Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Latest Outburst of Altaf Hussain and its fallout

August 24, 2016

 By Saeed Qureshi

The latest outburst of MQM chief Altaf Hussain has surpassed his previous anti-Pakistan and anti-army flare-ups. Besides raising anti-Pakistan slogans, he called upon the Muhajir community to attack media and TV channels which they did. One person died as a result of the mayhem created by the infuriated hooligans.

The curtain seems to be falling on MQM because of the dubious and eccentric role of its chieftain Altaf Hussain now having asylum in London. The leaders of almost all the political parties as well as the prime minister have condemned Altaf Hussain’ remarks against Pakistan. The Rangers have moved fast to raid and seal the headquarters of MQM at 9 zero and other branches of MQM in Karachi.

Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has announced to send references to the British government about hate speech and inciting violence by Altaf Hussain. The minister also declared to approach the British authorities against Altaf on two counts of money laundering and Imran Farooq’s murder case.

The MQM local leadership has dissociated themselves from the anti-Pakistan tirade of Altaf Hussain.  This unprecedented backlash from the government and army besides the MQM’s local leadership’ dissociation of their leader’s hate speech might relegate Altaf Hussain to the political oblivion and a local chieftain might emerge to lead the MQM.

Yet it would be better and advisable for the MQM cadres and Muhajir community to support Mustafa Kamal and join his party. Mustafa Kamal is a dissident of the MQM yet he is moderate and sensible, pragmatic and a patriot. He is termed as one of the most successful mayor of Karachi. He picked up the courage to oppose his unforgiving formal boss, Altaf Hussain. That is the only viable way-out for the MQM supporters and sympathizer to survive politically and dispense with the stigma of being a racial and regional party more favorably inclined towards India than Pakistan.  

MQM was founded in 1984 under the title of “Muhajir Qaumi Movement” that was renamed as Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 1997. its imprint in the minds of the people has been that of a kind of mafia or an entity of roughnecks or extortionists, a symbol of terror, revenge and bloodletting. It virtually rules Karachi like the notorious Assassins of the past.

It is alleged that the special death and terror squads of MQM kill, kidnap and torture their rivals including the critics from within the MQM fold. It gained enormous and unshakable political clout and grip in Sindh provincial government.

There is prevailing impression that the extortions or the obnoxious “Parchi (slip of paper) system” was first started by MQM to raise funds to become financially robust to carry out for political and apolitical activities. Over a period of 32 years the MQM has remained in power saddle of Sindh province in some form or the other. The mayors and local bodies officials mostly consisted of the MQM cadres.

There have been leaders or freedom fighters in various societies. They excelled and brought about revolutions and reforms because of exemplary behaviors, enlightened policies and projections as well as judicial use of force. Altaf Hussain is however made from a different clay. Terrorizing, victimizing, killing, arm twisting and brutalizing are his weapons to make headway. That is how he modeled MQM into a mafia entity and the most dreaded outfit in Pakistan. 

Undoubtedly Altaf Hussain has proven to be a great and unassailable master and unbending and strict lord of his party. He can summon the multitudes of Urdu-speaking Pakistanis and Muhajirs within a matter of hours and with one call. They all gather at a venue with their heads down and hands motionless unless raised to cheer or clap for the scathing tirade of their leader.

They sit rather motionless for hours together listening to his long, dreary and high-pitched discourses as if they are bewitched or mesmerized. There is a gossip that anyone who does not clap or come to the assemblage is dealt with vindictively.

Also on a previous occasion he demanded separation of Karachi from Pakistan which meant truncation of Pakistan. He even earlier criticized the supreme court, army, media with vitriolic statements. In a speech made in India he said that “Division of the subcontinent was the biggest blunder in the history of mankind”.

Several pioneering cohorts and companions including Imran Farooq are alleged to have lost their lives in all these years ostensibly due to their opposition of the ruthless leader with symptoms of indiscretion. Their names are in the public knowledge.

The MQM captures most seats in Karachi both for the National Assembly and for the Sindh provincial assembly. These seats in the distant past used to be shared by Jamaat-i-Islami and some other political factions. But for many years now majority of these are exclusively bagged by MQM.

With a sizable number of seats in the federal and provincial parliaments, the MQM gathers enough bargaining clout and leverage to share the power at the center and in Sindh. The latest show of their bargaining power was brought to bear in case of their coalition with the PPP government in the national assembly for almost five years with some brief walkout periods.

The MQM has been playing its bargaining card with great dexterity and with a mix of pressure and fear hanging upon the main coalition partner. Thus it would be in a decisive position always to draw as many perks and concessions that it would place on the table for becoming the coalition partner.

The MQM’s political behavior for all these years has been to browbeat and flex its muscles whenever its hegemony was challenged by other groups within the context of Karachi and broadly in Sindh. A shrewd and Machiavellian person like president Zardari has always been going extra mile to accommodate MQM’s demands not matter how unreasonable or excessive those would be.

It would be absolutely preferable if MQM sheds its image of being a rogue entity and Altaf Hussain elevates his role from an ethnic boss to that of a national leader. Instead of donning an insidious role like Bal Thackeray or eyeing on what Sheikh Mujibur Rehman right or wrong achieved, he should liberate and unleash his own people from his fearsome stranglehold. He should speak and represent the people of Pakistan and not exclusively Muhajirs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why Bilawal Bhutto: why not A senior member of PPP?

August 21, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

The political parties in Pakistan are like family fiefdoms that keep ruling and delving in politics and power as long as they can hold on. There are scores of political parties in Pakistan and it is seldom that they are headed or presided over by someone who was not from the founders’ clan.

It is perhaps in Pakistan, besides some other odd countries, where the political parties remain under the tutelage of the families which create political parties. In Pakistan the tradition of electing the head of a political party has been invariably nonexistent. Even if the elections within the parties are held a person from the family of the founders wins. There could be exceptions as in case of Jamaat-e-Islami or the Awami National Party.

 Presently there are six main political parties in Pakistan. Besides there are 31 regional or minor parties. These five main political parties are PML(N), PTI (Imran Khan), PPP (Bilawal Bhutto), Awami National Party (Asfandyar Wali Khan) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (Muhammad Tahirul Qadri). All these are being run by the founder or the family of the founders. It shows that these parties don’t hold party elections to elect a more senior or deserving person if not related to the founder or his clan.

Perhaps such a paradigm is kept intact because the clout of the founder or their family matters a lot in mobilizing and keeping the people loyal to the respective parties. But elsewhere in the world the presidents or chairpersons are elected after s specified period of time. In India after the partition although the family of Nehru lorded over the Congress for a longer period but there have been other politicians who became presidents.

With this background over the formation and functioning of the political parties, let us specifically focus on the PPP and the way it remained under the Bhutto family ever since it was founded in 1967. It is one party that has a president as well as a Chairman. This kind of duality is seldom seen in regards to political parties except during the time of dynastic regimes with the king being minor.

Now obviously Bilawal Bhutto is too naive, young and inexperienced to preside over a grand party like PPP. He has been nominated by his father Asif Zardari who as president is the de-facto head of PPP. Simultaneously Bilawal Bhutto has been hoisted as the Chairman of the Pakistan People Party. In my opinion it is not because of Bilawal’s merit, experience or outstanding political vision or that without whose chairmanship the PPP would politically suffer.

We all know that this prestigious portfolio has been conferred on him by his father who is calling shots and making decisions while sitting abroad.  Here is a Trojan horse that would run for the backdoor rider Jinab Asif Ali Zardari.

The PPP has seasoned and dedicated members who are decidedly in better positions and possess more merit and experience to lead the party. After all it is the party of the people and it would be befitting if a common worker or senior member is appointed and elected as its president. That situation would heighten the prestige of the party and make it look more people and merit-oriented.

From among the many factions of the Muslim League, it is the Pakistan Muslim League(N) ruling the roost since 2008 with Nawaz Sharif as its president and who is also the prime minister of Pakistan. Earlier Nawaz Sharif was prime minister for two terms (total period 5 years) and also the PML president. The PML(N) was founded by the military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1985.  

The Awami national Party founded by Abdul Wali Khan in 1986 had brief stints as presidents by

 Ajmal Khattack (1991-1999) and Ehsan Wyne (2002-2003). For the remaining periods it remained under the tutelage of either Wali Khan or his son Asfandyar Wali Khan. Ever since the formation of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) in 1988 Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman has remained its president.

There has been no tradition of choosing or electing the head of the PPP from among the outsiders of the Bhutto family. It is patently a dynastic paradigm that negates and cuts across the underlying objective of political parties to promote democratic traditions and culture in Pakistan.

Let us start with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who remained chairman of the PPP from November 1967 till his untimely and unfortunate death in 1977. His daughter Benazir Bhutto and wife Nusrat Bhutto became successors to run the party. When Benazir Bhutto died in a terrorist attack on December 30, 2007, only one page of her will was revealed. In that she appointed her spouse Asif Ali Zardari as her successor in the event of any tragedy to her by way of incarceration or demise.

On the basis of that will Asif Ali Zardari assumed the position of the co-chairman or president of the party continuing since December 30, 2007 to the present. Bilawal Bhutto was appointed chairman of the PPP on the same date and his name was changed from Bilawal Bhutto to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He was merely 17 years old then. Understandably, Mr. Zardari was the de-facto chairman making all the decisions.

Now let us have a look at the merits of Bilawal Bhutto in spearheading a party that at one point was a formidable political force to the extent that it was able to oust a powerful military head of state Filed Marshal Ayub Khan. It had remained in the power corridors as robust political force for many years until general Zia’s military coup staged on July 5, 1977.

We all have seen that Bilawal is not well versed with the political and social culture of Pakistan. Patently he is inexperienced and indeed a novice in countering the other parties and addressing public meetings as seasoned politicians or for that matter his grandfather and illustrious mother have been doing.

Since period of his schooling and education was spent in England, his tone and speech are tainted with British accent and pronunciation. He has to speak from a written text with great difficulty which in fact is a drawback for a politician who has to move and infuse the audience.

He is still living under the wings of his father like the old dynastic periods when a juvenile king was ensconced by his advisors. Even if he comes of political ripe age, his tone and worldview may not change as he has been aloof with the local life and grassroots culture and living paradigms of Pakistan. But he has been patently kept in the saddle of PPP as the chairman for being the scion of the Bhutto family and to remain under the wings of his father Mr. Zardari: a political maverick in his own right.  

The way Bilawal roars unnecessarily in Public meetings and sometime missing the words and phrases make the whole political campaigning funny and rather bizarre. He has to read vernacular Urdu text written in English letters. By virtue of his inexperience and youthful exuberance he makes statements and utterances that would not be objective and realistic and are detached from the common jargon. One such recent statement that he made was to liberate Kashmir perceivably with Jihad.

 The life style of Bilawal during his stay in England whose glimpses we can see on the YouTube are quite glamorous and rightly so but which may not stand in good for a political head of a magnificent political party. I would dare allude to a book which paints the life of Bilawal spent abroad in most lurid colors. It is written by a female from Lahore. I seriously doubt and reject the contents of this sleazy book. However, it is there in the printed form. 

I would have wished and dreamt if a committed long time member and veteran leader from PPP cadres should have been offered or elected to lead the party. That would have given an indelible credibility and resurgence to PPP which has the guts to assail the political landscape of Pakistan once again. It could be a ceremonial office.

I would include in my list such stalwarts and dedicated members whose loyalty and commitment to PPP all along has been unflinching. Some of the names of such loyal and seasoned persons that I have in my mind include, Farooq Naek, Faryal Talpur, Fauzia Habib, Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Fahmida Mirza, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Aitzaz Ahsan, Yousaf Raza Gillani and Saifullah Paracha.

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Should We Say Imran Khan is Donald Trump of Pakistan!

