Our December issue was hitting the press when just out of the blue, a sudden period of uncertainty descended on Pakistan. The Supreme Court suspended the government’s notification of the Army Chief’s extension. A decision which hitherto had always been in the purview of the Prime Minister’s domain.
The announcement on the extension had been made as far back as in August, citing the prevailing tensions in the region, after Balakot in February, daily firing over the LOC, and more recently after August 5, when India revoked Kashmir’s independent state status.
The Supreme court actions saw 72-hour tensions in which there was total uncertainty over the direction Pakistan was taking and whether the country would have an Army Chief on November 29. Fortunately, it resolved, and the Court gave the government six months to frame enabling legislation for the Army Chief’s extension.
December brings its own pain for Pakistan. We have Ambassador Afrasiab, former Ambassador to Bangladesh– bring a different angle to look at the major characters who betrayed Pakistan in 1971: Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman, Zulfiqar Bhutto, Maj General Zia ur Rehman and others. It is an interesting but very provocative piece.
GVS also looks at the 2014 Army Public School, Peshawar, tragedy. In a country that has suffered hundreds of terrorist attacks for the past twenty years, this was an attack that jolted the 200 million nation, and nothing prepared the country for the savage brutality that was displayed on December 16, 2014.
Asif Aqeel, a prominent journalist and active member of the Christian community, discusses the thorny issue of divorce in his community. Victorian-era marriage and divorce laws for Christians, still prevail in Pakistan, and which urgently need to be revamped to accord with basic human rights.
We also welcome Dr. Christian Turner, the new British High Commissioner to Pakistan, who is expected to take charge in December. Our special feature this month looks at one of Pakistan’s esteemed institutions in photography, Zaidis’ photographers, who have captured through the camera lens the changing face of the Pakistani kaleidoscope from the 1930s to date.
There were times, hard sometimes to believe now, when the Queen of Jordan or Jacqueline Kennedy could travel the streets with President Ayub Khan in an open car, or Her Majesty Elizabeth II addressing a crowd in Pakistan.
The socio-historical evolution of society is picked up as the photographs reflect the changing nature of society, from the ceremonious – how people dressed and held themselves to the modern-day Pakistani who is much more relaxed by comparison.
This transformation can easily be seen in the photos of the three-generation Zaidi family itself, as we see a formally dressed eastern wear grandfather to the formal western get up of the father to the modern-day Shahid Zaidi. Our other special feature this month analyzes the government’s implementation of the road axle weight, which has set the cat among the pigeons.
This is an idea whose time has come, as Victor Hugo said – but there are genuine concerns that industry has expressed, especially cement, steel, sugar, and oil industries. The government is in a catch 22 situation – in which it has to find a solution between transporters, industry, and its international commitments on road safety, and need for regional trade. However, it needs to balance all stakeholders and set out a realistic time plan in which to resolve this.