Sunday, February 25, 2018
February 18, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
There is a variety of definitions of the commonly used term, “Banana Republic”. One definition that we find in the political science books is that a Banana Republic is a country that exports limited resource product such as Bananas, fruits, cheap manpower or other similar produce or products to sustain its economy. While such a country wallows in poverty, the wealth and prosperity of the privileged and rich classes keeps swelling. There is no accountability and no holds barred from making money and getting rich to any level from questionable and unjustified sources.
In 1901, the American author O Henry coined the term of Banana Republic to describe Honduras and neighboring countries under economic exploitation by U.S. corporations, such as the United Fruit company.
“A Banana Republic is a country in which the ruling class oligarchy controls the primary sector of the economy. A Banana country has an economy of state capitalism. A culture of exploitation remains in vogue under a collusion between state and the favored economic monopolies. Profit derived is private property while debts are treated as the financial responsibility of the national treasury.”
All the above conditions and prototypes can be applied to Pakistan. Pakistan falls into the similar paradigm of being exploited by the big corporations and the foreign enterprises in collusion with the local cutthroat entrepreneurs.
In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, there is ruthless capitalism which is promoted and practiced by the people in power to further enhance their wealth and pelf and easy access to the political power. The majority of the people merely vote to the influential candidates for a small amount of money or under threats of being kidnapped or their women folks dishonored or to impose religious culture and faith-based teachings.
Pakistan too is a Banana Republic because it is a politically unstable country with an economy dependent upon the exportation of raw material like cotton and minerals etc. It doesn’t have enough mills and factories to use those precious finds and sell the products at much higher prices. The payment of the income tax is the most violated regime in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a Banana Republic because it has a society which is divided into unprivileged, poor working class and a ruling-class plutocracy. Like a proverbial Banana Republic, it is composed of the business, political and military elites exploiting their high status and coveted positions for personal interests.
Such a plutocracy or ruling oligarchy control the primary sector of the economy by way of the exploitation of labor and resources. Pakistan fits into the paradigm of a Banana Republic because by and large it is functioning as a commercial enterprise for the exclusive profit of the ruling classes.
The state’s political system, the nation-building institutions, business oriented or industrial conglomerations are merely to serve a few individuals or classes. In such a country people with money and authority matter and common people suffer in all manners be it jobs, justice, education, health and other socio-economic benefits or the facilities or to be the beneficiaries of the national economy.
The political system and governing is monopolized by the affluent and socially dominant classes such as feudal, rich robber barons, industrialists or the retired individuals from the senior posts. The legacy of family domination over the political parties is shamelessly and openly followed. In PPP, it is the Bhutto family progeny that continues to lord over this one time most popular and sought-after party. The PMLN is now the property of the Sharif clan. The PTI is now identified with Imran Khan and he would head this party as long he is healthy and materially fine. Same is the situation with other political and religious outfits.
The nation state where people enter the political arena through ability, hard work and several years of input and after establishing their credentials is unheard of in a country like Pakistan. It is horrendous to watch the rural folks still grazing their livestock, cows and buffaloes and rams in the fields as their ancestors and previous generations used to do. They plough their small land holdings and sell those at very cheap prices to survive.
The adulteration, the child molesting and kidnapping of the opponents for money and revenge is rampant without any check from the responsible agencies. Rather the law enforcers take part in such despicable bouts and forays for making additional income as their salaries are low and insufficient to cater for money budget on running the house with ease.
The bribes and grafts like polluted air spread all over Pakistan and high and low whosever can grab it goes for such enticements and then goes to the mosque for prayers and remittance of their sins. There are hypocritical doubles standards and mockery that most of the Pakistanis display along with their relgions faiths and beliefs.
Bu beyond that I would add that it is a land where the cults including the religious sects and individuals keep the people under a fear of divine revenge and blessing in this world or in the next world after death. The religious conglomerations are headed by the bearded religious heavyweights and continue to do so from the same family one after another.
The Mullahs frighten the people by repeatedly stressing on the divine wrath and the most frightening stay in the hell and burning in the fire for all time to come. And there are countless religious denominations and everyone declaring other infidel and unchaste and fodder of the hell. In addition to that there are countless spiritual healers and squatters in spiritual mansions. They exploit the credulous people for redemption of their poverty and other miseries through soliciting with God through prayers.
