Tag Archives: domination

Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

By M Ilyas Khan

The political pantomime played out in Pakistan over the past few years is degenerating into farce.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court terminated the career of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani – disqualifying him from office on the basis of a contempt of court conviction linked to his refusal to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari.

Two days later, a lower court issued a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a member of Mr Gilani’s party, just hours after he was nominated as his possible successor. Uncanny timing, some might say.

Late on Thursday night Mr Shahabuddin was still closeted with senior colleagues at the president’s house – but whether he will be a free man come morning remains to be seen.

Many in Pakistan see these developments as signs that the skirmishes between the judiciary, the military and the civilian government are now erupting into all-out war.

This is all happening at a time when the country can least afford it – relations with the West are at an all-time low, the economy is heading for disaster and people are battling severe power and fuel shortages.

To compound matters, nuclear-armed Pakistan – which is known to have promoted armed militant groups over the past two decades – has steadily been losing territory to these groups in recent years. That’s a major issue for its neighbours and the wider world.

But instead of dealing with the big problems, Pakistan’s power elite have other fish to fry.

Military role

A major part of the problem lies in the traditional domination of the military in Pakistan, and the fact that the judiciary has supported successive attempts by the generals to cut the politicians down to size.

The civilians have rarely held the reins of power, and when they have, they have always had the military establishment to contend with.

Accusations of corruption are a time-tested tool to beat the civilians with, and corruption cases lodged against them during the country’s 64-year history literally run into the hundreds. Few of those cases have ever been resolved.

But they have been successfully used to bring every single civilian government down well before the end of its constitutional five-year term.

The present administration is the longest-serving civilian government Pakistan has ever had – it is just over six months short of reaching the finish line.

If it does, it will set a new precedent – and this is an unsavoury proposition for the establishment for two reasons.

First, prolonged civilian rule is likely to permanently dent the political influence of the military, and thereby the massive business and real estate empires it has acquired.

Second, while Pakistan’s military and civil bureaucracy are dominated by Punjab province, the country’s largest vote-bank, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has its roots in the southern province of Sindh, the country’s main source of revenue and home to a distinct linguistic group that detests Punjab’s domination. So while the establishment is generally sceptical of politicians, it has been almost intolerant towards the PPP.

Judicial activism

The military is widely accused by Western powers of playing a double game in Afghanistan and lost credit in the eyes of many Pakistanis when US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in a secret raid on Pakistan’s soil.

But its diminishing ability to openly control Pakistan’s politicians has been more than offset by what some analysts describe as the judiciary’s increased ability to encroach on the administrative sphere.

This has led to a number of fierce battles between state institutions in recent years which are a distraction from the main challenges.

Since 2009, when judges sacked by the Musharraf regime were reinstated by the present government, they have shown an appetite for pursuing long-standing corruption cases against President Zardari.

Mr Zardari spent eight years in jail because of them, without being convicted in a single case.

That led to the Supreme Court’s dogged pursuit of Prime Minister Gilani and his conviction in April.

The Supreme Court also responded with alacrity late last year in investigating a controversial memo which invited the US to help avert a possible coup in Pakistan after Bin Laden’s death.

The “memogate” affair had the potential to drag in President Zardari but has led only to the dismissal of Pakistan’s then ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani. Top military leaders showed a keen interest in the case and participated in initial hearings, but gradually pulled out when questions were raised over their own political role.

Most recently, the country was stunned to find its bulwark against corruption – Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself – implicated in allegations of bribe-taking levelled against his son. They both deny any wrongdoing and an investigation has been ordered.

Continue reading Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

Americans do it due to stress, Muslims due to hate!

Discussing the Motives of the Afghan Shooter

by Glenn Greenwald

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including 9 children: he was drunk, he was experiencing financial stress, he was passed over for a promotion, he had a traumatic brain injury, he had marital problems, he suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty, he “saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre,” etc.

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.

Continue reading Americans do it due to stress, Muslims due to hate!

PTV’s ‘Jihadi plays’ help army to maintain control over society

-by Farooq Sulehria

Ayesha Siddiqa is an independent social scientist with expertise in civil-military relations and political-economy. She has a doctorate in War Studies from King’s College, London. She has has authored two books on the military and Pakistani politics. Her book ‘Military Inc.’ was banned under the Musharraf dictatorship. She was the first Pakistan fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Ford Fellow. These days she is writing a regular column for the Express Tribune. In an interview with Viewpoint, she discusses Jihadification of Pakistan Television and Lollywood. Read on:

In the 1980s and the 1990s, the PTV aired plays like Sunahary Din, Alfa Bravo Charlie, Nishan-e-Haider series etc that glorified the Pakistan Army. If PTV being state-owned institution was bound to glorify the army in the 1980s when there was a military dictatorship, why the trend continued in the 1990s when there were elected governments running the country?

Military’s domination of the society does not end with the end of direct military rule. In Pakistan’s case the military represents one of the two key poles of power politics. Continued domination in power politics, in turn, is linked with control of the society which depends on intellectual control. These plays are one of the many ways employed by the army to maintain its control over the society. In fact, this is one of the many methods for exercising military hegemony as defined by Antonio Gramsci. Intellectual control helps dominate or shape the national discourse. On the one hand the military weakens political forces, and, on the other, it trains the youth and the general public to accept military as a credible social and political force.

Alongside the plays glorifying Pakistan Army, the PTV serials like Akhari Chattan, Shaheen, Tareekh o Tamseel which glorified Muslim past or Panah 1 and Panah II that depicted Afghan ‘resistance’ against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, were a permanent PTV feature in the 1980s. Do you think this Jihadification of the PTV drama contributed to a militaristic culture in the country? If yes, how? ….

Read more → ViewPoint

Pakistan: Nawaz asks ‘army’ to change mindset

– Nawaz asks ‘army’ to change mindset

By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has vowed never to allow any institution to become a sacred cow and be above the law.

“There is no sacred cow in the country and none should try to become a sacred cow as (we) won’t allow such an attempt,” he told a reference meeting held here on Friday for journalist Salim Shehzad who has been murdered in mysterious circumstances.

Without naming the army but leaving no doubt which institution he was talking about, he said (they) would have to change their mindset.

If the army wants not to be criticised it will have to remove the causes of criticism.

“End your domination of foreign policy (making) if you wish the criticism to end. Our relations should be with the Afghan people and not with a single party. There should be no parallel government (of agencies) in the country.” …

Read more: DAWN

Please show respect to the millions of people in Arab countries who have risen against dictatorships. It is an insult to them if you consider their movements US-inspired-instigated

Unrest in Syria: What you need to know

By Zachary Roth

The uprising in Libya, which provoked military intervention by the United States and its allies to avert a brutal government crackdown, has dominated this week’s headlines. But meanwhile, there’s new unrest in yet another Middle Eastern nation–one with perhaps greater strategic implications for the United States.

Could the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad be set to go the way of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, which were toppled last month by massive popular protests? And what would that mean for the U.S.?

Here’s a rundown on the current situation in Syria:

What exactly has been happening on the ground?

Mass protests against the government have been going on since last week, and on Wednesday, demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a were killed by al-Assad’s security forces while taking refuge in a mosque. The number of casualties hasn’t been confirmed, but some witnesses have put it as high as 100.

The deaths prompted even bigger anti-government demonstrations in Dara’a yesterday, and today the protests spread to the capital city of Damascus, where people called out: “Dara’a is Syria” and “We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria.” In response, supporters of the president chanted back: “God, Syria, and Bashar, that’s all.” ….

Read more : YahooNews

Pakistani-Canadians: On Egypt

Message of Solidarity by the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians to The Egyptian National Association for Change (Canada).

by Omar Latif, Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians congratulates the Egyptian people on their success in ousting the dictator Hosni Mubarak and salutes their heroic and historic struggle against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and social justice.

Backed and supported by the US and other western countries the Egyptian regime, like many other Arab regimes – as indeed most of the governments in Pakistan – have served the interests of the rich internally and that of imperialism regionally.

The Egyptian armed services, just like those of Pakistan, receive well over a billion dollars annually from the United States, most of which ends up in the pockets of senior officers. The ties and cooperation between the security agencies of the US with those of Egypt – as with the security forces of Pakistan – are even closer. Along with you, we hope, these relationships will end.

The Saudi monarchy – the most reactionary, despotic and US-dependent of the Arab regimes – has also played a significant role in aiding and abetting undemocratic and unjust regimes in the region – including those of Pakistan.

Continue reading Pakistani-Canadians: On Egypt