Sunday, May 23, 2010

General Kiani should put his Foot Down!

May 22, 2010
General Kiani should put his Foot Down!
By Saeed Qureshi
I am in no way suggesting that COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kiani should declare martial law. What I am saying is that he should take a firm stand in favor of the judiciary in order to get its decisions implemented. It is only the army that has the coercive power to prevail on recalcitrant and malicious executive.
Indeed democracy is there but it is being disfigured for ulterior motives and sleazy objectives by the main coalition party in power. That no ruling or verdict of the apex court is being willingly or dutifully implemented by the executive, is manifest to all. A lone ranger called Babar Awan is wielding his lance all around and tilting it at every move of the judiciary in order to subvert or thwart it.
The law and the legal system have been reduced to a state of paralysis. The upholders and custodians of the constitution and law are kicking around, throwing dust on the courts, and making a mockery of the entire judicial system that must be saved from those infringing it in full view of the entire world.
That the good governance is elusive and is being stymied by the government in a thousand ways of corruption, mismanagement and by misuse of power is writ large. The ordinary citizens' problems are disdainfully and sadistically overlooked because this is not a priority with the rulers and ministers. The whole system of public service stinks and is topsy-turvy.
Glaringly, the tussle spear- headed by the degenerate and corrupt ruling mafia is running amuck with the dignity of the institutions and decency supposed to be the hallmark of a civilized society. The power wielders look like rank hypocrites and compulsive liars, exhibiting duplicity and obdurate defiance and disrespect for the state, its institutions and for the people. The presidential palace has turned into a cesspool of intrigues and loathsome machinations to frustrate all such efforts that are aimed at streamlining the system for betterment of the people and good governance.
Neither President Zardari nor his point man Babar Awan made any tangible struggle for restoration of democracy in the country. They are wayside travelers who jumped into the cart while others were marching on the streets of Pakistan for human rights and against the whims of a dictator. The character and image of president Zardari down to Babar Awan is so much sullied that all the” perfumes of Arabia” cannot sweeten them. The confrontation with the judiciary of Pakistan as well as with the media and independent observers is being geared up by the inner cabinet of the president.
Why was all this necessary to browbeat the media and judiciary and launch a counter moves to circumvent the independence and esteem of these institutions: to save their skins from the inevitable retribution. No way that these institutions can be gagged or the dams of mud can be erected in front of the deluge of felonies and crimes these rulers want to hide and brook. If big criminals can be pardoned then let, all the goal birds must be released. Otherwise, all must face the law and get them cleared.
It is in the backdrop of this appalling scenario, the anarchic situation and gathering clouds of civil war that I urge General Kiani to step forward and take the initiative of getting the orders of the superior judiciary complied with by the executive, speedily and in letter and spirit.

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Do not Blame America!

