Tag Archives: Malaysia

Why Malaysia Will Say Almost Nothing About the Missing Plane

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With an international team of investigators still seemingly baffled about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over the weekend, relatives of the passengers and diplomats from countries touched by the mishap have vented their frustration with the Malaysian government. For days, it seems, Malaysian officials and the state-owned carrier have released almost no information about the flight or working theories of why it vanished. Malaysia Airlines did not even inform relatives for 15 hours that the plane had disappeared, sending the distraught families to a hotel in Beijing to wait, and Kuala Lumpur’s envoys still have mostly kept the relatives in the dark days later.

More than 100 friends and relatives of the vanished passengers signed a petition on Monday calling on the Malaysian government to be more transparent and answer questions. Several of the relatives threw bottles at Malaysia Airlines employees who came to speak with them in Beijing, where the missing plane had been headed, but mostly the officials maintained their tight-lipped approach.

The frustration felt by families of the missing is understandable and reasonable, but no one should have expected much better from the Malaysian government. Although theoretically a democracy with regular, contested elections, Malaysia has been ruled since independence by the same governing coalition that has become known for its lack of transparency and disinterest—even outright hostility—toward the press and inquiring citizens. For a relatively wealthy country, Malaysia is also unusually prone to corruption. Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the revelations that al-Qaeda members had convened planning meetings in Malaysia, the government has become intensely controlling of any information about potential terror threats

Read more » Business Week
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-12/why-malaysia-will-say-almost-nothing-about-the-missing-flight

Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

The region became a great melting pot of races, ideas, civilisations and competing military campaigners

Like a delusive people, Muslims in general and we in Pakistan in particular are trapped in the numbing nostalgia of our past Muslim glory. Nostalgia helps one to reflect and reminisce, therefore by itself is not so debilitating but there are a few problems here. First, we tend to easily forget that history always has a context and is relevant to its time of occurrence; only its lessons last. Secondly, nostalgia-less, a matching will and means to re-perform is toxic and harmful. Without a proper understanding of these two imperatives, an urge to be highly regarded as before is dangerously flawed and can give way to undue bitterness. In order to understand this phenomenon we have to examine what kind of sentiment has been implanted in Pakistan.

Driven by our nostalgia, which has been eagerly fed by our romantic but somewhat falsifying historians, fantasising writers, educationists, politicians, self-serving mullahs and other story tellers, we go on glorifying our non-existent charm as the chosen followers of a great faith, members of a glorious race, descendents of ruling classes, future rulers of the world and what not. Unfortunately that track leads to nowhere. Folk stories are a good pastime but do not make communities, people or nations any greater. A longing that spurs effort to become greater is positive, but to merely slither around like an earth worm is a psychosis that leads to mental and moral debility.

One has been to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Iran, Turkey, Hijaz on the Red Sea, and a large number of European countries in addition to Malaysia, India, Thailand, US and UK. Our subcontinent, Italy, Greece and Iran had been the bastions of great civilisations, which held sway over vast territories and enjoyed magnificent power and prestige. Ukraine, Hijaz, Turkey, Thailand, Austria and Malaysia had been the honourable hosts for great civilisations and dutiful custodians of the passage. Nowhere did one hear a pining for the past glory more deafening than the neurotic chorus in India and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, our neurosis is manifold and is quite hopelessly mashed by the hooves of the frequent invaders who galloped down the passes of the Hindu Kush and Suleiman Mountains over the centuries. Why is it that we in Pakistan prefer to wallow in this thick, sticky stew of muddied history that is blinding us to the world around us and isolating us increasingly? We will see in a short while.

Continue reading Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

Altaf Hussain’s call for Separation of Karachi – By Saeed Qureshi

The MQM chief Altaf Hussain‘s conditional call for separating Karachi city from Pakistan comes closer to the independence of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965. The Singapore separation from Malaysia that it willingly joined in 1963, was the result of extreme strife, unbridgeable disagreements and ethnic bitterness between the Chinese origin population and the native Malayans mostly Muslims. Is it also the blue print of Jinnahpur that was later swept under the carpet?

Altaf Hussain the fiery and unbridled chief of MQM has enslaved or indoctrinated his Muhajir community, mostly settled in Karachi city after their migration from India in 1947. By his rigid and merciless authoritarianism, instead of integrating, he has isolated his community from the mainstream populace of Pakistan. MQM is basically a movement for the sake of Muhajirs as an ethnic entity and not for the Pakistani nation.

Since its formation in 1984 as Muhajir Qaumi Movement and later renamed as Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 1997, the imprint of MQM in the minds of the people is that of a kind of mafia or an entity of roughnecks or extortionists. It is believed that the special death and terror squads within MQM kill, kidnap and torture their rivals including the critics from within the MQM fold.

