WASHINGTON DIARY: A new socio-economic agenda (Daily Times)

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA
December 30th, 2008
Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com & The News
The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com
Feudal aristocracy is usually, by its very nature, oblivious of human rights issues and democracy. This is how a declared offender in a vani case and an apologist for the live burial of women in Balochistan are raised to the level of federal ministers

Continue reading WASHINGTON DIARY: A new socio-economic agenda (Daily Times)

Zardari government

Zardari given enough rope to hang himself

WASHINGTON: The one question that I am repeatedly asked by everyone, believing that I have been quite close to Asif Ali Zardari during his days of self-exile and forced expulsion from politics for many years, is how long he and his government will survive. It is hard to answer this very loaded and complex question almost on a daily basis, especially when people think everyone who comes to Washington from Pakistan knows something more than they do. So I have decided to pen down my answer. My considered opinion is that the present Zardari-led set-up will not last long as it has been structured on a wrong and distorted political premise as result of which the key players who have emerged as main power wielders were never in the picture, neither of Benazir Bhutto’s PPP, which actually got the votes and won the seats in the February 18 elections, nor anyone else. And these new players have failed to establish their political legitimacy and moral authority through their actions after coming to power.

These power players do not have any political ideology, they do not believe in the established principles of democracy and parliamentary process enshrined in the constitution and most important of all, they do not have a following among the masses, which is necessary for any political government worth its name.

What has happened is that in extraordinary turbulent circumstances, the Zardari Group of the PPP has taken over the party, out-manoeuvring the others through opportunities created by circumstances followed up cleverly by a web of deceit, chicanery and in some specific cases simple lies and cheating. Taking full advantage, Zardari formed a group of his cronies who had nothing to do with the PPP or its politics for years. Who could imagine that Rehman Malik, Farooq Naek, Babar Awan, Salman Farooqi, Husain Haqqani, Hussain Haroon, Dr Asim, Dr Soomro, Riaz Laljee, Siraj Shamsuddin, Zulfikar Mirza, Agha Siraj Durrani and many other smaller but tainted friends and associates of Mr Zardari would suddenly take over every important position and start calling the shots?

The above statements may seem bold, and to some, outrageous, but each one of these statements can be substantiated with specific and undeniable examples and proof. Of course Zardari and his cronies will deny this, screaming from every rooftop that he is genuine and represents the people’s will. But does, or will, anyone believe him?

To begin with, in the chaos that followed Benazir’s death, Asif Ali Zardari took over the party (PPP), the government, the parliament, the presidency and the judiciary. That was some achievement but the way he did it angered friends and foes alike. That is why he has been grappling with an enormous trust deficit, both domestically and abroad.

Has any prime minister who was elected unanimously or a president who secured a two-thirds majority ever looked so insecure that he had to repeatedly use questionable tactics to get his way through? Why is it that despite such strong support in parliament, he is working overtime every day to keep and tighten his hold on those state institutions not yet under his thumb – like the ISI, the Pakistan Army and some parts of the media?

His attempt to take over the ISI were foiled but he was asking for too much, too early. But given his nature, he will try again to control not just the ISI, but will also try to stuff the superior courts with Jiyala judges loyal to him and, if he gets the chance for which he will try his best, he will try to stuff the top Army hierarchy with his loyal generals.

This is where Mr Zardari will be stopped. That point may come as quickly as he tries to grab power. So in a way his own survival is in his own hands. But knowing Mr Zardari, I can predict he cannot stop himself. The unfortunate fact is that he cannot fathom what the judges movement has done to the body politic of the country and he cannot imagine what transformation the media has brought in the thinking of every man and woman in the country. He still lives in the ‘90s and cannot come out of that syndrome.

Step by step he has dismantled every pillar that Benazir Bhutto had painstakingly tried to build to strengthen politicians vis-a-vis the generals. In the many years that he was in New York, I never heard him discuss the Charter of Democracy or why the powers of the president should be cut. He would always discuss either some business deal or how he had outclassed other politicians in petty whimsical games. He never talked about any vision of a grand politically stable and strong Pakistan.

The illusion that he has become stronger than General Musharraf thus cannot make him a visionary overnight. As I know him, he is capable only to use these powers for his personal survival and security. But when an all-powerful Musharraf made mistakes, none of his powers could rescue him. Zardari has started by committing blunders.

He has survived so far because people expected a change and had to give him time. The safe window of opportunity that had opened up with the PPP victory was his safety valve, but for how long? He started when everyone wanted to give him time. Instead of building on that reservoir of sympathy, support and hope he has gone back on every promise he made publicly.

The 10 biggest blunders that will ultimately take him down can be listed as follows, though the full list may be too long:

1. Failure to show any enthusiasm to track down Benazir’s killers. The mysterious and tragic apathy shown by him towards her assassination is a sore in every heart. The top PPP leadership every evening sits in cosy drawing rooms and speaks in derisory language about what he is doing and how.

2. Failure to support the judiciary sacked by Musharraf and adopting a hostile attitude towards Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. He lost the chance to build grand support.

3. Unnecessary and grossly counter-productive support shown for Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

4. Failure to make any move towards repealing the 17th Amendment and strengthening parliament. In fact, he has taken the system to a super-presidential model with a prime minister now cribbing regularly about his lack of powers.

5. Betraying his political coalition partners by refusing to follow the Charter of Democracy and cheating them with false promises.

6. Opening himself and his party to blackmail by smaller coalition parties to an extent that the entire government has become a hostage, thus unable to take any major initiative.

7. Boasting about his capacity to get economic and financial aid from the so-called friends of Pakistan, making repeated visits to world capitals and finally, opting for the most damaging and least acceptable option of going to the IMF, thus admitting failure.

8. Keeping petty political bickering alive in Punjab through a nonsensical presence of Governor Salman Taseer, a Musharraf appointee.

9. Turning into a widely disliked person in Pakistan within months by letting Musharraf go scot-free and adopting all his sins and drawbacks.

