Tag Archives: Manzur Ejaz

Pakistan : A new social contract

Dr. Manzur Ejaz
Dr. Manzur Ejaz

A new social contract – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

– Wichaar

The battle for an independent judiciary was the latest in this regard where emerging forces prevailed over the old ones. Many such battles are going to be fought to bring into force a new social contract

I knew a retired US general who was a decorated Vietnam War veteran. His wife had a long-term illness and his one unmarried daughter, living with him, had Down’s Syndrome. The general single-handedly took care of his sick wife and daughter. Whenever I visited him, he cooked a delicious meal for us. He died several years ago, leaving me with an agonising unanswered question: why did the general never use his connection with the army to obtain personal benefits like getting household help, which he genuinely needed?

My inquiries show that except for a very few who become politicians or go into business, my general friend represented the majority of retired US generals, some of whom had played extremely important roles in conflicts and/or policy making. While in service, they never thought of using that power to tinker with the domestic political, legal or social system.

However, in military intervention-prone countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the armed forces really believe that power flows from the barrel of the gun. Officers in such countries believe that they deserve all the privileges and that they are above law. Although they do not command militaries as powerful as those of the United States, they gain more power and comforts than American or European military officials.

What is the basis for this behavioural difference?

To put it simply, officers in the Third World grow up in societies where everyone, capable of oppressing others is doing so. The ruling classes, whether feudal lords, industrialists or bureaucrats, suppress the common people. Even a petty Chaudhry or Numbardar of a village acts like a Pharaoh in his own little sphere. The lowest of the lowest in the class hierarchy does the same thing within his family. Therefore power is constantly wielded at every level of society.

American and European societies were much like the developing world for a long time. However, attitudes changed with commercialisation and industrialisation. The industrial north of the US was against slavery while the agrarian south wanted to hold on to it. The division is still there because the economic base has not changed.

What changes when the economic base changes?

Basically, every society, agrarian or industrial, has an unwritten social contract, which becomes the basis of the individual’s position, human rights in society and the legal system. In an agrarian society, social relations are based on layers of a power structure where the individual has no identity or rights. No one represents himself or herself: everyone is part of a family, tribe or community. Using power to better your narrow family, cast or group is considered legitimate behaviour. In this backdrop, the economically powerful, the bureaucrats and the military become coercive groups where common citizens have no effective rights.

In Europe and America, as society changes through commercialisation and industrialisation, the old social contract starts losing its effective force. The new social contract does not emerge for a long time and society remains in flux and transition. This was the situation in the 19th century, when it was said that the old social contract had lost its force. Since the new contract had not emerged, ethnic, nationalist, regionalist and religious ideologies filled the gap. Pakistan and many developing countries are passing through this stage right now, for which there is no quick fix.

Institutions in transitioning countries are in disarray and competing with each other to maintain their traditional position. The recent conflict between the military establishment and civilian political forces over the Kerry-Lugar Bill is just a continuation of the intense struggle that had started towards the end of 1970s and had resulted in the removal of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government in 1977 and the second Nawaz Sharif government in 1999.

Similarly, the religious side is trying to hold on to its privileged position in the midst of emerging secular institutions. One can trace a conflict between the old and the emerging institutions in every aspect of society.

Additionally, as the social contract based on commercialisation or industrialisation takes shape, how we define individuals or human rights is also changing. Unlike the feudal era, the new society guarantees certain basic rights to every individual the way we see it in the industrial societies of the US, Europe or even Japan. Pakistani society has been struggling since the 70s to reach that stage. Naturally the status quo forces have been fiercely resisting these changes.

The battle for an independent judiciary was the latest in this regard where emerging forces prevailed over the old ones. Many such battles are going to be fought to bring into force a new social contract. The process is going to be slow and difficult because the economic base is not changing very fast. Nevertheless, the emergence of a new social contract is inevitable, where it will be taboo for generals to intervene in the political process and gain unlimited power.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

October 20th, 2009

http://www.wichaar.com/news/294/ARTICLE/16826/2009-10-20.html

Pakistan : Not so helpful, this aid!

Dr. Manzur Ejaz
Dr. Manzur Ejaz

WASHINGTON DIARY: Not so helpful, this aid!

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, October 13th, 2009

Given how a big chunk of the aid money goes back to American, the US needs a new approach if it really means to change the economic situation in this troubled region. No project will become feasible if it is managed by US NGOs.

Continue reading Pakistan : Not so helpful, this aid!

Huffing and puffing [about Kerry-Lugar bill] by Manzur Ejaz

Dr. Manzur Ejaz
Dr. Manzur Ejaz

WASHINGTON DIARY: Huffing and puffing

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, October 6th, 2009

Ultimately, after the US consultants and intermediaries have taken their cut, Pakistan will get about three to four hundred million dollars which cannot do much when the country is several billion dollars short of its obligations and needs.

The saga of the Kerry-Lugar aid bill to Pakistan has become as surreal as it can get. Every concerned sane person is wondering what the fuss is about. Conditions attached to this bill are the same as in most previous such bills. Furthermore, why is such a big deal being made out of the bill when it cannot go very far in pulling Pakistan out of its ongoing economic crisis?

Continue reading Huffing and puffing [about Kerry-Lugar bill] by Manzur Ejaz

Tax troubles

WASHINGTON DIARY: Tax troubles

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, September 29th, 2009

With taxable classes not paying, indirect taxes have been used to skim people who are least capable of paying anything to the government. Even then, the gap remains wide and ruling elites travel the world to beg, borrow, steal or blackmail.

Continue reading Tax troubles

Pakistan: Unstoppable history

Dr. Manzur Ejaz
Dr. Manzur Ejaz

WASHINGTON DIARY: Unstoppable history

by: Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, September 8th, 2009

The village’s isolation has ended and society has started interacting and amalgamating itself although in an uneven and extremely anarchic manner. Along the way it has generated some weird trends and ideologies but that is how history unfolds.

Continue reading Pakistan: Unstoppable history

Pay your dues

WASHINGTON DIARY: Pay your dues

by: Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, September 1st, 2009

Some critics argue that paying taxes in Pakistan is counterproductive because it further enriches the corrupt ruling classes. One can argue that accountability for tax revenues is a very low political priority because the most vocal and powerful sections of society do not pay their fair share.

Continue reading Pay your dues

Love Aaj Kal

WASHINGTON DIARY: Love, past and present

by: Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, August 26th, 2009

Like many others, this film distorts the historical perspective of the great mythical love stories when it misrepresents them by saying that their characters were striving for some metaphysical goal while the present generation is only looking for worldly relations.

As the societies change, the concept of love is redefined. Love being the binding force between basic units of human society, man and woman, changes its forms and modalities; however, the essence remains constant. At least this is what has been portrayed in a new Bollywood’s movie, Love Aaj Kal. The reception and acceptance of the film’s mature and adult theme shows that the transition of Indian society is entering a decisive phase with implications for its neighbours and economic partners.

Continue reading Love Aaj Kal

Culture wars

WASHINGTON DIARY: Culture wars
Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA


Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com

The Pakistan ruling elite had started creating a cultural vacuum by undermining indigenous cultures and languages. This was partly designed to eliminate diversity in order to create a homogeneous Islamic state

I couldn’t help listening in on a cooking programme my wife was watching on a Pakistani channel. The chef was giving a recipe for some Middle Eastern dish, something that didn’t come close to any cuisine from the subcontinent. Towards the end of the programme, my wife commented that she had been watching the programme for the entire month of Ramazan and the chef had been giving Arab recipes only. The cooking part of the show was followed by an Arabic hymn.

Was this evidence of a cultural invasion from the Middle East or of the Pakistani defeatist-inferiority complex? Do such Arab-centric programmes help Al Qaeda’s ideological penetration into Pakistan or are there other dimensions to this?

