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Posts Tagged Bilawal

What a country! – LAMENT (!) FOR PAKISTAN: The truth and nothing but the truth ; So help me ALLAH PAK

The  truth  and  nothing  but  the  truth ; So  help  me  ALLAH  PAK


0 Pakistan in 33rd Place of New Corruption Perception Index


Yes, what a country! A paradise on earth, that’s what Pakistan got from shining sea to the second highest peak in the world. Before you declare it paradise lost, tarry a while and think: Only in this country does the heart beat faster when a PIA plane brings you back to your roots. In no other country does it feel like home. In no other country does the desi food taste as delicious as here. In no other country do you get hugs and kisses accompanied by profuse dinner invitations when you chance upon an old acquaintance. People are genuinely happy to welcome you back to where you really belong. 

Only in this country does a tooth extraction cost Rs4,000 and an implant Rs75,000. My dentist in the US charges $500 for tooth extraction and $5,000 for an implant.
Go back and get your teeth fixed. Its much cheaper there, Dr Ruvo tells me when I go running to her for help. Dr Shahid Mahmood, the Texas-trained dentist in Islamabad says: I tell my friends and family in America to take a trip out to Pakistan , get their dental work done, have a vacation and return refreshed in less than half the money they would spend on their teeth treatment in the US 
Dental issues aside, Islamabad is a happening place. Some friends wanted to eat out on Valentines Day. We went around but were turned away. Every place was booked solid P.rofessionals in all fields, I find are efficient, friendly and willing to help you when you turn up in their offices to get work like car insurance, car registration, refunds for unused PIA tickets, money transfers and a hundred other things that need to be done if youve been away from Pakistan long
But what a country where traffic lights dont exist in the capital city. The message: Drive at your own risk; fend for yourself! There are no cops on the streets. Its free for all. The daredevil motor bikers challenge every nerve in your body as they charge around recklessly packed with women and children at the back. The only cops you see are standing fiddling with their cell phones or chatting leisurely with each other while lined up along VIP routes daily.
What a country where a property tycoon can buy off the sons of VVIPs, load them with pricey gifts and then openly boast about his feats. First to fall from grace is the son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The case stands unresolved. Now its Bilawals turn to have a multi-million dollar mega-home named after him by Riaz.
What a country where the president of the poverty stricken populace brazenly accepts this graft in the name of his son from the most controversial man in Pakistan . With his own millions stashed overseas, Zardari and son are hardly a charity case in need of a roof over their heads courtesy Malik Riaz. Splashed in the media are photographs of the VVIP father and son holding court in one of the 50 formal drawing rooms of Bilawal House in Lahore .
What a country where the same man, Malik Riaz builds a sand castle telling all and sundry that it will be the tallest building in Karachi worth $45bn in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Group. The hyper TV channels go into an overdrive putting Burj Khalifa in Dubai to shame. Maliks tower will soon replace the Burj in height and grandeur, open-jawed Pakistani public is told. Not so fast! Say the Abu Dhabi Group. They publish a quarter page clarification in all our newspapers contradicting Riazs tall claims.Distancing itself from the deal, the Group declares that the whole exercise was nothing more than a Memorandum of Understanding between them and Malik Riaz of Bahria Town . Since both the parties failed to reach a conclusion the deal stands cancelled!
What a country where the US dollar touches the Rs100 mark. Instead of stalling the rupee decline, the government dispenses with the services of its finance secretary. A week later, the finance minister too departs, leaving the countrys finances in the lurch. A manager of a local bank tells me that as elections near and uncertainty grows, politicians are busy transferring their ill-gotten wealth out of Pakistan .
What a country where the ruling elite are the main black marketers who pocket $6.12bn, paralleling almost half of Pakistans foreign exchange reserves. Their ill-gotten money is mainly acquired through drug smuggling, book piracy, gas and oil smuggling, human smuggling, tax evasion and counterfeit money. Havocscope, the worlds leading provider of information about the black market ranks Pakistan close to Afghanistan which is the worlds number one country with $7.3bn in black market. There are laws to catch the scofflaws but the courts, including the Supreme Court are helpless.
images-15What a country where the son of a prime minister along with a federal minister and a federal secretary are accused of importing the deadly drug called ephedrine and health officials divert 25,000 kg ephedrine to the pharmaceutical companies for smuggling abroad. The then Director General Health Dr Rashid Juma, a respected brain surgeon, in his statement as an approver alleges that he was threatened by the then health secretary Khushnood Lashari to do as told or else hed get the sack. Ironically, the minister and the secretary continue in their posts despite the court accusing them of the crime, while the son who is a member National Assembly is out on bail. The case will gradually fizzle out as happens always.
What a country where the constitution is violated by the lawmakers themselves, most of them holding fake degrees and owing huge sums to the State Bank. When the Election Commission writes to 249 legislators giving them a deadline to prove their academic credentials, only 26 of them respond. The rest, 223 member parliaments miss the deadline, proving they sneaked into the parliaments on suspected fake degrees. Heavens dont fall. There is business as usual. When the State Bank threatens to out the identities of the bank defaulters, pressure from the government and the opposition arrives and the matter goes into a limbo.
What a country where one million ton plastic bags a week are thrown randomly and are left lying forever. Most of them make their way to the chocked gutters or fly around in the wind until they land on trees and bushes. We have a minister and a secretary in charge of environment. They, like the rest of the government wear blinkers and perhaps dont see the plastic bags suffocating the environment
Still, what a country where ordinary people are the most resilient, hard working and honest Pakistan could have been a paradise for all from the privileged to the underprivileged, had it not been pillaged repeatedly by those in whom God had wrested power.
Paradise lost and regained may yet be the lasting narrative for Pakistan .

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My heart bleeds for Pakistan. It deserves better than this grotesque feudal charade

hina-rabbani-bilawal-compromising-position-5-300x225Six hours before she was executed, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: “…As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him.” The year was 1587.

On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents subsequently announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People’s Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Nothing more, nothing less. Poor Pakistan. Poor People’s Party supporters. Both deserve better than this disgusting, medieval charade.

Benazir’s last decision was in the same autocratic mode as its predecessors, an approach that would cost her tragically her own life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, even later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election she might still have been alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future.

How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future.

That most of the PPP inner circle consists of spineless timeservers leading frustrated and melancholy lives is no excuse. All this could be transformed if inner-party democracy was implemented. There is a tiny layer of incorruptible and principled politicians inside the party, but they have been sidelined. Dynastic politics is a sign of weakness, not strength. Benazir was fond of comparing her family to the Kennedys, but chose to ignore that the Democratic Party, despite an addiction to big money, was not the instrument of any one family.

The issue of democracy is enormously important in a country that has been governed by the military for over half of its life. Pakistan is not a “failed state” in the sense of the Congo or Rwanda. It is a dysfunctional state and has been in this situation for almost four decades.

At the heart of this dysfunctionality is the domination by the army and each period of military rule has made things worse. It is this that has prevented political stability and the emergence of stable institutions. Here the US bears direct responsibility, since it has always regarded the military as the only institution it can do business with and, unfortunately, still does so. This is the rock that has focused choppy waters into a headlong torrent.

The military’s weaknesses are well known and have been amply documented. But the politicians are not in a position to cast stones. After all, Mr Musharraf did not pioneer the assault on the judiciary so conveniently overlooked by the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, and the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. The first attack on the Supreme Court was mounted by Nawaz Sharif’s goons who physically assaulted judges because they were angered by a decision that ran counter to their master’s interests when he was prime minister.

Some of us had hoped that, with her death, the People’s Party might start a new chapter. After all, one of its main leaders, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Bar Association, played a heroic role in the popular movement against the dismissal of the chief justice. Mr Ahsan was arrested during the emergency and kept in solitary confinement. He is still under house arrest in Lahore. Had Benazir been capable of thinking beyond family and faction she should have appointed him chairperson pending elections within the party. No such luck.

The result almost certainly will be a split in the party sooner rather than later. Mr Zardari was loathed by many activists and held responsible for his wife’s downfall. Once emotions have subsided, the horror of the succession will hit the many traditional PPP followers except for its most reactionary segment: bandwagon careerists desperate to make a fortune.

All this could have been avoided, but the deadly angel who guided her when she was alive was, alas, not too concerned with democracy. And now he is in effect leader of the party.

Meanwhile there is a country in crisis. Having succeeded in saving his own political skin by imposing a state of emergency, Mr Musharraf still lacks legitimacy. Even a rigged election is no longer possible on 8 January despite the stern admonitions of President George Bush and his unconvincing Downing Street adjutant. What is clear is that the official consensus on who killed Benazir is breaking down, except on BBC television. It has now been made public that, when Benazir asked the US for a Karzai-style phalanx of privately contracted former US Marine bodyguards, the suggestion was contemptuously rejected by the Pakistan government, which saw it as a breach of sovereignty.

Now both Hillary Clinton and Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are pinning the convict’s badge on Mr Musharraf and not al-Qa’ida for the murder, a sure sign that sections of the US establishment are thinking of dumping the President.

Their problem is that, with Benazir dead, the only other alternative for them is General Ashraf Kiyani, head of the army. Nawaz Sharif is seen as a Saudi poodle and hence unreliable, though, given the US-Saudi alliance, poor Mr Sharif is puzzled as to why this should be the case. For his part, he is ready to do Washiongton’s bidding but would prefer the Saudi King rather than Mr Musharraf to be the imperial message-boy.

A solution to the crisis is available. This would require Mr Musharraf’s replacement by a less contentious figure, an all-party government of unity to prepare the basis for genuine elections within six months, and the reinstatement of the sacked Supreme Court judges to investigate Benazir’s murder without fear or favour. It would be a start.



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