Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Hujra of a Pious Man

Written by Saeed Qureshi

We had the unique privilege and immense blessing of sitting in the Hujra (room for prayers and meditation) of Hazrat Sufi Ameer Khan Sahib. This happened last Thursday when Sufi Sahib invited us to show his spiritual relics that were passed on to him from his family and were presented to him from the famous Dargas (tombs and burial places or spiritual house of saints).

The group of visitors comprised Hazrat Jinab Khaliq Qureshi Sahib, Shah Alam Siddiqui Sahib, Jinab Farooq Khan Sahib, Azad Khan and this scribe. Jinab Khaliq Qureshi Sahib is the most devoted disciple of Jinab Sufi Ameer Khan Sahib.

The occasion for this spiritually resplendent and blissfully packed assemblage was to offer prayers on the sad demise of the father of one of our colleagues and famous Radio anchor Azad Khan. Sufi Sahib in his typical devotional and most moving manner recited various suras from the holy Quran. He fervently prayed for the blessing and mercy of God, eternal peace and atonement for the departed soul and for grant of an exalted place to him in the paradise.

It was an atmosphere filled with an aura of divinity and serenity that one can only feel in the company of holy men, the saints, mystics and ascetics. But what was rare and exceedingly surpassing treat to the beholders was the collection of invaluable relics that were safely preserved in that physically small but spiritually magnificent room.

Here we saw the prayer rug or Jaanamaz from the Mazaar (burial place) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auwliya of Delhi. This unique 600 years old relic was passed on to Sufi Ameer Khan by his honorable mother Bibi Khadija also a waliullah (saint of God) in her own right.

The front wall of the Hujra was covered with a profusely embroidered and glittering Galaaf (cover)   from the Mazaar of famous saint Khawaja Ghareeb Nawaz of Ajmer Shareef (1141-1230 AD). It is 50 years old and even now looks as if was prepared only recently. One looks at these awesome relics with utter amazement and a deep sense of divinity.
We were also shown six Chaddars (linen or silk sheets) from different tombs and mausoleums of the celebrated and spiritually most exalted saints of the past several hundred years. These were the covers of the huge graves of the sleeping ascetics or Aulias. These are chronologically listed below:

Chaddar from the Mazaar of Hazrat Data Ganj Baksh Ali Hujwiri (990- 1077 AD).   
Chaddar (50 years old) - from the Mazaar of Hazrat Abdal Qadir al-Gilani al-Husani (1077-1166 AD)
Chaddar from the Mazaar of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (1173-1235 AD)
Chaddar (25 years old) from the Mazaar of Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj-e-Shakar (1188-1280       AD)
Chaddar (30 years old), from the Mazaar of Nizamuddin Aulia of Delhi (1238-1325 AD)
Chaddar (35 years old) - from the Mazaar of Amir Khusrau (1253-1325 AD)

Anyone wishing to see these rare relics can either get into touch with Jinab Khaliq Sahib or Sufi Ameer Khan himself. I am sure your visit would be most rewarding and spiritually thrilling. Sufi Sahib spends his better part of night either reading the holy Quran or in praying including Tahujjad (midnight prayer). So it would be better to call Khaliq Sahib in advance of visit for an appointment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Karachi should be handed over to the Army!

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan is emerging as one of the most unsafe places for its citizens. Karachi, a port city and leading industrial metropolis has become the battleground for gang wars, target assassinations and extortions. The criminals and outlaws seem to be more daring and overpowering than the law and order outfits. 

There is a free-for-all mayhem devouring precious lives every day and every moment.  It looks as if a mini civil war was underway that might erupt into a full-fledged war sooner than later.

Karachi is divided into so called “no go areas” where merciless gangs keep their sway as local lords. They fight back if another gang wants to take over their area of control. The leaders, bureaucrats, and high government functionaries are escorted and protected by an army of bodyguards and bullet and bombproof vehicles.

However, the ordinary citizens are direly exposed to the persistent lurking threat to their lives. The people are turning paranoid or senseless about the gruesome tragedies and horrifying killing sprees going on around them. People are dying every day because the killers shoot or kill them with rare abandon or without any fear of state writ.

There is an atmosphere of dread and fear that pervades every lane and street, public place and every mind. Those who eke out their living by ordinary means on road side stalls, or kiosks or the peddlers or the laborers are also targeted by the invisible assassins whose prime motive is to destabilize and destroy the normal life and scuttle the smooth commuting of the people whether by walking or in vehicles.

In the wake of escalating lawlessness and soaring gang wars for  sinister motives in Karachi, the government and its law and order agencies seem to be either unmindful or crippled .The target killings before the eyes of the karachiites, Pakistan and the entire world is surging unabated.

There are rangers, and there are government moles and intelligence network, police and sometimes troops but all these have failed to contain or break the chain of killing of innocent civilians. It is evident that the successive civilian governments both federal and Sindh provincial government have failed to halt or diminish the escalating and unremitting cycle of massacre of the people by mafias, gangsters, trigger happy killers, extortionists and enemy agents.

Under these stifling conditions, there is no harm if strife-torn and terrorism infested city of Karachi is handed over to the armed forces for a specific period of time. The incumbent government elected with the popular franchise should summon army to restore order and safe environment.

If the civilian law and order agencies have thus far failed to curb the mushrooming violence then let this city be handed over to the army that has the capability and muscle to curb fast spreading violence. The political parties and civil society institutions should support the army’s deployment in Karachi for this most urgent task of restoring order and peace.

