All parties court their electorate, and minorities are part of the electorate
This month six Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) pipelines were blown up in Balochistan; otherwise, a pipeline has been blown up every month over the past three months, proving that terrorists, like mobs, possess passion, not brains. All told, this society appears to be given up to self destruction, and not only where fuel is concerned; the people of Pakistan themselves, every way you look at them, are destroying themselves.
Pakistan had a diverse ethnic population at the time of Partition. Aside from the mainstream Muslims, Sunni and Shia, Christians, Hindus, Baha’is, Ahmadis, Parsis, and even Jews lived here, and were meant to continue living here. But, like the country’s other resources, these minorities were ill-managed. So, even from among the Muslims who think they have first rights to Pakistan, many Shias, have migrated for reasons of personal security while a merciless genocide is being conducted against the Hazaras. It is a tremendous loss, because like any other resource, diversity fuels progress, and enriches the culture it exists in, as in the US.
On the eve of elections, there has been a predictable escalation of violence. The ANP, PPP and the MQM, considered ‘more secular’ (read ungodly) by terrorist organisations appear to be the favoured targets, along with some independent candidates. A spokesperson of the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (easier on the tongue when called the TTP, but never easily swallowed), declared his party’s ‘indifference’ to the PTI, PML-N, JI and JUI-F, saying that targeting those others was the decision of his party’s Shura (they love these Arabic terms and use them to label their institutions; others with similar functions are BAD because they have non-Arabic names, such as the dreadful, democratic, secular, satanic parliaments.)
There were about 1,500 Jews in Karachi and Peshawar at the time of Partition, but there is now only a mention of a Pakistani Jew living somewhere in Israel.
Approximately a million Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan, mostly in Sindh, closely followed by the Christians. There are only about six thousand Pakistani Sikhs.
The former Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice A R Cornelius and Cecil Chaudhry, of the Pakistan Air Force, belonged to these communities.
Parsis, never a large community anywhere, number about four thousand, mostly in Karachi, and Lahore. Jamshed Marker represented Pakistan as Ambassador; Byram Avari’s businesses include the Avari hotels. The human rights activist Justice Dorab Patel, another Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court (really, the Supreme Court of Pakistan wasn’t too bad, once upon a time), and also Bapsi Sidhwa , Ardeshir Cowasjee, Aban Marker Kabraji, writer, columnist and scientist respectively are/were all Parsi.
Apparently 33,000 Baha’i still call themselves Pakistani, and 1,500 Budhists, and in spite of all that they’ve been through in recent years, there are over 125,000 Ahmadi CNIC holders.
Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister Sir Zafrullah Khan, probably the most illustrious Ahmadi, drafted the Pakistan Resolution, which makes the treatment meted out to his fellow community members more ironic, also considering that Prof Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s best known scientist, and the first and only Nobel Laureate was Ahmadi. Pakistan is home to the largest Ahmadiya community, but is also the only country in the world to have officially declared Ahmadis non-Muslims, although demands are growing in Bangladesh to follow suit.
It was reported that Imran Khan’s PTI had reached out to the Ahmadiya community for support in the elections, a report that was denied by a PTI spokesperson with unseemly haste, and public venom against the Ahmadis in comments to the news has to be seen to be believed.
It would have raised the PTI considerably in my opinion if they had accepted this ‘accusation’. All parties court their electorate, and minorities are part of the electorate. But probably such things make the TTP ignore the PTI. Nevertheless, the PTI rally in Karachi has been cancelled, just in case. Interesting, who wields the real power here.
According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, “‘The ‘Islamising’ of Pakistan’s schools began in 1976’ when the government curriculum for Social Studies asked students to ‘acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan, and India’s evil designs on Pakistan; to make speeches on jihad, and collect pictures of policemen, soldiers and national guards.’
But where are the lessons of tolerance learnt from that other minority leader, the one who led a party of one and then of just a handful for years in Mecca? We lay terrible deeds to his account, but what of his patience and relations with those who disagreed with him, and his persecution and eventually the Divine verdict against the man and wife who persecuted him and his followers most? Remember Abu Lahab?
The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com
Who really is playing that role for Musharraf?
The army chief of Pakistan, accompanied by a general, shouts out at the air traffic controller on October 12, 1999, from the cockpit of the PIA plane he is on board, and orders the CAA regime to sanction an immediate landing of the plane coming home from Sri Lanka.
The plane lands, but only after Jinnah international airport gets taken over by the foot soldiers of Pakistan army, in reaction to the detestable act of not allowing their boss to land in the jurisdiction of a state over whose borders his army mostly enjoys a monopoly of ‘violence’ and pays for the same in blood.
With the army boasting plenty of experience in governing over Pakistan and experiencing no shortage of lawyers and politicians boasting of their aristocratic blood and hence as they reckon, knowledge over everyone else with a pinch of racism, reinforced for themselves by the fact that they are monetarily superior and can woo opportunists towards themselves with fiat currencies and Musharraf being no genius, it was but natural that writing about Mush would not have had been any different.
I hail Musharraf for coming back to Pakistan. His exile was doing more harm to his commando credentials than his return would ever hurt or dent his self esteem. It is being rightly said that Mush is playing in the wrong hands. The tougher things get for him, the more isolation he witnesses from those who clowned around him, enjoying his patronage when he was the most powerful man in and of the polity we call Pakistan.
Article 6 is no joke and I respect it. However, listening and reading dozens of articles hell bent against Mush with an underlying thesis that “it’s great to go around and bad mouth a man when it is in fashion and no one would come and kill you for the same” is ridiculous.
Try Taliban for a change. Try hanging those who kill in the name of religion.
The Lal Masjid episode was the right thing to do and even the Supreme Court judges, inhabitants of Islamabad, would vouch that repercussion of allowing the students to do what they were doing then, would have been a decree for mutating Islamabad into Kabul. Lal Masjid case would not land Mush into legal troubles, nor would Bugti hang Musharraf. BB’s ghost may haunt him.
In a nutshell, the 1999 coup won’t harm him as it was later sanctioned by the Supreme Court and the sanction bears the sign of the current Chief Justice of Pakistan. That’s not a worry of mine for Mush too.
The promulgation of emergency in 2007 naturally attracts the bias of our judiciary and if Mushrraf has got to fend himself against an illegal act of all “illegal” acts, given he enjoyed a general immunity as president, he should immediately show the door to Ahmed Raza Kasuri. Kasuri is no great a brain, let alone an able or an honest lawyer. He is just a below average lawyer who enjoys his status due to unfortunate twists of history in the 70’s. He has been more of a trouble for the country than a good. He treats the judges as paid clerks of a polity of whom he is a delusional royal. He is representing Mush to have his name on the ‘mother of all constitutional cases’ so far. He won’t care if Mush is somehow hanged. He cares for his money and his fame. After Mush escaped the Islamabad High Court that day, something which he was ill advised to do, Kasuri went to the Supreme Court and mocked the judges saying ‘Mush is enjoying cigars and coffee at his farmhouse despite your orders’. The next day the SC orders to lock up Mush in two of the rooms of his huge farm house with the Adialians managing his kitchen.
Moreover, Kasuri should not have blurted “Pandora Box, Pandora Box” in public. The judges know that they are part of the Pandora Box and hence any sane mediator between the ex-general the SC would know that the only “win-win” solution for the two is to burn the case out rather than cover up for one’s legal shallowness by shouting like a rogue on TV with the Supreme Court in the background.
Lastly, Kasuri crying on TV: either he has realised that he cannot go on fooling Musharraf that his lawyer is good for nothing and hence is getting desperate, or if he played a prank, he missed the mark by a mile. Mr Kasuri, why should Mush be allowed to go meet his mother when Mian sahib was not even allowed to attend the last rites of his father and why should Mush be allowed to go when Zardari four days before the death of his mother requested to meet her but was not allowed?
Zardari was allowed to attend the funeral of her mother for two hours though.
What precedents, Mr Kasuri? And as for you, Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, a man is known by the company he keeps. Wake up. Show the devil’s advocate a door.
THE PPP’s media apparatus has an MQM situation on its hands. You see, the MQM, despite its considerable media management, simply cannot get around a particular problem. That inactionable variable: its leader. Whereas the spin machine operators of other parties work hard to get their leaders some screen time, in the MQM's case, whatever goodwill it tries to cultivate outside its turf dissipates every time the London Nightingale sings his arias on TV. Despite his breathtakingly good looks, the content of Altaf Hussein’s speeches are the sort that could appeal only to those completely and utterly in love with the man. And this demographic is only a sliver of even those who do “vote” for the MQM.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, though not an Altaf, is a bit of a problem in his own right. A recent video of his, where he tries to rally support for the elections, has been shared on the social media by PPP-haters many more times over than the PPP itself. The more people see it, the more they hate the boy, the party and everything they represent, at least to them. The video comes in the so-bad-that-its-good category, which explain its viral nature.
Bilawal does not know how to speak Urdu. At a time when even speaking chaste Urdu, one that does not have the twang of a regional accent, is considered elitist, speaking pidgin Anglicised Urdu with much effort really hits the wrong notes on the populist register.
Bilawal really is a lost opportunity. If his role in life was clear earlier on, which it probably was, there was time to groom him. Sort of like the princes of yore. No, not teach him how to duel with swords but by now, he should have not only been fluent in Urdu but also be able to speak at least two regional languages, Punjabi and Sindhi in his case.
