Sunday, January 25, 2009

NRO Must be Revoked

By Saeed Qureshi

The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated by the former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007, granted amnesty to politicians, bureaucrats and political workers, accused of corruption, embezzlement, money-laundering, murder and terrorism. The beneficiaries among others included MQM, Asif Ali Zardari, Hakim Ali Zardari, Altaf Hussain, Rehman Malik, Hussain Haaqani, Aftab Sherpao, Salman Farooqui, Siraj Shamsuddin, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Pakistan Army generals. The former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, suspended this ordinance on October 12, 2007. But he was soon dismissed after Musharraf imposed the emergency on November 3, 2007. The new Chief Justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar revived the NRO on February 27, 2008.

Asif Ali Zardari, the incumbent president of Pakistan was the principal beneficiary of this blanket amnesty that in one go cleared him of all the offences of corruption and money laundering calculated to be around $.1.8 billion that he is alleged to have amassed during the two stints of his spouse Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The controversial NRO was issued by Pervez Musharraf as a quid pro quo to pave way for the much needed political support that he needed in the wake of his growing unpopularity to stay in power for another term.

This hideous reconciliation was supervised and hammered out under the aegis of United States to perpetuate Musharrafʼs stay in power in order for him to continue his mercenary role in the so called war on terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the trick backfired on Musharraf. Although this ignominious bail out earned him the tacit support of PPP, the leading political force in Pakistan, yet the situation drastically changed after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, in the most mysterious circumstances. The demise of Bhutto cleared the way for her spouse Asif Ali Zardari to lead the party as was stated in the will of the deceased leader. It is a general conjecture that Benazir was removed from the political landscape because she was stretching herself out of the NRO parameters. Under the combined burden of public outcry and agitating judiciary, as well as due to the drastically changed circumstances against him, Musharraf had to finally quit power in August 2008.

With a unique combination of favorable happenings, viz; the sudden death of Benazir, the electoral victory of PPP, and finally Musharrafʼs resignation, Mr Zardari, a one time most dubious and discredited person became the most powerful and virtual arbiter of Pakistanʼs affairs. His party is in power and he is as powerful a president of Pakistan as Musharraf was or perhaps more overbearing than him. In a queer and unbelievable show of somersault, he has back tracked from the emphatically promised commitment to the nation to do away with the 17th amendment as his first decision as the president. He has also refused to honor his pledge reinstating the judges deposed by the former president.

Since his taking the office of the president of Pakistan, Mr. Zardari and his partyʼs government have exhibited rather scant interest in resolving the gubernatorial problems afflicting this country and its people. He has condemned Kashmiri freedom fighters and Pakistan media as terrorists but called India as friend of Pakistan. With a person at the helm of Pakistan whose suffers from an image problem, Pakistan and its people cannot have clean and corruption free governance. The institutional breakdown, the bleak law and order situation, the slowing industrial and agricultural growth, the poor state of civic utilities and social amenities and above all the insurgency consuming humans and precious resources are some of the glaring problems that the PPP government has miserably failed to address. Pakistan is gradually slipping into the hands of blood thirsty, mindless relgious and regional extremists while the government is watching this sordid drama with complacency and folded hands.

The transparency and accoutability that rides supreme in civil societies is no where seen in Pakistan because the felons, thugs and corrupt elements are given illegal and unconstitutional protection. How can one expect a corruption free society and clean governance from individuals who have been involved and are up to the neck in crimes? One cannot expect the safety of a henhouse from a fox. That is why a compromising or partisan judiciary is still allowed to work to give legal patronage and cover to the crooks and shady characters.

If Pakistan is supposed to run, stay and function as a viable state, the dubious caveats including NRO will have to be abolished for all time to come. An independent judiciary should decide about all cases of malfeasance and corruption and swindling of national assets. The kind of revolution and great change that the people of Pakistan expected from the PPP leadership still remain as unfulfilled goals. Where is the strucutural transformation of the decadent socio economic system? Where is the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law? Where is the transparency and accountability that should have been forcefully injected into the body politic of Pakistan?

Where is the purgation process to punish the delinquents and the corrupt and those who plundered this country for all these times? Should we pardon and keep Musharraf unleashed because he pardoned a class of notorious crooks and racketeers? This is downright unholy alliance between the outlaws on both sides of the isle for mutual accommodation. Where is the dream of a civil society that remains elusive to this day? The decline in every domain of society in Pakistan remains unchecked. Pakistan is in the throws of external and internal challenges and there is no willingness and intention on the part of the leadership to seriously address them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome Mr. President

By Saeed Qureshi

The American people have seldom shown as much of enthusiasm in the inauguration ceremony of any president as in Barack Obamaʼs, who will take oath of office on January 20 in Washington DC as the 44th President of the United States. President Obama has earned for himself the unique and unsurpassed distinction of being the first non-white president of a country with white majority. In fact he sits over the fusion of both the white and the black races as he is neither white nor black. He is both or at best two in one. His mother is white and his father is black.

Washington DC wears a festive look. Washington DC would go into the history of swearing in functions of the preceding and perhaps the succeeding presidents, as the witness to a sea of humanity that would be present on president Obamaʼs inauguration. A mammoth crowd of over a million people is expected to attend the historic ceremony. So overflowing is the exuberance and passion of the Americans as well as of non Americans to watch this memorable and indelible moment that the venue where this unforgettable event is going to take place has run short of space to accommodate the swelling assemblage. All small and big hotels are booked with full occupancy and perhaps it is one of those redeeming occasions in the wake of the declining businesses in America that the hoteliers and private rental residences will make good money.

President Obama with down to earth postures and unassuming demeanor would take oath of office on the Bible that was used by Abraham Lincoln, the legendry Republican president of United States at his swearing-in on March 4, 1861. This oath taking on the Lincolnʼs Bible clearly indicates president Barrack Obamaʼs unmistakable message that he intends to walk into the footprints of a great president who is known for abolishing slavery and who was devoted to the precious democratic culture that is so jealously guarded by the American people. Being young and robust and with an unflinching penchant to make a difference, President Obama is expected to make momentous decisions to bring shipwrecked America back to the safe shores.

Obama is not a magician, a soothsayer or an apostle endowed with miracles. He is an ordinary or exceptional human being whose worth would be manifest in his ability and competence to clear the Augean Stables and mountain of problems bequeathed to him by his unscrupulous predecessor. Obama is candidly mindful of his crucial role at a juncture when this country lies battered and bruised not only with a tarnished image but with a devastated economy and shattered dreams. America that was destined to lead the world following the end of cold war, with a coveted and enlightened role of global prosperity and peace, is currently under the unworthy insinuation of dividing the nations across the globe and by her involvement in fruitless wars against the weaker states.

Thus instead of capitalizing on a rare and unique opportunity of emerging as a credible leader in a unipolar world, it has sadly sunk into the abyss of moral infringements and by throwing the people both within US and without in a specter of perpetual fear. While America has lost the moral rudder that it inherited after the defeat of communism, it has equally failed to demonstrate that its alternative was the best and a desirable choice. The free world and market based economy under the tutelage of the war-obsessed neucons spelled doom for the Americaʼs vibrant economy with domino catastrophic ramifications over the global economies. The world is more fractious and poorer than it was a decade ago.

The whole world together with the American people are closely watching president Obama with a curiosity if he would be able to translate his message and mission of hope and change into reality. To do so, he will have to totally dissociate his administration from the ruinous policies of the former president G.W. Bush. He cannot afford to carry on continue with the loathsome and unwise legacy of an atrociously imprudent or a macho type president.

With 80 percent approval rating president Obama would be in an exceptionally comfortable position to promote and implement his revolutionary agenda that should be aimed at bringing relief to the world as well to the American people. His immediate concern is to straighten the faltering economy but more important task would be to reduce tension around the world. The first step towards that direction is to terminate or scale down the American military involvement in various parts of the world. The dire need for America is to renew her commitment as an honest broker for world peace and uniformity in promoting democratic and civil societies without discrimination. America needs to win the hearts and mind of people through socio economic aid and not by use of force. Above all it is time that America should present itself as a friend and not a bully to the world.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It’s the American Money and Weapons

By Saeed Qureshi

For almost three weeks now, Israel is mercilessly butchering the defenseless civilian population of Gaza Strip ostensibly with the American money and weapons. The toll of dead and injured is increasing as the time passes. Israel receives every year almost $ 4 billion in aid from US. Additionally, it receives another $ 4 billion from other sources such as donations of the wealthy Israelis from all over the world. The United States is a willing partner to the latest and even the earlier military incursions of Israel; a bully in the Middle East, for spelling doom on the people of Palestine. The Palestinian glibly declared as terrorists have no right of defense and are entirely at the mercy of the brutal war machine of Israel that enjoys the support of the western countries and America to go to any length in killing the people living in the beleaguered land of Palestine.

