Thursday, September 29, 2011

How Pakistan should Deal with America

September 30, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

There is the least need and rationale for antagonizing the United States which in her overflowing frustration due to failure in Afghan war may turn her cannons towards Pakistan. This volatile yet half-way flare --up between two close yet disgruntled allies may be dealt with great caution as to elude the projected harm.

An overly enraged and provoked American military leadership in league with supporters in Congress may opt for an all out war in the tribal regions against the Haqqani network.

It should be unthinkable for Pakistan army to counter the American military advances with armed response. Pakistan and American armies should never be allowed to brace against and face each other in a direct confrontation. That situation would spell disaster for Pakistan whose armed forces are primarily ordained to watch the eastern front and defend Pakistan from Indian military adventurism.

Even the ordinary skirmishes between the NATO and the Pakistan army; would sow the seeds of a permanent hostility between the two countries which have been knotted in friendship for so long.

All is not yet lost with the United States that is the leading trade partner of Pakistan for so long. The United States is a super power and Pakistan should not incur the animosity of a country whose grudge and revenge like elephant is proverbial. It could immensely destabilize and isolate Pakistan.

In the backdrop of anti- US loud epitaphs and throwing of challenges and gauntlets by Pakistani hawkish circles, it would be very much desirable for India to see Pakistan jump into the fray against the United States. India would want Pakistan’s armed forces to be debilitated to the extent that these cannot put up any defense vis- a-vis India.

It would, therefore, be a colossal blunder for Pakistan to venture an armed clash with NATO and United States in case they launch solo military offensive in the North Waziristan to dismantle or liquidate the Haqqani network of insurgents.

Notwithstanding the consensus resolution of the All Parties’ Conference, the hard fact is inescapable to ignore that Pakistan cannot afford to adopt inflexible and hard-line postures against America. United States could still be prevailed upon to accommodate Pakistan’s point of view.

America knows well that her supply line through Pakistan can be irreparably hampered if the hostilities and the brinkmanship go beyond a threshold which in this case would be to infiltrate and intrude into Pakistan’s airspace and land.

In these projected scenarios, the Haqqani network may not be debilitated entirely but Pakistan would be mauled socially and economically. Moreover, the armed forces would sustain a great jolt that might cripple its functionality for a prolonged period of time. Pakistan armed forces must remain intact for greater and real challenges and dangers that can come only from India.

Pakistan should lay down all the facts before the American leadership and the accusing and vilifying political stalwarts and try to convince them of the fallacy of the uncharitable and unsubstantiated charges being leveled against the ISI. If there is evidence with the American as they claim, it might be contested or explained in a conciliatory spirit.

Pakistan should be very candid, forthright and vigorous on pleading about its clean hands and non-involvement in attacks on the NATO forces and other civilian installations in Afghanistan. Pakistan should also logically make it clear to the American administration including Pentagon that it could not afford to make a military push into North Waziristan for a variety of very compelling reasons.

First it should be explicitly argued that Pakistan cannot waste its military muscle and fritter away its dwindling economic potential on further enlarging its offensive to North Waziristan. It is neither wise for Pakistan nor for American because Haqqani group can be cajoled by Pakistan to act as a bridge between hardcore Taliban and America for the latter to leave Afghanistan peacefully and with a modicum of grace.

America should appreciate and understand the odds and limitations for Pakistan to fight in North Waziristan. Pakistan should also convince America that use of force was not always the right and prudent course to defeat or destroy the enemy.

It should also reason with America that making fresh enemies from time to time and nailing them down with the show of excessive military might was a short sighted approach. But first, Pakistan should incontrovertibly prove its total detachment from the attacks against the occupation forces in Afghanistan.

It is time for Pakistan to exhibit the delicate diplomacy, firmness and full faith in its stand, a sustained sagacity and prudence and unwavering steadfastness so that Pakistan does not look like a felon before the world community.

Friendship with The United States that has enormous leverage with IMF, United Nations and elsewhere would still stand in good stead for Pakistan. It is much desirable to be on the path of reconciliation, peace and normality than jingoism and unrealistic sloganeering that might land Pakistan in deep trouble.

America is quite aware that the peace in Afghanistan and her honorable exit was not possible without good offices and partnership of Pakistan. Hopefully, in a spirit of mutual accommodation, both sides may understand each other’s point better and shoot away their mutual bickering and misunderstandings. Pakistan should speak with America from a position of higher moral ground, with absolute honesty and with national honor in view.

The ignominious Reward for a Mercenary

September 28, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

When a country fights like a mercenary for others by overriding its own national interests and honor, it consequently meets the same disgraceful fate as Pakistan vis-a-vis the United States. A darling foster child of a wealthy and most powerful mentor has fallen from grace like a meteorite plunging towards the abyss of earth.

Pakistan has always willingly opted to be an errand boy of United States that looks down upon her partners like a giant looking upon pygmies. This is the relationship of Gulliver and Lilliputians with ne traces of any equality in any sense of the word. Pakistan has been left in lurch and wilderness even earlier, whenever its role of a hireling had culminated.
As if a journeying man all of sudden is surrounded by the highway robbers or wolves and nowhere to go and finally torn to pieces. No matter how a second fiddle or a crony tries to look more loyal than the king, he has to lick the dust when the terms of the engagement change.

Musharraf made an historic blunder by mortgaging the state of Pakistan and its army into the hands of powers that remain obsessed with their own axe to grind. Earlier it was Ziaul Haq who in his spurious zeal to Islamize the planet earth tied Pakistan with the American Apron string. Even then when the Russians vacated Afghanistan, Pakistan came under fire and was denigrated for all the sins under the sun.

Now when the chips are down and the curtain is being drawn on the bloody stage of Afghanistan, Pakistan is the first casualty of this end game that would entail more traumas for this nation that has rendered unimaginable sacrifices beyond the call of duty. That the army of a nation charted to fight the enemies has been waging an inexhrobale and ferocious war against its own people is the demonstration of alliance that is like cutting one’s own roots and veins.

All the sacrifices, heroic deeds and marvelous accomplishments by Pakistan, on the battlegrounds of Swat, South Waziristan and elsewhere were in vain and have gone with the wind of latest revulsion and sudden spurt of hostility from the Pakistan’s principal guardian angel.

There are heartless and piercing ubiquitous accusations of betrayal and treachery and double standards and even insidious plans leveled against Pakistan to kill the American troops. In this most deafening cacophony others who were waiting in wings have joined with their rabid voices adding the venom and hatred against Pakistan.

The Indian foreign minister hurled a very strong anti Pakistan statement heaping indignities and accusations on Pakistan for what he alleged abetting the terrorism.
Also the inveterate enemy of Pakistan Hamid Karzai has unleashed an outrageous and overly incriminating anti Pakistan statement in that he held Pakistan responsible for not subduing the insurgents and for the setbacks suffered by allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.

He discredited Pakistan for not playing an honest role in eliminating the insurgents. One should ask him what role his troops and government have played in suppressing the Taliban and other militants arraigned against his government and NATO forces.

The Republican Senator Lindsey Graham a member of the Armed Services Committee is shooting frightening and ominous volleys of statements that aim at destroying Pakistan and cutting total funds to Pakistan. Another Texas’ Republican ultra rightist senator Ted Poe a member of the Foreign Affairs committee of the House of Representatives has even moved a bill in the house for freezing all the aid to Pakistan for the latter’s seditious conduct towards the United States.

Senator Graham said that “The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease.” He threatened that the U.S. bombers could blitz areas in Pakistan, which could mean carpet bombing of North Waziristan and even the sites in Pakistan with nuclear assets.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that United States was in the final stage of designating Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization. Since Pakistan is being bracketed with Haqqani group as its collaborator, some of the debris of this grave decision is likey to fall on Pakistan as well. So Pakistan is in deep trouble. The clouds of adversity and hostile backlash from American and her NATO allies are hovering over Pakistan.

Last week, the outgoing top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, bluntly accused Pakistan of "exporting" violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible action. All of a sudden Pakistan is being painted as a hostile and terrorist country with ISI as being the main schemer and mastermind of the anti American attacks in Afghanistan. These are drumbeats of opening another war front against Pakistan under the pretext of destroying the locations and bases of Haqqani network which could be extended to Pakistan.

