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Posts Tagged Politicians Looters

BBC: ‘Truth tracker’ keeps tabs on Pakistan election pledges

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‘Truth tracker’ keeps tabs on Pakistan election pledges
by Shumaila Jaffrey
BBC Urdu, Lahore
14 January 2014 
As you turn off the main road just south of Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, it soon seems as if you have travelled 50 years back in time. At Sitara Colony Number Two, leaking sewage pipes and abandoned bulldozers belie Lahore’s reputation as one of Pakistan’s most developed cities.
The scene is also testament to political promises which have remained unfulfilled. But a new website seeks to put promises of development and progress to the test. Sitara Colony number 2 is a labyrinth of narrow streets. bustling with small shops, street vendors and donkey carts. Across from the market is the residential area. Rough tracks and sewage spewing out from various points, mixed with stagnant water from a recent downpour await the visitor.
Huge bulldozers and other machinery lie idle nearby. Construction work is at a standstill. Tariq Mehmood has lived in Sitara Colony for 10 years. He says that in every election campaign he can remember, politicians have promised to build roads and proper sewers here, but that the candidates never look back once elected. “Look at the water in the street, it’s been here for the past one and a half years. Even the drinking water is not clean any more,” he says.
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Election promises have come to nothing in this slum area outside Lahore
“During the election campaign we brought different candidates here – all of them promised to resolve the issue. But nothing happened afterwards. Now when we go to our MP, he gives us more false hope. They don’t think we are humans, it’s sad but true.” It’s a frequent complaint in Pakistan, but it now seems that politicians here might have a harder time getting away with broken promises unnoticed.
A website called Truth Tracker has been launched by UPI Next, the non-profit media development arm of the United Press International news agency.
Its mission: To keep an eye on the commitments made by politicians during and after election campaigns.
A team of 25 reporters all over Pakistan scour manifestos, elections speeches, party websites and media appearances of politicians to nail down promises made to voters. 
The senior editor of Truth Tracker, Mubasher Bukhari, says it is all about accountability:

“It means we keep tracking promises, and keep reminding politicians again and again about their commitments to the people. We also give reasons as to why any promise is not fulfilled and what the obstacles are.”

The various parties’ campaign symbols are used to identify who made what promise – the tiger for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N or a cricket bat for former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party (PTI).
There are five categories for the state of a promise: Broken, fulfilled, under way, not started and compromised.
For example, the website says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised during last year’s election campaign to provide housing to all low-income families, but nothing has been done so far to make progress on the issue. Truth tracker has categorised this promise as “not started”. During the same campaign Imran Khan’s PTI promised to hold local government elections within 90 days of taking power.
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A computer screen displaying the truth tracker website The Truth Tracker site uses party symbols to identify who made what promise
According to Truth Tracker, Imran Khan repeatedly criticised previous governments for not holding local polls, accusing them of being reluctant to share power with the grassroots. The website calculates that since PTI politicians took the oath of government in north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province on 30 May, the 90 day deadline was due to fall on 31 August. But with local government elections still pending, Truth Tracker rates this promise as “broken”.
In another example, the chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, promised to explore alternative energy options in an effort to end the power crisis that has plagued Pakistan. The Punjab government has started a project to build a solar energy plant in the south-eastern desert of Cholistan. According to the Truth Tracker team, this promise is “under way”. Social analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais believes that initiatives like Truth Tracker can strengthen accountability, which he says is essential for any democracy.
“In Pakistan politicians have different attitudes when they are in power. So citizens should not wait for five years to question them – it must be done on a continuous basis,” he says. “And now this can happen with the help of information technology, through tools like websites.” Others, however, say that in a semi-literate country like Pakistan, the number of people who will use websites like Truth Tracker to monitor the performance of elected politicians is likely to be limited – and powerful politicians will keep on getting away with broken promises.
In Sitara Colony, Tariq Mehmood is so frustrated, he has given up hope. “Now local elections are coming up, but we are not interested,” he says. “It doesn’t matter because we know nothing is going to change.” But Mubasher Bukhari is hopeful Truth Tracker can make a difference. “It’s true many people are still not aware of it, but a lot of politicians are – they know that they are being watched.”

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thumb.phpJanuary 5, 2013


 If Dr. Allama Muhammad Tahirul-Qadri can bring about a change for the better in Pakistan, it should be diligently welcomed. Prophet Moses was not from the line of prophets or descendants of Abraham, yet he liberated the enslaved Hebrew (Jews) nation from the mighty Pharaohs, and gave them an identity and land.

Sheikhul Islam Qadri is not an equal to Prophet Moses, nor is he a revolutionary politician in literal sense. Yet his political party Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) that he founded in 1990 outlines the mission “to introduce the culture of true democracy, economic stability, improve the state of human rights, justice and the women’s role in Pakistan”. The PAT also aims to remove corruption from Pakistani politics.

 If the chickens come home to roost, let them. Why there is an uproar that he is a Canadian citizen and that he had forfeited his right to delve in Pakistan’s politics. By living in Canada he has not been doing any fruitless or objectionable activities but spreading the message of Islam and humanism. I am also not ready to buy the argument that he has come to Pakistan with some hidden nefarious agenda at the behest of the powers and elements inimical to Pakistan.

Let us take his words on the face and tend to believe that has come back to Pakistan with a well defined and upright agenda to steer this country out of the dark woods, put it on the right tracks and initiate a movement that might set Pakistan on a desired yet ignored course. If his intentions are exposed as malicious and a ruse to serve the antagonists of Pakistan, then he would be the one to suffer irreparably in reputation. Thereafter he will have no place in Pakistan as a scholar, mystic, or a politician.

I would prefer to forget what he has been doing in the past. What I have to care is what he is going to do for Pakistan and Pakistani nation. Will his clarion call and envisaged mission of setting the things right would galvanize the marginalized and dispossessed people of Pakistan?  Has he the guts and thrust to make the people a valiant force to fight for their rights against the selfish, ravenous leaders, crook bureaucrats, greedy business robbers and defiant enemies of peace and social harmony? Would he emerge as a bulwark against the cult of phony and fraudulent rulers whose only penchant has been to loot and plunder the national wealth, promote nepotism, and nurture all the vices that are attributed to Pakistan and that have turned Pakistan into uninhabitable and dreaded place. 

If through a system of choosing honest leaders, he can seize the bull of bribe and corruption by horns and straighten those who bilked billions by abusing their powers and authority then he should be supported. It is for the first time that a liberal, religious scholar from among the ignorant and fanatic mullahs has opted to achieve a breakthrough that would deliver the nations from the clutches of obscurantism, fundamentalism and orthodoxy. Allama Qadri speaks and vouches for true democracy, human rights, an electoral system free from rigging and hijacked by the moneyed classes and individuals.

The mammoth crowd that came to attend his address at the public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on 23 December eloquently vouches the glaring fact that people of Pakistan want a change from the stagnant, unsafe, and egregiously sinister way of life. The life in Pakistan is getting traumatic and miserable and harder for the people.

Dr. Qadri must have come to this empirical and objective conclusion that it is primarily the leadership that can transform the destiny of nation and make it honorable, strong and prosperous. It is the honest leadership that creates a system of governance that is transparent and in accord with the interests of the country and aspirations of the people.

Now the electoral system is not only flawed in Pakistan but it is outright wicked and monstrous. The elections are blatantly rigged. The ballot boxes are not only stuffed with ballots of the strong candidates but the ballot boxes are swapped. The bogus votes are cast without any let or hindrance.

But what makes the electoral system in Pakistan a sheer mockery is that the serfs, tillers, and bonded farm labors cannot vote against the local lords be it a petty landowner or a super duper feudal. Moreover, because of the deprivation, poverty, inferior social status, the votes for a pittance can be easily purchased.

The Thana culture pays its pernicious part. A common man in villages and slums of the cities cannot have enough courage or clout to defy the dictations of policeman who is usually henchmen of mill owner, a retired bureaucrat, a ruthless feudal lord and the government functionaries.

The clan, the biradari system, the family and blood relations, the kinship plays an overwhelming role to tilt the results in favor of corrupt, morally bankrupt, degenerate leaders.

Such elected representatives use their influence and power to enhance their wealth, get lucrative contracts, and benefit their relatives and friends in several ways. They break and bend laws for amassing as much money as he can. In his brazen loot there are other partners that share the booty. It is this spooky and   perverted and wholly faulty system that Dr. Qadri wants to rein in and make it transparent and clean.

Now if PMLN leadership denounces his endeavor as derailing the democratic bandwagon then it is a partisan assessment because a democratic order must spawn and produce honest and patriotic leaders who are dedicated to the welfare of the people and not filling their own coffers already brimming with ill-gotten wealth.

Dr. Qadri has rocked the prevailing rotten system and its proponents and that is why there is cacophonies hue and cry to revile him as being a foreign agent or enemy of democracy and with a hidden agenda aimed at postponing the elections. His mission is somewhat akin to the social activist Anna Hazare of India who single-handed rallied the entire India against the menace and curse of corruption. He may not fully achieve the ultimate objectives of his crusade but at least he has blazed a trail that would serve as a beacon and the first vigorous assault on financial immodesty that is as widespread in India as it is in Pakistan.

Let us hope that Dr. Qadri stands his ground firmly and does not budge under any threat or pressure. If he can assemble half of the promised four million protesters and marchers for his rally in Islamabad, he would have made the dent in the powerful citadels of the corrupt, greedy law breaking, exploitative classes and individuals in power. The rest could be a self propelling trail of landmark developments that might pave way for a Pakistan that we all dream to be. If he is arrested that might open a Pandora box of hazardous ramifications. Is that what the government would expect to postpone the elections to stay in power till the dust settles down? Who knows!

You can also read this and other articles on qureshisaeed50@hotmail.com

 The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

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