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