HoHaHe.Com

Columnist
A comprehensive archive based on best Pakistani newspaper columns, which let us to meet best columnist of Pakistan at a single place. You can see here latest columns on current affairs, Point of views of famous personalities regarding changing atmosphere of the country.
Disease as destiny
Add to FacebookAdd to MySpaceAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to Newsvine
10 Jul 2010
(0) Comment

Another July, another birthday. As I grow older, the interval between birthdays seems to grow shorter. A reader with a very good memory kindly sent me greetings a few days earlier than my birthday, and hoped that I would continue writing for “another 20 years”.

The thought of churning out hundreds of more articles fills me with a dull horror. Racking my brain for ideas, and struggling to meet my deadlines week in and week out, is not something I thought I would end up doing when I first began writing.

And yet, on reflection, there’s really nothing else I would rather be doing. Writing two columns a week (at a minimum) forces me to keep abreast of what’s going on in Pakistan, the region and the world. If I did not have the pressure of constant deadlines, I might easily have succumbed to the lure of daytime TV and popular fiction.

As it is, I keep track of events through newspapers, journals, the Internet and television. Almost unconsciously, I sift through all this input for ideas for my articles. Often, I wake up late at night and juggle with stray thoughts demanding a place in my columns.

For instance, an article in the Economist of July 3 caught my eye as it discussed a subject that has long troubled me. The question of the distribution of intelligence geographically and among ethnic types is of more than passing interest. For years, there has been a quiet debate on this subject. Scientists have tiptoed around it for fear of repeating outdated racial stereotypes, and yet it is of profound significance for the entire human race.

According to a recent research paper written by Christopher Eppig and his colleagues, and published by the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the human brain requires a prodigious amount of energy relative to its weight and size. A newborn baby uses 87 per cent of its metabolic energy for the development of its brain; this figure comes down to 44 per cent in a five-year old child. According to the Economist, an adult uses 25 per cent of his metabolic energy on his brain, even though this organ accounts for only two per cent of total body weight.

Any competition for energy reduces the amount available for the development of the brain. Unfortunately, diseases in many parts of the world force the immune system to divert energy away from the brain at a crucial stage in childhood, thereby stunting its growth. All too often, diseases like malaria and water-borne parasites force the body to allocate energy towards combating these endemic illnesses, starving the brain.

The new research cited by the Economist correlates the ‘disease burden’ caused by 28 infectious diseases with data for IQ reported from 113 countries. Singapore tops the list for the highest average IQ (108) with a low disease burden (2.67), followed by South Korea, China and Japan. At the bottom are Equatorial Guinea, St Lucia, Cameroon, Mozambique and Gabon. Pakistan has an average IQ of 84 and a disease burden of 3.94.

So clearly, here is the best reason possible for poor countries to invest more in the eradication of communicable disease and the supply of clean drinking water to their citizens. But despite the clear evidence presented by Christopher Eppig and his colleagues, I doubt very much if policymakers will divert a penny from grandiose projects, obscene military budgets and their own pockets.

The implications of this research are enormous, for it suggests that the human condition can be improved beyond recognition within a generation. In the Far East, governments invested heavily in their human capital over the last 60 years, imparting education and providing potable water to hundreds of millions. As a result, these countries have a highly productive work force that is now manufacturing goods for the whole world.

During this period in Pakistan, while we have done well to eradicate malaria and polio, we have been unable or unwilling to provide large numbers of our people with clean, disease-free water. The elites drink bottled mineral water; the middle class boils its water; and the poor are forced to drink whatever polluted water they can get. All too often, our piped water is contaminated by raw sewage.

Fixing this one problem would pay incalculable dividends. However, our elites are too selfish to address it. After all, they don’t have to constantly suffer the ravages of water-borne diseases, even though the dreaded Karachi Belly (akin to the Delhi Belly) is not unknown in the richest areas of the city.

I fear my reflections on global IQ levels have brought me back to the area I promised I would stay away from today: politics. I must confess to an occasional sense of boredom when faced with the prospect of writing yet another column about the NRO, the Supreme Court or Asif Zardari. The shenanigans of the Sharifs and the Chaudhries of Punjab leave me increasingly cold. The mind rebels and says: “Enough, already!” Just today, I received an email from a reader who said he liked the fact that I discussed a wide range of issues in my columns, and not just politics. That’s one of the nicest comments I have received recently.

