Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who will lead PPP’s Election Campaign!

By Saeed Qureshi

It is mind boggling that while all other political parties in Pakistan are gearing up for the general elections scheduled on May 11, the PPP seems to be hamstrung in launching the election campaign under a front line leader. 

The visible sang is due to Mr. Zardari’s wearing of two crowns: one that of the head of the state and the other of the party. Now as president he can run his office from the well guarded presidency, yet in public meetings he cannot have similar foolproof guarantees.

We have seen in the recent days that the chairman of the Pakistan Insaf Party Imran Khan kicking around and vigorously flaunting his party’s revolutionary manifesto. The PTI managed to gather a huge crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan on March 23 that nearly corroborated Imran Khan’s claim of filling that historic spacious ground. 

Close on the heels, PMNL President Nawaz Sharif addressed a mammoth public assemblage in Mansehra that betokens his popularity and well being in the Hazara region. The MQM is too flexing its wings in its areas of influence which are Karachi and part of Hyderabad.

A week or ago, a group of PPP (P) parliamentarians with vice president of the party Amin Fahim as the chief, unfurled an election charter bedecked with a pack of  reforms aimed at changing the destiny of the nation. 

Besides pronouncing its manifesto merely, the party’s top brass and high profile leaders have to jump in the election fray and fight out their claim as a popular party. That can be done through corner meetings, supplemented with big public congregations.

Now when it would be utterly difficult for Mr. Zardari as the chairman of the party, to come out in the public and fire up and galvanize the supporters specifically and the people in general to vote for the PPP, who can play such a vital and most urgent role. If Bilawal Bhutto can fill that vacuum: well and good. 

But despite Bilawel’s being the real Chairman of the party, he is constrained by his age, meager experience in politics and dangling danger to his life as well if he comes open in the public. Presently Bilawal Bhutto has left Pakistan all of a sudden for inexplicable reasons.

So the million dollar question still remains unanswered that how this party is going to propel and advance its future plans and programs effectively and comprehensively all over Pakistan?

While its leaders will have to bend heavily backward to project their future agenda, also they will have to labor very hard to erase or diminish their badly bruised image for being neck deep in sleazy scams and foul money making scandals. 

Moreover, the stigma of bad governance looks  hanging like millstone around the neck of the PPP and it has to be dispensed with as soon as possible.

But as the stars on the political horizon portend, the PPP may not take the lead in the elections. It could at best emerge as a runner-up. There are many praiseworthy achievements by the outgoing PPP government. 

But those achievements were more in the nature of constitutional amendments and sheltering the edifice of the democracy for five years. These achievements did not have any redeeming bearing on the lives of the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan has remained burdened by an unremitting cycle of violence of all kinds including the sectarian feuds and religious extremism in which hundreds of Pakistanis have been killed and injured. The cost of living sky rocketed, the poverty proliferated, and the basic needs of the people went beyond their reach to be adequately met. 

The national institutions were degraded, the unemployment soared, social vices from adulteration to rape swelled. The law enforcement for the security of the people plummeted to the lowest depths.

In contrast, the shenanigans of the ruling parties broke the previous records on corrupt practices, excelled in nepotism and doling out undue privileges to themselves and to their kith and kin. They proved to be high way robbers in depleting the national exchequer in every conceivable manner.

While a nation is desperately trying to survive against most trying conditions, the interim prime minister, in his last few days as the chief executive of the country, decamped with 37 billion rupees given to him as special discretionary funds. He made thousands of appointments that in due course would put inexorable burden on the state treasury.

Regrettably this prime minister was already booked in highly serious financial crimes one of which is fleecing the national exchequer through fake rental power units. The outgoing government locked itself in a continuous battle with the judiciary by not complying with the judicial verdicts.

It couldn't lay bare or at least actively pursue the most brazen murder of its chairperson Benazir Bhutto in five years. Why only one page of the 35 pages of the Benazir Bhutto’s will is shown. Why the whole will is not revealed because that document belongs to nation? 

Interestingly that one page shows only the appointment of Asif Ali Zardari as the next chairman of the PPP. Doesn't that smell fishy on the face?

So Pakistan needs terrible shake-up to cast away the lethal parasites, the deadly bugs and blood sucking leeches from its body politic. Pakistan is in dire need of an iron willed leader or bunch of leaders who can transform this marvelous land into resplendent one with prosperity and the enticing look of a modern state. 

He should stamp out the scourge of sectarianism, the ravenous religious militancy caving in the foundations of Pakistan. He should at least be clean handed, free from greed, and of high moral character. He should be dedicated to the service of the people and not himself or his clan or party.

Such leader should not exploit or abuse their powers for personal enrichment and aggrandizement. Pakistan needs peace domestically and the establishment of a system of governance that ensures equal and fair justice to all, provision of basic needs and utilities, clean environment and elimination of poverty be it economic, intellectual or social. 

To sum up it should be model good governance so that country can move forward and people have a break from a decadent, stinking and nerve shattering paradigm of living.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

PSNT Celebrates Pakistan Day (March 23)

By Saeed Qureshi
The newly installed cabinet of PSNT (Pakistan Society of North Texas) celebrated the historic Pakistan Day (Passing of Lahore or Pakistan resolution in 1940, demanding Pakistan) with abundance of pageantry and traditional fervor. And it ought to be so with such a momentous day.

On March 23, 1940, the blissful concept and magnificent vision of an independent state of Pakistan was conceived and resoundingly conveyed to the Muslims of the Subcontinent as well as the world at large.

The food was excellent, diverse and plentiful. The Marriott hotel’s spacious ballroom was tastefully decorated. The tables were nicely and orderly laid out and were easily accessible for the guests to reach and take their seats.

All benchmarks, necessary modalities and decorum for such a glorious function were adequately observed. It was a fully sold-out event and the chandelier studded hall was filled to its capacity. That achievement testifies to the hard work and profound salesmanship skills of the organizers.

Yet quite a few features were either not taken seriously or left half way. Some of the arrangements fell short of the yardsticks that are expected on such solemn occasions. For instance the quality of speeches delivered by the young speakers was sketchy and left much to be desired.

I wish besides these juvenile speakers, if some veteran of the independence movement could have been invited to speak and take us back to those momentous and epoch making era when Pakistan was in the making.

We could have recapitulated and recaptured the dazzling images of the boundless zeal and passion of the freedom fighters that were the hallmarks of the independence movement for Pakistan.

The only name of such a distinguished person that comes to my mind is that of adorable jinab Khaliq Qureshi Sahib. Khaliq Sahib has the singular honor of witnessing the unfolding of the most glowing and glorified spectacle of an upcoming independent state for the Muslim nation in the Indian subcontinent.

Mr. Qureshi has the distinctive honor of meeting with the sister of the founder of Pakistan Mohtrama Fatima Jinnah. As a member of the Pakistan Muslim National Guards, he was assigned, besides others, to protect Quaid-e-Azam when he came to Sialkot in 1946 to address a public meeting.

There could be many among the audience to bear me out if I point out the serious flaw in the sound system. Either it was too blurry or too high as to become a kind of disconnect between the listeners and the singers. The sound was rather jarring that soothing and that is what I personally felt. But more than that there was a kind of echo in the hall which couldn’t be subdued.

The first lyricist took the stage and was there until midnight without conceding the arena to the Arshad Mehmood, a celebrated singer from Sindh province. I wish I could have time to listen to Arshad Mehmood in that august assemblage.

I have had the pleasure of listening to his marvelous and captivating performance in private parties held in his honor in DFW metroplex from time to time. Besides being an accomplished lyricist with emphasis on mystic and folklore genres, he is a refined and warm-hearted person.

I had gathered an overall impression as if the PSNT has, of late, been saddled by sincere, dedicated, yet novice and mediocre leadership. The panel of five robust persons that stood in unison on the stage to introduce themselves to the guests did not utter a word, not to speak of pronouncing their names.

I would have much desired that the secretary general of this most important representative body of the American Pakistanis, Mr. Nadeem Zaman, to speak and to spell out the aims and vision of the new executive body of PSNT. We appreciate his emails keeping us abreast of the PTI activities, but the PSNT too needs his attention.

But while I was watching with intent eyes that he would shake hands at least with the media representatives, he shirked even from having an eye to eye contact with them. I would have rather liked him to come to every guest individually and welcome and greet them with a wide and generous smile spread on his face. But I felt as if he was in a trance to be all by himself, to the utter exclusion of others around him.

He knows that much to the chagrin and displeasure of our colleagues in media and his antagonists, I and Shah Alam Sahib stood by him and tried to bail him out from the mud of disgrace and defamation he was being thrown in.

Last evening there was an opportune moment for him to display his courtesy and a vivid spirit of hospitality towards his well-wishers in the press. He looked indignant and posed rather a stranger as if we were meeting each other for the first time. I pardon the other office bearers, because I have never had the pleasure of knowing the other guys elected in the governing body of the PSNT.

And that reminds me a very important issue mentioned by the PSNT president sister Anjum Anwar in her keynote address. It is about banker Yunus Khan and a hefty amount of over 200,000 dollars. She shared with the audience, her dream of building the Pakistan House from that money now safely deposited in the so-called Trusty Fund.

I would doubt if ever, even the foundation stone for such a coveted project can be laid, much less its completion from the money that belongs to one individual. This is the hard earned money of Yunus Khan and must be returned to him in good grace.

This money has been controversial for many years and became a bone of contention between the two rival groups. The matter was finally adjudicated by the court and ever since it is resting in the lockers with a tag of trusty fund.

If, there ever, could be a Pakistan House, let it be built from the contributions of the common American Pakistanis with the iron clad guarantees that the funds so raised would not be wasted on closed door partying extravaganzas and frivolous merry making.

Why a person alone should be forced to set aside a big chunk of money that is neither useful for him nor for the PSNT. It cannot be spent on the welfare of the community for any length of time.

I and my wife had to beat a hasty retreat as we had no reserved seats to sit on. Although when sister Anjum invited us to share the joys of this unique celebration, she promised to allocate our seats at the media table.

But as the confusion would take the better part of order, the media seats were taken over by non-media persons who despite immense cajoling and exhaustive persuasion refused to relinquish their occupation.

As such, like the disoriented individuals, we were roving from one seat to another, as every seat had its owner. Finally the vice president of APML (All Pakistan Muslim League) Shah Rukh Siddiqui perceived our predicament and graciously accommodated us on his table.

Doesn’t this indifference on the part of the management leave a bitter taste in the mouth? But it is factually half bitter taste as we were not alone in this predicament. My colleagues in media, Awais, Shah Alam and even Sajjad were as helplessly Diaspora as our couple was.
Long Live Pakistan.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why doesn't the Government Establish its Writ in Karachi?

By Saeed Qureshi
How many more dead bodies, the human draculas want to devour in Karachi? Why the government does not restore its write in troubled Karachi? The governments of both Sindh province and the federal are unconcerned spectators to see the bloodletting mayhem going on. The murderous mafias and monstrous gangs have divided Karachi into various zones and maintain their merciless sway on these.

Their operatives freely and daringly loot the banks, grab the land, occupy the houses, trade in narcotics and lethal drugs and force the business community to pay them the demanded sums of money. If they refuse they are kidnapped, tortured and killed.

The people of Karachi have been living through this nerve-shattering situation for a decade or so. The outlaws challenge the government law-enforcement agencies and kill the policemen and intelligence operatives with impunity. 

Many prominent social activists and public figures engaged in the service of the people have been eliminated. There is a hair-raising escalation in the bloody feuds in Karachi and there seems to be no let up in that savagery.

The latest gruesome murder is that of an academic, Professor Sibte Jaffar ostensibly for sectarian vendetta. The callous assassin refuse to acknowledge that the deceased professor besides being a Shia faithful, was also a human being and had a family to support.  

Prior to that grisly assassination, the Director of Orangi housing project and a highly dedicated social figure Perveen Rehman was gunned down. Are the sectarian mafias getting too strong as to wrest the control from the police and law enforcement agencies and kill anyone on their own bidding?

The government with its resources and a huge network of police, rangers and army has remained aloof and from its silence one would be tempted to infer that the power wielders and the political parties could also be behind this tattered social peace in Karachi. 

One of the strident reasons that would deter the people from voting for the PPP and its coalition partners is the government’s utter failure to protect the lives of the citizens and save businesses of this country from killers and extortionists.

On daily basis headless or tortured corpses are found in various areas of Karachi. Businesses and industrial activity is grinding to a standstill as a result of the specter of horror let loose on Karachi by the heinous criminals stalking in the length and breadth of Karachi. There is no check on them and no conscious or planned operation has been launched to stem this macabre piling of dead bodies of the human beings.

Elections apart, the most pressing need is to stop the killer gangs and dangerous mafias from killing the people at free will or in mutual fight for controlling their delineated zones in Karachi. Is Karachi a city becoming like Beirut where similar horrendous environment was in vogue for years together? 

Even in Baghdad, where sectarian bad blood between Sunnis and Shias has been rife for ages, is no match to Karachi’s worsening spectacle. Karachi is not a war zone like Syrian cities yet life is equally unsafe in this city as in Kabul, Damascus and Aleppo.

Karachi is burning and the social and business life is turning into ashes due to the utter apathy and callous indifference of the authorities. Who else can bridle these raging orgies of human blood and an avalanche of civil war and from turning this largest city into a killing-field? I have no hope. 

Let us not wait for the elections as that would take a couple of months more and one can only shudder how many precious lives would be lost by that time.Even elections cannot be held peacefully in such a dangerous and unstable environment. 

The rival parties could use the goons to either snatch votes, coerce the voters for the candidate of their choice. There could be shooting and gun battles and kidnapping of the voters on the polling stations.  Such sinister happenings could jeopardize the pristine objective of fair and free elections.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The PPP’s Election Manifesto is Funny

 March 15, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi

The ruling party’s election charter is least groundbreaking or revolutionary. It seems to be written as if to fill in the blanks with a hodge-podge of overblown objectives. Unveiled by the party‘s parliamentarians, the manifesto proffers a heavy load of commitments that it could not fulfill during its previous five years in power.

The manifesto was announced in English before the media, by the commerce minister Amin Fahim who himself has been involved in creepy financial scams. Makhdoom Amin Fahim is also the senior Vice Chairman of the PPP.

The parliamentarians, in tandem with Amin Fahim, espoused seven priority issues that the new government of the PPP would take-up in the first 100 days at both the federal and the provincial level. The most outstanding hallmark of the new manifesto is to raise the minimum wage ceiling of the ordinary workers to Rs. 18000 by the year 2018 which is 5 years away.

Besides, poor sections of the society would be given “Roti, Kapra Aur Makan” (bread, clothing and housing).This slogan is a refrain from the past. It was the central theme of the founder of the PPP, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the eve of launching the PPP in 1967. That became the symbol and slogan of the PPP and that hugely burnished its image as the party of the downtrodden and poor.

The other salient features of the manifesto are, mass education and health, jobs for all, elimination of terrorism, and upholding and hoisting high the democratic culture.  The manifesto calls for the creation of a separate province in South Punjab. Eradication of polio by 2018 is part of the newly revealed election agenda of the PPP.

The new PPP government would make the military budget accountable, ensure workers representation in the parliament, facilitate employment of women, and provide security to the minorities; it would give freedom of expression. It would also generate additional 12000 MW electricity. All this stuff is run of the mill and part of every political party’s agenda.

The unveiling of the manifesto was tagged and supplemented with the achievements of the PPP government in the preceding five years. The speakers claimed providing jobs to Lakhs of people, sustaining democracy and establishment of the Counter Terrorism National Authority and passing Anti-Terrorism Law Bill.

All these sparkling promises and new lofty goals unfolded by the PPP stalwarts ring hollow. It appears that the PPP had to draft this heavily nourished menu of dainty pledges in a hurry. One would wonder and rather question that if the PPP could not offer a semblance of good governance for five years, how could it fulfill all these marvelous and high sounding undertakings in the coming five years.

However, one feather in the cap of PPP is that it resisted derailing of the bandwagon of the democracy for five years. It did so despite tough challenges and heavy stumbling hurdles, though that resistance was predominantly motivated for an urge to remain in power. Its other notable achievement is amendments in the constitution devolving due powers to the provinces. 

But other than that, it has earned more flak and discredit for its misdeeds and glaring shortcomings that kept the country on the tenterhooks of an unremitting trauma. The package of reforms did not make any meaningful difference in the lives of the common man. As a matter the people of Pakistan judged the PPP leaders from their conduct which on the whole was unblemished.  

From a crippling load shedding to pervasive corruption to the callous indifference in curbing lawlessness, violence and terrorism have eclipsed the meager achievements of the PPP. The PPP’s high command has not given any importance to the murder of its chairman under one pretext or the other.

Of late one of the talkative stalwarts asserted that although PPP knew the names of the assassins, yet could not divulge because they were more powerful than the state and the government. If this in the level of coyness and compromise of the PPP’s leaders then how could it pick up courage during the next tenure in office to take bold decisions in public and national interests.

There has been incessant and running tussle between the apex judiciary and the PPP’s outgoing government for these preceding five years. From the treason trial of former president Musharraf to Memogate to rental power plants scams, to import of ephedrine, to Swiss bank case, and investigating several high profile murder cases, the government deliberately dithered and no conscious efforts were made or willingness shown to execute supreme court’s orders.

All these five years, the executive has been playing hide and seek with the judiciary with regard to the implementation of the decisions of the Apex court.  The obvious reason for such a devious conduct was that in these cases several PPP heavy weights were involved. 

The rental power plants scandal is the elephantine case in which the outgoing interim prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is the principal actor. He was ordered by the Supreme Court to be arrested yet he remained in the office.

The Benazir Income Support program (BISP) is an eyewash mega corruption project for helping the poor families or removal of the poverty. An unbelievably hefty amount of 72 billion rupees was allocated every year for distribution among the needy people. For five years it comes to staggering 350 billion rupees.

No one knows where 350 billion rupees have gone and why still the poverty could not be eradicated.
Had this amount been spent on building highways, new dams, bridges and power generation units, the country would have hugely benefited both socially and economically?

The blackouts, the persistent water crisis, the ramshackle transportation, the explosions, the insecurity, the robberies, extortions and a host of other crimes are driving the people crazy with no hope for a better future.

The studied debilitating and destruction of Railways, PIA and several similar nation building organizations have pushed the country backward for several decades. There is a universal outcry and deep seated repugnance about the PPP’s five years dismal performance  not only in Pakistan but also aboard.

As such giving even a slim benefit of doubt to the PPP and voting it into power again by the electorate seems to be a far cry and a hard to achieve tall order. The PPP of today suffers from a tarnished image.

On the contrary what can be surmised is that a whole litany of charges could be opened up against the respective PPP leaders, keeping them busy for pretty good time. If they slip out of the country, like Hussain Haqqani, then it would be an entirely different scenario.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Religious Bigotry Assuming Alarming Proportions

March 10, 2013

By Saeed Qureshi

On March 9, in retaliation to an alleged blasphemy by a Christian, a rowdy crowd of enraged Muslims in a daring attack ransacked and burned 178 homes and shops of Christians in Joseph town, a densely populated area near Badami Bagh in Lahore.

On March 3 in Abbas Town Karachi, a powerful explosion killed 40 people while 135 sustained injuries. They were mostly Shias. On 16 February in a Quetta bombing 81 people were killed and 178 were wounded. The victims were Shia faithful. All these incidents are related to religious vengeance.

The sectarian conflict in Pakistan is a recurring phenomenon for several decades now. It has consumed innumerable lives in Pakistan. Instead that it should decline, it is getting fiercer with the time passage. The minority denominations remain under constant threat of bloody attacks from the majority branches of Islam.

The Founder and the first president of the state of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah addressed the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947.
This address is historic and though provoking. It sets the abiding parameters as to how the newly established state of Pakistan would function.

In the present times, when Pakistan is beset with the growing menace of religious bigotry and militancy of radical Islamists against the minority sects within Islam and out of it, the Quaid’s address dismantles all the barriers between the citizens premised upon religious persuasion, caste, creed or any other similar flimsy considerations.

Unfortunately the Pakistan that he visualized to be a modern liberal and secular state has been hijacked by the fundamentalists who have very perfunctory knowledge of Islam and are determined to turn Pakistan into a theocracy where only one school of religious creed would prevail. 

These ignorant and cruel people have wrecked the foundations of this state that they opposed tooth and nail when the pioneering leadership was trying to create it against very heavy odds.

Today the country is in the clutches of religious fanaticism bordering on savagery and barbarism againt the fellow citizens whose only fault is that they profess a different creed either as fellow Muslims or as non-Muslims.

The paramount question is: do the non-Muslims or minority sects within Islam have the rights to live in this land as equal citizens and to practice their faith freely? Jamaat-i-Islami and some other Islamic parties opposed Quaid-e-Azam over the creation of a Muslim state within India. 

When Pakistan came into being they tried to convert it into a religious state and for that objective, they contrived every trick, chicanery, intrigue, violence and conspiracies to block Pakistan from being a modern, secular  state where, religious freedom,  liberty and human rights would prevail.

In the subsequent times, more ferocious religious bands have jumped into the fray to impose their perception of Islam via violence. Pakistan has been turned into an arena where the majority sects intimidate, annihilate and brutalize the minority sects both Islamic and un-Islamic branding them infidels. This is not the Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam visualized or fought for.

Quaid-e- Azam vigorously  articulated the following guidelines for the new state to follow. One admiringly wonders at the wisdom, intellect and foresight of the founder of Pakistan and his visionary colleagues for laying down the fundamental principles for the governance of the new state. The salient points of Quaid’s indelible address are given below:

He said,

1.       “The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan.”
2.       “Second is of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan.”
3.      “The first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”
4.       One of the biggest curses……………. is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand.”
5.       “Black-marketing is another curse--------- Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society.”
6.       “The evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me.”
7.       “everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations.”
8.       “We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community would vanish.”
9.       “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
10.  “You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

The indiscriminate and sporadic killing of Shias, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and even Ahmadis in Pakistan clearly signals that the perpetrators want to convert Pakistan into a Sunni conservative state. But even if Pakistan becomes Sunni theocratic state what was the guarantee that minorities would be allowed to observe their religious obligations with freedom and without constraints.

The anarchy let loose by the religious zealots has got to be sternly checked if Pakistan is to remain as s table, united and economically viable state. The state and religion must exist side by side without interfering in each other’s domain. This is what Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisioned and this is what is indispensable for the survival of Pakistan and well being of its people.

Let us not forget that Pakistan cannot become another Saudi Arabia that follows a rigid Wahabi creed under the sway of monarchy not allowed in Islam. In not too distant future Saudi Arabia will have to open up its society as the medieval orthodox states are disappearing.

It is time to rein in the monster of sectarian hatred, the faith based bigotry and the violence thereof. Otherwise Pakistan is doomed to flourish as a modern state with a civil society. Pakistan may profess a state religion but no religious band should be allowed to impose it on others through violence and harassment.

Friday, March 8, 2013

For God Sake De-weaponize Karachi

March 8, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi

Lately there has been a spate of deadly explosions in Karachi and Quetta killing scores of innocent, peaceful citizens of this hapless country. It is indispensable to de-weaponize Karachi in order to restore a modicum of peace in that city now entirely left at the mercy of brigands and killer mafias.

As to why this decision has not been taken so far defies the logic and places our rulers at par with the enemies of public peace. That one giant decision can put a tab on the proliferating terrorism, surging violence and spiraling lawlessness debilitating Karachi economically and socially. There must be millions of all calibers of weapons being used by murders of all shades for massacring the citizens for ulterior motives, for sectarian vendettas and for extortion and robberies.

The hopeless and delicate law and order situation in Karachi should not be invisible or unknown to the law enforcement agencies or the governments at center and in province. Invariably everyday citizens lose their lives. The assassins keep repeating their murderous sprees as if to display their brazenness as well as to mock the inability of the police and custodians of law to nab them.

There is a pall of fear hanging over Karachi for many years that intensifies as the time passes. It seems that the local government is a part of a diabolic conspiracy to keep Karachi in constant spell of turmoil, impasse and insecurity.

There is no let-up in any manner in the savagery of the target killers who not only kill but torture their captives before taking their lives. It is a colossally frightening picture awash with human blood all over. The official network seems entirely dysfunctional to protect the citizens, from the unrelenting orgy of human blood let loose by the trigger happy and audacious fiends in human garb.

If the government is wary of relegating Karachi to the army for an operation a la Swat to clear Karachi of the miscreants and savage criminals wrecking the peace in this largest metropolis, then at least it should put on ban on possession of weapons. Weapons are instruments of mass killings and massacres that only the hooligans and murders carry as the common citizens cannot have the money to buy even a small caliber pistol. The wicked and barbaric thugs keep an arsenal of firearms with which they unleash a reign of terror and fright ever day over the city.
Why the provincial and the federal governments do not blink eye over the complete breakdown of law and order in a city that is the hub and life-line of Pakistan’s economy? If the police and paramilitary forces can reach the affected areas after an explosion and bomb blast to carry out a search operation, why can’t a comprehensive search and arrest operation be mounted in the entire city and every house for finding weapons?

Why doesn’t the provincial government declare possession of weapons as illegal and violation of law punishable by several years of incarceration? Why doesn’t the government order for all the weapons to be registered with the authorities and those not registered to be recovered and confiscated.   The possessors of illegal weapons should be punished on the spot by the summary or roving courts set up in every locality. These courts should move with the police or army during the search of the weapons.

Hundreds of families have been deprived of their bread earners and the children have become orphans. The goons have turned Karachi into a killing field of the citizens mostly poor, impoverished and from the lower segments of society. The citizens move out of their dwellings with an embedded fear whether they would still be alive by the evening when they return to their homes.

Why the government has a soft corner for the killing mafias, the murderous gangsters and enemies of public peace as evident from its reluctance to ban possession of firearms and other lethal weapons. Is it that the heavyweights in the government are behind this grisly mayhem of lawlessness and sordid breakdown of administrative machinery? Do they share cash and jewelry and cars and other similar valuables through their hired thugs?

Karachi has become an exceedingly insecure and dangerous place not only for the tourists and Pakistanis living aboard but also for the local population. Why the government, can’t call all parties conference for serious deliberations over this most burning and precarious issue, devouring the lives of the frightened and defenseless people?

Do the governing heavyweights know that this spiraling lawlessness is playing havoc with Karachi’s economic potential and that of Pakistan also? My crying question is why the political government, the police paraphernalia, the intelligence network, the army and all those responsible for the security and well being of Pakistan and its citizens are, posing as unconcerned onlookers.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

America will Reign Supreme

By Saeed Qureshi

The United States of America has always been in making. America is known as the country of immigrants. Never in its history starting from Declaration of Independence in 1776 to this day, has it ever been under monarchy or dictatorship. It was always a democratic country. It is a country of paradoxes and extreme divergences.  

It is the most indebted yet the leading donor nation on planet earth. The 9/11 cataclysmic incident was an unexpected tragedy, yet this nation has learnt invaluable lessons from that. This land is much safer now under a foolproof security system put in place after that earth shaking event.

While living in the United States, I can vouch that despite being under a staggering 16 trillion dollar debt, the domestic socio-cultural life and the living standards of the citizens have remained almost unaffected. The Americans enjoy the same perks and benefits that they have been enjoying for decades. This country sinks for a while and rebounds to the surface with new vigor and vitality.

The law and order is in excellent shape, the courts work with the decorum that is expected of them.  The state institutions function within the framework of paramount national interest and are geared towards the service of the citizens.

The oversight or the accountability is an all encompassing and overarching umbrella over a grocery shops to huge departmental stores to a gigantic manufacturing factory. The taxation and revenue collection known as IRS is more powerful than any other organ of the administration. The tax and revenue collection system can serve a useful model for other countries.

The decision making at every level of governance is through a democratic process that is grueling but certainly betokens the respect for the public opinion. The appointments of the officials in city or county are made with the approval of the citizens. A bureaucrat or the head of department does not have the authority to make appointments on important posts.

 Most of the posts are filled through local elections. The development projects, new houses or offices; be these private or public cannot be launched without the approval of the residents of the respective areas and localities.

In the courts there are rigorous contests and legal bouts between the prosecution and the defense. Yet both the sides have to present their arguments before a panel of jury picked randomly from various sections of the society. The jury has to decide the case in a unanimous yes or no vote. This is truly a grassroots democratic culture and demonstrates that power belongs to the people.

The criminals and outlaws are hunted down and brought to justice finally. The health-care facilities are available for everyone. The jobless are given unemployment allowances, the traffic runs orderly, the roads and lanes are free of dirt. There is no way one can park anywhere or violate traffic signal at free will. These are some of the glowing hallmarks of a civil and administratively well established society.

