Friday, March 26, 2010

Pakistan’s Energy Crisis and Iran’s Offer

March 25, 2010
Pakistan’s Energy Crisis and Iran’s Offer
By Saeed Qureshi
Let Supreme Court of Pakistan take suo moto notice against the water and power minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for imposing rental power plants on Pakistan to overcome the acute power shortage in the country. His second unpardonable offense is to derail or hamper the offer of electricity supply by Iran. Iran has offered Pakistan up to 2270 MG way back in 2008 to beef up the indigenous power production and to offset the shortage that has brewed up an unremitting social and economic chaos.
The Iranian ambassador in Pakistan Mashallah Shakiri has been knocking at every door including that of the president and the prime minister with an offer of concomitant concessions about the price etc. He has been reportedly cold shouldered by everyone leaving him in a state of utter amazement as to why Iran’s well intentioned help is not being given positive response all the more when Pakistan badly needed such augmentation of energy.
The power shortage in Pakistan has reached a staggering level of 5000 MG that is going to further accentuate and increase during the fast approaching peak summer. The cumulative loss due to energy crisis in being calculated in the vicinity of 240 billion rupees as the industry is half debilitated and rendered shut down. Pakistan’s finance minister Shaukat Tareen’s principal reason for resigning was the rental power plants that he thought were ruinous for Pakistan’s economy. He was of the opinion that IPP’s (independent power producers) was still a better option for power generations if their plants were refurbished and their outstanding dues were paid.
Iran a neighboring Islamic country is producing 50000 MG electric power and is supplying it to Russia, India, Qatar, UAE, Jordan, Syria, Oman, turkey, Armenia and Afghanistan. Iran wants to help Pakistan and overcome her energy crisis that has assumed cataclysmic proportions both for the people and the industrial and commercial sector. It’s beyond one’s wits and genius to figure out why the government top notches who witness almost every moment the devastation and the anguish being caused by the power shortage in Pakistan, to not take the Iranian offer seriously.
The only obvious reason for this callous indifference and ominous disregard to this highly timely and lucrative offer is the element of fabulous kickbacks that run into millions of dollars from rental companies and shared by all those who are the decision makers. Is it not a treason, a downright treachery and a studied savagery to the nation to make Pakistan dependent on blood sucking, most expensive and undependable system of power production? Look at the president down to the minister for power, the Investment Board, the Private Power and Infrastructure Board and other high and low officials the unabashed way they are cheating, fleecing and brutalizing their own nation only to fatten their already bulging bank accounts. It is a national crime that merits highest punishment if there can be any authority to hold these irretrievably depraved crooks accountable.
Their evil genius prompts them first to create a horrendous power shortage and a doom’s day scenario. In a desperate situation as the one prevailing in Pakistan, no way out is left for the harassed people but to accept the rented power units as an evil necessity. The per unit price of electricity has been raised many times burdening the harried citizens with more economic worries. The people have to accept the Hobson’s choice otherwise the power load shedding can be extended up to 20 hours a day. With a president ranking on top of the list of the power wielders looting their own nation and country, the lower minions cannot remain aloof from joining such a field day plunder that does not entail any accountability and the fear of law.
Those who have been painting rosy pictures of an energy sufficient country should be summarily tried and hanged by the nearest lamp post for an unpardonable dereliction of their responsibilities and for shutting their skewed eyes to the future of the country. The utter negligence about the future socio-economic needs of the country keeping in view the growing population is nothing short of a crime. The country as a result is more impoverished and poorer, the civic facilities have markedly shrunk and the infrastructure is run down, antiquated and unfit to cater for the growth of the economy and expanding population. No new dams for water or power have been completed or planned during the past several years, no highways or roads have been built, railway is ramshackle and other national institutions like steel mills and PIA are running in loss.
And when Iran is bending over backward and frantically trying to help Pakistan overcome its chronic energy deficiency , the government looks askance, willfully ignores such direly needed offer and prefers the make-shift arrangements for generation of electricity that are not only overly expensive, are squarely unreliable but also cannot meet the energy requirements of the country. A newly born marvelous nation is the helpless victim of a monstrous rip off by a pack of greedy, rapacious, money hunting human hounds.

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Israel is Defiant: America is Pliant

March 23, 2010
Israel is Defiant: America is Pliant
By Saeed Qureshi

Israel has always been stubborn in her gross violations of the basic human rights committed by it in the land of Palestine. But it is lucky that it has been abidingly supported and abetted by a post world war II super power known as the United States of America. Israel, not only, incessantly inflicts the wounds but rub salt to these as well, conveying the stern message, “I don’t care if the humanity at large is aghast at the indignities I am subjecting the besieged Palestinians to.” Israel’s every act in regard to the Palestinian dispute looks like a slap on the face of the rest of the mankind inhabiting the earth. Ironically, yet, its every infringement of moral, human and established international principles of civilized conduct are simply overlooked and rather condoned by mighty America and the western democratic polities spewing out ceaselessly their concern for the fundamental human rights, civilized behavior, sublime norms of morality, ethics, equal rights and rule of law and so on. The international politics is bereft of morality and morality itself is applied selectively.

