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Deplorable role of our politicians by Asif Haroon Raja






Deplorable role of our politicians

Asif Haroon Raja

Irresponsible behavior of our political leaders is causing irreparable damage to the nation. Their myopia has caused deep anguish to the people. Their selfishness broke the country into two. When Mujibur Rahman and 22 co-accused were arrested on charges of treason and secession in 1968, the politicians bailed them out. When Ayub Khan who had uplifted the fortunes of Pakistan sky high, agreed to all the demands of the opposition and called the Round Table Conference to find a political way out, power hungry ZA Bhutto failed the conference. While Gen Yahya gave all the political concessions and allocated heaviest development outlays for the eastern wing to appease the Bengalis, Mujibur Rahman chose to play the Indian game to become PM of Bangladesh and not of united Pakistan. ZA Bhutto added fuel to fire since he wanted half of the cake of power at all cost. Their obduracy and India’s disgusting role led to the break of Pakistan. Bangladesh broke away to become independent but has become a satellite of India.

Egotism and greed of nationalist politicians from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh, later joined by Baluchistan nationalists blocked the construction of Kalabagh Dam (KBD), vital for the survival of Pakistan. Who doesn’t know that India was behind the ones opposing KBD and had doled out large amounts to achieve her sinister design? Today when India has built well over 60 dams on the three rivers flowing into Pakistan from occupied Kashmir and is hell bent to make Pakistan a water scarce country and a barren land, no one is holding the opponents accountable. India is now in a position to flood our rivers during flood season each year and control water during seeds sowing season. This strategy has been devised to bend nuclear Pakistan and force it to give up Kashmir and accept Indian hegemony if it wants to survive. But for the avaricious politicians who have sold their souls to the devil, India could never have succeeded in her designs. Thanks to Ayub Khan who constructed Tarbela and Mangla Dams and laid a network of irrigation canals, otherwise Pakistan by now would have been a drought stricken country and couldn’t have possibly pursued its nuclear program or maintained strong armed forces.

We know the architects of NRO and what price the beneficiaries had agreed to pay to get cleansed from criminal and corruption charges and secure power. We know the dream team of PPP-MQM-ANP-JUI-F formed by the US in March 2008 and how this chosen team went about giving Pakistan on contract to the adversaries of Pakistan. While all the PPP leading lights involved in mega scandals were given a clean chit, 8000 MQM leaders involved in heinous crimes were let off. This team played havoc with Pakistan in its 5-year rule. Besides minting money and reducing Pakistan into a carcass, the MQM in its bid to gain total control over Karachi and other urban centres of Sindh let loose a reign of terror in Karachi with the help of its target killers, extortionists, kidnappers. Railway was almost grounded by ANP minister. While all the economic indicators had gone into negative, all profit earning state corporations ran on oxygen, economy almost collapsed and debts doubled. Country was run by taking loans from IMF, World Bank, local banks and printing notes. PML-N tied to charter of democracy looked the other way.

Pakistan was seen as a breeding ground of terrorism, the most dangerous country in the world and a failing state. An impression had been built that Pakistan’s nukes were unsafe and likely to be snatched by militants and hence must be taken in safe custody. Pak Army and ISI were ridiculed by propagating that they were either in league with terrorists or were inefficient and were repeatedly asked to do more. Every Tom, Dick and Harry could whip Pakistan and our leaders took the insults and whips without a whimper. No country was prepared to invest even $ 100 in Pakistan and foreign investment had dried up. Pakistan suffered worst energy crisis and people had to endure 18-20 hours load shedding. There was acute shortage of gas, fuel and commodities. Corruption scaled new heights and was institutionalized. Nepotism was adopted and merit discarded. Cheats and crooks were preferred over honest people. Accountability was in name only since no one was held accountable under the name of national reconciliation. Even those sentenced to death were not hanged because of moratorium. Over 4000 terrorists arrested by the Army soldiers in combat zones were freed by the law courts. No criminal in Karachi involved in hundreds of murders was convicted and punished.

We remember how merrily our leaders accepted the Kerry Lugar Bill which in the garb of aid was designed to control Pakistan’s premier institutions and strategic assets. We also remember the Memo scandal and the devious role of our ambassador in Washington who had authored it at the behest of the top leaders in Pakistan. Hussain Haqqani had pushed in 7000 CIA and Blackwater operatives without seeking clearance from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ISI. Rahman Malik as Interior Minister served the vested interests of his local and foreign masters submissively and enabled Blackwater to establish itself in major urban centres. It has now been established that while MQM is closely linked with RAW, PPP leadership is involved in financial terrorism in Karachi and ANP connection with the Indian Congress is no secret. BLA, BRA, BLF are creations of MI-6, CIA, RAW and are serving their agenda to detach Baluchistan from Pakistan. Their absconding leaders are leading a luxurious life in London, Geneva and Washington. TTP is also a creation of foreign agencies and its top leaders are hosted by Afghan intelligence in Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar and used by RAW against Pakistan.  

Instead of building institutions and focusing on alleviating the sufferings of the poor, the politicians got involved in filling their coffers. While the PPP wasted all their energies in glorifying ZA Bhutto and Benazir and in demeaning Gen Ziaul Haq, the MQM and ANP lionized Altaf Hussain and Bacha Khan respectively. PPP and MQM kept fighting in Sindh but slept in one bed. Their insatiable greed and lust for big money and power, and their uncaring habit of displaying their wealth sowed the seeds of materialism and immorality. Their dishonesty stimulated culture of corruption. Their arrogant behavior and their lackadaisical approach and insensitivity towards the have-nots bred intolerance, resentment and further fueled religious extremism and terrorism. Their inefficiency crumbled the economy and accentuated joblessness and poverty. Lacking in vision and patriotism, and preferring self-interests over national interests, they remained engrossed in transferring wealth to Swiss banks and procuring property abroad and took little interest in education and in integrating the society as one whole, which is prone to divisive tendencies due to factors of regionalism, ethnicity, sectarianism, secular-Islamic divide and religious divides. Their corrupt practices became a key factor in disillusioning the youth and in going astray and in fanning provincialism.

These glaring anomalies can be attributed to a robber baron but certainly not to a Guardian. One can expect the callous feudal lord to commit such thoughtless acts but cannot be expected from a true leader and a well-wisher. The have-nots have been groaning under the weight of unbearable poverty and crying in pain for the last 69 years, but the ones sitting in the corridors of power and taking turns to loot the national wealth and resources are so smug in their high lifestyle that they either turn a deaf ear to their cries or pretend that they are doing a lot for them. Each time they stand for elections, they reach up to the have-nots and promise them moon, but no sooner they get elected through their votes they get disconnected from them. Having spent millions during election campaign, they consider it their right to plunder the national wealth. They forget the sacrifices rendered by the workers, tillers, farmers, laborers, artisans who keep the economic wheels of the country running irrespective of the odds.

Even under such insalubrious circumstances, the Army and ISI remained focused on battling with the foreign agencies supported terrorist groups in FATA and parts of KP and managed to recapture 17 administrative units from their hold in 2009 and retained them since the civil administration expressed its inability to takeover. Over 3000 security personnel embraced martyrdom in Swat and South Waziristan operations while the list of injured was much longer.

It is indeed ironic that well knowing that Pakistan has been cleverly trapped into a web of international conspiracy and the security forces are fighting an existential war since 2004, the politicians have brought no change in their behavior pattern and conduct. While the Army is at war and is shedding blood to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of motherland, and has demolished the last stronghold of TTP in North Waziristan, there is no change in the way of life of politicians. They are still making money, squabbling and indulging in intrigues. MQM followed by the PPP are trying to discredit the Rangers and fail the operation in Karachi since both want the axe to fall on smaller fish only and to spare the big fish. Sindh government is dragging its feet to grant extension to Rangers. They are doing so against the wishes of people of Karachi.

Disgruntled politicians in Sindh never hesitate from using Sindh or Muhajir card. There are some envious of progress achieved by Shahbaz, blaming Punjab for lack of development in smaller provinces. Punjab cannot be blamed for plunging the city of lights Karachi into darkness and soaking the streets with human blood. It is PPP which is creating hurdles in the implementation of National Action Plan and is now seeking judicial inquiry of Bacha Khan University terror attack. PPP is building pressure on the government to wind up Rangers operation in Karachi.

Look at how some political parties assisted by segment of media are opposing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a win-win project for both Pakistan and China since it helps Pakistan in getting out of the woods and China in developing its western provinces and in getting connected with South Asia, Middle East, Africa and beyond. The ones in the vanguard are Tehreek-e-Insaaf, ANP, PPP, JUI-F supported by Baloch nationalists. They are speaking the language of India which is hell-bent to scuttle CPEC.

While the $46 billion project is being viewed by the analysts all over the globe as a game changer for Pakistan as well as for South Asia, India is creating hurdles and has declared that it is unacceptable. Reason is that this project will bolster Pakistan’s economy and enhance its significance in the world and above all decisively demolish India’s plan to encircle Pakistan and her grandiose plans to become a regional and global power. India knows that politically stable, economically sound and militarily strong Pakistan will quicken the pace for liberation of occupied Kashmir from her clutches and then unravel Indian Union. Like India, the US is equally upset about CPEC since it will jeopardise its ambition to shift its strategic pivot from West Asia to Asia-Pacific, disrupt its plans to encircle its chief rival China and will thwart its plans to harness the mineral resources of Central Asia.

Since the CPEC has become a nightmare for India as well as USA because Central Asian Republics and some Gulf Countries have already got attracted towards it, the BJP regime has established a special desk of RAW at Delhi and allocated $300 million to scuttle CPEC at all cost. In addition, ex Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been given $30 million to keep Afghan base active for cross border terrorism in Pakistan. Indian National Adviser Ajit Dowal is the director of the operation and he is using multiple methods to achieve India’s ends. Heating up of LoC/Working boundary, false flag operations, threatening posture, and acceleration in acts of terror in restive zones of Pakistan through which western route passes, establishing a link between TTP runaway leaders and Daesh and straining Afghan-Pakistan relations were part of the gory plan. Having failed to disrupt the progress of CPEC and getting flabbergasted with the outstanding successes achieved by Operation Zarb-e-Azb in northwest, FC operation in Baluchistan and Rangers led operation in Karachi, India seems to have acquired the services of some political parties and anchors/journalists in Pakistan to do what she couldn’t do.

Their possible linkage with foreign agenda can be discerned from the fact that the first attempt to scare away the Chinese from undertaking this project was made through Dharna politics. People were led astray under the slogan of ‘change’. Negative politics delayed the signing of the CPEC deal by six months. Another trick employed was to spoil civil-military relations. After the failure of dharna to achieve its objective, complexion of Pakistan began to improve, and the CPEC project took off. Guided by outsiders, the detractors tried to make it controversial by raising the issue of ‘route’ under the pretext that Baluchistan and KP provinces would derive least benefits from it. They tried to mislead the people by asserting that original plan had been changed to benefit Punjab whereas the only route in the original plan was western. They insisted upon giving priority to western route over central and eastern routes. And when to their great disappointment this issue was amicably resolved by the PM in the All Parties’ Conference held in May 2015 that development of western route will be given top priority, they were left gaping and had to shut up for next six months.

They then waited for their patrons for the new theme to play up. To pick faults, they stated that the western route which is being constructed by FWO under the supervision and protection of Army is just a road. When they were explained that it was a four-lane Highway in continuation to KKH, they are now saying that a six-lane motorway along with all the allied facilities are required at the outset. KP CM is using threatening language; similar to the language used by ANP leaders about KBD. They fail to realise that CPEC is a 15-year long term project which has been entirely funded by China, and the one investing $46 billion has its own interests and security concerns and would like the venture to be profitable and not a liability. No one has ever invested this kind of money in Pakistan. As far as energy parks are concerned, which would consume $35 billion of the total amount, those would be decided in consultation with provinces and the latter will have to earmark places and acquire land. The opponents in their frenetic hatred for the ruling party to gain political mileage have started to sing the old song of “Punjab’, which was sung by the Bengalis and it is not difficult to ascertain as to who is the composer of the song.

The frustrated politicians know well that operationalization of CPEC and resolution of energy crisis by 2018 will sink their political ambitions to capture power in 2018 elections. To remain relevant and garner support of the public, they are ringing false alarm bells about CPEC and employing all sorts of dirty tricks to make it controversial and to dishearten the Chinese and oblige them to abandon the project. Their bleating impelled China to express its concern. In their mad frenzy, they do not understand that this opportunity that has come our way is a fate changer and if it slips away Pakistan will never be able to get rid of its external and internal debts and to remove socio-economic deprivations of smaller provinces and will continue to lurch from one crisis to another and remain vulnerable to conspiracies and foreign adventures.

While I agree that PML-N is not a party of angels and there are quite many feudal lords and crooks in it, the fact is that its performance is far better than the previous regime. It must be allowed to work and complete its tenure. If PPP led regime could be tolerated why not this one which is delivering. Let the people decide its fate in May 2018. Any turmoil in the political setup at this delicate stage when economy is yet to stabilize, energy crisis are yet to be overcome, and our adversaries are getting impatient to denuclearize and fragment Pakistan, will be suicidal. Talk of presidential form of government, national government, or the Army taking over power are unproductive suggestions at this stage. Meaningless tug of war will help our adversaries and not Pakistan. The critics must rationally analyse whether the present government has retrogressed or progressed after it took over.

