Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistan’s missing people and judge Chaudhry

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Among the black-suited crowd celebrating Pakistani judge Iftikhar Chaudhry’s reinstatement as the head of the Supreme Court outside his home in Islamabad this week was a  woman with a bouquet in her hand and a prayer in her heart.

Amina Janjua’s husband went missing in July 2005, one of hundreds that rights activists allege have been held without judicial process in secret detentions centres as Pakistan’s part in the campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Her husband’s case was one of the dozens that Chaudhry had taken up in his campaign to fix accountability for the missing people, before he was sacked in November 2007.

As the chief judge, regarded as a hero after an opposition-backed lawyers’ protest movement forced the government to  back down, returns to his seat on the top court this weekend, the hopes of people such as Amina are high.

“He is going to reopen those cases, and our near and dear ones will be back home soon,” India’s Hindu newspaper quoted her saying in a report from Islamabad. Amina  is now leading a movement by the families of the missing, which include people from Baluchistan to Punjab.

Who really is in control of Pakistan ?

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One of the questions that repeatedly came up during Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s rather eventful trip to the U.S. last month was who was in charge of the Inter-Services Intelligence , especially after the botched attempt to bring the powerful spy agency - that critics see as a state within a state – under the interior ministry.

Prime Minister Gilani with President George W.Bush

But at home, Pakistanis are asking an even more fundamental question: Who really is in control of  their country ? A very rough poll conducted by All Things Pakistan among people who visit the blog found that nearly 40 percent thought nobody was in control of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 160 million and from where at least the Americans are convinced the next major militant attack is coming.

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