Tag Archives: democracy

Time to change course

By Najam Sethi

Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.

It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.

Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.

– See more at: http://www.najamsethi.com/time-to-change-course/#sthash.5kCkjdPc.8J2Km32a.dpuf

Pak state rapidly withering away

Nadeem F ParachaBy Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan

‘The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity,’ says Nadeem Farooq Paracha.

Born in Karachi, Nadeem Farooq Paracha is a leading cultural critic, political analyst, and a columnist. In the 1980s, he was active in student politics at college with Peoples Students Federation (PSF). Twice, he was arrested under the Zia dictatorship. For ten years he worked with the Jang Group (first with Weekly Mag and then with The News between 1990 and 2000). Currently he is doing regular columns for the DAWN, Dawn.com, The Pioneer and Indian Express. In an interview with Viewpoint, he discusses the character of Pakistani state. Read on:

Ayesha Siddiqa in her book Military Inc (2007) describes Pakistan as a Praetorian state. In his recently published Pakistan: The Garrison State (2013) Ishtiaq Ahmed describes Pakistan as a ‘Garrison state’. Pakistan is also described as the ‘National security state’ in journalistic narratives. How would you characterize the Pakistani state?

I wonder if Pakistan really has any kind of a state left anymore. Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned expressions like Praetorian, Garrison and National Security State are basically mediations on a similar concept. By and large, Ayesha and Ishtiaq Ahmed are talking about the same thing. I’d say Pakistan is a National Security state. Same thing.

Do you think Pakistan can also be described as a Rentier state? After all, it has been renting out military services to Gulf sheikhdoms. Post-9/11, it has rented out military facilities to the USA True, the rent is not on regular basis as stipulated by Hossein Mahdavy who propounded the theory. However, Pakistan has largely been under an autocratic rule. Your comments.

I think any state with a large and, if I may, an entrepreneurial military would have a prominent rentier side to it as well. And ironically, the Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan.

Do you think the Marxist notion of state as a particular expression of class formation instead of a “thing” or collection of individual social actors is relevant?

As a self-proclaimed Marxist during my student years, I was never comfortable with this concept.

To me this idea is too abstract. I’ve never been able to relate to it on an intellectual nor on an instinctive level. I think the whole concept of individuality finally managed to overpower at least this Marxian idea of the state in me, especially considering the fact I live in a country where religious sectarianism and ethnic nationalism have submerged the whole concept of class as being secondary.

Khaled Ahmed in his booklet Pakistan and Nature of State: Revisionism, Jihad and Governance (2009) claims: that unlike other states that have three mutually balancing centres of power i.e. the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, Pakistan has six ‘existential’ pillars of the state: ‘Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Army plus Establishment, Media, and Jihadi Organisations’. Do you think Pakistan is an exception to rule?

Ahmed is correct. The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity. One can say that all six pillars usually feed off each other, but not always. And when this happens you get a situation like the one we are in these days.

This is certainly exceptional and exactly the reason why policy formation through a consensus is so tough in this country and also why most political scientists of the world have struggled to fully understand the political dynamics of Pakistan.

We have states within a state so much so that the conventional idea of having a state has rapidly withered away.

Continue reading Pak state rapidly withering away

Pakistan: A rentier state

Pakistan is a praetorian state which allows the military to partner with various other elite groups. They may contest each other on the basis of who will play the lead role or if the share of one of the elite group is threatened by the other

Pakistan is what you can call a fragile ‘limited access state’ where elite are unable to set rules for mutually beneficial rent-seeking. This creates problems and increases conflict, says Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa.

Read more » View Point Online
http://www.viewpointonline.net/pakistan-a-rentier-state.html

What’s wrong with Pakistan?

By Peerzada Salman

KARACHI, Aug 16: A book titled ‘What’s wrong with Pakistan?’ written by eminent journalist Babar Ayaz was launched at a hotel on Friday.

The main feature of the event was an interesting discussion on the contents and genesis of the book with the writer anchored by journalists Asif Noorani and Amir Zia. Mr Ayaz was first requested to read out a couple of passages from What’s wrong with Pakistan?

The author obliged and mentioned that at the beginning of every journalist’s career he’s asked to learn about the five Ws (what, where, when, who and why). Citing examples of the likes of political economist Adam Smith and economist and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx, he pointed out they studied why society behaved in a particular way.

He said he had read many books on the topic he chose to write on but had found out that those books shied away from calling a spade a spade. His was an attempt to call a spade a spade. He then read out passages from the preface to the book in which he touched upon issues such as distrust between institutions and provinces, military operations, war on terror and the notion of a failing state espoused by certain writers. He said there was a need to have an unbiased and dispassionate diagnosis. He argued Pakistan was born with a genetic defect.

After the reading was over, Mr Noorani asked the writer about why he penned a book at such a later stage in his life. The author replied that when he was a young student in Sukkur, he was required to read Shakespeare. It made him think to himself that Shakespeare would not have even imagined that one day his work would be read in a place called Sukkur. This meant writing helped you live on. Mr Ayaz said he was not in favour of compiling his newspaper columns into a book. The fact that Syed Sibte Hasan began writing after he turned 60 proved an encouraging factor as well.

Continue reading What’s wrong with Pakistan?

Russia amid changing perspective of Afghanistan

By Zulfiqar Shah

…. A similar situation is also prevailing in Pakistan, where dominancy of ethnic Punjabi in association with Urdu-speaking privileged community has perverted society in name of Islamization so that Punjab may carry on its colonization of Sindh, Baluchistan, and KP in Pakistan. It is also important to note here that in so many manners, if the chemistry of statecraft Pakistan is not changed, the issue of Afghanistan will never get resolved. Mostly because, the exclusive and non-representative security establishment of Pakistan devises it’s foreign policy, which ultimately is dominated by ethnic Punjabis and their junior partner Urdu speaking bureaucracy. Therefore, it is also essential to find the Afghan destabilization strings within the single ethnic dominated and non-pluralistic state chemistry in Pakistan. In the long term perspective, it is therefore would become unavoidable that after an optimum level stability in Afghanistan, a much needed state-chemistry change of Pakistan will also be needed. Until and unless Pakistan is not made free from ethnic Punjabi-cum Urdu and Salafi minority dominancy, there are no signs of major policy change of Pakistan towards the stability of Central-South Asian region.

Read more » Russian International Affairs Council
http://russiancouncil.ru/en/blogs/Zulfiqar-Shah/?id_4=598

Transition: Sindhi nationalist Ali Hassan Chandio dies

By Sohail Khattak

KARACHI: Ali Hassan Chandio, a Sindhi nationalist and Chairman Sindh National Movement (SNM), passed away after prolonged illness at the South City Hospital on Wednesday night. He was suffering from kidney problems coupled with diabetes.

According to his friend Asad Chandio, Hassan started his political life from Democratic Student Federation (DSF) and also remained active in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during which he was sent to prison where he was subjected to lashing. Ali Hassan was considered the youngest prisoner of conscience in Pakistan.

Continue reading Transition: Sindhi nationalist Ali Hassan Chandio dies

Déjà Coup?

By Tarek Radwan | July 04, 2013

Things in Egypt are moving quickly—too quickly for comfort. Since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement warning of a forty-eight hour window to solve Egypt’s political problems, government officials and ministers jumped the sinking ship, as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood found themselves in a struggle for political survival after rocketing to the top of the political food chain only a year earlier. And then the army dropped its hammer. Morsi no longer rules Egypt and the revolution appears to have returned to square one after the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

After only four days of mass anti-Morsi protests and counter protests, violent clashes that left eighteen dead and hundreds wounded, and extreme rhetoric and rumors on all sides, the Egyptian military rolled out its armored personnel carriers and troops in an effort to control key state institutions and protest areas. Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF) and appointed negotiator between the military and Morsi’s political opposition, spoke to a crowd of millions about a rejuvenated revolution, just as the Egyptian presidency released a statement rejecting what they view as a military coup. Secularist and anti-Morsi protesters celebrated well into the night but Islamists decried an attack on their legitimately elected president and their faith. The question remains: Is military intervention a step forwards or a step backward for Egyptian democracy?

The complexity of what the world is witnessing in Egypt cannot be understated. Its international partners cannot ignore what Islamists are lamenting: Morsi is the first freely elected, civilian president in Egypt’s history. Neither can observers disregard that a forcible removal of Morsi from office by the military is the very definition of a “military coup,” regardless of the individual or group that replaces the incumbent. However, the view that a military coup is an inherently obstacle to democratic development needs to be reexamined in light of the massive popular outrage that has poured out into the streets of Tahrir, the Presidential Palace, and across the country.

Many analysts and government officials struggle with an apparent catch 22: support the Egyptian army’s action and risk hypocrisy in light of calls for democratization, or condemn Morsi’s ouster and risk accusations of standing against the will of millions of Egyptian citizens. Is there a middle ground? Why do so many feel the impulse to celebrate a return to military control? The answer lies in the disastrous mismanagement of Egypt’s transition at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi has directly contributed to the most intensely polarized political environment in recent memory. He and the Muslim Brotherhood have practiced exclusionary politics when political consensus proved too difficult, or simply a meaningless pursuit in their calculation. These misguided policies led to a pattern of human rights violations that limited free expression, exacerbated sectarian tensions, and supported government impunity. The political crisis compounded the economic crisis, as the fiscal and budgetary deficits trickled down to the poor and middle class whose need for food and fuel outweighed faith in an Islamist system.

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Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

By Anwar Iqbal

“Democracy is the only option for Baloch nationalists,” says Balochistan’s new chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “We need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.”

In an interview to Dawn.com, Dr Malik said that a move by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to create a separate state for Balochs will further confuse the Baloch struggle for their rights.

“In the past, we were told the revolution will come from Moscow. Now we are told it will come from Moscow. I disagree with such suggestions. We need to struggle for our rights within Pakistan. We need to work with other democratic forces in the country.”

He said that relations with neighboring states, particularly India, Iran and Afghanistan have a direct impact on the situation in Balochistan.

“Our institutions need to sit together and work out a new foreign policy if we want peace, particularly in Balochistan.”

The sectarian violence, he said, was directly linked to the Iran-Saudi conflict and “we need to device a balanced approach to prevent these two countries from fighting their war on our turf.

Continue reading Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

The next prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has promised to stand together with the West in taking on the forces of terrorism, hours after voting finished in the country’s historic general election.

During a close-fought campaign Nawaz Sharif had promised to end drone strikes and review the country’s relationship with America. As he publicly claimed victory in the poll, the two-time prime minister sought to reassure Western governments and said he would not pull back on the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“I have experience of working with US counterparts and will be very happy to further work with them,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“What is most important is that we must never allow our soil to be used by anyone to create problems with any country in this world.”

Continue reading Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomes recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan

Houston, Texas – (Press release): Jamil Daudi, President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomed the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan. In a statement issued in Houston, Texas, SANA said it was a good omen that an elected government completed its term & the transfer of power is taking place peacefully through elections as according to the Constitution. SANA congratulated the winning parties and candidates and expressed the hope that new federal and provincial governments will solve the problems faced by the people.

However, while welcoming the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan, it has expressed grave concern over the serious charges of rigging in Karachi, Hyderabad and other parts of Sindh. It demanded that fresh polls must be held in the two cities of Karachi and Hyderabad under strict security and better polling arrangements to avoid any election fraud. It also called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the election rigging complaints from other areas in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. The Election Commission must take immediate steps to ensure that elections are never stolen and all the people get their fair chance to elect their representatives in a free and fair election without any duress.

SANA called for constitutional amendments to accord maximum autonomy to the provinces and giving them ownership of their resources. SANA said the people of Sindh face innumerable problems including the unemployment, poverty, lack of developmental works, lack of education and health facilities, unavailability of safe drinking water, unbearable load-shedding, deplorable law and order situation, shortage of irrigation water, lack of civic amenities, unjust distribution of resources, etc. The upcoming federal and provincial governments must give immediate attention to these and other problems faced by the people and solve them on the priority basis.

SANA is also alarmed and expressed its dismay over the delay and outcome of elections in Baluchistan and the general situation in Baluchistan. It appeals to federal government to resolve thorny issues with the Baloch nation peacefully, give Baluchistan its share of resources and work for the welfare of people of Baluchistan.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, May 13, 2013.

PAKISTAN – The poeple have spoken!

When you ask “why are the majority of Muslims silent against terrorism? Look at the masses voting in Pakistan today despite Taliban bombs going off at polling booths.” So many women and youth out there at the booths. Women who stood for their right to vote against armed, masked men. Despite all the threats the turnout has been awesome. Awesome job Pakistan!! The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is reporting that estimated 50% – 60% voter turnout across the country. The huge voter turnout was a kind of truimph of modern, secular democracy over and defeat of medieval-o-Fascism represented by barbaric Talibans and Jihadists. Second, success of a single mainstream party to obtain a near majority seats of the Federal Parliament would be good for the political stability of the country. Let no analyst, expert or pundit say there’s no hope for democracy in Pakistan. The people have spoken!

Courtesy: Adopted from Social Media (Pk e-geoups + Facebook + Twitter + DailyMotion)

Gunmen Kidnap Former Pakistan Prime Minister’s Son

By Maxine Wally 

A former Pakistani Prime Minister’s son was kidnapped Thursday, as attacks mount in lieu of the country’s upcoming elections.

Yusuf Raza Gilani, member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was headed for a small political gathering in the city of Multan, when his son, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped by gunmen, according to Reuters.

His brother Musa, harrowed and outraged, appeared on a local television station in a short interview.

“If we don’t get my brother by this evening, I will not let the elections happen in my area,” he said.

Leader of the Pakistani Taliban Hakimulla Mehsud sent a letter to the party’s spokesperson detailing plans for suicide blasts and bombings at the polls in each of the country’s four provinces, scheduled for voting day, Saturday.

The Taliban have killed over 100 party workers and civilians since the beginning of April, attacking any political affiliates of secular-leaning parties that threaten the militant group. They have deigned the elections as “un-Islamic” and said they will carry out a series of attacks to cripple the elections in any way they can.

We don’t accept the system of infidels which is called democracy,” Mehsud claimed in the letter dated May 1.

Taliban spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters that they were not responsible for the kidnapping, despite details given in the aforementioned letter.

Continue reading Gunmen Kidnap Former Pakistan Prime Minister’s Son

Ominous signs

By I.A Rehman

THE day after tomorrow the people of Pakistan are likely to learn once again, among other things, the futility of efforts to establish a democratic order without efficient, democratic party apparatuses.

The party that is to suffer the most for lacking an effective party machine is the PPP. Its capacity to avoid learning from past debacles, that were caused or at least accentuated by the non-availability of dedicated party workers, is truly phenomenal. It used to discount the role of an organised party structure by describing itself as a movement. It can no longer claim that title because no charismatic leader is visible to whom the masses can swear allegiance.

In fact, fully evident are the disastrous consequences of destroying party activists by allotting them sinecures in government or allowing them the privilege of chaperoning ministers or being photographed with them. That is why bets are being offered on the size of its losses instead of the chances of its success.

Even the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), that is currently riding high on a wave of popularity, may rue its lack of seasoned party workers in sufficient numbers. The young men and women who have just joined the party are no doubt full of enthusiasm but they need time to establish their credentials within their communities.

The party looks set to make a handsome haul of seats on polling day but its tally could be bigger if the space between the leader and the voters had a larger and more distinguished and active population.

Among the parties that are expected to do better than before the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) attracts attention. Its workers are constantly in touch with the electorate thanks to its strong following among prayer leaders at mosques and madressah teachers and controllers. However, the party may face some difficulty as a result of its cadres’ change of roles from khuddam-ud-din to armed extremists, and the streak of arrogance the party leader’s fatwa business betrays.

The party that can do with a narrow cadre base is, of course, the PML-N, because it represents the interests of the class that has been wallowing in riches since the days when Ziaul Haq boosted Punjab’s economy with huge financial transfers.

Moreover, the party can attract travellers from one platform to another because it offers security from militants as well as the privilege of closeness to the custodians of Nazariya-i-Pakistan and certified patriots. Still, it has reason to be wary of the challenge from the PTI.

Far more important than the fate of political parties in the election is the question as to what lies ahead for the country and its luckless people. Chances are that whoever the winners on Saturday may be democracy is unlikely to be amongst them After making allowances for the challenges electoral arithmetic presents, one may say that the provinces look set to go their different ways. It might be difficult to deny the PML-N a majority in the Punjab Assembly but elsewhere we may see strange experiments in coalition-making.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa we may have a coalition between the PPP, the JUI-F and the Awami National Party or a JUI-F–PML-N coalition, assuming that the PTI remains true to its decision against joining any alliance. Balochistan may have a choice between an alliance of the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal or one between the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Pakhthunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

The latter arrangement, or any other combination that leaves the Baloch nationalists or the PkMAP or both out, will be born with a hole in its heart. Sindh’s future will depend on the extent of the damage the PML-N and the 10-party alliance in Sindh can cause to the PPP and the harm the PML-N and religious parties can do to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in urban Sindh. If the losses to the two parties are bearable, a PPP-MQM coalition may come on top. If the PML-N and the 10-party alliance finally get a majority, stability may elude Sindh for quite some time.

As regards the centre, democratic opinion will be satisfied if any party gets a majority of the seats or comes close to that mark. One does not know whether the establishment will let the front-running PML-N have that honour and to what extent Imran Khan will be able to realise his dream of making a clean sweep, but in any case the state is likely to tilt further towards a theocratic dispensation.

This will be due partly to the outgoing government’s failure to sustain the people’s trust in a left-of-centre platform and partly to a campaign by some judicial authorities and the babus of the Election Commission of Pakistan to foster religiosity.

