Sunday, October 28, 2018

Creation of More Provinces in Pakistan

October 28, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan must have more provinces. The existing four provinces are like four states within a state. These four big administrative units create regional and provincial friction bordering on hatred. Ever since the creation of Pakistan, one of the overriding hurdles in the way of coveted national cohesion and unity are these administrative elephantine units that vie and remain at loggerheads with each other. With a separate language of each province, the four separate nationalities look conspicuously distinct. Besides it creates communication barriers between the people with less or no knowledge of the national language Urdu.

The fruits of devolution of powers are universally known for balanced and effective development of both rural and urban areas of a country on one side and the backward and advanced areas on the other. In big units as we have in Pakistan, the major chunks of allocation of funds go to those cities or towns from which the politicians or the members of the parliament come.

Even otherwise, in Pakistan, the rural development has mostly remained neglected as most of the development funds are spent in the urban settlements. More provinces should be created for better utilization of resources and quick development. The long-standing demands for decentralization of power should be actually fulfilled by transferring more powers to the provinces and from provinces to the local bodies.

Unfortunately, due to rampant corruption and lack of effective accountability, the funds are misused and misappropriated. The development projects, sometimes, exist on the paper only. The quality of work on building roads and other projects in Pakistan, is woefully inferior. The oversight and strict compliance of codes and regulations are, more often than not, violated and breached with connivance of the bureaucracy and government officials. The scams and scandals, the nepotism and favoritism in doling out contracts, permits and lucrative licenses are given mostly to the party members, friends and kith.

Those individuals and the groups who grease the palms of the members of the officialdom, bureaucracy and the parliament members also share the booty. The social and civic development remains largely confined to the big cities. The people have to travel all the way to the provincial capitals to meet the provincial assembly members at a big financial cost and time.

Pakistan, even after 60 years of its existence, is devoid of highways between major cities and an efficient railway system. The people suffer from poor, inadequate or deficient civic utilities. The political chaos takes it spillover toll on the quality of life. The availability of sustained water and power, solid waste disposal, health, education, orderly traffic and good transportation that are components of good city management and a smooth civic life, have remained woefully unrealized. The quality of life in Pakistan is abysmally low.


Bangladesh that separated from the West Pakistan in 1971, despite being much smaller in area (56000 sq miles to 340000 sq miles of Pakistan) has 6 provinces and 64 districts. Bangladesh has a system of distribution of resources and funds for development which is much transparent, grass-root and effective than Pakistan. In Bangladesh, money is spread over more administrative units and therefore is spent on a vast area. India has 28 provinces and 610 districts. Pakistan has four big federating units and only 127 districts.

It would be a breakthrough and a milestone step forward if the present four provinces are partitioned into smaller provinces. The inhabitants of the new provinces would benefits in the following manner:


  1. They won’t look up to the provincial capitals and the politicians sitting there to send them the funds.
  2. With the decentralization and devolution of powers, the people of smaller units can make their own decisions locally and undertake the development and progress that they deem suitable.
  3. It would create more sense of participation, nationalism and togetherness by the people because of more provincial governments, decentralization and political freedom to make their decisions.

More provinces will lessen the prevailing acrimony, mutual apprehensions and tension among the four provinces. It would readily assuage the sense of deprivation and discrimination nursed by the smaller provinces against the big province which in this case is Punjab. Presently, Punjab is the target of complaints and grudge of other provinces for being a privileged province as was West Pakistan compared to the former East Pakistan. The provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, NWFP, harbor a host of grievances against Punjab which range from taking more share of funds to the undue use of water. The larger portion of armed forces from Punjab is yet another cause for the smaller provinces to be in a state of over-lordship from Punjab.   

East Pakistan’s cessation on March 26, 1971 (for Bengalis independence) could have been averted, had the Eastern wing of Pakistan been fairly and equitably treated. Similar kind of threat and danger of disintegration looms over Pakistan now which can be averted or removed if more provinces are carved out of the existing ones.

The creation of more provinces would meet demands of many regions with common language and ethnic bonds.  For instance, the Saraiki and Hazara provinces are long standing demands of the people of that areas. The population of Hazara region wants to separate from the Pushto speaking parts of NWFP because their language is Pahari, a dialect mix of Pushto and Punjabi. The Saraiki speaking people want to have a separate province because they look different from both Sindh and Punjab as for their language and culture are concerned. The FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) can be converted into a separate province. The scenic and hilly valleys of Chitral, Swat, Hunza, and Dir each can also be given separate status of provinces.

Such considerations as common folklore, common language or dialect, common ethnic and cultural milieu and administrative efficiency should be kept in view in creating more provinces. The increase in the number of provinces would help alleviate the inter-provincial friction that so apparently exists now between the four provinces. As enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan, it is time to give the promised autonomy to the provinces. While the provincial autonomy is a long-standing demand the constitutional rights of the provinces and the powers in the concurrent list should be transferred to them. Already MQM that holds sway in Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh has categorically called for provincial autonomy, which in their view means only the portfolios of foreign relation, currency and defense should be left with the center. Such a demand should also be a priority issue with other provinces and the sooner it is accepted the better it would be for the harmonious relationship between provinces and federation on one hand and between the federating units on the other.

Once the question of creation of more provinces and transfer of the promised powers to the provinces is addressed, the stability of Pakistan can be guaranteed. Otherwise the clash of interests would keep the center and provinces in mutual bickering and feuding. If the constitutional obligation of devolution of powers to provinces is fulfilled, the break-away feelings and insurgency that is going on in Balochistan, can be nailed and quelled, once and for all.

The government of PPP and PMNL failed to address this highly important issue although they had promised such a provision in their parties ‘manifestoes. That pledge which stands valid can now be translated into reality by the PTI government with Imran Khan as the prime minister and a revolutionary in his own right.  It would be a feather in the cap of the sitting government if it takes this revolutionary and momentous measure that would irrefutably ensure the viability of the state of Pakistan. Let the PTI government prove that it was capable of taking far-reaching decisions in the best interest of the people of Pakistan. Let it prove that Pakistan is bound to stay and prosper and that is not a failed state.

There can be a quid-pro-quo in sharing powers with the provinces. But essentially as is the practice in other federations around the world, most of the powers must reside with the constituent geographical units. The United States of America is one country where such a remarkable model for division of powers is in vogue. The states (provinces) are almost independent in running their local governments. This model can be followed in Pakistan as far as possible.

It is also in the interest of the government at the center to go ahead with the settlement of the lingering question of provincial autonomy which together with the creation of more provinces would catapult the much-coveted paradigm of good governance in Pakistan. Such a landmark decision would undoubtedly put Pakistan on the road to economic prosperity and social and political stability.

The provincial autonomy, once given, would relieve the center of the bureaucratic over-lordship. The function of the center would be to make policy decisions and implement those with the coordination of the provinces. Additionally, the shifting of most of the ministries to the provinces would alleviate enormous administrative and financial load on the Center.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

In Praise of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar

October 22, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Mian Saqib Nisar the 25th Chief Justice of Pakistan, delivered a soul stirring speech in Islamabad on October 22, before a symposium of legal community both domestic and foreign. In his emotionally delivered address he laid down, the parameters for an unalloyed system of dispensation of justice. He was quite emotional while emphasizing the dire need of fulfilling the fundamental parameters in handing out the verdicts. He emphasized the court decisions to be fair and justified for both the aggrieved and the violators of law. During the delivery of his historic address, he sounded emotional and thoroughly sincere.

In his latest address in Islamabad, on October 22, he spoke in national language of Pakistan after uttering a few words in English for the foreign delegates and the participants. It’s a praiseworthy display of true patriotism and manifestation of the spirit of nationalism. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the swindlers and law breakers of all sorts, whom he called as the crocodiles are scared of him.

He has quoted examples of the esteemed caliphs Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Ali and resolved to follow in their footprints for shaping up a neat, clean and truly Islamic society in Pakistan. He resolved to safeguard the democratic culture and not allow anyone to derail democracy from now onwards. He discarded the concept of “Nazria Zaroorat” that would even justify even the imposing of martial law in Pakistan. He emphasized the inevitability of addressing the water sacristy challenges and to ensure the water conservation, reinforcing WAPDA and creation of lakes

I won’t be exaggerating if I state that after Quaid-e -Azam, if Pakistan is blessed with an absolutely honest man of authority it is the incumbent chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar. I am proud of him and so should be the people of Pakistan. He has been uncompromising on matters relating to Pakistan, He exhorted to be merciless to the criminals of all sorts, inter-alia, the looters and thugs who have been indulging in nepotism, massing wealth through questionable means and stashing in the foreign banks.

One can see in the person of Mian Saqib Nisar a kind of prototypes of the Muslim caliphs visiting public places, dispensing justice on the spots and sentencing those found guilty of any crime. Of late the honorable Chief Justice is seen at the public places, bazaars and in the government, offices. issuing orders for wrong doings or improvement of the system. He has launched a crusade for abundant and clean water, production of electricity, building of dames.

He has been seen in the public places as well as the government offices, checking the wrong doing and arresting the culprits on the spot.  Equipped with constitutional powers and authority of law, he can sentence the violators on the spot and thus create a scare among the law breakers miscreants including the corrupt bureaucrats, members of the assemblies and heads of such powerful ministries and offices as WAPDA, courts, schools, hospitals and the local government.

He is daring, thoroughly honest and totally committed to wipe off corruption and criminal activities from the land of Pakistan. Understandably he may not be able to cleanse the cobweb of corruption in the government offices and institutions entirely. Yet the initiative and the course that he is embarking upon would serve as a beacon and guideline for others to follow suite. He would set and leave noble examples of dispensing justice and fair-play to the criminals and law of al hues and shades.

Chief justice Nisar is a strong proponent of building dams, providing basic civic facilities and social inputs to the people of Pakistan. He wants dams and water reservoirs to be built for overcoming the dire scarcity of water for the people’s use, crops and agriculture. He emphasized that the conservation of water in dams was indispensable for producing electricity for industries, educational institutions and population.

He has waged a determined crusade against the corrupt yet powerful mafias and people and groups who usurped the national wealth through the foul and unfair means and stashed in foreign banks. He is one chief justice who doesn’t only talk but has put his heart and soul in catching the thugs, hoarders, and usurpers of the national wealth through bribery and manipulations and stashing the stolen money in dubious accounts abroad.

In his invaluable, vital and ground-breaking address, he has emphasized on the legal community to deliver justice with a clean conscience and in the fairest manner to the victims and their perpetrators within the parameters of the law. The incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan is thoroughly, honest, daring and committed to the nation building institutions. As an honest and a true patriot, he has challenged the status quo with a mission to shape up Pakistan as a developed modern country.

It is my firm belief that under chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, a new great state of Pakistan is destined to emerge.  The culture of corruption and malfunctioning of state institutions, is going to be bridled sooner than alter. The flight of the stolen wealth through foul means would be halted. A political culture based upon honesty and fair play and distribution and protection of national wealth be premised on accountable and honest foundations. The water would be sufficiently conserved through new dams and lakes both for agricultural utilization and human consumption.

