsweek International,
      June 5, 2000
      By Tasgola Karla Bruner

      Shaiza and Sharmeen Said Khan have survived death threats, bureaucratic
      hostility and men who are threatened by women who know what they want. A
      top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board once told the sisters that he
      didn't approve of women "getting out of the four walls." Many Pakistani
      women are not allowed to challenge tradition, but that's what the Khans
      have done for the love of a sport and the respect of their country. With
      the help of their father, a wealthy carpet manufacturer in Karachi, Shaiza
      and Sharmeen, 30 and 26, have formed Pakistan's first national women's
      cricket team. It has been recognized by the government but not by the men's
      Pakistan Cricket Board, which eventually aims to take over the sport. The
      team has no outside sponsors but plenty of moxie: 14 female players—most at
      ages when they're expected to be married and bearing children—are
      practicing in Karachi and preparing for their first test match in Europe.
      The team will play Ireland in July. "Pakistani women are treated like
      slaves," says Sharmeen, the youngest sister. "Cricket is demanding, and you
      need a mind of your own to play it. This is what these women are trying to
      show—that we are here and we can do it."
      The women learned the sport by playing in the backyard with their older
      brother. After he went away to school, Shaiza and Sharmeen began dreaming
      of representing their country in international competition. In 1988 the
      Khans applied for membership in the International Women's Cricket Council,
      the governing body for the sport worldwide. They soon received death
      threats.Their father sent them to school in England, where they could play
      in peace. Shaiza became captain of the women's cricket team at the
      University of Leeds. Sharmeen followed suit, but that was not enough for
      them. Four years ago they returned to Karachi and formed the Pakistan
      Women's Cricket Control Association.
      Nobody paid much attention until the Khans organized a match between
      female players and a group of veteran male cricketers in Karachi. One of
      Pakistan's religious parties, Jamaat-e-Islami, protested, saying the match
      was "detrimental to the Islamic identity" of the country. "To let women
      appear in pictures, or play games in front of men, is pure and simple
      exploitation," says Naimatullah Khan, Karachi president of Jamaat-e-Islami.
      The match was canceled, but the sisters persevered. They cobbled together a
      team two weeks before the 1997 Women's World Cup in India. They practiced
      in a garage in Lahore until the Army provided facilities at a school
      shortly before their departure. Not surprisingly, they finished last. "You
      have to have a very strong character to go against tradition," says Mary
      Brito, president of the International Women's Cricket Council in New
      Zealand. "I have great admiration for them."
      Pakistani companies have not been nearly as enthusiastic about sponsoring
      the women as they are about the men's team, so the sisters have relied on
      their father. He has paid for airplane tickets, schooling and equipment.
      The team now practices on cricket grounds constructed beside one of the
      Khans' carpet factories. Players from distant cities live in a house the
      family owns in Karachi. Player Shajda Sheikh, a 12-year-old girl from
      Hyderabad, was determined to join the team, but her family forbade her.
      Sheikh stopped eating in protest. Five days later her parents softened and
      allowed her to leave. "I was very scared that they might take cricket away
      from me," she says. Adds 22-year-old player Kiran Baluch, who's from
      Karachi: "Whatever I am today, it is because of cricket."
      Detractors say the Khans achieved what they have because of their family's
      money and status, but few question their tireless dedication. To show their
      gratitude to their father for his help, the sisters got degrees in textile
      engineering and textile management and now run his factories. There, Shaiza
      and Sharmeen encountered resistance from men, but their efforts have
      boosted production. The controversies have not ended. Two rival women's
      groups have formed cricket associations, although only the International
      Women's Cricket Council recognizes the Khans' group as the national women's
      team. The Pakistan Cricket Board recently met with all the groups to
      encourage them to unite. The Khans are busy sorting out these differences
      and getting ready for their upcoming matches. The team is doing better, so
      far playing 11 one-day internationals and one test match. Not even all
      men's teams worldwide have test-match status yet. The sisters are often
      frustrated, but they realize that their efforts have an impact far beyond
      the game. Says Shaiza: "We've given girls an opportunity to live their
      lives the way they want, to have their own inner happiness, the way we
      have." That's a winning philosophy—on or off the cricket grounds. ©
      2000 Newsweek, Inc.



      The Hindustan Times
      1 June 2000


      (Amulya Ganguli on 'xenophobia' closer to home)
      WHAT IS common between George Fernandes and George Speight?

      Both are opposed to "foreign citizens" becoming Prime Ministers of their
      countries. Fernandes' target is Sonia Gandhi because she was born in
      Italy. Speight's target is Mahendra Chaudhry although he was born in
      Fiji. His stand shows that, to the narrow-minded, the place of birth is
      incidental. What they are motivated by is political expediency and

      Fernandes, of course, is only the cat's paw of the Sangh parivar. It is
      the latter's attitude which is more relevant in this context. Its case
      against Sonia Gandhi is that she remains a "foreigner" despite acquiring
      Indian citizenship and therefore cannot be loyal to this country. It
      would like to change even the Constitution to keep her out of the
      topmost positions.

      Speight's views are similar. He will also want the Fijian constitution
      to put political power beyond the reach of Indians, providing fresh
      inspiration to P.A. Sangma who has such a plan for Sonia Gandhi. So far
      as Speight is concerned, Chaudhry having been born in Fiji does not mean
      anything because his Indian origin automatically puts his loyalty under
      a cloud. Even if it doesn't, he has no right as a "foreigner" to be the
      Fijian Prime Minister. Speight can also argue that the fact that
      Chaudhry maintains his links with his "family" in India is proof enough
      of his alienness.

