Sunday, December 29, 2013
December 27, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
Last week there was an interesting and animating discussion on the CNN whether Jesus was white or not. That gave me an impetus that if the Jesus’ followers who believe in him as the Son of God and promised Messiah can discuss this delicate subject, let me too offer my point of view.
To claim or believe that Jesus of Nazareth had a white pigment is factually and fundamentally untrue. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod. According to Saint Luke, one of the gospel writers, Joseph the future adoptive father of Jesus went up from Galilee out of the city Nazareth into Judea. Joseph was engaged with the mother of Jesus Mary and would visit here from time to time.
But to believe that Jesus was a white person born in a frigid or cold climate or region is totally devoid of truth. The land of Palestine including Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Judea, the Bethlehem have Mediterranean climate which is warm or moderate than being cold most of the year. So the portrayal of Jesus born in snow clad climate is factually incorrect. The birth date of Jesus being December 25 is as controversial and obscure as several other events related to his life. Some writers projected his birth in the month of June which is hot and humid. He was also a Jew and at the same time ethnically an Arab for having been born in the Middle East.
The people living in the Middle East and even in the upper reaches of the Arabian Peninsula touching peripheral towns along the Mediterranean coast have fair to brown skin. As such for the Christian believers it is sheer passion or fantasy that they try to paint the life of Jesus as if he was born in the winter and in extremely cold part of the year which could be only in Europe or North America.
The display of sleighs descending from the heaven with Santa and the with flakes of heavy snow falling around carries the depiction of regions closer to the North pole or at best of these areas that are covered with snow during the winter. Then the roaming of the deer and antelopes in woods with pine trees in a sort of blissful aura all around, is entirely romantic and far from reality. It demonstrates a kind of propensity to show Jesus as the dweller of the cold region and that his birth took place in the snowy and freezing part of the year.
At the age of 30 Jesus was baptized by his cousin John in the river Jordan to be formally proclaimed as a Jew. His preaching or ministry lasted for three years from his age of 30 CE to 33CE. In 33 CE he was sentenced to death by a Roman governor Pontius Pilate, against trumped charges of blasphemy, calling him the Son of God and not paying taxes, leveled against him by Jewish priests and Pharisees.
Jesus is a redeemer, Messiah and anointed son of God for Christians, He is a promised Messiah also for Muslims and a prophet but not son of God. Muslims venerate him specially for being the prophet with a book (bible) with three other prophets namely Moses, David, and Muhammad. However for Jews he was an apostate, a blasphemer to the Jewish religion and not the real promised Messiah.
All the dates from the birth of Jesus Christ to his hanging at the stake on the order of the Roman governor Pilate, his entombment for three days and his ascension and reappearance all lack credibility and factuality. The reason for fallacious dates and not credible chronology is understandable as there were no foolproof methods during those primitive times for recording events in with authenticity. Especially the gospels or four accounts of New Testament or Greek bible were written by their respective authors many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The journeying of his mother and his perceived father Joseph to Bethlehem was out of fear due to severe penalty from the fanatic Jews, Pharisees or rabbis who would take the birth of a child from a virgin mother, only betrothed to a man but still not married as sin. According to the New Testament, Mary was found to be pregnant, although she had not lived with Joseph, to whom she was engaged and that he did not have marital relations with her before the child was born. According to the Jewish tradition of those times, the girls were betrothed around the age of twelve or twelve and a half.
During the betrothal period, which would last about a year, the marriage was not finalized and the bride remained in her parent's house. Perhaps it was during this period that the pregnancy took place which we learn from gospels that it was due to the divine design through the Holy Spirit. But this contention is subject to contest as pointed out by Stephen L Harris, who proposed that the accounts of Matthew and Luke were written to answer Jewish slanders about Jesus' illegitimate birth. St Paul a prominent protagonist of Jesus and successor of Paul was also silent on the virginity as implying that he knew of no account of the virgin birth of Jesus.
It can be argued that a young woman who was still not properly married and was not religiously authorized to have sexual relations with her betrothed husband could have no other reason except to interpret the birth of Jesus as miraculous and through the Holy Spirit. It could be the only plausible way to deflect the fierce and unforgiving reaction and corresponding punishment from the Jewish religious authorities. In those rigid religious Jewish codes, the only explanation that could be offered was that the child was conceived in the womb of the mother by God through the Holy Spirit.
That answer or explanation might have pacified the Jewish priests and they kept silent almost for 30 years. But the people around Jesus and his parents must be having apprehensions and rather the family might have remained under a stigma attached with the premarital birth of Jesus. Yet for all these 30 years we do not read any account or story that pertains to the shame or ignominy associated with such grave social digression till Jesus started his ministry and publicly declared him as the Son of God.
It was only after Jesus began challenging the Jewish social misconduct, religious traditions and deviation from Torah that the Jewish religious zealots turned against him. It was at a much later stage that the question of Jesus being born Son of God was trumped up. But the history is silent on this highly sensitive issue as the Jewish rabbis took a stand against Jesus not for being an illegitimate child but for other two reasons. One was that he called himself a king and refused to pay taxes. The second charge was that he was calling himself the son of God.
Quite some time after the birth of Jesus, Joseph along with his wife Mary and son (later Jesus) flees to Egypt where he stays till the death of Herod. Thereafter, he returns to Nazareth where the family settles down. It was perhaps their absence from Nazareth and Jerusalem for a long time that we don’t find any detailed mention about the family.
The Greek scripture or the New Testament that is the story of the Jesus Christ and formation of Christianity was not written during the life time of Jesus but in later periods by many writers including the four early apostles, namely Matthew, Luke, John and Mark. But these gospels differ in many ways in contents and chronology from each other. The time difference between Mark the first writer and John the last of the four main writers, is between 50 to 70 years. The later writers copied heavily from Mark by adding some more details of the subsequent times.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
December 14, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan could be devoured by the merciless, ignorant and intolerant religious networks, if their proliferation is not checked well in time on war footing level. Pakistan indeed was created as an Islamic state and for the social, political and economic independence of the Muslims of the Sub-continent. The founders of Pakistan ought not to be blamed or berated for creating an independent homeland for the Muslims of India. Their vision to project Muslims as a separate nation and Pakistan as a nation state was supported by the vast majority of the Muslims of India.
But what went wrong was the hijacking of this newly founded country by rulers, politicians and bureaucrats who did not possess the same level of commitment, integrity and passion as the founders and vanguards of independence were blessed with. Over a period of several decades Pakistan that was destined to be democratic, liberal, economically vibrant, socially modern and civilly advanced, has been turned into a heap of garbage, trampled with abject poverty, territorially truncated and politically a scarecrow.
It has remained dominated by the military adventurers owing to rampant and incessant political anarchy let loose by the incompetent, self serving, abject and characterless leaders. Even during those stints when the political leadership was at the helm, the country suffered, in matters of good governance, nurturing of democratic culture, establishment and consolidation of the nation building institutions, crafting of a civil society, bringing about cohesion among the ethnically divided regions and building it up as a stable country.
Yet the most devastating blow to Pakistan was the compromise of the political parties with the religious zealots to win their support for holding on to power. With the time passage, the religious outfits both in politics and out kept gaining clout, influence and authority. They became imperious and overbearing to such an extent that they succeeded in injecting such amendments in the constitution of Pakistan that pushed the country towards a theocratic state.
A county that was envisioned by the freedom fighters to be enlightened, democratic and a blend of both Islam and secularism drifted towards a course of medievalism, obscurantism and fundamentalism. The divergent religious sects aided by their cohorts in the political arena embarked upon a sectarian war of vendetta on each other as has been rife in the Middle East for ages. It continues unabated gaining more and more ferocity and rapidity as the time passes.
The latest version of religious extremism laced with militancy is the cult of Taliban. This conglomeration is neither part nor parcel of a political culture, nor bound by any territorial limitations, nor amenable to any law nor answerable to any government. They were given birth by the inept and shortsighted politicians and are now poised to swallow Pakistan like Frankenstein.
We have seen their transcript of Islam and the fiendish manner they are determined to splash its sway across Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their model of Islam is drastically at variance with the format of Islam that is believed and has been practiced by the Muslims around the world all these centuries, notwithstanding the sectarian discords between the dominant sects.
These ignorant Muslim fanatics impose their model through brutalization and violent machinations. Killing someone even for not growing the beard to a prescribed size or not wearing turban or watching television, videos and movies is an unpardonable sin to be punished with death or rigorous incarceration. They are not afraid of death for the sake of advancing their weird creed and creepy pattern of Islam that was never in vogue even in the worst of times and during the rigid theocratic eras.
A few years back, they were close to capturing Islamabad. Later they were successful in proclaiming their religious regime in Swat valley and adjoining areas of Malakand and Mardan where the people mostly are conservative. Their incursions were joined by other religious groups and militants and even political parties that wanted to convert Pakistan into a theocratic land. The lifestyle and political set up they want to enforce would isolate Pakistan with the rest of world as an island of religious bigotry, ignorance, hair-raising punishments, persecutions and rigorously regimented codes.
Their religious fiat would make robots of humans totally riveted to mosques and busy in performing rituals. Their edicts and injunctions would run counter to the established obligations, beliefs and teachings of Islam as enshrined in the holy book Quran and on which the Muslim scholars of all denominations have consensus. Even the enlightened and educated Muslims counseling moderation and middle way would not be spared by this freakish lot bereft of pristine Islam.
