Pakistans acid test
Pakistani film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy walked the red carpet at the Academy Awards and walked away with the Oscar for the best short documentary. The press has reflected the popular cheer and celebration of this accolade. Saving Face,co-directed by Obaid-Chinoy and American documentary film-maker Daniel Junge,shined a light on a bill pending in parliament that seeks to pre-empt acid attacks and protect victims. Dawn reported on February 27 that Pakistans prime minister,Yousuf Raza Gilani,announced a civilian award for Obaid-Chinoy for winning the Oscar. The Nation added on February 28 that President Zardari lauded her for her film-making and bringing Pakistans softer image to the world. The report also quoted a statement from the PMs office: We are proud of Sharmeen,who won for Pakistan such a prestigious award,and that the award will help showcase [the positive steps taken by the present government.
During a Sindh provincial assembly by-election in Tando Mohammad Khan earlier this week,Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Syeda Waheeda Shahs slapping of an assistant presiding officer at a polling booth made national headlines in Pakistan,and caused the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice. Later,she slapped another woman at the polling booth,which was caught by a TV camera. A case was registered with the local police against Shah,who is not only a local political heavyweight but also from a powerful landed family. The results of the by-election have been withheld after the case was registered,though Shah was reported to be leading in the poll. The Express Tribune reported on February 27: Appearing at a press conference… with the assistant presiding officer whom she had slapped… Bukhari said the misunderstanding has been removed and said that she became enraged because of the rigging complaints. The News also reported that at the press conference,the woman who was slapped defended Shah. The report also stated that the locals present at the press conference suspected whether the woman at the press conference was the real victim at all.
Meanwhile,during the proceedings of the suo motu case at the Supreme Court,the bench headed by Pakistans chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,serious note was taken of Shahs behaviour. The Express Tribune reported on March 3 that Chaudhry observed this incident was graver than last years extra-judicial killing of Sarfaraz Shah,a teenage boy,which created a huge furore about the powerful taking the law into their own hands. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chauhdry observed that the inspector general of police,Sindh,should resign from his post over the episode… (and) directed IG Sindh to take action against the incident according to the law and submit a report before the court at the next hearing on March 12.
India-Pakistan bilateral trade got a much-needed boost,as Pakistan replaced its positive trade list with a new negative list. This comes soon after Indias commerce minister,Anand Sharma,visited Pakistan. Dawn hailed the move in its March 3 editorial: With India agreeing to dismantle all Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers,Islamabad has finally done away with the positive list of items that could be imported from across its eastern borders and replaced it with a negative list of items that cannot be imported. Even the negative list will be phased out by the end of this year. This will pave the way for full liberalisation of trade between the two largest South Asian economies… The unprecedented progress made by the two countries in such a short span of time would not have been possible without the strong political will shown by their governments… At the same time,the role played by Pakistans business community in backing the governments efforts for trade normalisation with India cannot be stressed enough.