Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

As we Pakistanis heap more ridicule on the American action to place a bounty on Hafiz Saeed’s head, derisively pointing out to the world how he is living openly in known residences; attending rallies in the open; addressing announced press conferences, and how he is thumbing his nose at his adversaries, we lose sight of the fact that (most of) the world is not on the same page as us.

No matter what defence we trot out: there is no evidence that he is a terrorist, the Lahore High Court having given him a clean chit; he heads a charity, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), and not a militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT); that he has even asked the United Nations to strike the JuD off the terrorist organisations list, and so and so forth, we lose complete sight of the fact that the United States is a power that can exert its influence anywhere in the world.

Continue reading Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

Pakistan’s tax-GDP ratio is at the same level as Ethiopia and Afghanistan – Shahid Kardar

Tax reform agenda for next government

By Shahid Kardar

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios and, even considering developing countries alone, it is in the bottom ranked nations in terms of the proportion of population registered as taxpayers – less than 5 percent. of household population. There is rampant tax evasion, partly with the collusion of the official machinery. Whereas 3.1 million people have the National tax Number, a mere 1.2 million filed an income tax return in 2010/11. What is even more startling is that of 47,800 companies that have NTNs, less than 16,800 filed an income tax return against 400,000 industrial electricity connections.

As admitted by FBR, there is a tax gap of 79 percent. (the difference between potential revenues under the existing system and that actually collected). Revenues can be raised through broadening of bases, improving the equity of the tax regime, incentivising documentation, checking evasion by embracing a zero-tolerance policy, checking harassment of, or collusion with, taxpayers by simplifying tax returns and making FBR a faceless bureaucracy, with interaction between taxpayers and tax officials limited through greater reliance on automated computerised systems.

The general tax reforms would include taxation of all incomes of same levels equally irrespective of source, with a swift reversal of the travesty of the recent amnesty granted to trading in shares. There is also need for legislation that will render all Benami Transactions illegal and subjecting all cabinet members, who should all be taxpayers, to detailed tax scrutiny throughout period of office, and they should all be taxpayers. The tax returns and Wealth Statements of all parliamentarians and holders of key public offices and their spouses (including Secretaries, Chief Justices, Chief of Army Staff, Governor State Bank, Auditor and Attorney Generals) should be public during period of office and one year thereafter. Finally, following good results of tax mobilisation initiatives, individual and corporate income tax rates and the GST rate could be lowered under a phased programme.

 

The specific reforms under different tax heads would be the following: For Income Tax: Greater dependence needs to be placed on technology and through that on the CNIC for tracking commercial transactions to identify potential tax evasion/evaders, including movements in bank accounts of large deposit holders. The FBR should periodically reconcile the property tax registers of all provincial governments, names of credit card holders and members of private clubs with those allotted National Tax Numbers, for the system to generate notices to non-filers. All presumptive taxes should be replaced by withholding taxes (which presently contribute 60 percent. of income tax revenues). And the rates of all withholding taxes should be increased by at least two percentage points as a revenue enhancing measure, to incentivise documentation and penalise those trying to avoid capture in the tax net. ….

Read more » The News

US-Pak relations

Fresh start awaited

Excerpt;

….. Pakistani politicians are notorious for saying one thing behind closed doors and something quite different in public. Be it fecklessness or an opportunistic streak that seeks to be on the right side of public opinion whatever the cost, Pakistani politicians have just not been able to tell the truth to the people, the ones whose interests they ostensibly represent. The truth is this: by closing the supply lines to Afghanistan, in boycotting Bonn and by succumbing to sundry other emotional responses since last November, Pakistan has put itself dangerously close to being definitively regarded as part of the problem in the ‘Af-Pak’ region and not part of the solution.

It’s not just the US that Pakistan has challenged, the mission in Afghanistan is still an international one and from Nato countries to other powerful states, all have a desire to prevent Afghanistan from descending into chaos and civil war again. Pakistan really cannot afford to be on the wrong side of that equation.

The problem is, with elections on the horizon and the right-wing mobilised and baying for blood, mainstream parties will not want to be seen to take the lead in restarting relations with the US, a relationship that is immensely unpopular after the active cultivation of anti-US sentiment over the years. Perhaps they may want to think about doing it in the national interest, the real, not perceived, one.

Read more » DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/04/06/fresh-start-awaited/

The Future of History – By Francis Fukuyama

Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?

Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of con­temporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE

Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences

Read more »Foreign Affairs

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history

Beyond the memo affair – By Raza Rumi

Excerpt;

…. Citizens have a right to ask why three serving chief justices of high courts are investing huge amounts of their precious time in handling the bizarre claims (and counter-claims) made by Mr Ijaz, when they should be attending to their core mandates of managing the high courts and thousands of subordinate courts. There are roughly 1.2 million cases pending in Pakistani courts and the cost of litigation is soaring due to a virtually unaccountable legal profession and corruption in lower courts. The Supreme Court has time and again reminded us that it is representing the people’s will and is answerable to the people only. Perhaps, nothing is as pressing for the ‘people’ than the denial of justice they are facing.

The Urdu media and internet forums are full of edicts against Mr Haqqani and sections of the establishment feel betrayed by his critical book on the Pakistan military. The least we can do is not to expose a man of his intellect to the rogue elements in the country. For the record, I have never met Mr Haqqani and hold no brief for his past adventures with the intelligence agencies. All I know is that he deserves a fair deal by a country he has tried to serve and defend in difficult times when everyone and his aunt have been wanting to ‘punish’ Pakistan.

Read more: The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.

Mumbai attack ‘mastermind’ Hafiz Saeed linked to Osama bin Laden

A $10m bounty was placed on the head of a Pakistani militant leader after the US obtained evidence he had been in close contact with Osama bin Laden, planning terrorist attacks, according to a former American intelligence official.

By Rob Crilly, Rawalpindi and Dean Nelson in New Delhi

Documents found by US special forces at bin Laden’s final hideaway in Abbottabad last year apparently linked Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, with the al-Qaeda leader.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and adviser to Barack Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan told The Daily Telegraph that the evidence showed bin Laden played a key role in planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

166 people died when 10 terrorists, thought to be from Saeed’s group, stormed five star hotels and a train station in downtown Mumbai.

Mr Riedel said the close connection lasted right up until the world’s most wanted man was shot dead in May last year.

“OBL communicated with Saeed and others via courier. He practised very good opsec [operations security]. The two had a long-standing relationship going back to the creation of LeT in the 1980s,” he said. “OBL provided some of the seed money to start the group.” ….

Read more » telegraph.co.uk

Living a marginalised life – By Faiza Mirza

The recent spate of forced conversions, killings and abductions for ransom of non-Muslims living in Pakistan is an open question mark to the democratic governance and establishment of the country.

“Unless we protect and strengthen the weak, we will not be able to exercise the true power of democracy,” said Nazish Brohi, an independent research professional and a human rights activist.

Inaccessibility to appropriate health facilities, education and other essentials of life have transformed many Pakistanis into ‘weaker beings’, with non-Muslim factions topping the list. It is consequential to understand that protection of the suppressed and marginalised population of Pakistan indeed, is the only way to prove our stance towards a secular country.

In a country such as Pakistan, where male section of the society is predominantly overpowering, women generally face an ‘unequal’ share of hatred and discrimination.

A case of double jeopardy

Pakistani women are more susceptible to violence and other violations of human and civil rights however non-Muslim women are subjected to more discriminated behaviour on different stages and level which increase the magnitude of their ordeal.

“A vast population of Pakistani women suffer from effects of double jeopardy as they are discriminated because of multiple reasons,” said Brohi.

“Women in general are discriminated by men of their own families because they are considered to be carrying the responsibility of safeguarding their honour. Women are then subjected to discrimination because of the fact that they profess other faiths. And then the never-ending discrimination goes on,” added Brohi.

According to a report published by National commission for Justice and Peace, 74 per cent of minority women living in Pakistan faced sexual harassment during 2010 and 2011, respectively, whereas 43 per cent complained about facing religious discrimination at workplaces, educational institutions and neighbourhoods.

Moreover the report also proved that 68.4 per cent of non-Muslim women have no political participation which according to Brohi evidently signifies the mistrust of minority women in the political system primarily because it does not offer significant assistance to them.

Forced conversions

With forced conversions and kidnappings for ransom on the rise, many non-Muslims have fled Pakistan to seek refuge abroad.

Mangla Sharma, Chairperson of Pak-Hindu Welfare association said, “forced conversions and blasphemy laws affect non-Muslims of Pakistan at every level. In fact it will not be unwise to say that legislation and laws are manipulated to favour the majority,”

Continue reading Living a marginalised life – By Faiza Mirza

In memory of: 30th death anniversary of man who brought ‘Sindh’s history to life’

By Z Ali

HYDERABAD: Hundreds of people, besides scholars, historians and writers attended the 30th death anniversary of historian, Pir Hasamuddin Shah Rashdi at Makli, also his final resting place. Rashdi was born in Larkano on September 20, 1911, and spent most of his life in Karachi, Sindh.

Continue reading In memory of: 30th death anniversary of man who brought ‘Sindh’s history to life’

US puts $10 million bounty on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed Jamaat-ud-Dawa group

By AFP

ISLAMABAD — A man with a $10 million US government bounty on him might be expected to have gone into hiding, but Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is one of Pakistan’s most high-profile and outspoken Islamists. ….

Read more » google

Pakistan confirms China has “no more interest” in funding project to build a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan

Pakistan Confirms China Pullout From Pipeline Project, Eyes Other Options

By RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan says the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has “no more interest” in funding a project to build a natural-gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan.

A Pakistani Finance Ministry spokesman said on March 14 that the Chinese institution had been negotiating with Pakistan’s Habib Bank over financing for the Pakistani section of the pipeline. He added that he did not know why the Chinese bank had pulled out of the deal. …

Read more » RFE/RL

We expect the Supreme Court to apologise for the role it played, says PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

We expect SC to apologise for role it played in murder of ZAB: Bilawal

By APP

NAUDERO: “We expect the Supreme Court to apologise for the role it played in the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,” were the words with which Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari summed up the case of righting his dead grandfather’s name in history, on the eve of the PPP founder’s 33rd death anniversary being observed in Naudero.

With his father, the President of Pakistan and co-chairman of PPP, Asif Ali Zardari watching, along with the PPP central executive committee, hundreds of thousands of loyal party workers which had gathered in Ghari Khuda Bux, and around the country, Bilawal exhorted, “the restoration of these judges by our Prime Minister was a truly historic milestone for our country. Now it is up to the courts to redeem their institutions sullied reputation in the eyes of history.” ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/359398/we-expect-the-sc-to-appologise-for-the-role-it-played-in-the-murder-of-zab-bilawal/

Why Karachi bleeds

Q: What type of conflict is taking place in Karachi?

A: The classification is “Ethno-political” – ethnicity, identity, politics and crime are all in conflict with each other.

Q: Who are the primary actors in the conflict?

A: MQM, ANP and PPP.

Q: Who are the secondary actors in the conflict?

A: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), organised criminal gangs, sectarian entities and foreign intelligence agencies.

Continue reading Why Karachi bleeds

Mad dogs and laal topiwallahs – By Feisal H. Naqvi

The latest of ‘crusaders’ (read idiots with a cause) who has taken his ‘case’ to the courts is one Zaid Hamid, self-described as the “Founding President of an Internationally Recognised Threat Analysis Consultancy and Defence Think Tank.” On March 27, 2012, he announced triumphantly that he had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the death penalty for a number of journalists as well as the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

Mr Hamid’s basis for seeking the death penalty against eleven different people is his firm belief that they are involved in “nefarious activities”, hence guilty of treason and hence liable to be put to death.

Continue reading Mad dogs and laal topiwallahs – By Feisal H. Naqvi

How painfully ironical that it is happening in PPP govt. in Lyari, the hub of PPP’s vote bank

Violence revisits Lyari: Three, including PPP leader, shot dead

SINDH – KARACHI: In a showdown between police and protestors on Monday, three people were killed while over a dozen sustained bullet injuries and were admitted to local hospitals.

Violence revisited Lyari as agitated residents took to the streets and clashed with police over what they described as ‘biased operation’ of law enforcement agencies against the residents of Lyari.

PPP leader dead

According to sources, PPP leader Hassan Soomro was also shot dead in this recent bout of violence.

Continue reading How painfully ironical that it is happening in PPP govt. in Lyari, the hub of PPP’s vote bank

Why not punish those who made Osama Bin Laden & his wives stay in Pakistan

Illegal stay: 45-day imprisonment, Rs50,000 fine for Bin Laden’s family

By Web Desk / AFP / Obaid Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: A senior civil judge indicted former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s family on Monday for having resided illegally in Pakistan.