The social and business circles are crying hoarse for the deployment of army in the largest city of Pakistan to quell the sinews of a mini simmering civil war. The office bearers of the federal chamber of commerce and industry are imploring the government to come to their rescue against the extortionists. The business community is moving to other cities of Pakistan and gradually the shops, the business centers and even industries are closing down.

If army takes control of Karachi it should impose curfew from dusk to dawn and if necessary for parts at day time. Its first and the foremost task should be to de-weaponize Karachi. It should cordon off and lay siege of notorious localities one by one.  The male members should be ordered to assemble during the curfew hours at a certain place and during that time their residences and hiding places should be reached.

The army is fully trained and capable of dealing with the emergencies. But just by way of advice, it should deploy contingents in markets, schools, hospitals, bus stops and similar other public places to ward off and if necessary haul the miscreants. The army should be given powers to hold summary trials, flush out the known criminals and bad characters and to sort out their activities.

The army should have powers to kill the trouble makers on the spot. With such drastic strategy that can be only executed by the army on war footing, that this mammoth menace and burgeoning curse of terrorism and crime can be definitively nailed.

It is extremely inevitable that all the foreign residents living in Karachi should be ordered to register themselves. Those who are illegal must be deported without fail and hesitation. Those with legal status should be checked and their activities and places of living minutely verified.

They should be asked to report their presence periodically at the local police stations. The police stations should be told to keep an eye on them. Those among the local population harboring the illegal aliens must be dealt with severely.

The war with an external enemy might be a remote possibility. But the country needs to move against the war within the country that is wreaking havoc with the social peace and economy; all the more the port city of Karachi that generates a big chunk of wealth for the country.

It is utterly indispensable to stop the sectarian violence that is overtaking Karachi with the passage of time. The ideological confrontations between the rival sects are taking a heavy toll of human life in Karachi. Without fear or favor the army should come down with a very hand on all religious militancy and curb it with full might and backing of the government and political forces.

  Even if the “all parties’ conference” is convened, an iron clad remedy of this ostensibly intractable sore cannot be found out. Even if a consensus is brought about among the divergent political groups, still who is going to chase and engage in bloody combats with the dangerously armed and profusely organized goons.

There is no way that the parleys among the political parties can be effective is stamping out the escalating terrorism and violence. The reason for such a failure is that these political parties aid and abet the sectarian killers, the mafias, the gangs, the extortionists and all those elements destabilizing the country.  The stalwarts of these social and political outfits receive a share of the looted money from the bounty killers, extortionists, kidnappers and other rogue elements.

The present government of PMLN that was ousted through a military coup or reaction should shed its psychological phobias and inhibitions and consent to army’s taking over Karachi for a limited time period. For inexplicable reasons the PPP provincial government in Sindh is also strongly opposing the military operation in Karachi.

One wonders if rangers and police have proven to be totally ineffective then why they want this mayhem to continue that is turning Karachi into a ghost city and killing its spirit of openness and liveliness.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Musharraf’s Indictment and the Related Questions

August 23, 2013

By Saeed Qureshi

On August 20, an anti terrorist court (ATC) indicted Former Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf in Benazir Bhutto’s murder case on three charges namely “murder, conspiracy to murder and facilitation of murder”. Along with Musharraf Six others individuals, including four suspected militants and two senior police officials have also been indicted. 

The next hearing date is set for 27 August. This impromptu indictment is likely to open a Pandora box of hidden aspects and revelation of more names involved in this crime of the century.

It can be inferred that these were the same elements behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi who had conspired to target her mammoth procession in Karachi on 18 October 2007; the day when she arrived in Pakistan after her 8 years exile in Dubai and London. In that horrendous attack she miraculously survived but about 160 people died and hundreds sustained injuries.

In a letter written to Pervez Musharraf on October 16, (two days before her return to Pakistan) she expressed deep concern about her safety, urging the government to provide her foolproof security. In that letter she named four persons who could pose threat to her life. These were Chaudhry  Pervez Elahi then chief minister Punjab, Hamid Gul   former director of ISI, Ijaz Shah the DG of Intelligence Bureau and Waseem Afzal a former Deputy Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

According to a recorded statement of American Journalist Mark Siegel, a close friend and the speech writer of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Musharraf had threatened Benazir with “dire consequences” if she returned home before the 2008 elections. He further told the team that “Musharraf knew of the assassination plot and had personally ordered the destruction of evidence in the case”.

According to Siegel, Benazir had sent him an email on Oct 26, 2007, in which she had expressed fears about her insecurity. She informed him that if something happened to her, Musharraf would be responsible for that in addition to the individuals mentioned in her Oct 16 letter written to the former president.

Siegel had further stated that Benazir had received a telephone call from Pervez Musharraf on Sept 25, 2007, in his presence in Washington in the office of US Congressman Tom Lantos. She termed the call as “threatening and full of abusive language” with Musharraf telling her that,” her security would only be guaranteed if she returned after the elections”.

“A United Nations investigation, which published its findings in 2010, stated that “a senior unnamed army officer had ordered one of on the duty police officers, a former Rawalpindi police chief, Saud Aziz, to hose down the scene in the hours after Ms. Bhutto’s assassination. The car in which Ms. Bhutto died was also cleaned out, destroying its evidential value”.
The report concluded that the security measures provided to Bhutto by the government were "fatally insufficient and ineffective,” Heraldo Muñoz, a Chilean diplomat who led the United Nations investigation asserted in an article that “The police deliberately botched the investigation into Bhutto’s assassination”.
While in due course, this elephantine case gathers momentum, the court and the prosecution could unleash a flurry of questions and explore its various covert and overt contours. The court may summon the four persons that Ms Bhutto mentioned in her letter to be posing a threat to her life.

