Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who killed Dr. Imran Farooq?

Upright Opinion
Who killed Dr. Imran Farooq?
By Saeed Qureshi
September 18, 2010

The London Metropolitan police known as the New Scotland Yard would be able, in due course, to unravel the assassins of the founder member, former convener, and deputy convener of MQM, Dr. Imran Farooq who was stabbed to death in Mill Hills locality in London last Thursday.

But presently it is an incident shrouded in mystery. The culprits cannot be captured so soon by any mechanism until the London police gathers enough evidence and connects strings related with the murder. In the meantime, the police has shifted Dr Imran’s wife to an undisclosed place for either safety or for investigation.
Presently, media and other sources are expressing and analyzing various aspects and motives behind Dr. Imran’s assassination, a high profile member of the MQM though presently estranged and rather disgruntled with MQM. One of the fingers being pointed out are towards the high command of MQM that may have been wary of Dr. Imran’s being the repository of many crucial secrets of this party that if spilled could land this organization in deep trouble.
It is a well know fact that Dr Imran was not having quite cordial or even normal relations with the top leadership of the MQM for quite some time. This strained and sour nature of relationship can be gauged from his expulsion from the MQM two times and suspension four times. He was under suspension and cut off from the party and its leadership for over two years until his death.
While living in exile that he chose with Altaf Hussain simultaneously, he kept a distance from his overbearing boss in the last several years and according to reports, they hardly spoke with each other except on very few occasions. He was an asylee like Altaf Hussain and was leading a low profile and modest life in London.
There is no gainsaying that there is certainly a sinister plot and well laid out conspiracy behind the murder of Dr. Imran whose role during the pioneering stages of MQM (previously Mohajar Qaumi Movement) was that of an ideologue, a planner, and an architect. But the leading cause for his estrangement or disenchantment with the party was its paradigm of functioning as a closely-knit mafia organization that tolerated no dissention or even criticism on the party boss.
It is also being rumored that perhaps after being in political limbo for such a long time, Dr Imran was in the process of launching his own political party although he was still a member of the party though under suspension.
The conditions, under which Dr Imran who came to London in 1992 was killed, are murky and appear to be intriguing. If he was safe and lived normal life for about 18 years how come that all of a sudden, he was put to death at a stage when he was like a spent force as far his political career was concerned.
If it is true that before his death he had participated in a special meeting convened in connection with the celebration of MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s 57th birthday, then there seems to be more than meets the eye. Although a grief, stricken and sobbing Altaf Hussain looked to be totally devastated by the tragic death of a very close former colleague, yet if the occurrence of the meeting is established then the case will take a new turn.
There is also another possibility that gang war that has been simmering between the rival Mohajar factions, (MQM Haq Prast led by Altaf Hussain and MQM Haqiqi led by Afaq Khan), all these years has spilled over to England. Dr. Imran’s murder might have been also committed by perpetrators and elements that might be hoping that it would somehow implicate the MQM, especially this party’s chief so that their revolutionary mission of rooting out feudalism and reaching out to the rest of Pakistan is nipped before it comes to a full bloom.
Dr. Imran was from Bihar and therefore was known as a Bihari Mohajar with sizeable backing within MQM. It has not yet been established if he had been meeting with MQM’s (Haq Prast) rival group Haqiqi headed by Amir Khan and Afaq Ahmed now in jail for quite some time. That one clue if proven would give a new dimension to the death mystery of Dr. Imran Farooq.
Since it is too early to preempt or predict anything even for the best of future tellers, let us wait which way the investigation of Scotland Yard goes and how the layers of this very cold-blooded murder of a high profile political figure are peeled off. But keeping in view the past outstanding performance of British police there is every possibility that finally the real assassins and their backers would be unearthed.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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Writing of FIR in Pakistan

Upright Opinion
Writing of FIR in Pakistan
By Saeed Qureshi
September 17, 2010
The FIR (First Information Report) is a complaint lodged either orally or in writing with the police by the victim of a cognizable offense or by someone on victim’s behalf. The FIR is a fundamental document that massively affects the outcome of a crime or offence. Much depends as to how the FIR is written by the police.
It is rather a strenuous ordeal and in specific cases, a tall order to get an FIR registered with the police whether based on facts or fabricated with false information. If FIR is not registered, the case cannot be prosecuted in the court of law. If there is a strong party on the defense or those against whom the report is being lodged, the report would seldom be written or if written, it would be heavily tampered with and look frivolous.
It is the SHO (station house officer) or in charge officer of a police, station or his appointed person within the police known as Muharrar who normally write the FIR. If the SHO (station house officer) refuses or dithers to write a report, he cannot be forced by any means to enter the report unless some high up asks him or he is heavily bribed. For small and insignificant offences as a street brawl or money matters, he may ask his minions to register the complaint but for high profile cases including murders, he clearly sees a mouthwatering opportunity to make a big buck.
So invariably, the immediate tussle after the incidence of crime between the rival parties is, to make the SHO (station house officer) agree to write an FIR that favors them. While the victim party may normally want the bare facts or exaggerated version to be recorded, the defendants may pull their strings to dilute the piquancy and punch of the report with a view for the case to be finally dismissed or entail a minor sentence. In this tussle, the principal beneficiary is always the SHO and his staff with hefty gratifications.
Writing of FIR is practiced in three countries namely India, Pakistan, and Japan. In India and Pakistan, it is a legacy from the British colonial rule. As far Japan, I am not aware how they introduced this practice in their justice system for the registration of a crime in a police station.
The form on which the FIR is written needs to be drastically modified or redesigned. This form is the same all over Pakistan and is photocopied over and over again. In the past when the photocopying system has not yet been in vogue, the forms were cyclostyled and used for the FIR. The FIR is written by the police mostly in vernacular Urdu and in the typical jargon or diction of the police. You will find as if the pages of the form are moth-eaten or covered with sleazy lines, scratches, and dots.
Elsewhere in the world, while the system and mechanism of writing the reports of crimes and law breaking has been radically transformed and updated, it remain in India and Pakistan like a sacred antiquated exercise.
Even the high profile murders in Pakistan such as that of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the eldest son of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto were written after enormous delay. Even the delayed versions were watered down ostensibly due to ulterior motives. Since these FIRs have not been made public for everyone to see, no one can figure out if these contain facts or were heavily loaded with ifs and buts to favor the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.
The video-recorded gruesome murder of two young boys in Sialkot does not need any FIR, proof, or witnesses. The whole of Pakistan and even the entire world has seen the killers bludgeoning and lynching the helpless victims. Yet the FIR written by the police against their own counterparts or influential individuals was heavily forged. It gave out an impression as if there was a scuffle between the two parties that grew serious and in the course of that conflict the two brothers died.
Can there be a more brazen travesty of a crime to which the whole world is a witness but which has been falsified and diluted by the collaborators in police and with the connivance or compulsion of the powerful local lords. The judicial commission inquiry report entirely contradicts the police FIR as also rejected by the whole of the country. Such is the mala-fide nature of the report written by a mindless havaldar or a heavily pressurized police constable.
The countrywide uproarious protestations by the people of Pakistan, the widespread show of sympathy and support by the establishment from top to bottom, the visits of top notches of Punjab government to the house of victims, stand nullified and rendered ineffectual in face of an FIR written by a small minion of police whose legal expertise is as faulty as his fairness and impartiality are dubious.
Then comes the medical report. Put your hand on your heart and solemnly declare if a doctor’s report was at all necessary in this public lynching case of two defenseless souls. And if it was a legal requirement then beat your breast that doctors assigned to conduct autopsy reported that there were injuries on the bodies of deceased caused by mutual fighting and exchange of blows.
Do you still believe and pray that Islam has its deep impact on the morals of the Pakistanis who never tiring of professing Islam in face of sacrilegious overtures from the non-Muslims. Also solemnly state that with such loathsome government functionaries, can Pakistan survive and has a right to survive whose doctors put dust in the eyes of the entire fellow citizens of their country.
So FIR should be abolished and in its place, a more rational, reliable, scientific mode of registering complaints should be evolved. The FIR being a highly critical and sensitive document or statement should not be written by illiterate or less educated persons who are bereft of the various aspects and knowledge of the law and jurisprudence.
It should be assigned to the magistrates, judges, lawyers, either individually or as members of a legal board. The victims and the complainants should go to a court of law or an office for lodging their complaints and such courts or offices must remain open round the clock. This would inject authenticity, meaningfulness, and propriety in the registration of the case. It would as well diminish chances of perjury or bribe, as is now the order of the day. Such centers can be established within the precincts of the police stations.
It should be made mandatory to write an FIR without delay. In the present legal set up only the victim can lodge an FIR, though there can be a possibility that he or she is actually not the victim. It would, therefore, be in all fairness if both sides are allowed to file FIR and the court can later determine their falsehood or veracity.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Being Rich and Poor

Upright Opinion
Being Rich and Poor
By Saeed Qureshi
September 14, 2010
I was reading an interesting column posted at Yahoo news under the caption, “Rags to Riches: Self-Made CEOs Who Started with nothing.” Among these fabulously rich persons there are some self- made CEOs who were previously homeless. One of them when he was homeless even a penny was precious for him. Now with over 10 billion in his kitty, he can buy any material comfort under the sun. Even that desire must have reached a saturation point. With a mountain load of money the only drive that remains with him is to swell the wealth further.