In fact, when I meet somebody who compliments me on something I wrote recently, I often have trouble recalling what it was. Even the endless terrorist attacks now blur into one bloody, ceaseless atrocity. I simply cannot work up the same sense of fury at these mindless killers after each new outrage.

When I heard about the terrible slaughter at Data Darbar recently, I felt more saddened than angry. Although not a religious person, I used to visit the shrine of Lahore’s patron saint when it was a far more humble place than it is today. There is a sense of peace there that continues to draw tens of thousands of devotees.

Idly, I wonder what the next year holds for me. I hope to finish a book I have begun writing. In fact, I am contractually bound to complete it, so it’s a good thing the World Cup is nearly at an end, and Wimbledon’s over. I’m glad I have a clear target date for the book as I am used to meeting deadlines. Several trips are coming up, but I can write wherever I am. But the thing I look forward to most is the imminent arrival of my second grandson. May little Sulaiman never have to drink contaminated water.

irfanhusain@gmail.com

World Cup fever
Add to FacebookAdd to MySpaceAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to Newsvine
23 Jun 2010
(0) Comment

Irfan Husain
Wednesday, 23 Jun, 2010

An eerie silence descends over the entire country when England plays a major football match. And in the World Cup, every game is critical for a team battling to go forward to the second round. The big advantage of the national preoccupation with the sport is that the roads are virtually traffic-free. Pubs are packed with excited fans as giant TV screens bring the latest action from South Africa, and the sale of beer has soared.

Not that England fans have much to cheer about thus far: after drawing with both the United States and Algeria, their lacklustre team is struggling to avoid elimination. Its crucial match with Slovenia on Wednesday will undoubtedly bring the whole country to a grinding halt. Should it fail to secure the desperately needed three points from the encounter, there will be howls of outrage.

Ex-captain John Terry’s aborted coup against the team’s Italian manager had echoes of the Pakistan cricket team’s trials and tribulations over the last few years. But England fans and pundits alike drew some comfort from the antics of the French team. The open rebellion has caused fury back in France where President Sarkozy called a crisis cabinet meeting.

Over the years, England supporters have acquired an inflated opinion of their team’s prowess. It is true that England’s Premier League is probably the best national competition, attracting some of the finest players in the world. They are paid large sums, and play at a generally high level. In this setting, some English players occasionally shine, but they are supported by many top footballers from other countries. When their international colleagues return to play for their own national teams, the English side suddenly finds that its flair and attacking skills have evaporated.

In a World Cup marked by upsets and tentative play thus far, England’s performance has been distinctly poor. Although they were widely expected to easily trample over weak teams like Algeria and the United States, they have been unable to crack open solid defence, with their forwards like Rooney and Lampard struggling to make an impression. This fumbling approach has infuriated their supporters, many of whom booed their team off after the Algeria match. Here in England, many people acknowledged that the Algerians had shown greater soccer skills.

The newspapers and television are full of criticism and concern. Even people who don’t follow the game express their frustration. Indeed, the weak performance of the English team is the major topic across the country. When I went to the local newspaper shop the other day, I overheard one salesgirl speculating that perhaps the team was unable to play to its potential because of the African heat. I pointed out gently to her and her colleague that actually, it was winter in South Africa, and if anything, the players were probably feeling rather cold.

While England tries to find its rhythm, favourites Spain and Brazil have begun to hit form. Although the former was beaten by unfancied Switzerland, their second match against Honduras showed a more free-flowing Spanish side. And Brazil’s pedestrian 2-1 victory against a plucky North Korea was a reminder that even the great Brazilians cannot sparkle in every match. But their more convincing 3-1 win over Ivory Coast showcased some of their magical dribbling and passing skills.

I have placed a 20-pound bet on Brazil to win the Cup at 6-1 just to keep my interest in the tournament alive. So far, it doesn’t seem a bad wager. In this nation of gamblers, millions are being bet on any number of combinations. You can bet on the exact outcome of a game, or on how many goals a player will score, and with the Internet and cell phones, taking a punt has never been easier. Many people have accounts with bookies, and simply email their bet without leaving their homes. As I watched the Brazil-North Korea at my friend Robbie’s, he told me had a one-pound bet on Brazil to win 5-0. Within a few minutes into the match, he knew he had lost as North Korean defenders showed off their guts and their skills. I was tempted by the odds to take a punt on Spain meeting Brazil in the final: at 11-1, it struck me as a reasonable bet. But given Spain’s tentative start, I’m glad I kept my money. The upsets thus far have made this a very lucrative World Cup for the bookies.

