Tag Archives: alienation

‘Local govts have hindered any real devolution of power to the provinces’

By Usman Liaquat

KARACHI: Local government systems are meant to empower, but experts referring to recent Save Sindh rallies pointed out that in this country, they are not sufficient for democracy and have led to feelings of alienation among some ethnic groups.

At a seminar on the devolution of power organised as a part of Karachi University’s international conference on federalism, academics argued that the country’s political landscape is more complex than most people believe and that local government systems turn a blind eye towards the aspirations of some groups.

Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, highlighted the historical tension between local government systems and the provinces in Pakistan. “Unfortunately, almost all of the local government system experiments in the country have been conducted under military regimes. They have been used to legitimise fundamentally undemocratic rules.” Through these pliant local regimes, the authoritarian regimes at the centre bypassed the provincial governments altogether, protecting themselves from any challenges. Dr Akhtar claimed that in doing so, local government systems had actually hindered any real devolution of power to provinces in Pakistan and aggravated ethno-national movements.

SPLGA 2012

“Historically, local government systems have been used as a means to co-opt the middle and lower classes. But at the same time, they have ignored the demand of certain ethnic groups and alienated them,” said Dr Akhtar. “The democratic material was removed from local government systems and they were simply converted into instruments to distribute patronage.” Because the systems have been so apolitical, ethnic groups have viewed them with great suspicion. The spate of protests that nationalists organised against the Sindh Peoples Government Act (SPLGA) is the most recent manifestation of this.

Dr Akhtar also lamented the fact that people fail to recognise the numerous claimants to power in Pakistan – the SPLGA is the result of negotiation between only two groups and hence cannot claim to accommodate the needs of other ones in Sindh. “In military regimes, leaders co-opt only the groups they want to. But [with the SPLGA] we are still seeing various claimants to power, saying that they have been left out. This points out that we are simply ignoring the numerous divisions that exist in Pakistan.”

Continue reading ‘Local govts have hindered any real devolution of power to the provinces’

Our doomed democracy

By: Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan’s gradual alienation from democracy and its irreducible secular conditionality is owed to the growth of the idea of Islamic governance, today showcased by the Taliban

Pakistan follows the rest of the Muslim world in thinking about the state. There was a time when it was normal for a Pakistani to say that he was a Pakistani first; now he says he is a Muslim first, little realising that he was negating the modern state. Most of the states in the Muslim world began as modern states but are now on the brink of choosing a pre-modern order that is stranger to democracy. Egypt that leads the Muslims of the world intellectually now manifests the following symptoms:

Democracy as ‘tyranny of the majority’:

1) On the role of religion in government, 61 percent of Egyptians chose Saudi Arabia as the preferred model.

2) Asked whether Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Quran, 60 percent said yes while 32 percent said it should follow the values and principles of Islam and only six percent said laws should not be influenced by the teachings of the Quran.

3) The survey found that 61 percent of Egyptians want to diplomatically de-recognise Israel, while only 32 percent think it should be recognised. The feeling against Israel has surged among the youth.

Another poll found that 52 percent of Pakistanis too wanted sharia and desired an increased role of religion in their lives. Pakistan’s wealth is in the hands of a conservative elite which controls the media. Once upon a time the state TV was extreme in its Islamic tilt; now PTV is moderate compared to the ‘free’ TV channels numbering nearly 80. A new book Radicalisation in Pakistan by Muhammad Amir Rana & Safdar Sial (Narratives 2012) tells us on the basis polls that 87 percent of the journalists think that radical elements ‘have an effect’ on the media. You don’t have to read John Stuart Mill to conclude that Muslims demand democracy to impose ‘the tyranny of the majority’ on their societies.

Urdu and conservatism:

Conservatism in traditionally tolerant Muslim societies has morphed into fundamentalism threatening enough to cause three categories of Muslims to shut up: secularists, liberals and the moderate. The nation in Pakistan is weaning itself from the bilingual ambience of the past despite an increasing trend in the private sector to employ persons proficient in the use of English language.

Urdu is the vehicle of Islamist view. Pakistan is moving towards the status of a single-language country because of the ouster of English-language TV channels. Most graduates from universities are less able to use English and tend to be conservative if not Islamist in their aggressive rejection of secularists and moderates. This trend is shockingly clear in the social media. Some analysts are frank enough to say that the youth that dominates the social media – facebook, youtube, twitter, etc – will threaten the modern state in the Muslim world.

Radical assault on social media:

Continue reading Our doomed democracy

Limits to Imran’s magic

By Haider Nizamani

SPEECHES made at the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) rally in Karachi on Dec 25 were a perfect “motley mixture of high-sounding phrases … [and] adherence to the old routine”. It will hardly endear Imran Khan and his party to ordinary Sindhi and Baloch publics.

The issues speakers zeroed in on and the topics they did not touch upon offer an interesting insight into the ethos of the PTI and how out of touch it is with the Sindhi and Baloch political pulse. Both in terms of content and form there was little on offer for Sindhis and the Baloch in the vicinity of Jinnah`s mausoleum.

Start with what Imran Khan had to say about Balochistan. He quite correctly, and I am assuming sincerely, apologised to the Baloch for the wrongs done to them. Who was he apologising as? Was he doing it as a Punjabi? If so, he did not make it obvious. Nawaz Sharif did the same in a meeting with Sardar Ataullah Mengal only a few days back. Instead of echoing what Nawaz Sharif had said to Sardar Mengal, Imran Khan should have paid attention to the veteran Baloch leader`s response in which he considered such apologies hollow and minced no words in conveying to Mr Sharif that the Baloch youth viewed the army as a Punjabi army and not a national one.

Unless politicians from Punjab are willing and capable to rein in the army there is little hope of winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Balochistan. Imran Khan`s answer to Baloch alienation is to bring `development` to the province. Mention `development` to a Baloch and she/he immediately thinks of boots on the ground and men in khaki hunting down Baloch nationalists. `Development` in the Baloch perception means systematic exploitation of Balochistan`s natural resources and a denial of political rights spanning half a century.

Imran Khan quite naively invoked West Germany`s example of helping East Germany in the reunification of the two. He wants to play West Germany to Balochistan, conveniently forgetting that it was the East Germans who brought the Berlin Wall down to be one with their West German brothers.

In the case of Balochistan, the situation is almost the exact opposite where there is an ever-increasing aspiration to get out of Pakistan instead of an urge to be part of it. When it comes to Sindh, the PTI bowled, to use Imran Khan`s favourite cricketing analogy, a wide on Sindhis in both form and content. topi

Let us look at the form first. The team that Imran Khan chose to surround himself with on the stage did not even have a token Sindhi among them. Sindhis have not patented the Sindhi (cap) and it would have done no harm to adorn one when attempting to put up a mega political show in Sindh.

If you are going to punctuate speeches with songs then not having any Sindhi song on the playlist only sends a wrong message. Whether or not you appreciate Shah Abdul Latif`s poetry, it is customary to pay tribute to Latif when politicking in Sindh.

`Tsunami` may be a nice and thunderous word elsewhere but in the coastal areas of Sindh people associate it with misery not merriment. The list of such symbolic follies is too long for a newspaper column.

In terms of content there was little that Sindhis could identify with but a lot that would keep the PTI on the political margins in the province.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi`s speech was, again using cricket analogy, akin to Misbah-ul-Haq`s innings against India in the 2011 World Cup semi-final. Misbah scored only 17 runs during the first 42 balls he faced thus contributing to the cost incurred by Pakistan.

Qureshi did the same for Imran Khan in Karachi as far as PTI`s immediate fortunes in Sindh are concerned. Qureshi chose to play the nuclear nationalism card and accuse President Asif Zardari of being not as strong a nuclear nationalist as an ideal Pakistani president should be. He went on to educate, or rather bore, those attending with concepts such as no-first-use, Cold Start and asymmetric warfare.

The speech sounded more like a pitch to secure the slot of foreign minister in any future government than connecting with the masses in Sindh. Simply put, you don`t talk about that stuff in public rallies in Sindh. It finds little resonance with Sindhis.

Imran Khan was equally off the mark if one purpose of the show was to win the support of Sindhis. His road map was a motley of generalities guided by political naivety that made him look up to England as a model welfare state when he first set foot there as a teenager.

His solutions to complex socioeconomic and political issues are sought in simple steps like computerising the land records because a computer does not accept bribe or aspiration to provide free legal advice to 80 per cent of the population.

And no such talk is complete without customary tribute to Lee Kuan Yew`s ways of `developing` the tiny island of Singapore. These propositions resonate with the urban middle classes of Punjab and possibly Karachi but have little to do with various segments of the Sindhi population.

For Imran Khan the only hurdle in the way of exploiting coal deposits in the desert Sindh may be the law and order situation in Karachi but for Sindhis the issue is more complex and requires provinces having a greater say and decision-making powers when it comes to natural resources.

Imran Khan and his party have an attractive platform for the urban middle classes of Punjab but his slogans have little appeal where the Baloch and Sindhi political path is concerned, at least for now.

The writer is a Canada-based author. hnizamani@hotmail.com

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/27/limits-to-imrans-magic.html

It’s not a Recession, it’s a corporate Robbery – New spirit across the world

– Laurie Penny: Across the world, a new spirit took hold – power was taken back by the people

More than city squares are being occupied. What is being reoccupied is a sense of collective possibility

Something enormous happened on Saturday night. In over a thousand towns and cities around the world, people from all walks of life took to the streets and occupied the squares in an international “day of action” against austerity and corporate greed. In Madrid, I watched 60,000 stamp and cheer in Puerta del Sol as protesters took over a nearby building and dropped a banner reading “Somos El 99%” (“we are the 99 per cent”), a slogan from the Occupy Wall Street movement which has become a mantra for new global resistance.

As thousands streamed into the main square of the Spanish capital, a projector was showing hundreds facing down police to camp outside the London Stock Exchange. Protest, like profit, has become globalised.

The fact that politicians and pundits are asking what all these people want can be considered a victory for the “occupy everywhere” movement. It’s not a question many in public life have seemed much concerned with in the past decade.

What commentators fail to understand is that occupation is itself a demand. It’s a new, practical politics for those disillusioned with representative democracy, which demonstrators claim is a private club run by the rich, for the rich.

The recolonisation of public space, the forming of alternative communities based on direct democracy where people can meet and realise a common struggle, is an act of defiance with its own solution to the alienation and frustrations of life under capitalism. Those who attend occupations with individual grievances stay because they want to belong to a community built on mutual aid and shared values.

As political ambitions go, “occupy everywhere” is hardly modest. It is fitting that the most notable showdown of Saturday night took place in New York’s Times Square, where thousands of peaceful protesters clashed with mounted police under the glow of giant electric billboards in this temple to corporate power.

What is being occupied is far more than a few public squares for a few weeks. What’s being reoccupied is the collective political imagination, and a sense of collective possibility – beyond nationalism, beyond left and right – as millions of people lose faith in mainstream politics.

Power is not being petitioned here – it’s being reinvented. That’s what makes “occupy everywhere” so fascinating and also so exciting.

Courtesy » independent.co.uk

Meray Dil Meray Musafir!

Laal: Meray Dil Meray Musafir, Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Composition / Arrangment: Taimur Rahman, Mixing / Mastering: Jamal Rahman, Direction: Taimur Rahman and Mahvash Waqar, Acting: Comrade Irfan, Raheela, Natasha, Tehseen, Touseef.

Laal presents “Meray Dil, Meray Musafir” dedicated to the Birth Centenary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The music video is a new interpretation of Faiz’s iconic poem “Dil e Man, Musafir e Man”. While Faiz wrote this poem about exile, this video explores Marx’s concept of alienation within the context of modern industrial capitalism.

None of the individuals within the video are actors. Comrade Irfan plays his and his family’s shared experiences. In fact, every single role has been played by individuals who actually live these lives. The video was shot in the industrial areas of Lahore (Greentown, Multan Road, Defence Road, Ilaqa Nawab Sahib). Laal’s music is about real people and real struggles.

You Tube Link