Random header image... Refresh for more!

Posts from — April 2013

A generational conflict: by Zafar Hilaly in The News, Apr 28

Violence – escalating and uncontrollable – has always posed the greatest threat to political transition in Pakistan. This has become increasingly evident following the election-inspired killings in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi this week. While the ANP, the MQM and the PPP are in the cross hairs of the Taliban, the real target are the elections and beyond that Pakistan’s stability – and ultimately the state itself.

All this is a part of the Taliban insurgency going on in the north, but because the insurgents are too few in number to fight as guerrillas elsewhere in the country, they fight as terrorists. Their tactics are clear. In the current phase their aim is to show the state as powerless, helpless, and basically unworthy of the citizen’s respect and loyalty. They also aim to, at a certain point of the struggle, offer themselves – and their version of Islam – as an alternative to the present floundering system.

Already in some ‘goths’ in Karachi, where local officials have been killed or have fled, the Taliban have instituted their own courts and have their own vigilance squads to implement decisions and police neighbourhoods. The Sindh Police have been warned off, not that these ill-trained, pitifully armed and politically recruited personnel would dare intrude.

In the process the Taliban have succeeded in capturing an aura of legitimacy in parts of Karachi and are recruiting followers from the ranks of the unemployed, criminal elements and local mafias. Taliban-directed armed squads seek targets such as banks and ransom money to replenish their coffers. If they have not yet raided police stations or government armories it’s because their supply of weapons is plentiful. When pursued by the law-enforcement agencies, the terrorists hide in the ‘no-go’ areas of the city carved out in anticipation of such a contingency.

The same tactics were used by the Taliban in Swat. There are other similarities. In Swat the Taliban had a completely free hand, thanks to five years of MMA rule, so much so that they were able to construct fairly sophisticated bunker systems and underground field hospitals and living quarters in anticipation of their move on Swat. In Karachi too, a ramshackle provincial coalition (succeeded by an even more dysfunctional caretaker administration, as if that were possible) was far too busy looting to bother about what was happening.

During a visit to Swat, I recall being told by brave army officers of their shock at discovering how well-equipped and fortified the Swat Taliban were. Nothing of the sort could have happened, one local told me, without the knowledge, if not actual connivance, of the previous MMA provincial government. As for Karachi, one DSP drew my attention to the madressahs guarding the four main arterial entrances to the city, pointing out that their basements held arms sufficient to arm a whole army. In fact, Karachi today – like the erstwhile Lal Masjid – is an armed redoubt of the extremists.

The Taliban aim to provoke a heavy-handed response from the government and when that occurs two things will happen – almost inevitably government action will disrupt the life of the ordinary citizen and hurt and kill innocents. That’s what history shows happened in Algeria, Vietnam and Yugoslavia in the 40s and 50s when foreign occupation forces (French and German) responded with mindless brutality, with the result that neighbours, relatives and friends sought revenge and joined the insurgency. So much so that the Algerian nationalists who began the fight with about a hundred fighters ultimately had 13,000 fighting the French army. In Cuba, Castro started with less than a dozen men and had a force of 1,500 within a year.

Of course, the fight here is not against foreign occupation but a democratically elected national government which makes a world of difference and, given the wide disparity in forces, should ensure that the eventual outcome will be in our favour, which is what I thought as well. However, the Taliban are pleading, with increasing conviction, that the present system in Pakistan is a discredited western concoction. Besides, those who rule Pakistan today are worse than foreign occupiers. We are viewed not merely as corrupt pseudo-Muslims but worse, as munafiqs (hypocrites) who, the Taliban point out, God has commanded must be confronted and ruthlessly eliminated.

Viewed thus, the current war is not merely a fracas between a progressive, moderate state and extremists but something infinitely more destructive; it’s a religious war which really brooks no compromise. Either the religion of one side or the other prevails and the loser, so to speak, gets to pay jizya (a tax levied on infidels in the early days of Islam) unless we convert to the Taliban’s Islam. In other words, it’s a fight to the finish which, of course, we are loath to admit hence our pusillanimous reaction. As for those stupid enough to believe the war will be over in due course, it won’t – it’s going to be a generational conflict.

