Friday, May 25, 2012
May 25, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
In a nutshell the bilateral relations between Pakistan and America have remained overcast, predominantly by mistrust and bickering. America is a super power and Pakistan chose to be cast in a mould of her client or a surrogate state. Pakistan has been looking up to the United States for aid all these years and that is what a client state does. Pakistan joined SEATO and CENTO treaties that primarily served the American global interests with fixation on particular regions and containment of Communism.
In a nascent state of Pakistan, visionary leadership was deficient in the aftermath of the demise of the freedom winning stalwarts in a few years after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Because of her entanglement in those two pacts, there was no escape route for Pakistan to redeem its non- aligned status that India maintained from the beginning. Although, consequently both these pacts were dissolved, yet Pakistan continued to be tied to the apron string of the United States.
The divergence of interests between the two unequal allies has been manifest all along their mutual journey of friendship. Pakistan wanted American iron-clad guarantees against its traditional foe India while America’s underlying objective to rope Pakistan was to keep it in her fold for the anti-communist global drive.
Pakistan being close in the neighborhood of both former Soviet Union and China was geographically an ideal place to sow intrigues against these antagonists of capitalism. Pakistan did play her assigned role in an extremely befitting manner by ousting Soviet Union, with American funds, from Afghanistan lock stock and barrel. Pakistan used Islamic militants and its soil to force the red army to retreat in utter humiliation.
Ironically, thereafter Pakistan was subjected to embargoes and sanctions for the spurious causes one of which was Pakistan’s endeavor to attain nuclear know-how as a counterpoise to that of India. But that phase was short-lived and mercifully Pakistan again became a favorite ally and apple of the United States’ eyes. Pakistan was again with U.S., in chasing the dreaded Al-Qaida and Taliban out of Afghanistan.
Pakistan deployed its armed forces in the uncharted tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan to flush out anti-American combatants drawn from Taliban, religious outfits, local warlords and Al-Qaida. Pakistan army is suffering heavy casualties with thousands of troops dead and disabled in the still continuing ten years’ war on terror.
Pakistan has always posed itself as an obliging ally of the United States and has been bending over heavily backward to do a hireling’s role and in return get the bounty money. Pakistan opened its overland routes and allowed the use of its soil for transporting food, medicine and other essential supplies including weapons to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
From its Shamsi air base, pilotless Drones were directed to attack the insurgents and other coveted targets. Pakistan deployed its forces into the rugged and inaccessible mountains, stretching from Balochistan to the peripheries of Hindukush ranges, almost over a two thousand long miles stretch to annihilate the militants and destroy their hideouts.
America always expects of Pakistan to oblige at the drop of the hat even if in the process, Pakistan would suffer horrendously in various ways. Pakistan is taking casualties on daily basis in tribal belt particularly in Waziristan. Pakistan ‘society and social peace is in tatters because of the swelling antagonism of ferocious Taliban and frenzied Al-Qaida outfits. Every now and then they mount devastating suicide bombing and launch deadly assaults on vital civil and military installations.
Pakistan’s internal shattered peace and abysmal law and order situation and dreadful militancy mounted by Islamic militants are the outcomes of Pakistan’s overtures to oblige and keep American in good humor. Otherwise there was neither any overpowering reason nor indispensable necessity for Pakistan territory to become a war zone for outlaws and especially religious extremists who look upon Pakistan as an enemy of Islam and lackey of imperialism.
The drone attacks on the soil of Pakistan, the barbarous bombing on Pakistan’s military posts and the growing loss of its troops and the whole country engulfed into a state of war, do not matter to a more equal ally. What matters is that NATO or American aircrafts can barge into Pakistan’s territory any time without permission and go back without realizing it was a grave violation of the territorial integrity of a committed and obliging ally.
What matters is that Dr. Afridi should be released and not Dr. Afia although the nature of their charges are poles apart. It is all a one-sided business in which Pakistan is not assigned any say or to uphold or to look after its interests. Pakistan is bereft of making independent decisions in foreign policy domain and is coerced to readily submit with folded hands what it is ordained to do by the United States.
The argument is tenable that the war on terror has cost Pakistan’s economy $70 billion dollars. According to Wikipedia “a significant proportion of US economic aid for Pakistan has ended up back in the US as funds are channeled through large US contractors”. Large sums of the pledged US economic aid do not leave the US because it is spent on consulting fees and overhead cost within U. S. before it is disbursed to Pakistan. The paltry aid and Pakistan’s association as the second fiddle of the United States carries the degrading tag of being a vassal state of that super power.
Pakistan acted as a conduit for opening up contacts between the United States and China in 1972 with the landmark visit of then secretary of state Henry Kissinger. That visit was followed by President Nixon’s state visit to China in February 1972. While China acknowledges Pakistan historic role in opening the first chapter of Sino-American relations, the United States has gingerly expressed the gratitude for which Pakistan is genuinely entitled to.
America should understand that if it was an unachievable tall order for NATO to defeat Taliban and other militants and achieve a clear-cut victory, how Pakistan with limited resources can make than happen. Moreover, there is no earthly or convincing reason for Pakistan to remain engaged with Taliban in a perpetual military conflict.
Nevertheless, Pakistan played its part of clearing the FATA and agencies from the elements that posed looming danger to the NATO presence in Afghanistan and a religious takeover in Pakistan. To vacate Swat valley from the dogged Taliban and religious fanatics convincingly demonstrates that Pakistan has been a committed and serious partner against the dogmatic forces, the reactionaries and religious militants who could have imposed their obscurantist fiat all over Pakistan. That should launder any doubt about the sincerity and earnestness of Pakistan in being a strong bulwark against the forces inimical to a stable, modern, democratic and Pakistan.
Despite being close allies, the relations between the United States and Pakistan have been eclipsed by deficit of trust. Neither side places complete and untainted trust in each other’s friendship. The obvious reason is the mutually bloated expectations: America wanting Pakistan to go an all out war on the anti-American elements and factions and defeat them.
Pakistan on the other hand, expects of the United States to be treated with a modicum of reasonableness and understanding of its limits in delivering the needful. Pakistan feels that while she has been fighting a proxy war for the United States now for two decades, it is not the beneficiary of the grand perks and privileges that have been bestowed upon its regional rival India.