This is the most daunting challenge, stupendous menace and impending tragedy to the survival of Pakistan as a liberal, democratic, enlightened and civil state. This would also be a travesty and perfidious distortion in the inviolable Islamic theology that is essentially rational, divine, tolerant, moderate, and without coercion or compulsion.
If these hard core Islamic freaks do not spare a teen age girl for advocating education for the girls how come they would tolerate more serious issues of our daily life: the way we eat, dress up, read and peruse legitimate venues of happiness. Just in case they take-over Pakistan, they would close all the female educational institutions, segregate males and females and put veils on the faces of women.
That would be the starting point towards turning Pakistan into a place where only beards and ignorance would grow: not knowledge, learning, education, research and innovation. In such a society liberty to use modern gadgets or even wearing western apparel would be banned. This is a sketchy portrait. The reality would be much worse and bleak. In that stifling situation there would be a civil war if the society and army reacts. It is better to nip this monstrosity in the bud and stem this diabolic tide presently before it is too late.
This onslaught by Taliban and other conservative forces cannot be dismantled by NATO or the armed forces of Pakistan alone. This grave threat can be effectively deflated and countered by a civil society. “Let a hundred flowers bloom”. The people have to be pulled out of the quagmires of illiteracy and ignorance and their livelihood and safely ensured. The courts, the police stations, the hospitals, the airlines, the railways, the local governments and all state departments inter-alia should operate to give dignity of life to the people.
The public awareness has to be elevated through education and enlightened media. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (American Declaration of Independence) must be guaranteed. The People should be liberated from the superstition, from the bondage of the abominable and parasitic institutions such as feudalism; shamanism false mystics, shrine runners (pirs), narrow religious cults and exploitative sects. A common code of Islamic faith or religious freedom should be evolved. It is imperative to separate church from state affairs.
This litany is not exhaustive. However it gives a rudimentary idea how should the landscape of Pakistan look like. The religious education should be imparted as part of the normal curricula in state run or recognized institutions or in mosques and not in privately run seminaries. The people with a hope in future, laced with the knowledge and feelings of being honorable and equal citizens, would resist and cast away reactionary forces.
As such they would act as a formidable bulwark against any retrogressive movement or mission that convert Pakistan into a closed theocracy or subjects the people to turn into religious robots as the Taliban or the other fanatic religious militant entities aim at.
Friday, December 6, 2013
December 5, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
Evidently somehow the ongoing anti-terrorism blitz launched post haste by the incumbent PMLN regime in tandem with the Sindh government is falling apart. There is a renewed surge in target killings, street crimes and extortion calls carrying death warnings for un-obliging parties or individuals.
This latest turn of events is extremely ominous and a testimony to the sway and tenacity of killer gangs and rampaging mafias in the largest city of Pakistan which is not only a leading industrial and business metropolis but also a port.
It also seems that barring a brief interregnum, the outlaws and bloodletting thugs have realigned themselves with a renewed vigor to defy the state writ. During the month of November alone reportedly around 200 citizens, have lost their lives. The situation is appalling and egregiously fearsome and proves how well entrenched the enemies of public peace are.
What new strategy the government and law-enforcement agencies are going to unfurl is yet to be seen but this rampant evil of gangsterism and bulging terrorism has to be stamped out, no matter how high the cost is. The resurgence of the murderers and abductors for ransom is a daunting challenge to the honor, credibility and competence of the incumbent regimes both at the center and in Sindh province.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken a serious note of the latest reemergence of the criminal gangs and ruffians. Hopefully the flaws that exist in the ongoing anti-crime efforts in Karachi would be straightened to make the drive foolproof and decidedly result-oriented. But it surmises that the judicial paradigm of dispensing justice to the law breakers is not only slow, time consuming but also ineffective.
According to the press reports, some ten thousands criminals of all hues have been captured and out of that huge number, only a few dozen have been produced before the courts. If that is the pace of dealing with monsters then there is no hope for the law to prevail in the foreseeable future.
The law in Pakistan is subservient to the whims of the roguish elements and cutthroat powerful individuals. It can be easily subverted and manipulated and thus the innocents are punished and the convicts and culprits are released.
It is therefore, indispensable that the special or summary anti-terrorism courts should be established to deal with a turmoil that is assuming horrendous proportions and that has robbed the people and more specifically the business community of their peace of mind. Karachi is in flames of lawlessness where heinous gangsters stalk, shoot, rape, loot and kidnap the people at will.
These courts should be established through a special presidential order or by the approval of the parliament whichever modes meet the urgency of the deteriorating situation. The rangers and the regular police are doing their utmost to clear Karachi of the callous criminals, religious rivals, bounty hunters sectarian bloodhounds, the money grabbers.
