Youth Awareness











{July 21, 2013}   What if there was No MQM ?

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I sometimes wonder what would happen to Pakistan’s politics if there was no MQM. Who would they blame for all their misery and plight? Who would be the common enemy? Who would be branded as traitors? Who would be used to distract the people of Pakistan of their real issues like electricity, jobs and security? What would happen to those who like to find all solutions of their troubles by just criticizing MQM ?

What more? What would happen to the people of Karachi and Southern Sindh who have gotten there as where they are today because of MQM ? So what would be the world like without MQM today. I’m blogging to draw an outline of a Karachi and Hyderabad without MQM. Than let you decide if you could have a progressive Pakistan without MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain.

1986 was the year when I was in Class three when I heard a sudden burst of fire next to my school whose window over looked into the Qasba area of Karachi. As my teacher came to take me down stairs. I could see people which I would not name taking aim at my school. I remember strongly my worried father rushing to take me back home. The same year I remember that whilst shopping with my Dad one Friday afternoon; all chaos broke loose when again a certain ethnicity was about to attack the area and we remember that my Dad drove our Toyota 74 Corolla like crazy into the thin alleys to save us from the probable attackers. I remember growing up out of fear at that time. These were the formative years of MQM.

Now lets assume if MQM by any chance was not formed. The Jihadist who were behind all these actions at that time and not an ethnicity would have taken over the city. Imagine if at that time those who suffered did not fight back or by any chance people would not have united behind MQM and its leadership especially Mr. Altaf Hussein. What could have happened to the city? We all crib today that lawlessness was introduced by MQM. But people MQM came into existence fighting off the same lawlessness. What if the guy taking an aim at my school would have shot me or my friends? I am sure any one even living in Lahore or confines of Islamabad would not like to even imagine it for a moment.

Technically speaking, three parties or may be a fourth would have held between them the mandate of the city. So would it have still stopped the Bhatta in the city since it always there before MQM and since we as a nation anyways decided to host an international terrorist like Dawood Ibrahim in our city in the mid 90’s, which we of course deny. He would have introduced it any ways. Would Lyari known for pushing drugs and smuggling would have desisted from doing their traditional way of business? I doubt so.

Come 1996 when Taliban movement picked up. And possibly with strong roots in Karachi without MQM many of our sons would have become fodder in an insane conflict in Afghanistan. Without MQM we might have been under attack post September 11 as it was MQM which showed solidarity with the international world by taking a peace rally and rightfully so; as now we are discovering via many commissions that most of the Al Qaeda terrorists were in Karachi. Imagine all of us would have been assumed in the same stride and an emotional USA’s reaction could have been painful.

The people of Karachi who are today seen as liberal and reformists in the eyes of the world would have been seen as terrorists instead. Would there have existed a Zamzama, even the modern schools which we all take pride in? Would there have existed even Cinema’s which were burned at the first opportunity during riots by Islamists? Would our daughters and sisters have been allowed to go to schools or colleges? Imagine without MQM; the influx of Talibans or Jihadists life could have been like living as in some parts of KPK. What worst we could have handed over a strategic port to these elements since we can see our establishment do not look in control over them.

Now lets not forget the feudals and landlords who were in control of the city. Do you think they would not have continued grabbing land. The nucleus of all parties which is corrupt would not have continued doing what they are good at i.e. loot and plunder? Who would have stood for your rights as we can see there is no allocation in the recent Sind budget for Urban Sind and there was hardly anything before.

Today, what ever any one might say. Karachi is not Talibanized. The people of Karachi who anyway would have been called Mohajirs for the rest of the life feel empowered to serve the nation. Now don’t say they would not have as in interviews during 90’s including myself at the Army application center I was reminded that I am a son of a Mohajir very rudely. Karachi continues to be the hub of Pakistan against all odds where efforts were made to malign its position by pushing development elsewhere and most importantly a united Karachi and Urban Sind has a more say in the center. Unlike where sorry to mention that now only one or two cities i.e. Lahore or Islamabad run the country whilst the rest are there to support. Correct me if I am wrong the same Nawaz Sharif who was so anxious to see Chief Justice to go to Mazar e Quaid on May 12th 2007 is yet to visit it after taking oath as a Prime Minister.

ImageKarachi Nights

Now I am sure I would invite the ire of many. But in my view and the many others. MQM and its leadership is the most sincere party to the Urban Sind whilst the rest like JI and PTI just want to use it as one of the cards up its sleeve in the center whilst for MQM this is the only card. All the more reason why they are sincere to it. Now we should not forget that MQM stood shoulder by shoulder with our Army and its intelligence when Talibans were cutting to size our soldiers elsewhere in the country. MQM has contributed through its manpower and its support to build Pakistan. Whilst they still await justice for Qasba massacre, Hyderabad carnage and the 1992 operation. They still stand by Pakistan. Now this shows clearly their sincerity to the nation that their forefathers built and I am sure if given its due credit can pull Pakistan out of its misery where they have proven if they could do it against all the odds in Urban Sind with hands tied. I am sure due to their strong nucleus and leader ship could deliver the same for Pakistan. Now I leave that for you to decide. Do you still want to see a Pakistan with or without MQM? My vote lies with it for our Pakistan. Pakistan Zindabad!

 

By Danish Kazi

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{February 29, 2012}   Mohajir identity – Ali Chishti

Supporters of Muttahida Quami Movement attend a rally in Karachi

In my book tracing the origins of the word, Mohajir, I wrote, “the word Mohajir (capital M) is vaguely traced to the 1970s and 80s, when the persecution of people of Indian ancestry gained momentum. It simply stated, when the Punjabis started calling them “HindustaaNRaan”, and the Pathans and Sindhis labelled them as “Panah Guzeer” and “Makars”, the immigrants started calling themselves “Mohajirs”, since they cannot really relate with the other four ethnicities.

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Now, the word with the capital M has come to symbolise, correctly or incorrectly, all people who came from minority provinces of India or are the descendants of those immigrants. For me however the word “Mohajir” is not an honorific title or something to complain about – it’s simply a statement of being from somewhere else. In fact, “Ansaar” is a more positive word which means “those who help” which is something similar to democratic ideals vs democratic party. Similarly when the white Americans were searching for all kinds of nomenclature for African Americans (Negros, coloured people, and worse) these African Americans chose to call themselves “Black” Americans.

But there’s a serious identity crisis within the Mohajir community be it a general in the army or a ‘babu’ at the foreign office, or a butcher in Orangi town – it’s a community in search of its roots because in all ‘practicality’ and there’s a strong feeling that the ‘Mohajirs’ had been rejected by other ethnicities in Pakistan. Later, Altaf Hussain, the man who is credited to have given the Mohajirs a somewhat-political identity in a book titled “Safar-e-Zindagi” published in 1989, described Mohajirs as “those who migrated from smaller provinces of undivided Hindustan to Pakistan”.

The Partition was something no-one really wanted and it only became inevitable when the Congress leadership rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan after initially accepting it.

Mohajir identity has evolved through the years and transformed from being a right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami or JUI supported movement to a centrist ethno-political identity

Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam, could do no more than to console his countrymen, “We have been squeezed in as much as was possible and the latest blow that we have received is the Award of the Boundary Commission. It is an unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse Award. It may be wrong, unjust and perverse; and it may not be a judicial but a political award, but we have agreed to abide by it and it is binding upon us. As honourable people we must abide by it. It may be our misfortune but we must bear up this one more blow with fortitude, courage and hope.” Mohajirs migrated from as far as Calcutta, Malabar, Aurangabad, Amritsar, Patna and Ahmadabad and other Muslim minority provinces leaving not just “everything” but “everyone” behind.

Pakistan originally envisioned by Iqbal had no Bangladesh but only consisted of what is Pakistan now. The leadership of Pakistan later made sure that Pakistan would transform from Jinnah’s Pakistan to Iqbal’s Pakistan resulting in yet another partition that ruined the ideological basis on which the first Partition took place. And that is why the 1971 setback hurt the Mohajirs.

And there are warnings more such partitions are likely if the status quo does not change. Many Mohajirs, Sindhis, the Baloch, Pathans, and even Kashmiris will reach the point of no return. Islam could not eventually become a unifying factor for East and West Pakistan.

The 18th Amendment had been a good start of a new social contract which is not ground-breaking, but a start nevertheless.

Be it a general in the army or a ‘babu’ at the foreign office, or a butcher in Orangi town – it’s a community in search of its roots

But to save, Pakistan we need full provincial autonomy and nothing else. We should realise the gravity of situation in Baluchistan, Pakhtunkhua and Sindh where million’s are dying of hunger and the frustration against the state is at its height. Perhaps we need to take a breather, reflect on the situation, consider all our options, and then have a polite national debate, without the use of force, riots, Rangers, or street power, to decide if and how we can live together, or if we should go our separate ways.

During his rule, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began to crush his opposition within Sindh. He started “Sindhisation” campaign and introduced the Language Bill in 1973-1974 making Sindhi language compulsory for all students in Sindh, a move which caused rioting in Sindh. During nationalisation move, Mohajirs believe only the businesses they owned were targeted. Similarly, they say the quota system deprived the deserving Mohajir the right to get into universities and jobs and hundreds of less educated and less competent people were appointed as schoolteachers.

The army inspired action against Mohajirs in the 1990s led to an exodus of many talented families from Karachi/Hyderabad. Hundreds and thousands of educated boys and girls were forced to migrate. They now feel secure and have no desire to return, and that leads to the impending problem with Karachi and Pakistan in general – the loss of valuable human capital. In what was called “Operation Clean-up”, more than 15,000 Mohajirs were murdered in extra-judicial killings in Karachi alone. Women were raped and were even seen carrying the bodies of their dead male relatives. The operation also ruined the economy of Karachi.

In an interesting study I carried out about Mohajir identity at various colleges and educational institutions for my upcoming book tracing the roots of Mohajir political movement and identity, 73% of adult student’s identified themselves as Mohajir first and Muslim second. This shows that Mohajir identity has evolved through the years and has transformed from being a right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami or JUI supported movement to a centrist or a left-wing ethno-political identity which surpasses religious identity. The MQM – which has now transformed into ‘Muthida’ but is in fact a Mohajir-centric party made to safeguard the rights of Mohajirs in Urban Sindh – is a clear example of this new identity.

And while the word Mohajir remains controversial and often used by lower classes, the middle and upper classes in the community tend to classify themselves as “Urdu Speaking”. For them, the term Mohajir represents the “hateful past”.

During my research work, I met MQM Rabbita Committee’s Kunwar Khalid Younas – one of the soft faces of MQM – who has been writing in English for years defending the MQM and coining or using terms like the “Urdu Speaking Community” or USC. But one sub-community, the Memons, do not agree, because Urdu is not their first language.

So where does the Mohajir identity stand today, and has it become weaker or stronger with time? Statistics of ethnic violence show that in a very polarised Karachi, Mohajir nationalism or identity has become stronger, except in the middle class.

The real issues that Pakistan faces today are poverty, illiteracy, and violation of human rights. And the people of Pakistan must realise that these are the issues political decisions should be based on. Mohajir nationalism will only weaken when the sense of equality and justice is restored in the society.

Ali Chishti is a TFT reporter based in Karachi. He can be reached at akchishti@hotmail.com 






{November 23, 2011}   Imran Khan is No Choice !

Post by:
Syed Ali

Oct 18, 2011

Imran Khan & Jamima

About his youth mistakes, Imran Khan (IK) says that he never claims that he is an angel. Also, he says that these are his personal matters and these should not be mixed with his political career. Well, when he wants to be a public leader, everything of his character will be discussed. IK always talks of Constitution and INSAAF, how will he fulfill the requirement of articles 62 and 63 (articles of constitution that speaks about character. Not to mention, adultery is a big sin). If he claims, he fulfills the requirement of 62 and 63, it means he will lie just like other majority of politicians. A person who contests election on the basis of lie cannot bring justice, the slogan of IK to deceive Pakistanis. IK cannot provide justice to his own illegitimate daughter how can he provide justice to whole nation? Let us have a look on some of his U-turns. He could not make right decision about Jemima! He could not establish correct opinion about Musharaf. He was against MQM and now he is a kind of admirer of MQM. He was once with Nawaz Sharif and now deadly against Nawaz. IK apologized on his support to Musharaf and recently he accepted gift (puppies) from him? IK still maintains contact with his former wife Jemima; he went to England to run election campaign for Jemima’s brother.And it goes on and on…What kind of IK image comes to mind after all this? IK could not manage his married life how would he mange the whole country.

When he was raising funds for Cancer hospital, he always denied categorically the possibility of entering politics whenever he was interviewed by press. Everybody knows, after cancer hospital he entered politics. He should be honest enough to mention role of then government in establishing cancer hospital. Government provided land free of cost for hospital and gave tax exemption. Plus government sponsored him to raise funds by providing him security and managing the crowds of public in fund raising campaign.

IK’s blind supporters bring examples from Islamic history like Omar ibne Khattab and Khalid bin Walid (Radi-Allaho Anhum.)Omar Ibne Khattab and Khalid Bin Walid (Radi-Allaho Anhum) were characterful and brave even before embracing Islam. Secondly, Prophet (Sallalho Alaihe Wassalam) himself gave them great titles. Was Imran Khan non Muslim when he committed adultery and living a sexual animal life? There is question mark on his character even today. Why should Pakistani risk their future by voting for a man whose past was characterless and present is doubtful? If IK repents on his past, he has every right to lead a respectful personal life (but he surely does not become eligible to lead a nation).A personal repentance or apology does not clean your past for official purposes unless you receive a judicial pardon or punishment.No criminal is forgiven without completing a due course of law.Is IK above law?If his IK’s repentance makes him innocent then what is the fault of thousands of criminals in Jail; certainly majority of them repent on their wrong deeds.

The supporter of IK calls him “VISIONARY” leader.What vision does he have? Only boastings with no plans to execute them. Not to mention, there are no elections in PTI ever. PTI is one man show.IK is man with no character and surely he is void of wisdom too.

 



{November 22, 2011}   Mutehedda Qaumi Movement In Lahore

Student’s Hard Questions to Mustafa Kamal in Front Line 15 Nov 2011.

Lahore, the heart of Punjab and cultural capital of Pakistan has the tradition of creating histories, be it Pakistan Movement, The migration of Muslims from India, or be it Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto ‘s arrival, Lahore always played a vital in Pakistan’s politics.

Since last many decades, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group) bowing down all their rivals and Lahore proved to be the strong hold of PML (N). Undoubtedly, Lahore progressed immensely in last 15 years or so. The parks, roads, road-side parks, canals, picnic points and last but not the least Motorway.

Due to the importance of Lahore politically, politicians always try to get their foots in Lahore, Lahoris always welcome them open-heatedly and listened to what they have to say. but at the same time, it’s been a tradition of Lahore people that whenever someone tries to make his place in Lahore, they welcome him with iron-hand, they ask questions, they prob for their past and their future plans. This shows that that, like any modern metropolitan city, people of Lahore are literate and they know what is good for them.

Recently, Imran Khan was here for a Jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan, and people of Lahore, specially, the youth welcome him and treated him like a National Hero. Now that respect and enthusiasm was for a cricketing legend or a Politician, that is debatable.

MQM, the 3rd largest Party of Pakistan, major share of urban Sindh, has started his campaign back in early 90s. They held a huge Pubic meeting (Jalsa) at Minar-e-Pakistan, Quaid-e-Tehreek Mr. Altaf Hussain & PML (N) ‘s leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif delivered speeches. The response was huge, people of Lahore turned in millions that time and Lahoris proved their hospitality. Later, the state operation was launched against MQM, and most of the MQM leaders went under-ground, jailed or killed, therefore MQM was forced to restrict in Urban SIndh only.

In last few years or so, lots of MQM leaders visited Lahore, and presented themselves to answer the rumors and doubts in minds of Lahoris. MQM believes in compete accountability and understand the fact that the voter has all the right to questioned the leader who is asking votes fro them. In this regard, lot’s of MQM leaders attended talk shows on media where common people of Lahore were there to question, specially i would like to mention the students, this new generation won’t allow anyone to be on top position without being accountable to citizens of Pakistan. Mr. Haider Abbas Rizvi, Madam Khushbakht Shujat, Faisal Sabzwari, Wasim Akhtar & many other representatives of MQM appeared in front of Lahore public lately, and answers all the questions.

Recently, Ex-Mayor of Karachi and member of MQM Rabta Committee was invited by one of the TV channel to visit  Lahore for a public meeting cum Talk show where people from all mediums of life, living in Lahore were there to prob Mr. Syed Mustafa Kamal. Here’s the recording of that program, hope you like it.

 




Syed Ali Raza Abidi

Over the past 64 years Pakistan like any other newborn has had its ups and downs. The teens were spent under the rule of dictators, but as the country reached maturity, democracy was called in to take over the country’s affairs. But that did not last for long, as the dictators were not very much interested in letting the non-uniformed citizens govern in spite of elected representation. Then again during the 90’s power was offered by the Army to political parties, but to the one who would had promised to work under their ‘guidance’. PML-N and PPP took turn to practice their perceived operation of a democracy, but in reality, these political forces cannot be blamed totally as for most of the unpopular decisions the strings were pulled from elsewhere. This is regardless of the fact that both elite leaderships had continued politics of revenge and oppression of the smaller groups, and neither of them spared MQM from their wrath.

Unfortunately for them even in 2011 the MQM, PTI and APML still remains a threat to their power statuses.

In 1999 the dictators and the people have had enough of the democratic system, because it was becoming, hypocritical, misbalanced, and most of all divided on ethnic basis. Democracy after the golden jubilee did not get any stronger but used as a immunity cover by the selfish few who had the license to abuse power.  This system also upset the military which, was not used to being told by its people and surely did not appreciate the increased civilian involvement with its internal, covert and external operations.

At 55 Pakistan was given the opportunity to take up a specially tailored military-cum-civilian setup, which formed of handpicked politicians out of the best members from the failed political parties. This ‘Militocracy’ arrangement in fact worked very well for the country, and unlike the previous governments which had added to the woes of the middle-class and the common man, this system actually performed and gained International recognition with fame for the country. With any benefit will come sacrifice, and especially when you are weakness comes control of the stronger.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf the only democracy promoting dictator started off very well, but once he was at his highest point of fame he had to be brought down, because the US felt he cannot be trusted due to his popularity and overall acceptance ratings by the countrymen and the rest of the world, which might hurt their war in Afghanistan if Pakistan increases its influence. Must note that these invasions were because of the same US secret service reports with which they went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, and Afghanistan to hunt down Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. I still wonder why didn’t the US invade the countries of the nationals whom were responsible for flying the planes as destructive missiles?

At exactly 60 years of age, no one in Pakistan could have imagined that the future will become worse than the past, and whatever progress achieved by the country will destroyed within months. Musharraf made the following mistakes which I find difficult to comprehend as to why would the General not see it coming!

  1. Understandably, Gen Musharraf did not have much choice or any possible ways to ignore the US Military’s bullish statements “Either you are with us, or you are against us” and “We will bomb you back to the dark-ages”. I wait to see what the current rulers in Pakistan do, when the US puts its foot down, and finally says to the country “Either you give Raymond Davis to us, or forget about all and any cooperation, and we will evict him ourselves, after bombing you back to the dark-ages” This was a dire mistake Musharraf and the establishment made just at the beginning of taking on the country for pleasant reforms.
  2. Then Musharraf was either gullible or fell for the Maulvi’s and offered them the belt along the Afghanistan border to rule for 5 years. This was the time terrorism in reaction to the treasure hunt started by the US, which is not found to-date. MMA got to play its role in breeding terrorism, while the rest of the nation was busy with the “philosophy of enlightened moderation, progress, development, major investments, educational reforms, and improvement in the quality of life index.
  3. His third mistake was to trust PML-Q with the handling of the red mosque political crises, when he should have known that there were more of such extremists whom were given birth by MMA and nourished by the parties forming this alliance. Roots of this problem also lead to the first mistake General Musharraf made of agreeing with the American to fight their war on terrorism, which was later converted into our war courtesy of the religious quarters in Pakistan.
  4. The last nail in the coffin of Musharraf ‘s presidency was the removal of the very rebellious Chief Justice of Pakistan who he himself appointed. This remains the most mysterious case, as until today, despite of the CJP installed back (politically) in office after the roller-coaster-country-destabilizing-ride has not been asked to counter or defend the charges on which he was initially asked to go home. Most of the parties who supported CJP’s movement for restoration of “Judiciary” have disassociated themselves with extreme regrets.
  5. Uniform removal, NRO and Elections of 2008 cannot be called mistakes, but its fall out did help with weakening the General further.

Ch. Iftikhar taking oath from President General Pervez Musharraf

If Osama had not attacked the towers, Pakistan would have become a true land of opportunities for the rest of the world, like it was until the year 2007. Some will never forgive the partnership of Musharraf, PML-Q and MQM as the best things that could have happened to Pakistan, setting aside your political differences. This country had just started to benefit from the excessive investments brought in all sectors, but kiya karrain, kisi buddbakht ki nazar lag gaie!

We may find all the reasons to hate Musharraf, his APML and partner MQM for continuing with the Militocracy. All the numbers, figures, examples go to waste when we see the plight of the people of Pakistan, and our currency printing up to Rs. 2 Billion burden of today, in order to keep the dying economy alive. If democracy heads for the right direction, it is a responsibility of all to help it evolve, but when it leads to disaster and mid-term changes, then it is time to compare which what you have seen or had, and what the current rulers have taken away from you!

Hey, wasn’t this supposed to be a democracy as the best revenge, but against who..  the people or the dictators?



{January 23, 2011}   MQM and Hakim Saeed Murder

0:14

Lucman:

today we will unveil many secrets

Those declared culprits in the Hakeem Saeed murder, were they really responsible?

I have with me very senior person, who was the head of IB, the director general of Intelligence Bureau, has been placed in positions such as Personal Staff Office to the Prime Minister, Colonel Iqbal Khan Niazi and has experienced a lot and was replaced on the 12th October when Musharraf did a blood less coup.

Lucman: Color Sahab, welcome to point blank with lucman

Niazi: thank you

Lucman: I would like to thank you for a reason which I would like to tell my viewers as well that for the last 3 months I was after him to come in front of media and reveal the facts , tell us what are the real history and its right of the public as well.

Lucman: Hakeem Said, a legendary name of Pakistan, ex governor of Sindh, he was mysteriously assassinated in your tenure, then the murderers were arrested and were called that they are the real murderers. What was it?

Niazi: This is a dark incident from our history in which a charming and extremely respectable personality who was also governor of Sindh was murdered and the assassination was blamed on Muttahida Quami Movement. On this issue a JIT was constituted.

2:11

Lucman: JIT?

Niazi: Yes Joint Interrogation Team

Lucman: Joint Interrogation Team

Niazi: JIT, in which members of different agencies interrogate any indicted or accused arrested.

So the accused in this case was named Tipu.

Lucman: The person nominated/accused?

Niazi: Yes, accused with others as well. But according to Intelligence Bureau (IB) findings, Tipu was not involved in this murder. And the report of this joint interrogation team was a divided report. And the video of this JIT was being recorded. My joint-director Sindh took me in another room where I met another person named who belonged to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, and is now deceased, and he said that the accused Tipu is wrongly accused but since the Rana Maqbool have declared in media that he is the accused, Rana does not wish to give a corrigendum in the media because of political reasons.

I took that video and went to Saif Ur Rehman, who was then at Governor House Sindh along with Prime Minister of Pakistan, and shown then the video of investigation, and shown the body language of the accused and interrogators

Lucman: So there was enough torture?

Niazi: Yes there was so that the accused was confessing to just anything the interrogator was blaming. Then I told them to watch the video yourself. Then they watched the video themselves and told me to go along with my Join Director to go to Rana Maqbool’s office tomorrow morning.

Niazi: When we went to Rana Maqbool’s office, we told them that Intelligence Bureau has a different assessment and the accused Tipu is innocent. He should not be used in order to get promotions or claim prize money and even then if you wish to accuse him, do not put a murder accusation on him, reinvestigate and further check it.

Niazi: Then Rana Maqbool flared up and started misbehaving with my joint director and told him that what mockery you are trying to do with me, we have declared him an accused, nominated him in murder and about to create a charge sheet and now you are telling us he is an innocent?

Niazi: The assessment of IB was that Tipu is not a criminal and is innocent.

5:17

Lucman: But on the basis of this Rana Maqbool was promoted to Inspector General of Police Sindh and he started a grand operation against MQM, in which many of its political activists were killed. So do you think those killed were innocent or guilty?

Niazi: Only Rana Maqbool can tell this!

Lucman: You also have to die one day?

Niazi: When this operation began, I was not part of it, nor was I in favor of starting this operation. Then they also established military courts so that the cases can be speedily disposed off and the accused we’ve arrested is quickly sentenced, and the disposal done in way that military courts gave them death sentence. Which were then set void and accused were set free when the civilian courts were restored, then was appealed in high court of Sindh.

Niazi: According to IB’s finding, the accused was an innocent.

Lucman: So I feel that all of us who were accusing one political party till to date – were wrong as per what you are saying now?

Niazi: Yes they were wrong accusations

Lucman: MQM is not responsible?

Niazi: I don’t know about the other acts of MQM, but in this case, according my surveillance and of my staff and according to the reports and statements of Intelligence Bureau, I feel safe in saying that the accused was innocent one hundred and one percent.

6:55

Niazi: A short example of this would be that the accused was made to record a statement that he, along with 9 accused was on the roof of a building. When our interrogation team went there, we could not find a single bud of cigarette, we could not find a single foot print, on a roof where the accused spent a whole night? We could not even find the presence of a bird there! So what kind of evidence was that which could not be confirmed?

Lucman: So the report of the joint interrogation committee was ever made public in which there was a conflict that the accused are innocent in this case.

Niazi: No it cannot come because only the concerned authorities are told about the view point of IB but they let go police and do it.



{January 11, 2011}   When politics trumps the economy

Dr Maleeha Lodhi
The writer is a former envoy to the US and UK, and a former editor of The News.

 

 

 

 

 

By winning back the MQM’s support in parliament, the PPP-led coalition has managed to avert a potential collapse and ease a political crisis. But this has been secured at a heavy price – the abandonment of urgent reforms that have put the economy in serious jeopardy and will place the government in a bigger bind later.

When the MQM walked out of the ruling coalition the PPP saw itself confronted with a choice between saving the government and saving the economy. To no one’s surprise it opted for the first. Political expediency trumped the urgency to fix the economy.

The PPP government first announced the decision to reverse the fuel price increase that was to take effect from the start of the new year. This was followed by the deferment of legislation in parliament to enforce a reformed general sales tax – demanded by much of the opposition and the MQM.

These decisions won the government a political reprieve that may yet turn out to be temporary. But they entail serious repercussions for an economy in disarray especially if compensating actions are not taken to offset the impact on an unsustainable fiscal situation. And these will also not be politically easy to take.

The rollback of the petroleum price decision will involve an additional subsidy of at least Rs5 billion or $53.8 million a month. As an IMF spokesperson put it, the bulk of this subsidy’s benefit will go to higher income individuals and large companies. Most deleteriously it will add to a spiralling budget deficit, which will likely be financed by printing more currency notes. The inflationary impact of this will soon offset the ostensible ‘benefit of rolling back the fuel price’.

The government’s economic team hopes to limit the damage by persuading its political principles to remove the fuel subsidy after one month – when the political crisis begins to recede. But it is not clear how such a weak government will make another policy U turn especially when the political environment remains charged and its position so fragile.

If the government fails to reduce the burden of the subsidy, mobilize additional revenue and cut inessential expenditure, the fiscal deficit will soar to a record level – around eight per cent of GDP. Financing such a large deficit mainly by borrowing from the State Bank will accelerate inflation, begin to deplete foreign exchange reserves and put pressure on the exchange rate.

The external side could then rapidly deteriorate and the present ‘record’ level of foreign exchange reserves slip quite quickly (as there is no offsetting financing and the oil import bill is rising) despite the continued robust inflow of workers’ remittances. The government will then be compelled again to seek external funding.

As the programme with the IMF is off-track loan disbursement by the Fund remains suspended. This together with the oil price decision will make it harder to receive financing from other international financial institutions – the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Instead of phasing out subsidies and address the vexed circular debt problem the latest government move compounds it. In the absence of other action on energy sector reform this will further complicate management of the country’s crippling energy crisis.

In an imploding fiscal situation created by the failure to mobilize revenue, limit expenditure and stem the losses in public sector enterprises including the energy utilities the government has been resorting to printing more currency notes as a politically convenient way to cover the widening fiscal gap. In an environment of high inflation further borrowing from the central Bank will undermine public confidence in the country’s currency, fuel greater inflationary expectations, move the economy towards dollarization, and push it a step closer to a state of hyperinflation.

Thus the celebration over the government’s rollback of the fuel price increase and RGST by most political leaders and much of the media overlooks the grave implications of these decisions in contributing to a deepening fiscal crisis and the danger this poses for the country’s stability: the prospect of runaway inflation which is the most cruel tax on the poor, erosion of everyone’s real purchasing power, retarding sluggish growth, crowding out the private sector, deepening poverty and ultimately engendering civil strife, even political instability.

It has been left to finance minister Hafiz Sheikh to warn parliamentary leaders about the gravity of this situation and the inflationary impact of continuing general subsidies particularly at a time when domestic resource mobilization measures in the form of the RGST are stalled in parliament. Many leaders seemed to understand the heightening risks but are unable to square the economic imperative with their politics.

Little understood by many who virulently oppose the RGST is the fact that this is the single most effective instrument that can generate substantial revenue. This is not to suggest that a VAT-like measure can unilaterally solve the country’s fiscal problems but its ability to enhance tax revenue by 2-3 per cent of GDP in the medium term makes it a more important option relative to others.

The unstated presumption behind the lack of official resolve on reforms and a similar attitude among opposition politicians is that the US-led international community will prevail on the IMF to resume lending and prevent an economic collapse in a strategically vital country. The stream of messages sent by Islamabad to top officials of the Obama Administration to weigh in with the Fund indicates this.

These have so far got little traction. Instead, in a public rebuke, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the reversal of the petroleum price increase and described this as a mistake. Ministers of other development partners have been more blunt in stating that their country’s taxpayers cannot be expected to help when Pakistan cannot get its own taxpayers to pay up.

Government leaders and others may therefore be miscalculating that Washington can or will ask the Fund to bail Islamabad out. At a time when the IMF is participating in programmes that entail sharp adjustments in many cash-strapped European countries is it realistic to think that it will apply different performance criteria here?

Can IMF funding be expected to resume to Pakistan without any national revenue effort or correction of fiscal policy and an automatic, flexible mechanism for administrative price adjustments that is by some measure symmetric and fair? Absent structural reforms to deal with the haemorrhage in public sector enterprises and worsening circular debt as well as significant control of expenditure, can any rescue plan even work?

Irrespective of what the IMF does, the growing economic disarray in the country should concern all leaders in and out of government. An economy with no direction and no policy reforms to halt the slide and the spectre of dangerously high inflation should engage the attention of all public representatives.

Tough economic decisions will ultimately have to be taken but the longer they are postponed the greater the adjustment that will be required. The political pain of necessary reform will have to be shared if Pakistan is to be saved from an economic breakdown.

This means forging a political consensus on a set of reform measures needed to restore financial stability. This can only be achieved by an informed debate in parliament and the media and an agreement not to politicize economic problems on whose resolution rests the very future of the country.

In today’s strained political environment evolving consensus on a minimum reform agenda may seem a vain hope but the alternative – a descent into economic chaos – should serve as a reminder of what might happen if no policy correctives are implemented. This ought to urge different stakeholders to review their stance of putting short-term expediency before the country’s economic security. After all without such stability their political gamesmanship will be in vain.



{January 10, 2011}   A week in opposition

By: Javed Malik

When the Karachi-based political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, walked out of the federal cabinet, political observers were essentially split in two different opinions.

 

Some dismissed it as just another short-lived political maneuver aimed at getting better cabinet slots, which would also act as a power tool to pressurise the government into giving MQM a greater role in decision-making, at least in the provincial government. Others saw it quite differently. They argued that the MQM, which has been making a deliberate effort to position itself as a mainstream political force now wishes to reach out to a much larger audience outside their traditional stronghold of urban Sindh. Having realised that this goal cannot be attained if they continue sitting on the treasury benches, MQM has made a carefully thought out decision to move away from a government that was loosing its popularity and struggling with allegations of corruption and bad governance. This latter opinion gained further steam when the MQM having left the cabinet a few days earlier, then took the next logical step to formally sit on the opposition benches. Political observers were now beginning to take MQM’s stance more seriously. A glance at the print and electronic media at that time would tell you that MQM’s standing in the public eye had also received a boost.

MQM has historically suffered with an image problem. The reasons for this perception (right or wrong) we will leave for another day, but for now I can tell you their stance had certainly made a somewhat positive impact on its image building exercise. However, the sudden change of heart after meeting the beleaguered prime minister might have reversed it all. It has also, once again, confused many friends of MQM within the media, and all of a sudden those who were always predicting that the party would not last long in the opposition were now having a field day all over the news channels taking credit for their political farsightedness. MQM’s departure from the government may have been confusing for some, but the haste with which they have returned back to the treasury benches has baffled everyone.

This calls for a serious soul-searching for the MQM policy-makers, as they would now be faced with an onslaught of questions about their priorities. MQM has a plethora of media savvy speakers, and I am sure they would do their best to explain it all away but I sincerely hope that in doing so they don’t use the famous (or should be say infamous?) cliché that “we did this to save the system”.

On the other hand Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani is apparently claiming victory for having ‘won back’ his allies to cling on to power for some time longer.  Is it really a victory or has the prime minister dug himself deeper into trouble.  Political observers are already questioning whether the prime minister in his haste to save his government may have ended up making commitments to the MQM, which quite frankly, he is in no position to deliver. It is also true that his own economic managers, who were heavily relying on the RGST and a hike in petroleum prices, are now left with a huge hole in their revenue projections. It would be interesting to see how they will now balance their books while keeping the IMF at bay, petrol prices low, and without imposing the RGST. Having said that they would also have to make provisions for providing relief to the common man who seems to be sinking deeply below the poverty line.

So, in a bid to save his own premiership has Mr Gillani bitten off more than he can chew? Only time will tell. From our part we can always wish him luck.

The people of Pakistan have been carefully watching the developments with keen interest, thanks to our media, and in my view, every political party whether in government or opposition is now under the spotlight. It is for the people to decide whom they will support, and that is an encouraging sign. Let us see how they react to MQM’s quick stint in opposition, which lasted only for a week? Or how they would view the stance taken by the JUI-F, which has called for the prime minister’s removal?

Of course, they also have a choice to celebrate with Prime Minister Gillani for having saved his premiership. Or are they more likely to identify themselves with Nawaz Sharif’s agenda of reform that aims to address some of the major issues facing Pakistan? One can only hope they choose wisely, for that is what democracy is all about.

Javed Malik is a noted television anchor and Executive Director of the UK-based The World Forum

 




Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi

The threats to the Pakistani state include socio-cultural intolerance, religious extremism and the use of violence to pursue self-articulated narrow ideological agendas. If these negative trends are coupled with a faltering economy, there is little hope for a stable, democratic Pakistan.

ANALYSIS: New opportunity and old challenges…

Reconciliation between the PPP and the MQM is a major relief to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani who had been running around last week to muster support to save his government. The MQM has adopted a two-step strategy to join hands with the PPP. In the first stage, the MQM is returning to the official benches and will wait and see if the prime minister fulfils the commitments made to the MQM regarding its political interests in urban Sindh, especially Karachi. If the MQM is satisfied with the progress and the revived PPP-MQM relationship works smoothly, it will return to the federal cabinet in the second stage.

It is a love-hate relationship between the PPP and the MQM. They often dislike each other’s politics but, as the two major political forces in Sindh, they cannot afford to fight with each other all the time. They build pressure on each other to improve their bargaining power but tend to settle down after some noisy discourse and troubled interaction. The MQM has one advantage. Its political domain is limited to urban Sindh, enabling it to stay focused on limited issues and function more coherently. The PPP, on the other hand, is not merely entrenched in rural Sindh but has support in other provinces too. It has to accommodate the concerns of a wider and diversified political spectrum, making political management a cumbersome exercise.

The changed political environment is expected to enable the federal government to devote more attention to serious political and economic problems and the growing polarisation between the religious groups and others in the aftermath of the shocking assassination of Salmaan Taseer on January 4, 2011.

This assassination by a religious zealot has brought to the surface what most of us were not prepared to admit: the major threat to the Pakistani state and society comes from within. These threats include socio-cultural intolerance, religious extremism and the use of violence to pursue self-articulated narrow ideological agendas. If these negative trends are coupled with a faltering economy, especially neglect of the poorest of the poor, there is little hope for a stable, democratic Pakistan.

These problems cannot be addressed without taking tough decisions about the economy, governance and political management. No government can do this without the support of other political parties and societal groups. The opposition political parties are not willing to extend any support or offer an alternate plan of action to resolve these issues. Their partisan outlook does not enable them to look beyond their immediate political interests, i.e. the failure of the federal government.

The latest crisis developed when the JUI-F and the MQM separately decided to quit the coalition and move towards the opposition. Both had their own grievances and decided to walk away at a time when the federal government was under internal and external pressure. However, no single opposition party could move a vote of no-confidence against the federal government. Only the PML-N can initiate a vote of no-confidence but it cannot succeed without getting the support of at least three parties and independent members. It could not put together such an opposition coalition quickly enough.

Two other factors restrained the PML-N. First, Nawaz Sharif cannot become prime minister because he is not a member of the National Assembly. Therefore, the PML-N would have found it hard to create a consensus within the party on any other name and then win support from other political parties to secure the required votes for removing the present prime minister, getting a new prime minister elected and then ensuring a vote of confidence for him. Second, the PML-N knew that its coalition government would have to depend on the support of the smaller parties, including the parties that had betrayed the PPP. This would have made the PML-N hostage to the smaller parties.

The PML-N has therefore adopted the policy of waiting and watching. However, it decided to build pressure on the PPP by giving two deadlines — one of three days and the other of 45 days — for taking steps to implement the proposed PML-N agenda. The PML-N ultimatum has lost relevance due to the return of the MQM to the government’s side.

If Nawaz Sharif forces the PPP ministers to quit the Punjab cabinet on the non-fulfilment of his agenda, it will amount to shooting himself in the foot. The PPP and the PML-Q are likely to work together, which will increase pressure on the PML-N government. If the PML-Q is able to win back its forward bloc, the PML-Q-PPP coalition may opt for a vote of no-confidence against the PML-N government in the Punjab.

The stage for the return of the MQM to the government was set by the latter’s decision to withdraw the enhanced prices of petroleum products on January 6, a questionable decision on economic grounds. However, it gave political space to the prime minister to win back support and provide face-saving to the MQM to return to the PPP’s side. This decision has also won some goodwill for the PPP at the public level.

The federal government has now retrieved its majority. However, long-term survival depends on winning more support and addressing acute economic problems that seem to have compounded with the reversal of petroleum prices, low industrial productivity and little new investment.

The federal government faces the additional challenge of resurgent religious extremism and militancy that will consolidate its gains in the aftermath of the assassination. The orthodox religious groups, unable to assume a commanding role through the electoral process, view street agitation and intimidation as effective instruments for pursuing their religious agendas. They are expected to continue with street agitation, emotional religious appeals and threatening statements to force their choices on society.

Opposition parties like the PML-N, PML-Q and others are not expected to help the federal government stem the current tide of religious extremism. They are interested in their immediate agenda of getting rid of the PPP government. They are not bothered about the long-term implications of religious extremism and militancy for the state and society.

The federal government needs to pay immediate attention to sustaining a stable coalition, quickly taking steps to salvage the economy and curbing the growing polarisation between the religious and other sections in society. It is a tall order but anything short of this threatens the long-term survival of the federal government, if not the current democratic political order.

The writer is a political and defence analyst



et cetera
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