Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Malala Aur Pakistani Riyasat Ka Mindset

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Finished reading: Stoicism

Day before yesterday (Oct 28) I finished reading, Stoicism, by Rev. W. W. Capes. It was published in 1880, as part of a series - Chief Ancient Philosophies, by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London.

This book discusses Stoicism in a historical perspective, focusing on its development via its chief philosophers, such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelus Antoninus, and its relation to early Christian teachings.

The Chapters give a glimpse of the contents of the book:

I.  The Thought and Character of Socrates

II. The Cynics

III. The Rise of Stoicism and its Relation to the Spirit of the Age

IV. Stoicism in the rigour of its Essential Principles

V. Stoicism tempered by Concessions to Common Sense

VI. Stoicism at Rome under the Republic

VII. The Critics and Enemies of Stoicism under the Early Empire

VIII. The Social Status of the Professional Moralists at Rome

IX. The Career of Seneca

X. Seneca as a Moralist

XI. Seneca and St. Paul, or the Relation of Stoicism to Christianity

XII. Epictetus, or Stoicism in the Cottage

XIII. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, or Stoicism on the Throne

XIV. The Stoic Creed and Temper in Relation to other Aspects of Thought

Here are some excerpts from the book, which I found interesting and enlightening:
“While so many of the wants of civilized life were thus discouraged, it was not likely that the institutions of the State would be regarded with much favour. The sage, they thought, should feel himself a citizen of the world at large, and be indifferent to the petty politics of any little State, with all their much ado about the trifles of honours or official rank.” [P. 17]

How relevant to each and every thinking mind! And how true especially for ‘petty politics of Pakistan’s little State, with all its much ado about the trifles of honor or official rank!’

“A theory which identifies the world with God, and believes Him therefore to exist alike in the evil and the good, might be in the long run fatal to intensity of moral purpose, tending as it naturally does to slur over and efface the broad lines of distinction between good and evil which the common sense of humanity has sharply drawn.” [P. 42]

Isn’t it a moral dilemma the mystics have to face, but how they resolve it is interesting to see!

“There was one contemporary figure, the most famous Stoic of the age, the younger Cato, who shows us in a striking form the strength and weakness of the standard by which he ruled his life. No one had more than he the courage to avow his principles and act up to his convictions; in an age of political corruption there was no stain upon his honour; and his moral influence, when once exerted to check the bribery of candidates for office, did more, we are told, than all the laws and penal sanctions which enforced them. In the worst crisis of the revolution, when the spirits of other men were soured, and the party cries grew fiercer, his temper seemed to become gentler, and to forbode the miseries of civil war. Inflexible before, he pleaded for concessions to avert the storm; and when they were refused, he raised his voice still for moderate counsels, and spoke to unwilling ears of the claims of humanity and mercy. He struggled on, while hope remained, fearlessly and consistently in what he thought the cause of right and order; and when at last that cause seemed ruined irretrievably, he calmly prepared to leave the scene where he could no longer act with self-respect, talking as he died upon the soul's immortal hopes, and the freedom which the wise man only can enjoy.” [PP. 73-74]

First, of course, stoicism is a philosophy which tries to answer the crucial question each thinking mind faces, i.e.: how to live, and in that, more than a philosophy, it is a theory of conduct.
Second, let’s see what happens with Pakistan’s Cato of the moment, Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim (Retired); whether he like Cato ‘leaves the scene’ or not! He is facing the same question how to fight for ‘cause of right and order!’ 

“But brighter days came in with Trajan and the Antonines. Freedom of thought and speculative studies were not tolerated only, but encouraged; special privileges were granted to the teachers, some of whom were treated with marked honour, and invited to the court; endowments even were created and salaried professors named, to represent the great historic systems of philosophy. At last Stoicism itself mounted on the throne, and in the person of Marcus Antoninus seemed to realize the high ideal of the king-philosopher which Plato had dreamed of centuries before.” [P. 105]

What impact is produced when a philosophy is espoused and patronized by ruling elites is quite a complex question but a very important one? Not discussed here! This reminds of the periods of the ascendancy of   Mutazilites and Asharites and its consequences when various Muslim rulers patronized the schools.

"As exercise and medicine provide," says Plutarch, "for the body's health and strength, so philosophy alone can cure the weakness or the sickness of the soul. By her help man learns to distinguish the noble from the base, the just from the unjust, the things worthy of our choice from those which we should shun; she teaches him how he ought to act in all the relations of his social life, warning him to fear the gods, honour his parents, respect old age, obey the laws, submit to governors, be loving to his friends, show self-control with womankind, tenderness with children, moderation with his slaves—above all, not to triumph overmuch in prosperous days, or to be cast down in adversity, not to be overmastered by pleasure, or brutalized by passion." [PP. 106-107]

So, it has been (and still is) for the Philosophy to teach men how to live? However, where philosophy did not take root, other ways of thought, not subject to correction or revision, developed, and taught masses at large how to live.

“He (Marcus Antoninus,) gave the Stoic Rusticus the credit of his conversion to philosophy:—"It was he who made me feel how much I needed to reform and train my character. He warned me from the treacherous paths of sophistry, from formal speeches of parade, which aim at nothing higher than applause. Thanks to him I am weaned from rhetoric and poetry, from affected elegance of style, and can write now with simplicity. From him I have learned to concentrate my thoughts on serious study, and not to be surprised into agreeing with all the random utterances of fluent speech." [PP. 108-109]

What matters ultimately is the substance, the real content of thought!

"Let us not wonder that what lies so deep is brought out so slowly. How many animals have become known for the first time in this age! And the members of future generations shall know many of which we are ignorant. Many things are reserved for ages to come, when our memory shall have passed away. The world would be a small thing, indeed, if it did not contain matter of inquiry for all the world. Eleusis reserves something for the second visit of the worshipper. So, too, Nature does not at once disclose all her mysteries. We think ourselves initiated: we are but in the vestibule. The arcana are not thrown open without distinction and without reserve. This age will see some things, that which comes after us others."  (Quote from Seneca) P. 239

Seneca, how patient and resolute he is and he knew that arcana will continue to open ‘without distinction and without reserve,’ and of course without an end!

Taking advantage of this opportunity, let us see: what is Stoicism?

I would limit this to the books I have in my personal library, instead of getting lost in the jungle of the world wide web:

The ethical doctrine which endorses a life of virtue, action in accordance with the rational way of the universe, and endurance in the face of unavoidable difficulties.

[Glossary of Common Philosophical Terms, Masterpieces of World Philosophy in Summary Form, Edited by Frank N. Magill; Harper & Row, Publishers; New York, 1961]

The general trend of Cynic philosophy was carried on by Stoicism, which was founded by Zeno. It is reported that he was a merchant engaged in commerce, but, after having suffered shipwreck, he happened, at Athens, upon Xenophon’s account of Socrates and began the study of philosophy. In time, he established his own school in Stoa Poikile (Painted Porch) at Athens; whence the name “Stoic.”

{As for this view that ‘Stoicism carried on the general trend of the Cynic philosophy,’ Capes also tell: “The Roman satirist Juvenal remarked that the distinction between the Cynics and the Stoics lay only in the coat they wore, . . .” P. 22}

Like Epicurus, Zeno held that ethics is the most important part of philosophy. To gain the good life men must know how to think straight and must understand the universe in which they live. Knowledge is built up inductively by generalizing sense experiences, and because of the similarity of all minds common emotions are derived that are valid for all. As Heraclitus has suggested, human reason is identical in essence with a world reason that pervades the universe and keeps it in order. This is the Divine Reason, or the Logos. Conviction of knowledge comes when a feeling of finality, an irresistible impression, seizes one. The Stoics added to technical logic by discussing the hypothetical form of the syllogism.

Zeno, too, regarded the material world as the real world, but believed it is pervaded by force. Reality is designated by various terms: matter, spirit, reason. All things are animated by a universal Soul. Pantheism is the true doctrine. From the World Soul all finite souls come; and they exist on different levels of perfection, from the human rational down through the animal and vegetable to the simple elements. The universe evolves through cycles, each culminating in a universal conflagration, ending one cycle and beginning the next. No souls are immortal beyond this point.
Human beings are very limited in their freedom, but the causal law of the universe goes through human beings as well as other things. As causal elements themselves, men are so far free and responsible. Man is free to determine his mental attitude toward life and what it brings him. His obligation is to live rationally and accept nature as an orderly expression of World Reason or Providence, submitting without complaint to what it brings. PP: 41-42

[Handbook in the History of Philosophy, by Albert E. Avey, Barnes & Noble, Inc., New York, 1954, Second printing 1955]

Stoics, exponents of a philosophical school that appeared on the basis of Hellenistic culture in the 4th century B.C. under the impact of cosmopolitan and individualistic ideas and technical developments impelled by the expansion of mathematical knowledge. Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus were the most prominent exponents of the school in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. The role of the sciences treated by the Stoics was defined by them as follows: logic is the fence, physics is the fertile soil, and ethics its fruit. The chief task of philosophy concerned ethics; knowledge was no more than a means of acquiring wisdom and skill of living. Life, the Stoics held, had to be lived according to nature. That was the ideal of every wise man. Happiness lay in freedom from emotion, in peace of mind, in imperturbability. Fate preordained everything in life. He who consented was led on by fate; he who resisted was dragged along. The Stoics were materialists in their conception of nature, but their materialism combined with nominalism. In contrast to predicate logic, Stoics created propositional logic as a teaching about transforming simple propositions into complex ones, and used it as a basis for evolving a propositional theory of inference. The Stoics established the varieties of the connection of judgments which modern logic designates as conjunction, disjunction and material implication. Stoics appeared on Roman soil in the first centuries A.D.; they applied themselves to the moral and religious ideas of the stoic school; prominent among them were Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