10. Humiliating and then forcing loyal PPP leaders into submission.

No one is yet ready to destabilise the current political set-up and Mr Zardari has been given a rope, in fact a longish rope, obviously to hang himself with. What worries me is that he has not proved himself competent to rise to the occasion, has shown no urge or capacity to grow into the huge shoes that he so suddenly finds himself in and somehow he does not envision the broader canvas of politics and lives with all the fears and insecurities of the era of the ‘90s and his days of captivity. Thus he is using the rope with intense energy to tie himself up in knots and form a noose around his neck.

If all the above answer the question how long will he last, the next universal question everybody asks is: how will he be removed as he has all the numbers?

This is an easy question to answer. By his acts Mr Zardari has not endeared himself to anyone in the 10 months of his rule. The initial honeymoon with the PML-N apart, now his own party is on the brink of imploding. December 27 will be a crucial date. How and on what issue the party cracks up is moot, but pressure from the opposition, a wink from the right quarters and one major blunder by Zardari is all it will take. It took an all-powerful Musharraf not even a few weeks to go down; Zardari is just learning the tricks to survive. After all the humiliation, what are BB loyalists like Aitzaz Ahsan doing in the PPP?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Courtesy: TheNews.com

Source – http://www.thenews.com.pk/print3.asp?id=19211

Pakistan: Wide spread disappointment with performance of the new government

by Ali Nawaz Memon

There is a wide spread disappointment with performance of the new government. Yes, people of Sindh and all of Pakistan are suffering and there is a need to do more to achieve their political rights. AS A WORKER OF PPP, I PREFER TO WORK FOR BETTERMENT OF PEOPLE THROUGH REFORM IN PPP. THERE ARE MANY OF US WHO ARE CONTINUALLY DRAWING ATTENTION OF ZARDARI SAHEB AND OTHER LEADERS. WE CONTINUE TO URGE THEM TO REMEMBER PPP MANIFESTO AND PROMISES TO PEOPLE. I URGE ALL OF YOU TO RAISE VOICE FOR REFORM WITHIN PPP. WHENEVER YOU HAVE CONTACT WITH ANY LEADER, PLEASE TALK ABOUT NEED FOR IMPROVED GOVERNANCE.

Dec. 28, 2008

Unfinished journey of Benazir Bhutto

Unfinished journey of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

by Iqbal Tareen, Washington

I have been trying to reconcile with the tragic departure of our beloved leader and Sister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

I attempted to write about it many times but ran into constant indignation, frozen thoughts, and total mental block.

I did not know what to say and how to say it. I still don’t know if I could ever give words to my desolation and outrage. We know for sure the tragedy that landed into our lives on December 27, 2007 is here to stay forever. But I wonder what if she was not forced to depart from her unfinished journey!

The assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto sets a new height of courage against extreme cruelty. By separating Mohtarma from the people of Pakistan, enemies of peace and democracy hope they will impose rule of darkness forever. They are mistaken. Mohtarma’s vision and dream can’t be snatched away from people. It will live forever.

Her life and message will resonate in the conscience of every person who ever knew her or knew about her. No matter how hard they try, they can’t kill the hope for democracy and freedom she kindled in hearts and minds of 160 million people of Pakistan.

Mohtarma lived and died as a peacemaker and as a warrior. She relentlessly fought for peace and democracy throughout her life. Although she inspired millions of people around the world but some remained extremely threatened by her existence. In popular rise of the people, they saw a sun quickly setting on their era.

The masters and killers who took her life were also timidly intimidated by her. They couldn’t dare to pull the trigger facing her so they shot her from the back. She willingly walked into the face of death and she was ready to pay with her life for all of us. The soul that departed her body shall lead our nation out of long and dark night of suppression, mockery, and tyranny. The politics of hate and pillage shall disappear from the lives of people she loved.

Someday the people of Pakistan shall rise to free the nation from dictatorship, poverty, subordination, and lies. I believe that day will come sooner than later.

Some people say “she shouldn’t have exposed herself to dangers”. Sure, they are making a point but they forget she had chosen a lifestyle that traded safety and security for dreams and destiny for her people. In her final sacrifice, she proved an ultimate point that nothing else mattered to her but the cause she lived and died for. Nothing really mattered.

Let us pledge to finish Mohtarma’s unfinished journey. Let us build Pakistan as she envisioned in her last speech. Let it be a nation inclusive of all religions, languages, nationalities, and elasticities. Let us cherish rainbow of our nation’s diversity and not be threatened by it.

Let us pledge to empower our disadvantaged and oppressed brothers and sisters to complete the circle of freedom. Let the canons of a few over many be a thing of the past. Let us turn the pyramid of politics bottom up.

Let us pay a corporeal tribute to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto by restoring freedom and dignity of every child, woman, and man to make Pakistan a nation that we can proudly call our own.

Let the supremacy of law and governance by the people become the new tenet of the future.

Social Psychology

How Do Groups Change Individuals?

Did you ever wonder why people who are accused of serious crimes such as murder are entitled to be tried by a jury rather than by a judge? The word “entitled” implies that a group decision might be more advantageous for the defendant than a decision made by one individual, even if that individual happens to be a judge who is an expert on the law. Jury members are ordinary citizens who might have more in common with the defendant than would a judge.

Continue reading Social Psychology

Benazir’s First Anniversary

Fighting militancy best way to pay tributes to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad December 26, 2008: PPP Co-Chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the best way to pay tributes to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was to follow in her footsteps in fighting militancy and extremism and not to surrender before bigots who wanted to capture political power through bullet and impose their own world view on the people. He said this in a message today commemorating the first martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who, along with several party workers, was killed in a terror attack in Rawalpindi on December 27 last year.

“Those who laid down their lives for democracy and fighting the forces of militancy and extremism are our national heroes and heroines. They sacrificed their lives so our people could live in freedom and dignity”.