The fundamental rights would be given to the people, the courts would dispense justice on the basis of facts and merits and so on. Pakistan thus can get respect and dignity in the comity of nations. Well that would be the beginning of a corruption- free Pakistan, proper functioning of the democratic and the state building institutions to be run on sound and honest foundations. The Chief Justice Mian Squib Nisar took the oath of the prestigious office of on December 31st 2016. He would retire on January 17, 2019. He was nominated by prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Hopefully, he might get an extension and allowed to continue for another term.

Hopefully in another year that he would be the chief justice, Pakistan must have been rectified to a great extent and malfunctioning of the nation building institutions could be bridled. It is my wish hope that when retired Main Saqib can be elected as the president of Pakistan. Thus, he would still keep serving Pakistan and its people with absolute honesty, spirit of dedication and unflinching integrity and honesty.



Religion Islam as I Understand it

October 14, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

 Let us first of all admit that Islam is a religion just like Christianity and Judaism; that it is a monotheistic religion like Judaism. That it shares its divine ancestry with Judaism and Christianity, even if the latter two religions don’t accept it, because they claim to be the forerunners of Islam. It is in the same way that Judaism doesn’t accept Christianity which came much after Judaism.

Let us also acknowledge that Islam has a rich heritage and culture like other faiths. The Islamic religio-social traditions and customs teach how to dress up especially for the women, what to eat (meals from legitimate income and in case of meat the animals to be slaughtered in a religiously defined way). The Islamic ethos also spells out the ways to celebrate the religious days and how to host feasts. It also includes the circumcision and the marriage ceremonies. Islam does not encourage the kind of music and modes of entertainment that arouse sexual, carnal and lecherous sentiments.

Islam like other religions has symbols also. These are, the mosque, rosary, holy water (Zam Zam), beard, moon, black stone placed in one of the walls of the House of the Lord (Khana Ka'ba), the green color, the curved sword, minarets and turban. Like many other religions, the Muslims too have a holy book Qur’an. It is our common knowledge that this religion sprouted in the Arab land whereas the Christianity and the Jewish were born in the North of the Arab peninsula.

Islam has a package of five basic beliefs. These are: belief in one God or Allah, belief in Angels, belief in Holy Scriptures (Torah, and Bible), belief in the apostles or messengers of God, belief in the Judgment Day, belief in God’s omniscience, prior knowledge and determination of all things.

Islam has also five pillars of Observance or obligations. These are Shahada (declaration of faith) that “there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. The second is Salat or prayer with face towards Haram Sharif or Khana Ka'ba five times a day. The third is the Zakat or alms which ordains giving a percentage of one’s income to the poor and underprivileged. The fourth is Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The fifth is Hajj or pilgrimage once in life time if possible financially or health-wise.

There are two sources of Islamic Sharia or law in Islam. While the Quran is the primary basis for the Sharia, it is in the second source the Sunna or the life of the prophet as recorded in the Hadith that has been a major source of information for the details of the law only hinted or omitted in Koran. The Sunnah or Hadith of Prophet Muhammad comprises his actions, silent approvals, decisions, utterances, sayings and edicts. The decisions and sayings of the four successors of the prophet called caliphs are also used as precedents for making decisions on matters concerning Muslims or non- Muslims.

Sharia covers the entire body of Islamic law as it developed since the time of the prophet (six hundred legal references in Koran and Prophet Muhammad’s statements contained in the Hadith). Sharia clarifies if there is a confusion on a certain matter. It interprets rules and regulations, decisions and edicts of the prophet and Quran. 

The constituents of Islamic Sharia are not confined to Quran and Hadith alone. The other sources are some of the Pagan customs from the Bedouins like Muta and dowry and also the traditional commercial and agrarian practices. A select number of Roman and Byzantine laws have also been incorporated in the Islamic Sharia. For instance, the plaintiff must produce evidence and witnesses otherwise defendant can swear and clear himself. Jewish, Persian and Greek traditions and laws also form part of Islamic Sharia.

The Quran narrates parables and stories of the ancient prophets, nations, societies and civilizations and warns as to why they prospered and why some of them received divine wrath and vanished. It gives vivid and detailed information about the life after death, the Day of Judgment and the final destinations of the Heaven and the Hell.

Islam judges or evaluates the temporal and the ecclesiastical matters and the deeds of a Muslim faithful through five parameters or commands. These are: absolute duty, (Fard), commendable (Mustanjab), permissible (Mubah) reprehensible but without punishment (Makruh) and forbidden (Haram). These five criteria also fall under Sharia. As already explained, the Sharia that governs the conduct of a person or group is derived from the text of Qur’an and also from the practical life of the prophet.

The Islamic state was headed by Prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina in 622 - 632 A D. This was the actual period when the fundamental contours of a Muslim state were laid down. Since prophet (SAW) himself was the ultimate authority on all temporal and divine affairs, his words, decisions and verdicts were unquestionably accepted as the commandments of God conveyed to him through divine revelation (Wahi).

But when the Muslims in subsequent times, through their conquests and preaching missions came into contacts with other civilizations and religions, they faced enormous doctrinal and administrative challenges that had to be resolved rationally if these did not have the precedents within the Quran or the life of the founder of Islam. It is in the wake of such intellectual and doctrinal dilemmas that several schools of jurisprudence for elucidation of Sharia to the outside world and even to the inquisitive Muslim came into being.

The four such orthodox schools of Islamic law that dealt with the application and expansion of Sharia in the subsequent times are:

Abu Hanifa: analogies, parallels or Qiyas gleaned from Quran if there is no order or injunctions in Quran or Sunna.

Imam Malik: His collections of laws relied on local traditions of Prophet Muhammad and his companions in order to fit into the customary law.

Al Shafi: Stipulates compromise between tradition and independent thought, restricts use of common sense as done in Imam Abu Hanifa’s Qiyas practice. He founded the science of Muslim jurisprudence

Ibn Hanbal: He was ultra conservative. His legal philosophy is called ‘Nass’. Nass is the binding ordinance explicit in the Quran and Hadith. It means sanctified opinion derived from only Quran and Hadith and no other source. While he rejected human reasoning adopted by other three Islamic scholars, he preferred even Shaky Hadith to determine a law or decision.

These schools operate within the framework of Ijtihad that means reinterpretation of Sharia or Islamic laws. The decisions arrived at are ordained to be with Ijma or consensus and not to be a single opinion (Raye) of an individual.

Besides these schools, the Muslim thinkers also tried to answer many philosophical contradictions through intellectual scrutiny and rational explanations. Such questions were about the predestination, the free will, mysticism, religious truths and intellectual truths, role of reason in relation to the theological truths and so on.

Apart from these intellectual and religious debates ranging since the passing away of the prophet till now, the simple principle on which the entire Islamic religious philosophy and precepts boil down is that man should live like a servant of God and accept him as the only creator who not only governs the universe and all the existence but also watches the Muslims in the light of their good and bad deeds or intentions.

Based upon the nature of a deed in this world, God, on the judgment day, will give reward and punishment accordingly. The obedience to God has not only to be professed verbally but practically demonstrated through five times daily and one-time weekly prayers. A faithful’s virtuous life and personal good conduct is also a testimony to his submission to God as his subject.

Thus, Islam wants man to be an embodiment of all positive and good virtues such as humility, charity, peace, chastity, kindness, tolerance, love for fellow believers, respect for elders, and women and so on. The crux of all these noble traits is defined in one phrase that, “a good Muslim is that whose tongue and actions are not harmful to others”. Islam means submission and Muslim means who practices Islam and is unconditionally obedient to God.

Prophet’s Muhammad’s period of leadership is deemed by the Muslims as the ideal model both from mundane and spiritual standpoints. To a lesser degree, the caliphs’ life of piety, self-denial and untainted dispensation of justice is also taken and followed as beacons for Muslims. The Shia sect in Islam believes only in the spiritual leadership of the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali, who was the cousin brother and son in law of the prophet also.

The ideological cleavage between the Shias and the Sunnis is the incurable wound inflicted on the body of Islam. Although, they share major common elements of faith, yet the Muslim nation is irredeemably and rather irreconcilably divided into two distinct factions forever. Their mutual antagonism is as deep-rooted and chronically as bitter as the religious animosity between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. This festering fissure resulted from the claim of the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali as the rightful successor of the prophet for the caliphate.

As for fundamental beliefs, Islam brooks no compromise, nor tolerance nor any deviation. As for the rituals, these are subject to certain conditions that apply keeping in view the physical, social and financial status of a faithful. For instance, pilgrimage is essential for those who can afford it monetarily and physically. The religious tax (Zakat) is also contingent upon the economic position of a member of Islamic fraternity. The fasting is also not strictly applicable to those with infirm health, pregnant women or during traveling or for similar reasons.

Islamic culture goads moderation, sanctity, piety and sobriety. It shuns or discourages the indecent extravaganza, the morbid exhibitionism, or lewd show off. For instance, Islam allows feasts on weddings and merry making on joyful occasions but exhorts serenity and no lavish spending. In matter of dresses or costumes, it is not necessary to dress up like Arabs by wearing a big long rob. Yet one is ordained to cover the nakedness of certain parts of the body. 

The purpose is to maintain sanctity of one’s body which is more rigid in case of women for being an object of amorous eyes from the impious or sexually pervert people. Understandably, such conditions can be met by wearing even western, Chinese or African dresses if these fulfill the basic criterion of covering the body and maintaining modesty.

Mindful that the religious teachings and dogmas would not remain rigid for all times and in different societies, the prophet kept the door for amendments and changes open in Sharia but without deviation from the main corpus of Islamic teachings. This is called Ijtihad (literally means exertion). As such, all the interpretations or alterations in the Sharia worked out by the succeeding Muslim philosophers and religious scholars were done in the light of that provision.

When we compare the western democracy with the Islamic political system and the choosing of the leaders in the primitive Islamic societies with that of the modern times, we tend to forget that it was only after the Renaissance and Reformation that the Europe started embarking upon the democratic path. Otherwise, the Christendom was afflicted with bloodletting conflicts between old Roman Church and the proponents of reforms throughout the Middle Ages. So, to paint only Islam as undemocratic is not a pragmatic or truthful approach to the Islamic system of government.

Democratic system functions in a closely-knit world with fast communications as we have in the modern times. Otherwise the Greek democracy that was prevalent even before Christ was confined to the cities. Beyond the city states, it could not be expanded because an integrated system of voting or conducting elections in the length and breadth of the vast empire was not possible. Moreover, those were not the ages of enlightenment and therefore the true democratic culture even if conceived could not be practically followed during the present times.

The Sharia that was prevalent during the time of Prophet Muhammad and four caliphs (632-661) can still be applicable if it is suitably modified to bring it in conformity with the phenomenally different world of today. The consensus can be brought about, if the narrow concepts and beliefs affected by sects and denominations, contrary to the age of prophet, are set aside. Or at best these sects can still function but the main consensus code should remain supreme.

Which means that the symbols are just a window dressing and have no pronounced bearing on the life of a Muslim faithful? The rituals are relative and are strictly obligatory for those who have the capacity to observe them. The beliefs are confined to the individual and are personal. What matters most is the resolution or dealing with the crimes, anti-social practices and destructive actions of the citizens.

Islam presents a general framework for dispensation of justice. The cardinal principle that Islam lays down is the strict fair play, administering absolute justice in complete disregard of someone being poor or rich, influential or obscure, a common man or a man of authority. It should be acknowledged that the modern judicial system fulfills all these conditions if applied by such a government that would respect and sincerely promote law and justice.

It means that the punishment to the convict is imperative but the choice of the punishment and the mode of dispensation can be improved or reformed for such punishments as beheading with a sword. For instance, the theologians and Islamic jurists must acknowledge and therefore incorporate it in a new Islamic code that covering of veil was not possible for women now as was done in tribal or feudal societies in the past and even now.

It is also essential to change through an agreed Ijtihad process. For instance, a rape female victim instead of being further victimized and brutalized by the religious laws must be helped against the male rapists. As such, unattainable or impracticable conditions as to the production of four witnesses must be discarded because in the present times, the occurrence of rape and the identity of the rapist can be verified by scientific means such as testing of DNA.

The Islamic caveat concerning the interest or mark-up has to be modified because the complexion of the societies and the nature of interest have undergone a radical change. The Arabian society in the 6th or 7th centuries was primarily agrarian. The usury or the interest was charged in advance on cash given to a needful. Now the concept of interest is not like those primitive societies.

The interest-bearing economy is now profit-making economy because the money remains in circulation. That is how the wealth increases and the economy grow. The old interest concept which now is rather reinvestment for profit has to be modified.

Similarly, another issue relating to patrimony or inheritance and alimony (allowance paid by the husband to divorced wife) has to be redefined in the modern societies when the civil laws enshrined in the modern jurisprudence, treat these issues better than the antiquated customs that were derived from the tribal system. If a reinterpretation is not thought about, still the parallel legal or economic system cannot be ignored or ruled out. The world today is interdependent. The Muslims cannot live in isolation.

So, it depends upon the governments to apply and enforce laws, otherwise even the best of rules and caveats fail and remain ineffective. The example is the multitudinous Islamic caliphates that used Islam to justify their illegitimate hold on power. They fought each other for power and decimated their rivals to the last man as exemplified by the power struggle between Umayyad and Abbasid and later between other Islamic dynasties.

The religion of Islam is patently secular in nature, not in the religious sense but in terms of its openness, liberalism and accommodation for all opposing creeds and cultures. The incontrovertible shining example of that is the Muslim rule in Spain (756-1492), when the Christians and the Jews lived with the ruling Muslims, enjoying equal rights and in peace and dignity.

In the contemporary times, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tunis, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and certain Central Asian states offer examples of enlightened, accommodating, progressive Islamic polities where minorities live in peace, harmony and equality along with the Muslim majority. In these countries, the Islamic laws have been enforced in such a way that these not only fulfill the pristine spirit of Islamic Sharia, but also meet the requirements of a modern state.

Although polygamy is practically nonexistent for the majority of the Muslims, yet it is one of the stigmas that Islam suffers from. The polygamy is prevalent mostly in the Arab lands. In other countries, it is sparingly practiced in the tribal, feudal and religious classes. But for outsiders this has invariably, been used as a slanderous tool against the Muslims to prove that the women folks were sex chattels, were lesser equal and inferior to the males.

That is true to a degree. In order to deal with this contentious issue, it is necessary that the Muslim jurists and theologians should sit together and hammer out a formula that should aim at discouraging the polygamous tendencies and practices in the Muslim societies. Or it can be declared forbidden through Ijtihad.

But I strongly reckon that as the societies tend to be more progressive, the Muslims would themselves abandon the polygamy. As a result, though, the divorce rate would soar among the Muslims as we can see in the western societies where polygamy is lawfully banned. Even now the educated and independent women do not like to marry a person who would be already married. So, the modernization of the Islamic conservative societies would neutralize this social slur associated with Islam. The domestic violence should be sternly dealt by the Islamic governments but it would also be hopefully outstripped and fade away with the passage of time.

Modernism, liberalism and secularism is the answer to the backwardness, indolence, underdevelopment and intellectual, economic and social decadence of the Islamic world. The Jews hammered out a historic compromise in 18th century when they imbibed and adopted the western ways of life at the behest of the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Professor Moses exhorted the Jews to abandon their rigid fanaticism and Talmud and conform to western culture.

Through a political movement aided by the capitalist Europe and America the establishment of the state of Israel was made possible in 1948. In the same way, the Islamic religious fervor has got to be rational and aided by the political and reformative spirit if the Islamic countries want to be counted as modern nations in contemporary world.

The first constitution is always vulnerable to further alterations and amendments. Likewise, the original Islamic ideologies and dogmas that became controversial, counterproductive and rather unworkable, should be overhauled while keeping intact their spirit and core philosophy and teachings of Islam.

If Ijtihad started barely 80 years after the demise of the prophet of Islam by the Muslim reformers, theologians, philosophers and scholars, then such an endeavor is indispensable in the modern times when the Islamic teachings are targeted for their irrationality, obscurantism, subjectivity, inconsistencies and for being out of sync with the rapidly advancing imperatives of a highly competitive modern world.