The world is witness to the frequent breach of accords by Israel, signed between Israel and the Palestinian for durable peace. Based on the land for peace principle, the famous Oslo Accord concluded between the Israel and Palestinian in 1993 has been shredded by Israel with stubborn impunity and a kind of slap on the mediators’ face after it forced the captive Palestinian to recognize Israel besides extracting a host of other concessions.

The problem of the impoverished Palestinians is that they are stung and stabbed not by Israel alone, the inveterate usurper of their land, but by the traditional hereditary dynasties that are the vestiges of the by-gone times. These family dynasties that negate and resist the march of the new era and its attendant tidings to their lands such as democracy, human rights and education, depend up the foreign powers to keep them in their authoritarian saddles. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Tunis, Libya, Egypt, UAE, Oman, Iraq, Muscat, Kuwait are all Muslim states and all have autocratic system of governments.

The Saudi Arabia is one state among the whole lot that is wedded to a mix of relgious orthodoxy with the despotism of a monarchy. It professes to be the custodian of Islamic heritage yet by its system of statecraft; it cannot be termed as a truly Islamic state. All other Islamic states in the Arab world and in part of North Africa are apparently looking secular but don’t have a system of secular democracy. These are either family based despotic dispensations or monarchies that run counter to the democratic and egalitarian spirit of Islam. These monarchies, barring superficial proclamation of Islamic faith, can be equaled to the dynasties of Pharaohs several thousands years ago. But still Pharaohs dynasties were better than these present day autocracies, because those ancient societies were secular and progressive in nature.

The Arab despotic rulers care for their personal or dynastic interests and therefore they keep away from such movements that carry the print or label of freedom. That is the underlying reason for their lack of interest in the liberation movement of Palestinian for a homeland. Mired in luxury and extravagance, these orthodox dynastic or secular despots would prefer to side with a strong country against their own people for avoiding a conflict and for keeping the status quo intact.

The rulers of these states are as ruthless and retrogressive as their forefathers were for centuries. Some of them are sitting on heaps of wealth increasing by the day due to oil exports. All these states are islands of oppression and backwardness as the people there are also kept as captives and like subjects of monarchies and dictatorial regimes. These countries don’t have civilian societies. These states are still plagued by an array of mediaeval concepts and moribund traditions.

The Arab league that was created in 1945 has failed to bring about the political unity among Arab states. The internal dynastic, economic, individual and tribal rivalries within the league have restrained it from effectively spearheading the Arab nationalism. The Arab societies as divergent despite a common cultural background as these are blighted by myriad of contradictions such as the gap between rich and poor, tradtionalsits and progressive, man and women, town dwellers and countrymen. It is therefore too early to expect of these orthodox regimes to come to an equal or reasonable level with the western democracies and the civil societies.

Pointing out to these glaring contradictions in the Arab world, Professor Roma Landau in his book “Islam and the Arabs” writes “The traditional tribal frictions, feudalism, and the accumulation of wealth in a few hands ,the most piteous poverty and rampant individualism, relgious obscurantism deliberately cultivated by those in power, all represent weakness in the Arab system”

Therefore, quite unmindful and indifferent to what havoc was being wrought on their brethren of faith in their vicinity by a power drunk Israel, these rulers attired in rich robes, ignore the miseries of the people uprooted from their ancestral homes by a powerful and deceitful enemy some sixty years ago and which still keeps them in bondage at the barrel of gun and by using a disproportionate use of force.

Israel is quite aware of the obstructions in the way of Arab unity that if achieved could become a starting point for unified action against her blatant, ruthless, unwarranted and excessive violence and use of force against the ill equipped and poor Palestinian people.

While America believes in democracy it refuses to do so in case of Hamas which has a legitimate and democratically elected government in Gaza. This double faced policy of the United States earns for it a big chunk of blame and flak along with Israel for the relentless suppression and denial of the rights of Palestinians to have a promised homeland. Of late, Israel breached the Egypt brokered peace accord of June last year by not completely lifting the blockade of Gaza Strip and opening the cross border entry and exit points for unhindered flow of food, fuel, medicines and other similar commodities of daily use. Instead, in retaliation to the firing of obsolete warning rockets against the violation of agreement by Hamas, it has gone on rampage in Gaza Strip by raining bombs and missiles on civilian population.

Let Israel not forget that if it has to face another holocaust, the world at large would look the other way by recounting the barbarities it is inflicting upon the population in Gaza. And this is not the only show of wild force and indiscriminate killing of the people of Palestine. Israel’s past history after its creation in 1948 is full of such savagery.

Israel very cunningly attacked Gaza Strip at a time when neither the outgoing president Bush nor the incoming president Obama is in a decisive position to take a stand on the carnage. For over twenty days now the death and destruction are stalking the tiny strip of Gaza without any indication on the part of the mass murderers to halt this ghastly and diabolic game. The human civilization is being put in a reverse gear by the modern barbarians. The peace loving segment of humanity is aghast and helpless.

It is only the United States that can bridle Israel from this madness of mobilizing a ferocious military onslaught against a people who should be at least given the right to live. But will the new US administration pick up the over due courage to catch this monster by horn and prevail upon the preachers of Zionism within the state of Israel to honor peace agreements with the Palestinians and enter into an era of peace and reconciliation in the region?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From Benazir’s Murder to Repeal of 17th Amendment

By Saeed Qureshi

The Pakistani nation and the world at large are witness to the two statements of the incumbent President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zaradri.The first is about the assassination of his wife and the chairperson of PPP in that he confessed of knowing the assassins but would not disclose their names for now. The second statement was the solemn promise made before his becoming the President of Pakistan in which he said that the first gift that he would offer to the nation after assuming the presidency, was to remove the controversial 17th amendments. In other agreements that he signed with the Pakistan Muslim (N), the second largest party contained the commitment to restore the genuine parliamentary democracy and to reinstate the Supreme Court judges deposed for former president Pervez Musharraf through an emergency on November 2 last year.

He said that whatever he said or wrote were not the words of the holy book Quran or of Hadith. By these statements he perhaps meant that his promises and commitments were not to be taken seriously or credible. He has the unusual courage and audacity to highlight his own flaw in his moral behavior which connotes “I am not trustworthy”. All the pledges that the PPP made before the 18th February 2007 elections remain unfulfilled. The situation in Pakistan as far as people’s problems are concerned is definitely worse and has immensely deteriorated. The ruling party’s promises to stem the worsening social and economic woes cannot be considered as credible because their president doesn’t believe in honoring the commitments either made to the politicians or to the people.

Coming back to the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the pertinent question arises as to what hinders the president to disclose the names of the assassins of the Chairperson of the PPP who was also his spouse and a politician of international standing. It was through her efforts and political dialogue that the PPP was overwhelmingly elected to power. Now concealing the names of the murderers of a citizen of Pakistan, let alone the political stature of Benazir Bhutto seems to be fishy. Either Mr. Zardari is afraid of the murderers or else he may have a truck with them. There could be one of these reasons for not unearthing the names of the perpetrators of this most heinous crime. If he is afraid of them then he has no right to be the president of a country because in that highly responsible position one has to take tough decisions for which one must be fearless. He can, therefore, compromise on national issues to the detriment of Pakistan and its people.

It is, therefore, necessary for the judiciary to take suo moto notice of the president’s statement and press his to disclose the names of the assassins of a remarkable political figure and a citizen of Pakistan. At the same time the People of Pakistan in general and the PPP cadres in particular, should demand of their leader to let the nation know of the names and identities of the elements behind Benazir’s murder and who deserve no mercy and no cover up from the president of Pakistan for any reason.

With regard to the repeal of the 17th amendment already various political parties are actively pursing these issues. The MQM a strong supporter of the PPP has taken a very important step for the removal of the 17th amendment and decentralization and devolution of powers in favor of the provinces. The so named 18th amendment bill that has already been deposited by MQM in the National Assembly secretariat, calls for retention of only three portfolios, namely foreign affairs, currency and defense, with the center. The annulment of the 17th amendment either partially or wholly would be a big step towards the establishment of a genuine parliamentary democracy in Pakistan.

While President Zaradri has promised to accept the parliament’s decision, the Prime Minister Gilani has announced the constitution of a parliamentary committee by his party to look into the various drafts of the other parties with regard to the rescinding the 17th amendment. While we wait to see this demise of the 17th amendment we shall also have to watch if a spanner is not thrown into this whole exercise by any political element. But more crucial and reassuring would be if the president and the prime minister stand by their commitments to restore a veritable parliamentary democratic order in the country.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Barack Obama’s Real Test

By Saeed Qureshi

Obama’s historic victory with an unprecedented voters’ turn out in his favor puts him into a situation of double jeopardy. He is a redeemer but a black redeemer. If he cannot deliver and rescue the American nation from a colossal decadence that has set in during the past 8 years, he would be doubly castigated. His detractors would say “look we knew a black man cannot deliver”. Let us not forget that the Jesus Christ was not a white guy: he was a non- white apostle of God from the land of Palestine. He foreboded the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth towards the end of time. He was put to death on the gallows. The subsequent generations of Christians to this day still live with the hope of Kingdom of God, where absolute peace and happiness would prevail. President Obama, in these troubling times and in face of the enormity of challenges, is like a mini Jesus Christ. He is expected to restore the lost dignity, glory and splendor of the American Kingdom of decent humans.

Obama’s real test as a 21st century redeemer, when the whole world is in turmoil, does not lie in ameliorating the internal social and fiscal chaos. It hinges on a retreat from military engagements in which it has remained entangled after the World War II. During the first decades, following the end of the second world war, America remained obsessed with chasing communism that it euphemistically called the cold war, although essentially it was a hot war whether fought in Korea, Vietnam or in Afghanistan.

The results of Korean and Vietnamese wars were not conclusive and those bloody wars ended with the division of both united Korea and Vietnam and the perishing of millions humans as well. However, the decisive victory for US and the Capitalist West came with the retreat of Soviet Union; the global patriarch and guardian of international communism, in sheer humiliation from Afghanistan in 1989. China was the runner up of the Communism all along during the cold war period although there were ideological differences between these two paramount communist states. China, however, remained unscathed from the American global onslaught against the Communism.

But with an interregnum of absence for ten years’ from the Afghanistan war arena, United States staged a come back against a new enemy. The Islamic radical militants, in the intervening period, succeeded in clamping their sway over this hapless country after overpowering the tribal war lords. The shrew and untamable human race called Taliban with a barbaric relgious agenda were finally driven out of Afghanistan in late 2001, by Allied forces of NATO, America and Northern Alliance. Encouraged by such a stunning victory, the war drunk administration of president Bush decided to stage a somewhat similar show in Iraq. Iraq in the final countdown had become a millstone in the neck of Bush administration. The financial and human loss is unimaginable, with no tangible dividends. United States is currently bogged down both in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the no man’s land known as Tribal region, between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The war against Taliban or terrorists entities is going to be a long haul. The president elect’s intention to withdraw the military from Iraq is a rational and right decision that would, to an enormous degree, lesson the unnecessary baggage America is carrying for five years now. The pioneering military incursion in Iraq was to capture and find weapons of mass destruction, although as is widely known now, it was a ploy to invade Iraq and remove the ferocious dictator, Saddam Hussein. The motive was later ludicrously converted into democratizing Iraq. Iraq now has a sham democracy headed by a puppet regime.

The Bush administration’s stick and carrot policy with North Korea and arm twisting approach towards Iran too backfired. North Korea has, defiantly, rebounded to the nuclear reactor development while Iran is assiduously embarked upon harnessing its nuclear capability.

It is, therefore, quite transparent a scenario that apart from creating a specter of fear around the world in the aftermath of 9/1, America has gained nothing except loss of image and a devastating economic back-lash rightly termed as Tsunami not only for America alone but also for the entire world. It cannot be fairly predicted how long America and its allies would keep their military warfare on the soil of Afghanistan and adjoining Tribal areas of Pakistan.

But keeping in view the untoward outcome in Iraq and the lingering impasse in Afghanistan with an alienated puppet government, the results are not expected to be salutary. The terrorists cannot be completely eliminated by drones or wanton bombing of civilian habitations.It has generated a generational anger and hatred against America which will not subside unless Obama reverses baneful policies of Bush era.

The Obama administration whose logo is hope and change for a demoralized American nation, must understand that the anti American terror is the product of two global issues. The first is Israel versus Palestinians over creation of a promised state for the native uprooted Palestinians. The six decades struggle of Palestinians for a state against Israel and America’s complete support to Israel has led to the creation of individuals and groups who take recourse to punitive violence that America interprets as terrorism. The second is the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, although this dispute is not directly connected to anti American brand of terror or militancy. Now Afghanistan and Pakistan with foreign occupation forces in and around have become nurseries for all kind of terrorists.

The New American administration led by a resilient and enterprising president Obama will have to rationalize the reasons as to why AlQaida that fought for the free world in Afghanistan for a decade and drove Russians, along with others, out of Afghanistan, later turned into a furious band of anti American terrorists. In all fairness it is America that first labeled the Islamic group as a terrorist organization and refused to have any truck with them. The Arab countries had their own share of militancy for Israel’s refusal and America’s total support for her in not fulfilling her promise with regard to a Palestinian state. But more provocative was the global American offensive against the Islamic world by branding them en-bloc or the non compliant nations as terrorists.

Now the extended military offensive to tribal areas of Pakistan has not only escalated the tension and expanded the embattled war zones, but is also intensifying the anti American activities with more extremists volunteering for suicide bombing. The question that how long would America and NATO forces keep killing the mushrooming militants and terrorists and thus incurring the collateral loss, has no ready answer?

It is, therefore, incumbent upon the new administration to take a fresh stock of the fast deteriorating situation and America’s military involvement in different parts of the world. The time for military actions and turning various hot spots into killing fields is over. Even with the mightiest of army and war machine, it is becoming increasingly difficult to annihilate an enemy however small in numbers because all now have access to deadly weapons and also because of the new paradigm of guerilla warfare

Let America stop frittering away its energy, time, resources and manpower on wars that are useless like a wild goose chase. The security of America should be ensured within the boundaries of America. It does not lie in foreign lands or in bounty hunting. Let America wind up its wasteful war efforts all over the world and give a breathing space of peace to its own people and the rest of the world. Diplomacy and peaceful endeavors, mission for eradication of global hunger, poverty and disease should be the objectives of American new leadership that would restore its distorted image and endear it to an estranged and apprehensive world. We hope that the new president would turn over a new leaf in the book of American foreign policy by switching from war mongering to peace making and from aggression to pacification.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Is Another French Revolution Around the Corner?

By Saeed Qureshi

President Zardari, on more than one occasions, said that the best revenge against the enemies was democracy. By these comments, perhaps, he meant revenge against the assassins of Benazir Bhutto and bringing the former President Musharraf to justice. Definitely democracy is taking its revenge but against whom? Not against the enemies of Pakistan or those who wronged this great country. As the situations stands now, the victims of the revenge are the very people of Pakistan and not their tormentors.

The revenge of democracy is a smokescreen to protect the thugs of both the past and the present who brought this magnificent country to such an abyss. It’s not a genuine democracy that the people of Pakistan voted for. It is a blend of oligarchy, aristocracy and plutocracy. The party in power is doing just the opposite to its charter, manifesto and the elections pledges. From President down to an advisor, the ruling cabal looks insensitive to the appalling and spiraling public woes. The best strategy adopted by the President of Pakistan is to keep mum, duck and lend a deaf ear to the deafening public outcry. So is the prime minister and so are the ministerial legions.

The governance is in a state of paralysis. The country called Pakistan is reeling under a regime whose conduct of the state affairs not only exudes incompetence but a criminal dereliction of their responsibilities towards a nation that foisted them to power through their votes for a change: a change for the better and not for worse. That a government can be so non-challant, devious and unmindful of country’s downslide, is hard to believe. The attitude of the ruling junta is attuned to protect the status quo of the past regime, although they have not been able to uphold even that ignoble objective. The power outrages, the shortage of gas and petrol, the soaring prices, the rampant lawlessness, the dysfunctional state institutions and public and private departments and lack of any apparent inclination by the government to find solutions, speak for the unspeakable state of anarchy Pakistan is steeped in.

While the clique in power is either apathetic or evasive to the country’s drift towards a failed state syndrome, the political forces on the other side of the isles are negligent too to come forward and throw a challenge to the party in power and proffer an action plan to stem the rot. In time of crisis the contending political forces rouse the civil society, rekindle hope and provide a way to alternate leadership. There seems to be all quiet on the front of other political parties whose responsibly is to challenge the writ of a corrupt and mismanaged government.

With the Pakistan army fighting a war for others and killing its own people, a united Pakistan is under severe threat of disintegration. Even if it survives such a dreadful eventuality, it would still function on weak foundations of diverse divisions ranging from ethnic, sectarian to regional and soci-economic disparities. The lurking issues of giving an independent status to the judiciary, setting in motion a transparent and unalloyed accountability and justice process, reforming the institutions, removing the repugnant clauses from the constitution, making the parliament strong and supreme, enforcing law for peace and security, weeding out corruption, restoring national sovereignty, unfurling a revolutionary economic charter and so on.

Was Pakistan ever in such acute troubles that the people are deprived of at least a hope for a better future? A government that cannot even start a process of finding the killers of it’s party chief cannot be expected of showing any serious concern for the people’s afflictions. The Pakistan Peoples Party, a truly grass root party, for the first time, is fast losing people’s support and sympathy. The reasons are obvious. It has become part of the loot, lethargy and the custodian of a corrupt and decadent system that the people wanted to throw off.

The quid pro quo between Asif Zardari and former president Musharraf was “I shall baptize you like as a new born and you give a complete reprieve for my sins” is at the root of all the pervading rot. People of Pakistan wanted a complete break with the despicable past. The PPP government is more willing to dance to the foreign tunes than their unworthy predecessors. The PPP party that should have demonstrated a revolutionary posture is laid flat in front of foreign masters. Besides it doesn’t have any vision to drive Pakistan out of the prevailing hurricane of problems.

Undoubtedly, People of Pakistan wanted a truly democratic government but with that they also aspired to see the end of the sufferings and suffocation of the 9 years authoritarian rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The democracy that has been ushered in Pakistan is tainted with many a question marks. The incumbent government has a stamp of the dark past. The democratic dispensation of PPP that should have been ideologically and conceptually against the dictatorship is resigned to be an extension of the unpopular and hated regime of Gen Musharraf.

So where do we go from here? After full one year of saddling in power, the PPP has earned only the ire of the people of Pakistan. Its indolence, adhocism and diffidence to even acknowledge the existence of the problems, what to speak of resolving them is, heavily telling upon the image of the party. The lack of interest in even initiating any investigation in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto besides Asif Zaradri’s ‘go easy’ style with a tainted past are fast eroding the esteem of the party in the public view. The PPP is caught unaware in an internal mounting crescendo of myriad problems while externally it is the recipient of a shameful legacy of making Pakistan as a mercenary and surrogate of America and the West.

Frankly, its cadres and leaders were not prepared for an unexpected take over of power that came sooner than later. Their inability and paucity of experience in politics and governance is the main impediment in coping with the big challenges that keep piling up by the day. The rank and file of the PPP now running the show are either novices or newcomers to the galore and glamour of power. Their revolutionary spirit seems to be subdued and overwhelmed by the amazing and awesome glare of power wielding. They might be thinking to make hay while the sun of power was shining, leaving aside the thorny challenges of amelioration and betterment to others. Alternately, they might be under the delusion that they were still popular as they were before their advent in power corridors. Still another possibility is that they believe that the current bad times would soon wither away and the stability and peace would come back.

With these three strands of mindset, let the PPP echelons be cautioned that they will soon have to face the bulging and swelling wrath and fury of the people haunted and hounded by miserable living conditions. The signs of such a public outcry and rebellion are manifest in lock-outs of the industries, the squatting of the roads and highways as well as the frenzied rallies. The PPP’s unpopularity graph was never low and it had never fallen from people’s grace as now. Is another French Revolution around the corner?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another Holocaust !

By Saeed Qureshi

Israel is callously bombing the Gaza strip to, what they say; teach a lesson to Hamas for rocket and mortar fire at the Israeli territory adjacent to Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed while uncounted numbers have been injured. Israel intends to continue this brutal onslaught against the residents of Gaza whose majority is impoverished civilians. While America as usual has endorsed the Israeli raids, the world at large looks with agonizing indifference to the massacre of a segment of human race with the most modern weaponry.

There is trading of accusation between Israel and Hamas on breaking the June 2008 Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement. Hamas says Israel did not honor its commitments. Hamas blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire, saying it had not respected its terms, including complete lifting of the blockade of Gaza to allow inflow of food and other necessities of life. Israel said it initially began easing the blockade, but this was suspended because of Hamas’s failure to end rocket fire and stopping weapons smuggling into Gaza. Israel maintains that the devastating aerial strikes were aimed at stopping Hamas from firing rockets towards Israel and posing a constant threat to the safety and peaceful life of its residents.

In an unprecedented and massive show of force, on December 27, in the first few minutes, 80 Israeli F-16 air-crafts and Apache helicopters dropped 100 tons of explosives on 100 targets in Gaza. The Israeli ground units numbering 175000 are waiting to launch the ground assault for occupation and continue the offensive. In four days air strikes that continue relentlessly, Israel is piling the dead bodies and the number of injured. There is complete panic and the entire Gaza strip looks like a war zone.

The Israeli war machine being used in the so called “Operation Cast lead”, almost equals to that of the American mobilization of troops and equipment against Iraq in 2003. But While Iraq is a big country with a vast area and a standing army, Gaza is a very small strip of land that can be over-run within hours. Hamas reportedly has only 20000 fighters which are woefully inadequate to even marginally match the Israeli war machine.

It defies the common sense as to how Israel could launch a ghastly offensive against an elected administration with such a stupendous fury and frenzy. Granted that Hamas was firing rockets but after the signing of June 2008 truce accord, the frequency of rockets had drastically decreased. Hamas was ready to halt the rocket firing completely if Israel had allowed the unhindered inflow of food and other commodities for the Gaza inhabitants who remained subject to a stifling blockade after January 2006 elections.

Hamas won the January 25, 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), by bagging 74 seats to the ruling-Fatah's 45, providing Hamas with the majority of the 132 available seats and the ability to form a majority government on their own. But in a shameful display of duplicity and double standards, the Hamas electoral victory through a genuine democratic process was not accepted both by US and Israel.

Hamas had to establish its authority through use of force and by wresting the control of Gaza strip from the American protégé Fatah headed by Mahmoud Abbas. To squeeze Hamas and cripple its administrative viability, Israel has been sealing borders with Gaza from time to time and disallowing all exports except only enough goods to avert a humanitarian or health crisis. Even after the signing of June 2008 agreement, the blockade was neither lifted entirely, nor were other conditions fulfilled by Israelies. As a result Hamas resumed its rocket attacks including the lifting of the blockade and allowing unhindered flow of goods to Gaza.

After savage bombing of Lebanon in July 2006, Israel has one against gone on a rampage in Gaza resulting in the massacre of human beings, with unabashed impunity and total disregard of global outrage and violation of all cannons of established morality and humanitarian considerations. If US cannot see the difference between the victim and the offenders then why should it blame those who killed 3000 human beings on the fateful day of 9/11? In the post June 2006 agreement, in all fairness Israel cannot be totally absolved of the infringement of the agreement. There was no earthly reason to subject the resident of Gaza to a blockade that nearly created conditions of starvation and degradation of living conditions to an abysmally low level.

The world at large and the standard bearers of the modern civilization in both east and west, south and north are watching with callous silence and folded hands the liquidation of a nation where blood of men, and women, young and old, children and adults is being shed like water. The Muslim world and the Islamic countries situated in the same region are as silent as cold stones. They are powerless despite possessing all the riches of the world. They don’t have the dignity and self respect and even the courage or the intentions to express their affiliation and solidarity with their own brethren of faith. Hamas may be opposed to their philosophy of life but after all they are at least human beings if their being Muslims is not a worthwhile consideration.

If by a miracle, Hamas like Hezbollah turns the tables against the Israel’s blitz , then within hours the Security Council, the OIC, the Arab League, the US, the Western Europe and the rest of the world would move earth and heaven for a truce and cessation of hostiles. Otherwise they would like to see with deliberate unconcern the genocide of a population and removal of a government that was elected to power by its own people through a democratic process.