Tag Archives: Misery

Why Pakistan is not a failed state – By Michael Kugelman

It’s been about a week since the Connecticut school massacre, and Americans are still grieving.

Yet we’re comforted by the thought that, with time, the bereaved community of Newtown will bounce back. Students will return to school, and victims’ families will somehow get on with their lives. This is because America, as politicians and the US media have intoned repeatedly in recent days, is a strong and resilient society.

For me, such words bring to mind another strong and resilient society — one that endures constant afflictions, tragedies, and privation. I can think of few nations that suffer more misery than Pakistan.

Continue reading Why Pakistan is not a failed state – By Michael Kugelman

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Malala asks Pakistan to recreate itself

The attack on Malala has pushed liberal Pakistan to re-ascertain its face. However, the important thing to see is whether Pakistan restructures itself as a liberal moderate democracy.

THE TALIBAN attacked Malal Yousafzai due to her denial of their barbaric codes of self-described and imposed religious taboos. Unlike on the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, the people of Pakistan vociferously denounced this heinous act and stood by her – a good omen for the country, which is living in misery between devil and the deep sea.

Pakistan, which has been historically an Indus country in the past, and once was known as Sindh, have a deep background of secular ethos that until the recent past remained unchanged. The beginning of perversion in Pakistan kicked off with the adaptation of state-religion. In the social and cultural context, it began when the people of Pakistan were pushed through socio-cultural engineering by imposing Arab terminologies in spite of the local ones – replacement of Maseet with the Arabic word Masjid for a mosque and word Khuda with Allah for the God. It was the cultural fanaticism, which came first through sponsored Tabligh (preaching) and was gradually introduced during General Ziaul Haq period when he started altering historical Indian cultural roots of Pakistan and resisted possible Iranian influence- thus the Arabic terminologies, and Salafi school of thought was blended with the Sunni Hanafya majority of the country.

Continue reading Malala asks Pakistan to recreate itself

Past present: Why Sufism? By Mubarak Ali

To counter the emergence of fundamentalism in Pakistan, the ruling classes as well as intellectuals are advocating the revival of sufism. However, it is evident that ideas and the system cannot be revived because fundamentalism is a product of a certain time and space and fulfills the needs of that age.

Secondly, the very idea of revivalism indicates intellectual bankruptcy and lethargy of our intellectuals who are either not ready or do not have the capacity to understand the very phenomenon of religious extremism and its advent as a result of social, economic and political changes in society. A number of myths are associated with sufis. One of the arguments being that they converted non-Muslims and are responsible for the spread of Islam through the subcontinent. To portray them as missionaries discredits them as an impartial community. To convert someone means that they initially did not believe in the truthfulness of other religions. If this view is correct, it does not explain how they could create goodwill among people belonging to different religions.

Continue reading Past present: Why Sufism? By Mubarak Ali

AFGHANISTAN: TEN YEARS OF AIMLESS WAR

by Eric S. Margolis

NEW YORK – October 08, 2011 – Operation Enduring Freedom – the dreadfully misnamed ten-year US occupation of Afghanistan – has turned into Operation Enduring Misery.

The renowned military strategist, Maj. Gen. J.F.C Fuller, defined war’s true objective as achieving desired political results, not killing enemies.

But this is just what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. After ten years of war costing at least $450 billion, 1,600 dead and 15,000 seriously wounded soldiers, the US has achieved none of its strategic or political goals.

Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there, cost unknown. The US spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most damning assessment comes from the US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America’s war has been “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

Washington’s goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to US political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and US bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

All the claims made about fighting “terrorism and al-Qaida,” liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25-50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. Why are there 150,000 US and NATO troops there?

Washington’s real objective was clearly defined in 2007 by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: to “stabilize Afghanistan so it can become a conduit and hub between South and Central Asia – so energy can flow south.”

The Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan TAPI gas pipeline that the US has sought since 1998 is finally nearing completion. But whether it can operate in the face of sabotage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Washington has been unable to create a stable government in Kabul. The primary reason: ethnic politics. Over half the population is Pashtun (or Pathan), from whose ranks come Taliban. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities fiercely oppose the Pashtun. All three collaborated with the Soviet occupation from 1979-1989; today they collaborate with the US and NATO occupation.

Most of the Afghan army and police, on which the US spends $6 billion annually, are Tajiks and Uzbek, many members of the old Afghan Communist Party. To Pashtun, they are bitter enemies. In Afghanistan, the US has built its political house on ethnic quicksands.

Worse, US-run Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world’s most dangerous narcotic, heroin. Under Taliban, drug production virtually ended, according to the UN. Today, the Afghan drug business is booming. The US tries to blame Taliban; but the real culprits are high government officials in Kabul and US-backed warlords.

A senior UN drug official recently asserted that Afghan heroin killed 10,000 people in NATO countries last year. And this does not include Russia, a primary destination for Afghan heroin.

So the United States is now the proud owner of the world’s leading narco-state and deeply involved with the Afghan Tajik drug mafia.

The US is bleeding billions in Afghanistan. Forty-four cents of every dollar spent by Washington is borrowed from China and Japan. While the US has wasted $1.283 trillion on the so-called “war on terror,” China has been busy buying up resources and making new friends and markets. The ghost of Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

The US can’t afford this endless war against the fierce Pashtun people, renowned for making Afghanistan “the Graveyard of Empires.” But the imperial establishment in Washington wants to hold on to strategic Afghanistan, particularly the ex-Soviet air bases at Bagram and Kandahar. The US is building its biggest embassy in the world in Kabul, an $800 million fortress with 1,000 personnel, protected by a small army of mercenary gunmen. So much for withdrawal plans. …

Read more » ericmargolis.com

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

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.” …

To read full article :→ Marxist.com

If the situation is not checked very quickly, someone may soon write an epitaph of Pakistan

Pakistan: A country created & being destroyed in the name of religion

by Aziz Narejo

It was not long ago when some Indian Muslim leaders had gathered in Lahore and had adopted a resolution at their meeting to demand a brand new country in the name of religion. They systematically created a mass frenzy in the support of their demand and finally achieved what they wanted – ‘a brand new country in the name of religion’. It was born in a pool of blood and was accompanied by the misery and the mass migration on a scale never seen before in the Sub-Continent.

But creating hysteria and dividing population in the name of religion was very easy compared to running and managing a new country. The leadership failed at all levels – and in all sections of the society. The rot started early. They couldn’t bring the country to the people. Couldn’t keep it together. Couldn’t agree on a Constitution or a form of government. First it was Mullahs, feudals and bureaucrats. They were soon joined by the military, which lost no time to enslave everybody else. It became the ‘praetorian masters’, the ‘powers that be’ and the ‘establishment’. The military became the ultimate master of the destiny of the country.

To stop the people from getting their due rights, the establishment created a fake ‘ideology of Pakistan’. When pressed to accept demands of the people, especially from the eastern wing and the smaller provinces, it first created One Unit and then encouraged the rightists to fight the progressive elements and the people of various nationalities demanding their rights. The religious right and the establishment would readily dub them unpatriotic, anti-state, anti-Islam and enemies of the country.

What was the result? They lost half of the country in just 24 years. They still didn’t learn. Created some more monsters in the name of religion and ethnicity. Today everything seems out of control. The rightist groups, which were supported in the name of religion to fight the nationalist and progressive elements in the country and to wage proxy wars on the borders and in India and Afghanistan, have started working on their own agenda. They now think they are in a position to claim the whole pie – ‘why settle for less’?

These groups hold the whole country hostage now. They have made the governance impossible and the country is fast moving to complete anarchy. The establishment still seems to be oblivious of where these groups may take the country and what havoc they may create. It still supports part of these groups considering them as its ‘strategic assets’.

Along with the establishment, some in media and other sections of the society have also developed soft corner for the rightist groups. They think that country could be brought together in the name of religion, which can actually never happen. Religion as it is today can only further divide an already divided country. It may create some more fissures and chaos. Most of the religious groups and parties are at loggerheads with each other and frequently issue edicts dubbing the followers of rival sects as infidels and liable to be eliminated.

Country is clearly on a path to self-destruction. Many of the people would still not realize the seriousness of the situation. They are in the constant state of denial and blame every misfortune either on America or India ….

Read more : Indus Herald

The profit of misery: what they know and we do not

– Dr Manzur Ejaz

The ruling elites induce various crises to make money for themselves and their allies. From the power crisis to sugar shortages, every occasion is used to siphon off billions of dollars to private accounts. The misery of the Pakistani people has become a profitable commodity for the rich and powerful …

Read more : Wichaar

FLOOD OF MISERY – by ex CIA Chief Islamabad

The soul of the ‘Land of the Pure’

By Robert Grenier

It is the sheer scale of the devastation that leaves one speechless. As one surveys the overhead photos of vast lowland plains inundated with swirling brown water or stares at the upland images of mighty torrents washing away roads, bridges, entire villages, it is the utter scope of the disaster which almost defies comprehension, which far outstrips the power of words to convey.

Only the flint-hearted could be left unmoved by this. The heart aches for Pakistan.

But it is only in the photos of the people that one begins to grasp the full dimension of what is happening and, through that prism, to gain a glimpse into the soul of the Land of the Pure.

Endurance

One hears the stories of building frustration, of bitter complaints against a government so often indifferent in the best of times, and simply unequal to the challenge in these, the worst of times.

But this is not what I see in the photographs, in the images of entire families clinging to trucks to gain higher ground, of people stranded on roof-tops or on the raised strips of highways, of those isolated and forlorn, reaching for a bottle of clean water or a packet of sodden food dropped from a helicopter.

In these images one looks in vain for signs of hysteria, or for righteous indignation. What one sees instead is what one always sees in Pakistanis – endurance: Simple, often noble, endurance.

I have lived some years among Pakistanis. I cannot claim to have done them much good. Instead, my preoccupations have been those which animate the game of nations. I have served a great power which hunts its enemies, pursues its interests, and tries to meet what it sees as its responsibilities in distant places, far from home. I make no apology for this; neither do I expect great credit.

But one cannot travel among the Pakistanis, as I have been privileged to do, without developing a great admiration for their decency and their dignity….

Read more >> Aljazeera

Robert Grenier was the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre.