Monday, December 26, 2011

Pak-US Standoff

Published in Frontier Post on 26 December, 2011 
Attack of NATO forces on the Silala check-post of Armed Forces has once again periled the already very much deteriorated relations, both political and military, between the two states. The dirt of Abbottabad stint and Raymond Davis fiasco hadn’t settled yet and a new incident in the shape of Silala check-post crept up.
Much has been written and debated about the role of US and Pakistan in the region. It seems that lately there has been a love-lost between the two flag bearers of this war. This 10-year long alliance in the war on “terror” is a tale full of mistrust and deception, as dubbed by each side from time to time. The current relations between the two states should be dissected from the perspective of national interests of each. Obviously anyone who is related to this war in Afghanistan is there because it has some stakes in it. Afghanistan, being the backyard of Pakistan, makes it the top drawer concern for Pakistan.
Having the biggest stakes in Afghanistan, Pakistan can never take its eyes off from it. It never can. Many people still blame General Zia for dragging Pakistan into Afghan war with the Russians but the fact was Pakistan had no other choice. Pakistan could never have allowed USSR, at that time, on its one border and India on its other, both countries being hostile to Pakistan. Same is the case now, whatever the situation is, Pakistan keeps Afghanistan central to its very security. Pakistani authorities did take some relatively harsh and much needed measures after the strikes from NATO forces, including cutting off of NATO supplies and also issuing the guidelines to troops on borders to retaliate without following the proper chain-of-command. Certainly these steps don’t widen the cheeks in White House and Pentagon because ever since that incident took place, no drone strike has been undertaken in Pakistani territory.
It is evident that drone strikes and NATO supply routes are essential to the war in Afghanistan as US-led NATO forces pretty much depend on these. The main issue at hand is to probe the way out for the two countries and analyze how things would fall into places after some time.The annoyance of United States over cutting the supply route is very apparent. Though United States do have the reserves to keep on waging the war on Afghanistan and also the very expensive supply route through Russian-influenced Central Asian Republics but the recent indication from Russian authorities that they might cut off those lines as well, in order to pressurize United States on the issue of installing ballistic missile defences in Europe.That has raised the eyebrows of US officials and they really want the supply route from Pakistan operational as they cannot afford a re-telecast of Cuban Missile Crisis. And it is for that same reason that officials of Obama administration are pressing Pakistan to reconsider its decision. Perhaps that was the reason the American Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter met Pakistan Premier on Thursday to press him to re-establish the supply lines.
Supply lines would eventually be opened someday but the apparent rationale for haste of United States is certainly because it does not want to be held ransom by Russia over Northern Distribution Network (NDN). It could have been a bit easier for United States to negotiate with Pakistan if the ‘memogate scandal’ wouldn’t have happened.Memogate scandal and the apparent altercation between military and government observed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s hearing testifies the fact that nothing is smooth right now in Islamabad. United States wants the supply lines to be restored while Islamabad is in shambles because of its divisions with Rawalpindi. US doesn’t know whom to talk and negotiate with but the recent suggestion that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister responded to a query from a US official after deliberations with army, discloses the fact that who is in charge.
United States has to convince Pakistan Army out of its decision of blockade of NATO supplies. On the contrary, Rawalpindi has got the chance out of Silala check-post incident to distance itself from US, which is very necessary because when US withdraws from Afghanistan, it is obvious that Taliban will have a say in the new setup. For that Pakistan needs to be soft with Taliban and that’s better than an anti-US posture.
Things are very complicated and tangled for Pakistan and United States as well. United States may eventually have to use a bargaining chip to seduce Pakistan to restore the supply lines early as they did in the Cuban Crisis when they promised to abandon their base in Turkey in return of USSR bumping off the missiles deployed in Cuba. It remains to be seen what ultimately happens but one thing is for sure that Pakistan has a bumpy road ahead and if it didn’t make its course of action right then it might lead to destruction. It’s about time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Air of Revolution

Nowadays, there has been a lot of buzz about change or a revolution in the country, especially after Imran Khan’s heroics at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. The evening of 30th October changed much in Pakistan. People have started to take Imran Khan seriously and he is now considered as third option in Pakistani politics.Editorials, TV talk shows, street corners and even restaurant tables are having deliberations about the future elections and many, in fact, most of the urbanites have given Imran Khan a serious chance of winning the forthcoming elections. Many label it as a change and many take it to the extent of revolution. While we call the two mainstream political parties as status-quo parties, Imran Khan is seen as anti-status quo. Hats off to Imran Khan for giving Pakistani people once again a hope which was very much lost after 18th February elections.

