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Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...
Friday, August 26, 2011
A matchless specimen of comprehensiveness and brevity of the message of Qur’an, a whole world of meaning has been compressed into three short sentences in Surah 103, in few brief words, which is too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. In it, in a clear and plain way it has been stated what is the way to true success & salvation for man and what is the way to ruin and destruction for him. The great scholar of Islam; Imam Shafie has very rightly said that if the people only consider (understand) this Chapter well, it alone would suffice them for their guidance(Ibne Kathir), he is also reported to have said that , if only this Chapter was revealed in the Qur’an, it would have been sufficient for the guidance of mankind (Abdah). How important this Surah was in the sight of the Companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Abdullah bin Hisn ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which whenever any two of them met they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-Asr to each other. (Tabarani). According to Imam Razi; This Surah  is very harsh, because Allah has decided to destroy all the mankind except those who comply with the four conditions i.e. to have faith, perform Righteous Deeds, urge one an other to Truth and to Patience and Constancy. It implies that the salvation is collectively contingent upon these four acts. As every human is concerned about his own self similarly he has to preach to others i.e. inviting to the Deen (Islam), advise to act on good things and avoid forbidden and the prohibitions. Read and watch click <<Essence of Quran in 3 Verses>>
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Thursday, August 25, 2011
TODAY’S turmoil and turbulence are such that there is no concerted official effort to plan for Pakistan’s future. But both the urgent and the essential must be addressed if the country is to be transformed into a strong state responsive to the welfare of its people and not merely its privileged elites.
Dysfunctional politics, unresolved structural economic problems, internal security threats and the governance deficit all have to be tackled simultaneously and not in isolation from one another as together they have contributed to the systemic crisis.
But first urgent actions have to be taken to deal with the country’s security situation and the crisis in public finances to enable the pursuit of other critical goals. Prioritisation is necessary to push forward an enforceable reform agenda.
Effective governance is what makes the difference between successful states and struggling ones. Improving the quality of governance is therefore central to the effort to move Pakistan beyond the ‘crisis state’. This volume has identified both short- and long-term reform measures needed to enhance the capabilities of public institutions, institute checks and balances and create a more competent civil service. Yet none of these policies can be undertaken without articulating a vision and the mechanism to implement it.
What this book has also emphasised is the need to bring the country’s politics in sync with the social, economic and technological changes that have been transforming the national landscape and creating a more ‘connected’ society. Electoral and political reforms that foster greater and more active participation by Pakistan’s growing educated middle class will open up possibilities for the transformation of an increasingly dysfunctional, patronage-dominated polity into one that is able to tap the resilience of the people and meet their needs.
In re-designing the polity the central principle that should be applied is that democracy cannot function without the rule of law. This means strengthening the judiciary to operationalise robust checks and balances. It also means ensuring the availability of justice to citizens by reforming the judicial system, especially at the lower levels.
Stable civil-military relations are essential for political stability to be maintained. The Armed Forces can contribute towards a viable national polity by subjecting themselves to civilian oversight and control. This will have to be matched by civilian leaders who should abide by the Constitution and refrain from dragging in the Army to settle political disputes.
The goal of economic revival will have to be comprehensively targeted with emergency actions, short term measures and long term reforms, all of which will have to be pursued simultaneously. Immediate steps to restore macroeconomic stability and the fiscal and financial balance need to be accompanied by efforts to mobilise resources to power Pakistan’s economic development. Broadening the revenue base by taxing the rich and the powerful and bringing exempted sectors such as agriculture into the tax net should be the crucial elements for setting up an equitable and efficient tax regime.
The state has to play a central and active role to create an enabling environment for economic growth and job creation. This means addressing the infrastructure deficits, especially in power, evolving a fair regulatory framework for economic activity and halting the haemorrhaging in the public sector enterprises that is fuelling the budget deficit and crowding out private
A coherent strategy to revive the agriculture sector should include new investment in the rural infrastructure, appropriate pricing and incentives, land reclamation, focused research and development, application of modern technology and utilisation of international market rules and opportunities. These measures should aim to turn the country into the region’s food reservoir.
Policies to promote industrial growth and expansion should entail greater support to small and medium enterprises, and identification and encouragement of manufacturing in sectors where Pakistan has or can acquire the greatest competitive
advantage and where demand is rising rapidly. A key policy objective should be the country’s integration into global production chains and manpower training and skills development.
The highest priority needs to be given to human development. A crash programme should be implemented to educate Pakistan and meet the target of achieving universal primary education in the next 10 years through higher government spending and public-private partnerships. Meeting the education and health needs of citizens, alleviation of poverty and steps to end discrimination against women should be part of a comprehensive human development strategy.
It is also critical to address the challenge of a rapidly growing population and youth bulge by implementing a mix of policy measures that include a programme to reduce fertility and a far-reaching literacy campaign focused on the rural areas and women to achieve higher primary school enrolment. Skills training and increasing female labour participation will also be needed to reap a demographic dividend and turn the country’s human capital into an engine for economic growth.
Restoring internal security and order will require a holistic approach that deals with the multifaceted challenge of terrorism and violence. An overwhelming reliance on military means has distracted attention from the need to deal with the ideological and political aspects of the militant challenge and may even have dispersed rather than diminished the threat. Evolving a counter-narrative, forging a political consensus and mobilising public support against militancy must be part of the strategy to stop the flow of recruits to militant organisations in order to break the cycle of radicalisation. A multilayered, multi-pronged strategy is needed that includes efforts to engage in the battle of ideas and address the factors — including issues of governance and injustice — that create the breeding ground for militancy.
To promote its vital short and long term national objectives and regain lost strategic space, Pakistan needs to adjust its foreign policy and invigorate its diplomacy within the current and emerging political and economic environment.
Its priority goals should include promoting peace in Afghanistan through an inclusive political settlement based on that country’s realities while working to end terrorism and extremism within Pakistan and the region. A modus vivendi with India should be sought which maintains Pakistan’s policy independence including for Kashmir’s legitimate aspirations and preserves credible conventional and nuclear deterrence while exploiting the potential for mutually advantageous trade and economic relations.
Vastly expanded strategic and economic relations should be pursued with China which offer Pakistan the best hope for the realisation of its security and economic objectives. A balanced and stable relationship with the US should be built on mutual accommodation of legitimate national interests, respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty and expanded cooperation in areas of benefit to both sides.
Pakistan should also seek to revive historic and mutually supportive relationships with key Islamic nations especially Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states, as well as Malaysia, Iran and Indonesia.
Excerpt — Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’
Please visit: http://aftabkhan.blog.com
LET me tell you the new consensus: Pakistan is a weak state and a strong society. The state — civil state — is weak insofar as it cannot adequately respond to crisis in its population (the floods of 2010, for example) or it is weak insofar as it cannot effectively govern (collect taxes, for example). The society is pluralistic, and open. It has a growing middle class, solid infrastructure, robust economic “fundamentals”. It faces crisis — terrorism, wars, inflation, scarcity of water and electricity, floods — but the combination of strong society and an organised military has kept Pakistan afoot.
This is the new consensus. You will find it in a number of recent books, but most prominently in Maleeha Lodhi’s edited volume, Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’. The volume, she writes in the introduction, is meant as a set of policy responses which can guide a “capable leadership” in charting “a new course”. For this prescriptive dosage, Lodhi assembles experts in the fields of economics, human development, security, journalism and a solitary historian. Pakistan, the 17 chapters assert, is not a failed, or a failing state, and there are reasons for hope and optimism as well as concrete signs and steps which can even ensure progress.
Ayesha Jalal’s opening essay posits a Pakistan which gave up “credible history” for politics and ideological expediency and, as a result, is left with no historical consciousness and scant hope of defining any semblance of a national identity. Get more open-minded history, she counsels. An advice that I cannot help but endorse whole-heartedly.
These are followed by essays on economics (by Meekal Ahmed, Mudassar Mazhar Malik); on the army and politics (by Shuja Nawaz, Saeed Shafqat, Feroz Hasan Khan, Ahmed Rashid, Syed Rifaat Hussain) and on civil institutions (Ishrat Hussain, Ziad Alahdad, Shanza Khan and Mooed Yusuf). There is an almost obligatory essay by Akbar S. Ahmed, untiringly relating the relevance of M. A. Jinnah to the current state, and a discordantly cheerful note by novelist Mohsin Hamid. The overall themes of all the essays remains in sync with the central agenda — Pakistan is not about to fail. Lodhi in her essay, “Beyond the Crisis State”, argues that Pakistan’s political parties should tap into the growing middle class and their need for good governance and cast a new agenda of reforms for the future.
There is much to laud here — the effort to be positive, the effort to offer workable solutions, platforms, venues. Yet, the volume often fails to heed the basic call in that very first essay by Ayesha Jalal — a critical self-reflection, a grounding in historical complexity. Take the Hamid essay, “Why Pakistan Will Survive”. Hamid notes Pakistan’s vastness in size and population, it’s “diversity,” its spirit of “co-existence” and its “tolerance”. “What does make someone Pakistani then?” Hamid asks. “If you are from Pakistan, then you’re a Pakistani”. This tautological and ideological definition, argues Hamid, allows for great flexibility, and “relief”. It is also a shockingly blind statement. The Ahmadis who are “from Pakistan” are not considered by the state and the Constitution to be “Pakistani” with equal rights. A brutalised and marginalised Baloch minority is considered to be “Pakistani” by the state but they would rather not be “from Pakistan”. And those are merely the travails of the present day. The issue of who is “from Pakistan” and, hence, get a chance to “govern Pakistan”, has already fractured the state into two in 1971.
Hamid’s inability to critically address historical inequalities in Pakistan could possibly be excused as befitting such an essay with rose-coloured glasses. However, it should not.
Pakistan’s strengths and weaknesses, the crisis it faces and will face, and the paths one can recommend or solicit are all valid and needed venues for open dialogue and critical commentary. However, the first step must be of awareness of the realities that exist — not to bloom them into horrifying garlands of doom but to be clear-eyed, and honest to the everyday victims of the everyday atrocities committed by the state and the citizens of Pakistan against their own. This is not a matter of policy or practicality; it is a matter of the ethics which govern out public debates.
There are, of course, discordant notes in the volume: “Pakistan is at the crossroads of its political destiny” (p. 45); “Pakistan is a prisoner of its geography and history” (p. 79); “Pakistan today faces a growing threat from violent extremists and Islamic militants” (p. 131); “Pakistan’s energy sector is in crisis” (p. 231). Perhaps, the finest essay in the volume is journalist Zahid Hussain’s dissection of JUI’s militancy in “Battling Militancy”. A cautionary note, it highlights the collusion between the military, Islamic militants, the so-called moderates and the various sources which trace back to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s particularly sectarian interests in the region.
In the end, as befitting a project geared to be presented in handy power-point in conference rooms across Washington DC or London, there are the “Concluding Notes” — a distillation of the various expertise at display in the volume into bite-sized chunks. There is the call to prioritise Pakistan along the nexus of security and stability; a note to military leadership to heed the civilians; a call for better relationships with India and stability in Afghanistan. All sensible, and desirable, options, of course.
Yet, here again, there is a jarring presence of reality least understood: “Pakistan should also seek to revive historic and mutually supportive relationships with key Islamic nations especially Saudia Arabia…” This is mind-boggling. For one, there is no need to revive what has never flagged. More importantly, the one traceable source of both sectarian invective and willing militants in the region — the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — needs to be resisted in the national interest and publicly exposed. The DC/Riyadh connection and the Islamabad/DC connection are just as important to understanding the current policy and security paradigms of the country as the other profiles sketched in the volume.
Pakistan, as a subject of critical analysis, is ill-served when realities are ignored for the sake of policy. The need to resist a crude stereotype of “failed state” is clear and present but to go “beyond the crisis state”, we must also look seriously to history, to narratives other than the state or military and admit the harsh truths: The Pakistani military is just as fallible as its civilian regime, though the latter needs the explicit support of the population as a legitimate government. The state structure incorporates within it gross injustices towards the minorities — defined religiously, ethnically or culturally. Redressing these injustices — against the Ahmadis, the Christians, the Hindus, the Baloch, the Swatis — is just as vital to the nation-state as the need to prioritise health or education or commercial sectors. This volume is but a hampered beginning in this long process of a national soul-searching.
"All is well… or is it?" Book Reviewed by Manan Ahmed. The reviewer is the author of Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination
Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ . (Current Affairs). Edited by Maleeha Lodhi, Oxford University Press, Karachi, ISBN 978-1849041355.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Being the products of the myopic narratives about Pakistani nationhood and religion in our textbooks and the populist media, quite a few young educated Pakistanis are struggling to find practical political, social and economic examples of the faith-driven Utopia that they were told Pakistan was to be. The problem with many among this generation of middle-class men and women is that quite unlike the earlier generations, they seem to have wholly bought into the farce of a religion-based Utopia they were told the founding founders conceptualised.
This is strange. In spite of the fact that they have more opportunities to acquire modern education and information today, this generation has somehow blocked alternative narratives that attempt to counter the one that defines Pakistan as some unique blob of religious, nationalist and political singularity. This is a reflection of a reactive strain of desperation, myopia and close-mindedness that have been creeping into the urban middle-class ethos.
A good part of this dilemma is also about how many young Pakistanis feel awkward when their modern lifestyles fail to relate and connect with the brutal ways of creatures like the Taliban and Al Qaeda. So, as if feeling guilty about this, they have concocted various social escape valves with the help of modern-looking and sounding Islamic televangelists through which they believe they can keep one of their feet in religion and the other in the modern material world.
On a more disturbing level, there are also some who have become venerable to what can be described as the modern and educated face of religious extremism: The Hizbut Tahrir (HT).
The HT was formed in 1953 in Jerusalem by a former Muslim Brotherhood member. His professed goal was to unite the Muslim world under a single political entity (Caliphate) and the Sharia (his ‘Salafi’ version of it). In the 1950s and 1960s the HT was mostly active in Arab countries. In the 1970s it got involved in various coup attempts in Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Planned with a handful of military men and political clerics, the moves were easily crushed.
