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Archive for August, 2014

Pakistani Ruler’s conflicting National and Business interests By Sabena Siddiqi

Pakistani Ruler’s conflicting National and Business interests

By Sabena Siddiqi

969489_472887452787473_1429844191_nThe Sharif’s business interests in India have resulted in extra-ordinary negative repercussions for Pakistan’s security. Businessmen close to them are also pursuing Indian businesses with gusto not caring about fair or foul. There are various business ventures being initiated by PML-N, the business-friendly party currently in government and its friends, which break security norms and are most definitely not in Pakistan’s interest. Mian Muhammad Mansha being one of them, declared Pakistan’s richest man by Forbes World 2013, his worth is $2.6 billion. Nishat Group, a subsidiary of Mian Muhammad Mansha,s business conglomerate is currently trying to bring in Indian investment for Pakistan’s controversial media industry . As if Mir Shakilur Rehman’s Geo and Aman ki Asha stint et al weren’t enough for Pakistanis, Mian Mansha’s Nishatgroup is making efforts to establish Indian holdings in Pakistani media. The game is being started with collaboration with M/S Krian Media Ltd owned by a certain Mr Yezdi Dhanjishan Daruwala. Nowadays engineers from M/S Krian Media intend to get multiple entry visas for discussions with Nishat Group. Shahid Malik former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India is now Director of Mansha Group, it is rumoured these days that he is trying to get the current Pakistani High Commissioner in India to grant the required visas immediately sans interviews. Another rumour is doing the rounds that the Prime Minister’s son Hasan Nawaz has also backed this visa deal. The visa in question is the EPR, a multiple entry visa and totally inadvisable. We all know how difficult it is to get an Indian visa for Pakistanis, then only certain cities are within limits, why should Pakistan make any visas easy for Indians and that also without even an interview? Any new business coming in from India should be in Pakistan’s interests and not a ploy to destroy our cultural foundations and identity. Sonia Gandhi once talked about Pakistan’s ‘cultural invasion‘ which actually meant secularising us and decreasing Islam’s importance here so that Pakistan can ‘blend back’ into India. It was a ridiculous idea but the whole Geo modus operandi underlined this theory, the Aman ki Asha spin only benefited Indians and Pakistanis were thought to be stupid enough to be lured in with song and dance. Anyway, why does the PML-N want to provide Indians so much space to influence young minds in Pakistan?If Indian movies and drama are anything to go by, their media can only promote loose morals and nudity plus a lot of Hinduism / Hindutva ideology. Pakistanis do not need Indian media houses forced on them by the Nawaz government and friends. India is our neighbour and business with it should not clash with our culture and societal norms. Where will our ideology, two nation theory, Jinnah and Pakistan’s existence as an Islamic republic stand if interpreted by Indian media backed up by India’s Research & Analysis Wing? Sultan Lakhani is again one of Pakistan’s richest men, he has vast business interests in India, mainly he is the partner of most Indian Brands, from Titan to Tetley Tea. Tetley Tea and Titan watches are both Indian companies sold in Pakistan by Sultan Lakhani. Not a co-incidence that Lakhani owns Century Publications which owns the newspaper Express Tribune, there are various Express channels as well which must have helped to further Indian interests. Be it print media or news media, Indians want a foothold in Pakistan by hook or by crook. Recently, the controversial Arsalan Iftikhar, son of ex-CJ Iftikhar Choudhry has been provided the chance to lure in foreign and local investors to the huge gold and copper mines in Rekodiq Balochistan. He was hardly an epitome of honesty, nor did he have the credentials to be made Director, Bureau of Investment for Baluchistan , a province rich in mineral resources. It is a known fact that Pakistan’s enemies want to deny us Baluchistan as it can greatly improve Pakistan’s economy and Arsalan Iftikhar definitely did not deserve such an important post as has been provided for him by the current government. It is very disappointing that this government is following in the footsteps of Rehman Malik, the erstwhile Interior Minister for the PPP government. He had facilitated the Americans to an unusual extent, eventually he was suspected of having brought in scores of CIA and maybe ‘Blackwater ‘ agents, he had also very graciously issued arms permits for lethal weapons foreigners should not be allowed to carry in Pakistan. Now it seems that the Sharif government is too eager to please India etc for the sake of business interests and soon Pakistan could be flooded with RAW operatives in disguise. An army operation is underway in North Waziristan which is imperative for peace in Pakistan, in war-time bringing in flocks of Indians to further destabilise the situation is sheer lunacy.