As things stand now, even in the languages he does know how to speak, he probably won’t be able to hold his own in the sort of talk shows where the lesser mortals of his party do battle day in and day out. In fact, in a fair fight, a sub-district president of his PSF would be able to run circles around him.
BUT one thing certainly does rankle. The public has no issues with the Quaid-e-Azam’s speeches. And his Urdu wasn't really in the impeccable region. Bilawal at least does not have anything to say about the language issue. Jinnah was adamant that “Urdu, and only Urdu” should be the national language of the new republic, much to the chagrin of East Pakistanis. It was – some historians argue, if rather simplistically – the beginning of the Bengali freedom struggle.
Why compare Jinnah to Bilawal, you ask? If this is an apples-and-oranges thing, then it should be pointed out that no two leaders are quite the same. But if there are some universal, objective characteristics with which to weigh a prime ministerial candidate and a guy running for the president of a market association in a small city alike, one assumes assessment of language skills is one of these.
Furthermore, if the language issue is so very important to – if one were to surmise from the internet alone – PTI supporters, then, would they grudgingly concede that Asif Zardari has addressed crowds in more languages than their own leader? Would they accept this one positive attribute of the Prince of Evil, the reason why there are earthquakes in the country, President Evil Asif Zardari?
AT the end of the day, however, the PPP is not the MQM. Jiyalas can be critical of the head honcho if they say it to his/her face in private. There isn’t that much of a fear factor here. The boy who would be king could have been told his speech just doesn’t cut it. He was probably forced to record it in the first place. Speech therapy is the order of the day. It just might produce a leader who is not laughable by the time of the election after this one. Which – yes, this will hurt some of you – might belong to the PPP.
Why there is no steam in PPP poll campaign
Of the three mainstream national parties hoping to win enough seats to form a likely coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party is the odd one out. Both the pundits and hoi polloi are baffled at why it has not hit the campaign trail in its signature style.
For the country’s largest — and actually only nationally represented political force in the last parliament — not to even be seen as a contender as if having given up is intriguing to say the least.
The party may be hemmed in by several limitations — losing one prime minister to judicial outreach, and carrying the baggage of his dubious replacement now — but it is highly inconceivable for a student of Pakistani politics to associate electoral surrender with the PPP.
All that we have seen thus far is a squeamish campaign restricted to a few TV adverts and an uninspiring recorded speech of chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose body language, just gave the party’s current level of fidgety confidence away.
Even the paid content is mostly driven by negative energy. Leave alone detractors, of which there is no dearth, it makes even loyalists question the protracted state of mourning in whipping up sepia tones of frenzied reaction to Benazir’s assassination.
The unkindest cut of all has been a tribute song, which has been trailed to the disbursement of notorious secret funds, a disclosure of which was made recently in a list handed by the Ministry of Information to the Supreme Court.
Ironically, mournful Benazir eulogies make the spectacular failure of the PPP government led by her widower and President Asif Zardari to bring the culprits to book even more pronounced and painful for jiyalas.
It doesn’t cut ice with either party workers or non-PPP populace that the likes of former interior minister Rehman Malik claimed to know whodunit, but was stopped by the party leadership from making it public. It just might be that the leadership may be underestimating the fury of the average Bhutto loyalist — with elections just 11 days away.
From what one has gathered from several interactions recently, including party sources and independent analysts, the PPP leadership is not unaware of the general discontent with its just ended five-year rule, and knowing the pitfalls of what awaits the next government, may have resigned itself to a stint in the opposition.
The adverts, one has learnt, are not really aimed at general voters or meant as a rallying cry for re-election at the Centre; rather, these are directed at the party cadres in general, and those in Sindh, in particular to secure home turf. The southern province is the only one where the party thinks it has a safe bet despite the convergence of an opposition alliance — and, at least on paper, a clutch of seats in southern Punjab.
To be fair to the PPP, the democratic transition that will hopefully, manifest itself soon in the change of hands from one elected government passing the baton to an interim set-up for onward succession by another elected government, did not come to pass easily.
The last government deserves some credit for staying the course under demanding circumstances — it is hard to conceive, for instance, the PML-N being locked in a maze of four-pronged hostility: from the security establishment, the judiciary, the opposition and the media, not to say highly unreliable partners within the coalition (read MQM) and yet survive the guillotine.
The PPP achieved this and more — whilst looking over their shoulders — to consolidate Project Democracy. The net gain, from the country’s perspective, were constitutional reforms that considerably defanged the security establishment, and have since come to redefine the rules of the game to the benefit of democratic forces.
Where the PPP failed however, and like none else before it, was in good governance — some suggest, not without justification, there was no governance at all — with the result that the average Pakistani has had a miserable time coping with rising inflation, draining energy crisis which has literally, sapped his/her energy, and in a worst case scenario, even food insecurity.
The general decline in the standard of living contrasted with unending stories of massive corruption whose levels rose to abominable proportions in the last days of the government when there was a virtual free-for-all.
Rauf Klasra, a journalist of merit, has gone on record with unchallenged evidence — before PPP parliamentarians in talk shows — about how the last nail was driven in the coffin so-to-speak.
But even if he didn’t, the massive unethical undertakings were visible in how the PM diverted massive funds more than once to his constituency despite there being a bar on doing so by the ECP; the failed attempt to change the CDA chairman to draw huge favours from his blue-eyed replacement; the swift approvals for dozens of CNG stations as well as disbursement of whopping sums to oblige allied MPs; the whimsical transfers and postings to queer the electoral pitch for vested interest and what not.
For a long time now, both friends and foes have acknowledged the sharp survival instincts of President Zardari. He may have been largely “bunkered” but that did not prevent him from “teaching” his rivals political lessons with deft moves they could never have countenanced in their wildest nightmares.
But perhaps, the quota of political tricks is now finally drying up, and the PPP may be reconciled to losing power — perhaps, with the consolation that it will be playing the opposition’s role where it is traditionally, at home.
Agreed nothing can be said with finality in politics, least of all, the Pakistani kind. But even if either of PML-N or PTI does not make a killing on its own, and consequently, the PPP finds itself with a look-in, it would be well advised not to seek shortcuts. For its own survival in the long run there is a dire need for it to dig deep and get its act together — in opposition.
The writer is Editor Pique Magazine based in Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who stands where in Elections 2013?
In the run-up to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) first jalsa in Lahore, the marketing machinery for PTI went into overdrive to draw analogies between their own event and the All India Muslim League’s general session of 1940, which passed the Lahore Resolution. Held at the same venue that hosted the historical gathering some seventy odd years ago, the most obvious rhetoric used by PTI enthusiasts urged Lahoris to come out and show their support for an event that promised to lay down the foundations for a ‘New Pakistan’ in a manner similar to how the Lahore Resolution sowed the seed for the creation of the ‘original’ Pakistan. The analysis and discussions that followed the October 30, 2011, jalsa, now a historical event in its own right, principally focused on two things; firstly, how Imran Khan had come of age as a leader and a politician and that his party could now prove to be a menacing challenge for the established political powerhouses; and secondly, the significance and importance of Lahore on the political landscape of our country.
It has been over 545 days since that memorable October Sunday when the people of this great city were told to wake up from their slumber and become the catalysts for change themselves. With the polls now only 11 days away, how much of a change can be expected in Lahore?
Lahore boasts 13 seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan. The 2008 Elections resulted in two seats for Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) (NA-129 and NA-130) and a whopping 11 for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Obviously, the circumstances are different today from what we had five years ago; Imran Khan, who was a political lightweight at that time, and other usual contenders from Lahore (most notably the Jamaat-e-Islami) boycotted the last polls in protest and the PML-N cashed in on the support for its pro-judiciary stance. Even if Mr Khan and Co had participated in the 2008 polls, the only possible difference in outcome would have been that PPP would have won one more seat from Lahore in the form of Mr Aitzaz Ahsan who himself had to give up the chance to defend his seat from NA-124 because of his leading role in the Lawyers’ Movement. Today, however, PTI seems to have some momentum going into the polls with their promise of change and accountability apparently hitting the right notes with all those who either want someone new or are new to the electoral process themselves. We hear that there will be 30 to 40 million new voters all across Pakistan going to the polls this May. It is these very individuals that PTI seems to be banking on. But how much will this help them make an impact in Lahore? Unfortunately for PTI supporters, very little. What the supporters and strategists of PTI need to realise is that while they may have tremendous passion and fervor for their party’s cause and a second to none social-media presence, the ground reality is that they severely lack the electoral machinery the likes of which PML-N has at its disposal in Lahore.
Another reason which leads one to believe that the PML-N might still walk away with the lion’s share of the seats in Lahore is that the balance of the direct head-to-head battles between the candidates heavily tilts in PML-N’s favour, much to the dismay of a PML-N critic like myself. Granted that PTI candidates plan on riding on Imran Khan’s coat-tails but we still need to assess the individual candidates trying their luck and it is this assessment that leads one to believe that PTI has stronger candidates in the rest of Punjab than in Lahore. It is safe to assume that both Mian Nawaz Sharif (NA-120) and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (NA-119) should have no problem disposing off comparatively light candidates in the form of Dr Yasmeen Rashid and Mohammad Madni respectively. I do not mean any disrespect to the honourable doctor but she would have stood a much better chance against any other candidate or from any other constituency while Hamza Shahbaz should face more competition from Malik Suhail (PPP) than Madni.