The word change or revolution has become so much appealing to the masses that every politician tries to package his content in the wrapper of change. Even President Barack Obama used it as a slogan to run his campaign which ultimately led him to the White House. I wonder if he goes again for that slogan. I really believe if our consumable goods carry the tag-line of change, it will become so much easy for them to sell their products. The appeal of the word change to Pakistani masses is due to the inefficiency and inability of all the political parties of Pakistan, as they all have been tried and tested in one way or the other after 18th February elections. Almost every participating party has stayed in government and that has led to people’s disbelief in these parties. That is the line where Imran Khan is bowling as he knows about the dynamics of masses.It remains to be seen whether he will be able to conjure up the required amount of seats in the National Assembly and deliver but we can talk about his future performance and chances from what he has already delivered to the nation in his speeches.

Recently I gave a presentation on the chances of Imran Khan to my class fellows and what I came across was an explosion of negative comments towards me from my fellows as I labeled his chances as bleak. Some, who usually used to call me sane and intelligent, even went to the extent of calling me non-serious. I was expecting that from them and the same I expect from his other supporters. I am not an Imran-Khan basher, it’s just I see things from a realist angle.Many call Imran Khan as old wine in a new bottle and after the people he is allowing to join his party, it is very much clear that same old people will be our representatives. Imran Khan wants to cleanse or even ‘dry-clean’ his candidates under his headship, before giving them party ticket, but do the candidates want to get cleansed? Will these new-inductees be able to don the attire of a noble leader after enjoying the title of feudal in their own village? How would he dry-clean Mian Azhar, who has already been tried and tested?

Assuming if Imran Khan takes the hot seat this term, though it is very difficult, there are some things that need to be answered. Whatever Imran Khan said in Lahore are things that are mostly the words of whole of Pakistan but somehow they does not align with the policies of hidden hands in Pakistani set-up i.e. establishment. Every government has to keep the desires of establishment and string-pullers’ desires in view and that is where the question marks on his ability arise. He can fulfil the promises he made to people in Lahore if he is the only decision maker in the system. But governments are not solely run by the elected people. There are always people who effect and manipulate the decisions of people. Ask Barack Obama how he was forced to increase the troops in Afghanistan by his own military establishment.

PTI wants to topple the system and bring a change but change does not come from within the system. It always comes from staying outside. You cannot bring a change by climbing up the stairs and reaching the top and then abruptly dismantling the whole system because you are the one who have climbed up through this system and its downfall will lead to your own. To stay in power you have to empower the foundations of that ladder rather than dismounting the ladder.

Before Imran Khan comes to power, he may have to answer these questions. History is witness that whenever the hopes of masses are shattered, anarchy takes over and leads to a real revolution which does not need ballot. Imran Khan is one of the best philanthropists and the best leader in cricket, we ever had, and that gives him an edge over all and perhaps that is well-deserved but as a leader and a statesman, there is a big question mark that needs to be removed prior to his taking of the helm. It is up to him, whether he becomes a Mahathir Mohammad or a Barack Obama.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Politicians Frustrating Youth

Published in Frontier Post on 04-11-2011

A friend of mine sent me a text message regarding Shahbaz Sharif’s speech during the Go-Zardari-Go rally in Lahore organized by Pakistan Muslim League-N. He also brought into my notice the statement of Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of the largest province of Pakistan, in which he labeled President Zardari and his team as Ali Baba aur Chalis Chor (Ali Baba and the forty thieves). When one listens to these sorts of name-calling and mudslinging by the so-called fathers of the nation, one can only hide his face under the blanket due to embarrassment.
Cracking of horrendous jokes and jugat-bazi on each other has become a norm recently and all our politicians, from leadership to a worker, have left no stone unturned to go after each other and malign each other in any possible manner they can. Words like siri-paye rally, jhooton ka IG and sher baradaraan, etc. have been a regular instance in the press conferences of these politicians nowadays. It looks as if our politicians have come straight out of the comedy theatre. I remember that these kinds of jokes are used by my very close friend to tease me and in return we call each other theatre comedians but we never knew that our politicians also share the same trait after carrying the responsibility of driving this nation towards development and prosperity.
Name-calling apart, trend of singing poems and horrific gestures during the speeches and photo-shoots for banners have also been touching our sense of hearing and sight nowadays.When Pakistan came into being, no one would have ever expected that the land of the pure would be facing this situation. A situation where we are blessed with politicians, who are greedy and self-centred, who take politics as business rather than a divine duty. Regrettably we are as miserable as a nation can get right now.
Before the current regime, we used to put all the blames on dictatorship and used it as a scapegoat for all our ills and during that nine-year long dictatorial rule, TV channels and newspaper editorials were full of calls for democracy. And when we got the much prayed democracy, it felt as if everything will be turned on its head and the wand of democracy will weave a magic to change our fortunes. Three-and-a-half years have passed and that wand has been unable to do its abracadabra. In fact that spell has been counter-productive. National assets like PIA, KESC, Railways and even Cricket Board have portrayed pictures of sheer mismanagement, corruption and bad-governance. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report suggesting that 1600 people committed suicide due to poverty this year is just a reflection of the disbelief people have in this system.
The problems, we are surrounded with, are mammoth in stature but these problems look more gigantic when we see our politicians involved in measuring their power through rallies and count of attendees determining their stronghold. Surrounded with severe and ever increasing international pressure, two provinces are virtually under war and insurgency, domestic turmoil in the shape of inflation, power crisis and ever present financial crunch, our political parties are more interested in pulling their socks up for upcoming elections of both the legislative houses. Rewind the television broadcast of last two weeks and you’ll find majority of time devoted to two rallies in Lahore rather than focusing on public issues.Leaders of two mainstream parties have been saying to each other that both of them haven’t learnt anything from the past exiles and jails. But I’d say that they haven’t learnt and are not learning anything from the present. Arab uprising and removal of Hosni Mubarak and Col. Qaddafi have a lot in it for our rulers to learn from but somehow broadcast of these news has got no reception in Bilawal House, Raiwind, Nine-Zero or any other political headquarters. Our rulers are unable to see the fact that the West detaches itself from its puppets after getting the things done. They are still very rigorous in implementing their agenda after knowing what they did to their predecessors.
Put the broadcast of Arab uprising aside, our Presidency was not even able to glance out of its luxurious window when its own voter, came from Sindh by borrowing 1000 rupees from his father for travelling expenses to get a job as promised by the President, put himself on fire after not getting what was promised. Raja Rind, who died on the same day his wife gave birth to his son, committed suicide but was it a suicide? For me and many, this was a cold blooded murder and if there ever has to be any FIR, then the government has to be the main accused without any shadow of a doubt.
Our leaders have forgotten that still there are Tahrir Squares in Muslim countries. Every state has a meniscus and when that meniscus is touched, the water starts falling down. Patience of Pakistani people like their brethren in Arab world is also touching the meniscus and it is anytime that the water flow will cross the meniscus and start spilling out. One day we will have to wake up, stand in front of the mirror and before opening the cap of toothpaste, gaze at mirror and question ourselves that do we really deserve this humiliation? Should we do anything about it? The sooner we see the mirror, sooner the better for us.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Pakistan is one of the countries where politics is taken very seriously by every individual be it a hawker selling vegetables and fruits at doorsteps of people or a businessman sitting in a 5-star hotel, having a sip of cappuccino and leaving a currency note of green or red color (depends on the brand of suit worn by the tipper) for the waiter as tip. Like every other country, politics affects everyone from mother’s cradle to eternal grave in Pakistan but the difference is that we take our politics and politicians very totally. 

We, the people of Pakistan, have been under immense turmoil since the previous decade or so. To summarize the last decade, we can say that in the name of keeping ‘Pakistan First’ we gave our land to foreigners for the purpose of invading our neighboring country with whom we had cordial and brotherly ties and eventually became the battlefield ourselves. We gave our friend away for securing ourselves and as it turns out we end up being the biggest problem of the world as many leaders put it.

For all these miseries of naughts of 21st century, we had a lot to learn from. One needs a very gigantic stomach to digest all what we’ve been through. Credit goes to us, cheers. But for all our patience and heavy digestion, we are still on ground zero and this time the credit is not ours. We have to applaud our politicians for that matter.Our COMPETENT and VISIONARY leadership has brought us everything but serenity. Imagine, this month is the most important month of the annum due to the pecuniary factor but our leaders are fighting to label someone as ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ and the others in return chanting slogans that a wagon conductor would rethink before uttering. Their actions have compelled us to believe that politics is a game of dirt and deception. The one who is more cunning, breaks promises and able to deceive his opponent is ranked as one of the best politician. We all know that nowadays, our worthy President is the best politician.

We define politics from the traits of our rulers, the traits which are everything but sincerity towards their elector. I guess I am wrong here, they are sincere towards their elector but this purely depends upon who is the elector. Our politics has become so pathetic that I don’t like to label it as politics as politics is a divine duty undertaken very efficiently and sincerely rather I would call it is pathelitics (pathetic politics). Finding it very difficult to find a person in our leadership who can be called a politician in real sense but we had many in our history includes the likes of, to quote a few, Khalifa Haroon ur Rasheed, Tipu Sultan and above all our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) who gave us great examples of how to conduct politics.

While criticizing the patheliticians, one should also scrutinize the system in which they operate and through which they are elected. Just a preliminary analysis of our system would unveil that it is the system that actually promotes corrupt leaders to take charge. A system in which you need a considerable amount of money, Kalashnikovs and their operators to ward off the opponent and above all a tag name of baradari (caste) to get the voter of your caste on your side. If you have above three things then congratulations, you have all what it takes to be a legislator.Besides these factors, another important factor is the motivation for a feudal lord or the industrialist to enter the legislature. These capitalists and feudal lords use legislature to legislate whatever is in their favor. Glaring example of recent budget: our parliamentarians didn’t veto the tax on bricks but took stand to exclude the proposal on removing subsidy on fertilizer and wheat (though it also benefits general public). The problem lies in the very system. It equips the legislators so much that the lust and intoxication of power distances them from their electors. Take those powers of legislations and make them a mere representative of people, whose sole duty will be to forward the concerns of people and I am damn sure there won’t be any one of the existing legislator available for that purpose.

We get it wrong when we define the politics from the actions of our rulers. Politics is a divine duty performed by the person who is considered as the best among the people. It is time we redefine politics to its old definition i.e. taking care of the affairs of the people and shred that definition of pathelitics in a paper shredder. We have been misled by our rulers and even by our clergy that politics is not a work of common man. I remember, few noble people of my locality used to come to me to engage me in activities relating to propagation of Islamic fundamental practices and leave the politics to these patheliticians and I always got confused at that notion as I always questioned the purpose of our presence on this planet. Was that the sole reason that we were transformed from a sperm into a human being who really can affect this world? Surely we are built for more, not just for sitting in cafeterias and discussing the hottest girl of the town or alienating ourselves from the society and sit in the mosque. We have to balance ourselves. This is our responsibility to prove these people wrong who take politics as a bad thing. We have to believe that politics is a noble work and surely this is the only way out for us if we have to overcome our miseries. I think we should start teaching our children to write a paragraph on ‘I’d become a politician one day’ instead of producing doctors and engineers. If we want to come into politics then we have to be a politician rather than a pathelitician.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This piece was presented to National Accountability Bureau's Essay Competition and it got 3rd prize.

Pakistan is a country that has immense potential and all the ingredients to line itself among the developed nations on this earth. Loaded with vast resources of minerals, one of the best manpower in the world, exemplary irrigation system and huge amount of agricultural land, it becomes difficult for one to understand that why Pakistan isn’t able to expose itself in front of this world as a developed and prosperous nation.
Many say that Pakistan’s geopolitical location isn’t letting it develop and many call corruption as the root cause of our ills. Whatever the reason may be but there is something which needs to be appreciated that Pakistan has got all that makes a nation halcyon.
Corruption has long been attributed with Pakistani system. It has been one of the greatest hurdle that has put a lot of dents on Pakistan. We are not being able to meet our daily government expenditures due to that very corruption and hence we take initiatives like getting loans from international financial institutions and other world powers who in return demand concessions which are sometimes detrimental to Pakistan’s sovereignty and its people.
Putting an end to this corruption is a daunting task faced by Pakistani people. Much of our potential and finance goes to the pockets of our corrupt rulers and people in civil service. There is a dire need to investigate the causes and the measures to be taken to stem this ill out of our society. All we need to do is to first point out the loopholes in our system and then apply the patches to resolve this ailment.
The dilemma of corruption in Pakistan is that it can be found on every level from civil bureaucracy to military offices, from higher officials to lower staff and from general public dealing to private sector. We have to act fast on all these fronts to save this nation from going into misery. Some of the proposals to make Pakistan corruption-free are entailed below:

Civil bureaucracy is a very important element of government functioning. In fact it provides the necessary advice that is required to function effectively. Being the guardian of national exchequer, civil bureaucracy has all the required funds at their disposal to use and that makes them vulnerable to fall into corruption. Every federal ministry / division, at the start of new financial year submits its financial projections and demands for their expenses to be incurred in the coming year and they get the money against their projections. This allocation to them, which is on the basis of their projections, strictly needs to be watched either by Finance Division, NAB or FIA. Any agency or ministry failing to utilize their funds properly should be charged and held accountable.
We have offices and divisions which communicate and serve directly with the general masses for example for the issuance of traffic licenses, armor licenses, affidavit issuers and many other functions which involve public dealing are plagued with corruption. The officials working in these areas have the power to stop or accelerate the work of a citizen and in return citizens use money to get their work done efficiently.
It is proposed that in these types of offices, stringent timeline rules regarding issuance of necessary licenses and other documents should be practiced to stop the official from stopping or decelerate the work like it is done in NADRA, where there is a set time frame for issuance of NICs. Anyone who wants to get his work done urgently can always have the option of getting it on urgent basis by paying additional fees. If this system is installed in all the public dealing offices, then the ratio of bribery in our society will decrease manifold.
Law enforcement agencies, having the mandate to maintain law and order in the country, have the power to settle issues among people and charge anyone found guilty. According to international reports, Police is a department which is the most corrupt in our society. There should be a proper training program for our police officials and workshops may also be arranged by NAB to de-motivate the officials involved in that practice. They should also be given a pay raise to meet their day to day needs efficiently.
To get every job, there are requirements which one should fulfil in order to be able to qualify for it. A criteria must be set that people who are planning to enter into offices which are prone to corruption, must first undertake crash programs and workshops of Anti-Corruption (which can be held by either NAB or FIA) to give the officials proper education regarding this ill.
Pakistan is a country that got all what it takes to be the best. Only need is to streamline our direction and find the panacea of our ills. We have experienced in one of our government agency i.e. Motorway Police, where necessary measures like pay raises, proper education and performance based incentives were given and the result we got is a department which is almost free of corruption and ultimately it led to society being washed away from corruption. Corruption is a huge problem and harsh measures are required to curb it but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to curb it. We can follow the Motorway Police model to eliminate this corruption which is killing Pakistan from its very roots.

Friday, May 6, 2011

We Are Isolated

American Special forces’ operation in Abbottabad in early hours of Monday brought about the killing of most wanted man on this planet. This auspicious news came on the international horizon as United States’ President Barack Obama delivered a speech to his nation and even Pakistani administration got this news from him. How good of President Obama for keeping Pakistan in the loop.

We all should be happy and jubilant from this ecstatic news but why aren’t we happy? We got the world’s most wanted person and US President himself thanked Pakistan for their help and we, apparently, received a pat on the back. Shouldn’t we celebrate with the American people? But, wait a minute, what do we have here? Our faces are strung with this news. Why aren’t we jubilant?

The victorious statements of leaders all over the world and even from our own rulers bring nothing but shame to us. We are ashamed that there were foreign troops on our land operating without even letting us know. Hamid Karzai pounced on the opportunity of maligning Pakistan once again by calling Pakistan a haven for terrorists. Frankly speaking, I don’t care much about what the outsiders have to say about Pakistan. It is the silence of our rulers and tight-lipped stance of our allies like China that makes me feel gob smacked.

Like every other Pakistani, I wonder what ambition does United States has behind this act. Whether they want to prove that their decade long war is just or is it just about extension of another four years term of Obama administration. Whatever the objectives, US is in a win-win situation. It has given its war on terror an impetus and has successfully got a reason to leave Afghanistan, if it wants to. On the other hand, Pakistan, as always, has been on the receiving side of all the negatives. Indian media is claiming Pakistan to be caught red handed and western media is criticising Pakistan for not doing enough and above all refusing from time to time that Osama is not in Pakistan.

I remember when the first missile attack from the NATO forces in Damadola struck a madrassah which killed innocent students, I thought it was a mistake on their part and it won’t happen again but I was completely wrong and since then drone attacks have been wreaking havoc with constant bombardment. Same was the case with the presence of private security contractors like DynCorp and XE (Blackwater), when a retired SSG Captain was detained for hiring professionals for these mercenaries. I also thought that it would put a full-stop to their activities but no, we had the Raymond Davis fiasco, a DoD Contractor who killed two Pakistanis in daylight. Same is happening now. I fear that this operation of foreign troops on our land does not become a regular occurrence like before.

I recently watched a movie, The A-Team, in which US soldiers go behind enemy lines or even on the territory of an ally to achieve their desired objectives. I, literally, loved the way they executed their missions and killed enemies for fun but now when the Abbottabad mission has happened on my soil, I don’t feel the same for them even though Osama was a common enemy.

Pakistan, in the age of globalization, is getting more isolated from time to time. Our supposedly strategic partner United States, whose war is being fought by us, doesn’t even trust us. Our eternal friend China is not breaking its silence and letting the world know its stance. Above all, I heard a media report that Pakistani radars were jammed before the operation, I am wondering, if we are that much vulnerable then why we polish our tanks and missiles for 23rd March. Of what use are they, if they can be jammed easily. Irony is that this all was happening under our nose and we were completely unaware of that.

The question has arrived that whether world will be safe after the demise of Osama. All the stake holders have been quick to denounce that and after his demise, they are after the ones who carry his ideology. I fear that after all this, United States could be safer, in fact it always was but Pakistan will have to face the music. Pakistan, a nuclear power, has once again come under the radar of western powers and they are ready to question the commitment of Pakistan in combating terrorism. Leave combating; some are labeling Pakistan of abetting the terrorists.

The message for us from the outer world is clear that we are on our own. We have to realise that we are out of time and the world’s perception about Pakistan is getting worse day by day. If my dear rulers and military establishment hasn’t got the message yet, let me sound it to them: Respected Sir! We are isolated and on our own. Time to streamline our path.

Monday, February 21, 2011


The Best Egypt Protest Signs Seen On
If one could just calculate the happiness on the faces of Egyptians, the results would be staggering. There was and probably is sheer elation and joy on the faces of the peoplein Egypt. As reported by the international media or present witnesses, such was the joy that you can easily calculate the teeth of protestors after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.
It remains to be seen whether the resignation of Mubarak would be ‘Mubarak” for the Egyptians or not. The so-called revolution in Egypt, which was triggered by social media on internet, largely used by youth, is just an indication of what is to come. People may argue that what bad could come to Egyptians other than Mubarak, so happiness is what can come out of all this. I hope that same is the case.
Witnessing the journey of Egyptians through twitter and other online sources, I have been unable to determine the alternative solution Egyptian people had instead of Hosni Mubarak. If all the movement was about ousting the dictatorial regime, then I would have to reconsider, whether to write ‘revolution’ with it or not.
To fall in the criteria of a revolution, there has to be a change of system or an ideological change. We may say that democracy was the basic idea behind all this but frankly speaking, I don’t see much has changed there. It was more of an anti-Mubarak protest rather than a pro-democracy one as testified by the placards and slogans. Same is what happened with the judiciary movement in Pakistan, where the coat-walas were able to reinstate the supreme judge of the apex court and eventually ousting the dictator but nothing has changed in Pakistan since then. Anybody remembers the NRO Case! Same old drone attacks (in fact more frequent), inflation more higher than before and people committing suicides due to poverty as before is what is still happening here.
I would love that all my fears are wrong but the fact is that this cosmetic change may keep the Egyptians smiling for some time but eventually it will be the same as it was. In fact I see it as more of a problem as nations don’t come out on streets often and when do, they really have to pounce on the opportunity and streamline themselves towards a more durable and ideological change instead of changing the faces. A change with no effective outcome can disappoint a whole nation and could drain their energies to come on street in future.
I fear that Cairo has lost the chance of a revolution. These opportunities don’t come often and when they come, you have to grab them with both the hands. I can only pray that my fears are wrong and our Egyptian brethren get something out of this change.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Land of the Pure

Pakistan, a state situated in the most important strategic location on the map of the world, has its every citizen carrying a burden of Rs. 57,000 debt on his head. This land of the pure, besides being pure, is a tale full of corruption, bad-governance and mismanagement, puppet leaders, coups sponsored by foreign powers and above all youth without a vision.

I am among those more than 50% of people of Pakistan aged between 15-25 years, who have the immense responsibility of carrying this nation towards some sunshine. Working in Planning Commission of Pakistan, Government Office, as a support staff, I've witnessed so much in these three years of my tenure.

When I joined government service three years back, like every other member of this youth, I decided to never indulge myself into any malpractices and always stick to my principles of honesty. I received two offers of bribe in the initial first year of my tenure and thankfully I was able to ward off all those offers.

Time has passed and now I have become accustomed myself to the working of the government system. All my zeal and passion to play an honest role in the development of Pakistan, in any capacity I can, is lost. I feel that there is no difference between me and a fifty five year sitting in the office just to enjoy the perks and reputation that comes along with the package of government officer. These government officers, who fear so much for their job that they are ready to put their integrity at and honesty at stake just to please their seniors, though there are exceptions. Two years on, I feel dejected. I feel guilty as I've been an indirect part of wrong-doings and corruption. I am a part of that very system.

We see corruption, both moral and financial around us. Be it a government employee who files a wrong late sitting claim or a Government Official who take kick backs in different projects financed either by taxpayer's money or from foreign aid. I say it with sheer grief that corruption is deep inside our pants and we have to realize this. The most dangerous part of it is when the youth, expected to bring about a change in this country, is also falling into the category of corruption.

Reviewing myself, I see a person, who once set out to become a part in making this land of the pure progressive, is now swayed into what has always been done and someone who is always in support of the status quo. I have lost the cause and I see the same with some of the other youth we have around. To ask someone to behave, first we must behave the same way and my confession is just a part to motivate the youth. But we have to stand in front of the mirror and ask ourselves, what is the objective of this 5 feet 10 inch flesh on this earth? Surely we are not here to talk about the hottest girl in the town or university or talking about Big Boss. We are made for something big.

Glancing at the problems we face and the daunting task to make amends of the mistakes committed by our ancestors, we have to make sure that we as a youth don?t let ourselves to distract us from our objective. We face the fact that we inherited darkness in the form of load-shedding, our precious energy resources handed over to foreign companies and our land and military being used to fight the war of someone else.

The problems are massive and so is the responsibility on the shoulders of youth. When we say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, then we also have to realize that it is the youth that has to be the medium to help this nation to reach the light at the other end of the tunnel. Night is always the darkest before dawn and the sunlight of this dawn can only be lit by the efforts of this talented youth which includes people like Ali Moeen Nawazish and Naveed Asif and many other success stories.

We as a youth, forget that it is ONLY AND ONLY US who can do something and if we get lethargic and let our desires overcome our objectives then there are serious problems for us. When I confess my laziness and becoming a part of the same bureaucracy, I feel gutted because we are the only hope of this Ummah and frankly speaking, if we turned an eye on our people then more misery is awaiting us. These multinational corporations and colonial system are waiting with their open jaws with sharp teeth to swallow us. The youth has to understand the role as the savior of this Ummah. We are the ones who can make the difference. People chanting slogans at Tahrir Square are from the youth who like to interact on facebook and twitter. It is high time for us to stand up and be counted. The youth residing in the land of the pure! Either we make history or we become history. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Liberating the Economy?

Published in Frontier Post on 08-02-11

Pakistan is currently entangled with a huge financial crisis. Government coffers are totally empty as portrayed by our masters. Proffers for improvement of our fiscal position are being presented and everyone is focusing on deregulating the economy and liberating the markets from government’s control.

Living in a state which has vast amount of resources like coal, gas and recently found gold but we are unable to meet out energy resources and ultimately not being able to meet our day to day expenditures. Pakistan, the only nuclear power in Islamic world and one of the seven out of 196 plus countries in the world, doesn’t have the energy to light up stoves and bulbs of its inhabitants.

Calls for deregulation and privatization of the economy have increased since the inception of IMF program in Pakistan. IMF stresses on lesser role of government in markets and allowing the private sector to undertake what government has to. Recent example of handing over the contract for reko diq mines to foreign companies explains the policy of government.

Our public sector corporations are going under heavy losses and it is suggested that we should privatize them and let the private sector deal with it. Instance of Telecom sector is quoted in favor of privatization. One thing we forget is that the reason for these losses is mainly due to bad governance and corruption rather than the system itself. Besides accepting our own mistakes, our economists say that governments don’t do business. They, infact, are not designed to do profit making. They are cent per cent right. Governments don’t do business. The primary and sole aim of government is welfare of its residents and when a government isn’t able to do that, it calls for private sector to step in. This is what is happening in Central Asia, they have privatized all their mining and exploration works to outer world and that’s why they are still lagging so much behind even they are very rich in precious resources.

The system being implemented on us is corrupt from its core. Capitalism is designed for those who have the capital. We measure the success of our public sector organizations by the fact that how much dividends does it pay to the government. Subsidies are always maligned as they are a burden to the government especially when you give subsidy by printing more money. We don’t focus on the fact that these corporations and our whole economy is being run on the money of taxpayers. If government is in losses due to subsidies then it is the taxpayers that is ultimately benefitting from government’s loss. If a government's aim and objective is the welfare of people, then a subsidy (without printing money) is the best option for a government. If government goes in to losses by giving subsidy and relief to its nationals then what else a nation would want from a government and it would be a great success for a government if it can do that.

It is so easy for a government to distance itself from its responsibility by privatizing the institutions. Privatization is the same instrument, which these multinational companies have used in Central Asia, Ecuador and in all the less-developed countries. They give us loan and put conditions which challenge the sovereignty of the state, pressurize to hand over the contracts to their companies, as a result they get their money back and also get profit from the loan, its servicing and many more complicated terms. These IMF programmes won’t make us sovereign, infact it will deepen the roots of these colonialists in our country and will force us to give concessions even if their private security contractors kill our citizens.

This very system has distanced citizens from its government. Government’s success is measured by how much profit it is making rather than how happy its residents are. Our economic indicators like GDP focus on production rather than distribution. A state’s GDP may be very high but of what use it is when this production is not equally distributed. Success should be measured as Gross Domestic Smile GDS rather than Gross Domestic Product GDP. Governments should focus on the smiles of its residents rather than GDP and GNP.

Government is trying to push us into private sector monopoly which is further strengthened by government initiatives like copyrights and patents. From a consumer point view, government monopoly is much better than private sector’s monopoly. The electricity tariff speaks volumes about the monopoly of private sector and the hardships it gives to the consumer. Private Sector is much more efficient than the Public Sector but the thing is that private sector is always driven by the desire for profit making and that profit is always on the expense of public. Government may say that there are regulatory authorities to control the monopolies of private sector but this thing is a paradox in itself. If a government cannot do business efficiently then how can it regulate efficiently. We have to understand that by liberalizing the economy, we are threatening our own liberty.

It is about time we get to the basics and bring back our fundamentals. It isn’t too late. The new financial year is upon us and preparation of budget has started. We must streamline our direction and identify the real problem, whether it is bad governance and corruption or the system itself.

Writer is a Government Employee in Planning Commission of Pakistan

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Assassination of a Governor

Published in The Frontier Post on 13-01-2011

Governor of the Punjab was assassinated by his own elite force guard last week. The assassinator claims that he killed the person, he was supposed to protect, because he committed blasphemy. This has stirred a debate, which was previously not very open, between the secular brigade and the Islam-walas. World media all around the globe portrayed it in a way which labeled the whole society as extremist.

Killing of a Governor wasn’t much important as per their writing, but the topic of whether Pakistan is entrenched with extremism has been raised. Once again the guns have been pointed towards Pakistan of promoting extremism and safeguarding the extremists. Mandated to eliminate the safe havens of al-Qaeda operatives allegedly working on Pak-Afghan border, Pakistan has been maligned with so much dirt even though Pakistan is fighting the war supposedly for this world. Last week’s event has once again ringed the alarm bells in Pakistan. Debate has begun between the rightists and leftists over the blasphemy law.

The talk is not about the blasphemy law, it is about the ideology of Pakistan i.e. what should be the ideology of Pakistan or what should be the basis of law. This war between the rightists, who advocate Two-Nation Theory and leftists, who want Pakistan to be a secular state, has always been went through this war and it is such a shame that after 63 years of independence, we are still debating over what should be the source of law in Pakistan. Everyday, since the incident, the editorials and columns of newspapers are filled with the debate over the trend of society. The society as a whole is labeled with extremism and calls for tolerance are promoted. These calls for tolerance just don’t settle in my mind. I mean, I can’t believe that people label the residents of this state as intolerant.

We are part of a country where there is no gas, no electricity, no security and even no water (when there is some water, then it is in the shape of catastrophe like floods) and still this dead nation doesn’t come on streets and tolerate all this. I wonder if the same problems would have been in any other so-called western civilized state, then the conditions would have been much different. Still we are the ones who are intolerant. The whole case of Aasia and her meeting with the Governor or vice versa, has turned into a major discussion point. The Economist, in its recent addition presented the assassinated Governor as a hero of this nation and an heir to Jinnah’s throne. Western media concludes that Governor’s only fault was that he met the ‘poor Christian lady’ who was accused of blasphemy only because of a personal fight with neighborhood but they forgot to mention that the lady was trialed and convicted, it wasn’t like as if she was sent to jail without any proper trial against her like they do in Gitmo.

The irony of being ruled by an ideology, which is imposed by the sole-superpower state of the world on the other state, is that whatever goes against their ideas of liberty and freedom are touted as extremism and fundamentalism. In this case, the hypocrisy of the west and even our so-called western–modernized intellectuals is exposed. They always advocate for democracy and sliding towards the majority but in this case, they’ve forgotten that the majority is against them. A mammoth rally in Karachi, headquarters of a secular party MQM, in support of the killer is a testament to that fact. Not commenting on whether the assassination was justified or not, the main question is why the west is making so much out of this and portraying the world that Pakistan is going to fall into the hands of Islamists.

Samuel Huntington’s theory of Clashes of Civilizations comes into play and clearly exposes west’s plan against Islam and its values. Killing a person in the name of blasphemy is extremism and executing someone in the name of holocaust is labeled as upholding the freedom. Firing in a political rally shows insecure the people are here in Pakistan while firing in a political rally killing six persons and injuring a congresswoman doesn’t get the news headlines. When a Muslim commits a crime in west, it is generalized on whole of the Muslim community like when Jack Straw labeled all the Pakistanis as rapists and when a non-Muslim commits a crime, his religion isn’t even mentioned with his name. Perhaps it enlightens us about the way this world is being run. If the west talks about the government of majority then it should also understand the sentiments of the people and what their desires are. People won’t come out of their homes to protest against price hike, non-availability of energy resources and poverty but they will always come out to stand for its religion. Protests against the Caricatures and recent protests are glaring examples to that. People of Pakistan or sub-continent, in large, are glued with the bond of Islam. The Khilafat Movement in 1920s was one of the biggest movements of sub-continent. The paradoxical principles of the west are not injectable in a society like Pakistan.

It talks about freedom and liberty but it is unable to appreciate the fact that one’s freedom will be at someone else’s cost. Salman Taseer’s expression was his freedom of speech but it was an obstruction for majority of the nation. While the west increases its efforts to secularize and modernize Pakistan, it has forgotten that it will only polarize the society and create a divide between the nation as seen before. Recent incident has underlined Pakistan as a state whose residents support Islam from its core and are strongly linked to the Islamic ideology. West, as always, has feared the expansion of Islam and the western media has again targeted Pakistan as the main culprit. My teacher at my university taught me to always stay idealistic and keep a positive approach but now I am unable to keep that approach. This world doesn’t operate in an idealistic manner. It is full of hypocrisy and the notion of principles is only for the oppressed. Assassination of a Governor has been turned into intellectual assassination of the whole nation.

The ruling elite will always oppress the ruled and the intelligentsia will only present what they think regardless of the desires of their readers. This article may be catharsis of a 22-year old university student, who hasn’t seen much in his life but one thing is for sure that it is the expression of the majority of Pakistan.