Tag Archives: Devolution

Benazir Bhutto on Pakistan’s Military Establishment and how the Generals undermine Democracy

From Syed Ali Dayan Hasan in London

The security apparatus has run amok

In her most candid interview since 1988, Benazir Bhutto, twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, reveals the extent to which successive civilian governments have been held hostage, and destabilised, by the ‘securityapparatus’ of the military. Bhutto, chairperson of the PPP — the single largest political party of the country — explains the helplessness of civilian governments in the face of Intelligence-inspired disinformation on the one hand, and ideologically motivated illegal activities of ‘rogue elements’ of the army on the other. She argues that the security apparatus of the country is out of control and that no government can hope to function smoothly unless these elements are brought under a formalised command structure that prevents them from taking on the role of a state within a state. There is much evidence to support Bhutto’s claims, including that of her adversaries — General Aslam Beg, General Hameed Gul and General Asad Durrani — all of whom conspired against civilian governments and have repeatedly gone on record to admit as much. “Blaming politicians alone for tarnishing democracy is actually less than half the story,” argues Bhutto. Here, she explains why.

Q. What do you think is the basic problem with civil-military relations?

A. The inability of the military tobow before the people’s will.

Q. Why is that?

A. The military’s view on security and government is at variance with the popular will. Pakistan is a federation but the armed forces distrust provincial units. They are scared of giving up power.

Q. So, what is the solution to this impasse in civil-military relations?

A. Either we have democracy or dictatorship. The military seeks a dictatorship or a controlled democracy to continue with their security agenda. They need the centralised state and a diversion of resources for that security agenda. For the first time, they are realising the difficulty of running the ship of state. I believe the solution lies in democracy and devolution. We should return to the roots of the Quaid. He founded Pakistan on the principles of federalism, autonomy and freedom. If we revert to this dream, we might devolve more power but we will be more secure.

Q. How has the army managed to present a discredited image of political figures, including you?

A. I dispute that they have succeeded but I agree that they have tried. There are two factors that explain this. One, political institutions are weak and have financial resources and organisational ability. Also, they are unable to communicate freely with the masses. This is because genuine political forces have been continually hunted by the establishment, and when you are constantly hunted, you have little time to organise. Second, because the army does give power to some politicians, it has divided the civilian popular base by holding out to those who cannot win — the promise of power without legitimacy.

Q. You have presided twice over a controlled democracy.What have you learnt from the experience?

A. There is a tendency in Pakistan, due to military dictatorships and one-man rule, to think that one person can make allthe difference. But in a democratic system, it is not just one person that makes a difference. A democratic, such as myself, functions within the confines of the constitution. We need a civic consensus on what a constitution should be and what constitutes freedom and plurality. I had to work on the mandate I was given and that is why I say that we did not achieve much. I had to work with the 8th amendment and a president who could sack the prime minister. In other words, some elements in the intelligence agencies used the president when they felt I was becoming too powerful. They never allowed us enough time to elect members of the senate which would have made my partyand the democratic forces — stronger. The real solution lies not with any individual. I can only give a clarion call. Then it depends on the masses whether they rally around that call to say that they want a constitution based on the supremacy of the will of the people and that the prime minister and parliament must determine national security and not the military.

Q. But then, if you had commanded a two-thirds majority and could have amended the constitution, a coup would have taken place against you ….

Read more » Scribd

http://www.scribd.com/doc/78809888/Benazir-Bhutto-on-Pakistan-s-Military-Establishment-and-how-the-Generals-undermine-Democracy#source:facebook

A history of oppression: the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By Danielle Sabai

June 2, 2011 — Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission — In February 2011, the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the island’s independence. In his speech, he stressed the necessity of “protecting the reconstructed nation”, as well as protecting “one of the oldest democracies in Asia”, its unity and its unitary character.

This speech came nearly two years after the end of the war on May 19, 2009, between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military command of the LTTE was decimated in the last two months of a merciless war that has had led to tens of thousands of deaths since the early 1980s.

Some 30 years of civil war have transformed the Sri Lankan political landscape. Once an island characterised by a developed social policy and high development indicators, Sri Lanka is today ravaged by state violence, the militarisation of society and an authoritarian state.

The end of the war has in no way opened a period of peace; still less has it settled the Tamil national question. The Sri Lankan government, whose powers are concentrated in the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers, has not sought to remedy the structural causes that led to the civil war. The state remains Sinhalese nationalist and racist in its essence and rejects any devolution of powers, which would allow the different communities to envisage the future together.

The president is at war against his people. State violence is also exerted against Sinhalese, journalists and political activists who oppose him but also against workers as a whole. Despite the end of the war, the government has maintained the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows it to muzzle its opponents. All communities suffer from the collapse of the rule of law. No peace can last if it does not rest on any political will to settle disputes.

The history of Sri Lanka is rich in lessons. It illustrates that attacks against minorities lead to more general attacks against workers whatever their ethnicity. They lead inevitably to a weakening, if not collapse, of democracy. It is important and necessary to review the historic roots that are at the base of the formation of this specific state having led to the emergence of two antagonistic nationalisms: Buddhist Sinhalese nationalism and its reaction, Tamil nationalism. …

Read more: Links International

Not much is going to change in Pakistan – same hopelessness, where only mighty will prevail and prosper

Stback on HEC devolution is a sign that not much is going to change in Pakistan

By Khalid Hashmani

It quite disappointing that the present Government surrendered to the pressure from vested interests and decided not to implement an important provisions of Pakistan’s constitution.  As I explained in my last e-mail on this subject, the constitution does not allow the central government to have any role in education (Higher or lower) matters except to be involved in standards for higher education, research and technical institutions and foreign ministry related matters pertaining to foreign students in Pakistan and Pakistani students in foreign countries. 

I had thought that there was a chance that return of democracy and parliamentary rule will lead to a negotiated end of denial of rights of Sindh, Balochistan and others. But, this is not to be and I am sure many of us who fought for the return of democracy are wondering what should be done next? The undue pressure from the un-elected and those who benefited from the current faulty Higher Education Commission (HEC) system joined hands to force the Pakistani government in making this terrible decision. I have no doubt in my mind that this short sighted step is going to have long term repercussions as many would conclude that the vested interests are too strong to defeat no matter what.

I find an element of truth in what a friend said few years ago when I argued that Sindhis could get a fair deal. He said “There is no use to expect much good from an arrangement that has failed Sindhis for so many times.

Incidentally, it was claimed that Higher Education Commission (HEC) only gives scholarships to those who secure admission to world’s top 50 institutions. I took the list of 61 candidates who were approved for scholarships around November 10, 2010 http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/HRD/Scholarships/ForeignScholarships/ISSIP/Pages/results_16_meeting.aspx) and compared it to top 100 schools listed on (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/). I found that a substantial majority of those approved did not have admission in any of the top 100 universities/colleges. Only the intended universities of 17 out of 60 (the intended university of one student is not listed) were on the top 100 list.

I feel that this setback on the HEC devolution is a sign that not much is going to change in Pakistan – same hopelessness, where only mighty will prevail and prosper and the weaker will continue to come on loosing end.

Our textbooks and the lies they teach

By Raza Rumi

Due to the 18th Amendment, a momentous shift in Pakistan’s governance arrangements is taking place through a politically mediated and largely consensual manner. The federal government is being trimmed and 10 ministries have already been devolved to the provinces. A key development pertains to the devolution of education — lock, stock and barrel — to the provinces. Most notably, the odious era of setting poisonous, centralised curricula in the name of a ‘martial’ nationalism is finally over. Whether the past practices of turning Pakistan into a jihad project will end is uncertain, unless the provinces take the initiative and reverse the regrettable trajectory of the past.

Pakistani textbooks have preached falsehoods, hatred and bigotry. They have constructed most non-Muslims, especially Hindus, as evil and primordial enemies, glorified military dictatorships and omitted references to our great betrayal of the Bengali brothers and sisters who were the founders and owners of the Pakistan movement. It is time to correct these wrongs. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Sindh should follow Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s example and announce formation of Sindh HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

It is time for the Government of Sindh to immediately announce creation of a Higher Education Commission of Sindh (HECS) and appoint a suitable person to head the HECS. Too much time has already been wasted in trying to protect an institution that has failed Sindh, Balochistan and the rest of country. Any hesitation on the part of the remaining provinces to form their higher education bodies will simply prolong the delay in the implementation of 18th Amendment. The current managers of HEC should stop their delaying tactics and work for an orderly devolution of HEC in the larger interest of the country before people of small provinces loose their trust and hopes in the democratic process that allows vested interests to sabotage duly passed constitutional amendments. If the centralization of HEC is maintained, history will record it a violation similar to the tyrannical actions of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Musharraf who violated the constitution so violently.

Continue reading Sindh should follow Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s example and announce formation of Sindh HEC

Afraid of devolution? -by I.A Rehman

WONDERS never cease. In the second decade of the 21st century, the transfer of power to the units of a federation has been made controversial! Efforts are being made to help the centre retain the privileges that rightfully belong to the provinces.

No student of politics will deny that Pakistan broke up in 1971 largely as a result of the policies designed to make the centre strong at the expense of provincial rights and aspirations. Nor can anyone forget that the failure to restore to the provinces what has always been due to them poses the greatest threat to the state’s integrity today.

We are also familiar with the arguments employed while calling for making the hands of one ruler or another strong. It was said the country faced so many threats that a centrally organised security edifice alone could preserve its integrity. The centre alone had the mental and physical wherewithal to achieve economic progress. In an Islamic state there could be only one centre of power and Pakistan had a special reason to crush centrifugal forces and fissiparous tendencies which were being fanned by the enemies of the state — democrats, secularists, advocates of the nationalities’ rights, separatists, et al.

For six decades, the politics of Pakistan revolved around the federal question. Any stratagem that could prevent the state from becoming a federation was in order — the fiction of parity, the abolition of provinces in the western part of the original state, the imposition of martial law and the state’s declaration of war against the majority nationality and the smallest nationality both. No wonder almost all democratic movements in the country have had their origins in the federating units’ struggle for self-government.The central demand was that the centre should keep only three or four subjects such as foreign affairs, external security, currency and communications. All other subjects — internal security, local government, planning, education and social welfare — were to be restored to the provinces.

It is in this context that one should examine the national consensus on re-designing the polity by meeting some of the main demands of the federating units. The endorsement of the 18th Amendment by all shades of opinion in parliament is nothing short of a miracle. It not only marks a giant stride towards realising the promise of the 1973 constitution, in several respects it surpasses the 1973 consensus.

Continue reading Afraid of devolution? -by I.A Rehman

No Surprise, they can deny the 18th constitutional amendment but they cannot hide themselves from the people of oppressed constituent units of Pakistan

Dar resigns as deputy chief of commission

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be a face-saving move, Senator Ishaq Dar of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N resigned on Wednesday as deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Implementation of 18th Amendment.

In a five-page letter to Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Senator Dar cited differences over the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and transfer of assets and services of federal employees to the provinces as the main reasons for his decision.

Last week, the PML-N senator found himself in a difficult situation when reporters took him on during a news conference with the chairman of the commission, Senator Raza Rabbani, for defending the planned HEC devolution which was against the stance of his party. “I am not responsible for everybody in the party,” he said at the time. …

Read more : DAWN

HEC injustices: The weak PPP govt. has cowed down again on HEC issue

HEC: Story Of Gross Injustices To Smaller Provinces

HEC injustices: Out of the total of 61 scholarships, no scholarship was awarded to any university in Balochistan while only one scholarship was awarded to a student from the University of Karachi, Sindh. 36 scholarships went to Punjab, 19 to Islamabad and 5 to Pakhtoonkhwa.

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The country witnessed a high drama in the past few weeks as certain people with vested interests, some pro-establishment media hawks, bureaucrats and few so-called intellectuals created uncalled for hype and misgivings against the government decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan & hand over some of its powers to the provinces according to the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The opposition has cowed down the present government, weak as it is, and it may delay the devolution of a federal agency, which doesn’t have any justification to exist anymore. The education is a provincial subject and all the relevant subjects need to be transferred to the provinces, sooner the better.

Higher Education Commission like all other federal departments and agencies has been widely accused of following policies detrimental to smaller provinces. It is also accused of gross injustices in awarding scholarships and carrying out other projects completely ignoring the smaller provinces.

Read more :  Indus Herald

PPP, PML-N agree on process of dissolving HEC

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday decided to amend the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ordinance 2002, DawnNews reported.

Certain authorities of the commission will be devolved to provinces, while it has been recommended that the authority to verify degrees should be given to concerned political parties.

According to sources, the PPP and PML-N have agreed on the process of dissolving the Higher Education Commission. …

Read more : DAWN

Debate on HEC Devolution

by Dr Azhar A. Shah

In the context of present debate on the devolution of HEC when we present some facts and figures to support our arguments in favor of devolution; most of the opponents of the devolution have come up to negate these facts not by counter arguments and supporting evidence but by labeling it as a campaign for regionalism and provincialism. They issue directives to us to be Pakistani and stop this debate! To them, being Pakistani means surrendering the right to present our point of view on a matter which is directly related to the very field that we are an important stakeholders of!.

I think it is this attitude of opposing any argument/voice in favor of limited regional autonomy (decentralization, devolution, delegation, provinces’ rights ), which is guaranteed by the constitution of our country, that would further enhances the gaps between provinces and regions. We must learn to respect each other by considering all of us as equal citizens, as equal Pakistanis and providing every one a chance to participate in the debate with equal dignity without questioning her/his level of Pakistaniat! It seems a very mean thing to remind a person of his nationality (Pakistaniat) while she/he is debating a point in terms of academic discourse! Every one understands that not all the participants in the debate could be right. We could be wrong! But it doesn’t imply that we don’t think as Pakistanis!.

If I am showcasing the weaknesses, the faults, the troubles, the unfairness, the inequality of our system of our organizations, it is meant to be noted for correction, it is meant to be noted for improvement, it is meant to be noted for progress. We should get rid of that old feudo-military mindset that represses the ideas, that represses the creativity, and that considers every opponent ideas as enemy number one.

That said, I would present an example of how regional voice and concerns are being encouraged, supported and responded by the civilized societies of the world . Please respect the ancient civilization of our ingeniousness ancestors and refrain from further turning of our present society into militant society!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 14, 2011

Bravo Raza Rabani: WARNING from Senator Raza Rabani for those who are creating hurdles in Provincial Autonomy

HEC ‘storm in a teacup’ spills over in NA

By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD: Pre-emptive politics. Conspiracy against provincial autonomy. Attempt to degrade parliament.

Such angry comments came from lawmakers as what Senator Raza Rabbani saw as only “a storm in a teacup” over mainly the financial devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to provinces spilled over in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

And when he received an apparently incomplete information during his speech in the lower house that the Supreme Court had issued a stay order against the planned devolution, Mr Rabbani, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination and Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for the Implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment, remarked: “Probably we are writing a new history to stop parliament from legislation.” …

Read more : DAWN

Over centralized HEC Hurt Sindhis by Denying them

by Saghir Shaikh

Affirmative action is needed in Pakistan. Sindhis have been historically discriminated. All affairs involving money and distribution or resources must be governed by provincial resources. If implemented on just basis and if Sindh and Sindhis get their due share in resources, we will be much ahead.

Javaid Laghari is a great son of Sindh and has done a lot for Sindh and Sindhis and overall academic situation in Sindh and Pakistan.

However, we support the breakup of Higher Education Commission (HEC). Any structure under federal command – supported by constitution – means inequitable share to Sindh and Baluchistan, that is sad reality of status quo. Yes ‘merit’ has value in different context.

Pakistan historically deprives Sindh by stealing it resources, discriminating its rural population for decades since its inception creating almost an economic apartheid among South and North (of Pakistan). How can we expect that in this apartheid system rural folks are going to compete!

Local Sindh government will be corrupt and yes it will be manipulated from …, there is no doubt about it – these are valid arguments and I have my take on it. But please do not use the argument of merit and justice with Sindhis. And obviously criticism on HEC is never about its chief, but the inherent limitation of centralized illegal federal structure. If I was made HEC chair today I will not be able to keep justice to its spirit! Because system is unjust to its core!

Anyway, let us hope that HEC and all other institutions get transferred to provinces and than we can start a new struggle on improving our own house.

One caution – devolution does not mean we will get our due share from Islamabad (Punjab). That is another Himalayan task to get a fair share in terms of finance!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 12 April, 2011.

Why Islamabad and Punjab are against the devolution of HEC?

by Dr Azhar A. Shah

Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff (FAPUASA) held its two day annual meeting on April 9-10, 2011 and discussed the devolution of HEC. According to Dawn, “.. the federation had failed to take a firm stand so far because its Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan chapters were in favour of HEC`s devolution, while Punjab, AJK and Islamabad had opposed the move. Therefore, its office-bearers had decided to wait for the Supreme Court`s ruling” (http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/11/prime-minister-has-shelved-hec-devolution-for-now.html).

Though I am not aware of the bylaws of FAPUASA but it seems an open breach of the democratic rights of its three constituent units (Sindh, KP, Balochistan) whose voices are subdued by its single chapter and its territories (Islamabad and Kashmir). Instead of supporting the voice of three federating units, the FAPUASA has given weightage and honor to an appeal that is against the wishes of the three provinces! This act is by no means acceptable to us and we the faculty members of these three federating units/ states/ provinces demand an official apology from FAPUASA along with declaration of strong support for the devolution of HEC with immediate effect.

We are aware of the history of our country and we know it very well why Islamabad and Punjab academicians are against the devolution! Please stop glorifying and defending this discriminatory organization and don’t make hurdles in the implementation of the 18th constitutional amendment passed by federal assembly.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 11, 2011.

HEC issue to end up in the Supreme Court

By Zubair Shah

KARACHI: It is true that after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Pakistani federation is inching towards the constitutional sketch made public in the Muslim League’s famous 1940 Lahore Resolution. However, this journey is not without a tough resistance by the country’s entrenched pro status quo centripetal forces, who would like to see a strong centre at the expense of federating units. Nothing highlights this phenomenon better than the drama around the planned devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) announced recently.

Soon after the announcement, a smear campaign was launched by centripetal forces, who have been advocating and supporting the status quo based on numerous technical and legal grounds with apocalyptic predictions. …

Read more : Daily Times

Participants of dialogue advocate HEC devolution

PESHAWAR: Participants of a dialogue here Sunday advocated devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces.

They resolved to resist any hurdle in the way of devolving power to the federating units and said opposing the 18th Amendment was betrayal of the Constitution as the amendment had been passed by the elected parliament.

Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) had organised the dialogue on ‘18th Amendment and Institutional Arrangements at Provincial Level after Devolution of Higher Education Commission’ attended by people from different walks of life including professors, doctors, activists of NGOs and representatives of political parties. …

Read more : THE NEWS

Let us strengthen Pakistan

Let us Unite to Uphold 18th Amendment including Devolution of HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

As more and more information comes out in the waning days of Higher Education Commission (HEC), most Sindhis are shocked to know that out of ten thousands (10,000) foreign and domestic scholarships that have been distributed by HEC so far, Sindh received only 892 (http://ejang.jang.com.pk/4-7-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=99.gif). This amounts to about one third of the number that Sindh would have received even if the NFC award rules were applied. There is no province/ state or ethnic group anywhere in the world that has suffered as much as Sindhis have when it comes to scholarship opportunities in Pakistan. Instead of defending an institution that has denied Sindhis their due share in educational opportunities for so many years, we should be demanding trial of those officials who were responsible for denying Sindh its due share in scholarships. It is doubtful that an agency of such dreadful performance should even be given a role of standard setting and quality assurance. The Government of Pakistan should seriously consider creating a new agency with proper representation from each province/ state to oversee the jurisdictions that 18th Amendment allows at the federal level.

Continue reading Let us strengthen Pakistan

Provincial Higher Education Commission to be formed in Sindh’

SINDH – KARACHI: Preparations have started for the formation of a provincial Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Sindh. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq stated this here on Thursday. He was of the view that it would be run in an effective manner and on the pattern of the “ Higher Education Commission (HEC).” Pir Mazhar said that eminent educationalists of Sindh would be made members of the provincial Higher Education Commission.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Misunderstood: HEC’s devolution — I

By Dr Pervez Tahir

These are interesting times. We just heard the heart-rending narrative on the dismal state of elementary education. Before we could declare the prescribed educational emergency, there are warnings of an impending disaster in higher education if the HEC is devolved to the provinces. The provinces, it is said, have made a mess of elementary education and the fate of higher education will be no different. It is hard to understand the argument involved here. Should all education then be assigned to the federal government? If provinces are nothing but mess makers, why devolve anything to them. The celebration over the unanimous passage of the Eighteenth Amendment was completely uncalled for.

The constitutional position is quite clear though. Before the Amendment, the subject of ‘higher education’ was not mentioned in any of the legislative lists. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Devolution of HEC supported

PESHAWAR: The academia, civil society and youth from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata on Thursday through a resolution supported the devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC) under the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

The resolution was unanimously passed by the representatives of various organisations and institutions during a conference arranged by Bacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation (BKTEF). …

Read more : The News

Response to Prof Hoodbohy’s article on HEC Devolution

by Azhar Ali Shah

Prof Hoodbohy has contributed a piece titled “Should HEC Live or Die?”. First off, the title of his article indicates the limitedness of a nuclear scientist to think only in terms of life and death in a traditional way! For heavens sake HEC is not going to die! It is going through reformation (mitosis) to give birth to more HECs that could better serve our country as per requirements of our constitution and as per needs of our communities. Central bureaucrats and some academicians having inherited military mindset and others having undue fears are playing their tricks to stop this reformation and keep what they term as ‘their brilliant organization’ confined to the area of Islamabad. Moving this organization to provincial level would destroy the higher education and leave us in shambles! For Prof Hoodbhoy it is akin to death of HEC if it is devolved at this time! I would like to get my words recorded that if HEC is not devolved at this time (as per suggestion of Dr Hoodbohy) it will never ever get devolved in our life times. It is not only the current but the future generations of our country that will suffer from this centralization. But according to Javed Malik’s perception centralization might be good for Dr Hoodbhoy (please click here to read Prof. Hoodbohy’s article)!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 8, 2011.

Devolution of HEC – the constitution must be respected

by Prof. Gul Agha

The constitution must be respected. The federal govt. can provide scholarships, research grants, coordination facilities, advisory boards, but it cannot control the administration of universities as it is against the federal nature of the state. This is how it is throughout the world in US, Canada, Germany and other democratic federal states. Educationists must respect and support constitutional rule.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa supports HEC devolution

KP supports HEC devolution – by Yousaf Ali

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has dispelled the impression that it was against the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), saying a lobby has become active to create hurdles in the implementation of 18th Amendment by getting baseless reports published in the media.

Talking to The News, spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and chairman Overseeing Committee on Devolution Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the HEC devolution was part of the 18th Amendment and its non-implementation would be tantamount to violating the constitution. …

Read more : The News

Sindh has been robbed literally due to the “Policy of Centralization” in the name of Islam and Pakistan

HEC’s devolution to provinces opposed

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

In my opinion, the recent decision by the Pakistani Government to devolve HEC into provincial HECs is overdue and must be carried out. As a matter of fact, I recommend to Dr. Javaid Laghari to not only support this decision but also help to ensure that it is implemented fully and that he should assume the role of Sindh HEC and make it one the best educational institutions in Pakistan and in the world as he did with ZABIST.

I do not know of any federal-level powerful higher education authorities in any federal state in the world as we have in Pakistan. Using the name of Islam and Pakistan, the establishment of Pakistan has been imposing unnecessary and inefficient centralization on the provinces/ States/ Republics. The tool of “centralization” has been used to discriminate and exploit smaller provinces and usurp resources of Sindh and Balochistan for the benefit of other provinces. Neither Canada has a federal HEC nor USA and other democratic and federal countries have created such institutions. In other countries where a federal-level commissions exist, their role is very limited and constrained to advise on standards.

The reason that Sindh’s Education Ministry is inefficient has no relevance whether or not Pakistan’s HEC should be devolved. The federal Education Ministry and HEC both have history of discrimination against Sindhis and denying due share in educational opportunities in Pakistan. The same rational of inefficiency is given for centralized control of Sindh’s resource industries such as coal, oil, gas, and ports.

The fact that few Vice Chancellors and educationalists from Sindh do not support devolution of HEC is the same as some pro one-unit establishment organs gave when the people of Sindh, Balochistan, and Pakhtunkhwa demanded dissolution of one unit. Such pronouncement did not succeed then and they will not stop devolution of HEC and other federal agencies and departments returning them into their provincial jurisdictions.

As a highly super centralized state, Pakistan is increasingly failing and is now considered one of worse countries on most human development factors. It is time that it’s setup is reorganized on the basis of the 1940 Resolutions, which is the fundamental principle for various provinces/ States/ Republics to join Pakistan.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, March 27, 2011.

Another trick by Punjab to oppose devolution

HEC’s devolution to provinces opposed

By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, March 25: A former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and incumbent president of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Dr Attaur Rehman has criticised the government`s decision to devolve the commission to the provinces.

Dr Rehman, the commission`s founding chairman who held the position from 2002 till late 2008, said at a press conference here on Friday that the decision would be a blow to the country`s higher education sector which had just started taking off after the huge investment that went into it over the past decade. …

Read more : DAWN

The Empire Without Clothes – by Waris Husain

WITHOUT DEVELOPING A SECULAR AND TOLERANT STATE IDENTITY THAT CAN PROVIDE EQUAL PROTECTION TO ALL ITS CITIZENS REGARDLESS OF THEIR BACKGROUND, INCIDENTS LIKE THE ASSASSINATION OF GOV. TASEER WILL BECOME COMMON-PLACE.

However, the inability of the general public to see the nakedness of Pakistan is due to the inter-generational brainwashing towards conservative orthodoxy.

The heinous murder of Governor Taseer was shocking, but one should consider the reactions in support of his assassin amongst some Pakistanis as a sign that the society is at a crossroads. Governor Taseer’s life was stolen from him because he rejected a blasphemy law based on a narrow-minded view of Islam that subjects the nation’s minorities to discrimination. Laws such as these reveal the increasingly conflicting view of Pakistan’s future: either as a nation that is able to adapt to modern times and protect the rights of all its citizens or one destined for devolution into chaos through a medieval view of Islam and the state. …

Read more : SOVEREIGN MINDS

Developing a proper method of accountability- Watchdogs on the judiciary, parliament, executive, police, or for that matter

Issues to consider

–  Aqil Sajjad

I’m listing down some political issues that we should consider taking up now that the deposed judges have been restored. Each one of these issues is very important, and we need someone to take it up.

1. Judiciary and police reforms:

..Developing a proper method of accountability for the judges because the existing SJC structure is flawed. – Reforming the lower judiciary. – Police reforms

2. Devolution:

This is very important because devolution has the potential to open up opportunities for ordinary citizens to enter electoral politics. Union councils are small, and you can contest elections even if you are not filthy rich. Once you have been a union councilor, you can gradually go on to contest elections for bigger constituencies and move up in politics.

Things to do: convince the media to have more constructive discussions on devolution, and promote the idea to the people at large, so that it becomes increasingly difficult for any government to roll it back.

3. Intra-party democracy:

This requires engaging with the media and political party workers at the grass roots to highlight this issue.

4. Demanding live debates on local radio:

Due to the wider reach of radio, and considering the fact that TV channels can generally only talk about national issues, there is a real need for local city/district radio stations to come up and hold live debates on local issues. During elections, the election commission should even arrange for regular structured debates at the local level for all constituencies.

We need to highlight this issue and press the govt to remove unnecessary restrictions and giving live debates proper air time on govt-owned local radio stations.

5. Corruption:

Highlighting the need for a constitutionally independent NAB, which can investigate and prosecute corruption cases against anyone including those in power without political interference.

6. Provincial autonomy:

A first step should be to make an attempt to understand what people outside Isb, Lhr and Khi think and want…

7. Constitution revue:

Understanding our constitution, and then determining whether it really serves our needs even if it’s restored to the original 1973 form. Then figuring out the kind of amendments that are needed for the genuine empowerment of the people. Some of the earlier points related to judiciary reforms, devolution, NAB and provincial autonomy would automatically be a part of such an effort, but here the goal would be to have a comprehensive review of the constitution rather than a single issue focus.

8. A political party Watchdog:

Looking at things like

a. The extent of intra-party democracy. This should include how party tickets are awarded.

b. Whether the parties have proper think-tanks for policy formulation.

c. Whether the parties have competent people and intra-party mechanisms for bringing such people forward.

d. whether there are any intra-party mechanisms for accountability, how many members of the parties have criminal or corruption cases etc.

e. How many of the MNAs and MPAs elected on party tickets are lotas with a history of switching loyalties.

9. Media watch:

This can include things like

a. keeping an eye on the political connections of newspaper and TV channel owners, and making knowledge of such connections well known to the public;

b. keeping track of whether journalists are consistent in applying the same principle. Example: if someone said that Iftikhar Ch should be restored when he was first removed by Musharraf, then did they continue to propagate the same position when the PPP came into power or did they suddenly do a ‘lota’ on this?

c. rating various talk-shows on the diversity of guests they invite, so that our national discourse does not remain monopolized by a very small group of people.

d. Pointing out instances of yellow journalism.

10. Other watchdogs:

Watchdogs on the judiciary, parliament, executive, police, NAB, or for that matter, any regulatory authority, like PEMRA or SECP.

March 28, 2009