It could also be probed why her spouse Asif Ali Zardari did not allow a post mortem of her dead body. The court could also question the then Law minister Babar Awan and interior minister Rehman Malik as to why instead of rushing their critically injured party chairperson to the hospital, they preferred to flee from the scene.
Another issue that could be deliberated upon by the court and the prosecution is that during its five years in power, why the PPP did not show any interest whatsoever, in hunting down the assassins and unearthing the conspiracy of an eminent political figure of their own party? it could be interrogated that why the president of Pakistan, who was also the spouse of the deceased leader acknowledged knowing the identity of the assassins but refrained from catching them or revealing their names?

The court could ask who the young man was, shooting with a revolver in his hand as visible in the photograph. The court also can probe why contradictory and multifarious causes of her death were rolled out by various spokespersons of the governments.

The objection could also come up for interrogation that what was the rationale behind giving a limited mandate to the United Nations investigation team binding it only to find out the external elements involved in the murder of Benazir?

The prosecution could raise a point that why only one page out of 35 pages of late Benazir’s will was shown and the not the whole will? It would look mysterious to the court that the revealed page was about the appointment of her spouse as the chairman of the party. 

The court on her volition or requested by the prosecution could order presentation of the full text of late Benazir Bhutto’s will. The court may order to determine if the whole will was written by Benazir or it was a forged document.

There is anther sticking point that could be broached during the court proceedings that why the potential witnesses of the fatal attack on Benazir’s life were eliminated mysteriously, including one Shahinshah who is stated to be also the  body guard of the late leader.

One can only speculate that these queries may give a new direction and dimension to the while case and some other perpetrators or abettors of this sinister murder could be discovered. Even if Musharraf is exonerated in this case somehow; his travail would not come to end because of the pending treason case and the murder of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Nawaz Sharif’s Maiden Address

August 19,2013
By Saeed Qureshi

Nawaz Sharif’s first address to the people of Pakistan after his assuming office was earnest and thoughtful. He was somber and spoke with a profound aura of sincerity and a great deal of solemnity. I can feel that Pakistan has finally landed into the stewardship of a leader who is committed to salvage Pakistan from a deep morass and lift it high to the level of a modern state.

In his nearly an hour long speech the prime minister catalogued all those issues that were in his plate and were passed on to him from what he called a misrule of the past 14 years. He spelled out the strategies of his government to resolve and tackle those ticklish lingering problems. He dilated at length upon acute electricity mayhem and its disastrous impact upon the country’s economy and the people’s lives.

He painted a bleak picture of how ruthlessly the nation building departments and assets were drained and mismanaged that now these have become a liability on the national exchequer to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

I can draw a comparison between the Nawaz Sharif of yesteryears and the one that has come before us after the 2013 elections. There is a sea change in the mannerism, outlook, attitude and overall personality of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Erstwhile, he used to be volatile, reactive, vengeful, aggressive, ambitious and irritable.

Now he is kind, compassionate tolerant, understanding, composed and mature. The long tenure in exile and removal from power has brought about a kind of metamorphosis of maturity in him. He doesn't seem to be power hungry or with a mind frame of sticking to it by hook and by crook and through devious machinations.

During the past five years, he displayed a marvelous show of great statesmanship when he spurned all temptations and calls for removal of PPP government through non democratic maneuvers. His party opted out of the coalition at the center yet remained simultaneously its silent supporter and critic as what was cynically codenamed as “friendly opposition”. That paid dividends to him in the form of retaking power.

He is quite conscious that the gigantic goals and formidable challenges that his government is faced with are to be addressed in a limited framework of five years. His mandate and charter of giving a new promising destiny to Pakistan  is comprehensive, ambitious and far reaching that may not be accomplished in that period but hopefully a clear direction and road map would be mounted that can serve as pioneering guide for the future rulers.

Nawaz Sharif’s call to build consensus among the political parties for rebuilding Pakistan as a modern state should be welcomed and appreciated by opposition parties and all sections of the society. But it appears that the PPP, PTI and ANP would not extend a helping hand to prime minister Nawaz Sharif is his agenda for re-calibrating Pakistan towards prosperity, self reliance and dignity.

I gathered this impression after listening to a follow-up debate on Dunya television channel.  The participants from PTI and ANP manifested their moral dishonesty by bitterly censuring the prime minister for a disappointing speech. One could have given them some saving grace, had they been objective in also appreciating his objectives and plans that he exuded for a glorious future of Pakistan. But to object that why he catalogued and mentioned the blunders and the bad policies of the previous regimes was an outright show of a hypocritical and malicious mentality.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to clean the “Augean Stables” of the gross distortions and criminal disservice of the previous ruling cabals lately that of PPP.  It is apparent to the people of Pakistan that during the past decade the national institutions were deliberately and shamelessly debilitated and destroyed. The odious culture of corruption and bad governance was given full play to make money and fill the coffers of the people in power.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented a resume of the wounds inflicted on body politic of Pakistan and the way the elitists classes and politicians tried in every possible manner to render Pakistan a failed and bankrupt nation. For the past several years there has been a complete breakdown of the law and order and the governance seemed to be in tatters.

On the contrary the vast population was subjected to grinding poverty, degradation of life, lawlessness and so on. A nation turned mercenary and pawn in a war that has wreaked it economically and socially, besides denting the national unity and dignified survival as a free nation.

One of the pernicious offshoots was the terrorism that is still rampaging Pakistan. The drone attacks started during Musharraf era and continued during the PPP rule have made a mockery of the sovereignty of Pakistan. There is a rampant loot and plunder prevalent from top to bottom. 