The implications of this shift are going to cause serious problems, at least in the short run. The pressure for making up with the militant extremists, on their terms, will increase and they will increase their pressure for helping the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, for delaying the process of normalisation with India, and for moving further away from the US. The zealots in the legislature, the judiciary and the media will be emboldened to pursue Zia’s agenda to establish a religious oligarchy.

Continue reading Ominous signs

Exclusive interview with Noam Chomsky on Pakistan elections

By Ayyaz Mallick |

Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Noam Chomsky, is without doubt the most widely heard and read public intellectual alive today. Although trained in linguistics, he has written on and extensively critiqued a wide range of topics, including US foreign policy, mainstream media discourses and anarchist philosophy. Chomsky’s work in linguistics revolutionised the field and he has been described as the ‘father of modern linguistics‘. Professor Chomsky, along with other luminaries such as Howard Zinn and Dr Eqbal Ahmad, came into prominence during the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and has since spoken in support of national liberation movements (and against US imperialism) in countries such as Palestine, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In fact, his prolificacy in terms of academic and non-academic writing has earned him a spot among the ten most cited sources of all time (alongside Aristotle, Marx and Plato). Now in his mid-80s, Professor Chomsky shows no signs of slowing down and maintains an active lecturing and interview schedule. Here we caught up with him to get his views on upcoming Pakistani elections, American influence in the region and other issues.

As a country which has spent almost half of its existence under some sort of direct military rule how do you see this first ever impending transition from one democratically-elected government to another?

Noam Chomsky: Well, you know more about the internal situation of Pakistan than I do! I mean I think it’s good to see something like a democratic transition. Of course, there are plenty of qualifications to that but it is a big change from dictatorship. That’s a positive sign. And I think there is some potential for introducing badly needed changes. There are very serious problems to deal with internally and in the country’s international relations. So maybe, now some of them can be confronted.

Coming to election issues, what do you think, sitting afar and as an observer, are the basic issues that need to be handled by whoever is voted into power?

NC: Well, first of all, the internal issues. Pakistan is not a unified country. In large parts of the country, the state is regarded as a Punjabi state, not their (the people’s) state. In fact, I think the last serious effort to deal with this was probably in the 1970s, when during the Bhutto regime some sort of arrangement of federalism was instituted for devolving power so that people feel the government is responding to them and not just some special interests focused on a particular region and class. Now that’s a major problem.

Another problem is the confrontation with India. Pakistan just cannot survive if it continues to do so (continue this confrontation). Pakistan will never be able to match the Indian militarily and the effort to do so is taking an immense toll on the society. It’s also extremely dangerous with all the weapons development. The two countries have already come close to nuclear confrontation twice and this could get worse. So dealing with the relationship with India is extremely important.

And that of course focuses right away on Kashmir. Some kind of settlement in Kashmir is crucial for both countries. It’s also tearing India apart with horrible atrocities in the region which is controlled by Indian armed forces. This is feeding right back into society even in the domain of elementary civil rights. A good American friend of mine who has lived in India for many years, working as a journalist, was recently denied entry to the country because he wrote on Kashmir. This is a reflection of fractures within society. Pakistan, too, has to focus on the Lashkar [Lashkar-i-Taiba] and other similar groups and work towards some sort of sensible compromise on Kashmir.

And of course this goes beyond. There is Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan which will also be a very tricky issue in the coming years. Then there is a large part of Pakistan which is being torn apart from American drone attacks. The country is being invaded constantly by a terrorist superpower. Again, this is not a small problem.

Historically, several policy domains, including that of foreign policy towards the US and India, budget allocations etc, have been controlled by the Pakistani military, and the civil-military divide can be said to be the most fundamental fracture in Pakistan’s body politic. Do you see this changing with recent elections, keeping in mind the military’s deep penetration into Pakistan’s political economy?

NC: Yes, the military has a huge role in the economy with big stakes and, as you say, it has constantly intervened to make sure that it keeps its hold on policy making. Well, I hope, and there seem to be some signs, that the military is taking a backseat, not really in the economy, but in some of the policy issues. If that can continue, which perhaps it will, this will be a positive development.

Maybe, something like what has happened recently in Turkey. In Turkey also, for a long time, the military was the decisive force but in the past 10 years they have backed off somewhat and the civilian government has gained more independence and autonomy even to shake up the military command. In fact, it even arrested several high-ranking officers [for interfering in governmental affairs]. Maybe Pakistan can move in a similar direction. Similar problems are arising in Egypt too. The question is whether the military will release its grip which has been extremely strong for the past 60 years. So this is happening all over the region and particularly strikingly in Pakistan.

In the coming elections, all indications are that a coalition government will be formed. The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading the polls with Imran Khan’s (relatively) newly-emerged party not far behind. Do you think an impending coalition government will be sufficiently equipped to handle the myriad problems facing the country that you have just pointed out, such as civil-military imbalance, drone attacks, extremist violence etc.

NC: Well, we have a record for Nawaz Sharif but not the others. And judging by the record, it’s pretty hard to be optimistic. His [Sharif’s] previous governments were very corrupt and regressive in the policies pursued. But the very fact that there is popular participation can have impact. That’s what leads to change, as it has just recently in North Africa (in Tunisia and Egypt). As far as change goes, significant change does not come from above, it comes through popular activism.

In the past month or so, statements from the US State Department and the American ambassador to Pakistan have indicated quite a few times that they have ‘no favourites’ in the upcoming elections. What is your take on that especially with the impending (formal) US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

NC: That could well be true. I do not think that US government has any particular interest in one or another element of an internal political confrontation. But it does have very definite interests in what it wants Pakistan to be doing. For example, it wants Pakistan to continue to permit aggressive and violent American actions on Pakistani territory. It wants Pakistan to be supportive of US goals in Afghanistan. The US also deeply cares about Pakistan’s relationship with Iran. The US very much wants Pakistan to cut relations with Iran which they [Pakistan] are not doing. They are following a somewhat independent course in this regard, as are India, China and many other countries which are not strictly under the thumb of the US. That will be an important issue because Iran is such a major issue in American foreign policy. And this goes beyond as every year Pakistan has been providing military forces to protect dictatorships in the Gulf from their own populations (e.g. the Saudi Royal Guard and recently in Bahrain). That role has diminished but Pakistan is, and was considered to be, a part of the so-called ‘peripheral system’ which surrounded the Middle East oil dictatorships with non-Arab states such as Turkey, Iran (under the Shah) and Pakistan. Israel was admitted into the club in 1967. One of the main purposes of this was to constrain and limit secular nationalism in the region which was considered a threat to the oil dictatorships.

As you might know, a nationalist insurgency has been going on in Balochistan for almost the past decade. How do you see it affected by the elections, especially as some nationalist parties have decided to take part in polls while others have decried those participating as having sold out to the military establishment?

NC: Balochistan, and to some extent Sindh too, has a general feeling that they are not part of the decision-making process in Pakistan and are ruled by a Punjabi dictatorship. There is a lot of exploitation of the rich resources [in Balochistan] which the locals are not gaining from. As long as this goes on, it is going to keep providing grounds for serious uprisings and insurgencies. This brings us back to the first question which is about developing a constructive from of federalism which will actually ensure participation from the various [smaller] provinces and not just, as they see it, robbing them.

Continue reading Exclusive interview with Noam Chomsky on Pakistan elections

Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

MIRANSHAH: In a letter to the media, leader of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that his group is focused on jeopardising democracy by hindering elections in the country.

“We have succeeded politically after we were asked to negotiate by the government,” said Hakimullah Mehsud.

He added that the group was now solely ‘focused’ on the next elections.

As elections are nearing, TTP’s aim would be to “end the democratic system,” the letter further said. Mehsud also urged TTP militants to target senior politicians and party leaders, while continuing the battle against security forces.

Furthermore, in a rare address from an undisclosed location, the militant chief claimed that the TTP was not just fighting a war on a tactical level, but were also able to ‘subdue’ politicians by making them negotiate.

TTP student union

A student union of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was traced by the police while three of its members splashed posters and banners around Multan.

The publicity material was scripted with inflammatory messages, encouraging people to not vote in elections as democracy was ‘un-Islamic’. It demanded that the people of Pakistan should adhere to the shariah (Islamic law), and said that it was haraam for them to participate in the voting process.

Police claim that the three members were students belonged to Lahore, but were enrolled at the Bahauddin Zakarriya University in Multan. After posting 50 banners in the urban area, they were putting posters on the walls of the Multan press club when they were caught by the journalists.

Continue reading Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

Musharraf’s return: The graveyard is full of indispensables

By

“We rotate these days among people … the only being who cannot and will not perish is your Lord.”

We were inside the parliament building, saying Friday prayers after a stormy Senate session. What we witnessed inside made all of us feel humble and subdued.

“Put Pervez Musharraf in the same cell where he put Nawaz Sharif. Let snakes and scorpions into his room. Let him cry out in pain,” said one of the senators as the lawmakers vented their anger against the former military ruler.

“Handcuff and shackle him and parade him through the streets,” said another senator.

I opened a little window to the recent past and found myself in the army chief’s official residence in Rawalpindi where Musharraf was staying after toppling Nawaz Sharif. He was still the chief executive of Pakistan, a strange title he coined for himself before moving to the president’s office.

We were there with a media team to interview him. Some members of his advisory team were also there, including a Rawalpindi politician. Musharraf sneezed. Three of these advisors ran to him, holding tissue papers. The Pindi politician reached him first. Others looked at him with envy.

None of them came forward to defend the former dictator when PPP, PML-N and ANP lawmakers berated him this Friday, although some of them were present during the debate too.

The senators also targeted the caretaker government for failing to arrest Musharraf after an Islamabad court refused to grant him bail.

They wanted him “hauled to the worst prison” in the country, as a PPP senator said. Later, one senator also suggested that he should be hanged for toppling a lawfully elected government.

Above all, they wanted him “disgraced, dishonored and humiliated” as a “warning to future adventure seekers.”

The retired general, however, had already suffered much humiliation. The man who once hauled the country’s chief justice to his office and tried to persuade him to resign is now forced to appear before junior magistrates, seeking bail.

But that’s not enough for his enemies. They want more. “Do to him what they did to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif,” said one senator, ignoring a plea from the Senate chairman not to get carried away.

The sane among them, however, did warn their colleagues not to go too far. “The ground realities must not be ignored,” said a senior PPP senator. “After all, he is a former army chief and the military obviously will not like this humiliation.”

He urged the angry politicians to seek a way out, proposing “consultation among all stake holders,” i.e. the interim government, the judiciary, PPP, PML-N, ANP and the military.

Other senators also agreed with the suggestion, saying that starting a treason trial against Musharraf will not stop at him. “Don’t forget that the present army chief was also attended Musharraf’s meeting with the chief justice,” said a senator.

Continue reading Musharraf’s return: The graveyard is full of indispensables

Senators demand Musharraf’s arrest for supremacy of law

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ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the Upper House of the Parliament Thursday demanded action against former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for his crimes against constitution, democracy, political leadership and the nation.

They also demanded from the caretaker interior minister to inform the House how he escaped from the court to his residence and “why a former General could not be arrested if the elected prime ministers of the country can be sent to jails.”

Speaking on points of order, the senators claimed that double standard existed in the country in violation of the Constitution which considers every Pakistani equal before the law.

“We have been talking of the rule of law and independence of judiciary. But, today we have seen that it is easy to send an elected prime minister to jail but a former General and military dictator cannot be arrested,” remarked senior PPPP Senator Raza Rabbani.

“In Pervez Musharraf’s case it is test of time. When the court had ordered to arrest him, then why he was not arrested. It’s a question mark,” Rabbani added.

He charged Pervez Musharraf of involvement in the abetment of killing of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti, abrogating the constitution and house arresting the judges of superior judiciary.

“Musharraf is a usurper who twice abrogated the Constitution. He was announced to be arrested but he safely fled in connivance with state institutions. The caretaker government was responsible to arrest him and the interior minister should inform the House why the government had not fulfilled its obligations,” Rabbani said.

PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said he does not hold caretaker government responsible for his escape. “I have been looking the state apparatus very closely. There are two laws and double standards in the country. If we could not mend it over the time how we can hold the caretakers responsible for these double standards.”

Continue reading Senators demand Musharraf’s arrest for supremacy of law

Musharraf on the run after bail cancellation

.This act of the former military ruler “underscores his disregard for due legal process and indicates his assumption that as a former army chief and military dictator he can evade accountability for abuses”, Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“It is essential that Pakistan’s military authorities which are protecting the former dictator comply with the Islamabad High Court’s orders and ensure that he presents himself for arrest,” the statement added.

It further said that “continued military protection for General Musharraf will make a mockery of claims that Pakistan’s armed forces support the rule of law and bring the military further disrepute that it can ill afford.”

ISLAMABAD: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Thursday escaped from the premises of the Islamabad High Court after the cancellation of his bail application by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in the judges detention case.

Immediately after the bail cancellation, police tried to reach the former military ruler but he was escorted by his personal security, fleeing in his bullet-proof black four-wheeler.

“Islamabad High Court has cancelled Musharraf’s bail and ordered his arrest in the judges’ detention case today,” said Muhammad Amjad, secretary-general of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party.

In a written judgement printed in English, the IHC ordered that: “He (Musharraf) be taken into custody and dealt with in accordance with law.”

The detailed verdict issued by the Islamabad High Court ordered for terrorism to be added to the list of charges against the former military ruler. The order further said that Musharraf’s exit from the court earlier during the day warranted for separate charges to be filed against him.

According to reports, Musharraf’s lawyers reached the Supreme Court to file a pre-arrest bail application in order avoid his surrender to the police.

However, the SC returned the 14-page bail application as the timings for the Registrar’s office had ended. Musharraf’s lawyers are now expected to resubmit the appeal on Friday.

After departing from the IHC’s premises, Musharraf had reached his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a suburban area on the outskirts of Islamabad where security was beefed up and all entry and exit routes to the area were blocked.

Continue reading Musharraf on the run after bail cancellation

Pakistani youth ‘cool on democracy’

 

More than half of those surveyed said democracy had not been good for them or the country

More Pakistani youth would prefer Islamic law or military rule than democracy, a survey suggests.

More than half of 5,000 18-29 year-old Pakistanis polled said democracy had not been good for them or the country.

Some 94% said Pakistan was going in the wrong direction, up from 50% in 2007, the British Council survey found.

Almost a third of registered voters in Pakistan are under 30 years old, and are expected to play a big part in a general election due in May.

When asked to pick the best political system, both Sharia and military rule were favoured over democracy.

The survey points towards a pessimistic generation, disenchanted with democracy after five years of civilian rule, says the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad.

Most of those surveyed had more faith in the army than any other institution.

Approval ratings for the military were about 70% compared with just 13% for the government.

Continue reading Pakistani youth ‘cool on democracy’

Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Scientist muzzling probed by information commissioner

Complaint was filed by Democracy Watch and University of Victoria on Feb. 20

By CBC News

Canada’s information commissioner has confirmed that her office will investigate allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists.

The office of Suzanne Legault has concluded that a complaint made by Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic in February falls within its mandate, wrote Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, in a letter released Monday by Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that advocates for government accountability.

The letter, dated March 27, added that the office has notified and sent a summary of the complaint to the relevant government institutions:

  • Environment Canada.
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • Natural Resources Canada.
  • National Research Council of Canada.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
  • Department of National Defence.

Treasury Board included

The letter added, “We have also determined that the Treasury Board Secretariat should be included in your complaint because of its role in relation to the development and implementation of government policies.”

Tyler Sommers, co-ordinator of Democracy Watch, said in a statement, that the group is “very pleased” about the investigation being called.

“And we will continue to push the information commissioner to get to the bottom of this situation, publicly release the results, and push the federal government to change these policies,” he added.

The complaint, filed on Feb. 20, suggested that federal government policy “forcing scientists to jump through hoops before speaking with the mediabreaches the Access to Information Act.

The complaint included a 26-page report with 100 pages of appendices, containing details and examples, based on internal government documents previously released through freedom of information requests, along with conversations with current and former federal public servants, journalists, members of non-profit organizations, and professors at Canadian universities.

The federal Access to Information Act requires the Office of the Information Commissioner to investigate “any matter related to obtaining or requesting access to records” from federal institutions.

Continue reading Where is the evidence of Democracy?

For Zardari, five years of lost opportunities

The PPP regime huffs and puffs past the finish line, leaving behind a toxic legacy

By Ayesha Siddiqa

BUT DON’T you think we are getting over-excited about the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government and the Parliament completing its tenure?” It is almost as if every journalist who calls to seek comments on the state of democracy in Pakistan wants you to be sceptical. They would rather have people talk about all the unfulfilled dreams and promises of what was once Benazir Bhutto’s party. However, it is positive to see a transition from one civilian government to another taking place for the first time in the country’s history. The critics perhaps forget that the censure the ruling party has received is the real beauty of democratic rule. If you are unhappy with a party, you can seek to replace it with another. At least, the government is not being booted out. Yet, it would be too quick to call this the perfect run to the finish line because of two reasons.

First, the Parliament has completed its tenure but not the Cabinet. Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was sacked through extra-political manipulation. This makes it similar to the fate of the 2002 Parliament that completed its term but saw three prime ministers. Such changes indicate pressures on the civilian government and the fact that it is still not free to operate. Moreover, the PPP government was unlucky due to the media being unleashed on it from very early on, giving it the reputation of the most corrupt party in the country. It is said about the PPP that it “drinks less than it spills”. It is far less adept in hiding its mismanagement than other parties in Pakistan, especially the urban-based Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif ). The inability to think strategically in hiding its corruption does not bode well when the media is trained to target one particular party or group.

Recently, in response to whether I could write an opinion piece that may be slightly critical of the ethnic party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the editor of an English daily told me that it was their policy not to criticise the MQM, the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and the PML-N. This basically leaves out the Pakistan Army and the PPP. While the armed forces are not really affected by criticism, the PPP definitely is.