[Dictionary of Philosophy, Edited by I. Frolov; Progress Publishers, Moscow, First printing 1967; Second revised edition 1984]

Stoics. Movement founded by Zeno of Citium (c.336-c.264 BC; different from Zeno the Eleatic), and named from the porch (‘stoa’) in Athens where he taught. Stoics treated knowledge under three heads: logic, physics, ethics. They developed propositional logic and the theory of implication, and tried to discover a sure mark (‘criterion’) of truth. They developed a thoroughgoing materialism, treating matter as a continuum (as opposed to Epicurean atomism), but added a rather non-material flavour with their pantheism and notions such as the ‘tension’ (‘tonos’) that matter was subject to. In ethics (towhich the later Stoics largely confined themselves) they held determinist views and advocated acceptance of fate, based on self-sufficiency and a realization that ‘virtue’ was the only ultimate value. Leading Stoics include also Chrysippus (c.280-c.206 BC), Posidonius (c.135-c.51 BC), Cicero (106-43 BC), Seneca (c.4 BC-AD 65), Epictetus (c.AD 50-c.138), Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-80).

[Dictionary of Philosophy, A. R. Lacey, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, First published 1976, Second edition 1986]

رواقیہ Rawaqiyah
Stoicism, so named by the Muslim philosophers because the founder of the school of Stoicism, Zeno (Zainun, as distinguished from Zainun al-Akbar) used to teach in a rawaq, i.e. in Stoa Poecile or a Painted Porch at Athens. According to the Stoics, virtue alone is good while there are no degrees of moral goodness: it is all or nothing. One ought to have a full control of one’s passions and desires by becoming completely indifferent to pain and pleasure; for, thus, alone could one attain to the life of virtue. The Stoics enlarged the area of moral responsibility from the confines of a City-State to include all human beings. Everyone is a citizen of one and the same State, i.e. the State of Humanity. All men are of same blood, of one family and so each should treat everyone else as “sacred beings.” In their view of the universe they inculcated a kind of pantheism. The Muslim philosophers welcomed their humanitarian and cosmopolitanism, and also keenly studied their theory of knowledge and logic.

[A Dictionary of Muslim Philosophy, Professor M. Saeed Sheikh, Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore, 1970]
رواقی مدرسۂ فکر
ایک فلسفیانہ مدرسۂ فکر جو سائپرس (قبرس) کے شہر ’’سی ٹیم‘‘ سے تعلق رکھنے والے مفکر زینو (۳۵۰ـ قبل مسیح) سے منسوب ہے۔ اس کے مطابق خودکشی جائز ہے اور ۲۰۶ ق م میں اس نے خود کشی کی۔ ایک خیال کے مطابق رواقیت محض ایک مدرسۂ فکر ہی نہیں بلکہ ایک زمانہ میں مذہب کی حیثیت اختیار کر گیا۔ اس کے مطابق ہستی اولیٰ کی جستجو دراصل مقصدِ آخریں کی تلاش ہے جو زندگی کے لیے باعثِ فیض ہے۔ حکمت یا فضیلت ہمارے اعمال کی غایت ہے۔ سب سے اعلیٰ نیکی راست روی اور عقل کی روشنی میں عمل کرنا ہے۔

[کشافِ اصطلاحات فلسفہ (اردوـانگریزی)، ڈاکٹر عبدالقادر قاضی، شعبہ تصنیف و تالیف و ترجمہ، کراچی یونیورسٹی، کراچی، ۱۹۹۴]

By sharing the ideas of the Stoics, I want to invite your attention to the view that it is the Moral Question which is the most crucial question for human beings, and we must face it:

How to live morally and rationally in the present Pakistan?

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Qadren - Aur Jatt Da Vaer

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Karachi - not a political problem!

Is it for the Supreme Court to see what's happening to the citizens in Balochistan and Karachi?

Or there is none to heed? It seems so!

I think Nero was a far better person than the present federal and provincial rulers. At least, he had a knack for playing fiddle; whereas the present ruling party and its allies and the state machinery under them are interested only in making sure they remain in the government and continue robbing the citizens' tax money.

They do not care a dime for the security of citizens' life and property; let these cockroaches be robbed and die. Especially, in Karachi man-slaughtering has the semblance of a political game.

But the solution to this problem is not a political one; it is administrative! Until and unless it is treated as an administrative issue, there is going to be no improvement in the law and order situation in Karachi.

Karachi – not a political problem!

The latest cliché is: Karachi is a political problem!

Explanations vary. Some say it cannot be solved only by resorting to force; some assert that even if you call Army, in the end it will require political resolution. Or any such views in various wordings abound.

From army, rangers, police, to TV talk show hosts, their guests; from politicians, representatives of civil society, personalities from the elite classes, to op-ed writers, columnists, news-analysts, - all are parroting the same refrain: Karachi is a political problem and all the stakeholders should sit together and resolve it.

