Tag Archives: factors

Europe’s Tax on Financial Trades Is a Risky Bet

By Mark Buchanan

Millions of Europeans are about to become the subjects of a vast social experiment. What’s troubling is how little anyone understands about where it might lead.

A total of 11 European Union member states — including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but not the U.K. — plan to introduce a small tax on financial transactions by the beginning of 2014. Financial institutions will pay 0.1 percent on all stock and bond trades, and 0.01 percent on derivatives. Although taxes that are at least crudely similar exist in about 40 nations around the world, the European measure will be the first introduced on such a large scale.

The idea of a financial transactions tax goes back to the economist John Maynard Keynes. In the 1930s, he argued that speculation on assets drives market instability and suggested that an appropriate levy could deter it. If small enough, the tax would have a negligible effect on long-term stock investors, who trade infrequently and focus on real economic factors in making their decisions. It would primarily deter short-term speculators who buy and sell frequently in response to temporary market movements.

The idea makes intuitive sense and could, in principle, help channel investment to productive economic activity. There’s much debate, though, over whether it can work in reality. Well- known economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Larry Summers have supported a transactions tax. Others of equal prominence have countered that it would be likely to lower equity prices, drive trading across borders and possibly increase market volatility.

Continue reading Europe’s Tax on Financial Trades Is a Risky Bet

Pakistan: A vanishing state

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

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

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

By Najam Sethi

The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.

On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.

On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.

Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.

(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.

(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.

The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.

The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.

The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.

Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.

The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.

Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.

If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.

The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).

The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.

More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.

Continue reading Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

Dawn: Nadeem F. Paracha on the shadow of 1980s thinking on Pakistan’s military establishment

Thick muck – By Nadeem F. Paracha

The parameters and paranoia of the bygone Cold War just refuses to evaporate from the psyche of Pakistan’s military-establishment. That war might have folded with the folding up of the Soviet Union in 1991, but it seems Pakistan’s military-establishment is still largely stuck (albeit willingly) in the thick muck that this war threw up in this region in the 1980s.

Continue reading Dawn: Nadeem F. Paracha on the shadow of 1980s thinking on Pakistan’s military establishment

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

Most people feel depressed and discouraged at some point or other in their life. Sadness, anxiety, grief — we all feel these emotions at various times in our lives. Sadness may be caused by a setback or a loss, while anxiety may be triggered by a threat or a challenge. It is perfectly natural for our emotions to wax and wane with the ups and downs of our lives, but when these feelings present for weeks or months, it could be a sign of DEPRESSION. People with depression may feel like they are losing control. They lose interest in life, feel sad all the time and have difficulty concentrating.

Depression can be happen to anyone. From 10 to 20 per cent of the general population will have to deal with depressing at least once in their life. Depression affects twice as many women as men, and usually occurs between the age 25 and 45. Depression happens in every culture, around the world, and no social or economic class spared.

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is a real disease and is characterized by three persistent factors.

1. Major feeling of malaise 2. Marked loss of interest in usual activities 3. Physical symptoms, including memory loss, fatigue, sleep problems, change of appetite, decreased sexual desire.

Depression is not uncommon. Depression is expressed through physical complaints such as persistant headaches, digestive problems, and fatigue.

For temporary feelings of sadness, taking a walk,  or doing a favourite activity can help. But for real depression individual should seek professional help.

People with depression tend to prefer solitude and are likely to with draw from family and friends. It is important to let them know that they  could on you for support. Also, be sure to encourage them to seek professional help. Take Multi-vitamins and multi-minerals daily. Cut sugar and sugar prodocuts, potato and potato products and refine carbohydrates such as: Cake, pastry, cookies etc, exercise half an hour daily, drink 8 to 12 glasses of fresh crystal clear clean water everyday, eat green leafy and colorful vegetables and fruits daily.

What American Think-Tank thinkers think about how Pakistan will evolve in future? Part -1

By Khalid Hashmani

As the bitterness continues to rise in the Pakistan-USA relationship so does the interest of American Think-Tankers in the future of Pakistan. Last Monday (December 5, 2011), the Brookings Institution launched a new book about Pakistan titled “The Future of Pakistan”. In this book, 17 experts from Pakistan, India, Europe, and the USA looked at the various scenarios in the context of how Pakistan is likely to evolve and develop in the near future. A well-known scholar and US Policy Advisor Stephen Cohen headed this project. The launch event consisted of two panels who discussed different aspects of the project and some of the conclusions.

Continue reading What American Think-Tank thinkers think about how Pakistan will evolve in future? Part -1

MQM: a neo fascist organization

– By: Farooq Tariq

I started visiting Karachi in the mid-1990s after the Labor Party established a group there. Whenever I came to speak to a public meeting, comrades advised me to avoid verbal attacks on the MQM. “We have to live here” was the usual justification.

After the National Trade Union Federation was formed in 1998, I was one of the key speakers at the annual May Day rallies in Karachi. And whenever I ignored the advice and called the MQM a neo-fascist organization, I received maximum applause. It seemed that among the Karachi working class there was tremendous antagonism against the MQM, but not many were prepared to speak publically against this organization.

On 10th September 2011, speaking on GEO television, Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi, responded to the criticism of some who talked to Hamid Mir by commenting, in coded language, of retaliation against those who dare to be critical. He falsely compared Bangladesh’s struggle for independence struggle with the situation of Karachi. One was a struggle by an exploited nationality against the atrocious treatment of the West Pakistan civilian and military establishment while in Karachi today there is a struggle to break the shackles of the neo-fascists, who have attempted to strangle working people for over three decades.

I distinctly remember 12 May 2007, when I was going to speak at a peasant rally in Punjab. I received several calls from Karachi, one from Azra Perveen, a female activist of the Labour Party. She had been part of a group organized by LPP to go to a rally at the airport and welcome the chief justice. Shots rang out while buses were still arriving. The main victims were ANP activists, whose bus had to stop and let the passengers rush to find safe places. Azra, whose white dress was drenched in blood, was forced to hide behind a pole as she tried to help the wounded.

I tried to contact Eidhi, the BBC and other media to aid activists encircled by MQM thugs. Earlier in the morning, I was informed that all the transport arranged by LPP had been withdrawn on the instructions of the MQM. No one was willing to risk their transport. In fact the previous day, even commercial painters refused to prepare the LPP banners because of the fear of retaliation by MQM. Nevertheless brave activists of the LPP, ANP and some other parties attempted to get the airport. They found containers blocking the roads and were fired on at several places.

On 10th September 2011 night, I was very angry to hear Mustafa Kamal denying that the MQM played a role in shedding blood in May 2007. Earlier in the press conference from his exile cage, Altaf Hussain, the “leader” accepted the MQM the “negligence” by the local chapter of MQM. And what a negligence, over 50 were killed, chief justice was unable to come out from the airport, all the main roads were blocked by the heavy containers and so on. This was an act of fascism. MQM believes in fascist philosophy that means the physical elimination of political opponents.

It was no accident that when Benazir Bhutto visited our bookstall in Lahore in 1992, she bought all fifty copies of a bookletFASCISM What It Is and How To Fight It.” The booklet was written by Leon Trotsky and translated in Urdu by Dr. Khalid Javed Jan. Benazir Bhutto must have felt the need to arm the activists of PPP with this booklet. And what a historical paradox that her husband Asif Ali Zardari is trying his best to go along with this terrorist organization instead of fighting it in an effort to win a “peace” in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.

You cannot have peace by compromising with the fascists. That is a lesson evident from studying the political history of the fascism. All the social democrats and even the communists who tried to compromise with Hitler, Mussolini, and Franc, the fascist leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, became their victims. Fascists are not democrats. They do not believe in democracy. For them democracy is just an opportunity to spread their influence.

What is fascism? It is a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism. It is a mass movement, with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. Its base is the petty bourgeoisie, the middle class.

The capital of Sindh, Karachi has been in the grip of a one-party dictatorship for long time. The MQM talks of revolution, instead of Socialist demagogy. It has always had close links with the military establishment; they always make efforts to smooth over any differences. The MQM gave full support to General Musharaf.

MQM has always used the race issue to unite the groups around it. Racism may be defined as the hatred of one person or group by another because of skin, color, language, customs, place of birth or any other factor. This reveals the belief that one is less than human establishes an unequal power relationship that is perpetuated through wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes.

In order to popularize its message, the MQM propagated the “discriminated” attitude of the Sindhis, Punjabis, Pushtoons and Baluchs against Urdu-speaking migrants. It uses the racist card to divide the working class in Karachi, the main industrial city of Sindh, Pakistan. MQM members make jokes about the native Balucies and Sindhies, revealing a contemptuous attitude that these people are not “civilized” enough to be equal to other people.

When journalist Hamid Mir asked a question Hyder Abbas Rizvi, a MQM representative of MQM, why the party pressurized the AAJ television channel to sack Nusarat Javed, one of the channel’s main anchor people who was sacked during a programme when he was criticizing MQM fascist tactics, , he responded by denying the charges, stating that no one from MQM called the AAJ owners. That may be so, but the sheer fear of MQM retaliation might have forced the owners to sack this reputed journalist.

What had Nusrat Javed said? He simply reacted to the three-hour press conference by Altaf Hussain, the chief of MQM by stating the whole nation was kept hostage for five hours. Yet the MQM representative slyly remarked that the MQM did not force the media to broad the entire conference but only gave out a press release announcing the conference. Yet it is the fear of retaliation by MQM that forced all the media to carry the entire the press conference live for over 5 hours.

Recent developments have forced the neo-fascist MQM retreat from their ambitious plan to expand nationally. All their sloganeering against feudalism is rolled back to their original political stand that to maintain their base among the Muhajirs, taking refuge in Karachi.

The case of the MQM exposes the failure of Pakistani state to address the question of racism and fascism. In fact, the Pakistani state is deeply rooted in religious bigotry and racist superiority where some nationalities are dominant and others are oppressed. It has tried to impose the Urdu language on the Bengalis as early as 1948. Sindhies have had to wage a struggle for their linguistic rights. The emergence of the MQM in the mid-1980, with the help of the military dictator General Zia Ul Haq was mainly based on the supposed superiority of the Urdu language. Different institutions of the state played vital role in bringing this monster up in the air and the MQM has very cleverly used this attitude against all other local, indigenous and other languages.

Today the MQM-PPP alliance reveals a crisis of bourgeoisie democracy. The PPP government is facing one of the most real crises it has faced so far during the three and half year of power. It is both the crisis of the system and the leadership. The so-called clever, smart, witty, intelligent, gifted and chic leadership of Asif Ali Zaradari has to confront one of his most trusted handpicked Zulfiqar Mirza. The crisis has weakened the grip of PPP leadership from its own apparatus. It has weakened their basis in Sindh. That is a result of their policies of conciliations with the neo-fascists MQM. You can never gain by allying with your own enemies.

The working class must not have any illusions in Zulfiqar Mirza’s fight against the fascists. He wants to reap the anger of the working people of Sindh against MQM and put it back to PPP or to the military establishment but he cannot wage a serious fight against the fascists.

What is the way forward? It is revealed in the current struggle of the workers at Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for jobs and against privatization. Here we see the MQM and the PPP united to crush the heroic struggle of the KESC trade union with state repression. We must support this struggle and demand an immediate release of the workers, organizing strike support actions. Building the working-class movement in Karachi is the answer to the present crisis.

It is with the present political scenario that the forces of the Left can expose the real nature of the neo-fascist forces and the danger it presents for the working class in Pakistan. At different times religious fundamentalists or the neo-fascist MQM have been promoted by state institutions and bourgeoisie in order to divide and conquer and thus maintain rotten capitalism. Both, along their master, deserve rejection by the working people of Pakistan.

About the writer – Farooq Tariq is spokesperson of the Labour Party Pakistan

Courtesy: → SocialistPakistan, September 12, 2011

via → Indus Herald

Pakistan: the situation inside

The natives getting restless – by Mujahid Hussain

The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten

Recent events have caused the army and its intelligence wing to be exposed to criticism in a manner never seen before in this country. This estrangement does not apply to the religious right alone anymore, who were already angry because of their one dimensional view on the war on terror. Both the religious and the left wing parties have felt emotions of betrayal and anger towards the army for different reasons. The liberal intellectuals who support the army in the war on terror, have expressed concerns about the duplicity and the modus operandi of the intelligence agencies.

Usama Bin Ladin’s death in Abbottabad, Mehran Base Attack, successive drone attacks, and now the killing of a youth by the Rangers in Karachi in public, has caused the decibel levels to rise as never before.

The less than complimentary views about the army expressed by Asma Jahangir, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the torch bearer of Human Rights, has created a new situation. The reaction of the military top brass has been to rely on its carefully nurtured constituency in journalism, politics, establishment and other vocal segments of the society, to stick to the well rehearsed standard narrative, offering the usual rewards in return.

On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif intends to exploit this situation, for he knows full well that his rivals are weak and that internal and external factors may allow him to gain political ascendancy. There is no evidence coming to the fore that the army has grasped the significance of the change in the public mood and increasing disillusionment among its traditional supporters.

It does not seem that the army has yet decided to curtail its role in politics. History, however, is full of ironies. The coziness with the Army that was the preserve of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group [PML-N] is now enjoyed by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party [PPP], given expression through the statements of Rahman Malik, Babar Awan, and Firdous Ashiq Awan. All three are new PPP faces whereas the traditional party leaders have lost their pre-eminence. On the other hand, the PML-N members are moving towards the role played by the PPP workers during and following the Zia regime. Jamaat-e-Islami [JI] has lost favour and Imran Khan has stepped into its shoes.

Whereas the brittleness of the state has become obvious in these circumstance, its only stable institution, the Army, is also facing retreat and uncertainty. The situation in the tribal regions is a stalemate. The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten. In Sindh, the increasing unrest in cities is not a good omen for all unitary forces including the Army even though there is no prominent movement in the rural Sindh. …

Read more: ViewPoint

Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar

Accountability of Military Inc

by Najam Sethi

The terrorist attacks on GHQ last year and the Mehran Naval Base last month were outrageous examples of terrorist efficiency and motivation as opposed to ISI incompetence and military ill-preparedness. The US Navy Seal raid to extract Osama bin Laden from a compound in Abbottabad was deeply humiliating as well. Heads should have rolled. But the military will not even consider an independent commission of inquiry to unearth the facts. No wonder its credibility and sacred-cow status have taken a mighty hit. Within the armed forces, officers are standing up to question and confront their superiors. Outside, an angry public wants to know why we are spending half our tax resources on equipping the military with F-16s and BMWs when it can’t even protect itself, let alone defend the nation. This questioning of Military Incorporated is unprecedented.

More significantly, the civilian opposition is up in arms. It is demanding an informed debate over the military’s national security doctrines – particularly with reference to the obsession with, and fear of, “arch-enemy India” – that have spawned such self-serving budgetary outlays and an arms race at the expense of the social welfare of Pakistanis for six decades. The indignant argument that criticism of the military is “unpatriotic” or serves the interests of the “enemy” doesn’t wash any more. Indeed, the term “establishment”, used hitherto to refer obliquely to the military so as not to offend it, is rapidly going out of fashion. People are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Ominously, the ISI’s mythology of power is now being deconstructed and exposed as being undeserved. The “agencies” are out of fashion, the ISI is squarely in the spotlight. The premeditated abduction and torture of journalist Saleem Shehzad, which led to his death, has been bravely laid by the media and opposition at the door of the ISI and not some invisible “agency”. The government’s silence – in not establishing a credible commission of inquiry – has also compromised the ISI’s position. This is remarkable, not because of the pathetic response in self-defense elicited from unnamed spokesmen of the ISI but because a conviction has now taken root in the public imagination that the ISI should not be beyond the pale of the law and accountability. The opposition has gone so far in parliament as to demand an oversight of its functions, duties, responsibilities and budgets. This is a far cry from a demand by the media and opposition not so long ago to shield and protect the ISI and its DG from the “conspiratorial” tentacles of the PPP government and its ubiquitous interior minister, Rehman Malik, who sought to bring the ISI’s internal political wing dedicated to political machinations under civilian control.

All this has happened because of two new factors that are not sufficiently imagined or understood by the military and ISI. One is the rise of a fiercely competitive and free media that is rapidly coming of age and will not allow itself to be manipulated wholesale in the “patriotic national interest”, a term that is constantly being re-evaluated in light of changing realities. The other is the revival of a chief justice and supreme court that are acutely aware of the civil burden imposed by their historic and popular enthronement. Neither will countenance any political or military oversight of their own sense of freedom and function. So if the military cannot rely on the troika of army chief, president and prime minister for political leverage of government – because the president and prime minister are one now – it is even more problematic to try and manipulate the media and SC merely on the yardstick of “patriotism” and “national interest”. The military’s woes are compounded by the fact that, for the first time in history, a popular Punjabi “son of the soil” like Nawaz Sharif, whose PML is a veritable creature of the predominantly Punjabi-origin military itself, has turned around and openly challenged its supremacy, arrogance and lack of accountability. The “Punjabi establishment” – meaning the civil-military power combine that has ruled Pakistan since independence — is therefore openly divided. The irony of history is that it is a Sindhi politician (Asif Zardari) who is opportunistically lending his shoulder to the military as it braces for fresh buffetings at home.

But that is just the beginning of a new story. The international establishment – principally the USA and EU – that has nurtured and molly-coddled the Pakistani military for six decades with money and weapons is also at the end of its tether. The “strategic partnership” mantra is dead. Washington, like Islamabad, doesn’t trust Rawalpindi either as long-term partner or ally. It is only a matter of time before the civilians in Pakistan and those in DC or Brussels make common cause for mutual benefit. Indeed, if the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill were to be floated anew with clauses enjoining civilian supremacy over the military, there would not even be conscientious objectors today.

The Pakistan military should see the writing on the wall. It must hunker down and become subservient to civilian rule and persuasion instead of embarking on new misadventures in the region like the proverbial Pied Piper. The road to hell is always paved with self-serving intentions.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

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

Problems of Sindhi Nationalism – What way forward?

Written by Dr Beenish Shoro

Excerpt:

…. In Pakistan the national question exists in its worst form because Pakistan itself is an example of a failed nation state. Pakistan was created as a result of the partition of the Indian subcontinent as the British imperialists and the local/national bourgeois leaders feared that a united national liberation would not stop there but would move towards a social transformation that would overthrow landlordism, capitalism and the imperialist strangle hold. To avoid a socialist revolution they conspired and split the movement along religious lines that led to the reactionary and traumatic partition of a land that had more than five thousand years of common history, cultural and socio economic existence.

Pakistan was founded not as a nation state, but as a state made up of nationalities. Even the abbreviations which form the word Pakistan are a testimony to this fact. This corresponds to its belated character. … National oppression has been brutal and rough ever since the country came into being. ….

….the separation of Bangladesh, the inability to resolve regional and sectarian disputes, the inability to sustain a clear concept and direction to Pakistan’s Nationalism and finally failure to create a modern cohesive nation state.

Pakistan’s political system is dominated by elite groups. In addition it faces the dilemma of chronic military rule. ….

….Sindh, the southern most province of the state possesses one of the most varied demographical set-ups in Pakistan. There is a very fragile ethnic balance between Sindhis and non-Sindhis. After partition many of the immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India moved mainly to Karachi, but also to Hyderabad, Sukkur and other cities of Sindh.

This massive influx of Mohajirs from India and other nationalities resulted in a greater control of people from this transmigration over the economy, jobs and posts in the state apparatus. Although this phenomenon had a greater impact on urban Sindh, the deprivation was felt also in rural Sindh especially amongst the Sindhi middle classes. The acquisition of State and other lands by Punjab Generals and other settlers further aggravated this feeling of national deprivation amongst the Sindhi populace. There are several other factors which fuelled these sentiments. ….

….At the heart of nationalist sentiments in Pakistan is the perception by non-Punjabis that the Punjabi nationality dominates the economy, politics, society and the state. There is considerable evidence to support this perception. First, Punjabis constitute a majority of the population, approximately 60%; second, they dominate the civilian bureaucracy and the military; third, the Punjab is by far the wealthiest and most developed province in the state. And this perception is ironically fuelled by governmental policies designed to assuage such perceptions. ….

…. G. M. Syed can rightly be considered as the founder of Sindhi nationalism. He formed the Sindh Progressive Party in 1947 and demanded provincial autonomy within a socialist framework. In 1953 he formed the SindhAwami Mahaz. G. M. Syed himself a middle sized landlord represented the grievances of that class as well. …

… There have been several movements in Sindh over the last 60 years but there are three very significant mass upsurges that shook the echelons of power in Islamabad. These are the movements of 1968-69, 1983 and to some extent that of 1986. All these movements had different intensities, character, orientation and motivations. …

Zia was the son of a Mullah who had migrated from Eastern (Indian) Punjab and was American-trained at Fort Bragg. His atrocities, his make up and his background were enough to provoke massive hatred from the masses in Sindh. Zia’s repression of the Sindh was no less than the brutalities of British colonialists inflicted upon the mass of the subcontinent and other colonies. All this unleashed a glorious movement of the Sindhi masses against the military dictatorship. Although this movement had significant nationalist overtones, fundamentally it was linked to the general class resentment against this regime.

