Tag Archives: Reform

Thousands in Paris and Rome protest austerity measures

A demonstration in Rome turns violent when protesters throw rocks and firecrackers at police

Anti-austerity protests took over parts of Paris and Rome on Saturday, with one demonstration in Rome spurring violence when protesters threw rocks, eggs and firecrackers at police, with at least one person injured.

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.

Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.

Read more » AlJazeera
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/12/rome-paris-anti-austerityprotests.html

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Jewish Women Detained At Judaism’s Holiest Site

By

Police in Jerusalem on Monday detained 10 women for wearing the tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl traditionally worn by men, while praying at the Western Wall.

The Women of the Wall have been fighting for years for permission to worship in the manner that men do at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism for prayer. The stone structure is part of the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Men and women both pray at the wall, but in separate sections and under rules set by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, a body appointed and funded by the government. It is headed by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz.

Continue reading Jewish Women Detained At Judaism’s Holiest Site

Pakistan’s tax-GDP ratio is at the same level as Ethiopia and Afghanistan – Shahid Kardar

Tax reform agenda for next government

By Shahid Kardar

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios and, even considering developing countries alone, it is in the bottom ranked nations in terms of the proportion of population registered as taxpayers – less than 5 percent. of household population. There is rampant tax evasion, partly with the collusion of the official machinery. Whereas 3.1 million people have the National tax Number, a mere 1.2 million filed an income tax return in 2010/11. What is even more startling is that of 47,800 companies that have NTNs, less than 16,800 filed an income tax return against 400,000 industrial electricity connections.

As admitted by FBR, there is a tax gap of 79 percent. (the difference between potential revenues under the existing system and that actually collected). Revenues can be raised through broadening of bases, improving the equity of the tax regime, incentivising documentation, checking evasion by embracing a zero-tolerance policy, checking harassment of, or collusion with, taxpayers by simplifying tax returns and making FBR a faceless bureaucracy, with interaction between taxpayers and tax officials limited through greater reliance on automated computerised systems.

The general tax reforms would include taxation of all incomes of same levels equally irrespective of source, with a swift reversal of the travesty of the recent amnesty granted to trading in shares. There is also need for legislation that will render all Benami Transactions illegal and subjecting all cabinet members, who should all be taxpayers, to detailed tax scrutiny throughout period of office, and they should all be taxpayers. The tax returns and Wealth Statements of all parliamentarians and holders of key public offices and their spouses (including Secretaries, Chief Justices, Chief of Army Staff, Governor State Bank, Auditor and Attorney Generals) should be public during period of office and one year thereafter. Finally, following good results of tax mobilisation initiatives, individual and corporate income tax rates and the GST rate could be lowered under a phased programme.

 

The specific reforms under different tax heads would be the following: For Income Tax: Greater dependence needs to be placed on technology and through that on the CNIC for tracking commercial transactions to identify potential tax evasion/evaders, including movements in bank accounts of large deposit holders. The FBR should periodically reconcile the property tax registers of all provincial governments, names of credit card holders and members of private clubs with those allotted National Tax Numbers, for the system to generate notices to non-filers. All presumptive taxes should be replaced by withholding taxes (which presently contribute 60 percent. of income tax revenues). And the rates of all withholding taxes should be increased by at least two percentage points as a revenue enhancing measure, to incentivise documentation and penalise those trying to avoid capture in the tax net. ….

Read more » The News

International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) has been instrumental in raising public awareness of caste discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 and creating a stir in the media. Media reports on caste discrimination have included issues such as bonded labour, untouchability, kidnapping and forced conversions of Dalits.

Media have also reported widely on discrimination in flood relief work in Pakistan following new monsoon rains, causing one of recent history’s worst disasters. Dalit communities were denied access to relief camps because of their caste and were forced to live under the open sky. The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits in the on-going flood relief work saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste is unacceptable. Nonetheless the discrimination continued throughout 2011. PDSN has worked to support Dalit victims of the flooding and bring their plight to the attention of authorities, International NGOs and agencies involved in relief operations.

2011 also saw an increased visibility of Dalit women in Pakistan and Ms. Kalavanti Raja joined PDSN as Coordinator of the women’s wing of the network. Ms. Raja participated in several events, including the Dalit Women’s conference in Kathmandu, a South Asian Dalit conference in Bangladesh, and the IDSN International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination and council meeting in Nepal, where PDSN Coordinators also took part. She spoke at several events and monitored Pakistani media attention to the issue of caste discrimination, with regular updates to IDSN on the situation.

Jinnah Institute, a think tank working on minority issues, released a report in 2011 highlighting caste discrimination in Pakistan. According to the report the vast majority of Dalits in Pakistan do not own lands and work on daily wages, a consequence of them not having any permanent settlement. The report said, “One day, they are with one landlord, the next day with another. And this is how they spend a life of debt, with no accountability or education.” Their castes have translated into daily life. For instance, Dalits may be restricted to separate water wells in school, “from which also Muslims will not drink.” Dalits working in bonded labour continues to be a central issue in Pakistan. They are often forced to work under terrible conditions in what has been deemed ‘modern slavery’ with no view to ever repaying their debts. This form of slavery is particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector, construction work, mining and textile industries.

Continue reading International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

Salivating for a coup..

By Omar Ali

Its always hazardous to comment on “proximate politics” and the threat of a coup has not yet disappeared in Pakistan, but it does seem to have receded a bit, even if the story is by no means over and the struggle continues. Still, the fact that it has not yet happened is a huge disappointment for some media persons (Kamran Khan comes to mind) who were all dressed up and ready for a coup a few days ago and now look visibly depressed (though still hoping that the paknationalist judiciary will deliver what the paknationalist army did not) and for sections of the middle class. And behind these disappointees there is another section of even more seriously heart-broken people: the young scions of Pakistan’s inbred military-bureaucratic elite, who were already imagining themselves taking over PIA or Pakistan Railways to “reform” the institution and fix the mess created by “corrupt politicians”. I feel their pain..

For background, a quick review; pressure for a coup in Pakistan comes from several sources, including:

Continue reading Salivating for a coup..

The dream of a new start in Pakistan

By Omar Ali

The rise of Imran Khan and memogate have enthused those who dream of a “reformed” democracy under the guiding hand of the army.

A few days ago, I was planning to write about Imran Khan. Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain and philanthropist had been trying to add “successful politician” to his resume since 1996, but after many years in the political wilderness he finally seemed to make a breakthrough with his large public meeting in Lahore. Pakistan’s educated youth, in particular, appeared to be very excited about a politician for the first time in their young lives. But they were not alone; even the ageing British Marxist, Tariq Ali, threw caution to the winds and announced that Mr. Khan’s gathering was a sign that the “Arab Spring” had finally made it to Pakistan and was even larger than the huge rallies of Benazir Bhutto and her father in days gone by. Comrade Tariq seemed to have forgotten that the Arab Spring had come to Pakistan many decades before it belatedly reached the Arab world and never mind the size of the rally, which bore no comparison to Benazir’s historic 1986 rally. But, Tariq Ali’s flights of fancy notwithstanding, the rally was clearly large and the arrival of Mr. Khan as a politician with crowd support was a major event.

But then President Asif Ali Zardari called his U.S. ambassador Hussain Haqqani to return to Pakistan to explain his role in “memogate,” the still mysterious affair in which he apparently gave international fixer Mansoor Ijaz a memo that was passed on to Admiral Mullen. It is not yet clear who was behind the memo and what he hoped to accomplish; did the Zardari regime really fear a coup at a time when the army was on the back-foot and faced real public humiliation in Pakistan in May 2011? And if it did, why pick this circuitous route to look for American help? And how would a regime that is unable to control the army and fears a coup be able to turn around and completely defang the same army with U.S. help a few days later? Is there more to the story? We don’t know, and may never know, but the story is not over yet.

Both stories may even be related; there are suggestions that Mr. Khan’s sudden rise is not just spontaneous combustion but involves some help from “the agencies.” Circumstantial evidence in favour of this suspicion includes the obvious sympathy he is receiving from pro-military websites and the fact that his extremely “liberal” and reasonable interview with Karan Thapar has not ignited any firestorm of protest in the “Paknationalist” community — a community generally quick to jump on anyone who talks of improved relations with India or admits that we do have militants and that they do need to be eliminated. Memogate is even more obviously a story about the civilian-military divide in Pakistan and it is no secret that it is the army that is asking for his removal. Is this then the proverbial perfect storm that will sweep away the current civilian dispensation and replace it with that old favourite of the army and the middle class: a “caretaker government” that will rid us of “corrupt politicians” and “unpatriotic elements” and make Pakistan the China of South Asia?