Given the seriousness of the threat posed by the Taliban, our attitude seems myopic and ad hoc. What to speak of a long term counterterrorism strategy, not even a rudimentary plan exists. And that’s obvious when we consider our reaction to the killing of party workers when a mega metropolis of 19 million is forced into lock down. Billion of rupees are lost. The poor who survive on daily wages go hungry. True, they curse their fate, and a government that seems unable to catch the culprits and also the Taliban. However, as much of the public’s bile is reserved for those responsible for calling the strike. That should bother us. The Taliban, of course, care a hoot for the feelings of the poor. They are overjoyed that a relatively easily arranged act of terror can have such an enormous impact and quickly claim responsibility as they huddle together to plan the next outrage.

We seem unable to understand that, unless we are prepared to take these killings in our stride and continue going about our lives and, of course, fashion better and more effective responses, two things will happen. Karachi will become unliveable, commerce will cease, industry will relocate and the current silent exodus will gather pace. Alternately the government will bow to pressure to accommodate Taliban demands. And once that happens, the end cannot be far off.

We have no option but to shrug off death and fight on because to believe that just by talking to fanatics and bigots, or by walking out of America’s war, matters will be resolved is beyond being crass. The Taliban have tasted blood. They have shown how they can bring an entire metropolis to a halt and a government to its knees and now mean to get their pound of flesh.

That’s the truth. But the trouble is we forget the truth’s unique importance. We act as if lying about our country’s current desperate predicament is a sacred duty as justified morally as the humane inventions one tells a dying man to delude him and his relatives. It leads to flattering distortions and exaggerations, which may make us feel better but will lead to catastrophic mistakes. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-174058-A-generational-conflict

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Politics of acrimony: by Ismail Khan in Dawn, Apr 28

THE two main religious political parties that joined forces under the banner of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal in 2002 to achieve a historic win in the then NWFP are now at loggerheads.

Not only are the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) taking solo flights in the May 11 elections, they are also taking swipes at each other whenever possible and questioning, amongst other things, each other’s claims of representing the religious right.

“It is not a religious party,” says Jalil Jan, the JUI-F’s information secretary and the party’s candidate from Peshawar’s PK-3. “It’s a party of professors and engineers. We have the mosque on our side, we have the madressah (seminary) and we have a huge following amongst the seminary students. What does the JI have?”

But speak to a JI leader and he’ll tell you how the JUI-F has changed in all these years from a party that represented the pulpit to one that is now dominated by the wealthy.

“Look around, and find out how many of their candidates are ulema (religious scholars),” observes the JI’s Prof Ibrahim. “The rich who have no religious credentials have found a new sanctuary in that party. It has abandoned the ulema.” This may be true — to an extent.

The JUI-F is opening up — nay, transforming — to allow clean-shaven, moneyed candidates to enter a party that has claimed adherence to the Deobandi school of thought and espoused politics of the masjid and the mehrab to great advantage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.

The fate of the MMA’s revival was sealed with the death of veteran JI leader Qazi Husain Ahmed, an ardent proponent of a religio-political alliance. There was little chance of success of the feeble attempts at resurrection made here and there by the MMA’s smaller component parties, which feared elimination from the political scene altogether.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman avoided the move for his own reasons, realising that the alliance suited the JI more than his own JUI-F.

The former, Fazlur Rehman’s party leaders believe, won more seats than it would have had it contested on its own.

“Let the JI find out its true worth now,” says Jalil Jan. “It will soon know where it stands.”

The JI for its part believes that had it not been for its own well-organised party machinery, the JUI-F would not have achieved what it did — staking a claim to the top slot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Further, it nurses suspicions about which way the Maulana’s cookie might crumble. A wary and suspicious Munawar Hasan is more inclined towards Imran Khan and, at a lesser level, towards Nawaz Sharif.