The movement failed because the regime was able to foster ethnic and nationalist discord especially in urban Sindh and in other main cities and provinces of Pakistan. In Karachi the Pakistani state devised the instrument of the MQM, the Punjabi Pushtoon Ittehad, Islamic fundamentalists and other reactionary outfits to break the momentum of struggle that was developing along class lines.

Still the movement raged on. In such circumstances whenever national antagonisms coincided with class contradictions they became especially hot. According to the official figures 1263 innocent people were slaughtered by the army in rural Sindh while thousands more were injured. There are heroic episodes of resistance that have now become legends in Sindhi folklore. …

… In 1986 the movement in Sindh was actually the last nail in Zia’s coffin. …

… If we in Sindh should achieve “freedom” through the same phenomenon as in Bangladesh we may well get freedom from non-Sindhi capitalists, but we will be all the more cruelly exploited by Sindhi capitalists and landlords. These nationalists do not want freedom from poverty, misery, unemployment; they just want freedom to establish control over their own market where they could extract a huge surplus by squeezing the last drop of the workers’ blood.

The feudal landlords want freedom to exploit the peasants and working class …

… We will take revenge for the crime of partition of India through the formation of a Red Revolutionary Subcontinent. As Comrade Lal khan says, “The unification of the Indian subcontinent will be on a much higher plane than the 1947 Partition.” …

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Why I am not leaving Pakistan

By Caitlin Malik

I remember watching “George ka Pakistan” and enjoying it. Obviously, as a foreigner residing in Pakistan, I could empathise with much of his experience and I liked the fact that his Urdu (at that stage) was worse than mine.

So it was with some sadness and, to be honest, a little anger, that I read George’s farewell to a country that had granted him citizenship for no other reason than that he came across as a decent guy (I believe he probably is). Deluded Pakistan might be, but I think George’s delusions are a bigger factor here. Or maybe mine are.

I must be the only person in this country who doesn’t believe Pakistan is on the brink of collapse; civil war; destruction; uncivil war; or total annihilation (pick your preferred noun). I don’t have the requisite ethos to expect people to believe me. I am neither a journalist nor a professional analyst; neither an Ivy League nor an Oxbridge graduate. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Why India Is Democratic and Pakistan Is Not?

The Indian-Pakistani Divide

Why India Is Democratic and Pakistan Is Not

By Christophe Jaffrelot

Many comparisons of India and Pakistan attribute India’s democracy to Hinduism and Pakistan’s autocracy to Islam. Philip Oldenburg’s new book steers clear of this argument, focusing on historical, political, and external factors to explain how India came out ahead. …

Read more : Foreign Affairs

Possibility of “revolution” in Pakistan?

Ripe for revolution? – By Mahreen Khan

…. Despite a wave of public protests, Egypt is unlikely to emulate Tunisia, due to factors also present in Pakistan. Egypt has a sharp religious divide between Coptics and Muslims as well as numerous Islamic groups pitted against each other. Arab analysts cite low levels of literacy and a general feeling of apathy and defeatism in the population as further reasons that Egypt will continue to fester rather than revolt. Pakistan has these and additional factors which militate against a revolution: deep and multiple ethnic, linguistic, tribal and sectarian fault lines; a paucity of alternative intellectual narratives, radical leaders or strong unions; and an elected government and freedom of speech. Ironically, democratic elections and free speech help perpetuate the corrupt, unjust stranglehold of the feudal-industrial power elite. Revolutionary forces require a moral impetus that illegitimate dictatorship provides but elected government does not. Secondly, frustration needs to simmer under a repressive regime until it reaches the temperature for mass revolt. Pakistan’s free media allows an outlet for public dissatisfaction. The often harsh treatment of politicians and police officials at the hands of journalists and judges ameliorates public anger. Vocal opposition parties, unhindered street protests and strikes allow a regular release of fury, draining the momentum necessary for the emotional surge that revolutionary zeal requires. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Current wave of extremism in Pakistan

Statistical ambiguity society

Just how some recent events of our surface politics offer an interesting study of the deep politics

By Dr Ahsan Wagha

It started with the worst ideological polarisation promoted by the military generals in the 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was forced to invite Saudi ambassador Riaz Al-Khatib to mediate between him and the opposition, a practice that was reverberated during the Musharraf-Nawaz conflict and has almost culminated into becoming one of the basic features of our foreign policy. The phenomenon can be investigated in the background of the history of Arab colonisation of this region.

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