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Wrong priorities of a 70-year-old nation

by Malik Shahrukh Zeeshan in The Nation blogs, Nov 14, 2017 at 8:41 PM
Seventy years is a big time for a nation to firmly stand and stabilise its economy , institutions, education sector, and industries. But in Pakistan , this extremely healthy dialogue has been always crushed by quite a few but very famous answers, on the large extent that includes (1) more than three decades of military rule in the country, (2) limbless democratic governments (3) terrorism that created havoc in the country, and to garnish the terrorism argument it is very important to talk about non-state-actors and the number of similar answers goes on. Every third person talks about these issues, and at the end, it concludes like this: “Whatever happens, only common man and society is suffering.”

Political parties are busy blaming each other to make them responsible for the current situation of Pakistan , and its image on global stage. Which is not really nice, to be very honest. I live in Europe and I can see this very well.

In all situations, only common man and the image of Pakistani society is suffering. Elite, bureaucracy , and politicians of Pakistan have nothing to do with suffering that passes through the life of common people. I often wonder why this is happening in Pakistan for a long time, infrastructure is not being developed on the decorous foundation, women empowerment is not there where it should be.

If Pakistan is a democratic country then why people don’t get what they deserve? This question somehow shattered me a lot. It took some time to reach the root of the mentioned problems. And here it is, the whole starts with a common person, then small social groups and finally society. We start from a vote by electing wrong people for a different reason, for example, people supporting Imran Khan for his personality, and that makes them blind and there is a lot thrill, music in his political profession that makes him a leader in the eyes of his (blind) followers, this plant of follower-ism has the capacity to ignore Imran Khan’s soft corner for Taliban .

On the other hand, it is useless to talk about PML-N , Jamaat-e-Islami and PPP , they never served but launched ridiculous financial schemes to buy the people to sustain their vote bank. And their followers prefer to act like blinds and deaf for their short-term interests. Development policies are extremely questionable, and those who raise the questions are being made questions, then people ask about them. The abduction of activists is becoming a norm because society has different priorities, society sees everything from social media not from their eyes as they’ve surrendered their eyes.

The youth can spend 10 hours on social networks for trolling, stalking others but they do not prefer to trigger discussions over important national issues. For the youth national issue is to defend Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif . They will never talk about how people are being radicalised in Pakistani society with every coming day, tolerance is almost gone and in the result, bullets are cheaper than books, and more often people easily get one, for no reason.

The problem lies in our priorities. Social media and internet is for trolling, the latter is being used a medium of connectivity for free long and video calls and source of entertainment only instead of a platform for the rich educational and literary content. All we need is to align our priorities with long-term national interests, that’s one of the very important strategies that must be adapted to regain what we’ve lost as a nation and individuals in the past, and finally one day this will position Pakistan on the place where, love, respect, humanity, and growth will become our identity.http://nation.com.pk/14-Nov-2017/wrong-priorities-of-a-70-year-old-nation

November 15, 2017   No Comments

The MMA revival: edit in Daily Times, Nov 15, 2017

The revival of religious parties’ alliance under the banner of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) is on the cards. Among the parties included in the alliance are the Jammat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), which have been at loggerheads on a range of issues for quite some time now.

The fact that the leaders of these and other parties have agreed to work towards forming an alliance out of nowhere indicates that there are some hidden factors at play.

The political developments of the past few days should be enough for all stakeholders to realise that political alliances made under pressure to fulfill temporary agendas do not get to see the light of the day. The fate of the merger of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement — Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) is a case in point. In a matter of days, leaders of both parties have gone back on their initial announcements. Both Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal are now claiming that the security establishment was behind the move. Therefore, it goes without saying that any external effort to bring together religious parties for the revival of MMA will similarly remain futile.

Even if there are no external factors at play in efforts to revive the MMA, it is important to note that religious parties were hardly anywhere to be seen in the last general elections or the recent by-elections, even in areas once considered their strongholds. Based on their recent performance, therefore, religious parties are unlikely to pose any serious challenge in the electoral arena.

Instead of reviving a formation that has little to its credit in terms of governance, the parties set to come together in the alliance will do well to do some introspection. When they had been established, these parties — at least the Jamiat-e-Ulema — served as platforms for debate on a range of issues of public concern. Their leaders did not shy away from studying and debating ideas from across the political spectrum. Now, these parties exist mostly as personality cults or as groups of men removed from the exigencies of everyday life in the country.

Whether or not the revival of the MMA will take place is yet to be seen. However, it is quite clear that the constituent parties are in no position to pose any serious electoral challenge. One cannot help but say that zero plus zero is after all equal to zero. https://dailytimes.com.pk/139867/the-mma-revival/

November 15, 2017   No Comments

Fazl rejects establishment’s role in MMA’s revival

by Kalbe Ali in Dawn, November 15th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday rejected the perception that the establishment is playing a role in efforts for the revival of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties formed before the 2002 general elections.

Speaking at the ‘meet the press’ programme of the National Press Club here, he said the parties which formed the MMA were of the opinion that its revival was the need of the hour.

The JUI-F chief said he had heard news circulating in the media that a ‘third force’ was making efforts for bringing various religious parties together on a single platform, like the alleged political engineering witnessed recently in some other parts of the country. But, he added, his party was making efforts for the MMA’s revival on the basis of ideology that it would help discourage sectarianism and religious extremism in the country.

Answering a question, Maulana Fazl defended the decision to include in the MMA the people who were once members of banned organisations or those whose names were included in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997. He said those who were facing cases would have to get their names cleared from courts to become part of the MMA. But those who were not involved in any case must be given a chance to become part of mainstream politics, he added.

The JUI-F chief termed terrorism in Pakistan a part of international conspiracy to weaken the country.

He said the MMA had played an important role in discouraging sectarianism and religious extremism in the country in the past. He expressed the hope that after its revival the alliance of religious parties would again work for resolving issues between different religious groups of the country.

He said the MMA’s revival would give a positive image of Muslims and Islamist parties around the world.

Maulana Fazl said that soon after the formal revival of the MMA his JUI-F would quit the federal government and the Jamaat-i-Islami the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said a committee had been formed to finalise recommendations for the MMA’s revival.

Answering a question, the JUI-F chief said the decision regarding the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should not be taken in haste. It was an important decision and should be given due consideration, he added.

The JUI-F chief, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary Special Committee on Kashmir, condemned Indian troops’ atrocities in held Kashmir.

He said the nexus between India and the US was creating instability in the region.

November 15, 2017   No Comments

‘Pakistan to face major water shortage in next eight years’

report in The News, Nov 15, 2017
Karachi: Without devising a national water policy, it would be quite baseless to envision Pakistan among top 10 largest economies of the world by 2047, the chairperson of the Hisaar Foundation said on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference regarding the third international water conference to be held next week, Zohair Ashir said the country would face a major water shortage in the next eight years.

Ashir pointed out that compared to India, which has a water carryover capacity of 200 days, Pakistan’s storage would last only 30 days. He said the imbalance found in water consumption, with 97 per cent used by the agricultural sector and only three per cent remaining for domestic use, was a big question mark over our farming practices.

“Not only this, it’s alarming that 16 million people don’t have access to safe water, and approximately 41,000 children lose their lives owing to similar reasons.” Ashir felt that the state needed to realise the gravity of the situation. He said it was saddening that the water crisis was not a priority.

“Countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have a national water policy, whereas Pakistan is still waiting to formulate one. However, we have come up with a policy of our own and launched it in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the hope that it would be taken up by the respective authorities.”

Answering a question regarding India’s position on the water dispute, he felt that Pakistan needed to address the problem from a human rights perspective instead of a security one. Turning to the issue of water management in Karachi, he said it was true that 33 per cent of the water was wasted in the city, adding that even if 20 per cent of it could be salvaged, many people would have access to the commodity.

He also stressed that the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) needed to be strengthened for better water management, saying that handing over those duties to the Rangers was not a viable solution.

“The budget allocated for the KWSB for water management needs to be revised so that the organisation may improve. The last treatment plant installed in the city is an old one, and now there is an urgent need to install newer ones.”

