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Rule of law is a farce: by Iftikhar Ahmad in Daily Times, Sept 11, 2017

The writer is a barrister practicing law in London and Pakistan
There is often a confusion that manifests when people fail to distinguish between notions of the rule of law and law and order. Speaking of the rule of law, we are not concerned with matters of adherence, but rather the equality of all in the eyes of the law itself.

Constitutional democracy pivots around the rule of law. It requires that the state only subjects its citizens to publicly promulgated laws and subordinate legislation. The legislative function of the state must be separated from the judicial function and no one, as a matter of policy, may remain above the law. Modern constitutionalism stems from three features: limiting the powers of the government, strict adherence of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights.

We regularly proclaim our abhorrence towards dictatorial and authoritarian rule, harping on about the virtues of constitutional democracy, and yet many conveniently omit to attach due weight to the rule of law itself. In fact, our hapless and ignorant masses have not even been made aware of that fact that a demand for the rule of law is in fact a demand for the enforcement of fundamental rights. Our colonial past has hindered us as much as any other factor. The departure of the colonialist resulted in the passing of the baton of supremacy into the hands of our own landed aristocracy and establishment. One would have thought that the perniciousness of military rule and a longing for constitutional democracy would inevitably prop up the rule of law, but the converse has happened. Our political leaders have morphed into demigods. It is almost inconceivable that they could do any wrong and they have hardly ever considered the red lines of the law as a barrier to the continuing exercise of bloated, excessive power, all pumped up by the machine of political popularity.

The power of our military, unprecedented in any constitutional democracy, has cast a shadow over the very fabric of our society, particularly with its targeted influence in civil affairs. Despite the brazen hostility between Gen Musharraf and Ch Iftikhar and their questionable use of constitutional powers, both Gen Musharraf and Ch Iftikhar’s son Arsalan remained unruffled by the trials and accountability that ensued.

Notwithstanding the virtues of the 18th amendment, certain features have created a collusive system that links the leader of the house with the leader of the opposition, in a gentleman’s agreement that they may flout the law through manipulated appointments of the election commission and NAB. You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours!

Whether it is the arrest and trial of Dr Asim, Sharjeel Memon or other close associates of Asif Zardari, the whole process appears to be a mere sham. Even the Panama Leaks case seems to have dissolved into thin air after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif. Ironically, the London flats that are under graft investigation have now become a safe haven for the conveniently exiled family of the Sharifs. The NAB references may meet the same fate as that of the Liaqat Bagh firing cases against Mustafa Khar.

Anecdotal accounts of the daily trampling of the rule of law are unending. The saddest part is the lip service provided by the champions of the human rights and political correctness. For them, apparently, their entire scope of human rights campaigning begins and ends around issues of women’s rights (a legitimate cause, per se) and a hatred of the army. Raising voices and taking concrete actions against routine violations of the rule of law doesn’t seem to be a matter of priority in Pakistan. Perhaps people don’t see any nexus between the fundamental rights and the breach of the rule of law.

The political use of INTERPOL’s assistance and the abuse of the ECL laws make mockery of the rule of law. After the removal of her name from the ECL, the circulation of Ayan Ali’s iconic photo, where she sat in the first class cabin of Emirates Airlines – practically showing two fingers to all, is essentially the truest comment on our judicial system and the fragility of rule of law. This even resulted in the tragic assassination of the investigating officer in Ali’s money-laundering case.

In the absence of the rule of law, contemporary constitutional democracy is an impossibility. Beyond this essential dilemma, however, it is still not completely clear what precise characteristics the rule of law must possess to help sustain constitutional democracy and what specific role it must assume to find its place as an essential ingredient of equitable way of life.

If in our society the rule of law loses all meaning and the current status quo becomes the norm, the overriding goal of developing just governance and delivering a fair future for our people will remain, quite simply, yet another Pakistani pipe dream. http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/11-Sep-17/rule-of-law-is-a-farce

September 11, 2017   No Comments

The politics of numbers: by Mushtaq Rajpar in the News, Sept 11, 2017

Census results are like a political bombshell in the country. The exercise is surrounded with controversies, with the reliability of the data questionable and many citing first-hand experiences of not having been counted.

Unlike in many other countries where the census is just seen as statistical data to be used for economic planning and highlighting the overall socio-economic profile of the country, in Pakistan it becomes a crucial issue because the country’s financial revenues are distributed on the basis of population, and representation in the National Assembly is also based on it. In many federal structures in other parts of the world, resources are not largely distributed on the basis of population.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has already announced its plan to reconstitute National Assembly seats under the new census data, which will result in a reduction of Punjab’s share in the National Assembly and increase Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan’s shares.

Pakistan’s smaller provinces, Sindh and Balochistan, were suspicious of the census result mainly because of the presence of Afghan refugees; both provinces did not want them to be counted in their population due to fear of being turned into a minority in their own historic homelands. In Balochistan, PkMAP was in favour of including Afghan refugees as citizens; and many of the refugees already have their national identity cards in Quetta and other Pakhtun dominated areas of Balochistan.

The preliminary census results, as presented in the Council of Common Interests (CCI), were approved all four provinces and neither Sindh nor Balochistan raised any objections to the results in the meeting. The CCI is the constitutional forum to approve or disapprove census results. In the past, due to disagreements over census results, at least three such census exercises have been rejected, but this time all four chiefs seemed to have agreed to the census results.

With the Census 2017 results, Pakistan has become a nation of 207.7 million with a 57 percent increase in population since the last census was held. The unacceptable population growth rate issue is not under debate; no one wants to discuss and understand it. For the mainstream media it is not even issue to be debated. The question is: how long will we continue to tolerate this trend in growth?

The government kept telling us that the population growth rate was at 1.9 percent. The census results have exposed the complete policy failure, since the growth rate is 2.4 percent. There are not many countries where this kind of trend is seen in contemporary times (India’s population growth rate is 1.2 percent). Billions of rupees were spent on population control programmes, and NGOs and international bodies were involved. What happened? The people responsible for running these programmes for years should be penalised for their utter failure. If the national and provincial governments fail to take notice of this issue, the Supreme Court needs to. Do we even remember how much USAID and other foreign donors spent on these population control programmes?

Sindh’s population as a ratio of the total has not increased. Many in Sindh have been relieved to see this as they had feared that Sindhi speakers could be turned into a minority in their own province. Punjab has lost 2.7 population as their share in the country’s total population from 55.6 percent to 52.9 percent. Punjab has not lost this much share in the past six census exercises held in the country. Punjab’s population, in absolute terms, has gone up from 70 million to 110 million with a 2.13 population growth in province. Experts cite Afghan refugees as a key factor in the increase of KP’s population share in the country as its share increased by 1.3 percent.

For some, Afghan settlements in Balochistan seem to be part of a plan to turn Baloch natives into a minority. Balochistan’s share in the country’s population has risen by one percent, which is unprecedented. Experts believe Quetta and Peshawar’s population has doubled in the past 19 years but Karachi and Lahore’s did not.

Sindhi nationalists, the MQM, and some members of the ruling PPP in Sindh have rejected the census results, terming them as doctored so as to deny them increased representation and share in the National Assembly and fiscal resources. However, some Sindh-based experts reject these concerns as unfounded and without any solid evidence.

Karachi’s population grew by 6.7 million in the past 19 years, but the ratio remained the same as was seen in 1998. The Afghan refugees living in Karachi are part of the data, except those living in a few camps. Since the 1998 census, Karachi’s population remained one third of Sindh’s total population, and the status quo has continued in the latest census. The 1990s’ census reflected the massive influx of the Pakhtun population in the city. But now the population of Quetta and Peshawar has doubled, and Punjab’s Faisalabad has reached 2.1 million from 0.8 million. So, urbanisation in other parts of the country has reduced the pressure on Karachi.

Contrary to the widely held perception and some projections that Karachi’s population would be over 20 million, its ratio vis-a-vis the rest of the province remained unchanged. This could be due to factors such as the law and order situation, ethnic killings, strikes, political violence, political threats from dominant groups etc. The census result also shows that Karachi has its charm for people of other provinces to come to the city for employment. And Karachi’s affluent population has migrated to Islamabad and abroad for work and due to security concerns in the city. Sindhi speakers from other districts of the province have also moved to Karachi in large numbers. The law-and-order situation in the northern parts of Sindh has also pushed the middle class and the business community to move to the city for better education and business opportunities.

Sindh has become Pakistan’s largest urbanised province with 52 percent people now living in urban areas. Over 60 union councils in various districts have been converted into town committees thus qualifying the definition of urban population. This change could help reduce the urban-rural divide as cities are becoming more diverse and inclusive.