Nawaz’s softness towards India, although highly unpalatable, may be tolerated. After all, Pakistan cannot afford tension on its eastern and western fronts. It is the duty of the government in power to keep the neighbors placated, particularly when our adversaries are provoking Pakistan intentionally. Pakistan’s chief focus should be towards improvement of economy. Economic prosperity alone will deter our adversaries. At the same time, ongoing operations in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi must continue relentlessly and National Action Plan implemented in letter and spirit to achieve conclusive results. Besides the cancer of terrorism, the bigger cancer of corruption must also be cured. All this is possible only if civil-military relations remain harmonious, all institutions to perform at their optimum levels and provincial governments to concentrate on improving the socio-economic conditions of their respective provinces rather than blaming the federal government.

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Pakistan Thinkers Forum, takes part in TV talk shows. [email protected]          


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NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST: The March 23rd Outswinger!

The March 23rd Outswinger!
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
The Nation, 3-6-13
NOTE: Several readers who reviewed my last week’s article (“Fraudulent Intentions – Deceptive Motives,” The Nation, Feb. 28th) have asked a question: How are we going to get rid of “Muk-Muka” democracy in Pakistan?  Today’s article is my response to this important query.
If you have played cricket yourself, or if you are a passionate fan of the game, then you will know that a fastbowler’s outswinger is his most deadly weapon against any top-class batsman. Decades ago when the Australian cricket team came on its first tour of Pakistan, I remember Fazal Mahmood clean-bowled Neil Harvey with his famous outswinger (an inswinger to left-handed Harvey).  The bails literally flew to the boundary.  Pankaj Roy, Indian former opener, repeatedly lost his wicket to Mahmoud Hussain’s (my older brother) outswingers.
Indeed, outswingers are deadly ammunition in the bowling arsenal of a pacebowler, specifically when the wind is blowing from behind the bowler’s end.  Imran Khan swung the ball both ways (outswings and inswings) with tremendous speed, razorblade sharpness and pinpoint accuracy.  He surprised his opponents with the sudden quickness of the ball and controlled directions during his bowling spells.  That was Khan’s masterpiece on the cricket ground.  And that is what he is going to do on the political field – clean-bowl his political opponents out of the game with his splendid outswing. 
PTI’s March 23rd “jalsah” at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore is going to be Imran Khan’s political outswinger to knock his opponents out of Pakistan’s fast-changing political game.  It will be a day when Khan’s long-held claim of shattering all three wickets in one ball will come true. It will be a day of PTI’s tsunami hitting hard on Pakistan’s political soil.  It will be a day of reckoning – the day that a fundamental change, both in Pakistan’s political field and in the ways the political game has been played so far in this country, has inevitably come.  It will be a day of victory for the politics of change in the country. 
Indeed, the day’s triumph will belong to Imran Khan’s PTI’s movement for change.  Hundreds and thousands of PTI political activists, supporters, workers, and common citizens from all over Pakistan will most certainly descend on Lahore to participate in this historical moment.  80,000 of PTI’s elected representatives will take oath to their party’s ideological manifesto.  PTI’s political manifesto will be presented to the general public, media and international news agencies.  Speeches will be made. Political goals will be set and the objectives of a movement of change will be reiterated.  It will be a massive demonstration of the public’s democratic sentiments and aspirations.  It will be an occasion of fun and delight with subtle sound and serious declarations of an agenda of political change in this nation of deprived people, unstable institutions, collapsed economy, non-existent law and order, which is facing existential threats and at the edge of a political abyss – all  caused by 5 years of “Muk-Muka” democracy.
But the massive gathering of people is not a political doctrine or a desired political goal in itself.  It is the significance of such public participation that matters.  If hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis from one end of the country to the other, come to the March 23rd “jalsah” at Minar-e-Pakistan, and they certainly will gather in immense numbers unprecedented in Pakistan’s political history, it certainly will be a demonstration of public indictment against the traditional ruling elites, politics of status-quo and the political system they have vowed to protect, sustain and promote.  Already, several public opinion polls have vividly indicated that over 80% of Pakistanis desire a fundamental change in political structure, political culture and the political leadership of this country. 
Ironically, at this crucial and critical juncture of Pakistan’s political history, the traditional political forces and their leadership are still committed to the reactionary “farsooda,” non-progressive, non-democratic ways of yesteryear. Take, for example, the PML-N’s present strategic approach to the forthcoming elections: traditional electables are being inducted into the party with enormous efforts all over Pakistan.  Party alliances with all major status-quo forces are being organized.  Hence, it is vividly apparent that the PML-N leadership still believes that increased public consciousness is of no real political significance; they believe that the masses’ heightened political awareness cannot adversely affect the traditional political system and its highly empowered political organization devoted to vested interests political leadership and their associates.  PML-N and PPP leadership seem to becertain  that no real change has occurred or can occur in political outlook in the foreseeable future of this country.  Political business will continue as usual – they are confident of their victory and electoral success to political power. 
Imran Khan’s PTI has prepared their political pitch to play the game with meticulous understanding of the undercurrents affecting the country’s political landscape.  PTI’s leadership fully appreciates public sentiment for change.  In fact, Imran Khan’s anti- status-quo doctrine has helped people in perceptual awareness of political backwardness that has plagued the country for the last 65 years and most specifically the damage the present-day “Muk-Muka” democracy has wreaked on the nation. 
Imran’s political direction, political organization and ideological doctrine is accurately in sync with public sentiment and democratic norms, and is in step with the political undercurrents going through the entire society and its demands for a fundamental change in the present-day political system and culture of this country.  PTI’s political strategy for the forthcoming elections is sound and methodically planned.  Imran has done his homework – he understands his opponent’s weaknesses, drawbacks and fears.  He knows it is time to deliver a lethal outswinger. It is time to win a well-deserved victory. 
March 23rd is going to be the day when Imran Khan will strike his opponents on the political field at Minar-e-Pakistan with a deadly outswinger – shattering all three wickets with one ball!
It is quite simple: outdated, out-of-form, out-of-sync and strategically weak and fearful players are no match to the hellfire of a deadly outswinger.  One way or the other, the March 23rd public  gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan is going to be the end of the game for the PPP, PML-N, and all of the status-quo forces in Pakistan.  