But apparently it is like a wild goose chase circus that is confined to catching the outlaws and then confine them to the precincts of jails. These beasts deserve to be placed in front of firing squads and dispatched to hell. The courts should consist of the legal professional from Rangers, the military personnel and civilian law experts.
The proceeding should take place within the prisons or away on an island near the coast of Karachi so that there is no obstruction or intrusion from the counterparts of these wicked people who can be freed as has happened quite a few times.
Or else Karachi should be handed over to army with a mandate. The army is in a much assured position to eliminate the mafias and gangs that have turned Karachi into one of the most perilous and unsafe cities.
The criminal gangs and individuals who are aligned to any political party must be dealt with unforgiving yardstick and their mentors at the higher level should be also reprimanded and awarded condign sentences.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. His blog is www.uprightopinion.com
Thursday, November 28, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
My heart bleeds for my countrymen living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I am confounded why they have to suffer so much. The country is in a state of complete paralysis. The people are caught in a trance of bewilderment as if they have been bewitched or are under the spell of evil spirits. The life in Pakistan for the teeming majority is miserable.
Pakistan is not in Africa yet the life is no better than that far flung continent, used by the human traffickers to provide raw manpower for nascent America. Africa has remained steeped in pathetic quagmire of ignorance, humiliation and degradation. The black pigment was touted by the cunning and diabolic white masters to be a symbol of slavery and sub-human species.
But Africa is in the throes of a gradual awakening. Despite intrusions and civil wars engineered by the colonial masterminds, the African countries are demonstrating signs of resistance against the latest western onslaughts to keep them subservient to their economic interests.
Africa is replete with untapped natural resources. From Sudan to the ultimate brinks of western Africa, a wave of self realization and self dignity has started sweeping. The despicable, polygamous and lecherous monarchs are in a state of retreat.
The change is visible in empowering the people and forming representative governments. It would be too early to expect a miracle or rapid switch from autocracies to unalloyed democracies. But the change is in the offing. Africa’s future is glorious. Africa in the next century, by cautious reckoning, would be studded by modern states with their concomitant features such a adult franchise, the dignity and power of ballot, the monumental economic milestones, the establishment of modern cities.
The so called Dark Continent would take giant leaps in education and healthcare, the cure for diseases, the prosperity in place of poverty and hunger and the realization of the most cherished goal of creation of civil societies. So much for the hibernating and slumbering Dark Continent not in terms of the color of the people but by the atrocious and pervasive decadence of millenniums.
Pakistan a modern state carved out of the Indian subcontinent for the Muslims to live a peaceful life is receding into a cesspool of suffering for its people. It is a society where hunger, grinding poverty, spiraling insecurity, aberrations of unemployment, pollution, crimes, civic mess, injustice, stalk the land.
For six decades of its existence it has remained caught up in an unremitting and swelling decline. One wonders why this country in the reverse gear of progress is. Whatever hope and modest livable conditions the people initially had, are fading.
I do not have enough endurance in me to see the heart-wrenching scenes of people aimlessly wandering in the streets with the agony and stress writ large on their faces because of the nightmarish power outrages and interminable blackouts that invariably take place many times round the clock.
It would be superfluous to enumerate the debilitating fallout of power breakdowns on the human mind, psychologies, moods, sensibilities and resistance of the people. A nation is turning paranoid with twin phobias: one about the uncertainty of electricity’s coming and the second about its going. Add to this frightening situation the burgeoning terrorism and killing for extortion that have snatched their peace of mind.
Of late, on the television, I have seen crowds of people sleeping in the open spaces, on the roads and pavements in a state of anguish and helplessness and under a specter of looming insecurity. A nation is sleeping in unguarded places to beat the stifling suffocation, unbearable heat and humidity of the sizzling summer in summer and biting cold in winter without caring for the bomb blasts, target killing, robbing at gun points and rape.
Just imagine the degree of despondency that is breeding indifference to even one’s own life. I am talking about the human miseries and not the colossal commercial and industrial losses and its disastrous ramifications on the national economy.
The school going children from the poor families starve and cannot have enough food to eat. They do not have access to easy and safe transportation to reach their schools and colleges. The ramshackle, stuffy Suzuki vans and clumsy buses lacking proper seats, or such necessary comforts as heating or air-conditioning commute between destinations with passengers perched on top and on all sides. The young kids both boys and girls are exposed to falling off or sitting in the company of vile individuals.
The streets and roads are full of nauseating stench and pollution of animal refuse, the smoke emitting and shrieking vehicles, the overflowing sewers and open drains choked with filth and garbage. The ancient cities of Pompeii, Baghdad, and of Pharaoh’s eras were even much better in civic management than the cities of Pakistan.
The offices, the bazaars, the houses, the lanes, the shopping centers and the space between sky and earth, remains covered with the thick layers of smoke and dust that wards off oxygen and obstructs the breathing in a fresh and pure air.
