Tag Archives: governance

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

Rs3.65bn for 2010 flood victims yet to be spent

By Bhagwandas

KARACHI: The Sindh government has not yet spent even a single penny from the Rs1.15 billion it has received from the Central Zakat Fund in addition to the Rs2.5 billion allocated by Sindh for the reconstruction of houses damaged or destroyed in the 2010 floods, said Sindh Zakat and Ushr Minister Sajid Jokhio on Monday. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Bangladesh Army says it foiled a coup via Facebook

Intelligence sources say the Bangladesh coup attempt last month was fueled by retired officers campaigning to introduce sharia law. The news raises concern about political instability in the region.

By Anis Ahmed, Reuters

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s Army said on Thursday it had foiled a coup attempt by retired and serving officers last month that intelligence sources said was driven by a campaign to introduce sharia law throughout the majority Muslim country.

Army intelligence discovered that Major Ziaul Haque had fled the barracks and was contacting fellow officers and ex-officers through Facebook and by cellphone to encourage them to join the plot, Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq said.

“Specific information has been unearthed that some officers in military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance,” he told reporters.

He said around 16 former and active officers were involved. Some had been detained and would appear before a military court.

Impoverished Bangladesh has a history of coups, with army generals running the South Asian nation for 15 years until the end of 1990.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took power in early 2009 and has since faced threats from Islamist and other radical groups.

A revolt in the country’s paramilitary forces in February 2009 started in Dhaka and spread to a dozen other cities, killing more than 70 people, including 51 army officers. The revolt was quelled after two days but the country has since been shadowed by fears of further uprisings.

Sources in the army said the coup attempt was made late last month. “The attempt has been effectively controlled and now the process is on to punish the culprits,” one military official said.

Intelligence sources said the coup attempt was fuelled by a retired officer and associates in active service who were campaigning to introduce sharia law.

Intelligence officers also said it appeared to have been planned over weeks or months by officers having close links with what they described as religious fanatics within and outside the military. ….

Read more » CSMONITOR.COM

The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims

A new paper shows 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman rulers decriminalised homosexuality and promoted women’s education

by Tehmina Kazi

Hardline Muslim groups often portray the Ottoman empire as a magic template for a global caliphate. This is then used as a springboard for grandiose arguments that paint a caliphate as viable, and deem it as the only credible model of governance for the future. These arguments are based on a belief that the empire adhered to a single interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) for over 600 years, and – crucially – that its success was contingent on this.

But a paper by Ishtiaq Hussain, published by Faith Matters on Saturday displays a very different picture. Ottoman sultans, or caliphs, in the 18th and 19th centuries launched secular schools and promoted the education of women. The period of reformation known as the Tanzimat saw customary and religious laws being replaced in favour of secular European ones. More surprisingly, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1858 (long before many western states took their cue, and over a century before the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a mental illness in 1973). Contrary to the claims of hardline groups, religious authorities approved many of these measures.

In terms of broader social change, the Ottomans made strong attempts to integrate non-Muslim communities. On the cultural front, it is well known that a minority of people claim that Islam frowns upon artistic expression. However, the last sultan/caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi (1922-1924) has numerous paintings on display in Istanbul’s new museum of modern art; many others were also keen musicians and played a variety of musical instruments. It is therefore clear that the sultan/caliphs enunciated a progressive vision for a secular Muslim society, many years before al-Qaida and similar groups came into existence.

Continue reading The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims

Do not invite nature’s wrath

– By Dr. Manzur Ejaz, DAWN.COM

To describe the irreversibility of events and the determination of socio-historic forces, Waris Shah’s favorite expression was “Vagan paiy dariya na kadi murrde” (The rivers bent on flowing cannot be stopped).

For the last few years Pakistan’s rivers are honouring Waris Shah’s depiction when, in monsoon season, they reclaim the paths that have been usurped by human intruders by way of a quickly multiplying population, anarchy, and lack of governance. The rivers are giving an early warning to every Pakistani that if you mutilate nature, then it will take a very cruel revenge one day. And nature’s revenge is so tough that if the earthquake in the Washington DC area last month had lasted 20 more seconds, very few people would have been left to tell the story.

It cannot be determined if Pakistan and many other such countries have ever been more brutal to nature or with their fellow human beings. In both cases the end result is widespread destruction: probably more people perish and suffer because of floods and their intervention in nature than by jihadi terrorists and sectarian/mafia gangs. It seems like there is a correlation between these both types of brutalities: both are product of irrational approach to earth and the beings that occupy it.

