Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kya Peoples Party Benazir Bhutto Ke Qatilon Ko Pakray Gi?

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“Pakistan’s Democratic Impasse - Analysis and the Way Forward”

Alternate Solutions Institute released my latest paper, Pakistan's Democratic Impasse - Analysis and the Way Forward, today (December 29).

Copied below is the text of the Media Release:

New paper - “Pakistan’s Democratic Impasse” published

The paper indicts politicians as the main culprit for failing the state of Pakistan

The paper falsifies the myth of blaming the Pakistan Army for the ills Pakistanis facing

Author argues constitution authorizes politicians to rule, not the Army

Lahore December 29, 2012: Alternate Solutions Institute released today Dr. Khalil Ahmad's latest paper, Pakistan’s Democratic Impasse – Analysis and the Way Forward. Already this year, he has published two books, "Pakistan Mein Riyasti Ashrafiya Ka Urooj" (The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan, February 2012), and “Siyasi Partian Ya Siyasi Bandobast: Pakistani Siyasat Ke Pech-o-Khum Ka Falsafiyani Muhakma” (Political Parties Or Political Arrangements: Philosophical Critique of Pakistani Politics, July 2012).

The paper elaborates the above-stated position which the author took in both of his books and in a number of articles already published in newspapers and on his blog ( He holds that after so many stumbles through the 65 years of its existence, Pakistan has finally come to be: a government of the criminals, by the criminals, for the criminals. He singles out politicians as the main and the lone culprit for failing the citizens of Pakistan.

The author says his paper derives its rationale and insight from a reading of the constitution of Pakistan which considers the fundamental rights and the articles protecting these rights and freedoms as the core value of the constitution. His paper looks beyond those articles and books, or that specific approach, which analyze the democratic failure of Pakistan in a historical, sociological, economic, or political perspective only or in a way combining them all, and tries to see the history, sociology, economics and politics of Pakistan with an eye focused on the scheme of things the constitution of the country put in place to run the state of Pakistan.

Also, the author has tried to see the past, present and future role of politicians or political parties and Pakistan Army through the lens of the constitution, and thus his standpoint which is unprecedented and goes against the prevailing wisdom of putting the responsibility for the failure democratizing the society of Pakistan wholly and solely on the shoulders of Pakistan Army, may seem pleading the innocence of those Generals who imposed Martial Laws and disfigured the constitution; however, this paper in addition to castigating the anti-constitutional acts of the Generals of the Pakistan Army holds that it is the inherent inability of the political civilian governments which did not prosecute and punish them, and in that sense vehemently censures that approach of absolving the politicians totally as unconstitutional and derisive to the constitutional manner of bringing order in a society.

The author concludes that this paper not only sees bits of an already delayed indictment of the Pakistani politicians, but an opportunity also to conduct, on the basis of the same paper, a thorough political audit of the performance of the political leaders and the political parties as the sole culprit who misled the political evolution of Pakistan, and constantly breached the trust of the citizens of Pakistan, as a result of which people of Pakistan were deadlocked into an impasse with no way out or forward to live their life as they wish but to live in servitude to the politicians.

In addition to suggesting ways to overcome this impasse, the author says that by putting all the burden of failures on politicians, constitutionalism and civilian supremacy in Pakistan may be strengthened, and this in due course will bring rule of law as an established norm in the country, and will bring a political culture never ready to tolerate any unconstitutional acts of any actors and flouters of the law of the land, and thus will ultimately help prepare ground not only for a decriminalized democratic polity but for democratic culture and values also to take root and flourish, overcoming the Pakistan’s chronic democratic impasse.

The author of the book, Dr. Khalil Ahmad, has been teaching Philosophy, and presently is mainly devoted to Political Philosophy. He is one of the founders of the Alternate Solutions Institute, a think tank dedicated to the strengthening of fundamental rights and rule of law in Pakistan. His most important works are "Pakistan Mein Riyasti Ashrafiya Ka Urooj" (The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan), and "Charter of Liberty.”

The paper may be downloaded from the website of the Institute: 
For more information, contact the Institute at: Email:

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Darbaari Media, Darbaari Experts

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shah Kharchiyan Aur Mandate Ka Matlab

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Politics at the cost of taxpayers' money!

Most of the English and Urdu newspapers of today (December 27), published the following full page advertisement on behalf of "Chief Minister Sindh and All Cabinet Memebrs, Information Department, Government of Sindh." Also, there are other smaller-size advertisements in almost all of the newspapers sponsored by various government departments.

See this full page ad copied from The News:

I checked online editions of The News, Dawn, The Express Tribune, Business Recorder, The Nation, Pakistan Observer, and Urdu dailies, Express, Dunya, Nawa-i-Waqt; they all contain the full page ad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What’s hiding behind this Advertisement?

In The News of December 24, on page 5 there published an Advertisement. Here it is:

What does that Ad mean?

How come that suddenly 8816 posts emerge vacant in various organizations working under the Ministry of Interior!

What does this Ad as a whole amount to? 

On December 25, The News published Ansar Abbasi’s story, Desperate rush to recruit thousands en masse. This story reveals what may have prompted the publishing of that Ad!

Here is the link to this story:

In The News of December 26 published another story by Ansar Abbasi on the same issue. Here is the link:  

The same advertisement appeared in an Urdu daily, Express, on December 27. Here it is:

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Puranay Kaalum - Aik Eff Aai Aar Ki Qeemat

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

State Aristocracy’s Pakistan – 5: Justice for the elite class

The News in its print edition on December 23 reported the following:

Bakery boy absolves CM’s relative, cops of torture

LAHORE: A judicial magistrate of cantonment courts on Saturday adjourned the hearing by January 9 of a case against Ali Imran Yousaf, son-in-law of the Punjab chief minister, eight others including seven officials of Elite Force. 

On Saturday, the court recorded the statement of complainant Irfan who said that neither the CM’s son-in-law nor elite force officials had tortured him. He said he had been tortured by unidentified persons.
After recording the statement, the court adjourned the case until January 9. 