Beyond a certain point, wealth loses charm for the gubernatorial wealthy people. From that point, the only penchant remains to enhance the volume of their opulence. It is a situation of wealth fatigue or disenchantment except an unflinching urge to add more wealth.
Wealth or money in simple terms is a great vehicle and instrument to make the best out of this limited and ephemeral life. The poverty simply is a curse that deprives a man even of the easy attainment of basic needs or comforts that are essential to lead a normal life. The disparity and disequilibrium in possession of wealth or means of buying in the society are so glaringly poles apart that one feels aghast at the yawning gap between the haves and have nots or the poorest and the wealthiest in the society.
This should be the dream for a person like me living on a paltry monthly income of $ 1000 to own personal jet aircrafts, or fly in first class, reside in palatial mansions, own the costliest cars, rub shoulders with top aristocracy and elite classes, oblige politicians with hefty donations and lord over a huge network of business and an army of subordinates.
For a poor person to come home at dusk with some basic food items to feed his children besides himself and his wife is a tall order. He has to jump out of his rickety bed the next morning, set off for his work that is as monotonous, and as dull as ditchwater. This insipid yet forced routine continues for decades until he retires and starts a new phase of life with wrinkles on his face, aging frame of body and aimlessly brooding and waiting for the monthly stipend check to come. So in essence, the life pattern remains the same except the passage of time that has sapped his energies and freshness of youth and he is gradually drifting to his end.
There are many billionaires who were born in extremely poor families and had to go through very harsh, humiliating and trying conditions for survival. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Howard Schultz, John Paul Dejoria, Li Ka-Shing, Lloyd Blankfein, Roman Abramovich, Sheldon Adelson, Slide pollajax, Ursula Burns, are some of the names of the persons who are known as self-made billionaire CEOs and who started with nothing.
For instance Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, grew up in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in New York City, saw his father lose his delivery job after breaking his ankle. Lloyd Blankfein, the head of one of Wall Street's most profitable firms, Goldman Sachs, is a Brooklyn native, who learned the value of a dollar "three cents at a time carrying trays of soda at Yankee Stadium."
The CEO of the multi billion-dollar software empire, Oracle, Larry Ellison the sixth wealthiest person in the world at the outset ended up going from one odd job to another, with just enough to survive on fast food and buy gas. Li Ka-Shing the wealthiest self-made billionaire in Asia with a net worth of $21 billion, was forced to quit school after his father died of tuberculosis, eventually finding work in a plastics factory where he worked 16 hours a day.
Take John Paul Dejoria, the co-founder and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, for example. Dejoria twice found himself homeless. Dejoria finally pulled himself out of homelessness only to have his products land in almost every top hair salon in the world.
All these people were paupers to begin with. However, with a mix of innovative mind, unwavering determination, and good luck, they finally became billionaires. There are innumerable stories of such persons who in their early life were starving, were homeless, or possessed very meager means of sustenance. However, today they not only roll in money but also are increasing their wealth by leaps and bounds.
But these are the stories of few individuals. The countless millions on the planet sleep hungry or without a proper meal. The luxuries of life as enjoyed by others with abundant or modest means are far away from these wretched or scum of the earth. Clean water, cool air and cozy and private environ of a home are simply unachievable fantasies for them. Such is the paradoxical cleavage of inequality of wealth among the human being.
I have seen even in America, otherwise, an unsurpassingly affluent country, human scavengers waiting outside the restaurants and eateries for the surplus of waste food to be thrown into the dumpster. They pick it up and eat without ever thinking these could be contaminated or would pose health hazard to them. This practice of finding wasted and discarded food for filling the furnace of belly is common phenomena all over the world.
If you have to see its fullest view, then go to any third world country, where food and jobs are scarce and hunger and starvation are rampant. This saddening spectacle is seen even in rich societies despite the fact that there are countless food banks and emergency food centers that cater to the helpless hungry human beings. In every city of America, there are agencies that distribute food to the hungry and indigents round the year.
There have been innumerable famines in the known history of humankind. These famines ravaged and killed millions of human beings. To survive desperately, hungry people ate the dead animals, stubs, and stock of the plants, the reptiles, and even the dead humans. The French Revolution took place because of hunger and high cost of bread and food. During one of the Pharaohs times the enslaved people ransacked the palace, forced the king to run away and the stocks of the grains were looted. Such is the power and compulsion of hunger.
In the Indian sub-continent alone 60 million people had died due to 15 famines from 1770- 1944. African continent has always remained in the grip of famines from ancient to the present times. However, even in such sullen societies the wealthy and rich people still survived and enjoyed life while the common people died because of starvation. The extravagant lifestyle of French nobility before the French revolution in comparison to the impoverished and downtrodden people offers the glimpse of that contrast.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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Terry Jones versus Rest of the World

Upright Opinion
Terry Jones versus Rest of the World
By Saeed Qureshi
September 10, 2010
A single fanatic Christian did what the entire Christianity in the present times has not been able to do: to blackmail the civilized world, especially traumatize the Islamic countries by audaciously trumpeting that on September 11, he will burn the Quran, the holiest religious code of the 1.25 billion Muslims around the world. Terry Jones the pastor of the non-denominational Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida singlehandedly, placed the United States government in the most embarrassing and awkward position and exposing the Americans all over the world and especially in Afghanistan to grave dangers to their lives. He has symbolized himself as the vanguard of those extremist elements that detest other religions especially Islam and the Muslims living in the Pluralistic society of the United States.
It is unbelievable that in 21st century an odd, isolated, unknown clergy has so much audacity to defy the American constitution, spite the Islamic world, and go ahead with an action that was patently outrageous and provocative, unchristian and un-American. After all Quran has been there all these centuries and yet what impelled a deranged pastor to rock the entire world with his insane obsession. The burning of Quran was aimed at expressing the hate and bigotry of the ultra right Catholic Christians towards Islam. That satanic spirit revives the hatred and an insatiate thirst to kill opponents in faith, as was rampant in the Middle Ages and during the crusades’ times.
The fervent imploring and the passionate requests and supplications of president Obama, the celebrated leaders of Jewish community and that of Christians, the serious concern of the Gen Petraeus and even the condemnation of Vatican Pope failed to convince Terry Jones to change his insidious plan. One may call it freedom of doing anything in the United States. However, Terry was not arrested on the charge of infringing the first amendment of the American constitution that guarantees freedom of practicing religions.
He was not pacified by any appeal until the secretary Defence called him and apprised him of the harmful ramifications to the American forces in Afghanistan. Robert Gates’ telephone call somehow persuaded the stubborn pastor to postpone his diabolic action on the condition that it was subject to the relocation of the Islamic center near ground zero to a new place. He has still kept the option of burning the holy book if that condition was not met.
I f this is not fanaticism or terrorism in board day light then how would someone define this most sinister act of an individual that would neither promote Christianity nor annihilate the erase the Muslims from the surface of the earth. Where do we draw a line between the most sought after terrorist Ben Laden and the present day lone Muslim basher? The American ethos and culture of religious freedom seems to be tattered by one individual who was deaf to the frantic calls of the entire world not to go ahead with his monstrous propensity. Muslims cannot respond by burning Bible because it is their sacred book also. Most of the substance especially pertaining to the ancient prophets is almost similar to what is presented in Quran.
The paramount question is: why this endemic and deep-seated hatred for Muslims in this country that is famed for it religious freedom and tolerance. In the wake of this earth-shaking event, Terry has fired the first glaring salvo towards fomenting clash of religions. Would it be in order if the American government enacts such a law that would prohibit demonstration of such brazen bigotry about other religions? This is imperative because if someone denigrates or derides others’ religions then the law should move against such a person.
If tomorrow, someone else like Terry Jones also replays the same sordid episode then will it not foment the same crisis over and over again? What is going to happen to the sanctity of the American constitution and the American spirit of liberty, openness, and egalitarianism that the American society so grudgingly protects? This tendency of professing or demonstrating hatred against other faiths must be nipped in the bud, before it assumes endemic proportions. It would be a kind of poisonous proliferation posing a new threat every now and then for the minority communities in this America.

(The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan)

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Pakistan Needs a Bloody Class War or a Third Political Force

Upright Opinion
Pakistan Needs a Bloody Class War or a Third Political Force
By Saeed Qureshi
September 8, 2010
Pakistan’s salvation and rescue lie in a bloody class upheaval or through the induction of a third political force. That political force or party should be essentially nationalistic, patriotic and people friendly. It should consist of the liberal intellectuals and enlightened professionals. Such a regime should replace the anti-people paradigm of governance imposed on Pakistan from its inception. Pakistan has remained bedeviled by corrupt and inefficient establishments, murderous Islamic insurgency, military despotism, and extreme lingering socio-economic backwardness
Pakistani intelligentsia and common people have been hoping against hope that one fine morning the bewitched country would come out of the persistent spell of doom and despondency. It did not happen and if happened it was for brief periods. These periods were the Initial three years after inception, followed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s five and half years of nation-building and repairing period. Finally, there are the two times prematurely cut short stints each of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. Presently it is again a civilian government with least credibility. In between the eras of ZA Bhutto and that of Benazir starting in 1988, Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo’s 3 years (March 1985- May 1988) in office, look like forlon candle in the eerie desert like darkness of Gen. Ziaul Haq’s ruthless military dictatorship. I am mentioning these periods in terms of their being semi or complete democratic dispensations.
Since these period looked like oasises in the political wilderness, these lack continuity, and consistency. As such, their time bound luster and efficacy vanished with their termination. The nation building is a continuous and perpetual process with inputs, of a dedicated leadership, the unbroken culture of democracy and zealous mobilization of the people towards that most coveted goal. Unfortunately, most of the time there has reigned in the country political anarchy that prevented the institution building and their consolidation via accountably, hard work, transparent utilization of funds or far-reaching strategies to keep the country on the tracks of economic vibrancy, political stability, and the creation of a civil society.
At the root of this national malady has always been unwillingness of the ruling classes to subordinate their personal interests to the supreme national goals. The sordid institutions of fiefdoms and feudalism have kept the society in two halves: those who were and are local lords and those who were and are teeming millions leading a miserable pattern of life that with the time passage, instead of improving, further deteriorated. The middle class considered to be the backbone of the economic strength of a society has been either diminishing or remained static.
In the absence of an accountable political system, hijacked by powerful pressure groups like big landlords, cut throat mercantile class, cocooned yet powerful bureaucracy, prying army generals, and unprincipled, lecherous politicians, this country has remained, for most part of its existence, under the lurking fear and oft-hurled label of a failed state.
Pakistan is in the dire need of a stout and sterling leadership that believes in self denial; a leadership that does not consist of cronies, puppets and rubber stamps of the foreign masters who have always used Pakistan for their own pound of flesh. It should not be a leadership that is driven by clannish, tribal, regional, or racial persuasions. It should be imbued with an undying spirit of sacrifice and dedication to serve the people.
While India with an enlightened constitution from the beginning and with a selfless leadership and stable democratic tradition is touching the benchmark of an excellent economy, Pakistan is mired in huge foreign debts. Pakistan’s predominant population is caught up into cobwebs of starvation, hunger, poverty, lawlessness, and bleak future. The floods have aggravated the intensity and scale of their miseries.
The prevailing political set up has surpassed all the previous governments into a totality of miserable failures for ushering Pakistan into a truly representative, and an efficacious system of governance. The government has tended to be perpetrator, abettor, supporter, and defender of mischiefs, blunders, and crimes and shielding those who indulge in such wrong doings. Leaving aside the life-size charges of corruption and making ill-gotten money, the sitting government has chosen to remain at loggerhead with media, judiciary, and civil society. It would defy courts orders, buy lawyers, engages in petty intrigues, will not accept its follies, shelter criminals including even the shady cricketers. All criticism whether well-meaning or otherwise becomes a challenge for the government to defend and fight out.
It is apparent that the pressing issue such as making long term development plans for the future, curbing target killings, reforming police, transforming education, health and police; boosting industries and agriculture; building wide roads and highways and forging unity between provinces are not in the SOS book of the government.
Therefore, the country needs a bloody class war as the people yearn for a change in the appalling state of affairs. The soft revolution has failed to work in this country. People cannot wait until the fruits of democracy ripen and ready to be eaten. There is a trenchant fear that the civil war raging in various parts of Pakistan may lead to its fragmentation like the cessation of East Pakistan. The democratic government having no intention, nor will to change the moribund status quo and halt the speeding deterioration cannot produce miracles, which is what the country needs. A surgical operation is called for but not by the army alone because army is not manned by angles, ascetics, or saints.
The social atmosphere has even more turned excessively bizarre and murky after religious militants have become a potent and lethal force in the society. The Swat saga is self-manifesting as to how they held their sway on a vast territory within a state that looked crippled in overpowering these agents of fanaticism and degeneracy. It was only the army that restored the writ of the state. The tribal regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the battlefields between the religious insurgents and the Pakistan armed forces. The tenacity of the Taliban and other retrogressive militants is proven by their dogged resistance to the military onslaught against them.
The religious militant outfits have been active for three decades and are poised to turn this country into a religious monastery of the Middle Ages. Their pseudo brand of Islam with its lethal sectarianism should be forcefully rooted like what Mongols did to the assassins in 1258.
So these ferocious religious factions have to be subdued for the normal Muslims within the polity to live in peace. The army alone cannot accomplish this task. People of Pakistan have to be galvanized and motivated to root out these obscurantist forces of backwardness and bloodthirsty sectarianism. The problem with the religious lot is that they have neither mercy nor any tolerance for peace and coexistence with liberal and secular sections of society. Their beliefs either hinge upon the total elimination of anti Islamic individuals or force them to live as unequal by accepting certain conditions. They do not believe in a civil society with values of equality, justice, and freedom. Moreover, they are split in various sects professing different creeds and beliefs. The existence of rival school of faith or jurisprudence is anathema to them. Hence constant warfare and incessant revenge killing between various sects.
The decade long French Revolution (1789-1799) ended the monarchy in France, routed the rapacious nobility, and liberated the state from the overbearing influence of the church. Roughly, 400,000 people perished in this upheaval including 40,000 killed during the period known as the reign of terror. Urban laborers, rural peasants, and the middle classes such as small traders launched it .The Revolution is, seen as marking the dawn of the modern era, liberalism, and enlightenment.
The other example of bloody class revolution is the Russian Communist Revolution that brought the proletariat or the common people into power against the privileged classes and monarchy. In a way American Revolution was more in the nature of a civil war against the British colonialism that also heralded liberalism and freedom. All these three revolutions were bloody that entailed countless deaths.
A replay of the French Revolution is the call of the time and an inevitable urgency to bridle the fast degenerating state of affairs. Before the wealthy, the elite, the nobles, and the aristocrats flee the country, they should be nabbed, and dealt with as the peasants of France did to their privileged classes in a bloody revolution starting from the storming of Bastille in 1789. The bloodsuckers, the local rulers like Khans, Sardars, fiefdom owners, the foreign agents and all those forces and groups and cartels that cut across the national fabric of harmony, progressiveness, tolerance, equality of opportunities, fair distribution of wealth, socio-economic justice, accountability and fair-play, must be dealt with maximum severity.
The entire leadership whether of the past or the present, in power or in opposition, should be exiled or incarcerated. Those with serious track record of crimes and misdeeds should be punished with varying sentences. It is a class war; the army should side with the revolutionaries to turn the tide against the landed aristocracy and public enemies in various grabs. it should be the privileged who should be eliminated. This is a decisive moment, a turning point, a milestone, and a new beginning to turn Pakistan into a modern state.
(The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan)

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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Middle East Challenge for President Obama

Upright Opinion
The Middle East Challenge for President Obama
By Saeed Qureshi
August 31, 2010
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will start direct talks in Washington on September 2. President Obama will not directly participate but would oversee the talks. The crucial talks are being conducted on the express wish of president Obama who is eager to find such a solution of the lingering issue of the Israel- Palestinian territorial dispute that satisfies both the parties. As preliminaries to the consequent solution, the issues of borders, security, Jerusalem, Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the fate of the Palestinian refugees would be deliberated upon.
In my reckoning president Obama would somehow broker some sort of a breakthrough towards an acceptable solution of the intractable conflict premised upon the creation of two states in the land of Palestine. Since the state of Israel is already in existence since May 1948, the solution squarely devolves around fulfilling the second part of the United Nations resolution No. 181 calling for the creation of two states in Palestine: one for Jews and the other for the Palestinian nation.
My optimism stems from Obama’s spectacular achievements in barely 18 months’ time that he has been the president of the United States. The Health Care Bill was signed into law by president Obama in March this year. This victory is stunning because all previous attempts to overhaul the health care system have met with failure including the one named as “Clinton Health Care Plan”. The Clinton plan that contained far-reaching proposals was defeated in both the House and the Senate, and was abandoned in September 1994.
For 62 years, Israel abetted by the United States has managed to defer the follow up action on the historic United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) adopted on 29 November 1947. The resolution called for the “termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the partition of the territory into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, with the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area being under special international protection, administered by the United Nations.”
Even the landmark Oslo Accord inked in Washington, DC on 13 September 1993, in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and US President Bill Clinton did not achieve the stipulated goals mentioned in the accord. One of the hallmarks of the accord was the consensus to address and resolve all the outstanding "final status issues" between the two sides.
All these years of strained relations between Israel and Palestinians there has been more bloodshed, more human sufferings and brutalities for the uprooted Palestinians. In the meantime, the leadership of PLO was divided in hardliner Hamas and the PLO itself occupying separate tracts of land.
