The general consensus

Agent Provocateur The earlier, innocuous statements made by Ahmed Mukhtar, the countrys Defence Minister, relating to how they were not going to extend General Kayanis tenure as COAS have came to naught. One of the few things going right will be allowed to continue to do so. The general consensus on the PMs announcement of giving the Army Chief an extension of three years is one of relief. The reasons are all too apparent. Some interesting aspects of this development are that the no 13, considered unlucky by some, is certainly not so for both our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as the present COAS. They will both stay in their present positions, all else permitting, up to 2013, which, at this point, seems nicely far-off in the distant future. We are so overcome by the noises of all that is going wrong within our systems and institutions amidst the chaos and power play that we tend to ignore what is going right. Both the judiciary and the army have measured up to what was expected of them by the people and that, in itself, is no mean achievement by two key players within our system. I, for one, have realised that I like mystery men who speak less and do more ala Raza Rabbani, Javed Leghari and General Kayani, much better than I like the noisier hyperactive variety. Men in positions of authority must command respect not demand it. The PM made a short and effective speech to make the announcement. The most welcome change was that a democratic leader made the announcement, with genuine praise for the person being given the extension. No undercurrents, no hidden agendas, exactly as it should be. Our brief history has too many examples of people positioning themselves as the answer to our prayers and extending their own tenures. General Musharraf was a classic example of sending his files to himself as Joint Chief and then on to himself again as Chief Executive and President. So, gentlemen, 2013 it is then. Three years to get things organised before election time comes around. With General Kayani still in the chair fairness in supervising the event is ensured. The results will speak volumes for the performance in governance from now until then. Please look for new and better candidates and give a miss to the tried and tested who have failed on all counts, not just academic exams. Who knows, we may be so desperate by then that we may en masse vote Musharrafs APML into power. That is the main thrust of the new party anyway. While the debate on this one issue is off the list and settled to most peoples liking, the debate on degrees rages unabated. With Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali and Abid Sher Ali slugging it out in full public view. Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali has been launched by the powers that be to put the spanner in the works. While he himself is the Minister for Education, he is planning to hand the cases to the Law Ministry to find a legal way forward The Law Minister is capable of defending the most indefensible which will further add many twists to the tale. The most vocal defendant of the degree case and particularly of Faryal Talpurs degree is Sharmila Farouqi, the advisor to CM Sindh. She continues to maintain, with wide-eyed innocence, that day to day issues are more important and that the degree issue should be put on the back burner. She actually made a very snide remark at Jamal Leghari while on air on a TV channel to the effect that, that only a Leghari can bite the hand that feeds them It is amazing how those in power view the entire landscape as their personal property and how the culture of patronage continues to flourish. I do hope Senator Javed Leghari, Chairman HEC, remains undeterred. A hundred odd disqualifications will not bring the system down only help in cleansing it. Postscript: The nurse, belonging to a minority faith, who was made victim of gang rape by some doctors in Jinnah Hospital in Karachi recently and who has survived to tell the tale is a horrible example of how women can be mistreated at the workplace. Just a few of these cases emerge out into the open while nobody knows how many go undeterred and unpunished. As the people involved in this particular case have been apprehended, they must be given exemplary punishment. That is the only way others will be prevented from going the same route wherever opportunity strikes. Poverty has left people with no choice but to work for a living, irrespective of gender some protection and security must be offered to women. As it is, our women have to face so much opposition for getting any rights. There is now also law in place protecting women against harassment. This case must not go unpunished for two reasons. One it involves a woman from a minority faith and two it is cruelty of the worst kind. On this one issue, I am sure all of us are on the same side, with or without the degrees. One woman who has earned herself a good name with sheer hard work is our film star Reema. She looked so lovely and spoke so well during the recent Awards ceremony. Both she and Adnan Sami Khan got lifetime achievement awards from the PM. The only thing odd about it was that lifetime achievement awards are given to those who have the bulk of their life behind them. Both Reema and Adnan, we hope, have a long innings ahead of them still and will hopefully bring many more laurels to their country and chosen professions. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email:

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