August 17, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

After his previous flopped campaigns to oust and dislodge the PMNL government in 2013 and 2014, Imran Khan has announced to stage renewed multi- pronged agitation to knock down Nawaz Sharif particularly and his government generally. Tahirul Qadri and Sheikh Rashid have also announced to join the fray against Nawaz Sharif on the issue of Panama leaks wherein the names of Nawaz Sharif’s children are mentioned for maintaining offshore accounts by sending money from Pakistan.

Imran Khan has also announced to stage sit ins, long marches and hold public rallies. He has given September 3 as the deadline for government’s response. Thereafter he would go for countrywide agitation and protests.  Already Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Party and Sheikh Rashid ‘s Awami Muslim League have submitted their petitions to the speaker of the national assembly for disqualification of Nawaz Sharif.

Simultaneously they intend to file petitions in the supreme court of Pakistan for money laundering against their arch target the prime minister of Pakistan main Nawaz Sharif. Jamaat-e- Islami has too joined the fray and its leaders have also announced to approach the supreme court to probe money laundering and offshore accounts of Nawaz Sharif and his family members who are primarily two sons and one daughter.

Simultaneously Jama-i-Islami, Tahirul Qadri the chief of Pakistan Awami Tehrik and sheikh Rashid president of Awami Muslim league have decided to mount street protests along with the legal battles against Nawaz Sharif primarily for stashing money abroad.

Although the issue of corruption is important but to single out the prime minister seems to be motivated with a kind of political animus. If the supreme court of Pakistan is approached to hand out their verdict on the money laundering case, then Imran Khan and other litigants instead of mobilizing street agitations, should wait for the verdict. If the apex court finds truth in the allegations, then prime minister had no moral grounds to hold on to his office. But if not then he should continue to administer his responsibly and complete his term till the next general elections to be coming off in 1918.  

The renewed round of agitations and long marches that all the fringe political parties and religious zealot Tahirul Qadri aim at kicking off against the PMNL government, would plunge the country into a spell of chaos that one witnessed during the upheavals of 2102, 2103 and 2014 whipped up first by Tahirul Qadri and later joined by Imran Khan along with Sheikh Rashid.

Although presently it is not the elections season in Pakistan, nor Imran Khan is a candidate, he can be equated with Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for his mercurial temperament, odd antics, outlandish statements and emotional decisions. Mr. Khan’s attitude in politics is irrational and immature. He should have been convinced that his earlier boycotts and fierce rabble rousing had not been successful in dislodging his prime foe Nawaz Sharif.

How can his latter day anti-government agitation fructify when PMNL’s political standing has become much credible after its victories in Azad Kashmir elections and even on odd seats in Pakistan? I would wish if better sense prevails on firebrand Imran Khan and he creates a favorable public opinion in his favor by presenting his agenda, plans policies in a decent and peaceful manner. That would be more convincing and result-oriented that knocking down the political edifice based upon the peoples ‘mandate.

The next general elections are far by two years and in this period Imran and his party cohorts can adopt a positive and constructive strategy to win the majority votes and thus be justified to hold the reins of the government. If the ongoing democratic set up no matter how faulty, is short-circuited, then this could lead to unhealthy tradition to oust a rival government by agitations and Dharna and by inciting the vulnerable sections of society.

It defies the logic why Tahirul Qadri who spends better part of the year in Canada comes to Pakistan to sabotage a democratic and political system that is the best notwithstanding whether the power wielders were competent or inept and corrupt. The best and the logical recipe to oust a political establishment should be on the political turf and not by noncooperation movements and violent tactics. Let the decision to elect the MNAs should be left to the choice of the people and not by short-circuiting it through foul and aggressive means.

The chaos that would boil up with such a rowdy rivalry could pave way for the army to step in and thus the country would recede back to dictatorship. A worst democracy is better than a best dictatorship. The periods of dictatorships are like oasis in a desert but not a full-fledged ever green orchard which in the case of power politics is democracy. Imran and other parties should not disregard and forsake the democracy at any cost for personal whims and wait for the elections to be held when due. 

As far Panama Leaks and   money laundering of Nawaz Sharif, let the supreme court of Pakistan hand out a verdict that should be binding on all. It would be in order that along with the probing of money laundering case and overseas accounts of Nawaz family and all other such cases should be looked into by the supreme court or NAB for that matter. This probe should be across the board without any political vendetta for political gains.
Even if Imran Khan succeeds in removing Nawaz as the prime minister he may later also remain vulnerable for a similar backlash from his detractors. So in this vicious musical chairs game of vendettas, should we infer that he is taking a wrong course for a just cause. Or else he may be acting at the behest of some foreign actors who don’t want CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) to fructify or Pakistan to remain politically and economically stable.

 I might be mistaken but there seems to be a great deal of similarity in the temperament, attitudes, outlook and world view of Donald Trump and Imran Khan. Both are short of vision, depth and sobriety that are the hallmarks of a politician and national leader. Both are readily pleased and infuriated alternately. They would look angels when in sober and kind mood. On the contrary when they are angry they would be provoked beyond permissible limits. On the whole both politically are incorrect and swayed by emotions and resort to knee jerk reactions to challenging situations.

Instead of healthy dialogue and logical response both are in the habit of lambasting and undermining their detractors, rivals and critics with condemnations, curses and derogatory remarks. Both tend to suffer from illusion of self-glorification and popularity. Both offer plans and recipes for nation building and politico-socio and economic issues that visibly look enticing but practically undeliverable. Both tend to suffer from distortions of understanding by making non-issues as big issues.

Both are emotionally zealous about their policies and imbibe bubbling spirit to excel other politicians in serving their respective nations. As such one may infer that Imran Khan is the Donald Trump of Pakistan.  The only difference between these two leaders and their postures that I can perceive is, that while Donald uses his party’s platforms and political caucuses to unfurl his agenda, Imran tends to advance his political bandwagon by demonstrating street power, holding rallies, sit ins and long marches that are reminiscent of the Indians demanding liberation from the British colonial rule in India.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Unforgettable Evening with Tahira Syed

August 14, 2016

Reported by Saeed Qureshi

On the evening of August 12, 2016 Radio Azad and the Dallas Fort Worth community jointly arranged and presented a magnificent cultural program in Marriot Hotel Plano. The celebrated singer from Pakistan Tahira Syed, the daughter of the famous legendry singer Malika Pukhraj kept the audience spellbound for about three hours with her melodious, captivating and thrilling voice and style of singing. Tahira is now 57 years old but her voice is still vibrant and soul stirring. She sang many songs on the request of the audience.

The occasion was indeed a throwback of the time some three decades in the past when we used to see Tahira Syed then a young and budding girl standing before the microphone and mesmerizing the listeners with her uniquely sweet and honeyed voice. She still keeps intact the legacy of her mother as well her own by singing the Gazals of the legendry Urdu poets and lyrics written by various writers either for movies or for indoor, private and socio-cultural public parties and get-togethers. 

We all very well know Radio Azad and Azad Khan for years together. This young man has tremendous dynamism, initiative and talent. His conversations and talks on radio are inspiring and offer a wealth of knowledge and understanding on a host of issues. He is a versatile speaker and moderator with a flow of articulation on subjects from culture, religion to political issues.
Luckily he and his Radio were the cosponsors in organizing that amazing evening which would be one of those events that one seldom forgets. Mr. Azad introduced both Khaliq Qureshi Sahib and later Tahira Syed.

Before Tahira Syed singing phase started, a splendid event took place. Jinab Khaliq Qureshi the founder of “one Man Mission” for two decades was awarded a uniquely crafted plaque in “appreciation and gratitude for his lifelong contribution and outstanding services for Pakistan, Muslim unity, humanity and peace”.

That in fact was the hallmark of that colorful evening and one should admire and appreciate this superb gesture on the part of Radio Azad and the Dallas Forth Worth community in honoring and acknowledging the meritorious services and selfless dedication of Qureshi Sahib for a great and humanitarian cause.
It would be worth mentioning here that the liberation of Bosnia came through the efforts of Khaliq Qureshi Sahib after he wrote a letter to Bill Clinton, then the president of the United States. That letter was routed through Clinton’s wife Hillary Clinton now Democratic candidate for the office of the president of the United states.
 In his response to Mr. Qureshi via a litter president Clinton promised that he would definitively play a role in the settlement of the Bosnia issue. Clinton stood by his promise and Bosnia is now a free land.
If someone would like to know more about the remarkable role and input of Khaliq Sahib striving for the peace around the world and liberation of the occupied lands inter-alia: Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, he or she should visit his website which is

Why Donald Trump Should Not Be the President!

August 13, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

Donald Trump the Republican Party nominee for the 2016 presidential elections should not be the president because he doesn’t speak for the whole American nation but for specific segments and their interests. He is focused on petty and non-issues such as building a wall between Mexico and USA and blocking the immigration. He has yet to come up with distinctive and fundamental plans and perceptions that can make America further greater and stronger. He hasn’t offered any substantial contours of his foreign policy.

He would pursue a politics of division and discrimination evidenced from his denunciation of minorities, Muslim Americans, Mexicans and women, etc. Ostensibly If he wants to impose stringent restrictions on immigration that how one can differentiate between a pluralistic and cosmopolitan America with Russia and China and many other countries that don’t allow the people from around the world to come through a well laid-out immigration process and lead decent lives. United States is an oasis and a haven for the uprooted and wrongly persecuted people from around the world.

Donald Trump possesses a unique and peculiar temperament. At best he is a non-conformist. Irrespective of the caution and restraint needed in canvassing all the more for the highest office of the president of the United States, he is prone to making statements and remarks in his public rallies and media interviews that could be termed as wild and indiscreet. Either he willfully projects himself as daring in condemnation of his opponents or there is a kind of method in his recklessness.

Even a novice and upstart in politics and more so contesting presidential office has to placate, stimulate and cultivate his audiences and electorates. Yet Donald Trump is not cast in the mold of holding his tongue-lashing and desist from issuing controversial and rowdy remarks.He would not mind painting women as fat pigs, the Latinos or specifically Mexicans as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” and the Muslims as terrorists. Donald Trump is shorn of the political discretion, caution and restraint to cover up his wild emotions and perceptions. On top of it he is at dagger’s drawn with quite a few Republican stalwarts.

Of late he labeled president Obama as the founder of the ISIS: the army of Islamic militants fighting in Iraq and Syria. He has also bracketed his Democratic contestant Madam Hillary Clinton as accomplice of Obama in creating that ferocious terrorist outfit. Now this is preposterous and indeed reflects a racial or abnormal mindset. Such a remark about the president of United States is also tantamount to disgracing the people who elected him.

As a matter of fact, president Obama’s track record is brilliant in serving United States and its people after the mayhem created by his Republican predecessor George W Bush. If Obama had not been popular and his policies and decisions were counterproductive or fallacious, he would not have been elected for the second term. That is an eloquent testimony to his caliber and his popularity and endorsement of his remarkable achievements during his tenure in office. 

Instead of foul mouthing, recriminations and throwing mud on the democratic leaders and calling names and indulging in blame games, he should have rather focused on his agenda and forcefully argued and canvassed his programs and policies.
Due to his inconsistency, aggressive postures and foul cartelization of certain sections of the American society based upon gender and different faith, his popular rating has drastically plummeted. Of late he is 9 points behind Hillary Clinton. He is faced with serious debacles in various key states including Utah and Ohio which he himself has acknowledged in his speech made at the Republican rally in Pennsylvania.

The economy turnaround that he often talks about in his public meetings cannot be successful as his own economic empire was not built entirely through fair and legitimate means. He is resisting presentation of his tax returns on the grounds that IRS was already probing his taxation issues.
Logically there cannot be a comparison between financial management of a company and that of a country. But since his assets and wealth and properties are being questioned for loopholes, his claim of strengthening American economic regime seems to be hollow.

American people do not need a” bull in China shop” but a prudent, enlightened, farsighted and temperamentally stable president. The McCarthyism, arm twisting or to tame the recalcitrant states with armed intervention is no more relevant nor productive in the present times. America has been directly engaged in fruitless military conflicts after the second world war in Viet Nam, Korea and the Middle East and Afghanistan which in fact later boomeranged.

Those military adventures proved to be counterproductive in the longer run. Yes, there can be an international efforts and cooperation for defeating the later day militants and to make the world a safer abode. Such an endeavor would be best for the mankind and the United States can lead that sublime revolution. Merely by dropping a bomb on a hostile country or fighting all by herself against the terrorists and despotic regime like that of Bashar al Asad in Syrian would be ineffective and remain interminable.

As for building a wall like “China Wall” between USA and Mexico, only a person detached from ground realities can conceive such an absurd project. Even if the wall is built it cannot hold back the incoming illegal immigrants from south America. Moreover, massive funds would be needed for such a gigantic undertaking and the Congress is not going to sanction that staggering spending.

A massive force of thousands of guards would be needed to protect it round the clock from being breached or demolished at various places by the poachers, desperate smugglers and entrants.  There would be innumerable legal cases filed by the land and farm owners whose land and orchards would be taken over by the Trump administration.
Those cases might take decades to be decided one way or the other. This project is mere kite-flying that can never materialize. We have seen the Berlin Wall (built in 1961) and later demolished (between 1989-1992). That wall separated the German nation into communist and non-communist countries. Its total length was 96 miles.

The adverse economic fallout by the “Trump Wall” would be staggering. Hundreds and thousands of acres of land would become unutilized for farming. The mountains, cliffs, the forests and jungles would have to be blasted or partly removed for the wall to go along 2000 miles long border. As such it is a utopian idea that looks attractive on the paper but is practically unattainable and ruinous.

Save the Children from Kidnappers in Pakistan

August 8, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

Many Pakistanis would recall that during the era of President Pervez Musharraf a beastly person killed 100 children of various ages by suffocating them with mask of cyanide gas. He even celebrated the ghastly tally of 100 children.
For police and the people, it remained an unresolved mystery as to who was the killer of such a huge number of children until that fiendish individual himself walked into the office of Daily Jung and identified himself as the murderer of the children.

Even after his confession and arrest the concerned authorities never bothered to probe as to why he killed 100 children and what were his motives. A killer of the level of that monstrosity would not commit such a heinous crime for the sake of it or for being a psychopath.
One of the motives could have been that he might be working for the people dealing in the sale of kidneys and other body parts. Presumably after the kidneys were removed by his heinous collaborators, he would wash down the bodies of the victims in the sinkhole by diluting those in the concentrated acid.

It is so heart-wrenching and indeed mysterious that the neighbors and surrounding inhabitants never got the wind of what this devil along with a young accomplice or many collaborators was perpetrating his loathsome savagery. It is also mind boggling that the police never came to know about such a fiendish orgy of blood-letting in a house in the heart of Lahore city.
The law enforcement and intelligence authorities must have been alarmed over the disappearance of children in such a large number. He was perhaps a lone murderer in the world who brutally murdered so many children and remained undetected.

One may, in the hindsight, imagine the gory fact is that our secret service agencies had failed to nab that devil and fid his network even after the happening of that mass murders some two decades ago. He could not have been entirely involved in that spine chilling death game all by himself and for the sake of satisfying his beastly urge.
Even now when the layers are peeled off about those most harrowing happenings, the authorities might find clues of his collaborators including the buyers of the body parts of the slain children.

After his confession he was arrested and was lodged in a jail for the case to be pursed in a court of law. Keeping in view the faulty and dilatory nature of Pakistan’s justice system it would have taken many years before final verdict would have been handed out.
Who knows he could have received only jail term of a few years for being a mentally unstable person. After his confession that savage man should have been intensely probed to reveal his contacts. Thereafter, he should have been placed before a firing squad.  

I have broached this long curtain-raiser and detailed prelude to highlight the renewed spree of kidnappings of the young and teen age boys and girls from various cities and villages of Pakistan. The reports about kidnappings are daily appearing in the press and aired on the electronic channels.

It appears that the child abductors and kidnappers are once again on the rampage. It could also be the diabolic crime of the later day Jihadists who need manpower to keep their religious crusades going on. It could be surmised that the male children might be kidnapped by the people for extracting body parts like the kidneys to be sold to the clinics. The kidnapped girls could be pushed into the prostitution dens.

The evil and heartless elements in every village, town and city of Pakistan prey upon the tender age boys and girls on their way to school, playing somewhere in the streets or in open places, from the hospitals or those going to a neighborhood shop or even for prayers in mosque. The most vulnerable are those kids who come to the cities aimlessly from the rural areas because of the domestic violence or to find a job.

We have seen on the electronic media, the wailing and anguish stricken faces of mothers and other family members whose children were abducted and who couldn’t be traced. Such families remain in perpetual agony and in stark shock that cannot be described in words.

 It is stated in a report released by the Punjab police that during 2011 to 2016, 6,793 children were abducted out of which 6,654 had been recovered. But recovery of the abducted children is of secondary importance. The fundamental issue and challenge is to smash and destroy the monstrous networks of the abductors and their cohorts and award them swift punishments.

So far during the current year, in Punjab province alone 767 children were abducted out of which 715 were recovered. From among the high profile kidnappings Ali Gillani the son of former Pakistan prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was recently recovered from Afghanistan in a joint operation carried out by the US and Afghan forces, Ali Gillani was kidnapped by Taliban militants in Multan on May 9, 2013.

Barrister Awais Shah the son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was abducted on June 20 from outside a superstore in Karachi. He has been recovered in an intelligence operation, on July 18. The five years old son of the Senior Civil Judge Rawalakot Yousuf Haroon, is still missing for five years now.