The Pakistan government has summoned an all parties’ conference to ponder over the response to this sudden frightening development that could turn Pakistan into another battleground for an indefinite period. If Pakistan refuses to attack Haqqani network by deploying forces in North Waziristan, the United States would translate her ultimatums into practical enforcement.
Is Pakistan army ready in that situation to put up a matching response and retaliation to the armies that would violate Pakistan territory? Will not that situation pit Pakistan against a very powerful military machine that can spell disaster on Pakistan’s territories and bomb at her chosen targets?

Pakistan is proverbially caught between the devil and the deep sea. The knee jerk reaction based upon fabricated allegations against Pakistan would embroil United States into another spree of war mongering that might further bludgeon her faltering economy and make her to ultimately withdraw from Afghanistan with more humiliation.

If United States cannot flush out and hunt down a few thousand militants from Afghanistan, how can it go across all Pakistan to track and kill the anti American insurgents? Without castigating Pakistan or pressuring it to move military operations to North Waziristan, United States may take such an adventure on her own without casting insidious aspertions on Pakistan.

What kind of support China can lend to Pakistan to avert a direct military attack by the United States and NATO on her soil would be watched with great eagerness and expectations by Pakistan government and its people.

But one aspect is quite clear that Pakistan would not make the monumental blunder of sending its army to North Waziristan. By doing that she might get temporary reprieve from the United States but an abiding hostility from the tribal areas that could result in Pakistan’s fragmentation.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Are the American Allegations Legitimate?

September 24, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

It is another matter if it is merely a blame game to place Pakistan under pressure for more mileage what has been repeatedly termed as,” do more” But a solemn statement by Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee is of seismic proportions.

This sudden quirk of developments cannot be wished away as formal pressure tactics. The allegations coming from the America’s top most military official that Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency ISI maintains a double face are preposterous or well-founded.

This latest vehement insinuation seems to be the pernicious fallout of the May 2 Abbottabad episode when a group of American Navy Seals killed the chief of al-Qaida, Osama Ben Laden in a clandestine raid that even the vigil intelligence network of Pakistan could not detect.

In the aftermath of that elephantine incident, ISI also came under severe diatribe of America for harboring Osama Bin Laden for pretty six long years in the otherwise safe and well cordoned environ of Abbottabad’s military garrison area.

With the incredible and stunning victory of Pakistan’s armed forces entailing huge casualties of its troops, massive disruption and deployment, the United States wants Pakistan to move to the thus far untouched terrain of North Waziristan where another anti-American network is based and active against the occupation forces.

Mike Mullen alleged that the multiple attacks on NATO outpost in Kabul, on the American and the Indian embassies, and on the Intercontinental Hotel were carried out by the so called Haqqani group in collusion with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. The ISI is primarily a counterpoise of the Indian intelligence network named the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).

It has been India’s ardent wish all these years to get the ISI discredited and disbanded because this agency has been putting up an extremely befitting and matching response to RAW with exemplary professionalism and brilliance.

After the advent of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2001, to destroy both al-Qaida and their abettors Taliban, the ISI has been in the forefront to collaborate with their American counterparts with outstanding and breath-taking results.

Not long ago, the American premier secret and intelligence agencies including the FBI and CIA have been profusely acknowledging the vital and useful role of ISI in providing the crucial intelligence and information that helped the American and NATO alliance to destroy and vanquish the hideouts and sanctuaries of Taliban and that of al-Qaida. In case of drone attacks, Pakistan intelligence agencies shared invaluable information with the American secret operatives.

Perhaps in the wake of The United States’ plans to exit Afghanistan, the United States army commanders want to produce a stunning and spectacular surprise and last ditch surprising victory for a kind of face saving.

While Pakistan’s record is second to none and superbly outstanding as an ally of United States in the war on terrorism, The NATO all these years looked like a lame duck and sleeping partner of the principal party: the United States.

The NATO countries or ISAF partners fighting along with the American troops in Afghanistan have not been affected by the global terrorism as the United States is. So primarily it is the United States’ war alone though symbolically supported by NATO members. Their involvement in the Afghan war is simply to exhibit their solidarity with the United States by sending token contingents with limited number of troops.

The latest ominous turn of events and the spiraling and intensifying friction initiated by United States against Pakistan is what could best be described as the replay of the treatment that was meted out to Pakistan before the incident of 9/11.
Even at that time, Pakistan came under enormous pressure from United States, that was on the verge of declaring Pakistan a terrorism sponsoring state.

But to the good luck of Pakistan, this hostile and ravaging tide turned back without causing any harm to Pakistan as it conceded to stand by the United States in her war on the Islamic radicals in Afghanistan.

On the conclusion of that historic conflict that dismantled the socialism and for capitalism to triumph, Pakistan was abandoned like a ruffian, or a temporary hireling, although it was the hub of the anti Soviet Union war operations in Afghanistan and had mobilized the fighters from all over the Islamic world. That victory gave birth to the new world order spearheaded and lorded over by the victorious United States, assuming the role of a sole super power.

Pakistan once against stands maligned and despised like a criminal by the United States on the strength of charges which are dubious and have yet to be substantiated with incontrovertible evidence. Pakistan is being treated like a puppet that can be swung into action or scolded as when the puppeteer wants.

Pakistan is no allowed to make any friends in the world because it is repugnant to the United States. Pakistan must obey like servant with folded hands whenever there was an order from the mighty superpower, forgetting its own security priorities and national interests.

And if Pakistan resists or protests, the sword of terrorism and betrayal is conveniently hung over her. Logically the relations of Pakistan with Haqqani group would stand in good stead for United States in the longer run.

Now when US herself want to break the barriers of hostility with Taliban, why Pakistan is not allowed to refrain from antagonising all the factions of Taliban. The collaboration of ISI with the Haqqani group is yet to stand the test of credibility and veracity. If there are proofs these must be laid on the table before the Pakistani government and asked for an explanation.

Mere flimsy and frivolous castigation might invoke America’s wrath against Pakistan but without Pakistan which other power in this volatile region would stand behind the United States in case of prolongation of war or her leaving this region.

The people of Afghanistan will never accept the hegemony or over lordship of India. Even if India wants to play a role in beleaguered Afghanistan it cannot because geographically Pakistan stands in between.

Is Pakistan’s intelligence agency comprised of goofs who would not know that their complicity with Haqqani group cannot remain a secret? The only rationale that lies behind Pakistan’s reluctance to expand its war to North Waziristan is not to thin out it forces further and suffer more loss of Pakistani soldiers. After all it is not Pakistan’s exclusive war.

If United States thinks that attacking and destroying Haqqani network was so indispensible, she and NATO are free to launch their military forays in North Waziristan, though it may be violation of the territorial integrity of Pakistan.

After all its deadly drone attacks are continuing unabated in complete disregard of Pakistan’s protestations. What then stops her from military action in North Waziristan? But would that be sagacious for her to do so?

The young foreign minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani has rightly remarked that it was the choice of United States to leave Pakistan but it is she and not Pakistan that would suffer in the longer run.

She was again right earnest when she asked America not to believe the hearsay and come out with facts and figures. Her remarked were drenched in national honor when she articulated candidly that, “don’t humiliate Pakistan, as it will be at your own cost”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leon Panetta’s Warning to Pakistan

September 21, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The newly appointed United States’ Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has castigated Pakistan for not taking military action against the so called Haqqani group now braced against the NATO military combine in Afghanistan. In his hard hitting statement, the American defense secretary displayed an overly aggressive posture that was loaded with dire consequences for Pakistan if she did not go by the dictates of the United States.

Leon Panetta in his September 15 stunning dictation has sternly asked Pakistan to cut off her ties with the Haqqani network and help eliminate its leaders. He warned that if Pakistan did not comply, the United States will act unilaterally against the group.
Mr. Panetta’s assertive statement can be termed as a veiled warning in that he implied that if Pakistan was reluctant to oblige the United States, then NATO would extend their fight to North Waziristan. They would not mind if it would be a grave infringement of the international law and violation of the territorial integrity of an ally.

Unmindful of the sovereignty and national interests of Pakistan, America seems to be poised to bomb North Waziristan, a sector of FATA that has remained immune so far from the military operations of the Pakistan army. Pakistan army is already fighting in the South Waziristan to flush out the Taliban insurgents. Such a military onslaught by the United States and NATO might drag on for an indefinite period of time.

