Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egyptians unleash their Pent-up Fury

January 29, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The Western press has been describing the Egyptian situation as discontent and unrest. It is a blatant mischaracterization of a cataclysm that heralds a revolution a la the French Revolution of 1789. If we can use the mild superlatives to sketch the enormity of this scenario, we can employ such terms as uprising, tumult, revolt, and a rebellion. This uprising is mounted against a discredited and odious system spawned by a civilian tyrant still impervious to the intensity of the conflagration that has engulfed the entire length and breadth of Egypt; between the lower and the Upper Egypt.
Egyptians tend to be revolutionaries as the history of this country bears out. It was some three thousand years ago that driven by hunger, the Egyptians rose in revolt against a powerful Pharaoh. They ransacked his palace, forced the elite and the privileged members of the then society to flee. They looted the food grain stocks and treasury. The time line between that revolt and the ongoing revolution against Hosni Mubarak, a kind of reincarnated Pharaoh, disappears because of the similarity of the outrage.
Hosni Mubarak, by profession is a journalist and a legatee of the Anwar Sadat’s legacy of reconciliation with Israel and subservience to their common mentor, the United States of America. He heads a regime that, on the face, looks democratic. But factually it is a controlled version of democracy spawned through rigging of ballot, spying over the people, promulgation of coercive laws, and state terror perpetrated through police and intelligence network.
The state of emergency means that the country is in a situation of war and faced with extreme danger to its survival. Under that state of emergency, the government has the right to arrest the people for any or no reason, and keep them in prisons without trials for any length of time. Under the cover of this draconian law, the police powers can be extended, constitutional rights abrogated, and censorship legalized.
One can simply imagine how insidious, unrepresentative and inhuman regime of Hosni Mubarik is that since 1981, the year he succeeded the slain Anwar Sadat, he never lifted the state of emergency. Egypt has remained under the diabolic Emergency Law since 1967, the year of war between Egypt and Israel.
During the despotic regime of Hosni Mubarak, until 1994, some 17,000 people were detained under the emergency law, while the number of political captives and prisoners of conscience was reported to be around 30,000.
The December 2010 parliamentary elections in Egypt were entirely farcical. As a result of preemptive media crackdown, mass arrests and banning of the opposition candidates, and unabashed rigging, the ruling party NDP won the elections with thumping majority. Such is the nature of state highhandedness in Egypt.
The trapping and addiction of power have stunted the ability of Hosni Mubarak to comprehend the gravity of the situation turning fiercer by the hours. All that he has been able to do so far is to appoint a vice president who is his chief of intelligence. This is such a ridiculously cosmetic measure as to bring more scorn and resistance to him. In these four days innumerable protesters as well as riot police members have either died or injured and there no let up in this escalating tally of the fatalities
The Tunisian earth shaking protests motivated the Egypt’s suppressed people to come out in the streets. Thus the historic “Day of Anger” began on Janaury25. In four day since the eruption of this revolution, countless officials buildings have been burnt, the curfew defied, the police forced to beat a retreat and army to remain docile in face of the unprecedented violence and fury unleashed by the unchained mammoth crowds of Egyptians united under one slogan, “exit of Hosni Mubarak”
Besides, scant socio-political freedom, Egypt suffers from chronic poverty with 40 percent of families living on a paltry income of roughly US $2 day. Egypt ranks 89th as the most corrupt country among 178 countries.
The Egyptian nation’s violent outburst reflects the cumulative backlash to the police and intelligence’s brutalities, the prolonged state of emergency, absence of free elections, unbridled corruption, virtual ban on the freedom of speech, acute unemployment, poor wages, insufficient housing, ever soaring food price, galloping inflation, and poor living conditions.
The redeeming signpost of this historic revolution is that for the first time, Egyptians from different socio-economic backgrounds and faiths have joined to knock down an odious and notoriously anti -people regime run by a person utterly insensitive to the appalling plight of his own people all these years.
President Obama’s and for that matter the American administration’s response to this grass root revolution has been rational and realistic. President Obama’s has impressed upon the besieged Egyptians president to unfurl immediately the socio-economic and political reforms that have been neglected under his rule for so long.
Whether Mubarak heeds a timely or sane advice of his mentor, would be known soon. But even if Mubarak announces the stalled reforms that meet the rioters’ demands, he cannot stay in power as the first and foremost demand of the raging protestors is his ouster. There is a very slim possibility that a totally weakened, humiliated, discredited and disgraced Egyptian president can stem or stop the tide of revenge and rebellion against his barbaric rule sustained by bayonet and black inhuman laws.
But the man among the Arab dynastic regimes who came to his support is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It is shameful and outrageous to see Saudi king decrying and condemning the Egyptian people struggling for their robbed rights by a person who ruled his country like a new born Pharaoh and a dictator with absolute powers.
The king himself lording over a family kingdom, is siding with a person who kept his marvelous country on the tenterhooks of stagnation through political repression, a fraudulent democratic order, draconian laws, police brutality and no less the abominable cronyism for the tormenters of the Arab people. Egypt, a leading Arab country with a glorious and rich heritage has been reeling under an exceptionally alienated, intimidating and corrupt regime run by a myopic head of state like a miniature of a ruthless Pol Pot of Cambodia.
Egypt has been surviving on the alms of the United States and the remittances of her expatriate labor force. One cannot see any major and notable reform that was put in place for the economic stability, social uplift of its people or for genuine representative and accountable system of governance.
Hosni Mubarak has no option but to srurender to the will of people. The brutal tactics by his army and police have failed to subdue the swelling crowds of fury- charged Egyptians. He will have to leave his country like Ali of Tunisia and find protection under the wings of a dynastic religious potentate king Abdullah, who is also destined to meet his ignoble end in the predictable future.
Similar horrific destiny would befall to the hereditary dispensations ruling their hapless people in a fashion as if the world was still existing in the mediaeval ages. The days of these outposts of family dynasties and hereditary autocracies are certainly numbered. No matter how stubbornly they resist, they cannot stop the inevitable.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

The Arab Masses Have Risen

January 25, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The loud and clear message from Tunisia is that despotic or authoritarian dispensations in the Middle East and beyond are destined to disappear sooner than later. Barring Iraq, all the governments in the Middle East and Sahara are family fiefdoms, sham democracies and hereditary possessions. The countries like Egypt have fake democracies as the same potentate returns again and again, through contrived and controlled elections, with intimidations, tampering of results and bogus votes.
People of Tunisia, Algiers, and Egypt are outraged against the tin pot yet ruthless rulers who have harassed their people for decades. These heads of governments or states are foreign quislings and mercenaries promoting the agenda of imperialist forces in their respective countries. In return they are assured all benedictions and security to their diabolic lordship over their people. These despicable potentates and suzerains inflict maximum possible brutalities and miseries over their own people and themselves live luxurious lives along with the morally and humanly bankrupt family members.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from Tunisia, Hosni Mubarik from Egypt and Abdelaziz Bouteflik from Algiers have usurped the empowerment of their own people for decades together. They have been ruling their impoverished countries under the garb of sham democracy but they are nothing short of despots or dictators who have suppressed their own people whenever they clamored for equality, democracy, fair and free ballot, accountability and socio- economic justice.
All these three heads of state have had the blessings and patronage of their foreign patrons. Their role has been like puppets dancing at the command of neo colonialists and imperialist who create outpost supervised by their chosen lackeys in order to get their hegemonic agenda implemented and enforced without dissent.
While the Tunisian president has already fled his country, in Cairo tens of thousands of protestors have demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Protests also broke out in most of Egypt including Alexandria, the cities of Mansura and Tanta, Aswan and Assiut. This massive revolt of the Egyptians is hugely incredible and a defiant counterpoise to the iron-clad and intelligence-based governance by Hosni Mubarak.
Hosni Mubarak has been the president of Egypt for thirty years now and even in the latest elections he won with blatant rigging and by adopting most intimidating and coercive methods to silence the detractors and critics. His stay in power has been with the studied and tacit approval of the West whose duplicity and penchant for selective democracy is not a mystery to be unraveled. If it is Iraq, it should be a truly democratic polity: if it is Egypt or Saudi Arabia, they can be authoritarian and despotic to any limit, provided they keep dancing to the tunes of their masters.
The people of these countries as also in other similar states, have been captives in their own lands of both the indigenous rulers and their string pullers from distant lands. These cronies would be ruthless and most oppressive to their own people but would be tamed and docile surrogates for the foreign masters.
These supreme bosses of their own countries do not feign any shame for their anti-people and treacherous role of serving the foreign masters but not their own people. The populaces of these three Muslim countries suffer from sub human living conditions and woeful degradations for decades while their rulers live in safe palaces with lavish lifestyle that characterizes a sharp contrast between the rulers and the ruled. And yet they call themselves Muslims and talk of Islamic virtues of justice, freedom, tolerance, equality and social welfare. There can’t be more sinister swindling and a more brazen dacoity on the rights of their own people.
The protestors are out in the streets against the unemployment, the lack of housing, unbearable food prices, corruption, and freedom of speech, against rampant corruption, for justice and for rule of law. These societies have kept closed and brutalized under most draconian laws and police crackdowns in the past. But that barrier of fear seems to have been lifted once a single man Mohammed Bouazizi’s in Tunisia gave his life through self immolation, an act of immense bravery, courage and self sacrifice.
The days of foreign agents, the local tin pot rulers, the mercenaries, the autocrats, plutocrats and political thugs in the dormant Middle East, slumbering for centuries first under foreign dominations, then by local tyrants, are numbered. The system of exploitation sustained on the supremacy of police and army, of aristocracy, of the elitist mafias, and sheikhdoms is now fighting its last losing battles. The surging spirit of democracy, egalitarianism, the popular representation, the ascendency of general will, rule of law, freedom and humanism is dawning on the horizon of these societies that remained stifled and stagnant for ages.
There has come a new trend in the paradigm and format of protests taken to by the outraged citizens of these Islamic countries. It is giving one’s life by self-immolation pioneered by Mohammed of Tunisia, now spreading like wildfire all over North Africa and spilling over to the mainland Middle East. The brave and unusual act of self immolation in that suppressed part of the world, set off a wave of self-immolations in Algeria. Dozens of Algerians have so far set themselves on fire in front of the government buildings to protest against the wretched and subhuman living conditions.
These uprisings of the masses against a decadent, discredited, ruthless and oligarchies emit a clarion call for a gubernatorial transformation and an amazing revolution knocking at the doors of these societies enslaved and shackled by their tyrannical ruling cliques. The old order is shaking under the seismic vibrations and the loud rumblings of the new order resplendent with progressiveness, modernism, the supremacy of the people, the nationalism based on patriotism and spirit of advancement.
And that would be in accord with the immutable rules of nature and the irresistible and unalterable imperatives of change. If a society like we find in the Middle East is still bedeviled by tribal culture then this abominable system cannot stay any longer. There can’t be islands of obscurantism, despotism, hierarchical dispensations and blood dynasties in a world that is turning into a global village with human conscience, intellect and vision growing as wider as the horizon.
It would be well in time that these imperious, myopic and self serving ruling cliques perceive the irrepressible wind of change and instead of blocking it become catalysts for it. Thus they might get some reprieve. Otherwise they are doomed.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Imran Khan is a Non- starter

January 22, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan the Chief of Pakistan Insaf Party (PTI) could have flashed, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as a glowing star on the political horizon of Pakistan. But all these years in the politics, he has remained a non-starter. Once in a while, he appears on the stage, frets and fumes, displays his tantrums and then recedes into the oblivion to reappear all of a sudden at a time of his own choice.
He runs his political bandwagon by fits and starts. He is sincere and possesses unbounded passion and limitless energy to make a difference but his fury and passion is invariably short-lived. He suffers from a chronic malady of inconsistency and conceptual bipolarity. He swerves from extreme to extreme on both sides of his agenda. He thunders like the charged clouds but then drifts away after a strong but brief shower of hyperbolic statements and high sounding propositions.
Pakistan has ever remained in the dire need of revolutionary persons because the resolution of Pakistan’s daunting problems is beyond the competence of mediocre or self-serving individuals and parties. In the prevailing chaos, hanging over Pakistan since the demise of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Imran could have created a niche of a liberator, a redeemer or a revolutionary for himself with a bag full of meritorious accomplishments.
He won the first and the last cricket world cup in 1992 thanks to his managerial skills and because of sudden favorable turn of events. In 1994, he established Pakistan's first and only cancer hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, bearing the name of his mother Shaukat Khanum who died of cancer. It is a charitable cancer hospital with 75 percent free care.
He was relatively young and robust when he made his debut in Pakistan’s politics, by founding; his own political party - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996, under the slogan of "Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem." He was then bubbling up with a brimming zeal and reservoir of ideas for the betterment of Pakistan and to change the destiny of the people of Pakistan. But after almost over a decade of his presence in the political arena, it simply looks as if he has been merely dribbling and not directing the ball into the goal post.
Undoubtedly, he is thoroughly honest and utterly unimpeachable. He is the repository of a reputation for being incorruptible. He has lofty ideals about Pakistan but he has failed to capture the necessary instruments and use the right strategy to translate these traits into concrete output.
He talks very emphatically about the rotten system of Pakistan as exhibited and reflected from his stressful facial features and restless body language during a debate, discussion or talk shows. But beyond that, barring occasional lashing outbursts at public rallies, he has failed to craft himself into a firebrand leader who would keep inspiring the masses.
Indeed, he is a non-conformist who shuns and is disgruntled about the style and antics of the traditional political players. He certainly looks distinct when it comes to the question of principles and ethics. But somehow, he runs short of mobilizing the masses a la Chavez of Venezuela, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, Mahathir of Malaysia, Lenin of the former Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria and et al.
Yet these are too lofty personages to be compared with most of the leaders in the third world countries, let along Imran Khan. But at least a cue can be taken from them as to how a momentous change can be brought about. Mr. Khan yearns to cast himself in the role of a number one victor, but finishes as a kind of a runner up or still far behind. The pent up passion and gusto remains dormant and unleashed in him once he feels he has lighted himself by a robust public rhetoric or a forceful delivery of his point of view at an electronic media forum.
There is no dearth of pious platitudes and rosary plans formulated and doled out by the best and the most of fertile minds that if implemented would make the earth a much better place to live. But what matters is that there must be someone who can actually show these plans and projections, the light of the day.
The grandiose ideas and exalted ideals that Imran Khan has professed on numerous occasions are still like fables in the books. The sincerity and earnestness drips from his every motion, and words and utterances. However, his outpourings have yet to trigger a salubrious change in the sterile socio-political landscape of Pakistan.
Is Pakistan turning into a civil society because of a relentless revolutionary movement led by firebrands and visionaries like Imran Khan.? Is there a re-awakening and pulsating awareness visible somewhere? The answer to these questions is certainly in the negative. So let us admit that Imran Khan has his limitations. But are these the inlaid genetic limitations that impel him to run fast for a time and then relent and rest till he can recapture his breath again?
Or else, are these limitations imposed by external forces and agents that bridle him and keep him under the tab not to exceed the fixed contours set for him? Is he hostage to the dreaded exposure of sensitive information about his private life which restrains him from going out of the way and walk ahead defiantly?
His political philosophy has been undergoing a ripening process since 1996 when he turned a politician. At the outset, he was a resolute proponent and a votary of the quick fix tribal system of justice. At that time he discarded democracy and institutional based governance. Thereafter, he swung to support democracy and representative form of government with a civil society tag. So he has been experiencing and undergoing changes and transformation of perceptions and precepts with regard to his political doctrine.
Khan supported General Musharraf’s military takeover in 1999, but denounced his presidency a few months before the 2002 general elections. He was elected MNA from Mianwali, in 2002 elections. Once in office, Khan voted in favor of the pro-Taliban Islamist candidate for the prime minister in 2002. Similarly, Imran Khan bitterly criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but later joined him in 2008 against Musharraf. The Guardian portrays Imran Khan as a person who “preaches democracy one day but gives a vote to reactionary mullahs the next.”
The rest of the political legions in Pakistan are a bit on the higher or lower side of Imran Khan. He can certainly make a difference if he breaks his self or externally imposed shackles and embarks on a political clean-up and reformation mission in the political wilderness of Pakistan with unswerving courage and unmindful of the odds or consequences.
First of all he has to firmly formulate and clarify his political goals and mandate as to what he intends to do. Thereafter, he has to stand unshakably and uncompromisingly by his ideals and political philosophy. He should make himself a steadfast defender and resolute exponent of his manifesto and agenda for change.
“Revolution is not a garden party” said Mao Zedong, the legendary Chinese revolutionary leader and founder of the People's Republic of China. If a leader appears and disappears for fear of incarceration or succumbs under pressures then better he may not talk big or pretend to be an ideologue or a savior. Anyone including Imran Khan who wants to rebuild Pakistan as a modern, and stable state will have to wage a relentless war against the corrupt and decadent system and its unworthy protectors.
A real national leader will have to vie and wrestle with his political contenders in order to excel. This is like fighting a multi-directional battle. Pakistan needs ruthless surgical overhaul of its entire body politic and radical restructuring of its moribund socio-economic edifice. Can Pakistan throw up such an undaunted, absolutely upright and ruthless redeemer to rescue Pakistani nation from a perpetually trauma and unrelenting swindling by its trashy leaders? Such a person should be an aggressive runner and not a whimsical non-starter like Imran Khan.
Note: It is slightly revised version of my article written some time ago
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Islam is a Secular Religion

Upright Opinion
January 22, 2011
Islam is a Secular Religion
By Saeed Qureshi
Islam basically, is a secular religion which means it allows freedom to other religions under its canopy. Secularism is neither atheism nor socialism. It is a concept that stands for freedom to all the religions and denominations to practice their faith and traditions. The society and the Islamic government in Spain were secular as Christians, Jews and Muslims were treated as equal citizens. They were free to pursue their religious obligations without any let or hindrance from the state or the society.
There exists indisputable convergence between Islam and secularism on such splendid values as fundamental rights, equality, Social justice, freedom of expression and tolerance. Secularism and Islam both support capitalism. Secularism is defined as the political concept of bourgeois democracies. It is primarily not an economic concept. Secularism has no objection if the factories, land and banks etc are owned by a few individuals or by the state.
Two episodes from the life of the second caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar amply illustrate the close interconnection between Islam and secularism in matters relating to the freedom of expression. One was the explanation of caliph to the objection of a Muslim about the longer size of his apparel than given to others from the war booty.
The second is about the esteem for other religions shown by Caliph Umar when during his visit to Jerusalem (637 A. D.), he declined to pray inside the Christians’ church, on the grounds that his action might not become a tradition. Such was the level of tolerance or reverence for other faiths by the founding torch bearers of nascent Islam.
The entire West and both North and South America and the Far East are essentially secular as in these societies, there is no ban nor any restriction over other religions to survive and adhere to their faith. Even Islamic countries like Jordan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Turkey, Lebanon (50 % Muslims), Kuwait, Tunis, and Morocco are treading on the path of secularism.
The religious minorities in these countries are not coerced or harassed to follow their religious rituals and customs under certain conditions. The understandable conditions, equally applicable to even Islam and other minority religions are respect for law and not to smear or deride other religions.
To interpret secularism with a godless culture, faithlessness or atheism is simple ignorance or gross misconception about the creed of secularism. If Christians and Jews worshipped and practiced their religious obligations with complete freedom during the time of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and four caliphs, what other name can be given to this laudable liberalism and tolerance towards other religions than secularism.
From the conquests by Islam to the time of Renaissance (14th century onward), the Muslim states were monarchies, hereditary successions, family dynasties, or with a strong man at the helm. The distinct concept of a nation state with attending halls marks of democracy, equality and freedom had not developed or evolved till the French revolution (1789-1799). Thereafter, while the western world turned into nation states, the Islamic world continued to hold on to the theocracies with the same paradigm of suzerainty by monarchs, kings and dictators.
Even in theocratic Muslim empires such as Omayyad’s, Abbasids, the Ottomans; the non Muslim populations were seldom forced to abandon their faith and become Muslims. During the Mughal Muslim rulers period (1526- 1857) in the undivided India, we have no evidence that religious minorities were forcibly converted to Islam, constrained to go to their temples or inhibited from observing their religious festivities.
The resurgence of the Wahabis, a fanatic band of Islam, during the middle of the 19th century, was not supported by the Muslim majority in India. As a result it was brutally crushed both by the British and the Sikhs. That demonstrates that Muslims were not extremists even during their hay days. The isolated attempts to impose or enforce orthodoxy have never succeeded because of the secular outlook of other Muslims.
During the last days of the Ottoman orthodox caliphate, the caliph Abdul Hamid the second, with the help of Britain tried to crush the liberals, the seculars, the nationalists with most inhuman, brutal machinations but failed. He used the ploy of saving the caliphate by declaring the opponents such as Kamal Ataturk as heathens and apostates. After the defeat of Germany in Second World War, Turkey being the ally of Germans was penalized by occupation of its lands by Greek and the British forces.
While the caliph ordered the Turkish armies to surrender before the foreign invaders, the chief religious authority called Sheikh-ul-Islam issued religious decree to kill seven persons including Kamal Ataturk who were fighting against the Greeks, Britain, with a an assurance to the killers of an abode in paradise. But no one paid heed to his hypocritical calls. Finally the religious sovereign fled Turkey on board the British ship with his hollow fervor for the religion Islam.
For the last seen decades, Turkey is a secular liberal country. But it is also one of the most trenchant Islamic states where Islam has been flourishing ever. It is the model of true Islam that ordains liberalism, tolerance, humanism, equality and fundamental rights. Religious freedom with Islam as the supreme religion of the country can be witnessed in Turkey. The Turkish religio-political dynasties came to an end with the rise of modern Turkey and the abolishment of the sultanate and caliphate on March 3, 1924.
One can also see a prototype of the same egalitarianism and openness with the Islamic genre in Malaysia and Indonesia. These are progressive, secular Islamic states firmly founded on Islam’s temporal and ecclesiastical codes.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where is that Leader?

