Thursday, December 31, 2009

Karachi Carnage and the Colossal Arson

December 30, 2009
Dallas, Texas

Karachi Carnage and the Colossal Arson
By Saeed Qureshi
What happened in Karachi, on tenth of Muharram, the Shiites’ most somber day, followed by unprecedented carnage? The upheaval is so tragic as to make one speechless. It’s difficult to describe the barbaric enormity of this tragedy that has seemingly surpassed all such previous spates of terrorist incidents. It is quite obvious that the perpetrators had already done their nasty and spine chilling home work meticulously to bomb the traditional holy procession followed by an already chosen target for arson. The famous hub of business activities Bolton market was simultaneously torched by understandably well planned and trained saboteurs who did their dirty work with diabolic urgency. This is the fifth day that all the available firefighting equipment has failed to put out the smoldering fire, emitting choking whiffs of smoke. 100 billion rupees gone down the drain, countless rendered jobless and the cosmopolitan city plunged under a pal of gloom and grimness.
The religious frenzy and sectarian hate is assuming frightening dimensions as to render the human life as insignificant as an insect. Humans are known to turn barbarians but that stigma was exclusive to the past societies. But logically if we attribute the massacre of a few score Shia faithful to the sectarian madness, who could be blamed for choking the jugular vein of business, known as Bolton Market. Karachi ablaze and with that the hopes and aspirations of the residents are fast fading away about the sanctity and security of their life, limb and properties guaranteed under the constitution. But did ever any government or its functionaries held this sacred document in esteem?
Customarily, there have been bland and inane vows by the law enforcement bosses to hunt the culprits and send them to hell. As a matter of fact the hateful culprits must be cheerfully having a good time for their monstrous feat. It is the worthless people of Pakistan who are living in an inferno and constantly exposed to a thousand dangers. The ubiquitous and past master in hurling out phony, counterfeit and deceptive statements, Rehman Malik was as usual in Karachi with his dreary sermons for the people to be patient and peaceful. Mr. Malik possesses the inimitable knack of amazing composure after each and every tragedy that swallows precious lives. And during making such farcical statements there is always a slight smile hanging on his face that not even the best expert in physiognomy can decipher.
That begs the serious question about the incumbent government’s ability and even intention to provide a modicum of governance for social peace and enforcement of law. The exacerbating situation bears no visible indications of being arrested or contained. The law and order has gone to dogs, the country is in the throes of a civil war and the society is infested with all brands of clandestine terrorists and saboteurs. The law enforcement network is broken, over worked and utterly incapable of dealing with even small emergencies, what to speak of a cataclysm of Bolton market. The question is as to why, in the first instance, the authorities, knowing well the fragility of law and order, allowed the religious procession to be taken out. The formation of investigation committees and commissions is the easiest job. Has ever a criminal nabbed, charged and sentenced?
The people are starving, the prices are sky rocketing, the gas is being switched off; the commodities are scarcer and getting out of the purchasing ability of the citizens. The sanctity of life has become a laughable cliché. Living in the president’s or prime minister’s house presents a detestable contrast with the life of a common man who comes out of the house with a mind torn by the phobias of lurking suicide bombers to strike him in a nook, on a bus stand and in a shopping center.
Democracy sans safety and accountability is a base coin with no worth. The leaders and the rulers better give security, clean, efficient, and people friendly governance to the citizens and take away the charade of democracy that survives on the blood of the citizens.
There is a widespread and growing disenchantment about the viability of the country. If at all anyone can be dubbed as anti Pakistan or unpatriotic, it is not the public but the powerful and the privileged classes. If the harassed people and paralyzed intelligentsia raise questions as to how the country was being run and whether this downslide rapid drift would ever be checked or that country’s survival was at stake, they are not to blame. The cronyism, the stalking of Pakistan sacred land by foreign gun totting brigands, the foreign intelligence outfits’ insidious plot to destabilize Pakistan may be roses to the rulers but not to the traumatized people of Pakistan. From where would the sublime ideal of national solidarity glow if the callous extinguishers are outbidding to blow it off.
Let us all candidly admit, Pakistan is in a mess, a mammoth mess. The leadership consists of money grabbers, the rank liars, the pledge brokers, the political dwarfs, the spineless foreign agents and fifth columnists. The people are dumbfounded, losing their sense of proportion in the face of a dancing Dracula of death everywhere. If the prayers can matter, let there be peace in Iraq and in Afghanistan or at least Shia procession must have been spared by their divinities from the nightmare of December 27. Then what’s the way-out: honestly I don’t know. I am dizzy and losing my sanity.

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Are You Afraid of Death?

December 28, 2009

Are You Afraid of Death?
By Saeed Qureshi
Are you afraid of death? Whether you are or not, death will come any way. One usually starts thinking about death towards the fag end of one’s life. The concept of death is scary and dreadful because it’s the irreversible transformation from existence to extinction. Death is described to be “the termination of the biological functions that define a living organism. It refers both to a particular event and to the condition those results thereby”.
The fear or paranoid of dying is common to all human beings. The animals too have the fear of death but perhaps it is explained more in their defense against the danger to their survival. In a fight between the beasts when one is killed, the other leaves the fighting ostensibly perceiving that the enemy has passed to another stage where it cannot fight back. We have seen lions, killing their preys and waiting for their death and by pressing the jugular vein of the victims. It means that besides humans that conceive death by virtue of their intelligence and consciousness, the animal too instinctively know the difference between the state of life and death.
I have seen certain individuals in life who had no fear or phobia of death. Rather they were happy and exuded satisfaction that they were passing away with no remorse or regrets that could have weighed heavily on their minds. Even the deeply religious people were content at the time or before death because they unflinchingly believed that in the hereafter or so called next world, they would ever live in the paradise: an everlasting abode of complete happiness, pleasure and leisure.
The short and limited life span in this world has always posed an intriguing question and perplexing enigma to the human beings. It is an existence that ends with decline and death. Every religion has wrestled with this paramount question and has tried to answer it with its own kind of explanation. The three Abrahamic religions talk of a paradise that can be only achieved if certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions differ between these three main religions. The Jews, of late, are moving away from the dogma of paradise after death and maintain that such a paradise would be created by the man himself on the planet earth. The Christians identify the path to paradise in the belief of Jesus Christ as the son of God. The pre-requisite for Muslims’ to earn the blissful paradise is to follow the path of God revealed and illustrated in the holy Quran and marginally in the previous scriptures. But for all these religions the picture of paradise is similar: a place of perfect joy, limitless entertainment and endless both spiritual and worldly pleasures.
As German author Gerhard herm stated in his book “The Celts-The People Who Came from Out of the Darkness: “Religion is among other things a way of reconciling people to the fact that some day they must die, whether by the promise of a better life beyond the grave, rebirth, or both”. All the religions invariably believe that the human soul is immortal and that after death “it journeys to an afterlife or that it transmigrates to another creature”.
In comparison to heaven or the paradise, the hell is a dreadful place with all kinds of torments and pains that one can think of in this world. That abhorrent place is for those who are sinners in religious terms. A sinner is that who defies, violates or breaks the canon teachings sent to the humans through the God’s emissaries called prophets. For non Abrahamic religions, it is only the soul that survives and gets into the cycles of rebirths and finally joins the soul of God. For Buddhists it dissipates after purification of sins.
Islam presents a graphic and well laid out sketch from man’s final wisp of breath to the first step into the paradise. It’s a long journey. For Christians the concept of limbo, purgatory or a temporary sojourn for the souls of dead is mentioned but they also believe that the dead lie in the grave both with flesh and soul. Muslims believe that while man’s body is in the grave, his soul waits in the limbo (Barzakh) to return, on the Resurrection day, to rejoin the body for judgment. For Muslim believers the Day of Judgment is very rigorous followed by crossing over a hair thin bridge to reach paradise or fall into the hell down below. So the elements of fear and enticements are central to the explanations of respective religions about the life after death.
The fear of death stems from the inevitable yet harrowing compulsion that despite one’s will and wish, no one can escape this unavoidable end. It is perturbing to leave one’s joys, wealth, kith, families and the phenomenon of life full of sound and fury for an unknown destination from where no one has ever returned. The myth of separation of soul from body leaves no possibility, how infinitesimal it might be, for a man to relive again. The body and his physical shell decays and cannot be revived. As for returning from the next world back to the previous one, there is no evidence that such a world, as man perceives, exists. To return from the unknown world, it is first necessary that the soul and body must unite together. A dead man or his remains have no consciousness to recall the soul and be resurrected again. Therefore, this realization of permanent departure from a world of so much fun is at the root of man’s horrific view about death.
The second reason that causes man to be terror stricken about death is the horrifying stages through which one has to pass through after his demise from this world. If there were no such graphic depiction of gruesome events and horrendous phases a person has to go through after dying, he would not worry a bit, what he presently shudders to think of? If one knows that no torment is going to follow after his death and he would dissipate like other things, he would not be afraid to die as he is with these horrific eventualities.
For instance in Islamic belief, after he is laid in the grave, a faithful will face two fearsome angels who would question him about certain elements of his faith. They would bludgeon him repeatedly if answers are not right. It is not known how long they would thrash him and finally leave him in that mauled situation. A pragmatic and scientific mind would not believe how in a small dark grave that kind of interrogation can take place. If there is going to be a “Dooms Day” for final award of hell and heaven, then why this preliminary questioning was necessary.
Then it is the torment of sinners’ soul in the purgatory, to continue till the Day of Judgment. And finally comes the mayhem of the “Judgment Day” with description of unbearably hot environment and God dispensing justice to the resurrected people according to the nature of their good or bad deeds. But this scary episode doesn’t end here. He has to cross over a bridge thinner and sharper than a razor’s edge. This is an ordeal that is most daunting as still there is a chance of misstep and one can plunge into the deep stinking ditches of hell with leaping fires. And in hell he will be roasted and would be fed on boiling water and cyst and constantly flogged. There is a long list of spine chilling punishments. For Muslims and Jews and to some extent for the Christians, life after death is not a smooth sailing. It is replete with sufferings, distress, agonies, torture and trial of most brutal nature. As for non Abrahamic religions, it is not the body but the soul that undergoes unmitigating torment till salvation.
In nature everything is bound by an abiding and fixed cycle of birth and death. Everything that exists whether living (humans, animal’s birds etc) or non living (stones, trees, soil etc) is subject to an inescapable and inexorable principle of creation and extinction. Human race too is captive of that immutable law. But because human are intelligent they possess investigative and curious impulse to find out what happens after the man dies. Hence all explanations! Nevertheless, the one that is conclusive or bears logical evidence is yet to come. But in a nutshell, like a fallen tree that remains on the bank of river for hundred of years without any movement or a rock silhouetting for millenniums till it wears down, man too is born and withers away. The dead body is immune from any feelings or vagaries of nature. The concept of grave primarily devolves on those humans who are buried. It doesn’t apply to those who are blown into pieces in war, buried in desert, drowned in the sea, draped by rock or swallowed by a volcano.
In the universe, things undergo a constant process of transformation from one form to another. The soil turns into rocks after billions of years and vice versa. All existence from an atom to space is in a state of flux. There is the simultaneous process of births, extinction and rebirths taking place. The death of one thing is the birth of another like a flower blossoms when the bud wilts. Humans think self- delusively that they would be treated differently after death. But the nature cannot apply its principles selectively. Once man is gone, he is gone forever. The human progeny, however, continues in different human constitutions. Rebirth after death with punitive or gratifying connotations is, therefore, all speculation, irrelevant and figment of mind.

The Second Death Anniversary of Benazir Bhutto (BB)

The Second Death Anniversary of Benazir Bhutto (BB)

The following article was written on the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, the illustrious late chairperson of the ruling party, PPP. The questions raised in the article are as relevant on her second death anniversary as these were on her first anniversary. Time flies but the PPP rank and file from top to bottom have shown no concern to unmask her murderers that her spouse the incumbent president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has publically acknowledged of knowing them. It’s overdue for the PPP and especially president Zardari to bring the heinous criminals to justice. The studied indifference and eerie silence on the part of PPP leaders is simply mind boggling. Why the PPP is disinterested in probing Benazir’s murder and shuns even talking about the case? Is there more than meets the eye?



Who Killed Benazir Bhutto?

By Saeed Qureshi

December 27 is the second death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, the Chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party and the wife of Asif Ali Zardari the President of Pakistan. Two years ago, she was killed in mysterious circumstances after her address at the Rawalpindi Public rally. It is still to be concluded whether she was killed by snipers or by the mammoth blast that killed scores of others. Besides filing of an FIR after much of hassle and arresting some youngsters, there is no other progress in sight to unearth the plot, the plotters and the identity of the assassins of a remarkable political icon.

Referring the case to the United Nations for investigation has further delayed the probe and perhaps placed the emergent matter indefinitely on the back burner. The ruling PPP has seldom issued any updates on the development or progress with regard to the probe that in fact should have been conducted with a sense of utmost urgency and due speed. It appears no one is truly serious in the party echelons, about assassination of BB for unexplained reasons.

To mark her second death anniversary, however, certainly a high sounding program has been announced by the prime minister and party cadres. P resident has made fiery speech at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the burial place of Bhutto family. In that speech, he talked of anti Bhutto forces that were out to destabilize PPP government, but not once mentioned about her murder case. There would be rallies, public and party meetings to recall her services and sacrifices and pay tribute to her. She is no doubt a political martyr and this aspect of her political struggle would be highlighted during the anniversary period. As is customary, some prisoners might also be released to add compassion to this sad event.

But this sublime show of love and solidarity with BB cannot distract the people of Pakistan generally and the PPP rank and file especially from the nagging question as to who killed her. This distressing question would keep lurking in the minds as to why this high profile murder case is being evidently turned into a blind and closed case. If there was a government other than the PPP at helm in Pakistan, then one could have expected such willful sidetracking of this heinous crime that has deprived the PPP of its celebrated leader of international eminence and fame. This utter disregard and patent indifference towards Benazir Bhutto’s assassination by her own party in power is as baffling as it is questionable.

At the media level many intriguing and valid question marks are being pointed out that provide positive and worthwhile clues to the suspects who could have masterminded the physical removal of BB from the political scene. Last year in a special investigative report presented on Geo by Hamid Mir, the reputed journalist and well known anchor person gave abundant indicators towards the killers and their abettors of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. If at all the incumbent government of PPP and especially the widower president Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik are still curious about finding the culprits of Benazir’s murder then they can pick up the threads from this report.

To suppress, discourage or shelve the inquiry for indenifte period will not end the matter and in due course of time it would raise more questions. The biggest question would be why PPP didn’t show the required zeal and concern to find the murderers of a person who was not only a great political figure, daughter of the party’s founder but also the Chairperson of the PPP party, that is now in power because of her epic struggle and consequential martyrdom.

President Zardari is on record of publically confessing that he was privy to the identities of Benazir’s assassins. Then what prevents him from bringing these criminals to justice? Horrifically the party in power whose chairperson was mercilessly slain has not gotten a simple FIR registered with the police so far. Such a high profile murder and so callous of an indifference exhibited by her own party to even start a probe is simply stunning.

Who will implement Supreme Court’s Decisions?

December 21, 2009
Who will implement Supreme Court’s Decisions?
By Saeed Qureshi
It’s auspicious that the Pakistan’s army is not meddling in the contentious poltical affairs. The army might be keeping a vigil from a distance but so far all is quiet on their front. The Supreme Court’s appointed benches have started reviewing the NRO cases that were swept under the carpet of amnesty. The party in power is ambivalent on the Supreme Court’s judgment on NRO. The PPP government is blowing hot and cold at the same time thus emitting mixed signals of both compliance and non compliance of the court’s ruling. Initially they announced acceptance of the court’s decisions what these might be. But the implicit fallout on the ministers accused of misuse of power and bribe, has provoked stiff and defiant reaction from the government.The government’s stance is that the accused ministers will not resign their posts. Their only recourse is left to get themselves bailed out from the relevant courts as law minister Babar Awan has done well in time.
But the situation is not that much placid: it is simmering with dormant turbulence that can explode in the time to come. Such a chaos can burst out in case of a clash between the court’s orders and the executive's refusal or foot dragging on following those orders. It is foregone that the Supreme Court’s landmark decision would rock the government and the things are not going to be peaceful or amicable. The government stalwarts are already throwing hints of hostile action or interference by the forces which were outlined by the government’s defense lawyer Kamal Azfar as ISI and the army. This disclosure must have created strong ripples in the army which has so far demonstrated allegiance to the incumbent government. The preemptive apprehensions and warning shots by the government look premature and childish.
The case of the defense minister Ahmed Mukhtar is indicative of the government’s resolve to fight back if there was a situation of protecting the common cause and monolithic interests of the ruling cabal. The defiance bordering on unusual bravado displayed by the moderate prime minister in the brief encounter with the journalists the other day betokens the mood of the government. The prime minister was in an aggressive posture and categorically ruled out the arrest of the NRO affected ministers including the interior minister Rehman Malik. Rehman Malik showed prudence by pledging to respect the court’s proceeding and directions whatsoever.
The PPP inner cabinet met the other day and ended on a defiant note by hurling accusations at the forces that were out to derail the democratic process. They refused to accept that with the powers of 58-2/B resting with the president, the country is still far away from a real brand of parliamentary democracy. The PPP”s claim that it brought the democracy back to Pakistan rings hollow because when the civil society was up in arms against dictator Musharraf , PPP was busy in closed rooms to strike a bargain under the NRO. PPP government later remained as hostile to the restoration of the senior judges as was Musharraf. The stormy agitation of the lawyers and political workers sans PPP cadres and media forced president Zardari, at the last moment, to restore the sacked judges. So PPP does not a valid claim of fighting for the revival of democracy and restoration of the removed judges. It did manipulate its victory in the elections that were won on the slogan of changing the status quo, revive 1973 constitution and make policies for good of the people and the country. However, it didn’t make good its promises made to the people of Pakistan and to its own poltical allies. Instead it unleashed such governance which was worse even than that of Pervez Mushrraf. The PPP”s performance and credentials pose a big question mark.
If PPP delays, defies or sidetracks Supreme Court’s orders per say for arrest of some top notches in the government, there is going to be a real problematic situation. If such a standoff takes place and government sacks the bureaucrats obeying the court’s orders as was done in case of defense minister, then who is going to ensure the respectability and compliance of the court’s fiat? Will it be done by street protests by the lawyers, the civil society or by the armed forces? It is possible that the court in that situation asks the army to pressurize the government behind the curtains for enforcement of the court’s orders with regard to the detention, arrest, or jailing cabinet ministers or similar stalwarts. That would be a simple application of pressure and not take-over. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court can only issue orders. It doesn’t have physical force to get those orders complied with. That can be viewed as a kind of intrusion by the army as variously pointed out by the PPP ministers and party leaders.
The Sindh card is a very clumsy and counterproductive bid to demonstrate PPP’ prowesses to counter attack the political adversaries. But if late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto could not cash on the Sindh card that he had also threatened to use against his incarceration and army, how can Mr. Zardari or PPP burdened with innumerable controversies and rock bottom unpopularity can use it to their advantage. This would be injurious to the national unity and may even backfire against its promoters. At least MQM would never be part of it because it being an ethnic entity can also become one of its targets.