The World Cup mania couldn’t have come at a better time for the government. Today, the Chancellor is going to announce an emergency budget that is going to inflict some serious pain on virtually every section of society. But with the football distracting popular attention from fiscal matters, the expected backlash will probably be quite muted, except from left-wing pundits. Even though the public has been prepared for the cuts to come, the message hasn’t quite sunk in. Indeed, the coalition government’s determination to reduce the deficit they have inherited from Labour is about to be translated into a very grim reality.

Even though a recent opinion poll shows that nearly 60 per cent support cuts, the majority knows that they will hurt the poor the most. From local councils to universities, people are expecting the worst. The Conservative Party made no secret of its intentions to slash public expenditure in the run-up to the election. But its coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, are a left-of-centre party and based their campaign on their vision of social justice. The coming reduction in public services will no doubt alienate large sections of their supporters. Indeed, the city of Sheffield, Nick Clegg’s constituency, has already seen a major industrial training initiative launched by Labour disappear as a result of a savings measure. There will be a lot more pain to come as the government’s cost-cutting policies take hold.

Meanwhile, the St George’s cross flies defiantly from car windows and homes across England. Even though we have still to hear the loud roar of “Enger-land, Enger-land!” that follows victory, people continue to be fixated by the football. Should things go badly against Slovenia on Wednesday, the flags will be unfurled, and the country will wake up to the reality of the deep cuts that will transform the welfare state.

However, there is a haven for those who cannot stand football: I saw a sign outside a London pub that proclaimed: “We loathe football. No plasma screen or World Cup matches here.”

Columnists A one-sided film about Benazir Bhutto
Add to FacebookAdd to MySpaceAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to Newsvine
16 Jun 2010
(0) Comment

Invited to a showing of the new documentary, ‘Bhutto’, at BAFTA (the British Academy for Film and Television Arts) by my friend Robbie Delmaestro, I was happy to make the journey from Devizes to London for the event. Robbie is a member of the Academy, having been nominated for its prestigious annual award for directing many episodes of the popular TV series, The Bill.

The documentary has gathered a lot of archival material that has never before been screened. Many of Benazir Bhutto’s speeches and conversations have been retrieved, casting fresh light on the charismatic figure and her turbulent life.

Director Duane Baughman has woven the historical video and audio clips with interviews with many figures who either knew Benazir Bhutto, or offered their analyses of her life and times. The result is a film of considerable power and relevance.

For Pakistani audiences, there is probably little that is unexpected or new, except for some footage that has been retrieved from various archives. However, Western viewers unfamiliar with the drama and the tragedy that seems deeply embedded in the Bhutto DNA, can learn a lot about a divisive political dynasty as well as a deeply troubled era in an unstable country.

The film opens with a sequence showing BB’s return from years of exile to Pakistan on Oct 18, 2007. Many of us saw the lethal suicide attacks that nearly succeeded in assassinating the former prime minister and slew around 150 of her supporters, wounding hundreds of others.

But to watch the episode again was to refresh the question so many asked at the time: why was she not provided with far more security, given the many threats she faced? When asked this question in the film, then president Pervez Musharraf callously responds: “She was given more security than was her due”, or words to this effect.

This contrasts starkly with the findings of the UN commission that investigated the crime. According to its report, her security was woefully inadequate, and the investigation that followed was unprofessional to the point of being a cover-up.

The story then goes back to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rise and fall. His judicial murder propels his daughter Benazir into the eye of the storm: imprisoned and isolated, she finally escapes into exile from Zial-ul-Haq’s harsh dictatorship.

Then her dramatic return in 1986 to an adoring Pakistan, and after Zia’s departure due to a fortuitous plane crash, she is elected in 1988, only to have her tenure cut short after a disastrous 20 months during which she was in office, but not in power.

As I said earlier, this is a story every Pakistani is familiar with, but even then, when the end comes on that fateful day in December, it has all the elements of a Greek tragedy. Writing in Maclean’s, Brian D. Johnson has this take on the film:“Imagine what Shakespeare could have done with Benazir Bhutto. In his world, her story might go something like this. A beloved king breaks tradition and decides his eldest child, not his eldest son, can inherit his throne. She is brilliant and beautiful.

The king is toppled by a cruel despot, and hanged. His daughter is imprisoned. Her younger brother is found dead, presumed poisoned. She comes out of exile to win the hearts of her people and becomes their queen.

