Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dimly Smiling Prime Minister of Pakistan

April 26, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
It was quite amusing to watch Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani exuding a dim smile and facial relief after hearing the much awaited verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The prime minister has remained strung on the tenterhooks of uncertainty and paranoia for a few months as to what would be the outcome of the proceedings of the contempt case being heard by the Apex court.
But perhaps the matter may not end here. His standing as the prime minister has been fairly tainted and tarnished as he did not come clean out of the messy situation he was stuck in because of his emphatic refusal to write a letter to the Swiss concerned authorities for reopening the money laundering cases against the incumbent president of Pakistan honorable Asif Ali Zardari.
But his stubborn defiance or resistance to not write the letter in order to save his party boss exhibits his unflinching loyalty to the president of Pakistan who is also the chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party. He is certainly under a heavy debt of gratitude to Mr. Zardari for his appointment as the prime minister of Pakistan although initially the party chairman had publically announced to field Makhdoom Amin Faheem as the candidate for the exalted position. Later there were rumors that Shah Mahmood Qureshi was being tipped on behalf of the PPP to be elected by the parliament as the prime minister of Pakistan.
But loyalty to the chief has cost Prime Minister Gilani dearly. By saving a highly corrupt boss and party chief, prime minister has received a deep dent in his well established reputation as a man of principles and of clean character. He has been under a constant shadow of smear, accusations and disparagement for the blatant misuse of his vast powers as the chief executive of Pakistan. Further he is maligned because of the involvement of his two flamboyant sons in mammoth scams of corruption that are under investigation of the superior courts.
As we all are aware, his elder son Abdul Qadir Gilani skimmed millions of dollars in the Hajj scandal for which a former Hajj minister Mr. Hamid Saeed Kazmi had to sacrifice his ministerial post and face the terse legal proceedings that might entail his incarceration as well.
While delivering the verdict of this contempt case, the Supreme Court has nevertheless hinted that the prime minister could also face grim consequences due to a constitutional clause 63(1) (g) which stipulates that a convicted person cannot hold a prestigious office.  It is perhaps because of that caveat that the president of the PMLN Mian Nawaz Sharif has demanded Prime Minister Gilani’s resignation.  
By all indications he would not resign as despite a galore of serious legal and moral lapses by every minister of the incumbent government, not one ever thought of relinquishing his job as is the practice in other countries. Even in India many ministers resigned because there was an enquiry in progress in the courts or they were accused of indulging in corruption or committed dereliction of their responsibilities.
He might like to hang on to the post until the time of the next elections which means he would exhaust his tenure regardless of whether he is clean or tainted. But if he can still have the temerity of facing the incessant flow of accusations, his two sons cannot be absolved or walk out of the court until there was incontrovertible evidence to get themselves acquitted.
The Supreme Court is also seized of a petition against the former media advisor of the prime minister, Khurram Rasool, indicted in a case of taking bribe worth Rs630 million, from Pervez Hussain  for award of an LPG contract. Khurram Rasool has already confessed the incidence of the crime and has even surrendered a few crores that he has pocketed in concert with other felons, reportedly including one of the sons of the prime minister.
While his position as the prime minister of Pakistan has become exceedingly controversial, the constitutions clause 63(1) (g) would dangle on his head like a proverbial “Sword of Damocles”. As the honorable court very rightly pointed out that there are very serious consequences for the prime minister in regard to the application of the clause that relates to the eligibility of the members of the national assembly.
If in the coming days another petition is filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the continuation of Prime Minister Gilani as the chief executive of government, he will have to justify legality of his being in the highest executive office which presently seems to be a pretty tall order.
The best way-out, therefore, for the present government and for the prime minister is to call for early elections so that a new leadership is thrown up through a veritable democratic process of fair elections. If he is adamant to remain as the prime minister despite the thickening of dark clouds over his political horizon, he might further harm his image which would be irredeemable. The possibility of face saving can be explored now and not after loss of time and loss of face.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Tribute to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

April 16, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Human beings cannot be perfect but they can excel in virtues and be embodiment of a thoroughly upright conduct. There is a perennial tussle going on between the generally acknowledged vices and virtues within a man. One can be repository of an exemplary character and vice versa one can be as sinister as a proverbial Satan.

Chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is regarded as a shining symbol of uprightness and a true custodian of the supremacy of law. Cast in a mold of probity and with a soul aflame for truth and justice, he is waging a lone crusader’s war for a civil society. He is the beacon for a civil society, and for a pluralist and accountable democracy, where all should be equal before the law from prime minister even to a rape victim.

I find myself handicapped for want of appropriate plaudits and commendatory diction to befittingly portray the sublime personage of the incumbent Chief justice of Pakistan. The Honorable Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the 18th Chief Justice of Pakistan, is creating a glorious judicial history in a country like Pakistan that otherwise is beset with a pandemic of moral and legal aberrations.

Let us for the sake of contrast and comparison put Zardari and chief justice Chaudhry on two extremes then the former would be a custom made model of dark side of human beings and the other a magnificent monument of righteousness and absolute integrity.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been putting up a brave fight and upholding the finest tradition of an impeccable judiciary against formidable challenges that can be likened to the morning star appearing in a predawn phase of darkness.

There is long litany of stupendous cases that the incumbent chief justice has dealt with and did not dither while handing out a verdict that was outright in the public interests and was absolutely untainted. It could have been only a lion hearted person like him to be countenancing a crowd of hardened goons and ripened thugs and award them the verdicts and sentences that they deserved. In fact he is a man whose life is enriched with unselfish service.

He has been dispensing justice in a murky atmosphere of utter disregard for law, pathetic violation of the constitution and apathy to the mounting grave problems of the country by the leaders, the parliamentarians, the bureaucrats and minions of government departments.

It was a giant step towards rebuilding a civil society and bolstering the honor of Judiciary, when undeterred, he told on the face of a reckless and desperate dictator that he would fight out with him a judicial battle in case he was sacked. That was a turning milestone that inspired and emboldened the civil society, the lawyers, the intelligentsia, the students, the youth, and politicians to unfurl a sustained campaign that resulted in the ouster of the self-deluded dictator.

It is manifest all along the judicial journey of CJ Chaudhry that barring one or two minor occasions, he stood like a rock in face of visibly heavy odds and burgeoning pressures and rebuffed offer of perks and material enticements to be partisan. He sternly spurned all temptations that could detract or derail him from the chartered path of dignifying the institution of judiciary.

Chief justice is blessed with a dauntless perseverance, a piercing acumen, and unfaltering devotion to duty. By displaying an unimpeachable honesty and a dogged spirit, he has firmed up the rule of law and cornered the rogues.

Zardari was reluctant to reinstate Chaudhry Iftikhar fearing that the judge would repeal amnesty granted to him under the NRO by the ousted president Pervez Musharraf. It was under inexorable public pressure and the historic march from Lahore to Islamabad that the Prime Minister Gilani had to impromptu announce his reinstatement.

That refusal on the part of the PPP government to restore Chief justice Chaudhry to the promised position brought at par the ousted president Musharraf and the one who was his successor, Asif Ali Zardari.

A cursory glance at the cases disposed off or being heard by the apex court would lead to an utter amazement, as to how the chief justice has been braced against the crocodiles of corruption and retrieving the embezzled or looted money back to the national exchequer.
The judgments or the proceedings on several cases are watershed and would be written as historic in the judicial annals. Some of these gigantic cases are Pakistan Steel Mills privatization, rental power plants, missing person cases, Hajj scandal involving the elder son of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and also his younger son in a 7 billion gas rip off.

Besides the Swiss Banks case, the Memogate case and several other gubernatorial cases would be the blazing land mark and eloquent testimony to the courage and abiding conviction of the chief justice for the ascendency of the justice system in Pakistan.

These mammoth cases too would go down in the judicial history of not only Pakistan but also that of the world at large as monumental. The constitution of Abbottabad Commission is yet another decision that speaks for the tenacity and steadfastness of the Chief justice for championing the paramount cause of a fearless and fair judiciary.
In a jungle of dacoits and burglars, CJ is the one glittering hope to drive out the betrayed Pakistani nation safe and unhurt, to shore up the sinking boat of good governance and to establish and restore the supremacy of law and glorify the contours of a civil society.

The lofty conduct of apex judiciary might become harbinger for a Pakistan where justice would not be manipulated in favor of rich and powerful, and where a common man would stand face to face with feudal lords in the court to seek justice as an equal citizen of Pakistan.