Health care Reforms and Senator Joe Lieberman

Health care Reforms and Senator Joe Lieberman
By Saeed Qureshi
Senator Joe Lieberman the independent Democrat from Connecticut, has arrogated to himself the exclusive mission of thwarting the health care on which the prestige of the Democratic government depends. At the same time health care reforms are the need of the hour. The main spanner thrown into the whole scheme of things is Lieberman whose role ever since has been dubious and shady. He is safeguarding and protecting the business interests and huge profits of the super duper pharmaceutical mega companies and enterprises. He is known to be a kind of front man for the insurance companies that deal with the health care.
It would be in order if he is checked from pursuing his seditious role in scuttling the advancement of the express interests of the American people. The health care bill is stuck up at a stage where it is neither here nor there. It is relegated to an impasse. The rebellious detractors within Democrats and those on the other side of the isle are determined to stall its passage before the Christmas and advent of the New Year. The Obama administration has been thrown into a state of limbo and looks to be seemingly caught unaware.
If the reforms are watered down to suite the ambitions and intentions of antagonists within the party in power and those who are committed to torpedo it, then these will lose the very pristine purpose for which these have been devised. If the democrats’ proposed health care reform package loses its main thirst and luster of lowering the cost on treatment and medicines, make the health insurance companies to become competitive with the public owned health care providers such a Medicaid and extend the coverage to other several million Americans; then it would be better to defer it till the administration clears the way for its smooth passage with the original version.
The Republicans don’t view the bill from the standpoint of its being beneficial for the people but as a handy tool to browbeat and embarrass the Obama administration. This brinkmanship is rooted in the historical rivalry between the two poltical antagonists and there have been very few instances when they joined hand willingly to move forward on national issues. One such instance was the initiation of the Iraq war and fight against terrorism after 9/11 incident. There was no reason for any one or courage on both sides of the divide to go against that prodigiously wrong decision. The national sentiments had reached such a high pitch that it stultified even the most pragmatic minds and stunned their tongues not to question that decision.
Invariably, all the bills and amendments that had gone through the House and the Senate were always subjected mostly to partisan divisions and discord. The health care bill is patently in the larger interest of the people particularly those who are poor and come under the category of have-nots in America. If the heath care facilities are extended to another 40 million so far deprived citizens, what harm will come to either party. But as we all know the lobbies and pressure groups and business cartels are very strong actors that operate behind the scenes and enormously influence the decision making that favors their business interests. Senators and Congressmen are human beings too and they are prone to falling prey to various temptations to tacitly or openly support such interests that even may be at variance with the people’s welfare. This is the dilemma at the very core of the health care debate now going nowhere.
As to how Obama administration would be able to cope with this road block in order to clear the way for the passage of the health care bill would be too risky a guess to make. But if the bill is defeated and placed on back burners then the slogan for change of the Obama administration would look hollow, much to the vicarious joy of the Republicans. If it is modified to accommodate the critics’ conditions, the people would be disappointed.
So Obama administration is gripped by a tangle that cannot be unraveled or resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties. One vote of Joe Lieberman can make the whole difference but he is hanging it on democrats’ heads like a “Sword of Damocles” and a bargaining chip in an overly audacious manner. He doesn’t seem to care how history will judge him: a leader more driven by his opportunism and clan interests than those of the people of the United States.

A Constructive Tsunami

December 16, 2009

A Constructive Tsunami

By Saeed Qureshi

The Pakistan Supreme Court’s December 16 verdict on NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) is a watershed Tsunami. Yet it is not destructive, as natural tsunamis are. It comes as a signpost of huge hope and relief. It leads the nation towards a destiny which must be glorious and which was the very essence of Pakistan’s creation. The NRO is not basically against President Asif Zardari and his ilk; it is against an opportunist dictator who was ready to go to any extent of disfiguring Pakistan’s constitution and trampling any legal or moral principle to stay in power. The cases against incumbent president and other several thousand individuals pardoned in the NRO were already there. It’s the former president who has to face the music and it would be a redeeming outcome of the historic decision if he is also summoned by the court. He is the principle culprit. It is perhaps the first ever bold and sincere development that would consolidate the foundations of civil society and rule of law in Pakistan.

Accepting the verdict, the presidential spokesman has pointed out towards the presidential privilege that makes the president immune from the Supreme Court’s decision. The question is: how long. What is the guarantee that another petition would not be filed for the resignation of the president for involvement in crimes despite his temporary reprieve? Who can say with certainty that the civil society and the people and the politicians won’t launch a movement for the ouster of a highly controversial and morally lax citizen of Pakistan notwithstanding his protected status? Above all would president himself feel comfortable to stay at the helm despite a total nose dive of his prestige?

Has the president of Pakistan a liking for the ostriches? If not then why is he behaving like an ostrich? There is a turbulent storm ferociously racing against him but he is either complacent or overly confident or exceedingly confused not to look unruffled. He is quiet and feigns to be unconcerned in his presidential citadel. He has shown no intention for the repeal of 17th amendment that can at least give him some semblance of the saving grace in case he is elbowed out by the oppression of events or by those forces that his platonic lawyer has identified before the supreme court of Pakistan. The president better read the writing on the poltical wall of Pakistan.

Paradoxically, president Zardari is simultaneously the strongest and the weakest president. He has inherited the powers of a military dictator which makes the system of government more presidential and much less parliamentary. He cannot impose emergency and he cannot sack the government. He has already lost the precious time in restoring the powers to the prime minister. The prime minister himself is made of wax and most of his ministers can be rated as public enemies. Some of them joined hands with smugglers and hoarders to make huge profits on sugar. Others voraciously gobble the money in various ways. They are doing this against their own people whom they are under oath to serve honestly and sincerely.

Notwithstanding the argument that the constitutional provides the president a shelter not to be sent to jail or removed till the time he hold the reins of the presidency. But what about the prodigious calumny that would be the talk of every household in Pakistan? He cannot shut every one’s mouth. People and the unrelenting media will not spare him by unkind remarks and callous innuendos. He will become a laughing stock, even though he belongs to that species of humans who don’t mind reproach or even the most intolerable vilification.

God save the king is an idiom that is well known in civilized societies. Our society is neither liberal nor ideally civilized. But in president Zardari’s case let god save him from being more dishonorable and the country from him. He must concede and read the history to find out the inexorable fact that that if a towering politician like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto can be sent to gallows obviously for no crime, where does a weak and shaky person like him stand. He must admit he neither has a political background nor did he come to power by dint of a political movement launched by his party in his favor. His late spouse and party chairperson came to Pakistan on the strength of a quid pro quo, at a time when Musharraf was locked in a tussle with judiciary. Benazir died and he jumped into the bandwagon. He outsmarted Musharraf and dodged his political peers with fake promises to be elected unanimously.

Politics is indeed a game of deception and outmaneuvering but even such ignominious tricks have their limits and style. The political deceptions must not be allowed to degenerate into swindling or fraud. Presidency could be the highest trophy for a person who never played any political game. He was always a player on the back foot and that too invisible. Regrettably he lost the prestige that was bestowed upon him by virtue of the dignity and exalted status of presidential office. Instead he projected himself as a small time businessman still caught up in his hang up of seamy monetary pursuits. One can write volumes about the incompetence, inefficiency and gubernatorial corruption nepotism, bad governance, callous disregard of the public woes of the PPP coalition government.

Now the president can salvage his fast eroding credibility and honor if he can take quick paced epic decisions that he is under obligation to take. He has opted so far to renege on those vital issues that can transform the sham democracy, into a veritable democratic dispensation. If he further dithers he is definitely marooned and perhaps would lose even the grace period that is available to him. The die is cast against the beneficiaries of NRO and he is one them.

This government by all indications will go. Fresh elections are called for .There should be no military take over again. All corrupt people must be brought to justice and prosecuted. Since, except judiciary the government and the parliament are keeping mum over country’s countless problems, it is also essential that those whose loans were written off also must be held accountable and forced to pay the loans back to the people of Pakistan. Judiciary is the beacon of hope for the suppressed nation, as well as to save the federation.


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Friday, December 11, 2009

President Zardari’s Letter to New York Times

December 10, 2009
President Zardari’s Letter to New York Times
By Saeed Qureshi
I have seen president Asif Zardari’s letter published in New York Times with dateline of December 9 instant. Ostensibly the letter is addressed to the American public opinion. It’s a desperate and futile attempt to expect that one letter from a controversial president of a subservient and surrogate country would make any tangible difference in molding, even marginally, the public opinion and perceptions about the nature and tenor of Pak-America relationship. Let it be clear to all that American public has no big role to play in policy making. The policy making in America is just like other countries, in that a group on top slots of administrative machinery crafts and implements the policies. The only difference is that American leadership is patriotic to the core while their surrogates lack this national spirit and cardinal ethos.
The very title of the article connotes the existence of certain kind of fences that have to be mended. Now which are those fences have not been explicitly specified. A lot of emphasis has been expended on the phraseology and diction of the letter but one feels that its tone is apologetic and written in a beseeching manner. The controversial or contentious issues between two sovereign states have been washed in the pages of the newspaper. It displays a defeatist attitude as if all available options have been exhausted and the only avenue left was to write an op-ed to air the grievances. If there is ice between the United States and Pakistan, the warmth of an appeal type op-ed is not going to melt that away. It means that the diplomatic skill and finesse of Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Washington DC is stuck up in grooves.
The letter is predictably written by Pakistan’s eloquent ambassador based in Washington DC. It could well be an attempt by the ambassador, who is also caught in the vortex of the NRO, to demonstrate dissention and cast way the impression of being an American protégé. The letter summarized the past history of Pak-Us relations - pinpointing the American misplaced penchant for supporting the dictators. Besides highlighting Pakistan’s gubernatorial performance in Swat and Waziristan against terrorism and fanaticism; it points out that “in both countries there is deep suspicion toward the other”
And ludicrously, Pakistan arrogates to herself the prerogative of telling mighty Americans how they can mend their fences with Pakistan - a helpless, emaciated country with a begging bowl and expectations of charity from the charity givers. Does United States need to heed Pakistani president’s advice or directives to shrink herself from a giant’s height and come down to the lowly position of a dwarf to accept what Pakistan has to say by way of counseling? Where our diplomacy is heading to?
The main import of the strenuously written letter is to convey to the Untied States that she should tell India to behave and not do things that are injurious to the American sponsored fight against terrorism. Economic aid for social sectors is another issue that has been raised in the letter. With candid hypocrisy the president’s claim has been boldly posted in these words,” Over the last weeks I have moved forcefully to re-establish the traditional powers of the presidency as defined in the parliamentary model on which our Constitution is based. Our Constitution was distorted and perverted by military dictators who usurped the legal powers of Parliament. In accordance with the manifesto of the Pakistan People’s Party, I am working toward strengthening the separation of powers of the presidency from those of the prime minister”
Even a goof in Pakistan can vouch that this is a blatant lie. Do the Americans live in a marooned island that they don’t know that the president Zardari’s efforts, since assuming the presidency, have been focused on stalling and thwarting every move and break any pledge that he made to turn Pakistan into a parliamentary democracy? The president’s assertion, that “I voluntarily handed back the chairmanship of the National Command Authority that exercises control over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal” is patently false because he did so under pressure from the Pakistan army.
Freakishly, in the morning hours, the letter’ text could be read wholly. In the evening it was made obligatory to first register with the New York Times which necessitated disclosure of private information such as country of residence, the income etc. It’s a riddle as to why all these years this article alone was subjected to certain implausible conditions that someone may not meet for merely reading president’s Zardari’s article. Was there some move to first collect the information of the readers and then chase those who might turn out to be suspicious?
If the contents of the letter are for the entire world to read, support and sympathize with Pakistan’s point of view, then why this burden on the freedom and conscience of a reader is dropped? Someone has to explain this mysterious restriction upon the readership of the New York Times: a highly respected and unquestionably known as an independent liberal daily. Finally the letter talks of the endgame which looks like the biblical endgame of the annihilation of the anti Christ forces in the world: a sort of the Armageddon. My question is who drafted this myopic letter if the endgame is not fully understood.
The letter concludes with these pathetic lines, “And then after 9/11, the United States closed its eyes to the abuses of the dictatorship of President Pervez Musharraf, providing support to the regime while doing little to help with social needs or encourage the restoration of democracy. For Pakistanis, it is a bitter memory”.
Verily United States closed its eyes to the abuses of dictator Musharraf but who is still keeping his dictatorship intact under the garb of a sham and shady democracy? The pity is United States is still viewing all this farce with closed eyes.

