Sunday, August 22, 2010

Altaf Hussain’s Call to Army Generals

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Upright Opinion
Altaf Hussain’s Call to Army Generals
By Saeed Qureshi
August 22, 2010
MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has called upon Pakistan’s patriotic army generals to come forward and contain the deterioration and drift that is taking place in the country on a rapid scale. In a telephonic address from his London residence, the firebrand MQM leader said that his party would support patriotic Army generals’ measures such as Martial Law if taken against corrupt politicians
There was a strong hope that democracy would provide a lasting cure for many afflictions that for decades Pakistan has been suffering from. But this hope has proven to be farcical. There is widespread disillusionment among Pakistanis with the incumbent democratic government that has brought in its wake more miseries than any expected relief or betterment.
Altaf has particularly stressed on eradication of feudal culture and elimination of powerful pressure groups, the self-seeking politicians, leech like aristocracy and elitist ascendency in Pakistan. He said these are the dark and inimical forces that were squarely responsible for the appalling state of affairs the country is plunged in.
Although his party is one of the coalition partners both in the Sindh provincial government and at the centre, yet he deserves to be admired and applauded for issuing a matter of fact statement that epitomized his courage and the laudable knack of saying what was right or truthful.
His bold statement exhibits the despondency that the majority of the Pakistanis are undergoing. He has simply portrayed that state of extreme dejection and utter darkness that has enveloped Pakistan. The situation in Pakistan is typical of the drastic decline and steep degeneration with rich classes getting further rich and the vast swathe of population being pushed underneath the level of poverty.
The rapacious local lords and ravenous looters in all forms and garbs are voraciously sucking the economic blood of the nation with no respite in their urge for filling their coffers, which are already bulging with the wealth grabbed via corruption, jobbery through commissions and kickbacks.
The law and order is so atrociously fragile and hijacked by powerful individuals that they kill two young boys under the patronage of the police force otherwise supposed to be the protector of the lives of the citizens. Can there be a more sinister violation of law that one can witness in Pakistan? If such a sickening carnage can take place in full public view what would be happening under cover with innumerable innocents being butchered. So where is the country drifting to?
Altaf Hussain has addressed the army generals because there is no other institution in the country that possesses the coercive power to clean the “Augean Sables” of unprecedented filth and scum, being accumulated by the rulers down to a small police minion by a thousand ways.
If you call the present governmental set up as a manifestation of some form of democracy then let us define it as an oligarchy and a tainted democracy supervised by the unleashed ruffians, bad characters, rogues, rascals, saintly intermediaries and public enemy’s setting unbroken records of mis governance and wrong doing.
Karachi, the largest and port city of Pakistan is in the throes of ethnic and racial vendettas with precious lives being lost every day. There seems to be no end to this mayhem. In Baluchistan, non-Balucihies are being targeted: a trend that is as insidious as it is frightening.
In Pakistan, it is like Roman Empire of the modern times where the people encircle two utterly helpless young boys being bludgeoned and clubbed to death by human monsters. The only difference between the Roman Empire of yester times and of now is that in the ancient Roman Colosseums, the blood of the captives was shed by real beasts while in the Pakistan these are humans themselves who have surpassed and substituted the predatory animals.
A prime minister who is the scion of a saintly clan or shrine culture with credulous individuals kissing his hands and offering donation for doom’s day redemption cannot be mentally an equal with the common masses. A president whose lust for making money is unbounded will not refrain from his pathological pursuits. From the ministers down to a clerk in a small office, all are busy like bees to thwart the law and make as much buck as they can. Such a congenial atmosphere was seldom seen in the past when one could plunder in a no holds barred manner as now even to the lowly extent of taking a pack of cigarettes from the harassed and needy people.
What malaise has not eaten into the vitals of Pakistan? Adulteration with tainted food( sugar mixed with urea), spurious drugs hastening deaths, filth plastered over every lanes, streets and roads of Pakistan; smoke emitting overfilled public transport causing air and noise pollution; the stinking overflowing open sewers; no clean and abundant water; no adequate power: hospitals like slaughterhouse, schools with scant discipline and so on. These are some of the socio- civic problems that the denizens of Pakistan are exposed to and go through these ordeals every moment.
Si it is a huge mess, a colossal wreck and a mammoth chaos that has to be put in order. We have seen that the incumbent democratic government has miserably failed to ameliorate the living conditions of the citizenry. The lawlessness stems from the minister of law and goes down to the lowest rung of society. There is no hope left, no light at the end of the tunnel because the tunnel of sufferings and miseries for a common person has no end.
So in the light of this staggering spectacle, Altaf Hussain can discern the last hope in the army and specifically the patriotic military top brass to come forward and straighten this snarled tangle. It might be for a very brief period but it should serve as a break from the past and a new beginning. If what Altaf Hussain has warned, is not done sooner than later, the country faces the pernicious danger of disintegration. And he is absolutely right.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An irredeemably discredited government

Upright Opinion
An irredeemably discredited government
By Saeed Qureshi
August 18, 2010
I am not saying it. A common, prevailing perception is that the incumbent dispensation at the helm in Pakistan is not only manifestly incompetent but also a conglomeration of incorrigibly and defiantly corrupts individuals. There is trenchant belief that these ruling charlatans rob not under the cover of darkness but in broad day light with audacity and then boast of committing such loathsome bravadoes.
Precisely for this reason, the international relief aid is being neither committed nor flowing into Pakistan on a large scale. The sins of rulers are visiting upon the hapless people whose dwellings, cattle, livestock, and even family members have perished in the colossal water shield that covered one fifth of the land of Pakistan. Crops have been washed off, poisonous reptiles crawling and pouring venom into the bodies of helpless and debilitated human beings in whose frightened and lifeless faces the death stares with impunity.
The credibility gap is incredibly wide between the government and the people of Pakistan as well the rest of the world, the international community, and the philanthropists at home and abroad. Meager amounts or relief goods are doled out with a lurking suspicion that the donated money would not reach the afflicted but would be gobbled up by the corrupt government functionaries, the official organizers, and the brazen power wielders.
Billions of dollars came from both overseas Pakistanis and international donors after the devastating earthquake of 2006. However, this money reached to the suffers and victims of earthquake by a fraction. The remaining aid no one knows disappeared where, as there is no record available about the dispensation of those funds. Therefore, the apprehension of the international donors and relief agencies is tenable. If the money grabbers and racketeers steal the funds meant for the millions human beings devastated by the mammoth deluge, the exercise of relief and philanthropy would be futile and counterproductive.
Now contrary to what water and power minister Raja Ashraf believes, the yawning fact is that the rental power projects are ruinous for the economy of the country and do not offer durable resolution to the chronic energy shortfall in Pakistan. He is not ready to entertain any other proposal that would cure this festering malaise on permanent or on long-term basis. Ironically, he has prevailed, and why he has prevailed is not a closely guarded secret for anyone to unravel.
In addition, the godfather law minister Dr (?) Babar Awan has not one qualm of conscience or an iota of façade of decency and modesty to atleast speak in the parlance of civilized people. He attacks like a wolf and persist in his ravenous forays until he silences his challengers. The novel ways of deceit, duplicity, chicanery, weird explanations farfetched logic is advanced by him to deflate the mushrooming anti- government public ire and uproar. A rank liar, and in face of incontrovertable evidence to his receiving a staggering soliciting fee of Rupees 35 million from the crook businesspersons, he poses as if the whole world has gone crazy to malign him and he alone is a reincarnated Jesus Christ among his tormentors.
What will happen of the tragedy that has struck the people of Pakistan? The worthy president of Pakistan is flying to Russia as if his absence in Moscow would spell disaster for the entire world and might trigger the third world war. Such is the apathy and callous lack of concern for the people caught up in a life and death struggle. Do such stonehearted characters have the right to lord over the people who have elected such monsters to power?