May be CJ's example would serve as a trailblazer for other deliverers of justice. During the heat of the second world, the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarked that “if our courts are working normally, then we have nothing to worry” (I do not remember the exact words). The same exquisite comment is so relevant to Pakistan as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lessons from Trayvon Martin’s Murder

April 12, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Trayvon Martin versus Zimmerman case has further sharpened the divide of the American nation along the ethnic or racial contours. The fragile nature of this ethnic cleavage can be gauged from the ballooning outrage being vigorously vented by the African-Americans against the murder of a juvenile member of their community that merits to be thoroughly investigated in order to find the truth.

On February 26 when Martin was walking to a home in a gated community, Zimmerman, a Hispanic American community watch coordinator followed him suspecting his movements. Reportedly, there was a confrontation between the two and as a result Zimmerman shot Martin dead. The police arrested Zimmerman and questioned who took the plea that he shot Martin in self defense. Although the lead homicide investigator did not believe the self-defense stance of Zimmerman and wanted to charge him with manslaughter, the state attorney's office announced that there was insufficient evidence to convict Zimmerman.

Thereafter, Zimmerman was released without being charged. Of late, in the wake of countrywide uproar, State Attorney Angela Corey announced on April 11, 2012 that she has filed charges of second degree murder against Zimmerman. That seems to be too late and too little for the African- American populace.

In all cases of premeditated or spontaneous murders, the suspect is apprehended and then the law takes its own course to establish the nature and culpability of the crime. The prosecution endeavors to prove the bona- fides of the cases while the defense tries to nullify those bona-fides or at least mitigate the severity of the crime.
In the beginning, Zimmerman was not arrested until the time the supporters of the slain young man, rocked America with their earth shaking protests and mammoth agitation rallies. Even thereafter, there seemed to be a kind of deliberate effort by the concerned authorities to shelter Zimmerman under the perfunctory pretext of lack of concrete evidence to establish that it was a deliberate murder.

Broadly speaking the Law should be equal and applied across the board for all the citizens. Notwithstanding the claims by Zimmerman and the family of Martin, the bare fact cannot be overlooked that a murder was committed by a custodian of law even though under the yet to be proven compelling reasons at the time of shooting the juvenile individual.

But to hide the assassination of a citizen of United States under flimsy and implausible cover-up and to justify the daring yet inexplicable brutal action of a community watchdog is what has enraged the black population of this great nation. The task of finding the truth should be left to the justice system of our country.

Understandably, this magnificent country United States belongs to the white or Caucasian race because their ancestors came here and brought with them a profound and advanced culture and astounding civilization to this neglected or hidden part of the world. But when it comes to the dispensation of justice, provision of the socio-economic benefits like jobs, education and healthcare, all races and ethnic communities should be treated alike at par, and on a leveled turf.

Unfortunately the courts from district to the Supreme Court level are predominantly manned by white judges. This predominance could be rated between 90 to 95 per cent. Their proportion in police, law enforcement agencies and in high profile or white collar jobs is also high. That understandably is due to the white population’s demographic lead in the United States. But despite this ascendency in numbers, the presence of non-whites in high positions is still below the required level or so to say is disproportionate.

The Asian, black, Hispanic, yellow race immigrant communities and even the native African-American population do not have even a fraction of their presence in the judiciary or in prominent executive positions. The progenies of the bygone non-white generations, who now after centuries of time passage, look like a local American by virtue of their accent or turnout, are occasionally accommodated in coveted jobs.

Therefore, there is a dire and overdue need to overhaul this imbalance. It is imperative that all sections of the society, irrespective of their color, creed or ethnic background should be given fair and equal opportunities to compete for the exalted positions.

Rather there should be fixed quotas for the African-American, Asian, Hispanic and other communities in judiciary, executive and other branches of the administrations and even in Congress (senate and house). Thus there would emerge a homogeneous, racially integrated and ethnically balanced society in that the minority races would not suffer from the sense of deprivation or being lesser equals as they nurse now.

The election of Barack Obama, a non-white American as the president of the United States, is a unique and historic phenomenon that speaks for the cosmopolitan, liberal, deeply democratic and secular image of the United States. But factually in the first instance Barack Obama is not wholly black as his mother was a white woman.