“She gave voice to the voiceless, strength to the weak and motivated workers and the people to strive for a goal higher than life. It is a measure of her greatness that ordinary people who came in contact with her became extraordinary. ”

Shaheed Mohtarma Bhutto was fully aware of the dangers to her life yet she had decided to return home to fight for the restoration of Pakistan’s place in the community of democratic nations, he said. “In the tradition of a true Bhutto she faced certain death rather than abandon her principles or the people.”

The attack on her was not an attack on one individual, he said. “It was an attack on the viability of the state and for undermining the efforts to build democratic structures for fighting militancy”. The tyrants and the killers have killed her but they shall never be able to kill her ideas that drove and inspired a generation to lofty ideals, the President said.

The recent events of militancy in the region bring to mind the words of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto “the fundamental battle in Pakistan was for the hearts and minds of a generation against fanaticism and extremism and that this battle can be won only under democracy”, the PPP Co-Chairman said and asked the democratic forces to rededicate themselves to fighting militancy and extremism by strengthening democratic institutions..

Militancy flourished in the country when dictatorship flourished giving rise to hopelessness that created the desperation that fueled religious extremism, he said. ..

December 27, 2008

Sindhis hard pressed by Disease, Poverty, Corruption, and Uncaring Government‏

WHAT SINDHIS SHOULD DO TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS AND SECURE FUTURE OF SINDH?

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

On Dec. 20, 2008, I had an opportunity to attend a discussion session on “Hepatitis” organized by Iqbal Tareen on in Washington DC.

The session was attended by many local Sindhis and several other Pakistanis. The main feature of this meeting was to exchange views and information with Dr. Thelma King Thiel (Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Foundation International (www.hepatitisfoundation.org). Although, overall, the focus of the information exchange was the impact of Hepatitis B and C world-wide, but the discussion were more focused on multiple-tragedies that have been inflicted on native Sindhis in their homeland of Sindh. Not only rural areas of Sindh suffer one of the highest poverty rate in Asia, a large number of Sindhis in several districts suffer higher burden of this disease compared to other areas of Pakistan. As if these two tragedies were not sufficient, we learnt that almost none of the resources and funds allocated by the federal and provincial governments has reached to actual victims of this disease. It was said that concerned journalists and social workers have written private e-mails to North American Sindhis that much of the funding distributed thus far has either fallen victim to corruption or used to hire officials and provide them with vehicles and other amenities. Shame on the government and newly hired officials for loosing the true sight of victims and continuing to engage in corrupt practices at the expense of the victims who need and deserve immediate attention.

A. “HEPATITIS IN PAKISTAN” PROJECT

A 5-page article/briefing was presented by Saeen Iqbal Tareen. The briefing included welcome remarks about Dr. Theil and others. Mr. Tareen expressed hopes that the session will be a beginning of an effective collaboration between Hepatitis Foundation International and the Forum Justice and Democracy in Pakistan. He urged that Pakistani Diaspora ought to take proactive measures to create awareness about the problem and seek financial and technical assistance.

A.1 DEPTH AND SIZE OF PROBLEM OF HEPATITIS IN SINDH

Pakistan does not an active and effective surveillance program to monitor tends of the Hepatitis group of diseases. However, every one agrees that the disease is extremely predominant in the rural areas of the Sindh province. According estimates about 7 million persons (16% of total population) in Sindh are tested to be Hepatitis positive with 1.5 million having active Hepatitis B reactive and another 1.7 million having Hepatitis C reactive.

A.2 CAUSES OF HEPATITIS SPREAD IN SINDH

The key factors for growth of this disease in Sindh are poverty, negligence, and lack of basic social services. The specific causes are repeated re-use of syringes and razor blades, and blood transfusion. The health care system in rural areas of Sindh is worst in Pakistan. The government monitoring of blood banks is so bad that most of them are not only unregistered but often carry expired blood supplies and screening kits. A research article by Janjua and Hutin (2005), Sindh has the highest rate of injection delivery (13 injections per person per year) with 47% of these injections are unsafe.

A.3 COLLABORATION BETWEEN NORTH AMERICAN AND SINDHI/PAKISTANI GROUPS

The initiatives that have been taken by the Hepatitis Foundation International (headed by Dr. Thiel) and Forum Justice and Democracy in Pakistan (Coordinated by Mr. Tareen) can open up opportunities to overcome diseases such as Hepatitis. The Foundation has a wealth of tools and materials for creating awareness and educating medical staff and general public on prevention of Hepatitis.

B. SINDHIS HARD PRESSED BY DISEASE, POVERTY, CORRUPTION and UNCARING GOVERNMENT

How can we North American Sindhis present a convincing case to people, governments, and organizations in North America to come to rescue of victims of these disease when see Sindhi officials taking away resources designated for the eradication of the tragic Hepatitis disease from rural areas of Sindh? Sometimes, one wonders, when will we develop an individual and collective consciousness to do what we repeatedly talk?

Crushed by many years of victimization and being ignored under Mr. Sharif’s government and General Musharraf’s dictatorship with MQM dominating all major decision-making apparatus in Sindh, they voted in overwhelming numbers to help the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to come to power. Tragically, even after PPP’s impressive victory, they have not received much relief from their continued misery. Other than some cosmetic hiring, Sindhis appear to have lost more ground due to the discriminatory policies of Karachi city government, which was illegally empowered by General Musharraf’s regime at the expense of people of local Sindhi surrounding villages and the provincial government.

B.1 POOR EDUCATION IN RURAL SINDH AND LACK OF TEACHING OF SINDHI LANGUAGE IN SINDH’s SCHOOLS

The state of education in rural Sindh continue to deteriorate. The standards of education in government schools in urban areas have fallen so bad that most parents prefer to send their children to private schools. In spite of the provincial laws that make Sindhi a compulsory language, the private schools flout these laws openly and refuse to offer Sindhi language in their schools. Several Sindhi experts now predict that children in urban Sindh are being deprived of the opportunity to learn Sindhi language. They forecast that in few decades, the Sindhi language be confined on those who live in rural areas.

B.2 LOT OF STATEMENTS BUT VERY LITTLE GOVERNMENT ACTION TO HELP SINDHIS

Every week, we hear government ministers issuing statements about initiating new programs, allocating billions to various sectors to create employment, protect Sindhi language, culture, and heritage, improve education and eradicate poverty and disease and yet the suffering of people continues unchecked. The plight of fishing community, Sindhi villages around Karachi, rural areas of Sindhis continues unabated. Last week the Fisher community of coastal areas announced that after waiting 10 months for their favorite People’s government to address their issues, they have given up hopes in this government and would re-start their movement to win their rights. The Haris (farmers) of Sindh have been demonstrating and demanding Agrarian Reforms. Many Sindhis now feel that other than making hallow statements, the officials of the present government are more interested in filling their pockets instead of representing their interests and bringing about changes that are required to solve their problems.

WHAT SINDHIS SHOULD DO TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS AND SECURE FUTURE OF SINDH?

Every day more and more Sindhis are questioning the wisdom of their vote in the last Pakistani election. People are wondering if their pragmatic decision to vote for PPP is so far proving to be a mistake. The party they thought was dynamic and well-prepared to face new challenges and steer effectively to restore justice to Sindhis is appearing to be more lethargic, confused, and afraid of taking any daring actions of substantial value to Sindhis. PPP finds it easy to announce that Kala Bagh dam has been shelved permanently but quite scared to ensure that language laws of Sindh are fully implemented. They find it easier to announce that they will tackle the huge problem of poverty in Pakistan, yet half of schools in rural areas of Sindh remain closed. Instead of offering protection to Sindhi villages around Karachi and creating jobs and educational opportunities for Sindhis in Karachi, they have adopted a “hands-off” approach in Karachi. This has allowed the mayoralty of Karachi unlimited power to sell Sindh’s assets in the name development and control who can reside in Karachi and who can receive education and health services. The people of Sindh wanted a reasonable compromises and win-win agreements and have no stomach for decisions that further surrender their rights.

Having been disappointed with the performance of Sindhi nationalist parties, PPP, and other mainstream parties such as PM, Sindhis have no choice but to think for new options and new leaders to secure their future in fast changing global conditions.

The situation is do hopeless that the option need of creating a new political party with mission to secure sovereignty of Sindhis over the decisions that affect their lives seems to be a viable alternative.

I find many parallels between the current situation in Sindh and the Canadian province of Québec. Just like Canada that has Liberal Party, Pakistan has the PPP. Just like PPP’s leadership has predominantly come from Sindh, the leadership of Liberal Party has mainly been from Québec. Liberal Party had a charismatic leader from Québec named Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (who was a French Canadian) we had Shaheed Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (who was a Sindhi Pakistani). In Canada, the Liberal Party was a populist federal Party just as PPP is a popular federal party.

The French Canadians, tired of waiting for the liberal Party to protect their cultural, language, and economic rights, created Parti Québécois in the Quebec province. The mission of this political party http://encarta.msn.com/encyclop edia_761588464/parti_quebecois.html

described at this web site is:

“Parti Québécois (PQ), or Québec Party, Canadian political party dedicated to political sovereignty for the province of Québec. The party’s main goal is sovereignty- association, whereby Québec would retain economic associations with the rest of Canada but be politically independent. Under sovereignty- association, Québec would share with Canada a common monetary system, free trade, and other economic agreements, but it would have the political authority to impose its own taxes, make all its own laws, and negotiate its own international treaties, conventions, and accords. The issue is highly controversial in the province and throughout Canada. In a 1995 referendum, Québec voters narrowly rejected sovereignty- association.”

If Sindhis feel that PPP has failed to protect their cultural, language, and economic rights, they could go for the establishment of a new Sindh Sovereignty Party. The mission statement of such a political party could follow the mission statement of Parti Québécois (PQ), as follows :

“The mission of the Sindh Sovereignty Party is to negotiate a new agreement with the Government of Pakistan based on the equality of nations; This agreement would enable Sindh to acquire the exclusive power to make its own laws, levy its taxes, eradicate corruption, and establish relations abroad at the same time to maintain with Pakistan an economic association including a common currency.”

I am sure there are other creative options to resolve the problems of Sindhis hard pressed by disease, poverty, Corruption, and uncaring government. I hope others will share their ideas as the time to discuss the changes that we need to survive as a people in future is now.

DAWN Editorial on Provincial Resentment- Sharing of Indus Water, Natural Resources, and Employment

Forwarded by Khalid Hashmani (McLean, Virginia, USA)
Courtesy and Thanks:Daily Dawn,
Rights of provinces
RESENTMENT grows when citizens of the state are denied the opportunity to benefit from the exploitation of local resources. Withholding this share in the collective pie does not serve the cause of harmony between the federating units as well as the centre and the provinces. Much to our detriment, we have seen how denying the people of Balochistan rightful control over their mineral and gas wealth has, over the decades, led to disaffection with the state and even full-blown insurgencies.

Continue reading DAWN Editorial on Provincial Resentment- Sharing of Indus Water, Natural Resources, and Employment

People’s history of the Punjab: The great 1920 rebellion

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz , Virginia, USA
Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com, December 25th, 2008
Dr Manzur Ejaz taught at the Punjab University, Lahore, for many years and now lives in Virginia, USA
The writer can be reached at: manzurejaz1@yahoo.com
Channan Din’s Danda Fauj [a small band of soldiers armed with sticks and toy guns] … was exclusively drawn from Muslim artisans and workers who appeared to be roused to action by the cry of Pan-Islamism but in fact were victims of inflation. Obviously, the Danda Fauj was not taken seriously but a British officer later confessed that it ‘was a very mischievous thing’

Continue reading People’s history of the Punjab: The great 1920 rebellion

Letter to Bibi in heaven

by Ali Nawaz Memon Senior Vice President PPP, USA
The writer can be reached at: sindhhouse@hotmail.com
Dear Bibi Asalam Alaikum I hope and pray that you are safe and protected in heaven. Thanks to your ultimate sacrifice, our PPP won the elections. PPP has been in power for almost a year. I think that NRO that you negotiated has been misinterpreted. All those who could not be prosecuted for their misdeeds because they had run away, are back through NRO. All past crimes have been forgiven. Precedent has been set for forgiving future crimes too. Accountability has been abolished. You will be surprised to know that these runaways have the real power rather than the parliament. I am sorry to report that we still do not know who was behind your murder. Our party has control over all the police, all the investigative agencies and all the files, but we have done little to find the murderers.

Continue reading Letter to Bibi in heaven

Martyred Bibi’s Vision

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan, London
The writer can be reached at: w.hasan@virgin.net
London: My mind, heart and soul refuse to accept that she is no more with us. Every day that I have passed ever since she was cold-bloodedly assassinated on December 27 last year by the cruellest scum on earth it has been an unending painful agony from a wound deep down that refuses to heal. Despite application of strongest will to control–whenever I have to speak and write about her -though my eyes by now should have got dried of tears-a cascade overflows involuntarily.

Continue reading Martyred Bibi’s Vision

Quaid-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity

Two Sindhis together, Jinnah & Gandhi

Muhammad Ali Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding ideas of Hindu-Muslim unity and helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Muslim League; he also became a key leader in the All India Home Rule. He proposed a fourteen- point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of all.
Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return in 1934 and re-organise the Muslim League. Jinnah embraced political opponents by the goal of self-governance/ 1940 Lahore Resolution. The full council of Muslim League in the leadership of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had unanimously passed the resolution in 1940 Lahore Resolution later known as Pakistan Resolution. The council of the Muslim league granted only three aspects of governance-currency, foreign affairs, and defense related communication to the federal government and all other aspects to states/ provinces. The League won most Muslim seats in the elections of 1946, the strong reaction of Congress supporters resulted in communal violence across subcontinent. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted the British to divide the subcontinent.
Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, the 1940 resolution was not implemented in the letter, in spirit to the smaller provinces – Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan – were deprived of all their rights and its people treated as slaves. Due to it, one province of the federation named East Pakistan (Bangladesh) has already seceded from Pakistan.

A short analysis of National Question in Pakistan and National Movement of Sindh.

By Jamil Junejo, Hyderabad, Sindh
Those oppressed nations are fortunate within whom different struggles and movements of different size and shape transform themselves into “National movement. Such transformation is not easy and simple task.

Continue reading A short analysis of National Question in Pakistan and National Movement of Sindh.

Who runs Pakistan?

pakistan-federal-assemblyPlease pause for honest soul searching!
by Babar Ayaz
The writer can be reached at: ayazbabar@gmail.com
Courtesy and thanks: babarayaz.wordpress.com
A German journalist, who heads the South Asia Bureau of ARD Radio and is based in New Delhi, was visiting Pakistan last week. His question to me was very direct and blunt: “Who runs Pakistan?” By implication the question was loaded, as it means that there is a doubt in the international community that the new democratic government is the real ruler. In the context of the recent Mumbai attack, it also shows that the thrust of the reporter’s story would be that the PPP-led government is not controlling the India policy of Pakistan. So, all the talk of President Zardari to open up trade and investment doors between the two countries is at best his personal opinion.

Continue reading Who runs Pakistan?

IS RELIGIOUS PLURALISM POSSIBLE?

By Saeed Qureshi
Religious Pluralism is a utopia and can never be achieved. Universal Secularism is a possibility and is in vogue in many societies. But the religious pluralism which means belief in all religions at the same time is not possible. All the religions and their denominations cannot be kept in a melting pot so that their beliefs and precepts become one. Such kind of tolerance and coexistence which is the exact or the underlying purpose of the concept of religious pluralism is inconceivable, unless a new generation of humans is born that have no perception of religions based on variant and divergent connections with God or spirits.

Continue reading IS RELIGIOUS PLURALISM POSSIBLE?

Dr. Thelma King Thiel, Chairwoman and CEO of Hepatitis Foundation International joins fight against Hepatitis in Pakistan

Hepatitis in Pakistan Project- Forum for Justice and Democracy in Pakistan

Press Release – Washington, DC: A special session of core group of supporters of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” was held by the Forum for Justice and Democracy in Pakistan, in a local restaurant in Washington DC Metro area on Saturday, December 20, 2008. Dr. Thelma King Thiel, Chairwoman, and Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Foundation International was invited as a keynote speaker. The session was facilitated by forum’s Chief Organizer Mr. Iqbal Tareen.

In an open and informal conversation with the group, Dr. Thiel pledged her cooperation and support in the fight against Hepatitis in Pakistan. She praised the convergence of various individuals and advocacy groups on the Forum and assured of her continued cooperation for this cause.

Dr. Thiel cited decades of experience and accomplishments of her foundation in creating awareness and educating the educator in USA and worldwide. Hepatitis Foundation International plays vital role in working with US Government, Congress, and global organizations in influencing public policy. Dr. Thiel has been highly instrumental in creating local and global awareness about the threat of this epidemic.

In her presentation Dr. Thiel emphasized the need for investing time and resources in awareness and education of doctors, nurses, and all health related workers about the causes and prevention of Hepatitis. She mentioned that even in countries like USA, many medical professionals are not fully aware of basic facts about Hepatitis. She

stressed a need for simplistic audio-video educational tools for children as well as adults. Dr. Thiel assured host and members of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” of her cooperation and knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing to be adopted in local languages by and for local communities in Pakistan.

Dr. Thiel reiterated her willingness and need for working very closely with members and leadership of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” to look into the ways how her Foundation can help governments and NGOs in Pakistan to fight this epidemic.

Forum’s Chief Organizer, Mr. Iqbal Tareen reiterated vision of the organization to work as a credible and effective facilitating platform between international donors and support groups and governmental and non-governmental organizations on the ground in Pakistan. He also mentioned how past US Aid and foreign support for similar causes have been reduced to either employment creation or money making opportunities without significantly addressing the real problem. Mr. Tareen said that it is the mission of this group to become strong vigilante for the people of Pakistan and make sure of the transparency and accountability of every effort and resource used for this purpose.

Dr. Thelma Thiel and Mr. Iqbal Tareen of the Forum for Justice and Democracy will form working groups to plan future plan of action including outreach programs aimed at both governments and NGOs in USA and Pakistan.

In an open session participants explored leading causes of Hepatitis in Pakistan, which included used Syringes, untested blood transfer, and used razor blades. Issues related to social stigma were also discussed. Manu people are still unwilling to disclose their infectious status with family and friends, which could become their immediate support groups. The fear of becoming an outcast remained to be a predominant reason for lack of communication between patient and his/her family and friends.

The meeting was concluded with an overwhelming consensus that the wining of war against Hepatitis was contingent upon on how seriously the government of Pakistan and its leadership at the top was willing tackle the threat of Hepatitis in Pakistan. The group urged governments of Pakistan in Islamabad and in the provinces to treat Hepatitis as a real and immediate national security threat. This matter should be fought at the war footings.

In concluding statement Mr. Tareen expressed his gratitude for a positive and massive response by individuals, government officials, journalists, and organizations in Pakistan and overseas to our effort. He specifically thanked Dr. Zulfikar Ali Gorar (Provincial Coordinator (Sindh), National Program for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis in Pakistan) for his consistent and timely support and Mir Salim Raza for being a valuable supporter and global promoter of our effort.

Those who participated in the session were Ms. Khurshid Shaikh (Electrologist) , Dr. Fauzia Deeba (Development Consultant, Physician, and Director of World Sindhi Institute), Dr. Jawed Manzoor, President of Pakistan People’s Party (Washington DC Metro Area); Dr. Badar Shaikh (Research Scientist), Dr. Siddiqullah Tareen (Professor ENT, President PEN Foundation, Balochistan) , Mr. Aijaz Abro (Media and Marketing Consultant), Mr. Jawaid Bhutto (Human Services Specialist), and Mr. Khalid Hashmani (Computer Consultant and Former President, Sindhi Association of North America)

December 20, 2008

Save the Subcontinent

peaceNo War demonstration in Lahore
Report by: Javed Ahmad, Lahore, Pakistan
While the accelerating danger of war between India and Pakistan, a peace demonstration in Lahore on 20 December demanded no war between the two countries. Over 100 activists of Labour Party Pakistan and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party demanded an end of war of fanaticism.

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Sindh Government deprived of 70 crore rupees of Production Bonus

By Ali Asghar Laghari
DADU: A media workshop was held at Dadu by the Participatory Development Institute on Thursday at a local hotel. Addressing on the occasion, the speakers including, PID Program Officer, Ishaq Soomro and others said that the province of Sindh has been deprived of the 70 crore rupees of Production Bonus by the petroleum companies and the Federal Government.

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Sindh & Sindhis

Sindh and Sindhis- The modern literature in anthropology, sociology and linguistics

Ibn Khuldun: The Annihilations of Nations and Sindhis

by Gul Agha

To understand the on going social, cultural and linguistic decline among Sindhis, one can look at the modern literature in anthropology, sociology and linguistics to see how nations perish. But the causes have been long understood — the new twist is that the rates can be more precisely measured (each rapid shifts in vocabulary and grammatical forms). A classic work of Ibn Khuldun, *The Muqaddimma, *provides great insight and is a recommended read for any serious student. Ibn Khuldun, a giant of his time, understood how nations perish, and it is instructive to read him and then look at Sindhi society today. Fortunately, Sindhis were able to overthrown other invaders after short periods of time and never had a large scale invasion, at least after the Aryans, until 1947 when Sindh lost 20% of its native population to diaspora, and the remaining nation was linguistically, socially and culturally subjugated by millions of migrants. Here is Ibn Khuldun’s speculation:

*Book I: Kitab al `Ibar (on the nature of civilization) Chapter 2:23. A nation that has been defeated and has come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish.

**The reason for this may possibly lie in the apathy that comes over people when they lose control of their own affairs and, through enslavement, become the instrument of others and dependent upon them. Hope diminishes and weakens. Now, propagation and an increase in civilization takes place only as a result of strong hope and the energy that hope creates in the animal powers (of man). When hope and the things and it stimulates are gone through apathy, and when group feeling has disappeared under the impact of defeat, civilization decreases and business and other activities stop. With their strength dwindling under the impact of defeat, people become unable to defend themselves. They become victims of anyone who tries to dominate them, and a prey to anyone who has the appetite. * (translated by F. Rosenthal)

Another insight Ibn Khuldun provides is how society’s with greater diversity of ideas, sects and beliefs are better able to resist invaders (because, says Ibn Khuldun, they are not prone to conforming with the dominant ideology imposed by invaders, instead they are used to confronting ideas and beliefs, so if you suppress one sect, others dissidents arise). No doubt the deparature of 20% of Sindhi population seriously weaked the Sindhi nation because of the concomittant loss of diversity, but the continued breadth of Sindhi ways remains their strength, their culture of resistance to adopting a single dominant ideology (fundamentalism) and respect for different religious and anti-religious thinking, provides an immense source of residual strength to this day.

We will have to see if the current processes reach their final completion in the perishing of Sindhi nation (*dharnii panaah dde) *or, Sindhis rise to attain their cultural, linguistic, political and social freedom. There is no other stable equilibrium condition in which a nation can survive for long..

India may still strike at Pakistan: US report

Wichaar Desk, December 19th, 2008
Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com

NEW DELHI: India may have ruled out the military option against Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks but the international intelligence community continues to believe that strikes in PoK and elsewhere could still happen. Global intelligence service Stratfor, in its latest report, said, “Indian military operations against targets in Pakistan have in fact been prepared and await the signal to go forward.”

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Peace is the only way out

By Kuldip Nayar, India

Courtesy and Thanks: Daily Dawn, Dec. 12, 2008
The assassinated Benazir Bhutto told me in London a few months before returning to Pakistan that she would have “a borderless subcontinent”

It is a shame that only 13 out of 760 MPs were present recently to pay tribute to the watch and ward personnel shot dead on Dec 13 in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament. I was then a member of the Rajya Sabha. The house had finished question hour and some members had called it a day. I was one of them.

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How to TackleTerrorism- By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan on Tackling Terrorism

Please note: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is a Delhi-based Islamic scholar. He can be contacted on info@cpsglobal.org.

It is given in the Quran in these words: ‘Peace is the best’. (4:128)

Sufis have adopted this formula of Quran, which they call: Sulh-e-kul. It means ‘Peace with all’.

There is a verse in the Quran: ‘Don’t be extremist in your religion’. (4: 171)

A Quranic verse says that: ‘Whoever killed one single innocent human being should be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind (5:32),’

Terrorism is an international menace. Everyone condemns it but the question is: How to cope with terrorism? I would like to give the answer to this question in brief. First of all, we have to define what is terrorism. In Islam, only one kind of war is permissible, that is defensive war. This holds true only when the war becomes a necessity.

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The problem of Marriages of Girls in Sindhi Families

by Ali Nawaz Memon

I believe that this is a very sensitive but serious issue for all parents. I am a father of two boys and one girl. My older boy and daughter are married. My younger son is Inshaullah getting married soon. In USA and Canada, marriage is relatively easier for Sindhi parents because boys and girls have greater opportunity of meeting. Whenever they like each other, they convey the information to parents who are able to arrange the marriages. .. Some individuals have also set up informal marriage bureaus. In Sindh we must try this too.

I believe that parents have to be more proactive. Within religious and moral limits, the children must be given opportunities to meet. Children grow up together in same families– this facilitates marriages among relatives. However, if matches are not available within families, then chilren meet each other in schools and colleges. Parents have to keep eye on preferences of children when they are of marriage age.

Part of the problem is that parents wait until the girls have passed their prime. Once they have reached 25 or even 30, then marriages become very difficult. The girls must continue their education. However, if suitable match is available, then agreement can be made to continue education. In case of my children, they all continued education after marriages.

I know that there is question of honor and family status. However, families and the children themselves must cooperate to find suitable solutions.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups.

Dec 18, 2008

From the archive of the history: Mass movement in Sindh- Every minute has story to tell

By Anne Weaver, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

In a surprisingly strong, rural mass movement in Sindh – the first such political movement outside the cities that Pakistan has seen – thousands have continued their defiance of General Zia’s martial law regime. At least 38 people have died in the protests. According to opposition sources, 80 are dead. The opposition claims 7,000 have been arrested or successfully ”courted arrest.” The government acknowledges that some 1,400 Sindis are under arrest.

Driving through Sindh’s interior, where slate hills turn to desert and large tracts of rice, wheat, and cotton fields are flooded by monsoon rains, one is struck by the poverty. There are few development programs here.

People live on the margin of an agricultural economy. One passes through a score of hamlets and villages hugging the banks of the Indus River.

In recent weeks, they have all, in one way or another, protested against the Zia regime or gone on the rampage. They have defied police lines, been beaten back by teargas or a lathi charge. They have burned government buildings, disrupted transportation links, broken into Sindhi jails and court buildings, or engaged in general strikes.

Inside the dirty, overcrowded jail in Dadu, one of Sind’s most violent, up-river towns 200 miles from Karachi, 77 political prisoners told why they were willing to defy martial law, endure flogging, and go before special military courts-martial whose sessions last less than five minutes.

Their reasons for submitting to the punishment are as eclectic as the four provinces of Pakistan.

The province of Punjab, they acknowledge, is the key to the longevity of the Zia regime. If the country’s most populous province, its breadbasket and dispenser of army positions and posts in the federal bureaucracy, does not enter the protest, Zia and his army will probably be able to control the situation here in Sindh.

But, that is not the end, they add quickly. In Sindh, the fuse has been lit. And, if the protest is confined within this southern province’s borders, if others do not join, it will give far greater impetus to the more radical voices favoring Sindi independence, a movement called ”Sinduh-Desh.”

All of the young men crammed into one of the barracks of Dadu’s prison want to speak. They include medical students, provincial government civil servants, workers, shopkeepers, and peasants. Most are supporters of Mr. Bhutto’s Pakistani People’s Party, which has always dominated the politics of Sind. Others belong to the ”Sinduh-Desh” movement or are followers of the traditional ”sardars” or hereditary ”pirs.”

Some are political protesters, demanding a return to democracy and the end of martial law, others are protesting Zia’s Islamization program – most interior Sindis are Sufi Muslims who charge that General Zia has made heresy of the Koran. Still others are there at the behest of their ”sardars,” who have refused to pay the Islamic ”usur” land tax, on their vast holdings, which dominate the Indus River valley of Sindh. Some are here because they went to the streets to avenge Mr. Bhutto’s death. Others are followers of G. M. Sayed, the father of Sindhi nationalism, a hereditary ”pir,” who is the guiding force behind the Sinduh-Desh movement.

Strangers here are eyed with suspicion. But when people discover a journalist , they immediately want to talk. It is not surprising that their primary topic of conversation is their long-time resentment over domination by governments, armies, and bureaucracies coming from the Punjab region.

Protests sweep Pakistan in effort to restore democracy

Courtesy: CSM

Genesis of jihadis

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

WICHAAR

On the one hand, religious outfits preach jihad, and on the other they provide education, health and other social services, which are supposed to be responsibilities of the state. If the state had fulfilled its responsibilities, there would be no space for people like Hafiz Saeed.

The proliferation of jihad in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, is not just induced by Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Rather, rapid socio-economic changes have played a major role in the propagation of jihadi culture. However, the truth gets lost in the media hype because journalists that only seek thrillers occupy intellectual space. News about jihad, Al Qaeda and the Taliban sells in the media market, and therefore no one is ready to talk about the fundamental realities.

We can take solace in make-believe conspiracy theories about the hidden role of the CIA, RAW or Mossad in the recent Mumbai terror attacks. Nonetheless, the fact remains that other than one from Dera Ismail Khan – an overwhelmingly Hinko-Punjabi speaking area – all other nine terrorists belonged to central Punjab. They came from Multan, Okara, Faisalabad and Sialkot – some of the more prosperous areas of Pakistan. But if one looks deeply into the causes behind the creation of jihadis in these areas, it becomes clear that this region is ripe for anti-status quo movements.

The mammoth socio-economic changes and resulting inequalities are the highest in these areas. In addition, the desire and consciousness for a fair society is also part of the mindset of this area. In other words, central Punjab is boiling for change. The movement for the restoration of deposed judiciary was only a prologue to even larger upheavals.

Take Ajmal Amir Kasab, who allegedly comes from a village in Okara, a very prosperous district in central Punjab. Imagine that on Eid, a boy in Okara asks his poor father for new clothes. The father, who has five other children, cannot afford to get him new clothes. The boy, an elementary school dropout, cannot swallow his deprivation given that other kids around him will have new clothes, and runs away from home. He tries to fulfil his dreams through wage labour, then robbery, and somehow ends up at a jihadi training centre. Had he become a professional robber, his end would not have been much different, only that now he will be called a shaheed or a ghazi.

This boy is the victim of a socio-economic system that has changed fundamentally in the entire sub-continent, and more so in Punjab – both Pakistani and Indian. Tractor trolleys have replaced the wooden cart pulled by oxen. In fact, the entire mode of production based on manual labour with oxen-pulled ploughs has disappeared from the landscape.

Villages where a few fortunate had bicycles have been inundated with motorcycles and cars. The villages from where only a few ever ventured outside, and even then to appear in court or make purchases for weddings, now have hourly bus services along with the twenty-four hour availability of rickshaws and taxis. Villages have been transformed into ghettos for cities. As the new generation of artisans and other working class people has brought money from the Middle East, the class arrangements that had prevailed for centuries have been uprooted.

In this new set-up, the individual’s role has been transformed as well. Societal roles have become more fluid: the son of a blacksmith or a butcher is no longer destined to take up us his ancestors’ occupation. However, along with the newly gained freedom, economic security is gone. In the previous social order the offspring of a blacksmith was assured to have certain economic security. Now everyone has to make his or her own living. This is a new crushing insecurity that has seeped into the psyche of the new generation.

Whatever is happening in Punjab is not new. In eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, similar phenomenon resulted in devastating results. Civil wars became common and ultimately two world wars were fought because of hyper-nationalism. In a sense, the jihadis are also affected by pan-Islam nationalism, which includes liberating Kashmir.

This process is accelerated by the fundamental socio-economic changes that always result from the creation of new wealth and increasing inequality in the initial stages. This universal rule applied to nineteenth century Europe as well as to present day China. Pakistan is going through a rough Darwinian phase where the big fish are swallowing the smaller ones. Concepts of wrong and right are thrown out the window and everyone is out there to grab whatever they can. As a result, a new rich class has emerged along with a new class of subjugated poor.

Amid this loot and plunder, sections of the middle and lower classes have taken refuge in religion and embraced jihad. On the one hand, religious outfits preach jihad, and on the other they provide education, health and other social services, which are supposed to be responsibilities of the state. Take Hafiz Saeed, who comes from the jihad-preaching middle class and also provides many social services in his centres. If the state had fulfilled its responsibilities, there would be no space for people like him.

No wonder in such circumstances, the young son of an impoverished father falls into the jihadi trap. No outsider but the state and the new rich have given birth to these jihadis, who will continue to proliferate unless the state and the ruling classes re-examine and correct their current practices.

December 16th, 2008

Courtesy: http://www.wichaar.com/news/294/ARTICLE/10614/2008-12-16.html

Boots for Bush

by Aziz Narejo, USA

The writer can be reached at: anarejo@yahoo.com

Hatred causes more hatred. Violence leads to more violence. Praising anyone who acts out of anger, contempt or hatred in a violent way is akin to supporting acts of violence and hatred. There are peaceful and non-violent ways to protest injustices and unscrupulous policies. I don’t know if one should be surprised at the response of some people at the recent Iraqi incident. I think it betrays whatever is actually wrong with the world today.

Washington discussion on future of Sindhi speaking people

– Ali Nawaz Memon, USA, sindhhouse@hotmail.com

A group of concerned Sindhis gathered in a continuing series of meetings on Sunday December 14, 2008 to discuss future of Sindhi speaking people.  The participants included Sain Shafiq Siddiqui, Iqbal Tareen, Sarfraz Memon, Ali Nawaz Memon, Waseem Cahchar, Mansoor Quraishi, Fuad Qadri, Fahim Larik, Jabar Siddiqui. Each of the participants is a established professional as well as a very concerned Sindhi. The discussion was failry detailed. Here is a simplified short report. As always, there was some discussion of who is “Sindhi”. The defination was left to each participant. every participant was free to think of whoever they considered to be Sindhi speaking…

It was noted that there were many aspects to future of Sindhis. Survival and advancement of language, culture, community relations, law and order, economic advancement, political situation are just a few factors. However, for this discussion, we agreed to focus on economic development/ advancement for survival of Sindhis and their children.

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