In fact, it was the fear of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that prompted a flurry of political engagements between the JUI-F and the PML-N on one side and between the PML-N and the JI on the other.

COMMON ENEMY: The JUI-F and PML-N see the PTI as a common enemy and both set about thwarting its ascendancy by attempting to reach an understanding on seat adjustment in the province. This did not happen, though, despite several rounds of meetings; both sides blame each other for the failure. The PML-N believes the JUI-F was too ambitious and too demanding, basing its claims on its performance in the 2008 elections. It won 12 seats in the province then, but counting the number of their runners-up and candidates that clinched third position, the number of seats the JUI-F figured it could stake a claim to was more than 70.

“That was unreasonable on the part of the JUI-F,” maintains PML-N leader Iqbal Zafar Jhagra. “In 2008, we did not have candidates on many of the seats, but we were still willing to clinch a deal with the JUI-F on the basis of some give and take.”

The JI engaged the PML-N and the PTI at the same time. Munawar Hasan’s party boycotted the 2008 polls, a decision party leaders admit cost them dearly (a party task force criticised Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s decision to boycott the polls, noting that the party would have to contest polls if it wanted to be part of parliamentary politics).

A party with a committed cadre, the JI has, on account of its poll boycott, seen some erosion in its traditional stronghold in Dir. Also, it needs to hang on to someone else’s coattails — in this case the PML-N or the PTI — to become relevant electorally and politically.

But Jhagra says that the JI, like the JUI-F, also demanded more than its fair share in terms of seat adjustment. “The JI wanted adjustments on a 50-50 basis,” he reflects. “Besides, it wanted seats in Hazara, which is our stronghold.”

The PTI was slow in finalising its list of candidates and when it did, belief in an overwhelming victory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pre-empted a seat adjustment with the JI. “They had their own internal problems,” says the JI’s Prof Ibrahim about the PTI.

It may seem odd but religious politics apart, the three parties — or any combination of two — would have made natural allies, at least in the context of present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata that are beset with violent militancy. They have identical views and similar vision with regard to engaging with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the army’s engagement in the tribal areas.

By the same measure, these four parties — the JUI-F, the JI, the PML-N and the PTI — stand to benefit from a beleaguered Awami National Party (ANP) hounded by the TTP on the one hand and haunted by its poor performance at the helm of the provincial government on the other.

The PML-N, the JUI-F and the PTI, by all reckoning, will be the major beneficiaries in an electoral contest whose rules, say some analysts, have largely been set by militants targeting the ANP. And that, they say, is the key factor dissuading these parties from getting into an alliance or a seat-adjustment formula.


April 28, 2013   No Comments

Gunning for the religious vote: by Zulfiqar Ali in Dawn, Apr 28

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was in its first incarnation the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), established in Multan in 1952 as an offshoot of the Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH). It was originally not a family enterprise. In 1962 the late Maulana Mufti Mahmood became its acting chief.

Soon after Mufti Mahmood’s death in 1980, his eldest son Maulana Fazlur Rehman became the party’s general secretary and turned it into a family concern from the Abdul Khel area of Dera Ismail Khan. Maulana Hamid Mian, who came from a family renowned in religious terms, was elected the JUI chief in 1988, yet the power remained with the young Fazlur Rehman.

This led to the formation of splinter groups within the JUI. These include the Samiul Haq Group, the Nazaryati (ideological) Group, the Haqiqi Group and the Constitutional Group.

Today, the JUI-F derives its strength from thousands of affiliated seminaries across the country. Basically a political party of clerics, it espouses a liberal outlook in Pakistan’s parliamentary politics.

Yet it is a staunch supporter of the Afghan Taliban and top leaders of the Afghan Taliban and the heads of various Pakistani Taliban factions operational in Fata who once studied in its seminaries.

But in domestic politics, the JUI-F leadership is liberal and accommodating. The party opposes neither women’s education nor parliamentary democracy. The late Maulana Mufti Mahmood formed a coalition government with the secular-liberal National Awami Party in what was then the NWFP in 1973 and was its chief minister. He opposed Field Marshal Ayub Khan and defeated Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from Dera Ismail Khan, his hometown, in the 1970 general elections. Mufti Mahmood led the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i- Nabuwwat and the Nizam-i-Mustafa Movement.