“The older bother rebels against her rule and is killed. His daughter accuses the queen and her husband of plotting his murder. The queen loses her throne. Her husband is jailed. And after eight years of exile in a desert kingdom, she comes home to vie for the throne, and is assassinated.”

There is no question that Benazir Bhutto’s life and death carries deep resonance in the West where she is viewed as a brave, modern woman who broke the barriers of tradition and gender to become the Muslim world’s first woman prime minister. And despite her deep belief in her faith, she moved easily between the two worlds, assuring her global audience that reconciliation was possible between the Islamic and Judeo-Christian civilisations.

Among the audience at the BAFTA auditorium were members of the Bhutto family, as well as a number of her friends. In scenes showing the violent deaths of her father, her brothers and her sister, Sanam Bhutto sobbed quietly in the seat ahead of mine. I can only imagine the effect of the movie on young Bilawal, who was in the front row.

In the discussion that followed the documentary, Mark Siegel was present in his capacity of producer, while Duane Baughman was there as the director. I found it odd that Baughman is far better known as a Democratic Party member than a film-maker: he was a senior member of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign team.

I have known Mark Siegel for 20 years, and apart from being a Washington lobbyist, he has been a close and devoted friend of Benazir Bhutto. Given his association with the project, it is hardly surprising that there should be so little critical evaluation of the subject of the film.

Although there were brief clips of Fatima Bhutto who expressed her old, totally unfounded accusations against her aunt and Asif Zardari of being behind her father Murtaza’s murder, and John Burns of the New York Times on his investigative report of corruption allegations against BB and Zardari, these short critical interjections were glossed over.

I left the auditorium deeply moved. But while I liked and respected Benazir Bhutto as a human being, I retain enough of a sense of scepticism and objectivity to have seen her flaws.

For this reason, I found the film oddly unsatisfying. It was Robbie who put his finger on the central problem. He said he had never seen such an openly one-sided exercise in propaganda. In fact, the film was almost hagiographic in its adulation of its subject.

The account of Benazir Bhutto being a modern democrat while retaining her traditional Muslim values smacked heavily of an official line. While she was all these things, there were many other aspects of her personality that should have been explored.

Certainly the allegations of corruption that dogged much of her life after being elected in 1988 needed to have been thoroughly discussed. The reality is that Zardari’s nickname of Mr 10% has stuck to him, even though no allegation has been proved in any court.

Nonetheless, this is hardly something a serious film can so easily overlook. I understand that in its release in Pakistan, even these brief critical clips have been removed, making the film even less balanced.

This is a great pity as Benazir Bhutto deserved better than a propaganda film to remember her by.

Whose turn next?
Add to FacebookAdd to MySpaceAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to Newsvine
12 Jun 2010
(0) Comment

I was going to write about something else this week, but when I read the reaction of sundry clerics to Nawaz Sharif’s statement that “Ahmadis were my brothers and sisters and were assets to Pakistan”, I thought I should salute him for his political courage.

Showing solidarity for the oppressed is a sign of decency, a commodity in short supply in today’s Pakistan.

Among other things, the spokesman for the Wafaqul Madaris asked the Muslim League leader not to “defy religion for petty political gains”. Some Deobandi clerics said that the recent Lahore attack on Ahmadis was a plot to undo anti-Ahmadi laws. So are they accusing some Ahmadis of killing their own people?

In many cases, police have found a link between various terrorist groups and mosques, but we are never told if the mullahs in charge have been interrogated. It is all too possible, however, that the police back off due to the connections these clerics have with religious groups and parties.

An Indian religious figure, Mufti Habibur Rahman Ludhianwi, has joined this hysterical chorus and declared that no Muslim can have any relationship with an Ahmadi. Who is this character to pronounce on who can be friends with anybody they choose? It is this kind of rabid hatred and mistrust of everybody who does not conform to the brand of the faith we do that is isolating Muslims around the world.

Writing this from the UK, I was asked by several English friends why Ahmadis were being targeted in Pakistan as they could not understand why they were considered heretics. Above all, they could not grasp how a difference in belief could result in such terrible violence and prejudice. Frankly, nor can I.

But let me share some good news with readers: when I wrote about the Lahore massacre and in support of Ahmadis last Saturday, I braced myself for a volley of abusive and outraged emails. In the event, I am happy to report that out of some 90 or so emails, only a couple were angry and threatening. The rest welcomed my column; many Ahmadi readers were actually grateful, much to my embarrassment. I wrote back saying how ashamed I was at the treatment their community received in Pakistan.

