Sunday, July 30, 2017

Disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

July 28, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan today (July 28) unanimously disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and chief of the political party “PMLN” from holding public office for a period of 10 years. Nawaz Sharif submitted his resignation after the ruling in Panama Papers case related to the allegations against the Sharif family for their alleged money laundering and establishing overseas properties. Under orders from the bench the Pakistan’s Election Commission also disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the member of the parliament.
Meanwhile other mainstream political parties, inter-alia, Jamaat-e-Islami. Pakistan People’s Party and MQM have applauded the Apex court’s verdict against Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
The bench also issued orders to file reference against Nawaz Sharif’s two sons (Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz), Mariam Nawaz(daughter) and Captain Safdar (son in law) and Ishaq Dar (FiancĂ© Minister). In this regard, the apex court has directed the JIT to gather similar information of overseas assets and accounts and properties of these family members. The aim of the court is to broaden scope of inquiry and if proven guilty could take a similar roller coaster course as done in case of prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.
This verdict was based upon the investigation carried out by a six-member JIT (Joint Investigation Team) formed by the Apex court to further collect evidence or information given in the Panama Papers with regard to the assets and the wealth of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members in Pakistan and abroad.
In their report of July 10, the JIT “found Nawaz Sharif and his family members of living beyond means, concealment of facts and being beneficial owners of multiple offshore companies and recommended initiation of reference against the PM and members of the ruling family in the NAB”.
“The report also highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children possess assets beyond their known sources of income.”
Prior to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s current disqualification, other prime ministers were also disqualified by the judiciary for financial malpractices and misuse of powers. Yousaf Raza Gilani the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Prime minister (25 March 2008 –19 June 2012) was disqualified in 2012 for refusing to reopen corruption case against the then president Asif Ali Zardari. Raja Pervez Ashraf another PPP prime minister (22 June 2012 – 25 March 2013) was also indicted and had to abandon his premiership.
The Supreme Court judgement against Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his consequent hanging (4 April 1979) is a part of the politico-judicial history of Pakistan. 
Let us watch what transpires in due course of time and whether as a result of further inquiries as ordered by the Apex Court, Nawaz Sharif may also be sent to jail. In the meantime, the PMNL ministers and leaders are expressing their bitter reaction and intense retaliation to a verdict that is certainly extremely stringent. The post indictment reaction of certain PMLN leaders was poured out in a hastily called press conference in which the speakers vowed to remain within the boundaries of law and put a legal and constitutional fight as permissible under the law.
The difference between this indictment and the previous ones is that this case was spearheaded by a political opponent and chief of the PTI former renowned cricketer turned politician Imran Khan and his close cohort Sheikh Rashid( founder of Awami Muslim League( AML)  party)and a bitter opponent of Mian Nawaz Sharif.
If it is a question of rooting out corruption from the government departments and officialdom and punish the bureaucracy and the political office holders then such action should have been taken across the board against all corrupt elements and individuals. Yet for the last several years the paramount agenda of Imran Khan has been riveted solely on Mian Nawaz Sharif and his financial corruption.
As far the mandate and approval rating in the recent and general elections, it is the PMLN that has been winning most of the seats, be these in Pakistan or Kashmir. As such, the fringe parties including PTI (Pakistan Tehrik Insaf) have resorted to street agitations to weaken the incumbent dispensation of PMLN.  
It is alleged that some of the judges in the apex court as well in JIT are related to or sympathetic towards Imran Khan. It is also alleged that behind the removal of Mian Nawaz Sharif is the gigantic project known as CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) initiated and being completed by the PMNL and with the personal interest and involvement of Mian Nawaz Sharif. India and some other unfriendly countries to Pakistan don’t want this milestone project to be completed and that can be done only if Nawaz Sharif was removed which presently has happened.
Nawaz Sharif’s popularity soared when under his orders Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests in May 1998 which were in response to the Indian tests. It fulfilled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s mission of making Pakistan a nuclear state.
The street agitation and anti-PMLN drive has been mainly carried on by Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid (president Pakistan Muslim league) for a few years via street agitations and sits-in which now have assumed the judicial format.
It would have been more preferable and looked objective and desirable if a nationwide drive against corruption and concealment of ill-gotten or unjustified assets and wealth and offshore accounts was launched on the national level to cleanse Pakistan from the curse of corruption once and for all. This campaign by Imran Khan and his colleagues only against Nawaz Sharif and his family seems to be one sided and smacks of a kind of personal rancor and grudge.
While the PMLN is going to nominate another prime minister in place of Mian Nawaz Sharif, they party may file an appeal against the verdict. 
It is certainly a stunning irony that Mian Sahib also couldn’t complete even his first two terms as the prime minister of Pakistan. This would be the third time that he would be leaving the highest portfolio unceremoniously and without completing his term a few months before completion of the tenure in 2018. The incomplete three terms of Mian Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister are as follows:
5 June 2013 – 28 July 2017
17 February 1997 –12 October 1999
6 November 1990 –18 July 1993

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Let There Be a Cultural Revolution in Pakistan

July 16, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan is beset with the following diverse problems that hinder its shaping up as a modern state with robust economy, social freedom and a truly democratic culture.

  1. The unrelenting clash between the religion and the state, the intrusion and over- lordship of clerics in state affairs
  2. The dogged and deep-rooted feudal system.
  3. Divisions and schisms on the basis of caste, creed, faith, financial status, tribalism, race and gender, ethnicity, language, region and provinces, subversive powers of intolerance, violence and hatred.
  4. The internecine feuding between center and provinces.
  5. Suppression of cultural manifestations and diversity by curbing peoples’ freedom of choice for pursuit of happiness in the name of fake and narrow concepts and dogmas pedaled by the ignorant zealots and fanatical ideologues.
  6. The holy cow image of the army, bureaucracy and clergy and their being above public censure and accountability.
  7. The narrow social vision, low literacy.
  8. The clash between personal and class interests on one hand and the national interest on the other. The preference for the former over the latter.
  9. Lack of long term thoughtful planning for development. Non-implementation of the previous plans.
  10. Political anarchy.
  11. Poor civic conditions. Lack or obsolete nature of infrastructure.
  12. Alienation of people in decision making process and rule of oligarchy.
Pakistan is therefore, in need of a cultural revolution. However, it should not be a bloody revolution as happened in China from 1966 until 1976 initiated by great Chines leader Mao Zedong.   During that period millions of people were persecuted in the violent phase of Chinese history. Pakistan should embrace peaceful and constructive cultural, economic and political revolution which like a strong torrent should wash away all the soci-economic and political filth and dirt, accumulated ever since its birth.
We as a nation are still engaged in a futile and interminable discussion and debate about the form of government, and the role of the army and religion in politics. Besides, there is no let up in the deliberately engineered slogan of “Islam is in danger” by the religious right to keep the population behind them. The fact is that Pakistan is the only country where Islam is safe by all means and in all respects. Pakistan is a veritable citadel of Islam and would remain so.
in their hay days of power, the mainstream parties like Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan People’s Party drastically strayed from their chartered course and thus are also responsible for the down-slide and deterioration in Pakistan. These parties have to their credit some good work but in the final analysis they too woefully dismayed the people of Pakistan and therefore had to suffer irretrievable reverses.
There has been a persistent political and constitutional chaos all along in Pakistan. The political anarchy and the oligarchic rule have kept the country destabilized and weak in the task of institutions building, in economic progress and with regard to the flowering of a civil society. In a chaotic political situation, the army has to assume a savior’s role. The country instead of blossoming into a civil, egalitarian, democratic polity is, on the contrary, economically poor, politically directionless and socially backward. The politicians who should have set the country’s course on the right tracks have miserably disappointed this nascent nation by their unholy and unpatriotic craving for power thus trampling the supreme national interests.
We have to, therefore, clear the cobwebs of abyss and setbacks by an all-embracing cultural revolution to influence every individual and every aspect of our body politic and society. We must have a new political culture enshrining free and fair elections by an independent election commission, unvarnished democracy and the parliament without pressures and blackmailing of the administration.
Similarly, we must have an economic culture, which instead of serving a few individuals and classes, should cater for the whole nation and aim at making it economically stronger. On the social front People who find themselves in bondage in face of elitist classes and powerful individuals should be free to seek legal and social justice. They must not be subjected to whims and dictates of the segments of the society with self-serving agendas.
The expatriate Pakistanis can substantially contribute towards unfurling such plans for Pakistan that have been adopted by the developed countries for stability, prosperity, peace and order. The expatriates are the beneficiaries of and witness to the amazing societal structure in Europe and United States that is premised upon and geared towards the happiness and welfare of the people.
The expatriates deserve a share and right in decision making process as well as representation in both the houses of the Parliament in Pakistan. Thus far, despite a stupendous contribution by way of foreign exchange every year towards the national economy, the expatriates merely have a right only to cast their vote.
There is a massive presence of the Pakistanis abroad that should have the right to contest for national assembly and senate from the votes of their expatriate community. Or else a specific number of seats should be allocated or reserved for Pakistanis living abroad. For the present until an elaborate modus operandi is worked out for reservation of seats or holding of elections, a fixed number of Pakistanis should be given observer status to witness the proceedings in the national assembly and the senate.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Armageddon: Religious Dogma about the End of the World

  July 8, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
 Armageddon is a town situated in the coastal area of the land of Palestine. according to Biblical legends it is here that the final battle between the forces of evil and good or Satan or God would take place and the forces of good would prevail by completely annihilating the forces of evil and Satan. The forces of good would be led by the Jesus Christ while the other side would comprise the unfaithful.
The battle seems to be a physical combat in the pattern of battles that were fought with swords, spears and arrows and other obsolete weapons in the olden times. A horrendous and mother of all bloody battles would ensue, ending the influence and sway of the satanic forces on this earth. Jesus Christ would lead a new generation of faithful believers in god with an unprecedented era of prosperity and bliss spawning a thousand years.
While both Christianity and Islam have convergent faith on the occurrence of the Armageddon towards the end of the human existence on this planet, Jews don’t entertain such ideas because they have stopped believing in the reincarnation or second coming of the Messiah. They crucified the promised Messiah two thousand years ago because instead of delivering them and giving them the promised land of Israel, he turned against them. That is why the Jews don’t believe in the life hereafter or in the resurrection of human beings as the Christians or the Muslims believe. They believe in the continuation of the present life on the earth eventually turning into an ideal and paradise like life.
For Christian, the Armageddon would be the fight against the people who are supposed to be anti-Christ by which they mean both Muslims and Jews, heathens, pagans and all the non-believers in the Jesus Christ as the redeemers and the son of God. But for Muslims there would be another promised precursor of the Jesus Christ who would pave way for the Jesus Christ to make his appearance. Incidentally they would both meet at the mosque of Samarra in Iraq. The precursor called Mehdi would receive the Jesus Christ after he would descend from the heaven.
Both would jointly say prayers and finally the reins of the crusade or the beginning of Armageddon would be handed over to the Jesus Christ who from then onward would wage the war against the forces of evil and unfaithful. In this long drawn conflict that would last for a very long time Jesus Christ would ultimately triumph after going through untold hardships at the hands of the leader of satanic forces called Dajjal. Dajjal according to Muslim faith would be one eyed giant with exceptional power and maneuverability. Initially, he would prevail, but would finally be routed. Thereafter the golden period would start, at the end of which would be the resurrection day.
It is difficult to understand the logic behind such prophesies and predictions made thousand of years ago. Technologically, especially in the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction the world had advanced incredibly. A sword in the olden times could kill one person at time but a nuclear weapon of modest size can kill millions. Just imagine the destructive capability that the humans have achieved. And this is not the end of it. There may be more weapons whose destructive power could be much higher than the existing weapons. But the Armageddon speaks of localized battle swords and spears in which there would be decisive victory for the forces fighting on the side of God.
 Rather it would be God himself who will directly brace against the forces of the vicious world war lords supported and backed up by Satan. But finally God would prevail and it would be the Jesus Christ who would appear with blowing of trumpets and lot of fan fare. This scenario looks like a kind of festivity that could fit into the situations of the ancient times. The celebrations too have assumed modern and much wider and sophisticated proportions. Blowing of trumpet is reminiscent of the old practices to welcome a king or a victorious army.
The Islamic concept of Armageddon and that of Christianity bears close resemblance except that in Christians’ case it would be the Christian faith that would prevail ultimately, while according to Muslims, Jesus Christ would fight on their side along with another Messiah (Mehdi) who would precede him.
Taking into account the way the first and the second world wars were fought, it could well be imagined that any Armageddon that takes place would not be confined to a small city situated on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea or in Jerusalem. It will happen on the world wide basis and its disastrous fallout should be for the entire world and not for that specific area where this war would be fought. Perhaps those who predicted this war forgot that the world population wouldn’t be confined to Palestine alone of Southern Arab. They would not have the slightest inkling that by the year 2017 alone the world population would soar to more than 7 billion.
 But perhaps the prophets like Zechariah couldn’t think beyond the land of Palestine and Mesopotamia that were the centers and hub of activities and birth places of the ancient prophets and divine figures. They thought that God and his forces comprising pious people would, prevail and establish the writ of the creator on the land which had remained abode of Abraham and all other renowned ancient prophets mentioned in the scriptures.
It would therefore, be pertinent to question the happening of a war, all the more a local war at a time when the whole world has become one village and it would be utterly impossible to contain any conflagration of armed conflict to a small town or place with force pitted against each other with most deadly and lethal weapons. The war will not be fought on a ground with obsolete and outdated weapons such as arrows, spears and swords. Armageddon as a matter of fact fuels hatred in the minds of the adherents of mainly two religions, Islam and Christianity which believe in this mother of all wars with their own perspective and beliefs.