The young kids from the indigent families cannot afford education and therefore have to work in workshops as apprentices, conductors in public transport and on similar menial jobs. The budding flowers of the nations remain vulnerable and easy targets of molestation and abuse by their masters.
The residential religious seminaries present the worst scenarios. It is hard to believe that the students residing in these fortified religious citadels would be safe from the abuse of their sturdy custodians. They lose the significance of moral dignity, propriety and inviolability of human body.
They fill their stomachs with the charity food sent or donated by others. When they grow up they themselves, in the footsteps of their molesters, continue that loathsome practice with the students under their morbid supervision.
Barring the costly bottled water, no water is safe for drinking in Pakistan. Most beverages are adulterated. Most food items are not pure. Can one imagine that in the water scarce areas of Pakistan, the humans and animals drink alike from the same highly polluted pond filled with rain water? No wonder they develop deadly and incurable diseases.
The runaway children from starving families roam and loiter in cities to be seduced or forcibly whisked away by hardened sex offenders or by the heartless criminal gangs or by those who would keep them in forced bonded labor or sent for bomb blasts assignments.
The women are targeted and raped with willful abandon. There is no recourse or remedy for them to seek justice. The police catch the people sitting in public parks, take grafts forcibly or lock the citizens for no reason. The women in police custody or other law enforcement agencies seldom come unscathed from sexual abuse.
There is a one page official form called FIR (the first investigation report) cannot be written unless the SHO (the station house officer), commonly known as inspector agrees. The format of this form was prepared during the colonial rule and still no change has been made in that. Writing of an FIR comes on a heavy graft or on the order of a dignitary.
The process of justice from FIR to the final outcome takes countless twists and years making a mockery of the legal system. The judges, the magistrates, the lawyers, the touts in between are engaged in a vicious game of catching the justice system on the wrong foot.
The scale of corruption, bribery and financial scams is alarmingly widespread. The malfunctioning in every government department with corruption as the leading vice is no secret at all. The addiction of making illicit buck and exploiting the voiceless citizens is in the veins of every person in an authoritative position, be it a small clerk or a member of the parliament or even the ministers, prime minister and president of Pakistan.
Literacy, education, research, social decency, a tolerable civic life, and a civilized environment are all far cry in the chaotic and perennially troubled Pakistan. The religious preachers keep their eyes closed on country’s deformities and real fiendish problems.
They push the people towards the age of barbarianism and primitive cave life and force them to perform rituals and meaningless traditions devoid of real spirit of religion. The Religion has become a robust and ensured means of exploitation in the name of God and fear of hell and pleasures of paradise.
Let me take a break to compare this abysmal spectacle with the societies where people enjoy civic and social peace. Let us take the American society. This comparison should, in fact, be deemed as a contrast. The first glaring hallmark is the order and discipline that runs in the arteries of this society, like the healthy blood in a human body. The law is equal and stringent and is for all.
The laws are humane yet inviolable and operate within the limits set by the society and the constitution. There is no large scale infringement of the law but if there is, the law ultimately prevails. Everyone from the president, to senators to congressmen to governors is exposed to well integrated and efficient network of oversight and accountability.
The detractors or cynics may like to point out the social freedom that they call moral laxity as a stigma on the western societies. But choice to enjoy is left to one’s own discretion as a part of human freedom and is observed in very strict conditions. By comparison the vice is more rampant and beyond law in our societies than what one can observe in the United States.
The violators are vulnerable to condign punishments. The pub, clubs and selling of liquor are prohibited near educational institutions. Smoking inside the dwellings, the offices and in restaurants is completely banned. There is no or insignificant nepotism, no culture of graft here.
From getting a driving license, mowing a lawn, seeking a job, the construction of a house, to setting up of a factory, there are hard to bypass yet easy to follow regulations. If you qualify you will get the needful done readily. There is a portfolio of social security nuts ranging from the healthcare insurance to old age benefits, to free food, to unemployment allowance to pro-bono (free) legal service. The rights and obligations in this society go hand in hand.
The utilities and public amenities from the supply of clean water to electricity, to drainage seldom malfunction. The services such as payments of bills, mail distribution, requesting emergency health or security help are dispensed immaculately.
For deserving students, both either by virtue of low income or academic excellence, there are funds available. The environmental purity is so jealously guarded that literally, not a blade of grass can grow or removed without the prior permission of the city government.
This is not to deride or belittle my own country of origin in any manner. What I wish to drive home is that we can transform our societies into people friendly societies with reasonable order and creation of safety nuts for the people. What is lacking is the intention to do so. The privileged, the elite and the aristocratic classes are above and immune from the sea of suffering of the common masses in Pakistan.
With slick cars, the palatial mansions, the hand folded army of the servants, high profile jobs, money minting lucrative business at their disposal; these blood sucking segments in Pakistan are least bothered about the people teetering on the brink of colossal human tragedy, poverty and deprivation.