In his policy speech on December 1, 2009 president Obama lauded Pakistan in these words “In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over.... The Pakistani people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed."
The shaky nature of relations between Pakistan and the United States continues to spur blame game. However, the United States must be convinced that after NATO and American troops’ withdrawal, no other regional power, except Pakistan, can safeguard the interests of United States in the war torn and badly ravaged Afghanistan. Pakistan enjoys an uncontested position to maintain peace in Afghanistan and also collaborate with America in reconstruction programs.
Pakistan possesses the good will as well as the military muscle to subdue the dissidents, the war lords and insurgents like Taliban. With the guns going silent, a phase of rehabilitation can be initiated also in the tribal belt that has been mauled by drone attacks and Pakistan army’s onslaughts against the miscreants.
Pakistan army’s role thereafter would be to rebuild the infrastructure, roads, schools and hospitals in FATA and Afghanistan. A host of other similar projects can bring prosperity, peace, awareness and good governance in those primitive regions lorded over by the local lords. The people of Afghanistan or FATA will not accept any other regional solicitor as willingly as Pakistan.
As such Pakistan can be a reliable, competent and acceptable successor of the United States in Afghanistan. Pakistan could renew good will for USA and recreate a new modern, stable democratic and peaceful Afghanistan which is what the rest of the world and particularly America would cherish after it leaves that country.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
May 20, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
The Arab Spring has gone into a mode of hibernation for the present. The advance of the much promising Arab Spring has been halted in Bahrain by Saudi Arabia and in Syria by Iran. Paradoxically in Bahrain it is the Sunni minority that is ruling and in Syria conversely it’s the Shia minority that is in power. So the underlying motive behind undercutting these patently watershed revolutionary movments directed at removing the authoritarian and hereditary dispensations, carry religious undercurrents.
The Saudi Royal government has put her entire weight behind Bahrain’s ruling family of Khalifah, so much so that the Saudi armed forces and their huge military hardware and weaponry has been placed at the disposal of the Bahrain’s dynastic rulers. In March last year Saudi Arabian troops entered Bahrain and opened fire on the protesters, killing an unspecified number of protesters.
Both Bahrain and Saudi governments have been united in brutally suppressing the mammoth protest crowds mostly staged and carried out by the Shia community. It is indeed an historic chance for the marginalized majority population to capture power in Bahrain as was done in Tunisia and Egypt and even in Libya and Yemen. The Shia community is undauntedly determined to continue their protests despite soaring count of casualties and deaths, resulting from ferocious crackdown by the security forces.
In March this year, about 100000 protesters staged another rally at Bahrain’s demolished Pearl Roundabout but were tear-gassed and dispersed by the security forces.
In order to create a regional bulwark against the burgeoning influence of Iran in Bahrain, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced to forge themselves into a confederation. The practical application of this proposal, however, is still in the making.
While In Bahrain it is Saudi Arabia and other Arab hereditary states to join hands for warding off the Iranian influence, in Syria it is Iran that is straining her to salvage and buoy-up the tottering and fast weakening regime of Bashar-al-Assad belonging to the fanatic Shia branch of Alovites. The Saudis and Iranians are not vying with each other for emancipation of the oppressed communities or the removal of the brutal autocratic regimes. Their principle objective is to keep the ruling cabals in power and not for upholding the rights of the majority to rule.
If it should be the Shia majority to fight for their rights in Bahrain and get a share in power through a democratic process the same benchmark should also apply to Syria. In Syria, it is a Shia minority that Iran wants to remain at the helm and Sunni minority regime keep ruling the country by unleashing a reign of tyranny on the people demanding change.
As such the flame of emancipation for the centuries enslaved people that was so bright and dazzling two years ago in the aftermath of the Tunisian historic uprising against despotic rule of Ben Ali, it is losing its glow in Bahrain and Syria. There was a trail of such defining and epoch making developments in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The autocratic regimes fell like house of cards one after another. Bu all of a sudden there seems to be a halt for the Arab Spring to further flower and wash away the left over scourge of totalitarian regimes.
This set back or lurch has come about because of the unpalatable fact that two regional adversarial powers with a backlog of unbridgeable historical discord in faith are determined to outdo each other. The Saudi royal regime is in agreement with both Israel and United states to destroy the ongoing Iranian nascent nuclear enrichment program reckoned to be geared towards developing a nuclear weapons capability. Ironically both profess Islam.
In Syria whereas the protestors are supported by the Sunni Muslim states, the government is publicly supported by the Shia clerical regime of Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah. The protests and widespread anti-government demonstrations across Syria began in January 2011 and expanded into a countrywide uprising. In one year’s violent clashes between the anti-government armed combatants and government security forces and army, thousands of people have been killed. The violent civil war still continues entailing causalities on daily basis.
The Arab Spring is a gift of the modern age with autocratic regimes taking to the democratic course and shedding family rules. But there are countries that keep their national interests in view and disregard these monumental and spectacular changes moving the world towards becoming an abode of justice, equality, rule of law and responsible elected popular governments.
While China and Russia claim to be the supporters of the oppressed classes, they are averse to the change of the system in Syria. This kind of hypocrisy reflects the narrow interests of the respective states in face of the popular desire for change in their countries. That change is for accountable and elected governments, political emancipation, diversity of opinion, economic empowerment and the end of dynasties that deserve to be thrown into the dustbin of history.
Now there would be a lull in the encompassing expansion of the Arab spring but finally the unpopular family medieval dynasties will have to vacate for the democratic dispensations. The world is now united and integrated via the information technology and no country can remain an island of isolation and darkness and shut off and block the onset of information traveling across the globe through twitter and face book and Google and other devices.
If the traditional rulers in the Middle Eastern states occupying power through succession or by force do not see the inexorable change in the offing, they would sooner or later, be swept away by the currents of global emancipation and pulsating urge for liberty and pluralism. The strong man in Yemen the former president Abdullah Saleh finally perceived that unavoidable and irresistible change after brutalizing their people. He finally gave in to the people’s demand for change and there is a representative form of government gradually firming itself.