President Obama’s second dazzling achievement is the firm adherence to his decision to end the combat operations in Iraq and withdrawal of American troops from that embattled country by the deadline of August 2010. He has stood by his commitment and the bulk of troops have already left Iraq. The remaining transitional force between 35000 to 50000 is scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. These remaining troops would stay back to train, equip, and advise the Iraqi security forces to deal with terrorism.
Although on December 1, 2009, president Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 military personnel to Afghanistan, yet at the same time he also proposed troops withdrawal to begin after 18 months from the date of the announcement, which means by June 2011. A part of military might remain in Afghanistan for the same purposes that have been earmarked in Iraq.
President Obama’s recovery and reform packages for the economic system and to remove the anomalies are already being debated and put in place. It can be expected that in the coming days, he would finalize his overhaul plan of the prevailing financial regime that presently favors the big companies at the cost of the common citizens.
His overreach to the Islamic world despite stiff opposition from the rightist and conservative forces in America is a giant step that can improve and refurbish the anti-Muslim image of America in the Islamic countries. Obama’s speech delivered at Cairo University in Egypt on June 4, 2009 calling for "a new beginning" in relations between the Islamic world and the United States and promoting Middle East peace, has been widely lauded as a big breakthrough and a radiant landmark in mitigating the misconceptions and hate about America.
The policy of military disengagements in Iraq and Afghanistan propelled by president Obama would untangle and free America from a spiraling debt burden and wasteful expenditure on wars being fought on foreign lands without any rationale or indispensably fruitful objectives behind these.
Had the trillion dollars spent on wars, that have practically gone down the drain, been spent on rebuilding America, this country would have been transformed into a wonderland of the world. So president Obama is shrinking the American global military involvement which factually is the most pressing and urgent priority for America. These are gubernatorial achievements and speak for the seriousness, vision, and sincerity with which the president takes his pledges made to the American nation.
Perhaps it would be only an astute person as Obama is to realize that flaunting military muscle was no more effective to intimidate the countries that are labeled as hostile to America or to curb the terrorist bands like al-Qaida by undertaking military adventures abroad.
America under Obama has also come to perceive the hard reality that how long America can nurse and nurture Israel as a foster or adopted child. This one sided pro-Israel policy has antagonized almost 48 Muslim majority countries or one-fifth (1.5 billion) of the world’s population for a tiny state of 7.5 million individuals always seized of defending itself with an incessant paranoid of siege. Primarily, these are not Al-Qaida, Taliban, Hezbollah, Shias, Sunnis, or Palestinians that have been deviating from peace in the Middle East but Israel with a stockpile of deadly and latest weaponry and with a mindset of utter defiance to the pledge for the creation of a state for the oppressed Palestinians.
So once America broker’s peace in the Middle East she would be liberated from an unending commitment to save and support Israel at an unimaginable cost in terms of weapons, money, putting off national priorities and even undermining its good image and integrity around the world and especially in the Islamic bloc.
President Obama, while monitoring and even occasionally participating in the critical parleys, would not want this rare occasion to be frittered away in mere gossiping and trading accusations or scoring points. President Obama faced with congressional elections on November 2 and a possible re-election bid in 2012, would like to expect both sides with definitive outcome as a concrete beginning towards a permanent peace in the Middle East.
The very fact that such talks are taking place after their suspension in 2008 under the close and watchful aegis of president Obama are bound to be result-oriented. If Obama has not failed so far in his domestic agenda, it is unlikely that he would fail in the Middle East imbroglio. He would be loathe wasting a unique opportunity that can bring him laurel of abiding honor and catapult him as a remarkable statesman for bringing about the elusive thaw in a situation that kept, hitherto, the peace in the Middle East on tenterhooks.
I therefore, have no hesitation to guess that the die is cast. Prime Minister Netanyahu despite his defiant and hawkish posture would have to budge under the prying eyes of a president who in case of a stalemate would have no compunction to scale down the unstinted guardian angel’s role for Israel. If Prime Minister Netanyahu disregards president Obama’s earnest desire and sincere efforts for a breakthrough then it could prove disadvantageous for the Israel. Whether Israel can still, afford to take that liberty with president Obama, would be manifest soon.
(The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan)
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The Deluge and its Aftermath

Upright Opinion
The Deluge and its Aftermath
By Saeed Qureshi
August 27, 2010
The mammoth deluge resulting from colossal rains and excessively swollen rivers might be eternally remembered as a myth sung by the future generations in their folklores. The mighty river Indus spelled disaster on both sides of its journey from mountain peaks to the last dip in the Persian Gulf. The floods would bring a demographic, geographic, and cultural transformation in the submerged lands of Pakistan.
The Biblical deluge of Prophet Noah that occurred in the distant past is a religious fable, shared by the three Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Although the details of that enormous deluge are sketchy, yet it bears out the fact that the deluges have been happening in the past too and with the same ferocity that, of late, has overtaken Pakistan. This unprecedented flood covered’s one fifth of Pakistan’s agricultural land, displaced over 20 million people, caused deaths of several hundred human beings, and perishing of countless heads of cattle and livestock. The economic miseries and losses due to fallen houses and ruination of crops are beyond calculations.
No matter how the man asserts himself scientifically and technologically, he would always remain at the mercy of the nature for both boons and banes. Nature ensures survival of living beings by creation of conducive conditions. Yet it equally marshals and unleashes catastrophic forces such as volcanoes, earthquakes and deluges entailing extinction of a whole civilization, a habitation, or an entire region. The sinking of New Orleans in United States in 2005 and devastation caused by 2006 earthquake in Pakistan are the recent manifestations of nature’s destructive power and outrage.
The deluge will give birth to countless stories both harrowing and of heroism. The people would narrate as to how before their eyes, a dear one, a father, a mother, a sister, or a brother, an infant or young boy was swallowed by the merciless lashing torrents. With equal vehemence, some would talk of a hero who saved some one from the clutches of sure death. Some of them would weep over the washing away of a buffalo, a cow, a bullock, or a horse that was the only source of sustenance for them. The loss of crops for both affluent farmers and poor tillers would be a severe setback both psychologically and economically.
The never-ending stories of the people marooned for days on a tiny piece of land surrounded by violent water waves would keep haunting the timid survivors. But others who came out after being so close to death would narrate it with bounteous gratitude to God who saved them.
The writers would write books reflecting the human miseries and the tolerance and the spirit to cope with the ramifications of a catastrophe that was destructive in its entirety. The films and stage plays too would portray the myriad dimensions between hope and despair and man’s perilous existence in face of a furious nature.
When the floodwater would finally settle in the ocean or confined to the riverbeds, the immense challenges are going to be hunger, poverty, stagnant water, diseases, and decomposed carcasses. The rebuilding of the ruined access roads, shattered bridges and destroyed orchards and standing crops would be an enormous undertaking.
Nevertheless, new generations would be born out of the unprecedented floods. The reality of overpowering floods would remain instilled in their memories as long as they live. The children who have witnessed the chaos will have their lasting scars and bitter memories stored in their highly delicate and impressionistic minds with some of them developing nightmares and mental traumas. The women would mourn their departed husbands and lament how they would resettle in life again.
Yet hope is integrally ingrained in the human nature. There are always new flames over the embers that turned into ashes. If winter were there, the spring would always be there around the corner. The despair and despondency are transitory. Invariably it is hope and a rekindled spirit to live that rebounds. The storm has passed and now tranquility would prevail.
Man in this universe vacillates between hope and despair yet keeps fighting for his survival. Grief and sufferings are always waiting in wings and seize human beings at a time no one can predict. So the villages that sank and vanished would be rebuilt and barns would be reestablished and, new flocks of cattle and livestock would kick again around in the village life. The submerged life of the rural landscape would be reclaimed indeed but not so soon. One can be certain that there would be a new soil, a new vigor, and a renewed determination to restore the galore of life.
The rehabilitation either sponsored and helped by government and aid agencies or done on self-help basis would take years if not decades. Mercifully, no deluge, howsoever, fierce and ferocious can take away the land with it. That is a miracle that even lightening, wildfire or volcanoes cannot gobble or erase an inch of land. So the unflinching hope is there. The soil can be reseeded and crops would grow again. That is the beauty of land in that it cannot be robbed nor can it vanish. Land is the mother of humans: it provides food, it gives sustenance; it is the ultimate source of human survival.
There will be a transformation in the worldview, attitudes, culture, mindset, and values of the people in the flood-affected areas. They would ponder about life, death, and similar mundane and metaphysical issues. May be the people discard the centuries old traditions of building mud houses and instead reconstruct their dwelling s with bricks and stones.
They might have a new awareness not to vote for those local feudal lords and big landholders who diverted the flow of leaping water to save their crops and villages. There might be a rebellious spirit aroused in the suppressed villagers to assert themselves in a freer and defiant manner against the oppressive landlords and selfish owners of fiefdoms, the spiritual figures, as well as the lethargic politicians who failed to respond to the call of duty in a crusading manner.
(The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan)
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