So let there be a revolution. Notwithstanding the moot question as to who will lead this revolution. The movement for change can be spearheaded and sustained by the civil society upholders, the conscientious yet valiant individuals, the NGOs, the educated, the intellectuals, the rebellious, the zealous, the students and all aspirants for the change.
This diverse assemblage of proponents for change should mobilize the vast majority of underdogs like ordinary workers, the impoverished peasants, the victims of police and institutional injustices, the teachers and all those who want an egalitarian, welfare and a civic cum civil society.
They should come out of their homes and trigger an earth shaking upheaval for their rights to live as equal and honorable citizens. They should besiege, waylay, and chase the power wielders, the privileged thugs, the corrupt and immoral government functionaries. They should assail the houses and mansions of the rulers and decision makers, snatch their cars, houses and force them to open their coffers of wealth to be distributed among the needy public.
A people’s revolution is desperately called for: not like a socialist or communist revolution but a genuine grass root raucous shake-up that should compel the imperial and licentious minority classes to behave. It’s time for the people of Pakistan to shed their helplessness and raise a hurricane by snatching their rights to live a life brimming with, order, dignity, equality, freedom, justice, accountability, civic galore, and with the radiance of a civil society.
The oppressed classes should mobilize themselves for a society where molestation of a minor carries life imprisonment as in the United States of America, where justice is inexpensive and accessible and where worship of God is free for all faiths. This is what peasants of France achieved in 1789 known in history as the French Revolution.
I have written a manifesto to launch such a watershed movement.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
November 21, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
In my humble opinion former president of Pakistan Gen Perzvez Musharraf should be pardoned and allowed to go abroad and live in exile. By pardoning him, prime minister Mian Nawaz and his party would heighten their political stature. Is not Mian Sahib and many other thousands of individuals benefited from the NRO and thus managed to renter Pakistan, contest election and get power again? Was NRO not a blessing in disguise for Mian Sahib as for many others involved in serious cases? A wrong done by Musharraf to Mian Sahib was hugely compensated through NRO. That should be enough justification to pacify Mian Sahib and other beneficiaries. Let bygone be bygone!
The PMLN is frantically seized with the trial of Musharraf for obvious reasons. The most conspicuous reason is that he seized power from prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif though as a result of sudden unforeseen developments on 13 October 1999. Let us not forget that it was not a traditional military coup as was enacted by Gen Ziual Haq against ZA Bhutto and Iskander Mirza against a political government in 1958.
Musharraf’s ascension to the power as the chief executive of Pakistan on 12 October 1999 came on the spur of the moment and it was more engineered and facilitated by his nemesis Mian Nawaz Sharif who wanted to replace him with Gen. ISI Director-General, Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt, a loyalist of Nawaz Sharif. But this attempt this time backfired. Previously Sharif had removed Gen Jahangir Karamat, besides having tense relations with Gen Asif Nawaz and Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar.
He was the chief executive until 21 November 2002. He His amended the constitution and became president of Pakistan: a position that he held from 20 June 2001 to 18 August 2008. Had not Nawaz Sharif clumsily tried to remove Pervez Musharraf, both would have retired gracefully on the expiry of their respective terms in office. So the blame of change of guards or praetorians at the highest level must be apportioned more to Mian Sahib than his then subordinate army chief Musharraf.
But then Musharraf behaved gracefully by letting Nawaz Sharif go out of Pakistan at the behest of certain undertakers whose intercession could not be ignored by Musharraf. Otherwise Main Sahib could have gone the way Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went at the hands of General Ziual Haq, a steeled and diehard despot.
Musharraf‘s tenure was not as horrific and stifling as that of Zia or Ayub Khan. Certainly the trappings of power irresistibly impel one to continue with the galore of glory that one basks in and the empowerment one wields as the occupant of the highest office in a country. That is human and that is what Musharraf did by Imposing state of emergency first on October 15, 1999 after replacing Nawaz Sharif on October 13, 1999.
The military government of Musharraf indicted Nawaz Sharif against charges of hijacking, kidnapping, attempted murder, and treason for preventing Musharraf's flight from landing at Karachi airport on the day of the coup. Sharif signed an agreement with Musharraf and he along with his family was exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000.
Musharraf was the first military president to accept the rulings of the Supreme Court and holding free and fair In October 2002 that were won by his supportive party PML-Q. Thus Musharraf legitimized his presidency. The formation of the government with Zafarullah Jamali as the Prime minister, Gen Musharraf managed to pass the XVII amendment which grants powers to dissolve the parliament albeit with the approval of the Supreme Court.
But what became the fundamental catalyst for his decline and resignation was his declaration emergency rule across Pakistan on 3 November 2007. He suspended the Constitution, imposed State of Emergency, and fired the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court again. He was left with no option but resign on October 18, 2008 when the countrywide rallies and marches were held by the lawyers supported by political parties and human right activists.
The decision to resign was taken by Musharraf because a charge sheet drafted both by PPP and PMNL was being sent to the parliament for his impeachment. Now Musharraf has been granted bail in other charges including the Lal Masjid bloody episode, the murder of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti.
The Pakistan Attorney general Munir A Malik told the reporters that The punishment for Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf can either be death penalty or life imprisonment as there was strong evidence against him in the treason case. A three-judge panel has been constituted for Musharraf's trial for high treason under article 6 of the constitution and according to Malik "It could be decided swiftly”.
According to Article 6 of the constitution, any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason”.
It appears that the dye is cast against Musharraf for a trial which by all indications cannot result in favor of Musharraf. It is highly improbable that the army could intervene and force the incumbent government to spare Musharraf’s life in case of death penalty. However it might also depend upon the new army chief whose appointment is already due.
Musharraf ought to get a reprieve, a release or lenient punishment for the following factors:
He did not jump an intentional coup on October 12, 1999. This episode cannot be termed as a deliberate effort by Musharraf as he was suspended in the air.
Secondly he stood by his promise of holing free and fair elections in October 2002 in the light of Supreme Court ruling.
He did not impose another emergency rule after the protest rallies and resigned on 18 August 2008.
He came back to Pakistan with a clear conscience as the leader of a political party which means he somehow preferred democracy.
A host of good accomplishments can be attributed to Musharraf’s 9 years long rule one of which to liberalize the society. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf prominently brought the liberal forces at the national level and in limelight. He averted the backlash from the United States by joining the war on terrorism that saved Pakistan from being declared a pariah state, imposition of sanctions and stifling of economy.
If the trial is fair and judges are not predisposed against Musharraf then the following questions can come up during the trial which might involve Mian Nawaz Sharif and his many cohorts and several other top notches that many an analysts have termed as opening a Pandora box.
First is the dubious and spooky style adopted by then prime minister to remove Musharraf from the COAS office? The order of diverting the aircraft carrying Musharraf to India also carried grave implications for the passengers due to meager fuel left in the plane.
Was it alone Musharraf to carry out the so called unintentional and impromptu coup or other army generals were also involved n it? Why are they are being included in the coup charge. As a matter of fact, it was not Musharraf but the generals on the ground who saved the situation for Musharraf and by quick decisions reversed the whole drama. In that eventuality would the court summon the then high ranking army cohorts of Musharraf? Would it not send a wave of panic among the army high command?
Can also the question of NRO be mooted during the proceedings? NRO is huge bombshell that could be mentioned by defense or prosecution lawyers. Would the court have enough moral courage and integrity to also tag the NRO plethora with the treason case? So that it should be laid bare that there were other dimensions related to Musharraf that need to be adjudicated and dispensed with.
Finally why not prosecute Musharraf also for another sin in the garb of NRO to save his power as is being done with regard to the suspension of constitution and declaration of state of emergency? That is not being done because it could impinge upon the beneficiaries of that dubious ordinance.
In the same vein can the abrogation of the constitution by an erstwhile dictator General Ziual Haq that was more serious ad sinister be brought into the vortex of debate and argumentation? Currently it looks as if Mian Sahib and PMLN are initiating the treason case against Musharraf as an act of vendetta and not for the sake of justice or democracy?
November 19, 2013
BY Saeed Qureshi
With one small statement Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has wrecked the nuclear deal with Iran being brokered by the United States in tandem with certain European states. The entire process that was close to fruition has come to a standstill position. President Obama and the secretary of state Johan Kerry look nonplussed and dumbfounded as if a bombshell has fallen on them. Such is the dictating power of Israel.
Netanyahu wants the entire plant and equipment of the Iran’s nuclear reactor dismantled and shipped to America as was done in case of Libya. Presently Iran is suffering a financial loss of 100 billion dollars per annum because it cannot sell it oil and gas.
In contrast to that appalling discrimination, Israel has a stockpile of atomic warheads besides possessing the capability to fabricate more if it wants to. It has a free-hand to build new housing colonies over the Land snatched from the Palestinian people. It continues to occupy the Golan Heights seized from Syria. Iran is ready to scale down her enrichment of uranium to a minimum permissible level, yet no one listens. Where is the world conscience?
The whole west and specifically America has become the guardian angles of the state of Israel. They are always ready to jump into fray against the Arab states and now Iran at the bidding of Israel that wants all the Islamic states to be debilitated and reduced to client states of Israel as Saudi Monarchy is. Would this gross disparity between Israel and rest of regional states going to last for ever?
May be a day comes when United States and other patrons of Israel wake up and make amends for the gross maltreatment and injustice inflicted upon the Islamic regimes in the Middle East including Iran. These too have a right to survive as sovereign states.
On the burning question of Iran‘s nuclear program, Israel is not prepared to give an iota of concession to Iran. In the wake of parleys about the Iran’s nuclear potential and enrichment of uranium, Israel’s shrewish and unbending Prime Minister Netanyahu has bitterly lambasted president Obama and John Kerry for reaching a mutually acceptable deal with Iran that would deliver Iran from brutal sanctions.
The way the developments are taking place and also in the hindsight it is manifest that the stiff -necked Israeli prime minister can go to any length to castigate and even dictate the American leadership for decisions distasteful to him. Now this is like a spoiled and unruly child bruising the face of an affectionate father and thus not only humiliating but disfiguring him. Such scars and humiliations inflicted by a stubborn and daredevil Israel is write large on the face of American leaders.
Ironically United States cannot take independent decisions with regard to international disputes without Israel’s approving nod. A small surrogate state enjoys the audacity and luxury to ridicule her most obliging and abiding mentor as apparent from the stern statements of Netanyahu decrying president Obama and John Kerry.
In the ongoing phase of striking a deal with Iran, some of the negotiators want to throw spanners in the way for Iran to get released some of the unbearable and crippling sanctions imposed by United States particularly and other western countries generally. Saudi Arabia is rigidly averse to any kind of concessions or leniency granted to Iran.
Saudis and Israel though religiously poles apart yet regionally in unison, want America and the Western Europe to keep Iran under the back breaking sanctions that have already shattered Iran’s economy beyond redemption so soon. But Saudis and Israel and other anti-Iran cohorts do not realize that Iran has a pollution of human beings that survive on bread and butter and other essential means of sustenance. When they talk of destroying Iran and Syrian their milk of human kindness turns into venom.
Saudi Arabia is displeased with United States because it didn’t launch military attack on Syria for using chemical weapons against the civilian population. Mercifully the western countries particularly United kingdom refused to join America in that brutal onslaught to dislodge Bashar al Assad regime.
While such a barbarous venture would have pacified Saudi Arabia and Israel, it could have dragged America into another costly yet devastating war. There is no plausible analogy between the military action of NATO and United States in Libya, with that of Syrian situation.
Libya was completely isolated geographically and politically. Col Qaddafi’s army looked like an outfit of Lilliputians in comparison to the combined gigantic military might of NATO member countries and United States. In Syria, Bashar has on his side, militarily strong and committed allies and battle hardened fighters and warriors like Hezbollah and Iranian soldiers.
Despite adopting the strategy of avoiding direct involvement in military action on Syria, America could have still remained bogged down albeit killing the civilian along the Bashar forces. With support from Russian, China and Iran, there was a strong possibility for Bashar to hang on for a while.
The prolongation of war would have cost America her image and it could also be costly. It was a legitimate decision by president Obama to call off the attack and give the arbitrators notably Russia to help destroy the chemical arsenal of Syrian. That peaceful option proved to be decisively effective than the use of force.
The Saudi rulers are seething with hatred of secular regimes like Syria in the Middle East. They are hell-bent to weaken and change the present Shia regime in Iran. It is mind boggling that both these countries profess Islam, though with some deep and unbridgeable variations. Blood is supposed to be thicker than water. But viz a viz Iran, the Saudis are ready to get the support of Jewish Israel and Christian west to destroy an Islamic country.
And that situation takes us back in history to the First World War. The then Sharif and Amir of Mecca (also king of Hejaz) Husain struck a secret deal with the Britain not to side with the Ottoman caliphate in the war between Allied and central powers. Ottoman caliph sided with Germany or the central powers.
The British government promised to Hussein that the territories liberated from Ottoman Empire would be given back to Saudi Arabia. When the war ended all the Arab lands liberated from Ottomans were distributed among the allies. So as a result of this treacherous role, not only that the Saudis did not get anything in return but also the Islamic caliphate disintegrated.
A similar role is now being reenacted by the Saudi regime against Iran, although here the occupation of Iranian land is not the goal. Primarily behind such an attitude is the centuries old rancor and race based antagonism of Arabs for non-Arabs, notwithstanding that both profess the common faith to a great extent.
But patently the Saudi Dynasty is un-Islamic in character (monarchy and family dynasty are not allowed in Islam). It would prove as the last outpost for a moribund mode of government. The so called Arab spring has slowed down by a sudden spurt of circumstances one of which is the survival of the Syrian Alawite (twelver school of Shia Islam) dynastic regime for a while.
But that certainly is a temporary phase. In the new phase that can burst open again in the near future, the Saud family’s monarchy would be the target for a change to a popular government. This ultra- conservative regime would be swept away with the strong and inexorable current of a new Arab spring. Wait for that glorious spectacle!