It would, however, result in further undermining the already precarious security situation in Pakistan, because of incessant terrorism on her soil by the militants. Even the Haqqani group might join the militant Taliban in an unmitigated spree of vendetta attacks in the length and breadth of Pakistan.

In the event of a full scale war that NATO and United States would launch, the terrorist attacks and suicide bombing on Pakistan’s mainland would accentuate. Pakistan is already under unremitting terrorism from anti Pakistan Taliban, wreaking havoc all over and destroying its social peace and economy.

The United States considers North Waziristan-based Haqqani network run by Mualvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani to be a resilient adversary of United States and at the same time an ally of Taliban and pro-Pakistan.

Presumably Pakistan has been reluctant to expand her anti-Taliban, military operations to North Waziristan because of the fond hope that in the event of American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Haqqani group would protect Pakistan’s interests in that war ravaged country.

But of late, the group is reported to be operating from Afghanistan as it feels safer there than staying in the North Waziristan situated within the so called FATA (federally administered areas). Haqqani network is believed to be behind the series of brutal attacks that were launched against the NATO forces including the September 12, 2011 attack on the US Embassy and nearby NATO bases in Kabul that lasted for 19 hours.

The Unites States and NATO commanders perceive Haqqani insurgent group as the most dangerous, organized and trenchant as compared to others Taliban factions. This insurgent faction is alleged to have their links with the ISI and Pakistan army.

It may be instructive to know that Haqqani group was in the lead of the American proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But when United States turned against Taliban, they joined the latter to liberate Afghanistan from the NATO branding it as the occupation force.

Instead of resorting to a knee jerk reaction and punitive retaliation through military means, the United States could cultivate the Haqqani group for liaison, rapport and link with the anti-American Taliban. This has all the more become a pressing need for America after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani on 20 September 2011, by Taliban.

Burhanuddin was trying to bring about a kind of rapprochement between the Taliban and the United States to pave way for a face saving exit of NATO and United States from Afghanistan.

United State should realize that there is a limit for Pakistan to oblige United States and endure pressure from the NATO commanders to keep fighting for the sake of occupation alliance. If Pakistan cannot expand her anti Taliban war to North Waziristan and the United States in concert with NATO embarks upon the solo fight, then the exit of United States from Afghanistan would be stalled indefinitely.

It is not the Haqqani group that was responsible for 9/11 attacks on American soil but Al-Qaida that has been considerably mauled by the United States in the aftermath of that horrendous happening. Haqqani group can be won over and used for forging a link with Taliban and thus end their hostilities against the occupation forces.

America should understand that the war is not the only option that can help her to achieve the stipulated objectives. In any case, sooner or later, United States will have to vacate Afghanistan as she is faced with a guerrilla war that would never end. In the meantime the already ravaged economy of United Sates would come under further strains impinging upon its status as the most prosperous nation in the world.

It is better to negotiate than use the language of weapons to annihilate the enemy. On the whole the presence of NATO and United States in Afghanistan for ten long years was a grave mistake. In order to punish Al-Qaida, it got engrossed in a futile conflict with a self created enemy i.e., Taliban, that was pliant to the United States prior to the start of the hostilities. The Taliban may never be totally vanquished or subdued because of the terrain and their guerilla mode of fighting.

It is high time for the United States to use carrot than stick and try to woo the rival factions of Taliban to get out of the quagmire of Afghanistan well in time. To use Pakistan as a scapegoat for the military failures of NATO and American troops is a fallacious approach and cannot be rewarding in the longer run.

Pakistan as a mercenary or ally of the United States against terrorism has already rendered supreme sacrifices by way of its shattered economy, the high death toll of its soldiers and the massive disruption of peace within.

To put more burden on her and harping the tune to “do more” would be counterproductive. Such a pressure tactic would be tantamount to force Pakistan to continue fighting against her own people and making them eternal enemy that might result in the break up of Pakistan. Pakistan cannot and must not expand the war theatre beyond South Waziristan.

Rather Pakistan should also withdraw from South Waziristan as a gesture of goodwill and reconciliation towards Taliban and to signal that it was time for cessation of hostilities. This policy of pacifism would also benefit the United States because a friendly, cohesive and untied Afghanistan under national government would also be friendly towards the United States.

Why should Taliban be perpetually punished for a crime that was committed by Al-Qaida? United States in return can win the people of Afghanistan through aid and by joining reconstruction efforts of that massively ravaged country like it did in Germany in the post World War II era.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rebuilding Pakistan----Part 3:Modernization of Railways

September 18, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Railway is a relatively inexpensive and handy mode of traveling for the middle and lower middle classes in Pakistan. But due to neglect and lack of any planning for its improvement this vital medium of traveling has been deteriorating. A stage has arrived now when the engines are failing, the bogies are breaking down. The diesel is not enough, the trains derail, accidents take place and the delays are frequent.In Pakistan there is no notable improvement in the railway system since 1947 when the British left.

Sadly the successive governments have seldom thought of modernizing the railways that is the major, the most affordable and cheap form of travelling for the common people of Pakistan. Instead that the railways should have improved and expanded keeping in view the needs of growing populations, it has been worsening with the time passage.

Now a dismal stage has arrived where the engines are becoming dysfunctional because of the excessive use. The bogies are getting obsolete and decrepit because there was no addition or replacement of the old and ramshackle carriages.

At some point of time a railway carriage factory was established near Islamabad. But ever since its inception, it has been encountering one problem after another. The necessary initiatives for running it on productive lines or with a deep sense of obligation have always been deficient. This railway carriage factory looks like a dead or dying horse with no signs of revival.

Pakistan can learn from Germany or China how to operate an efficient and flawless railways system. A delegation of experts in locomotives should be sent to Germany to understand and imbibe the mechanism and operational procedures by which they operate their railways.

In Germany and also elsewhere in Europe the trains are seldom late or the engines fail. The train would arrive at the railway stations by dot. The doors would automatically open and close. The latrines are clean; the railway stations are immaculately free of any encroachments or surfeit of coolies.

The passengers have the allotted seats. The signals are automatic and the communications between the railways stations is computerized. The carriages or bogies are sparkling and neat. There is always a complete decorum and orderliness at railways stations. There is no solicitation or bribe for buying tickets. There is always plenty of space for parking outside the railway stations.

I have mentioned some of the features of the most remarkable railways system being operated in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The railway tracks are invariably two ways, unlike Pakistan where a train has to wait till the other train clears the other track for the movement. Let us now ponder as to what could be the immediate steps to make Pakistan’s railway workable and truly efficient.

Without fail and further loss of time there should be two tracks laid out between Karachi and Peshawar. There should also be two tracks between the junction lines and the main railway stations.

The delegation should study the railway operations in Germany with entire focus on main railway stations such as Frankfurt, Munich or Hannover. That should serve as a model for the Pakistan Railways to adopt. A model railway station should be created in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi or Peshawar with all the attendant facilities that are provided in Germany or in other cities of Europe.

A Chinese model can also be copied and implemented. Rather it would be more handy and useful for the Chinese experts to put up a model railway station in one of the big cities of Pakistan.

The modern railway system in various countries is operated with the latest technology for signals, for movement of trains between the stations and for ticketing. These railways stations that I have seen and in which I travelled in European cities, are a treat to the eyes. The trains are seldom late whether for arrival or departure because the whole system is automatic and computerized.

The trains to be run under the new system in Pakistan should have air-conditioning and heating systems for summer and winters. There should be no classifications of carriages into first, second or third class as that is the legacy of the imperialist past. One bogie should be for special passengers who should pay more than the normal train fares.

If the state owned railway carriage factory is moribund and is not in full production or is plagued with administrative problems or paucity of funds, it should be sold to the private sector. In that situation the government will be free from financial burden and can purchase the carriages from the buyers of this factory whose owners would ensure optimum output for windfall profits and good business.

If the factories for manufacturing railway engines cannot be set up for the time being these should be imported in bulk, against credit or cash from China and Turkey: the two friendly countries.

The cleanliness in trains and on the platforms should be an article of faith for the managers and operators of the railway system. At present the toilet in trains and on railway stations are invariably and repulsively filthy and kept dirty for days together. These should be equipped with flush and underground sewerage systems.

The carriages should be designed as we can find in developed countries that have separate seats besides restaurants. There should be no turbaned vendors climbing up or alighting from the trains with food trays. That is also a loathsome tradition of the British era. The coolie system should be discarded as it is a disgrace to the humanity.

All the present force of coolies should be provided jobs in various railways departments and no more coolies should be hired. The trolleys system that one sees at various railways stations elsewhere is the best for anyone to move luggage to the train by paying a small amount.

All trains should be run on electricity for which an entire exclusive power generation system should be created for the railways. If main power grids fluctuate or trip then the alternate generation system should be fuel operated or from rental units.

But it should provide round the clock and never failing supply of electricity.
The railway stations should be cleared of all vendors and they should run their businesses on a corner or outside the main railway station building so that they do not create obstacles in the movement of the passengers.

Usually the modern railway stations are covered including the places where the trains stop and start. This facility can be created at the first model railway station and depending upon the availability of funds can be gradually expanded to all the major railway stations.

The railway lands that have been grabbed by the land mafias should be retrieved without any hesitation. This land can be disposed off for raising funds to meet the huge expenditure that would be involved in creating a new modern trouble-free railway system in Pakistan.

The railway should be a freeway railway with no cross stops for the vehicles to pass. All the pedestrian crossings and those of vehicles should have automatic barriers that should close before the passing of train and open after it has passed.

The failure and deterioration of the railway system in Pakistan over the years is due largely to the dirty tricks and intrigues of the road transporters who want to capitalize on the failure and dysfunction of a prime cheap system of passengers’ travel in Pakistan. The transporters’ mafia is the strongest in Pakistan as these are people who are top notches in businesses, in government and in power.

As a result of their anti- railway machinations and insidious campaigning, the railway has reached this appalling state of debility and paralysis and acute mal-functioning. Also the steel mafia has been active to buy railway tracks by getting many junction railway lines closed and their steel tracks sold out in the markets.

This criminal anti-people and anti- railway greed perpetrated by the steel mill owners in tandem with the high railway authorities including the successive railway ministers have been going on for years together. The railway lines to such cities as Chakwal were dismantled at the behest of one of the railway ministers who was also a retired army general.

The delegation and the task force on overhauling and modernizing the railways should prepare the plan that should be promptly approved by the government and implemented without wasting further time. This might prove as a feather in the cap of any government that is conscious and concerned about the present awful state of affairs in Pakistan Railways.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rebuilding Pakistan-part 2: Creating Big Lakes along the Rivers

September 16, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The devastation wrought by the floods in recent years in Pakistan is harrowing. The vast land in all the four provinces is submerged under the thick layer of water. Countless cattle heads, livestock die and the standing crops are ruined.Beside scores of humans also perish in the huge floods that look like the biblical deluge.

This is a recurring phenomenon and every year rural population has to bear the brunt of the colossal destruction caused by the raging floods that start from the upper reaches down to the sea. The people remain marooned for months together. They are displaced and due to meager or no help from the government, suffer from malnutrition, sickness like malaria and dengue fever; the abdominal disorders like diahorrea and thus several die or remain on the bed for a long time.

Last year there was remarkable participation by the federal and local provincial governments and also by the international donors to help the affected people who fell back on poverty, hunger and shortage of staple food. But the most glaring and phenomenal loss is that of water that flows down into the ocean without being utilized for the whole year.

I have seen in The United States that around every city there is a ring of big lakes that are either man made or naturally created. But mostly these have been created by the government. These lakes serve several purposes.

First these provide drinking water round the year. From these lakes, the water is pumped to the filtration plants and then sent to reservoirs. Whenever the tap or faucet is turned on, the crystal clear water gushes out with great force. It shows how plentifully the water is available in all the cities, towns and villages of the United States.

After every furlong or 200 to 300 meters there is a fire hydrant. That is meant to provide emergency water in case of fire. In the entire length and breadth of the county and even in remote villages, there will be these water hydrants on the roadside. The water released from these steel hydrants is enormously forceful and flows out with tremendous pressure and like a torrent.

Secondly, these lakes provide water for agricultural purposes. In case of drought this water is always available in every season. The lakes add to the beauty of the environment with picturesque surroundings, for picnicking, boating, fishing, partying and similar enjoyable pastimes. There are parks, and BBQ huts and green areas created around these lakes.

The water sports are a part of the great fun that is provided at these lakes. These lakes remain full of boats and small ships that the people own or hire. These lakes help maintain the ecological balance and are most scenic places in the vicinities of the cities.

Pakistan is blessed with five rivers that overflow during the rainy season and reduce to a trickle during the dry weather. Yet still the water keeps flowing due to the glaciers that cover the mountains’ peaks round the year.

Those cities which are far away from the rivers can be ringed with artificial lakes and some portion of the water from the canals also can be diverted to these man-made lakes.

As earlier stated, during the monsoon rains and even during the heavy downpours, cities in Pakistan are inundated causing great financial loss and displacement of the citizens. The standing crops are destroyed and the peasants are impoverished.

When the rain water dries up, the epidemics of diseases seize the human habitats. The citizens remain vulnerable to all kinds of ailments that germinate from the dirty, stinking rain water swarmed by all kind of bacteria, worms, insects, flies and mosquitoes.

It is extremely necessary to construct wider and deep drainage outlets to carry the water from the cities and villages to the lakes. There are such open drainage channels or creeks in every city of the United Sates that flush out the rain water by the time the clouds wither away.

In Pakistan all the water that accumulates in the cities due to rains mostly dries up but cannot be preserved as we have no storm drains, channels or ducts to move the water out of the cities.

The task of creating lakes to save flood and rain water should be assigned to a special task force that should speedily acquire the land and start digging the beds for lakes and constructing levees or embankments around where necessary. Otherwise simply the depth of lakes would be enough to contain water without cemented levees.

These lakes should be like Mancher Lake in Sindh that is a great source of fishing and water for the local areas. Lake Manchar is the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of the largest in Asia. It is located west of the Indus River in Sindh. The area of the lake fluctuates with the seasons from as little as 350 km² to 520 km²maximum.

There are 135 lakes both natural and manmade in India. One can imagine how much stationary water should be available for the Indian population round the year in all part of country. Likewise there are innumerable big and small lakes in West Europe and in Canada that are source of constant supply of water in these countries for all kind of uses.

More than the use of water for human consumption or irrigation or ecological balance, these lakes are vital for controlling the colossal damage and devastation that the floods and overflowing of rivers cause to the vast number of people in Pakistan more specifically in the Punjab and Sindh provinces.

There cannot be two opinions that if the flood water is contained in lakes and our crops are protected from the heavy rains or floods and drought, Pakistan would be able to not only feed its people, bring prosperity to the tillers and farmers but would be able to earn foreign exchange that is hugely spent every year on imports of grains and food items.

• The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Altaf Hussain behaved like a Clown

September 10, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

If it was a humor purposely injected in his long network address to make it spicy, then it was certainly a clumsy and ludicrous humor. To express thoughts and reflections on very somber issues of violence and lawlessness in Karachi, a leader resorts to singing cheap film lyrics, swinging and mimicking the original singers.

It was enough to show the shallow side of the unassailable leader of a militant political party that otherwise claims peace and overreach to the downtrodden. At the same time he waved the holy book over his head in a way as if it was a fun-show to please the audience. It was unusually lengthy and boring sermon that was faithfully broadcast by the Pakistani TV channels live, either on payment or gratis.

Altaf Hussain whose face and physique looked run down and debilitated was not a person who did not seem to be in the mysterious hospital for a few days for recovery and recuperation from some physical ailment that also remains unexplained. Hr should have looked robust and healthy which he was not. Indeed he was the real Altaf Hussain but under heavy burden of some unknown paranoia.

His sermon that was telecast and listened by MQM adherents with rapt attention and as usual in large congregations was a potpourri and a mixed bag of frivolous anecdotes, inane rebuttals and loud-pitched denunciation of Zulfiqar Mirza’ litany of grave allegations against Rehman Malik as well as MQM.

The songs were vulgar and hardly fitted into the solemn issues that were being mulled by the great leader in his fitful fury and spell of overdone eloquence. The serious charges against MQM, bordering on treason and betrayal against Pakistan and aimed at its dismemberment were not earnestly addressed by the fire-spiting leader whose entire tone and center was jesting, ridicule, derision and making his prolonged address piquant and spicy.