There has been also a prevailing impression that has gained ground, that the extortions or the obnoxious “Parchi system” was first started by MQM to raise funds for the organization to become financially robust for carrying out its political and apolitical activities. Undoubtedly Altaf Hussain has proven to be a great and unassailable master and unbending and strict lord of his party.

He can summon the multitudes of Urdu speaking Pakistanis and Muhajirs within a matter of hours and with one call. They all gather at a venue with their heads down and hands motionless unless raised to cheer or clap for the scathing tirade of their great master. They sit rather motionless for hours together listening to his long, dreary and high pitched discourses as if they have been bewitched or mesmerized. There is a gossip that anyone who does not clap or come to the assemblage is dealt with vindictively.

Several pioneering cohorts and companions are alleged to have lost their lives in all these years ostensibly due to their opposition of the ruthless leader with symptoms of indiscretion. Their names are in the public knowledge.

Continue reading Altaf Hussain’s call for Separation of Karachi – By Saeed Qureshi

Why Muslim states fail

By Khaled Ahmed

States released from colonial rule in the 20th century have by and large not done well. Today, most of them are either failing or failed states. Only a few have reached the finishing line of liberal democracy with a survivable economic model beyond the 21st century. Most of the Muslim states are included in the failing postcolonial model. Dictators with mental bipolar disorder — historically mistaken for charisma — who aimed to achieve romantic goals have crumbled, leaving in their wake equally romantic mobs of youths demanding what they presume is liberal democracy.

After Saddam Hussein, Iraq is in disarray; after Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is teetering; Libya promises nothing better. And after Musharraf, Pakistan’s democracy is dysfunctional. Among Muslims, only the market state in the Gulf may survive. In the Far East, too, it is the market state that looks like marching on. Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia may survive if they don’t exterminate their entrepreneur Chinese minorities under the spur of Islam. In Europe, when the dictator quits, civilisation takes over and the state survives. No such thing happens in the Muslim world. The premodern seduction of the Muslim mind prevents return to democracy. The blasphemy law is more powerful than any democratic constitution. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Vanishing Sindhis!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

I share the following appeal from Mr. Mekan Vandiyar on “Vanishing Sindhis!”. Please share your comments and suggestions to mekan39@yahoo.com

My own comment is that Sindhis in Sindh, Sindhis in India and Sindhis living elsewhere should not be disheartened as there are encouraging signs that Sindhis all over the world can even say today “here is a Sindhi girl / boy from the Globe”. I do not have much insight into the notion that Sindhis in India can win a separate province, however, I feel that the harsh barriers that have kept Sindhis in India and Sindhis in Sindh, Pakistan away from each other will soon vanish and all Sindhis will also be be able to say “”here is a Sindhi girl / boy who loves Sindh as much as their new homeland“.

A recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani government that they are normalizing business and economic relations and giving each other the “most favorite trading partner” status is one of those signs. The Sindhis from all over the world should not only encourage but also organize and participate in events that welcome every Sindhi regardless of where they live now. For example, the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) whose members predominantly consist of those who migrated from Sindh (Pakistan) into the USA has been in the forefront of inviting prominent educationalists, political leaders, and writers who now live in India. It is time that all other Sindhi associations also follow this practice to bridge the gaps that may exist between various Sindhi communities.

Lastly, I assure Mr. Vandiyar that Sindhis in Sindh are more than ever determined to protect and advance Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture of peace, and Sindhi identity. They are and will continue provide all their support to Sindhis in India or elsewhere in the world in their efforts to protect their and advance their Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture, and Sindhi identity.

Continue reading Vanishing Sindhis!

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

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Malay court hearing ‘Allah’ case

Courtesy: BBC

A Catholic church in Malaysia which prays to Allah has prompted a court case over who can use the word. Muslim leaders say Islam should be the only faith to use it, saying its use in other faiths could lead to confusion and conversions. – Robin Brant reports from Kuala Lumpur.

Source- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8065597.stm

Malaysia allocates 21/% of its overall budget to education as compared to 1.06% of Pakistan

by Azhar Ali Shah, University of Nottingham, UK
Indeed we need a person like Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysian First Prime Minister) to unite the people and launch new education and economic policies (as done by succeeding Malaysian PMs) giving education the highest allocation in the budjet rather than military.
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Malaysia allocates about 21/% (2007 budget) of its overall budget to education as compared to 1.06% of Pakistan (2008 Budget). I provide the sources of these figures bellow for comparison purpose: Malaysian Budget 2007 (V): Enough on Education?

Continue reading Malaysia allocates 21/% of its overall budget to education as compared to 1.06% of Pakistan