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The Wind that Shakes the Barley! By Dr. Haider Mehdi

Young_Wheat_crop_in_a_field_near_Solapur,_Maharashtra,_India

NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST

The Wind that Shakes the Barley!

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

 

I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Pakistan of August 2014 is well on its way toward a decisive journey towards real democracy – or at least, a brave attempt is in the wind to initiate a determined and resolute process toward that cherished national goal.  The recent six-year so-called democratic experience in Pakistan (2008-2014) has clearly demonstrated that the present brand of so-called democratic dispensation can no longer work in this country. 

 

Let us try to take an unbiased look at the recent political events leading to the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March on Islamabad. A segment of the incumbent power elite may disapprove of Khan-Qadri methods (the status quo forces never approve of changes), but viewed from a purely Realpolitik angle, the Khan-Qadri demands for a revolutionary change in the current political system and its manifested status quo-oriented traditional political culture is absolutely justified because this political structure is completely incompatible with the needs of present-day Pakistan. In many ways, the PPP-PMLN so-called democratic era (2008-2014) and its failures have contributed immensely to bringing about this perceptual change in the political consciousness of this nation, most specifically of the younger generation, who have rejected, out-of-hand, the totality of the existing political dispensation.

 

And why should not the entire nation and specifically the younger generation feel this way?  Imagine in the last 6 long years of this sham democracy completely dominated by the PPP-PMLN Right-wing vested-interests  status quo-oriented foreign-patronized leadership, even a national debate on a fresh developmental discourse to give this nation a “people-centric” socio-economic political administrative reform agenda has not seriously taken place!  The PPP leadership, during its tenure, remained essentially oligarchic and non-reformist, while the incumbent PMLN leaders have reached the ultimate limits of plutocracy. As I stated in one of my previous articles, “In precise terms, it means that individual wealthy people exercise a combination of economic and political power, and consequently, have overall dramatic impact on the entire shape and structure of society.” Much of the political capital and financial expertise of the PMLN incumbent leadership has been injected into mega-projects inconsistent with the urgent and present needs of the overall society.  On top of that, there appears to be commercial vested-interests involved in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad mega- transport project and all other major entrepreneurial initiatives taken by the PMLN national management.

 

The questions are: Where are the national priorities of the PMLN leadership? Does the PMLN leadership truly understand the nature of the real issues and challenges that are being faced by the common folks of this country on a daily basis? Do the PMLN national managers have enough managerial competence to deal with and resolve fundamental socio-economic problems of Pakistan’s ordinary citizens? Is the incumbent PMLN leadership equipped with the necessary expertise to deliver “people-centric” ideological and knowledgeable solutions for sustainable socio-economic development of this nation? Does the incumbent PMLN leadership appreciate the precise requirements of a democratic doctrine suitable for a present-day modern democratic society? Do they truly understand, given their rigid mindset and traditional political conduct, the management of the complex, complicated modern society? I’m afraid they don’t – and that is precisely the crux of the problem of the incumbent PMLN leadership.

 

What today’s Pakistan needs is a proposed set of comprehensive goals that should be unprecedented in their discourse towards a “people-centric” socio-economic ideological future. Taken in their totality, these goals should clearly reflect an integrated and transformative agenda which builds and expands on the interlinked socio-economic challenges that Pakistani society faces today. It is important that the Pakistani state and its democratic institutions commit to eradicating poverty for everyone everywhere in the country. The Pakistani state must commit itself to a human development agenda targeted towards eliminating socio-economic inequalities in the society, promoting rapid economic growth, creating jobs, streamlining plans for healthy and environmentally clean urbanization, resolving the energy crisis and planning sustainable consumption and production levels, and giving this nation a self-sufficient and self-reliant economic system. Above and beyond, the Pakistani state must ensure and promote peace, justice and institution-building in the country. 

 

However, the unfortunate ground reality is that the recent so-called democratic era (2008-2014), of the PPP-PMLN shows no appreciable history of where even initial or preliminary steps towards these important national goals mentioned above were taken. The fact of the matter is that the PPP-PMLN record has been extremely dismal on this count and, I believe, that the incumbent PMLN leadership does not have the managerial capabilities and political management capacities to deliver on these fundamental and essential elements needed in a democratic society.  

 

The latest irony of the PMLN 14-month rule is that its leadership has dragged the country into an environment of chaos.  There has been institutional polarization, divisions and conflicts all over the political spectrum since they took over governance after the so-call massive public mandate (now openly challenged as rigged and stolen by meticulous manipulative tactics).  The fact of the matter is that present-day Pakistani democracy lies in shambles.  The people of Pakistan are suffering while the economic and political power of this country’s incumbent ruling elite has been on an ascendancy – but that’s about to take a nosedive. 

 

And that’s where the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March figures into the political mix with its much-awaited complex and far-reaching political consequences. Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri must be credited, at least, with giving this nation a highly acute awareness and a highly-developed political consciousness that there are fundamental things wrong with the present so-called democratic system, and offering a visionary outlook and real-time democratic-oriented actions to demonstrate and prove that people can and will force a change in the ways that this country has been managed so far. The PMLN cannot escape the inevitable that is bound to happen in tomorrow’s Pakistan in whatever shape and manner it may occur. I need to say no more about Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri: I know, as a social scientist, history will judge them and it may judge them as the most prominent and phenomenal revolutionary leaders and actors in the struggle for democratic freedom in Pakistan.

 

Times have changed, and so has the political consciousness of this nation – and so will the nature of democratic politics in this country. There is no going back now – the day of judgment is already upon us – it can be delayed but cannot be set aside indefinitely.  That is what we are going to learn from the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March. 

 

Hold your breath – In the air is the wind that will shake the barley!

Dr Mehdi’s Note

Gracious Friends,

Following is my latest article that appeared in today’s The Nation  http://www.nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2014-08-14/page-7.  Your comments are welcome.
Warmest Regards,

Dr. Haider Mehdi

 

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PMLN WOULD DO ANYTHING TO GET THIS VIDEO

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PMLN would do anything to get this video… by uroojnaz6

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August 14: a possible postscript

Shahzad Chaudhry
Thursday, August 14, 2014 

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Events leading to Pakistan’s 68th Independence Day crept up slowly. Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri had both announced their respective marches onto Islamabad for that day. 

Beginning from Lahore the two had chosen to tread separate routes till both merged with their followers at Islamabad. Dr Qadri’s intents were more ominous; he had declared to upturn the existing government through a revolution – even if it meant blood. To him there was no other way to replace the existing system of political monopoly by an elitist band of familial dynasties. It had to be a ‘revolution’; nothing less would do. 

Dr Qadri’s return to Pakistan from Canada became eventful with the Sharif government’s decision to divert his plane from Islamabad to Lahore denying him the opportunity to a show of force march which could have served as a precursor to his subsequent forays in search of a revolution. The complications of his arrival had unfortunately been preceded a few days earlier by another gory incident when a bloodied confrontation between his followers and the provincial police in Lahore left 14 of his followers dead. Why did the provincial government, headed by Shahbaz Sharif, fall to such levels of idiocy remains a mystery. It did, however, set the tone for what was to follow.

Here on, politics took a back seat when it chose force as its preferred mode of engagement. Politics also took a bad name when it was woefully neglected by its practitioners. At least ten more of Qadri’s supporters were killed at another head-off between both sides at a commemoration event for those who had died. 

Once set in the mode of a confrontation the slide could only result in instability. A political engagement could have helped stem the serious spiralling down of political and administrative order, but that remained crucially absent. Haughtiness and arrogance instead replaced common sense. Playing chickens, was more like it.

What followed was even more ominous. Unable to find justice for his people, Dr Qadri chose to take law into his own hands and in a highly controversial and contentious address incited his followers to use violence in bringing the government down. An armed confrontation loomed as August 14 came. 

Qadri’s subsequent retraction to instead urge a more peaceful resort assured no one. The die had been cast in the manner of his exhortations that played on emotion, religious sentiment and an open invitation to avenge his grief through violence and disorder. He wasn’t, with his actions, planning to bring only the government down, he was essentially setting in anarchy and chaos that could only result in a state and a societal meltdown.

During all this, a chain of events spread over two months, there was no political initiative by the government, federal or provincial, that could have obviated such decadence in the social and the political order. Was it arrogance; a simple lack of appreciation of how the politics had changed with its new set of determinants based around a vibrant media and a hugely more politically aware public; or was it simply the proverbial dithering and indecisiveness of Nawaz Sharif that had pushed the government of a comfortable majority into an uncomfortable position of saving both its own skin and an existential threat to the much precious democratic order? Democracy in Pakistan was still fragile needing constant nourishment through careful handling; exposing it to reverberations so early in a government’s tenure was simply, poor politics. 

Imran Khan’s commitment to his long march to seek the prime minister’s resignation and recourse to mid-term elections remained unstinted. In the lead-up to this finality and inevitability of a political show-down there was little by way of political maturity on either side. Government ministers made obnoxious statements daring both their political protagonists to follow on their plan with a promise that the government would face the challenge. Police forces were inducted from other provinces and paramilitary forces were called in to augment the potential challenge. Inevitably and compulsively, the two sides headed into a confrontation without realising where the events would lead. Politics was at the mercy of events. 