      It is known that Chaudhry's relatives and friends in Haryana are deeply
      perturbed about the events in Fiji. They even called on Atal Behari
      Vajpayee to express concern about the situation there and about
      Chaudhry's fate. One can imagine the fit which Fernandes would throw if
      Sonia's relatives in Italy call on the Italian Prime Minister to
      intercede on her behalf. It is no secret that Indians, in general, feel
      an affinity with Chaudhry and wishes him well.

      Chaudhry is not the only "Indian" Prime Minister outside India. There is
      Basdeo Pandey in Trinidad and Tobago, Navinchandra Ramgoolam in
      Mauritius and Ujjal Dosanjh in British Columbia. What is more, they
      still retain their love of the motherland. Ramgoolam, for instance,
      described his recent visit to India as "home coming" while Pandey took
      time off during his official visit to India to go to the village in
      Uttar Pradesh from where his ancestors had migrated to the West Indies
      more than a century ago. Interestingly, not long ago the President of
      Trinidad and Tobago, Noor Hasan Ali, was also an Indian.

      These are not the only examples of "aliens" attaining high positions in
      their adopted countries. President Fujimori of Peru is of Japanese
      origin and Carlos Menem of Argentina is Syrian. Nor are such origins
      ever forgotten. Disraeli, for instance, when taunted in the House of
      Commons, said: "Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right
      honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were
      priests in the temple of Solomon."

      What is noteworthy about this observation is that Disraeli was not only
      proud of his "alien" origin but also contemptuous of the past history of
      the natives. It is not an attitude which the Chaudhrys and Pandeys of
      the world can safely adopt. But the fact that Disraeli could get away
      with it showed the broadmindedness of the citizens of the previously
      "unknown island".

      One definition of patriotism is that it is the last refuge of
      scoundrels. There is little doubt that those who flaunt it are usually
      motivated not by the high ideals of nationalism which they claim, but
      the basest of motives - usually an atavistic attempt to whip up popular
      sentiments to peddle a cynical political line. But those who are
      fomenting racial tension in Fiji or Sri Lanka are really the denizens of
      a medieval world, like the Sangh parivar's followers in India.

      They are harking back to the closed tribal world of the past, when small
      communities belonging to the same racial stock lived huddled together,
      zealously guarding their religion and language and genetic purity. All
      outsiders to them were suspect, to be kept at an arm's length. The
      Islamic world still lives by these tenets, according a second class
      status as citizens to the minority groups.

      But the world is changing. Travel has become easier, opportunities have
      expanded and the cities have begun to resemble one another. Of all the
      globe-trotters, Indians have been the most adventurous. They also have
      the habit of being successful - first as businessmen and then as
      politicians. But the mean-minded among the losers are bound to resent
      their dominance. If they can, they like to throw them out, as Idi Amin
      did in Uganda. Fiji, too, saw an exodus of Indians after Sitiveni
      Rabuka's 1987 coup. But Speight's rebellion may meet with a different
      fate, even if it is initially successful.

      The reason is that multicultural tenets are becoming the new norm.
      Tribalism is dying down. Where there is a slight resurgence, as in
      Austria under Jorg Haider, he is immediately ostracised and the European
      Union is galvanised into adopting strict anti-racial measures. Speight
      and Rabuka are, therefore, fighting a losing battle.

      Unfortunately, however, India has seen the appearance of parties and
      individuals in recent years who endorse the fascistic "one people, one
      culture, one nation" ideology which is antithetical to a plural society.
      The plight of Indians in Fiji may promote general awareness in this
      country about how sectarian, anti-minority policies can undermine social



      A call for applications

      The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research is establishing a
      new visiting research fellowship programme, funded by the Ford
      Foundation. Four researchers from a single region will be invited to
      Geneva for a period of 4 - 6 months. The researchers will work
      collectively on a single research paper, focusing on a particular
      question of regional security. The research paper would then feed into
      policy debates on the security of their region. The visiting fellows
      programme aims: to provide training for researchers from developing
      States; to allow them to interact with each other, with researchers from
      developed States, the UN Secretariat, delegations and the
      non-governmental institutes; and to contribute to UNIDIR's research

      In the first year, the fellowships are specifically for researchers from
      South Asia. The fellowships will be allocated on a competitive basis,
      taking due care to obtain regional representation.

      Applications for a visiting research fellowship should include a
      curriculum vitae, names and contact details of three referees, a
      one-page outline of the main security issues in South Asia and a
      four-page description of an approach to one of those issues of concern.

      The fellowship programme is scheduled to begin in October 2000. Fellows
      will receive a stipend for their time in Geneva; the total amount will
      depend on their duration of stay. A return fare from the fellows'
      places of residence will also be paid.

      Requests for further information should be made to Isabelle Roger,
      Administrative Assistant, UNIDIR, Palais des Nations, Geneve-10,
      CH-1211, Switzerland, Ph: +4122 917 3186, Fax: +4122 917 0176, email:
      iroger@..., website: http://www.unog.ch/unidir.

      UNIDIR is an equal opportunities employer; the working languages are
      English and French.
      Closing dates for applications: 30 July 2000.

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