The setback saw many HT leaders escaping to European countries, especially the UK. There the HT came onto contact with the second generation young Pakistanis, Muslim Indians and Bangladeshis. Though staunchly anti-West, the HT was tolerated there because it was more vocal against the Soviet Union.
It was during this period that it began reworking its idea of a world caliphate. And since it was now operating in Europe, its activists began dressing in western clothes, speaking English and using modern political symbolism to communicate what was otherwise a retrogressive, if not entirely Utopian, idea.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the HT began sending its well-dressed and articulate recruits to Central Asian countries, but more than ever, the focus was now on Pakistan. Being the country most affected by the Afghan civil war a number of extremist and sectarian organisations had emerged in Pakistan. The fallout of the war was also a state-sponsored ‘Islamisation’ and the confusion that set in at the end of the Cold War. This confusion engulfed the urban middle-class.
Facing a regenerated conservatism, this class reached out to ‘rediscover’ its Islamic roots (without letting go of modern material aspirations, of course). The same thing happened in certain sections of the military as well. The HT also began infiltrating modern university and college campuses (especially in Lahore) with the help of sympathetic professors and teachers. It began recruiting military officers too.
The HT bypassed terrorism and concentrated on building support among middle-class students, professionals and the military men. In the new millennium, its leadership was convinced that Pakistan was ready to become the launching pad for an international caliphate. And it planned to use elements within the army to achieve this. Violence was not far behind.
In 2003, the HT was accused of being involved in an assassination attempt against General Musharraf. An army captain was arrested for plotting a military coup. According to a former HT man, Majid Nawaz, the HT does not discount the use of violence through the converted military men in its goal of toppling the Pakistan government and the military’s top leadership to ‘establish a Khilafah state’. He adds that the second phase involves spreading the borders of such a state through jihad.
Though the HT is banned in Pakistan (not banned in the UK), a recent report suggests it still has sympathetic groups operating in the military and in various private universities. The HT has given the somewhat concocted and worn-out Maududiist notion of Islam’s ‘pristine political past’ a contemporary dimension. By using modern economic and political symbolism it has reconstructed this notion as a largely Utopian and farcical model for some sort of a golden, all-conquering future.
Hizb ut Tahrir the Global Islamic Political Party working for the reestablishment of Khilafah, Caliphate, Islamic state in the Muslim world ...
Friday, August 19, 2011
While the nation celebrated the 64th birthday of Pakistan on Sunday, although there was nothing to celebrate as such except a forlorn hope in the eyes of the youth, at least one big myth must be shattered on this day so that we, the people, are not deceived and betrayed by crooks and gangsters any more. This myth is about elections and an elected leadership in the country.
We are told everytime there is any finger raised against loot, plunder and corruption of any of our leaders that the people of Pakistan will determine whether the leader is corrupt or not by voting or not voting for him, her or the party. At least this grand deception should stop now.
Elections, or what the people do or do not want, are one tool for accountability but it is restricted to a judgment on the programmes, manifestos, promises and performance of individuals and parties. The votes are used in no country of the world to determine whether a person is a thief, crook, gangster or a mafia Don. The local laws of the land determine that.
How this accountability by votes is conducted can be fully understood by just one example — of the United States.
In the US, elections do not mean just voting for the president or members of the two houses of Congress, as in Pakistan. Statistics show that in 1992, when the US population was just 257 million, or about 60 million more than the current population of Pakistan, there were a total of 510,500 elected officials at all levels of government, in states and counties and districts. Every party leader and every candidate is elected.
Data available on the Internet shows there are elected Governors, Lieutenant Governors, State Senators and Representatives and Assemblymen and Delegates. Plus some states have other elected officials like Attorney Generals or Comptrollers. And then there are local officials elected at the level of counties, cities, towns, villages, etc.
In New York alone, there are 62 counties and nearly 1,000 towns and cities. Within the towns, there are nearly 3,000 incorporated villages. Every one of these counties, cities, towns and villages has some form of elected government, depending on which kind of charter they have. Most villages have a mayor at the very least, and may have a village council. Every town has a town board and some have elected supervisors. All counties (except for those in NYC) have a county executive or county legislature. They all also have elected district attorneys. Every city has a mayor and district-based city council.
Then there are elected school boards, elected utility district boards of various types, elected library boards in some places, elected sheriffs, elected local and state judges (tons of those in NY) and finally, there’s the annual election of the Princess of the Mermaids on Coney Island.
According to one account, in one district of California a voter has to elect the following: President of the US; 2 senators from California; 1 representative in House of Representative from California District 13; 1 governor of California; 1 lieutenant governor; 1 secretary of state for California; 1 attorney general of state; 1 controller for state; 1 treasurer for state; 1 insurance commissioner for state; 1 superintendent of public instructions for state; 1 member of the California State Board of Equalisation; 1 representative in the state assembly; 1 representative in the state senate; 1 member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors; 1 mayor of Dublin, California; 4 city councilpersons for Dublin, California; 1 member of the Alameda County Water District; 5 board members for the Dublin Unified School District; 3 board members of the Dublin-San Ramon Services District; 1 board member for East Bay Municipal Water District; 1 board member for Bay Area Rapid Transit District; 1 board member for East Bay Regional Park District; 69 judges for the Superior Court of Alameda County.
In Pennsylvania besides all the above, all judges are elected in partisan elections. Appellate judges (Supreme Court, Superior Court, & Commonwealth Court) serve 10-year terms, but incumbents are only subject to a retention vote. Court of Common Pleas judges also serve 10-year terms.
At the local level, there are elected posts that are only part-time jobs. Small town mayors and city councils, school boards are elected. Some jurisdictions even elect drain inspectors or fire commissioners. There are elected hospital boards, elected water boards, elected community college boards. People vote directly for county officials such as sheriff, marshal, recorder of deeds, tax assessor, probate judge, public service commission and even clerk of the court.
This is the spirit of the elected system of governance and these polls are held every two years (members of House of Representatives), four years and some like senators for six years. Every one of these elected officials faces the public and runs on his/her record.
But the most important thing is that if any charge of corruption or misconduct is levelled against any of these elected people, they have to resign the moment it is levelled or, if they contest, proved in a court of law. They cannot hide their crimes behind the argument that the people will vote them out in the next polls.
Another important tool used in the US is a referendum on any big or small issue, which becomes controversial and whenever elections are held, either state or national, there are many subjects on which referenda are held simultaneously.
Out of the 50 states in the US, 49 have laws to hold such local referendums. This is how people decide their local issues, whether it is running a train, building a dam or a park. The wishes of the people are respected.
So hiding behind accountability by the people in elections is just a huge fraud to protect corrupt elected people from crimes they have committed. In elections, people vote on policies not on whether anyone has Swiss accounts or not. This myth should be buried once for all. Note: Some of the data for this article has been picked from the Internet and blogs.
"Bury this monumental fraud, once for all Elections? What elections are you talking about?" By Shaheen Sehbai; http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=8155&Cat=13&dt=8/16/2011
Monumental fraud, called Elections in Pakistan, MUST end now: http://t.co/nSb13lH
MUST also READ>> Present political arrangements is trash left by military dictatorship. Elections-2008 were aimed to continue with the puppet rule under US patronage. How elections held with 35 million fake voters [45% of registered voters] can result in democratic government? So what we see now is jus an illusion of democracy... some reforms are suggested... read >>>http://t.co/nWDNNWN & "Enduring shame: http://pakistan-posts.blogspot.com/2011/08/that-enduring-shame.html
Monumental fraud, called Elections in Pakistan, MUST end now: http://t.co/nSb13lH
Monday, August 15, 2011
An interesting debate among respected intellectuals, journalists and a pop singer.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
“Secular Pakistan as Jinnah wanted,” says one Dawn reader. “Complete implementation of Islam; enough of man-made laws,” suggests another as an answer to the many problems Pakistan faces today.
A special report entitled Independence Day, distributed with today’s Dawn, is styled as a ‘Roundtable Conference’. Held on our pages, the moot comprises opinions solicited from leaders from across the national spectrum. Participants were asked the question: ‘What is wrong with Pakistan today and how do we fix it?’
“Pakistan’s problem is not extremism, poverty or unemployment but distribution of resources,” says Syed Faisal Sabzwari of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whilst analyst and legislator, Ayaz Amir, wonders why we cannot “live and behave like a normal country”.
Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q believes: “Fixing Pakistan is no rocket science,” and Naimatullah Khan of the JI says: “A change of leadership has become inevitable.”
Dr Mubashir Hasan, one of the founders of the Pakistan People’s Party, a former minister and now a peace activist, says that the “trust deficit is between the ruling elites” of India and Pakistan and not the people of the two countries. Artist and educationist Salima Hashmi assures us that the “creative force is alive and in good working order” in Pakistan. “The rest of the world can see it. But can we?” she asks.
While Asma Jahangir argues for reducing the role of religion in politics, Sherry Rehman points to the possible pitfalls of devolution of power to the provinces if the provinces fail to build capacity to exercise those powers or try to undo the consensus reached at the national level by rolling back on issues related to gender biases and minorities.
Senator Raza Rabbani, the head of the parliamentary committee which hammered out the Eighteenth Amendment, defends the move by calling it “A Pakistani renaissance”.
The Independence Day special report, thus, presents views expressed on the history and future of Pakistan by eminent Pakistanis from across the national spectrum: Baloch leader Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, corporate head Asad Omar, religious scholar Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman, pop singer Shehzad Roy, rights activist Zohra Yusuf, political economist S. Akbar Zaidi, Street Theatre producer Madiha Gohar, and many more movers and shakers actively involved in shaping the national agenda.
Dawn readers, too, were asked the same question as was put to the opinion leaders. They responded overwhelmingly from across Pakistan and the diaspora via a survey run on the newspaper’s Internet Edition. Independence Day special also showcases some of these views for the benefit of the print edition readers.
The diversity of opinions expressed in the special report is a confirmation of Jinnah’s conviction that only a pluralistic society is the way forward.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Dr Mubashir Hasan
India and Pakistan have no option whatsoever but to cooperate with each other for the betterment of their people. The trust deficit is only between the ruling elites and is maintained to protect vested interest, here and there. There is no such deficit between the people of the two countries.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s planned visit to Pakistan is very welcome. In the foreign ministers’ talks last month the best thing they could have achieved but failed was a relaxation in the visa regime. Liberalise the movement of people to reduce the much doubted trust deficit. Two more openings along the Line of Control agreed in the meetings should be appreciated.
If Pakistan could control terrorism then there should have been no terrorism here. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism itself; it cannot be its initiator. Indian leaders should understand this.
I am optimistic that both the countries will eventually cooperate with each other and they will have to come out of the ‘suspicion mode’. For thousands of years India had been a victim of hoards from the north-west; that spectre is again on the horizon, and India seems to be realising this.
Syed Musahid Hussain
Our Founding Fathers were self-made, honest, educated, middle class leaders who created this country through a relentless constitutional struggle, whose essence was the rule of law, rather than the rule of men. They left behind no hidden foreign bank accounts, no progeny to claim a ‘born to rule’ dynastic privilege, and, against all odds, they negotiated deftly and with dignity to protect and promote the interests of their Muslim constituents.
Regrettably, their successors, both in khaki or in mufti, have generally governed Pakistan as an extension of the ‘Mughal mindset’, a sort of ‘political tribalism’ where personal, family, clan or partisan interests are paramount. Pakistan’s problems primarily emanate from its visionless, greedy, grabby and callous elite, which winks at corruption, prefers coercion to consensus, and is easily amenable to capitulation abroad.
Fixing Pakistan is no rocket science, provided people at the top are willing to develop values, vision and the will of the Founding Fathers. For starters, three areas will suffice: Education as the main priority with a school system that relies on vocational training helping to promote employment, counter extremism/terrorism and strengthen the Federation through a unified curriculum; respect for the rule of law and accountability of the big-wigs whether they are politicians, bureaucrats, business tycoons, media barons, generals or judges. Enforce Conflict of Interest laws ensuring politics and business are kept separate.
These steps will generate hope and faith in the future for our highly talented and hard-working people that they too can rise on merit, not just due to an accident of birth.
Millions of Pakistanis and the international community are impatiently waiting for Pakistan to take a turn for the better, but a large section of Pakistani society is either oblivious of the perils faced by the country or infected with the disease of self-denial. Formal economy is shrinking while informal wealth is rapidly expanding. This too has made the State hostage to corrupt and criminal elements in society including those within the government.
Proliferation of arms, terrorism backed by an ideology mixed with religion, lack of basic infrastructure and a crisis of governance in all institutions of the State is leading the country to a cycle of violence and instability. This is staring us in the face, but those in any capacity of leadership are only concerned with their own survival and distasteful glorification rather than striving for collective recovery. To our misfortune, some commentators describe us as being big on ego but low on reliability, sharp in wiliness and dull on being constructive.
A large portion of the blame for deteriorating moral values and depleting economy can certainly be laid on our military rulers, but our civilian authorities too have shirked their responsibility. They not only lack skills and integrity but also have shown scant wisdom while in power. Witness the daily mini-clashes between the judiciary and the government; the brazen disappointment expressed by the “tasadum” group; the shouting matches between the politicians in full public view and the propagation of Taliban mentality even when hundreds of our own are being brutally murdered owing to the promotion of a vicious form of intolerance.
Worse still is the role of self-styled leaders of society who audaciously speak, act and intervene on behalf of a discredited establishment. The blame is, therefore, all round. To make matters worse we are constantly in search for personalities that we can adopt as the messiah rather than strengthen democratic institutions.
Governance in Pakistan is not easy. The unresolved issue of Kashmir and an open border with Afghanistan has made illegal trade and movement of militants effortless. Azad Kashmir remains under the heavy thumb of the establishment and Fata remains a haven for militants and smugglers, while the local population is denied all basic rights and protection from violent groups. Similarly, the dual system of policing in A and B areas of Balochistan has made civilian administration ineffective.
In 2009, fatalities had risen to 12,632 as against 907 in 2006. Policing is weak. There are several strands of law enforcement and coordination between them is virtually non-existent. There are no systematic databases for weapons, vehicles on the road, DNA matches, blood samples and crime patterns. According to a study on criminology, 74% of terrorist related cases ended in acquittal in the last 20 years. Poor prosecution, intimidation of witnesses, ineffective legislation and a lethargic judiciary adds to impunity.