Unlike scientific debates about human- induced global warming, Pakistan’s case is very simple and self evident. An unplanned population has encroached every inch of space that has become the cause of incessant devastations. Since the hapless crowds encroached on reserved lands, drainage and river beds, the monsoon water has no other way but to destroy what comes in its way. Untill the 70s every village, town, city or desert area had natural passages in case of heavy rain and floods. Now, there is hardly any village or town that has not blocked the flow of rain water: raised paved roads everywhere has created a situation in which heavy rains turn the whole village or town into a dirty water pond that can only breed diseases.

People have encroached river beds, and not only cultivate there, but have made brick houses as well. Given the Indus Water Basin Treaty in Pakistan’s rivers like Ravi and Sutlej, there is hardly any water during the winter but that does not mean that they will be dry in monsoons as well. If India does not utilise most of monsoon water to fill its dams built on Ravi and Sutlej, most of central and western Punjab will be drowned by floods. India has no choice but to release water after its dams are filled. And, taking the worst scenario of evil Indian intentions that Pakistanis assume anyway, if instead of filling its dams it lets the excessive water flow, areas around Ravi and Sutlej will see a great human tragedy because of hurdles created in the river beds.

Of course the monsoon and floods are seasonal hazards, but during the rest of the year the situation is very grave though not dramatic to capture the attention of media or the governments. How can the localities handle heavy rains and floods when they cannot handle the sewerage water? Sewerage disposal is handled so badly that it keeps on spreading diseases and killing hundreds of thousands of people every year, specifically in the rural areas. Either it creates ponds of dirty water in the streets or it is disposed off in the irrigation channels. For example, the Lower Bari Doab canal water that reaches the fields in Sahiwal or beyond is heavily polluted with sewerage water: right from its beginning (or even before from Ravi river) every city, town and village drops sewerage in the irrigation distributaries and watercourses. By the time it reaches the crops it has more than half of filth resulting in disease enhancing crops consumed by humans. In addition, such polluted water seeps down to underground water making it extremely harmful for human consumption. No wonder, water borne diseases are so common in Pakistan.

Somehow poor Pakistanis will get through this devastating period of heavy rains and floods, but a lesson has to be learnt: every locality should have a permanent arrangement of drainage of sewerage and excessive water. There are many countries where it rains all year long but they have made befitting arrangements and months of rain do not disrupt normal life.

In Pakistan, instead of making better arrangements for excessive water discharge, human encroachments have blocked the old drainage systems. Pakistan‘s government, at all levels, should take sewerage disposal and water drainage its top development priority. Every locality, small villages or big cities, should be mandated to have drainage systems ready before next monsoon. The developers and constructors, whether building residential dwellings or making metal roads should have a legal binding and liability to first make safe drainage system before they do anything else. Communities should be made liable through legislation, if there is none already, to take collective responsibility for making arrangements of disposing of sewerage and rain water. A compulsory drainage disposal fee should be charged as part of land revenue or property taxes.

One does not have to be a lawyer or a judge to figure out that harming others, as individuals or communities, is violation of human rights and safety. Polluting streets and waterways with sewerage does just that: harm others. Therefore, if the government(s) does not take necessary action then the highest courts should take a suo-moto action to protect the whole Pakistani society. Furthermore, if suicide is a liable act then proliferating sewerage fits this category of crime too. If no one does anything then nature will punish in a way it is doing at the present time.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

VIA → WICHAAR.COM

Rolling back the tsunami – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt;

…. The state, its institutions and luminaries here are complicit in the spread and sustenance of fundamentalism because they were the immediate beneficiaries and without it could not have sustained themselves; it is only now when this tsunami is engulfing them that they are having second thoughts. The fundamentalist ‘brainwashing’ here is societal and if this tsunami of fundamentalism is to be rolled back it has to be tackled on a similar scale. Pebbles of de-radicalisation are not going to stem this tsunami.

The remedy, which may take a generation or more to take effect, is adopting a secular constitution like Bangladesh, curbing the media channels spewing hatred in name of religion, allowing nations the right to self-determination, disempowering the army, shunning ‘strategic depth’ and ‘assets’, ensuring transparency in governance, revamping education curriculum, banning loud speakers and keeping madrassas in check. But I ask the impossible. They simply will not move an iota from their established lucrative position and will readily take down all with them; this tsunami will haunt the world for a long time.

To read complete article → Daily Times

Pakistan: The Power of Intelligence Agencies

by Hassan N. Gardezi

Excerpt;

Preamble – The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad and his killing by US commandos has raised serious concerns about the performance of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. The country’s interior minister Rehman Malik, besieged by allegations of incompetence and complicity went on the defensive, pleading that his government was not aware of Osama’s whereabouts until the US attack on his fortified mansion on May 2. He insisted that it was just a case of accidental failure of Pakistani intelligence agencies, similar to the failure of the US intelligence to detect the perpetrators of 9/11 as they planed their attacks within America.