A country fighting aimless wars in foreign lands for pretty six decades has a meritorious and vibrant society at home. The ethnic divide is sharp but mutually tolerant. The constitution and the laws do not discriminate between the citizens on the basis of color, creed age or sex etc. 

It is a country that takes in maximum number of immigrants every year. This is one country where the dispossessed, traumatized and uprooted people from the oppressive societies stream in every year in huge numbers.

Yet we accuse of this country for blatant human rights violations, target killings through drones and otherwise, intimidation, hegemonic designs and arm-twisting around the world. However those perceptions and priorities are undergoing a transformation within US at the policy making levels

If analyzed in the hindsight, one would tend to believe that if this country professes to be a capitalist country, and its economy based upon the capitalist system, then it has to oppose communism that runs a diametrically opposite economic system with the state ownership of everything produced and distributed.

We have seen the abysmal outcome of the centralized economic systems in the world during the past few decades. The communism miserably failed in the aftermath of the Second World War. Now its upholders mainly Russia and China are half way through shifting over to a traditional capitalist system. 

There is a trend of opening of societies both socially and economically in Russia and China. If this were not so then the largest portion of investment would not been made by the American entrepreneurs in China.

The United States was trenchantly braced against the growing challenge of communism in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was a cold war era that entailed in its wake both economic and military rivalries. In wars fought in the Far East, America suffered one defeat after another.

But finally in Afghanistan it turned the tables on the Soviet Union and scored a decisive and historic victory, although this was made possible through the Muslims guerrillas and Mujahids (crusaders) that fought a war of attrition against the Soviet Union for a decade forcing that military power to leave Afghanistan. America made the second blunder by invading Iraq an egregious highhandedness which cannot be justified by any logic or definition.

But those huge blunders are part of an unbridled militancy and uncalled for propensity for bellicosity may not be repeated by America after stark realization that those were injurious and counterproductive. And look the colossal prices America has to pay. In several wars initiated by America after the Second World War, thousands of American soldiers were killed, many more crippled and the economy overburdened with an astounding debt.

Ironically United States owes most of external debt to a prospective rival of future, the Peoples Republic of China. But it emphatically appears that America’s obsession for distant wars is coming to a close. The United State would not repeat the fallacies of sending its military contingents to wage overseas wars. 

If at all it has to mount any military engagement it would do so by proxy. It means not direct involvement but giving aid and technological and other similar inputs and assistance o the respective countries to fight the terrorists or those perceived to be the enemies of the United States.

The United States has set an admirable example of the establishment of facilitating democratic dispensations in the totalitarian regimes in the Middle East thus embracing those oppressive societies with the fragrance of Arab spring. That historic transformation could be made possible with the help of the United States.

One can reckon that the United States would not wage a war or even allow Israel for preemptive attacks on Iran as that would be disastrous as witnessed in case of such wars during the past several decades. That would be a last straw on the camel's back for the dwindling American economy and cutting across its new role of a sincere facilitator for the world peace.

The Obama administration that has taken an incredible yet most sagacious decision of recalling the American forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan would not launch a fresh military adventure against Iran. President Obama is more riveted on research, space exploration, better education, healthcare for all  and growth of economy and modernizing of the aging infrastructures by diverting funds from wars to such vital priorities.

There is no gainsaying that 9/11 and the measures taken thereafter have made America definitively a safer place and one can rule out any incident of similar nature ever in future. It is expected that with the time passage the condign conditions imposed on traveling and rigorous background checks or harsh racial proofing would be softened. Hopefully, the great and free American society with pleasant hallmarks of liberty, freedom and openness would bounce back.

The United States after massive upheavals and rude shock waves generated by scores of wars, involvement in making and breaking regimes, and posing as a bully state and delineating between friendly and unfriendly states would now embark upon turning the world into an abode of peace and fraternity among the nations. With China it should act more as partner for a better world than falling back upon belligerency and warfare.

With a formidable paradigm shift that is now taking place in the United States both externally and domestically, America with its enormous wealth and astounding resources and overarching clout, is to reemerge as the world leader. 

It is destined to reign supreme as a humane and righteous world leader. It has the capacity and resources to transform the earth into the kingdom of God where peace, human dignity and welfare for all the inhabitants prevail. A monumental change is in the offing.