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A political economy of communalism in south Asia

Hyderbad: “You Strike & We will Strike back”.

The message of ‘21/2 Hyderabad serial terror attack

By Feroze Mithiborwala

The strategic& political target of the terror attack, is the historic 2-day Strike of the Working classes, where more than 12 core or 120 million workers both from the organized & unorganized sectors participated & brought India to a halt.

This working class strike surmounted all calculations due to the scale at which the enraged working classes participated. This strike has shaken up the corporate-political elite & that is why they have struck back with a serial terror attack, where now more than 15 citizens have died & 50 grievously injured. The terror attack was orchestrated in Dilsukh Nagar, where there is a busy market & many cinema halls.

If the working class unrest takes the proportions which we witness in many nations across the world such as Greece & Spain, the ruling elite will witness a massive crisis, due to the growing burdens of price-rise, decreasing wages, increasing scams, spiraling inflation, the growing insecurity of the peasantry, workers& laboring classes, as well as the ever-widening rich-poor divide.

Continue reading A political economy of communalism in south Asia

Military Exceptionalism in Pakistan

by Anatol Lieven

First 500 words: Since Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, the country’s military has governed the country outright three times and exerted a strong political influence even when not in power.Pakistan’s tradition of military dominance stems above all from the fact that the Pakistani military is the only institution that works more or less as it is meant to, as measured against the generally accepted standards of a modern state institution. This creates the belief among some sections of Pakistan’s population that the efficiency displayed by the military within its own sphere can be extended via military government to the working of the state as a whole. This belief, however, is a mistake. Each time the military takes over the entire Pakistani system, it soon finds that the state is so weak that it has no choice but to work through the same old local elites, using the familiar methods of patronage, corruption and exploitation of kinship ties. …

Read more » The International Institute of Strategic Studies

Let there be a Referendum in Balochistan

By: Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham, Tausif K. Kamal, Attorney at Law and Moid Alam

(Desk News) – After the 1960’s or so Pakistan establishment’s colonial policy in Balochistan has been to accelerate the settlement of imported Pashtuns (also Panjabis) to offset the rebellious Baloch people, a bit similar to what Israel did in Palestinian lands …

Pak policy of settlement of Pashtuns and also Panjabis in Balochistan to counter the freedom seeking rebellious local Balochis was a deliberate policy that started in the 1960s from Ayub period onwards… the goal of this policy was to change the ethnic demographics of Balochistan and thus suppress their right of self determination.

From post 47 Kashmir invasion to Balochistan invasion to Afghan Jihad, the Paskiatni security state has abused and exploited Pashtuns as their volunteer warriors for a long long time. Pashtun nationalist forces have failed miserably in all these decades.

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, Feb 22, 2012.

History & Sindh – Black Mirror – By: Dr Mubarak Ali

Past present: Black mirror

History often helps in analysing the present day issues by reflecting on past events. Generally, this approach is adopted in a society where there is dictatorship, censorship and legal restrictions to express discontent in regard to government policies. The method is effective in creating political consciousness by comparing the present with the consequences of bad governance and disillusionment of the past.

After the independence[?] of Pakistan, the army and the bureaucracy emerged as powerful state institutions. In the absence of a constitution, the two institutions were unaccountable to any authority. Bureaucracy followed in the footsteps of the colonial model, treating people with arrogance and contempt. A strong centre allowed it to rule over the provinces unchecked. The provinces, including the former East Pakistan, greatly suffered because of this.

Sindh chose to raise its voice against the oppressive attitude of the bureaucracy and a strong centre. Despite the grand, national narratives which justified the creation of a new country, Sindh responded by presenting its problems and grievances by citing historical suffering of its people.

During the reign of Shahjahan, Yusuf Mirak, a historian, wrote the book Tarikh-i-Mazhar-i-Shahjahani. The idea was to bring to Shahjahan’s notice the corruption and repressive attitude of the Mughal officials in Sindh. As they were far from the centre, their crimes were neither reported to the emperor nor were they held accountable for their misdeeds.

Mirak minutely described their vices and crimes and how the people [Sindhis] were treated inhumanly by them. He hoped that his endeavours might alleviate the suffering of the people when the emperor took action against errant officials. However, Mirak could not present the book to the emperor but his documentation became a part of history.

When the Persian text of the book was published by Sindhi Adabi Board, its introduction was written by Husamuddin Rashdi who pointed out the cruelty, brutality, arrogance and contempt of the Mughal officials for the common man. Accountable to none, they had fearlessly carried on with their misdeeds.

Today, one can find similarities between those Mughal officials and Pakistani [civil & military] bureaucrats of the present day. In the past Sindh endured the repercussions of maladministration and exploitation in pretty much the same way as the common man today suffers in silence. But one can learn from the past and analyse the present to avoid mistakes.

The history of Sindh shows two types of invaders. The first example is of invaders like the Arabs and the Tarkhans who defeated the local rulers, assumed the status of the ruling classes and treated the local population as inferior. The second type was of invaders like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali who returned home after looting and plundering. The rulers of Sindh defended the country but sometimes compromised with the invaders. Those who defended it were vanquished and discredited by history, and their role was not recognised.

G. M. Syed in his tract Sindh jo Surma made attempt to rehabilitate them. According to him, Raja Dahir who defended Sindh against the Arabs was a hero while Muhammad Bin Qasim was an agent of the Umayyad imperialism who attacked Sindh to expand the empire and to exploit Sindh’s resources.

Decades later, in 1947, a large number of immigrants arrived from across the border and settled in Sindh. This was seen by Sindhi nationalists as an attempt to endanger the purity of the Sindhi culture. In 1960, agricultural land was generously allotted to army officers and bureaucrats. Throughout the evolving circumstances in Sindh, the philosophy of Syed’s book is the protection and preservation of the rights of Sindhis with the same spirit with which the heroes of the past sacrificed their lives for the honour of their country [Sindh].

Continue reading History & Sindh – Black Mirror – By: Dr Mubarak Ali

Israel: High Court Rulings Undermine Human Rights

Recent Decisions Uphold Discrimination, Exploitation of Occupied Territory

(Jerusalem) – Recent decisions by Israel’s high court aim to legitimize clear violations of Israel’s international legal obligations, Human Rights Watch said today. In one decision, the court disregarded international law prohibiting discrimination, and in another, it ignored international law on the use of resources in an occupied territory. Israel should annul a law preventing Israeli citizens from living with their Palestinian spouses and end policies that permit private Israeli companies to strip rocks and other construction materials from quarries in the occupied West Bank for their own economic gain.

“With these rulings, Israel’s highest court has veered seriously off course in serving as a final bastion for upholding human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “For the system of legal checks against rights abuses to break down like this is one more indication of the unraveling of protections for rights and freedom in Israel.” ….

Read more » Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Limits to Imran’s magic

By Haider Nizamani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

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

Some constructive work by Pakistani Parliament – Congratulation to women of Pakistan & congratulation to all those parliamentarians who supported this women protection bill

NA passes women protection bill

By: Javaid-ur-rahman

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly Tuesday unanimously passed ‘The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Amendment Bill) Bill 2010’ to prohibit certain practices leading to exploitation and discrimination against womenfolk including marriage with the Holy Quran, giving a female in marriage or otherwise in Badla-e-Sulh, Wani or Sawara and depriving women of inheriting property.

The bill moved by MNA Donya Aziz was succeeded to get clearance in the third attempt, as the bill has twice been deferred in the last NA session (35th session) of private member day. The four clauses of the anti-women practices bill had been passed after thorough discussion. …

Read more » The Nation

Occupy Islamabad!

For decades, we have heard, and chanted, slogans against the evils of capitalism. We have witnessed the monopolization of multinational corporates and intensifying ratio of starvation, growing side by side. We have seen so many wars, imposed in the name of peace. We have heard enough lies about the people’s struggle and their achievements of the past. We have watched the world transforming into a global village of miseries, poverty, bloodshed, hunger and oppression. Now, the masses, all over the world, seem to realize the root cause of all the miseries: exploitation of man’s labour by man. Capitalism is failing. The world is changing!

It is a historical moment for us. The advocates of free-market economy are shaken by the series of protests that, starting from the New York City, have captured the hundreds of cities all over the world. These protests represent the awakening class-consciousness of the masses that has culminated in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. These occupy activists have gathered to change the existing economic inequality of the system. They have always been taught that Marx was wrong in his critique of capitalism. They have realized the empirical evidence of the opposite.

Karl Marx, in the 19th century, had explained the inevitable presence of exploitation as an essential ingredient of capitalism. The German social scientist had proved that, in any society, the exploitation takes place when a few people own all the means of production and the majority, who doesn’t own anything, is bound to sell its labour to that minor class which accumulates private property. While, the state functions to protect that unequal distribution of wealth, assuring the widening class-differences.

The NY Post has referred the Occupy Movement as the New York’s ‘Marxist Epicenter’. It has countered the myth, propagated by the media, that the occupy activists are a breed of bored, hippie-like folks who are doing some adventurism to seek attention. According to their report, the flags depicting revolutionary icons can be seen everywhere, showing their ideological commitment. Moreover, the ‘occupiers’ openly refer to each other as ‘comrade’, a term used by the left-wing worldwide, meaning ‘friend’ or ‘ally’. Their literature openly declares Socialism as a cure of all the prevailing problems.

At this historical moment, the Pakistan’s left is reorganizing like their counterparts of the West. We have a long history of youth’s struggle against the dark military regimes. From the Democratic Students Federation’s front ‘Red Guards’ to the Lawyer’s movement, our young activists have always stood for the people’s cause. Continuing their legacy of internationalism, Pakistan’s left parties have decided to start anti-capitalist camps, initiating from Lahore, not only for the solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but also as a continuous struggle to change our indigenous problems. We need to realize the importance of this revolutionary wave. We need to be in the flow. For how long the people will continue to suffer and dream for a better society? The time has come to make those dreams an existing reality. The time has come to reject all the confused liberators. The time has come to chant, ‘Occupy Islamabad!’

But, unfortunately, the state is not the only thing to occupy, in our case. We are aware that Pakistan suffers from multiple complex issues. We don’t only have the corrupt feudal political families and their huge palaces to occupy; we have millions of minds to occupy which are burning in the flames of religious fanaticism. We have to occupy the rising sectarian mindset of the people. We have to occupy the religious rage to assure peaceful coexistence of everyone. We have to occupy the narcissistic prism and replace it with rationality and realism. We have to occupy the filth of the society and the filth within. And we, the people, can do that! We can do that because we are the 99 percent!

Courtesy» The Express Tribune

Military strategy and the flight of capital – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The Malaysian Consul General, General Khalid Abdul Razzaq, told the press that in the last few years, about 700 Pakistanis had transferred Rs one trillion and 80 billion to his country in a specific programme. If one includes the most popular places for Pakistani capital in the Gulf States, Europe and the US, the transferred amount would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. If capital is flying out so ferociously, the Pakistani economy has a very dim future. The more depressing aspect is that the policies that created such conditions are not changing in the foreseeable future.

First of all, it is mindboggling how a country wracked by all kinds of law and order problems and power shortages can still generate such a mammoth surplus that is being transferred abroad. This reflects the vibrancy and tenacity of the Pakistani population that it can survive against all odds the way it has been doing for centuries. Probably, this is one of the reasons that our rulers, specifically the military, are continuing the perilous policies that they adopted three decades ago.

Last month, Pakistan’s economic division estimated that the Pakistani economy has suffered losses of about $ 68 billion due to the war on terror. However, the figure was based on certain unproven assumptions and less than solid stipulations. It seemed that the figure was touted in the international press to convince foreign governments about the cost Pakistan is bearing for the war on terrorism and tell them that their aid is too little when compared to the losses. One could have questioned Pakistan’s projected loss figure on various grounds but the capital transfer to Malaysia cannot be questioned because it is coming from the horse’s mouth.

Every economist knows such a huge surplus that is being transferred abroad is gained through extreme exploitation and skimming of the masses. The surplus, whatever way it is gained, is called ‘the savings of an economy’. And, if the savings are not invested back into the economy, the country can never grow — on the contrary it can only degenerate. Pakistan’s rate of inflation, rising poverty and unemployment, which may be as high as 70 percent if one includes the redundant rural workforce, is a manifestation of how the export of Pakistani savings abroad has jeopardised the revival of the economy.

The migration of Pakistani savings to other countries shows that its top wealth holders — whatever their percentage — do not see a safe future in Pakistan. Insecurity is the fundamental reason for such a prevalent view among prosperous Pakistanis. The rise of religious extremism and acceleration of jihadism through the Taliban, al Qaeda and other private militias is the root cause of insecurity in Pakistan. Therefore, the state institutions that have given rise to such forces are directly responsible for the disaster Pakistan is facing.

The flight of capital from Pakistan started during the 1970s and 1980s, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan. Rising sectarianism in the country and ethnic violence in Karachi, engineered by secret agencies with no US input, started scaring potential domestic and foreign investors. It is interesting that this violence-ridden environment opened another chapter of economic plundering in Pakistan by all kinds of exploiters. The attitude had been to squeeze as much as possible in the shortest period. Somehow, the deepening of anarchy provided more opportunity to the exploiting classes and we witnessed unprecedented accumulation of wealth and its transfer abroad in this period. Who is responsible for creating such conditions?

The Pakistan military’s doctrine of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban and al Qaeda added to the anarchy, insecurity and, strangely enough, economic exploitation. Military spending kept on rising at the expense of the impoverishment of the masses. Therefore, the policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has caused misery for common Pakistanis from many angles.

Despite the international pressure and domestic rejection, Pakistan’s military is continuing its failed policy. Besides the US, every international power, including China, has asked Pakistan to clean up its jihadi mess and change its direction from India obsession-cum-seeking-strategic depth in Afghanistan to being friendlier towards its neighbours. Domestically, after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s declaration that we should end hostilities towards India and that the military should get out of civilian matters, other than a few religious parties no mainstream political party shares the military’s strategic vision. The PPP and ANP may be toeing the military’s line for opportunistic reasons for the time being but both parties are far from India-haters.

Therefore, it is the military strategy that is causing insecurity in the country and forcing Pakistani capital to flee. The quantity of outflow of capital is so huge that a few billion from the US, any other country or international agencies (the World Bank and IMF) cannot compensate the losses. Therefore, the first sign of stability in Pakistan would be seen when Pakistani capital outflows stop and domestic savings start getting reinvested in the country.

On the contrary, if the military keeps walking on the suicidal path, the economy will be squeezed and, if India grows steadily, Pakistan will become irrelevant in the region. The outcome of the ongoing military strategy of Pakistan will result in just the opposite of what is desired.

Courtesy: WICHAAR.COM

This is how the poor people of Pakistan subsidized the Millionaire/ Billionaire ruling elite of Pakistan

Pakistan’s Federal Assembly Canteen price list: Tea Rs.1.00, Chicken Soup Rs.5.50, Dal Rs.1.50, Meals Rs.2.00, Chappati Rs.1.00, Dosa Rs.4.00, Veg Briyani Rs.8.00, Fish Rs.13.00. The language of the program is urdu/ Hindi.

Courtesy: Dunya TV (Program Hasb e Haal with Sohail Ahmed, Junaid Saleem and Najia Baig)

You Tube

G.M. Syed on the “Unity and Diversity of Religion”

By Manbir Singh Chowdhary

G.M. Syed was as an enigmatic leader who spent his entire life advocating the rights of peasants in a feudal society, and fighting the adverse effects of centralized power and authority in Pakistan. As a result, he became renowned as a champion of his native Sindh.

In 1971, disillusioned with national politics and the stronghold of Pakistan’s federal government over smaller provinces, Syed formed the ‘Jiye Sindh‘ movement that called for the recognition and right to self-determination of the Sindhi people.

Unafraid to speak out against the ethnically Punjabi-dominated government’s marginalization of his Sindhi brethren, he died in 1995 under house arrest, after a lifelong career in politics. Amnesty International declared him, “A Prisoner of Conscience”.

A 2002 editorial in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper claimed Syed was the longest serving political prisoner in recent history, beating Nelson Mandela by six months.

At a February 2001 gathering to commemorate G.M. Syed’s 97th birth anniversary, the Dawn reported various leaders of nationalist parties paying tribute to him as “a man of principle who never compromised with feudals and dictators for the sake of power.”

The article reflected the common sentiment of those who view Syed as a political icon: “The late Syed believed in the salvation of all oppressed people of Sindh who had been subjugated by feudals and forces of exploitation.”

Despite remaining firm in his convictions and standing up against political oppression, it was G.M. Syed’s views on religion and philosophy that truly formed the basis of his legacy to the world. A man of great learning, he was a staunch proponent of humanity and love – a man who respected and drew from the teachings of all faiths.

In the words of author and historian, Khadim Hussain Soomro, “History will remember him as an eminent ambassador of peace, goodwill, and tolerance.”

Continue reading G.M. Syed on the “Unity and Diversity of Religion”

Terrorists want to ruin Pakistan through the barrel of the gun and they are exploiting religion for ulterior motives.

Zardari vows to destroy terrorists to the last man

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday vowed to fight and wipe out terrorists who wanted to ruin Pakistan through the barrel of the gun and were exploiting religion for ulterior motives. …

Read more : DAWN

Sindh: A Tale of Exploitation and Discrimination

By Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
.. It is quite clear from the “Wealthy Sindh’s Poor people” report that Sindh and Sindhis have not received their fair share in .. Pakistan and it is imperative that the inequities pointed out in the article must be addressed immediately before Sindhis completely loose their trust and the sense of ownership in the entity of Pakistan.
According to the 1998 census, the report says 51.2% of Sindh’s population lives in rural areas and remaining 48.8% live in Metropolitan/Municipal Corporations, Municipal Committees and Town Committees. The following key points from the report clearly show that Sindhis have suffered considerable exploitation and discrimination that must come to an end:
Sindh’s Resources and Contributions:

Continue reading Sindh: A Tale of Exploitation and Discrimination