All these superlative decencies and magnificent ideals are neither binding nor applicable to the rogue state of Israel but to the poor, enslaved impoverished Palestinians who are in a state of pitiable Diaspora and are forced to live in degrading and wretched enslavement. Does the world have a conscience and qualms and sensibilities that should see this duplicity in that the powerful usurper keeping the real occupants of the land in bondage and making their lives unbearable with every passing day?

The simple question is: do the Palestinians have a right to live in their land which was taken away from them by fraud, deceit and via an international conspiracy in 1948? I would not oppose the existence of the state of Israel and wish its citizens a happy and peaceful life. Rather
I support it. But I would not close my eyes to the woeful plight of several million human beings to be living in a state of crippling siege for six decades now. If the U.N. Security Resolution 242 binds the international arbiters and brokers and the state of Israel to give a piece of land to the Palestinians as well, then why this right is being kept in a state of perpetual abeyance?

The Palestinian leadership had to drastically abandon their laid down pledge of destroying Israel and finally recognizing its extience as a legitimate state. But this change was tagged with a similar reciprocation by Israel to accept the two state principal and demarcate the land promised to the Palestinian nation. Instead of facilitating the process to create a separate homeland for the Palestinians, the overbearing Israel has been unleashing oppressive and punitive military forays to keep this hapless segment of humanity in a perpetual agony and affliction.

The Jewish nation in history itself has gone through such abject phases and therefore must be cognizant of the sufferings of the Palestinians. The policy of depriving the Palestinians from having a state of their own cannot work for all time to come. Equally, the state of Israel cannot remain a marooned land surrounded by the hostile states for ever. Ultimately it will have to honor the commitment that it made at the United Nations with regard to the creation of a separate state of Palestine. Militarily and physically it may keep holding on to her immoral ground but the question is how long? Times change and the changed conditions bring along reprisals of horrendous import. If today America lifts its patronage of Israel, how Israel is going to survive?

Although all the American administrations have been trying to mediate between the two belligerent nations of Israel and Palestine, and with commitments to resolve this most vexed issue of the present times, nothing has been done on the ground. These pledges have remained mere pious platitudes. Even the roaring claims of Obama administration for pressing the establishment of the Palestinian independent state seem to have lost their vigor. The American abetment has emboldened Israel to daringly keep the Palestinians in a perpetual state of suffocation and indignities. It would wantonly break solemn pledges. The latest being the plan to build 2500 more houses in the occupied land.

The hawkish prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is in the United States. He is spitting fire against Palestine and Iran in a bid to sidetrack the real and central issue of an independent state for the captive Palestinians. While he has publically vowed to defy and brace against America’ castigating stance over the new settlements, he has no intention even to talk about the inalienable rights of the dispossessed Palestinians families living in slums and in most inhospitable conditions.

The murder of a Hamas leader Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai by the Israeli hit men and forgery of passports of Australia, French, Germany and U. K. has drawn normal and muted reaction from the western capitals and from the United States. It was a blatant and most horrific act of terrorism but has been watered down both by the Western governments and the media. One can imagine how earth and heaven would have shaken if an Israeli bigwig had been killed by the Arabs.

It’s time the United States as the arch supporter of Israel should adopt a non partisan and neutral posture between Israel and the poor Palestinians so that both these nations can live together in mutual peace and spirit of co-existence. This should be the unequivocal message and unmistakable advice that America should give to the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 adopted unanimously on November 22, 1967 following the six day war between Israel and Arab states led by Egypt, offers a just and legitimate resolution to the lingering conflict between the two nations of Israel and Palestine. It calls for the “political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