Normally, I never quote from my own articles, but to underline how Ahmadis continue to be targeted in Pakistan, here is what I wrote nearly a decade ago (‘Another day, another atrocity’; Dawn, Sept 1, 2001):

“Earlier this week, this newspaper reported yet another atrocity against Ahmadis. A mob of zealots in Sheikhupura district had been goaded by mullahs from the Sipah-i-Sahaba and the Khatm-e-Nubuwat parties to attack a peaceful group of Ahmadis watching a religious TV transmission in their ‘place of worship’ which was burned down by the frenzied mob. “As usually happens in such cases, those locked up in ‘protective custody’ were the victims, not the criminals. In fact, it is still not clear whether the police have even registered a criminal case against those instigating the fanatics and those who participated in the attack. Apparently, what infuriated the worthies of Syedwalla village was the fact that the Ahmadis were watching the televised address of their spiritual leader, Mirza Tahir.”

Currently, the Punjab government is still in denial about the presence of large and growing numbers of local terrorists on its soil. Here is what TheEconomist said recently:

“Extremists have had a base in the province since the late 1980s, when Punjabi veterans of the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad returned home and Pakistan’s ISI spy agency decided they could be put to use against India. Many suspect that Punjabi groups are still accorded some kind of protection by the ISI, though the agency denies it.

“Ministers and officials in the province draw a distinction between the Punjabi groups, whose activities they say are sectarian or directed mainly at India and whose avowed agenda is therefore not domestic violence (killing minorities apparently does not count), and the Pakistani Taliban, which is attacking the Pakistani state…”

This attempt to draw a line between terrorist groups who are active against our neighbours and those who attack domestic targets is a meaningless exercise in sophistry. The fact is that religious extremism is fuelling this violence, and it is impossible to distinguish between the motives of these gangs.

The Economist also notes the active presence of the virulently anti-Shia Sipah-i-Sahaba, as well as the Jaish-i-Mohammad and the Lashkar-i-Taiba in Punjab. The latter is widely believed to be behind the Mumbai atrocities of November 2008.

The inaction of the Punjab government in facing up to the magnitude of the problem is reminiscent of the blind eye turned by the religious MMA alliance towards the Taliban threat in the tribal areas as well as the settled districts in the erstwhile NWFP it ruled under Musharraf. Over five years, the power and the influence of these jihadis expanded steadily due to the benign attitude of the provincial government in Peshawar. Now, as the government finally tackles the cancer in the tribal areas, we are witnessing a similar rise of this threat in south Punjab.

Although traditionally, Nawaz Sharif’s faction of the Muslim League has been close to fundamentalist groups, the Punjab government needs to take a close look at what’s happening. Their leader must talk sense into the Punjab chief minister, his brother Shahbaz Sharif. While the extremists have not seized complete control of the districts they operate in, it won’t be long before they begin calling the shots, as their brothers-in-arms do in the tribal areas. According to an Amnesty International report, four million people have been abandoned to the tender mercies of the Taliban and their affiliated groups by the federal government.

Apart from the Punjab government, large sections of the media are in denial about this threat. Indeed, home-grown terrorist groups have many cheerleaders among our TV chat show hosts. Until we all wake up to this threat, it will continue to grow. It won’t be long before those of us who do not sport long beards will become targets.

irfanhusain@gmail.com

A week in politics can be a lifetime
Add to FacebookAdd to MySpaceAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to Newsvine
21 Apr 2010
(0) Comment

Irfan Husain
Wednesday, 21 Apr, 2010

Last week, I had written off the Liberal Democrats as rank 250-1 outsiders in UK’s general election scheduled for 6 May. How wrong I was. But I was in good company: hundreds of pundits in Britain and around the world had predicted this was going to be a one-horse race, with the Conservatives poised to gain the biggest block of seats in the next parliament. The only element of suspense lay in the question whether they would get an outright majority, or there would be a hung parliament, with neither Labour nor the Conservatives winning the 326 seats needed to form a government.

The events of the last few days have proved yet again that a week in politics can be a lifetime. Suddenly, there is excitement in the air, and an election that was putting the electorate to sleep has come to life. Young people are registering in droves, and many voters who had declared that they would stay at home on Election Day are now clear that they will vote for the Liberal Democrats.

The turning point of the campaign was last Thursday’s televised debate that pitted the leaders of the three largest parties against each other. Surprisingly, this was the first such debate ever held. Considering that the Americans had their first TV debate between presidential hopefuls Richard Nixon and John Kennedy back in 1960, the British have been slow to join the rest of the advanced democracies in establishing this tradition.