Previously, the court had indicted the CM’s son-in-law and others including Zafar Hussain, said to be the bodyguard of the Punjab chief minister’s son -in-law, and Elite Force officials Riaz, Yousuf, Mohsin, Maqsod, Farid, Nawab and Khalil Ahmed. 

According to the case, an FIR was registered by Umer Hussain, owner of the bakery, stating that on October 7, a woman came to the bakery and asked for a cake but the employees refused to entertain her, saying that the shop was closed for cleaning.

Here is the link to this news:

Pakistan Ke Mujrim - Siyasi Zawiya

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Two Pakistans

Anyone can see that there is not one Pakistan. After more than 60 years the two Pakistans can clearly be demarcated. One is for the ordinary lot of the people, and the second one is for the elite classes. Pay a visit to the ordinary Pakistan, and experience the ordinary life there, have a taste of some basic social services available there, and you will realize how neglected is this ordinary Pakistan of the ordinary people of Pakistan. Likewise almost in every big city, there are two cities, one for the ordinary lot and one for the special elite. All other smaller cities including the vast rural expanse fall under the ordinary Pakistan.

Now roam about some areas of the elite Pakistan such as GORs (Government Officers’ Residences) or Cantonments, and see the difference between these two Pakistans. In a number of cases, these two Pakistans adjoin but never in the quality of services. Leave the ordinary Pakistan and enter the elite Pakistan where you will notice the provision of basic social services with a high standard of quality. It is just unintelligible, for instance in Lahore, why some areas are permanently showered with tax money! Have all other areas in a city, or in the country, already achieved provision of basic social services so the extra funds are available for the chosen elite areas? Not in the least!

Ordinary Pakistan is without water supply, sanitation, public transport, roads, paved streets, street lights, libraries, parks or playgrounds; it is polluted and noisy. Where some of these services are available their standard will be low. Not one single service is provided in this Pakistan with a minimum standard ensured.

Though the ordinary people raise this issue frequently albeit sporadically, showing resentment and anger in the form of violent or non-violent protests, to this day there is no thinking or doing in government to resolve the issue.

The March 18-19 violence in Barakahu and other areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi against the transport fares hike attests to this, as in Lahore in recent months. Also regarding this affair, quite arrogant and apathetic attitude of the bureaucracy such as Commissioner of Islamabad, and ruling elite such as that of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, may be noted, which tells of the government’s least concern for the ordinary people’s problems. In fact, public transport almost throughout Pakistan is more than pathetic. The transporters in collusion with transport officials get a fare structure that benefits only them and exploits the commuters. What a pity those who never travel in the public transport and use luxurious transport facilities at the expense of the commuters are empowered to determine the transport fares!

The same is the case with other services. Water supply and sanitation are symptomatic examples, while park and playgrounds just do not exist in the ordinary Pakistan. As for pollution and noise, this Pakistan is a dirty and noisy hell.

That lends support to the already well-demonstrated theory that Pakistan is an elitist state expropriating public tax money to build another Pakistan within Pakistan. This elitist Pakistan must be dismantled and resources be equally spent to provide the basic social services to all the citizens of Pakistan wherever they live. This may be achieved in the following manner:

First, by an amendment it must be provided in the constitution of the country that provision of above-mentioned social services will be ensured indiscriminately to all the citizens wherever they live in Pakistan.

Second, in this regard, with the consultation of experts a minimum standard of these social services be set down and made part of the amendment.

Third, the constitution should also make the federal government in conjunction with provincial and local governments responsible for making sure that all these services with the fixed minimum standard are provided to all the citizens of Pakistan regardless of the area where they live within Pakistan.

Fourth, as the delivery of services provided by the state, i.e. federal, provincial or local governments, is already plagued with inefficiency and corruption, it must distinctly be stated in the proposed amendments that though government will be responsible for providing these services to all the people throughout Pakistan but this does not authorize it to impose new taxes as well as erect new huge bureaucratic establishments for this purpose. The notion of its responsibility amounts to a supervisory role of its already existing agencies. To provide these services, it may resort to new ways such as public-private partnership, privatized delivery of services. This aims at restricting the size of government especially in financial terms.

To accomplish this, there already exist various government agencies. They need to be converting into working in partnership with private providers without any political interference. This will help wind up the present practice of providing funds to the members of national and provincial assemblies, and will change altogether the election scenario which then may be contested on really important issues than providing this or that social service. But it is for the people, especially for the think-tanks and NGOs, and no doubt for media also, that the big issue for the next election should be the provision of these basic social services to all the citizens in Pakistan not only ensured in the constitution but binding on the next government also. If achieved, that will be a great step forward towards the unification of the ordinary and elite Pakistans.

Is there any political party ready to take up this at the top of its agenda?  

[This article was completed on March 19, 2010.]

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pakistan Ke Mujrim

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Privatize Gas Fields or Nationalize the CNG Stations!

Ordinary Pakistanis are in the jaws of another government-created crisis: they are facing shortage of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in their homes as well as in their vehicles. The other side of the coin is the industrial sector suffering a lot due to the shortage and limited supply of the CNG.

Years back caught in a fever of Greenism and making policies with no insight into the future, the government promoted CNG. When everything has gone Green, it was revealed that there was no more CNG to feed those who shifted to the use of CNG. Rationing started, and another venue for huge corruption opened. It is in addition to the bucks OGRA (Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources are making.

In many a city, for most of the time factories are closed, and there are strikes by unemployed factory workers. And there are long queues of vehicles at the CNG Stations, and the time it takes to get the CNG may increase 3 to 4 or more hours. Trapped in its own doing, the government linked the CNG price to the price of petrol, costlier than the CNG.

Somehow, the case landed in the Supreme Court, and it came out that the CNG stations were in collusion with the OGRA, and were earning a commission of more than Rs.30 per kilogram of CNG. It was outrageous, and a proof that how regulatory bodies are criminally involved in selling out the interests of the ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

The government has to slash the CNG price, and the CNG stations earning exorbitant profits closed the stations, and went on strike.

In the midst of this, I was thinking of writing a piece advocating the privatization of domestic Gas Fields so that private sector is able to allocate the CNG resource efficiently and market forces respond to it accordingly. And, as for the role of the government, it is not clear how it is to allocate the limited supply of the CNG to this or that sector on the basis of this or that wisdom, and no doubt that opens the floodgates for corruption. However, a justified role for the government is to regulate this sector to protect the interests of the citizens, and with the understanding that regulation should not amount to stifling of the sector.

However, the Communist Party of Pakistan took lead and started a campaign exhorting the government to nationalize the CNG stations. A rally to demand the same was organized in Rawalpindi on December 16.  Also, the CPP filed a petition in the Supreme Court praying to issue an order to nationalize the 4,125 or so CNG station across the country. Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik, Central Chairman Communist Party of Pakistan, in his plea stated that ‘the solution of common man’s problem is in socialism, not in democracy.”

Here is a poster announcing the same demand:

The way Communist Party of Pakistan is seeing the problems facing ordinary Pakistani citizens, and the way it is acting to resolve them, the day is not far away when it will ask for nationalizing even the petrol filling stations, shops, street vendors and what not!

Wishing the Communist Party of Pakistan and the communists of Pakistan best of luck!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hukoomat Maila

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Monday, December 17, 2012

State Aristocracy's Pakistan – 4: PM appoints son-in-law as ED World Bank

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf by, using his discretionary powers, has appointed his son-in-law, Raja Azeemul Haq to the prestigious post of Executive Director of the World Bank Washington.  The decision was taken despite resistance shown by Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who tried to convince the Premier to change his decision, and told him that his son-in-law is “junior” for such an important position.

The Economic Affairs Division, the department which was asked to formally move the summary by the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Ayub Qazi, also opposed the move. The department suggested that a head-hunting committee or selection board should be formed under the Establishment Division to select a suitable candidate.

Raja Azeem is currently serving in the PM Secretariat as the Additional Secretary on a grade 21 post, a position that a civil servant usually gets after serving for two to three decades. Until a few years back, the PM’s son-in-law was serving in grade-18 post in the Income Tax Group, he was first inducted in the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution in BPS-20, and then soon after his father-in-law’s elevation as the Prime Minister, he too  was posted in the PM Secretariat and promoted to BPS-21 .

The post is highly lucrative and the Executive Director gets a annual salary of $220, 000 (roughly Rs.21 million) with other perks and privileges, and is appointed for a period of 3 years. Currently, Javed Talat, a former career bureaucrat, is serving as the ED.

[See the print editions of The News and The Express Tribune, December 15, 2012.]

Link to The Express Tribune:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Saqaafati Ijaradaari

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Media and the Political Princelings

It is strange, rather outrageous that the same media, which is truly active and activist, as regards many a genuine issue, and in certain cases quite imbued with a fighting spirit, is all set to advance the cause of new young leaders of the political elite classes.

Ah, the senior and experienced media men, the editors, reporters, op-ed writers, and those who are known as political analysts, (and the established newspapers and TV channels), they are all avidly promoting the Political Princelings. Such as: Bilawal Zardari, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Moonis Elahi, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Fizza Gilani, Aseefa Zardari, and all the progeny of political royalty of Pakistan.

How unfortunate for this nation!

In an older piece of writing, euphemistically titled as "Not an elitist media," I tried to focus on this elitist role of Pakistani media. Here it is:

Not an elitist media!

If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it.
[Art Buchwald]

With the advent of electronic media and its proliferation, the war against the all powerful elite classes has acquired a new dimension in Pakistan. As the force and both reach and range of TV channels has no parallel in the history of communication technology, now the previously all important print media occupies a backseat or just follows suit. But of course it has its own uncontested place.

A momentous turn in the history of the media both electronic and print in Pakistan is the rule of law movement. No doubt, through the thick and thin of this movement it was proved that in the war against the elite classes, media especially electronic media can play a frontal role. It must be mentioned here that electronic and print media both reciprocate their influence on the formation of public opinion. Prior to that, media was considered an integral part of the elitist alliance. No doubt, it was so!

Just one evidence: in January 2006, a letter to the editor of a national English daily desperately painted the state of no rule of law in Pakistan in the following words:

“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.”
[Shaukat Ali]

Now when the rule of law movement, by getting the deposed judges restored, has won its first strategic battle (the second strategic battle victory is the 31st July Judgment of the Supreme Court), a pertinent question that needs to be raised is: whether media is still part of this movement, and if yes, does it meet the ‘etiquette’ to be part of this movement such as, and most importantly, its unconditional loyalty to the constitution of Pakistan, to rule of law, to fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan enshrined in the same constitution, and, again most importantly, its resolve not to serve the interests of and promote the agenda of the elite classes of Pakistan. In addition, it must also be asked, whether media while enjoying freedom behaves responsibly or not. That is the thrust of this article.

Before entering this ‘hazardous’ domain, let the writer admit that following observations are based on his almost regular reading of the online and print editions of the English language newspapers, off and on viewing of news, analyses, talk shows on various TV channels, and discussions on the related topics with a number of acquaintances from a variety of walks of life. His two and half years’ experience of working with PTV helps him see through the TV set screen and guess what’s happening (meaning the ‘politics’) behind it in the studio and offices of the TV channel whose program he happens to watch. Also, the writer will confine himself only to the op-ed pages of the newspapers, and news, analyses, and talk shows of the TV channels, leaving the quality of news coverage in both cases to be examined at some other occasion.

As far as English newspaper op-ed pages (it may be noted here that sometimes such opinion articles are placed on other pages too) and TV channel analyses and talk shows are concerned, the writer has come to view the editors and producer / hosts of almost all of them in awe of retired bureaucrats, generals, admirals, air marshals, brigadiers, retired ambassadors, retired ministers, and retired planners (meaning retired from government’s planning agencies). In some cases but not so often, they may be from a serving lot.

Another group that seems to occupy these pages and sometimes the talk shows also belongs to the foreign seats of learning or is foreign qualified. Maybe it is too much of saying it in this manner but probably it is so that if someone sends his article to a newspaper stating at the end that the writer studies or teaches at this or that university of US or UK, probably it will get placed. Let’s not compare it with any article sent by someone studying or teaching at a local university since we have no two or three such reputable universities in Pakistan; however, it is to be admitted that sometimes such articles do publish.

Under another unique category fall those names which do not appear regularly or frequently on these pages or on the screens. They seem to be provoked by a certain issue or come to the fore only to clarify or defend the position of a government VIP, or a leader; e.g. a name that publishes mostly only on those articles which aim at rescuing the position of President Asif Ali Zardari. Included in this category are those also who seem to be regularly employed for the job. This does exclude the regular columnists; probably they are the ones who are in demand of this or that large group of readers. But sure not all the regular columnists or hosts / guests sell like hot dogs. Most remain un-demanded, un-sold, un-watched, but publish and appear regularly.

Likewise, sometimes kith and kin of government VIPs write something and it publishes, such as a recent piece by the Prime Minister’s (Yousuf  Raza Gilani) daughter. Or when President Asif Ali Zardari’s name appears on a piece of writing, but regrettably he writes only for the foreign newspapers, though it is reproduced in the domestic press also. Ok, it has news value, political weight, and policy implications and must be heard.

The writer does not know how it happens and how all such and other articles get published or talk show hosts and guests appear on the screen: whether they have connections in the newspapers / channels or are friends with the owners, or it is just their name and credentials that make all the difference. Or it is sheer merit that decides the fate of individual writers, individual articles, fate, individual hosts and individual guests. But it does happen and happens repeatedly. Safely, all this combines to get op-ed pages finalized and talk shows aired.

Whatever is the case, the writer is not interested in knowing either how all that good and bad stuff publishes and talk shows aired. It is his considered opinion that it is the sole right and prerogative of the owners and editors of the newspapers and TV channels to place or not to place this or that op-ed article and to bring this or that host or guest up on the screen. He does honor their freedom and believes that media needs but to be self-regulated and not from the outside, and any grievance of any citizen against it should go to their self-regulators and then to the courts for adjudication and relief. At the same time, the writer thinks that it is his right to rate and evaluate what is published on op-ed pages and aired on the TV channels. It may be merit or it is merit alone that would be the top consideration of the editors of the newspapers and producers of the said programs while examining the plethora of writings in their mail boxes and selecting this or that host and this or that guest; however, it is for the avid readers and viewers like the present writer to see how and in which way all that stuff and talk shows consummate, what purpose and what interests they serve, and what agenda they promote.

To assume that all the stuff that publishes in the English newspapers in the form of opinion articles is bad will be totally false, but again to rate it all as good will also be preposterous. Likewise, it is the same with the TV channels’ said programs. Here by good and bad is meant not serving the cause of the elite classes and promoting their agenda. Although, sometimes, there are such remarkable pieces and programs which aim at setting the tone and tenor of the war against the elite classes, but not so often. To experience the source, character, and ethos of the opinion pages of the English newspapers, and the said TV programs, go through and watch them only for a number of weeks, and you will see writers and guests from the elite classes are conspicuous by their predominant majority on these pages and screens. It seems they are the only intellectuals and analysts of the sort in town.

Yeah, in a sense, they are intellectuals a posteriori. Didn’t they first practically serve and promote the agenda of their elite classes and now when they are no more in a position to do the same from a position of official authority, they have transformed into intellectual gurus. Though mostly they do use the language of change and usually write and speak what is not out of sync with the main stream of the new waves of thought, however, isn’t it a fact that yet again they have come to occupy the intellectual space that may eventually have come to the share of those who could by writing in these pages and speaking in these programs make a lot of difference in favor of rule of law, fundamental rights of the citizens of this country, and not the members of the elite only?

Another point that needs to be noted here is that these would-be writers’ and talk show guests’ honesty and integrity is not that much open to be questioned which in case of intellectuals a posteriori is sufficiently justified. They are the idols shunted out of their pantheons! And now they aim at leading the change!? How is that possible?

Although, it may be objected that every op-ed piece and talk show opinion ought to be examined and judged on merit alone, however, the fact is that politics of situation is not too insignificant to be ignored. This politics emanates from newspaper’s editorial and TV channel’s policy (both announced and un-announced), and all important role of various types of pressures, clouts, expediencies, exigencies, urgencies, compromises, consistencies and inconsistencies, the bent of mind and interests of one who has the final say in the op-ed and guests’ selection process, in moulding or shaping or de-shaping the editorial policy and channel’s philosophy. It is this factoring in that makes the special names appear on the op-ed pages and screens. Also, this helps understand the nature of the media in an all powerful state where it has to survive on a priority basis even if it finds itself on the other side of the fence against an unfriendly government.

Now let the writer make some observations especially regarding the electronic media. Though it is still in its infancy and is inclined more towards the state and the elite classes, but in view of these elite classes’ anaconda-like coiling of the state and its resources, it has to go a long way and that too in a shorter time period to meet the challenges it faces. As in the wake of the rule of law movement, its tryst with the truth proved it is fast maturing, it behooves it must utilize its potential to promote the cause of the people and not the elite classes.

As the electronic media is basically a combination of two media, movement and visual (also sound, but in its truest form it requires sound only as one of its aids), its message in no time penetrates to and embeds in the deepest layers of our subliminal perception and it is this unique quality that makes it a leading former / framer of public opinion, not only a former / framer but a dismantler / shatterer of norms, values, assumptions, also, both subservient to the elitist interests and independently moral and universal.