The Hour of Reckoning has arrived

December 10, 2009
The Hour of Reckoning has arrived
By Saeed Qureshi
So the chips are down. The hour of reckoning has arrived. Pakistan’s supreme judiciary under its intrepid chief justice is hearing the status of National Reconciliation Ordinance that gave a blanket amnesty to a few thousand criminals and crooks of all brands. This event is perceptibly landmark and would form part, as indelible precedent, of not only Pakistan’s but international judicial annals for all time to come.
With a dormant parliament, the creepy lot of politicians and filth filled cabinet; people wistfully look up to media and judiciary for salvation and rescue out of a morass and a quagmire that is deepening as the precious time passes. The NRO is a classic example of the dirty machinations of the deceptive elite classes that survive like zombies by sucking the blood of their defenseless victims. An iota of shame or self respect would have been enough to drive the pardoned ruffians either to commit suicide or at least to resign till the judgment is out.
Starting from the president down to an ordinary bureaucrat, none, whatsoever, has come forward to express their remorse if not confession of crimes or to proffer a solemn or pretentious pledge to return the plundered money. One is disturbingly stunned to watch a bunch of cabinet ministers ruefully rejecting the charges of bribes that were splashed on the electronic media against them, with evidence. As if the NRO case before the apex court was a mere triviality, these cabinet stalwarts with long lashing tongues, make false promises and swear fake and phony oaths to project themselves innocents. Giving a break to the arch money lover president Zardari, his law minster is reported to pocket half a million dollars from some Pakistani traders of Dubai with a promise that their names would be erased from the NRO list.
The ‘sun god’ (mythical deity of light and heat), the inimitable minister of Water and Power; Raja Pervez Ashraf has discovered a novel way of saving energy in Pakistan that would also give him a safe cover to mint money. He has awarded to his brother in law, an incredibly mammoth yet useless contract to import luminous energy saver bulbs at a staggering cost of Rs. 6 billion. With six billion rupees, ($ 75 million) one can set up a new power plant: hydel or coal based. It’s a trail of tears that trickles down after learning the daredevil, hair raising; money grabbing adventures of the ruthless ruling cabal when the country is falling apart. Reportedly the actual price of all these bulbs is half of what is being paid by the government.
While country is breaking under the burden of religious military and mortified governance, these birds of prey know that in case of legal retribution for their black deeds, they would finally fly away to safer shores for luxuriant and joyful life. These bandit families or rogue individuals must be sternly barred from leaving the country. And those who swallowed billions in loans taken from the banks must also be forced to disgorge the money used on their glamorous and aristocratic lives while the countless ordinary folks die of hunger in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
With a tenacious and defiant countenance, president Zardari seems to emit the message that he was not cowed down by the judicial deliberations. As a president he is safe from the court’s verdict and that sooths him although the charges of corruption that are up to his scalp, unless cleared, would keep hanging around his neck till eternity, He is not in the habit of straight and fair statecraft. He budged only at the last moment when the judicial community was about to knock at federal capital’s gates in tandem with disgruntled politicians. He possesses the unrivalled yet unenviable tenacity to duck and defer the promise of transferring powers to the prime minister. He keeps on heading, simultaneously, the party and the state. He is not even bothered to issue rejoinders or rebuttals from the presidential palace. O God! did he deserve to be the president of Pakistan?
While NRO is taken up by the superior judiciary, it would be in order and rather desirable if the author and promulgator of this abominable, draconian order must also be arraigned before the justice system to spell out the rationale of issuing it. More than the beneficiaries of this ordnance, patently meant to buoy up a sinking president, the former resident is more responsible for playing with the constitutional dignity. Through NRO he has legalized the en-masse corruption not for national reconciliation but for his own survival.
It’s therefore, an elusive, rare and once in century’s moment to clean the “Augean Stables” of corruption. Upon this, depends the legal and constitutional propriety that is raison d’être to evolve a deterring bulwark against corruption and illegalities in Pakistan. Let the decision of the pinnacle court establish a phenomenal precedent and lay down a lasting cornerstone for a corruption free Pakistan. Such a magnificent breakthrough would indeed usher Pakistan into an era of constitutionalism, rule of law, stability, prosperity and equal justice to all.

Pakistan is not responsible for the West’s Woes

December 1, 2009
Pakistan is not responsible for the West’s Woes
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan is not responsible for the compounding woes of the powerful, affluent west. If NATO is bogged down in Afghanistan, it’s not because of Pakistan. They entered Afghanistan on their own volition and now staying there not at Pakistan’s behest. West’s military adventure in Afghanistan was a grievous blunder and its continuation is sheer madness.
Instead Pakistan has done a lot better against the miscreants on its own territory. It has scored dazzling and spectacular victories against those elements that were fighting against both Pakistan and the NATO. Thanks to the remarkable valor and exemplary professionalism of the Pakistani armed forces, the northern valleys, that used to be safe havens for the radical religious militants, are now trouble free.
It was colossal undertaking for the Pakistan army which they have fulfilled with flying colors. Such attempts to dislodge the religious extremist were mounted in the past but without any tangible outcome. The previous half hearted military maneuvers emboldened the religious outfits and they virtually established a mini religious state in the remote valleys guarded by mountains.
In the same fashion and style, Pakistan army has accepted the express gauntlet of wiping out the same militants from the thus-far inaccessible and insurmountable terrains of South Waziristan. The tribal areas have a distinction for being untamable in the known history of these areas. It’s for the first time that these rough regions have been mostly cleared of the tribal fighters along with the dogged religious warriors.
Presently, Pakistan army is engaged in the mopping up operations in the cleared areas and soon the writ of the state of Pakistan will be established there. It’s a stunning historic achievement that was perceived to be unattainable before the launching of the military operations.
In the wake of these laudable achievements that should have earned the appreciation and the pleasure of the West and United State now busy for about a decade in search of their arch enemy Osama Bin Laden with elephantine military paraphernalia. They have miserably failed. But it is blood boiling to see the British Prime minister Gordon Brown, demanding of Pakistan to hunt Osama and presumably had him over to America or Britain. These western countries, first of all, should hang their heads in shame for their complete failure in Afghanistan. Secondly they should exercise some semblance of modesty and restraint in asking Pakistan for doing something which they couldn’t do themselves. Also, they should treat Pakistan with respect and stop treating it as a bounty killer. It’s easy to pass on the muck on to Pakistan for their own miserable failures in subduing or defeating Taliban and Al-Qaida. Pakistan unfortunately is caught in the web of the regional conflict as a guinea pig.
America’s decision to send additional troops in Afghanistan would predictably backfire. The NATO is already fighting a lost war. Karzai and his rag tag army do not have the potential or the prowess to withstand the ferocious forays of the militants. Even with a million troops the tide cannot be turned in favor of the occupation army. The West cannot throw an nuclear bomb on Afghanistan as was done on two cities of Japan, during the Second World War, because the loss would be collateral. The atomic disaster cannot be contained to Afghanistan only. Moreover, it would be a sheer lunacy to destroy the other countries because of the presence of bands of hostile miscreants.
The efforts and strategy of the main stakeholder America should be directed towards getting out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. This wild goose chase type of war is entailing heavy monetary and human losses for America and her allies for the goals that have lost their utility and of late look counterproductive. Although such a withdrawal is overdue, yet still there is a reasonable margin of time for NATO to get out of Afghanistan.
America and the self conceited West can win back Afghanistan and the friendship of its people if instead of war, an urgent and gigantic rehabilitation and reconstruction plan is launched there. America has turned the tables in her favor to a great extent in Iraq by taking up rehabilitation work. And look, the insurgency has almost died down there. In the wake of reconstruction efforts by America and the West, Iraq can look forward to new way of life, with attendant benefits of democracy and the model of new modern society. The same experiment can be replicated in Afghanistan. Mind it there is no other way: not at least the bloodshed or war mongering.

Indian and Pakistani Leadership - a Contrast

November 26, 2009
Indian and Pakistani Leadership - a Contrast
By Saeed Qureshi
Look at the momentous ovation and pageant welcome given in honor of the Indian minister Manmohan Singh on his official visit to the United States. It was for the first time even for President Barack Obama to capture the rare chance of learning the art of throwing a lavish state banquet to a foreign dignatory. I am from Pakistan but I am proud that there is a leader from the Sub-continent who has been accorded such an enormous reverence and magnificent hospitality.
Prime Minister Singh is an embodiment of humility and perhaps timidity but strong on virtues and principles. He is tiny and fragile in physique but a giant in character and conduct. His thumping welcome is not to Manmohan the individual, but to the towering prime minister of a country that has demonstrated itself as a shining model and praiseworthy example of a truly democratic dispensation in the third world.
Since her birth, India is steadfastly embarked upon the democratic course thanks to the vision of its forefathers as well as the sagacity, patriotism dedication and self denial of its subsequent leadership. India presents the spectacle of a green oasis in the wilderness of third world countries that are plagued by self serving authoritarian outfits: military, monarchical or sham democracies. In India not for one day was the martial law imposed, save the emergency clamped by late Indira Gandhi for which she had to pay a heavy price in losing the elections in 1977.
It all boils down to a leadership committed to uphold the banner of national dignity and glory. India has been rapidly marching towards a well chosen goal of joining the rank of developed countries. Indian economic advancement has been remarkable and rather spell-binding. For a country of over a billion teeming population, India is not only self sufficient in food and feeding all of them but amazingly exporting agricultural produce to other countries including the neighboring Pakistan. India is vying with the technologically developed countries in innovations and breath- taking research in all fields of knowledge. Its computer technology is fast approaching a level where it would be able to compete with China, Japan and other advanced countries.
The glittering hallmark of Indian democratic federation is its unity and national cohesion despite countless castes, denominations, races and regions. This is the boon of democracy that keeps open the venues for freedom of expression and the decision making in accordance with the feelings and aspirations of the people. Indian leadership considers itself not as a master but the servant of its people. No doubt, the United States and the entire West bristles with abiding democratic culture yet India with the largest democracy, by virtue of its population, has a definite edge and lead over all democracies. The other democracies are well entrenched because they have been on a democratic course for centuries. Yet India deserves laurels for being so new and so well established a democracy.
Pakistan, my country, a counterpart of India in attaining freedom from the British colonial rule in 1947, remained under the military yoke for almost half of its emergence as a state. The political anarchy engulfing Pakistan since beginning is the dirty work of Pakistani politicians that not only lack vision and foresight but a genuine inclination to sow and nurture the democratic culture. A nascent country had fallen prey to the loathsome machinations of the civil and military bureaucracy at the very start of a national journey. If it was God’s will to impose a degenerate governor general Ghulam Muhammad on an Islamic state then why do we pray day in and day out for the salvation of Pakistan and its people. God never did that because he does not soil his hands in human poltical affairs.
The poltical thugs, instead of nation and institution building, frittered away their energies on power grabbing and mutual browbeating. Horribly, the foul feudal system is still intact in Pakistan while it was buried in India immediately after the independence. The sanctity of the constitution and its true applicability is still a subject of controversy in Pakistan. The constitution was put in place in India in January 1950.
Pakistan’s constitutional voyage and the functioning of democracy have been on a bandwagon running on bumpy and rough terrain. Even the duly elected leaders fell to the temptation of acting as powerful autocrats. The short spells of democratic dispensations degenerated into feuds between the parties in power and those in opposition. A healthy tradition of promoting democratic values by dissent was seldom practiced. That poltical bellicosity or anarchy would consequently pave way for the military to step in, with the contending politicians supporting or opposing the army rule.
The separation of East Pakistan, a horrific catastrophe or national tragedy was brought about by a combine of unwise politicians and the adventurous army generals. And woefully, no lessons were learnt after the truncation of Pakistan. Democracy, national unity and development remain a far cry to this day.
I shudder to compare Asif Zardari with either the president of India or the prime minister. In Indian parliamentary democracy, the president is a figurehead; in Pakistan, while the president is like a dictator, the prime minister is a lame duck protégé of the president. President Zardari is armed with powers of Saddam Hussain of Iraq, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia or North Korea’s Kim Jong Ill and to a lesser degree of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. And still he has the temerity to claim that he has taken revenge of Benazir Bhutto’s murder by democratizing Pakistan. If this is democracy what could be authoritarianism.
In Indian democracy the powers vest with the prime minster, in Pakistan these are with the president. So the comparison should be between the president of Pakistan and the prime minister of India. But in all fairness it should be a contrast and not a comparison. While the president of Pakistan is notorious for insatiate lust of money and repository of heaps of ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad, Manmohan has no such nefarious laurels. Zardari represents no one. He jumped into the bandwagon of power because of the murder of his wife. Manmohan spent his life time in serving his people with matchless selflessness.
Pakistan is steeped into an aggravating mire of lawlessness and a malignant socio- economic and civic mess. It’s a favorite target for the brazen exploitation of national wealth by a shameless coalition of hardened robbers in the garb of leaders. Even a mediocre leadership would have been a solace to the repeatedly bludgeoned and swindled people of Pakistan. But here is a kind of coterie that abhors decency and fair-play. There is an encompassing sway of all problems, one can think of, bedeviling the lives of the citizens of Pakistan. A rudderless ship being steered and carried away by the Caribbean pirates is what Pakistan looks like today. On the other side of the isle, the opposition is too atrophied. There is no leader with courage or conviction or clean slate that can inspire people with an alternative yet viable way-out of this lingering and deepening quagmire.
Accountability is an anathema to the ruling and the elitist classes. It is either covered under the dirty rug of such abominable laws as NRO or manipulated in favor of the already overly privileged and powerful sections of society. Religious zealots, the corporate thugs and the dehumanizing institions of feudalism, tribalism, and local lords mock the state sovereignty by posing as a state within the state. And on top of this entire abyss, Pakistan is treated to be a mercenary country, a hireling to accomplish the dirty jobs for a price.
Leaders like Musharraf are on record of claiming money for picking up its own citizens to be tried and sentenced abroad. Pakistan has nuclear bomb but merely bombs cannot fill the empty bellies of the people dying of hunger and starvation and impoverishment and sub human conditions. Religion ought to be protected but poor and debilitated nations cannot even protect their faith: example Muslims of Spain.
I shall not proceed further to portray this contrast lest I run the risk of being dubbed as an outcast and a renegade because such decrees are thrown by hypocritical clowns, at dissident patriots at the drop of the hat. But I strongly feel that there is no harm in saying truth and exposing the parasites and the robber barons, the exploiters and all those who mutilated Pakistan and are still doing it. Pakistan is in a trauma and needs urgent resuscitation. Who will do this emergency treatment can be anybody’s guess.

Crowning of a Crony President

November 22, 2009
Crowning of a Crony President
By Saeed Qureshi
Despite his umpteen follies, and in the face of a bogus election façade, Hamid Karzai has against assumed the presidency in Kabul. The degeneracy of a poltical system is manifest in the exigent way this most mind boggling anti- democratic feat was surmounted with the explicit blessing of America. If this is the color of the democracy America wants the occupied lands to paint with, then better we bury the pious platitudes of turning the world into an abode of legitimate governance. “That was the lesser evil and the only viable way-out”, argue the proponents of such a horrifying joke with the franchise of the people.
Nevertheless, it is vile and would remain a moral baggage for the overseas torch bearers of democratic orders and representative dispensations. Hamid Karzai is an outright stooge and a declared puppet of America. He is an incompetent, sluggish person imposed for the second term on a fractious and bleeding country that desperately needs veritable healers. Instead of messiahs this god forsaken country has a senseless crony who has no moral and poltical credentials to stay for another term as president.
At his swearing-in-ceremony, the birds of the same flock were visible with their backlog of unlovely deeds. Here was, Attired in Sindhi costumes, Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari exuding the stubborn notoriety that he shares with his counterpart in Kabul? And no less a luminary than the American secretary of state was also present to bless and authenticate the American approval of a ceremony that was a blatant insult to humanity and civilized world at large. There is another Pol Pot or Chiang Kai-Shek or a Suharto to preside over a god damned country, fast turning into a graveyard. So much for the, sovereignty and democratic genre of a state trampled under the jackboots of the powerful west!
Since the Second World War, United States has been involved in internecine wars in various parts of the world; the latest being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The history of the last six decades, after the Second World War, bears out the sordid fact that United States always propped up pliant dictators or phony democratic dispensations against the popular leaders, for docile cronyism. In Pakistan too, it was first General Ziaul Haq, followed by General Mushrraf and now the alter ego of Musharraf in the grab of Asif Zardari. Let us leave the other American camp followers of the past or the present.
For obvious reasons it is utterly impossible for Karzai to survive even for a day after the exit of American or NATO forces. Keeping in view the nature of the fighting, it’s forgone that sooner than later the occupation armies will have to quit Afghanistan. With their departure Karzai will have to also say goodbye to his motherland. But if it was not Karzai to serve the west, it could have been someone else to play the same mercenary role. Karzai is just a symbol of cronyism that survives as long its promoters remain on the stage. The people like Karzai may not be blamed for their despicable surrogate role. Such individuals are the product of circumstances and vanish after they have played their part as promoters of foreign agendas.
The foreign occupation of Afghan starting with the Soviet forces in 1979 has cost this country of unique landscape and rugged beauty, roughly 2 million human casualties: the material destruction apart. It would take decades before the Afghan society comes out of a lingering trauma, the agonizing paranoid and the disastrous reflections of a war imposed by the mighty powers in pursuit of their blighted agendas aimed at coveting the resource rich lands.
With a pacifist Obama at the helm in America, there are strong indications to hope that United States, with the apron string of NATO, would get rid of this futile war in the near future. America and the west should stop worrying as to how Afghanistan would look like after they beat a retreat. If the main objective is to annihilate Taliban and al-Qaida, then let this task be handled by the Afghan themselves. Pakistan’s example is instructive where Taliban and Al-Qaida are on the run.
In the similar fashion, America can provide military and economic aid to the anti militants forces in Afghanistan by keeping herself aloof. That would be the pragmatic strategy with bright chances to bear fruit. The powerful west must seize this cardinal lesson that those times are over when occupation armies would stay on a conquered land for ages. America can befriend Afghanistan, if it wants to, even without the display if its military muscle and without embarking on military adventures that have lost their luster and utility in a world transforming into the so called global village. In the modern times, the reckless and unprovoked military adventures for occupation , in fact, tarnish the image of the occupiers.

Clock is ticking for President Zardari

November 6, 2009
Clock is ticking for President Zardari
By Saeed Qureshi
“The higher you go the steeper you fall” goes the adage. It is so appropriately relevant to President Asif Ali Zardari who, not long ago, took the reins of Pakistan’s presidency. His Achilles Heel is his propensity for lying. He lied so many times and reneged on his solemn commitments so daringly that now his sincere promises may be taken as the outcries of the proverbial shepherd who cried wolf when it was not there. When it actually came no one came to his rescue because the villagers thought that it was yet another of his gimmicks.
Zardari is abundantly cunning, overly indiscreet or ambivalent, that he takes the whole nation including the politicians as midgets who could be leisurely bluffed time and again. He has lost the bus that could have secured his journey to a destination for a few years ‘vacationing. But perhaps while he is a crafty manipulator and a rank liar, he is not essentially a politician. He is a shrewd businessman man but he missed the cardinal point that politics is not all business. I like his broad grin and audacious face. Beyond that he leaves a phony portrait.
After all these years of incarceration, exiles, tribulations and vituperation of his person, even a devil should, with such prestigious position as the president of country, turn as pious as a Jesus reborn. Instead he chose to be a trickster reincarnate. Now what stopped him from shedding such extra baggage as the 17th amendment or the 58-2-B abomination? And mercifully he so categorically took it upon himself to revive the parliamentary democracy in Pakistan after a decade’s military rule by surrendering his powers to the prime minister within 24 hours of taking over as the president. He could have laundered his past sins and redeemed his wrong doings in more than one ways. He could have been content with the position of the party chairman or that of the head of the state. Had he done this well in time, he could have created an honorable niche for himself, notwithstanding how much wealth he stashed in foreign banks or concealed somewhere else.
But with the decision to take the NRO to the parliament first and then withdraw it in a humiliating hast for fear of not having enough parliamentary support, makes his government look as an outfit of clowns springing one dreary trick after another. Now the re-examination of NRO by the courts, whose outcome is as unpredictable as exploring the unknown, is staring in Zardari’s and other pardoned cohorts’ face. In the meantime, he has alienated his poltical allies and has been keeping the coalition partners in waiting for the undertakings he pledged to fulfill. ANP is waiting for the NWFP to be renamed as Pakhtunkhawa; the PMLN is sitting with its fingers crossed to see the charter of democracy to be shored up, while some of the hardcore fans of Bhutto clan want the murderers of Benazir Bhutto to be caught and prosecuted.
President Zardari, after his advent into the presidential mansion, so conveniently forgot all crucial issues as if these never existed and the uproar of the poltical counterparts was a cry in the wilderness or a kind of poltical blackmailing that he was trying to thwart. His cronies in the government have no shame in pleading his elephantine deviousness and deception that has remained his only dubious hallmark ever since he assumed the powerful presidency as a windfall prize or by default.
He could have demonstrated as to how he differed from his military predecessor president general Pervez Mushrraf. He could have atoned for his murky and tainted past. But with a genetic propensity to go on the wrong side of history, he has marred his future which can be as bleak and uncertain as one may conjecture. The latest deals of land in his and his son’s name eloquently reveal the mindset of a person who was more prone and seized of using his powerful position to buy the precious land for pennies. This looks more diabolic when weighed against the studied indifference he apportioned to the most critical and pressing issues of the country.
Mr. Zardari seems to have played his game. It is difficult to guess if the latest spate of his meetings with his estranged partners in government would help restore his deviant image and he would be able to again feel robust and confident as he has been in the first few months after becoming the president. But this is the opportune time for the apprehensive allies to demand their pound of flesh. But in the wake of the NRO to be reexamined and adjudicated by the judiciary, there should be only a lukewarm spirit of kinship and camaraderie between the PPP and the coalition parties that abounded in the early honey moon period.
If president Zardari manages to regain the support and sympathy of his allies, it would be accomplished at a huge and heavy cost. This time the stakes would be much higher from the coalition partners. In a scenario of dwindling fortunes, it is debatable and doubtful if Zardari despite his powerful presidency would be able to translate all his promises into reality.
Momentarily, the best way out for him is to relieve himself of the onerous burden of draconian 58/ 2-B, move speedily to revive the 1973 constitution and take one of the hats off his head: either remain the party chairman or else the president of Pakistan. If he does so he might still get some credit. But still the Sword of NRO and its judicial outcome would keep hanging over his head. If he is charged he loses the presidency. If he goes to jail, he loses the party’s lordship as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Proxy War by Pakistan

October 26,2009

By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan has been fighting America’s proxy war in Afghanistan and lately in Pakistan for almost 30 years. This war started with the deployment of Soviet army in Afghanistan in December 1979. Although the Soviet Union withdrew its army from Afghanistan 8 years later, America has been involved in Afghanistan even after that. Subsequent military engagements of American forces with Taliban and al-Qaida including the route of Taliban by the NATO and North Alliance militants continue to this day. Pakistan has been with America all along in these conflicts. The only difference between now and the past is that Pakistan is presently fighting this proxy war in its own territory against Taliban and Al-Qaida.
The humiliating exit of the Soviet army from Afghanistan, also led America to wind up its military operations and terminate its presence there , leaving that blood-soaked country to the mutual fighting of the tribal chiefs, each vying for the throne of Kabul. But the unkindest cut was inflicted upon Pakistan- its sacrifices and historic support was repaid by imposing Pressler Amendment. In consequence of Pressler Amendment President George H. W. Bush after determining in October 1989 that Pakistan had developed a nuclear weapon, cut off aid and many commercial relations with Pakistan.
Who knows, if Pakistan army is able to clear its territory of Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents; another “Pressler Amendment” may be hurled on Pakistan once again. The Kerry-Lugar Bill and the undertones of American military aid is pregnant with some semblance of mild Pressler condionalities. Only time will bear out if the United States’ claims for long term strategic relationship with Pakistan stand the test of time.
As to why Pakistan is the only country fond of or submitting to waging proxy wars for other countries is a mind boggling question. Why this ignoble practice was never thought to be called off? Why Pakistan gets entangled in internecine, interminable, bloodletting wars of others and its leadership willingly accepts the role of a pawn or mercenary without any threat to its own integrity? In the case of actual threat from across the border, United States in the past, balked with stubborn indifference. One of the cardinal reasons for Pakistan’ backwardness and regression is this country’s readiness to be a part of conflicts that hardly concern it. Pakistan has been promoting foreign agendas at the cost of its own self-esteem and sovereignty. It has been in the habit of turning into an ally of United States not on honorable terms but with a defeatist and submissive mindset.
Unlike Bush, the Obama administration is relatively, benign towards Pakistan. But in equal measure or disproportionately, Zardari government is overly pliant towards America in comparison to his predecessor Pervez Musharraf. He is ready to deliver on American terms any task assigned to his government. Hence the full fledged onslaught in South Waziristan that president Musharraf has been stalling during his tenure. Zardari’s no holds barred mercenary role for America is a compulsion that he has to fulfill anyway. There is a noose around his neck of copious crimes, covered under NRO. If he dithers or shows his disinclination in playing the role he is told to play, the noose will be tightened around his neck. Moreover, empowered with unprecedented elephantine powers, a yester years’ gaol bird is not willing to relinquish his fiat being supported by the foreign stake-holders. Unless s situation akin to falling of heaven happens, president Zardari would go to any extent to keep Americans in good humor. The victory in Swat and the ongoing military offensive in South Waziristan, if successful, would lend exceptional confidence and clout to president Zardari for retaining the egregious presidential powers as long as he can.
Pakistan is definitely in a civil war situation. What Al-Qaida and the religious fanatics did for USA in 90s, is being reenacted by the Pakistan army now. The Frankenstein of Taliban and al-Qaida is not going to be vanquished or at least defeated so soon. The region comprising Afghanistan and Pakistan and the tribal belt in between would keep burning in the war flames that cannot be doused for a long time to come. So the Pakistan army is in for a long drawn counter-insurgency operations that might exhaust it in due course a la the American forces that fought a similar war in Iraq. But supposedly even if it succeeds in annihilating the insurgents, the disastrous socio-economic fallout cannot be contained so soon.
Although Americans are sounding to stay in Afghanistan for a long time the possibility of indefinite presence of NATO in Afghanistan is remote. Even if Pakistan army overpowers the insurgents in Tribal regions, the war cannot come to end in a similar fashion in Afghanistan. Predictably when the tide starts turning against the Taliban and other militants in Pakistani territory, these elements would move to Afghanistan, a much vast land to carry on their anti NATO insurgency as long as they want. Pakistani forces cannot cross over to Afghanistan to help NATO to browbeat the insurgents there.
There is yet another possibility that once the anti Americans insurgents and militants are subdued by Pakistan, NATO and US would lift their anchors and leave the area as they did after the defeat and retreat of the Soviet Union army from Afghanistan. Or America may entirely concentrate on Afghanistan and may even lose interest in continuing her military and economic aid to Pakistan. Americans are known for abandoning their commitments half way after the needful is done or the mercenary countries finish their hireling’s job.
On the domestic turf, President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have met presumably to bring about a thaw in their chilly and fractious relationship. It’s difficult to conjecture whether they would be able to forge a fresh durable alliance. But understandably, Nawaz Sharif like a bitten man would not like to be bitten for the second time. Perceiving that NRO was going to be debated in the parliament, the Kerry Lugar bill turning out to be an irksome irritant, the South Waziristan war going to be a long haul and the growing disenchantment of the people with the incumbent government, Nawaz Sharif will keep on aggressively pressing for the implementation of the several accords that he reached with Zardari.
President Zardari might agree to the PMLN’S demands for the trial of former president Musharraf and might even dispense with some of the controversial injunctions in the constitution. But he would further erode his credibility if he again reneges on his commitments. The glaring fact is that it would be pretty difficult for the PPP coalition government to keep their solo flight in power without PMLN which is the second largest party in Pakistan. The NRO issue is certainly very tricky and even if it is approved by the Assembly and the Senate, it would still leave the government in a clumsy situation. Any government surviving under the questionable cover up of amnesty granted by an individual for keeping himself in the power saddle, cannot claim to be firm on moral grounds. Moreover, the Supreme Court still retains the prerogative to overturn or reject or reinterpret the parliamentarians’ approval or disapproval of the NRO. This murky climate might force midterm general elections.

MQM’s New Political Initiatives

September 20, 2009

MQM’s New Political Initiatives
By Saeed Qureshi
Happily, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is spreading its political tentacles beyond its power base of Urban Sindh. It is making its entry into Punjab, a stronghold of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and also the bastion of the quisling Punjabi feudals and big landlords. There are already signs of panic and commotion not only among the hereditary and traditional political circles but also in the landed gentry that perceives in MQM a political force, committed to remove the vestiges of family based politics.
There are reverberations in the hegemonic political dynasties of the well entrenched aristocratic classes that have been surviving on a virtual tutelage over the landless tillers and impoverished urban slum dogs. The lecherous sway of the blood sucking dominant sections of Punjab seem to be threatened by MQM”s overtures of broadening its political base in other parts of Pakistan which were practically sort of no go areas for this party composed of mostly middle and lower middle yet conscientious and educated work force.
It is stunning to watch MQM”s announcement to contest the elections for the Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly, scheduled for November 15. It has thrown 19 candidates into the election arena. In between Karachi and Gilgit, lies the entire territory of Pakistan. It means that for proliferating its political ambitions or mandate, MQM has covered the entire country. The gaps and the gray areas yet to be covered in between, must be on the express and eventual agenda of MQM.
The MQM’s thrust into the rest of Pakistan and its endeavors at breaking its regional barriers augurs an auspicious development for Pakistan’s politics which thus far remained hostage to the closely guarded legacy of the nexus between the feudalism, civil and military bureaucracy and big wigs of mercantile empire. The MQM cadres are resolute and are unflinchingly rallied behind their leader Altaf Hussain. They have demonstrated a monolithic unity and exemplary cohesion all these years. They are immune from the fear of making sacrifices for the ideals that they steadfastly stand for.
In the preceding years, the image of the MQM largely has been to be an ethnic party. The doubts were cast over its loyalty to Pakistan and its alleged linkage with India. Some of the speeches of the firebrand Altaf Hussain also fueled such apprehensions that he was out to truncate Pakistan and that plans were afoot for the Urban Sindh to rejoin the Indian federation. The Jinnahpur conspiracy was entirely attributed to MQM. The time has proven that all such allegations and rumours were part of a disinformation campaign The statements or the speeches of Altaf Hussain were merely a spontaneous outburst in retaliation to the maltreatment to the MQM members at some juncture in the past.
The MQM’s remarkable demonstration of nation building work in Karachi stands in good stead for it. It has with absolute honesty and attention reoriented and expanded the much needed roads and highway network in Karachi. It has laid down the sewage system, ensured sustained supply of water and have performed similar civic milestones to ease the lives of the citizens. It was always in the lead in rushing for helping the afflicted people from natural calamities such as 2005 earthquakes or man-made chaos such as in Swat.
Now when MQM wants to be a part of national political ethos, all such incriminations should be set aside. In fact the stagnant or degenerate Poltical culture prevailing in Pakistan needs vibrant political forces as the MQM, to join the mainstream political spectrum. This would be a welcome turning point in many ways. The MQM would be able to come out of the much trumped up cocoon of parochialism, ethnicity, and regionalism, linguistic or provincial entity. MQM should be more patriotic because the migrants suffered immensely in all manners at the time of partition of the Indian sub-continent The Mohajars or the migrants could have lived in India like other Muslims but these valorous people imbued with the undying spirit to live in the newly created Islamic independent state of Pakistan, crossed a sea of blood to reach this new land. So despite their being originally from a different part of undivided India, they have thoroughly justified their right and privilege to be the real Pakistanis.
It’s not the sacrosanct right of the already settled people to exclusively call themselves the real or patriotic citizens of Pakistan. Although Pakistan geographically happens to be carved on their lands, yet the country belongs to all: whether migrants or the natives. Ironically, as the history bears out, the feudals and land barons in the West Pakistan were not vociferously committed to the creation of Pakistan. But even if they supported the independence movement their only aim was self aggrandizement and to enjoy and secure the ownership of the vast tracts of lands bestowed upon them by the British colonial masters for serving their imperialistic interests in the Indian subcontinent. They were and still are the local tyrants over the powerless and the impoverished population.
So MQM would be a befitting and uncompromising bulwark against the privileged landed gentry, besides other vested interests that have been parasitic and odious agents of status quo. The grand and coveted dream of Pakistan to be a state with the shining hallmarks such as social justice, equality egalitarianism, accountability and clean and effective governance can be realized if political parties such as MQM join hands with other poltical forces at national level and steer Pakistan out of the quagmire this country is steeped in. The unholy alliance between exploitative and unduly privileged classes in Pakistani society can be effectively dented and debilitated provided the forces from the middle class and grass root sections, emerge on the national horizon, capture power and initiate a war to cleanse the society of the self perpetuating, blood sucking sections thriving on the miseries and agonies of the vast majority of the people of Pakistan. The clear demarcation between ‘haves’ and “haves not” has yet to be erased.

That can be done with clean governance and with rule of law and with a spirit of self denial. The spiritual, the economic exploitation of the disempowered masses and political monopolies have to end to carve out a glorious, honorable and prosperous Pakistan to emerge. Perhaps the hour for political parties with grass root orientation and mass appeal has come to deliver Pakistan from the chronic and unremitting multi-dimentional morass and perfidy it has been pushed into by a corrupt and degenerate system and by a pedigree of insidious politicians and parasitic privileged classes.
The task of MQM is going to be certainly daunting and apparently a long haul. To defeat and outflank the centuries old monstrosities and to eject the powerful feudals and their collaborators out of the power corridors is easy said than done. But as the proverb goes, “a thosuand miles long journey starts with the first small step.” It’s the people of Pakistan and downtrodden teeming masses who would definitely respond to the calls aimed at changing their miserable lot. The road to this pinnacle destination seems to be striven with fallen heroes and sacrifices by the torch bearers of change and revolution. But revolution will come and come it must: this is a lesson of history.

Army Rule not to be Ruled out

Upright Opinion
October 13, 2009
Army Rule not to be Ruled out
By Saeed Qureshi
The top brass of the Pakistan army is getting apprehensive of the policies of the ongoing PPP coalition government. The crucial decisions taken and directed from the presidency on matters of national import, without involvement of the parliament or on occasions the coalition partners and even the prime minister gives a farcical and sham image to the PPP led democratic governance. President Zardari is either purposely sidetracking the established democratic norms or is oblivious of the fundamental imperatives of parliamentary form of government. He has opted to remain physically cut off from the people as well as from his own PPP cadres within the party and in the government. He seems to have an irresistible penchant for foreign junkets that makes him look like an ambassador at large than the head of the state of Pakistan.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a dictum that is so relevant to the sitting government with a flamboyant president, wearing two feathers in his hat of power: chairman of the PPP and the head of the state with unprecedented powers. The windfall presidency that was bestowed upon him by a benign nature and also by the fast emerging combine of favorable developments makes Zardari as one of the highly enviable yet luckiest man on the planet earth.
But old habits die hard. He is a staunch believer in the philosophy that democracy is not an honorable system of government. He perceives parliamentarianism as a mob rule. That perception comes closer to fascism. It is presumably under this impression that he has arrogated to himself the exclusive distinction of being a past master in double speak, back-tracking from his solemn commitments and jugglery of unceasing tricks. Humans can be miserably devious and meanly dodging but a president of Pakistan who was catapulted from the status of a most maligned person to the highest office in the country is second to none in deception and chicanery.
The army is undergoing a spell of brain storming after the passage of the controversial Kerry Lugar Bill that tacitly berates the Pakistan army and fetters it in several vexatious conditions. In the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the Pakistan army looks like a guinea pig, while the sitting government goes scot free with a clean certificate. So the apprehensions are that there might have been deliberate attempts at some stage by some political or bureaucratic elements or even the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC, to add such stipulations that would keep the army under the thumb of the Pakistan government and America. The clause restraining the army not to interfere in judicial domain is patently, to forestall army’s replay of the pressure or persuasion exerted last year, on government to reinstate the sacked judges So if the political government once again deposes judges who supposedly might reactivate NRO landmine, the government should have the powers to sack them and replace them with her favorites.
The latest attack on army headquarters by a group of dare devil gun totting infiltrators must have jolted the military bureaucracy to ponder as to how such an improbable event could happen. The army must be scurrying to put its act together by scanning and sprucing up its organization. But it was not an ordinary incident that should not warrant any serious attention. In this process the army might like to renew its assertion vis-a-vis a dysfunctional political outfit to avert such ignominious pitfalls and appalling flaws for the future.
The impression might be gaining currency in the army’s hierarchy that while it was fighting an epic war against the militants in various hot spots of Pakistan, the political government was on the move to clip its wings via Kerry Lugar Bill. The Army feels that it deserves a pat on the back and due appreciation by the government trying to liberate Pakistan from the ruthless conservatism of the Taliban that was more inhuman that being Islamic. Ostensibly Pakistan’s army’s war in the tribal regions and northern valleys was more a dire need of America than Pakistan. So Pakistan army should be given a free hand and a strong impetus to carry on its anti- insurgency mission than projecting it as interventionist in the domestic affairs.
The widespread public unrest and woes due to appalling civic and social problems and poor governance cannot be ignored by the army that had surged as a savior in the turbulent times for Pakistan. The PPP government’s foot dragging even on registering an FIR of Benazir’s murder, the unfulfilled pledges for prevalence of parliamentary democracy, the wanton statements issued by the president cutting across the national interests, the squander of public funds, and a casual and regal way of governing the country might create a justification for the army, howsoever, untenable to renter power corridors. If the cleavage of mistrust keeps widening due to government’s back stabbing of the army as is done in Kerry Lugar Bill, it would again be the army having the last laugh. That would be a benighted day for Pakistan if fifth martial law comes to Pakistan due to politicians’ black deeds. But who can stop the inevitable?
For USA, it hardly matters if the country is run by a discredited political cabal or by the army. They want to see the job accomplished. They want desired results in the troubled areas infested by Al-Qaida and Taliban. Burma has been under a military rule for ages and no one minds that seriously. If again, military takes over power in Pakistan; America wouldn’t blink the eyes if the task of chasing Al-Qaida and Taliban to their ultimate annihilation continues unhindered. If it happens, then this time, the martial law won’t be as a benign as was that of Pervez Mushrraf. It would spell doom for the politicians and for sleazy rulers in shape of the nemesis that any army is perfectly capable of delivering. Countless heads would roll.

The Battle in GHQ

Upright Opinion
October 11, 2009

The Pakistani electronic media is heaping accolades and all possible laurels on Pakistan army for flushing out the terrorists that barged, on October 9, into the General Headquarters of the Pakistan army located at the very heart of the Rawalpindi city. The media is going out of the way to project as if the victory or in simple terms the overpowering of the attackers was to save Islam and Pakistan. The media is trumpeting the battle in GHQ as an exceptional heroic deed that was unsurpassed in terms of the valor and marvelous planning of the army “Jawans (young soldiers). The media projection gave an impression as if a new war has started between India and Pakistan that ended with a stunning and humiliating defeat to the enemy.
This hyperbolic description of a local clash by the media is as amusing and shocking as to be seen in third rate thrill movies showing quick fix feats by an all powerful hero. The passion-generating national war time lyrics were played incessantly with loud calls of Salam to Pak army along with the expression of abiding gratitude of Pakistani nation to these invincible warriors for thwarting the nefarious attempts of the enemies to harm Islam and Pakistan. Such was the ludicrous cacophony and hype of the electronic media with Geo leading this overly bizarre publicity blitz.
There were less than a dozen individuals who stormed the well- fortified garrison of Pakistan army and held hostage more than three dozen both uniformed and civilian persons. In the bloody clash 6 precious lives from the army with a brigadier and a Lt.Colonel were lost. Now admittedly, this was a daring and brazen surprise attack by the infiltrators on the heavily cordoned Headquarters of Pakistan army. On the very face such a desperate foray looked impossible. But it did happen.
Why don’t we look at the whole sordid event from a different angle? Was it a lapse on the part of Pakistan army and its intelligence network that a few individuals picked up the courage to wear the military uniforms, come closer to one of the gates and force their way into the interior of the garrison? Secondly, it took more than 18 hours for the elite troops and police to overcome the dogged terrorists. Backed by a conducive environment for easy movement, maneuverability and logistic support, it should not have taken for the highly trained troops to storm and dislodge the holed-up terrorists. This long and inordinate delay can be interpreted as extreme caution to judge the situation, fatigue the attackers and to save the lives of the held-up hostages. Still it was very long time to launch an assault which finally came and in the wake three innocent hostages died too.
That the Headquarters of the army can be so vulnerable as to come under a well coordinated terrorist attack is a yawning question that stares right in the face of all the high ups and top command of the Pakistan army. Was it a jay walk by the miscreants and armed brigands that they came so close to the entry gate and started strafing the check post inmates after brief altercation?
\Why the media was straining and bending over backward to make it out like Waterloo? The sacrifices of the six army jawans was the result of the ambush by the assailants and there was, understandably, no duel that took place. It is indeed a sober moment for introspection and reflection to explore how and why, in the first instance; the terrorists were able to break into into the boundary wall or through the gate of this huge complex of buildings?
Even a police contingent could have finally prevailed over this small group of terrorists within the same amount of time that the strong and rigorously trained army Jawans took. The terrorists were able to jolt the entire country and catch, the valiant and staunch Pakistan army, unawares with their shock emitting onslaught. And that was exactly their insidious motive.
The army should mount a speedy enquiry to find out the possibility of the inside collaborators of this most heinous and vicious attack on GHQ. This flabegausing happening gives a clear and loud message that the enemies of Pakistan were well organized and have long arms, resources and tactical information to hold even the headquarters of the Pakistan army, be it for a day.
The debate that it was a reaction to the army’s operations in the tribal regions of Pakistan, is hardly relevant to justify the laxity and army’s intelligence wings’ utter failure to anticipate and preempt such deadly and stunning acts of terrorism. There is no need for the media to unnecessary highlight and blow the counter operation of the army out of proportions, which in any case the army had to undertake. The army’s killing of the terrorists was foregone and the therefore, it was a normal counter offensive by the army to dislodge the infiltrators.
But still the stand-off and the consequent but prolonged operation should be looked at more in the nature of a lapse rather than a monumental feat of gallantry in the name of Islam. The bare fact is that it was neither an attack by the terrorists for Islam nor was a counter-operation by the army to save Islam. So to mention paradise and prophet receiving the Ghazis (martyred for Islam) in paradise seems irrelevant to the battle in GHQ.
It’s time to ponder what has gone wrong with the Pakistan army, to plug the loop holes in its citadel and to take a new look at its overall turn-out and flawed intelligence paraphernalia.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill

The Fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill
By Saeed Qureshi
Why there is so much fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill? In media and elsewhere, the dark and damning ramifications of this bill are being weighed against the sovereignty and national honor of Pakistan. Ironically, if the bill had not been approved, there would have been a horrendous outcry and this would have been interpreted as a failure of an unpopular government. So the people are never happy: one way or the other. There was a long wait with prying eyes for this bill to see the light of day and when finally it has been processed, an adverse backlash is unleashed against it.
There is nothing wrong with Kerry Lugar. Rather it is a timely help and a blessing in disguise. It’s an aid package that is essentially different from all such previous aid baskets. It is drastically toned down in its language and contents. The periodic certification by the Secretary of State about the satisfactory performance of Pakistan is not a big deal. If America is giving so much of money to Pakistan, doesn’t she have a right to ask how this money was being spent and was it expended on the stipulated targets?
Suppose what could have been Pakistan’s plight, if it was under attack by the radical religious outfits and there was no one around to help? Without enough financial resources the whole of Pakistan would have come under the murderous sway of Taliban. Like Swat or Afghanistan under Taliban, in the Islamic state of Pakistan too, the hands of the thieves would be chopped off and the women folk s to be whipped in public. The schools of the girls would be closed, the modern information and music gadgets smashed, the shop owners beheaded and the traders of such businesses hanged in squares or deprived of one of their body limbs.
This is not an imaginary fearsome scenario or a mere macabre fantasy. It would have been a sordid fact of life as we have seen, in not too distant past, such gory situations, prevailing in Afghanistan and a part of Pakistan. The unrelenting armed clashes between the frenzied religious militants and the Pakistan army would be a foregone outcome. The army has its limits of fighting. It would be worn down by interminable skirmishes with the hit and run shooters, spread all over Pakistan.
Jamat-e-Islami and other religio-political parties that oppose cooperation between United States cooperation are deceitful and backdoor friends of America. When, at the behest of the West, they were mobilizing the whole Islamic world to fight, against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, they had no such hiccups for Islam and integrity of Pakistan. Now when they are out of that mercenary and henchman’s game, they see a smelling rat in Pakistan’s collaboration with the United States.
Pakistan all along, has never been, in an unenviable position. Thanks to the lack of visionary, courage and patriotic leadership, Pakistan never rose above the flak of being a corny of the United States. Unfortunately, the impression of subservience and toadyism that remained tagged with Pakistan in relation to America has seldom been erased. The mutual relations between the two countries have generally remained clouded by suspicion and love-hate syndrome.
But viewing the current mode and tenure of relationship between America and Pakistan, it is safer to infer that, of late, United States seems to be treating Pakistan as a trusted ally and the misconceptions of the past appear to be evaporating. This is not to say that the future relations would also remain cast in the same mold. With the stunning victory that Pakistan has scored against the Taliban in northern valleys, the level of American trust with regard to Pakistan has risen.
The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse with the time passage. The casualties of the NATO forces and those of American troops are on the rise. If Pakistan can rein in or check the Taliban and Al-Qaida’s insurgency in the tribal belt bordering on Afghanistan then Pakistan would further conclusively establish its credibility as an effective counter-poise against the radical militants. If areas such as North and South Waziristan are cleared of Taliban and other similar fanatics then America would be left with no tenable reason to blame Pakistan for duplicity or charade against Taliban and their protégé Al-Qaida. That was an accusation against former president Mushrraf for running with the hare and hunting with the hound.
There is an amazing development for a possible thaw between Pakistan and belligerent Taliban. Maulana Fazalur Rehman the chief of JUI, a religio-political political party has made an offer to make peace between Taliban and Pakistan. If that happens and if a process of pacification between Taliban and Pakistan is set in motion, Pakistan as well as United States would be utterly redeemed and spared from a calamity.
Those elements in Pakistan who plead antagonizing America forget the case of Libya. Libya under revolutionary Qaddafi had to pay a very heavy price for posing herself as a bulwark against the western imperialism. It was declared as a pariah state and remained cut off with the rest of the world for pretty two decades. Iraq is another example. Pakistan could have become another example of devastation and pillage by ruthless imperialist onslaught. The fundamental stark reality to comprehend is that the current times are in favor the technologically advanced and economically prosperous nations. Going against them is like going against the strong current in a stormy ocean.
The appeasement strategy of Zardari towards the friendly and hostile nations alike is rewarding both in the long and short terms. If we cannot act as the new-born revolutionaries nor have we the means to stand our ground, then the most prudent policy is to draw maximum benefit out of an intractable situation as the one Pakistan is currently faced with. Pakistan’s pressing problems are all internal. Poverty, illiteracy, lawlessness, unemployment, the upsurge of religious militancy, health, water, a downgraded social and civic life, the ineffectual governance, the institutional breakdown, the mediocrity of the politicians and lack of or slow economic development are the major issues that have to be addressed post haste.
If we want to prove ourselves as honorable and independent people then we have to first put our own house in order. The world is moving towards universal understanding. The ideological differences and divisions are the legacies of the past. Pakistan has to be peaceful and embark upon a rapid economic development revolutionary course. Only then can Pakistan unfetter itself from the bonds of external aid and concomitant condionalities attached to foreign largesse.