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March 18, 2010
By Saeed Qureshi
There have been a stream of reports reverberating in the air and rumors doing the rounds that quite a few among the Pakistani journalists can equate themselves with those shady characters stashing their money in the foreign banks. These journalists whose names are well known but better not to be recounted here have made enormous fortunes by using their sharp tongues and lethal nibs of pens against the corrupt politicians and shady government functionaries. Thus far it would be in order if corrupt elements and dishonest power wielders are exposed. But the inexorable power of pen and roller costar influence of media is equally despicable and condemnable if used for taking plots of lands and bags full of money.
We have seen and we know that the journalists use extortion ploys and intimidating tactics to force the men in power for doling out benefits and perks. But it was unimaginable and unheard of that a time would arrive that this unworthy skill would assume such overbearing and gubernatorial proportions that the journalists would be able to rub their shoulders with sleazy millionaires and wealthy tycoons. If the gossip of journalists amassing wealth is wrong then let those accused of and tainted with these questionable conduct should come forward and say with thumping clamor and projected chests to debunk that it was all fabrication and malicious.
We have seen journalists, waxing eloquence with regard to the government servants, the ministers and similar other stalwarts for monetary and mundane benefits such as plot of land and to be included in the foreign glamorous junkets. But that the wholesale loot would also be joined by the sacrosanct media members is a sordid tale that darkens and tarnishes the shimmering face of a profession whose basic motto is to remain steadfast on the right path and not to be swayed and de-tracked by monetary crumbs and mundane temptations.
If media starts condoning the misconduct of the vile leaders and play as a second fiddle to them by projecting them as upright then the noble profession of impartial critique stands buried. The well connected, sharp, crafty and sycophantically among the journalists humble the mighty in the government with their stinging satire and lethal mudslinging till they are silenced by largesse in the form of huge sums, allotment of plots and even ex officio prestigious appointments.
I would not decree or assume that the journalistic community should comprise of only angels and I would not believe nor expect that they and their families should survive merely on bread and water and simultaneously become crusades for humanity and righteousness. The journalist mostly are downtrodden and "have nots"and therefore, are entitled to a shelter, a reasonable level of income and social benefits that can take care of their old age and future. If they have a collateral personal or family business and other visible sources of income, they are to be complimented for serving a profession which is on the whole is thankless, merely carries the genre and luster of job satisfaction and the vibes of a clear and robust conscience. But beyond that if journalism or the sacred pen is placed on sale or auction for the highest bidders and who can pay for the words then it is a travesty and must be scoffed and detested.
But what to say about the robber barons of media who have built castles and mansions and filling their coffers with ill-gotten and hush money to either keep silence or write in favor of the politicians burdened with unaccountable felonious acts, embezzlements and misappropriation of the national wealth with rare abandon and without any qualms of conscience.
So in the television talk shows there are media wizards disseminating their flashy discourses, wise sermons and fuming and eloquent counseling how the government should be run and how state and the nation can be rescued from corrupt and immodest leaders, politicians and bureaucrats. Some of these guys are adept in begging or extorting benefits. Yet others socialize with the occupants of the power corridors and are ready on the drop of the hat to portray their benefactors as guiltless and their opponents as sinners. Such are the lurid and deceitful norms of the media. As such, remorsefully, very few of its members like Ansar Abbasi and a few others belong to that rare breed of media distinguished for their propriety, honorable conduct and for serving the pristine cause of the press with unquestionable merit and unsullied reputation. Ironically, corrupt politicians have corrupted the media as well or the vice versa.

Lean Facets of American Justice System

March 12, 2010
Lean Facets of American Justice System
By Saeed Qureshi
The constitution of the United States of America deserves the highest tribute as a beacon of light for all the democracies in the world. It would continue to serve as an invaluable embodiment of all such hallmarks that constitute civil societies. However, the American justice system is yet to reach a stage of being immaculate. An observation that I read in the New York Times so succinctly illustrates the way the American Justice is aborted. It says, “The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom. The law was basically irrelevant." (MARSHA LEVICK, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, on two Pennsylvania judges who sent thousands of juveniles to detention centers for $2.6 million in kickbacks).

If any branch of the civil society is enormously independent and truly powerful, it is the judiciary in America. Now I would not endorse the kickbacks blemish but certainly there are dark shades here and there that come in the way of the dispensation of an absolutely unalloyed and sparkling justice. There is a laudable culture and tradition of strict accountability running into the body politic of the United States. But it is seldom and once in a blue moon that a member of judiciary is held accountable. Judges in the courts are like sovereigns whose every movement of hands and eyebrows, wrinkle of the face and every word uttered and rebukes have to be swallowed by those attending the courts.
Up to this threshold, all the judges and dispensers of justice enjoy massive and rather arbitrary powers all over the world. But in the American courts, it is a different story. If judges’ powers are inhibited by someone it is the jury that has to come up with a unanimous YES or NO verdict. Based upon jury’s yes or no consensus vote, the judge awards the sentence. But if it is exclusively up to the judge to give a verdict, he is prone to be swayed by many considerations.
Now the DNA, a unique and amazing invention of the modern age has proven that many convicts of heinous crime such as rape and murder, who were put to death, were actually innocents.
Some were acquitted due to the timely results of the DNA that showed no link of the convicts with the victims. It unambiguously, goes to establish that there have been some very serious flaws in the U. S. justice system. The fact is that the prosecution is always overbearing and maintains an upper edge over the defense. Those who were electrocuted or given lethal injection got their sentence because the prosecution was dominant in the court as ever. In courts, what matters is how the lawyers can manipulate the case.
As a casual visitor to the courts for interpretation on behalf of the prosecution or the defense, I have seen kind of bitter verbal fights between the prosecuting and defending lawyers. In one of the cases at the end of the day a verdict came out that stunned the dumbfounded seekers of justice. The judge swept aside the tons of evidence produced by the defense and issued an order that defied all the logic and rationale of the discussion. No questions asked. Now there are many considerations that weigh heavily in certain cases irrespective of the merits of the cases or the guts of the defense to browbeat the argument of the prosecution.
As I have observed, invariably, it is the prosecution that triumphs. In predominant number of cases a plea bargain is the ultimate outcome. It means, “don’t care or press for the merit of the case, get rid of the agony and accept less punishment, in order to avoid more excruciating hassle and waste of time and money”. There is an element of fear lurking behind the verdicts that may not be in complete fulfillment of the due norms of justice.
Now race or ethnic background might be a very potent factor influencing the verdict of a case. The minority alien communities that are usually involved in violation of immigration rules, overstaying, small felonies as a brawl between the wife and husband or a theft that can be summarily disposed off, are trapped in an adjudication system between a prosecution and the defense attorneys for years together which culminates in a plea bargain or a conviction for the accused. In case of choosing the option of fine to avoid the sentence, another torturous process of rehabilitation starts, leaving a person in a mentally or physically mauled state.
In a case that was being adjudicated between a white drunken driver and a turbaned Sikh from India offers a classic example of how the judge cam impose his fiat ultimately. The defense attorney took the whole day to produce eye witnesses to prove that the Indian family was beaten by the white drunken driver. But in the evening the verdict, to the utter bewilderment, was given in favor of the driver who simply walked out of the court. The judge in one single utterance said that he did not believe the evidence or the arguments of the defense attorney.
Now the jury system is a legacy of the past when community involvement was deemed necessary to arrive at a decision. The jury consists of the people invited from various walks of life who would not have enough inkling of the legal intricacies. They are students, businessmen, employees or people from other walks of, life. They are briefed for a limited time both by the prosecution and defense to formulate a verdict on which depends the future of the accused person as well as upholding compliance with the imperatives of justice. Prior to the jury verdict, the case keeps lingering some time for years together. The debates, the arguments, the evidence, the merits of the cases, notwithstanding, if the jury that cannot comprehend the essence of the case in a day or so, declares the person guilty despite being innocent, he or she would be declared as such. The jury system is indeed like a spanner in the smooth sailing of the justice system because it is superimposed and nullifies all the work done by the attorneys on both the sides.
Even if the jury is divided a consensus is necessary to declare some one guilty or not guilty. This is all a matter of persuasion, good luck or bad luck of the accused as to what kind of opinion he gets from the jury. If it is predominately black or white jury they might be swayed by the racial or ethnic considerations thus tainting the legal process that should be absolutely fair as upon it, depends the life and honor of a human being or a member of society.
The Sixth Amendment stipulates that, “ In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of the counsel for his defense.”
Now so many individuals accused of fighting against NATO troops in Afghanistan have been languishing in Guantanamo concentration camp. If the incumbent administration tries to initiate their trial after decade of incarceration, the respective states don’t allow that legal process to take place on their soil. Interestingly those captured at the time of defeat of Taliban were not all the members of despicable al-Qaida: they were basically Taliban or their civilian cohorts. But the legal process stands so much subverted and tainted that these hapless guys are not being given the chance as per American constitution to be proven guilty or innocent. The justice has fallen prey to an exuberant emotionalism that defies fair play and hampers due course of justice. Right or wrong, these people deserve benefit of doubt, though some of them might be friends of America.

But one exceptionally distinctive feature of this system is the right to appeal to the upper courts that give an option and a way-out for the aggrieved persons to keep exploring and seeking the justice till the final appeal is rejected or accepted. But on the whole, it is very arduous, time consuming and costly course that the economic immigrants can seldom afford. The overriding spirit and general attitude of the adjudicating authorities is punitive and not forgiving even in minor cases where a simple warning would be enough.
After 9/11 the justice system was given a new meaning and interpretation. The Patriot Act empowered the administration to bend the law in case of the persons who were labeled as enemy combatants. It is primarily for this reason that the Guantanamo inmates some of whom might have been caught by default or were even friends of America could not be prosecuted all these years. Their trial could not be carried out in New York and in other states because of the deep hatred for these individuals whose crime is yet to be determined. Such are the pressures from the society that can even set aside the law to take its legitimate course for determining the culpability of an accused.
The professional ethics among the attorneys, lawyers and interpreters of law, occasionally, seems to fall short of the required norms. As one can look from a distance, there would be an effort by the defense lawyers to prolong the cases as long as they can because thus they keep the inflow of the fees and other charges intact. If the private doctors are some time accused of charging high fees and keeping the patients on the tenterhooks, the lawyers too try to keep the cauldron of the cases boiling which normally ends at the threshold of plea bargain. These are the aberrations of the justice system that do not reflect any derliction on the part of the law makers but are at play during its practical follow up.

Now for suggestion how to expunge the lacunas, as a lay man I would recommend doing away with the jury system. I plead this because with raw knowledge in legal matters, with diverse racial and ethnic proclivities and with very little time to understand the intricacies of the case, the jury cannot come up with the right decision. This custom can be replaced with a panel of judges who as legal experts would be in a strong position to hand out a wholesome decision.
If there is more than one judge, the whims and changing moods of one single judge can be effectively checked.
It should also be worthwhile if in every criminal case, the DNA evidence should be made obligatory because that is the incontrovertible way to determine one’s involvement or otherwise in the crime or the felony he or she is accused of committing. Somehow the attitude of soft corner for some ethnic groups and hard stances against the others must be addressed and a viable way-out should be evolved to keep the judges on the right side of law, regardless of their personal impulses.
The judges come to the bar through elections and by votes of the community. This system speaks for the grassroots democratic culture and is praiseworthy. But the qualifications of the judges and legal arbiters some time are not up to the mark to entitle them to hold these immensely crucial public offices and perform in a highly professional manner. In my view, the election of the judges should be replaced by a panel of experts who should thoroughly scrutinize the professional credentials of the candidates and recommend the most qualified or eligible among them. This is how a fully competent person can be chosen who would not take sides in favor of certain community members that were instrumental in his election victory.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is 9/11 Incident a "Big Lie”?

March 8, 2010
Is 9/11 Incident a "Big Lie”?
By Saeed Qureshi
In a statement during an address to Intelligence Ministry staff in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dubbed the U. S. official version of the Sept. 11 attacks a "big lie". He charged that the incident was used by the U.S. as an excuse for the war on terror.

The Iranian president’s insinuation apart, it is necessary and morally incumbent upon the U.S. administration to probe and find out the truth. It is not only the Iranian prime minister who says so but even there are Americans who have been expressing the doubts and apprehensions that no outsider could have accomplish this very tricky and highly technical job; all the more the Saudis who are far from attaining the sophisticated aviation technology and who would not defy Americans in any way. For Al-Qaida to penetrate American aviation system, acquire all the minute details and information about the flying schedules and to bang the civilian aircrafts one after another with precision into the lofty Twin Towers, seems improbable. The names and the identities of the passengers on board these aircrafts have not been fully made public. But even if all these odds were overcome by trainee terrorists, still this dirty job could not have been possible without aid and abetment from well informed internal sources. But on the whole the tragedy looks fishy as for as the perpetrators are concerned. The hijackers’ identities have never been explicitly disclosed. It is all a hush hush affair.

Muslims including Saudis fought for America against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Muslims did a remarkable job for America in Afghanistan because this is how United States defeated that hostile authoritarian state and buried communism forever. The Taliban at the outset were not against America and were ready to hand over Osama and his band to America if they were convinced that Al-Qaida blew the Twin Towers. But President Bush refused to pursue the offer of negotiations from Taliban. Despite all the hostility, The Afghans and al-Qaida would not afford to antagonize for having a common cause against the Society Union. Taliban had triumphed against the local war lords and not America. The altercation over Osama embittered the relations between America and Taliban, a horrendous development that could have been avoided. It is surmised in the hindsight that Taliban could have been prevailed upon by America and Saudi Arabi to hand over Osama and his other cohorts to the United States. President Bush chose instead of using military power to destroy both Taliban and Al-Qaida that led to a deadly war not yet finished.

The biggest question that is being posed is why there were no Jews inside the huge buildings on that fateful day of September 11, 2001? Can we point out our fingers at Jewish masterminds who might have hatched this conspiracy to pit America against the Muslims? In the past ten years countless Muslims have been killed, American soldiers have died in considerable numbers; American economy has landed in dire straits with 12 trillion dollars debt. Finally two friends of yester years turned each other’s implacable enemies. American social life has come under a specter of fear. Look at the airports with scanning machines and humiliating body searches for all including the Americans themselves. To whose advantage”? It’s an 11 million dollar question. The answer is: not of Americans, not of Muslims, maybe someone sitting on the sidelines and pulling the strings clandestinely.

In the time to come or even in distant future the truth or confirmation about the tragedy as it happened would come to the light. Although several cases such as the assassination of J.F. Kennedy is still shrouded in mystery, but as the time advances and the information and investigation technology gets more credible and genuine, these mysterious and unresolved happenings might be resolved.

Undoubtedly the 9/11 tragedy is one of the stunning incidents of the 21st century that has changed the course and complexion of interstate relations particularly the US-Muslim world relationship. It is precisely to punish the perpetrators of this heinous act, ascribed to the despicable Al-Qaida outfit that United States has been engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the war in Afghanistan makes sense and carries justrification, the Iraq invasion was entirely uncalled for and is devoid of any moral locus standii. The only outcome of Iraq war that cost America a trillion dollar hefty bill is the capture and hanging of ousted Saddam Hussein and the massacre of innumerable Iraqis besides a few thousand American soldiers. If Iraq embarks upon a democratic course, despite its deep ethnic divisions, the monetary and human price paid by America by default would look justified.
Indeed America has every right to have reacted in the way it did. But if this reaction would have focused purely on al-Qaida activists besides soliciting the cooperation of the Islamic countries the bloodshed that the world has witnessed in the last decade could have been formidably spared or curtailed. But at that time an ultra right neo-conservative administration was at the helm and they were bent upon storming Iraq and Afghanistan with the mammoth army. Although initially the pretext was to unearth the weapons of mass destruction, yet these were never found. Later a visibly crude campaign was launched to establish a connection between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, indirectly implicating the Iraqi government for being an accomplice in the 9/11 act of terrorism.
After 9/11 when the dust of initial furore started settling down, there were a flurry of conspiracy theories that mushroomed implying that the attackers mostly hailing from Saudi Arabia and flying the American civilian aircrafts could not have performed this extremely precarious and technically complicated feat.

Nevertheless, in order to nail the rumours and conspiracies that abound, it would be in the interest of the fair name of America if fresh inquiry is launched to clear the fog and mystery that envelopes this most horrendous event in the recent times. May be the episode of 9/11 can be rewritten with more back stage actors.

America should stop Patronizing President Zardari

March 7, 2010
America should stop Patronizing President Zardari
By Saeed Qureshi
If United States is for democracy then let her understand that there is a democratic set up in Pakistan which is patently farcical and a hoax. After two years of the incumbent government of PPP in power, president Zardari has failed to transfer powers to the prime minister of Pakistan that he had promised and which was part of the PPP’s elections manifesto. The governance has remained in a state of paralysis and there does not seem to be any chance for good and clean governance to come by. If someone is under the illusion that the worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship then let him correct his political perceptions. In Pakistan it is neither worst democracy nor the best dictatorship. It’s a government that is being run by “Ali Baba Aur Chalees Chores).

Massive civil unrest is boiling all over Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are in a state of utter tension and trauma due to lawlessness, unemployment, poverty, breakdown of the public and national institutions, shortage of power, water and basic civic services and needs. The ministers under the patronage of the arch looter are making money every moment. The independent power producing companies are being ushered in Pakistan that is simply a makeshift arrangement. Instead of devising far reaching and permanent strategies for power sufficiency, the private parties are imposed on Pakistan as an evil necessity by creating power shortage in the country. Huge kickbacks have been reported in these deals. Can one read the mockery on the face of the minister for power and water and the countless lies that he has been churning out for two years now.

In various parts of the country the jobless are agitating with sit in protests. No one in the government bothers about the misery and distress of the majority in Pakistan. Look at the civic infrastructure. The heaps of garbage and filth dot the entire length and breadth of Pakistan. Dead animals are being fed to the people making them sick. The hospitals are being run by incompetent crooks and blood sucking medicos. The prices of already scarce commodities are soaring: the latest being sudden and sharp increase in the power rate. No shame no pangs of conscience from the rulers.

If army does not step in to stem this rot and check blatant rape and loot of Pakistan then let someone lead the harried people to a revolution, a kind of street revolution that makes the things upside down: a kind of Bolshevik revolution. The judiciary alone cannot turn the tide against the bloodsucking ruling junta, because it is devoid of the administrative apparatus to enforce its decisions. Let someone from among the masses come forward and give a clarion call to the people to rally against a highly corrupt and debased system made sleazier by a lot that is yet to answer for their past countless wrong doings.

Otherwise, it is would be a civil anarchy. Let the people choose whether they want or abhor a democracy that is another fake name and cover in Pakistan to fleece plunder and suck Pakistan as much as these hardened thugs can afford to do.

The paradox with Pakistan’s politics is that it is run on personal loyalties. It is based on such parochial and narrow considerations as race, region ethnicity and party interests. Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) cadres are imbued with a romantic vision of the founder of this party. They also see in Zardari a revolutionary leader which he is not. These misguided, mesmerized and duped workers would shed their blood for the sake of an individual but not for the country. If country is fragmented where would the party stay and function?

There must be a rebellion within the party by those who want to restore the revolutionary élan and ethos of this party that made it the darling of the masses to the extent that it rose to the dazzling heights of fame within a short time under the charismatic, fabulous and matchless leadership of Zulfikar ali Bhutto. Is the opposition waiting in wings to see the government go and then come out of their hideouts? Both the opposition in Pakistan and the United
States must press for the midterm elections because almost all the high profile members of the PPP both in power and out have forfeited their credibility under the burden of their horrendous malpractices. That is the democratic way to change the loathsome status quo.

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The Power of Stigma

March 1, 2010
Dallas, Texas
The Power of Stigma
By Saeed Qureshi
A stigmatized life is the most traumatized life. A stigmatized person carries with him shame, calumny, slur, disrespect, aversion and hatred from others. Such a person is treated by the community to be a social pariah while in return he or she turns mostly apologetic or aggressive. It depends upon the level of the sensibilities of a person, how much miserable or wretched he or she feels or how they take the stigma attached to them. But not all stigmas are factual. Some are fabricated for maligning others or for vendetta. Some are genuine and some germinate from misunderstanding. These misunderstandings are caused by a word, phrase, joke or a comment that can be interpreted both negatively and positively leading to the appreciation or aspersion on one’s character.

The stigma right or wrong can seldom be erased and becomes permanent part of the name and image of the target. It follows him throughout his life like a shadow. A maliciously or wrongly stigmatized person cannot go to everyone to explain the truth and therefore, remains a victim despite being guiltless. Once born, the bad name or stigma gets wings and reaches maximum numbers that continue rising. The humans have a propensity to exaggerate the spicy information particularly digging at some one’s character and personality. It is utterly impossible to clarify the misunderstanding to everyone.

Invariably, politicians, bureaucrats, VIPs, big business tycoons, army generals, aristocrats, clerics, poets, philosophers, journalists, writers, actors, artists and members of other groups carry some kind of stigma or infamy tagged with their names. On the lower levels in schools, colleges, hospitals, public and private institutions and working places, there are individuals who are marked or known by some error, some habit, some felony, some mistake, some flaw or wrong doing or a statement or utterance that earned them the lifelong millstone of stigma. The kings, queens, rulers and famous personages in the past carry stigmas with their names.

The higher one is in status, the more he is talked about his questionable actions or for the particular flaws in his character. People have a propensity to talk of shortcomings more than mentioning someone by good traits. Tony Blair, the former Tory prime minister got the nickname of a poodle of former American president G.W. Bush which he cannot never get rid of in his lifetime and even afterwards.
Social stigma is also related to the sacrosanct social taboos and customs whose violation can bring someone a bad name that keep him in lurid colors for all times. Social stigmas come to the lot of those people who defy or break the traditional norms of morality and day to day ethics. While the religious beliefs may be condoned or occasionally overlooked, the social stigma based on misconduct or immodesty cannot be taken lightly and remain indelible blot on the character or image of the concerned individuals.
A physically deformed person such as a leper may draw more sympathy than a stigma, while a rapist, a homosexual, a thief, a liar, a bad tempered or a grumpy person, a miser, a man with a incest backlog, a murderer, and individual with similar human failings and negative leanings, carry forever the disgrace of a social stigma either in their locality or on a broader spectrum depending upon their social leverage. In human set up such remarks and strictures as “he is a serpent, don’t trust him” or “he is a shylock” or a “backbiter” or a “heathen”, “hypocrite”, “bootlegger”, “homosexual”, “pimp”, a “womanizer”, a “gay”, a “drug addict”, a “cattle lifter” , a “fake saint”, and a “swindler” are common to portray the shady, irksome or repulsive character of a person. These are the abominable social stigmas.
A sensitive person labeled with an untrue stigma based on hearsay or purposely framed for defamation suffers from a nagging guilty conscience and self condemnation. A highly placed person under the gnawing pinch of a stigma either turns socially hostile, recluse or overly obliging and forthcoming. He tries to please the people in doling out favors by using his authority. He believes under the erroneous belief, that by placating others, the common impression about him would thus be nullified or diluted. But it seldom happens. The recipients of his favors tend to exploit him or her more and in their private conversations they ridicule and castigate him or her more. The others stigma targets turn thick-skinned and obdurate.
Stigma can be broadly divided into three categories: the personal, the local, and the historical or universal. The kind of stigma that falls under the personal category carries such insinuations as gluttony, jealousy, drunkenness, bad temper, miserliness, loose talking, cynicism, superstition, backbiting, emotional flare-up, foul mouthing. But more serious stigmas delve on such base attributes as incest, lewdness, financial or moral corruption, un-patriotism, treason, fornication, prostitution, secular or atheistic outlook towards religion and so on. Some of the personal stigmas also overlap with the local stigma. Yet there are peculiar features of the local stigma that target a culture, a country, a specific cultural or ethnic group, a segment of population or a region.

In Indian and Pakistani context, there are several poltical leaders defamed and rebuked for certain gross misdeeds that will go along with their names as inerasable stigmas and disgrace. Pakistan’s first military dictator Field Marshall Ayub Khan in his waning phase of power was labeled with a nickname that cannot be mentioned for reasons of modesty. Former, President Pervez Mushrraf of Pakistan is demonized as selling Pakistanis for bounty money, if not for killing Baluchi leader Akbar Khan Bugti or storming an Islamic school in Islamabad. Ziaul Haq another military dictator has gone in history for plotting and engineering legal murder of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and ushering Pakistan into a culture of drugs and Kalashnikovs.

As prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is accused of abetting the storming of the Supreme Court building and manhandling the then chief justice of Pakistan. In India, Rajiv Gandhi would bear the stigma of bribe in the purchase scandal of Bofors Guns. Narasimha Rao, another Indian prime minister would be remembered for grafts and bribe charges and Indira Gandhi for attacking the Sikh holy shrine in Amritsar besides impostion emergency. President of United States, Richard Nixon, despite his lofty accomplishments, had to disgracefully resign due to his involvement in the Water Gate scandal. Former American president Bill Clinton’ image remains tarnished due to lewd Monika Lewinsky affair. The Roman emperor Nero is stigmatized for his abhorrent act of playing flute while the eternal city of Rome was burning. Mongol hordes are known as the human wolves that devoured millions of human beings and pillaged countless cities. Adolf Hitler is viewed as a monster for massacring 6 million Jews in Europe. Pick up a history book and you will find almost all the luminaries besmirched for some mega or minor lapse or misdeed.

The ethnic stigma is labeled against particular races or nationalities that paint them in ludicrous or clownish colors. The people of Ireland are idiots for those living in England. The residents of England have coined countless funny jokes about the Irish people. In Pakistan as well in India, Pathans, Punjabis, Sikhs and inhabitants of Rajputana and many other nationalities, races and ethnic entities are stamped with comic fables and amusing jokes.

Universally or historically, there are many figures who have indelible paint of stigma with their names. For instance, the person who betrayed the Muslim heroic ruler Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1750-1799) (India) in the Battle of Seringapatam (1799) against the British colonial army was his prime minister Mir Sadiq, who withdrew half of the army from the battlefield during the raging battle. Tipu Sultan was killed and his rule came to an end. Mir Sadiq is treated as a contemptible creature and a despicable traitor by the Muslims of India for all time to come.

Mir Jaffar, the commander of the Muslim army of Nawab of Bengal Sirâj-ud-Daulah (1733-1757) has earned the lasting notoriety for his treachery. He withdrew half of the fighting force at the nick of the time in the battle of Plasey (1757) against the British army that resulted in the defeat and death of the Nawab. The conspiracies of the grand vizier of an Ummyad caliph in 1258 prompted the Mongol warrior Hilaku Khan to attack Baghdad. The barbarian invader burnt and massacred the entire population of this bustling city. Yazid the son of powerful Ummyad caliph Muawiyah would be cursed and condemned by Shia community for mercilessly killing the family of the prophet including his grandson Hussein, at Karbala near Baghdad in 680 A. D.

It has been observed that many stigmas come out of mere hearsay, social gossiping or misinterpretation of a certain situation, a write up, a speech or an unguarded utterance that can be variously interpreted. For instance Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s famous comment during the 1971 crisis, “uthar tum, and ithar hum” has been interpreted by his opponents to divide Pakistan. Another remark “eliminate him” written by him in one of the files relating to Ahmed Raza Kauri, constituted the evidence for initiating murder case against him that resulted in his death on gallows. Now “eliminate him” can be interpreted in many ways.

Currently, we are not aware or certain if Mr. Asif Zardari in effect is 10 percent or not. But it’s a stigma that goes along with his name both in Pakistan and globally even now when he is the president of Pakistan. A powerful and prestigious position as the head of the state, instead of erasing or diminishing the weight of stigma, on the contrary enhances it. “The higher one goes the steeper one falls” is the adage, because the man sits in a higher open glass house and his shortcomings look more pronounced and magnified than when he is not widely exposed.

President Zardari’s nickname of 10 percent outshines his good parts of personality. For instance he believes and practices the culture of friendship like an article of faith. He is famed for never ditching his friends barring poltical allies or coalition partners. He is fond of hilarious and joyful company. He laughs heartily, has a knack for fascinating conversations and interjects his conversation with humor and pleasant anecdotes. In a way he is spendthrift too and prodigality is ingrained in his character. But his corruption suppresses the endearing traits of his personality.
Stigma weakens the confidence of a person and renders him docile and an escapist avoiding public places and social congregations. So the lesson is that one must always remain on guard because one slip of tongue or one carelessly or casually done act can ruin his life and turn him or her into a social pariah. The stigma once created never recedes and instead keeps swelling. That is why sages have cautioned that think before you speak and watch before you leap.

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