On another side, though electronic media is always beset by urgency of the moment, however, in that daily flux of happenings its purpose and beauty lie in creating a picture with stable images and a lasting message. That means to say, its ever moving camera should not lose its focus. That focus should remain directed on constitutional values, rule of law, freedom of individual, and self-responsibility as the greatest guiding norm. Likewise, another constant pressure under which it has to survive is competition. This should not force it to lose its focus and get lost in trifles of daily politics, events, news, happenings, statements, figures, glamour, and millions of such things.

For a media with such a powerful thrust of message, it is incumbent that it should never compromise on the values of authenticity, reliability, dependability, corrigibility, and responsibility. It should not run after hypes and fashions, and be able to sift through the mountains of news, events and analyses to bring up those not of pseudo-importance but which really make difference and are catalytic in promoting the values of individual freedom and responsibility.

It’s lately that a good many number of letters to editors have started appearing in various newspapers which target the quality of TV channels’ talk shows, their hosts’ knowledgeability, and their guests’ veracity. What a tragedy that so many young newscasters have turned to act as hosts to talk shows, all-round interviewers, and analysts. Obviously they have no credentials at all, but only that they used to read news on the channel. This raises the issue not only of age and experience, but credibility of the dialogue also. Haven’t that race transformed almost all of the news slots, talk shows, political and social analysis programs into events of glamour? It is more than or less than or other than what they purport to be. It is not what it should be. How could one believe and take in earnest what transpires, say, between a host and his or her guests, and an interviewer, like Attiqa Odho, and her interviewee, like General Musharraf,? It is never shown on any TV channel what knowledge and experience of the field such hosts or interviewers have on which the said program focused!

Another common practice on the TV channels is the appearance of the rejected politicians. They, such as Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, come to the screen or are invited to so frequently that one is forced to start believing either they are the pillars of Pakistani politics and no political event or statement of any politician should go un-responded to by them, or then it’s all the miracles of the Press Advice or the Mammon that such politicians of doubtful allegiance keep on floating on the TV screens. That’s same as is the case with the op-ed pages, it needs not repeating the words already expressed above. It’s the TV channel owners’ and their program producers’ or directors’ right to bring anyone on the screen they want to, but it’s the viewers’ right to evaluate and weigh their quality.

Though, in view of the above, one must take into account so many state and non-state pressures on the media, but this article assumes that there is always a lot of room, or a grey area, which may always be made use of as one wishes and that it can be utilized to promote one’s mission and values. The same is the case with our media; it can easily probe the limits of this room and such an area, and no doubt it has been and it is. That’s the fact on which is based the writer’s premise that media can play and it must play a vital role against the elitist alliance and its appropriation as well as expropriation of the state and its resources from the people of Pakistan.

Certainly it is part of what this article intends to recommend to the English newspaper op-ed pages editors and TV channel high-ups, i.e. a containing of the elitist names appearing on them. Of course, where names per se are read and heard first and the content under them and opinion expressed by them is taken into consideration afterwards, the names acquire a monopoly status, transmit a message of defeat to the readers, imply their upper hand in the intellectual realm, impact public opinion in more than one ways, and last but not least, exert an unseemly influence on public policy debates. Thus in the final resort these elitist names serve but the elites they come from. To remain trapped in and by their intellectual un-questionability and epistemological infallibility is but to remain in the eternal service of the elite classes of Pakistan.

That is why if media wants itself to be as actively enlisted in the war against the elitist state of Pakistan as it was in the rule of law movement, it needs to take a more responsible review of its philosophical priorities and set them right without delay. Also, it requires a home-coming like return to its real market, the readers and viewers, and in an ultimate sense the forsaken individual of Pakistan. It will have to wriggle out of its love affair with the elite classes of this land. In short, it will have to abandon its intellectual and financial dependence on the parasites, i.e. state and the elite classes, and decisively come to be part of the people, the real producers and owners of the country.

[This article was completed on August 4, 2009.]

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saeed Iqbal Wahlah Ke Liye Dou Nazmen

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

The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan – Reviews

This book was published by Alternate Solutions Institute in February this year. Originally it is in Urdu, Pakistan Mein Riyasti Ashrafiya Ka Urooj.

After the Media Release announcing the publication of the book was made, I sent its copies to prominent newspapers, journals, and eminent intellectuals and writers for the purpose of review. However, no one bothered even to acknowledge the receipt of the book except Dr. Tariq Rahman, who called me and told that he had received the book.

Here are the reviews done:

The day (February 21) the Media Release was issued, I received a call from Business Recorder. Its senior reporter, Mohammad Rafique Goraya asked me to send copies of the book; he wanted to review it in the Business Review. On March 3, a review was published.

In The Express Tribune, on April 23, Ali Salman in his article, Rental Power Saga – Court gives an economic paper instead of a legal order, makes the following mention:

“In private sector firms are able to function, profit and even steal, the blame should really be on the state for failing to arrest corruption. As the libertarian thinker Khalil Ahmad argues in his latest book on the rise of state aristocracy in Pakistan, responsibility of our crisis should be fixed on the watchmen, and not on thieves. A society which declares its businessmen thieves, and spares the watchmen, can deserve only perpetual darkness.”  

Another mention was made by Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq, in their article, Budget for the Ashrafia, in Business Recorder on June 8.

“In his book Pakistan: Economy of Elitist State, Dr Ishrat Husain has observed that in sharp contrast to the East Asian model of 'shared growth', based on rapid economic development coupled with a rapid reduction in poverty and more equitable distribution of the benefits of development in Pakistan, the elitist model confers political and economic powers to a small coterie of elite (parasites). While commenting upon Dr Ishrat's work, Dr Khalil Ahmad of Alternate Solutions Institute, in his recent book, Pakistan Main Riasti Ashrafia ka Urooj (Rise of State Elitism in Pakistan), published in February 2012, has also concluded that Pakistan is presently owned and exploited by 'state elites' whereas it should belong to all.”