He did not vividly and with modesty respond to the allegations of slaughter, rape, arson, extortion, kidnapping, running of torture cells and spearheading an orgy of brutal bloodletting for three decades that this militant party was brought into being. The charge of killing Imran Farooq, the GEO reporter Wali Mohammad Babar and several other prominent figures were not specifically answered or explained by the MWM chief.

The MQM’s cardinal approach and philosophy is to rule by terror and intimidation and to keep its firm hold over the largest city of Pakistan. Its cohesion and internal monolithic unity is an enviable yet loathsome example for other political parties how to keep the ranks together.

Its bargaining power and clout is so irresistible that it always wrestled out from the PPP government what it demanded. It got its local body system back in Karachi and Hyderabad while in the rest of Sindh it is the commissionerate system of bureaucratic governance that would be in vogue. How could PP take such a divisive and resentful decision?

It succeeded in driving a wedge between Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza and Asif Ali Zardari. Dr. Mirza had to quit the PPP when he felt himself irrelevant in the party for not being taken seriously with regard to his allegations about the conspiratorial collusion between interior minister Rehman Malik and the MQM.

To win the parliamentary support of MQM and to remain in power, Asif Ali Zardari had to ditch and abandon his chum and family friend Zulfiqar Mirza. The PPP stands divided in Sindh between pro Zulfiqar Mirza and the national Sindhis on one side and the party in power on the other.

The way the MQM simultaneously blows hot and cold and is always on the lookout for driving the maximum mileage out of the marooned PPP government at the centre, speaks for its shrewdness and self interest. It seldom agrees on restoring peace in Karachi but makes untenable demands that in normal situations could not be accepted.

The biggest charge that Zulfiqar Mirza leveled against MQM is that it was willing to become a catalyst for dismemberment of Pakistan planned by the United States. In this regard he showed a letter written by MQM chief to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.He alleged that Rehman Malik was also privy and part of that diabolic conspiracy.

The MQM leader of all hues and cries are busy in decrying Dr Mirza and his charge-sheet against their party but their outcry and Defense lack force, vitality, logic and veracity that could match the roaring outbursts of Zulfiqar Mirza.

With this latest saber-rattling between a faction of the renegade PPP stalwarts and that of MQM, the possibilities of MQM spreading its tentacles elsewhere in Pakistan seem to be halted, at least for the time being.

The MQM’ fearsome profile that it had built over the years might be melting away after a battle cry from Dr. Mirza who would be joined by such strong ethnic and religious factions as Jamaat-e- Islami, ANP and the nationalist Sindhis.

Once the MQM’s rank and file on the lower strata of population in Karachi gets emboldened to defy and openly oppose MQM, the political situation for MQM would not remain congenial, nor would its vote bank remain intact.

Altaf Hussain’s loaded warning to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to be cautious in handing out verdict against the Urdu speaking people is presumptuous, roguish and ominous for the tenuous peace in Karachi. In this regard, MQM would prefer to stand in line with PPP for flouting the apex court’s decisions either by outright refusal and defiance or going slow on their implementation.

In the wake of so many rivals on the landscape of Pakistan and its tarnished image of a cutthroat and fear mongering party, it would be doubtful if it can stem its dwindling reputation as a social welfare or political outfit that can rid Pakistan of her myriad problems.

Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza versus Rehman Malik

September 7, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The chickens have come home to Roost. There is a massive spilling of beans by a former interior minister of Sindh against a sitting interior minister at the Center. Interestingly both belong to the same party. Using the third idiom one could also stipulate that it was like washing the indoor dirty linen of one colleague against another in the public.

No one would have entertained an iota of such a presumption that Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza a firebrand former interior minister of Sindh province and a high ranking stalwart of the ruling Pakistan peoples’ Party would rebel against his party. He resigned from all party offices.

His rebellious drumbeat is patently directed not only against Rehman Malik and MQM, but implicitly also his own party, the president of the party, the president of Pakistan, his bosom friend, his guardian angel and benefactor: the inimitable Asif Ali Zardari.

Primarily his target is the interior minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik whom Dr Mirza portrays as a devil reincarnate. He holds Mr. Malik as the principal villain stoking the fires of the bloody gang wars and for clandestine involvement in unremitting violence, incessant and spine chilling string of assassinations in Karachi.

The people of Karachi mostly from poor and backward sections of society are being killed every day by the mysterious snipers and unidentified sharp shooters now fearlessly stalking that largest metropolis of Pakistan.

Dr Mirza swore a solemn vow on the holy book Quran while leveling these unusual charges against his own party affiliate to drive home the point that what he was saying was truth and nothing but truth.

He charged that Rehman Malik was in unison with MQM to break Pakistan. To beef up his claim he flaunted a letter that he claimed was written by MQM to the former British prime minister Tony Blair.

He accused Rehman Malik of harboring the criminals elements, the extortionists, the merciless killers and thus was a public enemy and also the spoiler of the peace and law and order in Karachi of which he supposed to be the custodian.

He heaped excessive indignities on Rehman Malik by vilifying him in the strongest possible terms. He rudely spurned the appeasing remarks of Rehman that Dr Mirza was his brother. Vigorously cursing and emphatically castigating Mr. Malik, Dr Mirza roared that he can never be a brother of such a dishonorable person.

He blamed Mr. Malik to be a rank and compulsive liar who did not believe nor observe any moral principles, who maintains two faces, indulges in double speak and was outright hypocritical.

Dr Mirza implied that by sheltering the heinous killers and assassins, in collusion with MQM, he was an abettor of the terrorism and was therefore paving way for the dismemberment of Pakistan.

Dr Mirza’s stunning and unbelievable outpourings of extreme disgust about a top ranking member of PPP and a close confidant of the party’s chairman has taken the people by surprise. Such a unique condemnation of a minister from one’s own party might have few parallels in political feuds.

There are inner party rivalries for power, and tussle between vested interests that are seldom spilled out. But to lash out with least shadow of discretion, and the astonishing way Dr Mirza has lambasted and maligned a party heavyweight, a leading celebrity and a minister with a powerful portfolio, is unheard of.

Against these battle cries of deafening nature, the party and the government in power has maintained an eerie silence and is trying to deflect the impression that it is like a feeble wave of morning breeze that would pass away. There is not even a whimper of reaction or concern exhibited by the party leaders and particularly the prime minister and the president about this earth shaking charge sheet.

The aghast and wonder struck people are looking with utter disbelief and unusual awe why the government is unmoved. The PPP government has not even given the slightest indication as to what action or recourse it would adopt to look into the well-substantiated charges by a very intimate party fellow. The proposal of the constitution of judicial commission by Rehman Malik has been brusquely spurned by the prime minister for no cogent reasons.

If an enquiry commission is not constituted to look into the serious and egregious accusation of treachery and un-patriotism by a prominent member of the ruling coterie, against another heavyweight, then this is the end of the game for decency, rule of law and upright conduct of the people in power. People should get rid of these enemies masquerading as leaders and custodians of this land called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

United Nations’ Vote for Palestinian State

September 5, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The Palestinian National Authority will make a formal request to seek recognition as a state at the annual session of the UNO starting on September 20.While United States is dissuading PLA from moving such a resolution in UNO, it is equally determined to veto such a request to the UN Security Council for recognition and thus deprive the Palestinians of their legitimate right to the statehood.

In case the USA and Israel cannot block the voting or diminish the number of votes in the United Nations for the defeat of the PLA resolution, The United Nations will elevate the existing status of the Palestinians’ “nonvoting observer entity” to that of a “nonvoting observer state”.

In the meantime United States is approaching the world capitals to exhort them not to vote for the Palestinian request for the recognition of the status of statehood in the United Nations.

America is also utilizing the so called “Quartet Group” specially constituted to deal with the Middle East, to send fresh peace proposals to the United Nations members to keep them away from the voting. The group comprises United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

As a part of her strategy to thwart or minimize the number of votes in favor of PNA initiative, the Obama administration approached some 70 countries around the world not to cast vote for the Palestinian move.

As such the USA is heavily bending over backward to keep hedging its protégé Israel and deprive the people of Palestine their legitimate right to join the other nations as a state although without any right to vote in the United Nations. It would be a symbolic recognition.

Obviously the United State’s bid is to derail or stall the proposed move by the Palestinians so that another year goes without giving this right to the beleaguered nation of Palestine.

Simultaneously, the USA would pull all the strings and mobilize all its efforts to win for Israel, the acceptance of Israel’s demand for recognition of its status as a Jewish state. The most pressing and thorny issues of the fast emerging new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the status of Jerusalem would be left untouched.

The diplomatic thrust that United States has launched for quite some time is three-pronged. It wants the Palestinians not to move for voting in the United Nations for a recognized status as a state.

It wants to open new phase of negotiations between the two contenders to start afresh the peace parleys and narrow their divergences as far as possible.They also want both sides to keep intact the security arrangements in the West Bank and along Israel border with the land under the control of the Palestinian authority.

The burning issue of the proliferating settlements on the occupied lands is not being seriously considered by the United States which means that the entire effort on the part of USA is patently partisan and merely aimed at upholding the stance of Israel.
It is foregone that the majority of the UN members would vote in favor of the

Palestinian request. As a result, it would be an utter failure of the US diplomacy, culminating into two negative consequences for the United States. There will be spurt in the anti-American sentiment among the Palestinians particularly and the Arabs generally.

That would be a stumbling block to the US efforts in befriending the Arab states that are in a state of turmoil and fighting against their bloody dynastic rulers for liberation and democracy. United States will lose much of its goodwill that it has so far generated by supporting the people’s uprising against their despotic potentates.

It would also embitter the climate of understanding and frustrate the kind of fragile truce that seems to be in place between the two belligerents. Thus the hard-line entities within the Palestinians, such as Hamas would gain more support and broader sympathy from the swaths of the Palestinians. Thus the situation would remain volatile and once again the skirmishes could start: Hamas sending missiles to Israel and receiving missiles in return.

Unless United States is in a confident position to assure the Palestinians that her new efforts aimed at finding a resolution to the lingering dispute between Israel and the Palestinians would be fruitful, the latter would not concede to America’s pleas for not making the request for recognition of statehood.

As the past is a witness, Israel reneges on her commitments each time, when a peace initiative resumes under aegis of the United Nations or United States and the solution is in sight. Thus the situation return back to square one and the stalemate continues.

Understandably, this time, the Palestinians would not be hoodwinked, pressurized or pursued to withdraw their request to be tabled before the United Nations. Even if it carries simple majority votes, they would still get the new coveted status and that would be a giant leap for them ever since their dispute with Israel arose.

Secondly, they would be able to pass on the message across the capitals that Israel and the United States were hand in glove and were even opposed to the minimum privilege for the Palestinians of getting symbolic recognition as a state.

It may not affect Israel, as she in the past, has been thwarting and sidetracking all peace overtures and the treaties including Oslo agreement, arrived at with PLO and of late with the Palestinian National Authority.

However, it would be a stupendous moral setback for the United States and may send wrong signals to the Arab capitals for being unfair to the Palestinians and heavily partisan in favor of Israel.

Ahmadiat, Baha’i and Mormonism

September 1, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Islam, Christianity and Judaism have promised a redeemer to the mankind at a time when the earth will be filled with sinners and when evil and wickedness of all hues and shades would become the order of the day. This redeemer, in fact, would be Jesus Christ who would reappear towards the end of time. Whilst the Abrahamic religions are unanimous on the second coming of the Jesus Christ, they differ as to how he would establish the kingdom of God on earth.

For Muslims Jesus is the Prophet while for Christians he is the son of God. Muslims also believe that there would be a forerunner of Jesus (Issa) called Mahdi who would trigger the war against the infidels. Both would fight against the forces of evil led by Dajjal.

Thus through relentless struggle against the enemies of God including the killing of Dajjal and his followers, Jesus and Mahdi would establish a veritable realm of God where peace and pleasure would prevail.

Jews used to believe that a Messiah would come at the time appointed by God. He would restore the promised land of Palestine to them. He will turn the world into a paradise. According to them Messiah will be a human being, not in any way divine. The dead will live again in the Messianic era, and the world will attain a new spiritual and physical level of perfection.

But waiting for several centuries when such a redeemer never came, they attained the state of Israel through a political struggle and therefore most of them have eschewed the coming of the Jesus. They do not believe in the first resurrection of the Jesus after his crucifixion as believed by the Christians.

For Jews it would be a different Messiah not of Nazareth. For Christians it would be Jesus’ second coming. For Muslims, he will return from heavens where he is staying with God.

Christians believe in the second coming of the Jesus at the end of the time to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. This would be the final establishment of God’s rule over all creation, in which there will be complete peace and happiness.

While the adherents of Islam, Christianity and some segments of Judaism still wait for the advent of a Messiah, the three religions founded in 19th century namely Ahmadiat, Baha’i and Mormonism (also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints) already have such three Messiahs. Their founders are called prophets and were contemporaries.

These three religions or denominations are in minority and brutally suppressed in their places of origin because they challenged the established religions particularly the faith about the reappearance of the promised messenger.

Not only that Ahmadiat (also known as Mirzaiyat or Qadianyat), Baha’i and Mormon faiths are contemporary religions of 19th century, they have many common features also. All these three religions preach peace and their believers are extremely devoted, selfless and unflinching in their adherence to their faith.

Notwithstanding their claim of messenger, Messiah or similarity in some outward common features, these latter day religions have nothing in common in regard to their worship and religious practices. However, their way of operation is almost identical. For instance they have countless volunteers who devote their lives for preaching and publicizing their religions.

All these three religions have an immaculate network for raising funds, dissemination of information and publication of literature. They love to invite the people to their worshiping places and religious congregations. Drinking of Alcohol is prohibited in all the three religions.

Every Ahmadi, Baha’i or Mormon contributes a percentage of his income to the welfare and promotion of his or her religion. They believe that their founder is the promised Messenger or Messiah as mentioned in their respective scriptures.

This messenger is Jesus Christ who was crucified (not in Muslim belief) but ascended to heavens instead. These new religions believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has already happened in the physical form of their prophets or apostles.

In the United States where freedom of religion is guaranteed, such denominations have a field day. Although some time they are bitterly opposed by the mainstream religions but they keep working without fear of persecution or execution. This is the reason while at the places or territories of their birth or initiation they are maltreated, they flourish and abound abroad.

Joseph Smith founded the Mormon or latter Day Saints’ Church in New York in 1830 but was killed by a mob in 1844.However a permanent church in Salt Lake city was established in 1847.Today people of Mormon faith number around 9.5 million.

Joseph Smith’s first indication of his being chosen as the prophet or Messiah came in 1923 when he claimed to have met Moroni the son of prophet Mormon. Moroni an angel or prophet conferred on him the exalted status of a Messiah with the task of restoration of Christ's true church in the latter days.

The Mormons believe in Joseph Smith as the resurrected Jesus Christ The Mormons believe that with the presentation of the new testament of Jesus Christ by Joseph Smith, the divine purpose of second coming of Jesus Christ was not only fulfilled but Church of God was also reestablished.

The Mormons or the “Latter Day Saints” are lucky because their religion was born in America and barring the early outrage of the Christian Orthodox Church against them, later they have been free to preach and practice their religion. The Mormon religion which branched off from the Christianity prays basically in the Christian tradition with certain additions. They believe in polygamy.

Same is the case with the Bahais in the birth place of their religion Iran. Any one professing Baha’i religion in Iran has to go through great ordeals. In the past they underwent exceptional trials and tribulations so much so that Bab the forerunner of Bahaullah, was sent to gallows. Bahaullah himself suffered untold hardships after proclaiming himself as a prophet.

The Bahais hold that it was Bahaullah from Iran sent by God as the prophet to lead the astrayed humanity. Mirza Ali Mohammad known as Al Bab founded Babism in 1844 a sect from which the Baha’i faith grew. Bab named himself the Mahdi or the Messiah. He was the forerunner of Bahaullah and foretold the coming of a promised messiah. Later Bahaullah claimed to be the promised Messiah.

The founder of Baha’i religion Bahaullah declared being a prophet in 1863 when he was 46 years old. He preached his faith for almost 29 years. Baha’i religion is basically an offshoot of Islam but Bahais believe in all the religions and maintain that Baha’i was the crystallization of all the previous religions.

They believe in oneness of God, of humanity and of religions. Baha’i faith postulates that in the present day times when mankind, thanks to technological and scientific miracles has become civilized, there was not need of so many religions to guide the humanity. Baha’i think that their religion presented the synthesis of all the past religions and faith and was therefore acceptable and in accord with the changing times.

The Baha’i faith ordains simple prayers to be uttered with or without music but mostly it is with instrumental music. There are no fixed days or hours for such prayers which had been mostly written by Bahaullah.

Bahais don’t follow the fundamental injunctions of Muslims faith that have been profusely quoted both by Bab and Bahaullah. This was due to the fact that prior to the declaration of their self-proclaimed divine status, they followed the Shia faith. Their religion is easy to practice.

Finally came Mirza Ghulam Ahmed from Qadian (India), the founder of Ahmadiat who at different times between 1882 and 1908, laid the same claim of being a messenger of God and the shadow of the final prophet of Islam Mohammad (PBUH).

In a way the founder of Ahmadiat religion made two claims: one that he was Prophet Mohammad reincarnate (shadow) and secondly that he was the resurrected Jesus Christ or the promised Messiah.

Ahmadis mostly retain the Islamic elements of faith in that they pray five times a day, go for pilgrimage, fast for full month etc. But again they have added many new elements such as the name of their prophet into Kalima (declaration of belief in God and Prophet Muhammad) and also in Azan (beckoning Muslims to come for prayers).The Ahmadis are officially declared as the infidels, apostates or heretic in Pakistan.

Incidentally, all these founders of new religions markedly succeeded in their missions albeit, understandably, after stiff opposition from the mainstream religions. But still the questions remains that how could three messengers or Messiahs appear at the same time and co exist?

For non-believers in these three faiths, it is utterly difficult to figure out why all the reincarnated messengers appeared at the same time and in the same century. It is also difficult to confidently say which messenger is the right one and which is phony or an imposter. But logically there should be one among them whose claim may sound convincing. Then the only question remains as to which other two are false or fake.

All the three messengers or redeemers have entirely different teachings of their faith, yet each one of them professes that his code is the one ordained by God. God almighty cannot send three promised messengers at the same time who impart three absolutely conflicting religious statutes or God’s messages.

There could be a possibility that the advent of one founder led the other two to follow suit. It was Joseph Smith of Mormon religion who saw Moroni prophet in 1823 and declared his prophet-hood in 1830.He was followed by Bahaullah from Teheran, the founder of Baha’i faith who proclaimed his divine status of a messenger cum Messiah in 1863. The third in the row was Mirza Ghulam Ahmed who declared himself as the promised messiah first in 1882.

As written in holy Quran and scriptures of Christian or Jewish religions, the reincarnation of a promised Messiah would presage a colossal global disorder, turmoil, strife, wars and prevalence of monstrosities of all kinds.

The messenger would be engaged with the evil forces at great peril to his life and would undergo unparalleled hardships till he would finally overcome all the hostile forces to establish the rule of God.

But in the case of all these messengers there were no such happenings before or during their lifetimes as mentioned in the holy scriptures of all the religions originating from Abraham. All the three founders instead preached peace and were utterly against violent methods or crusades for the religious pursuits.

The world has not seen that these messengers as prophesied in Jewish, Islamic or Christian scriptures had ever fought against the perceived opponents or evils or Satan physically or with an army.

Then the question is that if all these messengers do not qualify for the merits or fulfill the conditions of the promised messenger as clearly mentioned in the holy books, then why they are believed as such by millions of human beings.

As prophesied in the scriptures, if they could not transform the world into a paradise and a place free of sins and sufferings then how can one believe that one of them was the Mahdi, the redeemer, the Messiah or the messenger of God? There was neither an Armageddon prior to their arrival nor any Dajjal to fight with.

It is equally impossible to figure out who among them fits into the mold of a promised Messiah as only one of them can be right or genuine and none of them. This puts doubt over the truthfulness of the claims of all three founders of 19th century new religions for being the resurrected Jesus or a redeemer of humanity towards the end of time. And finally no one knows if that was the end of time when they lived.

Someone There to Rescue Pakistan!

July 25, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Is there someone who can rescue Pakistan and its hapless people from the bloody clutches of Wolves and predators in the garb of humans? A massive deep drift and deadly decay is caving into the fabric of Pakistan and debilitating it like slow poisoning.

If you have a heart then tell me honestly: is it possible to survive in a monthly earning of Rs. 5000(if you have job) in a country where cabbage is 100 rupees a kilo and a watt of electricity cost Rs. 10. On the other far extreme of this bleak sight, there is a prime minister who spends millions on the visit of American philanthropist Angelina Jolie to take her around the shelters of the displaced Pakistanis ravaged by the last year’s flood and living under the open sky.

She was rightfully incensed and left with eerie feelings about the sincerity of leadership in Pakistan. She was stunned to see the extravagant and lavish lives of the people in power, contrasting their starving and hopeless millions. The prime minister threw away millions of rupees on his son’s wedding.

His son is arraigned for a mammoth money scam that is pushed under the carpet in brazen defiance of legal obligations. Every minister is busy in amassing money and making hay during their tenure of power.

There is a president whose pastime is to roam from one world capital to another in presidential jet for purposes that are as questionable and mysterious as his bona-fides. You have a president who is laden with the crime and delinquencies and is scot free. He is totally alienated from the people whom he is supposed to serve.

The Pakistan People’s Party that was hoisted to the roost of power on the crest of a people’s revolution is now sunk in the bottomless abyss of wickedness that one can think of.

The government has discovered an easy and most handy way-out to provide more voltage to the harassed people of Pakistan now growing old and shrunken under the sweltering heat and grinding poverty. It is to rent the second hand or used power units from foreign countries.

These are leased on unusually high prices that also carry their fabulous commissions. The burden of payment to the lessor( the seller) and the commission of the lessee (the minister of power or brokers) are passed on to the consumers who are already turning hunchbacks because of unbearable burgeoning economic burdens.

Lawlessness in Pakistan and pointedly in Pakistan’s leading city Karachi seems to be a blood soaked legacy of the Rwandan massacre. There is no let-up in bloodletting between the rival factions or by the trigger happy shooters.

One can draw the only conclusion from incessant wanton killings that either the government is an accomplice or it is not concerned about such manslaughters and target killings that have become the order of the day.

Where is the hope for a secure and placid future? The misnomer is being peddled that a worst democracy is better than the best autocracy or dictatorship. Do the people want the incumbent democracy to continue and keep spilling disaster every day, every hour and every minute?

I am indeed very sad and dejected over the spiraling violence that is devouring and swallowing the precious lives of the ordinary citizens without any conscious effort or plan by the government to arrest this frenzied trend and madness escalating horrendously.

The media and judiciary in Pakistan are bracing against the defiance of the government that casts media as anti state and throws supreme courts orders to the winds. How willfully and sarcastically, the administration sets aside, the apex court’s ruling on elephantine cases of corruption, dereliction of duty and gross abuse of power.

There is a litany of such cases where supreme courts have been turned into an institution of ridicule and powerless by the administration by not taking the follow up administrative measures.

Such is the abysmal state of affairs that is getting murkier by the day. Pakistan is turning into a dysfunctional state as life in that country is turning traumatic and unbearable. Agonized and panicked crowd called the people of Pakistan are hankering for water, good sanitation, genuine medicines, cure for their patients, good transportation, affordable prices of commodities, safe environment, speedy decisions, honest and responsible government functionaries such as police officials and officialdom.

Anyone can kill anyone on any pretext with remote chance of the culprits being caught or punished. This is the image and construct of a civil society in Pakistan that is worse than those existing during the middle and dark ages. We in Pakistan have put the gear of governance in reverse order while other nations are rapidly advancing on the path of progress, prosperity, unity and strength.

There is no use of projecting ourselves as nuclear power when the common man is caught in a fatiguing struggle of earning two loaves of bread for his starving children.

Why is the army fighting a war to serve the interests of other nations? It is a supportive fight for establishment of neo-colonialism whose agenda is to establish military bases, capture markets and to further their nefarious objectives of robbing and exploiting the untapped resources of the captive nations for their factories and mills.

The Pakistan armed forces are mandated to protect Pakistan and its people from external aggression. It is not obligated to fight in submission to the wishes and designs of foreign powers that nurse their own blighted concepts of self protection and priorities. Why should Pakistan a poor and economically weak country become pawn and part of the global diabolic game that is hollowing her from inside like termite and one day the edifice would crumble to the ground?

Can the leaders of Pakistan both in power and out of power think rationally and patriotically to apprehend and foresee the horrendous dangers and threats lurking over its stability and existence? Would they continue their sinister and insidious musical chairs game of intrigue and greed to take turn in ruling the country and grabbing power by foul and dubious means?

Do they realize that Pakistan is in deep and dire straits? Do they have an iota of commonsense to comprehend the hurricanes that are ferociously blowing to tear this country into pieces? Can they feel the pains and sufferings of the oppressed people of Pakistan passing every day through a life and death ordeal due to hunger, poverty, disease, unbridled and galloping cost of living and scarcity of items of daily use?

Do they know people are losing their lives because of bomb blasts and vendetta killings and gang wars? Do they know young girls are kidnapped on the way to schools and colleges and subjected to rape and sold to prostitute dens? Do they know every day 22000 young boys are molested by the sex predators in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

We call ourselves Muslims and that is what the Islamic demagogues exhort us from the pulpit and from lavishly decorated religious congregations, to become. What is the ground reality? These religious orators incite their followers and sect fellows to slander their opponents and even kill them.

These religious zealots never initiate or start a campaign or float a mission against the social crimes, against the blood-thirsty mafias, against the evil doers, the rapist, the thugs, the looters of public funds, the adulterators, the bribe takers and bribe givers, the up to neck corrupt parliamentarians, the easy to buy jurists, the corrupt bureaucrats, the sleazy generals and the robbers occupying the power corridors.

These religious preachers can interpret to hang a powerless woman for adultery but do not want to punish a muscular and powerful man who kidnaps her and ruins her life at gun point or knife. We believe in distorted version of religious injunctions that hardly bring us any relief, redemptions and justice against the heinous culprits. Where are we heading to?

How can a woman produce four witnesses to prove that she was raped or molested? How a young and teen age girl molested by savage men can brace against the perpetrators for dishonoring her? Why, in the first instance, the laws are not implemented in letter and spirit.

If there is something erroneous in these laws and injunctions then we should be able to amend these for the benefit of the weak and the dispossessed.
I have a solution to stem this swelling rot. This would be presented in the next article.

Arab Spring needs a Second Revolution

August 27, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Arab Spring imperatively needs the Second Revolution. The dazzling Arab spring or revolution that took off with the self immolation of a Tunisian street vender Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17 last year is in dire need of being shifted into the next gear of revolution. In these 8 months the Arab despotic regimes have undergone an unprecedented transformation.

The subdued and enslaved yet enraged and galvanized people swept away their tyrannical and degenerate rulers with their blood and historic sacrifices that will go down in history as watershed break from the gory past with a shimmering present and glorious destiny.

As the history offers incontrovertible evidence, Arab nations have never been so liberated and emancipated as they have been from the dawn of the unique protest of the Tunisian heroic martyr. He would be rightfully remembered as the trend setter of a monumental change now sweeping across the Arab lands and dismantling the tribal and family dynasties.

The dictators are falling like house of cards and paper tigers one after another. They were intrinsically made of chaff and sawdust but were coated in steel with the help of their brutal military network and intelligence mafias. They ruled their people with an iron hand and brooked no leniency or mercy even for the smallest mishaps by their subjects. The brutality and callousness have been the dominant weapons with the Arab rulers to crush and suppress their populations and keep them under their boots.

A whole century has gone by that these heartless potentates’ have been treating their people like rats. Externally they were like mercenaries and surrogates of foreign imperialist powers with whom they bonded themselves in unholy alliances for their survival against their own people.

They squandered their enormous wealth from domestic sources on their castles, palaces, diamonds, Precious robes, Jewellery, on buying useless weapons and on lavish vacationing aboard.

The ultimate power belongs to the people provided they are united and rise against their ferocious tormentors and cruel masters. It is a stout eye opener and a spine chilling lesson to see a modern-era pharaoh of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak lying and chained in cage before the court.

His unrivaled grandeur and arrogance and power to kill and arrest the citizens is a story of the past. Also the Tunisian despot Zainul Abidine is now an absconder and going through the pangs of fearful hallucinations.

The Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, notorious for his brutality and cunning is languishing in a Saudi hospital with scars of humiliation and torturous feelings of nostalgia about the magnificent of his past as an absolute ruler.

The Libyan strong man Col Qaddafi that held his ruthless sway over his people for 42 years is yet to awaken to the hard and inescapable reality that he is worthless like a straw and would soon be blown away in the dustbin of history with all the calumny of debased and alienated despots.

The Syrian head of state Bashar al Assad is living up to the loathsome tradition of his butcher father to kill and destroy people with heavy weaponry and with all the might of the state’s coercive apparatus. His days are numbered but power and absolute power snatches the common sense and freezes stark perception of oncoming calamity. His end is foregone.

But with all these overwhelming developments the desired outcome of a democratic era and the dawn of veritable emancipated society seem to be far away. In Egypt the interim military government is going by snail’s pace to bring about the vital and coveted constitutional changes and hold general elections to embrace Egypt with a real democratic culture. The young revolutionaries that fomented the great revolution are now being chased away by the soldiers and intelligence operatives from the historic Tehrir Square.

The revolt that had picked up unprecedented momentum and pace in Bahrain is grinded to a halt due to enormous pressure from the government and barbaric tactics employed by the ruling cabal. The Saudi royal autocratic regime is falling behind the Bahrain surrogate government to stay in power by defeating the people’s will with extreme brutality.

The Arab spring or revolution should not be piecemeal. It should be wholesome and should encompass the entire region. The fight between the oppressed and the oppressors is not yet over. It is logically a hard and long drawn haul to defeat and annihilate the well entrenched autocracies that can go to any length of savagery to hold on to power.And that is what is happening in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

But once the autocratic oriental despots are overthrown, the establishment of a new political edifice would have its own thorny and arduous course and no one knows how long and protracted it would be. To think that it would be simply a switch over from despotism of ages to a fine, smiling, smooth and orderly democratic aura, resplendent with the features of modern societies; is a fallacious assumption.

If the despots are overthrown and popular systems of government supersede, there is going to be another phase of internal fighting and turmoil between the religious radicals and reactionary forces on one side and exponents of a democratic and progressive order on the other.

The religious fundamentalists and even liberal Islamists are waiting in silence for the first phase to be over and then they will come out to throw their gauntlets to the liberal and secular counterparts. That clash must be averted at any cost. The leadership on both sides of isles must sink their difference for a broader consensus and unity to run the country by forging mutual understanding.

But for present there is a stalemated situation in Arab lands resounding with the echoes of change and razing the decadent autocracies. The spirit and fervor of revolution is slowly dissipating and that is what the interim governments in these tumultuous societies want to happen.

The old order somehow seems to be still at play from behind the curtains in all these Arab states where Arab spring flowered and bloomed with great expectations of qualitative and real change consistent with the popular sentiment.

As such, there is a pressing and urgent need for the people of these countries to not sit back and watch the slow paced unfolding scenarios. There is a possibility that the old orders comeback in the news garbs and formats. The people sacrifices should not go in vain. The vanguards of revolution should not let the spirit and glow of change for representative political systems to whittle down.

The Egyptian revolutionaries especially youth can once again converge on the Tehrir Square to thwart the slow moving interim set up. They should also provide a leading and vanguard role for revival of protests in the restive Arab lands where the seeds of revolutions have been sown but the soil is still sterile.

The Arab springs certainly needs a second stormy revolutionary phase that should aim at hastening the transfer of power to the people’s representatives via fair and free ballot. The Arab spring must not be allowed to be watered down by the agents of the dismantled and discredited and anti-people dispensations.

The Arab spring’s trail blazers and forerunners should rise up once again in unison in all the six countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Syria, Yemen, Bahrain) now seething with the popular urge for change and press for swift transfer of power to the people’s chosen representatives. The Western democracies should help and facilitate the fruition and fructification of the underlying objectives of the monumental revolution, diplomatically, politically and economically.

They can help these grassroots movements with even military support as has been done in Libya to remove the vestiges of the predatory, authoritarian, reactionary and tyrannical regimes. Such much needed support to the cause of the Arab people would be paid back to these helping countries with abiding gratitude by the newly established cosmopolitan and liberated societies.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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