While giving a briefing on the Abbotabad incident to the in-camera session of both houses of parliament on May13, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, chief of the Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), also reportedly admitted the “failure” of his agency, offering to resign from his post while adding that it was “not intentional” failure. ….

…. It will be naive to conclude that these happenings in Pakistan are accidents of history or failures of the country’s ruling elite who do not know what they are doing. These incidents and other events which have brought Pakistan to where it stands today are part of the logical unfolding of the paradigm of governance adopted consciously and purposefully by successive governments of Pakistan since the inception of the state in 1947. More on this later, but what is pertinent to note here is that the core of this ruling paradigm is the political use of Islam, the essence of the Islamist enterprise. In this respect the present governing establishment is in competition with the militant Islamists, not in conflict.

To read complete article → SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WEB

Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history

Another dark period – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it.

Before Osama Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Islamabad’s political orientation had shifted further to the right on every level. In retrospect, it is becoming clearer that the newfound unity between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) had been forged with the military’s tacit support. No wonder that Prime Minister Gilani’s responses after the Abbottabad debacle were totally in sync with the military’s public face, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). By now all the primitive forces of Pakistan have forged an opportunistic unity barring any enlightened solution to the country’s internal and external problems.

After the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had left the government of their own will or on someone’s prompting, the PPP was in a very precarious position. It had no solution other than bowing to the military and seeking its help. PML-Q, not a political party as such, but an ensemble of electable Pakistani aristocrats always finding it abhorrent to sit on the opposition benches, were keen to come back to the ruling group. PML-Q had served in the military-managed government of General Musharraf and got on board once they received signals from the right quarters.

Pakistan’s military had hardly any choice but to support the PPP government after exacting the maximum concessions from it. It has been reported by many insiders that the military hates to see a federal government run by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N. The military is fearful of his independent approach and his strong belief in civilian supremacy over the armed forces. His firing of two army chiefs during his last stint as prime minster was more than the military could swallow. The military is said to believe that though the PPP government is inept and corrupt, it still listens to them and dares not challenge its will, while Mian Nawaz Sharif is going to do what he likes and may try to exert control over the ‘untouchable’ mighty institution.

A few months back the military was seemingly trying to corner the PPP and replace it with some other combination of political groupings including MQM. Mian Nawaz Sharif was being encouraged to play a role to destabilise the PPP government but, apparently, he did not oblige. Somehow, he seems to be wedded to the concept of not throwing out the democratically elected government when there is direct or indirect danger of military intervention. Since he did not take the military’s bait, the military had no choice but to work with the PPP.

A weakened PPP government due to lack of governance, incompetence and perceived corruption, had changed its patron from the US to the military. After the PPP-PML-Q alliance was put in place, Prime Minister Gilani has been issuing strong pro-military/ISI statements, owning up to all the mess that Pakistan is accused of creating.

PM Gilani’s reported suggestion to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karazai to tilt away from the US and embrace China was also in accordance with the military’s cat and mouse play with the Americans. His out-of-place statement that the military’s intelligence agencies are following the civilian government was also an attempt at mollycoddling the GHQ. His statements after the US operation in Abbottabad followed the same pattern. In essence, the military has recreated a Musharraf-like civilian set-up, which will allow it to do whatever it likes in dealings with the US, Afghanistan, India, China and other key external partners. It also gives them a free hand to play duplicitous policy games if they like to.

Presently, the PPP is trying to outdo Imran Khan, religious parties and all other anti-US political formations in standing behind the military. Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it. Some religious leaders are blaming the Yahood-o-Hunood (Jews and Hindus) for hatching a conspiracy against the Pakistan military as if Osama bin Laden had been planted by them in Abbottabad. Other random groups are even holding rallies in support of the military. This is happening at a time when the civilians, specifically the governing party, should have been asking some tough questions from the military. Instead, the political groups are competing with each other to win the trophy for being the ‘Best Military Apologist’.

Whether Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad with or without the military’s knowledge is a question haunting Pakistan. The world is asking if it should be considered a case of incompetence or mischief on the part of Pakistan. The PPP and all other apologists can woo the military in pursuit of their own agendas but they can neither satisfy the world (not just the US) nor force the military establishment to initiate a corrective mechanism so that, in future, Osama bin Ladens are kept away from Pakistan. In fact, the political environment has been so ‘militarised’ that the Abbottabad operation has turned out to be a blessing for the military. Now the military has proved that it is beyond scrutiny and will be more encouraged to do whatever it wishes. This simply means that the Pakistani state is going to deteriorate further with no self-correcting mechanism in sight.