On July 31st, Saadullah Jan Barq, the famous columnist, in his Urdu column, Zair-e-Lab, talked about the book in laudatory terms, while the correct title of the book was missing; the column was titled as Paksitan Mein Siyasi Ashrafiya Ka Urooj. In it, intellectual and philosophical content of the book found a specific mention.

In an Urdu weekly, Hum Shehri (August 10-16), Liaqat Ali Advocate reviewed the book. This review highlights various important theses of the book, such as philosophical substantiation of the institution of rule of law in Pakistan as an instrument of dismantling the State Aristocracy’s network. Here is the scanned image of the review:

On August 13, Shakil Ahmad reviewed the book in detail in Daily Mashriq Peshawar, and talked about the potential of the book to bring change in the Pakistani society. Here is the scanned image of the review:

On October 7, a short and mutilated introduction (copy-paste of the review by Liaqat Ali Advocate) appeared in the Urdu daily, Waqt. Here is the image:

Recently a friend informed that there has appeared a short introduction of the book on Yeah, under October 10 listings, a good tantalizing introduction appeared on the BBC website.

My thanks are due to all these reviewers!

However, I still crave for a worth-while review of the book!

Let me mention one episode there; it reflects on the intellectual state of our society. One of my good acquaintances, an artist most of the Urdu book titles published from Lahore are designed by him, asked: whether the book has been reviewed in this, or in that paper, etc. I told: No! He told, “They won’t. Get prepared a few reviews of the book, and give me along with some copies of the book. When someone visits me, I’ll give that to him and hope they will publish it. Otherwise, no one would do it.” I don't believe in such tactics, I apologized!

Here is a recap of the previous post about the book:

Some of the important points discussed in the book, The Rise of State Aristocracy in Pakistan:

First, the book tries to argue that rule of this or that class, such as rule of the proletariat, puts one class in conflict with the other classes, and does not resolve the problem.  Also that it’s not the issue who should rule; rather the issue is: how to rule. So, what is needed are “just rules” (or say “just laws”) which favor none, and are based on inalienable individual rights, and protect these rights. That may bring the whole society to a harmonious state: where there exists no rule of person or persons, or any class.

Second, in addition to rules (laws), the book considers the emergence of the institution of the state as a great step ahead in the progress of humankind, and that the foremost purpose of the state is to protect the individuals’ person and property and his rights or freedoms. This it does by formulating just rules and just laws, and by implementation them indiscriminately. Which is not the case in Pakistan!

Third, I have built my thesis of Riyasti Ashrafiya on the important work of Dr. Ishrat Hussain. His book, Pakistan: the Economy of an Elitist State, first published in 1999, analyzes the workings of Pakistan’s economy and comes out with the thesis: “The capture of the institutions of the state and the market by the elite is complete.”  In his subsequent articles, Dr. Ishrat has endorsed this thesis. But as far as his solution or the “reform agenda” is concerned, the book suggests it is Ashrafi (Aristocrtic, elitist), i.e. it does keep the Ashrafi capture of the state intact.

Fourth, that pre-modern Ashrafiya used to derive its power and authority from various distinctions, such as racial superiority, divine sanction; while the Riyasti Ashrafiya or State Aristocracy (or Pakistani Ashrafiya) derives its power and authority from the State. Be it wealth or clout, privileges or subsidies, the Ashrafiya through the State, appropriates everything for itself.

Fifth, thus this book holds Pakistani Ashrafiya as the biggest obstacle in the way of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law in Pakistan; and also a hurdle in the creation of wealth in Pakistan since it favors special interests. The book demonstrates that the Pakistani Ashrafiya lives via its capture of the state, state institutions, and the resources of the state. The heart of the Pakistani Ashrafiya, i.e. Politicians, the Establishment, and the Bureaucracy, have made the constitution subservient to their interests; resources of the state and the wealth created by the citizens of Pakistan their relish; whereas security of fundamental rights, i.e. security of person and property and rights to the ordinary citizens is almost an impossibility. What comes to the lot of the ordinary citizens is endless sufferings at the doors of government offices, the courts, and the polling stations.

Sixth, the book also takes notice of the existence of Two Pakistans, a necessary consequence of Ashrafi capture of the state and its resources. In most of the big cities, in terms of social services, such as potable water, sanitation, public transport, paved roads, street lights, library, parks, playing grounds, two cities may be seen existing: one with no services at all, or with very low standard of services; and one with good quality services.  The book makes a case for an amendment in the constitution so that these social services with a standard of quality may be guaranteed to all the citizens wherever they live in Pakistan. That does not amount to burdening the public sector, but essentially bringing in the private sector to produce these services with government playing the supervisory and regulatory role.

Seventh, the book puts the blame for this formation of the Riyasti Ashrafiya, and then capture of the state and market by this Ashrafiya, on the shoulders of the politicians and political parties. I have written in detail about this crime of the politicians and the political parties in my Urdu blog as well, and in my forthcoming book, Siyasi Partian Ya Siyasi Bandobast: Pakistani Siyasat Ke Pech-o-Kham Ka Falsafiyana Muhakma (Political Parties or Political Arrangements: A Philosophical Analysis of Politics in Pakistan). But nobody seems to buy the point. The dominant view incriminates the Pakistan Army for all the ills facing Pakistani citizens.

The book dwells on its explanation also: it is politicians and political parties which make constitution and make amendments in the constitution; it is they who contest elections, and come to rule and make economic policies. In short, it is they who are constitutionally responsible to rule. Not the Army. If they submit their political and constitutional will to the Army, it is their fault. When they are pressured, for instance, by the Army, they never resign and come back to the citizens, who empower them to rule. The day they realize the source of their power are the citizens of Pakistan, they will be empowered.

Eighth, the book also shows a way to transform the Ashrafi Pakistan into Everyone's Pakistan by ensuring personal freedom and along with it economic freedom to all the citizens without any discrimination. It invites all the classes and groupings of Pakistan to the cause of rule of the constitution and the law; and exhorts them to stay on a singular achievement of human civilization, i.e. law.

Finally, the author thinks that humanity is entering a new Age of Rules, superseding the Age of Ideologies, and the present book derives its inspiration from the same enlightenment.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

What’s your qualification, Mr. Prime Minister?

How vacuous the speeches and statements of state dignitaries look!

But it is for them to inaugurate this or that thing, to make speeches! It seems that’s the only thing they can do, at least in Pakistan!  Maybe since they have nothing else to do, they like to be the chief guests at many an occasion so diverse in nature that they would never be able to go to were they not in that position.

The difficult part of this exercise requires them to deliver speeches. However, they are privileged – they have speech-writers. That makes their speeches all Greek to understand as the speeches delivered by their very persons. Almost as a rule they are all, again at least in Pakistan, not as qualified and cultivated, or in short so learned that they would naturally be delivering speeches as the occasions require.

So, as far as their speech-writers are concerned, no doubt they are there to prove their intellectual mettle, and prepare such speeches which may be ranked as the best speeches in any contests, however, the speeches such written do not match their speakers’ intellectual credentials. The moment these speeches are delivered by the dignitaries for whom they are written they lose their substance, their content, and their tenor also. At best, they turn out to be fake. The moment state dignitaries deliver them, these speeches stand stripped of their context, and thus any relevance, but in a negative sense.

Here is the latest example:

The Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was chief guest at the 12th Convocation of the Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, held at the Convention Centre, Islamabad on November 30. While addressing the ceremony, the Prime Minister uttered the following words:

“Higher education opens unlimited vistas and possibilities of success and growth. The foremost responsibility of the university is to produce well-informed, motivated and cultured citizens of the nation. However, the universities in our country have to play a positive role in tapping the intellect and creating awareness among the students and scholars to help translate our potential for growth and development into reality. We have to work together to take our state forward along the path of inclusive growth and development through intellectual and scientific knowhow.”

[The News International, Lahore Print Edition, December 1st, 2012]

What do these words mean?

Mr. Prime Minister, does higher education open any vistas of possibilities of success and growth in Pakistan? You must be knowing how your government is attacking the HEC (Higher Education Commission) these days, to deprive it of its autonomous status, and make it subservient to the personal interests of politicians!

Mr. Prime Minister, you must be knowing how your party’s boss and the incumbent President, and the former prime minister, ministers and advisers, and party leaders had been / are appointing their favorites to such positions for which they were / are not qualified, and a number of cases of such appointments made in violation of merit and all the relevant rules and regulations are in the courts!

Mr. Prime Minister, you must be knowing in various government departments jobs are being given to the workers and associates loyal to the party and its leaders, and no merit is being observed anywhere!

What has become of PIA and Pakistan Steel, you must be knowing well! Newspapers of December 5, report that according to its own management, the PIA hired only 3 % (600) of employees on merit out of a total of 20, 000. So, who are the remaining 97 % (19, 400), you must be knowing, Mr. Prime Minister!

What is there your party’s government did through these 5 years to promote these things about which you delivered this speech? Or it was a meaningless speech delivered there because you were there to honor the occasion as the chief guest!

Mr. Prime Minister, in your speech you talk about ‘inclusive growth and development through intellectual and scientific knowhow,’ do you know meaning of these words! What is intellectual knowhow; what is scientific knowhow, Mr. Prime Minister, and how these help inclusive growth and development?

Mr. Prime Minister, would you mind telling us the citizens of this state what qualifications Mr. Pervaiz Elhai possessed to be appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan? And what about your own qualifications!

Mr. Prime Minister, of course, you would relax in the “theory of people’s mandate,” but you know well that it’s all a manipulated mandate? Wasn’t it the sweet-will of your party’s boss which picked you out as the Prime Minister of this hapless country?

Mr. Prime Minister, while nepotism, favoritism, cronyism, and corruption are rampant, what does your speech stand for? What did you talk about in your speech? Was there anything in your speech which may qualify to be translated into reality?

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saqaafati Munaafqat

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

Echoing Lal Masjid

Lal Masjid is once again making headlines. This time it has been resurrected by the Supreme Court. As a result of a hearing of a suo moto case of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa along with a contempt petition filed by Maulana Abdul Aziz, and after the federal police failed to file a satisfactory report on the matter, a three member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry constituted a one-man judicial commission comprising Justice Shehzad Al-Shaikh, Senior Judge of Federal Shariat Court.

The judicial commission will ascertain: whether the State had paid compensation to the heirs of killed people; whether the bodies were identified and handed over to their heirs; whether the action has been taken against the people who are responsible for the tragedy; and whether the people who are responsible for the tragedy could be marked with the available evidences and facts. The commission will submit its findings within 45 days.

It was after the announcement of 2008 general elections, that the defeated politicians used the Lal Masjid operation as a cause of their defeat. And, I was of the opinion that this issue, if not resolved judiciously and once and for all, will continue making waves now and then and various quarters would be exploiting it to accrue unceremonious benefits.

Here are my thoughts how this issue needs to be resolved:

Echoing Lal Masjid

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
[Martin Luther King, Jr.]

It was just when the results of the February 18 elections started pouring in that the allies of the military government, who were in the throes of an impending defeat, and its apologists concocted the excuse of Lal Masjid army action for their losing elections on such a scale. Their excuse may be worded thus: It was our army action on the Lal Masjid that got us unpopular with the electorate of Pakistan and threw us out of the new assemblies. In other words, it meant: had we not resorted to the army action on Lal Masjid, we would have won 115 seats as we had claimed before the elections.

One of the stalwarts of General Musharraf’s PML (Pakistan Muslim League) and its government, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, when asked in a TV talk show: how in your view the new coalition government would fare vis-à-vis people’s expectations, was furious enough to ignore his own political opportunism and unleashed a tirade against the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) and PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz Sharif) leadership, and said: These are the same landlords and capitalists who have been exploiting the poor people, and they are once again together to fool them, and that the lot of the poor will never improve, they will remain in the same miserly condition. When questioned that with such good ideas, how come that he could not win his seat from Rawalpindi? He put the blame on the Lal Masjid action.      

Nothing could be farther from truth than this theory.

First, it is the lamest excuse that has been devised in a fit of rage in the face of an unexpected landslide defeat.

Second, it works as a double edged ploy. On the one hand, it says that by resorting to Lal Masjid action in fact we did a thankless job; on the other, it implies that we were wrong in that and that hints at a streak of sympathy for the Lal Masjid Brothers.

Third, it ignores the resentment of various quarters over the logistics of the Lal Masjid operation. Of course, there were different opinions as to the timing and methodology of that operation. It has been argued that were it not for the gravity of the judicial crisis, no Lal Masjid action would have taken place. However, it does not mean the whole electorate took it to their heart not to vote for the General’s hirelings on this pretext alone.

Fourth, it negates Ggeneralissimo and his chosen party’s another theory that was in vogue before the elections on the basis of which they were dead sure to win at least 115 and at most 180 national assembly seats. It was the development theory: we managed to achieve an average growth rate of 7 %; we spent so much via Public Sector Development Program; we initiated so many development schemes in various sectors such as education, etc. etc. What is fact and what is fiction that forms the foundation of this theory does not concern us here. However, it must be mentioned that the post-election theory of Lal Masjid action derides a very important development: that the people of Pakistan cannot be toyed by slogans of economic security. The seats that General’s PML won if they be analyzed in the light of this new development prove the same point.

Fifth, it was also argued that just on the verge of February 18 elections, the caretaker government could not manage the rising prices of wheat/flour and other food items, thereby causing the emergence of an unfavorable wave of reaction vote. It is the same Lal Masjid army action theory in a different guise. In a like manner, it also aims at hiding the true causes of General’s party’s defeat, and thus creating a false impression of the situation on the ground. All such attempts try to downplay the Chief Justice of Pakistan factor. It is no new thing. Right after the Lal Masjid army action, various writs re the Lal Masjid army action were filed in the Supreme Court and, it may be conjectured, such judgments were secured which may be said to have provided the conspirators with an excuse to question the impartiality and sanctity of the Supreme Court’s judgments. So, in this fray they did try to malign the Supreme Court.   

As is being argued and debated that the surge in the acts of terrorism and targeting of security and police forces especially is a direct result of army action on the Lal Masjid, it may safely be assumed that it is not so at least in the case of February 18 elections. Or we shall have to assume that every voter was a suicide bomber but his target was the ballot box, and he in a very scientific manner destroyed the General’s party’s votes only.

Clearly that’s not the case in any case. A patient and careful analysis of the General’s party’s defeat would, among other things, reveal that eight year long General Musharraf’s military dictatorship seemed to have exhausted not only its own existential justification but all the possibilities for future military takeovers and dictators also. He uprooted every institution upon which both government and society stand, sustain and prosper. Last in a series of worst military dictators, one of the greatest damages he did was the destruction of the value system of our society. He deprived us of all good values, and ruled us by might is right.

But as he in his ‘omnipotent’ mood tried to subdue an already conquered judiciary, to his utter dismay he came across that unknown soul which is known as ‘someone somewhere fights back.’ Were it possible for the Pharaoh to fore-locate his enemy, Moses would never survive!

It’s largely this CJP (Chief Justice of Pakistan) factor which infused the nation with a new revolutionary spirit, and qualitatively changed the ethos of the civil society. It’s this factor that made the miracle. It acted as a touchstone for the humiliated and the insulted of Pakistan, and helped them separate the gold from the dust in the February 18 elections. It proved to be the Philosopher’s stone for the politicians and turned those who happen to touch it into gold.

Thus, in fact it’s the CJP factor which is the target of so many conspirators who are constantly trying to nullify its snowballing effect. We need to be fully aware of all such attempts, and beware of all such conspirators. They are all in a frenzy to prove that people of Pakistan do not want justice. It must be clarified here that people of Pakistan do not want “social justice,” because it again implies the same development theory that in ultimate terms means economic security. People of Pakistan do not want doles, subsidies, ration cards, utility cards, torture-camps like public sector schools and health centers, and poverty alleviation funds that resultantly make them poorer. They want justice and rule of law. They want their fundamental rights ensured to them. It is for this reason that they want an independent judiciary, supremacy of the constitution, and a constitutional, responsible government. They know it is natural for them to earn their livelihood, what they want from the government is protection of their life and property, and ensuring of their rights and freedoms to them so that they could live in peace and prosperity.

Hence, obviously it is not the Lal Masjid army action that detracted the electorate from voting the General’s party. It’s their complicity in dismantling the Supreme Court and other institutions of the state, in subverting the constitution of the country, in supporting anti-people, anti-democratic, anti-meritocratic policies of a military dictator that earned them wrath of the people.

In the end, it needs to be mentioned that whatever the differences over the timing and methodology of the Lal Masjid army operation may have been, one can always put forward a number of alternate ways of dealing with such phenomena. However, what left the Lal Masjid operation unfinished is the absence of a thorough judicial probe into

i) how an ordinary mosque transformed into Lal Masjid in the very heart of the capital of the country where an army operation had to be carried out;

ii) how two employees of the Auqaf Department managed to command such a powerful position that they started challenging both writ of the law and state and violating the rights, freedoms and privacy of their fellow citizens, and who were their patronizers.

This is what raises doubts about the whole case of Lal Masjid from its A to Z. If the previous government could not dare to take up this job for certain reasons, whether the new government would mind such a probe and let the law of the land take its course is yet to be seen. Without this probe and as a result without bringing the responsible officials and dignitaries to book whoever they are, the case of the Lal Masjid will never be considered closed, and will keep on echoing in ever newer contexts. It is the only way that somehow may help pacify those disgruntled elements who take inspiration from the Lal Masjid army operation.   

[This article was completed on March 24, 2008.]

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