In Christendom, after prolonged controversies, debates and bloodshed, the state finally managed to relieve itself from the influence of papal supremacy or the domination of the church. Every country established its own church or denomination in Europe, elsewhere in the world, and of late in the United States. The Church and state were separated for their respective roles. That proved to be a blessing in disguise both for the church and the state. Similarly, in Muslim societies a gigantic effort is needed to harmoniously blend the Islamic beliefs and religious creed with the dynamics and progressive spirit of the modern societies without compromising the essential teachings.

In Islamic states, the state and religion have to function without mutual conflict and contradiction. There should be no place, for fundamentalism, sectarianism, fanaticism, or rigid adherence to a creed, that is outdated and ruinous to the cosmopolitan nature of Islam. An enlightened and updated fundamentalism (the age of prophet) is the need of the hour for Islamic societies to move forward and join the comity of modern states in technological, scientific and in other domains of human and material advancements.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

5 Million Jobs is a Better Option than 5 Million Houses

October 12,2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced construction of 5 million houses or dwellings in Pakistan over a period of five years. Truthfully, such huge number of houses cannot be built even in fifty years. It is not an easy task as these gigantic projects might need at least ten years for planning, arrangement of funds, selection of the locations, preparing of the designs, selection of the contractors and so on.

One may also imagine that it might take quite a long time to determine who would the needy and deserving. It may happen that merely brokers and middle men who might simply take possession of the houses through poor people and then sell those at higher prices. It is yet to be determined and found out whether this colossal number of dwellings would be needed or would be difficult to ascertain that those people who are identified as homeless and living in rundown places would be deserving these houses. But how they would be able to pay the cost or the prices of the house as most of these people are perceived to be resourceless and poverty stricken. It is another matter than the government allots these houses free of cost to the penniless, poor and the mendicants. Yet one can imagine thefinancial burden on the national exchequer.

It might be preferable if the government allots plots and lands to the homeless freely and they can later build the houses on their own either by spending their savings or taking loans from the banks and the loaning agencies. But procurement of loans for the houses would be a tall order as the loaning agencies and banks would not dole out loans without safe guarantees and after undertaking due procedures that the allotters would be able to pay back the loaned money over a period of time. As such the government should also look into providing jobs to the homeless in order to enable them to pay for the cost of the houses that would certainly put a heavy burden on the national exchequer.

To build 5 million houses in five years is certainly an impossible and unattainable goal. It would be rather better if the government provides jobs and legitimate sources of income like small businesses and vocations that can bring money to pay the loans. But first providing jobs and then building the house would be a double jeopardy on the national economy as even the most economically advanced countries would not be able to attain and accomplish such a gubernatorial task and undertaking.

Per say, if the government loses the majority in the parliament or is faced with demonstrations and huge rallies for mishaps and misdeeds that the opposition parties would be planning, then the mega and super-duper housing project would have to be abandoned half way. That possibility is very bright and the time might prove that as well.

If the PTI government is exploiting the attraction and urge of the homeless for owning house to win in the next term, then this gamble might not fructify. The PTI government is not going to have a smooth sailing and peaceful governance for a variety of reasons, one of which is that what goes around comes around.

In the backdrop of these serious challenges and pitfalls outlined above, the best recourse and way-out for PTI government is to build community homes and multi housing blocs and big buildings for the homeless. They should be given a job or provide reasonable source of earing either to be able to build their own house or be able to pay for the rent of the apartment in a multi-storey complex or building. Providing residences in government managed complexes and multi-story- buildings would be a better choice than building   individual full-fledged houses.

There would be crooks and phony people who would take the house by posing as a homeless or someone living in the open places as homeless. Such deceptive demands and the fake people have to be checked but apparently it might be difficult for this exercise to be totally flawless and foolproof.

Instead of building and providing five million houses, the PTI government can create jobs for five million poor people.  It would lessen the poverty as well as the sense of humiliation and deprivation of being homeless. It would be safer, better and objective strategy If after getting a job a person may like to buy a house or vacant piece of land to build a house. It should be ensured that a person provided with the job doesn’t claim to be homeless. However, those who cannot do a job because of old age or disability, he or she may be provided a modest. House.

The government may detect fraudulent practices on the part of the phony buyers then it would have to initiate inquiries and punitive and judicial remedies that might put additional burden on the national exchequer and might be prolonged for an indefinite period. It would boil down to wild goose chase as all the cheating and fraudulent practices may not be proven to award punishment or award of penalties.

The intention of the PTI government is good to eliminate the homelessness but there can be better ways, one of which is to give way loans for the people to buy land and go on their own to build the house. Or else it should be left to the leading construction companies, builders and contractors to create colonies in various parts of Pakistan to build the houses for the needy people. The government can pay the cost of land and construction to the contractors which can be recovered from those who are provided the jobs or who can physically work. The only check that the government will have to make is that the houses were actually built and given to the really needy and genuinely homeless people.

The failure of building 5 million houses in Pakistan would negatively imping upon the PTI for winning next elections in Pakistan. As such the government should simply oversee how the construction firms built the houses and allot those to the real and deserving citizens. The PTI government should not move in a hurry as building of countless houses is not catching a hen or arranging a garden party. It would be a kind of project that nowhere else in the world has happened. Safeguards and necessaries fulfillment of a whole lot of conditions are essential for the allotment to the deserving homeless people and then ensure how they would pay back the cost. If these would be providing free then it is another matter but look at the financial burden under which the national exchequer and economy would come under.

