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Posts from — July 2013

Wanted: a real people’s party; by ANJUM ALTAF in Dawn, July 30

The writer is dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

IT would be hard to find citizens in Pakistan or India who believe their governments really care for the people.

The Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen, has repeatedly termed India a disaster zone in which pockets of California exist amidst a sea of sub-

Saharan Africa; where millions of lives are crushed by lack of food, health, education and justice.

Sen wants India to “hang its head in shame” contrasting its performance with China where massive investments in health and education in the 1970s laid the foundation for sustained economic growth.

Sen points out that even within South Asia, barring Pakistan, India is at the bottom in terms of social indicators. Bangladesh is doing better with half the per capita income of India.

This juxtaposition of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China allows some myths to be laid to rest in explaining this outrageous neglect of people.

First, Pakistan’s social problems are not due to the bogey of over-population. Bangladesh has a similar sized population and China’s is over five times larger.

Second, Pakistan’s problems are not due to its interrupted democracy. India, with uninterrupted democracy since 1947, is socially speaking an embarrassment of colossal proportions with some of the worst human development indicators in the world.

Third, China’s success is not just due to its authoritarianism. Decades of authoritarianism in Pakistan made things worse not better.

Fourth, Pakistan’s problems do not stem from a lack of money. Bangladesh has forged ahead with fewer resources.

What then is the answer and where is the source of optimism for a better future?

Sen believes India suffers from an absence of vision and the political will to implement it. He puts his faith in the middle class and wants to shame it into shedding its indifference to the wretchedness of its fellow citizens.

Pointing to the response triggered by last year’s gang rape case in Delhi, he believes the middle class can be moved and once it is positive political action would follow.

Many in Pakistan subscribe to the same perspective but this begs a number of questions.

First, how does one explain the lack of vision? Why does China, or Bangladesh for that matter, have a better vision than India and Pakistan? Sen himself expresses befuddlement as to how governments and the middle classes can’t see the economic and ethical costs of not investing in people.

Second, what is the basis for reposing faith in the middle class? Sure, there will always be members of the middle class who would align themselves with the people in the struggle for rights. But would the middle class really be a part of the political vanguard?

The evidence is not convincing by any means. Arundhati Roy seems more on the mark when she observes that the upper and middle classes are seceding from the rest of the country. Her characterisation of this secession as vertical and not lateral is particularly evocative — “They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere.”

This trenchant observation ties in quite seamlessly with Sen’s characterisation of India as pockets of California amid a sea of sub-Saharan Africa. The middle class wants more pockets of California — without load-shedding and low pressure gas supply, with clean water and secure perimeters — and it doesn’t really mind if that comes at the expense of the people. If the latter’s habitats need to be razed for development, so be it.

History seems to validate Arundhati Roy and not Amartya Sen on this count. People have never been given their rights by a benevolent and visionary upper or middle class.

On the contrary, people have extracted their rights through protracted struggle with the assistance of committed members of the upper and middle classes.

Whether one looks at the French Revolution, where extended dissemination of ideas about human equality, liberty and fraternity paved the way to an end to the rule of privilege, or Brazil today, where citizens are in the streets demanding better services, the lesson is the same — people have to mobilise for effective political action.

It is that kind of a mass movement which changes the orientation of society, realigning it from a vertical patron-client axis to a horizontal one, in which all citizens are politically equal. In fact, it is that kind of movement that transforms a subject into a citizen which could well be considered amongst the most profound transformations in human history.

Only on that foundation of political equality can be built the edifice of representative governance in which representatives are accountable to citizens. Without that equality, governments would revert, in one way or another, into caricatures of the monarchies that they never outgrew.

The transformation from subject to citizen has yet to occur in India and Pakistan where the old privileged elites remain in dynastic control.

To some degree, and with all its peculiarities, it has transpired in China with the People’s Revolution and in other countries in East Asia that were forced to undertake extensive land reforms to forestall the threats of popular insurrection.

Sen concedes this reality. In his latest book, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, the last chapter is poignantly titled ‘The Need for Impatience’. And there is a telling quote in the book: “Patience is a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.”

It is said that the only photograph in Sen’s study in Cambridge is that of Rabindranath Tagore who named him Amartya. But now, towards the end of his incredible intellectual journey marked by an exemplary gentility, he expresses a grudging admiration for Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Tagore was too patient, he says; Nazrul Islam urged action. http://dawn.com/news/1032940/wanted-a-real-peoples-party

July 30, 2013   No Comments

What to do with the report: by Saleem Safi in The News, July 30

The writer works for Geo TV.

The Abbottabad Commission was constituted to investigate the violation of the country’s sovereignty – by both Osama bin Laden and the US – and to determine responsibility. The commission was initially badly criticised for the procedures it followed, and now its report is also being questioned.

During the course of its investigation, the commission had also invited me – however, none of the points I raised have been made part of the report. Perhaps the commission took seriously Gen Shuja Pasha’s statement that mediapersons are just agents of foreign elements.

Coming to the report itself, I have serious concerns that some very important questions are missing and have not even been investigated. While the report fixes responsibility on institutions, it stays clear of naming individuals. Overall, though, it is a good effort and highlights some ground realities about our state and its institutions. The report attests, to a degree, to Gen Pasha’s point that Pakistan is not a failed but a failing state.

