Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zardari is the Smartest of all the Politicians

By Saeed Qureshi

Contrary to the cacophonic battle cries and ominous forebodings of pandemonium from his political adversaries, the peaceful manner with which he managed to deliver his annual ceremonial address to Pakistan’s parliament, is a testament to the ingenuity and dexterous wheeling dealing of the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.

This was the fourth time that his address was serene and listened with poise and visible calm by the politicians, the parliamentarians, the senators and the visitors alike. The drab and silent walk-out by the dissident political parties was a plus for the president as this tranquil show of protest was in sharp contrast to the street despising and clamorous reviling jargon by his opponents.

He has been able to rein in and woo back the riotous and perennially rebellious MQM that wants to be counted as the national level party by expanding its tentacles in every province. For the fourth time, despite their irrevocable announcements to abandon the PPP, they once again, recanted, have given in before the disarming smiles of Asif Ali Zardari. Of late they look and behave like a pet cat.

Each time there were loud and unambiguous pledges thrown out by the PPP stalwarts including the president himself and that inimitable compulsive pledge broker Rehman Malik with regard to curbing crime in Karachi. Each time the solemn commitments have been audaciously broken and watered down.

Each time, the chum of Mr. Zardari, the violent and presumptuous Doctor Zulfikar Mirza never ceased throwing vicious and threatening gauntlets to MQM, a party like an indispensable albatross around the neck of PPP and more pointedly that of maverick Zardari.

MQM’s slogan of waging a revolutionary epic war against the rapacious feudal lords, the ruthless Sardars of Baluchistan, the bellicose easy-to-buy Khans of the NWFP, the mercantile robber barons, and all the villains in every costumes and brands is losing its luster for this party’s unpredictable and sudden compromises with the PPP.
I was amused by an ear to ear grin of Asif Ali Zardari when he met with the MQM heavy weight the governor of Sindh Ishratul Ibad Khan after the latest proclamation of the MQM that they were finally parting company with the PPP and would withdraw their support even in the national assembly.

All of sudden they were again with the PPP and their categorical separation from the PPP went up in the air and the MQM top notches making lame excuses and offering phony arguments for a docile and pro PPP conduct out and inside the parliament. Zardari has proven himself to be an exorcist of unrivalled excellence and each time he carried the day to bridle the recalcitrant MQM by using his magic and political acumen.

There is a kind of disarray and strident panic among the opposition parties that keep blowing hot and cold at the same time, knowing not how to counter the unconquerable political moves and skills of Zardari. The United Front that should have been built to brace against the chronic bad governance, unparalleled corruption, anti-judiciary demeanor, colossal lawlessness, the power outages, the Karachi revenge killing, the mishandling of the Raymond Davis case, the ineffectual response to the persistent drone attacks and so on, remains a far cry.

The PPP government is unmoved, unconcerned and rather putting up a studied silence on high profile murders including that of GEO reporter Wali Khan Babar and the minority federal minister Shabaz Bhatti. Even it is delivering no progress on their prominent leader Salman Taseer’s cold blooded murder.

Despite an incessant and an all embracing turmoil in Pakistan, the PPP’s main penchant seems to be to hang on to the power by pleasing the coalition partners and somehow complete its five year tenure. All conspicuous cases of corruption adjudicated by the superior courts have been put in a limbo because of the administration’s non compliance of the follow up actions. Most of these corruption cases involve the close friends and family members of the prime minister, the president and other luminaries of the ruling party.

The government is still in place because Zardari possesses the extraordinary and spectacular faculties to outsmart his political rivals. The separation of JUI and the mysteriously neutral conduct of the second largest party; the PMLN has not been able to make any dents in the PPP”s hold on power. Discernibly, the PMLN is a paranoia victim of the army resurgence in power that is favorable to PPP.

The PMLN’s docility and mere loud talk without any anti government move for the people of Pakistan is a huge savior, by default, for the sitting PPP government. Perhaps they do not want to kick the hornet’s nest so aggressively lest their Punjab government suffers the consequences. It is a sort of a tacit, unholy and unwritten quid pro quo that serves the respective parties’ interests but not that the country or the people of Pakistan.

Zardari has managed to keep political outfits and politicians pegged to their respective places so as not to pounce upon the government with damaging uproars or rallies. There is no way that the politicians from the opposition can whip up a vigorous street agitation or in-house protests to shake up the felonious government.

The opposition ranks are all in disarray and paralyzed for any coordinated or orchestrated campaigning aimed at the ouster of the government through street agitations or via constitutional means. Zardari has the unmatched traits of pulling his tricks and punches with dazzling accuracy and profound effectiveness at the right time.

Does it not speak for the sagacity and amazing political skills of Zardari that the army despite a surfeit of provocations and right or wrong pretexts, has by its own volition, remained unconcerned even without uttering a despising or disapproving statement against the PPP government?

He has also succeeded in keeping the army at bay although there has always been a lurking possibility of takeover by the military due to total governmental malfunctioning and corruption mayhem let loose by the PPP regime without any fear of being knocked out of the power arena.

So let us unbraid and denounce the tribe of politicians starting from Imran Khan, to Maulana Fazalur Rehman, to Nawaz Sharif to, Ch. Shujaat Hussain to Altaf Hussain for receiving relentless battering and discreditable defeats at the hands of a person who was and still being considered a novice in the corridors of politics and an individual notorious for his insatiable malfeasance by billions of earth inhabitants. Nothing succeeds like success.

I am therefore, in favor of raising a banner and lofty monument for Zardari to honor him for scoring victory after victory by smacking and stampeding the legions of politicians who are also no angels and frankly are chips of the same bloc.

It would hardly make any difference whether Zardari or Nawaz Sharif or anyone else grabs power unless God lowers down from heavens some angels to set the all embracing rot in order and stem the surging tide of decay and degeneration eating into the vitals of our beloved Pakistan.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Raymond Davis Case: Shariah Lends Saving Grace to Both Pakistan and America

By Saeed Qureshi

The PPP must realize that its government at the center is irredeemably weak and it must voluntarily dissolve it before incurring further ridicule and scorn. Its grip over the instruments of governance is loosening and it is metaphorically a lame duck regime that is mostly engaged in theatrics of broad grinning and making spurious claims about its achievements. By indulging in these fake polemics, it is becoming a laughing stock.

Its weakness was manifest from east to west when despite all legal, social, moral odds and prestige of the country; it had to plan clandestinely to bundle surreptitiously the CIA operative out of Pakistan. It had to fall back upon the seldom practiced Islamic option of blood or compensation money for the families of the Pakistanis killed in war. Judged by the fervor or scale of the present lot of rulers for their attachment to Islam, they look as heathen as the Arab Bedouins before the advent of Islam. What vice is left that has not caught their prying eyes to be tasted, swallowed, chewed and digested.

However, in the present times, any government even if it was as strong as the Roman Empire of yester years, cannot claim to have guts to indict, try and send an macho American assassin to gallows and if not gallows to jail for life term. With Americans, it is usually one way traffic in regard to the safety and well-being of their citizens who are as holier as Saint Patrick or Saint Augustine. The Americans have their typical criterion of justice and that can be summed up in one sentence: “tail you lose, head I win.”

So, momentarily, we may give the benefit of doubt to the shaky and ramshackle Pakistan’s government run by a Wizard named Zardari and a second fiddle prime minister Gilani. It is their best achievement of these three years, since they have been ruling the roost. To be honest and ruthlessly objective, the Islamic code of blood money, mercifully, came to their rescue and they took full advance of that caveat. If they have still stuck to the fulfillment of legal imperatives or heeded the clamors of rabble-rousing radicals, they would have landed Pakistan in an elephantine trouble because Pakistan seems to be of worth equal to one Raymond Davis.

If Jamaat-e-Islami and Imran Khan are blowing trumpets of bartering away national honor, of colossal injustice and infringements of the law, then certainly they are denizens of fools’ paradise. On what other count, our leaders have ever demonstrated that they have the strong spine to call a spade a spade in the face of the external overbearing powers, all the more United State of America which is not in the habit of listening to the bullshit of the client and appendage states like Pakistan. The myopic and moronic leaders as those belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehrik-Istiklal have been at the roots of the ruin and instability of the political systems in Pakistan.

It is easy to raise fiery slogans to incite the gullible people and bring them out in the streets but what next? A few foolish and easily swayed individuals lose their lives, the society undergoes upheaval, the country relapses to the abysmal situation and the leaders go back to their cozy mansions. This happened when these leaders went whole hog against Mr. Bhutto, They whipped a countrywide agitation and succeeded in dispatching him from power and finally got him hanged.

During their earth shaking anti-Bhutto campaign, the ilk of Mufti Mehmood, Shah Ahmad Noorani and other Muslim stalwarts promised to the expectant nation, the restoration of 1973 constitution, the establishment of Niazm Mustafa and revival of the 1973 prices of basic commodities. Nothing of that sort happened. Instead a person who was a little less than genocidal and heatless Hilaku Khan or “Taimur the Lame” replaced a visionary Bhutto. Ziaul Haq’s 11 years stint in power was a harrowing nightmare brought upon the wonderful people of Pakistan by religious zealots and political turncoats.

So these political and religious leaders in Pakistan are hypocritical and conglomerations of spoilers, who seldom let this marvelous country Pakistan, move in the right direction. They provoke and incite the people with the rosy and catchy slogans of reviving Khilafat Rashida in Pakistan or converting it into a paradise on earth. Inside they are always working for their narrow and smudgy motives and remain in league with foreign masters or with the army. They are errand runners, the bootleggers, the touts, and the apron strings who, instead of honoring the pledges made to the people, have been invariably, pushing the country back into mess, turbulence and poverty.

So if the nation again responds by strikes and agitations, to their frivolous, deceitful rhetoric and fuming demagogy, then there would be more miseries and ruination for the people and for the country. These leaders would again recede to their holes after wreaking havoc. They would sit back, wait for the new occasions to repeat their nefarious pastime, raise hell and heaven and mobilize people either in the name of Islam or national sovereignty with their tempestuous eloquence. Such treachery and ruse they have been practicing since the inception of Pakistan.

On the face, let us give some credit to the present administration of United States that they did not exert back-breaking pressure on Pakistan for immediate and unconditional release of their precious secret operative. The tone of Americans has remained conciliatory although in such cases the patience with Americans is always in short supply. But for two reasons they have demonstrated great deal of patience and restraint and did not go headstrong for unconditional release of the broad- day killer.

One was the extremely precarious and crucial role of Pakistan in tribal areas against the radical militants thus augmenting NATO forces in Afghanistan with crucial military back up and sparing them from Taliban’s cross-border incursions and onslaughts. The contribution of Pakistani armed forces in the American initiated war on terrorism has been monumental and excels that of NATO forces and even other armies in similar situations.

So it was a kind of a bitter pill that American administration swallowed by waiting for the Pakistani court to hand out a verdict favorable to America. After all the Americans is not that much imprudent or naive as to sacrifice and blow up the indispensable role of the Pakistan army in fighting the radical militants for one individual.

Secondly they knew that sooner, the American captive would be released. They were well aware of the public uproar especially from the rightist sections and religious parties for their capacity to mobilize the people for whipping up the demonstrations in Pakistan, not only aggravating the anti American sentiment but also weakening their surrogate government in Pakistan.

Thus they opted for killing the serpent and saving the stick at the same time. This was cleverly maneuvered by backdoor efforts, focused upon the court’s decision in the light of the Islamic Shariah’s injunction about forgiving the murderers in lieu of the money agreed upon between the parties. That shows that United States otherwise wont for quick fixes ,even arm twisting, showed respect not only for the judicial system of Pakistan but reverence and preference for the Islamic Shariah for settlement of such a highly volatile matter.

Mercifully, better sense prevailed on both the friendly countries and traditional allies in the so called war on terror. Their long standing mutual relations were saved from collapsing and possible deterioration. That eventuality would have been more lethal and detrimental to Pakistan than the United States.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Arab Despots cannot turn the Clock Back

By Saeed Qureshi

Saudi Arabia has joined the Royal family of Bahrain to crush the unrelenting mass protests being mounted for a civil society, fundamental rights, popular government and against the absolutism of the royal Khalifah family. The Saudi military army and massive military hardware is not for fighting an alien enemy or invader but essentially to suppress the internal uprising and revolt against the monarchical despotism imposed for decades on Saudi Arabia. A blessed land where the prophet of Islam was born spent his entire life in spearheading the divine mission and where caliphs were elected by popular consent is now lorded over by ruthless, wealth-greedy, cronies and lecherous families. What a remorseful downslide from the blessed ages to the time of hereditary cabals.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a government fiat that is crafted and enforced for the sake of royal, elite, and aristocratic families and tribal chiefs. The cardinal Islamic code of equality and social justice for all citizens in an Islamic state is considered to be an unpardonable crime severely punished in those holy lands.

Bahrain is a virtual protectorate of Saudi Arabia. She is literally following in her footsteps in suppressing the people. The paramount yet patently self-serving interests of both these family fiefdoms are to advance and keep in place the abominable dictatorship of the royal families. People only eat, work and sleep besides a few more chores. But beyond that to ask for elections, empowerment of the people, or a free society or pluralist form of government is such anathemas for the ruling classes as to be countered with hair-raising reprisals. While the world beyond their frontiers is coming closer as a fraternal and closely knit village, these regimes remain islands of isolation and primitivism shorn of enlightenment, civil liberties and modernity.

Bahrain’s area is about 300 sq miles and consists of 33 islands. Demographically, its population of 1.2 million is divided 30 to 70 per cent between the Sunnis and Shias respectively. Although Bahrain is said to be a constitutional democracy, yet in practice it is not. Most of the cabinet portfolios are with the royal family including those of the king, the prime minister and the crown prince. It has a bicameral legislature, yet the upper house is entirely appointed by the king, giving it a kind of veto power over the lower house elected through popular suffrage.

In Bahrain citizens have some civil rights and there is also a semblance of oppenness. But on the whole, it is basically a kingdom or monarchy run and controlled by a royal family. There is marked and yawning discrimination for social justice and rights between Sunnis and Shias. Shias being in majority with 70 per cent of the population are treated as downtrodden and less privileged.

The protests that started from February 14 are robustly continuing without any let up and respite, despite several casualties and iron hand intimidation by the government. These uprisings are diametrically different from the prolonged protests that raged in Bahrain between 1994 and 2000 and that culminated with the formulation of the National Action Charter.

The current protests in Bahrain are a proliferation and accentuation of what is happening elsewhere in the Middle East, by which people are endeavoring to get rid of the medieval forms of government. People want fundamental human rights, the pluralist democratic dispensations that should be elected by the people, for the people and not for the coterie of individuals or group of families ruling like ancient pharaohs. The political systems in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are replicas and prototypes of each other.

It is precisely for this reason that Saudi royal family and the United Arab Emirates have sent their troops, armed cars, sharp shooters, guns and military equipment to Bahrain to suppress the popular discontent so that it does not spill over to Saudi Arabia.

But for all indications, this time the suppression is not going to produce results in favor of the ruling families. This time the virulent protests are being staged nonstop by all sections of society, leftists, liberals and Islamists, the Shias and the Sunnis. The protest are being staged with one single purpose of ending the suffocating and clannish undemocratic political order and replace it with a truly representative and accountable government, born out of the peoples consent, will and mandate. The fundamental change is that people have shed off the fear they had for these monstrous rulers.

The democratic governments around the world that forced Hosni Mubarak to abdicate power are not showing the same fervor in support of the protesting people of Bahrain for the motives that are self evident to all. One such reason is that the United States maintains its 6th fleet in Bahrain. There are prodigious military and economic interests of other European countries in Bahrain.

If these protests are allowed to fructify, it would be treated as a victory for Iran because any government that comes into being on the basis of popular vote would be those of Shias and would be ostensibly allied and aligned with Iran. It is unthinkable for the West and especially United States to allow a smooth sailing and burgeoning influence of Iran in Bahrain. That would not only raise the clout of Iran in the so called Arab land, it would also predictably pose a gubernatorial threat to its traditional enemy Saudi Arabia.

Besides, it would also pose a grave challenge to the military establishment of the countries now arrayed against Iran. As such crushing the revolt of the people in Bahrain is to forestall the advent of Iranian influence in Bahrain that is geographically so close to Iran and is located on the west of the Persian Gulf. The induction of Saudi and UAE troops in Bahrain is a violation of international laws and can provoke similar reprisal action from Iran. The incursion of Saudi and UAE troops into Bahrain violate the territorial sanctity and sovereignty of Bahrain professing to be an independent state.

It would therefore, be quite interesting and a matter of great curiosity to see, as to how the revolting people of Bahrain react to this latest unforeseen development. It should also be watched as to what could be the reaction of Iran for protecting the lives and interests of its co- faithful Shia community in Bahrain.

Incidentally the protests are also sporadically mushrooming in Saudi Arabia and the people for the first time are dauntlessly braving the state repression and cruel countermeasures unleashed to quash these protests. As stated earlier, Saudi Arabia presents the model of a medieval tribal sort of regime where dissent or asking for civil rights and parliamentary form of government is an exceptionally serious crime. To raise fingers on the extravagant and even un-Islamic life style of the royal families and chieftains is also strictly forbidden.

But despite such abominations, the western governments lend support to these unpopular regimes to stay and serve their vested interest one of which is the unhindered availability of oil to them. There is brazen duplicity and rank hypocrisy of the western democracies to selectively apply their human rights and democratic yardsticks depending upon the cronyism of these client states or otherwise.

But the clock of time cannot be rewound backward now. The spirit of time and the thrust of the present age resoundingly call for all the bonded and enslaved nations to be liberated from their past baggage of slavery and subservience imposed by the local lords or foreign imperialists. These autocratic outfits being resuscitated by foreign mavericks and distant god-fathers are destined to dissipate and be replaced with the modern states and new dispensations havng respect for their people and coming into being with their franchise.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peter King and the American Muslims

By Saeed Qureshi

Rep Peter King’s anti-Muslims assertions will backfire because there is no evidence, whatsoever, that the American Muslims harbor grudge or mala-fide sentiments against the United States of America. Mr. King’s tirade and slander against the Muslims in recent years has been consistent, highly provocative and head-on. Peter T. King is the U.S. Representative for New York's 3rd congressional district, and the current Chairman of the United States House Homeland Security Committee.

It is his festering discrimination towards the Muslim population in America that impelled Congressman King to declare in December 2010, that after assuming the charge of the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, he would hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslims. That is why the first hearing, was held on March 10, 2011, under the title of “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response.”

In 2004, in an interview with radio anchor Sean Hannity, he made a sweeping yet false accusation that the Muslim leaders were not cooperating in the war on terror,” He also hurled a preposterous claim that "80-85 percent of mosques in the United States were being controlled by Islamic radicals. It is pure falsification to malign Muslims for not cooperating in the war on terror? The fact that the Muslim leaders were very helpful in curbing terrorism and offering cooperation is candidly testified by various statements made during the first hearing.

Along with other immigrant nationalities that now live in the United States, Muslim community too is enjoying the fruits and benedictions of a truly free, democratic and liberal society. They are well settled with their families in this great country. Their progeny and children are growing up and getting education, doing jobs or engaged in businesses

If they profess and practice their religion, it does not mean that they dislike the other religions or the country they have opted to live. They enjoy the religious freedom in America in the same way as other religions and denominations do.

In the backdrop of his cordial interaction with the Muslims in the past, Rep King amply knows that Muslims have integrated into this amazing society as patriotic and productive members. They serve in the army, work in the police force and respond on the call of duty where-ever they are needed. When questioned why he was singling out Muslims for these series of hearings, he brusquely remarked that there was no need to institute such hearing about other communities living in America

Muslims have come to the United States either by choice or forced out by the unbearable inhuman, social, political or economic conditions in their countries of origin They are patriotic and are immensely contributing towards making America great and strong in every manner and domain. The Muslim communities are extremely law abiding, keeping a low profile, peaceful and productive.

After the 9/11 horrific incident, the American Muslims have become extremely passive, docile and have come under enormous pressure. Although 9/11 was the dirty work of a few misguided Muslim youth yet the entire Muslim community in the United States and the Muslims beyond were uncharitably bandied with them. Instead of accusing those terrorists exclusively for that diabolic act, the blame was placed squarely on the Muslims as perpetrators of the terrorism. That was the unkindest slander and indeed myopic and unrealistic perception about the Muslims.

Muslims are quite well aware that there was a bias towards them from certain anti- Muslim forces and quarters. As such they would not do anything that aggravates the animus towards them. They have been very submissive and try to avoid controversies lest they are despised and cast as villains. It is the most trying times for them.

Let us not forget that one of the most outstanding and fascinating hallmarks of America is that its constitution gives the fundamental rights of freedom of life, liberty pursuit of happiness and religious worship to all the inhabitants. The Declaration of Independence written by one of the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson (later the third president) in 1776 specifically mentions in the first paragraph, the citizens’ rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

As we all know that the Federation of the United States of America is not run on the basis of religion or faith although the religion of the majority of the people is Christianity. However, other religions are not discriminated and they exercise full liberty to observe their religious obligations.

If Peter King wants to single out the Muslims for an enquiry of what he calls radicalization of Muslims in American then better fist of all, he should get the ‘Bill of Rights’ removed from the constitution of the United States of America.

The First Amendment in the historic Bill of Rights narrates that,” Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of the grievances.”

Mr. King’s anti Muslims’ overtures therefore, patently cut across the American constitution. In a way, this behavior is tantamount to the violation of this most sacred document that has distinguished the United States as a glorious land where there was no abridgement, ban or restriction on the religious pluralism.

America is a sanctuary for the dispossessed, uprooted, persecuted and oppressed human beings from other parts of the world. Here they find freedom and galore of human rights that present a total contrast in their birth countries run by despots and tyrants. If Rep. King wants to solely focus on the Muslims and paint them in lurid colors and declare them enmasse as unwanted for a variety of his self-crafted dubious reasons then better he consult a psychiatrist or reconsider his erratic motives.

Judged by Mr. King’s entirely discriminatory drive against the Muslim only, it would be pertinent to infer that the world was not going towards clash of civilizations as propounded by Professor Huntington but was diverted in the direction of clash of Christianity versus Islam or the western civilization versus Islam.

Mr. King’s bigotry and being of racist proclivities is well known ever since he stepped into the political arena. He has the dubious record and tendencies of pursuing the politics of division all along. His track record shows that he has been an inveterate opponent of giving a legal status to countless illegal immigrants living here for ages and working hard to build American economy.

He opposes the closure of Guantanamo prison. He castigated Michel Jackson as a child molester and supported most stringent action against him. In 1980s, King was berated for actively supporting the terrorist Irish Republic Army. Now all these off the mark tendencies and queer perceptions portray King as a person with narrow, un-American and irrational mindset.

If the American citizens are discriminated on the basis of the ethnic background, their color, their faith and gender by some unscrupulous and racist extremists then certainly these people are doing a disservice to America. They are trying to distort its grand and lofty image as a bastion of equality and justice for all irrespective of their color of the skin or racial background. Let us not forget that United States is known as the land of immigrants and that does not exclude the white Americans as well.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Don Quixote of Pakistan

March 9, 2011
By Saeed Qureshi

Don Quixote is the hero of a 17th Spanish novel with the same title written by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is a queer megalomaniac figure who sets out to fight against the wrong doers. He perceives phantom and imaginary enemies and is ready to put up a fight in which he invariably comes out humiliated, beaten up and injured. He performs several foolish acts of chivalry and adventures one of which is attacking the windmills with his lance. The term tilting at the windmills imagining them to be giants was coined from this mirthful act of Don Quixote.

The windmills knock him and his horse Rocinante with terrible injuries and broken body. He has been portrayed as a buffoon who has an impulsive tendency to enter violently into matters that do not concern him. His propensity for avoidable fracas generate great humor and some time pity for this idiotic hero who loses in all encounters but seldom loses hope and self-magnifying feelings of chivalry.

We have a Don Quixote in Pakistan too. He is incidentally the interior minister of Sindh province and also the senior vice president of the largest party, the Pakistan People’s Party now in power at the center and province of Sindh. Our Don Quixote has claimed many a time that no mother has produced a bigger goon than him and that he was along with others ( the word ‘we’ used) were committing the acts of wanton terrorism now plaguing Karachi the Largest city of Pakistan.

Goon he is but a goofy goon. By his deafening harangue full of sound and fury, signifying threats and gauntlets, he has qualified himself to be the Frankenstein of his party that still has roots in the masses. With his public abusive sermons, he has inflamed the political climate in Karachi which needs prudence and discretion to win the hearts of the opponents for a much sought after peace and social tranquility in Karachi.

He speaks with uncontrollable gusto and force, gushes out volleys of slander and abuses in his speeches. He forgets that the audiences were not impressed by his exhuberance and thunderbolt rhetoric but incensed by his ludicrous claims. His fire-spitting bombastic oration with stress on each word that he pronounces make one believe as if a declamation contest was taking place on a theatrical stage. His twirled moustache also strikes awe in the minds of the listeners.

Several times, in his convoluted wisdom he has heaped invectives, on MQM for unleashing terrorism on Karachi and killing the innocent citizens for insidious motives. Then he lashed out at Punjab government and the ruling party there PMLN. He warned that if the PPP coalition in Punjab was wound up and the PPP ministers were sent home, he would retaliate in a most diabolic manner. That diabolic reprisal was to shut and ransack all the PMLN offices from Karachi to Kashmore.

The PMLN government of Shahbaz Sharif did forsake the PPP ministers and bade them unceremonious farewell. The area mentioned by the volatile interior minister is calm and the kind of civil war that he predicted is still invisible.

And of late, he once again lambasted at the MQM and reviled them for being a terrorist band of killers. Furthermore, forcefully rejecting the accusations of target killings against the PPP peace committees, he boastfully showered accolades on these peace committees. Challenging the MQM, he declared that from now onward he would openly sponsor and own these PPP peace committees as their god-father even if these were involved in criminal activities.

With his insane and unguarded diatribe, hard hitting vitriolic and unwarranted crazy challenges to his political foes and allies, he has put the PPP in the most difficult situation. President Zardari, every time tries to repair the damage done to his policy of conciliation and tolerance, but this gentleman takes it back to the square one, making more mess than before.

Ostensibly he is delving in unbridled absurdities because of his close links with the chairman of the party, and also as being the self- touted senior vice president of the PPP. His illustrious and highly dignified wife Fehmida Mirza is the speaker of the National Assembly.

But he should be bridled and leashed so that the PPP already in deep waters should have the necessary breathing space to recuperate its lost prestige and sagging popularity. Because of such unscrupulous individuals as Dr. Zulfikar Mirza is, and their overly threatening postures and professed banditry, PPP would sink further and more rapidly into the abyss of public distrust and despising. Besides it would lose the much needed support of its allies as MQM which is now fed up with Dr. Mirza’s off repeated smearing outburst and is in the wake of leaving its coalition with the PPP.

It is vitally imperative for the chairman of the PPP and also the president of Pakistan Jinab Asif Ali Zardari to counsel this overactive and hyper member of the PPP and firmly tell him to restrain his rage and rancor against a very intimate ally MQM and also the second largest party PMNL.

This remedial measure would keep in place the president’s policy of building up national consensus, solidarity and unity to address and redress the gubernatorial issues that Pakistan is faced with. If PPP loses power and MQM parts company, Dr. Mirza would be solely responsible for such a grave debacle. That would be a death knell for the political future and integrity of PPP for quite some time.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Paralyzed Government

March 5, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The erstwhile jail bird and currently the president of Pakistan his Excellency Asif Ali Zardari hovers over the globe in the presidential aircraft, like a bewitched midget, touching one capital after another. The Prime Minister Gilani is busy in his frantic efforts to make unworthy compromises for remaining in power. His beloved son is so far successful in blunting all judicial and executive efforts to nab him in one of the stupendous money making scams.

The Defense minister Rahman Malik is in the lead for his inimitable skill of compulsive lying. With his unremitting falsifications, he reinforces the belief in the reincarnation with Goebbels’ soul in him.

The crime is mushrooming as a way of life. The people in the streets, markets, public places and even in their homes are being targeted and killed for a host of insidious reasons. The law minister Babar Awan is successfully breaking and defying the law by not taking the judiciary’s decision with an iota of seriousness and reverence. President has appointed a person as governor of Punjab who is involved in a big bribe case.

The dauntless and superbly professional GEO reporter Wali Khan Babar laid down his life in the line of duty. His case is allowed to become irrelevant and cold as to lose its urgency. The two dutiful individuals who witnessed the gruesome murder have also been killed in mysterious circumstances, understandably, to erase the evidence against the heinous culprits, more power than the state of Pakistan.

The Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, an illustrious, liberal and patriotic Pakistani from the Christian community was gunned down evidently by the same assassins who assassinated the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer. These are high profile murders that have come to the public limelight. Those common folks who are murdered for ransom, or in gang wars or for extortion money, or for sectarian reasons are countless. The country called Pakistan is gradually or rapidly turning into the killing fields of the citizens.

The internal and external outcries for catching the murderers of these slain marvelous Pakistanis are cries in the wilderness. If a political party in power has failed to vigorously and promptly pursue the murder of its own chairperson - the daughter of the founder of the party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, how it can be expected to be serious, earnest and prompt on other murder cases.

We have a government that looks like the scarecrow or a phantom or a weathercock, utterly docile or unfit to determine which way to go and what to do and how to do. The recent cabinet reshuffle patently was an exercise in futility as the change or reshuffling crooks with crooks is not going to improve the horrendous situation. There is no check on the fast deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan.

Pakistan is paralyzed by sectarian divide, political factionalism, a teetering economy, the broken and obsolete civic system, malfunctioning institutions, bad governance, widespread corruption, glaring patronage and swelling violence. The ineptitude, incompetence, apathy and indifference of the people in power and also themselves becoming part of the melee of plunder are taking Pakistan to a situation of a failed state.

The government has lost its moral rudder to steer the country out of dire straits. It is trying desperately against all its disqualifications to cling to power. Its performance is as useless as the fleeting clouds after a downpour. The government was brought into power by the consent of the people and by their representatives in an unprecedented show of support, unanimity and solidity.

And watch what they have done to the nation and the country. They are bleeding it white by their ravenous avarice and interminable lust for money through every conceivable channel and means.

They overlook the crimes, murders, dacoities, rape, kidnapping, poverty, power outrages, paucity of potable water, the filth spattered on every wall of Pakistan, perfidious mal -nutrition, the dwindling educational standards, the plummeting economy, sky rocketing prices, the odious nepotism, and the dreadful drift that is tearing apart the already fragile cohesion and frail fabric of national unity.

Asif Ali Zardari is a replica of Col Mummar Qaddafi of Libya. Qaddafi is tenaciously hanging on to power and seems to be unmoved despite a civil war situation brewing up in his country. Qaddafi has no place around the world to seek asylum or shelter. He would, therefore, fight to the last because he has no other option to fall back upon. Either power or death is the message that he is giving by his shrewish behavior.

Zardari on the contrary, has roots and considerable clout in Sindh. He is not a ruthless dictator but a pliable greedy plutocrat whose hunger for wealth never recedes. But like Qaddafi, he would resort to all machinations to remain in power.

It is his sham timidly or cunning that has so far kept him in the highest office and his party in power. He has the knack of making most humiliating compromises if such a behavior helps him to rule the roost. He would simultaneously ditch his closest cohorts and allies if he visualizes that their alliance was less advantageous or of no avail.

Precisely for this shrewdness, he has accepted the separation of PMLN and accompaniment of MQM, although the later is turning into an albatross in the neck of PPP by opposing various critical decisions such as taking back the petroleum price hike. Zardari very well knows that, on its own, the MQM was not in a position to form its own government at the center and in provinces. He is also mindful that, in comparison, the PMLN poses a greater challenge to the PPP”s government.

What Qaddafi and Zardari commonly share is the insatiable desire to remain in power, although they employ different tools and tactics to retain it? Qaddafi believes in the use of uninhibited brutal force and repression. Zardari believes in chicanery, duplicity, deceit, cajoling and low lying compromises. The objective of both is to hold on to the power. But in the longer run, both theses stratagems and maneuvers back fire. And this is what would be happening to both these contemporary heads of Islamic states.
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Will Qaddafi be physically eliminated?

March 3, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

It can only be a conjecture that one of the options that USA might be contemplating to exercise is to heavily bomb the palace or the sheltering place of the Libyan reckless president Col Mummar Qaddafi to physically remove him from the scene. The United States Air Force carried out such airstrikes on Qaddafi's residence Bab al-Azizia compound on April 15, 1986 in which his adopted daughter Hanna was killed. Qaddafi and his family escaped from that attack. The attack was conducted in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. That aerial attack, in fact, bolstered the image of Qadaffi both domestically and around the world.

But the time now is drastically different. The mesmeric attraction as a formidable, fire-spitting revolutionary that Qadaffi had for his people and in some other countries seething with sentiments of anti imperialism and ante Americanism is now over. The revolutionaries of the ilk of Qaddafi have squarely disappointed the revolutionary cadres and proponents around the world because of their being self centered and brutal on their own people for perpetuation in power.

He had been outstanding among the post second world revolutionaries and diehard nationalists among the anti imperialist preachers and torch bearers. But while these revolutionaries enhanced themselves and their clans, families and aristocracy around them, they marginalized and disempowered their own people as not to be able to challenge their exalted positions.
This time the situation is fundamentally different because these are not foreign plot hatchers or devious imperialists that are challenging the absolutism of these revolutionaries who changed their missions from serving the oppressed people to raising the family fiefdom and consolidating clannish dynasties.

It would be instructive to see that these uprisings, rebellions and grassroots revolutions in such states are being carried out by the local populations against those rulers who were primarily pro- west surrogates and mercenaries of the global hegemons.

Barring Qaddafi who has distinguished himself as a freakish and raucous head of state, the ousted Mubarak of Egypt and Tunisian Ben Ali were allies of America. Besides, the president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh, the sovereigns in Jordan and Oman and Kuwait and UAE and Bahrain are not different from Mubarak and Zainul Abidine Ben Ali. It is a common knowledge that these autocrat rulers enjoyed the blessings of the west and particularly that of the mighty United States.

So those proponents and peddlers of conspiracy theories who see sinister plots behind these uprisings as engineered by the villainous west ought to change their erroneous perceptions for the present. This is not a grand design and grand slam of the treacherous west as many commentators are trying to make the word believe. These momentous and earth shaking upheavals are from the people forcibly kept like cattle and servile all these decades by their repressive leaders.

Middle East and North Africa have been infested by the heartless and tribal tyrants for centuries. These regions have always been ripe and vulnerable for the monarchs and powerful military heavy weights to bring into submission their people because there has never been a tradition for civil rights or respect for common man. The sheikhs, the tribal chiefs and the notables have been dominant and repositories of local or regional power, which means of their tribe or that of the country.

After the disintegration in early 20th century, of the Ottomans caliphate as the last strong Muslim empire, this entire region was usurped and colonized by the imperialist powers and victors of the fist world war. The clannish culture is the worst form of local government in which the common people remain servile and subjects to the ruling elite families. The tradition of constitutional democracy has always remained alien and elusive to this region.

Under the impact of the changing times and because of their eroded credibility these yester years revolutionary icons have lost their luster and appeal for their people. Therefore, the people in these countries are now looking up to western powers that were not long ago hated and despised, to rescue and deliver them from their autocrat leaders. There is a 180 degree swing of the pendulum. The villains are being perceived as saviors and the icon as enemies.

To earn good name and to wash off decades old calumny and bad reputation as neo colonists and looters of the resources of the poor countries and facilitators of despots, this is a unique juncture for the western countries and particularly United States to come forward and support the bonded and grievously mal- treated nations by their rapacious leaders.

The change is inevitable in these countries and finally the people would triumph against their blood sucker leaders. If the west joins the struggling nations for emancipation from these despots, it would hasten this historic phase of stupendous change.

Col Qaddafi spoke before the media for two and a half hours explaining his government’s crackdown against the protesters which is now assuming armed confrontations. He blamed Al-Qaida and the drug addict youth of his country for a revolt against his government. At the same time he accused America of distributing arms to the Libyan people to wage a civil war to oust him.

Additionally he charged that the western countries wanted to capture the oilfields like Iraq. He also claimed that Libya has been in the forefront in fighting against the Islamic terrorists particularly Al-qaida meaning there was no presence of these terrorist bands in his country.

Now patently all these accusations are self contradictory. Firstly, the uprising in Libya is a spillover from other revolts and anti-government demonstrations in other countries of the Middle East that started from Tunisia.

Secondly, these movements are by their very nature secular and do not involve an anti-west or pro Islamic slogans or agenda. These are purely indigenous reactions to the severe repression, nauseating suffocation and deep decay in these societies accumulated over the years because of the authoritarian rulers who brooked no dissent or political opposition.

As far the anti-Qaddafi movement led or spearheaded by Al-Qaida or Islamic extremist, it is simply a ploy and ruse used by him to win over the sympathies of United States. How come that if Qaddafi has cleared Libya of the Islamic terrorists including al-Qaida, they are clamoring , marching and fighting in countless numbers all over Libya.

Libyan anti-regime uprising cannot be separated from other movements in the Middle East and Africa which Qaddafi is trying to prove. An ordinary citizen cannot even whisper against Qaddafi’s brutal government. How come then, that a huge number of al-Qaida activists were present in Libya, by defying the vigilant and ruthless Libyan intelligence agencies.

The drug charge is also squarely false. According to Qaddafi these hundreds of thousands of youth chanting slogans were drug addicts and are shouting under the influence of intoxicants. It would be utterly impossible for the drug trade to flourish in Libya on such a huge scale.

Even if Qaddafi brutally crushes the people’s movement for change and suppresses their urge for popular government, does he believe that he would be able to restore order and rule Libya in peace as was the situation before this tumult.

He is refusing to listen to reason and is ready to take all steps to remain in power. In the face of the phenomenal eruption of the people’s outrage and fury, he should have, as an honorable person, left the power as others two have done. If he is determined to fight to the last, he would inflict such wounds on his society that would take years to heal up. The sack, the pillage and the ruin would be colossal and irreparable for a long time.

If he fears that the West was planning to occupy Libyan oil wells and monopolize the oil trade, then he should hasten to open a dialogue with the uprising leaders and find ways to transfer power to them. There are several ways that a peaceful atmosphere can be worked out and a transition towards democracy, elections and openness can be started.

But with a closed and unyielding mindset, he refuses to accept that he is no more a popular leader and that the Libyan people were fed up with him, and that it was time for him to leave and thus pave way for Libya to usher into a democratic era. Only thereafter, all unwanted restrictions could be lifted, the society could be opened and unchained and the people to choose their representatives through elections.

There is no gainsaying that a representative government is in a much stronger position to safeguard the national interests and to deal with outside interference and threats, than an authoritarian regime.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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