The persistent acute electric power shortage was cashed by the big wigs of the previous government for making personal fortunes. The national enterprises like Steel Mills, PIA, railways were subjected to economic ruination.

Referring to terrorism‚ the prime minister said the government was determined to tackle this horrendous problem either through dialogue or with full might of the state. He said that on this issue all the state institutions were in agreement. 

The grave lawlessness and demons of corruption that the Pakistani nation has been witnessing for over decade robbed people of peace of mind and even barest means for two square meals. As a result Pakistan can be equaled with some of the unstable African countries now passing through the civil war.

One by one he mentioned the breakdown of law and order, the unremitting terrorism, the Balochistan imbroglio, the Kashmir stalemate, the thorny relations with India, rehabilitation of the doomed enterprises, chronic corruption, the drone attacks, the creation of jobs, the provision of houses to the homeless, the completion of the stalled power projects.

Offering an olive branch to India he remarked that both India and Pakistan should grasp this reality that they should stop wasting their energies and resources on wars‚ and instead divert these to eliminate poverty‚ ignorance and disease.

Bu the most outstanding feature of his speech was to build with China’s help a 2000 miles long highway and railway track between the Kashgar city of China and Karachi. He empathized that this mile-stone project would open a glorious gateway and gigantic spectrum of economic boom for both the countries. 

On both sides of this historic miracle, the industrial and economic zones would be established that in return would create countless jobs and lead Pakistan into the fold of prosperous nations. The Prime Minister said that his vision was to extend motorways and communication links not only to Kabul but also to Central Asia and South Asian region.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

As If Sikandar was a Hercules Unchained

August 17, 2013

By Saeed Qureshi

That mind boggling spectacle that the whole of Pakistan and the world beyond had witnessed on the Jinnah Avenue in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on August 15, can be found only in action movies and in fiction books. The five hour’s standoff between the police and para military network on one side and a lone individual on the other is absurd, intriguing and ridiculous.

 It defies any rational explanation by any stretch of imagination that a single person with a tiny short physique can prevail and defiantly kicks around for several hours in full public view. He roams about the vast space at his will brandishing two Kalashnikovs (sub machines guns) and firing at random periodically. It appeared as if the ionic warrior Hercules was chasing the defeated fleeing army. Or else he was a gladiator throwing gauntlets to his rivals in a Roman Colosseum.

 If the objective of allowing a free hand to Sikandar to catch him alive then in that case this gory dram could have dragged on for several hours till he would have dropped on the gourd overtaken by fatigue and exhaustion. The standing order of the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to not kill him and catch him alive was like the proverbial catching of duck by placing a burning candle on its head until it would turn the bird blind with the melting wax. Is there some logic in minister’s orders to negotiate with him and not kill him? Nevertheless the government and security forces looked paralyzed and dysfunctional.

 The police, the elite forces, the paratroopers and the commandoes all were in a state of limbo over the daring frolicking of a miserable and dissipated individual keeping them at bay. Was it a rank cowardice and wishing for a providential help and miracle to happen to drive away the menace?

 If that is the poor level of crisis management of the police and intelligence agencies and even army then what would happen if a group of die hard terrorists assails the capital and wreaks havoc. And such frightening possibility cannot be ruled out. If the bomb blasts and massacres are going on elsewhere in the country and particularly in tribal zones, how come Islamabad can remain immune from such dreadful incidents?

 The police remained confused and stood by, Sikandar was unyielding and Zamurud Khan was stupid. The family of Sikandar consisting of two young children and the burqa-clad wife seemed to be caught in a weird and scary situation as one could figure out from the boy’s frightened eyes and shades of fears cast over his face. The tiny minds would not comprehend as to what was going on with their father running around in the arena and firing and hurling challenging epithets on the crowd gathered around him.

We have seen the snake charmers, the fake healers, the monkey dancing shows and the jugglers in cattle shows and public places amusing the crowds with their antics and tricks. Here on Jinnah Avenue, it was not different except that the magicians, the jugglers, the quacks perform for an hour or so and then move away. 

Yet this melodrama on the capital’s widest road continued for several hours while the public and the protectors of human life just watched it like dummies. They had no clue how long that thriller would continue and what would be the drop scene.

This incident is a matter of grave concern for the law and order enforcement agencies to ponder how drastically and miserably they failed to address a potentially serious threat with a matching fast track strategy and action. If it would be finally to shoot at his legs because of the physical scuffle between the daredevil Zamurud and the stubbornly defiant Sikandar, then it could have been done even in the first few minutes.

But the explanation from the authorities including the interior minister, that they did not want to hurt the offender’s’ family is as unconvincing and frivolous as it is ridiculous. The failure of an otherwise brutal police force to nab an outraged and defiant culprit posing persistent threat to the lives of the onlookers speaks volumes for the bizarre counter insurgency strategies.

 Now the paramount questions staring right in the face of police, security and intelligence agencies would be how could an ordinary person carry with him two dangerous weapons and roam about in the red zone of the capital? What was the purpose of his being armed with such prohibited bores?

Was there a sinister plot behind the smokescreen of the family to use these weapons for a crime or to be hand-over to an intended person or party? The most incisive question is how to preempt or ward off such intrusions and incursions by the terrorists and public enemies for future?

The senior hierarchy in the ministry of interior should be sternly interrogated why such glaring and most horrendous security laps occurred, all the more in the vicinity of important government offices and buildings? Did Sikandar have license for these weapons and if so who issued him these permits for patently prohibited calibers?

Chief Justice of Supreme Court, honorable Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has taken suo moto notice of this most incredible and first ever brazen single incident. The case to be heard on August 19 by a three-member bench would hopefully deliberate on the vital questions and dimensions related to this bizarre incident that could have entailed a disaster in the capital of Pakistan. 