Senior Civil Judge Shahrukh Arjumand handed down 45-day imprisonment along with a fine of Rs10,000 each, to Bin Laden’s three widows and two daughters, after the investigative unit of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) informed that the family had been residing illegally in the country.

During the proceeding of the case which took place in a private house declared a sub-jail located in Sector G-6/4, Justice Arjumand handed the sentence to Bin Laden’s three widows, Amal Ahmad Abdul Fatheh, Silham Sharif, and Kharia Hussain Sabir, and two daughters, 17-year-old Maryam and 21-year-old Sumiya, said family’s lawyer Muhammad Aamir while talking to The Express Tribune.

Amal was also charged under section 419 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for cheating and not providing her real identity, said Khalid Naeem assistant director (legal) FIA who appeared on the behalf of agency. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Via – Twitter

Bin Laden lived in ornate house while waiting for Abbottabad compound to be built

By Associated Press

HARIPUR, Pakistan — It’s an ornate but not lavish two-story house tucked away at the end of a mud clogged street. This is where Pakistan’s intelligence agency believes Osama bin Laden lived for nearly a year until he moved into the villa in which he was eventually killed.

The residence in the frontier town of Haripur was one of five safe houses used by the slain al-Qaida leader while on the run in Pakistan according to information revealed by his youngest wife, who has been detained.

Retired Pakistani Brig. Shaukat Qadir, who has spent the last eight months tracking bin Laden’s movements, told The Associated Press that he was taken to the Haripur house last November by intelligence agents who located it from a description they got from Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada.

Al-Sada, a 30-year-old Yemeni, has been in Pakistani custody since May 2 when U.S. Navy SEALs overran the Abbottabad compound, killing bin Laden and four other people inside. Since then, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as the ISI, has been trying to uncover the trail that brought him to Abbottabad villa in the summer of 2005. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

The CPC (Ontario) has condemned the Ontario Budget, delivered yesterday, as a massive attack on working people and the poor that will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, drive down wages, pensions, incomes and living standards, and which, combined with the austerity measures in Thursday’s federal budget, could push the province into another deep economic recession.

The Executive Committee of the CPC (Ontario) also warned that the threat of legislated wage controls is a dangerous attack on free collective bargaining and on civil and democratic rights.

Continue reading Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

India’s strategic policy – By Haider Nizamani

Excerpt;

…. In order to have comfortable relations with other countries, it is crucial for the state to have internal legitimacy, and democracy is the best tool with which to foster legitimacy ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Political cases are wasting precious time of courts & embarrassing Pakistani state

Beyond the memo affair

By Raza Rumi

The memogate inquiry shows how political cases are wasting the precious time of the courts and creating one embarrassment after another for the Pakistani state. If media reports are to be believed, the military and the ISI have already backtracked on their earlier zeal to get this issue further explored. The architect of the memo controversy, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, has retired and one hopes better sense will now prevail. At the same time, the principal character, Mansoor Ijaz, has been exposed as a vacillating, and an unreliable ‘witness’ during the proceedings. Yet, our Supreme Court wants to proceed with the case and the inquiry commission has been given additional time to investigate the unsigned memo. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Amar Jalil’s Program on Sindh TV with Advocate Amar Lal on Rinkal case

The language of the program is Sindhi.

Courtesy: Sindh Tv News (Amar Jalil with Advocate Amar Lal) » YouTube

SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case

March 30, 2012 – SAPAC, Washington, DC: On 24th February, 2012 , a young Hindu girl named Rinkel Kumari was abducted from her home in a small village in Sindh, Pakistan. It was a full twelve hours before her family discovered where she was. Rinkel, aged 19, had been forced to change her religion to Islam and to marry a young man named Naveed Shah. Her parents immediately filled a first information report and brought her case before a civil judge. The court house was surrounded by thugs and supporters of the Pakistani Peoples’ Party Member of the National Assembly (PPP MNA) who was assisting Naveed. Under tremendous pressure, and obvious duress, Rinkel testified that she had married and converted to Islam of her own will. The judge released her into Naveed’s custody. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Hindu community in Sindh rallied together to demand justice for Rinkel and other Hindu girls who had faced the same fate.

Continue reading SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case