There might not be another black president for a long time to come. But his ascension to the highest office in this country opens the possibility and hope that in due course the ethnic dissentions, racial and communal disharmony could be channeled into an all encompassing goodwill, accommodation, amicability and equality between all Americans irrespective of their ethnicity, color or regional background.

Secondly, it is the civil society where the smaller ethnic groups should be given proportional representations so that the prevailing sentiment of being marginalized or neglected on the part of African- American and other communities could be quashed and a veritable sense of belonging to this great country could be entrenched.

That is perhaps the most daunting and compelling task to be taken into consideration, in tandem with the community leaders, by the leaders and policy makers of United States.

Mitt Romney cannot Defeat President Obama

April 7, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Predictably, the Republican presidential contender, Mitt Romney cannot defeat the incumbent president Barack Obama in the forthcoming November elections. The foremost reason for this projection is that the Christians of all denominations most notably the orthodox and ultra right conservatives would not want a Mormon otherwise deemed heretic, to preside over the United States.

The Mormon faith too is fragmented into various sub sects, and there are Mormon denominations that might also oppose Romney.
Notwithstanding the constitutional caveat granting religious freedom to all brands of religions and sects and banning bigotry; the ground realties markedly present a different scenario.

The United States is essentially a Christian state where the majority of the population professes and practices Christian faith. As such, from G.W, Bush era onwards, thousands of new churches and Cathedrals have been built. On Sundays the churches and monasteries remain full of attendees who generously give away donations and charities
Granting that the common Christian faithful may not know nor would care about the religious background and inclination of Mitt Romney, yet the powerful conservative Christian groups and Roman Catholic sections and even individuals including priests, cardinals, and pastors would resist and oppose the advent of a Mormon to lord over the Christian population. This sentiment or bias may not be manifest daringly, yet one can imagine it is happening in the wake of the vigorous resurgence of Christianity in the United States.

Mitt Romney hailing from a strong and well entrenched political background is still a not a very well known or acknowledged politician in the Republican Party like Gingrich, or Ron Paul. The religious zeal and unflinching conservatism of another candidate Rick Santorum brought him initial victories in some primaries and unprecedented and fabulous financial support from the conservative wealthy republicans. He is almost neck and neck with Mitt Romney for Republican nomination.

Rick has lagged behind in the race for final selection because of his other disqualifications such as his amateurish views about overhauling the taxation regime, streamlining the foreign policy domain, winding up of wars, ensuring safety nuts such as Medicare, and similar issues with a far reaching broad based reform package. His being a conservative religious hawk turned out to be more of a liability than as asset for him.

Mitt Romney is depending and asserting his acumen and experience in economic management and corresponding economic reforms mostly riveted on tax reform and budget making. However, president Obama has already established his ability and competence to stem the voluminous economic rot and stimulating the debt-ridden economy that, in fact was, a spillover from his predecessor.

Despite its flaws, his healthcare reform plan has been like a divine blessing for the countless common and ordinary Americans who could not pay for their medical bills either due to poverty or the refusal of the health insurance companies to pay beyond a certain limit. President Barack Obama is the recipient of the 2009 Nobel peace prize a rare honor, bestowed on him besides only on three other American presidents.

In his tenure which is to end by January 2013, president Obama has several meritorious achievements that are certainly laudable keeping in view his little or no experience in governance. He has been able to achieve many milestones of accomplishments despite a bias againt him of being a non-white president and also being young. He has been thoroughly above personal rancor and kept his political stature beyond aspersions or involvement in blame game.

He signed economic stimulus package in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for stimulating that certainly jacked up the stagnant and the ailing American economy. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 are other landmark reforms that were also helpful in boosting the flagging economic sector of the United States.

Beside, a host of such laws and acts were passed and promulgated that were really like injecting a new life blood into the veins of the mauled socio-economic structure of the United States. These watershed initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010” and the Budget Control Act of 2011.

On the external fronts he wound up the war in Iraq, as well as a scheduled drawing down of American troops from Afghanistan by 2014.His administration singed the New START arms control treaty with Russia and rescued Libya from the despotic regime of Col Qaddafi . His administration’s hunting down Osama bin Laden and killing him in May 2011 is no mean achievement from the American national security perspective.

He does not brag, is down to earth, does not vindictively retaliate, talks about issues, and is an intellectual and a visionary. He is one of the highly educated presidents of the United State. Obama has not faltered nor purposely did anything as to invite pointing fingers at him.

Obama’s role as the president of the United State has been markedly successful, smooth, plausible and not as thorny and whims-driven as that of his predecessor GW Bush: the architect of the ruination of American robust economy and slandering this great country’s fair reputation by launching unprovoked attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama has been mostly busy in righting the colossal wrongs wrought by his unscrupulous predecessor.

Mitt Romney is also a pleasant looking, jolly good person but he does not stand as tall with Obama in either intellectual caliber or in veritable achievements for the American people in such a short time despite the ground situation being so messy when he took over.

While the American presidential elections are far for a few months, the gossips are reverberating that Romney is banking upon the support of the chairman of the House Budget Committee Representative Paul D. Ryan who prepared the Republican House budget. Merely to claim that he was successful businessman and would straighten the American economy is a puerile argument to win the popular vote.

Romney’s budget that dwells upon the deep cuts in cherished social programs to a Medicare overhaul, could drive up costs for future retirees and fundamentally change the popular health plan. Moreover, it would “cut taxes sharply for the wealthy; gut public education, medical research, and other government programs; and increase the burden on the elderly to pay for their own health care”.

This budget is neither realistic nor its overall tenor is in the public interests.
Obama’s reforms to refurbish American dwindling economy far exceed the Ryan’s budget reform in their positive impact with regards to improvement of economy, creation of jobs and providing relief to the downtrodden in the society. Already the job situation is improving and less and less people are claiming unemployment allowances.

The American people are quite conscientious as to weigh the pros and cons of both the sides and vote for the better one. They would not prefer to choose an unpredictable head of state who looks raw and offers an agenda with half baked recipes, that that may not come up to the expectations of the suffering sections of the American society. Obama’s achievements outweigh his drawbacks and pitfalls if any, and therefore, he should be the strong candidate to return to the American presidency for the second term.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Zardari: A Matchless Maverick

March 31, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

According to certain covert and overt reports, the sky rocketing clout of Babar Awan is now fast plummeting and might have already hit the abyss of ignominy. Here are reports doing the rounds that president Asif Zardari’s disgust or displeasure with a close cohort has reached the pinnacle point and he is even averse to seeing him in party meetings. Of late his name as a special member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security has been withdrawn and Qamar Zaman Kaira has been appointed in his place.

Babar Awan has not only been the vice chairmen of the PPP but also the frontline lancer to beat back the attacks on the PPP from political adversaries, the press and even the judiciary. But pride hath a fall or more explicitly the higher one goes the steeper one falls, are the clich├ęs that comprehensively portray the emerging situation in regards to Babar Awan’s ongoing pitiable plight.

As ill luck would have it, his downfall started with his seeking exemption from representing himself as a defense witness in support of the Prime Minister Gilani in the Supreme Court on the serious issue of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for the reopening of the money laundering cases against president Zardari. That ill-fated decision was deemed to be a breach of trust and indeed a betrayal by the president and the prime minister.

The annoyance of the PPP’s high command was so intense that subsequent damage control or the containment of the stupendously harmful fallout became impossible for Awan: an overly blunt, fire-spitting, and as egregiously aggressive in his posturing as presumptuous in his unguarded outpouring.

He suffered from a double jeopardy for his scornful comments against the judiciary when the Supreme Court indefinitely suspended his license to practice law. The Supreme Court further asked the Federal Government to appoint someone else as their lawyer in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s murder case. Such are tribulations of politics that a high profile celebrity can become an object of indifference and degradation like a swing of pendulum from a dazzling eminence to a murky disgrace.

But that was digression. The subject of my today’s column was to highlight and bring into sharp focus the inimitable genius of President Asif Ali Zardari to browbeat his political contenders in political brinkmanship. He has kept at bay the Nawaz League and despite their stiff adversarial demeanor they cannot effectively move to discredit or dislodge him because of the lurking paranoid of the army’s take over.

The most astounding accomplishment of AAZ is to bridle his two shrewish and unpredictable coalition partners namely ANP and MQM by conceding to their demands howsoever untenable and excessive those might be. But more amazing and perhaps befuddling is the unconditional partnership from the Pakistan Muslim league( Q) whose leaders not long ago would heap all sorts of indignities and loathsome curses on PPP, its founder members, the Bhutto family and the incumbent ruling leadership of the PPP.

Mr. Zardari will not defend a person who declined to defend his prime minister in a court. If he is reputed to be a friend of friends, he is also notorious for going tooth and nail against those who betray or ditch him. The hearsay is that a prominent PPP stalwart Senator Raza Rabbani was also administered the same unpalatable dose of invectives and harsh tongue lashing when he tried to assert himself beyond his permitted stature. Otherwise he is a gentleman and a scholarly figure in his own right.

Coming back to Asif Zardari’s political jugglery and genetically endowed ingenuity to stand his ground and outmaneuver and outflank his contenders. The several scores of political storms and tornadoes swirling around the power boat of PPP, could have been driven away only by an ingenious and a maverick as Zardari happens to be. His making coalitions and breaking these and then realigning with new political forces to buoy up the head of the PPP above the turbulent waters would be written in Pakistan’s history as a craft that was an exclusive preserve of Asif Ali Zardari.

Although he must have been tremendously frustrated by the unending demands of both MQM and ANP which some time are untenable, yet he did not let them off the hook and kept pandering to them with conceding to their demands by readily responding with quick compliance.

He did not bother about JUI's parting company with the PPP’'s coalition government. Nor did be pamper or went extra mile in case of the PMLN that otherwise was crucial partners in the government. The two major parties together in government could have the ideal paradigm for a stable functioning of the democratic dispensation.

He deliberately created frivolous bottlenecks and went back on his written commitments with them to leave the coalition on their own. In effect, however, he was quite mindful that PMNL as a coalition partner would be a millstone around the neck of PPP all along. He used this second largest party for gaining an absolute consensus for his own election in the parliament and then pushed them away with a slight jerk of his leg.

With consummate shrewdness he has managed to sideline the army’s overbearing role especially that of the military intelligence wing and ISI in the government affairs that they have been playing by open and clandestine dictations. The Osama Ben Laden assassination at Abbottabad proved to be a blessing in disguise and kind of proverbial silver lining for PPP government that further undermined and diluted the influence of the army beyond their military ambit.

He kept every political party in good humor till he was unanimously elected as the President of Pakistan. He kept away the utilization of the army to restore law and order in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan despite ubiquitous clamors and louder calls from both public and the politicians. His knack to smile away every adversity that befell and are still on the way is a rare demonstration of his taking the challenges with fortitude, confidence and ease of manners.

The bedrock of his political acumen and approach towards the politicians and also the neighbors of Pakistan can be summed up in one word: reconciliation. No one among the politicians who were in power has exhibited such large-heatedness and patently forgiving postures that have turned out to be amazingly rewarding for PPP government.

Apparently he never looked to be provoked or outrageous or retaliatory to the persistent smearing of his character by the press corps, the political rank and file and the cross section of the Pakistani society.

He has remained visibly unmoved, unconcerned and brushed away the vituperation of being the most corrupt president of Pakistan. He is also accused of being an accomplice in the brutal assassination of his wife and circumventing her will or fabricating it to replace her. He seldom takes seriously the accusing fingers pointed at him for his alleged involvement in the murder of Benazir and his brother in law Mir Murtaza Bhutto.

There are such disquieting and nerve-shattering stigmas against him that should have the intensity to knock any one’s brains out. But he has been on the whole tolerant and defiantly embarked upon his chosen path of remaining cool and composed to the extent of being thick-skinned. And that policy of exceptional appeasement has paid dividends to him. This attitude of pervasive accommodation is not applicable to the party cohorts who would betray him. After all he has the Baloch blood running in his veins.
That is the cardinal reason that the PPP government that is sunk up to neck in corruption cesspool and exposed to a host of legal, financial and moral scams and scandals is still hanging on to power for four years now. Mr. Zardari himself is retaining his coveted presidency for more than three years. These are laudable and momentous achievements if judged in the face of the crises that hover round the PPP government and its charlatans from prime minister to an MNA and further down.

So Makhdoom Javed Hashmi brilliantly summed up the entire philosophy of Mr. Zardari’s inimitable politicking style by saying that one needs to be a PhD in understating how Mr. Zardari conducts himself in politics, deflects the poignant challenges, disarms the opponents and emerges unscathed.

MQM and PTI Should Join Hands to Salvage a Shipwrecked Pakistan

March 25, 2012

MQM and PTI Should Join Hands to Salvage a Shipwrecked Pakistan

By Saeed Qureshi

Our beloved country Pakistan reels under a civic system that is out of sync with the imperatives of a modern society. It is decrepit and utterly inadequate to provide decent, modest and worthwhile living environment to the people of Pakistan. The roads and highways network is not enough to cater for fast growing movement of both travelers and freight. Travelling between the cities and within the cities in Pakistan is hazardous, slow, and unsafe.

Unlike western societies, Pakistan at first glance looks primitive, dirty and disorganized. From traffic to business activities nothing seems to be without sleaze and impropriety. Despite our society being deeply religious and people with total religious orientation, ethical practices in social dealings and human interaction are woefully deficient. There is always a wide gap between what the leaders profess and what they do.

Our social sector figures lowest in our national priorities. The health, education, transportation and other public related services are moribund and woefully inadequate due to a variety of factors including paucity of funds, erroneous and faulty policies and planning and lack of vision to make them universal, accessible, organized and modern. The population is growing at an alarming pace. We have ramshackle old frames and structures of buses shorn of necessary facilities like air conditioning, heating etc. Overloading of passengers is common scene on Pakistani roads.

Social vices like bribery, corruption, pilferage of government resources, adulteration and selling of sub-standard commodities and medicines, evasion of taxes and a host of other odious crimes have always been rampant. Despite being deeply religious people lack moral fiber.

There are no standardized procedures for conduct and regulation of civic life. Even if there are such procedures, no one bothers to follow them in order to check the mal-practices and violations in daily life such as encroachments, violation of building rules, sanitation rules, and maintenance of premises and public places.

Likewise traffic rules are complicated, cumbersome, outdated and ignored by both public and the concerned departments. Traffic in Pakistan has ever been messy. The civic code is outdated. The cities are brimming with filth, stench, encroachments, horse and bullock driven carts. There are no strict codes for raising new dwellings.

There is a mushroom, unabated and unplanned growth of houses and shantytowns in and around all the major cities in Pakistan, choking and stultifying the already meager and insufficient utilities. The water is rationed by hours, the electric power goes off frequently, and the voltage is low and unstable. There is no well-planned or scientific method of removing garbage from the lanes, roads, houses and public places in Pakistan.

Our railways is ramshackle, mismanaged, is a relic of the past and starkly lacking in the modern system of management as we find in the railways of the developed societies. The railway stations have deplorable and endemic problems such as sanitation, non-provision of computerized communication, operation system and utilities like air conditioning, heating and reservation etc. There are countless flaws in our railway system. Our railway is in dire need of complete overhauling so as to make it modern and efficient.

Same is the case with other service providing organizations such as WAPDA, PIA, customs, municipal and local bodies police, courts and judicial system, postal, revenue and taxation departments: to name a few. All these organizations and departments are chronically infested with corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and other flaws.

The Judiciary, Police, bureaucracy and all other nation building institutions that should serve the people in the fairest and the freest manner have remained subservient to the interests of the powerful local lords, wealthy sections, aristocracy, robber barons, elitists classes, bureaucracy, and the political mandarins.

The unavailability of uniform, inexpensive and prompt justice, adulteration, timely decision making, stealing of mail, counterfeit stamp papers, usurping public land and property are part of our morbid system that needs to a drastic surgery and purged of its deformities, disabilities and disorders. Expired and spurious drugs are sold unhindered without any qualms of conscience or fear of law. Hospitals lack the milk of human kindness and lack proper facilities for the ever-increasing patients. We sell adulterated food without any moral prick and without any fear of legal or social reprisals.

In order to bypass the complicated, cumbersome, and unclear rules for issuance of essential and ordinary documents such as driving licenses, passports, identity cards the people are forced offer to graft and bribes to the officials or the touts. In short there is a complete moral, institutional and organizational mess and mayhem in the society.