Did Sikandar have the making of another Ajmal  Kasab? Let us not discard this question.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Aman Ki Asha” Gone with the Wind

Editor’s Note for Esteemed Readers

The ongoing intense friction between India and Pakistan is ominous for both the countries in terms of having friendly or even normal relations. Ever since Pakistan’s prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, signed 8 landmark bilateral agreements with China, India seems to have gone berserk upon the promising phase of China-Pakistan strategic relationship. One of the agreements is the development of Gawadar Port and its linkage with China by a 2000 kilometers long motorway. This project when completed would enormously boost economic potential of both the traditional allies: China and Pakistan.
Simultaneously the incidence of sabotage, terrorism and bomb blasts in Karachi and Balochistan have soared. Although there are several other groups involved in these orgies of blood and mayhem, yet Indian hand cannot be ruled out for supporting BLA (Balochistan Liberation army) that is spawning a bloody separatist movement. There are strong indications that India is aiding and abetting these seditious activities to further truncate Pakistan like it did in 1971.
Pakistan’s advancement, prosperity or security is a highly poisonous pill very hard for India to swallow. The latest ongoing anti- Pakistan outrage being furiously demonstrated by Indian public seems to be sponsored by the Indian politicians both in power or opposition.
The criminals and killers such as current chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and others are spitting venom against Pakistan in their public rallies. They are instigating the Indian people to frustrate the expected forthcoming meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The death of five Indian soldiers is being trumped up as a handy ploy to punish Pakistan by military action. Pakistani high commission in New Delhi was raided and encircled by enraged Indian goons. Besides, the “Dosti Bus” was waylaid by rowdy protesters in New Delhi and Amritsar posing grave danger to the Pakistan bound passengers.
 When “Aman Ki Asha” mission was launched in 2010 by GEO and certain other Pakistani media czars, I had written an article on that subject predicting that such a mission was doomed to fail and flop. My argument was that while such perfunctory and superficial steps to normalize relations between the two neighbors may be laudable, these cannot fructify because of the lack of sincere intentions on the part of India and the festering anti- Pakistan Hindu mentality.
I am reproducing the same article for my readers. Its contents are still relevant although there might be some variations because of the passage of time.
Saeed Qureshi

“Aman Ki Asha” Gone with the Wind

“Aman Ki Asha” (hope or aspiration for peace) indeed is an august and a lofty initiative undertaken by the media giants of both India and Pakistan. I wish it fructifies and it ought to. But the ground realities suggest that such a patently well intentioned move may falter and abort as the time passes.
The skepticism or lack of hope with regard to the success of this otherwise landmark mission is grounded on two fundamental arguments. Let us first of all not be swayed by the very sublimity of this unique effort that aims at paving peace between the two overly hostile and bellicose neighbors. The predominant desire is that such a lofty endeavor must see the light of the day and there must be a decisive breakthrough to bring peace and tranquility between the age-old inveterate adversaries.
Firstly, it's the siege mentality on both sides of the divide that has been nurtured ever since both the states became independent from the British colonial rule in 1947.  The very partition of the colonized Indian subcontinent into two distinct states was based on the perception that the Hindus and Muslims cannot live together because of a sea of mutual contradictions, predominantly based upon religion, and religious based culture. During partition, the genocide of the countless human beings for their identities as Hindus and Muslims or Sikhs is a tragic and traumatic memory that instead of being forgotten or cast away has remained fresh all these years.
There is always a lurking lust on both the sides, even on people’s level, to tear each other into pieces and commit orgies of blood if similar occasions come by. This has happened several times after independence mostly in India and to a lesser degree in Pakistan. The genocidal thrust, beastly revenge and the wild urge to cannibalize each other has remained dormant but never vanished from the minds of the people especially among the extremist religious and ethnic segments of the society.
This mindset of deep seated hatred and undiminished hostility is a vile hang-up of the past but undeniably it is there. No amount of efforts how sincere and humane these might be, can erase the mutual suspicion and distrust and a wild penchant to destroy each other for being Muslim, Hindus or Sikhs. It is precisely these gory realities or sordid facts that do not give much credence to the hope for peace between India and Pakistan.
The process of dialogue has remained in vogue for six decades now. Where has it landed: on further complicating the mutual relationship? The ambition or hope for peace should remain alive and this is manifest in the latest media blitz launched with profuse fanfare by the outstanding media groups, the Jang group in Pakistan and the Times of India group in India.
However, even an imbecile knows that the substantive and cardinal issue that keeps the two nations in a state of perpetual mode of sabre rattling and that led to three major and two minor wars between them, is the settlement of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has, all along, been wishing that once this festering issue was seriously addressed and resolved, the climate of hostility could drastically subside and the visible peace and veritable amiability could surface.
It is, therefore, not possible to even imagine that any breakthrough towards permanent peace can be worked out between the two traditional rivals simply by the initiatives taken by the media channels no matter how widely read, watched or circulated they are.
The statement of the India Army chief General Deepak Kapoor flies in the face of these earnest drives and cordial enterprises in that he claims of the Indian forces’ capability to counter both China and Pakistan. He warned and hurled challenges both at China and Pakistan to be prepared when the time comes for two pronged military miracle produced by the Indian armed forces.
My argument may look plausible and even convincing when read along with the response of the Pakistan’s COAS General Ashfaq Kiani and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani to General Deepak’s unusual daring outburst. General Kiani expressed his resolve to defend Pakistan and mildly berated his Indian counterpart for issuing such irresponsible and irrational statements.
Only yesterday, Prime Minister Gilani stated on the floor of the National Assembly that Pakistan would not hesitate even to use the nuclear option if it was inevitable to save the country. Such strong sparring from the military and political leadership leaves very little room to be optimistic about any awesome breakthrough as is being drummed by the overzealous proponents of this exceptional goal.
Actually what is most pivotally needed is the unwavering political will and the real change of hearts to hammer out a meaningful thaw between India and Pakistan. That political will or initiative, unfortunately, has remained lacking between the countries in all the parleys on Kashmir dispute since they attained independence.
The political will must demonstrate itself in addressing the most volatile Kashmir issue which once resolved to the satisfaction of all the three parties involved, namely Kashmiris, Indian and Pakistan, would generate a self propelling momentum and evolve an effective  modus operandi towards speedy normalization of relations between the two mutually suspicious neighbours. Any initiative or effort without the resolution of thus far intractable Kashmir dispute would remain a no-starter and any statement to normalize relations between India and Pakistan would look farcical, subjective and mere pious platitude.
Interestingly, much to the liking of India, the first step towards “Aman Ki Asha” is to hold a major trade and industry conference in Karachi in February this year, in which the largest business houses of India and Pakistan would participate. The trade ministries from both the countries will also attend the conference.
India plans to conduct a weeklong literary and cultural activity in January with artists participating from Pakistan also. Now such steps are perfunctory and are far-removed from the resolution of the grave issues of Kashmir, border disputes, Siachen, Kargil and water.
Actually in the past, India has been emphasising solely on such measures that more than Pakistan benefit her. In the trade agreement earlier brokered with India, Pakistan was dumped with substandard industrial and agricultural exports. India looks at Pakistan as an easy, accessible market because of less hassle for being a neighbour. The common demonstration of cultural affinity can only flourish if the backlog of other serious problems is also lifted.
The culture of harmony and togetherness would pave way for the Indian movies and other facets of Indian bustling showbiz to overwhelm Pakistani society which in plain words can be called cultural invasion. So the underlying objective, which the leading media outlets are trying to attain, is going to be a ham-handed affair and would fizzle out if not beefed up and followed by tackling other ticklish and serious issues that have ever kept the relations between these two major states of the subcontinent, on tenterhooks for so long.
For this the political leadership from both the sides must come together and resolve the long standing contentious matters as speedily and earnestly as possible. All other benefits would follow automatically. Thereafter, no deliberate initiatives by the private catalysts such as the current one would be needed for capturing the hitherto elusive “Aman Ki Asha”.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dealing with India

August 9, 2013

By Saeed Qureshi

According to the Times of India’s report dated July 15, a member of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) of India's Central Bureau of Investigation had accused incumbent Indian governments of "orchestrating" the terror attack on Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 and the 2008 Mumbai attack carried out on 26 November 2008.

There is no apparent reason to discard this bombshell information disclosed by an Indian secret service operative. Ostensibly the atrocious aim behind these sinister plots was to project Pakistan as a terrorism sponsoring state and thus antagonize the international community against it.

India had been maliciously harping upon the bogey that the parliament building and Mumbai attacks carried out by the disparate militant groups and Ajmal Kasab band respectively, were sponsored by Pakistan and her intelligence outfits.

This was not for the first time that India had blamed the Pakistan based radical Islamic organizations for Mumbai calamity. Earlier, the Kashmiris freedom fighters were held responsible for the storming the Parliament building in New Delhi in December 2001. Some other similar attacks were also attributed to the Kashmir militants.

 While India bracketed Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies as the accomplices in these activities with the militants, it conveniently forgets that Pakistan has also suffered enormously at the hands of these brutal radicals who treat India and Pakistan at par. They carry out suicide bombing and murderous ambushes to punish Pakistan for its partnership with United States in hunting down the perpetrators of the 9/11 mayhem.

In the aftermath of the parliament building episode, India demanded the unacceptable option of carrying out punitive air strikes on the chosen targets in Pakistan. For a neighbor to ask for such an unusual permission from the United Nations is as weird as it is lethal to the territorial integrity of a sovereign country. There seemed to be more than meets the eye in the Indian call for attacking the militants’ targets within Pakistan.

One would wonder if the Mumbai bloody melodrama was deliberately enacted to achieve the concealed yet coveted objective of having a walk over the territory of Pakistan and Kashmir and to glibly and indiscriminately bomb any place anywhere. In peace times, this untenable demand was made by India against such a neighbor that has gone a long way to normalize bilateral relations in all avenues with her.

At the behest of India,  had  Pakistan been subjected to the UN sanctions, then obviously India would have been free to also curb and crush with full might, the Kashmiris’ uprising against the Indian occupation, now apace for six decades. In that situation Pakistan would be severely constrained to use its army in support of Kashmiris and also to defend its territory from the Indian onslaughts. 

There couldn't be better time for India to achieve this agenda as a time, when Pakistan army is bogged down for several years on the Western front and India has become a strategic partner with the United States.

Pakistan has already been under enormous burgeoning pressure from United States for using its armed forces to annihilate the radical Islamic militants in the regions starting from Afghanistan to the extreme periphery of Kashmir.

In the aftermath of these incidents, the call from India to go for the monstrous reprisal in the form of military aerial forays against Pakistan would have been a grievous folly entailing horrific consequences for the region. If India wanted to exploit the Mumbai attacks to squeeze Pakistan and to label it as a terrorism sponsor, then it is as brazen as malicious. But now that charade has exploded on the face of India when her own secret agents are spilling the beans and when as the proverb goes, “the cat is out of the bag”

India wants the same leverage and queer rights that Israel is exercising against the Palestinians, in that she kills, at will, the vulnerable Palestinians indiscriminately. But is Pakistan what Palestine is?Pakistan is a sovereign state in existence and a member of the United Nations. The state of Palestine is yet to appear and take a physical shape. 

The kind of rift between Israel and Palestine is anchored on legitimate demand for the statehood of an uprooted people. India and Pakistan are already two independent states resulting from the partition of India via an established international covenant. The incident of Mumbai is no parallel to the deep rooted and historical conflict between Israel and the Palestinian nation.

The 9/11 event is also no match to the Mumbai incident. The 9/11 event is a mega sized act of terrorism and the Mumbai is a much smaller local event. The United States has not been able to conclusively establish the identities of the 9/11 perpetrators. Similarly the Indian government had been far from being candid and unambiguous about the individuals or backdoor abettors actually responsible for the Mumbai carnage or attack on the parliament

But the whole context and narrative of the Indian blame game against Pakistan turns upside down after the submission of the statement by the Indian secret service operative in the Indian Supreme Court. It is for the international community to understand the Indian diabolic designs for staging such clandestine vicious operations and then putting blame on Pakistan.

An objective assessment would lead a dispassionate observer to the conclusion that no matter how much Pakistan stoops low before the Indian conditionalities for peaceful coexistence, India would not relent in asking for more. The reason is that Pakistan has always been a thorn in the side of India. India displayed its historic animus towards Pakistan by dismembering the latter in 1971.

Since 1971, Pakistan has remained embarked upon a path of reconciliation and appeasement with India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took giant leaps to make friendship with India so much so that the then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee traveled to Lahore in a bus in February 1999. That visit culminated in the historic Lahore Declaration. The Lahore Declaration spelled out various steps for normalizing relations between the two nations.

 President Pervez Musharraf during his rule of 9 years made every effort to woo India. He is on record of mellowing down and drastically departing from Pakistan’s traditional stand on Kashmir with regard to a plebiscite. But India seldom seemed content with these landmark measures although these were detrimental to Pakistan and to Pervez Musharraf’s personal standing as a patriotic or nationalist sovereign.

President Asif Zardari had gone extra mile to break the barriers of acrimony and distrust between the two neighbors. He outstripped his pro-conciliation predecessors by declaring Kashmiri insurgents as terrorists and suggesting the elimination of the boundary line between the two countries. But India does not seem to be content or convinced that Pakistan can be a friendly country.

It is my considered opinion that India will not rest till Pakistan disappears from the world map. India with an enormous goodwill around the world will keep cashing on the international support to fulfill her agenda of further truncating Pakistan or reducing its size to the level of the East Punjab. India would keep looking for opportune time to achieve that sinister objective no matter how docilely the incumbent Pakistani leadership panders towards her. Unfortunately the leaders in Pakistan lack an emphatic commitment and the clear vision to protect the motherland.

The peace formula or overtures from Pakistan cannot fruitfully or durably work with India as borne out by the futility of such initiatives in the past. One can imagine how fragile the peace-based relations with India could be, from the latest incident in which the Indian protesters encircled and stopped the Lahore-bound Dosti bus in. 

The protestors surrounded the bus and chanted slogans against Pakistan for the alleged killing of Indian troops at the Line of Control. The bus was coming from New Delhi. It surmises that even if the inter-governments relations are friendly, the Indian people generally, are hostile towards Pakistan.

Pakistan should set a limit to curry favor with India and stop negotiating with India while lying down. As India is to Pakistan, an irreconcilable hostile country gets emboldened if not resisted or counterpoised by courage and determination. If the final clash is to take place then let it be so. Like their predecessors barring the brief Musharraf’s Kargil fiasco the successive Pakistani leaders in power have been more focused on extravaganza and puerile frivolities than serving their bedeviled nation.

It would be rather plausible if the PMLN comes out of its complacent frame, fantasy and day dreaming with regard to having friction free bilateral relations with a dagger in cloak neighbor. The example of gas pipeline project was disrupted and abandoned by India for extremely flimsy reasons. The underlying reason for that volte- face was that it would have economically benefited Pakistan in a huge manner.

If India is supporting separatist movements in Balochistan why Pakistan cannot do tit for tat retaliation in India where dozens of such breakaway movements are going on for decades against the Indian hegemony.
There cannot be a more sublime cause than to go down fighting for safeguarding the national honor and territorial integrity. 

But if Pakistan surrenders hands down, history will judge Pakistani leaders as spineless betrayers to a country and a nation that was carved out with a dogged spirit for freedom despite a combined opposition and treachery from Indians and the British imperialists.

Let Pakistan fight on all fronts and fight to the last. To procure peace by becoming a protégé and a client state of India is ignominious and must be discarded. It’s time to talk plainly also to the Americans to not drag us too much in a quagmire that would ultimately devour us as a united country. However if genuine desire on the part of India for making durable peace with Pakistan is discernible then there may be no harm in giving such an effort yet another trial.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Can Happen to Musharraf!

By Saeed Qureshi

Musharraf was lucky because instead of being removed as Army head, arrested or even blown off in the air, he became, in matter of hours, the chief executive of Pakistan or in simple word a powerful sovereign. This was mind boggling phenomenon on October 9 1999 when Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf’s fortunes were diametrically swapped.

He is goofy and imprudent because despite all prior warnings and dire indications he decided to return to Pakistan. Now confined to his palatial mansion in Pakistan, Musharraf faces three mammoth criminal cases. Over his head are dangling the trials under clause 6 of the constitution for treason and the involvement in assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti, the Baloch renegade leader.

He was bewitched and misled by half a million face book entries deluding him to return to Pakistan as the redeemer of a chaotic Pakistan. Thus he out of sheer miscalculation got himself trapped in a stranglehold from which he cannot be liberated.

As if adding to his miseries, the government in power is utterly hostile to him and for good reasons. It is a situation that reflects quid-pro-quo or a kind of unforeseen nemesis.The plight of beleaguered former Pakistan’s president is blatantly reversed as the tormentor of the past is a condemned and hapless captive and the victim of the past is now in full power regalia as the prime minister of Pakistan.

 Such are the tricky pitfalls and thorny paths in politics more specifically manifest in third world unstable societies. The MQM, a political surrogate for Musharraf has climbed down the political ladder and its influence is considerably dwindled as a result of the general elections. The chief of MQM Altaf Hussain himself is locked in maze of criminal cases that could finally land him in jail if proven.

So it is a kind of double jeopardy for General and erstwhile president in that he faces a hostile government and there is no group and party to stand beside him. These are indeed bad omens for him. He perhaps thought that the PPP would win the elections and he would be immune from any judicial or political backlash. But as ill luck would have it, a party won whose chief whatsoever, cannot have any soft corner for him.

There was a glorious past of Pervez Musharraf and there is a complete bleak future staring right in his face. The process of prosecution is going to be excruciating and protracted and at the end who knows what comes out. But to hope and predict that he can walk out of judicial rigmarole unscathed would be to watch the sun rising from the west.

Musharraf took some bizarre decisions like declaring the emergency rule on November 3, 2007, suspending the constitution, firing the Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, arresting the judges and confining them to their houses, deployment of troops on state run Television and radio stations. Yet he was still a lot better than other similar military rulers and civilian dictators. He did some good deeds also one of which was to give a modicum of freedom to the media and press. The economy looked better during his tenure.

On one hand he was hard pressed and caught up between the radical Islamic militants and the overbearing dictation of the United States for Pakistan’s support against the former. Practically and logically he had no choice or guts to defy the United States that was hell-bent against the militants especially al-Qaida in the aftermath of 9/11 catastrophe. He cannot be squarely blamed for towing the bandwagon of United States and her allies with regard to the so called war on terror. Not even a most liberal or conservative government in Pakistan could have refused the American stern call for the support.

The role of a submissive ally for the United States was not exclusive to Musharraf alone. It was initiated by a former Military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq when in December 1979; America started a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan through the Islamic warriors. That proved to be the first lethal step towards an un-mitigating disaster in the region.

It led to the continual involvement of Pakistan in American war in Afghanistan, later spilling over to the territories of Pakistan during the Taliban era. While American forces would leave war-torn Afghanistan next year, Pakistan will continue to suffer as the victim of the resurgent Islamic radicals, particularly Taliban and Al-Qaida.

Musharraf being the proponent and initiator of enlightened moderation wanted Pakistan to not turn into a haven for the radical Islamic forces. But that mission and thrust could have been most repugnant to the radicals who saw in Pakistan as a ripe land for enforcing a rigid and fundamentalist version of Islam.

The enforcement of the Islamic Sharia started in Islamabad when Burqa-clad women started beating and dragging in the streets and markets, the women without veils. The students from the religious school affiliated with Lal Masjid, forced the shopkeepers to throw away music and movies’ filled videos and other electronic appliances.

Now Pakistan is not a Mauritania, Somalia, Mali or Yemen that the state would submit before the reactionary elements, bent upon imposing upon the people, their decadent and mutually controversial creeds and beliefs. The state had to retaliate to stop that dangerous onslaught that in due course, could have engulfed Pakistan.

That is what Musharraf did and I believe he was doing it for the national cohesion and saving Pakistan from falling into the hands of hardcore fanatics, who could trigger a sectarian mayhem in Pakistan. He should rather be applauded rather than condemned or maligned.

Before opting to come back to Pakistan, Musharraf might have believed that people would pour out all over the country to greet and support him. He should have pondered that if it could not be done for a highly populist leader Bhutto, how it could happen for a non-political minion, who by sheer accident, rose to power.

 Perhaps he became delusional in assessing his popularity and the hell he was going to fall in. He might have concluded that the army would not allow his trial. But he failed to comprehend that Army itself was under enormous pressure in the changing pro-democratic times to come to his rescue.

Moreover he belonged to a middle or lower middle class family and was not blue eyed member of an elite or aristocratic family who could garner support for his rescue behind the doors.
As for perceived support and backing from MQM, PMLQ and his own faction APML, these were non-entities on national political spectrum.

The PMLQ and MQM received a severe thrashing and colossal setback in the recent elections turning them into political dwarfs. Even otherwise the strident judicial activism would not have allowed or entertained any attempt at influencing the judicial decisions that would be forthcoming sooner or later.

So these were the probable murky scenarios that must have crossed the mind of Pervez Musharraf before embarking upon a return odyssey to Pakistan for retaking the power and grafting his watershed vision of making Pakistan an enlightened, modern secular and democratic state. Per say and supposedly, if by a miracle, he would have come into power and formed the government, would his religious adversaries allow him to proceed unchallenged and uninhibited?

The liberal lobby in Pakistan that could lend him support is also aloof in his affliction because of his permitting drone attacks as well as assuming the role of a bounty hunter. He cannot be absolved of the stigma of taking bounty money in return for catching the suspicious Pakistanis branded as terrorists and handing them over to the United States.

So Musharraf, as the metaphor goes is “in thick soup”. And one may shudder to speculate that in order to prevent future military chauvinism, the present government as prosecutor and the judiciary as upholder of justice may make him a dreadful example by sending him to gallows or long prison term.