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Crook Zardari is Pakistan’s No.1 Tax Thief-180 Million Pakistanis are being choked by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, and federal agencies

Pakistan politicians engulfed by tax evasion storm

Majority of ministers have not paid into national coffers beyond contribution taken from state salaries, alleges tax report

Zardari thief
The report, by the Centre for Investigative Reporting and the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, comes at time of deepening economic crisis in a country that collects just 9% of its national wealth in tax – almost matching Afghanistan as one of the lowest rates in the world.

Tax dodging is rife among Pakistan’s 180 million population; just 2% are registered within the tax system but fewer actually pay it. Critics say the rich and powerful are some of the worst offenders and are effectively subsidised by the poor.

“Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes have not been able to set good examples for others,” says the Representation Without Taxation report. It found 69% of national assembly members and 63% of senate members did not file tax returns in 2011. Although they are automatically taxed on their basic state salary, by failing to declare any additional wealth they would have been able to evade paying tax.

According to a 2009 study, the average wealth of a member of the national assembly was well over £500,000. Under Pakistani law, tax must be paid on income in excess of £3,200. With little revenue to support the national budget, the government has been forced to borrow huge amounts from its banks. Many analysts fear Pakistan’s threadbare public finances are unsustainable and yet another bailout by foreign donors could be imminent.

The latest research, led by journalist Umar Cheema, is based on the personal tax numbers politicians must include on their nomination papers when standing for election. The figures were used to track down tax filings, most of which were unofficially divulged by staff within the federal board of revenue. Just two politicians voluntarily replied to researchers asking for their tax details, the report says.

According to the report, 73 members of the national assembly did not even have a personal tax number at the time of the last election in 2008.

In the current cabinet of 55 ministers, only 21 filed tax returns, the report alleged, and those who were taxed paid very little, with only 9% of national assembly members paying more than $6,400 (£4,000). Mushahid Hussain Sayed, a member of the senate, paid just 82 rupees – about 50p.

In an email to Reuters, Sayed disputed the report, saying he had paid $6. “I was not a senator then; my source of support was from my family’s agricultural income and lecture honoraria,” he said.

Zardari did not file a tax return in 2011, according to the database of Pakistan’s tax collectors, although the report said his spokesman insisted he had.

Many parliamentarians are feudal landlords who own vast estates giving them huge incomes and armies of workers who vote for them. However, income from agricultural production is tax exempt.

The government plans to launch an amnesty allowing tax evaders to register their untaxed wealth by paying a flat penalty of up to £380. Although it will cost the state millions of pounds in lost revenue, officials think it will reel more people into the tax net.

Pakistan has long struggled with tax evasion by the rich and powerful. In a 1986 speech, Zia-ul-Haq, the former military dictator, said if Islamic law called for the amputation of the hands of thieves, tax evaders should have their entire arm cut off. But, as the report notes, Zia failed to file a tax return between 1960 and 1988.

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