Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Imran Khan is becoming Irrelevant!

January 30,2013
By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan, the founder and the Chairman of the political party, “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is quiet for quite some time. He must be pondering about his future course by closeting him in his private room. A political or public leader cannot sit idle or remain away or isolated for long, from the public eye and the countrymen. His eerie silence and diminished activity pose a big question mark.

His celebrated, illustrious colleagues who hastily joined the PTI with great exuberance are also maintaining a stony silence. Recently we haven’t heard any policy enunciation or dissemination of the PTI manifesto that must have been prepared with lot of toil, intellectual input and by burning midnight oil.

These are crucial times for the political stalwarts to kick around in the length and breadth of Pakistan with all the sound and fury one can marshal or summon. It is high time for Imran Khan to stage public meetings in quick succession to convey his party’s manifesto and messages of hope and new salubrious beginning in Pakistan.

He is one among the whole lot who enjoys a clean slate, a reservoir of goodwill and a high moral ground that he is perched on. Alas, he has wasted much precious time in motivating people and winning support of the people of Pakistan.

In one of my previous article on Imran Khan, I had sketched his profile and personality in the following paragraphs,”

“Imran Khan the Chief of PTI could have flashed, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as a glowing star on the political horizon of Pakistan. But all these years in the politics, he has remained a non-starter. Once in a while, he appears on the stage, frets and fumes, displays his tantrums and then recedes into the oblivion to reappear all of a sudden at a time of his own choice.

He runs his political bandwagon by fits and starts. He is sincere and possesses unbounded passion and limitless energy to make a difference but his fury and passion is invariably short-lived. He suffers from a chronic malady of inconsistency and conceptual bipolarity. He swerves from extreme to extreme on both sides of his agenda. He thunders like the charged clouds but then drifts away after a strong but brief shower of hyperbolic statements and high sounding propositions.”

Now these impressions were jotted down some two years ago and I vouch that these are still valid and pertinent in regard to the mercurial and mysterious character of Imran Khan. In all the bye-elections candidates from either PPP or PMNL have taken the lead. All that PTI has been doing is to boycott the elections perhaps under the lurking fear that PTI candidates cannot win.
If that is the defeatist attitude of the PTI leaders to walk away from facing the electoral competitions, then only a miracle can help PTI in capturing reasonable number of seats in the forthcoming provincial or federal elections.

The youth of Pakistan could have been a formidable force for the PTI to reach nook and corner of Pakistan and to awaken the people and to galvanize them against the forces of status quo, the rapacious privileged classes and the insidious system of governance. The young lot of the country were all geared and ready to work for the PTI to bolster it as the only party that was clean and could bring about the revolutionary reforms and give Pakistan an honest and clean leadership.

Imran Khan’s overblown metaphor of Tsunami has lost its vigor and steam. It has been hibernating and slumbering with no commotion to cleanse the Augean stables of evils bedeviling Pakistan. Imran Khan has been vacillating in making far-reaching and timely intelligent decisions that could bear out his political acumen and sagacity. The example of this flippant tendency is manifest in supporting Qadri’s movement and then distancing from it.

His political alliances for instance with narrow- based parties as JI and bluntly opposing PMNL speaks for his immaturity and myopic vision as the leader of a political party that should forge alliances with progressive and deep-rooted parties. In all fairness his natural alliance could be primarily with PMNL and even other factions of Muslim League. MQM could be another party that has a revolutionary agenda and comes closer to the PTI for a monumental transformation in favor of the common man and in support of the downtrodden sections of society.

Since his forte is Punjab and some parts of NWFP bordering with Punjab, he could have adjustment of electoral candidates with PMNL. That strategy could have ensured some seats for the PTI also. But in the prevailing political brinkmanship, his biggest foe is Nawaz Sharif and no one else. Thus he is in the habit of betting on wrong horses and fails to read the direction of the political wind.

Imran Khan seems to be disenchanted with politics for some inexplicable reasons that he knows best only. But factually this is the time to hold frequent press conferences, have whirlwind tours of Pakistan and generate a wave of apathy for the inimical forces that have been wreaking Pakistan from day one.

He need to spit fire, show the skills of oration and rhetorical outbursts to fire up and electrify the people to pave way for a kind of peaceful French Revolution against the blood sucking elitism aristocracy, feudalism, bonapartism and other exploitative outfits.

He is rendering himself irrelevant in the political arena of Pakistan by sitting on the sidelines and watching nonchalantly and with folded hands the fight of others. I suspect that he is going through an indecisive phase of introspection that clearly means wastage of time and missing the bus of political urgency.

He should be aware that other parties are well established. He is relatively a new-comer and has to put in extra efforts and mount vigorous struggle for PTI to be counted and reckoned with as a strong political force and true representative of the suffering people of Pakistan.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Munir Ahmad Khan: Real father of Pakistan’s Atomic Bomb

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan’s nuclear program that culminated into the fabrication of an atom weapon was originally conceived  in December 1965, when  IAEA nuclear engineer, Munir Ahmad Khan met with  the-then-Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Vienna.  In that meeting Munir A. Khan informed Bhutto about the status of Indian nuclear program that could pose a threat to Pakistan’s security.

Later Bhutto arranged a meeting of Munir Khan with President Ayub Khan in London. Munir Khan informed the President that the Indian nuclear program was of a weapon production facility and that Pakistan needed a nuclear deterrent for her security, and survival. President Ayub Khan swiftly brushed off the proposal by remarking that “Pakistan was too poor to spend that much money”.

When Mr. Bhutto assumed power in December 1971, his first and foremost priority was to take up Pakistan’s nuclear program. For this most pressing task, he called a confidential meeting of senior academics, scientists and engineers in Multan on 20 January 1972, known as "Multan Meeting”. In that meeting two most paramount decisions were made. Mr. Bhutto took a pledge from the assembly of 50 scientists to attain the nuclear capability for making an atomic weapon within three years.

The second important decision was to appoint the nuclear engineer, Munir Ahmad Khan, as Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), who, until then, had been working as Director at the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna, Austria.

Munir Ahmad Khan remained the Chairman of the PAEC from 1972-1991. During this period much of the initial ground work of crucial research and experimentation through various stages of nuclear technology for making a weapon was covered by him and his associates.

Dr, Qadeer’s induction came much later in 1976 and that divided a unified structure for promoting Pakistan’s atomic program into two rival institutions. A. Q. Khan created the Khan Research Laboratories previously known at as Project-706 and later by Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) (1976-1983).The PAEC remained under the command of Munir Ahmad Khan who worked tirelessly till he left that prestigious organization.

The rivalry between Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. Qadeer Khan on one side and the PAEC and KRL on the other had kept the nuclear bomb project at tenterhooks for quite some time. Dr. A. Q. Khan was an exponent of Uranium based program while his counterpart scientists in PAEC were in favor the plutonium based technology to craft a nuclear bomb.

The fear that Munir Khan had conveyed to Mr. Bhutto and president Ayub Khan in 1965, about India’s nuclear potential, became a frightening reality in 1974, when India conducted a surprise nuclear test, code-named “Smiling Buddha”. India clandestinely worked on this project in the aftermath of the surrender of Pakistani troops in Dacca and cessation of the Eastern wing of Pakistan in 1971. India later conducted on May 11 and 13 1998, five more nuclear tests under the code name “Operation Shakti”.

The first Indian detonation of Atomic device was an added blow to the defense capability of Pakistan that had still not recovered from the stunning trauma of East Pakistan debacle at the hands of an inveterate foe. The situation against Pakistan further aggravated with the 1998 Indian atomic tests.

Finally, on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India's second nuclear test (Operation Shakti), Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras Koh Hills in the Chagai district, Balochistan known as Chagai-I and Chagai-II. The Chagai-1 was detonated by KRL (Kahuta Research Laboratories and the Chagai-II was carried out by the PAEC.

Let us now make a comparison between the roles of both Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. A. Q. Khan in order to determine who deserves to be called the father of the Pakistan’s atom bomb.

Dr. A. Q Khan joined the atomic bomb project in 1976, and became part of the enrichment division at PAEC and continued to push his ideas for uranium based technology even though it had been a secondary and low priority. When Bashiruddin Mahmood was appointed as the director of the PAEC, Qadeer Khan refused to work under him. That was a clear demonstration of vanity and insubordination.

 But Mr. Bhutto came to his help and appointed him as head of the program. In 1983, Abdul Qadeer Khan's appointment as director of ERL was personally approved by President Zia-ul-Haq and he renamed the ERL as KRL after his name as a matter of self- glorification. In 1984, the KRL claimed to carry out its own nuclear cold test of a weapon, but this was unsuccessful as PAEC under Munir Khan had already carried out the test in 1983, codenamed: Kirana-I.

 Following the Indian second test, there was inexorable pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to come up with a matching response. In several meetings with the Prime Minister, Dr. Qadeer Khan tried to persuade him to allow carrying out of these tests at Kahuta because he wanted to pocket the entire credit for his KRL. The prime minister did not agree to his proposal.

However, with the intervention of the-then COAS, General Jahangir Karamt, prime minister agreed to include Dr. Khan into the team that was assigned to conduct the atomic tests in Baluchistan. Interestingly the rivalry between KRL headed by A. Q. Khan and PAEC culminated into two separate tests. The first known as Chagai-1 was performed by KRL and the second remembered as Chagai-II, by PAEC under the command of Dr. Samar Mubarikmand. Many of Qadeer Khan's colleagues were irritated that he seemed to enjoy taking full credit for a feat; he had been only a part of it.

Dr. Khan was also in the habit of taking up such projects which were theoretically interesting but practically unfeasible. As such he wanted Pakistan to work only on Uranium weapon as compared to that of Plutonium. It was more because of his personal grudge with Munir Khan because of Munir Khan’s expertise in the plutonium route. Despite his opposition, the “Plutonium option and all the related activities to establish infrastructure for making a bomb continued unabated”.

By the time A. Q. Khan joined the atomic energy portfolio in 1976, “Munir Ahmad Khan had already completed the site selection for the Kahuta enrichment plant, initial procurement of vital equipment, construction of its civil works, and recruitment of staff for it. The Kahuta Enrichment Project was called Project-706 launched by the PAEC.  Like the plutonium programme, it was under the overall control and supervision of Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan”. He was accompanied in these activities among others, by a brilliant PAEC physicist-turned diplomat, S.A. Butt.

While As Qadeer Khan and his team stumbled on many occasions in harnessing the centrifuge technology, it was due to vital technical support from PINSTECH and PAEC infrastructure and scientists that he managed to move forward. A.Q. Khan's uranium enrichment known as Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) was not independent of PAEC, even after his acquiring complete control and autonomy for KRL. Of the 24 stages that were inevitable in making a bomb, Dr. Khan could complete only one. The remaining 23 were completed by the PAEC team of nuclear scientists.

The so called “Wah Group” assembled and chosen by Munir Ahmad Khan did a marvellous job under his express watch and guidance. Bbetween 1983 and 1990, besides achieving other crucial bench marks, this group “developed an air-deliverable bomb and conducted more than 24 cold tests of nuclear devices with the help of mobile diagnostic equipment”.

Unquestionably Munir Ahmad Khan worked tirelessly in creating an infrastructure for producing nuclear fuel for Pakistan's nuclear plants. Yet that would was later imbibed, utilized and projected  by A. Q. Khan for his claim as the father of the Pakistan’s nuclear device and program. But by taking advantage of the foundational work done by Munir Khan and his illustrious companions, Dr. Khan can claim to be a runner-up but not the front runner in equipping Pakistan with a nuclear deterrent. 

By the time these monumental tests were conducted, Dr. Khan was left alone in the field to lay claim of being the originator of these lustrous achievements. However the fact is that the spadework for these accomplishments had already been completed by Munir Khan and his colleague scientists. But unfortunately Munir Khan’ remained an unsung hero and his stupendous contribution in leading Pakistan towards the nuclear power status remained obscure and eclipsed.

There was an element of strict secrecy that Munir Ahmad Khan and his colleagues maintained with regard to the nuclear research and development they were engaged in. They would shun publicity and avoid media glare. On the contrary, Dr. Khan was a past master in publicizing his role although it was insignificant in comparison to that of PAEC team. He is alleged to be in the habit of distributing checks to the journalists for highlighting and adulating his contributions and even writing articles and books on him.

Nawaz Sharif despite immense pressure from the United States and other world powers did not budge and went ahead in achieving that historic breakthrough of making Pakistan also a nuclear power in comparison to India.  Dr. A. Q. Khan, at best, can be a foster father. The real father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, who deserves this meritorious title, is indeed Munir Ahmad Khan.

By the year 1991 when Munir Khan retired, the profound groundwork was already in place to undertake the atomic tests. Incidentally, at that time, there was no political will to take a decision on this momentous issue. Dr. A. Q Khan was then ruling the roost of the nuclear regime in Pakistan particularly the KRL. When the nuclear tests were conducted in 1998, Dr. Khan could be the only recipient of the spectacular honor associated with that historic feat.

By sheer default Dr. A. Q. Khan as head of the KRL, was showered with laurels for the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan. If it is only the tests, the credit should go to the then prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is to be credited as the real architect of the Pakistan’s nuclear regime and atom bomb.

Perhaps the most appropriate parable in case of Munir Ahmad Khan would be that a person builds a house with great deal of efforts, input of time and money but then cannot live it for some unavoidable reasons. In the meantime, another person from his family, by a sheer of quirk of circumstances, becomes the occupant of that house.

The countrymen forgot and perhaps most of the people even did not even know as to who built this grand castle and who inherited it. Traditionally, it is only the actors on the front stage that that get most of the acclaim, honor and popularity and not those who remain behind the curtain, although their contribution is equally awesome and important.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama was Contemplative!

By Saeed Qureshi

During the inauguration ceremony for his second term as the 44th president of the United States, president Obama wore a sober and contemplative look on his face. He was staring most of the time in the space and was engrossed in deep thoughts.

One would guess as to what was weighing so heavily on his mind. It was unlike Obama, otherwise an embodiment of confidence, to be caught in a pensive mood and apparently detached with the company that was around him.

He also stumbled for a fraction of a second during the oath taking but it was not as a glaring mishap as was during his previous oath taking in 2009. In his speech it was evident he was not in it and perhaps his thoughts were scattered or that he lacked concentration as would be reflected on one’s face. 

The kind of broad smile he would splash on such mirthful and jubilant occasions, was manifestly faint and listless. In a minor way, one would guess that he also losing track of what he was capturing from his teleprompter. I have a feeling that he did not go through full text of his speech.

Was he concerned about his security with a lurking fear that the event might turn unsavory or there could be some unpleasant twist all of sudden. Or was he reflecting about the monumental challenges that lay ahead of him and he had to address those as fast as he could. While embracing his family members and those near him, he remained serious and barring one or two instances, he did not exude a cheerful countenance.

But despite all these odd speculations about his serious features, it was yet another historic and memorable moment for him and also for the United States of America. For an African-American person, to return to the highest and the most powerful office of the presidency, for the second time, in a county with white majority robustly speaks for the intellect, talent and genius of Obama.

It also vouches for the love and the liking that the people of this great country have for him. It also eloquently testifies to the unshakable commitment of the American people in the abiding democratic culture that is beacon for the rest of the world.

The will of the people prevails in this magnificent country and it is upon their choice that a leader assumes power. Abraham Lincoln the legendary president so expressively and forcefully defined the democratic tradition in United Sates as, “of the people, by the people, for the people”. 

Let us keep in mind that president Obama proudly and humbly calls himself the disciple and follower of that great president. Indeed he is treading the glorious path of President Abraham Lincoln who in those tumultuous times not only freed the slaves but rebuilt the federation on lasting foundation by winning the civil war.

During his second term, president Obama’s most pressing priority would be to strengthen the faltering economy and bring it back on healthy tracks. Yet his more imperative task would be to reduce tension around the world. The first step towards that fabulous direction is to terminate or scale down the American military involvement in various parts of the world. 

His decision to recall all the American troops from Afghanistan next year is a giant step that would help reduce the fiscal deficit caused by the heavy spending in Afghanistan.

The dire need for America is to renew her commitment as an honest stakeholder for world peace and to bring about uniformity in promoting democratic and civil societies without discrimination. America needs to win the hearts and minds of the people through socio-economic aid and not by use of force. 

It would be an immortal achievement of Barack Obama if he translates into reality, the United Nations’ mandate, with regard to the creation of an independent state for the uprooted Palestinian people.  Above all it is time that America presents itself as a friend and not a bully to the world.

There was one glaring lapse in this pageant ceremony that would lurk in the minds of the Muslim citizens of the United States. The poet of the day Richard Blanco forgot to add the salutation “Salam” that the Muslims utter to greet each other like Shalom of the Jews and Namaste of the Hindus. Was it deliberate or unintended?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All is well that ends well

By Saeed Qureshi

By opting to compromise on certain fundamental contentious issues, the political belligerents have averted a huge human catastrophe. I am referring to the Islamabad accord between Dr. Tahirul Qadri and his party Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) on one hand and the PPP’s coalition government on the other. One would not expect a total accommodation of Maulana Qadri’s demands, as this could have never be done even by most docile and pliable government.

If both the parties have overcome the principal irritants and leveled off the rough ends, then it is indeed a monumental accomplishment. Such sparkling development should be welcomed by sober and moderate onlookers and even the stakeholders and well wishers of Pakistan. It was a real people’s struggle for genuine reforms.
The most laudable and striking hallmark of the historic sit-in was that it was orderly and peaceful and sustained for five days with great deal of poise and responsible attitude by the protesters. Amazingly the participants of the unique rally were the people most of whom were alien to the posh environs of the capital of Pakistan.

Most of them hailed from the rural or semi-urban landscape of Pakistan. There were also a sizable number from the cities. Admirably, they all did not resort to provocative conduct or outburst of violence that has remained the usual tone and patterns of such rallies, processions and public meetings in Pakistan.
The Islamabad sit-in of the PAT and the others affiliate groups and individuals have set a pioneering brilliant precedent of the peaceful yet rigorous outlet of their pent-up anger and deep disapproval about a discredited and a pernicious status-quo gnawing at the vitals of Pakistan. It has established beyond any shadow of doubt that peaceful demonstrations and sober protests were more poignant and effective than the riotous and violent ones.
There is a great deal of resemblance between the about a month long mammoth protest  of Egyptian people at the historic Tehrir Square ultimately throwing a stubborn and despised dictator Hosni Mubarak into the dustbin of infamy and lasting condemnation. In comparison the Egyptian protest was a mega one and that of Pakistan is minor. But their thrust is the same: to change a decadent system wholly or piecemeal.  
While the stakes in Egypt were sky high, In Islamabad it had much limited agenda. It was not to change the praetorian but the mode of holding elections. The Egyptian sit-in at Tehrir Square was joined by all shades of political and public opinion.

The Islamabad’s assemblage was staged solely by mostly students, peasants, laboring sections and lower middle classes. Its primary aim was to reform the electoral system, tailored to reelect the representatives from the privileged, aristocratic, elite feudal and wealthy classes.
Both the sides have demonstrated a high level of discretion and prudence and even tolerance in reaching the consensus and to hammer out a harmonious end of a stand-off that could have turned ugly and entail untold sufferings.

Many among the protesters had come with their whole families including the children and infants and with meager quantity of ration. With a prolonged stay they would have ultimately starved or get sick. They would have called off the mission that could be disarrayed and fraught with frightening hazards.
It is a feather in the cap of the PPP coalition government and a well-deserved laurel for exercising utmost patience and not resort to coercive techniques employed in such chaotic and challenging situations. Now, one would watch with fingers crossed if the government earnestly implements, in letter and spirit, of what has been agreed upon between the two sides after lengthy parleys.
Almost all the political parties not only kept away from the Dr. Qadri’s led procession and rallies but scathingly criticized it for being held with sinister motives at the behest of some forces, at a time when fresh elections were around the corner. The politicians rejected Qadri’s movement and termed it a creepy plot by him to sabotage and short-circuit the democracy to pave way for the undemocratic forces to take over.
Those apprehensions and speculations have proven to be wrong. On the contrary the popular huge protests for comprehensive reform in the electoral system and its acceptance by the government would spur the healthy democratic culture and traditions in Pakistan.

It has established, for the first time in the checkered history of Pakistan that the people, to whom the power belongs, were capable of affecting a healthy reform and meaningful transformation in the errant and faulty system.
It has further proven that a dysfunctional and flawed system can be brought back on track with unity, cohesion, resolution and indeed through a peaceful struggle by the people. Dr. Qadri achieved a landmark objective singlehandedly that has remained elusive thus far and that unfortunately was decried and boycotted by the super-duper politicians en-bloc.

Who knows that these high sounding politicians wanted to save the stinking status quo or were jealous of an unexpected intruder who mobilized the people in a short span of time for a great national cause?

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Three High Profile Pakistani Fugitives

January 14, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi

The first fugitive is Pervez Musharraf, the former COAS and president of Pakistan. The second is Hussain Haqqani, the former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and the third is Altaf Hussain, the Chairman, founder and godfather of the MQM. They cannot go back to their own country Pakistan for specific reasons. 

Pervez Musharraf will be hunted down by the religious outfits for his role in sending army to the FATA against the militants, mostly Taliban. He could also be targeted by al-Qaida operatives and other religious militants for ordering attack on the Lal Masjid and affiliated religious Jamia Hafsa Madrassa (the religious seminary) in July 2007 in which reportedly 154 lives were lost and many more were injured.

During his presidency, four attempts were made on the life of Musharraf but each time he escaped unhurt. These attacks were made by the groups like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alam and other affiliates of Taliban within Pakistan. Two such attempts were made during the Lal Masjid siege and one after its completion.

General Musharraf who now resides in London has several criminal cases pending against him. One is about the missing persons, the second about as an accomplice in the murder of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and providing inadequate security to her during her public meeting in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

He is also accused of ordering the assassination of the Baloch leader Akbar Bugti. But apart from that, the Bugti clan is after his life and hefty award has been set aside by the family for anyone who would kill Musharraf.

Pervez Musharraf is currently the president of All Pakistan Muslim League. He wanted to return to Pakistan early 2012 for preparation of the elections and to mobilize his party and organize it. But he had to postpone that plan after the then ISI chief, general Shuja Pasha persuaded him to call off his return to Pakistan.

In the meantime there have been calls from the political parties and socio-political and religious circles to arrest him through the Interpol if necessary. But perhaps there are several legal glitches that have saved the former president from this dreadful eventuality.

For instance, the “Abbottabad district and Sessions judge in a missing persons’ case, passed judgment asking the authorities to declare Pervez Musharraf a proclaimed offender. On 11 February 2011 the Anti Terrorism Court issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder of Benazir Bhutto. On 8 March 2011, the Sindh High Court registered treason charges against him”

It appears Pervez Musharraf has not future in Pakistan and he will have to lead the rest of his life in exile. His case is similar to a former president of Pakistan General Iskander Mirza who died in obscurity and miserable conditions in London, until his death on 12 November 1969.

The second prominent exiled figure is Hussain Haqqani who served at various prestigious posts, the last one being the ambassador of Pakistan in Washington D. C. Before taking over the ambassadorial assignment, Mr. Haqqani had already enjoyed enormous clout within the United States. His profile reveals that, “He served as an adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers and as envoy to Sri Lanka. Besides he was reputed as a prominent journalist, scholar and educator. He is a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

 Also he is co-editor of Hudson's signature journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, the Director of the Center of International Relations. He is very intelligent sharp and intellectual. He is a good speaker and an astute analyst of the international affairs. The former ambassador is nowadays serving in Boston University of the US as a Professor of International Relations.

 But there are good times and there are bad times in a man’s life. Mr. Haqqani has fallen not only on bad but worst times. All of sudden his exceptional ability and distinctive career seems to be blown up in the air and turned useless. He is now looked upon as a traitor to Pakistan.

His sudden yet steep debacle and downfall took a start from the day Osman bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the American Navy Seals. The PPP government apprehended the likelihood of army taking over the power. That was perhaps a misplaced apprehension, yet it turned to be an egregious misfortune and an 'Achilles Heel' for Ambassador Haqqani.

Mansoor Ijaz an American businessman of Pakistani ancestry alleged that former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani asked him to deliver a confidential memo to Mike Mullen the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Through the memo the US assistance was sought in averting a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid, and to assist in a civilian takeover of the military apparatus.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan constituted a judicial commission to investigate the origin, purpose and authenticity of the memorandum. The three-member judicial commission concluded in their report released on June12,2012 that “the memo had been written under instructions from Haqqani, and that, in doing so, the Ambassador was not loyal to Pakistan and had sought to undermine the security of the country’s nuclear assets, the armed forces, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Constitution”. Haqqani criticized the judicial commission as one-sided and noted that the commission was not a court of law with the authority to establish guilt or innocence.

The Supreme Court, upon hearing the report in session, ordered the former ambassador to appear before the bench in its next hearing and adjourned the case for two weeks until early July 2012. During that period Mr. Haqqani presented himself briefly before the court. Thereafter he left for Untied States although he promised to the court that he would reappear within four days. A larger bench of apex court headed by chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will now hear the case on January 28.

The last hearing of memo case was held on November 13 2012, in which Haqqani didn’t appear due to security concerns. .The chief justice remarked during the November hearing that “If he does not come back in accordance with judicial order, the court would be bound to issue an order and then Hussain Haqqani would have to come back under his personal security". In response to court’s orders Mr. Haqqani stated on 14th January that “how I will return to the country with no security assurance”

Unfortunately, Haqqani seems to be caught in a proverbial situation of caught “between deep sea and devil”. It is evident that like president Musharraf, Mr. Haqqani too will live abroad without ever returning to Pakistan unless there is miracle that turns the events upside down.

The third VVIP in self-exile is Altaf Hussain. Altaf Hussain sneaked out of Pakistan one month before the launching of the Operation Clean-up (June 19, 1992 to August 14, 1994).  His flight from Pakistan also was the result of an attempt on his life on 21 December 1991 that was the third of its kind. He was given political asylum by the British government and is staying ever since in London.

Recently the MQM boss announced that he was about to launch a drone attack by which it was speculated that he was finally returning to Pakistan. But in his lengthy speech he categorically announced that he had no plans to come back to Pakistan.

Understandably, he cannot return to Pakistan to face several thousand cases of very serious import pending against him. Moreover there could be mortal danger to his life from his opponents who have deep-seated grudge and bitterest feelings of revenge against him. His cases too, along with many thousand other convicts, were pardoned under NRO issued by Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007. Yet after the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared it unconstitutional on 16 December 2009, all dropped cases stand revived.  

Could these powerful celebrities had ever imagined that with all their clout, powers, magnificence and overwhelming loyalty and support of their adherents, they would fall to such a depth of ignominy, disgrace and even isolation? The power, pelf and their prestigious positions have proven to be ephemeral spells that drifted away like the spent-up clouds.

The moral lesson of such bleak situations is to serve the community, country and the people with honesty, sincerity and selflessness and to walk the right, righteous path.  Such a path leads to the lasting gratitude during life and an immortal reverence after death in the hearts of the people that one had served. One such glowing example is that of the Quaid-e-Azam.

Friday, January 11, 2013

65 Years of Pakistan Gone Waste

January 11.2013
By Saeed Qureshi

The religious zealots contend that Pakistan is a citadel of Islam, although most of the religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan. Pseudo nationalists gloat that it is a nuclear power. I say Pakistan cannot be the second country after the United States to use the atomic bomb under any circumstances as it would receive the same in return.
Which Pakistan are we speaking and proud of? The one with barricades and barriers all over the land as if the whole country is a jail or a concentration camp. Religious denominations and cults take pride and self-entertaining divine blessing for massacring each other. The more this nation is getting into the religious mindset the more barbaric, backward looking and intellectually marooned it is becoming.
In every locality or street, there are loudspeakers blurring sermons and Azan (summoning for prayer) five times a day causing a lethal sound pollution. People defecate in the open or in manual latrines, all the members taking turns. The meagerly paid sweepers from scheduled caste carry away the heaps of human excretion on a weekly basis and dump it in an open filth depot or dumpster (I am not talking of Islamabad) where it rots for days till the rain washes it away. The municipality trucks come once in a blue moon.
In a sanitation and sewerage deficient country, if you find human refuse running into open drains outside the houses, don’t take it seriously. If swarms of mosquitoes and flees surround you all the way to your destination be it market, mosque and work place take it as indifferently as part of a decadent civic order. If the worms and bacteria cause deadly epidemics, don’t panic.
Don’t mind, mind boggling traffic jams on the narrow roads as we are destined to endure those and that by our faith we are goaded to thank God in every affliction. The puzzling and ear-splitting sound of smoke emitting rickshaws and run down buses are not eye sores because that is how Pakistan is supposed to be. If the whole landscape, roads, footpaths, market places are littered with garbage; such gory spectacles should not incense you as we have been living under these abominable conditions since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And Islam ordains cleanliness is half faith (Iman)
A culture of dishonesty and deliberate delinquency pervades and sprouts in every office, from presidency to make shift kiosks (khokhas). In offices burdened with red tape and inefficiency and nepotism, the five times praying Muslims prey upon the visitors and customers with full vengeance to pay for what they were doing for them as public servants. It is called bribe or graft is simple terminology.
The permits and licenses are for sale. If you need a connection for electricity or water or gas or phone, don’t go straight to the concerned department with only an application. Along the official fee take a service fee exclusively for the official doing the needful. But still your name will be placed in the waiting list. A letter from a political heavyweight or powerful bureaucrat would also be helpful. Be aware nothing is done on merit.
After 65 years, it takes 90 minutes to cover a distance of 10 miles to and fro Islamabad and Rawalpindi: the so called sister cities in the Potohar plateau. The police pickets, the road barriers, the para military contingents stop you to find if you are a suicide bomber. The social life in the most protected cities has come to such a dreadful pass. I remember, as a student, it would take maximum 45 minutes to reach Rawalpindi from Wah cantonment by bus. Now this time is no less than three hours and one has to pay toll tax at many places.
Go to the Bara or Landi Kotal (tribal enclave) to buy a 12 bore pistol for a pittance. Come back to your city, get into a house and rob the inmates and get rich overnight. The police would not know and would not like probe who committed such a crime because this has become a commonplace daily occurrence. But if you want to indulge or watch a combined spree of robbing, killing, raping and extortion, go to Karachi. And take care you could also be hit.  
Pakistan is the most ideal place to witness murders and massacres for reasons ranging from ethnic, sectarian, tribal, clannish, honor to land grabbing or just for show off in streets. The poor raped young girls have to produce four eyewitnesses to prove that they were raped. Is it possible? Law and order has become razor thin and no one cares who is killing and who is being killed.
It is a tall order to explore who is raping whom, who is kidnapped and who kidnaps. These are signs of doomsday but the prophesied doomsday has already descended on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Ironically Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace as it commands that killing one person is killing the whole humanity. Just imagine how many humanities have been killed and are being killed in Pakistan.
The new generations of Pakistan boys, girls, toddlers, adolescents, are living in an atmosphere of persistent fear, insecurity, bomb blasts, rape, arson, loot and plunder, in filth, in dark and dingy streets, in a nauseating environment of sound and filth pollution. They come out of the homes with a lurking fear of being blasted or kidnapped and targeted for unspeakable heinous crimes.
The food is costly and adulterated, the drugs and medicines are spurious, and the water is contaminated. The meat could be of a dog, a pig or mad cow. Who cares and scrutinizes for such infringements. How many young children are forced to work with sex maniacs at auto workshops and restaurants or hotels or in private homes as servants? How alarming the level of molestation of the underage males and females is: no one bothers.
The country is in the grip of Thana and Patwari culture, the symbols of corruption and vehicles of obsolete, moribund institutions started by Mughal emperor Akbar the great, or the British colonialist. Caring a fig of what the law or the religion obligates, invariably everyone from the president to a police constable seems to be obsessed with making money through fair and fouls alike. The whole nation has fallen into a morass of moral sleaze.
The contracts are given in wrong and delinquents hands. The newly laid out roads are washed away in one shower of rain, the bridges dash to the ground not long after being commissioned. If rental power generation units are purchased from foreign sellers, it brings hefty commissions to buyers (Raja rental scandal) and crooks are elevated to higher positions. Pitiably such leased power units do not produce a watt and are paid in advance to the tune of billions of rupees.
When poverty grinds and inflation ruins the household, the crimes and prostitution sprout and rob the people of modesty, honor and religious penchant. That is what is happening in Pakistan and that country created in the name of Islam may turn into another Thailand in due course.
The army was there at the helm for half of Pakistan’s existence, a drunkard and lewd military president held the first free elections and then equaled this good deed by truncating Pakistan. Cessation of East Pakistan and surrender of a Muslim army are those calumnies that cannot be washed ever unless Ganges turns flowing opposite and the sun rises from the west. And during those crippling moments (surrender) several generals, politicians and bureaucrats were reported drinking in five star hotels with their concubines. This is story of a nation that claims that it ruled the sub content for a thousand years.
And that army is now braced against its own people in roughest and most dangerous terrain of the world. They are fighting and dying in a war that was purposeless for Pakistan. If there was no obscurantism until 1980 notwithstanding Bhutto turning Pakistan into another Saudi Arabia, from it came all of sudden. So Pakistan an economically feeble and socially torn apart country has to put up two pronged war: one with the enemy across the eastern border, the other against Islamic militants rampaging the length and breadth of Pakistan.
Why in 65 years, the sermons and preaching of Muslim pontiffs failed to turn Pakistanis into good citizens not to speak of good Muslims? Yet the dreary and ineffectual sermons continue to foster sectarian hatred, reinforcing warnings of hellfire. Alongside, the construction of new mosques remains apace uninhibited. If there could not be one single model Islamic dispensation in 1400 years, how one would hope for that in the present times when old taboos and gospels are losing their relevance.
Which war is for Islam and which one to safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan? Pakistan is doomed as the menace of Taliban abetted by external abettors would not die nor surrender so soon. There is a noose of Islamic militancy around the neck of Pakistan that is tightening by way of proliferation of bomb blasts and violence.
Can one dream for the day when a true and patriotic leadership would take the reins of Pakistan? Will that day dawn when the citizens would travel with a relief that their lives would be safe and they won’t be molested, kidnapped or killed on the way? Can we visualize a society when law and order would prevail and dispensation of unhampered justice would be possible by nabbing the highest culprits in government, aristocracy and from the elite classes? Would our judges be upright and strong to uphold the law and not selling the justice? Can our institutions, government departments and bureaucracy function even by a fraction of other civil societies?
Can Pakistan generate enough electricity that the word “load shedding” becomes obsolete? Can everyone have access to schooling, medical facilities’ drinking water and job? Can we integrate the Islamic teachings into the established curricula and syllabi and close the ghost schools imparting hatred and spurious Islam to the students who come to Islamic nurseries due to poverty or ignorance?
Can we limit the number of religious institutions and affiliate them with the national educational system from the primary to the university level? Can we bring about a national reconciliation? Can we eliminate the thugs, the crooks, the public enemies, briber takers, the goons, and all those who have turned Pakistan into one of the most dangerous and debased places to live?
Can our roads be widened, railways modernized, bridges built, hidden natural resources tapped and stalled projects such Kalabagh be undertaken? Can the whole country be washed of the glut of dirt and debris and trash? Can the cities be embraced with centralized sewerage system? Can we check the burgeoning population so that the resources can be better utilized?
Can we elect a leadership that is visionary, selfless, imbued with nationalistic spirit, progressive and dedicated to promote a democratic culture and liberalizing the society? Can a stable, democratic, economically prosperous and socially liberal, and civically a modern Pakistan be rebuilt? The list of challenges is endless.  It primarily depends upon the quality of the leadership that we choose.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dr. Qadri’s Clarion Call

January 5, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi

If Dr. Allama Muhammad Tahirul-Qadri can bring about a change for the better in Pakistan, it should be diligently welcomed. Prophet Moses was not from the line of prophets or descendants of Abraham, yet he liberated the enslaved Hebrew (Jews) nation from the mighty Pharaohs, and gave them an identity and land.

Sheikhul Islam Qadri is not an equal to Prophet Moses, nor is he a revolutionary politician in literal sense.
Yet his political party Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) that he founded in 1990 outlines the mission “to introduce the culture of true democracy, economic stability, improve the state of human rights, justice and the women's role in Pakistan”. The PAT also aims to remove corruption from Pakistani politics.

 If the chickens come home to roost, let them. Why there is an uproar that he is a Canadian citizen and that he had forfeited his right to delve in Pakistan’s politics. By living in Canada he has not been doing any fruitless or objectionable activities but spreading the message of Islam and humanism. I am also not ready to buy the argument that he has come to Pakistan with some hidden nefarious agenda at the behest of the powers and elements inimical to Pakistan.

Let us take his words on the face and tend to believe that has come back to Pakistan with a well defined and upright agenda to steer this country out of the dark woods, put it on the right tracks and initiate a movement that might set Pakistan on a desired yet ignored course. If his intentions are exposed as malicious and a ruse to serve the antagonists of Pakistan, then he would be the one to suffer irreparably in reputation. Thereafter he will have no place in Pakistan as a scholar, mystic, or a politician.

I would prefer to forget what he has been doing in the past. What I have to care is what he is going to do for Pakistan and Pakistani nation. Will his clarion call and envisaged mission of setting the things right would galvanize the marginalized and dispossessed people of Pakistan?  Has he the guts and  thrust to make the people a valiant force to fight for their rights against the selfish, ravenous leaders, crook bureaucrats, greedy business robbers and defiant enemies of peace and social harmony?

Would he emerge as a bulwark against the cult of phony and fraudulent rulers whose only penchant has been to loot and plunder the national wealth, promote nepotism, and nurture all the vices that are attributed to Pakistan and that have turned Pakistan into uninhabitable and dreaded place.

If through a system of choosing honest leaders, he can seize the bull of bribe and corruption by horns and straighten those who bilked billions by abusing their powers and authority then he should be supported. It is for the first time that a liberal, religious scholar from among the ignorant and fanatic mullahs has opted to achieve a breakthrough that would deliver the nations from the clutches of obscurantism, fundamentalism and orthodoxy. Allama Qadri speaks and vouches for true democracy, human rights, an electoral system free from rigging and hijacked by the moneyed classes and individuals.

The mammoth crowd that came to attend his address at the public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on 23 December eloquently vouches the glaring fact that people of Pakistan want a change from the stagnant, unsafe, and egregiously sinister way of life. The life in Pakistan is getting traumatic and miserable and harder for the people.

Dr. Qadri must have come to this empirical and objective conclusion that it is primarily the leadership that can transform the destiny of nation and make it honorable, strong and prosperous. It is the honest leadership that creates a system of governance that is transparent and in accord with the interests of the country and aspirations of the people.

Now the electoral system is not only flawed in Pakistan but it is outright wicked and monstrous. The elections are blatantly rigged. The ballot boxes are not only stuffed with ballots of the strong candidates but the ballot boxes are swapped. The bogus votes are cast without any let or hindrance.

But what makes the electoral system in Pakistan a sheer mockery is that the serfs, tillers, and bonded farm labors cannot vote against the local lords be it a petty landowner or a super duper feudal. Moreover, because of the deprivation, poverty, inferior social status, the votes for a pittance can be easily purchased.
The Thana culture pays its pernicious part.

A common man in villages and slums of the cities cannot have enough courage or clout to defy the dictations of policeman who is usually henchmen of mill owner, a retired bureaucrat, a ruthless feudal lord and the government functionaries.The clan, the biradari system, the family and blood relations, the kinship plays an overwhelming role to tilt the results in favor of corrupt, morally bankrupt, degenerate, exploitative leaders.

Such elected representatives use their influence and power to enhance their wealth, get lucrative contracts, and benefit their relatives and friends in several ways. They break and bend laws for amassing as much money as he can. In his brazen loot there are other partners that share the booty. It is this spooky and   perverted and wholly faulty system that Dr. Qadri wants to rein in and make it transparent and clean.

Now if PMLN leadership denounces his endeavor as derailing the democratic bandwagon then it is a partisan assessment because a democratic order must spawn and produce honest and patriotic leaders who are dedicated to the welfare of the people and not filling their own coffers already brimming with ill-gotten wealth.
Dr. Qadri has rocked the prevailing rotten system and its proponents and that is why there is cacophonies hue and cry to revile him as being a foreign agent or enemy of democracy and with a hidden agenda aimed at postponing the elections. His mission is somewhat akin to the social activist Anna Hazare of India who single-handed rallied the entire India against the menace and curse of corruption. Dr. Qadri may not fully achieve the ultimate objectives of his crusade but at least he has blazed a trail that would serve as a beacon and the first vigorous assault on financial immodesty that is as widespread in India as it is in Pakistan.

Let us hope that Dr. Qadri stands his ground firmly and does not budge under any threat or pressure. If he can assemble half of the promised four million protesters and marchers for his rally in Islamabad, he would have made the dent in the powerful citadels of the corrupt, greedy law breaking, exploitative classes and individuals in power.

The rest could be a self propelling trail of landmark developments that might pave way for a Pakistan that we all dream to be. If he is arrested that might open a Pandora box of hazardous ramifications. Is that what the government would expect to postpone the elections to stay in power till the dust settles down? Who knows!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Endgame in Syria is Near

January 2, 2013 
By Saeed Qureshi

The Syrian civil war between the incumbent besieged Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad and the rebel forces inter-alia, the Syrian Liberation Army, the Syrian free army and other anti regime fighting forces might be drawing to a close. In 21 months (since March 2011) this war has taken a toll of some 50000 Syrians on both the sides.

Unfortunately the Syrian president did not learn a lesson from the tragic and humiliating end of the Libyan president Col Qaddafi. Bashar has used the full military might of the state to crush and kill the anti government fighters and protesting civilians but has not been able to subdue them. Now the tide is turning in favor the rebel forces reported to be “making gains, seizing military bases and fighting for control of suburbs around the capital, Damascus.

Syria is under severe economic sanctions from the United States and several European countries. Also the United States, Britain, France and at least five other major nations have expelled senior Syrian diplomats. There have been high profile defections that seem to have paralyzed the smooth and effective functioning of the state especially the military and the police. 

On 28 December two air force generals and 3 state TV journalists defected to Turkey. Last week, Syria's military police chief Major General Abdelaziz al-Sallal defected, becoming the highest ranking military defector to defect, after the defection of the Chemical Weapons department's head, Major General Adnan Sillue.

There is clear-cut writing on the wall that Bashar Assad will have to relinquish power sooner than later. It is doubtful that the peace mission undertaken by the Algerian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to draw Syrian officials and rebels into negotiations and to revive a plan for a transitional government and elections would make any headway.

Now Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says after meeting Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdada in Moscow that his country endorsed the peace plan originally crafted in the summer, and that Syrians on both sides of the 21-month conflict needed to engage in a dialogue. It should be recalled that the resolutions tabled in the Security Council to end the violence In Syria were vetoed by Russia and China in emboldening Bashar Al Assad regime to keep on killing his people. Had these two countries agreed then there could have been a smooth transition to the new set-up with a possible safe passage for Bashar.

The war in Syria is going to take an extremely horrendous sectarian form as those fighting against the minority Shia Alawite regime would hunt down the Syrian soldiers and common Shia population with vengeance.
In Iraq where the Sunni-Shia sectarian animosity is equally strong, the sectarian war was averted because of the presence of the American forces.

Moreover Saddam Hussain went into hiding and thus a substitute government was put in place that is still functional. The government of Al-Maliki controlled the sectarian strife and formed a democratic government.  In Libya it was not sectarian war but a national movement to oust a ruthless tyrant. That change came as a part of the Arab springs sweeping across the Middle East.

Iran is hard-pressed because of backbreaking sanctions and the isolation spun around her by the United States and the west European countries. Iran, therefore, cannot come all out to save the sinking Bashar regime. Even Hezbollah fighters and Palestinian refugees cannot help sustain the tottering Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad.

One shudders to imagine what would happen to the minority Shia population that has been in power for over forty years now and has kept the majority Sunnis at bay by inflicting unspeakable barbarities and spine-chilling afflictions on them.

During his barbaric rule of 30 years, Hafiz al Assad the father of the incumbent Syrian president ordered at least six massacres in which several thousand Syrians were killed. One such gruesome massacre known as scorched earth operation was carried out in Hama village in February 1982 in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. In that military onslaught, roughly 20000 residents perished, their houses bulldozed and the ground leveled off.

During the ongoing civil war, countless Syrians have fled the country and taken refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. Their return to homes and resettlement would be a gigantic challenge for the new establishment that would supersede the Alawite regime.

Hopefully the anti- government factions that are battling the official troops would agree on such measures that would usher Syrian into an era of democracy, respect for human rights, open society, right to vote and travel, and national reconciliation.

But if the sectarian war erupts, it would push Syria into another spell of gruesome infighting entailing genocide of the Shia community. That frightening situation must be stopped and any new government that succeeds the Bashar regime should take the sectarian harmony as the foremost and the most urgent undertaking that any other issue. One cannot foretell what could be the fate of Bashar al-Assad.