The two-day conference on November 21 and 22 would not only discuss these issues but the participating speakers who specialise in these matters would also provide solutions. The Hisaar Foundation aims to achieve solutions to water-based problems in the country and is a citizens’ movement.http://thenews.com.pk/print/244292-Pakistan-to-face-major-water-shortage-in-next-eight-years

November 15, 2017   No Comments

‘Water scarcity poses existential threat to Pakistan’: Report in Dawn, November 15th, 2017

KARACHI: Pakistan ne­e­ds a minimum storage capacity of 40 per cent of the estimated 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus River system throughout the year. But the country’s storage capacity is only seven per cent and is decreasing due to sediment build-up in reservoirs.

Today, Pakistan’s stored water supply is barely adequate to meet its needs; the country has only 30 days of reserves. By contrast, “carryover capacity” in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt.

These facts were shared at a press conference held on Tuesday by Hisaar Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, at the press club. The briefing was organised in order to announce details of the upcoming two-day conference scheduled to be held in Karachi on 21st.

Eminent international and national experts are expected to attend the event titled ‘The Future of Water’, focusing on four major themes — rights and entitlements, science and technology, climate change and water economy.

“The growing water scarcity poses an existential threat to Pakistan. Without water we cannot grow crops, build our industry and most importantly look after the health and well being of our people,” Aman-ul-Ha­que, the head of Engro Foundation, said.

The private sector along with civil society needed to work together with the government on a workable framework and come up with solutions to ensure a sustainable future, he added.

Zohair Ashir, the chairman of Hisaar Foundation, explained why it was important to hold the dialogue with representation from all major stakeholders — government, academia, private and business sector, media, donors, NGOs and citizens of Pakistan. www.dawn.com/news/1370500/water-scarcity-poses-existential-threat-to-pakistan

November 15, 2017   No Comments

Ex-FM ‘held back funds’ delaying dams

By Shahbaz Rana in the Express Tribune, Nov 15, 2017
ISLAMABAD: A former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Shakil Durrani, requested the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday to summon former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh over his dubious role in delaying execution of many critical water projects.

Durrani lifted the curtain on some of the events that happened during the PPP’s third tenure. He claimed in the PAC meeting that Dr Shaikh would pay heed to the then army chief General (retd) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani but would at times ignore advice by the then president Asif Ali Zardari.

During the meeting, politicians and bureaucrats blamed each other over uncontrolled expansion in federally funded projects that have now increased to over 1,000 schemes.

The politicians advised the bureaucrats to show guts and have courage to say ‘no’ to politically motivated projects. The bureaucrats in return asked the politicians to start trusting them.

The PAC meeting had been called to fix responsibility for delay in start of work on Naulong Dam even though tenders had been floated.

The PAC was also supposed to take a decision on the issue of placing Rs2 billion worth of funds in private bank accounts instead of spending it on the Naulong Dam construction. But it did not take up the matter despite summoning the former Wapda chairman.

Durrani headed Wadpa from September 2007 to September 2012 and the PPP was in power from early 2008 to early 2013. The PAC had summoned Durrani to explain his role on retaining Rs2 billion in a private bank instead of spending it on the Naulong Dam project.

When PAC Chairman Khursheed Shah asked who was responsible for a 10-year delay in the start of work on the dam, Durrani replied, “It would be better if the PAC called the former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.” Dr Shaikh was also the minister for planning during the PPP government.

Durrani said Naulong Dam project was one of the 10 favourite projects of former president Zardari who would call review meetings after every two months. During these meetings, Dr Shaikh used to say ‘please do not bother the president’ and assured provision of funds, he added.

“However, when I would meet Shaikh, he used to say that the country’s financial conditions were precarious and he could not provide funds for Naulong,” he added.

The Wapda had demanded an additional Rs2 billion from the Planning and Finance Ministry but it never got those funds. “I will not comment on inefficiencies of Shaikh, as you have the liberty to talk about anything as you are retired from service,” remarked Shah, the PAC chairman, who also belongs to the PPP.

Narrating another event, Durrani said the Mangla Dam raising project had been completed by Wapda and Rs2 billion were required to resettle the affected population, but the authority could not get the money from the former finance minister despite repeated requests and meetings.

“One day I met the then COAS at airport by chance and told him that the project was suffering because of delay in release of funds. He promised to help me, and Shaikh released Rs2 billion within three days,” he claimed.

Durrani had initially said a ‘non-political person’ helped him get funds but when the PAC asked to disclose the name, he said it was the then army chief. He said due to delay in filling the dam, the country suffered at least Rs15 billion loss per annum.

The PAC also discussed the perennial issue of inclusion of hundreds of more schemes in the portfolio of federally-funded Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) despite severe scarcity of resources.

The PML-N government has included 429 new schemes in the 2017-18 PSDP despite pendency of 593 ongoing schemes. It requires Rs5.6 trillion to complete work on all the schemes, which is more than federal government’s total annual budget for the year.

“The bureaucracy should have the courage to say ‘no’ to the political leadership,” said MNA Rohail Asghar of the PML-N. He said it was the bureaucracy that was not performing its duties, “but the parliament and the politicians are blamed”.

“I do not have fear of anything and always speak truth to the political leadership”, said Shoaib Siddiqui, federal Secretary for Planning and Development, who is responsible for finalising the PSDP.

“The political leadership should trust bureaucracy and that can help in better service delivery. If we do not perform, then transfer us,” added the planning secretary.

Siddiqui said the Planning Ministry conveys to the political leadership the available fiscal envelope and it is up to every ministry to decide their priorities.

Interestingly, the PML-N government has spent Rs94 billion on politically motivated parliamentarians’ schemes. However, apparently every official from the Planning Ministry to the Finance Ministry and the Cabinet Division has cooperated with the ruling party and never said ‘no’.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1558611/2-ex-fm-held-back-funds-delaying-dams/

November 15, 2017   No Comments

The engineering fiasco in Karachi: op-ed by Mosharraf Zaidi in The News, Nov 14, 2017

The writer is an analyst and commentator.
Last week’s drama between Farooq Sattar’s MQM-Pakistan and the PSP’s Mustafa Kamal has demonstrated that both the conflicts of Karachi and the orchestrated performances to fix them continue unabated.

Many across the nation have feigned disgust at the malleability of post-Altaf Hussain residual actors like Farooq Sattar, in the tragicomedy of Karachi’s Mohajir-dominated politics. Some were sickened that he would change his mind about leaving the party within an hour, others were nauseated by the appearance of his mother as a political stunt. All this umbrage in the same country where a three-time ex prime minister’s biggest problem is the fight for his political throne between his daughter and his brother, and where the ruling party of the same province that the MQM agonises is led by the widower and the orphan of a party leader assassinated a decade ago.

Sattar didn’t put up his mother or wife or child up to be elected – but merely asked her to underwrite his change of heart on national television. Karachi and its politics occupy a privileged position in the national discourse in Pakistan, and why shouldn’t it: Karachi is a spectacular disaster.

Edward Glaeser’s celebration of urban areas, ‘Triumph of the City’, is a treatise on the notion of cities as the petri dishes of progress and human ingenuity – where people come together, and generate epoch defining ideas, movements, products, and services. Reading Glaeser wax lyrical about the impact of cities in our past, and the potential they have for our future is exhilarating – until one imagines Karachi as the ultimate Pakistani city. “An open city can’t exist in a closed nation” Glaeser writes.

All of Pakistan seems to know what’s wrong with Karachi, but no one wants to quite admit the fundamental truth about the disastrous state of Karachi: it is but a reflection of the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the country whose crown jewel it is. Karachi is the convoluted and confused city that is being choked by the country it is a product of. Non-Karachiites don’t have to like this fact – but it would help to try to engage with it.

Constitutionally, Pakistan is supposed to conduct a census every decade. As per schedule, four censuses were conducted in the first four decades after Pakistan’s founding. In the 36 years since the last timely census, only two more have been conducted. The 1998 census was held 17 years after the preceding one – incidentally the same 17 years in which the MQM emerged and Mohajir identity assumed the political face of the once magical orator we now know as the intoxicated and imbalanced clown, Altaf Hussain.

The 2017 census, whose provisional results were released in August this year, was conducted 19 years after the previous one. Not surprisingly, of all the discontents of Pakistan’s census, the MQM and Karachiites at large seem to be the loudest among those claiming injury. Why?

There are many textbook reasons to conduct a census, but governance is not a theoretical or philosophical enterprise, it is much more mundane. The census informs two of the most critical mechanisms of the republic. First, the census is the basis for the allocation of constituencies in the National Assembly according to Article 51(5). Second, the census is the key basis for the allocation of funds through the National Finance Commission (NFC) that determines the share that goes to each of the provinces.

In short, the census helps answer the two most important decisions about our democracy: how elections are organised, and how we share money between the provinces. It doesn’t take rocket scientist levels of intellect to deduce that Pakistan’s consistent failure to conduct a census has most probably exacerbated the crisis of identity, legality and criminality in Karachi.

The geniuses in Islamabad and Rawalpindi (and indeed in all other places where Pakistanis wax lyrical about this crisis) are wont to frame the problems of Pakistan’s principal megacity as the manifestation of an ethnic problem, or a religious problem, or a problem of crime, extortion and kidnapping. Indeed, it may be all these things, but these problems are not unique to Karachi.

In Balochistan, ethnic identity fuels both an anti-state insurgency, and a simmering inter-ethnic divide that is the foundation of a permanent regime of coalition governments. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ethnic divisions between Pakhtuns and Hazarewals fuel a singularly distinct politics in different areas, where tensions sometimes fuel violence. In Sindh, the predatory elite’s cultural appropriation seems to be able to deliver political rents with the consistency of a Swiss watch. The exceptional stature of the angry and deprived Mohajir is a caricature that has cousins all the way up and down the Indus River, and on both sides of Attock. Why?

Despite the 18th Amendment, Pakistan is a highly centralised republic. Nothing captures this centralisation more acutely than the dominance of national news, at the expense of local narratives. From Khyber to Karachi, we hear the stories and watch the dramas that afflict E-7 in Islamabad, Gulberg in Lahore and Defence in Karachi. This hyper-centralisation is not the product of a specific conspiracy, but of the more general, but deliberate and incessant engineering of this country’s national discourse and its politics.

The key trigger point for the Mustafa Kamal vs Farooq Sattar split is Kamal’s refusal to entertain the agency of Mohajir identity: “We are all Pakistani”. Nothing does more to fuel the corrupt enterprises that use Pashto poetry, Sindhi ajraks, Baloch resentment and Mohajir tang-pajamas than this clumsy and stupid insistence on an identity straitjacket in which we, Pakistanis, are only allowed to feel resonance with our sub-cultures on fancy dress day at our children’s schools. For those that suckle at the teat of the wider idea and structure of the Pakistani republic – elites, almost-elites and non-elites – the notion of clinging to these sub-cultures and identities seems sinister. But the problem is not the inherent evil in someone insisting on being called Mohajir. The problem is the attribution of evil to those identity matrices to which we do not belong.

If you can’t understand the nuances and textures of people’s multiple and rich identities, can you be trusted to engineer political outcomes?

This, and not the minutiae of a Farooq Sattar or a Mustafa Kamal press conference, should be the focus of our national debate about not just Karachi, but all those parts of our country in which linguistic, sectarian, cultural or ethnic identity has been problematised.

Pakistan’s enemies have a 70-year track record of being smarter than us. At almost every turn in our remarkable national story, enemy actors have successfully outflanked our discomfort with diversity to our detriment. The removal of Altaf Hussain may represent the surgery required to rid our country of a cancer, but as we are learning now, it does not remove the problematised edifice of the disenchanted Mohajir. Farooq Sattar’s theatrics are not meant to win the hearts and minds of the Rangers’ high command or primetime talk show audiences around the country. They are a direct and intimate conversation with that disenchanted Mohajir. We are using the word Mohajir today because, in their infinite wisdom, Pakistan’s social and political engineers tried to erase this word.

Overusing the term ‘Mohajir’ in a discussion about Karachi does not just play to the benefit of Farooq Sattar (and Altaf Hussain in years prior). It also plays to the benefit of the rather dim-witted attempts to engineer ‘better’ political outcomes in Karachi. How? It helps absolve them of the responsibility for the overarching crisis of governance in Pakistan.

Military and intelligence interventions are central to both: the overarching crisis of governance the country faces and the crisis in Karachi. They will be solved not by more engineering, but by a permanent cessation of interventions that have neither the benefit of being particularly clever nor the sanction of constitutional or legal norms.

November 14, 2017   No Comments

Uncertain times ahead: by Manzar Bashir in The Nation blogs, Nov 13, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Another episode of the ‘minus Nawaz season two’ has been completed. The season one with PTI’s dharna a few years ago did not bring joy to the establishment. The second episode has brought some laurels for them. They have succeeded albeit for the moment.

As I pen this article, the honourable judges have proven at least one thing that the survival of this country lies in strengthening of the parliament alone. All other institutions including their own have failed miserably and consistently.

Let’s recount what transpired today. Maryam’s name has been included though it was not there in the original judgement. Hounding Maryam Nawaz in the Panama case is a strong yet again strong message to the democratic forces. The oratory of some of the judges while writing verses of Urdu poetry is an attempt to romanticise this weak and deplorable decision. The judges have tried their best to sound like revolutionaries but have failed. Their job is not to raise slogans or pass nasty comments which make the headlines of the TV channels. If they think their words will be written in gold, they are gravely mistaken. I believe they are pretty much the Sicilian Mafia which they so fondly talk about.

Let’s see what it hold for Maryam. Rumour has it that she is to be made an example, with the tacit consent of some in her family, it seems. They tried to put the blame of running the blasphemous “Bhensa” page on her but that did not work. She is equally aggressive as Nawaz if not more in prioritising the supremacy of the parliament over all other institutions. How can she be allowed to survive? There will be a lot of pressure on her and her father to leave the country and take refuge anywhere but here.

Those who ditch Nawaz at this moment will earn a short sighted victory which will not last long. The history of the establishment in Pakistan is there for everyone to see. They aren’t friends with anyone for too long. Altaf Hussain was once their blue-eyed baby. Trying to sink Nawaz from inside is the best possible way to eliminate him politically. This seems to have worked for the moment, at least from the way things are developing.

The so called hurriedly arranged meeting headed by Raja Ashfaq Sarwar showing lack of trust in Nawaz was another attempt to strike when the iron was hot. Punjab has always been a breeding ground for turncoats and it will be no different this time if something like this is needed.

Those in charge of the provincial politics do not know how the foreign policy is run or how the borders are managed. They do not have the slightest of idea the struggle that goes on between parliament and the unseen forces; the ones which have always let Pakistan down. There were rumours of NRO for Nawaz. I am just wondering who the other party who will offer the NRO is. If you think hard enough, you will eventually realise what is wrong with this country.

All this has a positive tinge to it no matter how negative things appear. The desperation of the unseen forces is getting evident by the day. They have lost hope in Imran Khan . The marriage of convenience between PSP and MQM-P is a shining example of this. They now no longer believe that Imran Khan can turn the tide in Karachi. Another new Altaf Hussain is being created in the shape of Mustafa Kamal . I am not a supporter of Altaf but I still believe that if allowed political space he can take Karachi at least once more.

We understand he has said so many bad things so he must be reprimanded. Whilst you do that can you let us know which institution made him what he is today? Will those people ever be taken to task for creating a Frankenstein?

As I wrote in one of my previous articles that showing of so many cards is a sign of a weakening establishment . Nawaz stays or goes, it will hardly matter.

Once being close to establishment was considered a feather in the cap but now, not so much.

The attempt to bring Nawaz in line by people close to him has failed. He was advised to stay abroad and let the things be managed without him. He doesn’t seem to have paid any heed to this advice and has come back to face the courts. One can only wish that the Dancing Commando Musharraf had the guts to do the same.

After the hearing on November 8, Nawaz spoke calmly. To an onlooker it did not sound like a rebel but if you decipher the words, there is a very strong message. He is not going to back down. He is the only one who can take this struggle to the end. The battle will be won by the non-democratic forced, the war is far from over.

This maybe the end of Nawaz but it definitely is not the end of democracy, however, it does sounds like a death knell for the establishment . Slowly and painfully we are getting there.http://nation.com.pk/13-Nov-2017/uncertain-times-ahead

November 14, 2017   No Comments

Revival Of MMA: edit in The Nation, Nov14, 2017

Six major religious parties in the country announced the revival of Muttahia Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) on November 10. One of the aims behind the revival is to protect the Islamic identity of the country, as the parties claim that this step is the only way to ensure democratic stability in the country. However as history shows, marriages of connivance have usually come about when elections are at hand and securing voter banks becomes crucial for aspiring contestants.