May 22, 2010
Do not Blame America!
BY Saeed Qureshi
Honestly, America’s invasion of Iraq (2003 –to present) and the ongoing war in Afghanistan should be regarded as a blessing in disguise. Let us take up the Iraq war first. Saddam Hussain undeniably, was a merciless and rank opportunist whose only obsession was to perpetuate his power irrespective of the enormity of the cost. He was a threat and bully to the entire region. He ruled ruthlessly and with an iron hand that paled the brutalities of the pitiless dictators notorious in history for barbarism. He was neither a friend of the Arab states nor was the enemy of Israel. He had terrorized his own people to the extent that he brutally murdered his own two sons- in-law and made his daughters widows.
He was neither a democrat nor a legitimate ruler because he usurped power through intrigues and sustained it with an unrelenting bloodletting and horrific reign of terror and intimidation. I would not buy the argument that he was a legitimate ruler of Iraq. In his 24 years of fearsome dictatorship, he kept
Iraq embroiled in regional military conflicts that had economically drained Iraq besides isolating this amazing country with profound history into a pariah state.
A million humans perished in his triggered war with Iran (September 1980 to August 1988); at a time, when in Iran a new era of clerical rule had just begun. The two Muslim states both rich in oil and gas ruined their economies. That money that runs into billions of dollars could have been spent on the welfare of the people of both the countries. As such, he was an obsessive expansionist who was eager to annex land from Iran and Kuwait.
His unwarranted and entirely uncalled for invasion and annexation of Kuwait (2 August 1990) could never be justified by the best of jurists in the world. The territorial dispute between Iran and Iraq was a spillover from the past and could have been resolved by mutual parleys. Nevertheless, while the parleys were in progress, with massive military onslaught, he attacked and occupied Kuwait, a tiny country yet rich by oil and gas.
The pillage and atrocities committed by the Iraqi army on the defenseless people of Kuwait are simply hair-raising. The Iraqi soldiers, with rare abandon, raped Kuwaiti women. The museums with tons of gold and precious antiques were robbed before the dazed eyes of a stunned world. A coalition force from 34 nations led by United States liberated Kuwait from Iraq through an all out military offensive code named “Desert Storm “on February 28, 1991. The Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure was destroyed. As a result, Iraq’s robust economy was thoroughly battered. Because of these ambitious ventures, Iraq turned into a poor and isolated country.
Again, I would not buy the argument that it was America that inveigled him to attack Kuwait to justify a military offensive against Iraq. Was he insane or lunatic that he got puffed up by a plot that he did not understand was sinister and could spell disaster for the regional stability as well as boomerang against Iraq in the form of global condemnation, leaving Iraq with a stigma of a rogue state in the region?
Just picture if you can, what could have been the shape of things if Iraq has defeated Iran and occupied her territory, followed by the occupation of Kuwait. Would he remain content with two stupendous violations of the territorial integrity of two neighbors? He would have satiated his unbridled ambitions to further move and swallow Saudi Arabia and Jordan, if not Syria. Saddam was a typical freakish example of a tyrant who would knock down any obstacle that would come in his way of fulfilling his wild dreams. He was an incorrigible regional bully and a monster of fear and ruthlessness for his people.
I would not buy yet another argument that he was a formidable Arab or Islamic bulwark against the Israeli might in the region. The gnawing question is why he remained docile and unprovoked when Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor being constructed in Osirak in 1981? Thus remaining unresponsive to such a colossal event he proved that he was a paper tiger when it came to facing the real threat. He was on the vicious move to invade the Arab territories because these were militarily weak. However, in case of Israel’s attack, he remained dumb and deaf, as if the destruction of Iraq is nuclear reactor was a trifling. His so called Republican army proved a pack of straws that were blown away by the very first thrust of American troops in the desert of Iraq.
Most of the Iraqi military hardware, tanks, and vehicles were destroyed by the American bombing. Still he would pose himself as a savior of Islam and the hero of a completely suppressed nation. He had no right to remain in power after so many defeats and debacles on the war front. Albeit his army was an oppressive and blood sucking devilish force for his own oppressed people.
Let us turn our eyes to the war in Afghanistan. Put your hand on your heart and honestly say that the Taliban are the genuine votaries and legitimate practioners of a real Islam. No they are not. The Taliban cult is the creation of peculiar circumstances that emerged after the sudden exit of American forces from Afghanistan as well as the elongated internecine fighting between the warlords. The Taliban prevailed because they proved to be more ferocious than the warlords who were weakened by years of mutual Bloody conflicts.
While the warlords were fighting for ascendency and power, the Taliban had religious fervor that initially, was supported and welcomed by the people of Afghanistan mauled by a prolonged civil war. However, when they became rulers, the kind of religious outfit they established in Afghanistan looked like that of Middle Ages with removal of minimum vestiges of humanism or modernity. The country was turned into a prison and a place for award of terrifying punishments to the violators of the straitjackets of their obscurantist rules.
By no standards could it be called an Islamic state or even a caliphate because it banned the modern comforts on the people. They forced the people to look like a Muslim by bearing beards and by adopting similar cosmetic frivolous symbols. The religion of Islam was indeed worst served by Taliban in Afghanistan. Islam that exhorts tolerance and advancement became the instrument of physical painful punishments and torture and an island of barbarism and cultural darkness.
Now in this scenario, America enters for her own reasons, most visibly to capture Osama Bin laden and his murderous group Al -Qaida who by that time had reversed their role of Islamic fighters for the free world to the enemies of America. Whatever the reasons, the scourge of Taliban could be challenged only by a mighty country with enormous financial resources and unparalleled military splendor. The Taliban hordes with their connections in the tribal areas and rest of Pakistan, could have moved beyond the frontiers of Afghanistan for spreading a convoluted pattern if Islam. Had they swayed Pakistan, the Pakistan army would have been forced to counter them entailing huge financial and material resources, which could not be economically sustained for long.
If analyzed objectively, America is engaged militarily against a small group of Islamic militants who are also not favorably viewed even in the Islamic world. The Taliban and other militant groups are enemies of a modern state and culture. These fanatics are braced against the civilization and the entire world irrespective of the division between Muslims and non Muslims. If they considier Christians and Jews as enemies of Islam, they also label the modern Islamic states as anti-Islamic. So they are common enemy of both Muslims and non Muslims. Their worldview and philosophy of religion is drastically different from other mainstream Muslim creeds and beliefs.
Despite all the military power that America is exerting to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaida, these groups cannot be totally annihilated by America or NATO forces alone. They can be effectively and conclusively marginalized or debilitated by the enlightened Islamic societies themselves. This means that the people in the Islamic countries should be motivated not to harbor or support these obscurantist elements that would on one side distort Islam and on the other push the societies to the dark ages. The modus operandi of spreading their religious ideology is through intimidation and terror tactics.
Therefore, there should be two-pronged thrust against these agents and brigands of darkness and decandence. One on the military front: while the other by modernizing the society through education, mass awareness and by creating soci-civic galore. The antiquated religious seminaries that cultivate narrow mindedness, fanaticism, and bigotry should be closed because these represent a parallel decrepit educational system, which is not worth a dime in the modern time resplendent with technology and scientific advancements.
If the societies and the people turn liberal, progressive, are well fed, well educated, served with good health care facilities and civic comforts, why should they prefer to embrace moribund social or religious dogmas that are patently discordant with the modern culture, spirit of the time and even with the pristine religious tenets. This socio-cultural and mental revolution would make all the difference. These elements would feel outcasts and would diminish in number and militancy as the time passes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secretary of State Clinton is losing Her Cool!

May 12, 2010
Secretary of State Clinton is losing Her Cool!
By Saeed Qureshi
Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, the former first lady and a charming person, is losing her cool. Such are the pressures of international diplomacy and the strain and stress of tricky minefield of interstate relations. As the former first lady and the better half of a popular president Bill Clinton, notwithstanding his lewd proclivities, she seems to not learn the intricacies, pitfalls, twists and turns in the domain of foreign relations. Her sentimentalism has taken better of her when she lambasted Pakistan for a crime for which, in no way, can it be held responsible.
A person, who gets his education in the United States, marries here, has a wife and children, a good job and not a lousy life, plans in his convoluted mind to commit a dangerous deed which if carried through would have caused great calamity. Now incidentally he descends from Pakistan like countless others from other countries. He remained all these years encompassing almost a decade in a state of oblivion like other expatriate folks.
The only emphasis that is being repeated is that he was a Pakistani with links with Taliban. It would be, to an extent digested as far as the media (fond of sensationalism) and people with narrow mindset are concerned. But for the U. S. Secretary of State to despise and castigate Pakistan for the act of an individual who has already lived in America for over a decade and that too in rude and rough language is incredibly bewildering.
President Clinton and Hillary Clinton nurse a soft corner and tilt for India, and it is no secret. But to denigrate and undermine the dignity of Pakistan which is another important state in the Indian subcontinent and to use bitterest diction against a friendly country is patently the display of an unlovely diplomacy. The position of Secretary of State is extremely sensitive and tremendously responsible. A single wrong word can make the difference and can be variously interpreted; all the more of the American foreign minister who sets the tone of the global politics and international diplomacy.
As such she has thrown a clumsy spanner into the bond of trust that has so far existed between America and Pakistan as allies in the historic war on terrorism. In her fuming interview given to CBS TV channel, she has used very sour and strong language imparting an impression that it is not Faisal Shehzad but the state of Pakistan or its institutions or some individuals within the establishment that were behind such terrorists. The phrase of severe consequences is heavily loaded and can be elaborated as the invasion of Pakistan to the extension of pilotless Drone attacks to the territory of Pakistan. It can as well mean taking back the naturalized citizen status of Pakistani descendents which they earned by dint of hard work and as lawful residents of this great country.
Secretary Hillary has proven to be novice and hasty in apportioning blame and hurling accusation on a close friend of United States whose armed forces are on the forefront of a conflict that is being written with blood of its soldiers. The astonishing victories that Pakistan army have scored in the inaccessible tribal regions of Pakistan must be the envy and mere dream of such military networks as NATO that is languishing for years in the sandy soil of Afghanistan without any worth mentioning achievements. Hillary forgets all these glaring facts and chooses to pinpoint Pakistan for a highly uncalled for censure.
Beyond plunging its army into war front and sacrificing human lives, entailing fatalities, suffering from monetarily losses, indigenous terrorism and social upheaval, what else Hillary expects of Pakistan to do. Pakistani leaders and the army commanders do not possess esoteric knowledge that they should inform the American authorities well in advance that someone was up to a grievous mischief and was about to resort to terrorism. Thus they can catch him before he spills disaster and pre-empt and foil the nefarious attempt.
This is exactly what the threat of Madam Hillary connotes that if there was any further such act of terrorism from a Pakistani naturalized person, it would be Pakistan that would be made to suffer seriously. So in order to save herself from American wrath and from the projected threat, Pakistan should devise a way how to forestall such a threat and convey that to America well in time. Only thus can Pakistan be immune from the revenge of a friend for whom it is spilling its soldiers’ blood and suffering civilian casualties from suicide bombing. It can be only wished if Pakistan had known such magical powers and occult knowledge to forewarn America about an impending tragedy.
The remarks of Hillary have left most of the Pakistanis aghast. The Army appears to be perplexed; the political leadership is taken a back and is utterly non-plused how to justify its war on terror on behalf of America. There is a roaring storm of bitter reaction from the people of Pakistan who question the sincerity of American friendship and trust that is shot away on mere suspicion. They question if Pakistan is repaid and returned this kind of compliment for the mammoth work it is doing for America, then it hardly matters whether you fight for America or not, becuase at the end of the day you will get a scornful rebuke and a thankless rebuff.

The mutual bond of trust that has been severely dented by Madam Hillary’s emotional, frenetic and frivolous anti Pakistan outburst cannot be repaired so soon. To claim that lower level minions know about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda , Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is ostensibly a preposterous claim, which implies that that Pakistani agencies or officials were sheltering these dangerous individuals and were clandestinely in league with each other . In her blitz of castigation she did not much appreciate Pakistan’s monumental and blazing feats on the battlefield.
So Pakistani leadership and the army bosses must be in a quandary about the usefulness of Pakistan’s military cooperation with NATO and the United States. They should be under the cogent dilemma whether to carry on this thankless military offensive that has brought more harm to Pakistan than to the NATO forces. Pakistan got a filthy nickname of American stooge and a mercenary because of its alliance with America in the fight against the radical Islamic militants.
Shall Secretary of State recant from her harsh and uncharitable remarks against Pakistan and thus put a balm on the wounds that she has caused to Pakistani nation? She is under obligation to assuage the hurt feelings of the people of Pakistan.
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Why Blame Pakistan?

May 10, 2010
Why blame Pakistan?
By Saeed Qureshi
In the wake of failed terrorism attempt by a naturalized American citizen with Pakistani origin, the entire American electronic and print media is up in arms against Pakistan. A case is seemingly being made against Pakistan as if it was the nation or state of Pakistan that was behind this most condemnable attack. In the heat of their pent up partisan discussions and slanted debates and misleading talk shows, effort is being made to tarnish and target Pakistan forgetting that the young man who committed this vicious crime was legally an American citizen. It is also being conveniently ignored that the person who saved the havoc that may have been wrought was a Muslim from Senegal who tipped the authorities about the parking of an abandoned car.
In the wake of the free for all and bereft of a rational approach and mature view of this diabolic act of terrorism, the American media along with the anti Muslim elements overlooked the yawning and incontrovertible fact that Pakistan is also under attack from Taliban who should not be categorized as Pakistani or Afghan Taliban. Taliban on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan have their own identity and way of life. Even if there is Punjabi Taliban they are outlaws and fighting against Pakistan also.
The world at large and particularly the well-informed American and Western media must be knowing that Pakistan’s armed forces, after heavy fighting and countless casualties of its soldiers drove the tenacious Taliban militants out of Swat and South Waziristan. It is still fighting against the Taliban and Al-Qaida and other brands of militants in the tribal areas and gradually weakening their power and flushing them out of the remaining areas. It is such an epic struggle and brilliant performance with sterling achievements that should be thumping and generously applauded by the Western press.
Regrettably, it is not being explained that Pakistan and United States were both waging an historic fight against these fanatical militants who are enemies of both Pakistan and America. The imperative of honesty should also impel the myopic critics to not mention Pakistan with a disdain or malicious undertones as if the whole Pakistani nation was conspiring and training these barbarian enemies of civilization. The Taliban’s version of Islam out-rightly militates against the faith of the 99 percent people of other Muslim faithful who are peaceful and who abhor terrorism as much as the Americans do.
It is stunning that why Pakistan’s glowing sacrifices and phenomenal military onslaught against a common enemy Talban do not find any mention in the Western media discussions, opinion columns and editorials. A lone, stupid, insane individual’s sabotage attempt is being labeled and attributed to Pakistan with complete yet vicarious disregard to Pakistan’s monumental role in curbing and quashing the terrorism. The rationality and objectivity has taken leave of the best of media brains and the so known and recognized free press of the United States.
How can one accept the partisan roll coaster propaganda against a country and nullify the meritorious accomplishments of an ally becuase one single man from the blue has acted in an inimical way. The American press in a fair and honest manner should have isolated the sinister attempt of Faisal from Pakistan and given credit to Pakistan for rendering supreme sacrifices in fighting against the Taliban and the people of the Ilk of Faisal.
In this regard the warning issued by New York Mayor Bloomberg that ethnic back-lash against Pakistani living in new York would not be allowed is so timely and welcome. In his May 4 press statement he cautioned, “I want to make clear that we will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers. All of us live in this City and among any group there are always a few bad apples…” The American media should take a cue from Mayor Bloomberg and exercise caution and restraint instead of blowing up a blame game that is patently wrong morally and can trigger serious trouble for the American citizens or residents with a Pakistani background.
The result is that the community that hails from Pakistan has come under an enormous strain and burgeoning pressure and suffers from a paranoid of retaliation against them by individuals or groups who may jump to a vendetta. This is an overwhelmingly alarming situation that has to be preempted by sober pronouncements and stern assurances by the federal and state administration against the hate or reprisal attempts by unscrupulous elements after listening to the anti Pakistan venomous and slanderous propaganda or unguarded media zeal.
The Us administration should not waste time in exonerating Pakistan from the sole action of a US citizen instead of identifiying and labeling him as a Pakistan Taliban that gives mistaken message about Pakistan. At the same time Pakistan’s grand efforts and remarkable victories over the ferocious Taliban should be widely eulogized and generously acclaimed as a unique watershed that has brought formidable saving grace to the United States thanks to the valor of Pakistan army. It is an utter injustice to Pakistan if it’s wantonly accused for such isolated incidents despite its commendable role in favor of United States, a performance which should be rewarded and highly valued instead of mounting a mindless finger pointing by American media against Pakistan.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lashed out at Pakistan, indirectly implying the complicity of Pakistan in the incident committed by a lone individual. In her overly undiplomatic and profusely emotional outburst she threatened Pakistan of dire consequences if another incident of similar nature happens. In one stroke she has demolished and watered down of what Pakistan has done so much against Taliban and for the sake of the United States. In that a veiled excuse for extending drone attacks over to Pakistan’s territory?

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where is the Leader?

May 7, 2010
Where is the Leader?
By Saeed Qureshi
I am not a prophet of doom but I deserve a right to be despondent about the murky situation in Pakistan. Honestly, I don’t visualize a plausible picture of Pakistan. With a rogue law minister, would any one entertain the slightest perception that law would be allowed to take its course? The verdicts of the apex courts have been wantonly and obdurately thrown into lurch by the incumbent government with the law minister in the lead for such an abominable mission. “Upon my dead body” is his battle cry to the demand for producing the records pertaining to the Swiss courts. Is he trying to shield the president, the principal actor in the entire episode? Should it be construed as a service or a slap on the former’s face? Doesn’t it provide an implicit proof of the gubernatorial crimes now being swept under the rug?
With a corrupt and morally bankrupt coterie at the helm, the country has diminishing chances to come out of the dark woods it is groping in. The state’s Attorney General resigns followed by the law Secretary. Something terribly stinks in the ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs. The president gives immunity to both the Interior minister Rehman Malik and the Law minister Babar Awan not to be interrogated about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
The probe committee is lameduck and cannot mow a blade of grass and is said to be covertly in league with the law Minister who is assuming the stature of a monster not to be trifled with. He asserts that the Swiss cases are closed and not to be reopened. That assertion flies in the face of even a modicum of moral decency, besides contravention of the constitutionally binding orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. So here is a sordid stalemate that would erode whatever legal or judicial decorum is left.
The monsters of corruption mostly the people in power and specifically the legion of ministers are devouring money and shooting left and right under the sun and in full view of the harried and powerless people of Pakistan to amass as much as wealth by robbing the state funds, misappropriating the discretionary monetary allocations, throwing fabulous contracts to the friends or the highest bidders without blinking their greed filled eyes.
At the end of this never ending sleazy game they still remain as holy cows. No one can check their unbridled lust and misuse of powers for making a mockery of the law and infringing the basic norm of modesty which to say the least is bizarre and abominable.
There is an opposition, having some kind of tacit or covert understanding with the cutthroat cabal in power. There is a civil society crying in the wilderness for blatant violations of such sublime norms and values as the fundamental rights, kidnapping of the citizens by the secret agents under the fake suspicions of being saboteurs----Some have disappeared for years: no clue, no rescue and no explanation where they are. The target killings sprees between the rival groups or for personal vendettas or by the state intelligence agencies is taking place with immunity and with no chance of being checked or restrained.
There is an insurgency fast picking up in Baluchistan for an independent greater Balochistan. There is a war going on in the tribal belt of Pakistan entailing countess casualties of the armed forces. Whose war is this by the way? The watershed 7th NFC (National Finance Commission) award and the landmark 18th amendment have been rendered ineffectual and meaningless in face of the Baluchistan separation movement. There might be external forces stoking this fire and there might be an indigenous movement and volatile sentiment for separation.
But why is there no breakthrough and some respite in the ferment of the parochial sentiment, getting out of control by the day? Lately, it has assumed frightening dimensions by way of target killings of non- Balochis. Does this appalling scenario is a replay, though of lesser intensity, of what happened in the erstwhile East Pakistan some four decades ago?
The contracts for import or export and for domestic or foreign sale or procurement for sugar, flour, cotton, fertilizers, steel, rice, gas, petroleum and all such essential products that are vial for the country and the industry carry a commission tag or kickbacks. This time it is not confined to paltry 10 per cent. For those in power to issue permits in complicity with the hoarders, the black-marketers, and the smugglers, have no bar on how much they are capable of making from the underhand deals.
There is no fear of chastisement for treasonous violations or disdainful disregard for the courts’ orders or the farcical accountability. Double speak is the order of the day and the ministers seem to have excelled in that ignoble skill. The predominant lot of Pakistani leaders both in power and out of power is adept in self preservation, aggrandisement and nepotism
There must be some concern for the woes of the people caught in the cobweb of scarcity and unbearable prices of daily necessities, power cuts, poverty, malnutrition, pitiable health and education systems, chronic corruption, insecurity, rap, highway robberies, break ins, adulteration of drugs and food, noise pollution, the environmental degradation, the police barbarities , extra-judicial and target killings, arbitrary arrests, the slow pacing of the justice system, the over -lordship of the phony clerics, the complicated regulations, the highhandedness of officialdom, the senseless dereliction of responsibilities by the elected leaders, members of parliament, and finally the inhuman sway of the privileged feudals, the heartless tribal chiefs, the ethnic and religious marauders.
The time is ripe for a revolution; the people are ready for a radical change: where is the leader?

Attack on Iran

April 29, 2010
Attack on Iran
By Saeed Qureshi
I would venture a bet that American attack on Iran is entirely improbable. The United States would not take this extremely risky undertaking, fraught with horrendous ramifications. The cardinal question is what for? Is it to keep her Middle East ally in good humor or to teach Iran a dire lesson for not winding up her nuclear program?
Israel destroyed Iraq nuclear reactor at Osirak way back in 1981 by massive air strikes. Later Israel did the same thing by razing a budding Syrian nuclear project in late 2007. There was no retaliation from these two Arab countries. Ever since Ahmadinejad has been the president of Iran, there are unremitting rumor mongering that, a la Iraq and Syria, Israel would launch punitive air attack on Iran to destroy her nuclear sites. But somehow, thus far, it has desisted from this stipulated insane adventure.
Now if America wants to embark upon this highly perilous path, in tandem or on behalf of Israel then it should ponder a thousand times before it leaps into that mindless assault or in plain words an audacious aggression against a sovereign country. While doing so United States must be supported and blessed both by Israel and Arab nations hostile to Iran. But it is not difficult to deduce that such a moronic and totally un- called use of power will have a disastrous spillover and lengthening shadows on the region because of the simple fact that the horrifying ramifications of such a massive air strike cannot remain strictly confined to the geographical boundaries of Iran.
It should also be kept in mind that Iran is not another Iraq that was under the impulsive throbbing of a dictator who neither had his roots in the people nor did he enjoy any mentionable trust or goodwill among his Arab counterparts. Saddam had isolated Iraq by his expansionist designs as borne out by his invasion of Iraq and a decade long war with Iran.
Iran, on the contrary, doesn’t suffer from such setbacks or blemishes. Iran is both ideologically and politically a united country. It’s a vast geographical contiguity. It’s rich by virtue of having large reserves of oil and gas. It has overcome its economic disabilities in three decades of clerical leadership firmly holding the reins of the country. It is a democracy although not in the stricter sense of American or Westminster formats of democracies. It holds elections and the elections by and large are fair and free, within the ideological framework provided by the constitution and religion.
United States has not been categorical in outright condemning Iran and closing the options and venue for interaction and dialogue. At present when U.S. is faced with a colossal economic crunch, it would be an utterly absurd and an extremely costly affair for her to repeat the same blunder that it committed by invading Iraq. Iraq’s invasion cost America a heavy toll of precious lives of soldiers, the infamy and economic bludgeoning of nearly 2 to 3 trillion dollars.
If Obama administration’s plank and philosophy is to repair America’s image as an aggressor country by overarching to the hostile nations with peaceful mindset and mitigating the conflicts with the Muslim world, such an attack would rob the incumbent American administration of its stated good will that it has earned in the meantime.
The global economy would tailspin and dash to the ground because it would not be a brief attack that would end once the job of destroying nuclear installations is accomplished. Even if the nuclear reactors or sites are destroyed, the Iranian nation would still survive and fight back as the Afghanis or Iraqis have been doing. But there is a difference between the anti American insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq and the one that would sprout out of Iran. Iran has a proper strong standing army and it has stockpiles of convential weapons. And above all it has a nation that has an indomitable will to fight because it is the only country that proclaims Shia faith and therefore it would assume a religious war: a war that would neither be contained nor finished by declaring, “The mission accomplished”.
It can be surmised that once Iran comes under attacks and suffers losses, it would be free to launch counter attacks against Israel which is not far away and for Iran to overrun it would not be a tall order. As we know about a million Iranians perished in their war with Iraq. They would die in millions more but would strike back with full force and fury. That situation might push the region and the world into the lap of a third world war: a conflagration that might terminate on the extinction of the human race. Would such a dreadful outcome suite any civilized country, not to speak of the United States.
If the fundamental objective of such a mission impossible would be to debilitate Iran’s nuclear capabilities then the same yardstick should also be applied to North Korea which daringly and openly decries America and defiantly admits possessing nuclear arsenal, no matter how few these might be in number or smaller in size or made of primitive technology. Still you can name these as dirty bombs. Why do Israel and America not think of taking a similar military offensive against the North Korea if the purpose is to clear the planet of nuclear weapons feared to be possessed by so called rogue states? If a dormant and diplomatic policy is applicable to North Korea why not to Iran?
I cannot give much weight and credence to the deliberations of April 14 Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing on Iran. According to press reports, In that committee the chairman, Carl Levin, pressed Michele Flournoy, the Pentagon’s under secretary for policy, , to “assure him that the military option remains, on the table”. Even Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen who earlier warned of the grave consequences of launching an aerial attack on Iran as the CNN recently reported, later supported such an action and told “the military to update contingency plans for such an attack.”
In the wake of these rumours, it has been reported that such deadly airstrike would be launched from Diego Garcia the base for U, S. B-2 stealth bombers. So the inferences being drawn are that it would not be Israel but America that would be in a “far stronger position to cripple Iran’s nuclear program” (New York Times).
But in all probability, America would not opt for opening another war front when already it is bogged down in two other fruitless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The doubts are being expressed that in retaliation, while Iran would choke the strait of Harmus hampering the global trade, it would also move ahead to provide stinger missiles to Taliban to intensify their insurgency against the NATO forces in Afghanistan. So this is not going to be a one sided show of annihilating Iran and paralyzing its nuclear capability.
As Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in his two reports published last year and this year concedes, “we may not have good enough intelligence to know where still-hidden facilities may lie”, implying that it could prove to be a counterproductive venture. It could as well plunge the Middle East into another inferno of bloody and internecine conflict. The fears are also rife that in that if faced with a “do or die” situation, Iran might shower Israel with ballistic missiles inflicting irreparable damage to her infrastructure and economy and exposing it to the rocket attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas.
Finally such a conflict might escalate into a third war theater when the humanity would be exposed to the spin chilling risk of being annihilated. Would that dreadful scenario that looks like a fantasy at present, justify such a dare devil use of blatant force. There is no gainsaying that the best and the saner option is to utilize the diplomatic and peaceful channels to find a way out of this imbroglio. There is a strong possibility that Iran would be ready to positively respond to such meaningful dialogue and diplomacy.

Electricity Nightmare and the Laughing Minister of Power

April 25, 2010
Electricity Nightmare and the Laughing Minister of Power
By Saeed Qureshi
Have you seen Pakistan’s minister of water and power in a jolly, upbeat mood during the Energy Conference? In his once in a century sermon, while absolving the government of overcoming the acute energy shortage, he instead has exhorted the hard pressed Pakistani to use electricity for fewer hours. Already the people can barely get electricity for 6 hours. The chaos resulting from power shortage is unrelenting and assuming horrendous proportions. The kind of measures announced by the freakish Minister of Water and Power are childish and ruinous for the society especially for the business and industry that are already in deep trouble.

It is like putting the cart before the horse. The government’s approach towards resolving this vital problem is cosmetic and would aggravate the chaos and turmoil that is driving the people to the level of insanity. Electricity is an indispensible necessity for human beings. From cooking to running a huge mill it is the electricity that is needed. If the government asks people to close their businesses by the sunset and go home which are also dark due to incessant power outrages and shaky voltage, the mayhem is bound to take place.
The minister of power should stop combing his creamy, shampooed black colored hair, discard wearing custom tailored suites and abandon putting up a smile on his face as if all was well with the state of Pakistan. Instead he should dress himself in rags as a token of lamentation for the woes of the dispossessed people. Is he unmindful that the citizens of Pakistan are in a state of complete paralysis and undergoing unspeakable suffering due to the short supply of electricity?
Instead that the government should tackle this challenge on war footing, it is demanding of the people to bear with the devastating, debilitating and crippling load shedding that has taken away their peace of mind. The whole Pakistan is in a state of protest and crowds of bedevelled citizens are expressing their anger and frustration by denouncing the government. It is a calamity that was never seen in Pakistan before.
Even a conjurer or a moron knows that the real panacea of this festering problem is not to force less use of electricity upon people but to increase its output in the shortest possible time. The problem is that the ruling junta views all nation building projects from the angle of self profiteering out of the deals that they would enter into with power producers. The pressure or the urgency that is evident from the woeful plight of the Pakistanis necessitates the generation of power within weeks if not days. The situation is being allowed to slip from bad to worse so that the rental power houses are accepted by the people without any uproar.
Like rubbing salt to injury, the government stalwarts make contrdictaory, confusing and false claims to rid country of load shedding in a specified period of time which never happens. They tag more power in grid stations with the flow of water into dams. Now this is an argument and a hope that is outright sham and nonsensical. By the time the dams are filled up to the required level of water, the harried people should keep suffering, the industrial units should work by intervals and the commercial activities should be curtailed.
To survive without electricity for 18-20 hours in this sizzling season is nothing short of a rigorous punishment for the people for no crime. Can one think of living even one minute without electricity in these times when several countries are surplus in electric power production?
Now the argument is valid that those who opposed Kalabagh Dam did it with mala fide intentions knowing well in advance that the country was going to suffer from power shortage in the future. These are the same people who got their piece of humble pie via 18th amendment. They are gloating over their triumph for getting an ethnic name of the province but would sleep over the anguish of the people without electricity for better part of the day. Had they been favorably disposed towards larger interest of the country, they should not have opposed the Kalabagh Dam in the first instance.
Secondly if the government in power wanted to meet their long standing demand by renaming the NWFP province, these guys in return should have been asked to agree to the construction of Kalabagh Dam. The provincial grudge and the hidden rancor against Pakistan came in the way of completing this vital dam that would have saved the people from this ongoing malady and affliction of colossal order.
I have been personally concerned with the appalling civic situation in Pakistan. I have voluminously written to various successive governments in Pakistan to devise a compressive and long term plan for modernizing the deteriorating and antiquated civic system in Pakistan. There has been no marked improvement over the municipal system established by the British before the partition: the same open drains and manual system of cleaning the toilets and streets. The working of the local bodies and municipalities is infested with corruption and inefficiencies and lack of vision to solve such human problems as providing water, disposing of sewerage, building roads, running public transportation and adopting modern techniques to sweep roads and public places. This is called bad governance.
At the same time I have been impressing upon the governments both at center and in provinces to foresee and preempt the crisis that would erupt due to water and power shortage. I have sent to them concrete and well researched plans how to conserve water and generate electricity without much hassle and expense. The response has been formal, lukewarm and evasive to such well meaning offers. I came to the conclusion that the leaders, who come to power through a flawed and easy to manipulate ballot system, either do not possess the vision to modernize Pakistan by way of latest and abundant utilities and social services or intentionally ignore their responsibilities to serve the country. Whatever the reasons, the abysmal state of affairs is before us. The whole country is debilitated and the people going hysterical.
For a change the offer to streamline the civic mess is being renewed once again from this forum. Those of my readers who can read through this column must convey it to the higher authorities, that there is person from Pakistan now residing in America who has a profound pain and concern for his countrymen and has some very viable plans to harness the energy and water resources, without much cost and labor. Pakistan needs to radicalize, from top to bottom, the governance of cities and provinces. The western countries and specifically America during its early stages after independence faced the similar soci- civic problems. They solved these problems with prudence and diligence and by adopting such city management systems that changed the complexion of urban and rural life now bustling with comforts and bounteous civic services.
The governments in Pakistan must be mindful about the rapidly growing population and further breakdown of the facilities that are already fast depleting. If cities are not governed with farsightednss and far reaching civic plans and if the institutions like railways are not modernized and systemized, the society would plunge into a complete civic anarchy. A gubernatorial national reconstruction effort is imperative to arrest the population explosion that is outpacing and devouring the existing facilities at a much faster pace than at what these are being created.
Pakistan is fast turning into a slum due to blind, myopic, incoherent and haphazard plans and policies in regard to governance. Pakistan can take a cue from the western countries as to how they embarked upon civic order and injected sanity, established respect for law and created a city governance system that runs so efficiently and smoothly. If we can implement, let us say, the American city and county system by a fraction we can make a big breakthrough in easing the lives of citizens in Pakistan. Who is going to take up this cudgel? And if someone like me offers his services would the myopic bureaucrats, fond of cumbersome rules, listen to such calls coming out of sheer concern and patriotism for one’s own people and country of origin?

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