Pakistan is to be liberated from the clutches of feudal classes and privileged families, rapacious mafia, pressure lobbies and special interest groups that have held the state and the society hostage since the inception of Pakistan. These unassailable rogue entities and powerful individuals do not allow Pakistan to function as a liberal, free, democratic, modern, progressive and prosperous country.

They hate the very concept of a civil society in Pakistan. Civil society means freedom of expression and unhindered observance of faith, and un-curtailed movement and pursuit of happiness in conformity with the human and fundamental rights. These groups and entities are enemies of progress and therefore of the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan is still far away from having a democratic order that is unvarnished and truly based on the popular vote and people’s aspirations. For most part of its existence Pakistan was under the army rule, bureaucratic dispensation or quasi-democratic system. Elections in Pakistan were seldom free and fair. The National Assembly and Senate assailed by the powerful classes would not function in an independent manner and only serve the privileged sections. There is no accountability at any stage in bureaucracy and officialdom. Accountability in Pakistan is used for vendetta against the political contenders.
The leadership that was in power all along has, thus far, miserably failed to address and resolve the myriad socio -civic, economic, political and even day to day problems of the people. The hapless people of Pakistan have been waiting for so long for a better time to come but it is now foregone that the leadership in Pakistan is birds of the same flock.

The leaders lack vision, sincerity, seriousness and the will to transform Pakistan into a modern, liberal and prosperous state. With the abundance of natural resources, vast productive land and industrious manpower that Pakistan is endowed with, our country has the capability and potential to stand shoulder to shoulder in the comity of developed nations in a few years’ span.

What therefore, needed is to hand over power to such people who are down-to-earth, who possess the vision, unshakable will, absolute honesty and sincerity to bring about an encompassing revolution for a glorious Pakistan as well as for a vibrant and prosperous
civil society. Since the political leadership in Pakistan has failed to provide a stable democratic political system, there has been a pervasive socio-civic and economic chaos that the country is perennially suffering from.

With a crowd of political parties already in the country it would look superfluous to form another political entity for the much needed watershed revolution in Pakistan and to change it structurally from a primitive, backward, poor, mismanaged to an institutionalized, orderly and dignified modern nation. Yet without a dedicated and visionary leadership the hope for a better, prosperous and stable Pakistan would always remain dim. It means that for making Pakistan a great country, it is indispensable to change the leadership first.

After more than half a century’s governance, it is obvious that the privileged and elitist classes that believe in running the country via plutocracy, oligarchy or aristocracy, are neither capable nor sincere in good governance. The reason for their inability to earnestly serve the nation and country is that they are not mindful of the common man’s problems nor are they interested in ameliorating the plight of the citizens whose predominant majority is suffering from bad governance.

It is now incumbent that the power should be exercised by the dispossessed sections of the society. The common people understand their problems well because they are affected by them. But while the political power should now pass on to the underprivileged or unprivileged, there must be a team of such experts and men of excellence and vision who should formulate policies and planning that can put the country on the road to progress and prosperity and inject order, discipline and social peace into our ailing society and mode of governance.

In the light of the above assessment one would wonder and it would rather be pleasantly awesome if MQM and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) can join hands to save Pakistan and steer this nation out of the dire straits of ignorance, poverty, lawlessness, decadence, social and moral vices, plunder of the privileges sections, endemic corruption, gas and power load shedding. They should restructure failed and dysfunctional institutions departments and industries, renovate Pakistan with a modern infrastructure and infuse life into its ailing economy and stir a fresh hope about a glorious future and a great destiny.

I mention MQM and PTI because notwithstanding their shortcomings and, they possess the grit and resolution to straighten the awry situation in Pakistan. Their leaders are eminently honest with committed cadres to get the things done. The exemplary unity and strict discipline in the ranks of MQM with a mission to root out feudalism, nepotism, perfidious privileged mafias and similar abominations is a boon and the indispensible tools to harness Pakistan and reorder it rudder. Above all Both of
them have a meritorious record of formidable social and civic service in Pakistan.

PTI is a new entrant into the political arena of Pakistan. Their slogans and manifestoes too are revolutionaries and their chief and his associates are reputed for their patriotism and clean hands. They possess the pain and a desire to revolutionize Pakistan with radical transformation of its rotten system from a Patwari to the running of the state of Pakistan. They should get a chance to stem the burgeoning rot in Pakistan.