Two major parties responsible for this revival are Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazal (JUI-F). They joined forces back in July for possible electoral alliance and revival of MMA . However, back then the revival was attributed to different reasons. The inspiration was the votes MMA received back in 2002. However, one aspect that these parties are forgetting is that their voter base is only limited to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and does not extend to other provinces. And within KP, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is a formidable challenger which did not have any footprint in the province back in 2002. Mainstream parties such as the PML-N, PPP and PTI do not have much to fear from the alliance as far as Punjab and Sindh are concerned. Back in 2008, the same MMA could not get a significant number of votes. Recent by-elections also do not show any clear signs of resurgence.

With all the developments taking place on the political landscape, it should not come as a surprise if political parties find it difficult to strategise. How the ongoing political crisis is resolved will very much determine when and how elections are contested by each stakeholder.It appears that the revival of the MMA is not being given much consideration by the mainstream parties and it is only being taken as a desperate attempt to get some votes. Despite their rhetoric, history shows that religious parties have not fared well in elections. The people of Pakistan have traditionally preferred to bring mainstream forces into power when given the chance. It would also be interesting to see what implications aggressive entities such as Tehreek-e-Labain (TYL) and Milli Muslim League (MML) may have on the MMA . Perhaps they could join in the fun. Or better yet, attempt to replace the older faces of religious politics.http://nation.com.pk/14-Nov-2017/revival-of-mma

November 14, 2017   No Comments

Modalities for MMA rebirth being worked out

by Abrar Saeed in The Nation, November 13, 2017
ISLAMABAD – Following the decision of religious parties alliance revival with the nomenclature of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) the steering committee has geared up efforts to give the alliance a final shape.

Sources in JUI-F informed on Sunday that the steering committee, which had already held a couple of meetings, before the final announcement of reviving MMA after the parties’ heads meeting held a few days back at Jamaat-i-Islami headquarters in Lahore, was tasked to work out modalities to put the alliance in place in a shortest possible time.

The sources said that though the announcement of MMA revival was an encouraging step but still they have to attend to other serious issues, some of them contentious and need threadbare deliberations.

Previously despite its unprecedented results in 2002 general elections the alliance had failed to remain intact in next general elections held in 2008 because the agreement of the alliance was ambiguous and some component parties came up with their own definition of certain points.

When contacted Jamaat-i-Islami central leader Liaquat Baloch, who is also member of the steering committee, informed that the committee would now be attending to technical issues of the alliance.

Elaborating his point, he said that they have to prepare the manifesto of the alliance, its registration and the positions the component parties would be given in the main structure of the alliance.

He did not give any timeline for completion of the spade work for making the alliance fully functional but hoped that they would be able to complete the task soon.

To a question about the seats allocation to the component parties, Liaquat Baloch said that the decision in this regard would be taken keeping in view the ground realities in some particular constituency and in this connection a separate Election Board with representation from all the component parties would be made before the next general elections.

The seven-member steering committee including Liaquat Baloch, Ramzan Tauqeer, Shafiq Kasuri, Akram Durrani and Anas Noorani would be preparing a report on inclusion of other religious parties in the alliance.

The driving force behind the whole exercise was Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Jamaat-i-Islami leadership which so far remained instrumental in bringing other stakeholders closer.

The sources said that there was a greater realisation among the leaders that bringing religious forces at one platform was need of the hour as united they could turn into a formidable force to serve the cause of Islam and ideology of the country in a real sense.

To a question, a source in the Jamaat-i-Islami said that the seven-member steering committee would also be preparing report on the possibility of inclusion of other religious parties and groups into its fold and its impact on the alliance.

The MMA , which was formed ahead of the 2002 general elections, had exhibited remarkable results in the polls. The alliance formed government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the then NWFP, single-handedly and a government in Balochistan in alliance with PML-Q besides securing the position of the leader of opposition in the National Assembly.

The MMA comprised six religious parties — the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, the Jamaat-i-Islami, the Tehreek-i-Jafaria Pakistan, the Jamaat-i-Ahle Hadith and the Muttahida Deeni Mahaz.http://nation.com.pk/13-Nov-2017/modalities-for-mma-rebirth-being-worked-out

November 13, 2017   No Comments