Continue reading Culture wars

Films are indicators of future economic and political scenarios

WASHINGTON DIARY: The film factor

by: Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, July 7th, 2009

A reinvigorated film industry will not only provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of people, it will also be a major source of foreign exchange earnings because of the large expatriate community living in Europe and North America. Most of the time the entertainment industry, particularly films, are early indicators of future economic and political scenarios. From Hollywood and Bollywood to poor Lollywood, all film industries give very good indications of things to come. Lollywood’s annihilation and Bollywood’s expansion tell the story of two competing countries.

Continue reading Films are indicators of future economic and political scenarios

More of the same

WASHINGTON DIARY: More of the same

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, June 16th, 2009

Even if the civil war is taken care of and political stability is achieved, the economic disaster will be far from over. The spike in oil prices during the last three months indicates that world markets are still being manipulated by speculators. Similar economic irrationality is prevalent in Pakistan where political and economic conditions do not support the going real restate prices or the rise of the stock market.

Continue reading More of the same

Why Pakistan will stay uinted – Daily Times

manzoorejzWASHINGTON DIARY: A united Pakistan

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

June 2nd, 2009

Dr. Manzur Ejaz’s note – This column has been written as a student of Political Economy and not from any patriotic inkling. So, please comment from that angle if you want to.

Sri Lanka took more than two decades to suppress Tamil separatists and prevailed. The Pakistani state, with its powerful institutions and military, can get the job done in the northwest in a much shorter period.

For some time now, several elements in the US intelligentsia, military strategists, Indian analysts and even some Pakistani intellectuals have been declaring Pakistan a failed state that will disintegrate in the near future.

Continue reading Why Pakistan will stay uinted – Daily Times

Changing course

manzoorejzWASHINGTON DIARY: Changing course

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, May 26th, 2009

Foreign pressure may have played some role in getting the government and the military to confront the Taliban, but it was the Taliban’s own actions that triggered the operations. Every day, I run into people who were all committed to Islamisation and indirectly support the Taliban by putting the entire blame on the United States. In a dramatic turn, they now blame the military for taking so long to fight back against the Taliban! For the first time, a group hastily organised a rally demanding strict action against the Taliban in front of the hotel where President Asif Zardari was staying in Washington during his US visit. Two main Urdu weekly newspapers, the Pakistan Post and the Urdu Times, have announced a major convention to be held in New York against Taliban terrorism.

Continue reading Changing course

Re-inventing Pakistan

WASHINGTON DIARY: Re-inventing Pakistan
by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA
April 7th, 2009
Courtesy: Daily Times & Wichaar.com
The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com
The state of Pakistan cannot survive unless the intelligentsia and the masses reconcile to the concept of keeping their belief system to themselves and letting the state be neutral to religion. Unless the masses rally around the new concept of the state, security agencies will never have the moral courage and strength to eradicate extremism.

Continue reading Re-inventing Pakistan

Inauguration of Punjabi translation of Amar Jalil’s writing by Dr Manzoor Aijaz

By Zulfiqar Halepoto

It is really great to know for all of us that the best stories and fiction of three great writers of Sindh Amar Jalil, Naseem Kharal and Manik has been translated in Punjabi language from Sindhi language by leading intellectual Dr. Manzoor Aijaz in WashingtonDC.

Launching of the Punajbi book of Amar Jalils translation will be held during golden jubilee celebrations of Jalil’s writing on June 29th, 2008. Sindh Democratic forum (SDF) in collaborations with KarachiUniversity, Sindhi Language Authority, Sindh Graduates Association, University of Sindh, Institute of Sindhology, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai Chair, Department of Culture and Pakistan Television Corporation has arranged the inaugural session.

The University of Karachi has arranged a special celebration programme of the golden jubilee of the career of the renowned short-story writer, novelist, playwright and columnist Amar Jalil on June 29 at a programme to be held in a local hotel. Shields would be presented to Amar Jalil by various literary, educational and cultural institutions and organizations.

Few pieces of the translations are available on his website magazine WEECHAR. http://www.wichaar. com/news/ 150/

He is also working on the designing of key pad which shall have Sindhi and Punjabi casing and font so that both languages shall be written Vis-e- versa on the same key board. He is also planning to translate Punjabi litrature in to Sindhi Language.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups.