Tag Archives: Social

Europe’s Tax on Financial Trades Is a Risky Bet

By Mark Buchanan

Millions of Europeans are about to become the subjects of a vast social experiment. What’s troubling is how little anyone understands about where it might lead.

A total of 11 European Union member states — including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but not the U.K. — plan to introduce a small tax on financial transactions by the beginning of 2014. Financial institutions will pay 0.1 percent on all stock and bond trades, and 0.01 percent on derivatives. Although taxes that are at least crudely similar exist in about 40 nations around the world, the European measure will be the first introduced on such a large scale.

The idea of a financial transactions tax goes back to the economist John Maynard Keynes. In the 1930s, he argued that speculation on assets drives market instability and suggested that an appropriate levy could deter it. If small enough, the tax would have a negligible effect on long-term stock investors, who trade infrequently and focus on real economic factors in making their decisions. It would primarily deter short-term speculators who buy and sell frequently in response to temporary market movements.

The idea makes intuitive sense and could, in principle, help channel investment to productive economic activity. There’s much debate, though, over whether it can work in reality. Well- known economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Larry Summers have supported a transactions tax. Others of equal prominence have countered that it would be likely to lower equity prices, drive trading across borders and possibly increase market volatility.

Continue reading Europe’s Tax on Financial Trades Is a Risky Bet

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Social media is lying to you about Burma’s Muslim ‘cleansing’

By: Faraz Ahmed

Social networking sites are abuzz with news about Muslims being killed in Burma.You can see the sporadic posting of pictures by different people with captions like ‘Muslims killing in Burma’, ‘Muslims slaughtered by Buddhists in Burma’ and so on.

Thus, I took on the mission to sort the truth out for myself once and for all and researched some pictures that I felt were dubious. Below are a few pictures and their original copies. You can evidently see the gross difference between them and how they are thrown out of context.

Continue reading Social media is lying to you about Burma’s Muslim ‘cleansing’

Statement released by 13 Sindh National and International Organizations on the occasion of 28th annual SANA convention

July 1st , 2012, New York, NY – We the representatives of Sindh Progressive National Alliance (SPNA),[Awami Tehreek (AT), Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party (STTP), Sindh United Party (SUP) Sindhi Sangat Middle East (SSME), International Sindhi Women’s Organization (ISWO), ], Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF), Indus Peoples’ Forum (IPF), Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), World Sindhi Congress (WSC), World Sindhi Institute (WSI) , and Sindhi Sangat United Kingdom (SSUK) , condemn the on-going human rights violations in Sindh and the systematic denial of social, political, and economic rights of Sindhis.

Sindh joined Pakistan in 1947 as an autonomous and sovereign state based on the agreement enshrined in the 1940 Pakistan Resolution. From inception however, the Pakistani state denied sovereignty to the Bengali, Sindhi, Baloch and Pushtun, Seraiki nations that joined the federation. Today, 65 years later Sindh is deprived of autonomy and the governance of its own affairs and has become a veritable colony of Punjab establishment.

The current composure of centralized Pakistan has made it an undemocratic, theocratic, and unstable state which has become a threat to the global security. The Nation of Sindh seeks support from the international community in the following major challenges facing Sindhis.

1. Sindh is the historic motherland of the Sindhi Nation since millennia; we believe in the integrity of Sindh and its geographical division is unacceptable to Sindhis under any circumstances. We condemn all the conspiracies being waged against the integrity of Sindh.

2. Sindhi and other major languages of Pakistan have always been discriminated against. We demand that all the national languages of Pakistan i.e. Sindhi, Baluchi, Pushto, Seraiki and Punjabi be declared the national languages of Pakistan.

3. Pakistan state policies have been designed to render Sindhis into a minority in their own homeland. The orchestrated influx of populations from other provinces as well as outside the country since 1951 and flawed house census of 2010 has disenfranchised native Sindhis. A new census under supervision of an international body must be carried out.

Continue reading Statement released by 13 Sindh National and International Organizations on the occasion of 28th annual SANA convention

Minorities in Pakistan disturbed over forced conversions

Lahore: Minorities in Pakistan are disturbed over forced conversions and have taken strong exception to the justice system becoming ”an instrument of injustice” in their case, leaders of minority communities have said.

The leaders expressed serious reservations over the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of three Hindu women who were allegedly forced to convert and marry Muslims.

Earlier this week, a bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the women should decide their future, following which they chose to go with their husbands.

Emmanuel Yousaf and Peter Jacob, representatives of the Catholic National Commission for Justice and Peace, underlined the need for a comprehensive review of the issue of forced conversions and a firm stand by the government to uphold justice and human rights.

Referring to the cases of Rinkle Kumari, Asha Kumari and Lata Kumari, who were allegedly forced to convert, Yousaf and Jacob said the apex court’s procedures had become an “instrument of injustice” as the principle of free consent was applied loosely or selectively and in disregard to social realities.

Continue reading Minorities in Pakistan disturbed over forced conversions

Rotting From Within – Investigating the massive corruption of the Chinese military.

BY JOHN GARNAUT

In many fields of international competition, China is less sanguine about its abilities than outsiders. Chinese leaders often remind Westerners that China is a developing country, with hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, an unbalanced economy, and high social tensions. What should most worry Beijing, and provide some comfort to those who fear Chinese military expansionism, is the state of corruption in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

True, the world underestimated how quickly a four-fold jump in Chinese military spending in the past decade would deliver an array of new weaponry to prevent the United States from interfering in a regional military conflict. Top American generals have worried publicly about “carrier-killer” ballistic missiles designed to destroy U.S. battle groups as far afield as the Philippines, Japan, and beyond. Last year, China tested a prototype stealth fighter and launched its maiden aircraft carrier, to augment new destroyers and nuclear submarines. What is unknown, however, is whether the Chinese military, an intensely secretive organisation only nominally accountable to civilian leaders, can develop the human software to effectively operate and integrate its new hardware. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

Social terrorism: religious vendetta against Ahmadis

By Faiza Mirza

Religious persecution of people from Ahmadiyya community is not a new development in Pakistan. Ahmadis have long been marginalised from the time when they were declared non-Muslims in the amendment introduced in 1973’s Constitution. Since then, they have been facing the wrath of many Muslims who have fundamental views and refuse to trade, dine and even sit with them.

Whether it is about banning a certain juice brand, expelling Ahmadi students from universities or failure to recognise the only Pakistani Nobel Laureate, the hatred fuelled by religious clerics knows no boundaries.

Academic institutions remain an arena of conflicting views, hence often turning into another platform for religious fundamentalists to brainwash impressionable minds.

The University of Sargodha, which is in close proximity to Rabwah, is one of a very few universities which houses and educates students from Ahmadiyya community. The university has reportedly been a congenial institute where administration and management support students from different beliefs and schools of thought. However, ubiquity of miscreants, who use religion for their political interests, has contaminated the otherwise pleasant environment.

Continue reading Social terrorism: religious vendetta against Ahmadis

The Future of History – By Francis Fukuyama

Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?

Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of con­temporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE

Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences

Read more »Foreign Affairs

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history

Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

The CPC (Ontario) has condemned the Ontario Budget, delivered yesterday, as a massive attack on working people and the poor that will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, drive down wages, pensions, incomes and living standards, and which, combined with the austerity measures in Thursday’s federal budget, could push the province into another deep economic recession.

The Executive Committee of the CPC (Ontario) also warned that the threat of legislated wage controls is a dangerous attack on free collective bargaining and on civil and democratic rights.

Continue reading Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

“Eqbal Ahmad saw the Taliban as a social cancer that, if unchecked, would reduce Muslim society to medieval primitivism

File photo

US defeat won’t be Afghan victory

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpt;

…. Eqbal Ahmed, who worked for Muslim causes from Palestine to Algeria, was by far the most perceptive and knowledgeable social activist and intellectual I have known. We had occasional disagreements but he too saw the Taliban as a social cancer that, if unchecked, would reduce Muslim society to medieval primitivism. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

100 Km Long March of Sindhis for Atrocities Against Hindus and other Indigenous Tribes

Show of solidarity

Jeay Sindh Quomi Mahaz (Jeay Sindh National Front) along with many organizations like Progressive Hindu Alliance, Youth Council of Sindh Minorities, Bheel Intellectual Forum, Sindh Kolhi Alliance, Scheduled Caste Social Organization and many Sindhi organizations are doing LONG MARCH from Mirpur Khas to Hyderabad (100 km).

Boston – People’s Parade for Peace, Equality, Jobs, Social & Economic Justice

St. Patrick’s Peace Parade, When: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Where: assemble on D Street between 1st and 3rd Street • Broadway MBTA stop • South Boston

Please join Veterans For Peace and other Peace and social / economic Justice organizations for this historic 2nd Annual “People’s Peace Parade” in South Boston.

Themes for the Day:

How is the War Economy Working for You

Bring the Troops Home and Take Care of Them When They Get Here

Cut Military Spending, Save Jobs, Teachers, Fireman & Police

Peace Is Patriotic! Not a Dirty Word

No War on Iran

Last year, Veterans For Peace were denied permission to walk in South Boston’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The stated reason given by the Allied War Veterans Council was that the organizers “did not want the word peace associated with the word veteran”. ….

Read more » United for Justice with Peace (UJP)

ISI has taken over GHQ – By Najam Sethi

The army was constitutionally mandated to be an arm of the Pakistan state with elected civilians in control of the executive. But it has seized the commanding heights and subordinated the other organs of the state to its own unaccountable purposes.

In recent times, however, something even more sinister has been happening. This is the creeping growth of the ISI from a small arms-length intelligence directorate or department of the military (Inter Services Intelligence Directorate) in the initial decades of independent Pakistan to an omnipotent and invisible “deep state within the state” that now controls both military strategy and civilian policy.

General Pervez Musharraf’s unprecedented appointment of General Ashfaq Kayani, a former DG-ISI, as COAS was the first step in this direction. The second was General Kayani’s own decision to routinely rotate senior and serving ISI officers to positions of command and control in the army and vice-versa, coupled with his insistence on handpicking the DGISI and extending his service. Together, these decisions reflect a harsh new reality. The ISI has walked into GHQ and seized command and control of the armed forces.

This is a deeply troubling development because it violates the established norm-policy of all militaries in democratic societies – intelligence services must consciously be kept at arms length from GHQ because “field commanders must not get contaminated” or tainted by cloak and dagger operations in grey zones. That is why COAS Gen Zia ul Haq kicked Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, DGISI, upstairs to CJOSC rather than give him troops to command. That is why COAS Gen Asif Nawaz sidelined DGISI Gen Asad Durrani as IG Training and Evaluation. That is why COAS Gen Waheed Kakar prematurely retired Gen Durrani from service for playing politics in GHQ and then recommended Gen Jehangir Karamat as his successor rather than his close confidante and former DGISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi. Indeed, that is why the CIA, RAW, MI6, KGB, MOSSAD etc remain under full civilian operations and control even though soldiers may be seconded to them or head them occasionally.

The ISI’s meteoric rise in the 1980s is well documented. It became the official conduit for tens of billions of dollars of arms and slush funds from the US and Saudi Arabia to the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Three serving generals of the time were billed as “the richest and most powerful generals in the world” by Time magazine in 1986. Two of them, Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman and Gen Hameed Gul were in turn DGs-ISI while the third, General Fazle Haq, was the Peshawar gatekeeper to Afghanistan.

Three Prime Ministers have fallen victim to the ISI. PM Junejo ran afoul of DGs ISI Gen Hameed Gul and Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman over the Ojhri Camp disaster. Benazir Bhutto was undermined by DGs ISI Gen Gul and General Asad Durrani. And Nawaz Sharif by DG ISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi and COAS Gen Waheed Kakar. Indeed, Mr Sharif might have survived in 1999 if Gen Musharraf had not earlier cunningly moved Gen Mohammad Aziz from the ISI to GHQ as CGS because it was the latter who nudged Corps Commander Pindi Gen Mahmood Ahmed to execute the coup in the absence of Gen Musharraf.

The ISI’s creeping coup – ISI officers returning to command positions in the army – against GHQ is fraught with problems. It has eroded the credibility and capacity of both the current DG ISI and COAS within the military and civil society. The ISI’s spectacular failures (BB’s assassination, Mumbai, Raymond Davis case, missing persons, Memogate, Mehrangate, Abbotabad, Saleem Shehzad, Get-Zardari, etc) can all be laid at GHQ’s door just as the ISI’s anti-terrorist policy failures are responsible for the loss of over 3000 soldiers to the Pakistan Taliban and the terrorist attacks on GHQ and Mehran Navy Base. The fact that both the COAS and DG ISI have taken extensions in service has also undermined their credibility far and wide.

Continue reading ISI has taken over GHQ – By Najam Sethi

Tribute to Comrade Sobho Gianchandani

Sobho Gianchandani is a prominent Sindhi revolutionary who remains a source of inspiration for many generations of Sindhi activists, writers and social reformers. Mr. Gianchandani, known lovingly as Comrade Sobho, has been associated with many political  and campaign groups, including the Indian National Congress and Khudai Khidmatgar and is the founder of many progressive, democratic and nationalist campaigns in Sindh. After the partition, Pakistani authorities pressured himlike millions of other Sindhi Hindus — to leave Sindh and migrate to India, but Sobho refused, and in consequence he was forbidden to travel abroad until 1998. Sobho was imprisoned for more than a year during the British rule, and after the partition, he fell under the wrath of Pakistani establishment and has many jail sentences to his credit, including one in 1971 for opposing military sponsored genocide in Bangladesh. Comrade Sobho and G. M. Syed were close associates and comrades in different aspects of the Sindhi rights movement. The G. M. Syed Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed on Mr. Gianchandani in appreciation of his life-long struggle for emancipation for Sindhis and other oppressed peoples of South Asia and in recognition of his grass-roots efforts to promote tolerance, justice, communal harmony and peace. …..

Read more » ChagataiKhan

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More » THE MAN FROM MOEN–JO-DARO – Interview with Comrade Sobho Gianchandani

On censorship in Pakistan – Welcome to 1984

Welcome to 1984

By Irfan Husain

OVER the years, despite repeated bouts of military dictatorship, Pakistan has remained a relatively open society. Even with spooks running around unchecked, people have expressed themselves pretty openly, both privately and publicly.

In large measure, this has been due to the incompetence of our bureaucracy. Few cops and spies are very enthusiastic about surveillance duties. More often than not, they file their poorly written reports that go unread, and pile up in some dusty government archives, never to see the light of day.

But all this is about to change. According to an international tender floated by this government, it is aiming to acquire technology that will enable it not just to block websites at will, but to read our emails and monitor all Internet traffic.

Continue reading On censorship in Pakistan – Welcome to 1984

Pakistan’s modernity: Between military and militancy – By Ayesha Siddiqa

Pakistan’s modernity is structured along two axes: neo-liberal nationalism and right-wing radical nationalism. The meeting of the two trajectories has turned Pakistan into a hybrid-theocratic state which encapsulates a mix of economic neo-liberalism, pockets of social liberalism, formal theocracy and larger spaces experiencing informal theocracy

Read more » Friday Times

A national challenge

By Saad Hafiz

Excerpt;

….. Pakistan is being left behind as more developing countries make an effort to capitalize on the full human potential of their female population to drive economic development and social transformation. Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia have made significant progress in implementing gender equality in five critical areas: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and well-being. If Pakistan is to make economic and social progress in the near future it needs to educate its women from primary to the highest levels, open up economic opportunities to women, introduce social infrastructure and services to unburden women of the domestic and child care burdens and enforce laws to protect women’s rights. Hopefully, the education and empowerment of women in Pakistan will also result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful society.

To read complete article » PaK Tea House

PAKISTAN – The burden of radicalisation

By Raoof Hasan

The radicalisation of society in Pakistan is an undeniable phenomenon which has gathered in pace and intensity in the recent past. Its gruesome symptoms are a daily occurrence which symbolise the regression shaping the way people have started reacting to events and situations. It is violent and wicked. It is abominable and depressing. Even worse is the extensively pervasive nonchalance with which it is greeted at every appearance.

The fragmentation of society on religious, ethnic, sectarian, social and economic basis has become a norm. For the rulers, it is a convenient means of securing and perpetuating their hold on power and for the ruled, it is a method for manifesting their allegiance to accrue benefits. It works to the mutual advancement of both. Should it, therefore, follow that this is the best that we have and this is the way it is always going to be? A scary thought of what one may actually have to live with! ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Pakistan – Mother of all conspiracies

Mother of all conspiracies

by Omar Ali

A narrow coterie of military officers, mullahs and bureaucrats relies on the conspiracy theories to keep their flock in line. They use them to cover up their own crimes and shortcomings and hide their own dirty deals

Conspiracy theories exist in every corner of the globe and the world being what it is, some must be true. As social animals, we naturally organize into an endlessly branching tree of groups and subgroups, all eyeing relatively scarce resources. Sometimes we cooperate with other groups in mutually beneficial arrangements, but all too frequently we fight, literally or figuratively. This competition takes all forms, from ordered and rule-bound competition to a vicious struggle without rules or limits. In this endless struggle the existence of conspiracies is not only expected, it is the norm. For after all, what is a conspiracy? It is a certain group of humans getting together in secret to plot against other humans. Looked at it this way, all nations and groups probably launch some secret cooperative efforts against their competitors.

But when we talk of conspiracy theories, we are talking about deeper and darker myths, not these run of the mill plots and plans. We are talking of paranoid fantasies that connect disparate events and usually imagine one vast conspiracy where a hundred different conspiracies may be working at cross purposes. These are the big daddies of the conspiracy world: the protocols of the elders of Zion, the trilateral commission, the black helicopter people. These theories inflate the cohesion, camaraderie and capabilities of one group of people (the Jews, the corporate barons, the “Hinjews”) well beyond the realm of the humanly possible, while demoting everyone else to helpless victim and clueless idiot. Such paranoid fantasies are not confined to any one country or people. Moronic paranoid conspiracy theories circulate at the fringes of every society. But some countries and populations do seem to have a special fondness for them. Luckily or unluckily, we are one such country, and Muslims in general seem to be one such people.

Why? The psychology and sociology literature overflows with explanations. One theory holds that conspiracy theories are the last refuge of the powerless. People who feel they have no control over their own lives look for supermen (and women) who are responsible for their predicament. Others blame modernization, or the dislocation caused by the collapse of traditional society, or sky-god religions that are already primed to see the invisible hand of one grand actor behind all events. Some of these theories are probably correct, but there is another factor that deserves consideration: a conspiracy; a conspiracy to promote conspiracy theories.

I am saying that people in Pakistan do not just believe in wild conspiracy theories because they are un-informed or illiterate (in fact, that last chestnut is clearly false, the biggest believers are all literate). Neither do they do so just because they are powerless or because their traditional worldview is collapsing in front of their eyes or because they already believe in an all-powerful deity. All those may be factors, but let us not forget one more reason they believe in wild conspiracy theories: because their leaders of public opinion tell them it is so. In other words, the widespread belief in conspiracy theories is itself a conspiracy; a small group of men (it is always men) pick up the juiciest theories from some idiot American website (usually a White supremacist or paranoid brain-dead Leftie website) and spread them far and wide in the land of the pure. They plant them as stories on their websites. Then they get their own “news” outlets to pick up these stories, quoting their own websites as sources. Then they get their opinion leaders to repeat these conspiracies, using the media and the websites as sources if needed. There is, in short, a conspiracy to spread these conspiracy theories.

So it is that we find that large sections of the Pakistani middle class believe that everything that is wrong with Pakistan is due to a Hinjew conspiracy against Pakistan. Those Hinjews, otherwise so accursed and incompetent that their Akash tablets melt when used (and are, of course, no match for our superior PacPads), are so capable in the conspiracy field that hundreds of suicide bombers blow themselves up in their service and don’t even know they are serving the Hinjews. They are so brilliant that their controllers never get caught as they go around coordinating vast legions of agents in every civilian party and media outlet. They are so tightly knit that there has never been a fissure within the Hinjew ranks. No disgruntled Hinjews have come on TV to tell us that us all about their evil plot against GHQ. While our own ambassadors, prime ministers and presidents are all foreign agents, no Hinjew traitor betrays his own country. While our own intelligence service (the finest in the world) cannot catch one of these conspirators, their incompetent intelligence service has recruited our best and brightest by the thousands.

Why make people believe such things? One answer is that a narrow coterie of military officers, mullahs and bureaucrats relies on these conspiracies to keep their flock in line. They use them to cover up their own crimes and shortcomings and hide their own dirty deals. They use them to focus public resentment on a convenient faraway (and even mythical) enemy while ignoring proximate causes of their predicament. They use them to create an atmosphere where their own demented “policies” start to appear sane by comparison.

Or it may be that they themselves believe these things. Maybe there are psychological factors that drive our elite to first believe and then sell these conspiracies; this implies that the drivers are not narrow self-interest, but widespread self-delusion amongst the elite. Maybe because of the difficulties of patching together an identity from a flawed and rather superficial foundational myth; or the cognitive dissonance between their own partly (or even mostly) Indian cultural and biological roots and their professed un-Indian ideals. One could make up socio-psychological mumbo-jumbo for days with this rich material. And it could be that both theories are true. Self-delusion and self-interest are happily married and produce endless red-hatted conspiracy theorists when they bed together. But is that all, or could there be, perhaps, a conspiracy behind this conspiracy to sell conspiracy theories to our middle class?

Here, I revert to my own Pakistani roots and present to you the mother of all conspiracies; this conspiracy that peddles incredible bullshit with unbelievable vigor on a hundred Paknationalist websites is itself a Hinjew conspiracy! Our conspiracy theorists are themselves the agents of RAW and Mossad. They have been directed to plant these conspiracy theories in order to ensure that middle class educated Pakistanis remain mired in stupid, moronic, illogical and contradictory conspiracy theories and never figure out how they are being screwed and by whom. Just think about it. If you were a Mossad officer tasked with destroying Pakistan, would you waste time recruiting dangerous fanatics in faraway mountains when you could recruit a few people in Islamabad and make monkeys of the educated middle class? Doesn’t this explain everything? As the conspiracy theorists always tell us, just think about it….connect the dots.

Courtesy: ViewPoint

Via – Brown Pundits

Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

The Interior Ministry has recently banned some of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders from entering Islamabad, but the DPC has responded to the ban by its firm commitment to hold the rally in Aabpara. This is ironic, as the venue of the DPC’s promised rally is also the fountainhead of state power

Continue reading Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

A case of double standards

By Murtaza Razvi

It’s not only the West, but also Muslims who have double standards, Pakistanis and Arabs more so than others. While the West keeps mum over Israel’s excesses against Palestinians, its Nato ally Turkey’s suppression of Kurds, India’s policy towards Kashmiris, Bahrain’s and Saudi Arabia’s oppression of their Shia citizens, Western leaders cry from the rooftops for the rights of Syrian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean people living under a tyranny.

The Yemeni president too comes across as an OK guy to Washington regardless of how much blood of his own people he has on his hands, but the Pakistan Army is singled out for assaulting the Baloch. The same army was a special, close ally outside Nato under Gen Musharraf, who had ordered the killing of the octogenarian Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, and which in the first place sent Baloch nationalists into an open revolt against Islamabad. The US Congress back then did not give two hoots about the large number of Baloch youth who went ‘missing’— a euphemism for extra-judicial confinement or killing, which goes on in Balochistan. Ditto for the Guantanamo Bay inmates, who still languish in Camp X-Ray without trial.

And now about us and our double standards. We want our madressahs and hijabs and missionaries preaching in the UK, which readily obliges because it respects your right to practise your faith (France and even Turkey will not allow half as much freedom to their Muslim populations), but here in Pakistan we won’t have the Ahmadis call themselves Muslim even though they recite the same kalema and pray the same prayer; we won’t allow Christian missionaries either.

According to a thin but a loud minority in Pakistan, anyone who does not believe in the Taliban or the Saudi-like reading of Islam is a heretic, who must be converted or ‘banished to hell’, as the expression in Urdu goes. Farhat Hashmis of the world also go around preaching that even greeting a non-Muslim is akin to heresy.

The Gulf is another story altogether. Most our of brotherly oil-rich people — read very honourable men, for women hardly count — have their rules of engagement listed according to your nationalities, rather the race. A white man from the US, say a doctor, draws a much higher salary than his plebian Bangladeshi counterpart even if both are graduates of the same American medical school! But neither can go to church in the holy kingdom, for no such place exists there.

A friend narrates that whilst he was in Riyadha, a Hindu chap was picked by the religious police along with him because they were found loitering in the marketplace while a muezzin had already called the faithful to the prayer. The Muslim friend says that he went down on his knees and begged forgiveness for his felony from the officer who hit him on the head and let him go with a warning that next time Allah will not forgive him, while the Hindu fellow found himself in a bigger mess. When he, too, was tauntingly asked if he was Muslim, he replied in the negative and prompt came the next question in all its fury: ‘Why are you not Muslim?’ To which the poor chap had no answer. He too was eventually let go with a long and hard kick in the back, but with the warning that next time if he dared say he was a non-Muslim, he’d have to face a bit more than the wrath of Allah. This, my friend says, is not Islam but is definitely quite the Muslim conduct, for which many will, perhaps very wrongly, cite the backing of their religion.

Double standards abound. In the UAE Muslims can drink alcohol in a bar, but taking liquor is a punishable offence for them; in Qatar, it is your nationality, and not your faith, that decides whether you can legally consume alcohol: a Muslim from UAE, Turkey, Indonesia or India can, but a Muslim from Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia or Iran cannot.

Yes, Islam emphasises on equality in social justice, as was enshrined in the de facto constitution which the Prophet of Islam hammered out in consultation with all concerned, and which became the basis of running the first Islamic state at Madina. He declared the neighbouring Jews and Christian tribes with whom he entered into a truce as part of the Ummah, in which each individual was bound by the same set of rules, obligations and privileges regardless of his/her faith. This was a true pluralistic aspect of Islam which its Prophet implemented and enforced by consensus in his own lifetime in the 7th century CE.

Today the word Ummah has been robbed of its original meaning and popularly connotes Muslims only. Muslims who feel free to discriminate against non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, whilst demanding and enjoying equal rights in Muslim-minority countries. Thus, the modern pluralistic, secular state is more Islamic in its social justice regime than the few Islamic republics which have their minorities on tenterhooks.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

The PTI [Imran Khan’s] false promises won’t help

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Zero attention was paid to recent news which, in many a country, would justifiably have been cause for panic. But in Memogate obsessed Pakistan no military or civilian ruler — or any normally loquacious TV anchor — has yet commented upon the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). Released one week ago, this damning indictment of Pakistan’s schools shows how badly the country is failing to teach children even the most elementary of skills. For a country with a huge youth bulge and a population growing out of control, the consequences are fearsome.

Continue reading The PTI [Imran Khan’s] false promises won’t help

New vibes in Sindh politics

By Haider Nizamani

PROPRIETORS of media houses dabbling in politics has a long history in South Asia. The power and propaganda nexus is nothing new.

What is somewhat different is the mushrooming of television channels creating new forms of this nexus. Understanding the multifaceted dynamics of this interaction is a relatively unexplored area for the social scientist in Pakistan.

The new kid on Sindh’s political block is Ali Qazi. His family owns the most popular, hence the most powerful, media house of the Sindhi language. Daily Kawish, its flagship newspaper, probably sells more copies than the combined circulation of all its competitors.

Kawish Television Network (KTN) runs a dedicated 24/7 news and current affairs channel and two other channels. Kawish and KTN are household names for the Sindhi reading and viewing public.

Ali Qazi’s recent foray into politics climaxed on Jan 22 in a public meeting in Bhit Shah, a small town in central Sindh where the shrine of the venerated Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is located.

English-language dailies treated this rally as a page three news item whereas the largest circulated Sindhi daily, Kawish, went into overdrive to cover the event and published plenty of Op-Eds before and after the rally.

The public meeting was preceded by a month-long campaign of 187 smaller meetings Ali Qazi and his associates held all over Sindh. The purpose? To convince the Sindhi masses to seek change on the lines Mr Qazi is proposing.

What does Mr Qazi’s entrance into politics signify and symbolise? Will he be as successful in politics as he has been in establishing a mammoth media house? Will his politics benefit from his media empire or will the latter suffer due to his politics? Is this a case of conflict of interest? His ambitious entry into politics throws up all these questions.

The Qazis of Hyderabad are no strangers to media and politics. Daily Ibrat, owned by this family, for a long time had the lion’s share of the Sindhi newspaper market. Its current owner, Qazi Asad Abid, has been a member of the National Assembly. His sister, Dr Fehmida Mirza, is the speaker of the National Assembly. Their father, Qazi Abid, was a member of the provincial and national legislatures and held various ministerial portfolios.

Ali Qazi is the nephew of Qazi Abid. In the 1990s, Ali Qazi and his brothers started their own daily, Kawish, which over the years not only challenged the dominance of Ibrat but eventually replaced it as the largest circulated Sindhi newspaper. Ali Qazi, until recently, steered clear of party politics and focused on building his media house. For the past few years, he has championed causes such as the celebration of Sindhi cultural days through his popular print and electronic media outlets. He makes regular, some would say excessive, appearances as an expert and anchor on current affairs programmes on his television channel, KTN.

He uses Op-Ed space in daily Kawish with impunity to share his thoughts with the readers. In these columns he started to float the idea that the Sindhi public aspires for change that mainstream political parties are either unwilling or incapable of providing.

He claims to have become the epitome of the change he has been seeking, thus the name of his group ‘Tabdeeli Pasand (change-oriented). The main ill afflicting Sindh, according to Mr Qazi, is the bhotaar culture. Roughly translated it means the politics of patronage. The answer lies in replacing it with a system based on merit, good governance and transparency.

In the prelude to his Bhit Shah show of Jan 22, the Op-Ed write-ups in Kawish went overboard in portraying Ali Qazi as the saviour Sindh has been waiting for. Contrary to the anticipated announcement of launching his own political party at the Bhit Shah public meeting, Ali Qazi chose to defer that move and stuck to criticising the politics of patronage in Sindh.

As he weighs his options, here are some advantages he enjoys and disadvantages he is likely to encounter should he decide to establish a new political party.

Among his three advantages, the most important is of having access to a well-oiled and sophisticated print and electronic media. He has an edge over any other new entrant in this regard as far as Sindh is concerned.

If the current trend is any indication then he has no compunction in using the KTN-Kawish combo to promote his viewpoint.

Secondly, politics in Pakistan is becoming an expensive undertaking and Ali Qazi has deep pockets to sustain his political venture.

Lastly, lack of effective performance by mainstream parties has created widespread anti-politics sentiment amongst various sections of the middle classes. Imran Khan is exploiting it in Punjab and Ali Qazi is attempting to do the same in Sindh.

The launch of a party by Ali Qazi on his suggested lines will face following hurdles. Firstly, since he owns the most powerful media house in Sindh, his competitors will not give the desired coverage to Ali Qazi’s party. In fact, if the KTN-Kawish combo chooses to become blatantly partisan in promoting Ali Qazi this may provide his competitors an opening to create healthy competition for Sindh viewers.

Left-of-centre politics in Sindh has organisations such as the Awami Tehrik of Rasool Bux Palijo with a political history spanning over several decades over which it has created a reasonably organised party cadre. Assorted Sindhi nationalist parties are a divided lot but they have a collective legacy of creating a secular ethos in Sindhi politics.

Above all, Ali Qazi will have to challenge the PPP’s mighty emotional and electoral support base in Sindh. The PPP has jealously guarded its vote-bank in Sindh for four decades and in the process has weathered many challenges. It has unmatched expertise in constituency-based politics backed up by the Bhutto charisma. Ali Qazi has remained careful in not naming the PPP as the culprit.

If Ali Qazi wants to be an alternative to the PPP in Sindh then he will have to confront the most popular party head-on. If not then his dream of being a change-seeker backed up by his media empire will serve as valuable pressure on PPP politicians to pay closer attention to the kind of issues Ali Qazi is raising.

The writer is a Canada-based academic. He can be reached at, hnizamani@hotmail.com

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/31/new-vibes-in-sindh-politics.html

Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

By Marvi Sirmed

Atiqa Odho needs to change her name. Not only her name but also the prefix if she wants to avoid further humiliation that she possibly could not and would not want, just because she is a woman and does not bear the right prefix before her name. Brigadier Zafar Iqbal had both — the right name and the right prefix.

The good brigadier embarked on a PIA flight from Karachi to Lahore on Saturday night, intoxicated with the ‘sherbet’. The captain of the plane handed him over to the Airport Security Force (ASF) after the brigadier publicly harassed one of the female crew members. The ASF, obviously, could not hold him for more than a few minutes when they discovered the full name of the detainee. No wonder the news item merited just a few lines in Sunday newspapers. I am still waiting for the ‘suo motu’ and media-panic that we saw in Atiqa Odho’s case. Pertinent to remind here, Ms Odho was neither drunk nor did she harass anyone on the flight.

This points to two serious maladies of this society: one, a strong gender bias that women of this country have to endure everywhere, including the courts; and two, unjust and unfair partiality that society confers on the military. It is not only about an overly powerful military but also about an extremely weak civil society. It would be naïve to believe that civil society in Pakistan is powerful enough to foil any attempt to usurp power from the civilian entities. This is mainly because the military here never departed from power. Irrespective of who occupied the buildings of the Prime Minister Secretariat and the Presidency, the military always ruled in the country through its incontrovertible influence over political decision-making and social phenomena.

The way things happen in the court, and outside of it, memo scandal is a case in point. In the memo scandal, Husain Haqqani was treated as an accused by the media and society at large because the military thought so. Everything else had to be in sync with what the military wanted or at least, was perceived to be wanting. The same ‘evidence’ (the BBM conversations claimed by Mansoor Ijaz that took place between him and Husain Haqqani) implicated the head of the ISI who was accused in the same BBM conversations to have spoken to the leaders of some Arab states and gotten their consent to sack the present government. But no one from the media, politicians (even the ones who portray themselves as most committed to civilian supremacy) and the judiciary could ever point a finger towards General Pasha, the accused. Husain Haqqani was an easy target because he was not a general. Or even a brigadier.

Later, the chief of army staff and the head of ISI submitted their affidavits in clear departure of the government’s point of view — the same government that both of them are accountable to. The prime minister was openly criticised by everyone for calling this action of the two generals as unconstitutional. So much so that the media wing of the Pakistan Army, the ISPR, attacked the prime minister — their boss — by issuing a strongly worded statement warning the government of grave consequences and serious ramifications. So there were two statements, one by the chief executive of a country castigating his subordinate generals for unconstitutional actions, and the other from the subordinate generals threatening their boss with grave consequences. Guess who had to retract the statement? You got it right, it was the boss. The Islamic Republic is unique in its construction.

What can be more worrying for a people whose representative is humiliated by an agency that should be subordinate to the people. The agency, it is more perturbing, does so with popular consent. The absence of popular outrage amounts to consent if one could decrypt public reactions. We can go on endlessly criticising hungry-for-power generals, selfish politicians, corporate media and an ambitious judiciary, but what remains a fact is Pakistani society’s utter failure — rather refusal — to grow from a Praetorian state to even a half decent egalitarian democracy.

Continue reading Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

If profits are high, then the system is working just fine — for the 1%. But for us 99%, the profit lust is itself the heart of the problem

Free-Market Medicine: A Personal Account

by Michael Parenti

When I recently went to Alta Bates hospital for surgery, I discovered that legal procedures take precedence over medical ones. I had to sign intimidating statements about financial counseling, indemnity, patient responsibilities, consent to treatment, use of electronic technologies, and the like. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

Countering Extremism in Pakistan

Countering Extremism in Pakistan: Need of Political Approach

By Jamil Junejo

ESCALATING sectarian and religious violence has made a disquieting situation for religious minorities in particular and other vulnerable sections of society in general in the country. In just less than a year, a number of such cases from murders of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and mishandling of a 10-year-old Christian girl for her alleged misspelling of a word, the Sept 19 massacre of 26 Hazara Shia in Mastung to expulsion of Ahmedi students from a university in Punjab and scores of other such incidents have put the social, religious and sectarian harmony at peril.

Continue reading Countering Extremism in Pakistan

Social Psychosis and Collective Sanity – By Winslow Myers

We know from the sad experience of Nazi Germany or Khmer Rouge Cambodia that it is possible for whole nations to become mentally ill, with horrendous consequences. At the time, however, the Nazis or the Khmers had no idea that they were deeply out of touch with the reality that all people are equally worthy of respect and care.

The population of the earth recently surpassed 7 billion. As we move further into the condition of global villagehood, it becomes more important than ever to assess our shared mental health. Collectively we can less and less afford the distortions that afflict the psyches of individual persons, such as denial, regression into infantile rage, fantasy ideation, or blind projection outward onto “enemies” of our unresolved inner tensions. Everyone is aware of the potential horror, for example, of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of someone not in the clearest of minds. …

Read more » COMMON DREAMS

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!