Now we have two options: either we – much like in the past – just debate the report for a few days only to throw it away later; or we take its contents seriously and try and avoid the disasters that our future generations may have to face.

Unfortunately, the reaction thus far has been typical. It seems no one really cares much about the report or its recommendations, but everyone is in a hurry to use it for scoring off against rivals. At one side we find those who can be called ‘pro-military’ who wish to lay all the blame on the civilian leadership. On the opposite side, we have our so-called democracy lovers who seem to wish to squeeze the remaining morale out of our state institutions.

Those who are pro-military never consider the fact that these civilian institutions are Pakistan’s not India’s; by disgracing the civilian institutions we are disgracing the system. The demagogues of politics and opinion, on their part, do not realise that they are commenting on the Pakistan Army and      not on the US military.

Perhaps the most unfortunate part about this important report is its (wrong) timing and the way the government tackled it. Pro-government intellectuals are busy using the report against the military. The message received at the barracks is that the civilian government is trying to put the military on the defensive. With the same stupid enthusiasm, those on the side of the armed forces criticise the civilian leadership in a tone that creates deep suspicion.

The timing is bad because just before the report came out those with access to military officials had started to whisper that Nawaz Sharif’s intentions about the military were far from fair. A few others were busy feeding Nawaz Sharif the idea that certain quarters wished to destabilise the government.

Yet another coincidence proves the timing even more wrong. Pervez Musharraf’s trial was a matter that had been discussed and agreed on at a very high level between the military and the civilian leadership. This indeed could not be shared with those on lower ranks and levels. Musharraf’s issue, thus, is also creating some tension between civil and military ranks.

The report also declared that Pakistan is faced with dichotomy when it comes to its internal and foreign policies. This dichotomy is responsible for the intelligence failure that led to Bin Laden remaining undetected in the country or the Abbottabad Operation – despite our state institutions being very capable. This gulf could perhaps be better defined through the testimony of Gen Shuja Pasha, who described the cooperation and intelligence sharing between the CIA and the ISI after 9/11 but concluded by saying that one of the greatest challenges for the ISI was to keep an eye on the CIA.

Likewise, he enlightened the commission about drone operations – that they had been sanctioned by Musharraf. Enumerating efforts to confront drones, he admitted drones were useful but against the sovereignty of Pakistan.

The logical course now would be for both the civilian and the military leadership to work together to remove the gaps identified by the commission. However, all we find is more fuel being added to instigate confusion and mistrust between the two leaderships.

The most important finding of this report is the civil-military coordination gap. Furthermore, there is not even much coordination within military and civilian institutions. The gap extends even beyond these since no active linkages exist between the centre and the provincial governments. Every single institution seems to be working separately – and at times with opposing goals. The report insists that, to avoid any future disgrace, there must be some coordination system and that information must be stream-lined. But these recommendations have been ignored in the debate over the report.

If so-called advocates of the military think that they can succeed by promoting the status quo they should realise that it is now impossible to do that. On the other hand, if those who are pro-democracy and civilian rule think that by pushing the military to the wall they can strengthen the system, they have grossly miscalculated. In a country where more than two dozen officers in the military are appointed to deal with one particular country as opposed to only two people at the foreign affairs office, how one can dream of effective civilian control?

Things will not change only by demands and protestations; the only effective way is to prove one better than the other. The best bet is to strengthen civilian institutions without wasting time in confrontation. This current clueless debate over the report needs to end and a consensus mechanism needs to be established for national security and intelligence.

To my mind, a better way out is to allow the mandate of national security to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. A powerful secretariat should be established right in the PM’s secretariat (US Homeland Security can be used as a model). Former four star generals with proven skills, a dedicated part of the higher bureaucracy, and politicians with sound mind and nerves may be part of this.

All civil and military intelligence and security institutions might be linked with this secretariat, and could report to it on a daily basis. The proposed secretariat would also work as a coordination body among the provinces and as a supervisory body over the output and affairs of different agencies. The same secretariat could be a complaint centre against any intelligence agency. The Foreign Office should also be linked with the secretariat for better coordination.

If this mechanism were to be adopted, the much needed coordination would easily be achieved without institutional egos getting in the way.


July 30, 2013   No Comments

Chaos under the heavens; by Jarrar Shah in The News, July 30

The writer is a director at a consulting firm.

The last few years have seen our nation being bestowed with several not-so-flattering epithets. Either we are ‘the most dangerous nation’ or ‘the most resilient nation’. We annually grace the honour rolls of the failed states index as well as the most corrupt index.

Sometimes, amidst the inexorable slide, good news comes out and we see our stock market being declared the best performing market. However, such good nuggets are fleeting, and the reality is that Pakistan is sinking and action is needed.

The last few years have left the country reeling. Al-Qaeda, the TTP and other extremist organisations have massacred 20,000 Pakistani citizens along with 6,000 Pakistani soldiers. Three thousand people have lost their lives due to drone attacks. Karachi, our financial hub, has been paralysed by mafia gang wars and violence.

Approximately 2,000 Pakistani citizens belonging to the Shia sect have been mowed down since 2001. Pakistan’s minorities are at their most vulnerable and sectarian intolerance is at its peak. Violence in Balochistan and lawlessness in other parts continue to exact an additional toll on the collective nerves of the nation.

The death knell has sounded for even cricket, our favourite pastime – thanks to the 2009 incident involving the Sri Lankan team. International institutions have estimated huge losses for our economy due to the lawlessness being faced by our citizens on a daily basis all across the country.

In the face of so much killing, we have become increasingly paranoid, confused and numb. If ignoring this violence wasn’t enough, the levels of corruption reached in the last few years really took the cake. According to the previous NAB chairman, Fasih Bokhari – appointed by the PPP government – Pakistan was being ripped apart and looted to the tune of Rs8 billion a day.

At a time when the nation was facing an existential threat from extremism and militancy, our rapacious elites and interest groups were busy devouring the weak, hobbling state of Pakistan. The governance levels attained in the tenure of the previous government were so astronomically bad that one still can’t reconcile oneself as to how it was even possible for our rulers to be so callous and blind to the situation.

They either believed that Pakistan was the gift that could keep on giving or they just didn’t give a hoot. When the sitting prime minister of a country tells a foreign media channel that those who wish to leave the country are welcome to do so – one sort of gets an idea of the thought process.

And this corruption was not just confined to our political elites. Corruption has aggressively penetrated each and every one of us.

The security apparatus for a country like Pakistan, which faces so many threats – both externally and internally – needs to get its act together. Having lost so many brave jawans and officers, the institution needs to maintain its moral high ground not through suppression of the truth or by projecting false perceptions of itself but by leading by example and introducing greater self-accountability.

An institution that has rightfully prided itself on the notions of merit must not rest simply on past laurels. The best way to defeat a conspiracy is by correcting one’s own weaknesses. Conspiracies cannot succeed when there are no weaknesses left to exploit. Pakistan’s survival depends on this; the sacrifices of so many cannot be in vain.

The lower judiciary has to be reformed if we want to stand even a chance of preventing extremists with their notions of ‘speedy justice’ from filling the vacuum. Though independent, different organs of the state need to work together instead of becoming competitors or rivals. Accountability is needed – but self-accountability is much more important before accountability of others can work. Sometimes letting the heavens fall can leave everyone worse off. Pakistan has to come first.

The year 2013 promises to be the year of change. Politically we have already witnessed general elections with a historic turnout as well as a peaceful subsequent transfer of power. The incumbent ruling coalition, led by the PPP, was dealt a massive electoral blow. A new political force, in the form of the PTI, has emerged on the scene and has been handed the tough challenge of governing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PPP has a chance to go back to the drawing board. The PML-N has been given an unprecedented third opportunity to deliver on its promises. There will be two new heads of our most important state institutions as well.

There can be no honeymoon period for anyone because the nation is in a bad state. Repairs can’t happen overnight but the direction of the nation can be reset and restored. The free-for-all that was witnessed during the previous regime can never happen again. An effective accountability body – NAB – and other checks and balances need to be put in place so that such things can be stopped from happening on such a scale in future.

Developing a robust counterterrorism policy with consensus from most stakeholders is the need of the hour. The blood of Pakistani citizens has to be valued more. Intolerance and hate have to be checked, challenged and reversed.

Improving relations with our neighbours and the lone superpower should be on the agenda. There is no way the world’s sixth-largest population with one of the largest youth population can afford to be in a perpetual state of hostility with the world. If Pakistan and its citizens come first, then full engagement with the world is a must. We already have millions of brilliant ambassadors in the shape of expatriate Pakistanis who would gladly do the bidding of the Pakistani state for such an endeavour.

For the new federal government, the vision of Pakistan as an Asian Tiger is a good one. However, they must seek not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s.

Deregulation and privatisation of loss-making state enterprises is the need of the hour but this must be done in a smart and transparent way by taking the nation and stakeholders into confidence. Without competent and empowered regulators, deregulation will end up in a disaster.

Cronyism and growth of personal businesses on state dime and through nepotism must be avoided. The new leadership of Pakistan need not feel daunted. Sincerity to Pakistan and its citizens is what is required. Every crisis is an opportunity. Our multitude of crises provides the perfect cover for bringing about meaningful and structural change. As Chairman Mao so eloquently put it all those years ago; “there is great chaos under the heavens – the situation is excellent.”http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-193192-Chaos-under-the-heavens

July 30, 2013   No Comments

Presidential polls: One-sided contest: By Qamar Zaman in The Express Tribune, July 30

ISLAMABAD:  The winner is a foregone conclusion.

Mamnoon Hussain, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate, faces Justice (retd) Wajiuddin Ahmed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in today’s presidential election which is heavily tilted in his favour.

According to the PML-N’s projections, Mamnoon is expected to bag 426 votes in the 674-strong electoral college and replace President Asif Ali Zardari as the ceremonial head of state.

The Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam has 42 electoral votes. The politico- religious party has been noncommittal until Sunday, but decided to vote for Mamnoon after a late-night meeting between a PML-N delegation and Maulana Fazl.

The ruling PML-N is expected to garner the support of around eight smaller political groups, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP), Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z) and Balochistan chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.

The PML-N has 184 votes in the National Assembly, 15 in the Senate, 50 in Punjab, eight in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, two in Sindh and 17 in the Balochistan Assembly. This means the party has 276 electoral votes.

Apart from its own electoral votes, the PML-N candidate is also expected to poll 47 votes of MQM, 10 of PML-F, 17 of PkMAP, 11 of NP, five of QWP, six of PML-Q’s Balochistan chapter, 11 of independent senators and 42 votes of JUI-F.

On the other hand, PTI candidate Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed is likely to bag 63 votes that include 10 votes of its coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Since the party has no presence in the Senate and Balochistan Assembly, it will get only three votes of its ally, JI, in the Balochistan Assembly.

According to the party projections, it has 30 votes in the National Assembly, 22 in K-P, four in Punjab and one in Sindh Assembly. Similarly, the JI has four votes in the National Assembly, two in K-P and three in Balochistan.

The voting procedure is laid down in Second Schedule of the Constitution, which gives equal representation to all provincial assemblies. According to the Second Schedule of the Constitution and Presidential Election Rules of 1988, parliament – comprising the National Assembly and Senate – and the four provincial assemblies form the electoral college for the president’s elections.

The 446 members of parliament – 342 of the National Assembly and 104 of the Senate – have one vote each, while the Balochistan Assembly’s total strength of 65 is considered as the baseline for the other three provincial assemblies.

Under this formula, the number of votes cast in a provincial assembly in favour of each candidate will be multiplied by 65 and divided by the total strength of the assembly in which the votes are cast.

Since 42 seats of national and provincial assemblies are vacant, the total number of votes according to the formula is 674.

As the Balochistan Assembly is the smallest house with 62 members (three seats are vacant), votes in the three other assemblies will be divided by 62 and 5.98 MPAs of Punjab, 2.71 of Sindh and 2.0 of K-P will be equivalent to one vote.

However, 219 members of parliament and provincial assemblies – including 60 members of the Senate belonging to the PPP and its allies in the 104-member house – will boycott the process.

Similarly, 44 MNAs, 14 MPAs in Punjab, 91 MPAs in Sindh, 2 MPAs in Balochistan and eight MPAs in K-P will also stay away from the elections. According to the formula, these lawmakers form 146 electoral votes.

Those who would be boycotting the presidential elections include members of PPP, PML-Q, ANP and BNP (Awami). The Punjab chapter of PML-Q, however, has decided to go against the party line and support the PML-N candidate in the provincial assembly.

The PPP had pulled out of the race in protest against the rescheduling of the presidential election by the Supreme Court – a decision that was later endorsed by former allies ANP, PML-Q and BNP-A. The Election Commission of Pakistan had earlier set August 6 as the poll date.

Though the presidential poll outcome will prove the PML-N has numerical superiority over other political groups, the boycott of opposition parties could raise questions about the election’s credibility. The move will take the shine off the PML-N latest triumph.http://tribune.com.pk/story/583864/presidential-polls-one-sided-contest/

July 30, 2013   No Comments

‘PML-N, PPP, MQM compromise maneuvered’

LAHAORE: Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Liaqat Baloch said the international establishment had maneuvered a compromise between the PML-N, the PPP and the MQM to serve its agenda while the masses would suffer due to their lust for power.

Speaking at an Iftar dinner on Monday, he said the situation in Karachi was serious, as extortion, target killings and abductions were on the rise. He said with the change of government and exclusion of the MQM from Sindh government, people were expecting that law would come into force against the elements involved in plundering Karachi wealth, transferring it to Britain besides money laundering. However, he said it seemed that due to the compromise between the PML-N, the PPP and the MQM, these expectations would die out.

Liaqat Baloch said politics based on vested interests had already done incalculable harm to country’s economy and national solidarity, and added that the U-turn by present rulers would prove most dangerous in future. He counseled the PML-N and the PPP leadership to see reason and abandon their past policies in larger national interest.

The JI leader condemned drone attacks as violation of country’s independence and sovereignty. He said previous governments headed by Pervez Musharraf and Zardari had been silent on drone attacks, as their tacit approval was involved.

However, he wondered why new government was continuing the previous policy. He said drone attacks resulted in the death of innocent people but reaction to the drone attacks resulted in the bloodshed all over the country.

Commenting on presidential elections, Liaqat Baloch said ruling party had the majority in parliament but it had made elections controversial. He said the JI would support the PTI candidate, and clarified that the PTI was contesting presidential election in protest.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-193238-PML-N-PPP-MQM-compromise-maneuvered

July 30, 2013   No Comments

SC moved against massive corruption in Interior Ministry

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court (SC) has been moved against alleged massive corruption of Rs2.81 billion in the Interior Ministry.

A petition making Interior Ministry, former interior minister Rehman Malik, sitting interior minister, former and sitting interior secretary, finance secretary, DG FIA and NAB chairman respondents has been filed by Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi.

The petitioner took the plea that the ministry made payment in advance to the tune of Rs68 million under the head of ICT in police reforms structure project and Rs370 million in law enforcement reforms training but no record with regard to their adjustment was available.

The petitioner stated that inspector general (Frontier Headquarters) Peshawar made payment of Rs150 million to injured jawans but no record was available in this respect. Inspector General FC Balochistan purchased several vehicles worth Rs570 million with the approval of Finance Ministry.

A sum of Rs140 million was deducted from the salaries of jawans in the name of Scouts Saving Scheme and medical without approval from any competent authority. He contended that illegal payment of Rs210 million was made on account of salary of the army men deployed in private companies. He added 17 FC platoon was deployed for security of different public companies.

He stated Islamabad police had made payment of Rs550 million to all its employees within 20 days under the head of monthly daily fixed allowance despite merger of amount of increased allowance of operational staff under the orders of prime minister.

He contended a loss to the tune of Rs15.2 million has been caused to the department through illegal appointment of sweeper, washer man at the residences of ICT officers, the petitioner said. The petitioner prayed the court to investigate all these matters.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-193240-SC-moved-against-massive-corruption-in-Interior-Ministry

July 30, 2013   No Comments

Imran almost thwarts all parties conference on security

by  Tariq Butt in The News, July 30

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s latest position on the now apparently aborted multiparty national security conference is a clear escape from such high-profile consultations and formulation of a much-needed consensus policy on taking grave national security challenges head-on with one voice.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has attached no importance to the PTI chief’s demand that an exclusive meeting should be called in which he be briefed by him and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on national security issues. Imran Khan does not want to attend any such conference where top politicians will also be present. Thus, he wants a preferential and super treatment that the prime minister is not willing to extend.

If the government accepts the PTI chief’s demand, it would then have to arrange such a special session for the head of every parliamentary party because everybody would like to get the treatment similar to that given to Imran Khan.

This will spark an unending process that neither the government can afford nor would the COAS like to be part of. Such sessions would naturally not result in preparation of a unanimous national security policy.

Therefore, Imran Khan’s proposal is unacceptable. Federal Information Minister Senator Pervez Rashid has stated that the PTI chief was welcome to meet the prime minister if he wanted to consult with him.

The sequence of events how Imran Khan and his party reached this day when he finally announced to stay away from the proposed all parties conference (APC) on national security makes an interesting reading.

Before Nawaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister, the PTI chief repeatedly stressed that all parliamentary players should sit together to devise national security policy in order to tackle the menace of terrorism.

Just a few days after Nawaz Sharif assumed the top office, Imran Khan started hammering the point with more force that the conference should be immediately convened and criticised the government for not acting with the pace he wanted.

At one point, he came out with the proposal that Kayani should also attend such a grand meeting. Reacting to it, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan quickly affirmed that Kayani would be invited to this session.

The objective behind the prompt response was not to give the PTI chief any chance to shun his participation in the conference or take political mileage.

On July 5, exactly one month after Nawaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister, PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak wrote a letter to him urging him to convene an APC to formulate joint national counterterrorism policy. “Terrorism is a mega national issue on account of which the KP is affected. All political parties should sit together and chalk out comprehensive national policy against terrorism,” his letter said.

The KP chief minister also took credit that it was because of the PTI’s proposal that the federal government has decided to call the national security conference.

Twenty-one days later on July 26, Khattak also had a somersault, which was contained in another letter to the prime minister. He proposed in it that instead of convening APC on terrorism the federal government should hold open discussion with the military top brass on the issue in a limited environment.

“APCs had been held in the past but had never been result-oriented and fruitful. So, open discussion on the issue in a limited environment would be more beneficial and in national interest.

The prime minister should chair a meeting that could be attended by the army chief, chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, interior minister, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, four chief ministers and other relevant civil and military officials,” his second letter said.

On July 28, Imran Khan categorically stated that he would not participate in the proposed APC and said no moot could be effective unless the truth was unveiled to the nation. “I just want to know why dialogue was not held to address this issue. The nation wants to know as to what was the conspiracy behind the killing of Shias. All details of any agreement with the US over drone or other issues should be made public.

As a Pakistani citizen it is my right to know what had been the hurdles to holding the dialogue. I want to know everything in Pakistan’s interest and want to know in closed-door discussions as to what is the major reason behind addressing the issue of terrorism. The PTI might prove helpful to the stakeholders in solving the problem.”http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-193237-Imran-almost-thwarts-all-parties-conference-on-security

July 30, 2013   No Comments

Exercising caution; by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur in daily times, july 28

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman claiming self-defence; there were no witnesses. On July 13, 2013 the six-woman jury with three choices — guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and not guilty — after deliberating for 16 hours found him not guilty. The only African-American woman on the jury later said that Zimmerman got away with murder. There have been mild protests, while on April 29, 1992 when the accused in Rodney King’s beating case were acquitted, Los Angeles riots followed. And by the time order was restored the riots had caused 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly one billion dollars in financial losses. Some things may have changed in the US but the justice system is still not colour blind; at the time of announcing the judgment, the blindfold on the eyes of the lady of justice slips just a little to ensure that it sees that the victim is black and the perpetrator white.

The brutal murder of Emmett Louis Till from Chicago, Illinois, the 14-year-old African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi on August 28, 1955, after reportedly flirting with a white woman, though not widely known, is noted as a pivotal event motivating the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, he reportedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a small grocery store owner. Several nights later, her husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother John William Milam took him from his great-uncle’s house, beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, shot him in the head and then weighting his body with a 32 kg cotton gin fan, threw it in the Tallahatchie River. Discovered and retrieved three days later with face mutilated beyond recognition, he was positively identified by the ring that his mother had given him, engraved with his father’s initials LT (Louis Till).

Till’s body was returned to his mother Mamie Till in Chicago; she who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket because as she put it, “Let the world see what has happened, because there is no way I could describe this. And I needed somebody to help me tell what it was like.” Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his casket; images of his mutilated body were published in black magazines like Jet and newspapers.

Because then blacks and women were barred from serving jury duty, Bryant and Milam were tried before an all-white, all-male jury. In an act of extraordinary bravery, Moses Wright, Till’s uncle, risking retribution, took the stand and identified them as Till’s kidnappers and killers, yet both were acquitted. A few months later, protected by double jeopardy laws they, for $ 4,000, told Emmett Till’s kidnap and murder story to Look magazine. Black support and white sympathy in the northern US brought to bear on the condition of black civil rights in Mississippi as newspapers there criticised the crime but soon the whites in the South rallied support for the killers; Southern newspapers, particularly in Mississippi, wrote that the court system had done its job.

This warped dispensation of justice shows how the establishment’s narrative, because of its instruments of force and unchallenged influence, becomes the dominant narrative and decides how justice is meted out to those whom the state and influential elements target. Tainted justice is the norm wherever the state, through illegal methods, seeks to undermine the rights of people and the judiciary feels obligated to cover the backs of erring institutions and individuals violating human rights. It is this unfairly dispensed tainted justice that nurtures the culture of impunity and this is exactly what has been happening in Pakistan since 1947. Hundreds of Baloch Emmett Tills have been murdered for angering the state with demands for their rights while the Pakistani Bryants, Milams and Zimmermans have enjoyed complete immunity.

On July 23, 2013, Potohar Town Superintendent Police Haroon Joya informed the three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing the missing persons cases that following the court’s orders he got the arrest warrants of ISI Brigadier Mansoor Saeed Sheikh from Rawalpindi Civil Judge Irfan Naseem Tarar. The Chief Justice asked him to ‘exercise caution’ in this matter and observed that institutions should not be blamed for the acts of individuals. Needless to remind that the SC claims that it would not rest unless the missing persons were recovered and those responsible punished proved hollow, as it chose to support the erring institution over and above the demands of justice. Apparently when the so-called honour of institutions is at stake the rights of people become meaningless. As long as ‘exercising caution’ remains the keystone and watchword of justice where erring institutions’ violations of human rights are concerned, the Baloch and Sindhis will continue to be meted out the justice that was Trayvon Martin and Emmett Louis Till’s fate.

The establishment always ‘exercises caution’ in its dealings with the Haqqani group, the Quetta Shura, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Musala Diffa Tanzeem and outfits it uses as strategic assets for acquiring strategic depth in Afghanistan, against the nationalists or for keeping India on its toes. The establishment rides roughshod over the Baloch in an attempt to subdue them to exploit their resources. Apparently since Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) came up with its July 6 Sindh’s independence demand, the ‘dirty war’ against Sindhi nationalists has intensified; two workers of JSMM, brothers Ali and Zafar Noonari, have gone missing.

The Baloch have been going missing since the early 1970s but the dirty war against them has intensified since 2005 and not a single perpetrator has even been named. The systematic dirty war being conducted by the army, the Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies has perturbed neither the judiciary nor the public at large. Never has any institution here asked the perpetrators to ‘exercise caution’ or ventured to question their atrocities. Probably when there is so much at stake for the establishment and rulers in the form of economic gain from resources, people become expendable, the Baloch being deemed expendable in this case. All that the judiciary and the media have done so far is to plod along proving that the need of maintaining the status quo far outweighs their need for questioning atrocities, first against Bengalis and now the Baloch. A commission on missing persons exists and a task force too is in the offing but then Pakistan is the notorious Bermuda Triangle for the same.


July 28, 2013   No Comments

Why blame the Rangers for the taxi driver’s death?

By Saeed Ur Rehman in The Express Tribune, July 28

The writer is a human rights activist and a blogger

Law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan are usually blamed for corruption and for being in cahoots with criminals, however, recently, the elite contingent of Pakistani law enforcement — usually called in when the security situation becomes too troublesome to handle for basic level officers — has come under fire due to allegations of extrajudicial killings and for sporting a general ‘hair-trigger’ attitude.

Rangers first drew media attention when a personnel opened fire on an unarmed young man in Karachi. The most recent controversial episode has Rangers supposedly shooting an innocent taxi driver. What most of us fail to recognise is that Rangers personnel in Pakistan are not provided with the necessary equipment to carry out their assigned duties. They do not have heavy body armour, ballistic shields, entry tools, armoured vehicles, advanced night vision optics or motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages and hostage-takers. In fact, they are overworked and under-equipped individuals, who do the best they can with the tools that they have.

Let’s take the Sarfaraz Shah shooting incident and focus on the fact that even in the news footage — which has been touted as concrete proof of Rangers personnel’s alleged misconduct — the 19-year-old man from Karachi is seen grappling with the Rangers’ personnel. Had the Ranger been equipped with a simple stun gun, he would have probably only stunned the boy, but unfortunately, the only deterrent that the Ranger had was his gun, which he put to use.

In the most recent event that stirred up controversy — the killing of a taxi driver, Murad, by Rangers personnel — the accused have been remanded in police custody. Murad was supposedly ‘gunned down’ by the ‘villainous’ security personnel for no apparent reason. But the taxi driver was told to stop; he was given time to stop and still he paid no heed. This behaviour is certainly not expected of an ordinary taxi driver.

No one wants a fast-moving vehicle hurtling towards them. One tries to defend himself in any way possible and at the time, the Ranger’s mind probably told him the fastest way to defend himself was to shoot. This tragedy was played on the news repeatedly, hinting that Rangers, in fact, the bane of Pakistani crime fighters. However, this incident could easily have been prevented had the Rangers been given the appropriate equipment to perform their duties. Maybe some mobile barriers and long-range light sources could have saved the day. Had the Rangers been stationed in a secure post made of blast-resistant material, perhaps their actions would have been less drastic. From some of the reports given to the investigating authorities, it has emerged that not even a clearly illuminated ‘stop’ sign was present at the post.

The real question here is this — why doesn’t the taxpayers’ money go into providing our law-enforcement agencies with basic equipment? If we don’t provide them with the necessary equipment, they should really not be blamed every time such an incident takes place.http://tribune.com.pk/story/582774/why-blame-the-rangers-for-the-taxi-drivers-death/

Pakistan: the ideological paradox : by Raja Qaiser Ahmed in daily times, july 28

The writer is a lecturer of International Relations at Fatima Jinnah Women University and teaches Politics of Pakistan at NUST Business School

Pakistan is a confounding case study of the interplay of religion and politics. The nexus of religion with politics in a country with a secular framework of rule is surprising in many ways. Though constitutional engineering has been attempted time and again to make this nexus congenial, viable and adaptable, yet a rift and identity conflict still prevails and Pakistan seems locked on the horns of dilemma, between a wave of orthodoxy and escalating voices of modernity. The most astonishing fact in this regard is the long term countenance of dissidents upon these orthodox outfits and a tacit alliance that hangs on always, and which has rendered tremendous acceptance and legitimacy to these nonpolitical state actors in the statecraft where negotiations and bargaining are always underway.

These two processes work simultaneously, although seemingly independent but depending and complementing each other on many occasions. This befuddling enigma cannot be comprehended without cogitating over its historical roots. Three broad factors have resulted in the emergence of this strange and tacit alliance, which are a policy of militarisation, failure of centralised democracy and lack of circumspect leadership.

The conundrum lies at the time of inception and before that during the liberation struggle for Pakistan. The slogan of religion was raised by the educated elite of the freedom movement, which in reality had nothing to do with religion. It was political manoeuvring to get the maximum support of the masses for the cause of a separate state. Having achieved this objective, the slogan of Islamic sharia and system turned nugatory for the leadership. Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan always stirs wrangles and altercation. A school of thought is of the firm belief that he had a vision of an Islamic state while others dispute it with the argument that he had a dream of a modern day republic. What was Jinnah’s original outlook is not of much use here but one thing is sure that it was out and out instrumental use of religion that dominated the discourse before and even after the partition.

In the post-independent period the migrated elite from India was standing with no constituencies in the newly independent Pakistan. Sloganeering was done in the name of religion during the freedom movement, ergo naturally the state was under pressure to accommodate Islam and placate the masses. Though the movement for a separate homeland in the name of religion was bitterly opposed by the religious clergy of that time, many of them migrated to Pakistan later on.

Here appeared a trio of predicaments that included reluctance of incumbent governments in drafting the constitution, escalating voices for the imposition of Sharia and political unrest at large after the death of Jinnah. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 was nothing but a political move on the part of the leadership to console the masses that the government was up for the imposition of an Islamic system. In fact, it was the confused leadership of that time who was western educated, ready to go ahead with a western style of governance but was caught within its own pledges that it made to the masses to motivate them during the freedom movement.

Having achieved independence, now they were reluctant regarding any religion-based legislation. Delaying tactics were resorted to to divert the attention of the masses. The draft of the constitution was still in the process of being made. Anti-Ahmedi riots broke out in 1954. This was the first successful show of the non-elected Islamic militancy in Pakistan, which also gave a way out to the political elite that started channellising these politically motivated vociferous religious forces to use them as the state’s raison d’tre.

The policy of militarisation that followed from very early days made the military a giant in the polity. Stints of army rule were the continuation of the policy of militarisation in a weakly institutionalised country, which made it a mammoth actor that suppressed and constrained democratic rule and norms in Pakistan. An illegitimate way of entering into the power corridors and the intention of seeking popular acceptability made religious forces indispensable for military rulers and resulted in the emergence of a symbiotic relationship between the two. To further sustain and consolidate its position, the army projected animosity with the archrival India; here religious forces also came to the rescue as a strategic asset. This eventually carved an alternate spectrum of power, acceptance and legitimacy for those forces, making them a preponderant actor in the state’s sphere where they always have tremendous influence.

The collapsing state of federated democracy in Pakistan has endowed a protean ability to these state-sponsored political actors of getting adjusted with any form of rule, and subsequently carrying out their obscure agenda of Islamisation, propped up by street mobilisation and militancy. This policy was aided by praetorian rule and fuelled by Ziaism, which has not only pulverised the societal basis but also wedded it with intolerance, extremism, pseudo-Islamic legislation that not only deteriorated the state but placed it on tenterhooks.

The clouds of gusty radicalisation are proving a bleak proposition for the future. How can this manipulation in the name of religion be called off when these actors have support, popular acceptance, and a discourse that is grounded in the basis of the state’s polity? Refuting their acceptance and existence would be deemed imprudent and inane because they have a very forceful presence with their demagogy and agitative fracas. The argument of bringing them into the contours of national politics is also inconsequential where these forces always contest elections and have significant vote banks.

Substantive democracy and constitutional rule is the only way out and that needs to be strengthened. It could dwindle the army’s hegemonistic influence in the state, which as a result will weaken the alternate power sphere of these forces where these actors assert themselves apart from the constitution. The state must abandon the policy of tacit backing for these forces. They must be welcomed in the national political spectrum if they can get the support of the masses, which is the true spirit of representative democracy. The deliverance of democracy will shrink the power base for them from where they manoeuvre and manipulate for their real interests, and could fix the perplexing issue of the religio-politico nexus that lies at the heart of Pakistan’s quandaries since its provenance. www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\07\28\story_28-7-2013_pg3_6

July 28, 2013   No Comments

Clarity is still missing: by Muhammad Amir Rana in Dawn, July 28

THE new government is in search of a counterterrorism policy. Meanwhile, militants that are evidently clear about their agendas and goals are busy expanding the range of their targets and diversifying their tactics.

The recent attacks on foreign mountaineers in Diamer and a university bus of women in Quetta are just two among many examples of the militants’ changing targets and attack tactics. These and other similar attacks challenge our law-enforcement agencies’ vigilance and response mechanism; they have failed to understand the exact nature and strength of the militant groups.

The protracted confusion about the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants and their acts that exists in Pakistan at the level of the state and society not only emboldens the militants but also provides them the space to expand and strengthen their operational infrastructure and capabilities and sharpen their destructive edge.

Those who are aware of Pakistani militants’ ideology and views about the country’s social order, political system and the Constitution find it extremely hard to find a reason why the militants would stop launching attacks. The years-long spree of militant attacks in Pakistan that has intensified over time offers concrete evidence to support this fact. The attacks also indicate that the militants think ahead of Pakistan’s security agencies and law-enforcement agencies.

A diachronic comparison of the militants’ targets and attack tactics reveals that until 2008, groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban were using sophisticated techniques that were used by insurgents in Iraq. Such tactics were employed, among others, in three major terrorist attacks in 2008: the attack on the Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore and attacks on the Danish embassy and Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In 2009, they further enhanced their operational strategies and successfully imitated the Mumbai attacks in four major assaults here: the attack on GHQ in Rawalpindi, that on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, and two on the Manawan Police Training School in Lahore.

Also, 2009 was the year when militants started targeting particular cities through repeated strikes to increase the impact of the terror, a trend that continues to date. For instance, in 2009, they targeted Peshawar, in 2010 it was Lahore and in 2011-12 they focused on Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.

A major change noticed in the militants’ strategy in 2010 was the use of women in suicide attacks. While they have continued to do this, it has not become a popular trend. Cultural sensitivity could be one reason, but it also indicates that the militants have little female human resource available for the purpose.

In 2011 and 2012, extremists intensified sectarian-related attacks and increasingly resorted to targeted killings. Law enforcement agencies noticed that militants increasingly used the peripheries of cities, mainly recently developed settlements, as hideouts. Previously, they considered it easier to hide in more populated areas. This trend was noticed in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The first half of this year reflected that militants’ international credentials are getting stronger. The news of the TTP’s engagement in Syria did not, indeed, surprise many as its links with some global jihadist groups are known to all. The attack on the foreign mountaineers also indicated that local extremist groups’ nexus with Al Qaeda had now been nurtured to the extent that they had started diversifying their targets in the international context.

Most often, militants use bogus identification and wear the uniforms of the security forces; this has become a major security concern. In the GHQ, Mehran and Kamra attacks the extremists wore army uniforms and used vehicles painted in the same manner as military vehicles. They used a similar tactic in transporting explosives as well.

On the whole, a strong sense of insecurity prevails in Balochistan, Fata, Karachi and most parts of KP. Fata has been a flashpoint of the TTP insurgency and terrorism since 2004. Successive governments have failed to evolve any approach, whether military, political, talks or reintegration, to address the issue.

Despite a continuing increase in the frequency and intensity of the attacks in the country and domestic and global pressures to counter the threat, the responses of security and political circles are still to be synchronised to build a counterterrorism policy. What does this delay yield except strengthening the militants and weakening the state responses?

The persistence of critical security issues and flaws in policy and coordination provided militants the opportunity to develop their nexus with criminal networks, which ultimately resulted in a rise in crime. Militants are now involved in abductions for ransom across Pakistan. Some reports also suggest that they are aiding criminals in their activities. With regard to the militant-criminal nexuses, Karachi, Balochistan, parts of Punjab, the tribal areas and even Islamabad have become critical areas.

The police force still needs to be equipped with new technologies and resources but utilising the resources available and allocated for the force is also a critical issue. In Islamabad, the police acquired two helicopters for aerial surveillance to counter terrorism and crime in 2012, but there were serious doubts if they would be able to use them effectively.

In the recent past, scanners worth billions of rupees were disposed of because of the reluctance to use technology and on account of incompetence of the police. It has been the same case with the elite police force, which is trained for specific targets, mostly dealing with terrorists or hardened criminals; its officials are instead made to perform functions that fail to utilise their specialised skills.

Terrorists are using diverse attack tactics to hit targets across Pakistan but the state and society are still unclear about where to start. A segment of the intelligentsia and the media is also promoting confusion while missing different socio-political and religious trends pertaining to terrorism.

The clarity that is required to address the issue is still missing and it seems that the new government has also failed to assess the nature of the threat. The government should realise that confusion on its part will be conceived as a victory by the militants.


July 28, 2013   No Comments