More details about the census results are yet to be disclosed; they too will require analysis and could possibly generate new tensions.

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Changed numbers: edit in the News, September 11, 2017

The initial census data released by the Pakistan Board of Statistics already shows how much the country has changed since the last census in 1998. From a substantial increase in the total population to changes in the provincial proportions of the population to continued urbanisation, Pakistan is a very different country from what it was two decades ago. The problem now is to reflect this changed country in next year’s general elections. The new election reforms, recently passed by the National Assembly, mandate that the Election Commission of Pakistan carry out a fresh delimitation of constituencies after every census. The final census report, however, will not be completed till April 2018 and the ECP requires at least eight months to carry out the entire process of delimitation. The federal government and Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee have agreed to a proposal allowing the ECP to use provisional census data. Under the circumstances, this may be the only workable compromise. At the least, the proportion of seats in the National Assembly allocated to each province can be amended to reflect the findings of the new survey. Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Fata and the Islamabad Capital Territory should all get more seats at the expense of Punjab, the only province whose share of the total population has decreased in the last 19 years.

There is still much the ECP will not be able to do. There isn’t enough time to do a district-level delimitation, which by law must be completed four months before the elections. Given that elections are expected to be held in late July next year, and the PBS doesn’t expect to complete its work till April, there is little that can be done about this. What the government should do is ensure as much census data as is available is made available to the ECP as soon as possible and then allow the full data to be used for the elections in 2023 for another delimitation of constituencies. The government should also give the ECP to increase the total number of seats in both the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies. The current numbers are based on the 1998 census and our population has increased by 57 per cent since then. For assembly members to effectively serve their constituents, there needs to be a large increase in the size of the assemblies. The Ministry of Law is proposing an amendment to give the ECP this authority and it should be done as soon as possible. The government and the ECP have only a few months to complete the gargantuan task of preparing for the elections and time is running out. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/229091-Changed-numbers

September 11, 2017   No Comments

BMP calls for recovery of missing persons

report in Dawn, September 11th, 2017
QUETTA: The chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), Nasrullah Baloch, on Sunday called upon the government to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the United Nation’s working group for the recovery of missing persons.

Speaking at a press conference along with VFBMP vice chairman Mama Abdul Qadeer Baloch at the years-long hunger camp for the recovery of missing persons outside the press club, he called upon human rights organisations to establish a joint force on the issue of missing persons.

Nasrullah Baloch appealed to the federal and Balochistan governments to pay attention to the issue of hundreds of missing political activists. Besides, he appealed to the Supreme Court to hear cases of missing persons at least once a month.

“We have organised historical long march from Quetta to Karachi and Islamabad on the missing persons’ issue,” Nasrullah Baloch said.

He said that despite the years-long struggle the issue of missing persons had not been resolved. Hundreds of families whose dear ones had been missing for years were still waiting to know about their whereabouts, he said, adding it was a pity that successive federal and provincial governments had been continuously ignoring this humanitarian issue.

The VFBMP chairman said that with the consent of affected families 41 cases of missing persons had been sent to the Senate’s Committee on Human Rights. Copies of these cases have also been sent to the National Commission for Human Rights and Senator Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, member of the Senate committee.

He said despite repeated assurances given by officials and human rights organisations no progress had been made for the recovery of missing persons. https://www.dawn.com/news/1356903/vbmp-calls-for-recovery-of-missing-persons

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Number of Balochi-speaking people in Balochistan falls

by Mubarak Zeb Khan in Dawn, September 11th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Balochi-spea­king population appears to have shrunk marginally in 21 districts of Balochistan over a period of 19 years, whereas no growth in population has been recorded in the nine Pashtun-majority districts.

According to the census data, the overall average growth in Balochistan was recorded at a much higher rate of 3.37 per cent compared to the national average of 2.4pc. The highest growth in population — 4.91pc — was recorded in the federal capital.

The government of Balochistan is yet to release an official reaction to the census results announced on Aug 25. There has been no word from the nationalists either.
Infographic by Ramsha Jahangir

According to the census results, the Baloch population has shrunk from 61pc to 55.6pc in the province over a period of 19 years in 21 districts where the Baloch form a majority. However, the total number of Baloch people has increased from 4 million in 1998 to 6.86m in 2017. The count does not include the population of two districts — Quetta and Sibi — where people of various ethnicities, including Baloch and Pashtun also reside.

According to the data gathered, Quetta now houses 2.275m people, or 18.4pc of the total population of Balochistan. The figure has risen dramatically since the last census in 1998, according to which Quetta had a population of 773,936 people, or 11.78pc of the total population of the province. This is a clear indicator that the growth is far more visible in the capital district compared to other districts of the province.

Sadique Balooch, chief editor of Quetta-based Balochistan Express, told Dawn that part of the reason for a decrease in the Baloch population of various districts was migration to other provinces and Afghanistan because of ongoing conflict in certain areas. He added that most of the Baloch residing in conflict-ridden areas had migrated to Punjab, Sindh and Quetta.

Mr Balooch said among the factors of growth of Quetta district’s population was the influx of Afghans as well as Baloch people from conflict areas. The editor said he was not aware of why there had been no growth in the Pashtun population of Pashtun-majority districts. He added that perhaps it was because they lived in a few areas.

The population of the nine districts, where the Pashtu-speaking population is in majority, accounts for 26pc of the total Balochistan population. This is a slight fall from 26.6pc over a period of 19 years.

The Pashtun-majority districts are Killa Abdullah, Pishin, Harnai, Ziarat, Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Musakhel, Sherani and Zhob. The total number of people living in these districts was reported to be 3.2m in 2017, which had gone up from 1.74m reported in 1998.

Sibi district also houses people from various ethnicities and accounts for 1.09pc of the total population of Balochistan in 2017, compared to 1.5pc in 1998.

The total population of Balochistan has increased from 6.565m to 12.35m over 19 years.

A senior officer of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics told Dawn that the impact of Afghan refugees was more visible in three districts — Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin. He said internal migration from Dera Bugti, Sui, etc to Quetta was another reason.

However, he said that the Afghans and others would not be included in the total count once the data was finalised. “We will be in a position to show the exact data on ethnicities once it was finalised,” the officer said.

In the Pashtun districts, the highest growth rate in population was recorded at Killa Abdullah (3.97pc), while the lowest population growth rate was recorded at Musakhel district (1.16pc).

The growth pattern of other districts was: 3.58pc in Pishin, 1.24pc in Harnai, 3.67pc in Ziarat, 3.05pc in Killa Saifullah, 2.46pc in Loralai, 3.35pc in Sherani and 2.52pc in Zhob.

The average population growth in Quetta district was recorded at 5.83pc, whereas it was 1.41pc in Sibi district.

Among the Baloch-majority districts, the highest growth in population was recorded at 4.23pc in Kech district (Turbat), followed by 4.13pc in Chagai and 4.09pc in Kohlu. The lowest growth in population was recorded in Awaran district at 0.15pc and Kachhi district at 0.91pc.

The average growth rates of population in other Baloch districts are as follows: 2.93pc in Kalat, 2.54pc in Kharan, 3.49pc in Khuzdar, 3.24pc in Lasbela, 3.04pc in Mastung, 2.50pc in Washuk, 1.86pc in Gwadar, 1.60pc in Panjgur, 3.02pc in Jaffarabad, 1.62pc in Jhal Magsi, 3.69pc in Nasirabad, 1.85pc in Sohbatpur, 3.21pc in Nushki, 1.52pc in Lehri and 2.69pc in Barkhan.https://www.dawn.com/news/1356899/number-of-balochi-speaking-people-in-balochistan-falls

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Will draconian press law go ahead?: edit in Dawn, September 11th, 2017

IT is shocking and must not be allowed to become law. The Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, a draft of which has become public, is a sinister law that regards the press and the public’s right to information as threats to the state. Although the Press Council of Pakistan has said that no “repressive laws” were being prepared, the draft is said to be have been under discussion by its members. If the inconceivable is permitted to come into existence, the Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority will abolish any semblance of press freedom in the country, reducing the media and the public that relies on it for information to virtual dependence on state propaganda and official, biased versions of news, information, analysis and opinion. Lest that appear to be hyperbole, some of the measures in the draft ordinance should be considered. The granting of publishing licences that will need to be renewed annually would effectively give the state the power to kill off publications it does not approve of. The possibility of jail terms for journalists and publishers and raids on the offices of publications deemed to violate the authority’s rules and edicts is nakedly coercive. Stacking the new authority with two-thirds of members from outside the media and granting the state the power to select the non-media members is akin to imposing state control. Perhaps most damningly, the utter secrecy in which the proposed law has been drafted speaks to the malicious intent of those behind the move.

What is truly dispiriting is that the law has been drafted on the watch of a democratically elected government, nearly a decade since the transition to democracy began and which was meant to deliver genuine democratic progress. The PPMRA draft ordinance, instead, hearkens back to the darkest days of military rule, going so far back as to evoke memories of Gen Ayub Khan’s Press and Publication Ordinance, 1960. Certainly, while media freedom can and should never be taken for granted, the media and the public have had a legitimate expectation that after the depths of the dictatorship of Gen Zia, a return to the darkest days of media censorship and control of the public would not be so blithely championed by the state itself. The government has failed in its democratic duty by allowing the PPMRA draft to even come into existence. It can now dispel doubts about its anti-press, anti-democratic intentions by publicly renouncing the possibility of introducing a new press law. The existing regulatory framework is durable and reasonable and there is no need for wholesale change. Hopefully, the government is moving towards rectifying its mistake: the information minister has spoken of an inquiry into the drafting of the ordinance.

This newspaper has vigorously defended media freedom as well as argued for a responsible media. The public is served best only by a combination of a media free from state coercion and one that exercises its freedom in the public interest. Where media abuses are discernible, this newspaper has been forthright in its criticism and urged more responsible journalism. But there can be no doubt that the proposed law is sweeping in scope and malicious in intent. The media must unite to oppose the PPMRA Ordinance if the idea is not dropped.https://www.dawn.com/news/1356913/will-draconian-press-law-go-ahead

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Govt proposes law to gag print media: report in The Express Tribune, Sept 11, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government has prepared a draft law to control media and impose more restrictions on the freedom of press. The speed with which the law is being prepared has sent alarm bells ringing in the journalist community, including the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE). The two representative bodies have been accusing the government of not taking them into confidence.

The government is likely to enact the law through an ordinance or get it passed through parliament. However, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Karachi Union of Journalists have rejected the planned piece of legislation.

The two organisations warned the government if it tried to get the draft law passed then journalists would hold protest demonstrations, stage sit-ins and fast unto death.

There are reports that this important piece of legislation that would directly impact newspapers and the print media could be presented during the Press Council’s meeting to be held on Monday. The legislation would be called the Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority (PPMRA) Ordinance 2017.

In the proposed law, it was suggested to disband the Press Council. The forum is being used to hear complaints lodged by the journalist community. It would be replaced with the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority. Its jurisdiction will span all over the country.

Although the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority has been facing difficulties in enforcing its writ over TV channels and FM radios, the government has decided to enact Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority to control print media which it would use whenever necessary.

According to the proposed measures, the government may suspend publication for 16 days, close offices, impose Rs1 million fine and order imprisonment of up to six months.

Instead of issuing them declarations, newspapers will be given publication licences which would be renewed each year. For this the decision of the authority, to be composed of a chairman and 12 members, would be deemed final.

Of the 12 members, four would come from the journalist community while the rest would be nominated by the government.

The authority would nominate a registrar that would exercise powers, including annulment of the declaration of a newspaper, or suspend it. In addition, other stringent measures proposed in the law include inspection of the press and newspaper offices.

The proposed ordinance after its likely approval by the Press Council next week would be presented in parliament and become law after the president’s assent.

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Hujaj complain about facing hardships: by Muhammad Anis in the News, Sept 11, 2017

Islamabad: Majority of Pakistani pilgrims faced great hardships and had to walk on foot miles during days of Haj for not getting train tickets.

The pilgrims were returned 250 Riyals but they were not happy with the situation. “Refunded amount cannot be alternate to the problems which I with my family members faced,” Khalid Bashir, who reached Islamabad on Friday said.

He said they had to walk 20 to 25 kilometres each day during given days. He said that only a day before leaving for Mina, they were told that tickets of train plying between Arafat, Muzdalifa and Jumrat were not available.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousuf who returned home on Sunday while talking to media also admitted pilgrims from South Asia including those from Pakistan did not get the facilities which they were promised. However, he said provision of food and transportation was responsibility of Saudi authorities. “We took up issue with them and in return got amount equal to Rs450 million as refund.

The Haj Advisory Committee of Pakistan Government headed by the minister for religious affairs has declared the Haj operation as successful.

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Educated ‘terrorists’: by Lal Khan in Daily Times, Sept 11, 2017.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review
The involvement of highly educated youth from the middle class backgrounds in the recent terrorist attacks,particularly in Karachi,is not an extraordinary phenomenon. It has become more of a norm. There is a long list of high profile terrorists from petit bourgeois backgrounds.Sarosh Siddiqui was a postgraduate physics student who escaped last Monday’s attack and Ahsan Israr, who was killed, hada PhD degree and professor at a private engineering university.

The gang involved in the Safoora Carnage in 2015 comprised of highly qualified graduates from different varsities. Daniel Pearl’sassassin Omar Saeed Sheikh, Al Qaeda IT expert Naeem Noor Khan, Al Qaeda operative Dr Arshad Waheed, Time Square bombing planner Faisal Shehzad, Danish embassy bombing perpetrator Hamad Adil, and hijacker of a navy frigate at Karachi dockyard Owais Jakhrani also came froma middle class educated elite. Its also the relatively well-offsections of Muslim diaspora in the West from which the terrorists involved in the New York the WTC attacks to the Daesh recruits including young Muslim women in the peculiar Islamicist modernist fashion mostly come from.

In Pakistan the organised Islamic fanatical tendencies were fostered by the state at the behest of the US imperialists to launch a terrorist insurgency notoriously known as the ‘Dollar Jihad’ to overthrow the left-wing government in Afghanistan after the Saur Revolution of April 1978. Ever since then this menace has spread in the whole region and is ravaging societies as far beyond. Pakistan has been plagued for decades by this ‘home grown’ bestiality. Historically after the failure of the PPP government’sreforms to deliver in the 1970’s and ebbing of the 1968-69 revolutionary tide there was a certain increase of the reactionary tendencies that emerged from the resultant despair in society. This was more profoundly reflected in the educational institutions with violence and killings of the left student activists mainly by the IJT (Islamic Jamiat a Talaba), the student wing of the Jamaat a Islami.

The left students organisations had played the pioneering role in the revolutionary movement of the late 1960’s and had a strong basis in the campuses where these religious outfits were tiny sects in the colleges and universities. Ironically the CIA sponsored these religious outfits. But the student’s politics, elections and students unions at the time were based more on ideological basis and the role of the proxies of wealthy financers was limited. After the state power was grabbed by the reactionary Islamicist dictator Ziaul Haq the religious students’ organisations became more viler with their lethal vigilantes carrying out heinous brutalities against the left-wing students activists, unions and organisations. But such was the resistance and struggle of the left wing students against this vicious dictatorship that Zia banned the students’ elections and unions first in October 1979 and then again in 1983.

Ever since, despite several democratic regimes being in power Zia’s ban on students unions has not been lifted. The democratic rulers of different parties that came to power were as terrified of students’ movements as was the dictator Zia. The judiciary quashes any parliamentary move to the relief of these democratic rulers.

However crisis amongst students has worsened. Privatisation of educational institutions has made education an economic burden for the parents and an ordeal for the students. The semester systems, relentless examinations and the cutthroat competition in education have made studyingagonising. The class system of education, disparity in the syllabi and the lavish flaunting of wealth by students from the moneyed classes creates inferiority complexes amongst less well-off students. The consequential infuriation finds no ideological and political outlets. Such strains are bound to create greater revulsions.

This psychological condition drives, these mostly lower middle class students, into fundamentalist obsessions and terrorist tendencies, an escapist shortcut from a traumatisingsystem with ambitions of heroism without much heroic deeds, abscondingthis cumbersome life.There is only a veneer of piety and religiosity to camouflage this venturing into realm of crime and terror.

Religious sectarian organisations are there for the taking.Funded by the massive primitive capital of the black economy these sects have become toxic. They have penetrated the state, politics and society. The clergy has morphed into fabulously rich entrepreneur in all trades. The sectarian groupings have splintered violently into dozens of rival outfits escalating terrorist savagery in this harrowing contest for plunder.

Some are still sheltered by the powers that be for strategic interests. Other splintered groups have become Frankenstein monsters for the imperialists and the deep state. The Tehreek Taliban Pakistanis in the forefront. The al Qaeda and the so-called Punjabi Taliban emerged from Wahabi, Deobandi and Salafists fundamentalist groups.

The state’s response to these terrorist cellsfostering in the universities has been pathetic. After failing to comb the data of religious sectarian seminaries, state’s agencies are now planning to scrutinise students enrolled in the Karachi’s universities. It will only create more hardships for the ordinary and poor students who have no access to wealth and connections in state and politics. This is not an issue that can be solved through administrative means. It’s a socio economic issue of a sick society drenched in misery and cultural anguish. This fundamentalist terror is the distilled essence of a rotting system. It’s a cancer that has metastasised into every organ of thesocioeconomic system and its state.It’s only through a mass revolutionary insurrection that this cancer can be excised and the system transformed.http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/11-Sep-17/educated-terrorists

September 11, 2017   No Comments

Rise of extremism at NUML: by Tahir Malik in Daily Times, Sept 11th 2017

The revelations that students and teachers of Pakistani universities have been involved in incidents of terrorism occurring in Pakistan over the past few years have startled the nation. Whether it is the attack on MQM leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan, the terrorist incident in Safoora Goth, or the horrific murder of Mardan University student Mashal Khan, the involvement of university professors and students in these incidents is deeply disconcerting.

In any society, a university is like an island where students and teachers traverse milestones of knowledge through logic, argument, debate and scientific theories, irrespective of their linguistic identity, sectarian association or religious bias. Being an educationist associated with a public university, I acknowledge the fact that extremism is rising in our universities. There are restraints on thought and intellect. The quality of research is declining, and the university teachers are acquire higher education simply for the sake of getting promoted into the next grade. The Higher Education Commission is only concerned with increasing the quantity of PhDs and not their quality. These days, our universities look more like production factories rather than institutes for training and grooming the youth.

We are all responsible for this situation. Education has never been a priority for the government. For the past few decades, public educational institutions are no longer the source of education for the children of the local elite. They are educated in Pakistan in private institutions and then sent abroad for higher education. Therefore, the degradation of the public education sector in Pakistan is not their problem.

The lack of extra-curricular activities for the young students is pushing them towards extremism and intolerance. Our universities nowadays neither have literary activities nor dramatic clubs, neither music nor arts. Sports and other recreational activities are not encouraged either. Students are thought of merely as ATMs delivering sizeable fees.

Until 1980, student politics was rooted in different ideologies. Students had a positive outlook on the nation, country and society. However, certain student organisations were promoted on the basis of religion and language during the dictatorial regime of General Ziaul Haq. These student organisations were also used to promote the cause of Afghan jihad. Moreover, people associated with religious organisations were hired as faculty to promote conservatism and extremism among teachers in the universities. Osama Bin Laden’s religious guru, Abdullah Azzam, was a teacher at the International Islamic University (IIU), Islamabad. Ever since the days of General Ziaul Haq, the political leaders of a certain religious organisation have had representation in the board of the IIU. It was only recently that the IIU administration stopped the organisation of a seminar on campus highlighting incidents of extremism and violence.

If some of the university teachers are going to be sympathetic towards terrorist organisations like Daesh, promoting its ideology and expressing negative thoughts about the state, the country and the nation, then the security of such a state faces more internal than external dangers.

This alarming tendency is becoming manifest not secretly but out in the open. By way of example, one can read an article titled “Khilafataur Jamhooriyat: asr-e-hazir ke tanaazar mein” (Caliphate and Democracy: in the modern context) published in the June 2015 issue of the academic and research journal, Al-Baseera, published by the Islamic Studies department of National University of Modern Languages (NUML). The author Dr Hafiz Muhammad Khalid Shafi is associated with the Institute of Business Administration (IBA). He asserts that establishing caliphate is a bounden duty of all Muslims in the world from which there is no opting out nor any scope for dilly-dallying; that avoiding this duty is one of those great sins that really displease God. He even quotes Allama Iqbal in support of his argument.

About democracy, he says that the West takes it to mean that every citizen is free to make fun of religious traditions, and have sexual relations with [his] mother, sister or daughter. If a PhD professor has such irrational and hateful ideas about the West and democracy, then what would become of his students? The strange thing is that the editorial board of the journal thought it worth publishing. The time has come to review the books and curriculum in our universities. Our curriculum is not promoting nation-building, good citizenship, tolerance, patience, democracy, and the rule of the law and the Constitution. The foundations of Pakistan were laid at the Aligarh University. Today, the threats to its internal security, too, can be averted by promoting progressive ideas at its universities.http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/11-Sep-17/rise-of-extremism-at-numl

September 11, 2017   No Comments