Thus Abdullah Saleh too saved his life. It offers a pragmatic cue that should be taken by unbending rulers and myopic heads of states in Jordan, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria and Kuwait. They cannot stop the march of history and the history declares these dynasties irrelevant in the modern times.
Friday, May 18, 2012
May 18, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
During the past few weeks, scores of precious lives have perished in Karachi in the so called target killing. The trend of vendetta murders continues unabated. There are rival groups both political and trigger happy goons killing for ransom or extortion money. They also remain locked in a do or die combat for the ulterior motives of mutual annihilation. The law enforcement agencies mostly police and paramilitary are interspersed all over Karachi for a wild goose hunt for killers, sharp shooters and other assortment of criminals.
There is no respite in the dare day massacres by mafias and heavily armed groups that brook no mercy for their targets. They subject their victims to spin-chilling brutalities. The mutilated and twisted bodies bear the signs of torture that normal human being cannot even think of. The limbs of captured hostages are dismembered and broken and their bodies holed with lethal weapons. This is happening in a country where an elected democratic government is at the helm.
There is an unremitting war raging between the MQM and their political and ethnic adversaries that take a toll of citizen’s lives every day. The Lyari area in Karachi has turned into a battlefield where the count of dead and injured is multiplying, where bullets are flying and where gunfire ringing in front of the police and rangers and other peace keeping forces.
The law and order is fragile or negligible in the strife-torn sensitive areas of Karachi where pitched and guerrilla style battles are being fought. The law enforcement agencies are hauling good number of miscreants and bounty killers on daily basis. But the desperadoes are mushrooming and replacing those caught.
It is indeed a frightening situation where the lives of peaceful citizens are at stake. The business community is the worst sufferer and they do not or hesitatingly open their shops for fear of being killed or kidnapped if they refuse to pay the extortion money.
The daily life of the citizens in Karachi is paralyzed. The entire city has turned to be a replica of Baghdad and Kabul where life of ordinary folks is prone to drone attacks or night patrolling of the occupation troops. In Karachi it may not be drone attacks and even hostile soldiers busy in ambush sprees. Here are visible and invisible enemies that are wreaking havoc with the social harmony of that largest city of Pakistan to choke Pakistan economically.
There are migrants and new settlers from other parts of Pakistan that reportedly have taken to the most lucrative business of drug trafficking, land grabbing and kidnapping for ransom. There are various brands of religious militants who brook no mercy in massacring the identified heathen or opponents to their fanatic creed of religion. Extortionists are all over the city and all they need is gun or a knife and will to kill on the drop of the hat.
Then there are Baluchies, the alien economic workers, Pathans, the religious bands inclusion Taliban, the political rabble rousers and so on. Karachi is a potpourri of various ethnic groups and perhaps the safest haven where they can perpetuate in their nefarious acts with impunity.
The MQM cadres, the PPP breakaway factions, the hardened and heartless assassins, the foreign agent provocateurs, the local thugs, bandits and outlaws; the incorrigible emotionally charged political activists, all aggravate the lawlessness and fish in the troubled waters.
The snatching of cars and purses, the decamping with money and jewelry, the breaking into the houses and making inmates as hostages to take away the precious belongings, money and jewelry are daily happenings. The looting of the banks and ATM machines are frequent. This murky atmosphere has robbed the citizens of their peace of mind and it is trapping them into a syndrome of paranoid, unknown fears and phobias, and mental agonies. No one is safe in Karachi and very few should be mentally sound as to perform their daily chores with peace of mind.
If the laws enforcement agencies with their mighty firepower and immense manpower, and meticulous organization and with the official support seem to be incapable of restoring peace to bedeviled Karachi then I would offer two alternatives that might work.
Firstly, hand over Karachi to the armed forces. They should impose a curfew for a specified period of time on daily basis. They should set up summary military courts to award speedy sentences to the heinous criminals that should range from firing squads to long jail terms. They should not be lodged in local jails but isolated in an island in the oceans miles away from Karachi.
If the incumbent government has reservation about the army’s induction into resorting peace in Karachi and stem violence then it should invite Taliban to restore peace in that city that has become a haven for crooks and criminals of all hues. They would perform this task in matter of few weeks. No other mafia or killers ‘brigands can compete with them. It is doubtful if they would go back after doing the needful.
If this is not acceptable either, let government convene a session of all the political parties and hammer out a joint plan of action to curb and halt this terrible mayhem that is pushing the city of Karachi and the whole of Pakistan into a terrible civil war. What could be the outcome of that? The answer is fragmentation and further division of this country into how many parts no one presently knows.
If none of these options can be plausible for the government and it would watch the gory situation as it is unfolding, then in all fairness it should resign hands up with the confession that it cannot overcome the epidemic of violence and rampant carnage swallowing lives of innocent people day in and day out.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
May 13, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
Summer’s scorching heat and acute power shortage have both peaked in Pakistan. People are frantically running helter-skelter as if the doomsday was at hand. The hapless country is awash with panicked and frenzied citizens driven out of their suffocating dwellings to protest and vent their outrage about the deepening calamity. It is unthinkable to live in a modern age without fuel and modest comforts that come from electricity.
Almost half of country’s power generation capacity is drastically dwindled. Of late it is estimated to be at 7200 MG. If electric power remains intact, the water could reach the reservoirs, the overhead water tanks and then to the consumers. With the steep shortfall of electricity, the water scarcity too has assumed monstrous proportions.
The taps in most of the urban houses have gone dry. As such there is no water to take shower, to cook a meal, prepare breakfast for the school going children and working members of the family. The cloths and the linen cannot be washed and the toilets remain unclean.
Those who exude their optimism in the glorious future of Pakistan as a modern welfare state with robust economy and well entrenched democratic system are either in the habit of wishful thinking, suffer from flawed vision or deliberately paint a rosy picture. If from the functioning of the state institutions to the availability of basic utilities is in tatters, only a myopic person could afford the luxury of day- dreaming of stable, ensured and prosperous destiny for Pakistan.
The rental power units that were hired by the incumbent government have been miserably non -starters from the beginning. Most of contractors of these white elephants units, pocketed huge amount of money in advance and then went into a cozy slumber. They did not bother to produce power for which they were heftily paid. They failed to provide even a modicum of relief to the load-shedding stricken people of Pakistan.