I have no way of knowing if the time is nigh, but the dream of a new start is not a figment of my imagination. The military and its favourite intellectuals (and large sections of the middle class) seem to be in a permanent state of anticipation of the day when the military will sweep away this sorry scheme of things and then we will have order and progress. If pressed about the nature of the system that will replace the current system, the naïve foot soldiers may think of the late lamented (and mostly imaginary) caliphate if they are on the Islamist side of the fence; or of “reformed” and real democracy, the kind that does not elect Altaf Hussains and Asif Zardaris, if they are on the smaller westernised liberal side of the fence. But the army’s own house intellectuals are more likely to point to China. That the history of China and the ruling communist party has no resemblance to GHQ’s own history of inept and retrograde interference in Pakistani politics is something that is never brought up; apparently this time, the GHQ will start where the Chinese are today, having conveniently skipped an intervening century of mass movements, civil wars and revolutions, not to speak of 4000 years of civilisation and culture.

Of course, the system as it exists is unnatural. Either the army has to be brought to heel under an elected civilian regime or civilians have to be pushed aside for a more efficient form of military rule (even if it is in the garb of a civilian “caretaker regime”). The current “neither fish nor fowl” system will have to evolve in one direction or the other, or crises like memogate will continue to erupt. Since most people think the army has the upper hand, the second outcome appears more likely to them. It could be that Mr. Khan offers them the chance to have their cake and eat it too; he is genuinely popular and if his party wins the elections and comes to power, the army may have the regime it wants in a more legitimate manner. But this middle-class dream outcome also seems unlikely. It is hard to see how the PTI can win a majority in a genuine election. And with no plan beyond simplistic patriotic slogans, any such regime will soon face the same problems as the one it replaces.

That brings us to the second prediction: the current atmosphere of crisis will continue unabated no matter what arrangements are made by the army. The really critical problem in Pakistan is not “corrupt politicians.” In that respect, we are little different from India, Indonesia or many other countries not thought to be in terminal existential crisis. The real problem is that an overpopulated third world postcolonial state has not yet settled even the most fundamental issues about the nature of the state and its institutions. The “hard” version of the two-nation theory and its associated Islamism have helped to create a constituency for millenarian Islamist fantasies. And 20 years of training militants for “asymmetric warfare” against India has created an armed force and a safe haven for that force. These two streams have mingled to the point where the state faces civil war against its own creations. It is also a war for which the deep state lacks an adequate narrative, having spent decades nurturing a virulent anti-Indian and Islamist ideology that glorifies the very people they are now forced to fight. But fight them it must because its own interests lie with globalised capitalism, not militants. They may imagine they can again direct the war outwards to Afghanistan and Kashmir, but the militants have other ideas, and will not go quietly into the night. Even if they did, the legitimacy of the 1973 constitution and its institutions within the elite remains low and so the crisis of governance would continue.

So, after this doom and gloom, a faint “positive” prediction: There are better than even chances that eventually the deep state will be compelled to claw its way past all these problems to defeat the militants, make peace with India and establish a straightforward near-secular democratic system to run the country. All of that may look less than the paradise many Pakistanis are waiting for, but it’s what the world has to offer at this point in history and it is unlikely that the intellectual resources of GHQ will somehow produce an alternative that the rest of the world has not yet found. It will not be pretty, but it will be done.

Or they will fail, with unpredictable dire consequences for their own people and the region. Either way, India would do well to help positive trends and resist negative ones without losing sight of the big picture. I think Manmohan Singh realises that, I hope others do too.

Continue reading The dream of a new start in Pakistan

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Pasha should go – New York Times Editorial

– A Pakistani Journalist’s Murder

After the Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was murdered in May, suspicion fell on Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s powerful spy agency. Mr. Shahzad reported aggressively on the infiltration of militants into Pakistan’s military and had received repeated threats from ISI. Other journalists said they, too, have been threatened, even tortured, by security forces.

Now the Obama administration has evidence implicating the ISI in this brutal killing. According to The Times’s Jane Perlez and Eric Schmitt, American officials say new intelligence indicates that senior ISI officials ordered the attack on Mr. Shahzad to silence him. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed on Thursday that Pakistan’s government “sanctioned” the killing, but he did not tie it directly to ISI. The murder will make journalists and other critics of the regime even more reluctant to expose politically sensitive news. The ISI is also proving to be an increasingly dangerous counterterrorism partner for the United States.

After Mr. Shahzad’s killing, ISI insisted it had no role, contending the death would be “used to target and malign” its reputation. The ISI and the army, which oversees the intelligence agency, were once considered Pakistan’s most respected institutions. Now they are sharply criticized at home for malfeasance and incompetence.

There is evidence that they were complicit in hiding Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and that the ISI helped plan the Mumbai attack in 2008. They failed to prevent the recent attack on a naval base in Karachi. Mr. Shahzad disappeared two days after publishing an article suggesting the attack was retaliation for the navy’s attempt to crack down on Al Qaeda militants in the armed forces.

It’s not clear how high up the culpability for Mr. Shahzad’s murder goes — or whether there are any officials left in the ISI or the army who have the power and desire to reform the spy agency. President Asif Ali Zardari and his government, while not implicated in these heinous acts, have been a disappointment, largely letting the military go its own way. They need to find Mr. Shahzad’s murderers and hold them accountable. And they must find the courage to assert civilian control over security services that have too much power and are running amok.

Mr. Zardari needs to speak out firmly against abuses, insist on adherence to the rule of law and join his political rival, Nawaz Sharif, in pressing the security services to change. That can start by insisting on the retirement of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, and the appointment of a more credible successor.

The United States needs to use its influence to hasten Mr. Pasha’s departure. It should tell Pakistan’s security leadership that if Washington identifies anyone in ISI or the army as abetting terrorists, those individuals will face sanctions like travel bans or other measures. The ISI has become inimical to Pakistani and American interests.

Courtesy: → The New York Times

Source → http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/opinion/08fri2.html?_r=1

– – – – – – – –

[For more details → DAWN.COM → NYT asks Pak Govt to remove ISI Chief. – U.S. conforms evidence of ISI ordering the killing of Saleem Shehzad.]

What is wrong with the military?

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Feeling the political heat from the public and some politicians, Pakistan’s military chief, Pervaiz Kiyani, has hit back accusing that this is an effort “to drive a wedge between the army, different organs of the state and, more seriously, the people of Pakistan, whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.” Translation: To ask for the civilian control over the military and to scrutinize its mammoth secrete budget is creating a wedge between state institutions. Naturally, if the absolute supremacy of the military institution—a taken for granted privilege—is challenged it will create a wedge in the existing institutional alignment.

Gen. Kiyani’s statement makes it clear that the military is in mode to introspect, reform and help Pakistan by stepping back from national politics. Instead Gen. Kiayni is combinative, using the same old clichés and employing slick political strategies. The military does not want to or is not getting it as to what is wrong.

What is wrong with Pakistan military? Fundamental blunder of the military is to establish a monopoly over defining Pakistani nation and its interests. It is not the military that defines the nation and its interests in any civilized country. It is the duty and task of the political forces to do so and the military follows the dictates of the civilian government’s defined objectives.

In Pakistan’s history from Gen. Ayub Khan to Gen. Kiayni, military chiefs take it upon themselves to define the Pakistani nation and its interests. In the rest of the world the dictum is that ‘war is too serious a matter to be left to the generals’ but in Pakistan it is just the opposite ‘war and national interests are too serious matters to be left to the civilians.’

Pakistan military defined Pakistan as a religious state from the very beginning but the trend accentuated after losing war in East Bengal. The logical lesson from losing East Pakistan should have been that a country cannot be united on the basis of the religion. Bengali Muslims rebellion should have been an eye opener for the military. However, it embraced the most illogical conclusion and embarked upon a course to turn Pakistan into an Islamic theocratic state. Military reached this conclusion just because it was only Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) that was its partner in butchering the East Bengali Muslims. Post 1971 war nexus between military and religious parties, specifically JI, always played the major part in shaping Pakistan of today.

Without getting into details of how the military-mullah alliance created religious bigotry, theocratic laws and, ultimately, proliferation of jihadi producing madrassas, we should look at the final outcome. Jihadi producing madrassas were abetted, encouraged and financed by the military. If it was not so let us assume that somehow such schools were being established by the Marxist or Maoists? Would military allow it and watch from the sidelines or destroy them? Let us assume that instead of Muslim jihadis, India like Maoist movement had started a guerrilla war against the state what would be military’s response? They would have been crushed ruthlessly. Therefore, there should be no doubt that proliferation of armed bands of jihadis is the outcome of military’s ideology imposed on that society. It is the military’s nation defining monopoly that has created the present disastrous situation.

The irony is that military is not willing to recognize the mess they have created. They are not prepared to back off from nation defining and hand over this function to civilians. May be civilians will not be very successful in this venture but they have yet to prove. On the contrary, military prescriptions are well tested in the last 60 years and we know that they have created havoc in Pakistan. They should look at Pakistan and see the ruins created by them. But will they? It does not seem likely because monopoly over ideological discourse is closely linked to their institutional and personal interests (perks).

Courtesy: Wichaar

The last rites administered? Not yet! – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

Since long alarm bells have been ringing in the world about the dubious role that Pakistan has played and this must have confirmed their doubts. They realise that they are up against a state which is delusional about its importance and its possible goals. When Mullen had criticised the ISI, he knew what he was talking about.

With Osama, Pakistan has lost a bargaining chip and the establishment must not be ruing the supposed sovereignty violation – banana republics have no sovereignty – and the egg on face, but the fact that the western purse strings may be tightened. They were out-foxed by the US on this count but then they still hope to play the Haqqani card and continue to prosper.

There always has been much ado in the establishment here about the sanctity of sovereignty and their determination to defend it. This US operation has destroyed many a myth and claim about the preparedness and the determination, which are forever forced down the throats of the people.

Anywhere else in the world, after embarrassment and humiliation on this scale and magnitude, there would have been mass resignations if not mass hara-kiri to remove the stigma, but here the positions seem to have been consolidated and instead of regret, the world is being blamed for an intelligence failure. Moreover, as they recover from embarrassment, warnings flow as if May 2 never happened.

It is also in the name of sovereignty and the writ of the state that the Baloch are regularly abducted and killed, but when it comes to a bigger bully, all are so very apologetic and contrite. Recently, three Sindhi nationalists were burnt to death in an attack in Sanghar, and a few days back nine Marris of the Sherani clan shifting from Hub to Karachi were picked up near the Northern Bypass and are unaccounted for. The Sindhi proverb, “Sher Shah’s hawk only kills the chickens at home” fits this state perfectly.

Here individuals and institutions that excel in bluff and bluster symbolise heroism because values and principles count for naught. In all quests to acquire power and pelf, conscience and compassion are always the first casualties and this makes the acquirers corrupt and cruel. Verily, corrupt and cruel people commit crimes without compunction and are beyond reform.

Read more : Daily Times

When small men cast long shadows – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

…. “Every dead body that ‘mysteriously’ turns up in Balochistan after ‘mysteriously’ going missing — the last count was 13,000 dead — is another nail in the coffin of any peace and stability in the province. It will not be long before we will be burying the soul of the largest province in this country. Short-sighted hated policies, cruel treatment, what comes close to an illegal occupying force in uniform and the consequent hate-fuelled sentiments of the Baloch people have turned one more part of Pakistan against the centre. Enough with the rhetoric and the cosmetic promises; Balochistan needs a determined political solution, otherwise we can, literally, kiss it goodbye.”

Brutality is the hallmark of small men with large influence. History has never seen or heard of a brutish sage. This is the debilitating cost of being governed by ‘small men’ and therein lies the bane of the rule of small men who cast long shadows. They neutralise virtues and allow vice to prevail and prosper. Their disconnect from reality curtails every opportunity for reform and progress. Woe betide the people ruled by small men.

To read full article : Daily Times

Yeh Ghazi yeh terey purasraar bandey!?!? another hit?

Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti shot dead

Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has been shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car in broad daylight in the capital, Islamabad.

He was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets, police said.

Mr Bhatti, the cabinet’s only Christian minister, had received death threats for urging reform to blasphemy laws.

In January, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.

The blasphemy law carries a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths. …

Read more : BBC

The dirty ‘S’ word in Pakistan: – Urooj Zia

Images aired earlier this month where lawyers and other citizens in Pakistan were seen garlanding and felicitating the murderer of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer might have made those involved look tasteless and crude, but their acts were far from shocking. All his faults aside, Taseer had stood up for a Christian woman who had been accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by a district and sessions (lower) court. He was killed because he had referred to the blasphemy statutes as ‘black laws’ which are abused at will, and had called for reform. As such, Taseer was killed because he had stood up, albeit in a roundabout way, for secularism and basic humanity.

Secularism is an incredibly dirty word in the mainstream narrative of Pakistan. Over time, malevolent forces of obscurantism, bolstered by the deep state, have worked tirelessly towards transforming the connotations of the word in the national consciousness, until it came to represent, falsely of course, the absolute negation of spirituality. …

Read more : Kafila

Politics of land reform —Haider Nizamani

The agenda of redistribution of wealth and imposing ceilings on movable and immovable property would only appear credible when it includes all propertied classes. Failing that, the demand for selective redistribution would be hardly different from initiatives of selective accountability carried out by various regimes where the coercive arm of the law became a convenient way of political victimisation….

Read more : Daily Tiems

Myth and reality of land reform

By Haider Nizamani
….. In sum, the case of redistributive land reform “is a utopian alternative to the painful capitalist transformation in whose throes poor countries are presently to be found. It is an eminently well-intended but reactionary intervention inasmuch as it seeks to recreate a past that has never existed and institute an agrarian structure that contains the seeds of its own destruction.”
To read full article : DAWN

Losing Faith In Pakistan: A Nation Of Human Bombs

The War within Islam – Losing Faith In Pakistan: A Nation Of Human Bombs

By Aatish Taseer

These shrines are a memorial to the hybridity of the land, if not the state, of Pakistan. Until Partition, before the exodus of Pakistan’s Hindu and Sikh populations, they were places (as they still are in India) where Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims worshipped together. Behind each one—formed out of more than six centuries of religious reform, which created humanistic, more tolerant hybrids of India’s religions—would be some tale built around a local saint that celebrated the plurality of the land. To adhere to the spirit of these shrines was to know that deeper than any doctrinal difference was a shared humanity; it was almost to feel part of a common religion; the spread of this shared culture through Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir constituted an immense human achievement. And for as long as the plurality remained, the religion remained, seemingly immune to fanaticism, incapable of being reduced to bigotry and prejudice. But once the land of Pakistan, after Partition, was drained of its diversity (and this constituted no less a shock than if London or New York were suddenly cleansed of their non-white populations) , the religion lost its deepest motivation, which was to bring harmony to a diverse and plural population. The amazing thing was that even after Partition, when the land of Pakistan was no longer so plural, it was this religion, full of mysticism, poetry and song, that clung on as the dominant faith of the people of Pakistan. …

As the attacks on shrines like Data Sahib multiply, as the Americans discover that nothing will be achieved by throwing money at Pakistan, as India realizes that Pakistan’s hatred of it is not rational, that the border issue with Kashmir cannot alone be the cause of such passion, as the world begins to see that Pakistan’s problems are not administrative, Pakistanis will have to find a new narrative. The sad truth is that they are still a long way from discovering the true lesson behind the experience of the past 60 years: that it is of language, dress, notions of social organization, of shared literatures and customs, of Sufi shrines and their stories, that nations are made, not religion. That has proved to be too thin a glue and 60 years later, it has left millions of people dispossessed and full of hateful lies: a nation of human bombs.

Read more >> NewAgeIslam

The worst poster boys for Islam

by Nadeem F. Paracha

I received a number of emails on my last blog, Reform Now. Most of the people who wrote to me asked whether I could comment more on the list of reforms that I suggested in the second part of the blog.

Well, here is a sincere attempt.

I would like to acknowledge eminent scholars and authors such as Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Ziauddin Sardar, Muhammad Akhund, Ali Shariati, Irshad Manji, Dr. Fazalur Rehman, Musa Al-Sadr, and Abdullah Chakralawi, whose published work helped me construct this modest attempt.

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