This land of Pakistan that was wrested in the name of the religion Islam and to live separately from other religious and racial communities offers the model of a worst and most ignoble and failed state. If this is the religious country professing Islam and for which it separated from others then it was the worst bargain and deal that even the African people would reject.
The dirty narrow lanes with human refuse overflowing, the cattle living side by side with the human beings, the ramshackle rickshaws, the horse and bullock driven carts, the small children working in the workshops and restaurants. The patients keep dying in hospitals, in the filth packed medical centers and at homes because of inattention, spurious drugs, lack of facilities, the high medical costs and the adulterated food.
When a traveler lands at any airport of Pakistan, in contrast to foreign airports, he finds him or herself as if he has landed in a jail compound. He is bewildered by the lack of discipline, cleanliness and decorum, uncouth airport staff and the foul smell. The ruffians outside pretending to be the staff of the airport customs decamp with precious belonging with impunity. Such a spectacle I have seen many a time in various airports of Pakistan.
This story of a failed state of Pakistan is endless and it might take a Hercules or a wizard to set the system right. If for one we can streamline the civic system and remove adulteration of food and other eatables and thuggery in monetary deals, Pakistan might look a bit better. If the county and city system from the West particularly from USA can be implemented with strict compliance rules, Pakistan may look clean and decent.
Above all the big land holdings must be taken over by the government. The bonded families working since the British times should be liberated to end this cruel system of feudalism which is state within state. The feudal enter the power corridors and win the National Assembly and senate seats because of the Haree (bonded land labor) families who vote from them as their enslaved servants.
IT is direly needed that the law and the courts should treat all high and low on equal footings. The ramshackle run-down kiosk like courts from a local municipality to the supreme courts need to be rebuilt to look decent and respectable. The smoking should be banned within the market places, schools, educational institutions and government offices, Railways, bus stops, schools, colleges, hospitals, government office and similar locations.
If someone wants to smoke, he or she should go out and smoke in a secluded and reserved corner, and thereafter come back his shop or work place. In the United States I have yet to see a single person smoking in public shopping centers, offices and on roads. We in Pakistan can also enforce such rules.
What I have observed is that if the county and city system of local government is copied from developed countries particularly United States and is put in place and make it workable, much of the dirty face of Pakistan can be cleaned.
Briefly, there is a dire need to resurrect and rebuild Pakistan with a new vigor and in line with what the developed countries have achieved after a great deal of efforts, injunction of rules and laws. In Pakistan’s case it is merely studying and implementing those role- model systems with full force and dedication.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
February 18, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
What Imran Khan, Allama Tahirul Qadri and their political associates and cohorts are doing in Pakistan fits into a smaller paradigm of the French Revolution (1789-1799). The French Revolution was initiated because of a debased monarchy and total breakdown of the society for a variety of reasons. However, those times were not even marginally as socially and politically enlightened and bearing democratic stamp as the present times. That revolution resulted in the abolition of the French monarchy. Besides radical social changes based upon liberalism and enlightenment were set in motion.
But imagine the bloodshed, chaos and a reign of turmoil set off by the French Revolution which in those politically and socially unsettled times might have been justified or in order. But in 20th century when there are peaceful and democratic outlets available for transfer of power, the street mobilization and destabilization through violence and disturbance is hardly the right approach to grab political power.
Democratic format whether entirely or partially representative, provides some peaceful and the constitutional modus-operandi to take power from the opponents. Thus, the winning political party gets the right to implement one’s own program and manifesto for progress and prosperity of the people and the state.
In Pakistan, we have a bunch of myopic, violent and foul mouthing rabble-rousers who want to remove a sitting and elected government and derail the democratic bandwagon through street agitations and rounds of sit-ins. Ruining the societal peace and demolishing a democratically elected government via street agitations and disorder may be portrayed as a pseudo, mini French Revolution.
The PTI and Qadri’s group having no hope of winning the 2018 elections, would prefer to see the PMNL government thrown away and its leaders put in jails. They would also want the elections to be postponed or delayed and a kind of army rule or adhoc or provisional civilian set up to be in place with tacit approval from the armed forces.
Even if elections are held, Imran Khan and Allama Qadri would still resist the electoral victory of PMNL or PPP. In that situation too, the army could impose martial law or form a government run by the army in league with the obedient parties which in this scenario could be PTI and Qadri’s religious outfit. That situation would be in accord with the preference of both Qadri and Imran Khan as they would prefer an authoritarian rule rather than seeing PMNL or PPP in power.
If by a sheer miracle, Imran Khan and Qadri win 2018 elections and start ruling Pakistan, they would be exposed to the similar agitations and backlash from PMLN party that presently they and their cohorts are trying to pursue If love begets love then rancor also begets and fosters revenge and retaliation.
Are Imran Khan and Allama Qadri under the myopic impression that during their perceived stint in power there would be all peace and their political adversaries would get themselves confined to their houses and watch them ruling peacefully? As a matter of fact, their political rivals would return the same compliment to them by taking out processions and staging sits-ins. Such retaliations may even be much more fierce and violent than those of Imran Khan and Allama Qadri.
As such the country and its people would plunge into a same spell of violence and agitations that we witness presently. There would be severe setbacks to the business community. The public life would be disturbed as now. There would be pervasive chaos. It is fallacious to believe that once PTI or PPP start ruling then the flowers of peace, unity and prosperity would start blooming in every lane and city of Pakistan.
On the contrary, Pakistan would be plunged into a new cycle of political rivalries, tensions, protests and disturbance. There would be agitations and lockouts in every city and town of the country. As a layman I can visualize such scenario and its ruinous fall-out and so countless people may also nurse similar feelings.
Army will have to intervene in such an environment of perpetual turmoil. Army has taken over power four times in Pakistan because of the failure of the political lot to serve the people in a spirit of tolerance, mutual co-habitation and by abiding the democratic rules.
In the meantime, the superior judiciary has visibly assumed all the powers for political and administrative decisions in its hands. Obviously, we all can witness that the chief justice is trying the focus purely on the fiscal corruption of the Nawaz Sharif and his clan. As a matter of fact, it is the chief justice who is issuing orders for the nomination on the higher posts, locking someone and keeping someone at large no matter how corrupt and rowdy he or she may be. It’s a unilateral and partial justice which is being exhibited by the superior courts and not across the board.
The question should be pondered as to why Allama Qadri who is a Canadian citizen and a non- political religious scholar should come all the way to Pakistan to provoke people through Dharnas(sit-in) to oust Nawaz Sharif and create a political mayhem and societal disorder. Imran Khan has the same mission and both Imran Khan and Qadri joined hands to achieve that unedifying target.
I have no soft corner for Nawaz Sharif but if there is a crusade against culture of corruption then there are many others in power and in high positions in Pakistan who are up to neck in financial and other kinds of corruption, misdoings and scandals. To single out Nawaz Sharif and no other well-known symbols of corruption such as Asif Ali Zardari and Pervez Ashraf and many more, reeks an anti-Sharif mindset lately joined by the judges of the apex court.
Imran Khan and his ilk sought the short route of the judiciary to expel Nawaz Sharif from politics and portray him as a financially corrupt person unfit for the being a political leader to assume power. It would have been much desirable and morally right approach if that right of keeping or expelling him should remain vested in the people of Pakistan and not a group of court officials to take such a huge decision and thus derail the political process that in any case would have ended in a few months because of the 2018 general elections.
Should we say that there was some kind of tacit understanding between anti-Nawaz politicians including Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri on one side and the superior judiciary of Pakistan on the other in ousting Nawaz Sharif from premiership.
Qadri ought to be barred from inciting people of Pakistan against politicians and limit himself to religious injunctions. He should focus on his religious institutions and outlets which is the best service for a religiously enlightened person like him. If he is intent on taking part in Pakistan’s politics then he should forsake his Canadian nationality, come back to Pakistan and justify his participation in the political arena.
Imran Khan’s sleazy tales of sex and wayward life are widespread and even alleged by the female victims. Yet he is not taken to task by the judiciary on such allegations. In Pakistan it is only the king who is naked and no one else.
Imran Khan is certainly eager to grab power to serve the people of Pakistan in right earnest. But he should play a fair game and accept that all the politicians and parties have the right to contest elections and whosever wins should have the right to rule and serve the people of Pakistan.
Irrespective of the tone and tenor of politics in Pakistan, the army should keep away from the enticement of grabbing power through martial law. The army should ignore the political bickering and entirely focus on their professional responsibilities. Enough with military rules and enough with opportunist politicians, dirty game.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
It is hard to describe the pitiable plight of the commuters during an accident especially in the middle of traffic jams. Finding no outlet, one feels trapped like a mouse as there are vehicles right and left, front and behind. The agony and frustration in such situations is indescribable. For students and patients such jams are worst.
On the morning of February 9 instant, while driving towards my assignment place, I was stuck up in a traffic jam on 121 Highway for about four hours. After entering the highway from Legacy road in Frisco, all of sudden I found myself trapped in the main highway with vehicles right and left and more coming from behind. It took me four hours from entry point to the place of accident some 15 miles ahead to get released from that gridlock. I couldn’t reach on time and my appointment was canceled by the providers. For that day I was not paid. This traffic standoff was all the way from the 75 to intersection of 35 and beyond towards the south in 121.
Almost after four to five hours when the road was partially opened I opted for a detour and returned home entirely dejected and exhausted. Caught up in this bizarre and agonizing situation, all the commuters were moving by inches ahead. Those who would take exit for escaping the main highways would fall into a more tricky and irksome situation. The countess other drivers would do the same and thus stuck up for hours on the traffic signals which must be more excruciating and agonizing.
Such accidents and traffic jams occur on the roads almost every day. It has been observed that whenever an accident occurs on the American roads, it normally takes three to four hours or even more before the normal traffic flow is resumed. Invariably, hundreds of commuters suffer by way of meeting their appointments, reaching their job locations and some other time bound pressing engagements. Besides, trapped on the roads with no outlet causes mental agony, frustration and sense of helplessness. Waiting and moving by inches cause more gas consumption, time wastage, and loss of wages for the daily workers. If gas tank empties then one can imagine the miserable plight of the individuals sitting on the steering wheel and the vehicle engine shut-off.
Many commuters have to rush to the courts for hearings or for the judges to dispense justice. The school going buses are stranded and without any way-out to take the children well in time to their respective institutions. The patients with serious health issues cannot meet their scheduled appointments with the physicians or in the hospitals. The businessmen and the common people going to their offices and work places cannot reach in time.
Patently it’s a flawed system which can be rectified at no additional cost. All that is needed to adopt such alternatives and steps that can keep the flow of the traffic reasonably modest if not fast. As a conscientious citizen of this great country I would like to offer some measures that might rectify such painful situations and also help the traffic police to do their job of handling such incidents and accidents in a much shorter time and save the commuters from being stuck-up on the roads for hours.
First of all, the administration of counties and cities should realize that this a very serious issue that merits resolution for the betterment of the countless commuters. The traffic police and the officials responsible for maintenance of roads and flow of traffic ought to sit together to streamline such bottlenecks that can be smoothed or technically resolved. While the accidents are unavoidable yet such a modus-operandi can be evolved that might reduce the amount of time for which the vehicles normally remain on the roads after the accidents.
Generally, there are two kinds of traffic accidents: those in which only the vehicles collide and no human injury of loss of lives occurs. The others are those categories in which deaths and injuries also take place. In case of injuries an ambulance is called and it takes some time for ambulance to reach the place of collision. Also, the wrecked vehicles have to be towed away and for that too towing trucks or vehicles are needed which also take some time to reach the accident location.
But as a matter of fact, the towing trucks or ambulances can reach without any interruption and in much shorter because those can use the sideline to reach the accident location. It has been observed that the police summons both the ambulance and toeing truck after reaching the location. It would be preferable if after receiving the accident report from anyone, besides themselves immediately reaching the location they should summon the medical staff, the ambulance and the truck there and then. This is necessary so that the police staff and other attending support like ambulance and truck and medical staff can reach the place immediately. If the accident is minor the truck and ambulance can be returned. It is extremely important that out of three or four lanes at least one should be kept open. That would facilitate movements of the vehicles although not very fast. But that could alleviate jamming of the vehicles for hours without getting ahead.
While sitting in the car no one may not have any clue as to where the accident occurred and how serious was it. If possible, it would be desirable to covey to the stranded commuters through the local channels, public address system or any other format as to where the accident had happened and how it happened and how serious was it.
There could many who might be having serious health problems and who are claustrophobic. There should be some arrangements and modus-operandi available for dealing with such unusual situations.
If possible, the damaged vehicles and the injured individuals can be moved from the center road to the either left or right sides. That would not only be useful in providing first aid to the affected passengers but may as well open the roads much earlier than what is being done presently.
If possible, the helicopter service can be marshaled in certain serious situation where seriously injured passengers can be promptly moved to the nearby hospitals or health proving locations.
As already stated, it is primarily for the county and city administrators and the police to adopt the best and most effective measures to clear the roads as quickly as possible, besides removal of the debris and the people wounded in the crash or collision. Nevertheless, one lane must be kept opened for movement of the vehicles.