The three nuclear power plants produce 2 per cent of the whole generation of the electric power. The rest is produced from the fossil fuels (65 %), hydroelectric (33 %) and from coal (03%).In several preceding decades, no new big dam has been commissioned or constructed to beef up the power generation. The two main dams namely Tarbela and Tarbela, Ghazi Brotha hydel project and other small dams produce 6500 MW electricity.
Pakistan’s total installed capacity is around 20000 MW. According to a widely circulate report, “while the peak need is Pakistan suffers from a massive electricity shortage, electricity generation has shrunk by up to 50% in recent years due to an overreliance on Fossil Fuel”.
In Pakistan the peak demand is 20584 MW, while the power produced is nearly 15000 MW. But for the past two years, the shortage has further soared because of the low generation from the water dams and negligible or insufficient output from the Rental power plants and IPPs (independent power producers)
According to available statistics, the household sector is the largest consumer of electricity accounting for 44.2 per cent of total electricity consumption, industries 31.1 per cent, agriculture 14.3 per cent, government sector 7.4 per cent, commercial 5.5 per cent and street light 0.7 per cent.
The power shortage is causing crippling impact on daily life of the citizens, on industry, agriculture and overall economy. With the total or partial closure of markets, business centers and industrial units, the unemployment has increased by leaps and bounds. The unemployment has led to poverty, gloom, and plummeting standards of daily life.
There are 14 rental power plants (RPPs) mobilized to generate 1500MW in order to partially offset the overall power shortage. In addition there are 27 IPPs to add 5305 MW to national grid by 2012. Had the RPPs and IPPs played a fair game and fulfilled their mandate, Pakistan would have been saved from the colossal power outrage that it is now experiencing. The induction of RPPs into Pakistan power grid carries a pathetic story and stigma of huge kickbacks and grafts by a former minister of power and other chips of the same block.
The illustrious scientist of Pakistan, a true patriot and Chairman of the Governing Board of Thar Coal Project, Dr Samar Mubarikmand has said that in Pakistan as much as 50000 MW electricity could be generated per day through Thar Coal reserves. Pakistan is blessed with coal deposits at Thar, Sindh, that are estimated to be one of the largest in the world.
Dr Samar has made use of a technology called “underground gasification technology” for converting coal into gas without mining or quarrying. If his claim is valid then not only Pakistan can be self sufficient in electricity generation and consumption but also be able to export it.
But there was stunning and flat refutation of Dr Samar’s claim from the member Planning Commission Shahid Sattar who declared that the Thar coal power generation project was impracticable. Shahid Sattar said in an International Conference in Islamabad, that while the project of power generation out of gasification was impracticable, actual power generation was possible only by coal-mining.
Expressing his apprehensions about the claims of Dr Samar, the member maintained that the project of 10 MW could not be carried on any further. Reinforcing his stance, he said that a similar gasification project being run in Australia is likely to be closed.
Now these are diametrically contradictory points of view on generation of electricity in Pakistan. As to who is right and who is not, cannot be ascertained by a layman. In the meantime Dr. Samar on Sunday said that four more coal wells had been set on fire and as a result gas production from these would begin from next week.
While talking exclusively to Geo News, he brushed aside reports of the project being a failure as invalid and wrong. He disclosed that "A flame will be lit from gas as emission begins from these wells towards the end of this month”.
In the wake of this load-shedding cataclysm, President Zardari has called for an emergency meeting of experts and government functionaries to deliberate upon the chaotic electricity shortage in Pakistan and to find ways and means to stem this appalling situation that has turned the life of the citizens into a nightmare and hellish.
Understandably, he was alarmed by the ultimatum of Chaudhry Shujjat, the chief of PMLQ to the effect that if the government fails to arrest the worsening power outrage, his party would part company with the PPP government. One would watch apprehensively and with folded hands as to what miracle or panacea would be hurled to alleviate the woes of the tormented population in a short span of time when it was not done for years. Visibly there is no hope for an immediate silver lining.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
May 10, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
One of the hottest and bizarre topics in contemporary American politics is the same sex marriages which connotes that a male can marry a male and in a similar fashion a woman can opt another female as a spouse or married partner.
Pressed by the overpowering exigencies and inexorable dynamics of politics surfacing aggressively on the home turf and mindful of the vote bank of the homosexuals, president Obama finally gave in on moral planks and accepted the same sex marriage to be in order.
Simultaneously the North Carolina state rejected the same sex marriages. Of 50 American states 30 have banned same sex marriages and thus there are some 20 states that allow this baneful bond of two male or female individuals as married partners. But the supporters of this highly debatable issue seem to be gaining ground and wider acceptance because it is being viewed more as a political necessity to catch votes than from moral standpoint.
Last year in September the perfunctory cover of “don’t ask don’t tell” or “DADT” was also lifted by U. S. Congress. The “DADT” Act enforced in December 1993 “prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces”. Now they are free to express their sexual orientation with regard to their choice for a male or a female.
The gays, lesbians and homosexuals are now legally allowed to serve openly in the American armed force and also to fight for their rights. Thus far they were treated as pariah segments.They remained in low profiles and suffered from the stigma that is indelibly attached to this kind of lurid and detestable activity.
In both old and new Testaments of the Bible, there are several references about the homosexuality and gays or the sexual relations between man and man with verdict of condemnation for such abominable sexual pursuits.
The scriptural fable about the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis has been commonly interpreted as God punishing the homosexual sinners of Sodom who wished to rape the angels sent to retrieve prophet Lot, the nephew of patriarch Abraham.
Then we can find another poignant reference in chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus, warning the homosexuals in these words, “If a man also lies with mankind, as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”.
But paradoxically there are passages in Bible that narrate same sex relationship. For instance in “David and Jonathan” or the “Centurion and his Servant”. There are also theological interpretations that suggest that Bible has not categorically condemned the “mutually committed, gay and lesbian relationships". It is also inferred that Jesus did not say anything on this issue. Martin Luther the founder of the Protestant faith of Christianity, termed the story of Sodom as “The vice of the Sodomites is an unparalleled enormity”
Christian churches by and large have regarded homosexual sex as sinful. They draw their conclusions from the natural law and similar references in the Bible. Many Christian denominations view homosexuality, as sinful, while the others term it as morally acceptable.
In United States, a sizeable number of Christian faithful define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and that any sexual act outside of the marriage relationship is inherently sinful.
In ancient Rome and Greece, the homosexual practices such as relationship of an adult Greek male with a Greek youth, or of a Roman citizen with a slave have been mentioned in the history books. Even thereafter from the onset of religious eras, various societies including those of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon carry the burden of practicing sodomy and male oriented sex.
The debate of allowing homosexuals to enter into matrimonial bonds is indeed of different nature. In the civilized history of mankind, any state or society never legally permitted such abomination as it is now in vogue in many countries in Western Europe and also within the United States.
Granted the humans tend to defy and deviate for the natural course of sexual relationship between men and women. But to legitimize it as a permissible moral norm and a step towards fulfilling the imperatives of fundamental rights of human beings is simply breaking the boundaries not only set by the nature but also is infringement of the unwritten yet established social and moral law ingrained in a society.
All over the world there is no dearth of the prowling and lecherous homosexuals preying upon the vulnerable among the human beings more distinctly the young boys and girls who cannot defend themselves againt a sex maniac or a morally deviant pervert. There are countless individuals who because of shame cannot disclose the heinous crime and abuse they were subjected to by roughnecks and insidious perpetrators.
In American society there is no bar on young boys and girls to date with each other and thus there are teen age mothers’ epidemic for which billions of dollars are spent on new born babies and the related issues. But for an adult to touch a teen or underage girl is unpardonable crime and it should be like that.
We have voluminously read about the lecherous sexual behavior and rape of Christian clerics and clergy and priestly class of the young boys and girls who were given under their supervision in religious seminaries. The Catholic Church has been busy in making financial compensations ever since the media have started reporting and revealing about these odious, gory and reprehensible violations of human dignity by the reverend fathers, holy priests and custodians of the Church.
The question is that while a common adult committing adultery is severely punished and turned into a social pariah and labeled as sex offender for the rest of his life, why the preachers and holy figures are not awarded condign punishments? On top of it the endorsing statement for the same sex marriages, of president Obama who thus far was not strong proponent of this depravity, comes as a rude jolt to the majority of this nation.
One would like to suggest to the believers and practitioners of this degrading sexual activity named as same sex marriage to repent and seek the divine mercy and forgiveness for going out of the nature’s fixed source of marriages that is between a male and a female. There can be gays, lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals in any society but to give them a blanket permission and a constitutional cover to marry with the same sex is simply shredding the fabric of established and traditional morality and ethics.
The bond of marriage looks decent and nice between two heterogeneous sexes and the underlying divine purpose was to procreate the human race as also of all the living beings and species with soul and body. To style two men as wife and husband or two women as couples or sex partners is direly repugnant.
For eunuchs and humans with no specified gender, there can be permissions to live together as they should be morally and sexually harmless to each other. Instead they might help each other in daily chores and sharing the domestic work. But to allow the males or females to live together for sexual propose is repulsive and dishonrable to say the least.
For children separated in divorces and for other reasons and in case of single parents, the government should provide places where parents can come and meet them. For those parents who remarry according to Christian religious customs, should be allowed to visit their parents in a new environ as is the prevailing practice. But for a male to marry a male or a female with a female to protect their children is a hollow ploy and cannot be defended on moral or social grounds.
The protagonists of the sexual freedom try to justify the same sex marriages by classifying the homosexuals into two groups: one psychopath homosexual and the others doing such under a legal cover of the same sex marriage. But the cardinal question is how a sexual activity that is unnatural and patently unworthy can become sanctified by merely declaring each other as marriage partners?
Monday, May 7, 2012
May 7, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
The victory of a socialist president in France is a momentous event not only for France itself but for Europe as well. The French electorates have rejected economic system spawned by a reckless and non-challant president Nicolas Sarkozy. Francois Hollande is the first Socialist to win the French presidency after 31 years since 1981 when Francois Mitterrand defeated a center right politician, President Giscard d'Estaing, to become the first socialist president of France.
The ousted president Sarkozy, in order to address the economic woes of France, postulated to take a somersault against the doctrine of Laissez Faire to which a capitalist Europe has remained wedded all along after the Second World War. The ousted president whose tenure was marked by perpetual turmoil tried to embrace a capitalist France with “austerity and budget discipline” to resuscitate the fledgling economy.
Sarkozy became very unpopular and controversial for frequently changing the parameters of his plans and projections for the French people. He fashioned himself to be an unpredictable show boy with streaks of sexual perversions and scandalous personal life. His keeping France on a conservative course looked out of sync with the imperatives of changing policies in the interests of his own country.
The Socialist Party’s newly elected president of France, Mr. Hollande aims at growth and prosperity instead of fist-tightening. The French voters rejected Sarkozy for the second term because of his whimsical and lewd character and for vacillation on taking vital decisions at a time when France is slipping down as an economic power. Perhaps the French nation wanted a change of face as well and to remove a president who negotiated “fiscal pact" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that was not entirely in favor of France.
France desperately needed a new leader because of its economic slide-down during the Sarkozy era. Currently France’s unemployment rate is more than 10%; her public spending is 56% of GDP. France’s public debt will hit 90% of GDP this year. In 2012 the country needs to raise 180bn Euros on the bond markets. Next year it needs 200bn.
President Hollande wants to recall French troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. He envisages concluding a new contract of Franco-German partnership. In regard to reenergizing the weakening financial system, he backs the creation of a European rating agency and the separation of lending and investment in banks. His future policies also include reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation from 75 to 50% and promotion of renewable energy sources.
The phase of Franco-German partnership with France as a subservient and docile partner seems to be coming to an end. One can hope that president Hollande would relax curbs on the immigrants and unlike Sarkozy would allow them to follow their religious and ethnic obligations and rituals freely and without further curbs.
This roller coaster of a mammoth change in Europe has started from France. The next country falling under its wheels would be Germany and the rest would follow. The phenomenal change of praetorians in France is stunning but was not unpredictable. This change would be a harbinger for similar watershed replacements of conservative guards who were either purposely embarking upon a beaten and decadent path or were shortsighted to the extent of not perceiving the pulsating desire of the European nations to move forward from a closed alley.
There has been a stereotype orthodox religio-political system in vogue all over Europe and more noticeably in France and Germany, the two economically and militarily vibrant nations among the European Union comprising 27states. With their hands tied to go solo and independently to make or change their budgets and let the domestic economy take its own natural flow, the economically strident countries looked in sheer impotency and pathetic helplessness. Their ambitions to expand their socio- economic potential remained halted and bridled by a set of rules and constraints written in the collective bond of the Euro countries.
The European Union has remained stuck up in the grooves of mutual pledges and binding covenants to sail and sink together. Barring creation of a unified common currency Euro and lifting of visa restrictions among the member countries, the rest is a tale of debacles and bickering on the part of countries with vibrant economic systems.
After World War II, the West Germany rose on its own ashes and with the help of the United States carved out a new Germany that became the envy of other European nations with a fast track flourishing economy and reconstruction of the destroyed institutions and business enterprises. The modern Germany was looked upon as a model of rapid and dazzling development in all spheres of national reconstruction within two decades after the Second World War.
France that was the first country to bear the brunt of Nazi Germany’s military onslaught and occupation, also embarked upon a path that brought several commendable laurels of success to its linty of spectacular achievements. It distinguished itself as a nuclear power, built up a robust economy, spawned a democratic order and created a splendid social welfare system for its people. The rebuilding of France and Germany in the aftermath of WWII was made possible by the expatriate work force that arrived in West Germany and France in millions.
It should be noted that in West Germany a huge segment of German population was liquidated during the war. Besides, the colossal fragmentation and disintegration of families was set in motion. During that period, the Germans went into a spell of national despondency and depression. Not only that, but there was a serious and huge dearth of manpower for reconstruction of nation building projects such as highways, bridges, railways, industrial units, educational institutions, hospitals and restoration of ruined infrastructure.
Unfortunately thereafter, the religious and national prejudices were fueled and fanned against the alien settlers by the religious right and ultra conservative rabble rousers. While the Christianity was extolled, there surfaced a pervasive disenchantment for the immigrant workers whose majority came from Turkey, a war time ally of Germany.
Concurrently, Europe that was in the lead with the development of latest technologies for a few decades subsequently found itself in a tough competition from the rest of world where the modern scientific inventions and development of technologies also picked up momentum. China, Japan, Singapore the entire Far East and India from the Central Asia ran neck and neck with the Europe and even the United States.
While United States is blessed with inexhaustible economic and natural resources, vast land, free enterprise and liberty to excel, European countries are smaller in size, meager in resources and bedeviled by a simmering race with each other for economic uplift and prosperity.
With the advent of a socialist party president, France may exercise a great deal of economic freedom within the framework of the European Union. He would want to renegotiate the deal agreed by the 27 countries of the euro zone incorporating strict limits on spending. But in response the female German Chancellor Merkel has categorically stated that it cannot be renegotiated.
One might witness in the coming time, a war of wits between an ultra conservative German chancellor and a newly inducted liberal socialist French president. It might be manifest sooner than later, if they would be able to reach some kind of a quid-pro-quo for a smooth sailing between themselves, to maintain euro’s credibility and save the union from disintegrating. If not European Union might, practically, fritter away.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
is a haven for food franchises.
There must be countless varieties of foods, cuisines and culinary recipes offered
by these franchisees serving fast food or otherwise. Most of the people are
used to eating fast food which normally consists of grilled, roasted or fried
chicken, beef, pork, fish served exclusively or in sandwiches or burgers. America
One shudders to learn that 61 % American adults are obese or overweight. Overweight is a malady that is less injurious than the obesity which when exceeds the BMI of 30, can cause premature death. Obese people run 50-100 % increased risk of premature death than the normal humans. Every year around 300,000 people die of obesity or excessive fatness. Obesity is the second killer after smoking, which kills 400,000 Americans every year. The cumulative yearly financial loss to United States is staggering $ 117 billion.
The deaths caused by obesity and overweight have doubled since 1980. In children, it has increased three times. It is shocking that children should be suffering from diabetes, blood pressure and heart problems which usually appear in adults or in old age. All these horrifying statistics are mentioned in the Surgeon General’s report, which further says that overweight and obesity threaten the health gains of the American nation.
It is indeed a poignant warning which clearly connotes that the money being spent on health or measures taken in that regard would become futile as the nation would be overtaken by a deadly syndrome of obesity.
Human beings die of starvation, famine, and hunger but seldom because of overeating. These are the bizarre absurdities and paradoxes of humanity that in one part of the world the people die because of famine or mal- nutrition while in other parts they leave this mundane world because they eat more than what they should.
The urge for eating for many people in America has become an obsession or a craze and there are several compelling reasons for that. Not only that the reason for obesity is over eating but also the propensity for heavy intake of junk and fat making food. Such foods are delicious mostly but gradually adversely affect the natural metabolism and body chemistry.
The crudely obese and excessively heavy women and men as well as children are the common sights in
Some of them walk with great difficulty. They swing left and right and can walk
by exerting greater force. They are handicapped by the very food whose main
purpose is to sustain life, provide energy and keep the people smart and
It should be understood that the obesity that afflicts most of the Americans is not of hereditary nature in which obesity travels from parents to children and this process goes on. In America there might be such cases of obesity but mostly the obesity prevalent in the American society is from excessive eating, lack of exercise and precedence of leisure over physical activity.
The Surgeon General and other agencies monitoring the national health, outline a host of factors that lead to obesity. These are eating of junk and nutrient-lacking food, excessive watching of Television, lack of physical exercise minimum for at least half of an hour, lack or inadequacy of physical exercise facilities at schools, work, provision of improper food at educational institutions and the shortage of parks for jogging or walking.
The report also underlines the need of educating both adults and children about prevention from obesity and how to take physical exercise and maintain their normal physiques. Besides daily physical activity and taking of nutrient food, breast-feeding by expectant mothers has been pointed out as one single factor that it serves as a natural check against obesity.
No one bothers about the Federal Food Guidelines aimed at preventing the growing obesity. The schools are still giving the same old prescribed and standardized food without realizing the baneful ramification of such a myopic and straitjacket course. The shortage of parks still persists. Moreover, people pressed by the time constraints because of work for earning more money, prefer not going out for walking or jogging.
The security problem in parks and gardens or open places is yet another compelling factor preventing citizens for a stroll in the fresh air and straightening or stretching legs and limbs. The expectant women or those having infants would not like to waste time on breast-feeding for keeping themselves symmetrical and in good physical shape. Breast-feeding by the modern women is considered as an uncultured or obsolete practice. In the first instance the choice of many women trying to look smart is to have foster children than having their own. The question of breath feeding in such cases does not arise.
Besides Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, tacos, huge varieties of other cooked foods are also served. It is very convenient to stay in front of a fast food window while sitting in your car, order and get the stuff in a few minutes. This is the usual practice that the people adopt and go by it as a daily routine. The drinks taken with the food, carry lot of sugar in due course, lead to diabetes both in adults and children.
Here in the United States there are innumerable Chinese, Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean, African and other countries’ restaurants. As such whatever food is separately available in those countries; in America all these are simultaneously available presenting a mosaic of culinary delicacies.
Fast food is primarily the American food culture. It is exclusively unique to America alone although now it is also spreading to other countries especially McDonalds, Subway etc, which are now becoming universal favorites. The other fast food franchises are also taking a cue from the McDonalds.
The fast food is relished by the Americans, generations after generations. It contains lot of cheese, meat and a good portion of sauces that produce fat in the body. The food served at signature restaurants like Chili’s and Olive Garden, is relatively expensive and therefore can be enjoyed only by a particular section of the society with sizeable income. In such restaurants one may spend many times more than on the fast food.
In these high profile restaurants, the cost depends upon the number of people sharing the food. So the low and modest income sections mostly eat fast food, which is relatively cheaper, does not involve hassle of waiting and at the same time is delicious and can be shared by more people.
This intake of fast food, which becomes a matter of habit over the years, adds fat and other undigested and surplus stuff in the body and ultimately assumes the form of obesity. The overeating of ubiquitously available junk food like chips etc with no physical exercise to burn this heavy load harms the digestive system.
The fast food serves such people who are in a hurry or short of time or money. While going to the office or coming back and at a limited lunchtime the fast food takes a few minutes to pay and five minutes to eat. Thus one is used to this kind of life for days, weeks, months and years. So an adult or a kid who keeps on eating the same cheese, meat, sauce, salad for years naturally start storing this stuff which besides filling the empty belly produces lot of fat. Thus a dangerous process of accumulating fats in the body starts.
Those voracious or compulsive eaters, who eat passionately and with gusto, conserve more fats and protein in their bodies. The body starts ballooning and moving towards overweight and the deleterious obesity.
A good portion of TV and commercial ads is about food and eating-places. These ads highlight in a mouth-watering manner the tasty, juicy and crispy aspects of the food they are advertising. Besides, the size, the quantity, the price and such features like second and the third layer or toppings are hammered in the minds of the viewers to prompt them to prefer their recipes. Naturally one is moved by all these enticing jingles.
The food franchisees can be divided according to their categories, timings and menus. Some are open round the clock while some open in the morning and close in the evening. Some serve only breakfast, and some only soups and salad. Some of them merely sell sandwiches, some of these burgers and pizzas, while other dish out snacks, wings and fried items such as chicken and fish. As such there is a vast array and variety of food for every one, catering for every pocket, and satisfying every taste and temperament.
America, thanks to franchised food looks like a vast display and service center for a limitless variety of food recipes. This fast food culture has become an indispensable feature in the American society. The vying food serving enterprises have their own competition between themselves and therefore the prices of food keeps fluctuating: some time dwindling and some time hiking. The industry of pre -cooked food is always in big profit.
Working for long hours takes it own toll .One tends to either rest at bed or else watch TV for hours. Those who are alone or even couples become habitual of remaining before TV from the time of arrival in the house till the time of going to bed. A majority seldom goes out for a walk or jogs or exercises for either security reasons or simply due to sloth and laziness or fatigue .The junk and rich food in the stomach needs additional physical labor to burn or to digest. The result is fatness.
Children either stay at the school or at homes. For them there is nothing interesting at home except to watch television. The parents are away at work. Even if they are at home they may also take rest along with their kids. It is reported that 40 per cent population does not do any physical activity for one reason or the other.
On top of that, there is plentiful intake of sweet beverages and other sugar-rich stuff like candies and chocolates. An American adult or adolescent takes sugar many times more than is medically recommended. Sugar needs to be burnt through walking or other kinds of physical labor, games, support or work out, which for obvious reasons no one takes seriously.
Then what results can one expect from such a freakish situation? Not only that the body starts swelling but serious diseases like asthma, diabetes, blood pressure and even cancer start assailing the bodies. It is dismaying and agonizing that 13 % children in
are obese or overweight. Women folk are more obese than men, because they get
more leisure time than men do. Equally by remaining for longer time at home
they have more chance to eat more. America
There is a section of society for whom physical labor or job is an anathema. These people spend their lives on social security. From the social security amount they buy drugs and some food and remain confined in doped state to their residences till the next social security paycheck is due. Now how can such breed of people remain physically fit who even are averse to taking up a job, take the trouble of going out in a park or open place for jogging or short stroll? Thus they develop lethargy. With the lethargy comes overweight and finally obesity. It is a segment of society, which seems lost and isolated from the fellow citizens. The drug addicts either die of loss of weight or overweight. Many among them land in jails.
The most alarming part of this whole sordid saga is that there is very little realization at the official level. Even on the citizenry level, there is scant awareness about an impending disaster of stupendous proportions. That the precious lives are being driven to the valley of death and the living getting obese and developing serious diseases and rendering themselves unable to cope with the stress of life and hard work. It forebodes a very dismal and murky situation for the future of this nation.
No doubt one third of the population is concerned about the growing menace of obesity and overweight but that concern does not help in containing obesity. The nation is getting obese at an alarming rate; while already over 60 % among adults and 13 % of the youth, the flower of the nation, are already physically disfigured or have disproportionate bodies.
Those who have time and money can afford to go to GYMs, SPAs and slimming centers to keep them in good shape. These slimming and physical fitness centers are minting money. Their number is mushrooming. But here the problem is that if one can afford to visit such centers for the whole life and with regularity then obesity can be kept at bay.
But regularity is not possible. After a certain period of time a person has to discontinue for the reasons that his work or office schedule has changed or his domestic or financial circumstances do not allow him to attend the gyms and slimming centers regularly.
The moment they dispense with the exercise, the process of putting up weight starts once again. With the negligence towards this new situation, one reaches the same level of weight on which he had been before the physical exercise. So literally one is back to the square one.
The owners or managers of these slimming or fitness centers are experts of human psyche and aware of the predicament of the overweight people. They have their own services or products to sell. Mindful of the laziness of the people in coming out of their houses or offices and also aware of the fact that apportioning of time for a physical activity was a problem for so many, these slimming centers, of late, instead of physical exercise, have started selling the recipes in shape of drugs which one can use in the comforts and privacy of their houses to get slim pr physically fit. As such, besides physical fitness centers, the slimming clinics have also proliferated.
These clinics make incredible offers bordering on miracles and short terms drugs for reducing the weight. These drugs, medicines or prescriptions whatever, one may call them, are not only expensive but on the whole injurious in the long run. They may contain toxic elements, which burn the extra fat but leave also other harmful side-effects. This is yet an unnatural and artificial way of quick fixing of bulkiness which may work for the time being but turn out to be immensely disadvantageous in the longer run.
That is why instead of lessening the obesity such clinics are making the matters worse and contributing deterioration of the national health. There are better ways of doing things and saving the nation from a total disaster that has started undermining the health of a great nation. What is then the best way out and safe way of doing things?
We know that with most of the people, the obesity is not hereditary. It results from over eating; the eating of junk and fatty foods, spending time in leisure and resting and by ignoring the indispensable physical activity. Most of us may want to reduce their excessive weight by walking or jogging but cannot do so because of time constraints or security reasons. On top of it is the monetary aspect, which may hinder the regular attendance of slim or body fitness centers. Therefore, the time has come that the government will have to intervene with all the seriousness. Laws have to be made to check the growing obesity in the nation.
How can these laws be framed and mandatorily implemented? Let the government; first of all, declare the obesity as a national calamity. Thereafter, it should act fast and with firmness on the enforcement of anti-obesity measures. The first step towards this direction would be to change and then check the food culture as being served for ages in the franchisees and private eateries. The change should be in accordance with the five food guidelines of the federal government with regard to use of various ingredients of food such as grains, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
These guidelines ordain half of an hour physical activity for every one about five days a week. How this can be implemented? If compliance of these rules were left on the sweet will of the people, the result would remain the same as is evident now. Let these rules be implemented by the authorities with full force in educational institutions, offices and work places also.
The obese people should, in the first place, not be given jobs until they reduce themselves weight-wise. That would impel them to resort to fitness of their bodies. During the office timings, employer must allocate half an hour for an organized physical activity at the premises to be administered and executed by the experts hired for this purpose.
It should be officially incumbent upon the factory owners or the employers to ensure daily physical activity at their facilities. The health authorities should monitor and check such activities actually taking place. The defaulters or non-compliant employers should be heavily fined. In this way several purposes would be served at the same time one of which is that the working citizens would receive the required labor to maintain the normal weight and ward-off overweight. The slim centers too would get the business and thus they would be happy. While the employees would receive the physical fitness exercise the cost would be borne by the employers.
In educational institutions, the physical training must be made mandatory to be done in the morning before the start of the classes. In colleges the students who come at different times or once or twice in a week to the colleges, should also be mandated to take the physical exercise. For this purpose a physical instructor should be part of the staff to impart such training. Thus the students, also per force, would be able to prevent overweight. It could otherwise be made obligatory for students to not exceed their weight beyond a certain level. Regular weight checks should be administered at schools and colleges.
For jobless and other kind of citizens surviving on social security, it can be made obligatory, that only those would receive the full amount who would look physically normal. For affluent and higher circles of society, the problem should not be acute or a matter of major concern. For obese people among the rich or elite some kind of additional taxation can be introduced which is the best and the most effective way of dealing with their fatness. More parks and jogging tracks are imperative to cater for most of the people to take long walks and if necessary jogging or running fast. Security and protection at such places must be ensured.
The basic problem is that while we are aware of the gravity of the obesity, we have failed to stem it. Perhaps the fundamental reason is that overweight or obesity is treated as a private or personal matter of citizens. The state governments do not want to interfere in such matters considering them as sacrosanct and as an encroachment upon the individual or personal freedom of citizens.
But it needs to be realized that this personal matter has assumed an epidemic proportion pregnant with disastrous ramifications. It is no more a private or personal problem. It is a grave matter of health for the entire nation. It has therefore, got to be tackled on national and on war-footing level. Any half hearted, half-baked measures would fail to produce the desired results. As such a national anti -obesity campaign needs to be mounted
Obesity should be treated an affliction, an abuse or abhorrence to be rid off at once like cancer or infectious diseases. If obesity were not dealt with the urgent attention it needs, sooner or later a big part of the population would enter the domains of disability and inactivity. That would spell doom for the creative faculties of the nation. Who then would work and deliver on such matters in which alacrity and smartness in needed?
There is no gainsaying that the terrorists may not subdue the undaunted spirit of the American nation or cause as high security alerts for us as the obesity would do in the future which is the silent enemy and surreptitious killer. We must not take pride in the self-assurance that we are the most well-fed nation and that this is the only nation where surplus food is a problem and not the shortage of food. Some surplus food goes into trash and the other in the bellies. Let us be austere in our eating habit, which means eating less and eating nutritious food.
By curtailing obesity the cost on national health care would drastically come down. The health care centers and hospitals would be less populated, there would less needs of medicines, less costly equipment for the hospitals to buy and less number of medical staff.
But the most redeeming features would be less fleecing and exploitation by the health insurance companies that have become more like money minting mafias. There could be more oversight and accountability for the overcharging companies, pharmacies and manufacturing of drugs and medicines and equipment.
So the health care budget that now supersedes the defense budget of the United States could be enormously reduced. The money thus saved could be diverted to medical research projects besides enhancing the social security income, expanding the benefits like food stamps and providing housing to the poor sections of society.