In retrospect, it is easy to see why David Cameron, the Tory leader, probably wishes he hadn’t agreed: Nick Clegg turned in a performance that had his rivals reeling. In a poll taken immediately after the 90-minute debate, a majority of viewers declared the Lib Dem leader the winner. Subsequent opinion polls have confirmed this view: the latest Guardian/ICM survey shows the Conservatives at 33 per cent (down four points); the Liberal Democrats up 10 points at 30 per cent; and Labour down three at 28 per cent. One poll even showed the Lib Dems marginally ahead of the Tories.

These numbers indicate a remarkable turnaround in public opinion. One explanation lies in the fact that the TV debate was the first opportunity the Lib Dems have had to put their case before the public: ignored by the media, and often heckled by Labour and Tory members in Parliament, they were long ignored as poor distant cousins. In the debate, Nick Clegg came across as young, articulate and very intelligent. Time and again, he pilloried his rivals as representing the two major parties that had taken turns running and ruining Britain.

Gordon Brown tried desperately to gang up with Clegg in cornering the Tory leader, saying: “I agree with Nick” no less than seven times in the debate. But the Lib Dem leader shrugged off this unwanted embrace, saying of both major parties: “The more they disagree with each other, the more they sound the same.”

This tactic of declaring ‘a plague on both their houses’ has resounded deeply with the electorate. Their discontent with both major parties was reflected in the fact that before the debate, no less than 53 per cent of intending voters declared they wanted a hung parliament.

Ironically, the British ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system means that this surge in support for the Lib Dems could well mean that Labour might emerge with the biggest number of seats. For years, the demand for a proportional voting structure has echoed among the smaller parties whose voices have been ignored due to the vagaries of the system. If the Lib Dems get more votes than Labour, and still emerge with the smallest number of seats, this electoral anomaly would cause the demand for reform to be redoubled, and would undoubtedly receive widespread support from a disgruntled electorate.

Although David Cameron has urged voters to give his party a clear mandate, it is now fairly certain that no party will obtain a majority. At around 30 per cent support, each will have to consider the very real possibility of forming a coalition government. Next Thursday’s debate on foreign affairs will give Clegg the opportunity to shine again. Speaking five languages, married to a Spanish woman, and having worked in Brussels for years, he is far more knowledgeable about Europe than either of his rivals. However, the last debate is about the economy, and will give Brown a chance to show that in this period of economic uncertainty, Britain would be better off with somebody with his experience.

On the surface, it would appear that the Lib Dems and Labour, both being centre-left parties, would be natural partners in a coalition. However, Clegg would be reluctant to enter into a partnership with a party that has been tainted after 13 years in power. In the past, he has had major differences with the government over issues like the Iraq war, which the Lib Dems vigorously opposed. They are also against the enormous resources about to be committed to the Trident nuclear missile system. At a hundred billion pounds spread over several years, Clegg maintains that Britain cannot afford this outlay, and should explore the possibility of sharing a deterrent with France. He is being attacked by both Labour and the Tories for wanting to weaken Britain’s defences, and losing its seat on the UN Security Council.

One aspect of leadership in which Clegg is far ahead of his rivals is honesty. When asked which party leader relies more on spin than on substance, only 13 per cent of those polled by the Guardian named Clegg, while Cameron was at 44 per cent, and Brown at 29 per cent. While this may not make Clegg the next PM, it does at least put him in the frame.

While Britain waits impatiently for the next debate, people here are getting fed up with the air traffic ban imposed due to nearly a week of volcanic ash over much of Western Europe. Driving past Heathrow, it felt weird not to see several jetliners landing and taking off. On clear days such as we have been having recently, it is wonderful not to have wispy contrails overhead. With 200,000 Brits stuck on the mainland, daily images of stranded tourists at airports and ferry ports fill TV screens every day.

Just over a fortnight from now, Brits will vote for a new government. It would be ironic if the Lib Dem surge produces a fourth Labour government in a row. Instead of the change they seem to desire, the electorate will get more of the same.

Page 1 of 51 Next Page
Paksitani Columns, Urdu Columns, Pakistani editorials, Pakistani articles, Pakistani Urdu Columns, Pakistan columnist, Pakistani columnist, pakistan politics, pakistani news paper columns, pakistani news paper articles, urdu news papers, urdu columns, urdu articles, urdu editorials, Columns of the Day, Top Latest Pakistani Columns, Latest Newspaper Articles