Finally, building of housing colonies is not the biggest issue but the removal of poverty is one of the real challenges in Pakistan. Then comes the elimination of bribery and financial corruption. Making Pakistan economically robust is another challenge that might not happen in five years period. The PTI government has to address the health, education, civic mess, mismanagement, building and renovating roads and highway, weeding out corruption and malfunctioning from the government departments. It has to curb the religious and sectarian feuds and animosities. It means creation of a modern state and the society that one can see in Turkey, South Korea Indonesia, Malaysia, Sweden, Holland, Austria and so on.  Just follow and take queue from their systems.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


October 9, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

As the scenario both political and administrative in Pakistan is unfolding, it is becoming evident that the PTI dispensation is getting paralyzed and directionless. There seems to be a mayhem of diverse challenges and intricate and cumbersome issues that are staring right in the face of the new establishment under the inimitable yet rabble-rouser; Imran Khan as the Prime Minister.

The people of Pakistan, on the whole, had pinned enormous hopes and expectations in PTI’s election victory for a gubernatorial revolution to make Pakistan a politically and economically robust country.  Besides, it was believed that Pakistan would earn a renewed dignified status and image in the comity of nations and the world around.

These hopes and aspirations have yet to see the light of the day. The fiscal and economic mayhem persists with cost of living and commodities skyrocketing by the day. The loans that the incumbent government aimed at procuring from the foreign lenders have fallen flat because of the harsh and unacceptable conditions attached. The IMF that the PTI leadership detested is now being approached to lend money for buoying up the sinking economy of a politically fractured Pakistan.

With inane slogan of harnessing the runaway economy of Pakistan and exhibiting the urge of beefing up the shortfall of revenue by selling a few buffaloes, a fleet of luxury cars and telling the people to be patient with the heightening cost of living is simply agonizing and speaks for the failure of the recently installed revolutionary government of PTI.

The PTI has been treating the other political outfits with disdain and contempt as evidenced during the campaigning and sloganeering of the 2018 General Elections and even thereafter. Imran Khan and PTI were looked upon by the expectant people to be Messiah endowed with magic and miracles to turn Pakistan into a politically and institutionally vibrant state with hallmarks of honesty and rule of law and Economic uplift. Well the intention to straighten the bureaucracy was sincere and much welcomed. But to replace most of the bureaucratic order replete with thieves and dacoits with angels and morally upright individuals is still to happen. In my reckoning the replacement of corrupt and discredited bureaucracy and officialdom with legions of absolutely honest righteous individuals is asking for the moon.

The latest spree of dismissal and sacking of a horde of the high and low bureaucrats is causing more dents in the smooth working of the ministries and departments and to implement PTI’s far reaching and revolutionary agenda. The pick and choose dismissals as well hiring of the bureaucrats and senior government officials is based upon the criteria as to who was loyal to the PMNL or PTI. Several high-ranking officials and senior bureaucrats have been sent home not because they were dishonest or incompetent but they were perceived to be loyal to the former political set up. The Election Commission of Pakistan has reversed the decision of sacking of at one senior bureaucrat.

The promise of breaking the begging bowl has been set aside by the PTI.  The freshly incumbent government has decided, after much dithering, to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $8 to 10 billion loan to overcome the acute financial deficits and improve Pakistan’s fiscal credibility at the international level.

On the domestic front, I feel that the propensity of antagonizing and degrading the rival parties and the politicians especially the Sharif family, should be called off.  Instead Prime Minister Imran Khan should unfurl a revolutionary yet workable agenda for rebuilding a great Pakistan. This agenda should aim at eliminating poverty degradations, bribery and mal-functioning of the institutions and uplifting the administrative network. The consent and cooperation of the opposition parties should be sought before launching it in order to avoid political tussle and brinkmanship.

With a meagre coterie of the honest and efficient workers, with lofty slogans of creating a corruption-free Pakistan and streamlining the governance, seem to be nullified by the way the situation is emerging. The PTI had claimed that Pakistan would be turned into a debt free country and that no loans would be taken from the IMF. That claim has been now thrown to the winds although it is the only yet temporary way to buoy up Pakistan’s fragile economy.

My hunch is that by prosecuting and imprisoning the rival politicians and humiliating them wouldn’t be fruitful for the incumbent government. Such an exercise and policy are counterproductive and wastage of time on a non-issue. The real issue is to refurbish the institutional framework and embark upon streamlining the judicial, governmental and institutional network, promotion of democratic culture and taking along the opposition parties to achieve these far-reaching goals. By calling Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and other political stalwarts as scoundrels and forcing them to gorge out the money sent abroad might take years and by that time the PTI tenure in government would be over. While these efforts and mission can continue, the PTI government should generate income by increasing the domestic production, enhancing the agricultural sectors’ output and setting up more industries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his garrulous and warrior Information minister Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry should learn to keep their tempers down and shake hands and consult with their political contenders. They should stop referring their cases to the courts and transferring or removing the non-compliant or rival government officials and appoint their cohorts and supporters in their posts. Such pursuits finally prove to be counterproductive as well.

With a positive and reconciliatory approach and outlook towards all the political parties and politicians, the country can be served positively and in a much better manner. Otherwise, when the PTI government is out after the end of its tenure, its leaders would be exposed to the same rancorous treatment with their cases referred to the NAB and Accountability courts and arrested as happening currently. It would be the same vicious policy of giving hard time to the political adversaries.

Let PTI buoy up the economy by increasing exports, easing and streamlining the imports and exports procedures, building educational institutions, making the justice system honest and economically less burdensome for the common people. The government should create jobs, build more hospitals. Its leaders should focus on enhancing the industrial and agricultural output building more roads, highways and refining and modernizing the civic system. These tasks ought to be the priorities of the PTI government and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The PTI should shun the underhand tactics to browbeat the political opponents. On the contrary, it should prove its worth by results and reforming Pakistan and bringing it at par or near to the developed countries. This ought to be the priorities with it.

If Pakistan becomes economically strong and its civic, judicial, courts and educational systems at par or near, per say, to the Scandinavian countries, the people would be enormously relieved and delighted. Thus, the country would be refined and political system well stabilized. Just by way of suggestion, if the cities, counties and the local government systems as being run in the United States, are even marginally established in Pakistan, our people and country would enter into a new era of a welfare, civically modern state and clean society.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Shahbaz Sharif’s Arrest is Politically Motivated Witch-Hunting

October 8, 2018
 By Saeed Qureshi
The Accountability Court (AC) on the request of NAB (National Accountability Bureau) sent Shahbaz Sharif, the former Punjab Chief Minister, the current president of PMLN (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz) and the opposition leader in the National Assembly on a 10-day physical remand for misuse of power, corruption and nepotism displayed in the award of construction contracts to his favorite parties. It seemed to be a sudden hoax by NAB against Shahbaz Sharif. There seems to be more characters behind than what meets the eye for such an action.   
It might turn out to be a tall order for the sitting PTI’s federal government as well as the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) to justify the untimely, unbelievably imprudent and hasty arrest of Mian Shahbaz Sharif who as stated above is the president of the PMLN, the former Chief Minister of Punjab: the largest province of Pakistan and the opposition leader in the National Assembly.
If PPPP and PMNL join hands in the National Assembly, the PTI may turn as the minority party.
 Also, one may Imagine as to what would happen if the two parties return the same treatment to the PTI by initiating corruption and similar baneful allegations against Imran Khan and other PTI stalwarts. It would therefore, be advisable and prudent if the unproven corruption cases against the well-established rival politicians such as Shahbaz Sharif are withdrawn in a spirit of accommodation and reconciliation for serving the nation and the country.
It may happen as well that the PPPP and the PMLN jointly launch a no-cooperation countrywide movement, take out processions and hold dharnas like the PTI and Imran Khan has been doing. That mayhem and fiasco might impel the army to step in and take up the reins of power which means imposing the martial law. The country would drift back to square one for a few years and as along the military rule can remain in place.
It would have been much better if the PTI government had done its homework by preparing the solid evidence and incontrovertible proof of the arrest of the top leader of the PMLN. That would have helped the Accountability Court and the NAB (the National Accountability Bureau) to explore, investigate and compile solid evidence and the reasons for Shahbaz’s sudden arrest.
The evidence that has been cited for the arrest of top PMLN leader is flimsy and far from being convincing. Apparently behind Shahbaz’s arrest there seems to be the political vendetta and urge to remove a powerful rival politician and Chief Minister of the largest province of Pakistan. In better times an investigation should be mounted as to why AC and NAB chose a stalwart of PMNL and no one other at this juncture.  
The arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by NAB comes as a follow-up of the grueling treatment meted out to his elder brother Mian Nawaz Sharif now incarcerated along with his daughter in jail for alleged financial malpractices one of which is the hoarding of wealth in the foreign banks.
The elder brother lost his premiership of the country while the younger was deprived of his chief ministerial status of the biggest province of Pakistan. With Shahbaz the accusations and allegations inter-alia are about awarding contracts to his favorite builders and close friends. He was summoned to the court for other reasons but was sent to NAB for indulgence in corruption and nepotism causing huge financial loss to the national exchequer. This looks fishy and preplanned.
While corruption is a huge issue in Pakistan, it is not only the Sharif family to be accused of this crime but hundreds if not thousands are milking and fleecing the national wealth by devious and uncalled means. The case of Shahbaz Sharif seems to be a political ploy to remove him from a powerful position and to deprive the PMNL from ruling a most prosperous province. This was the second lethal blow to PMLN after the incarceration of Nawaz Sharif and initiating several cases of corruption and money laundering against the entire family including the two sons of Nawaz Sharif now living in London.
Had the drive against the corruption was initiated without discrimination and not in pick and choose style, it would have been welcomed by the people of Pakistan. Evidently it emits an impression that these moves are aimed at demolishing the Sharif family leadership besides crippling the PMNL as a strong political combatant and rival of the PTI.
The PTI leadership and the government wants to remain at the helm for the stipulated period of five years with Imran Khan as the prime minister. The main hurdle in this goal is the PMNL government which though has been thoroughly debilitated politically and operationally thus far by the government agencies like NAB and Accountability Courts
The main and most compelling factor behind the disqualification of Sharif family is to deprive them of their political clout. The other most strident factor is to punish the culprits of the Model Town carnage with several deaths. But that carnage and killing, somehow, can be attributed to Allama Tahirul Qadri who came all the way to Pakistan despite being the Canadian citizen and start campaigning for Islamic rule and removal of the Punjab government under Sharif family.  
For that grave incident, it should have been Allama Qadri who should be held responsible. He wanted to create a law and order situation by launching an Islamic movement which had insidious motives to subvert the provincial government in Punjab and pave way for Imran Khan to step in and be accepted by the people. The Dharnas (sit in) jointly sponsored and held by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were aimed at paralyzing the political system and remove the sitting PMNL governments both in Punjab and at the center.  That ploy didn’t work at that time but ultimately that proved to be fruitful and thus transferring of power from PMNL to PTI at the federal level via 2018 general elections.  
Yet the motivation of removing the Sharif family’s leadership in Punjab province remained unattained. That goal has been attained with the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by NAB against the charges of favoritism, corruption and misuse of power. The PPPP senior leader Khursheed Shah on Friday termed the arrest of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif as the contempt of parliament.