Mian Shahbaz Sharif plans on throwing a monkey wrench into the plans of Advocate Tariq Shabbir Mayo of PPP from NA-129 who won the 2008 elections largely because of his fellow cast members. PTI, however, will be more conspicuous by first failing to nominate a candidate to contest against the former chief minister as per earlier reports only to later throw their weight behind Mansha Sindhu. NA-118 would also become a duel between the incumbent Malik Riaz of PML-N and Faraz Hashmi from PPP who plans on cashing in on his father’s reputation and social work in the area. It would be fair to say that the PTI candidate Hamid Zaman faces an uphill task to make a dent in the polls and is the rank outsider here.
Similarly, PTI hopefuls will struggle to win against other strong PML-N candidates who are generally well-liked in their constituencies or have strong mechanisms to ensure they don’t lose their existing vote bank such as Malik Pervez (NA-123), Kh Saad Rafique (NA-125), former Anarkali Nazim Waheed Alam Khan (NA-127) and Mohammad Afzal Khokhar (NA-128). It would also take a herculean effort on the part of Talib Sindhu to displace Samina Ghurki from NA-130, the sole guarantee of a seat for PPP in Lahore. NA-121 promises to be an interesting contest for the heavy Arain vote in the constituency where PTI’s young Hammad Azhar, son of former Governor Punjab Mian Azhar, should be a tough match for Mehar Ishtiaq Ahmed of PML-N who is taking a step up from being an MPA from the area. Imran Khan himself should trump Sardar Ayaz Sadiq from NA-122 on paper at least. Even though the latter enjoys staunch supporters in this constituency but if Imran Khan struggles to win his own seat then there really isn’t much hope for the rest of the party in the capital of Punjab.
This leaves NA-124 and NA-126 up for grabs. Aitzaz Ahsan’s boycott of the last polls hugely benefitted Sheikh Rohale Asghar who got elected from NA-124 and also helped him to establish a footing in a constituency which has never been one party’s stronghold. However, alarmingly poor performance and failure on the part of Mr Asghar to tend to his constituents give hope to Mrs Bushra Aitzaz Ahsan of PPP to pip him to the seat. Allama Iqbal’s grandson and fellow Penn alumnus Mr Walid Iqbal is PTI’s candidate in the area who just started campaigning this last week and may be a little late to the party. NA-126, the most literate and well-off constituency of the city which on paper should be a cinch for PTI as per the general perception, too shall produce a fascinating battle. Had Imran Khan himself contested from this area, it would have been a walk in the park for him. Withdrawal of his own nomination papers will make it tougher for PTI’s nominee Mr Shafqat Mahmood, who will be up against Khwaja Ahmad Hassan (PML-N) and Liaquat Baloch (JI). While the heart may want PTI’s candidate to win from here, I won’t be surprised even if any of the other two candidates wins from here as Mr Baloch too seeks to retake the seat he has held in the past.
Three words are enough to explain PPP’s detailed position in Lahore; they have none. It must be extremely painful for a die-hard Lahori ‘jiyala’ to see his city not getting the same attention from the PPP high-ups as it used to. Lahore once boasted names such as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto on its ballot-papers. This time around, with the exception of above-mentioned ladies in NA-124 and NA-130, it appears that the PPP is content to fold their hands pre-flop.
The writer is an advocate of the high courts, a guidance and career counselor and a public-speaking coach. The views expressed in the opinion are his own.
Understanding the intents and interests
Another round of trilateral meetings between Afghanistan, Pakistan and US have started. After the latest get together in Brussels last Wednesday, John Kerry commented, “It’s fair to say that there is a good feeling among all of us that we made progress in this dialogue. But we have all agreed that results are what will tell the story, not statements at a press conference.”
Speaking to the media a day earlier, Kerry had reiterated the future US role: “The mission (of US) will be to support, advise and train the Afghan military on an ongoing basis as well as to engage in counterterrorism activity.”
The success of this mission is dependent on good ties between Karzai and Islamabad, to jointly keep a tab on the extremists. The challenge being, ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan keep swinging between amicable to really tense, and Karzai’s relations with US are faced with pretty much the same unpredictability.
The truth is that the regional approach to Afghan conflict has now morphed into a global one. And too many cooks is a recipe for failure. For example, in addition to the three core parties, discussions on Afghanistan have also recently taken pace between Pakistan, India, China and Russia. The most interesting track being the India-China bilateral discussions. The latest round was held on April 18th, which stressed, “working with regional countries and the international community to help Afghanistan achieve objectives of peace and stability, independence and development”.
To think that Russia, China and India are simply trying to help the international community, or NATO more precisely, would be naïve. The correct wording is perhaps that they are seeking to protect their own interests in Afghanistan that may or may not rhyme with the other players.
At a fundamental level, even the interests of the three principals are still misaligned. On the one hand, Karzai keeps blaming US for civilian deaths, but on the other hand, the country wants NATO forces to stay longer. Every time Afghan Security Forces are criticised for poor performance, the nation starts blaming Pakistan. In fact, there is a danger the border skirmishes between the two countries may transform into something larger, especially if Karzai decides to exploit the nationalistic sentiments. Until these incongruities are addressed, progress will be hard to come by, and no matter how many players are involved, finding a common ground will be difficult.
The basic question is what the Afghan government would gain from a speedy reconciliation. The answer is not much. While the US is striving for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, this will put the onus of fighting on the Afghan Security Forces. Despite the hype, doubts about the fighting capabilities of Afghan forces on its own persist. Its commitment to carry on the fight against Taliban will really be tested once NATO forces leave. The interests of Karzai government are best served by keeping NATO forces engaged while stoking up nationalism, and blaming US and Pakistan for what ails the country.
While Afghanistan has generally projected Pakistan as the villain in the whole affair, the longer the conflict sticks around, the steeper the price for its neighbour. Accelerated political reconciliation in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on improving the security and economic situation of the country, including regional trade. In this, the US and Pakistan’s interests are more aligned.
As the reconciliation process drags on, the responsibility for bringing the Afghan Taliban to the table may squarely fall on the shoulders of Pakistan, if it has not already, while it is also being blamed for maintaining ties with them. On the other hand, Pakistani officials have repeatedly claimed that while it can assist in bringing various warring Taliban factions to the table, the country cannot ensure a certain outcome. The challenge boils down to if Afghan Taliban think they are wining, why would they want to reconcile with Karzai, or listen to Pakistan for that matter?
As far as Afghan Taliban are concerned, they have questioned the credibility of the Karzai government, claiming it to be a puppet of the West. At least publicly, the Taliban have even refused to talk with Karzai, who wants to control the political talks. President Karzai has also accused US of holding direct talks with Taliban, while keeping him in the dark. Furthermore, while Afghan government is insisting on keeping some level of US and NATO presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban want a complete withdrawal of foreign forces.
This raises the most elementary question of all: who has the upper hand? The answer to this query is linked with the reasons why the principals to the conflict decided to seek a political solution. The anomaly being the military campaign to resolve the conflict has continued as well.
Big powers have global repute to protect. Accepting weakness or failure in one part of the world has direct implication for interests in other regions. This particular aspect has created unique challenges for both NATO and US. In addition, the assessment of Afghan policy has included what is achievable and what goals are simply beyond reach. The war there has dragged on for too long, at a huge cost, and it is simply not possible economically to continue the course.
While Afghan Taliban have been difficult to manage, reports suggest the threat from Al-Qaeda, in this part of the region, has been contained for the most part. This premise provides the basis for an exit strategy.
Ironically, the Afghan government may only get serious about reconciliation, if US sticks to its timeline for withdrawal. Jumpstarting the political talks may require a temporary cessation of a military campaign; with the commitment that Taliban will enter a serious dialogue with the Afghan government. The stipulation of removing foreign forces could be conditioned to Taliban terminating ties with Al-Qaeda, agreeing not to attack Afghan and coalition forces, and respect other international human right conventions. In other words, an interim peace accord leading to a permanent cessation.
The writer is chief analyst at PoliTact, a Washington based futurist advisory firm (www.PoliTact.com and http:twitter.com/politact) and can be reached at email@example.com
According to God’s Islam in the Quran
Since the Constitution says that Pakistan is an Islamic republic it becomes incumbent upon the State to follow God’s Islam in the Quran. Very important is God’s injunction not to hate someone so much that you cannot do justice to him. Those who don’t understand this have to be flawed Muslims.
If this Divine advice applies to all State institutions it is reflected in executive and judicial procedures and judgments. They have to realize that they too will be judged one day, if not on earth then certainly in Heaven where the Judge will be God, the ultimate Chief Justice. Those who understand this recognize their cosmic insignificance and don’t take themselves too seriously. Such people aren’t pompous, obsessed with protocol, pomp and panoply. They know that when they appear in God’s Court they will be alone so they should not play mini-god in their own little courts for God knows all and He knows best.
This is not to say that dispensing justice is not indispensible, but done injudiciously, with partiality, without due process, balance and equity, not remaining within the parameters of God’s laws in a state based on religion makes justice a deficient pantomime and abhorrent to the Almighty.
We call ourselves an Islamic republic but in essence we are neither. But since our constitution says so we have no option but to go on hypocritically pretending that Pakistan is Islamic and a republic. Actually, it has become a criminal state where rulers loot the people; a model of what a modern Islamic State and republic ought not to be. While hypocrisy is a grave sin in Islam, we have hypocritically created a two-faced facade of an Islamic state where the essence of Islam is missing. Instead, worship of the Golden Calf is the essence based on ‘might is right’ and flourishing. We have created the deceitful facade of British parliamentary democracy but the essence of democracy is missing. Instead dynasticism is the essence and thriving.
I am talking of God’s Islam in the Quran, not its myriad interpretations foisted on us by de facto clerics masquerading as scholars. God’s Islam is about the inalienable rights of His Creations, especially of Man. It is about welfare, societal balance or adl, real democracy, egalitarianism, justice, equity and due process. The Quran is a code of life, thus it is not only spiritual but secular and worldly too. It is about God and his Unity and the wellbeing and welfare of Man, his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, equal opportunities, a dignified life, his right to develop his mind to its fullest potential and so much more.
Amongst Man’s many obligations is to choose his leadership from his community and choose from amongst the best. Pakistan has consistently failed in this and continuously chooses from amongst the worst. Our human condition is pathetic to the point of defying description and getting worse. We wrongly translate our name ‘Pakistan’ as ‘Land of the Pure’. Instead, we are ruled by the impure and have become the ‘Land of the Poor’ – poor in every respect, not just materially but in Faith, mind and values.
Instead of living up to what we so pompously claim, we thoughtlessly hold our much-mutilated constitution that spews alien colonial systems so dear that one would imagine that it is a divine book, not one made by feeble, self-serving man designed to keep all the levers of power in the hands of a small ruling class that preys on the people – “Eagles snatch the morsels of the weak,” said the poet Faiz. “Whenever the flesh of workers is sold in bazaars and the blood of the poor flows on the streets, such a volcano erupts in my breast that I cannot describe. I lose control over my heart.”
It is vital for a State to have a workable constitution that delivers and ensures societal balance, the dispensation of real justice and good governance. Some 23,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court while some 2.6 million await hearing in the entire judiciary. Many under trial prisoners have spent more time in prison than they would have had they been convicted. Is this justice Islamic style – imprison God’s greatest Creation and throw away the key? Is this justice any style?
A constitution is based on a people’s social contract and is the basic law from which all laws and systems emanate. But it is neither more important than God’s law nor the State it is supposed to serve. If there were no State there would be no constitution. If the State falls the constitution falls. If the constitution falls the State still lives and could get a better constitution. When a constitution starts harming a State and its citizens, it must either be corrected or a new one made based on our original social contract, Mr. Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947 that was shelved and replaced by the Objectives Resolution determining two years after achieving the objective why we had sought it. Ridiculous. We have changed our constitution 20 times so far, but only for the worse.
Everyone should not only read God’s law but also try and understand it, particularly those who are makers of laws and dispensers of justice in an Islamic state. To understand the concept of justice and due process in Islam read and reflect on verses 36:65, 24:24 and 41:19-23in the Quran. God says that on the Day of Judgment He will call our hands and feet, as too our skins, hearing and sight as witnesses “as to [our] deeds.”
Why does God who knows everything need to call witnesses? To show how important due process is, that every soul be satisfied that justice has been done to it because it has been judged on the basis of incontrovertible evidence. If the Almighty needs to follow due process, who the hell is puny Man not to follow it meticulously regardless of the accused’s station in life? If all are equal before God they have to be equal before judges.
On Judgment Day we will be judged by our deeds, our intentions behind them and the amount of knowledge we have gained, digested, understood and acted upon. God couldn’t care less if we were king or chief judge, how much wealth we accumulated. What matters is how honestly we discharged our responsibilities and what we did with the wealth entrusted to us by Him, for all wealth belongs to the Almighty some of which he gives to us as a trust to spend on ourselves sensibly and on those in need. It is a very socialist concept except that in Islam all wealth belongs to God who is Perfect while in socialism it belongs to the State that is made and run by imperfect man.
You decide: do our State and its systems, particularly its various justice systems run along Islamic lines? Do our justice systems measure up to states not based on religion? Is the constitution more important or the State? Do the beneficiaries of the status quo equate the State with the constitution to preserve their benefits? Whether there are millions of under trial prisoners awaiting trial while the powerful get stay orders and are qualified to contest elections to hold leadership positions while the relatively weak are disqualified? Where huge defaulters get away to occupy positions in which they can continue adding to their ill-gotten wealth? Answer truthfully and hang your head in shame. Then they expect us to choose from amongst the best when they ensure that only the worst are on offer.
Is it impartial for a judge to suggest that if a citizen files a petition before us to ask the State to try someone for treason, or is it incitement? Is it impartial for a judge to get stroppy when the government doesn’t do so or is it overstepping? Yet it was good that Justice Jawad Khwaja said in General Musharraf’s case: “We will do justice in a way that justice will be seen to have been done. We will give [a] verdict keeping in view [the] law and [the] Constitution…Only those stand scared who are not with the truth…There should be no double standards. Discrimination between the haves and have-nots should come to an end now. The era of lords is no more here.”
Big words indeed, but why would a Supreme Court judge have to say this in a normal country where it is understood to prevail? Because some judges are aware that justice doesn’t always prevail, that there are misgivings about judicial impartiality. It gives the cat away but it’s good that some judges are sensitive to these concerns. In saying, ‘discrimination between the haves and have-nots should come to an end now” is an inadvertent admission that such discrimination exists. But the “era of lords” still persists; perhaps the good judge was expressing a desire.
These words will only become big when they are translated into action, though one should thank the judge for even saying so in a country where hardly anyone does. Only when judges live up to this claim will we know who really is scared of the truth and who is not.
Ask yourself one more question. At the cusp of elections, why is terrorism increasing in all provinces except in the Punjab? Coincidence? Or is suo moto meant only for a pretty girl’s alleged bottles?
The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let justice be done, though heavens may fall
A case, which was all too eventual, seeking the initiation of High Treason proceedings against General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf, has been filed and is pending adjudication before the honorable Supreme Court. In fact, five distinct petitions, asking the honorable Supreme Court to ‘direct’ the commencement of Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 of the Constitution, are being heard by a three-member bench of the apex Court, comprising of Justice Khawaja, Justice Khilji and Justice Afzal. And resultantly, as is customary in Pakistan, the media waves are abuzz with chatter about the merits of a High Treason charge against the retired General, along with the possibility and consequences of his conviction.
But before delving into any such debate, it is pertinent to clarify the law that governs the issue of High Treason in Pakistan.
The ‘crime’ and guilt of ‘High Treason’ has been defined in Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan. By way of background, it is significant to note that Article 6 is an innovation of the 1973 Constitution. The previous two Constitutions, those of 1956 and 1962, did not contain any provision relating to high treason. However, and wisely so, with the experience of two constitutional abrogations (in 1958 and 1969), the framers of the 1973 Constitution incorporated Article 6 into the constitutional paradigm. Specifically, Article 6(1), declares that “any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance“ the Constitution of Pakistan, or “attempts or conspires” to do the same to be “guilty of high treason”. Furthermore, Article 6(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan declares anyone who ‘aides or abets’ such acts, shall also be guilty of high treason, and that no such acts shall by validated by any court (Article 6(2A)). Thereafter, Article 6(3) of the Constitution stipulates that the Parliament “shall by law, provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason”. And, pursuant to Article 6(3), the Parliament has made a law, The High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, which in section 2, declares the punishment for high treason to be “death or imprisonment for life”. Additionally, section 3 of the High Treason Act mandates that “no court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under this act except upon a complaint in writing made by a person authorized by the Federal Government in this behalf.”
Consequently, in explicit terms, the law requires that only the Federal Government, through an authorized person, has the power and the prerogative to initiate high treason proceedings. (An amendment to section 3 of the High Treason Act, allowing “any citizen” to make “a complaint” was proposed in 2010, but this was never enacted into the law). It is also pertinent to mention that it is unclear what the nature of these proceedings might be. In the absence of established domestic jurisprudence or framework for a trial of high treason, there is ambiguity as to what a charge of high treason would entail, how would it be prosecuted, how would the jurisdiction of courts work in this regard, and on what standard of proof would the defence have to substantiate.
The fact that it is the only the Federal Government, and not the courts, that can take cognizance of and initiate high treason proceedings, was recently affirmed in the landmark judgment of the honorable Supreme Court, in the case of Pakistan Lawyers Forum v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2005 SC 719). In response to the Petitioners urging that the Supreme Court “take cognizance of the matter [of High Treason, pursuant to Article 6 of the Constitution] and initiate a prosecution against the President” the Court declared that, in the absence of a written reference filed by the Federal Government (through a duly authorized person), “it is not the function of the Courts of law” to take up such proceedings themselves. The same principle was also applied earlier in the case of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1993 SC 473).
Under the High Treason Act, the Secretary of Interior is authorized (through an instrument dated some decades back), as the person who, on behalf of the Federal Government, can initiate the proceedings of high treason against any individual. However, in the present circumstances, despite the return of General (retd.) Musharraf, the caretaker Federal Government seems to have made a conscious decision to not file a complaint under section 3 of the High Treason Punishment Act 1973, and wants to avoid the issue, leaving it for the newly elected Government to pursue, once takes charge.
In this backdrop, the case before the Supreme Court prays for a direction to be given to the interim Government to start such proceedings, without hiding behind any ‘excuses’ (in the spirit of let justice be done, though heavens may fall). The defence, on the other hand, is resisting such a direction, taking numerous pleas ranging from bias within the bench, to non-impleadment of those who ‘aided and abetted’ the actions of General Musharraf, raising objections to the dicta of July 31st, 2009 judgment (Sindh High Court Bar Association case), and even arguing that such a direction by the honorable Supreme Court will amount an abrogation of a prerogative that law has exclusively reserved for the executive. As a result, the effective constitutional issue before the court is whether, under Article 184, the honorable Supreme Court can ‘direct’ the Federal Government to initiate such proceedings – emulating, essentially, the ‘justice of peace’ powers of a Sessions Judge (under section 22-A and 22-B of the Criminal Procedure Code) to register an F.I.R., in case the police is refusing to do so.
There can be no denial of the fact that General Musharraf has played havoc with the constitutional fabric of our nation, and that he should have to pay for his deeds (part of which, at least, he already is paying for). However, the impulse of revenge and a desire to see the General fall must be balanced against the requirements of law and mandate of the Constitution. Expanding the contours of law, through interpretation, to incorporate powers such as those of ‘justice of peace’ (which in themselves are perhaps unconstitutional, for being in violation of the doctrine of separation of power, under Article 175 of the Constitution), is not nearly the appropriate remedy in this case. The desire to see Musharraf behind bars (or hung?) is not sufficient in itself to disregard the mandate of law. The absence of political will, as lamentable as it is, cannot be substituted with an infusion of judicial mettle. And that too, in a case as sensitive and fundamental, as one concerning high treason.
It would perhaps be prudent to learn, in this regard, from the experience of other countries that have tried individuals for high treason. In Turkey, for example, high treason proceedings, against Adnan Menderes and Abdullah Öcalan, were protracted, deliberate and still controversial. In fact, even 20 years after the conviction, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated Article 3, 5, and 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights by granting Öcalan no effective remedy of appeal.
We must resist the temptation to make similar mistakes. The national and judicial resolve, in regards to the due process of law, is tested the most when applied to those who we despite as a nation. Still, the endeavor of law is to ensure that justice, to the most vile, is not turned into a lynching process. And that the letter and spirit of the law be followed, even more conscientiously when trying the villains. This, is the real test of ‘let justice be done, though heavens may fall.’
The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Quick fix or long term solution?
Four decades and nine elections later and the statistics for political engagement among the populace of this country present a bleak picture. For the eight elections which have been conducted in the present state of Pakistan, without its eastern wing, the average voter turnout has been a lowly 44.78 per cent, as gleaned from statistics gathered from IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) and 45.3 per cent according to the ECP, placing Pakistan in the lowest rungs of voter participation.
A voter turnout this low is not the most frantic nod of legitimacy a government could ask for. Compare the same with Bangladesh, which having conducted the same number of elections since its independence has managed to bring up its rate of voter participation to an average of 63.70 per cent, with a significant 85.26 per cent of registered voters coming out to vote in the last general elections held in 2008, compared to 44.58 per cent in Pakistan for the same year. The contrast is disturbing. For a democracy, the status quo must change, the voter turnout must increase to give coming government’s greater legitimacy and be held accountable by a greater number of people. Many have touted compulsory voting as the solution to our chronically low voter turnout, but is it really all that and does it have its own downsides?
Commentators cite a host of reasons for this abysmally low voter turnout. A lack of ownership of government and government decisions felt by the population at large has often been cited as instilling a sense of political apathy among Pakistanis. A people who, time and again, feel that while their vote might help people get elected to the legislature, their voices certainly do not ring loud in the same legislatures. The feeling that the ruling classes do not have the interest of the masses close to their hearts has set in among Pakistanis, spurring a sort of lazy apathy towards democracy, which tends to manifest itself through a low voter turnout.
Poll day violence too is often an important deciding factor in voter turnout. However important the vote might be, it is still not as important as life and limb.
Then of course there is the lack of female participation in the political process in Pakistan. Having been to a number of political rallies and gatherings in the past few weeks, I have noticed an almost unnerving lack of any women at such gatherings. Pakistan’s male chauvinism is on full display in the marked difference in participation among genders in the political process.
What then can be done to fix this very fundamental problem facing the budding democracy in this country? One solution on offer is the imposition of compulsory voting as is the case in a number of countries around the world. Proponents of compulsory voting often cite the high voter turnout in countries such as Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands where for all three, voter turnout is higher than 90 per cent. To apply the same to Pakistan, however, would be a failure in comparisons and more importantly, intelligence. Six out of the seven countries with compulsory voting which have voter turnouts greater than 90 per cent have a GDP per capita higher than $20,000, the seventh being Uruguay which is close to that number at $15,786. A higher GDP, correlates strongly with strong institutions, which are necessary for implementing any sort of punishment for not voting. As it is, institutions are to Pakistan what honesty is to thieves, an oxymoron.
A country where the writ of the state is shaky at best, implementing a mechanism to penalize Election Day offenders would be difficult at best. In that regard, Sindh and Punjab might be easier nuts to crack than KPK or Balochistan, both provinces which are in the grips of civil war. I would imagine trying to get the penalty out of someone in Loralai might present some minor inconveniences to the person assigned the said task.
An important question that arises from this this is that whether the state has any right in the first place to force people out of their houses on Election Day? Would it be an infringement of our right of choice for the government to force our vote out? Or does greater legitimacy offered by a greater turnout outweigh any such minor infringement of our choice to stay away from the polling booth?
From that concern stems another one. Forcing people to vote will mean bringing to the booth those people who have an absolute zero interest in politics or governance. The politically uninformed person is not a rarity, people harbour all sorts of interest and it is only fair if someone holds very little interest in the political process. Although, to be fair, for something that touches our lives in so many ways, we ought to be fairly well informed about the political process but that is still choice at the end of the day. Bad, uninformed choices are bound to be made when you bring the political zombie to vote. Who is to say that a nice bit of fiery rhetoric near Election Day won’t be the deciding factor for such a voter and if that is indeed the case, we ought to look at compulsory voting with some caution.
With regards to statistics, the world’s average voter turnout for countries with a parliamentary system of elections and which also practice compulsory voting stands at around 78 per cent, compared to an average voter turnout of 70 per cent for countries without compulsory voting. The payoff from implementing compulsory voting, on the average is quite low, around seven per cent. Instead of looking at this option which provides such a small dividend, we ought to look at and try to fix the fundamentals that result in Pakistan’s low voter turnout rather than looking for quick fixes such as compulsory voting.
Hopefully, this time around, given the charged political atmosphere, the voter turnout will increase substantially. Should that not happen, we must pause and reflect and not have a knee jerk reaction that might bring such a drastic change to our voting process.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet@Ahshafi
On trial are the people of Pakistan
The chequered history of the country is replete with grandiose rituals that either never quite lived up to the expectations, or these are obtrusively and blatantly laced with pre-meditated and pre-ordained drop scenes.
In the olden times, the most convenient weapon in the hands of the governments to deal with challenges was to accuse individuals whom it wanted sidelined with treasonous intentions and kept them incarcerated as long as it suited their whims. When times changed and treason lost its relevance and potency, the governments, led by dictators and democrats alike, took to manipulating the constitution to suit their objectives. This was done by various individuals with the sole purpose of strengthening their stranglehold and subjugating their opponents. Bhutto did it to consolidate his dictatorial hold on power and also sowed the seeds of the division of society along religious and ethnic lines. Zia added his demonic sting with unabated criminal vengeance. Musharraf did it to legitimise his coup while Zardari did it to spread far and wide the evil tentacles of his so-called ‘collaborate-with-the-devil’ strategy. None of these individuals – or for that matter anyone who ever ruled the country – could let the national interest dictate the need for policy-making in preference to consolidating individual stakes. The dominant objective was always to hide personal failings and corruption behind the facade of ‘democracy’.
We may have an independent judiciary and a vibrant media now, but nothing really has changed so far as the approach of the incumbent governments and individuals associated with them is concerned. It remains embedded in devious and corrupt machinations to manipulate the authority and the administrative immunities that are vested in the persons of various individuals perched on seats of power. Much against the quintessential democratic spirit, the over-riding priority is to further expand and strengthen the repertoire of these immunities rather than take steps to curb them. This takes the shape of clandestine to open confrontation with all those institutions that are either exposing the deviousness and duality of these commands, or are engaged in adjudicating measures to curb them. The collective weight of the political and the administrative machinery, inducted and installed at powerful positions by employing brazenly corrupt practices, is fully geared to supporting this undemocratic approach.
With the mass exodus of talent and expertise from the country, the average ability to comprehend and address issues that have now assumed existential proportions has decreased exponentially. When interacting with people who, in more than one way, are entrusted with the varied tasks of determining the priorities, formulating and legislating policies and administering the moth-eaten system, one is struck with a sub-normal level of intelligence, knowledge and expertise. It is as if positions and power have been vested in these myopic individuals for services rendered in the task of glorifying and strengthening the indispensability of individuals in command. There is no thought given to the state and its needs in terms of requiring the best to serve its interests. This entire megalomaniac drive is either individual- or party-driven.
Even the best have taken a sip from this poisoned nectar. Those who, at some point in time, appeared to have a clear vision have been overwhelmed by mafias representing the continuation of the status-quo and all its associated ills. Acknowledge they will not because it may spell a steep plunge in their fortune, but deep inside they understand the follies of their minds and hearts and the fickleness which has driven their decision-making. These demonic mafias, predominantly represented by the intellectually-corrupt and the self-interest-driven groups, have remained active through even the most divergent periods because they are quick to change their spots. Serving the dictators, they wear a uniform of absolute subservience, and working with the so-called ‘democrats’, they are seen wrapped in the apparel brandishing the promise-laden whip of their masters. The subjugation of mind and body is abhorrently complete and exclusively self-driven. There are no principles involved. Every credible instinct is dislodged and flushed away. What remains is the naked lust for power and position no matter what compromises are made, what promises advanced and what apologies tendered.
The decline even in the performance of institutions that retain a level of credibility, including the judiciary and the media, is reflective of the overall intellectual and moral bankruptcy that the state is afflicted with. Receipt of petty dole-outs in the name of serving the ‘national security interests’ from the state exchequer, or hounding people in the name of administering justice sacrificing the precept of transparency are all symptoms of this malaise. When media and its operatives are sold out to serve specific interest-groups and when principles of jurisprudence take on the apparel of ‘vengeance’ and ‘vindictiveness’, the society is on a definitive declining trail which, apparently, may be unstoppable.
Every day is a witness to the enactment of harrowing trials being enacted to benefit the aggrandisement of individual stakes in a country that is already on an artificial respiratory system desperately needing a whiff of fresh policies and practices. That, unfortunately, is nowhere to be seen. On the horizon are a number of old actors beating the old drums which have been their tried and tested weapons. The new kids on the block are using a faulty catalogue of objectives and strategies and have also taken to using the old tools that are not suited to the prospect of change. Consequently, whoever the people may choose come May 11, the cumulative results may not be any different. This is reflected in an environment which is dominated by a dire paucity of vision, ambivalence of priorities, jaundiced intellect, formulation of claustrophobic policies and an administration smitten by the lingering and well dug-out tradition of corruption.
The May 11 ritual is meaningless given the severity of the ailment which is rendered even worse on account of the rampant loot that is likely to escalate with the induction of a new dispensation. On trial are the people of Pakistan. Before them are two options: go for the old rats wearing the deceptive garb of more promises, or settle for a one-man charge heading a relatively new team dominated by powerful interest groups representing the decrepit old order. Tragically, the column regarding ‘none of the above’ will not be on the ballot paper!
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at email@example.com
The first person to hit the 50-rupee mark would get him on a 35 percent discount
Attention political parties, establishment personnel, banned athletes, controversial celebrities, terrorist organisations, government officials and real-estate tycoons; we’d like to put a journalist up for auction, with the highest bidder getting the sole ownership of the writer of this piece. This purchase would hopefully fulfill his lifelong ambition of being a part of a list of corrupt journalists who actually make money out of the profession. He has printed out many such mock lists in his moments of dillydallying in the past, but to have his name being enlisted by the Supreme Court one day, would be a dream come true.
This 1988 model, quasi-writer cum pseudo journalist has all the characteristics you need to for an easy-to-use journalist that you can carry around in your pocket. These include the ability to conjure foolproof plagiarism, blatant fabrication and law violation; concealing information, portraying shameless bias, altering documents and photographs, and making intentional reporting errors. Being able to make a mockery of journalistic ethics and credibility, and making unqualified defamatory statements at the drop of a hat, also are invaluable assets.
Another precious quality that might make this a worthwhile purchase is his ability to be involved in every single unethical activity on the surface of this planet and yet have the skill to lecture about honesty, integrity, ethics and other such gibberish with a straight face. He can also show proper transition in his writings from toeing the line of one political party to one that splashes more dough, unlike many renowned columnists in our neck of the woods, whose shift in payrolls is exceedingly obvious. His career goal is to drag Pakistani media from the mediocrity that yellow journalism is and to take it to somewhere around the orange or mustard mark where scandal mongering, sensationalism and false reporting reach new heights.
He considers Fareed Zakariya, Dr A.Q Khan and Jayson Blair as his plagiarism gurus and has the potential to reach their high standards of bootlegging. He believes he can conduct planted interviews much more flawlessly than Mubashir Lucman and Meher Bokhari and is willing to do anything to please Malik Riaz or any other property magnates, by portraying them as philanthropists crawling straight out of a book of ethics. He also believes he can do a better job at photoshopping sensationalist images than Adnan Hajj and has a better repertoire of swear words than Nazir Naji and Amir Liaquat to fall back on if/when he is asked about the recent transactions in his bank account or is caught displaying his colourful side off air.
He also has the ability to use religious pretense to shroud his intentions and put on a holier than thou façade. Being a part of the Pakistani media he knows how to personify subservience and steer clear of the wrath of the military establishment. He also knows how to ease himself into the very conspicuous bonding of the rightwing with the pseudo liberals who continue to turn a blind eye to the ‘general’ knowledge. And most importantly he knows that when the Balochs are massacred, Shias are ethnically cleansed and Pashtuns are tormented you are supposed to remain shushed, hide the ethnic identities of the victims and focus instead on Sunny Leone’s next item number.
He also knows about the significance of the social media to promote ridiculous opinions, by personifying broken records. As soon as someone helps him eradicate the apprehensions regarding earning the proverbial bread and better, he’d be ready to open the predisposed floodgates and tweet like there is no tomorrow. He is also familiar with privacy impeachment techniques a la News of the World and has the complete arsenal to tout your good selves as the best thing since sliced bread.
According to him, it is absolutely appalling to see the recent list of journalists, who were paid secretly during the PPP regime, being released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Because, of the disbursements that totaled up to Rs177.98 million, not a single penny was earned by the up and coming journalists who are toiling hard, day and night, for someone to give them an opportunity to showcase their inner corrupt selves. Someone needs to take a leap of faith and realise the fact that not only are these youngsters adept enough to match their seniors’ towering achievements in dishonesty, but brainwashing them should be considerably easier as well. Some of them might publish whatever nonsense you’d want just for a byline, others might be willing to do that for food.
This particular journalist being auctioned is brimming with blinkeredness, fraud, dishonesty, deceit and greed, and is looking for someone to give him the opportunity to channelise these traits into something that would result in the uplift, development and betterment of his wallet. He has volumes of prejudice, bigotry and bias lying in the wait, for anyone who can match the not-so-high price tag. Just like Armstrong Williams received $241,000 to write favourably about the Bush administration, this journalist is willing to do that for the next ruling party in Pakistan for 241,000 times less that amount. He’s ready to wear his pair of rose-tinted glasses, as soon as someone gets him a new pair of expensive lenses.
With only 15 more days to the general elections, you really need to come forward and up the ante on the bidding process. There’s a 90-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee that comes with this journalist, and the first person to hit the 50-rupee mark before the start of May would get him on a 35 percent discount. All those interested please feel free to contact us on our helpline: 111-WTF-WTF.
The writer is a financial journalist and a cultural critic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @khuldune
Who truly represents Muslims?
“The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends,” President George W Bush declared soon after the 9/11 attacks. Mr Bush’s statement set the tone for the tumultuous decade to come: the invasion of two Muslim countries, the Arab Spring and a global ‘war on terror’. Unsurprisingly then, the debate about who speaks for today’s Islam in the West festers in the minds of government advisers and politicians. There are hundreds of Muslim organisations in the UK, each one desperate to pull in market share. But is it all about ownership? It shouldn’t be. Is it all about portraying a better image of Muslims? I doubt it. Or about monopolising the Muslim voice to push their own agendas? That seems much likelier.
By refusing to steadfastly denounce honour killings, the Taliban’s attack on 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, Al-Qaeda’s war on minorities’ rights across the Muslim world and jihad against those very Western societies in which they live, many of these organisations do great disservice to Muslims and Islam. They promote negative stereotypes whilst conveniently sidestepping the real issues within their own communities. Even many ex-Muslims still carry the faith card to avoid demonisation, ostracisation (and sometimes retaliation) from within their communities.
So where are the voices of your average nominal, cultural and largely irreligious Muslims? They are more numerate than you might think, but too afraid to speak out. The fact that over 90 percent of Muslims are unaffiliated to any of the many Islamic organisations which claim to speak for them should speak volumes. This alone should make us sceptical of some claims made by groups like MCB, MAB and their US counterparts CAIR and ISNA.
A report by Professor Bagby revealed that of the six million Muslims in the United States, only 350,000 attend the communal Friday midday prayers, let alone practise the five daily compulsory ones.
In my experience, most Muslims are generally secular, religiously unobservant or irreligious but strongly identify with Muslim culture due to family background, and the social and cultural environment in which they grew up. Yet at the same time they also push for the most potent and progressive causes of our times; rationalism, humanism, democracy, equality, secularism, modernism and science. What the West fails to understand is that a Muslim born to a Muslim father usually takes on their paternal confessional identity without necessarily consciously subscribing to the beliefs and practices associated with the faith. Similar to the Jews, who describe themselves Jewish without observing the Halacha, or the 59 percent of British who ticked the Christian box in the recent referendum despite a nervous affliction with the Church.
What I propose is that this silent majority of Muslims should unite and push these separatist Islamic organisations for a new resolution in 2013. They must preach to fellow Muslims on how to lead a more fulfilling life with a spirit of togetherness where we all learn from each other, instead of a divisive one which pulls us apart. Hooked like an addict on regression and victimhood, they must ditch the preaching of negative narratives. A life for a Muslim should be a life without complex, stigmatisation and vindictive legalism; liberated from negativity, segregation, alienation and contempt for joy. None of which are endorsed by modern liberal interpretations of Islam, but are used by Sharia-bound Islamists to push their own regressive narrative. It is well known that Quran (2:256) asserts ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’.
During Muhammad’s hijra, or ‘migration’ from Mecca to Medina, the Prophet sent a message of cohabitation. He drew up the famous Charter of Medina, encouraging assimilation, and opening its mosque doors to homeless wayfarers from any creed. As Irshad Manji says, “Translations of any scripture are human, as are interpretations including literal ones.”
Muslim organisations in Britain should stop bleating time elapsed rhetoric and engaging in fear mongering. Rather than to respond to every criticism with the shrill of ‘Islamaphobia’, it’s high time they began to celebrate our positive differences and similarities. After all, if Islam is dominated by its most violent and illiberal elements, and questioning these forces is deemed by intellectual elites to be a form of Islamophobia or racism, then reform-minded Muslims really stand no chance. But the Western media also has a duty. Whilst many of the traditional Islamic organisations in the West may have been hijacked by Islamists, news editors are always hungry to broadcast their rabid soundbites and ratchet up these degrees of separation. Egged on by a small cabal of xenophobes, they like to portray the notorious one-eyed hook handed Abu Hamza or as some other scimitar brandishing Philistine as representative of Muslims. But how close is this to the truth?
Unfortunately, the majority is neither visible in the media nor recognised by Western politicians and policymakers. They owe a certain responsibility to regular Muslims, rather than vilifying them for crimes done by others. Like it or not, they are now an essential fabric of our societies. We don’t blame Germans for the crimes of Hitler, so why point fingers at regular Muslims for the crimes of bin Laden? It only serves to magnify their dissonance, alienate them further and leave them as cannon fodder for Islamists.
It’s now 2013 and little has changed. Even in educated circles Muslims still largely disregard established science like evolution. Dawkins did a televised documentary at a school in Leicester and the science teacher told him (and worse still her pupils) that she didn’t believe in evolution and the earth was only 6,000 years old. Last year, we had medical students storm out of their evolution classes at UCL. And this year an Islamic conference intending merely to discuss the topic was rescheduled after firm opposition from its host university’s student society. Enough is enough. The time has come to stop blaming Western leaders and Eastern extremists for our problems. It is time to bleach out the rot from within. The time has come for secular liberal Muslims in the West finally to come forward as a collective and form new voices against the ongoing Islamism gnawing away at the roots of ordinary and innocent Muslim lives.
Remember, fewer than five percent of Muslims fit the stereotype of bearded angry men with tailed thobes clutched by obedient burka-blanketed wives in tow. The rest are just like you. They worry about bills, plan their holidays and, especially in the UK, love to complain about the weather.
Saif Rahman is a strategic consultant, founder of Cultural Muslim and Humanist Association and author of The Islamist Delusion.
Being a safe havens for militants lacking high-profile targets has saved province
The MQM leadership has asked why Punjab alone is having violence-free electioneering while the other three provinces are facing the wrath of terrorists. What is being suggested is that this is a part of some sort of conspiracy against the MQM. Since few in other provinces would otherwise grieve over MQM’s bad performance in elections under an independent EC, the party has included two more provinces in the list of the targets of conspiracy to gain sympathy.
In fact if the conspiracy element is removed, none can have beef with the statement that Punjab remains by and large violence-free while KP, Balochistan and Karachi and Hyderabad are high on the list of the terrorists.
There is far lesser terrorist activity in Punjab because most of the high profile targets the TTP is looking for are outside the province. Of the three parties declared secular and thus game for the terrorists, the ANP and MQM have little electoral presence in Punjab.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remains as ever the stronghold of the ANP while the party is also a significant player in Balochistan. It is contesting on 33 National Assembly (NA) and 81 Provincial Assembly (PA) seats in KP-cum-Tribal Areas. In Balochistan, it is fighting on 7 NA and 29 PA seats. The party has consistently opposed militancy as throughout its history and has practiced the policy of non-violence preached by Bacha Khan. It has faced the major brunt of the terrorist offensive in the two provinces with exemplary courage and fortitude. A number of its candidates have fallen victim to deadly terrorist blasts and hardly a day passes without an attack on a party rally. Despite this the party has shown no self pity. The ANP chief Asfandyar Wali insists that any postponement of the elections would have catastrophic consequences.
The ANP is the weakest in Punjab as it has never won a seat here since 1988. It is contesting only on 10 NA and 13 PA seats in the province. The TTP is after easier targets i.e. in the KP districts adjoining the tribal areas or Balochistan districts along the Durand Line where militants can cross over from Afghanistan to launch attacks. It is less likely to target low profile ANP candidates in distant Punjab.
The MQM remains a paper organisation in Punjab, KP and Balochistan. The announcement of candidates from these provinces is an exercise in smoke and mirrors aimed at creating a false perception that the MQM is an all Pakistan party. As few serious people are willing to contest on its ticket in Punjab, its list of nominees mostly comprise ghost candidates. In 2008, it announced 39 NA candidates from Punjab. It turned out to be a sheer joke. Not a single one could get second, third or even fourth position. The overall vote percentage of the MQM, with kite as election symbol, was the lowest in the province
This time the joke has gone too far. The MQM is “contesting” on 130 NA seats in Punjab and 258 PA seats. There are 10 districts at least whose names the “candidates” have mis-spelt on the official party website! Would genuine local candidates would ever do that? The terrorists would prefer high value targets in Karchi and Hyderabad rather than dummies in Punjab.
The PPP alone has a major presence in Punjab. It has however shunned big gatherings and has confined itself largely to either small constituency level meetings or door-to-door canvassing.
Punjab may not remain terror-free once the electioneering reaches climax. The local elite habitual of free use of muscle power is likely to test the ability of the ECP and the caretaker set up. Terrorists may also decide to launch attacks on some of the more exposed PPP candidates
There is also a second reason behind the lull in terrorist activity in Punjab. While the law and order situation in Punjab was in no way enviable under the PML-N, the province remained much more peaceful than Karachi. The rivalries between the ruling parties comprising PPP, MQM and ANP led to a killing spree in Karachi that continued non stop on for five long years. Each one of the three partners accused the other of being lawlessness, patronising the extortion mafia and groups of land grabbers. Instead of working as a team, mutual recrimination characeterised the alliance. The ANP and PPP accused the MQM of patronizing the killer gangs while the MQM announced that the People’s Amn Committee supported by the PPP was the mother of all evils.
As the SC was to discover subsequently the entire police service and administration had been politicised. Notorious killers were released by Home Department under pressure from one or other ruling party on parole who then disappeared in thin air only to continue their gory mission from the shadows. As a judge commenting on MQM Sen. Nasrim Jaleel’s petition asking the SC to restore peace in Karachi remarked early this month, “Members of the assembly who relished power for 20 years are now writing to the court. But they did nothing on their own. The caretaker set up has also been installed with their consultation.” Another observed, “They have remained allies of the government, why have they not done anything?”
There is however a third reason behind the suspension of terrorist activity in Punjab. The PML-N leadership has allowed major militant networks to set up headquarters in Punjab where their leadership moves around freely. It is not without reason that Hafiz Saeed, chief of JuD which is a reincarnation of the banned LeT, is free to address meetings despite the bounty announced by the US on his head. Similarly, Malik Ishaque of LeJ is safely stationed in the provincial capital.
This has raised the question if there is a give and take between the PMLN leadership and the terrorist networks. After all it is not without a reason that the TTP had suggested to make the PML-N, along with two religious parties, an a guarantor for peace. While the mainstream Sunni population, the law enforcement agencies and government installations have been safe from the terrorists, they have attacked Ahmadis, Shias and Christians with a vengeance as the government failed to provide minorities adequate shelter. There have been allegations that networks enjoying freedom in Punjab launch attacks in other provinces. It is highly dangerous to harbor groups like LeJ who conduct attacks on Hazara community in Balochistan, only to have peace in PML-N ruled Punjab. This raises a serious question about the future. Suppose the PML-N came to power in the country will it, for the sake of peace in the country, harbour and allow these networks to use Pakistan’s territory as a spring board for attack on neighbouring countries?
The writer is a political analyst and a former academic.
An analysis of two different points of view
In their works titled “Women in the Muslim Unconscious” and “Quran and the Woman” Fatna Sabbah and Amina Wadud respectively present contrasting opinions on the roles and depiction of women in Islam. They use the key source of information, the Quran, to validate their arguments. Sabbah suggests that women become ‘objects of religious discourse’ as the bulk of Quranic scripture is addressed to men, forming a power structure in which men regulate and enforce divine law over women. This results from an essential discrepancy between the sacred and the biological analysis of events, and as each occurrence is predetermined by God, women’s natural capacity to give birth and thus be responsible for the expansion of the human race, is undermined. Wadud conversely proposes that the Quran, except on a few occasions, addresses both men and women. According to her, the traditional interpretations of the Quran are shaped by the social/cultural notions of gender, which are separate from the actual content of the religious text. Moreover, the Quran is meant for all mankind and has a “natural adaptive nature of interpretation” meaning that no single explanation is ‘definitive’.
Sabbah suggests that Islam is based on a hierarchal structure of relationships where God has exclusive control over mankind and the male being takes precedence over the female being. Her principal argument relies on the fact that the scripture portrays women to be objects of gratification for men. ‘The existence of God is rooted in the very existence of man’ – the sacred discourse implies that God is omnipotent, attributing the creation of man solely to God’s will and therefore eradicating the woman’s importance in the process of procreation. In fact, Sabbah notes that as per the Islamic rendition of the Adam and Eve story, woman was ‘created from’ man, reinforcing her position as the ‘other’ in Islamic society.
The concept of ‘sacred space’ stretches beyond the Earth and attaining Paradise is made out to be a believer’s ultimate goal. However, in the quest for Paradise, the element of gender inequality arises as many verses pertaining to Paradise appeal to the desires of men. The importance of the earthly woman is reduced and almost obliterated in Paradise by the introduction of the ‘houri’ or the paradisal woman solely created for the pleasure of “those of the right hand”. Sabbah points out that “nowhere in Paradise are the needs of this earthly woman taken into consideration” hence reducing the woman’s significance in the sexual discourse. “The houri is defined in physical terms” and “is created to be a sexual partner for the male believer,” reducing women in general to anatomical objects. The Quranic verses are isolated and read literally by Sabbah as she uses the verse “Enter the Garden, ye and your wives, to be made glad” to suggest that women’s fate is dependant on their husband’s virtues. However, there is a contradiction in this statement as another verse of the Quran reads “and whoso doeth good works, whether male or female, and he (or she) is a believer, such will enter paradise” stressing on the accountability of men and women as individuals.
According to Sabbah, the superiority of men is established in Islam as they are defined as the caretakers of women. Islam, by allowing polygamy or multiple marriages, “encourages the husband to make little emotional investment” and reiterates the woman’s role as a pleasure tool designed to gratify the sexual desires of male. “Mastering the woman means mastering desire” and the woman’s sexual needs are given almost no importance due to their lack of mention in the Quran.
Wadud diverges from Sabbah as she takes similar verses from the Quran and dissects their language in terms of grammar and content to show that divine law is equally applicable to both men and women. Instead of concentrating on the immediate intricacies of the text she presents the idea that “allegorical verses cannot be empirically determined” and draws attention to God’s larger scheme. Her major argument rests on the fact that the verses of the Quran, whether grammatically masculine or feminine refer to both. “Grammatically the ‘nafs’ (self) is feminine… Conceptually, ‘nafs’ is neither masculine nor feminine”. However, her case for gender neutrality in Islamic learning is laid out by comparing it to other religions such as Christianity which states that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. As the Quran excludes any verse specifically stating the aforementioned, Wadud suggests that the important factor is the creation of humanity, not a particular gender.
The crux of Wadud’s argument lies in her assertion that the Quran does not “support a specific and stereotyped role for its characters”. Hence the relations to specific women must be placed in the particular “social, cultural, and historical context” in which they are related. Wadud points out that the Prophet was situated in Arab society, hence in order for the people of the time to comprehend the message, God had to speak in a cultural context they could relate to. Hence, “the references to female characters in the Qur’an use an important cultural idiosyncrasy which demonstrates respect for women.” Women, like men are used to depict models of believers/behavior in Islam.
The relationship between God and the individual is not based on gender as there is no difference in the spiritual capacity of men and women laid out in the Quran. Instead, the distinction between believers is made on the basis of faith as the verse “Whoever does good, from male or female and is a believer, all such will enter Paradise (4:124)” clearly suggests.
Examples of believing women are given, and Wadud suggests that the derived lesson ‘transcends their femaleness’. Unlike, Sabbah’s assertion that Islam removes the significance of women from the process of procreation, Wadud uses Mary’s example in the Quran to assert the opposite. The Quran refers to Mary as ‘one of the qanitin’ (believers-masculine form) instead of the feminine plural, a fact which Wadud uses to reiterate that the teachings from the narratives in the Quran are meant for all humanity.
The discussion of Paradise is also brought up by Wadud who approaches the verses/message of the Quran in an untraditional manner. Her explanation for the verses geared towards sexual gratification of men and the existence of the ‘Hur-ul-Ayn’ (the paradisal woman) is that the Quran at the time of its revelation spoke primarily to ‘prominent patriarchs in a patriarchal society’. The later verses (revealed in the Madinan period) hardly contain any mention of such women and instead lay emphasis on ‘harmony’. However, an essential contradiction arises in Wadud’s argument as she suggests that Quran is an eternal message from God that transcends time, space, gender and social norms yet her argument asks one to contextualize the Quran. This sense of confusion arises because there is no clear indication as to when the Quran can and can not be taken out of a specific context and speak to the entire mankind instead of people in a certain historical time frame or locality.
Unlike Sabbah, Wadud views the Quran as an inclusive text that “adapts to the concept of the modern woman” and instead of giving importance to literal intricacies the “goal has been to emulate certain key principles of human development: justice, equity, harmony”. The traditional patriarchal interpretation of the Quran that suggests “a woman’s subservience to a man” has been made by readers who are situated in social systems that promote these ideals and hence they take advantage of the open-endedness of they Quran by enforcing their own value system in their explanation of it. Wadud further reads the Quran as an accommodative text that does not generalize and “negative terms” “are neither directly nor exclusively associated with women”, encouraging the reader to look at them through a multidimensional lens.
The writer is a staff member of Pakistan Today and holds a degree from Mount Holyoke College.
With the end game in Aghanistan, the TTP is unlikely to unroll its extensive network in Pakistan
In terms of content, the Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani’s speech on the occasion of passing out parade at Pakistan’s premier military academy, Kakul, is not much different from his last few speeches: the emphasis on Islam and Pakistan, the sacrosanctity of ideology of Pakistan and vows to make Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state. This time the speech has pointed towards the provocative statements from the neighboring countries and a sentence about focusing on the internal threats. But the emphasis on the ideology of Pakistan has flustered some quarters that were all praise for the speech last year on the eve of Independence Day, when General Kayani had a speech at the same venue after witnessing the ‘Azadi parade’ on August 14.
In that speech, Gen Kayani had discussed the threat of religious terrorism in detail, challenging their interpretation of Islam while contesting anyone’s claims to be the sole interpreter of Islam and using violence to impose it over others. Gen Kayani ordained a fight against the forces of extremism and terrorism, insisting it as our own war and warned against a civil war situation if cobwebs persisted in the minds on the complexity of this crucial issue.
Though in that speech too, Gen Kayani didn’t forget to remind us that how Islam was the basis for the foundation of Pakistan and had the same pledge of making Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state and society based on the golden principles of Islam. The speech came after fresh settlements with United States post-Salala affair over allowing NATO supplies and other issues, it was considered as building environment for an offensive in North Waziristan, so the weary parts of the speech were brushed aside.
But now, what has perturbed many is the omission of the resolve against those misinterpreting Islam for political means and trying to impose it upon others by use of violence. While the speech kept reiterating its emphasis on the Pakistan ideology and the inseparable relation of Islam and Pakistan, hence putting his weight in favour of those elements that have made a particular interpretation of Ideology of Pakistan a Procrustes bed for the political forces to stretch or hack them off to fit that standards.
More dreadful is the fact that, Taliban have attained an unvanquishable status due to the cobwebs of confusion around them in the national narrative led by the security establishment for its changing preferences. Lack of sufficient action against them and allowing them to prescribe their terms for the upcoming elections to the people on who should be supported or alienated in their electoral campaigns.
The focus on the internal security should have prioritized measures against active networks of terrorism across the country and their sleeping cells in the Punjab. For peaceful elections and providing level playing field to the political parties who have actively supported army offensives against the Taliban and extolled them for their glorified Swat and Malakand operations, kept a close eye over and defended them against harsh criticism by the human right organisations over detentions and extra-judicial killings of the suspected militants, dumping the bullet riddled bodies or throwing them into river Swat or handing them over to their relatives after their deaths in detention due to some mysterious illness.
During these years, Taliban’s physical control over some territories may have diluted but virtually they still have the powers to strike in those areas against security forces or civilian gatherings. Also their virtual control has been extended manifold to new areas and territories. Their ability to acquire or manufacture arms and explosives, generating finances via different sources and reinforcements through recruitments of certain types of warfare experts or ordinary fighters has not been forestalled.
What has been required in the mean time is to interdict their terror operations of hitting at the targets of their choice. Putting strict security measures to secure possible targets can deter their power to achieve specific targets. But it is possible only if these orgqanisations have been attacked in their dens and militarization points, before they start out by going through their plans. But this all can be done through effective intelligence measures and well coordinated plans to hinder networks of terror of their plans and tactics as well as admonishing the impression of indomitability of these groups in society and among the fearful and disconcerted populace.
The exulting right wing religio-political groups over the conjectural US military setback in Afghanistan have started speaking out loudly against those political forces that have opposed Taliban or have supported military offences against them, especially in Pakistan. It has also reinforced a rather flawed argument of dealing violent groups politically by acceding to some of their demands. It has been testified through the turbulent history and the last few years of this country that ceding political space to those employing deliberate violence to attain ideological objectives will not stop at a desired point but it eventually results in conceding turf to these forces.
The reemergence of state-friendly Jihadi organisations or the so-called good Taliban too bears witness to the same false assertions around the endgame narrative in Afghanistan. If one desires that these Jihadi locomotives of us will drag the good and bad Jihadi militants out of Pakistan to aid their ideological counterparts in Afghanistan, it should be kept in mind that Pakistani Taliban have its network of support and reinforcement existing across Pakistan, it is highly unlikely that it will be unrolled or sent back packing to their perceived buffer zones.
The external threat narrative around neigbouring countries and the ideological foes has bucked up jingoism, at the same time projecting conspiracy theories. All this while the persisting threat of the Taliban and their ideological allies has given rise to a sense of haplessness in the people directly hit by terror. And it has been transforming society drastically pushing it towards adopting more radical traits and losing its traditional attributes of tolerance and pluralism.
Ali Arqam is a journalist and researcher based in Karachi. He can be contacted email@example.com or interacted on twitter at @aliarqam