The prime minister spoke to the nation, at last, on the evening of August 12. There couldn’t have been a more lame speech though he did end with an offer to investigate all complaints of fraud through a Supreme Court commission. It was too little, too late. Imran Khan’s retort asked the PM to resign if transparencyindeed from such an inquest was to be expected. Clearly, Nawaz Sharif would not oblige. 

Similarly, to expect Imran Khan to give up on his march at that time would have only meant political suicide for him. By these perfunctory acts the two had played their final cards in a risky game of roulette that could throw up no winners. The game was now in other people’s hands.

The government chose to blockade Qadri’s every move containing him and his supporters in the vicinity of his Lahore residence. Unfortunately, violent confrontations only meant more dead and injured; now on both sides. The strife spread to other parts of Lahore and the army had to be called out to restore order. Dr Qadri was placed in house-arrest, incommunicado under a virtual shutdown. 

Imran Khan’s long march, however, was another matter. He not only succeeded in making it to Islamabad despite the clampdown and blockades against his march, he managed to breach the defences set up on the way to the fabled D-Chowk. The administration lost control over the mob’s movement. Its inability to coordinate logistics with the PTI’s organisers beforehand now haunted the administrators. Imran Khan was able to establish his sit-in within the Red Zone as per his preferred plan. Negotiations by go-betweens began in full earnest after Imran Khan had lambasted Nawaz frequently from his podium, asking him to resign if indeed a government had to function. The army, when called to assist, simply ensured that the two opposing sides were kept apart while the political showdown went through its paces. 

The prime minister chose to spend his weekend, as per his routine, in Lahore – giving rise to popular murmurs of his having thrown-in the towel. Once again the central authority to either dialogue or resolve the fracas was absent. It was becoming more and more evident that a resolution from this stalemate would once again depend on the involvement of a reformed troika – the president, the army chief and the chief justice. They were expected to meet shortly to propose a solution that could see an interim government and recourse to another election after necessary reforms were enacted. 

Yet again, democracy under a political order was in need of crutches to stake claims to a government. It was the beginning of yet another journey in Pakistan’s democratic experience. 

The writer is a retired air-vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force and served as its deputy chief of staff. 

Email: shhzdchdhry@yahoo.com

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What have we done to Pakistan” by Ayaz Amir

 What have we done to Pakistan” by Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary:  Friday, August 01, 2014

Quaid-i-Azam

Quaid-i-Azam

democracy has done things to itself which it now finds impossible to get rid of. We can take it as an axiom of ‘modern’ civilisation that the state has no business to legislate about religion. It is not for the state to say who is an infidel, who a pagan or who a righteous Muslim. And please let us not take Saudi Arabia as a model. The Saudi kingdom is unique unto itself. We can take its money and say thanks but it is not a model that any other country, while remaining sane, should care to emulate. Having fixed this cardinal principle, let us see what has happened here. As if our fixation with religious rhetoric – the lip-service to the faith – was not enough, in 1974 the Islamic Republic took upon itself the task of religious definitionism – who stood within the circle of the faith and who outside the pale of Islam. It was under no dictator that Pakistan went down this path. This happened under the umbrella of democracy and under the freshly-passed 1973 constitution no less. Thus where Pakistan in a supposedly democratic era should have moved towards greater social freedom, towards a clearer demarcation between the kingdom of the temporal and the realm of the spiritual, it went down the path of reaction – hallooing and cheering that a great blow had been struck for Islam. And the great leader of the time, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, felt that by so doing he had secured for himself political immortality. Barely three years later, he was overthrown in Pakistan’s most reactionary and backward-looking coup – a watershed event which ultimately flung wide open the doors to bigotry and fanaticism, the hallmarks of today’s Pakistan – and two years after that he was carried on a stretcher to the gallows. So much for immortality. On the foundations thus dug by Bhutto, his successor, Gen Ziaul Haq, erected a veritable temple of religious particularism (I am being careful with my words), decreeing through an ordinance issued in 1984 that it was a criminal offence for members of the Qadiani community to proclaim themselves Muslims or call their places of worship mosques. The 1974 constitutional amendment passed under Bhutto, the 1984 ordinance decreed by Zia, allied to changes in the blasphemy law sanctified by the 1985 parliament have together created a peculiar climate of fear for Pakistan’s minorities. The application of the blasphemy law has hit the Christian community the hardest. The application of the three laws together has affected the Qadiani community the most. It is not a question of doctrine – whether the doctrinal matters these laws touch are right or wrong. Of practical importance is the larger principle – whether it is any business of the state to legislate on religious matters. For when the state sets out on this path it leads, as history amply shows, to the Spanish Inquisition, the burning of witches and supposed heretics at the stake or the head of Mansur on a pike displayed on the city walls. By passing such laws in Pakistan our legislators or self-serving dictators were supposedly holding aloft the banner of the faith and, in their own estimation, striking blows for the eternal glory of Islam. The reality is somewhat different. Over the years the winds of intolerance have been fanned, bigotry and fanaticism have flourished and what we call the minorities have had a rough deal, the application of the law – and we are talking of well-documented cases – discriminating against them. The latest in this steady march of outrages is the shocking incident in Gujranwala where an allegation of blasphemy – and so far it is just a one-sided allegation with no supporting evidence or witnesses whatsoever – leading to attacks on Qadiani families, culminating in the suffocation to death of an elderly lady and two of her minor granddaughters. The house in which they were hiding along with others was set on fire. Things have reached such a pass and religious feelings so easily inflamed that anyone can make an untested allegation of sacrilege or blasphemy and if the accused is from the lower classes and is either a Christian or a Qadiani it takes little time for a mob to gather and go on the rampage – society leaders either watching the spectacle in silence, too afraid to intervene, or, as so often happens, pouring oil over the flames. There is also evidence to indicate that in many instances a blasphemy charge becomes a handy excuse for someone out to settle a score or achieve a mercenary purpose. The police usually cut a sorry figure, arriving too late or standing by proclaiming their ineffectiveness and helplessness. So it has been in Gujranwala. In the video pictures of the incident to be seen on YouTube the police were on the scene but for all the difference they made they might as well not have bothered. How do we roll back the tide? How do we make Pakistan a more tolerant society? Democracy may have a hundred achievements to its credit but Pakistani democracy has proven itself a frightened animal when it comes to social evils. It will not touch them, afraid as it is of its own shadow. If the 1984 ordinance was the brainchild of a dictator, six democratic governments – 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2008 and 2013 – have had the chance to remove it from the books and roll back the wheels of state interference in religious matters. They have done nothing of the kind. Six more democratic governments may come and this state of affairs will remain unchanged. Two democratic governments have found the YouTube ban too hot an issue to handle. How does anyone expect these souls of chivalry and emblems of knighthoods to touch anything hotter? So who can take up the challenge? Who can set the historical record right? In Pakistan’s particular milieu only a Kemalist figure can,someone invested with legitimacy not by the constitution – we have seen enough of that – but by military performance, and then taking the tough decisions that Pakistan’s elected politicians in a hundred years will shy away from. Take also the Hudood Ordinance, passed again by Gen Zia as a sop to Saudi vanity, because he was just about to hang Bhutto and his treasury was empty. He wanted both Saudi money and Saudi silence over Bhutto’s end. For Zia and his regime it may have been a useful thing at the time but we are stuck with it. Has Pakistan become a purer place because of this law? Is there less boozing and less homage to the oldest profession because of the Hudood Ordinance? Has vice been eliminated from our hallowed spaces? Are we better Muslims? Police bribery rates have gone up – the only useful outcome of this law. The Ottomon Caliphate, kicked into history’s dustbin by Kemal Ataturk, for all its decrepitude was tolerant of other faiths. It passed no laws such as we have passed. What caliphate are we constructing? Our founding fathers played the religious card in the run-up to the creation of Pakistan. Otherwise they were enlightened figures, schooled for the most part in western liberal thought and with little tolerance for the ingrained social prejudices of the traditional theocracy. The country’s founder, the great Jinnah, would not have understood much of the nonsense at which we have come to specialise. Four items of social backwardness lend a mediaeval cast to our society: 1)    the discriminatory laws touching religious belief, 2)    the Hudood Ordinance, 3)    Pakistan’s apartheid system of education – one for the lower orders, something else for those who can afford it – and, 4)    last but not least, the peculiar caste system which prevails with us – ashraafs and kammis. Ataturk abolished all titles. A Pakistani Kemal should do the same – chaudhrys, rajas, maliks, makhdooms and what have you…what age are we living in? These tasks fulfilled, the Kemalist figure can step back into the shadows and the democrats can return. And we can mount the walls of the Fortress of Islam and midst a flourish of trumpets and the beating of drums celebrate the restoration of democracy

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