The writer thinks otherwise: Karachi is not a political problem, though no doubt it's a problem which has both been created and complicated by the politicians and political parties. In his view, Karachi is an administrative problem. In fact, Karachi is a problem of law and order; a problem emerged due to the lack of the rule of law and supremacy of the law. It's a problem of absence of an efficient system of dispensation of justice. In the last analysis, it's a problem of securing the fundamental rights to the citizens of Karachi.

Instead, the political parties put all these vital issues on the back burner.  They relegated them, but to promote their own heinous political gains and played havoc with the lives and properties of the citizens of Karachi. It was they who gave rise to and strengthened the criminal politics in Karachi. That's why they are not the stakeholders (how could criminals be the stakeholders?), the citizens of Karachi are the real stakeholders.  

Also, both the federal and provincial governments are accomplice in this game. They did not meet their administrative and constitutional responsibilities in Karachi. They miserably failed in protecting the citizens' lives and properties there.

It was back in 1954 that Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M. R. Kayani, while concluding their Report of Inquiry into the 1953 Punjab Disturbances, wrote (it's the last para and last words of the Report):

“And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends – then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.” (Justice Munir Inquiry Report 1954, P. 387)

So, the disease afflicting Pakistan is not new. It's age-old; sort of a disease Pakistan was born with. It is this same disease that divided Pakistan into two, and has begotten "Karachi" of today.

The treatment of the disease was/is very simple, but till now it has not been taken recourse to. It lies in having independent institutions, not working under the will of the politicians and political parties, but taking their 'elan vital' from the laws and the constitution of the country. First and foremost, courts and police must be independent, so that political parties are not able to induct their cronies, agents, and touts in them – the ones who draw their salaries from the tax money of the citizens, but work to protect the dirty games of their masters.

The problem of Karachi is an administrative one, and needs to be dealt with according to the demands of maintaining law and order, and there must not be any political interference, and shadow of political considerations either while these institutions play their role. The law must take its course in Karachi, no matter which political party is in power. That's the way to resolve the Karachi's administrative problem.

[This article was completed on September 10, 2011.]

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taareekh Aur Nazriya-e-Saazish

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Universality of “Conspiracy Theories” in Pakistan

The street intellect as a rule and the scholarly intellect generally live and thrive on the staple food of Conspiracy Theories in Pakistan.

Nothing is so acceptable and universal here as the occurrence of conspiracy theories. Be they daily incidents, or the historical events of national or international significance, they all originate, it is understood, from the womb of certain eternal conspirators, the selection of which depends on the nature of the event to be explained. Descartes ought to be jealous of this Certitude!

Likewise, be it academia or any think tank (an animal so rare in Pakistan!), or an intellectual, literary, economic, historical, religious, political organization, or any such thing, or the all-powerful entity of the state and government of Pakistan (powerful versus the ordinary citizens only!), they all solve and resolve the problem of explaining all the happenings by taking recourse to this or that conspiracy theory or conspirator.

Almost all the intellectual minds in Pakistan, from top to bottom, now and then, use a ready-made list of conspirators to explain away the events, be they as simple as a usual rain or be they as complex as the case of present Bablochistan is.

They start with a conspiratorial premise, and usually go for all that hard labor known as research or data collection and analysis, but then end up with begging the question. In short, they do not seem to mind the evidence or data conflicting with their conclusions, and the irrationality of their inferences also. That is nature of almost all the scholarship in Pakistan!

The list includes a variety of enemies, ranging from concrete and abstract to manufactured and fancied ones; and is used as the situation requires and ‘as the case may be.’

Here are some “enemies” from this handy list:

* West

* Westernism

* Western Civilization

* Western Philosophy

* Western Literature

* Western Sciences

* Western Dress

* Western Technology

* Every New Gadget

* Modernism

* Imperialism

* British Imperialism

* Colonialism

* British Colonialism

* Neo-Colonialism

* American Imperialism

* American Neo-Colonialism

* Expansionism

* American Expansionism

* Russian Expansionism

* Indian Expansionism

* Chinese Expansionism


* Soviet Union

* Communism

* Socialism

* India

* Jews

* Israel

* Europe

* WTO (World Trade Organization)

* UN (United Nations)

* The World Bank

* IMF (International Monetary Fund)

* ADB (Asian Development Bank)

* Big Business

* MNCs (Multi-National Corporations)

* TNCs (Trans-National Corporations)

* Capitalism

* Capitalists

* Consumerism

* Foreign Hand

* Holly wood

* Bollywood

* Feudalism


* NGOs

* Women

The target of these conspiracy theories and conspirators are those helpless beings who think themselves as the Eternal Victim.

Let me define the mentality of victimhood: a victim is one who earnestly considers himself a victim of countless victimizations for this or that or for any reason.

The psyche and psychology of this victimhood is quite complicated; and again all such subjects or disciplines are studied in the West by the Jews or Americans or Europeans. That strengthens the sense of victimhood in the victims, and makes them Charismatic also.

These victims, they consider themselves perfectly innocent and perfectly passive, the like of which can never be found on the face of this earth. This world, because of its so worldliness, has got nothing to do but to be always engaged in hatching conspiracies to deprive these chosen people of their perfect innocence and perfect passivity so that they become like the other ordinary human beings who populate this earth.

This scheme is so perfect a scheme of things that it presents them with no problems, such problems which require hard thinking and hard labor to be solved, since all the problems always stand solved well before they arise. What is to be bothered about is the simplest act of encircling the relevant “enemy” out of the list! Here is happening A, and behind it is the foreign hand, or any other nomenclature which will work.

That works wonder in Pakistan!

Also, I think it is this methodology and this approach generally which never lets us strive to find the Truth.

For the same reason, most of the “commissions of inquiries” never reach any credible conclusions or findings, and never the Truth comes to the fore in Pakistan. The latest example is the Abbottabad Commission, whose findings as reported in the press no one is going to believe.  

Actually, in each case the abundance of conspiracy theories and conspirators distorts the horizon so much s that the Truth is lost.

Also, in Pakistan, the Truth is always concocted or manufactured, or manipulated and injured. It never appears in a crystal clear form!

Or more truly, no attempt at reaching such a truth finds its way to the realm of seeking and learning.

Let’s come to the point:

Recently I participated in two events and my above-stated apprehensions got a boost.

On October 12, I attended a gathering organized by Pakistan Writers Club in Lahore, where “Pakistan Kaesay Bana” (How Pakistan came into being) in two volumes, written by Zahid Chaoudhry and Hassan Jafar Zaidi, was to be reviewed and discussed.

For details of these books, see the website: www.tehqeeq.org 

First Hussain Majrooh read a review of the book. Majrooh is basically a poet, and the language he used to review a book of history was mostly literary. Then he gave a talk detailing the issues dealt with in the books.

One important point he made: These books have been written in a scientific and objective manner; and in the same breath he said: The writers hold a progressive point of view and have analyzed the historical data using the methodology of historical materialism.

How these two views, scientific and objective on the one hand, and progressive and materialist on the other, reconcile is difficult to understand.

This reminds me of Frederick Engels’ book, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. The reviewer might be using the term, “scientific” in the sense Engels’ uses.

I think the reviewer did not do justice to the book. He should have given due attention to the methodology the authors have used in analyzing the data and formulating their findings.

Later, Rashid Misbah, Khalid Mahboob, and one of the authors, Hassan Jafar Zaidi himself spoke. They all and especially the author explained the same methodology and there was consensus that the sub-continent was partitioned by the British to serve their agenda, and along with them, it were the Hindus, or the Congress, who or which helped the British execute this conspiracy or let the partition take place, --- since the same was in their interest.

On October 16, there was another event organized by the Progressive Writers Association, where tributes were paid to late Hameed Akhtar, a prominent figure of the original Anjuman-e-Taraqqi Pasand Musannifeen (Progressive Writers Association), and colleague of Sajjad Zaheer, one of the founders of the Anjuman.

I reached late, and the proceedings were already in progress. Rashid Misbah, a short-story writer, was expressing his views laden with Socialist jargon and typically against Feudalism, Capitalism, and Multi-National Corporations, and Consumerism, etc. Then other speakers shared their views about the life and work of Hameed Akhtar. Then Professor Saadat Saeed, took the rostrum. He talked about the oppressors and the oppressed; about the victimization and exploitation of the masses at the hands of capitalists, imperialists, etc. His punch line, in my opinion, was like this: The oppressors and exploiters are defrauding the people, and now they have amassed misappropriated wealth in the form of merely a plastic card. By it, he meant, Credit Card.

Unfortunately, I had to leave, and I left.

So this is how history is being written, read, understood and discussed in Pakistan. Even if there is enough historical research accomplished, as is said about the above-mentioned book (and other 10 books in this series), the result is the same.

Let me confess: I have yet to read Hassan Jafar Zaidi’s book; that’s why I abstained from expressing my own views specifically about this book. But what I gleaned from the proceedings of the event I have reported here.

As for my approach to history, see two earlier posts on this blog, Hindand Sindh civilizations, and getting religion politicized, and Enterprise ofhistory – I

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

The citizens states produce

The states, or political elites, throughout the world, are successful: they have come to control almost all the aspects of individual citizen’s life in most of the countries.

They control the “creation and cultivation” of human beings!

They do this:

1. By capturing the state and its institutions; 

2. By establishing ministries of information and communication (and things like that);

3. By controlling education, especially by deciding what is to be taught in schools, colleges, universities, and other educational entities;

4. By establishing public sector education;

5. By regulating private sector education;

6. By controlling print and electronic media;

7. By setting up their own print and electronic media entities;

8. By regulating print and electronic media;

9. By setting up their own news agencies;

10. By inserting intellectual and ideological strictures in their constitutions;

11. By instituting plethora of such laws, rules and regulations which reduce the day to day life of the individual citizens to a Sisyphean routine of meaninglessness;   

12. By designing such state machinery which is the greatest exploiter and the blood-sucker of the ordinary citizens and the like of which human history has never witnessed;

13. By prepossessing this or that intellectual, cultural, literary, artistic heritage;

14. By establishing cultural, linguistic, literary, and such institutions and academies;

15. By not endowing such institutions, academies, and entities with autonomous status;

16. By running a continuous stream of insidious propaganda against this or that imagined enemy and fanning militarism against it;

17. By sanctifying patriotism, nationalism, localism, tribalism – while qualifying these ephemeral enclosures with transient political boundaries;

18. By politicizing religions and beliefs of their citizens;

19. By erecting groups and organizations to serve their hidden or open agendas;

20. By strengthening these and such entities to fight other views, trends, and philosophies;

21. By following agendas of such and other un-democratic groups and organizations;

22. By belittling, harassing, besieging, subjugating and subduing the individual citizens;

Last but not least:

23. By denying individual citizens their innate freedom and fundamental rights.

By doing all this, the states, or political elites try to produce the type of citizens who suit them, their agenda and their interests. And, to a larger extent, they have succeeded.

They are producing mindless citizens, intellectual robots, and political toys.

Additionally, they have succeeded in producing a new class of citizens; call them: Pro-Elite individuals. (For details, see my Urdu book: The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan) In Urdu, I have termed this class as Ashrafiya-nawaz, meaning Pro-Aristocracy, or Pro-Elite.

They are the born supporters of the State Aristocracy. They spend their whole life aping the ways of the elites, and the greatest achievement of their life is to reach the peripheries of the state power and taste it and they know well for this to happen they need to follow slavishly in the footsteps of the State Aristocracy.

In short, their burning desire is to be like the Master, the Indifferent Ruler; an avatar of the Elite.

So the states which aim at producing such citizens deny any personal freedom to their citizens. And almost all of the states indulge in such “creation and cultivation of citizens.”

On the one hand, the states which bestow their citizens comparatively a greater degree of personal freedom are on the path to gaining total control of their citizens’ lives on this or that pretext.

On the other, those which used to exercise “total quality control” over their citizens are under ever increasing pressure to loosen the noose.

A real dilemma, on both sides!

Here is an instance, the latest one, from China about the quality of citizens such states produce:

Beijing - man beaten for driving Japanese car files suit

The lawyer for Li Jianli, who was badly beaten in Xi’an for driving a Japanese-made car during anti-Japan protests in China last month, said on Friday that Mr. Li had decided to file a lawsuit against the local police on grounds of “serious negligence.”

In the complaint submitted to the Lianhu district court, Mr. Li accused the police of failing to respond quickly and effectively to the violence during the protests. He is seeking compensation of 500, 000 renminbi, or about $80, 000 from the police to recover his medical expenses and property damage costs. Mr. Li suffered a smashed skull and is slowly recovering.

Mr. Li’s attacker, Cai Yang, is also believed to have sustained head injury, which he may have received when Mr. Li in trying to protect his car against the mob, threw a brick into the crowd, according to a report in the newspaper Southern Weekend. Mr. Cai has been arrested and is awaiting trial.

[International Herald Tribune, Pakistan Print Edition, October 13-14, 2012]

Finally, let me add:

Two things matter:

1. The state is not an end in-itself; it is an instrument to protect individuals from other individuals and groups of individuals. It is not to be used for any other purpose whatsoever.

2. Individual human being is the ultimate unit of all analyses, and is a value in-itself, an end in-itself, as Kant put it. He ought to be the One for whom and for whose facilitation the whole apparatus of the state machinery exists.

Let us see how many citizens are there where we live who are allowed to enjoy power over their selves and who are free to cultivate themselves, and how many citizens are there which the state and its non-state-actors have produced and cultivated.

In the last analysis, the quality of citizens’ life depends on this indicator.

Of course, the counting may be difficult, almost impossible; and it would be inhuman too.

So let us examine the ways states behave with their citizens, like authoritarian and totalitarian parents, or as protectors of the rights and freedoms, and the life and property of their citizens.

Let us try to confine states to their original protective function!

Hopefully, this may restore individuality and uniqueness to each and every individual life!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ashrafiya Ke Turray

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Riyasati Ashrafiya Ka Pakistan - 1: Wasim Sajjad Ke Sahibzaday Adviser Muqarrar

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Mafia politics

Pakistan is a victim of political parties whose motto is: politics of the mafia, by the mafia, for the mafia!

Every moment and every day the citizens of Pakistan are being inescapably entangled more and more in the tentacles of mafia politicians. Sometimes in the name of Revolution, sometimes in the name of Religion, sometimes in the name of Democracy, sometimes in the name of Enlightened Moderation, or such other traps, these mafia politicians fool and exploit the people. But they never talk of what the Pakistani citizens have desperately been wanting from the day one, and what they really need at the moment also. This is Rule of Law, which was introduced first by the British in the sub-continent. Tragically, though the British are still reviled both by the Left and the Right equally, unfortunately with their departure, the Rule of Law also departed - at least in the sub-continental Pakistan.

Living through the six decades of the so-called independence, Pakistanis are yet to witness the establishment of the Rule of Law in their country. Instead, what exists before their eyes is such a great dust that does not let them see and distinguish clearly crime from politics. Ironically, crime, religion and politics have all compounded into one – and inseparably. Whether it is the case of politicians transforming into criminals, or criminals relaxing into politics, it is certain that politics has already been pervaded through and through by mafias. Or, it has acquired the ways of the mafia!

It’s not that long ago, but only a few years back, that someone wrote to the editor of an English daily: "My generation - one that once lived under British governance - knows what the rule of law meant. What we have today is anarchy. People like me, who are not affiliated with a political party, the bureaucracy, the army or the press, are treated as though we are not even citizens of the state. And yet we are the majority, the teeming, toiling citizens of Pakistan............"

The departure of the Rule of Law with the British benefited all those who do not flourish under rules and laws. Of course, these include criminals, but noticeably the political, religious, military, business, trade, intellectual, media elites. Let me add that as with time the absence of the Rule of Law entrenched, these elites converted into mafias. With time, not only their number increased, their range and scope also expanded. Land mafia, estate mafia, trade union mafia, medical mafia, (and such), are the new additions. There are other waiting in the wings to be enlisted. Sure, this does exclude the real criminal mafia! And last but not least, the corruption mafia, which lives within and without all these mafias - like a super-mafia.

A distinction may be made between two types of mafias existing in Pakistan. The one which cannot do without living and working without being a mafia; and the other, which has to adopt and adapt to the ways of the mafia because in an environment replete with mafias it cannot survive, at this or that level. However, the incidence of both is linked to one symptom: the absence of the Rule of Law. One can enumerate hundreds of small and big, and ever newer crimes, and other unethical practices, that took root and flourished in an environment where no Rule of Law prevailed. More important than all such things is the fact that under such circumstance a new “creature” took birth in Pakistan. It is devoid of any norms, manners, etiquettes, and moral and ethical principles, and regards any rules and laws with extreme arrogance. Its population is fast on the increase under the present favorable circumstances.

Finally, there comes the Supreme Mafia – the state, the government of Pakistan! As other mafias do not like rules and laws since they hinder their growth, likewise, if a government does not like rules and laws, and violates them with utter disregard, it transforms itself into a mafia. Rather, it proves to be a fertile ground for all types of mafias to grow and flourish. Ours governments have been so, and the present one is more so - like a mafia government.

The greatest crime the state and governments in Pakistan have throughout and always been committing is that they did not establish the Rule of Law in the country whereas it was their first and the foremost duty. Still, as regards the present government, it has nowhere on its agenda the establishment of the Rule of Law in Pakistan, let alone on the top of its priorities. Contrarily, it espouses a Policy of Reconciliation which in real terms amounts to a Policy of Reconciliation with the Mafias. In plain words, this means a ‘Policy of Live and Let Live’ – which translates into a policy of no wrangling with any mafia!

Is it this what a government stands for? Isn’t it the first and the foremost duty of a government to establish Rule of Law? Isn’t it the Rule of Law that ensures protection of life and property to each and every citizen? Isn’t it the Rule of Law that secures personal freedom and justice to each and every citizen? The citizens of Pakistan have never tasted such a government whose top priority had or has been to establish the Rule of Law. Nor the present government has had such an agenda.

So far as the manifestoes or programs of all the political, religious or other pseudo-political or religious, parties are concerned, no one talks of (and means) the Rule of Law to be established in Pakistan. No doubt, they should not; this is inimical to their politics and survival. But the question is: for whom these parties exist? Aren’t they there for the benefit of the citizens of Pakistan? Obvious enough, if they consider the benefit of the citizens of Pakistan as their top goal they must put the establishment of the Rule of Law at the top of their political program. Not only that, they should start right now a campaign for the same, and instead of ‘saving democracy,’ ‘calling for Revolution,’ build pressure on the present government to establish the Rule of Law, which may prove their sincerity to the cause of the citizens of the Pakistan!

Also as much important, it is for the citizens to use the notion and value of the Rule of Law as the only yardstick to judge the government and its institutions as well the politics of all the parties, political or religious. The value of the Rule of Law is such a touchstone that helps not only weigh the quality of the government but the quality of those parties, or better say mafias, also which aspire to be in the government. So, in order to make Pakistan a country which is not ruled by mafias, but the Laws, every street, every road, every café, every home, every meeting place, every radio and TV channel, every private and public institution, every educational premises, and finally every mind and heart, should echo but with one Slogan: We want Rule of Law! First and foremost, the Rule of Law!

[This article was completed on January 31, 2011, and was carried by various newspapers in Pakistan.]

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halwaee Ki Dukan Ya Pakistan

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bloggers’ status in Pakistan

On October 12, a letter appeared in The Frontier Post.

Here is its text:

Hurdles of Pakistani bloggers

Why Pakistani bloggers cannot enjoy journalists’ legal privileges? The journalists, media persons, news anchors always enjoy legal privileges and certain immunities across the world as compared to the ordinary citizens of the State. The journalists all over the world are protected under media shield laws that allow journalists not to identify their sources.

However, when it comes to bloggers who are also regarded as Online Columnists, no such exemption, shield body or legal protection is offered to them as afforded to journalists. In this digital age of Internet world, where blogging and Online media have ground their bases, same sort of luxury and exemption must be granted to bloggers as well, so that they could value their worth the same as journalists do. No blogger either from Pakistan or from any nook and corner of the earth enjoys immunity from the law as they are still not considered as the part of media.

To be a pert of the media, it is necessary for the one to get affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, broadcast station or network, news service, news or feature syndicate, wire service or cable television system. Otherwise, one would not be believed as the part of media and cannot enjoy journalists’ legal privileges.

In Pakistan, bloggers are not treated as the media persons and face harsh hurdles if they are found liable over defaming content against a celebrity or an institution.”
[Syed Hassam Ahmed, Karachi]

Let’s first make it clear what the letter tries to say:

1. The letter highlights that the bloggers, the online columnists or journalists, do not enjoy such “shield body or legal protection” otherwise enjoyed by journalists.

2. Also, it argues that “the journalists all over the world are protected under media shield laws that allow journalists not to identify their sources.”

3. It demands that the “same sort of luxury and exemption” be given to bloggers.

4. By saying, “No blogger either from Pakistan or from any nook and corner of the earth enjoys immunity from the law as they are still not considered as the part of media,” the letter implies that the bloggers be given “immunity from the law” which journalists enjoy.

5. In its 3rd paragraph, the letter makes a case for the bloggers to be given status as the online columnists or journalists or media persons, even if they are not affiliated with any media entity which is the case with all the journalists.

6. In the same paragraph it argues that in the absence of this status the bloggers “cannot enjoy journalists’ legal privileges.”

7. The letter also argues that as the bloggers in Pakistan do not enjoy the privileged status media persons enjoy, “so (they) face harsh hurdles if they are found liable over defaming content against a celebrity or an institution.”  

Responding to this letter, I have the following points to make:

1. The letter makes a genuine case for the bloggers to be considered as columnists or journalists or media persons in their own right.

In the first place, I think the bloggers, through their blogs, should be able to earn such a status.
I know one such example:

In September 2010, David Farrar, a blogger, was one of the 3 speakers on “Getting the message out” – I too spoke there on the same topic. The event was Pacific Rim Policy Exchange in Sydney. See some important features from his bio:

‘David Farrar is the owner and editor of Kiwiblog, New Zealand's most widely read blog. Kiwiblog averages 500,000 page views a month and has an estimated audience of around 80,000 readers. In seven years Farrar has made 17,500 posts, attracting over 600,000 comments. David is also a regular commentator on radio, in print and on television. In 2009, the New Zealand Listener ranked David 4th place on their annual media power list. He also maintains a separate polling blog whose weighted average of the public polls was found to be a more accurate predictor of the 2008 election outcome than any of the individual polling companies. As the importance of social media increases, David has found himself a regular speaker to business, legal, and industry groups on the use of social media.’

No doubt this is an extreme case; but it brings home certain points, such as blogging may earn a special status to a blogger, and he should try his luck and talent instead of earning that status via privileges bestowed by governments.

2. In the 2nd place, there needs to be developed certain procedure which would accredit bloggers to be a registered as bloggers enjoying certain professional privileges with due responsibility. Also, I will suggest this accreditation agency should strictly be a private entity.

3. The letter talks of several “privileges, immunities, shield laws” media persons in Pakistan enjoy. This is an undeniable fact. The media persons in Pakistan enjoy many privileges, legal or not legal; more than that, media persons in Pakistan do have a nuisance value which has increased with the emergence of private TV and Radio channels.

4. But in no way it means that journalists or media persons should enjoy such privileges which include favors and payments from state and governments in the form of grants to their associations, clubs, etc, or housing schemes meant for them, or any such things.

5. That media persons should not be forced to reveal source / sources of their information is more of an ethical question. It’s part of the professional ethics of media persons more than the laws prevailing in a country.  

6. Of course, that’s just absurd that journalists or bloggers be given immunity from laws of the land, if the letter truly means that. Be he a journalist or a blogger, he should be held responsible for the information and opinions he shares with his readers. Likewise, no journalist or blogger can be considered privileged enough to enjoy immunity in cases of libel and defamation, as the letter seems to be implying and demanding.

7. It is interesting to see through the lens of the contents of this letter that how media persons or journalists practically operate in Pakistan and how the letter demands all those privileges (“legal privileges, immunities, media shield laws, exemption, shield body, legal protection, luxury”) for the bloggers also.

8. Lastly, the letter made a good point for the bloggers to be considered as journalists or media persons, but it confused it with all those “luxuries” it finds journalists enjoying in Pakistan.

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.