January 15, 2011
By Saeed Qureshi

Two indispensible features have all along been lacking in the political landscape of Pakistan. One is selfless, motivated and patriotic leadership. The other is the institution building. The newly born country had fallen prey to the vandals of worst pedigree. It has been wantonly and relentlessly pillaged financially and crippled institutionally, by self-perpetuating people and groups who had scant concern or interest in its welfare, stability and its evolution as a modern nation state.

From the dawn of independence, it remained lorded-over by creepy bureaucrats, rapacious feudal, insidious dwarf politicians, hypocritical religionists and ravenous mafias that kept exacting their pound of flesh throughout. There has been severe and acute famine of leaders with nobility of character and sublimity of spirit to serve this county for its greatness and glory.

The foundational and structural flaw was its two wings that were poles apart in every manner except the religion. Religion failed as a cohesive and uniting force between Former East Pakistan and the present West Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan was destined to happen sooner or later.

The egalitarian and democratic spirit of the Bengali nation was a check on the parasitic and fiefdom mentalities of West Pakistan. However, after 1971, when East Pakistan seceded, the left over western part had become an exclusive grazing ground for all exploitative classes and greedy ruffians to turn into a barren land politically, socially and economically.

The search for a great leader has been elusive so far. It is a dismaying coincidence that the perpetual crises in Pakistan have not produced a leader of sterling integrity and high caliber with powerful intellect, iron will and lofty ideals to lead Pakistan towards a splendid destiny. There have been mediocre, mean-spirited, self-centered, exploitative,oppressive individuals grabbing power by trickery, deceit and ignoble machinations.

The leaders on the whole, were infected with the undying desire of self fortification in the power citadel, loot of national wealth by every conceivable devious means, destroy or dibilatate democratic traditions and nation building institutions.

The political parties and their stalwarts depend more on intrigues and back door maneuvers to dislodge and depose the sitting governments and not by established democratic traditions of fair and free elections. The political anarchy that interminably hovers over Pakistan has been the dirty and loathsome work of the politicians than the army.

The generals always stepped in at the behest of the selfish political cronies or as a result of a totally collapsed system of governance. If politicians would have behaved and adhere to and promoted democracy culture, the army could have never ruled Pakistan for half of its post independence period.

The accumulated mess of six decades has to be cleared by someone or else Pakistan’s survival as a viable state is at stake. You name one institution and you would lament that it is dysfunctional due to incompetency, kickbacks, bribery, and lack of funds or malafide intentions not to make it efficient. The Parliament, Senate, ministries, police, airlines, railways, courts, municipal administrations, industries, presidency, Prime Minister House, education, health, social services, law and order are being run on borrowed time.

The state or national institutions are in a state of complete or near wreck. The worst sufferers are the majority of the people of Pakistan. The elite classes, the aristocracy, the ruling cliques, the big businessmen, and snobbish bureaucarts are immune from the myriad predicaments and day to day tragedies and hardships that a common man encounters.

So let us talk about a unique leader who can address this morbid situation and redeem Pakistan from a colossal drift and national calamity that if remained unchecked could push it towards an irredeemable decay and terminal disintegration.
Such divinely gifted leaders have appeared in history who changed the destiny of their nations from total collapse to resplendent redemption.

Let us indulge in a fanciful utopia, and subjective reckoning and wishful reflection. Let us ponder that if we have one like Hazrat Omar, Mamun-ur-Rshid of Abbasid dynasty, Salahuddin Ayub of medieval Iraq, Kamal Ataturk of 20th century, Imam Khomeini of Iran, Li Kuan of Singapore, Fidel Castro of Cuba, founding fathers of the United States, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, De-Gaulle of France, Mau Zedong or Ding Xiaoping of China, Hochi Minh of Vietnam and so on.

Bhutto was a dazzling flash in the chequered and tumultuous history of Pakistan but it extinguished for his own temperamental flaws and by the external forces in league with the local quislings. His achievements are distinctive and excel his failings. He was a trendsetter but fell victim to local intriguers and the foreign string pullers. On the political horizon of Pakistan there is no other lofty figure (leave the founder of Pakistan) who could be portrayed as a leader of true national stature.

Pakistan needs a radical progressive, reformist, a firebrand, iron willed revolutionary, chivalrous and visionary leader. He should be a leader who is incorruptible, astute and farsighted. He should be the one who can keep his nose to the grindstone and never budge or bend on matters pertaining to national honor, mission for change and reconstruction of Pakistan as a modern, developed state.

He should be the enemy of status quo, of sectarianism, of vested interests, of selfish pressure groups and cartel, corruption, nepotism, feudalism, comprador classes, and the false and exploitative sainthood. He could lay down his life but would not dither nor compromise on his lofty ideals of nation building. He should be a person hating self aggrandizement, wealth, personal galore and glorification, live a simple life and shun ostentation.

He should speak and plead for the masses He should mobilize the downtrodden and intellectuals and intelligentsia for a gubernatorial change. He should stand for consolidation of healthy and efficient institutions, for equality, unalloyed justice and social services for all on equal basis.

Am I asking too much for a leader to rescue this harassed nation form a catastrophic abyss of sufferings? Well if it is a wishful thinking then let it be so. There have been such matchless and legendry leaders who led their nations in the most critical periods and drove them out of the dire straits of untold afflictions and rejuvenated them from the ashes of annihilation. Can this miracle happen in Pakistan too?

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@

To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Hand over Karachi to the Army Now

January 13, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The law and order situation and social peace, which was already precarious in Karachi, now with the target killing of GEO reporter Wali Khan Babar, has reached a saturation point. In addition to this deliberate brutal murder, several other citizens were also murdered today. The lives of these slain citizens are as precious as those of the prime minister and president of Pakistan.

The GEO’s Ace and promising youthful reporter was known for his valor, deep dedication and passion for journalistic profession and hard work. He was merely 28 and was yet to see many springs in his life. His life was cut short by death squads rampaging and targeting the opponents and all and sundry at their own bidding without check.

A volatile province whose interior minister has the audacity to publically claim that “we are creating all this mayhem” and still remains in the high office because he is a close friend of the head of the state of Pakistan. It is a brazen slap on the face of the civil society. How can he be serious about maintaining peace and curb proliferating lawlessness when he claims to be one of those shooting at random?

The government in power, like other burning issues, has kept this most pressing and endemic issue of restoring order and peace in Karachi on the back burner. It has been stalling to seize this overly critical problem because its own stalwarts are part of the gang wars now spreading like a prairie fire. It is easy to issue condolence messages on the spur of the moment and forget the follow up actions when the heat and inflamed passions settle down.

The restoration of societal peace in Karachi is of paramount importance for its being the largest city and also the lifeline and jugular vein for the economy of the entire country. If its economy is choked and business activities, industries and port are either closed or run by fits and starts, then Pakistan is heading towards a total economic collapse.

The government is reluctant to hand over the task of restoring peace in Karachi to the army under the fear that it would pave way for the army’s take over. It would also be perceived as the government’s failure to provide safety and security to the life and property and other activities to the people of Pakistan. This is pure treachery and reprehensible self interest and a sordid bid for survival in power at an unforgivable cost of the unremitting orgy of blood of the citizens of Pakistan.

Even a child knows that Karachi has become a battlefield of the ethnic war being fought between three distinct communities, Muhajirs, the Pathans and the other fringe segments such as Punjabis, Baluchis and radical religious militants. The immigrants whose majority is illegal play their part by stoking the violence as paid agents. However, the main confrontation is between the Muhajirs and Pathans.

Muhajirs who came to Pakistan after partition of India in 1947and mostly settled in Karachi. The Pathans mostly economic workers came to Karachi for jobs and to earn a living. Initially they were peaceful. But later as a result of the Afghan civil war, the suburban localities where these Pushto speaking normally lived turned into flourishing markets for drug and weapons trade both for domestic consumption and illicit export.

The influential drug dealers started settling down in down town Karachi by buying businesses and property. They were joined by a huge influx of the Afghan refugees who also engaged in lucrative legal and illegal pursuits for making money. For drug dealers and weapon sellers, human life has no significance. The tragedy is that these monstrous elemens are backed and protected by politicians, bureaucrats and highly influential persons from other walks of life as they also get hefty shares from these unlawful and contraband businesses.

The Muhajirs initially swallowed this bizarre situation but when it started threatening and undermining their survival and ethnic solidarity they came out to stand up and face them in a tit for tat violent style. In due course they also organised and mobilized their own cadres to fight back and settle the scores for blood with blood. Both the communities have been engaged in attacks and counterattacks since 1984 when Altaf Hussain established the Muhajir Qaumi Movement later renamed as Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

The MQM has been accused of kidnapping and killing for ransom, target shooting and ambushing and torturing the dissidents from their own party. But usually the MQM’s such activities can be treated as retaliation or reprisals to the atrocities its cadres are subjected to. There are common yet unsubstantiated accusations against the MQM for taking Bhatta (extortion money) from the shopkeepers.

Before an open civil war breaks out, the government should move fast to hand over the task of restoring peace in Karachi to the army. The rangers and the police have failed in rooting out the crime and violence from Karachi. Invariably the action by the law enforcement agencies is to cordon the areas after the incidence of crime and then leave after some time. If the criminals, terrorists and sharp shooters are being aided by the politicians then it would be ridiculous and futile to expect of them to sincerely put out the flames of ethnic wars and stamp out deadly feuding.

The army has been neutral, has the light and heavy weapons, the training and organizational structure to effectively launch anti-crime blitz. It has the capability to clear the Karachi metropolis from the thugs, killers, mercenaries, the illegal immigrants, the warring gangs, the drug and weapon mafia, the sectarian terrorists and similar enemies of peace and for that matter of Pakistan.

The army knows how to deal with such a volatile situation. However, just by way of a feeler, it should impose a curfew with breaks, for a limited period of time (say two months) and set up military courts for speedy trials. The citizens should be encouraged to send their anonymous reports about the whereabouts and names of the criminals in their areas. This strategy would equip the army with most of the data about saboteurs, outlaws, bandits and rogue elements making easy their job of purging Karachi of these anti social elements and enemies of public peace.

While the known criminals with incontrovertible evidence can be dealt with by summary trials and face firing squads, those caught as suspects can be kept in custody, interrogated and if proven guilty should be given heavy jail terms or shot depending upon the nature and severity of the crimes. In this military action, no politicians and powerful individuals who incite and abet these criminals should be spared. They should also be given death sentences or incarcerated for their complicity.

In the meantime, the government should convene all parties conference to hammer out a permanent solution to establish durable peace and order in Karachi particularly and elsewhere generally where, violence and terrorism is rampant and mushrooming by leaps and bounds without any let up.

If the government remained wedded to the merely churning out formal statements to crack down on the outlaws but does nothing on the ground, then barring recipients of perks and privileges, high profile jobs and wanton opportunities to enrich themselves, it would lose whatever trust or confidence the people repose in it.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Tottering Government

January 8, 2011

The Tottering Government

By Saeed Qureshi
Just imagine the abject manner; the incumbent government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has bent over heavily backward to woo back the perennially rebellious political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. The PPP government wants to remain in power by hook and by crook even if it means selling its veneer of prestige in broad day light.

It has been stooping so low as to fall now into a ditch of disgrace and public chastisement. The political analysts would demur and wonder how a tottering government is busy in making all the base efforts to cling on to the bandwagon of power which is getting out of its control at a breakneck speed.

Many a time, the government has eaten the humble pie. The prime minister made a humiliating pilgrimage to the nine zero to mount the last ditch endeavor to keep the MQM within the government fold. This servile attempt will not stand in good stead for the leading coalition partner in power. The government has budged and surrendered like the ill-famed General Niazi who laid down his arms at the so called Palton Maidan in Dacca in December 1971, before the Jubilant Indian army commander general Aurora.

This is no dignified politics .These are ignominious antics to catch at a straw that would eventually serve no purpose. Sooner than later the power boat is destined to sink with its passengers. When the people moaned about the RGST (reformed general sales tax) the government pretended to be deaf. When the people protested at the spike in petroleum prices, the government put up stubborn stone walling against such public uproarious clamors. But God bless the MQM that came to the rescue of the masses and thus the government reversed the harsh measures that would have heaped more miseries upon the economically choked people of Pakistan.

When the government is presenting the worst format of governance and not serving the people of Pakistan even with a modicum of good governance, why does it want to hang on to the power? What credentials and bona fides is it left with to be in the power saddle and keep ruling the roost? If today it can muster enough votes in the assembly to survive: what about tomorrow and in the coming days? Will it always fall back upon cheap sell-out of its honor and broker its stay by conceding ground and giving in to the demands howsoever, untenable and exacting, hurled by the political opponents.

The government by its acts of omission and commission has put itself on life support now being administered by its disaffected coalition partners. But how long this artificial rescsuitation would work and keep the political party alive? The MQM’s appeasement cost the government immense chagrin of the global financial brokers namely the IMF, the World Bank and the mighty United States of America. An 11 billion dollar relief loan is jeopardized.

The Gilani government fails to perceive the stark reality that its days are numbered unless it puts it act of performance in order. There are still more looming challenges to the ability of the government desperately trying to hang on to power.
One is from the PMLN that so far is euphemistically dubbed as a friendly opposition. It walked out of the coalition yet it kept dishing out it unqualified support and cooperation to Mr. Zardari and Mr. Gilani. On this gratuitous support, the PPP high command must be gloating.

But of late, the head of the PMLN who has developed a paranoid about the army rule, ever since he was ousted by general Musharraf through a military coup, is sending mixed and rather menacing signals. He has issued a 45 days deadline to the government to accept his 10 point agenda or otherwise face the dire consequences.
As far the electoral count and vote bank, the PMNL has a much better standing than MQM. Moreover, while MQM is having a coalition with PPP in Sindh, the PMLN has the same political quid pro quo with the PPP in Punjab. The PMNL has warned of parting company with the PPP in Punjab if the situation does not show marked upturn with regard to good governance and addressing the people’s problems.

The PMNL has been issuing such warning shots at the PPP from the time when the PPP’s untamable stalwart Salman Taseer was still the Governor of Punjab; giving very tough time to the PMNL led provincial Punjab government. Now when he is no more, the PMNL should have lowered it level of saber rattling. But it did not and instead has come up with a 10 point demand notice.

On the contrary it would be further emboldened to put more pressure on the PPP. There seems to be no match of Salman Taseer to be picked as the governor of Punjab, who was an unrivaled expert in fire-spitting and tongue lashing. The appointment of president Zardari bosom friend Sardari Latif Khosa would be more irksome for the people if not for the political parties.

Mr. Khosa has earned notoriety for his scams and scandals in kickbacks and other questionable wrong doings. His choice as the governor of Punjab highlights the sordid fact that government is promoting toadyism. Khosa is crafty but not as petulant as his predecessor was. The exit of Salman Taseer is more conducive for PMNL as it brings it into a stronger bargaining position that before.

It is predictable that MQM that wants to extend its appeal and political canvas to the whole of Pakistan would not like to be tied with the apron string of the PPP for a longer period of time. Its image has been considerably dented by making a last minute compromise with the PPP at the center. If this party keeps it working relationship with the PPP at the federal level, it would fail to achieve its goal of turning into a national party from a parochial one that it is perceived to be now.
The irrevocable stand that the MQM has taken on RGSL and hike of petroleum prices is more beneficial to the MQM than bringing any big advantage to the PPP. The reason is easy to dig out. The MQM took a principled stand in support of the people of Pakistan while the PPP government stalled decisions under pressure and to save its numerical parliamentary strength to forestall a no confidence.

The storm is gathering on the political horizon of Pakistan and is assuming ominous proportions. The religious lobbies are poised to unceasingly resist the amendment of the blasphemy law and prosecution of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Governor Salman Taseer. All the religious parties are united on opposing the government and mobilizing the people on the sensitive question of blasphemy. Of late, they have announced countrywide protest rallies on January 15, over Pope Benedict XVI call for repealing the blasphemy Act and to release Aasia Bibi.

How the government is going to stem such cataclysmal movements is beyond any tangible assessment. That would entail more bloodshed, chaos and anarchy for a country already trapped in the quagmire of problems.

No sane person is in favor of derailing the prevailing democratic system and its replacement with the army rule. But if the democratically elected leaders are totally oblivious to their responsibilities of serving the country with devotion, selflessness, honesty and patriotic spirit then the people’s yearning for a change whether democratic or otherwise is bound to explode.

Probably there is a viable way-out for the government to avert the impasse that the country is likely to be plunged into by religious movements, or the ultimatums or pressure tactics of other political adversaries. It should, on its own should announce fresh elections and get a renewed popular mandate. That is the only face saving exit for the tottering and shaky PPP dispensation. Otherwise the future scenario seems to be murky for the government.

To many compromises, too many pledges, too many challenges are dangling over the head of an already shaky government. Only God almighty knows how it is going to cope with the plethora of hurdles in its way of completing the five years mandate.

The Prime Minister Gilani’s prompt acceptance of Nawaz Sharif’s latest demands is on the face a tall order for the PPP government to honor. Similarly Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s demand for the prime minister to resign and not to alter the blasphemy law is a stupendous stumbling block hard to surmount. Additionally people are at their wits ends due to unbridled lawlessness, rampant unemployment, galloping prices, economic miseries, and no hope for the future.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What about this Kind of Rape?

January 8, 2011

What about this Kind of Rape?

BY Saeed Qureshi

The GEO television channel has reported today in its news bulletins that a class six girl student was raped by the guard of the school in Shahdara city near the Punjab province capital Lahore. The news is devastating for all the parents across Pakistan and even beyond that.

I therefore, dare put this question to the Islamic jurists and the religious scholars what Islamic Sharia law stipulates in the rape cases pertaining to the underage girls. Has this poor girl that has not yet reached the age of puberty and is still an adolescent also to produce four witnesses to prove the heinous and unforgivable crime committed on her?

Countless women and girls are molested in Pakistan yet very few cases come into the public limelight as the victims or their family members cannot sustain the calumny that goes along reporting such odious incidents. Even if some odd case is registered, the ordinary courts may hear the case and even award punishment to the culprit. The case is then referred by the lawyers of the convict to the Sharia Court and from there he walks out as a free man for want of the four witnesses.

There are also very rigid conditions for the witnesses. These four witnesses must be devout Muslims and certify on oath the occurrence of the crime before their eyes with complete penetration. Is it humanly impossible to produce such evidence? What If there is no one around to see the occurrence of the crime?

That is why in Islamic societies, no convict, perpetrator or sex offender has ever been punished, or given the mandatory 100 strokes of a rod or confinement in house until death. Although the penalty sounds condign yet it has never been inflicted or carried out because of the non compliance of the four witnesses pre-condition that is nothing short of asking for the moon.

Islam ordains the purity and piety of mind and body. The women in Islam are obligated by Sharia to conceal and cover their bodies, except their eyes or hands, with proper dress. Such is the strict restriction for the females in Islam. On the other hand which looks like a contrast, if a man who certainly possesses much more physical strength to overpower a bodily tender woman, commits adultery or rape, the burden of proving such crime falls on the weak woman.

How come, a woman can produce four witnesses by any stretch of imagination? Even if by a sheer miracle she is able to do so the element of shame, social disgrace, or the ordeals in courts and humiliation in police stations forbid her or her kith to go for the legal proceedings.

As such the exercise of getting a rapist punished is self defeating and a mere wild goose chase that is more in the nature of breach or non compliance than getting the justice. There has been theological debate, reflections, continuous investigation and deliberations by the Islamic jurists and theologians since the age of Mutazillas, murjites to four schools of Islamic jurisprudence to fix the Islamic law concerning rape and adultery.

The unanswered questions on this most intriguing human and social issue still boggle the minds of the Muslim faithful and the scholars. There is no alternate option except to heap the burden of adultery (zina) on the women. As to fulfill the condition of four witnesses is impossibility, women are invariably charged for having committed the crime.

As a result, innumerable women are languishing in Pakistani jails because of this most glaring miscarriage of justice. Is it not a travesty of justice and appalling and irrational interpretation of law that patently gives a way-out and escape to the perpetrators instead of the weak and defenseless victims?

Do not these doctrinal dilemmas, urge and impel the Islamic scholars to invoke the Sharia injunction of Ijtehad (resolving of legal problems through exertion to meet the imperative of Islamic justice)? Would it not be in accordance with the permissible Islamic tradition of Ijtehad if the condition of four witnesses is waived or replaced with some more rational and practicable option, in order to meet the demands of justice? Thus it would ensure justice to the victim and the punishment to the executor of such atrocious crimes.

Coming back to the distressing and diabolic incident of Shahdara girl, one has still to watch how the legal authorities deal with this case and what can be the outcome of this diabolic happening that will haunt the parents and siblings of the victim and even her for the rest of their lives. Is it not the foremost responsibility of the society and the government to provide protection to the girls and boys from the outreach and clutches of the sex maniacs that are present with lustful eyes in every lane and street of Pakistan?

My apprehension is that while this single case somehow has come in the public view, how many innocent girls would not have the courage to reveal the similar incidents. There have been reports of molestation and rape even in religious residential schools and even by the religious imams and teachers of Arabic. Such reports circulate in the community but are suppressed because of the pernicious social fallout if laid bare. The religious teachings, the social taboos or barriers seldom restrain the rapists and child molesters to spare the children from their loathsome crimes.

It is very important for all the families and parents to exercise utmost caution in sending their children to a school alone, or to the religious seminary for reciting or learning Arabic or to the house of a neighbor or to the shopping centers or in the company of friends. Please never trust your closet friend, even a woman if she is not a member of the family or a very near blood relation.

In the face of the silent or evasive Sharia law and even the manipulative civil or secular laws for punishing the sex offenders, it would be decidedly preferable not to leave your adolescent child or ward both boys and girls in the company of a stranger, a neighbor, a visitor or a distant relative. In this world where crime thrives and repeated every moment, such trust is most ruinous and results in the defilement of the innocent, helpless and speechless children.

This is the only way to safeguards the sanctity, honor, celibacy and chastity of your offspring who once fallen victim to such wickedness by the prying rapists and wicked sex offenders, suffer from an, inerasable agony and unforgettable anguish for their entire life.

The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Friday, January 7, 2011

Late Salman Taseer- A profile

Upright Opinion
January 7, 2011

Late Salman Taseer- A profile
By Saeed Qureshi

Humans are mortal and so was late Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab. His assassination at the hands of a religious fanatic guard on January 4 is tragic and must be mourned with prayers that God almighty bless his soul with eternal peace.

Salman Taseer has distinguished himself as a defiant bulwark in Punjab by fighting on the front foot on behalf of Pakistan People’s Party. Cast in an uncompromising and bellicose mould, Salman Taseer was temperamentally adept in stunning bouts of repartee and incessant verbal feuds with the PPP’s political adversaries; the scions of Punjab, Messers Sharif Brothers and their clan. In the wake of this tussle a time came when the imposition of governor rule seemed to be around the corner. That bleak moment somehow passed away, perhaps due to a succession of forbidding events.

Late Salman Taseer was always strident and continued to exude an overbearing and tough demeanor as the governor of the largest province of Pakistan. He was the closest confidant of Pakistan’s president Zardari. Mr. Zardari spurned all calls from diverse quarters to replace him with a discreet and pliant person who would know the art of benign politicking.

The discerning people of Pakistan even with scan interest in national affairs would watch with disbelief as to how the political brinkmanship in Punjab was degraded to vituperation and foul mouthing between the rival political forces. The governor and the chief minister of Punjab with his cohorts remained daggers drawn and vilifying each other to any extent.

As such the late governor with his unguarded, sweeping and hard-hitting outpourings directed at his political or religious foes, narrowed the popular support for PPP in Punjab. In the face of governor’s propensity to be irrepressibly aggressive, the PPP has, all along, remained in a defensive posture in Punjab. The coalition between PPP and PMLN in Punjab has never been harmonious or friendly.

Understandably, the bigger share of making matters worse in Punjab can be apportioned to late Salman Taseer. The verbal salvos of mutual diatribe between the law minister of Punjab and that of Salman Taseer must be expunged from the annals as these were not only distasteful, but demonstrated what ugly proportions, the politics can assume.

His non- chalant and combative conduct finally landed him into a controversy with the religious right that woefully culminated in his tragic death. The dare-devil way he liberated Asia Bibi from the prison and then held a press conference heaping smears on the clergy and denouncing the blasphemy law, betokened his poor judgment about the power of the religious outfits in Pakistan. His projections and pronouncements against the blasphemy law were most unwise and a kind of unwarranted challenge to the unmerciful and fanatical clerics in Pakistan. Even for a common man with perfunctory knowledge of religion Islam, such clarion calls again the entrenched beliefs were simply suicidal.

Pakistan’s citizenry, on the whole, is rather liberal and overly casual in relation to the performance of religious rituals or even mandatory obligations. The liquor is prohibited by law but a predominant segment of population drinks and partakes in other epicurean, mundane and merry making activities. But they seldom come out in the public and prove them right. More than the political opponents, this time the foes of the late governor were lethal, brutal and unforgiving religious demagogues.

That is why the whole religious lot despite their mutual deep-seated sectarian disputes and differences rallied on one platform of launching a movement against him. There were looming threats to his life with religious zealots shouting revenge. But as the ill -luck would have it; he did not take those threats even marginally serious. Such was the level of imperviousness that the late governor suffered from.

Nevertheless, there is another dimension to the whole grievous scenario. Salam Taseer was a great political stalwart of PPP and a resolute defender and unswerving warrior for his party and specifically for the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. But, his outlandish policies and muscle- flexing postures were making the matters worse for this leading party not only in Punjab but elsewhere in the country. As such Salman Taseer was becoming a kind of millstone around the neck of PPP and causing embarrassment even among the party cadres.

There was simmering concern within the PPP echelons about the way Salman Taseer as governor was running the show in Punjab. So his demise although a heart wrenching event might pave way for the PPP high command to appoint someone as governor of Punjab who is cautious and discreet. There is always a silver lining to the clouds. Even the worst of tragedies some time trigger good tidings. Although, Salman Taseer can never come back, yet his untimely demise should prompt the PPP leaders to fill his place with a person who is cool, shrewd, a pacifist and possessing abundance of political acumen.

One pernicious ramification or fallout of the blasphemy controversy is that the religious extremism that seemed to be on the wane has been reborn with a new vigor and vitality. Any government in Pakistan might not be in a position to amend Zia’s enacted blasphemy law that patently lacks rationality and needs to be brought in conformity with the veritable Islamic jurisprudence and made compatible with the traditions of the prophet of Islam. The manifest or professed secularism of PPP would remain elusive till the time the civil society resurges and is in a position to reassert itself against the myopic religious extremism and dogmatic conservatism.

There are countless liberal and forward looking people in Pakistan. But they lack courage to come out and counter the obscurantist and reactionary elements in Pakistani society. The religious orthodoxy and conservatism is still dominant and would remain so until a monumental movement germinates in Pakistan to lessen the role of religion in daily lives and in the affairs of state.

Unless the civil society, the human right organizations and progressive forces are strong enough to put up a dogged resistance to the intimidating dictates and exploitative antics of the religious mavericks and papacy, one single person like Salman Taseer, howsoever he may be outspoken, is not going to change the stifling ground situation.

One can gauge the powerful influence of the clerics in Pakistan’s society by the fact that the impoverished people care less for their socio-economic sufferings and instead zealously take part in processions led by religious zealots and spiritual chieftains. Perhaps the social awareness is dormant and still at a much lower level in Pakistan.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Stinking System Must Go

Upright Opinion

January 3, 2011

The Stinking System Must Go
By Saeed Qureshi

I was disappointed to watch a leading hawkish GEO television anchor Iftikhar Ahmed ferociously supporting the system of government presently prevailing in Pakistan. This debate was shown on Janaury3, on the “Laikin” program hosted by Sana Butcha a distnguished female TV anchor. The main thrust of his argument was that system must continue no matter how dysfunctional it was. He chided the opponents who have recently walked out of the coalition and questioned their earnestness and sincerity of intentions in doing so.

He also vehemently argued in favor of levying the RGST because the money thus collected would run the machinery of the government. He aggressively dished out the weird logic that spike in petrol and gas prices was justified as the spiraling fuel prices was a global phenomenon. What he should have known is that in such countries the governments unlike Pakistani ruling junta apportion extra income on the welfare of the people. Moreover, most of them are not as alienated from the people as we can see in Pakistan.

Now all these are spurious arguments. A heap of filth cannot be allowed to naueaste the people living around. A tree giving bitter fruit has to be uprooted because it is of no avail to the people. Similarly government functionaries notoriously corrupt and governing the country in a rapacious and ravenous manner and with morbid and unrivaled corruption should not be allowed to remain at the helm.

It is not the system alone that is essntial but a people friendly, accountable and transparent system that is desirable. The incumbent government has a poor record of governance and cannot claim shining laurels and conspicuous accomplishments as to earn the full term in office.

To begin with, it is not complying with the judiciary’s decisions that relate to NRO and steel-mill and many other corruption cases involving ministers. The law and order is most fragile and is utterly crippled to stem the violence and crime that is spreading instead of abating. The perfidious nepotism is being practiced as if it was a divine commandment to dole out contracts and permits and licenses to the near kith and friends and those who can grease the palms of the decision makers in a big way.

During the last three years, in Pakistan the gulf between the haves and have-nots and rich and poor and indigent and wealthy has been unremittingly widening. The rich and affluent classes in the country including the ministers, top bureaucrats, parliamentarians move in well guarded and bullet proof cars. On the other hand a common man selling his odd articles in a flea market or so called Juma Bazaars, on the stalls or carts is gunned down with no follow-up action by police.

The public utilities are in their worst form with patients dying in hospitals because of negligence of the doctors or spurious drugs. People drink filthy water and suffer from the persistent nightmare of power outrages and the so called load shedding. On top of it the poor country has to pay hefty sums for the rental power units.

The Pakistani citizens living in the border areas remain under a perpetual fear of being killed by Drone aerial attacks or by the army of Pakistan. The government is unmoved or diffident to talk to the NATO commanders to stop this draconian manslaughter of the people of Pakistan. Pakistan army is fighting a war on terror and thus far has lost over three thousand troops besides unaccounted number injured or maimed.

The government in power in Pakistan is not only morally bankrupt but so timid, sold out and surpassing in toadyism that it cannot even have the courage to broach such subjects with the oppressors that undermine the national honor and territorial integrity. Then what is the difference between Egypt a crony of the west and that of Pakistan embarked upon a suicidal path at the behest of the foreign charmers and puppeteers?

The people are clamoring for change because their lives have become more miserable and chaotic than what these were in earlier dispensations. A government that jumped into the bandwagon of power through a democratic process, must bent all its energies and make efforts to bring about a visible and spectacular change in the country and relief to its people.

The governance has never been as abysmal and appalling as of now. The rulers were never so apathetic deceptive, hypocritical and insensitive as now. If the agricultural tax was imperative then it should be first applicable to huge landholdings and estates that either belong to the ministers, parliamentarians or the army generals.

The people of Pakistan voted the PPP government into power because firstly it has been unjustifiably forced to remain out of power by the powers that rule through unconstitutional means. Secondly, it has the image and reputation of a revolutionary anti- status-quo party. Thirdly, it is known as the party of the downtrodden and unprivileged sections of the society. This time after the 2008 elections it was a God given chance after several years for this party to prove it credentials as the representative and benefactor of the common people of Pakistan. It miserably failed because of its top notch leaders.

The PPP government has in its fold, hugely discredited and universally known bribery addicted individuals adept in jobbery and enhancing their fortune by misusing their powers. The president of Pakistan is up to neck in the scandals and scams of ill-gotten money and accumulating his wealth by dubious means. The prime minister Gilani a staunch Bhuttoite and with a less tarnished reputation went whole- hog to dole out undue benefits to his near and dear ones including his beloved son who was a partner with some Niazi in a gigantic insurance business. His personal wealth and properties, reportedly, have increased manifold during the last two years.

The commerce minister a priest looking Baptist type person has earned the notoriety for shady deals in commodities and agricultural produce that he was summoned by the prime minister to counsel him to scale down his marauding money making skills. The other ministers are chips of the same bloc and vie each other in self-enrichment by unfair means that portend on gross deriliction of their responsibilities and breach of their oath taken on the constitution to remain honest.

If the no-confidence against the PPP coalition is tabled in the parliament and carries the day, then it would be a change within the precincts of the Constitution of Pakistan. Even if it does not succeed, the government should feel the moral responsibility to call for fresh elections to win a new mandate from the people. Even if the no confidence is defeated the government must feel the heat of it as it would be a lame duck establishment with a hole in its fabric of popularity and popular support. It would remain vulnerable even after by way of no confidence attempt by the dissidents. And who know in the meantime the army steps in, taking the country back to an authoritarian square one.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
To unsubscribe or for comments please write us at