Second, the end of the government has left people feeling that the PPP lost out also because of its inherent inefficiency and lack of personalities who have Benazir’s natural capacity to lead the party. Asif Ali Zardari may be a past master at brokering deals and saving a moment, but he may be unable to save the party from collapse or becoming an entity of the past rather than the future.

Indubitably, things were not on the side of Benazir’s party, which is suspected much more than any other political party by the army. Things were not easy in the past five years because Zardari had changed the top leadership and brought in people of his own choice, a development that created more sceptics and enemies. In the past five years, Zardari certainly earned the reputation of being a great survivor. He resisted and circumvented all pressures that might have materialised in greater military intervention. However, this survival was done at the cost of inaction in many areas, starting from the inability to manage the party and market it properly. His media team proved fairly ineffective in selling policies for which the government could take credit, such as the passing of the 18th amendment to the 1973 Constitution, allowing for greater provincial autonomy.

Continue reading For Zardari, five years of lost opportunities

Democracy Military Style

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The army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, recently invited a team of journalists for a briefing, ostensibly to dispel rumours about the military standing in the way of the next elections. But alongside, he took the opportunity to seriously question the capacity of the politicians to handle affairs of the state, particularly their inability to resettle Swat after the army operation, the Hazara killings in Balochistan and the issue of terrorism in the country. The general also took a dig at the Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim for failing to recognise the COAS after a two-hour-long meeting with him. The incident was clearly intended as a comment on the mental capacity of the CEC.

The meeting generated a lot of excitement. Some prominent journalists immediately eulogised the military commander’s sincerity in letting democracy thrive in the country. How serious the general is about democracy, however, remains to be seen. What this dialogue portends for the future of politics and the security of Pakistanis is a moot point.

If it were another country, the meeting would not even have taken place, let alone been reported on. One would like to remind the good general that in decent states, people usually do not remember the face or even the name of the army chief. And more importantly, the army chief calling journalists for a private, ‘chamber orchestra’ kind of meeting is a fairly sinister tool for intervention in politics. This is one of the many methods for derailing the democratic process. It started with General Musharraf, who was extremely fond of talking and would very often invite journalists and academics to “enlighten” them with his perspective on various national issues. General Kayani operates differently. He invites journalists and, reportedly, he sits there strategically dropping pearls of wisdom to set the tone for a debate. He launches an idea and then goes quiet. The moments of silence are filled allegedly by some of the “planted” minions in the meetings who then give interpretations of what they believe are Kayani’s thoughts. He offers no comments; he only runs rings of cigarette smoke around his captive audience.

Interestingly, he is not the only one who meets with journalists. The ISPR and the ISI have always had their own lines of communication with the media. This is not to trade any secrets, but to create a certain discourse that helps boost the army’s image vis-à-vis the politicians.’

Continue reading Democracy Military Style

SINDH – Class struggle vs national movement

By Khalique Junejo

Ideologically as well as strategically, the socialist movement and the struggles for national independence are considered to be natural allies against imperialism

Daily Times of March 3, 2013 carried an article “Bangladesh: past haunts the future” written by Lal Khan. The writer while discussing the current situation of Bangladesh arising out of the court verdicts against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for war crimes of 1971, brings to the fore the old (though not obsolete) debate over the class question and nationalist movements, particularly in Pakistan. He links the roots of the current agitation with the bourgeois character and capitalist connections of the nationalist movement of Bengalis, particularly its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and concludes that “the real motive of these trials at this stage is to subvert the rising wave of a renewed class struggle.”

The article needs serious discussion. First we analyse the subject matter from a historical perspective and then apply it to the political progress of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The terms capitalism, secularism, nationalism and class struggle referred to in the article are the product of (Western) Europe. So let us have a look at the matter from that angle.

One thousand years (fifth to 15th century) of Europe’s history are described as the ‘Dark Ages’. During this period European society was dominated by three factors: feudalism, religion (Church) and the kingdoms established through military power. During the Renaissance these factors were challenged, and later on replaced, by three other facts, i.e. capitalism, secularism and nationalism (nation states). These factors put Europe on the path of progress that made it the leader of the world. This shows that capitalism accompanied by secularism and nationalism is a progressive phenomenon in comparison to the feudalism-dominated society and an unavoidable stage in the progress of human society.

Continue reading SINDH – Class struggle vs national movement

14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

Leader of oppressed people of the world died on 14th March 1883.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.” – KARL MARX

“Democracy is the road to socialism.” – Karl Marx

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.” – Karl Marx

“Revolutions are the locomotives of history.” – Karl Marx

“The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.” – Karl Marx

Continue reading 14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

Capitalism as it exists today is radically incompatible with democracy.

There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.”

The term “capitalism” is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks.

The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book “Digital Disconnect.”

Continue reading Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

“Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player”- Mark Lowcock

Politicians challenged to secure Pakistan’s global economic future

Mark Lowcock said:“Pakistan has everything it takes to be a successful, thriving, prosperous Islamic democracy.’

Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player.  It’s a powerful vision which can be realised if there is a focus on economic growth and implementing the vital reforms needed to stimulate and underpin growth a representative for the UK Government signalled yesterday.

Speaking at the Karachi School of Business and Leadership Mark Lowcock, the UK government’s most senior aid official, told business leaders and students that countries succeeding in today’s global race are those reforming the fastest to generate growth and reduce poverty.

Mark Lowcock said:

Pakistan has everything it takes to be a successful, thriving, prosperous Islamic democracy.”

“If you develop a clear and shared vision, sustain a long term commitment to travelling the long road of reform, and refuse to be deterred by the problems that will inevitably arise, then you can transform your country within a generation.”

Citing examples from across Asia and Africa, Mark Lowcock pressed that Pakistan’s stake in the global economy, and future investment potential, could be transformed. It has enormous potential for trade. Population dynamics mean that over the coming decades it could reap a demographic dividend, if the economy develops in a way that creates jobs for all young people.

Mr Lowcock stressed elections as an important watershed in embedding an inclusive political system, emphasised the importance of greater transparency in public operations, and highlighted the need to broaden the national dialogue on economic reform.

Mark Lowcock said:

Pakistan cannot sustain high rates of economic growth without a sufficient, reliable supply of energy…. The sector needs to be put on a more commercial footing, including a regulatory and tariff structure that is attractive to investors.”

“A tax system that collects less than 10% of GDP is unsustainable for any modern country. Without agreement and tangible progress on broader and fairer taxation, Pakistan will be unable to invest in a more prosperous future.”

Pakistan needs to invest in its best asset, which is your own people, especially in health and education to build human capital. It is also critical to promote women’s participation in the economy.  This is an issue of fairness and good governance. But it is also crucially an economic issue.”

Continue reading “Pakistan has potential to become a global economic player”- Mark Lowcock

When a state is dysfunctional

By: Abbas Nasir

WHO knows what a failed state is? Such definitions are for the academics and experts. But what one can easily ascertain is a state that is dysfunctional.

For what would you call a state that has neither the power to generate resources and tax those who need to be taxed, nor the system or even the need to ensure that it accounts for what it spends? It can keep piling up a huge deficit without question and have nothing to show for it.

What would you call a state that cannot deliver the very least: the safety of life and limb to its citizens? Where if you particularly happened to be in the smaller provinces the only thing you could get by on is your faith. Yes, God remains the only recourse.

Continue reading When a state is dysfunctional

Pakistan from a secular to theocratic state – India is also going the same way albeit at a slower pace!

BAAGHI: Giving peace a chance? Thanks, but no thanks!

By Marvi Sirmed

What all these peace agreements achieved was a temporary hiatus in terrorist attacks on Pakistanis, and an immense opportunity for the militant organisations to consolidate and organise themselves as well as enjoying impunity and freedom

Pakistan’s ‘government’, it seems, is well on its way to ‘give peace a chance’ in compliance with the declaration of an unelected All-Parties Conference (APC) convened by the prime minister in September this year. The otherwise ‘hawks’ when it comes to relations with India, were all adamant to invoke John Lennon — the one from the ‘oh-so-bad-west’ — on the Taliban of Waziristan. A non-corrupt Punjabi Khan and a patriotic think-tanker succeeded in getting a lease of life for the militants continually battling with the Pakistan Army and persistently attacking the people of Pakistan and abetting attacks on the people of Afghanistan. The attempts towards ‘peace’ thus started with a new vigour, permanently sedating common as well as a basic sense of history.

Continue reading Pakistan from a secular to theocratic state – India is also going the same way albeit at a slower pace!

Canadians quickly losing faith in their democracy, survey suggests

By: Kim Mackrael, The Globe and Mail

Ottawa — Canadians’ satisfaction with democracy has dipped to a new low, research suggests, with many people pegging the problem on weak performance by their federal MPs.

About 55 per cent of Canadians say they are satisfied with democracy in the country, according to a new research paper by Samara, a not-for-profit organization aimed at improving political participation. That’s down 20 points from 2004, when similar research suggested about 75 per cent of Canadians were satisfied with their democracy.

We’ve known for a long time that there is declining trust and satisfaction with democracy,” said Alison Loat, Samara’s executive director. “But to see such a large decline in a short period of time was a surprise to us.”

Samara published the findings in a paper called “Who’s the Boss?” which it released Monday morning. It’s part of a series of reports the organization is writing to analyze the results of a wide-ranging democratic engagement survey it conducted earlier this year.

Monday’s report suggests that only 36 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with the way elected officials do their jobs. Asked to assess Parliamentarians’ performance in several categories, respondents said MPs do a relatively good job of representing the views of their political parties, giving them a score of 61 per cent. But Canadians panned MPs’ performances when it came to holding the government to account and representing the views of their constituents, with scores of 45 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. They also gave MPs a score of 44 per cent in managing individual constituents’ concerns.

“I think there’s a bit of a sense, at least among the public, that perhaps MPs are representing their political party at the expense of their ability to represent constituents,” Ms. Loat said.

Continue reading Canadians quickly losing faith in their democracy, survey suggests

Brainwashing the Rasputinian and Machiavellian way — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

In Pakistan, the ‘establishment’ is the Thierry Tilly and the people the Védrines family

Of late, everyone is discussing the supposed changes happening in the fundamental policies governing Pakistan. The fundamental policy here essentially means its attitude towards its ‘strategic assets’, which it thinks are instrumental in tilting the balance in Afghanistan and Kashmir because direct state involvement would invite retribution. Any change would naturally translate into a change of attitude towards India and Afghanistan, and more importantly, to the scourge of terrorism the world over, which invariably finds its origin here.

Without internal changes, there can never be external changes and no internal change is in the offing; changes cannot happen without a changed mindset. To understand change or the lack thereof, it is essential that Pakistan’s origin is understood and its paths traced. Analysing it without this context precipitates fallacious conclusions.

Pakistan came into being to suit the exigencies of the British rulers and their manufactured elite, which thought it could serve Britain better if they had the status of a country attached to their picket or garrison outpost. When demands for India’s independence gained strength, the British realised that with independent-minded politicians holding sway, their interests in the Gulf, especially their oil interests, which were of primary importance to the industrialised world, would irreparably suffer. Consequently, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India (1943-47) in his letter of February 1946 to the Secretary of State for India proposed that while granting freedom to India, Britain needs to consider the creation of another country to the North West that would protect Britain’s interest in the Persian Gulf. This consideration suddenly changed the demand for federation to that of independence.

External factors and conditions do play a part in change but change results from decisive and crucial internal compulsions and inner essence. The internal dynamics here have remained in a rut since 1947, and the essence remains unchanged though cosmetic changes have occurred. The people here have been defrauded, shortchanged and manipulated, and ironically, yet many refuse to see this brazen manipulative fraud and continue to be willing victims. Voltaire rightly said, “You cannot free the fools of the chains they revere.”

Continue reading Brainwashing the Rasputinian and Machiavellian way — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur