Friday, August 29, 2014

Three Outstanding achievements of Nawaz Sharif Government

By Saeed Qureshi

If we have enough large-heartedness to admit good work of someone then we must acknowledge that PMNL government has three momentous achievements earned during its over a year’s stay in power. Before we start we should concede that elections in Pakistan have seldom been free and fair.

In the heat of opposing the beleaguered PMNL government and siding with his opponents, let us not lose sight of the fact the in political arenas the contenders have never been angels. Even in model democratic countries every trick covert or overt is pulled to win the elections.

The 2013 elections were conducted by a caretaker government headed by interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. The PMLN was a participant like all other parties. For about a year there has been relative calm and political parties both in power and out did not challenge the validity of the elections. Now Imran Khan and Allama Qadri have suddenly launched a relentless blitz against the sitting governments for all the crimes and wrong doings happening in Pakistan.

Visibly as we have watched ever since Allama Qadri and Imran Khan have mobilized their followers and most of their criticism is clearly focused personally on Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif. From counting of votes in four disputed constituencies, the demand has come to the stage of resignation of both these brothers and their summary prosecution with demands of immediate sentences.    

One can recall in the hindsight of the PNA movement in 1976 against the then prime minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. ZAB conceded to every demand of PNA stalwarts but they reneged on every step and finally the Martial Law was imposed by the then chief of the army staff General Ziaul haq. The rest is history.

Can we argue that a similar scenario and a replay paradigm is being built by these fire spitting and stubborn leaders with a small number of followers in Pakistan to scuttle a democratic system presumably because of some vendetta, compulsion or agenda nurtured by them and their cohorts about Sharif brothers.

Should we convince and pacify ourselves that Qadri and Imran are acting out of sheer conviction for genuine revolution or there is more to it than meets the eye? Should we take it for granted that these leaders possess the caliber to herald revolution to make Pakistan a model country sooner than later?

Do they have the a road map to bring about a complete transformation of Pakistan from a problem ridden country to one like a West Europe truly democratic, welfare modern state? To make tall claims is one thing and to fulfill those is another and there no miracles to pull a magic wand and the desert would turn lush green.

In my opinion both have preconceived agendas that are less motivated by the interests of Pakistan than subverting a government leaning towards China for an historic economic cooperation for the monumental uplift of Pakistan. If the foreign inimical powers can oppose the Pak-Iran gas pipeline and mining of huge Thar coal deposits in Pakistan that are 6th largest coal reserves in the world then how would they tolerate Gawadar Port to be administered by China and constructing the highway connecting China and Pakistan.

The Thar coal deposits are around 175 million tons and are sufficient to meet the country’s fuel and energy requirements for centuries. Chinese have pledged to help Pakistan in every manner in utilizing and quarrying that hidden treasure.

Let us consider the three outstanding achievements of PMLN in barely two years. One is the phenomenal achievement to debilitate, crush and liquidate the criminal mafias of all hues, the sectarian target killers, the extortionist gangs, the drug warlords, the car lifters, and the state enemies in the grab of Taliban ruffians and so on.

Though belatedly yet the federal government finally gave a green signal and free hand to the Rangers and the police to go whole hog in the largest city Karachi against all enemies of public peace and agents of subversion and chaos.

Despite deficiencies one can see that Karachi is getting better and the rampant and unremitting lawlessness has drastically declined and the back of the villains and criminals mafias has been considerably broken. One can hope that with the time passage, Karachi would be completely liberated from the thugs, goons, killers and kidnappers for ransom and its pristine peace would be revived.

The second brilliant achievement is to flush out the dogged Taliban from North Waziristan by a massive military operation. That gigantic blitz is still continuing. Most of the Waziristan has been vacated from the Taliban’s brutal clutches who had committed countless atrocities, acts of violence, terrorism, suicide bombing and mass killings on the territory of Pakistan. North Waziristan was the center and hub of Taliban’s terrorism and bombing including the Pakistan’s vital defense institutions and airports.

The third monumental achievement is the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to China in July 2013 and ink watershed eight agreements. One of these agreements is the US $18 billion project to build a 2000 miles highway and rail track between the Kashgar city of China and Karachi including string of tunnels in the mountainous track passing over a height 4,693 meters. It has been described as part of the Pakistan-China Economic corridor. It would open a glorious gateway and gigantic spectrum of economic boom for both the countries. 

On both sides of this highway, the industrial and economic zones would be created that in return would create countless jobs besides entry of Pakistan into the fold of prosperous nations. The Prime Minister then said that his vision was to extend motorways and communication links not only to Kabul but also to Central Asia and South Asian region. Now these projects would be primarily built by Chinese engineers and Pakistan would be assisting in that huge venture.

I would not be swayed by the argument that these are mean and insignificant achievements. As far IDPs (internally displaced persons) from North Waziristan, a similar situation exploded in Swat in 2007 when as a result of Taliban takeover of that beautiful valley, hundreds of thousands of residents were rendered IDPs.

For clearing Swat valley of Taliban and religious militants if the credit was rightly conferred upon the then political government of PPP and the army then in the present case the incumbent government and the Pakistan army deserves a befitting tribute and due credit.

I conclude my article on reproducing an email sent to me .In that email it has been very convincingly pointed out that,

These guys remained silent for almost two years and now all of a sudden it has dawned on them that 2013 elections were rigged. Their conscience has started pricking them only now when a cleric and a cricketer turned politician has staged their dharnas for the last two weeks. Or maybe they have been made to speak the voice of their conscience when they have been "tipped" by the powers to be, to speak out their own "truth", the voice of their "conscience". (Nayyar Hashmey)





Monday, August 25, 2014

Imran Khan is fighting for the right objectives

By Saeed Qureshi
Imran Khan the PTI chief has thrown a challenge to the rampant and repulsive status quo and it is a laudable mission. No doubt the incumbent government of PMNL came to power through the popular mandate but it has failed to address the most pressing problems of the masses and also of the society.
Mr. Khan has questioned the validity of an electoral system that throws up only the rich families and individuals imbued with vested interests. These dynastic MNAs and Senators mostly turn out to be self serving and incompetent.
Imran Khan has proven to be uncompromising and undaunted on his demands and can be the forerunner of a historic and monumental transformation if not revolution to dismantle the stinking status-quo. What is status quo?  The status quo is that the poor and lowly would remain stuck up in misery, poverty and degradation while the rich and upper classes would continue enhancing their fortunes and wealth without inhibition.
There is a glaring and deplorable yawning chasm between elite and the downtrodden and it is widening as ever. The majority of the people in Pakistan are exposed to the existentialism challenge. It means to eke out wages for barest minimum living.
The status quo also manifests in proliferation of sectarian Islam, poor governance, widespread corruption, weak economy, fragile law and order, endemic violence and abysmal civic amenities. Pakistan is a country that has been ruled by incompetent rulers, cutthroat thieves, inside traders, traitors, loan takers and drunks.
The impunity and influence of the privileged classes is so rampant and overbearing that they take huge loans and have these written off. In contrast a common man suffers direly if he cannot repay the installments even of a modest loan taken for house or small business.
It is a country that is the breeding place for religious extremism along with terrorism, corruption. It is here that the police and judiciary are for sale and where justice is a sheer mockery and is hijacked and manipulated by the powerful and the rich.
In this land political and social emancipation, individual liberties, diversity of opinion, or economic empowerment for all are mere hollow slogans not to be materialized. It is here that inhuman institutions of fiefdoms (big landlords), brutal Tribalism, rigorous religious exploitation, fake saints and shamans remain in full bloom.     
You may compare very few countries with Pakistan in an unremitting profusion of corruption, bribery, target and sectarian killings, religious oppression, smuggling, abductions, tax evasion, rape and gross misuse of public office.
 It is in Pakistan that food stuff is willfully adulterated; the drugs and medicine are spurious both in the hospitals and drug stores. It is in Pakistan where hospitals and health centers steel the kidneys of their patients and where human life loses its significance and sanctity due to the carelessness at the hands of fake and phony doctors.
In Pakistan there has always been a breakdown of basic services leading to the degrading quality of life with perennial food shortage, inflated prices, electricity and water crises, lawlessness and unemployment and no social safety nets and rule of law.
It is in Pakistan that democracy is like window dressing. The democracy and elections are mere farcical as only the privileged, wealthy classes, the same families and clans and rough necks and Waderas win elections. Those elected members with stiff collars, expensive attire, slick limousines, fat bellies, stacks of money in their coffers, ensconced by bodyguards come to the assemblies and Senate as if an opera or a glamorous stage show is to be watched and enjoyed.
Most of these elected representatives are illiterate, without vision, uncouth and political pygmies. They are elected over and over again on the strength of their money, clan, tribe, religious turf or because of fear and their notoriety for revenge and brutality in the community. And yet they come to the parliament rarely. They have scant interest for participation in the debates and merely raise their hands in favor or against a motion.   
It is here that after 67 years of its existence Pakistan lags behind other countries in properly managing such vital sectors of public welfare as education, health, housing, transportation, sanitation old age care, law enforcement, environmental protection in order to bring  this country at par with the modern societies even marginally.
The people wallow in dirt, dung, filth, smoke and noise and pollution from rickshaws, horse driven carts, overcrowded ramshackle buses.  It is here that electricity and water are rare commodities and all these 67 years were wasted without overcoming these indispensable needs.
The Constitution Avenue is not like Tehrir Square of Egypt that swept away a powerful tyrant Hosni Mubarak who ruled that country for almost 32 years. Yet it is mini Tehrir Square. Tehrir Square is in the middle of the Cairo where all facilities such as food, water and tenting were available.
The Constitution Avenue is a narrow strip where conditions for long sit-ins are extremely inhospitable. Yet despite all the hardships particularly the sizzling summer, the dedication, resilience and steadfastness of Imran Khan,  his close aides and the demonstrators both men and women is exemplary and speaks for a deep commitment to their cause and conviction.
Truthfully Imran Khan’s emphasis on reforming the electoral system is pivotal to the flowering and inception of a genuine democratic tradition in Pakistan. If Imran Khan succeeds in bringing about a clean, accountable, transparent and tampering-free election system in Pakistan, he would make history and indeed put Pakistan on the road to a true representative system of government that Abraham Lincoln described as “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
Pakistan direly needs a new social contract as well as a new constitution that gives an ensured hope, a new promising destiny and a great future to Pakistan and its citizens on equal basis and in disregard of such narrow consideration as sect, race, the financial status, the rural and countryside, the privileged and downtrodden, the landlord and serf and so on.
All the nation building institutions need drastic and fundamental transformation for good and efficient governance and to make Pakistan a Progressive, egalitarian and tolerant country. The writ of law has to be enforced against all kinds of criminals from street vendor to a mill owner. The abominable colonial vestige called fiefdom has to be abolished.
 More provinces are inevitable for devolution of powers and for rapid development of all the regions. The enforcement of judicial integrity and razor thin accountability would impel all departments from a municipal committee to the presidency to be honest and efficient.
Let us give a chance to Imran Khan to knock down a system that is outright inhuman and exploitative and contrary to the stability, integrity, prosperity and uplift of Pakistan.

Friday, August 22, 2014

That is how a Delta Staffer treated me!

Saeed Qureshi
Editor Upright Opinion

My grandson was scheduled to fly on August 21 at 2.p.m. from Dallas Texas to New York by Delta flight number 6012. Since he is a minor, as per rules, I had to escort him to the departure lounge E-12. The female attendant took the documents. All the passengers including my grandson were checked in. The E-12 departure gate was closed at about 1.45 p.m.

I requested the attendant if I could leave as my grand-daughter was scheduled to fly by the next Delta flight Number 5975 from E-17. She said that until the plane rises in the air I cannot leave. For another hour she did not permit me to go and each time when I would request her to let me know if the plane had taken off her response would be that she could not confirm if the plane had departed. That was a very curt and odd response. She detained for me for about one hour although the flight had left on time exactly at 2.p.m.

It is utterly strange that working at the departure lounge, how she would not know if the plane had departed or not. By about 3 o’clock I was mentally distressed and felt that she was purposely detaining me either for being a sadist or for racial reasons. Otherwise there couldn't be any earthly reason on the part of that Delta employee to keep me in a state of utter anxiety, uncertainty and frustration for one hour.

After one hour when I requested her again if I could go out because my sick wife (with foot disability) was waiting out. She disdainfully and in a highly authoritative tone told me, ‘you may go but remain standby as we may call you again” That would mean unending wait.

Would someone be kind enough to rationalize this unbelievably bizarre attitude of the employee of otherwise a reputable airline. For the past 24 hours I have failed to shake off the trauma that I have suffered at the hands of that attendant. Although there have been moments of stress with me previously but none was so awful and tormenting.

We had arrived at 10 a.m., with two minor grandchildren at the airport for check-in for the two flights one leaving at 12 noon for my granddaughter and the other for my grandson at 2.p.m. The granddaughter’s flight was cancelled for the next morning without any intimation to us but on our imploring the counter girl rescheduled that for the same day at 5 p.m. 

That was yet another unexpected agony that we were subjected to by Delta staff. Besides, I was not issued the security clearance pass along with other documents at the outer counter to accompany my grandson to the E-12 departure lounge (sterile area). We had to go through the rigorous drill again from start to reaching the security clearance enclosure.

I would therefore, urge the Delta top management to seriously remove the loopholes in their system and take stern action against those employees who by their misdeeds and bloated ego are tarnishing the image of Delta which is the second largest airline. I would also request the Delta administrators to at least ask that lady as to why she kept me at the airport as a captive for so long without any valid reason or justification.