It is therefore indispensable that the intelligence agencies and police force should work jointly to hotly pursue and nab the abductors and kidnappers of the children. It is a dark blot on the face of Pakistan that must be washed off by stringent and urgent measures.
Those children who have been recovered can provide vital information about the way they were abducted, where they were lodged and how they were treated. Such victimized children must be having some essential information to enable the law enforcement authorities to catch the perpetrators of this diabolic, tormenting and heinous crime.

Worth Pondering: Four Quotations about Religion

First Quotation

Religious wars tend to be extra furious. When people fight over territory for economic advantage, they reach the point where the battle isn’t worth the cost and so compromise. When the cause is religious, compromise and conciliation seem to be evil.” Roger Shinn professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York

Second Quotation

Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it; anything but live for it…. Where true religion has prevented one crime, false religions have afforded a pretext for a thousand.” --Charles Caleb Colton (1825).

Third Quotation

We have just enough religions to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Fourth Quotation

The true purpose of a higher religion is to radiate the spiritual counsels and truths that are its essence into as many souls as it can reach in order that each of these souls may be enable thereby to fulfill the true end of man. Man’s true end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”—Arnold Toynbee, historian 

Sent by Saeed Qureshi


Witch-hunt or Justified Backlash from Erdogan!

July 28, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
The colossal shake-up that is currently underway in Turkey has few parallels in the contemporary history. I shall confine myself to mentioning only two.  The purge of the participants after the anti- Erdogan government plot looks like a revengeful onslaught by the incumbent Turkish President Rajab Tayyab Erdogan. Those involved in the last week’s failed coup both civilians and armed forces personnel are being nabbed and facing trials.
In Turkish history such an intense and massive onslaught against the dissidents has never happened. Nevertheless, in1926, a plot to assassinate Mustafa Kemal, the father and founder of Modern Turkey was uncovered in İzmir. The sweeping investigation brought a number of political activists before the tribunal, including Karabekir, the leader of PRP (Progressive Republican Party).
A number of surviving leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress Party were found guilty of treason and hanged. The PRP was dissolved following the outcomes of the trial. The pattern of organized opposition, however, was broken. This action was the only broad political purge during Atatürk's presidency
The unrelenting crackdown mounted by Erdogan government on the anti- government plotters against armed forces, various government departments and media outlet is still apace.  According to reports around 16000 people have been detained -- including more than 10,000 soldiers. 50,000 state employees have lost their jobs since July 15, mostly in the education sector.
178 generals have been detained.  Out of this number a total of 149 army generals are being dishonorably discharged from the military.  These include 87 land army generals, 30 air force generals, and 32 admirals Also 1,099 officers and 436 junior officers have also been dishonorably discharged.
At the same time the onslaught against the media (TV, Press and Publications) is also underway.  Thus far three news agencies, 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers have been closed or banned from working. Arrest warrants of 42 journalists have been issued so far. Additionally, 47 former staff members of the once pro-Gulen “Zaman” newspaper have been arrested.
The other parallel or precedent of such a clampdown as against the anti-Erdogan government dissidents or coup plotters and participants can be found in the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution was carried out in the People's Republic of China from 1966 until 1976 by Mau Zedong the Chairman of the Communist Party of China.
There are varying estimates of the people killed during that period. One estimate about the death toll is 400,000. Another version is that as many as 3 million people died in the violence that erupted during the Cultural Revolution. Most of these died in the rural China.
However, it is important to understand the nature of change in China and the one plotted in present day Turkey. The Cultural Revolution was a socio-political movement that aimed at preserving a real Communist ideology in the country by purging remnants of capitalism and traditional elements from Chinese society. It was therefore not merely a change of the government but uprooting a well-entrenched system.
It cannot be predicted how strong the Erdogan’s government will emerge from this challenge or ordeal? It would be premature to assess what could be the situation in the coming days.  Erdogan like Mustafa Kemal is a trend setter and the architect of a democratic order and a formidable economic empire in Turkey.
His role and services in reshaping Turkey from an economically weak and social backward country to be modern state are paramount. His style of governance exhibits a semblance of toughness or dictatorial impulse. Yet all said and done he is a democratically elected president of Turkish nation and is mandated to rule during his constitutional term that would end in 2019.
Although his reaction to the army sponsored coup has been very stern and ironfisted, yet the way the civilian population resisted the coup and came out in the streets and walled before tanks and armored cars candidly speaks for his popularity and plausible image among the people.
Erdogan is a hardliner and architect of new Turkey like Mustafa Kamal. He would not like his mission and achievements spawning over 16 years to be watered down by renegade faction of the army. He policies and decisions exhibit an unflinching commitment to a modern, democratic, economically vibrant, and essentially a pluralistic Islamic Turkey Republic.
It should be acknowledged and understood that military coups are not the right recipe for change of the governments, elected through the popular vote. Mustafa Kamal was a father figure and a military general and he was fighting for the integrity and survival of Turkey in most trying times. To a lesser degree Erdogan can be cast in a similar mode.
The post-coup crackdown would continue for quite some time to come. The involvement of pro-Gulen elements both in army and civilian life in this earth-shaking coup have yet to be established. The perception of Erdogan about Islam and that of Gulen are different in the sense that Gulen wants an orthodox Islamic state while Erdogan is a proponent of an Islam that can go along the rest of the world and is shorn of fundamentalism and extremism.
In politics it is a question of survival which can be attained in two ways: by use of brute and unassailable force or through a democratic setup uplifting the country and serving the people in right earnest and with absolute dedication.
Erdogan might be a hard task master and even a kind of modest civilian dictator but such a status he didn’t achieve through bypassing the constitution or subverting the democratic norms or by military means. Had he been aligned with the army he would not have faced the coup that he is trying to counter.
Erdogan’s achievements outshine his propensity to remain in power. He is a grassroots politician who rose from a street vender to the rank of the Mayor of Istanbul for four years followed as the prime minister for 11 years. His tenure as president is limited for five years. He is now president Turkey since August 2014 and would hold this office until 2019.
In Turkish electoral system the incumbent president may seek re-election for a maximum of two terms each term being for five years. If he wins in 2019, he can still be the President until 2124. For now, it is clear that he can be removed from power only through the elections.
The military coup has already failed. As such the Turkish people should wait for the next general and presidential elections due in October 2019 and give their verdict to retain him for the second and final term of five years or remove him through the ballot.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog


Create Ten Lakes on Indus River

July 25, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan has three large dams and 85 small dams. Besides there are 20 barrages that control the water of the rivers and flooding. The water to the agricultural lands is carried through 57 canals. The biggest barrages Guddu, Kotri and Sukkar are in Sindh. Among the dams Mangla and Tarbela are the largest dams in Pakistan that also produce hydroelectric power. There are 42 natural and 9 artificial lakes in Pakistan.

In 1850 the British East India Company created a modern irrigation system by building several barrages and canals mostly in Punjab and Sindh provinces. the famous Barrage Sukkar was built in Sindh in 1932.

According to the 1960 Water Control Treaty between India and Pakistan, three rivers namely Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were exclusively allocated to Pakistan. India got Sutlej, Bias and Ravi.

Despite having one of the best irrigation and water control systems a huge portion of water flows down in the ocean. Moreover, during the rainy or monsoon season the crops are destroyed and the villages are inundated. The cattle and livestock perish. 
The overflowing water causes death toll of a large number of inhabitants living in rural areas. In 2010 floods 1.4 million acres of crops were destroyed. In 2011 this loss was 1.7 million acres of agricultural land and crops.

Besides, every year during the rainy and monsoon seasons there happens a colossal displacement of the people, loss of cattle, houses and human beings. Pakistan’s major crops are sugarcane, wheat and cotton. The loss of these crops because of flooding and inundation is inestimable.

Punjab and Sindh are the food baskets of Pakistan. These food baskets are sustained and watered by the mighty Indus river that starts from the Tibet Plateau and after traveling a distance of 3180 kilometers (1980 miles) falls at two places: one in the Arabian Sea and the other at the Ran of Kutch. In plains its tributaries are rivers Chenab, Sutlej, Ravi, Jhelum, Kabul, Kurram, and Gomel. The rain water also flows into this world’s 21st largest river. It is a key water resource and backbone of the agriculture in Pakistan.

However, despite well-managed and vast system of barrages and dams, the bulk of water during the rainy periods flows in the ocean mainly through the Indus river as the barrages and dams have to be opened due to flooding and overflowing of rivers. Thus this precious additional water that accumulates because of the monsoon or heavy rains is wasted away besides causing damage to the crops, fatalities of the people and loss of agricultural output.

The interlinked canals too get choked and cannot carry surplus water to the agricultural lands. The water spreads all over the land and finally joins the flooded Indus or other rivers. The flooded tributaries carry their water into Indus river that swells beyond its banks.  

The best solution of such natural recurring natural disaster and wastage of precious water is if several lakes are created over the mighty Indus between Naushehra city and the Persian Gulf. Since the distance of Indus from Naushehra to Karachi is around 1000 miles, at least ten vast lakes can be built after every 100 miles’ distance. The size of the lakes can be determined by the experts.

We have such a large lake in Sindh province. It is called Manchar Lake. Lake Manchar is the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of the largest in Asia. Since 1930 when this lake was created by the British government, it has remained the source of income and living for thousands of families mostly engaged in fishing. Currently it is faced with environmental degradation problem.

The high and low season of rains is a double- edged sword. When the rains are plentiful the flooding and overflowing is caused that disrupts life, causes displacement of the population and destruction of the crops. But on the contrary when there is a drought, the flow of the water in Indus and other tributary rivers diminishes as to not be adequately available for agriculture.

As such the creation of lakes like the Manchar lake can be useful in both ways. When the rivers are flooded in monsoon season these lakes can become reservoir for the excess water that can be stored for the subsequent use. When in rivers the water level comes down in drought conditions, these lakes can continue supplying water to the seasonal crops. Thus the level of agricultural output can remain stable throughout the year.

The lakes thus created can also be a source of living for the local population by way of fishing and rowing for the tourists. These can also facilitate the movement of the local residents and merchandise between the banks. These lakes can be another form of the barrages for accumulation of water although these would only store water but would not have the gates to be shut or closed depending upon the quantity of water.   

These lakes would be instrumental in enhancing and stabilizing the principle crops for domestic use and for exports. One can imagine the prosperity and enhancement of foreign exchange for Pakistan. The poverty in our rural areas can be rooted out or at least minimized by creating these lakes.

It is up to the experts and engineers of WAPDA as well as the government to chart out a plan of action and envisage the number of lakes to be created and their locations. Digging of lakes would not be a big problem as the local population can be engaged to work on these projects.
Thus they would benefit financially. In our villages and countryside there are countless landless and jobless tillers and peasants who can run their households by working on the creation of these lakes which might take a few years.


Military Takeover is not the Solution

July 21, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

There is lobby or section of the people in Pakistan that want the army to step forward, sack the incumbent PMNL government and start ruling. In this regard the most potent and raucous voice is that of Imran Khan the Chairman of his political outfit: “Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf”.

In his latest speech delivered in the wake of Azad Kashmir elections, he envisaged that the people of Pakistan would distribute sweets if the army assumes power and sacks PMNL government and also Mian Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent prime minister of Pakistan.
While demanding a military takeover Imran and his ilk should keep in view of what happened in Turkey when a faction of the army unsuccessfully tried to dislodge Tayyab Erdogan’ government.  There is a great deal of similarity between Mian Nawaz Sharif and Tayyab Erdoğan in serving their countries in the best possible manner.

As far Panama leaks, an independent commission can look into the details and fix responsibility. But the demand is irrational that Mian Nawaz should resign for having offshore accounts and if he doesn’t do that the armed forces should depose him and take over the power. There is no precedent that elsewhere in the world, as a result of Panama leaks the army stepped in and sacked the elected government.  
Mian Nawaz Sharif has always adored Imran Khan as an outstanding cricket star under whose captaincy the Pakistan cricket Team won the cricket world cup in 1992. Mian Nawaz Sharif

himself is a great fan of cricket and plays this most cherished game from time to time. The recent victory of Pakistan cricket team at Lords that happened after almost 20 years, revives the distinction and clout of Pakistan’s Cricket Team’s caliber and prestige.
In an article published in the Washington Post on July 18, the columnist Max Bearak quotes some of the phrases from the AJK speech of Imran Khan” "All of you standing out there, tell me, if the military came [to power] in Pakistan, what would happen?" Imran Khan bellowed from a podium. He is Pakistan's main opposition leader and a former champion cricketer. Prone too provocative, even careless statements, he found his rhythm on stage while talking about this weekend's, "Sweets would be shared! People would be made happy! People would celebrate!" he answered on behalf of the crowd.”

When Imran Khan founded the PTI on April 25, 1996, with three wings namely student wing, Youth and women wing, the people of Pakistan saw in him a resolute and sincere young visionary and revolutionary leader who would build a new Pakistan with a genuine democratic order, excellent governance and which would be economically strong and corruption free. Alas these were mere hopes and aspirations which never saw the light of the day.

All these years in the political arena of Pakistan we have seen an Imran Khan who is whimsical, autocratic, childish, irrational and emotional person. He delves in blame game, threats and shouting at the top of his voice for change of government through unconstitutional means. His immaturity and knee jerk reaction is not only manifest in politics but has its sway in his personal life and his party as well.

His marriage in January 2015 with Reham Khan a showbiz celebrity and their subsequent separation in October the same year speaks for Imran Khan’s mercurial disposition. He has a whimsical, unstable and volatile temperament. With such a mindset while in power, he may change his decisions day in and day out thus making of mess in Pakistan and abroad. When he would be pleased he might take any decision good or bad and while in commotion he may reverse whatever he had done the previous day.

My co-columnist, an intellectual and a politician, Mr. Abdul Qayyum Khan Kundi is a very sincere and committed member of the PTI. He has been counseling the PTI all these years to be on the right track. He has been consistently trying to guide Imran Khan and beseeching him to adopt a democratic tradition and culture within the party in choosing the executive committee members and in making crucial decisions. More often than not he has been sidetracked and his wise counsels and precious and beneficial advice were seldom taken into consideration.

Mr. Kundi whom I met once in Houston(Texas) a few years ago, has been in touch with me through internet almost on daily basis. Being myself a journalist and an opinion columnist for over two decades now, I still imbibe Mr. Kundi’s views and opinions on politics and good governance in Pakistan. Of late, he has described the internal atmosphere, oppressive attitude and the dictatorial way of decision making within the meetings of the PTI. I quote a few lines from his emails. While comparing the recent Republican Party convention with that of PTI, he observed:

Republican Party convention was an example of democracy inside the party. PTI convention was an example of autocratic tendency of my way or highway.”

“PTI of today’s convention does not represent either the party or the country. It is an elite club of those that have sucked this country dry in last 68 years. We have to liberate our party from the clutches of these elite and return it to the people of Pakistan so that it can bring real change.”

 Mr. Kundi has outlined three demands for consideration of the Chairman PTI. These demands inter-alia, are:

1. Uphold party constitution and respect it in making all organizational decisions.
2. Uphold merit in awarding party positions and tickets to candidates and
3. All political decisions should reflect party ideology

 if a dedicated and core member of the party thinks that PTI was deviating from its manifesto and merely It is an elite club of those that have sucked this country dry in last 68 years” then what credentials of PTI and Imran are left to claim power and lead the country in a democratic way and with dedication.

It is a sheer display of frustration and immaturity that Imran calls for the army to snatch the reins of the government and impose military rule. Did he forget that the previous four martial laws had wrought a multi-dimensional colossal havoc in Pakistan? During the martial Law of Yahya Khan the country dismembered and in the Ziaul Haq ’a martial it was hijacked by the religious militants who are still busy in killing and maiming the people of Pakistan.The country drifted back to the dark ages. The people has yet to know what kind of system of government Imran Khan would implement in Pakistan when his own party is without any semblance of a democratic culture.

Jinab Imran Khan should try to eschew his overflowing tendency of achieving power through the proxies. He should realize that he has remained a non-starter ever since he entered into the political arena of Pakistan. Is he under the impression that if army seizes power it would be handed over to him? Or else fresh elections would be the priority with the army?

It is not going to happen and thus whatever democratic tradition we have set and followed since the ouster of the last dictator Musharraf from power in 2008, would be watered down. Imran Khan and his party should gird up their loins for the 2018 elections. That is the only viable and constitutional course and must be adhered to for the sake of respecting the mandate of the people of Pakistan.

It is indeed most heartening that General Raheel Sharif has reaffirmed his resolve to retire from the army sometime this year. I would add and implore him not to be influenced by odd voices for enforcement of Martial Law. It would put another stumbling block in cultivating a democratic culture which is the best way to serve Pakistan and its people.

The incumbent PMNL government has been elected through the popular vote and must be allowed to complete its tenure until the general elections due to be held in 2018. Compared with other elected or non-elected dispensations its performance thus far has been laudable, productive and impressive.

By the time of holding new elections in 2018, most of the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor-2442 KM long) would have been completed. Thus a journey of prosperity as well as consolidation of democratic traditions based upon popular mandate would be accelerated.

In the meantime, PMNL has swept the Azad Kashmir elections by bagging 31 seats out of total of 41 seats. The remaining 10 seats went to Muslim Conference (, the PPP, PTI (2 seats each party) and JKPP(One) and one seat to an independent candidate.

This result should serve as an eye opener for PTI and PPP that PMNL was popular also in Azad Kashmir. It is good that instead of habitually blaming malpractices in elections, Imran Khan for the first time accepted these results besides congratulating Mian Nawaz Sharif.  That yardstick of PMNL popularity is also applicable in Pakistan.