There seems to be no remedy to the enormity of deformities, our beloved country Pakistan is plunged into. Just compare the rulers hovering over in helicopters to see the miseries and marooned humans. They come to the destroyed and engulfed villages as if coming to a garden party where they would be garlanded and flattered for being the masters of the fallen and disaster- stricken masses.
Does the country need a revolution, a radical change from this irksome status quo to a new dawn of fresh breeze of equality, justice, and civilized conduct? Would it be superfluous to recount and repeat the miseries and sufferings of the people of Pakistan they are undergoing even without the ongoing nature's fury in the form of calamitous floods? The country is being run like a mafia controlled den in a secluded jungle of South America where law and order is extinct.
Someone has to lead a struggle for change. Someone has to take up the cudgel with undaunted valor to upturn the decay and degeneration that has caved in every department, echelons, streets, localities, villages, cities, and provinces of Pakistan. Someone with a prophetic mission and unmatched courage has to demolish the fiefdoms that dot Pakistan and poise as mini-states within the federation. These fiefdom holders were seen in their vast land holdings trying to save their crops and cattle even by diverting the gushing water to others' areas.
There are countless, feudal lords, giant property owners who virtually are local emperors or suzerains ruling the people like subjects in olden pharaohs’ dynasties. Can Islam and the creed of these well-entrenched local monarchs co-exist? Why can’t the religious clerics raise the banner of rebellion against these bloodsuckers and agents of slavery and human bondage and throw them out?
Is there someone who can snatch the large estates and orchards from these monstrous masters and bring them to the level of a common person as far justice and equal status between the humans is concerned? With their starched apparels, their wound-up moustaches, their hypocritical grins: their hold over police stations, courts, and official portals must be broken.
Mind my words! If this does not happen, Pakistan will stumble into a backward state like many in the African continent. Our fertile soil, our fine workforce, our grand seasons, our chaste values, enchanting dales and mountains, rivers and deserts lose charm if the people suffer from an inhuman and exploitative system that keep most of them at sub human levels, economically and socially.
A civil society cannot be brought about by brutes. Peace, economic justice, good governance, rule of law, accountability of rulers, women's rights, and modesty are the virtues that are alien to the coterie of people with narrow, self-aggrandizing pursuits. Pakistan has to get rid of the self -seeking elitist classes and individuals who would keep on doing anything to enhance their lives, fortunes, and pelf, at the expense of the People. Who is going to do this?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Musharraf Ready to Jump into the Political Arena

Upright Opinion
Musharraf Ready to Jump into the Political Arena
By Saeed Qureshi
August 11, 2010
There is a new political party ready to jump into the tumultuous political arena of Pakistan. It is nomenclatured “All Pakistan Muslim League” and is to be led by Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf, now residing in London for a break. Dubai is the venue where off and on, he meets his supporters and fans who believe sincerely or wistfully that he is the one in the prevailing chaotic circumstances to act as a redeemer and a kind of reborn Messiah for the distressed people of Pakistan.
Aside, his heftily paid lectures that he delivers in various cities of the United States, and elsewhere, he is vigorously busy in finalizing the manifesto of his upcoming party that he intends to launch in the near future. In Dallas city of United States, he will launch his party’s chapter on October 15. The members from Quaid-e- Azam Muslim League party that he headed while he was the president, meet him in Dubai and in London for consultations and to show solidarity with him.
In Dallas, a group named “Friends of Pakistan-First” is frantically busy in finalizing arrangements in anticipation of Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Dallas. Already there is some kind of hectic canvassing going in the leading cities of America for raising membership and building sizeable support for former president’s party. Recently his close, diehard companion and confidant Dr. Nasim Ashraf chaired a meeting in Dallas to formally kick off the anticipatory interaction with Musharraf’s supporters and sympathizers. He seemed to be quite jubilant with his deliberations in this one of the leading metropolises of the United States.
A close source of the erstwhile president of Pakistan revealed that the party would be launched after the month of Ramadan perhaps with headquarters in London. He would be yet another Pakistani political leader besides MQM’s Altaf Hussain to steer his party from London. However, the difference between Altaf Hussain and Musharraf is that while the former has no plans to return to Pakistan so soon, the latter is throwing hints to be in Pakistan sometime next year.
According to reliable sources although Pervez Musharraf was eager to shuttle between London and Pakistan, yet he cannot venture going right now because of the formidable challenges and grave risks exposed to him. There is a lurking danger to his life from religious radical militants and from the Baluch avengers of Akbar Bugti’s assassination ascribed to Pervez Musharraf. Additionally he might be trapped into a maze of legal proceedings on issues such as storming of the Islamabad’s so-called Red Mosque in which scores of the resident female students were killed in the army action.
He might be tried for suspending constitution and imposing emergency in November 2007. As such, he has a plethora of threats to his life during his stay in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Dr Nasim Ashraf told Musharraf’s adherents in Dallas that his boss was firmly resolved to stage a comeback in Pakistan notwithstanding the impending pitfalls in his way and the possible dangers to his life and political career. He is determined to fight out the cases against him on moral and legal turfs and establish that whatever decisions he took as head of the state were in right earnest and in the best interests of Pakistan.
One such decision of far reaching import was to align Pakistan with America to wage war on the religious fanatics and the anti-American insurgents. In addition, he will have to justify for handing over high value suspects both Pakistanis and non -Pakistanis belonging to Al-Qaida to the United States for bounty money.
In case he lands in Pakistan the ruling PPP may still have some soft corner for him. However, Musharraf’s arch antagonist Nawaz Sharif and his party may not allow him having a smooth sailing in the turbulent waters of Pakistan. While there is a possibility that PPP may finally desire a coalition with APML (Musharraf) the Nawaz group may institute and pursue legal battle with him.
As such, the advent of Musharraf into Pakistani politics may not be as smooth as he and his party cadres might be expecting. Even Pervez Musharraf may himself be direly aware of the foreseen and unforeseen obstacles he may be facing, because politics is always unpredictable and a thorny course to embark upon. Had Musharraf been exiled or ousted because of a revolutionary movement, a la Imam Khomeini, he would have simply come and ridden over the crest of a popular wave. But he faces an entirely reverse situation and it might take him quite some time before he can feel secure to pursue his political ambitions.
No doubt in comparison a segment of population prefers Musharraf era over the ongoing democratic set up, as in the present times, the problems of people have not only compounded but the government has proven itself to be dysfunctional, incompetent or uncaring to address those problems. On one side, the people of Pakistan are steeped into a prolonged nightmare of countless soci civic problems, on the other, the government echelons from top to bottom are hell bent to prove themselves as corrupt and inefficient. They are stubbornly unconcerned of the degeneration, the country is drifting into. There is a wide gap of credibility between the rulers and the masses.
In the wake of such a frightening spectacle, a person like Musharraf can be looked upon as lesser evil or a person who did not allow his government to exceed limits as to be reaching a stage of virtual breakdown. His only sin was that he was placed into the throne of power by a mix of mysterious and sudden circumstantces that he could not even predict a day earlier. Ziaul Haq’s case was different. He came to power through a combined conspiracy of internal and external forces. Musharraf was the luckiest one that a calamity turned overnight into a blessing. Thereafter he followed the course that is typical to all dictators.
Although presently the manifesto of APML is being compiled, the principle thrust according to sources close to former president would be to unite all the factions of Muslim League under one banner. This would understandably preclude Nawaz faction. But as nothing is final in politics, maybe in the longer run, there is a change of hearts on both the sides and they join hands to merge as a strong monolithic entity. If such a development happens, it would facilitate the two party system, a healthy prelude to a genuine parliamentary system of government in Pakistan.
The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan.

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It’s Plutocracy: Not Democracy

It’s Plutocracy: Not Democracy
By Saeed Qureshi
August 8, 2010
There is no real democracy in Pakistan. This is a sham democracy sans accountability. It was the plutocracy that was there all the time with brief interregnums. It has once again been revived and propelled with full force by the elections of February 2008. A bunch of hardened self-seekers is ruthlessly debilitating Pakistan economically, politically and socially. Pakistan has never been under the tutelage of a coterie of rulers who were totally alienated from the people or unmindful of the million miseries that their masses are suffering from.
There cannot be a more stunning question than to ask president Zardari as to what was so inevitable that he had to be in Europe at a time when a Noah like deluge had engulfed the length and breadth of Pakistan. The countless villages have been marooned and the crops over millions of acres have been destroyed. The surging, raging torrents swept away countless helpless, trapped human victims. No high-sounding hyperbole or embellished adjective can explain the enormity of the catastrophe as well as the sheer callousness, and loathsome indifference of the ruling cabal.
I refuse to accept that the worst democracy was still better than the best autocracy. The system of the government is measured and judged by its performance. Democracy can function for the benefit of the people only if not hijacked by feudal lords, elitists or aristocratic classes, and influential pressure groups. It must remain exposed to the strict accountability than is sine- qua- non for the veritable democracy to function in the best interests of the masses and the country.
Former president Musharraf in his fading days of power, tried to work out a quid pro quo with a powerful political force, the Pakistan People’s Party to give his unpopular government a representative semblance or character. He failed and had to quit because a host of forces were arraigned against him. Some events such as the dismissal of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, worked as a strong catalyst to hasten his departure from the presidency. The murder of the PPP chairperson Benazir was also instrumental in paving way for her party to win the elections that ultimately empowered it along with other parties and civil society organs to force Musharraf to quit.
Now all of sudden in inexplicable mysterious circumstances Benazir is killed and according to her Will, her spouse Asif Zardari steps in and assumes the role of the chairperson of the party. He chooses to become the president of Pakistan by forming a grand reconciliation with other parties especially the runner-up Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz faction. Later he ditches the PMLN and instead builds a coalition with fringe parties MQM and ANP whose whims and demands he has been constantly fulfilling to keep them in good humor and within the coalition fold.
However, as the leopard cannot change his spots, so a corrupt person already under trial for corruption cases cannot overcome his avarice for money and the penchant to enhance his wealth. While the president lacks the qualities of a credible head of state, he has demonstrated little inclination to serve the nation by eschewing his inborn obsession for money and dubious past pursuits to enrich himself.
The country is in a shambles, the national honor is in tatters, the morale, and hopes of the people are at their lowest ebb and are completely depleted. Rule of law and good governance are seen nowhere. The deviousness, the falsification, the duplicity, the inaction, and the criminal complacency to address the monumental problems both internal and external are the guidelines of the incumbent government. People are enormously dismayed.
This murky state of affairs cannot last long. The president is being kept in the saddle of power because he is doing the same job for the United States that his predecessor used to do. However, Musharraf had some modicum of sobriety, some semblance of modesty, some tinge of intelligence and craftiness to pursue his ignoble goals of fighting proxy war and bounty killings which he publically and even in his book has boasted of doing. President Zardari is not in the habit of listening to any advice how beneficial or sublime it may be. He set off for his European tour amid an unparallel chaos at home. And look what a mess he has made of this tour for both the country and for himself.
Woefully, during his meeting with the newly elected British prime minister David Cameron, he was made to sit on a crude chair in front of the grate and talk in an uncomfortable position as if he was a convict and was being questioned by a psychopath interrogator. Notwithstanding his personal debasement, it is a sheer disgrace for Pakistan and brings calumny to the august office of the presidency.
There was no obviously plausible reason to meet a prime minister who poured out venom against the dignity of Pakistan on the soil of a country that happens to be the inveterate enemy of Pakistan. He followed the tormenter back to his country to get more disgrace. At least he could have escaped the stigma and insult of shoe throwing at him at Birmingham party rally. But since he has the unbeatable knack of being thick skinned, he brushes off all the innuendos and curses with rank nonchalance.
Pitiably there is no revolutionary élan left among the top brass of the Pakistan People’s Party, founded by charismatic popular leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It is now infested predominantly by rank opportunists, shoddy characters and such individuals whose only propensity is to make hay of money while the sun of their power shines. These seasonal birds would then fly away to distant safe shores once the tide of time throws them out of power.
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