After his demise, Fazlur Rehman became the general secretary of the party at the age of 27, while he was studying at a seminary in Multan. He was very active in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy during the Ziaul Haq martial law and was put behind bars for this.

The JUI-F has always operated in mainstream politics, playing an active role in electoral politics. Meanwhile, the party has also worked towards maintaining sectarian harmony and for this purpose joined religious parties’ alliances such as the Milli Yakjehti Council and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

Historically, the JUI-F has not supported or encouraged non-political extremist alliances or forums such as the Pakistan-Afghanistan Defence Council and the Difa-i-Pakistan Council, conglomerates of various political, jihadi and banned outfits.

In electoral politics, the JUI-F always attempts alliances to pull together the religious vote. For this purpose the party is willing to make alliances with religious groups even if that leads to the dilution of its own identity. The party contested the 2002 general elections from the MMA platform and its MPA Akram Khan Durrani was elected chief minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Fazlur Rehman became the opposition leader in the lower house of parliament.

The MMA might have been torn into pieces in 2007 after the withdrawal of the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami. But the JUI-F, which still has a strong vote bank in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, kept the MMA intact and contested the general elections from the alliance platform in 2008. However, it was reduced to 15 seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, including reserved seats for women and minorities. In the National Assembly, the MMA retained only seven seats in 2008.

Until recently the JUI-F was making efforts to restore the MMA to use that platform in the upcoming elections to pull the votes of the religious parties together. The party has also kept its doors open for seat adjustment and is looking for a deal with the Awami National Party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Qaumi Watan Party as well as smaller groups.http://dawn.com/2013/04/28/gunning-for-the-religious-vote/

April 28, 2013   No Comments

The man who sold his wife’s jewellery for ‘Naya Pakistan’

By Farahnaz Zahidi  in The Express Tribune, Apr 28

KARACHI: Dressed in an off-white shalwar kameez and leather chappals, he has an unmistakably humble stance coupled with a firm, almost naive resolve when he talks. Gul Muhammad Keeriyo is PTI’s candidate from NA-213 constituency in Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad district).

Gul owns just 12 acres of land. He had just Rs300,000 in savings and one jewellery set of his wife which she willingly volunteered to sell for his election campaign as she was willing to make a sacrifice for change. “When I discussed it with my wife, I told her ‘what if this jewellery set were to get robbed tomorrow? Why not use it for a good cause by free will?’ And she agreed saying ‘I am doing this for a better Pakistan for my children’.”

“It all started when I saw Khan sahab’s jalsa of October 30th 2011 on television, which he held at Minar-e-Pakistan. I was convinced that very moment that this is the solution to what this nation is going through. Khan sahib sacha aadmi hai. Aadmi ka pata chal jata hai baji (Khan is an honest man; one can tell what people are inside),” says Gul, who had gone to the local PTI office the very next day and joined as a PTI worker. With hard work and encouragement from Qazi Nadeem Siddiqui, district president of PTI of the area, Gul climbed rungs and became more active in PTI till he finally got a chance at candidature.

Gul, who proudly calls himself a sipahi (soldier) of Khan and calls Khan anmol heera (rare diamond), is inspired by Khan’s leading from the front approach. “Yes, I am a candidate against some big names. And what has to happen will happen. When my leader, the only brother of six sisters, can risk his life, why can’t I? I still have more males in the family to support me. It’s a risky business but dying for a cause is martyrdom,” he says, convinced.

Gul’s opponents include Asif Zardari’s sister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho of PPP, Inayat Ali Rind of MQM and Zahid Hussain of PML-F.

Poverty and oppression, according to Gul, have resulted in social disparity that has frustrated people to the point that it has affected the law and order situation adversely of late, even in rural areas. “Or women’s gold bangles are cut off from their hands when they travel in rickshaws. Our mobiles are snatched when we go to drop our kids to school on bikes. It is not just about economics. It is about self-respect as the people of this country, something we are losing fast.”http://tribune.com.pk/story/541550/bring-it-on-the-man-who-sold-his-wifes-jewellery-for-naya-pakistan/

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Former PPP minister joins PML-N

RAWALPINDI: Former minister in Benazir Bhutto’s first cabinet Raja Shahid Zafar has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

He is likely to formally announce his decision during the expected visit of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to his house on Monday.

Three friends of Shahid Zafar are already in the electoral fray. They are Jaffar Hussain Shah from PP-6, who also contested the 2008 elections in the same constituency and got 16788 votes; Chaudhry Waris from PP-9 and Chaudhry Masood Akhter from PP-10.

These three candidates will also announce retirement from the electoral arena in favour of the PML-N.

The former minister of state for production and industries, Raja Shahid Zafar, was elected MNA twice from the cantonment areas NA-39 which was bifurcated into NA-54 and NA-52 in 2002.

Shahid Zafar was the traditional rival of PML-Q leader Raja Basharat as both contested the district council chairmanship election in 1979.

Though Shahid Zafar got 12 votes against his rival’s 22, he won the National Assembly seat in 1985 with 60,000 votes as an independent candidate due to the boycott of the elections by the PPP.

He retained the seat in the 1988 elections on the PPP ticket with 64,555 votes and became minister in the first cabinet of Ms Bhutto. However, he lost the seat in 1990 elections when it was won by Ijazul Haq.

Shahid Zafar, who owned the famous Ghakhar Plaza in Saddar, is known as a representative of the Ghakhar clan or Raja Biradari in the district. He got annoyed with the party after it supported his archrival Raja Basharat of the PML-Q in NA-52.

The PPP sources told Dawn that former opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Shahid Zafar were friends and both started their politics from the district council of Rawalpindi.

They said Chaudhry Nisar managed to convince Shahid Zafar to join the PML-N and influence his Biradri to vote for him in NA-52 against Raja Basharat who is the joint candidate of the PPP and the PML-Q. It may be noted that Shahid Zafar’s relatives live in a large number in the constituency.

“Chaudhry Nisar is likely to vacate NA-52 in case he also wins NA-53 to field Shahid Zafar for the by-election on the PML-N ticket,” they explained the deal between the two.

When contacted, Shahid Zafar said he had left the PPP as it was no more the party of Bhutto and Benazir. “The present leadership is running the affairs of the party as an enterprise and former military dictator’s cronies are ruling it,” he said.

“Chaudhry Nisar came to my house three days back and asked me to join the PML-N. I consulted my Biradri and friends and they agreed to my joining of the PML-N without demanding any party ticket,” he said.

“I am fed up with the wrong policies of Asif Ali Zardari and his cronies. They spoiled the party’s ideology and done nothing for the people in general and party workers in particular.”

He confirmed that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was expected to visit his house on Monday and he would formally announce to join the PML-N.

When contacted, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan also confirmed that Shahid Zafar would join the party. However, he was not aware about the date of the meeting in this regard.http://dawn.com/2013/04/28/former-ppp-minister-joins-pml-n/

April 28, 2013   No Comments

PML-N ‘turns to the disgruntled’: by Amjad Mahmood in Dawn, Apr 28

LAHORE: Facing unrest among its cadres over distribution of party tickets, the PML-N has launched efforts to win back the disgruntled workers who have decided to contest elections as independent candidates.

PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has tasked younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, to actively look into the matter before it rises to damaging scale after Senator Ishaq Dar could not make a breakthrough in this respect, a source in the party’s Model Town Secretariat says.

Many PML-N bigwigs who had stood by the party during testing times of Musharraf regime were shocked to see award of tickets for the 2013 polls to Q Leaguers against whom they had fought in the 2002 and 2008 general elections and suffered at their hands both physically and financially.

There were also complaints against certain PML-N MPs who had either earned among their constituents a bad name for their corrupt practices or lost contacts with their constituencies after winning the polls.

Upset at the party leadership’s decision in favour of the newcomers and the old but rotten elements, diehard workers from some constituencies in Lahore and elsewhere staged rallies to get their protest registered.

When those who mattered gave a cold shoulder to their grievances, some of the unhappy workers chose to rebel and fought against the party’s nominees.

Shahbaz held a party meeting late on Friday night to identify the people who could influence the disgruntled elements and form a strategy for winning them back.

Under this plan, Hamza Shahbaz has been asked to approach the rebels in Lahore division, while Dr Saeed Elahi, ex-MPA from Lahore who himself has been denied ticket this time, will contact the dissenters in Sargodha division. Focal persons for other Punjab divisions are being selected.

The source says Shahbaz himself has visited ex-MPA Hafiz Nauman who has been denied ticket reportedly on the pressure of Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq, party’s nominee against PTI chairman Imran Khan in Icchra, Lahore. Nauman’s constituency PP-148 falls under Sadiq’s NA-122.

Earlier, Senator Ishaq Dar had been given the job. He had ‘outsourced’ the duty to the staff related to the Sharifs’ security affairs and got prepared a list of annoyed activists.

But the senator’s ‘non-political’ approach proved rather counterproductive as a worker contesting against ex-MNA Bilal Yasin in PP-139, Lahore, reportedly refused to even come on line with Mr Dar. http://dawn.com/2013/04/28/pml-n-turns-to-the-disgruntled/

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Imran working for Ahmedi, Jewish lobbies, alleges Fazl

ISLAMABAD – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman has said that Imran Khan is being supported and funded by Ahmedi lobby.

“Ahmedi leader has himself admitted to have funded Imran,” said Fazl, alleging that Imran Khan has promised to benefit Ahmedi lobby if voted to power.

The JUI-F chief further said that Imran is now working for both Ahmedi and Jewish lobbies. He said that it is the choice of people to save or surrender Pakistan to Ahmedi and Jewish lobbies. He said that there will be a bloodbath if Imran comes to power.  Maulana said that Imran is small politician only being promoted by powerful lobbies and a section of Pakistani media. He appealed to people of Pakistan to cast votes for those who will protect Pakistan’s interests and safeguard the values of Pakistani nation.

It is relevant to mention here that religio-political party is facing tough competition from Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the first time. A large number of candidates from both sides are contesting in May 2013 elections, which is largely believed to be neck and neck competition.http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/editors-picks/28-Apr-2013/imran-working-for-ahmedi-jewish-lobbies-alleges-fazl

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Qadri tells ‘followers’ to boycott election : by Kashif Hussain in Daily Times, Apr 28

LAHORE: Minhajul Quran International (MQI) head Dr Tahirul Qadri has resumed his pseudo-politics from Canada, advising his followers-cum-voters to boycott the May 11 election for the sake of ‘saving’ the state.

Qadri, who is living in Canada nowadays, is likely to revisit Pakistan on May 5 to convince Pakistanis to stay away from the electoral process and hold sit-in protests outside all election commission offices across the country.

With this agenda, the MQI has started distributing hundred of thousands of leaflets among the masses, in which people have been urged not to take part in election, as it could not bring any change in society.

The leaflets, available with Daily Times, urge the masses to refrain from casting their votes on May 11, and participate in the MQI’s sit-ins outside the local election commission offices in their respective areas.

In the leaflets, Qadri has suggested his followers, who are already listed in the electoral rolls, to stand united against the “existing corrupt system”.

In one of the two leaflets, he has declared the upcoming election “engineered” and “rigged”, and asked the people not to vote for fake-degree holders, tax evaders and loan defaulters who had been permitted to contest elections.

The MQI started its anti-election door-to-door campaign from its headquarters in Lahore – Model Town – and its volunteers are distributing the leaflets in each and every house of the area.

When this scribe asked the locals about their views on the distribution of such pamphlets, most of them expressed less confidence in the slogans of Dr Tahirul Qadri, and said that he had left them in the middle of no-where during his last call to the people for saving the state just a few months ago.

They were also in doubt about the hidden agenda of Qadri’s appearance in the country just six days before the polling day and the slogan of boycotting the election when all political parties are admiring it as a positive step towards strengthening democracy in Pakistan.http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\04\28\story_28-4-2013_pg7_3

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Terror, corruption and the ANP: by Imran Khan in the News, Apr 27

The writer is a freelance writer

The Awami National Party (ANP) began its campaign with the slogan ‘pur amn Pakistan’. However, in the aftermath of the attack on the Bilours of Peshawar, an unofficial slogan came to the fore and has since taken over – ‘watan ya kafan’ (country or shroud). This slogan sums up the ANP’s resolve.

One would assume that this would elicit praise from all quarters. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, there exists quite a strong sense of resentment. Polls indicate that, and my personal interactions corroborate it. By and large, the source of this resentment seems to be the ANP’s financial corruption.

This belief is mostly backed by anecdotes. And one particular line that is quoted as the ultimate proof is “Baba ta easy load ka”, alluding that during the ANP’s tenure bribing Haider Hoti’s father was necessary for getting things done.

Ironically, many of my friends who are utterly disgusted with the ANP’s corruption seem to have a different yardstick for their own financial integrity. One will claim a substantial inheritance from a father who was known for taking bribes. Another, a government servant, is infamous for not even pardoning relatives when it comes to ‘fees’. But then both are completely disgusted over Baba’s ‘easy loads’. And they have every right to be, because the hypocrisy of its critics should not absolve the ANP of its crimes.

It would be ridiculous to claim that the ANP government was not involved in any corruption, but by the same token it would also be naïve to rely just on anecdotes to associate it with corruption at unmatched levels. If the accusations are true and corruption that widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then some indicator somewhere should capture it – especially when compared with other provinces.

Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) is one such source. Its surveys for 2009 and 2010 provide estimates of the annual average provincial corruption expenditures. For both these years the sample from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had one of the ‘lowest’ corruption expenditures among the four provinces. For 2009, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa averaged at Rs3,454, while Punjab was Rs19,959. For 2010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the ‘lowest’ among all provinces at Rs3,528, while the highest ie Punjab was at Rs17,791.

The TIP didn’t consider these estimates in its provincial corruption ranking for 2010, as it was based on perceptions. It focused on just one question; for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the respondents were asked if the present government – of the ANP – was more corrupt than the previous government of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). But here’s the twist; for some odd reason TIP chose Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbottabad and Haripur as representative districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An anti-ANP verdict from the Hazara division was inevitable, and this was presented as the perception of the whole province. This result was then used extensively in the media to label the ANP’s government as the most corrupt. I had written a more detailed piece on TIP’s methodology for its 2010 survey on these pages on June 9, 2010.

While the jury is still out on the ANP, let’s focus a bit on this national obsession with corruption. Yes, corruption is a huge problem in Pakistan, but does it really overshadow terrorism? Last year, Pakistan had a total of 652 bombings leading to 1,007 deaths, that means an average of two bombings and three deaths per day! And this was one of our better years.

Yet survey after survey confirms that Pakistan considers corruption to be a bigger problem than terrorism. This is akin to a cancer patient citing a common cold as his biggest ailment. The difference between corruption and terrorism should be obvious from their respective units of measurement – rupees for corruption and deaths for terrorism. How big a bribe can outweigh the death of one human?

If the ANP had followed the MMA’s path, today some of its top workers and leaders would still be alive. Instead it took on the biggest monster of our times, and paid dearly. Ironically, those who are so eager to bestow the title of ‘Pakhtun resistance’ on the Taliban refuse to even acknowledge this non-violent defiance. Those claiming ferocity of felines and natural disasters feign complete oblivion to a danger that threatens the very existence of their proposed ‘roshan’ and ‘naya’ Pakistan.

Opportunism seems to be the only apparent reasons for their silence. A convenient excuse is to declare the war against the Taliban to be ‘someone else’s war’. But while Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan may have their own interpretations, Hakeemullah Mehsud has made it clear that his war is against Pakistan. Whether it is ‘roshan’ or ‘naya’ will not make a difference.

Today the ANP has been left to fight a war for the survival and continuation of Pakistan’s democracy. After every bombing its battered leaders reiterate their demand for a timely election, one that their party is very likely to lose. This principled stance remains unappreciated by most Pakistanis.

Supporting the ANP doesn’t necessarily mean that one votes for it. Regardless of party affiliations the need is to provide a united front against the forces bent upon destabilising democracy in Pakistan.

For those who still think the ANP’s corruption doesn’t make it worth the effort, I propose the following calculation.

Step 1: Put a price on the life of a loved one; Step 2: Multiply that price by 700; Step 3: From this total subtract the biggest possible estimate for the ANP’s corruption (make it Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s entire budget if you may). Let’s see if the remainder is positive or negative. http://images.thenews.com.pk/27-04-2013/ethenews/e-173804.htm

April 27, 2013   No Comments

What did PPP, MQM and ANP do to curb terrorism: by Ansar Abbasi in the News, Apr 27

ISLAMABAD: The terrorist attacks on the PPP, MQM and ANP are obviously condemnable and cannot be condoned yet these parties have to blame themselves for what they are facing today.

Not only during their just-completed five-year rule they failed to evolve any counter-terrorism strategy, they had also not made any serious effort to check terrorism and control the law and order situation.

These political parties are also expressing their dissatisfaction over the caretaker government’s security measures but conveniently ignored the fact that the caretaker prime minister at the Centre and the interim chief ministers in the provinces, including Sindh, KPK and even Punjab, were the sweet choices of these three parties.

MQM leader Farooq Sattar on Friday said that the terrorist attacks on the liberal-secular parties were being orchestrated, adding that the caretaker governments were incompetent. He, however, did not explain as to what their government did to check terrorism and that whose choice was the caretaker prime minister and the interim chief minister of Sindh.

The interim chief minister Sindh was the choice of the PPP and MQM, the caretaker prime minister was the nominee of the PPP and its allies, the KP interim chief minister was the choice of the ANP and JUI(F) where the caretaker chief executive of Punjab was the nominee of the PPP.

Ignoring their own failings, these political parties are now trying to pass the buck on to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the caretaker rulers that these parties themselves chose and the right-wing political parties, including the PML-N, Tehrik-e-Insaaf, Jammat-e-Islami, etc.

The right-wing political parties are blamed for the mere reason that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not targetting the election candidates and campaigns of these political parties.

The PPP, ANP and MQM – the ruling coalition partners of the past five years – have been though in complete support of the US war on terror and had accepted it as Pakistan’s own war, practically did nothing to check terrorism.

They did not evolve any counter-terrorism strategy during all these years. Instead, these three political parties were found no less than by the Supreme Court to have been involved in target killings in Karachi. They were accused of having armed groups within their own folds. The killings in Karachi and terrorist activities in other parts of the country, including KP, during their rule have been much more than today after their departure.Pakistan has been the target of worst form of terrorism during the last five years under the coalition regime of the PPP, ANP and MQM but despite having created the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), the agency was never allowed to do its work; instead it was made either the dumping ground for disliked bureaucrats or was used to employ political appointees.

Over half-a-dozen bureaucrats were made its head making it sure that no one should focus on the real mandate for which the Nacta was created. At least 40 inductions were made by the interior ministry without informing the Nacta authorities during the same period.

Such has been the seriousness of the past rulers towards this top counter-terrorism body of the country that its chiefs were not even informed about the appointments made in the Nacta. “They were only intimated a month after the issuance of employment letters,” a source said, adding that as Nacta started searching for fresh recruits (political appointees), they were found absent but were receiving salaries at their homes.Nacta was set up through an executive order in 2008 for working as a liaison among the agencies involved in fighting terrorism since there exists no central body like this. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22507-What-did-PPP-MQM-and-ANP-do-to-curb-terrorism

April 27, 2013   No Comments