The conditions in Pakistan were already bad but with the PPP-PML-Q alliance combined with pro-military noises indicate that Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Courtesy: Wichaar

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

A place to call home: Canada helps me explore my true identity

A place to call home

Pakistani-born immigrant credits Canada for helping him explore his identity

by Tayyab Rashid

When I came to North America some 15 years ago, I thought that most of us are migratory beings, or some part of our constitution is. Living in Canada has changed or perhaps expanded my thinking — we are also sedentary souls. …

Read more : via – Siasat.pk –  Canadianimmigrant.ca

CIA – ISI, impending divorce or trial separation?

Lovers tiff, impending divorce or trial separation?

by Omar Ali

Excerpt:

…… 2. The romantic Left delusion. This is the belief that Pakistan’s corrupt elite deserves to be overthrown by the lower classes and the Taliban are (an unfortunate but expected) instrument of this necessary revolution. Actually the first part of this delusion is not a delusion. The Pakistani elite is not just corrupt, they have been practically suicidal. Where other corrupt third world elites have mismanaged the state, provided poor governance, oppressed the poor and failed to evolve a stable political system, Pakistan’s elite (which in this case means the army high command and their supporters) have done something no other third world elite has managed. They have armed, trained and encouraged their own executioners in the course of a demented scheme of trying to wrest Kashmir from India while laying the foundation for a mini-empire in central Asia. But the second part of this delusion is the real delusion here. The Pakistani Taliban is not the Bolshevik party; in fact, they are not even the Iranian Mullahs. They were created by the army as an outgrowth of the American-sponsored Afghan jihad. Their leadership is derived from the Madrasahs and think tanks sponsored by Saudi money and inspired by Syed Qutb and the most virulent Wahhabi and Salafist clerics in the world. They were guided by the jihadist faction of GHQ, men inspired by Maudoodi and his children, not by Marx or even Ali Shariati. They have absolutely no workable social or economic plan. If they do overthrow the elite, what follows will be a nightmare of historic proportions. If the whole thing does not dissolve into anarchy, it will be stabilized by an army coup. After purging liberals and hanging Veena Malik, the dictatorship of the mullahtariat will degenerate into an Islamic version of Myanmar, not revolutionary Iran or Castro’s Cuba.

Cia So, coming back to our original topic: does the Raymond Davis affair reflect a lover’s spat or an impending divorce? My guess is that its not a divorce. The US has few options and neither does Pakistan. We are probably in for more of the same, but with a chance that one of these days the ISI will find itself the victim of too much success and will not be able to pull back from the brink of divorce. Meanwhile, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the state department to pass out more money to GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the Pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion. May Allah protect us from anything worse.

To read full article : 3QuarksDaily

Democracy, the god of our age

by Razib Khan

I have a post up at Secular Right which expresses some cynical skepticism about the popular revolutions in North Africa. I’m especially skeptical of Egypt, though I would be happy to be proven wrong by history. Democratic governance is better than the alternatives, all things equal, but all things are not equal. Tunisia is in many ways a more “Western” society than Egypt, so I have more hope that a conventional Western form of governance in liberal democratic form will emerge there. Additionally, unlike Egypt Tunisia has no minorities to oppress.

Because of the power of democratically in the American mind we often can’t conceive of the possibility that populism abroad may not shake out in a direction conducive to our own “national interests.” Or, further other values which we putatively cherish, such as individual liberty and tolerance of dissent and diversity. But it is no coincidence that we were founded a republic, and not a democracy.

Courtesy: http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/01/28/democracy-the-god-of-our-age/

Pakistan – Borrow until broke: how to make a nation fail

– Dr Manzur Ejaz

The lack of governance, irresponsible spending by the governing elite and non-collection of income taxes are the biggest hurdles. Power shortages, corruption and nepotism are major hurdles for the private sector to increase production. The opportunism of different political parties does not allow any government to devise a rational policy …

Read more : Wichaar

Reinventing Pakistan – Dr Manzur Ejaz

From terrorism to floods, Pakistan is suffering because of a lack of collective consciousness and indifference to the basic rules of self-preservation. The ruling elite must learn to establish good governance if Pakistan is to survive

When my family purchased an acre of land in Virginia, we thought we could build any size of home we liked. What we soon discovered was that the county’s residential codes did not allow tampering with certain water drainage areas and thus we had limited options about where to build. Besides the drainage area, we were not permitted to cut the trees that were older than 50 years. Consequently, the architect was given a specific size and location with which to design the house. The county supervisors physically checked the implementation of building codes at every step of the design and construction. Now, it may rain for weeks but the water flows freely through the drain.

In Pakistan, lack of governance has led to people grabbing public or state-owned land and blocking the natural flow of water. Therefore, the damage from the floods will be far more catastrophic than anyone’s expectations. However, the government can avail this opportunity and recover the old drains or natural outflow systems while reconstruction takes place.

Read more >> WICHAAR