Tag Archives: Challenges

Federal Challenges to Polity: Sindh Perspective

jamichandioBy Jami Chandio

Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been faced with a crisis of federalism. Early decisions to centralize power deprived smaller provinces of their most pressing demands for joining the new state: increased national/provincial autonomy and the devolution of power. For six decades, the promise of federalism has eroded under the weight of unfettered military rule, imbalanced and undemocratic state structures, and the domination of all federal institutions by Punjab. With outside attention trained on Islamic insurgency, observers are missing the most crucial dynamic in Pakistani politics, that of declining inter-provincial harmony. The specter of separatist movements once again haunts Pakistan, which has been on the verge of becoming a failed state. To survive these existing crises, Pakistan must adopt further transformative constitutional reforms that limit the reach of the center to the fields of defense, foreign policy, currency and other inter-provincial matters. By restoring a balance of power both between the executive and legislative branches and between the center and the provinces, Pakistan can move a pivotal step closer to substantive democracy, participatory federalism and sustainable political stability.

Once partition was completed, the initial promises of autonomy and devolution of power went unfulfilled by Pakistan’s ruling elite. Critical decisions taken by the center concerning the ratification of constitutions and governing documents, the elevation of Urdu language, and the amalgamation of the provinces of west Pakistan into the One-Unit scheme in 1955 deprived the provinces of the authority and position in the federation they expected upon joining the union. Federalism was bankrupted purposively, culminating in the ‘liberation’ of East Pakistan and the subjugation of the smaller provinces to the ruling Punjab-Urdu speaking nexus.

Continue reading Federal Challenges to Polity: Sindh Perspective

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited to part-time work, millions have been foreclosed out of their homes. Those who retain jobs suffer declining real wages, fewer benefits, reduced job security, and more work. This year of “austerity” began with an increase in the payroll tax rate for over 150 million wage-and-salary earners from 4.2 to 6.2 per cent (a 48% increase from 2012) — a far more significant tax event than the trivial — but wildly hyped — increase of taxes on those earning over $450,000 annually from 35 to 39.6 per cent (a 13% increase from 2012). Austerity deepens as Republicans and Democrats negotiate merely details of their agreements to cut government spending on social programs helping working people.

Between the crisis and today’s austerity policies lie the bailouts — a bought government’s program to aid mega-finance and other large corporations with unlimited funds unmatched by anything comparable for the mass of working people and smaller businesses. The bailouts worked for them, for the large corporations who secured them for themselves. For that reason, “recovery” blessed them while it bypassed everyone else. Now austerity policies shift onto the general population major portions of the costs of the crisis and the bailouts. The situation is so bad and US government complicity with capitalists at the people’s expense so exposed that the capitalist system is becoming questionable. Criticism challenges the last half-century’s treatment of capitalism as the absolutely best possible economic system, beyond any need for discussion or debate, justifiably implanted around the world by military force, etc.

First of all, this deep and long crisis undermines decades of confident assurances and predictions that another deep capitalist depression was no longer likely or even possible. Capitalism’s inherent instability overwhelmed and thus proved the futility of efforts to prevent its crises. Moreover, both conventional and extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies failed repeatedly to bring Europe, Japan, and the US out of the crisis. Central banks, international agencies, and national executives charged with economic responsibilities have, since 2007, spoken with assurance and met often, posed for media photos, puffed and threatened, made a few last-minute, stop-gap agreements, resolved to meet again and do more at the next meeting. However, the crisis continued for most people. In many places it has gotten much worse. All this challenges glib notions that capitalism’s highest authorities have the system “under control.”

Implicitly, at first, millions of people began to question whether capitalism does still “deliver the goods” as its defenders so long insisted. In the US, declining economic conditions for parents coupled with rising school debts and declining job prospects for their children suggest rather that capitalism “delivers the bads.” The widening inequalities of wealth and income that contributed to the crisis have in turn been further aggravated by it.

Continue reading Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

Canada gets human rights failing grade from Amnesty International

By: Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter

Excerpt;

…. An Amnesty report released Wednesday says that committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture and children’s rights found “a range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” especially for indigenous peoples.

“By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis,” it said. ….

Read more » The Toronto Star

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1304353–canada-gets-human-rights-failing-grade-from-amnesty-international

How PM conviction hysteria overshadows real security challenges

Has the threat diminished?

By: Huma Yusuf

POLITICAL hysterics resulting from the prime minister’s conviction and an equivocal Supreme Court sentence are currently overshadowing discussions about Pakistan’s security challenges.

Continue reading How PM conviction hysteria overshadows real security challenges

Pak-China ties changing? By Zafar Hilaly

One constant in our foreign relations since the early 1960s has been our singularly positive relationship with China, unlike our ties with other countries, which have had their highs and lows. But how well we manage this relationship will determine whether it proves to be an all weather highway or something more mundane.

While our geostrategic value to China is self-evident, especially our ocean frontage, which would give them commercial access to the sprawling Indian Ocean and the countries on its rim, yet there are challenges to be met before that can be turned into a reality.

The problems are numerous, like religious extremism that has made us particularly inhospitable to foreigners; congenital political infighting; gross economic mismanagement and a serious erosion of state authority and state coherence. Another problem has been the mediocrity of our leaders who are totally unschooled in foreign affairs. If these problems persist, China may conclude that we are too big a risk for them to make grandiose long-term investments.

And that’s not all. Our international isolation is another risk that might make China cautious about strategic investments which would increase its dependence on us while exposing them to danger and uncertainty. All of this may cause China to revise its thinking and adopt a much less ambitious approach – not withstanding all the gibberish about our friendship being ‘higher than K-2 and deep than the Indian Ocean’.

Hence, there was alarm when the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman praised Zardari’s trip to India. Not just that. He also accused ‘a country in South Asia’, for providing sanctuary to six Muslim Uighur leaders of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement who ‘not only threaten China’s national security’ but, according to the official Xinhua news agency, ‘poses the most direct and real safety threat that China faces.’ Xinhua also made brief references to how important India-Pakistan normalisation is for China today because Beijing sees subcontinental stability to be in its strategic interest.

Continue reading Pak-China ties changing? By Zafar Hilaly

Challenges for the new DG ISI – Dr Moeed Pirzada

Did General Pasha and his colleagues ever realise that their mid-20th century organisation, built on ‘paradigms of control and fear’ and buttressed through old fashioned notions of ‘national security’ and ‘patriotism’ needs a strategic rethink to face the challenges of a new interactive age? …

Read more » Daily Times

Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

By DECLAN WALSH

LAHORE, Pakistan — Long unchallenged, Pakistan’s top spy agency faces a flurry of court actions that subject its darkest operations to unusual scrutiny, amid growing calls for new restrictions on its largely untrammeled powers.

The cases against the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, have uncertain chances of success, analysts say, and few believe that they can immediately hobble it. But they do represent a rare challenge to a feared institution that is a cornerstone of military supremacy in Pakistan.

In the first case, due for a hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has ordered the ISI to produce in court seven suspected militants it has been holding since 2010 — and to explain how four other detainees from the same group died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months.

The second challenge, due for a hearing on Feb. 29, revives a long-dormant vote-rigging scandal, which focuses on illegal donations of $6.5 million as part of a covert, and ultimately successful, operation to influence the 1990 election.

The cases go to the heart of the powers that have given the ISI such an ominous reputation among Pakistanis: its ability to detain civilians at will, and its freedom to meddle in electoral politics. They come at the end of a difficult 12 months for the spy service, which has faced sharp criticism over the killing of Osama bin Laden by American commandos inside Pakistan and, in recent weeks, its role in a murky political scandal that stoked rumors of a military coup.

Now its authority is being challenged from an unexpected quarter: the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Only weeks ago, Justice Chaudhry, an idiosyncratic judge, faced accusations of being soft on the military when he inserted the courts into a bruising battle between the government and army.

Now Justice Chaudhry seems determined to prove that he can take on the army, too.

“This is a reaction to public opinion,” said Ayaz Amir, an opposition politician from Punjab. “The court wants to be seen to represent the popular mood.”

The court’s daring move has found broad political support. Last Friday, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, compared the military to a “mafia” during a National Assembly debate about the plight of the four detainees who died in ISI custody.

Continue reading Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

Sindh and Balochistan’s Issues are not the same as in the Islamic Republic of Punjab

Interview of Naseer Memon was conducted by “DUNYA” TV in the aftermath of a large gathering addressed by President Asif Zardari.

Translation by Khalid Hashmani

Excerpt of Interview;

The interview was conducted by “DUNYA” News Tv in the aftermath of a large gathering [Benazir’s aniversary rally in Garahi Khuda Buksh made PTI-Imran’s tsunami seen like a wall of jelly] addressed by President Asif Zardari in Garahi Yasin, near Larkano in Sindh. The interviewer wanted to know whether or not other political parties are making any headway into the minds and hearts of Sindhis. Naseer Memon sahib, as you can see in the video explains that people should not be misled by the number of people attending political gatherings. As the previous elections have shown that in Sindh and the rest of the Pakistan, the size of vote banks is not the same as the size of crowd attending a political rally. Often people attend the rallies of one political party but do not vote for them. Also, Sindhis may criticize PPP on not delivering on some of its commitments, it does not mean that they will not vote for it.

Memon sahib says that things that excite people in Punjab like Nuclear bombs and religious supremacy are not the main concerns of Sindhis. He adds that most Sindhis think that it is the expenses associated with nuclear bombs and military that are keeping people of Pakistan under poverty. He challenged the interviewer to find even one writing by a Sindhi intellectual that would praise ZAB’s words that “Pakistanis will eat grass but will make a nuclear bomb” even though otherwise he is considered one of their greatest hero. Naseer also points that most Sindhis want a secular form of government as the large minorities of Hindus, Christian and others live peacefully in Sindh. They are least excited by slogans of Islamic  state.

Commenting on the performance of PPP in Sindh, he said people are quite angry because of the decaying of infrastructure (roads, bridges, transportation, etc.) and education and health services outside of Karachi. They abhor increasing corruption of PPP officials and want a quick end to it. He also criticized poor response of the government to recent floods in Sindh. He concluded that people are asking these questions from PPP. He warns PPP that they should not take Sindhi people’s grievances lightly lest they may be left with no Sindh card.

Courtesy: Duniya News TV with Javed Iqbal » YouTube

Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?

By Shuja Nawaz

Internal militancy and insurgency are the immediate threats to Pakistan’s security.

Pakistan’s polity is fractured and dysfunctional, allowing the military to assert greater control over Pakistan’s response to this growing internal threat.

Civilian authorities have missed numerous opportunities to assert control over security matters. Miscalculation by the current civilian government in its attempt in 2008 to exert control over the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate soured civil-military relations at a time when the new army chief favored keeping the army out of politics.

The military’s interests are expanding to newer sectors, including economic policymaking, since a shrinking economy could hurt military interests and lifestyles.

An opportunity to improve security sector governance exists in the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority, which the government has unduly delayed.

This report reflects the views expressed during a conference entitled “Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?” hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center on April 19, 2011. Speakers at the event included the author, Professor Hassan Abbas of Columbia University, and Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The report discusses the complex political landscape in which Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities operate, often vying for power and supremacy; identifies the challenges facing Pakistan’s civilian government in the face of the military’s expanding role; and suggests a realignment of roles, increased expertise for civilian officials in security matters, and better civilian-military coordination. …

Read more » U.S. Institute of Peace

Beygairat Brigade’s YouTube Hit Song Challenges Extremism in Pakistan

Memo From Pakistan: Satirical Song, a YouTube Hit, Challenges Extremism in Pakistan

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A satirical song that takes a tongue-in-cheek swipe at religious extremism, militancy and contradictions in Pakistani society has become an instant hit here, drawing widespread attention as a rare voice of the country’s embattled liberals.

The song, “Aalu Anday,” which means “Potatoes and Eggs,” comes from a group of three young men who call themselves Beygairat Brigade, or A Brigade Without Honor, openly mocking the military, religious conservatives, nationalist politicians and conspiracy theorists.

Their YouTube video has been viewed more than 350,000 times since it was uploaded in mid-October. The song is getting glowing reviews in the news media here and is widely talked about — and shared — on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Read more » The New York Times

 

Pakistan’s military and legislators plan peace talks with Taliban

– In the midst of bad and worsening relations with Washington, Pakistan considers new round of peace talks with Pakistan-based Taliban, arguing that ‘military solutions’ are making things worse.

By Owais Tohid

Excerpt;

……. But analysts believe that striking negotiations with Islamic militants will pose serious challenges. “We struck peace accords with militant commanders during the past and those blew up on our face,” says Peshawar-based defense analyst, retired Brig. Mohammad Saad. “Once you enter into negotiations, they [the militants] grow bigger than their size and start believing themselves as equal. The more the state talks to them, they will become a bigger problem in Pakistan.”

“Their agenda is different,” Brigadier Saad adds. “Their ideology is in clash with the norms and values of any modern civilized society.” …..

To read complete article → csmonitor

800 million dollar question?

by D Asghar

Excerpt;

Many scream off the top of their lungs about our honor and sovereignty, but very rarely can come up with a solution, which hits a bull’s eye to our economic woes

The moment that dreaded news of the US government suspending its $850 Million aid to the Pakistani Military, hit the wires, there was this flurry of various experts. All weighed in, with their expert comments to exacerbate the already stretched and strained relationship between Pakistan and US. This was of course followed by all sorts of other explanations along with jingoistic comments.

The ongoing love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with America, begs some serious introspection. The gist of the matter is that any and all relationships, whether personal or national are dependent on vested self interest. To exploit a situation to maximize the self benefit is considered sound diplomacy. To say that we are lagging in that art of international politics would be a major understatement.

Ever since the event of May 02, we have been going through various debacles and till this date, we have not come to the realization of what challenges we face as a nation. We are surrounded by not so friendly nations around us. It is hard to admit, but it is due to our doing as well. From the get go, we seem to be in a “la Shaheen” mode. If it all boils down to the “strategic depth”, then make no mistake, we have dug a deep one for ourselves. ….

…. So as I said earlier, it all boils down to sound diplomacy. Diplomacy certainly does not mean laying down flat and let people run all over you. I think that it’s about time that we look around and learn a lesson or two from our neighbors. The $800 million question is what are we willing to apply, our rarely used head or our hyper inflated ego?

To read complete article → ViewPoint

Hopelessness to doom: Pakistan’s journey

Pakistan

by Malik A. Rashid

BBC reported, “The US is so concerned about security in Pakistan that it is considering plans to enter the country to prevent extremists getting hold of nuclear material”. According to Senator McCain, Pakistan’s ISI has connections with the Haqqani network. In his confirmation hearing Lt. Gen. John Allen said he is aware that explosive devises used against American forces in Afghanistancome from Pakistan. Adm. McRaven thinks Pakistanis know where Mulla Omar is. So, the US-NATO has enemies in Pakistan in their cross-hair.

But the war is not the root cause of the predicament Pakistan finds itself in. Declared #12 on the list of failed nations, Pakistan is the 3rd most dangerous country for women. Out of 70 million between 5 to 19 year old Pakistanis, only 30 million go to school. On education and health care together, government spends about 1% of the GDP. Pakistan’s rulers prescribed a low quality education for their public school system to keep commoners from joining the ranks of army officers and bureaucrats.

US have cut aid to Pakistan. Installment of IMF’s loan was declined because the government could not raise taxes. Pakistan’s economy grew by 2.4% in 2010-11, slower than Somalia’s economy which grew 2.6%. Population of the cities continues to rise; so does joblessness.

Since 75% of supplies to US and NATO troops in Afghanistan will be re-routed through North of Afghanistan by the end of this year, not only the war has turned unrewarding for Pakistan’s rulers, it challenges their power and state’s existence.

Army relied heavily on proxy-warriors to influence other countries in the region and manipulated international aid through terrorism, while the generals indulged in enriching themselves. The business empire of the Military Inc. continued to grow at the expense of dwindling electricity supplies while millions of citizens fell below the poverty line. A conflict with the world-powers has shaken the brazen and brutal power structure of Pakistan. …

Read more → ViewPoint

Save Pakistan or Taliban?

By: Former Senator Iqbal Haider

Excerpt;

…. The term “Taliban” being used here is inclusive of all their factions, groups of al-Qaeda and all the extremists, militant religious or Jihadi forces under whatever name or banner. In my view they are all the same. They all indulge in terrorism. They all have the common object of taking over state of Pakistan through terrorist activities. They all denounce other sects of Muslims as “Kafir, Wajibul Qatal”. Their different names with any prefix or suffix of Lashkar, Sipah, Jihadi or Tableeghi etc., do not matter.

Now that the same suggestion is being actively pleaded, the supporters of this suggestion must answer the most pertinent questions. First are Taliban willing to hold negotiations? I find no credible evidence to this effect. Secondly, why none of the pleader ever demands cessation of terrorist activities in Pakistan by Taliban as a condition precedent to negotiations? Thirdly, what would be the agenda of negotiations? Suppose if Taliban agree to hold dialogue, will they agree to abandon and denounce (a) terrorism; (b) their peculiar believes in the name of Islam and the policies that were followed by Mulla Omer in Afghanistan? Will the Taliban allow education to women, music, films, video shops, barbershops, television, photography, sportsmen wearing shorts, judiciary, democracy and democratic institutions such as are in Pakistan? Will the Taliban respect the historic monuments, places of worship and rights of the minorities without any discrimination and forcing them to wear any kind of mark of distinction? Will the Taliban respect all other sects of Muslims and allow them to freely practice all their religious rites and ceremonies without being branded as “Kafir” or “Wajibul Qatal”.

It is not expected of the Taliban to give answers in affirmative to these questions. Then the question arises that on what basis the negotiations are expected to be concluded? Are the advocates of this suggestion on the other hand willing to adopt the peculiar religious believes, policies, norms and practices of Taliban, which were in vogue under the rule of Mullah Omer? Is it possible to spell out the meeting points of negotiation with Taliban without subjecting the people of Pakistan of the beliefs and policies of a negligible number of Taliban in Pakistan.

There are no two opinions that Pakistan is at war with Taliban from within. The worst and longest war causing unprecedented and incalculable devastation in Pakistan. Never before our law enforcement agencies particularly our arm forces, paramilitary forces, police etc., had to sacrifice thousands of the lives of their officers and soldiers at the hand of Taliban. Never before so many thousands of innocent citizens became victim of the attacks unleashed by Taliban. Never before sense of insecurity of the life and property of the citizen as well as of the integrity of our country loomed so large. Never before Pakistan suffered such immense destruction of our economy, political, social, cultural life and sports.

Pakistan is facing the worst challenges from three fronts. Firstly the US and Nato countries are emphasizing that their war is against al-Qaeda. They are drawing a naive, illogical and untenable distinction between al-Qaeda and Taliban. Meaning thereby that their war against terrorism is confined against al-Qaeda only. As far as Taliban are concerned, is the headache of Pakistan mainly. The US is eager to strike a deal with Taliban through negotiations. ….

It is crystal clear that Pakistan and Taliban cannot coexist. If the Taliban are allowed to survive and increase their hold in Pakistan, it would amount to negation of Pakistan and negation of Quaid-e-Azam’s dreams, vision, philosophy and commitments as well as the objects and purposes for which Pakistan was created. Hence, we have no option but to cleanse Pakistan of all the Taliban groups, extremist obscurantist religious forces and all kinds of terrorists, so that Pakistan can be made a non-violent, peaceful, moderate, tolerant, progressive and modern state.

The writer is Senior Advocate Supreme Court, former Senator, Attorney General & Federal Minister for Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs & Human Rights

To read complete article → THE NEWS

RAJASTHANI (THRI) SUFI SINGERS

Like Sindh, Rajasthan is also facing a demographic and linguistic challenges. Rajasthanis are now cut-off from their fellow Thari/ Sindhis in Sindh but they are trying to hang on to their dialect of Sindhi, culture and traditions. Kachare Khan who beautifully sang the Raarno at the University of Illinois, USA a couple of years ago, is singing a Sindhi Kalam Suorat Tuhanji in this video clip.

YouTube

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Failed state or Weimar Republic?

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances

By Omar Ali

A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?

Continue reading Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?

By Fareed Zakaria

I am an American, not by accident of birth but by choice. I voted with my feet and became an American because I love this country and think it is exceptional. But when I look at the world today and the strong winds of technological change and global competition, it makes me nervous. Perhaps most unsettling is the fact that while these forces gather strength, Americans seem unable to grasp the magnitude of the challenges that face us. Despite the hyped talk of China’s rise, most Americans operate on the assumption that the U.S. is still No. 1.

But is it? …

Read more: Time.com

The Downfall of Political Islam

by Samir Yousif

Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.

The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.

(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.

I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).

“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …

Read more : http://www.document.no/2011/01/the-downfall-of-political-islam/

Clerics on the march

by Ayaz Amir

If the Pakistani establishment continues to see India as the enemy, keeps pouring money into an arms race it cannot afford, is afflicted by delusions of grandeur relative to Afghanistan, and remains unmindful of the economic disaster into which the country is fast slipping, we will never get a grip on the challenges we face.

This is not about blasphemy or the honour of the Holy Prophet. This is now all about politics, about the forces of the clergy, routed in the last elections, discovering a cause on whose bandwagon they have mounted with a vengeance. …

Read more : The News

Congressman Sherman writes to Secretary Clinton for Support to Sindh

Congressman Sherman writes to Secretary Clinton on Unique Challenges Faced by the Sindh Province

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA

Thanks to the efforts by Sindhi-American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), last week Congressman Brad Sherman wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on the unique challenges faced by flood victims in Sindh.  Following are the excerpts :

” …… However, I remain concerned that U.S. assistance will not reach those who need it most. Reports of corruption arose in the aftermath of 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. Many survivors continued to await internationally-funded Pakistani assistance to rebuild their homes more than one year after the earthquake. We must ensure that all assistance reaches those most severely impacted by this disaster in as timely and efficient manner as possible.”

“The widespread devastation wrought by this disaster cannot be overstated. Further, the populations impacted are spread throughout multiple provinces, including the Sindh, the Punjab, and Balochistan. On August 10th, estimates from the Sindh alone included almost 1.4 million people and 2,534 villages affected by the floods. As of August 17, one week later, 176,000 homeless families in the Sindh had yet to receive temporary shelter materials. Over this past year, through communications with the Sindhi-American community, I have learned of the unique challenges faced by the Sindh. The flooding was further exacerbated these challenges. I urge you to ensure that U.S. efforts reach all affected Pakistanis and particularly those in the Sindh.

Please join me in thanking the leaders of SAPAC for their efforts to get the concerns of Sindhi flood victims to be visible to the highest leadership of the United States.

The Sindhi society is not a hate society that dislikes others. Their opposition to mass migration towards Sindh is due to their natural desire to survive as a nation in their historic land

Washington Sindhis Get-together with Nazir Essani and Discussion on Sindhi Challenges

by: Khalid Hashmani

On June 12, 2009, several members of Sindhi community of the Washington D.C. area had a get-together with a visiting Sindhi Social Development consultant Mr. Nazir Essani at a local restaurant. Apart from customary introductions, the group had an excellent discussion session about the current situation in Sindh and the challenges that must be met by Sindhis to survive as a nation. Those who participated in the discussion included Nazir Jawaid Bhutto, Essani, Khalid Hashmani, Ali Nawaz Memon, Sarfraz Memon, Hanif Sangi, Aijaz Sindhi, and Iqbal Tareen.

Continue reading The Sindhi society is not a hate society that dislikes others. Their opposition to mass migration towards Sindh is due to their natural desire to survive as a nation in their historic land

Awami Jamhoori Council (AJC) held Latif Day (Jashan-e-Latif)

JAMI CHANDIO To speak on “POLITICAL CHALLENGES TO SINDH” Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm Venue: Central Office Awami Jamhoori Council (AJC) Blue Sky Tower, Auto Bhan Road, Near Fish Point, Giddu Chaok, Latif Abad. Lecture is in series of weekly interactive sessions for political education of political activists and common citizens, initiated by Awami Jamhoori Council.

-///-///-///-

Awami Jamhoori Council (AJC) held Latif Day (Jashan-e-Latif) in Maqsood Rind town, a small city between Shahdadpur and Shahpur Chakar.

Pleasant evening of Saturday was marked with huge gathering of political activists and common men and women in Maqsood Rind town, which started at 8 pm and ended at 2:00 am, went on for uninterrupted 6 hours.

Abrar Kazi, President AJC presided the event, writer Jami Chandio was the chief guest, TV Anchor and writer Javed Kazi, Sindh Hari Committee President Azhar Jatoi, AJC Vice President Hussain Bux Narejo, Wishno Mal, Dada Suleman Dahri, Noor Nabi Rahojo, Wishno Mal, Adi Nazir Qureshi, Dr. Abdul Rehman Rind (our local host) Khadim Talpur, Wafa Sindhi and Ali Sher Wassan (local hosts) also spoke on the occasion. Two young girls and Bahadur Rind conducted the program.

Continue reading Awami Jamhoori Council (AJC) held Latif Day (Jashan-e-Latif)

Book review – Harvest Will Come (New Book by Iqbal Tareen)

A new book by an American of Sindhi-Pakistani origin is published. The book contains selected articles, correspondence and speeches of Mr. Tareen, who is a noted human rights, and political rights activist.  Mr. Tareen is former President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) and founder President of Jeeay Sindh Students Federation (JSSF) (1960-70s). Mr. Tareen is current president of Washington based civic group called “Forum for Democracy and Justice in Pakistan” The book contains Mr. Tareen’s vision for Pakistan and Sindh, socio-economic and Political challenges that country and province face.

It also contains correspondence between him and Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, his few letters to US administration including Secretary of State, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now VP Joe Biden, his speeches to different protest demonstration outside White House on democracy issues in Pakistan. The Book also reflects on his association with politicians of Sindh late GM Syed and Rasool Bux Palijo.

Book provides Writer’s excellent reflections on Sindh and his vision under several articles such as :

1. Sindh on the Threshold of 21th Century,

2. Sindh in the Eye of Terror,

3. Sindh Vision 2020,

4. US Sindhis Demand equity in Indus Commission,

5. 11 Guardians of Indus,

6. Chauvinism lurking out of Punjab,

7. Sindh is mother of Pakistan,

8. Government warned against division of Sindh

And the master piece of the book is valuable, thoughtful and beautiful article “Harvest will come” the title of the book, which is an excellent & refreshing analysis of change in modern history specially since 1820 to latest, how world has moved forward over the years, and writer believes “No matter how hard they try they cannot deny you dreams and hope. They might have stolen the day but tomorrow belongs to you.

Have faith, the harvest will come.

The Book is useful for those who have interest in Sindh’s Political issues, democracy in Pakistan and its American connections, also how does enlightened Pakistani Diaspora thinks of its own country.

For Contact Author Iqbal Tareen at iqbal.tareen@gmail.com

Federalism and Democracy – Pakistan’s Experience and Challenges

Forwarded by Khalid Hashmani (McLean, Virginia, USA)
“The breakup of Pakistan would be a costly and destabilizing development that can still be avoided, but only if the United States and other foreign donors use their enormous aid leverage to convince Islamabad that it should not only put the 1973 Constitution back into effect, but amend it to go beyond the limited degree of autonomy it envisaged. Eventually, the minorities want a central government that would retain control only over defense, foreign affairs, international trade, communications and currency. It would no longer have the power to oust an elected provincial government, and would have to renegotiate royalties on resources with the provinces.”

Continue reading Federalism and Democracy – Pakistan’s Experience and Challenges

Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities

Elite Pakistanis are not happy with Zardari Government!
Report by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
Last Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, I attended a presentation at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC on Pakistan. The topic was “Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities” . The presenter was Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, who is a former Senator and currently associated with GEO Television and daily English newspaper “The News”. In the past, Mr. Mahmood has represented Pakistan as a delegate to the UN. The tone and content of his presentation was to introduce the notion that Pakistan’s 15,000 elite were uneasy about the present Pakistani government headed by Mr. Zardari and ready to embrace yet another military intervention.
Mr. Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the US was also present in the meeting hall before the session began but tactfully left the meeting before Mr. Mahmood began his presentation to avoid embarrassment and critical comments against the present government.

Continue reading Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities

Meet the ‘new’ Asif Zardari

By Karan Thapar

NEW DELHI- Most people, I believe, grow to fill the responsibility placed on them. Promotions are, therefore, an act of faith. But that said and done I’m flabbergasted by the change in Asif Zardari. He’s literally become a different person.

The Asif I remember was a jovial tease, informal, chatty, fond of the good life and determined not to be boring or even serious. We first met the night after his wedding. “Benazir has told me all about you,” he said with mock gravity. “I’m on my best behaviour!” He then spent the evening pulling my leg and, frequently, his wife’s too. Weeks after Benazir first became prime minister we were together on her special flight from Islamabad to Karachi. It was an aged propeller plane which flew at a sedate speed. Sitting in the prime ministerial drawing room at the front, Asif looked at his watch. We’d been traveling for nearly two hours. “If you’d stuck to PIA not only would you have arrived but you’d be in the hotel pool by now!” I protested I wasn’t in a hurry. “Yeah? Let’s see if you return with us!” I didn’t. The Asif I meet two weeks ago was very different. Now the adjectives I would use are measured, emollient and deliberately self-effacing. Of course, he’s still charming, chatty and can’t resist teasing but there’s new gravitas, a consciousness of responsibility and a convincing sense of wisdom. Consider two examples. I pointed out that Nawaz Sharif would keep the PPP-led government unstable. Benazir’s reply would have been defensive. Asif chose to turn my question on its head. “And I welcome that,” he said. “I need people to keep me in check.”

“You need to be kept in check?” I asked, puzzled. “Power is a tricky thing,” he responded. “What better can I ask for than my own ally should check me?”

It was a winning answer but also utterly unexpected. How many politicians on the brink of power welcome the prospect of being kept uncertain and unstable? Even if he didn’t mean it, it was the perfect thing to say. However, it wasn’t just fluent cleverness that made Asif so engagingly different. He also showed vision and courage. When I asked about Kashmir and the role it has played separating. India and Pakistan, Asif, in a simple heartfelt reply, reversed Pakistan’s stand.

Let’s put Kashmir aside for a wiser generation to sort out, he said. Let’s not be hostage to the UN resolutions, he added. Let’s get on with the rest of the relationship and once we’ve learnt live and love each other then tackle Kashmir. Stunned, I made Asif repeat this three times. Not once did he use the opportunity to resile. Each time he re-affirmed what he’d said.

Finally, I asked: “Can you carry your countrymen? Can you handle the backlash this would provoke?”

Asif’s reply was simple. There were no flourishes or braggadocio. “That’s the test of leadership,” and he left it at that.

I can’t predict what sort of government the PPP under Asif Zardari will give Pakistan. I can’t even state Asif won’t change this position. Politicians often do and Asif has faced flak from the Jamaat at home and the Hurriayat in Kashmir. But I do know that Asif did not get carried away. This was not indiscretion or impetuousness. He meant what he said and, what’s more, he meant to say it.

In fact, when I asked if Dr. Manmohan Singh chooses to invite the new PM what the response would be, Asif said not only would the prime minister come but so too Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Fazlur Rehman, Altaf Hussain and Asif Himself. A new Pakistan would seek to be friend India.

I’m therefore full of hope. And whilst I accept hope can easily be dashed, I would say there’s need to encourage this one. That’s the challenge facing our government. How do we assist Asif Zardari without embarrassing or undermining him?

Courtesy: Hindustan Times