The role of parliament has been disappointing and the judiciary is more of a chat rather than a system that delivers justice based on law and logic. The high courts are working on half strengths and fresh appointments are mostly appalling. Some would argue that a draw of lots amongst the lawyers for appointment of judges to the superior courts judiciary would at least ensure transparency and fairness. It may also add to the professional ability of courts.
At the moment we are only deteriorating, but every society has been through similar suffering until they have resolved to make a change for the better. Even for the worst malaise there are recipes for improvement but there is no medicine to cure lack of political will and dithering sincerity.
Pakistan needs to build some consensus on major issues. First, we must agree that our future lies in the promotion of a democratic transition, despite lack of exceptional leadership. To speed up the cycle of transition and to use the system of elections as a filter to discard dead wood that is recycled into politics and to give fresh blood an opportunity for genuine leadership to emerge; it may help to shorten the election period from five to four years. It would keep the opposition alive and the patience of the people will not be put to an extreme test. The quota seats for Fata, women and minorities must be rationalised so that those elected from general seats are not made hostage to reserved seats. Political parties should be financially supported through budget allocations in a transparent manner, based on electoral performances. They too must follow democratic principles within their party setups. A truly independent and autonomous Election Commission should be established that has the confidence of all political forces and the support of the administration.
Foreign policy should be tailored around the need of the country, rather than be based on historical prejudices, grandeur and impractical ideas or emotions that are kept alive at a great cost to the nation. Public expenditure should be diverted towards social sectors rather than being spent on weapons of war. After the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment provinces should call for technical assistance to cope with the gigantic powers devolved to them. A clear policy should be devised to counter religious extremism and to gradually deweaponise the civil population.
Above all, the courts should function efficiently, independently and remain depoliticised. Reforming a society is not easy and it takes decades before any positive signs of stability can be detected, but there has to be a starting point. Ours is still awaited eagerly.
Our problems are not unique. Our confusion is in a class of its own. Much as we like to think otherwise, Pakistan was not a manifestation of divine grace. That we are a fortress of Islam is, sadly, a fiction we have lived with for too long.
Although much of the Muslim clergy had opposed Pakistan they seized upon the idea of Muslim separateness to press for the creation of an Islamic republic. As for the secular elites, the more they failed in running the country the more they ran behind the banner of Islam. The mullahs were never an influential power in themselves. Their rise to number one national nuisance owes itself to secular failure. Pakistan’s English-speaking classes have failed it the most.
The one exception to the trend to use Islam for political purposes was Ayub. But he fathered his own folly in the shape of the 1965 war, the single most disruptive influence in our history. In many mysterious ways we have still not recovered from its effects. The India-centricism of our national security fallacies was fixed in stone by that ill-conceived venture.
A visionary leadership could have rescued us from our past. But we were unfortunate in that respect. Bhutto’s ‘democracy’ was almost an invitation to the reactionary backlash which came with the 1977 agitation and Zia’s martial law, the darkest chapter in Pakistan’s history. From the dragon’s teeth sowed then sprouted the monsters of religious extremism and violence which haunt Pakistan today.
We have signally failed in solving our own problems. But we remain obsessed with trying to wield influence in Afghanistan. Our posture towards India lacks clear thinking. We have spread our feet too far apart and, in many things, continue to live in a world of fantasy and make-believe.
Our major problems are self-created. If only we could live and behave like a normal country.
There is a need to make the conduct of the leadership transparent. Time has come for the leaders of all fields to become role models by showing honesty, forbearance, steadfastness and sagacity. Pakistan should seek economic self-reliance instead for looking towards America and China. This will give it independence of thought and action, enabling it see what is right for it and what is not.
There is a need to remove the huge knowledge deficit. Nearly 59 per cent children leave school at the primary level and nobody is noticing it with seriousness. An educated human resource is much beneficial than swarms of uneducated, directionless youth.
Educated young people can work better for the welfare of the country and for their own good.
There should be dignity of work and an end to feudalism. Pakistan must develop a labour force of women, providing them with proper education and skill training. This can bring a big social change. The energy crisis should be tackled on a war footing so as to manage the crisis-ridden industry. The crisis has badly affected production and business, generating large scale unemployment.
There is a need to ensure the rule of law and provision to justice to all. Injustice, poverty and illiteracy are the root causes of terrorism, and the country can no longer afford to ignore them. The rights of the working class should be protected.
There was no need to devolve the subject of labour to the provinces under the 18th Amendment because this has eroded the element of oneness among the labour force. We can still take the country forward if we start sincerely working for the good. Otherwise we should remain prepared for Egypt and Tunis-like revolutions.
We must first understand what we cannot do quickly to uplift the country. We cannot suddenly improve power and food supplies, stabilise prices and provide housing, educational facilities or employment opportunities to the people.
Yes, we can salvage the people by abolishing the VIP culture, ensuring accountability and submission to it by everyone. This will greatly reduce the frustration, and resentment among the people who must feel that the ruling classes are subject to the same inconvenience and problems as they are. The reduced frustration will help the country tackle terrorism. There is no substitute to the use of fire power and intelligence to combat terrorism. But people and youth get inducted in the world of terror by seeing the elite’s ostentatious, loud and above accountability lifestyle. Upon seeing huge cavalcade of a minister they react, become willing recruits to the ranks of the extremists, and work to tear the system down.
The situation in Karachi is more complicated. If on the wave of one man’s hand violence can suddenly be stopped, it is not different to discern who is responsible for it.
We have to recognise and take advantage of the potential of our own region and negihbourhood. We cannot swap neighbours.
Why should we deprive our industry a market seven times the size of our own if it is offered by our neighbours? Why are we begging for market access for our products to Europe and the West when we have a huge South Asian market at our doorstep?
We should give up the hypocrisy of trading through third party conduits such as Dubai and go for direct cross border trade.
Peace itself has an enormous economic benefit, and is the greatest engine of growth. Prosperity comes as it did in Europe with trade, interdependence and mutual growth. This in turn introduced peace even amongst fratricidal neighbours who had fought horrible World Wars I and II.
Our present ‘government of national reconciliation’ is just a power sharing arrangement among contradictory elements. There is no agenda for the survival, evolution, protection and security of the country.
One simple solution to all our problems is rule by honesty, trust, courage and social justice: resources should reach the common man; oppression, killing, plundering, violence, lawlessness and terrorism should be eliminated.
Joining the war against terrorism we have lost enough but are not aware of its outcome. The government has not told the people the truth. It needs to explain to the people that if this is not America’s war but our own, they (people) should be taken into confidence and told what Pakistan has achieved or lost by becoming part of this war.
The people are denied their basic needs. The power and gas crisis has upset every Pakistani. The rulers are not interested in resolving these issues. The nation needs a leadership of character that is bold, committed and determined to rekindle hope and restore confidence of the people. –Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman spoke to Habib Khan Ghori
Nadeem Farooq Paracha
Almost every political, social and economic crisis faced by Pakistan today stems from questions that should have been addressed 60 years ago: about the role of religion, ethnicity, military, democracy and civil society in the polity. These questions were brushed aside with a rather Utopian narrative that encouraged authoritarian intervention and bullying to impose a singular, centralised and impractical concept of nationhood and religion.
This concept only ended up alienating and insulting the rich religious, sectarian and ethnic diversity that Pakistan is made of, triggering all sorts of political fissures, ethnic upheavals and sectarian violence. The answer lay in the flowing of uninterrupted democracy and provincial autonomy – they still do. These should be the central planks of Pakistan’s future make-up.
The provinces should be allowed to bag democratic mandates to decide what sort of a role religion and ethnicity should play in their respective regions and what kind of economics they prefer. The central government and the military should only be there to facilitate this kind of democratic and progressive provincialism. Anything less is bound to continue bouncing us from one catastrophe to the other.
The future of Pakistan is with its youth. We have to invest in the coming generations by educating them. The biggest problem of our system is rote learning, and its futility in practical life. It negates the very essence of education. Rather than making thinkers, it preaches to our children.
Education must be imparted in a language the child understands and is able to express himself in. We talk about reforming the education sector but we don’t have thought-provoking books in our own languages. Children and youth are in a majority in Pakistan. There are hopes, dreams, and a sense of pride associated with them. The public school system needs a drastic change in curriculum. Children need counseling, guidance, and eventually jobs, for which the school must prepare them.
Allama Abbas Kumail
The tragedy of Pakistan is that we lost the Quaid-i-Azam soon after independence. The rulers that followed, instead of building institutions, were interested in amassing wealth for themselves. They surrendered the sovereignty of Pakistan to super powers.
Today we are is in a fix of confusion on why the country was created and whether Pakistan is or should be a theocratic, orthodox Islamic state or a moderate progressive state. This confusion has given birth to sectarianism, ethnic tensions and extremism.
Individuals in the army grabbed power for their personal gratification; religious preachers also contributed a lot to this mess which started because of deviating from the path of the Quaid.
We can overcome our problems by reverting to the Quaid’s vision of Unity, Faith and Discipline, and by pursuing principles of love, brotherhood and equal opportunity for all; by upholding the principle of peaceful co-existence within the country and with our neighbours.
We have enormous wealth of resources, strategic and geo-political as well as human. But we lack a sincere leadership. We need to eliminate the cancer of sectarianism and ethnic rivalries or risk dismembering the country like in 1971. –Allama Kumaili spoke to Habib Khan Ghori
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