INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

February 1, 2020

ECONOMIC WATER WHEEL

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:11 am

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Like now, Pakistan in late 90s was in an alarming economic situation. Apart from international sanctions, the country was gripped by Structural Adjustment Programmes of IMF, massive corruption by Sharifs and bureaucracy/judiciary loaded with cronies. Critics were thumbs down on the handling of economic affairs in the country. To add insult to injury, Pakistan was under a spell of drought for three years. At Qaide Azam University, I questioned the Professor of Political Economy and Futures to explain a ‘Bottoms-Up Approach’ to a sinking economy. He came up with the example of water wheel lifting water from deep below to a parched surface and arid climate.

He explained that IMF and World Bank supported economies are figure fudging and a bubble. They are agents of neo colonialism and neo imperialism. Sustainable economies are like a spinning water wheel. Cans lift and discharge water to the surface for consumption by living beings and crops. When the cycle goes ‘on and on’ the grassroots economy starts moving towards more trade, commerce and production. Ultimately it affects everyone’s lives. Technological intervention gives a boost to agrarian outputs and leads the way for value addition. Pakistan being an agrarian country can never ignore the agriculture sectors.

He maintained that IMF interventions smother local economies, lay off production manpower, lead to high discount and interest rates, and give rise to artificial inflation culminating in stagflation also called recession inflation. In simple words IMF packages intended to lower inflation, exacerbate unemployment. High interest rates are introduced to offset devaluation for elites. Rather than be attracted to banks, people start trading commodities or resort to subsistence living. As the Top-Down creates a counter flow to the spinning wheel, it slows down creating a heat that makes people restive. Ultimately the country surrenders the incidental inflationary growth rate linked to population growth as also its stability. Latin American economies are a case in point.

Top-down economy unlike a vertical water wheel is a horizontal tempest howling overhead. Like a hurricane or a twister, it is a frantic frenzy. With time it becomes super charged with high discount and interest rates, inflation and stagflation. Corporate interests of cartels that exercise influence over decision making and high energy costs create a piercing needle that points down below. What follows is the eye of the hurricane, or the vortex that acts like a vacuum to suck out blood from stones. The bubble, loot and plunder then fly away leaving behind mess and mayhem. Then they wait for the next cycle.

Isn’t this what is happening in Pakistan? Evaluate the correlation of discount and interest rates, devaluation, shutdowns and unemployment? Basic commodities have become too expensive, the low middle class is becoming poor and the poor, poorer? Small and medium enterprises are shut down and agriculture facing criminal neglect. The current wheat crisis is a lust generated issue. Cartels are exploiting market elasticity to hike prices to make exponential profits. The socio-economic fabric is tearing at the seams.

In 1999, Pakistan faced similar and according to some exerts far worse situation. Pakistan was under international sanctions. Democracy was taking revenge and cartels were about to intervene with a bite on the juggler. But a bureaucrat who loved Pakistan was not going to allow it.

Dr. Zafar Altaf had already embarked on an ambitious programme despite fierce resistance. Pakistan’s flagship Canola project was halted in tracks by the 1996 interim government. Oilseeds Development Corporation was aiding the Palm, BT Cotton and Soya Lobbies. The PMLN government wanted the Idara e Kissan projects to be stopped forever. Despite such resistance Dr Zafar Altaf had tricks up his sleeves and he fought back as a one man army.

In October, he floated a tentative order worth 40 Million Dollars for import of wheat. Bureaucracy and businessmen wanted him to be removed. The Chief Executive office was flooded against him. An inquiry against him was to soon commence.

But before ordering an inquiry against him, I decided to visit him to ascertain his side of the story. It was a very uncomfortable sight coming across a very defiant and controversial bureaucrat. His lament was that he must be given six months and after that the government could put him to gallows. He also requested that school summer vacations in 2000 should be advanced as Pakistan could be short of storage for high quality wheat. Thus I embraced a mentor and dervish who. General Musharraf agreed to give six months.

That year the federal agriculture ministry ensured early sowing of wheat. The Military through dredging ensured water to tails. To avoid vegetative growth, farmers were instructed to prune their wheat saplings at a certain height. By March, despite a prolonged drought, surveys indicated a bumper harvest. Schools were closed in May instead of Junes to be converted into temporarily granaries. Pakistan’s wheat in a single season grew from minus 4.47% to 18.04%, an astounding jump of over 22%. From 17.8 million tons, it shot to over 21 million tonnes.

I asked Dr Zafar why he placed an order of 40 million dollars. His reply was to discourage smuggling of Pakistani wheat and create domestic market elasticity. Consequently, no wheat was imported.

Alas! Dr Zafar Altaf became an OSD six months later. 2001 was hit by very poor agriculture output. In fall 2019, the agriculture department did the opposite.

The economic hitmen succeeded. Canola project was not revived. If left to his edible oil planning Pakistan today would have been an exporter of edible oils from Canola and cotton. Today, hazardous GM Canola and rapeseed are being imported.

Another initiative! I went with him to Olive nurseries of Chakwal and Attock. Today those saplings have landed Pakistan in the olive producing countries of the world. Reports suggest that Pakistani Olive oil is amongst the choicest in content and quality.

He also pioneered strawberry for Pakistan’s small land holding farmers for poverty alleviation. Despite closure of Idara e Kissan this project is sustaining poor. His experimentation of growing oranges in the arid areas, Abbottabad, Dir, Swat, Khanpur and Tarbela now produces the choicest fruits in Pakistan.

In 2008, Dr Zafar Altaf became the Chairman of National Agriculture Research Centre. His love of producing a Pakistani high yield cotton seed restarted. Dr. Zar Quraish developed three very high yield all season hybrids. Together, we grew cotton near Simly Dam, Attock and Mardan. Results were far beyond expectations. Agriculture cartels were against him. PMLN government removed him and confiscated Idara e Kissan. Cotton Research Institute at Multan mulled the cotton seed project for good.  They now advocate GM Cotton.

There is a lesson for all of us on how Dr Zafar Altaf operated. A single man took on all the enemies to produce for Pakistan what we enjoy today. This lesson must be quickly grasped by the government. Left to IMF, Cartels and civil servants, nothing will happen.

Unfortunately the same powers that created the 199 and 2007 economic crises are active once again. Circular debt and wheat crises are only the tip of what they are doing. The horizontal spiral of IMF directed economy is destroying the grassroots economies. The government has to take notice.  IMF indices are artificial. The solution lies in the water wheel and its effect on downstream and upstream industry. Kick start the grassroots economies.

Samson Simon Sharaf

January 25, 2020

PAKISTAN’S ACADIA

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:13 am

The dreamland of Plenty
Samson Simon Sharaf

Acadia means a ‘perfect world’ and ‘a land of plenty’. The land has everything for all living beings, flora and fauna. It is a perfect balance in every sense of the word. There is no darkness of sin, greed, selfish desires and violence. Given that we live in an imperfect world, the quest and journey to discovery continues. Different people pursue it in differently. All agree that Light fights Darkness.

Man’s ability at creativeness views light within the spectrum of dismay to fulfilment. According to Brene Brown, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”. Francis Bacon feels darkness essential to brightness, “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present”. Rumi feels that, “If light is in your heart, you will find your way home”. Robert Adams writes that “Within you is the light of a thousand suns”. Aristotle felt that adversary brings out the best, therefore, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. Earnest Hemingway subscribed that, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in”. Vern P. Stanfill is a strong advocate that light will prevail. He writes, “There is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light”. In my own words sorrow and grief highlight the importance of happiness. Our suffering and tribulation is the way to abode.

Notwithstanding beliefs and diversity, man’s consciousness is aware of the existence of a higher being manifesting such an environment. For a very long time, the Native Americans and Aborigines who were recently exposed to religions reflected this consciousness. This consciousness refers to Elysian Fields, a Great Beyond, Abode of the Dead, Olympus, Kingdom of God, Heaven, Nirvana and the Garden of Eden.

In the context of Abrahamic religions, John Milton the 17 Century poet yearned for it as the Paradise Lost. Adam and Eve sinned for their own desires and were banished from this abode destining mankind to suffer till the end of the world. The last judgement will decide between the Good and Evil. It implies that before Paradise, it is incumbent to create this Acadia within us. The collective will have to wait for the Rapture as believed by Christians and end of Dajjal the false prophet as believed by Muslims.

Maulana Abdul Haleem Sharar a 19th century playwright, essayist and historian from Lucknow described it indirectly through his writings on Islamic history, extolling virtues like courage, bravery, magnanimity and religious fervour. His best piece was Firdaus e Bareen (Paradise in Earth) an amalgam of partly western and partly Persian Dastaan (story telling) in a hallucinating context of a paradise created by Hasan bin Sabah to befool people for his political power and challenge God.

But one effect is undeniable. Having once lost that mystic element of the perfect abode; every man is in quest of an Acadia depending on religion, culture, science or fiction. Does it mean, ‘discovery and conquest of us’? God is Omnipresent in our hearts but for our failure to conquer ourselves; despite believing, we do not manifest. It is a relentless pursuit of light from light.

Conquest of other land, kingdoms and peoples has been relentless through millennia. The collective man has failed to shape a perfect world that falls by any definition close to Acadia. Whether traits of a man being greedy, aggressive, a thinking animal are innate or acquired will remain a debate. But historically, man lost the compass whilst spinning in a perpetual whirlpool of forbidding desires. Conquest of us is the biggest hurdle. It is the highest mountain to summit, the widest river of fire to wade and be undeterred by bogs.

In religions and cultures, comparing light to a man is common. Jesus Christ called man the light of the universe and salt of the world.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your God in heaven”
Matthew 5:13-16

The Islamic interpretation of Nur, the light is identical to Judaism and Christianity. A Muslim scholar Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi categorized nūr into different levels of understanding from the most profound to the most mundane. Shias amd Sufis believe nūr, in the sense of inner esoteric understanding. An exclusive Ayat an-Nur from the Holy Quran reads: –

“God is the light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West whose oil well-nigh would shine, even if no fire touched it; light upon light.
Surah An-Nur [24:35]

In the Christian Nicene Creed this is described as ‘Light from light, true God from true God’.

Though prophets, mystics and cultures brought light, it is us who failed to put it at a vantage point. Yet our appetite for dreams is unlimited and imaginations lead us to infinity in universe and depths of the deepest.

Politicians in manifesto and governments promise a perfect Acadia. Once in business, this dream and vision is overtaken by Realpolitik. As manifested in revolutions and wars, men and women are ready at the peril of their lives for this quest, but those who sit on panning boards are invariably conquered by earthly desires. Good cannot flow out of evil. A spring cannot flow with sweet and bitter water simultaneously.

For politicians and statesmen, humans are a disposable commodity. The human race must have lost billions of people in endless conflicts towards a human engineered dream that never got fulfilled. This is the message of John Milton in ‘Paradise Lost’ and Maulana Abdul Haleem Sharar in ‘Firdaus e Bareen’.
Though much can be written about Nietzsche’s Superman versus Iqbal’s Perfect man, Allama Iqbal perfectly depicted man’s failure to conquer the self. Allama Iqbal was forthright and explosive with his ideas. In his two poems Shikwa and Jawab e Shikwa written in the backdrop of the sick Ottoman Empire and colonial intrigues in the Muslim world, the central idea of Shikwa is that God is not protecting the followers of Islam. In Jawab-e Shikwa God answers directly that he has not broken his promise; instead it is the Muslims, his followers, who have turned away from the Path.

Indeed, we Pakistanis have turned away from the path. We pay lip service to Iqbal but reject the essential values. As a political commentator, I have often talked of Pakistan romantically and passionately.

Our body is torn, battered, decimated but alive and kicking. The land of our combined dreams is a fertile valley whose gushing streams and rivers need to be tamed. The parched lands hungry for water will sprout and fill granaries.

The virgin high mountains are like a mother ready to suckle its children. The milk flows with precious metals, minerals, jewels, emeralds and energetic elixirs of life.

Beneath our inhospitable desert lie the world’s oldest civilizations, lost river beds, black gold and treasures. There is gold, antimony, copper, emeralds and diamonds that run right through the juggler artery.

The treasures buried deep below are guarded by serpents and daemons that debouched from every corner of the world. Pythons are wrapped around every sinew around a nation that refuses to die. The plenty is denied because the land is under a curse by our own Voodoo: our own darkness.

But as Earnest Hemingway wrote, cracks allow light and brightness. However dismal the situation; every Pakistani has to fight back. This means a new leader, a new social contract and a new people.

When Pakistan is viewed through the light of the creator, rainbows will appear in the distant past. The only positives are faith and hope.

January 4, 2020

PAKISTAN’S NEXT BATTLE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:17 am

A butterfly fluttering its wings or want of a nail in soldier’s boot have ripple effects. The next battle could be Pakistan’s self activation or a desperate fightback under new methods of siege. 

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USA is a power in retreat. Weary of two decades of battle fatigue, ‘shock and awe’ is morphing to working through allies, vassals and non-state actors. After 9/11, the world forgot that international financial institutions, NGOs, political parties, pressure groups and even civil rights movements are non-state actors. In the past two decades we have witnessed the employment of this alternative method in Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan (Nation: The Devil’s Triangle March 22, 2014). Pakistan has remained in the eye of this building hurricane but survived.

In the US strategic landscape, Middle East is left to Saudi Arabia and UAE who will bid for USA and Israel. The Asian pivot i.e. South Asia and parts of Central Asia have been delegated to Modi’s India. Both do not have the capability and potential to take on the building nexus that includes Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Malaysia; powered by Russian technology and China’s BRI projects.

Pakistani policy making reflects the bankruptcy of thought and awareness that the country has global reach. For this to happen, Pakistan has to put its act together.  Pakistan has to think beyond India and Afghanistan to the Greater Middle East to which it is a pivot. A begging bowl leaves no independent choices and trade-offs. The butterfly must flutter and the soldier must march.

In the North, the eastward expansion of NATO is halted at Crimea. After Brexit, EU could shrink further. As narrow nationalism takes over in USA, UK, Hungary and India, the world is shying away from the ‘Global Village’ that is drifting towards authoritarianism. Narrow nationalism was a major cause of military conflicts in the late 19th and early 20th century. What is different in 21st Century is that this conflict will be led by non-state actors with military power of major players used as a ‘minimum last resort’; not directly but on peripheries. To recap, Pakistan is in the core and not periphery.

This is the power of nuclear weapons and what Bernard Brodie called, the ‘weapons of peace’. What has commenced with the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Commander General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq is a new phase of instability affecting Arab Countries, Iran and Turkey. Pincers will reach as far away as Kuala Lumpur. Similarly, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Syria will continue to face the springs that became autumns. Pakistan too is on the hit list.

Invariably, the victims of this new warfare (Hybrid) will be people who have to endure economic hardships, poverty, segregation and genocide. What has recently happened in Africa, Venezuela and what is happening in Indian Held Kashmir is a continuation. Communal riots in India as reaction to new citizenship laws is a direction towards segregation and genocide. Pakistan over the past two decades has been pushed into this and it is time to plan and execute an exit.

KSA and UAE abstained from making any mention of Kashmir at UNGA. With Pulwama, Balakot and Kashmir fresh in his mind, the speech of Prime Minster Imran Khan at UNGA came from the heart and not the scripts. Perhaps it revealed too many intentions that never went unnoticed. With propensity to succumb to limitations and not exploit leverages, Pakistan bumped into a tight spot.

Turkey and Malaysia supported Pakistan. Intelligentsia in Pakistan was convinced that sooner or later the country had to move out of the Saudi Shadow. Prime Minister’s initiative to start an English TV channel was the beginning of a shift to challenge USA’s Eurasian and APEC Strategy. The Independent of UK commented, “As is commonly believed, it is darkest before dawn. With expectations suitably calibrated to the tough reality that Khan’s leadership faces, it is possible to see green-shoots emerging in political and economic arenas”.

The question is where were these green-shoots planted; in parched land, under the smothering wild growth or fertile land? A purr from Prince Muhammad Bin Salman against the Kuala Lumpur Conference was a reality check. Did Pakistan’s initiative pegged with hopes appeared and vanished like a twister? Circumspectly, his biggest limitation to his rise to the arena of ‘high politics’ was the domestic situation and performance of his team.  A shift in priorities; and Pakistan moves to a spot where it belongs.

The initiative was promptly capitalised by Turkey, Iran and Malaysia. Iran’s inclusion in the group and Erdoğan’s direct speech had an effect. Instead of Prince Salman reading out the ‘Riot Act’ to Pakistan, it is Erdoğan and Mahathir who have done it to Saudi Arabia.

Both Saudi Arabia and UAE understand that Pakistan has been humiliated ‘Khashoggi Style’. But they have their own vulnerabilities. The recent rush of Saudi and UAE diplomacy indicated something more sinister was in offing and President Tump set it off with General Qasem Soleimani’s killing. Pakistan has to be prepared for the next battle.

An alternate block much beyond the Muslim world is taking shape backed by Russia and China. Pakistan’s national interests warrant a complete reappraisal of its National Power and how to overcome odds with a strong home led policy. This means a completely new national script.

The statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quraishi that India is trying to impose a hybrid war on Pakistan is an understatement. Much beyond India, it is the situation in Middle East and Afghanistan that is necessitating keeping Pakistan in check through the Middle Eastern Allies, International Financial Institutions, western sympathisers within the system and every manifestation of a hybrid conflict. Pakistan’s only succour lies in its neglected domestic polity and its people.

To do this, it is utmost important to understand the larger canvas so that Pakistan ultimately places itself to where it belongs.

Present policies do not supplement its pivotal position in West, Central and South Asia. It is imperative that its power potential is reshaped around very strong domestic indicators that have yet to be tapped. IMF has to be shown the door earlier than stipulated and Pakistan has to stop the practice of currency swaps from countries whose interests’ conflict with Pakistan’s security.

The frontline of this assault will not be the military, rather more than 50% Pakistanis being driven close to poverty. The salvage operation will be spearheaded by agriculture and small to medium enterprise (SME) that has a super-fast return on investments.

Three crop seasons were enough to turn around Pakistan but they have been wasted. Pakistan is a country blessed with all seasons and terrains. The agriculture potential is huge and home grown. Instead of giving subsidies and relief to fertilizer and sugar industry, the government can give a kick start to modern agriculture that shall result in self-sufficiency and high grade exportable. The federal and provincial governments need to take this action on war footing with a deaf ear to fertilizer and sugar cartels.

The indigenous potential indicates that within a year, Pakistan can become a world leader in natural products. What affect this would have on GDP? From the experience of 1999-2001 (include olive oil), it can be anything from 3-5% expansion in 18 months. Profitability of farmers will range from 200-300%.  People will return to farms. Unemployment will reduce. Exports will boost and Pakistan will once again become leader in wheat, cotton, maize, fruits and textiles. The entire rant of deficits, balance of payments, discount and interest rates will be eclipsed. In addition, the cost input hikes will be thrown out of the window forever.

The agriculture initiative will also set the ball rolling for small and medium enterprises. Local innovations in agriculture equipment manufacturing and automations will give boost to small industries and diversification of applications. Cost inputs will be recoverable in a short span. Within a year the dormant SMEs will start becoming productive. Technology innovators will occupy the first rows in this resurgence and benefit every sinew of the country. All upstream and downstream industries will benefit. Fertilizer and agro-chemical industries will become export juggernauts.

What does this translate to? It means making Pakistan truly sovereign through an overall surplus that shall in due course wash away swaps and IMF strings. Pakistan will be up and ready on its own feet and no more be vulnerable to purrs from across Hormuz. A stage for a proactive pivot would have been set.

This is how the next battle has to be fought. Let not our future generations complain that ‘for the want of a nail, a country was lost’.

December 28, 2019

BENAZIR’S MURDER: THE PYRE MUST BURN

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 8:28 am

Researched from 2007-2010 and written for Nation on 26 April 2010.

The assassin displayed remarkable cool. At least once, he chose to delay his fire and then moved in very close to an advantageous position with the suicide bomber following him. The man who grappled and brought him down deserves a citation. He is nephew of Qamar Zaman Kaira.

Benazir Bhutto, the Daughter of the East is dead, buried and treacherously abandoned by her party leadership. Some prime witnesses including the assassin himself, the suicide bomber, Khalid Shanshah, Bait Ullah Mehsud and God knows who else are silenced forever.

Someone needs to explain why that hyperactive Benazir, the Princess of the Day, infused with vigour like an elixir had to die. The Bhutto legacy will endure treacherous times. Quoting my friend Hussain Pasha, ‘The pyre will burn’.

At a time when the country is struggling to fight its civil war in the backdrop of a sinking economy and growing parochialism, the Bhutto Legacy provides the cohesion needed to offset threats. It is the duty of every Pakistani to keep this pyre burning till such time the planners of Benazir’s murder are not identified and punished.

In the same stride, the nation must also know who murdered national leaders like the death of Jinnah and his sister, Liaqat Ali, Bhutto, Zia Ul Haq and Murtaza Bhutto. Most likely, the trails point to same actors.

Much before the UN Investigation, every Pakistani was convinced that all investigations into the tragedy are deliberately misleading. Scotland Yard appears as much an accomplice in the cover up as the Handle Theory. It appears that even the most incriminating video released by Channel Four through CNN and Dawn was deliberately blurred and edited to create confusion. This fact alone warrants expanding the ambit of inquiry to handlers outside Pakistan. The UN investigation was a farce.

There is no doubt that Benazir was abandoned and left vulnerable by the state security apparatus as also by her very own stalwarts.

Her chief of security merits inquest solely on the basis of his changing statements in the hours following her murder. As it turns out, he and Babar Awan were the ‘get away men’ who fled the scene in Benazir’s reserve vehicle. The most loyal Khalid Shahanshah who had probably lost that element during his visits abroad was the first to jump into Benazir’s vehicle and also to jump out and bolt to Zardari house, only to be gunned down in Karachi.

After Benazir’s rally security was stand down. There were no senior police officers befitting the presence of a two time Prime Minister and VVIP. The much touted Elite Force instructed to make a box bolted well before the murder. Stays behind parties were either blocking the turning to the left or mere spectators; some at their own peril rubbing shoulders with the suicide bomber and the shooter. There was no chivalry in their death.

The news broadcast by channels within the first two hours of the incident need to be replayed. There were eye witness accounts by doctors of RGH that Benazir had received one to two fatal gun shot injuries. Suddenly everything changed and the doctors were made helpless by police and district administration. Even Sherry Rehman sings no more.

Cell phone communication through towers close to RGH will also reveal conversations of doctors and paramedics eagerly disclosing to friends and families the extent and type of Benazir’s injuries. By morning everyone including cell phones was quite and shift doctors quarantined.

Observations such as these and the sequence of photographs in this article shall answer many questions to keep the pyre burning. At the same time they will raise many more.

December 22, 2019

TREASON & UPSTARTS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:30 am

The Special Court verdict on the treason of Ex-President Pervez Musharraf has opened a can of stinking worms. Perhaps these worms can best be describes as upstarts of opportunity. The first lesson and abject reality is that in the highest echelons of politics in Pakistan, loyalties and allegiances can be switched for personal gains.

Many rats considered the most dependable confidants jumped the ship early and left their mentor and benefactor marooned on an isolated island of delusional grandeur and vulnerability. At crunch time in 2013, most switched loyalties, others went back to the masters and some to never return again. The best legal experts and authors of the emergency proclamation just walked over to the other side and made sure, they were never implicated in the treason investigations. The cruellest cut came from his choicest who failed to provide him enough safeguards before he shed his uniform, resigned and left Pakistan. He was missing when needed most.

In the past 12 years, the biggest flock of cuckoos re-nestled themselves into various political parties to continue what they do best. It is time for them to leave for good. The bird’s nest must be converted into an eagle’s eyrie.

The second lesson learnt is that that any leader in the Pakistani environment lowers guard, and does not remain in awe of such carpetbaggers and illegitimate children of opportunity, will be isolated in times of crunch. As Julius Caeser said to Mark Antony, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look”. This untrustworthy breed is intelligent, well sponsored and plan moves to minute details. They are the Cassius of Pakistan as such men as them never remain at their hearts’ ease.

The palace intrigue of Ex-President Musharraf’s tenure is now reaching its logical conclusions. It lasted over 16 years; perhaps the filthiest and longest in Pakistan’s history. It is not just General Musharraf who became a Greek Tragedy during this game of deceit, betrayals and intrigues. In the initial phase of this drama, the Daughter of the East Benazir Bhutto was assassinated most controversially. Musharraf was clueless over what had happened. The simple question of who benefitted has still not been answered. Empirically, plot and trail the wealth of all controversial characters of these 16 years. Exponential increases in assets will point straight at the most probable. Work backwards and facts will flow on surface.

Centres of power in Pakistan need to realise that there are no holy cows. Each is an indispensable organ of the state and must function in concert for the greatness of the country. Checks and balances are not invasive but systemic with self-course correction mechanisms. Virtues and good practices should never be compromised for the sake of an individual. Integrity and purity of organisational structures is cardinal.

There is something known as sympathetic detonations. It is a flashover, usually unintended, of an explosive charge by a nearby explosion. This phenomenon subjected the Judiciary, Executive and the Armed Forces in the past 16 years. Perpetuation of acrimony in the form of judicial activism, corruption by rulers and the buzzword of civilian supremacy were utilised cleverly to mask and smokescreen much larger crimes and designs.

Not just the uniform, all have been hurt; the honourable judges, the honest politicians, the fighting soldiers and the hapless people of Pakistan. Interestingly there is one common denominator. Each organ is hurt by its own.

A glance around will expose a sidekick of media persons who became rich aristocrats within two decades, led the disinformation airwaves, created issues where there were none and conditioned Pakistan to hybrid threats. Suddenly, after the use of Dark Age references in the judgement, these evergreen journalists have switched sides overnight to ride the next bandwagon. Keep them at bay.

It is time to put an end to these sympathetic detonations and gather remains of the day. Pakistan deserves to be back on the track it deserves; Jinnah’s Pakistan. It is the Prime Minister of Pakistan who has to lead the charge through these parched lands and infested waters to pinnacles of National Character and Morale.

For the military, it is a lesson in humility and how it feels when hurt. Perhaps amongst all the constituents of the state, it has the most effective, automated and operable mechanism for self-correction and improvement. Having seen thousands of combatants fall during this time,  they must introspect and ensure that the blood of its martyrs and many more of the country is not wasted to be exploited by greed and opportunism that led to the day when one of its ex Chiefs was sentenced to be dragged dead or alive on the Constitution Avenue. Strangely, it coincided with India’s latest battle deployment in IHK.

The attacks on the armed forces have been direct and indirect but surely relentless. Beginning disowned war on terrorism this lasted nearly two decades. When peace is finally restored for rebuilding the country, a new form of activism threatens to destabilise Pakistan.  Army’s degradation is the only logical conduit to permanently destabilising Pakistan. Christine Fair had to write agonisingly, “For Pakistan State to Collapse, it is basically Pakistan Army that has to collapse, I don’t see that happening”. Perhaps the game to destabilise Pakistan through bad governance and pitching organs and people against the armed forces has also been exposed. The nation has become more aware of this hybrid threat than ever before.

Judicial activism and political appointments of judges since 1988 has led to a judicial suicide. The Special Court verdict has killed itself on many counts. First, the judge chosen to lead the special court is celebrated amongst TTP and PTM for his anti-military disposition. This is not chance but pre meditated. He is responsible for hundreds of deaths due to terrorists released to make the military victory more difficult. The use of Dark Age Dictionary and history reeking with hate, contempt and revenge makes it controversial. The verdict has raised many questions on the fair play of ‘due process’ and suggestive utterances of the Chief Justice. Lastly, the dissenting judge provides a long list of treacherous wrongs, something I pointed out in many articles.

Frequent reference to Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland by the Chief Justice and repeated in the Special Court Judgement means much more than the ‘eye can see’. Under the directions and oversight of the Supreme Court, it was a pre meditated sentence loaded with bias, hate and contempt of the armed forces. The reference was most unbefitting because, General Musharraf committed no genocide, forgave his enemies, committed no mass murders and helped his friends turned approvers.

Why do honourable judges try impressing this hapless nation with quotes from Khalil Gibran, Shakespeare and Mario Puzo is deadwood and gobbledegook? Their judgements and conduct do not reflect the fine lines of English literature. Hopefully the honourable and retired Chief Justice takes his literature and baggage with him and leaves the remains to the new Chief Justice to gather.

The only Exception is Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. Being a new entrant, he never was part of the Exclusive Club. His task is most difficult and daunting. It is time to clean stables and cut tentacles. He must not put caution to wind and keep looking over his shoulders to identify the ghosts of Dark Ages, the cuckoos genetically predisposed at occupying other’s nests. If he does not, they will lead him to a dungeon.

In the interests of Pakistan, there should be no public display of supremacy. The chamber of the Chief Justice of Pakistan is not far. The COAS, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice must lock themselves like the cardinals of Vatican till all issues are settled and resolved.

Samson Simon Sharaf

May 19, 2018

A SOLDIER’S TRYST WITH MARTYRDOM

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:39 am

An Ode to my Battalion Officer Col Sohail Abid Raja Shaheed
By Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf Retired

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Colonel Sohail Abid Raja our little soldier boy was commissioned in First Sindh Regiment (Fakhar e Sindh). We called him Raja and so he was; the Raja of Hearts. Ever eager to dash on the word go, he was energetic, self-activated and a dare devil. After every assignment, he returned with a smile, extreme humility and rearing to go again. His appetite for adventure and competition was insatiable. His energy levels were unfathomable. His communication skills were extra ordinary. Remaining in touch with his senior and subordinate camaraderie, problem solving and reaching out to those in difficulty were his amazing fortes. He had sensitiveness in heart that boosted his willpower to walk on the edges. His demeanor from a humanist to a tenacious soldier was amazing. At one moment teary and red eyed over the shahdat of a fellow soldier and the very next, a stern look with a smile meaning tough business. I saw him grow in personality with a firm belief that he had a role to play for his country. This vision statement was often reflected in what he wrote. His sense of predestination was strengthened by the fibers of his convictions, strong beliefs, fasting, thajjud and spirituality. He was also an avid reader, writer and a poet. He had a desire of ‘do or die’ for Pakistan reflected in his prophetic poetry.
Over the next two decades he grew into an intelligent, hardworking and dashing officer in the intelligence corps of Pakistan Army; those undercover mysterious men, who rouse imaginations, operate in the dangerous dark alleys and remain unknown and unsung. Assignment in Balochistan was the beginning of his tryst with martyrdom. He was well aware of the destabilisation plans in the province.
Having played a role in his professional grooming, I can imagine what must have gone through his mind in the days leading to and the opportunities available for his dare devil operation. He aired these feelings to his colleagues and why he wanted to lead the way.
The humanist in him was very robust. Time and again, he had vowed to the Hazara community that he would get to the masterminds of their massacres. On 16th May he knew he had to get them at Killi Almas on the suburbs of Quetta and that time was of essence. He told his team to perform ablution (Wuzu), recited prayers and dashed head-on into a rain of bullets. His mission was to get Salman Badini the Balochistan leader of Laskhar e Jhnagvi at any cost; and so he did. Wearing red collar patches, he was not required to lead a physical raid; but for his conviction of seizing the moment.
It is important for people to know what goes through the mind of professional soldiers from training to combat. As General Douglas McArthur explained, “a professional soldier must lie in wait all his life for a moment that may never come, yet be ready when it does even to the peril of his life”. Raja grasped that the moment was his; his tryst with destiny.
Soldiering is an experience punctuated with strong emotive factors, camaraderie, and sense of belonging to a strongly bonded group. Training, dormitory living and bonding forge a collective exclusive identity to create a spirit de corps. This hardens soldiers to foray ‘where eagles dare’.
Soldiers spend most of their lives away from families and neighborhoods. In operational situations, families learn to endure fear; yet wait for coffins. This strange form of exclusivity from the outside forges an inclusive sociology within. Enlisted in teens, they forego a part of the carefree youth to integrate into an organisation that demands the highest code of honour. A ‘do or die’ approach in soldiering is crucial towards an efficient fighting machine. It warrants guts with ability to think critically with composure, and like an artist evolve a canvas of a battlefield till mission accomplished. Reason and logic remain crucial to positive initiative. Therefore soldiers are trained to divert the flow of adrenaline in blood to positive energy. Raja’s psychology and physiology went through all these phases in a flash before his final dash to Killi Almas.
For us soldiers, yesterday was another day of the clatter of helicopter blades, whining of propellers, the firing of blanks and the Last Post. “The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men one commands the next; and self, the last”. Another day means a call to duty and daring the line of fire. Last Post means, going to battle.
So who exactly our Raja (euphemism for every soldier and policeman in line of fire) was fighting on 16 May? Does the nation have the time to pause and think?
Raja was fighting Laskar e Jhangvi, the Punjab based terrorist outfit known for its links with a political party. The outfit debouched into the wild expanses of Balochistan and Kacha areas of River Indus sparing Punjab its killing frenzies. As part of a subversive agenda it made strange bedfellows with separatist groups, hostile intelligence agencies and Daesh to destabilise Balochistan. It has been at it for more than a decade targeting Shia places, convoys, hospitals and law enforcement agencies. In the past, this group and its variants have had electoral alliances. PPP was particularly critical of this group. Rehman Malik the former interior minister with his inside knowledge repeatedly reasserted these linkages. The National Action Plan was deliberately kept weak. The façade of peace in Punjab was never possible without the acquiescence of LeJ and SSP.
The hybrid nature of threat particularly in Balochistan is in different compartments. Yet they complement each other. Baloch Separatism and greater Pakhtunkhwa are distinctively different but target Pakistani establishment. They share same external linkages as militant groups. So if the menace is not arrested, these groups will assume the nature of a complex maze as exists in Syria. This subversion follows the same contours as 1973, when some sub nationalists conspired with Afghanistan and USSR to destabilise Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Shaheed nipped both designs with an iron fist and astute diplomacy.
Within the intelligence sharing system, Raja knew what was afoot and he decided to act fast, beyond the call of his duty. Our little soldier boy is a National Hero whose martyrdom will set new trends for Pakistan.
Raja’s daring action was retaliated by LeJ immediately against a soft Frontier Corp target in Quetta. The Police and FC was on high alert and intercepted them before they could cause carnage. Dare say that conflagration in Punjab will imply call to battle. Sheikh Mujeeb II is confident he has liberation armies on his side.

He wrote the verse below hours before his Martyrdom

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August 14, 2017

PAKISTAN PAINDABAD

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 10:08 am

 

 

 

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(The Legacy of Pakistani Christians, Hindus and Parsees)

My brother Justin Sharaf talks at a reception on Pakistan’s independence Day in Philadelphia USA

I dare say this is perhaps the first time that the Pakistani Christians in Philadelphia have been graced by the presence of their esteemed Ambassador to the USA. This presence Your Excellency is a singular honor and a privilege for all of us.

Generally speaking, it is understood that the Story of Pakistan is the story of Muslims seeking to free themselves from the “British Induced Tyranny of Hindu Domination”.  However the Story of Pakistan has a second, more formative and much ignored caption. A caption that was central to Qaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947. It was the joint struggle of Non Hindu Indians against the majority oppression.

This is the story of the Christians, Dalit Hindus and Parsi communities of Pakistan. These communities, made remarkable contributions and silent sacrifices, when they were needed the most. Without them, the birth and stabilization of the new born Pakistan would have faced many hurdles.

Let me also express that the majority of Pakistanis sitting here belong to the areas of Punjab whose representatives voluntarily chose to be part of Pakistan in their testimony before the Radcliffe Commission and who tilted the balance in favor of the League in Punjab Assembly with two swinging votes and a casting vote of the Speaker who was a Christian. In the presence of the Unionist Party of Feudal Punjabis who supported Congress, this majority was otherwise never possible. Christians and Dalit Hindus of Punjab, Sindh and East Bengal decided to become part of the Pakistani identity. This is how parts of Jessore, Pasrur, Narowal, Kasur and Chunian came to Pakistan. Post-Independence Qaid e Azam promised the elders of the people gathered here agricultural lands they tilled for Hindu and Sikh landlords through a resolution in the Bengal, Punjab, Sindh and National Assemblies. This diaspora is part of the most original Punjabis and Pakistan’s largest group of displaced people.

As the modalities on this historical demand by Quaid –e-Azam were being factored, it was realized that on the WESTERN front and Jessore, Muslims did not have enough population consensus, to include most of the area in Lahore Division and Jessore. Dalit members opted for Pakistan. For the crucial vote in Punjab, the league did not have a majority. Three Christian leaders stepped forward voluntarily to join the League. League carried the day and the Unionists after defeat joined the League. But it did not begin here.

Alongside SP Singha and Fazl Elahi, Cecil Edward Gibbon was one of the three Punjab Assembly legislators who voted for Pakistan on June 23, 1947.

After being requested to vacate his seat for a Muslim Speaker, S P Singha was disillusioned with the politics of exclusion that followed. He died a broken man.

Gibbon was among those summoned by the Punjab Boundary Commission during its proceedings, from July 21to July 31, 1947, with Sir Cyril Radcliffe in chair. He said, “The Anglo-Indians are happy to be in Pakistan … It is a well-known fact that the ‘cream’ of the Anglo-Indian community comes from the Punjab. Their origin dates back nearly to 200 years … Many of us Anglo-Indians in the Punjab can even trace our descent from the Kings of Oudh … Such is the case with practically 99 percent of the Anglo-Indians of the Punjab. They are the descendants of the Anglo-Muslim race.” In June 1955, Gibbon won a National Assembly seat from the Punjab – the only seat allocated for non-Muslims. He was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly in August. He was the first Pakistani Christian to address the Joint Session of the US House of representatives and Senate in 1956. He was introduced by House of Representatives Speaker Mr. Sam Rayburn, “we have with us one of the leaders of the nation, a man high in his government, a man who is the leader of Christian group in Pakistan … I take great pleasure in presenting to the Senate the Honorable Cecil E. Gibbon from Pakistan. Yesterday, a copy of the Constitution of Pakistan was delivered to the Speaker of the House of Representatives … I can say without fear or contradiction that we have no better friends than 90 million people of Pakistan.” C E Gibbons left Pakistan in distress and died in obscurity.

It was Samuel Martin Burke son of Master Khairuudin Burke from Martinpur who as Election Petition magistrate in 1945 ruled 17 seats in favor of league. Imagine if the League did not have these 17 additional seats. Samuel Burke later became Pakistan’s first Foreign Secretary, defended Pakistan in UN on Kashmir, wrote books on Pakistan’s foreign Policy, was Pakistan Ambassador in UN, USA, Canada and UK, got Pakistan its first nuclear reactor and died in obscurity in 2010.

Pakistan’s first law minister who was responsible for getting Jessore to Pakistan was so upset with the treatment meted to Dalit Hindus that he resigned his ministry and left for Calcutta to die a traitor of Hindus.

While Christian leaders played their brightest part, Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhavi hailing originally from Peelovali, rode a bicycle with his friends starting from Sialkot region to Kasur, visiting every Christian Village which would come into the Proposed Indian demarcation boundary. He was on a canvassing visit for Pakistan. In 1940, Lal Din Sharaf attended the Lahore Resolution gathering at Manto Park Lahore and managed to read a poem dedicated to Pakistan movement. After independence, he also offered this poem to be Pakistan’s first National Anthem. He wrote in his diary. “Pakistan is now a nation and we have to draw boundaries of a State” perhaps Jinnah’s words. In 1945 as reprimand for his political activism in government service, he was posted to Quetta and later dismissed from service. In Quetta, he formed the Pakistan Christian League, the Christian adjunct of All India Muslim League. He travelled undivided India to read his poems during Muslim League rallies. In June 1948, he intercepted the returning cavalcade of Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah from Command and Staff College Quetta and convinced him to address a gathering organized by Pakistan Christian League at Mission Hospital Quetta. Jinnah obliged and Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhvi proudly sat next to Qaid E Azam and Qazi Issa. At the conclusion of the event, Lal Din coined the poetic expression, “Quaid-e- Azam Zindabad, Pakistan Piandabad”. The same evening Radio Pakistan in the reporting the event from Karachi, ended the newscast with the words, “Pakistan Piandabad”. Perhaps this was Jinnah’s only posting intervention. On the orders of Governor General, he was reinstated in MES and posted to a new cantonment at Wah near Rawalpindi.  He came up with the brilliant idea of copying the design of Badshahi Mosque for this new city.He died after his head was beaten to pulp for standing up for Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Most soon after partition, the Christian tillers of Hindu and Sikh landlords were displaced by Muslim migrants and left with no home. Qaid e Azam’s assurances and resolutions in Punjab and National Assembly had no effect. These 400,000 people became Pakistan’s first group of displaced people and have swollen to 1.4 million. They live in slums of all major cities of Pakistan and have been reduced to the lowest social strata.

We must break the myth that only Muslims migrated from India. There were many Anglo Indians and Christians from as far away as Madras, Delhi and Orissa who travelled to Pakistan. Today, most of these talented people with great talent and diversity have left Pakistan. There is a little house in Venezuela atop a hill called Pakistan. Other than embassies, this is perhaps the only place in Americas with Pakistan’s flag fluttering 24/7.

From August 14, 1947 onwards, while our Muslim Brothers were busy looting and claiming evacuated Hindu and Sikh properties as their own, Christian and Parsees put their shoulder to the task of Building Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan.  Here are a few Historical facts:

  • The biggest refugee camp was established in grounds of FC College Lahore ad what is now UC Hospital. Christian hospital Taxila was another place for refugees. Parsees established the biggest camps in Karachi with assistance from the Goan and Anglo Pakistan’s of Karachi.
  • Two communities that stand out for giving Karachi the face it has are Parsi businessmen cum philanthropists and the Goan Christians. Parsis made a big contribution with their handsome donations, investments and social centers. Goans followed with their skilled manpower and organizational ability. In the 1947 partition turmoil, it was the Goans and Parsis that held the city together. The Hindus left and migrants poured in. The majority of health care, educational and civic facilities were run by these two communities.
  • Frank D’Souza, a member of the Railway Board of India set up Pakistan Western Railways on request of Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
  • Cincinnatus D’Abreo a remarkable Goan ‘founder of modern Sindh’ established the city’s first township, called ‘Cincinnatus Town’ (now Garden East). Post partition, Karachi’s first elected Mayor was Manuel Misquita who Mr. Misquita to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah joined them in thanksgiving prayers for Pakistan.
  • A glance at the list of names on Municipal Corporation, Karachi Divisional Council, and Mayors indicates the strength of diversity. Few know that the modern city of Seoul South Korea is modeled on Karachi. As Karachi ceded to forces of intolerance the peaceful and serene city became insecure. The architects fled.
  • Though Mr Ahmad G. Chagla is credited for the composition of Pakistan’s National Anthem written by Hafeez Jullandari, (primarily because they were averse to naming a Christian Pakistani and South African Muslim was preferred) few know that the actual scores and compositions were done by Chagla’s close Christian friend Tollentine Fonseca. Tollentine was a bandmaster in Pakistan Navy who wrote the scores of each instrument in a blend of Waltz and eastern music. The Officers March, Dewan-e-Khas and Barcelona Waltz played by the brass bands of Pakistan’s armed forces are also his compositions.
  • In sports, O.B. Nazareth wrote the first constitution of the Hockey Federation of Pakistan. Milton D’Mello represented Pakistan in 1948 London Olympics as did the brilliant forward Jack Britto at Helsinki Olympics of 1952. Mathais Wallis, Antao D’Souza, Duncan Sharpe and Sohail Fazal played test cricket for Pakistan. Michael Rodrigues, a General/Vascular & Cancer Surgeon was a National Boys Singles Table Tennis Champion for three years. Mennen Soares played for Pakistan in the All-England Thomas Cup World Championships in 1950s. John Permal was Pakistan’s champion sprinter from 1964 to 1974. Raymond Brinksworth dominated the hurdles. Rose brothers Clyde, Nigel, Kevin and Brian were national boxing champions in their weights and represented Pakistan. Amongst few Pakistanis who have scaled above 8000 meters peak without oxygen, the name of my younger brother Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf stands out.
  • Christian fighter pilots form the single largest bulk of gallantry awards and martyrdom in PAF. Pinto Hall at Military Apprentice School at Barian Murree stands out as commemoration of a great soldier. It was Colonel William Waterfield, the legendary adjutant of PMA whose guns silenced the Indians at Lahore in 1971. Christian officers remained the backbone of Pakistan Navy for a long time. Names like Gardner, Niblet, Snell and D’Souza are legendary in Pakistan’s Police Service. In judiciary, Charles and William Lobo, Constantine Pinto and Justice Cornelius are familiar names.
  • The Christian Community gave Pakistan FOUR of the SIX Royal Indian Air Force planes which along with the Future Air Marshal Asghar Khan, they stole from Indian bases and flew to Sargodha. Who can forget Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz, Pakistan’s honorary Marshall of the Air, who set up PAF, Army Aviation, SUPARCO and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission?
  • The honor for making Pakistan nuclear is shared by three Christians. Samuel Martin Burke for getting the nuclear reactor, Turowics for setting up the missile and nuclear plants and Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf for operationalizing nuclear explosions in 1998 and writing Pakistan’s nuclear policy and doctrine.
  • The Christian Community gave the Pakistan Navy three out of the first four Chiefs of the Pakistan Navy.
  • The Christian Community gave Pakistan the only senior and junior Operating Staff for the only Hydro Electric Power plant in Malakand at that time.
  • The Christian Community gave Pakistan the nucleus for the Warsak Dam, the only Dam at that time.
  • Since August 14, 1947, Christian Educational Institutions have given Pakistan All its Presidents, Prime Ministers, Governors, Most senior and junior Ministers, six Chief Justices of the supreme Court and almost all leaders in Civil administrations
  • The Christian educational Institutions of Pakistan have given the Armed Forces of Pakistan over Eighty Percent of its Officers.
  • The Christian Community gave Pakistan International Airlines the best Pilots when the airline was just starting up.
  • In the war in 1965, on the ratio of enrolment, Pakistan Christian Officers won 60% of all Gallantry awards.

Today at the personal whims of our Muslim Brothers who made no sacrifice for Pakistan, we are summarily condemned to death. Any Muslim anywhere in Pakistan can get up and pronounce the Blasphemy Clause. Instantly raving angry clouds will assemble, beat mercilessly any Christian on their radar, pillage the falsely accused and his family, burn any Christian home and place of worship. The all sanctimonious police will step in with their draconian powers and within days, a judge will hand down a Death Sentence, all without investigations or due process of law!

Perhaps the biggest difference in the loyalty and love for Pakistan between our Muslim Majority and the persecuted Christian minority is that, The Muslims came to Pakistan out of Compulsion to escape Hindu vengeance. While we Christians had no compulsions but we choose to stand with Quaid-e-Azam.  We left all we had in British India, and we choose to be Pakistani, and so, while our Muslim brothers usurped Hindu and Sikh properties, we chose to build Pakistani.

Today at the personal whims of a new generation of our Muslim Brothers who made no sacrifice for Pakistan, we are summarily condemned to death. Any Muslim anywhere in Pakistan can get up and without any cause or reason, pronounce the Blasphemy Clause. Instantly raving angry mobs will assemble, beat mercilessly any Christian on their radar, pillage the falsely accused and his family; burn any Christian home and place of worship and demand blood on the streets. The all sanctimonious police will then step in with their draconian powers and within days, a judge will hand down a Death Sentence, all without investigations or due process of law!

Excellency, you may ask me why am I in the USA and not in Pakistan; Well Excellency, I am proud to say that, I gave the best of my youth to Pakistan, and only when I was not needed any more, I chose to explore the world. How many of our Muslim brothers who have prospered so much in the USA, can say that?

When will our rulers realize that, so long as justice prevails, governance is functional? Only the absence of justice can create an environment wherein all socio-politico-economic ills prevail. The absence of justice is the absence of liberty and freedom. When mankind has fought for freedom; it actually fought against prevalence of systemic injustice.

Excellency, Go home and tell them that, we Christians ALSO gave our today, for your tomorrow.

Pakistan Piandabad!

Co Authored by Sharaf Brothers with references from Asif Aqeel

 

March 11, 2017

ODE TO SAJJAD ALI SHAH

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:19 am

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Ex Chief Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah passed away this week. May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace? Unlike lateral entrants who form the majority of Supreme Court, he was a career jurist rising through the ranks from 1967 t0 1998. Consequent to a long tussle he had with Mian Nawaz Sharif, he was stripped of his title by his fellow judges in 1998. Amidst the PSL finals and controversies, the news of his death was damp and insignificant. Akin to the cantankerous nature of Pakistani politics, the man who made headlines from 1994 to 1998, died in oblivion. Yet the cause for which he lived and died remains unaccomplished. The battle between corrupt elites and public interests of the people is ongoing in the very courts that disgraced him.

The anonymity of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah is explainable in the interrelationship of ‘Raw Power’ in Pakistani politics with short public memory that makes truth the first casualty. It also reflects a yawning gap in the ability of opinion makers and media to sift real from fiction. Most, it is a grim reminder that nations that forget history and do not self-correct continue to suffer indignity and pain. It is also an indictment on public perceptions that are managed to eclipse realities. Lastly it represents a collective flexible conscience of the elites that only awakens when self-benefits can be reaped. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah’s death reflects the dearth of the ‘Rule of Law’.

His autobiography, ‘Law Courts in a Glass House’ rots in dustbins with no reviews. Not a single readable copy of his memoirs is available on the internet. Oxford University Press that published his book does not have a copy. Many legal experts are reluctant to talk about him. When confronted with existing controversies, they reluctantly agree but only so. Being on the wrong side of history is an admission impossible to come by. The only introduction available is, “Supreme Court Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was about to reach a major constitutional decision when Legislators of the ruling Muslim League Party stormed the Supreme Court in Pakistan, physically preventing him from delivering judgment. Here, Shah provides the judiciary’s version of this bizarre episode, shedding new light on Pakistani history, law, and politics.”

Ironically his autobiography corroborates with the existing political culture of Pakistan with a bench of Supreme Court seized with an ‘event in succession’, that could make judicial history. Once again the party exerting implied pressure on the Supreme Court is PMLN that masterminded the humbling of Sajjad Ali Shah. If past is precedence, the culture of gratification will prevail and therefore reflect the divides in the bench. There may be insignificant few who will ‘pity the nation’. Apex Courts are on trial ‘to come of age’ or fall to the temptations of a judicial culture put in place by Zia Ul Haq, PMLN and Chaudary Iftikhar. Odds are uneven.

Despite many controversies that surrounded him, history will record him as a jurist who led a single handed campaign against forces of corruption and nepotism. Had he succeeded, the constitutional and political history of Pakistan would have been remarkably different. There would have been no military rule; a different military chief; and a better line of political succession. Also the highly politicized judiciary would have been purged. Most, Pakistan’s nuclear capability would have been boosted by political stability and economic development.

As a prelude to Pakistan’s nuclear explosions, this was perceived in 1997-98 as a logical course of events put off-track by forces of political greed and inertia. General Karamat’s departure as the COAS was the last nail in the coffin of wishful thinking. His capitulation was too docile, drowning the aspirations of a nation. Alas, Pakistan was to take a most wrecking course leading to present controversies. With Malik Qasim’s report and Rehman Malik’s investigation on money laundering, Panama, offshore investments and Swiss Bank accounts would have been nipped in the bud. Pakistan would have been richer by scores of billions in US Dollars.

Effort by him to unsuccessfully alter the course of Pakistan’s tainted constitutional and corrupt politics caused his isolation. Live by the sword and you die by it. Himself a beneficiary of political expediency, he miscalculated his services and failed to realize that he was surrounded by fellow judges who owed a lot to their political masters. As his differences with Mian Nawaz Sharif reached a crescendo, he was controversially removed by his fellow judges. The two justices who created the factions were politically rewarded to become the President of Pakistan and Governor of Sindh.

Eventually, neither the military not the President came to his support. Thumped with a two thirds majority, Prime Minster was quick to move the Thirteenth Amended that deprived the President of powers. Disarmed, President Laghari had a choice to get impeached or resign. Besieged by a majority he had craftily managed to put in place, he chose resignation. In mysterious circumstances, the COAS General Jehanghir Karamat also resigned.

Equipped with the Thirteenth Amendment, Nawaz Sharif could now have a Chief Justice and Army Chief of his choice. He did, but was removed through a coup led by his handpicked military chief. With good overseas connections, he bounced back in controversial elections to only begin from where he had left. The issues that Justice Sajjad Ali Shah tried addressing aggravated with time, and remain unresolved.

The cardinal sin committed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was the even application of law. This he manifested in his dissenting judgment in Nawaz Sharif case in 1993 and dismissal of PPP government in 1996. Though he is discredited with upholding this dismissal, the decision came from the highest office under pressure from USA for her reconciliatory efforts in bringing peace to Afghanistan (Nation: I August 2010. The Elusive Peace: A War of Error).

Eventually, the system isolated him. In desperation he asked the three services chiefs to protect him and his court under Article 190 of the constitution. This was not done and ultimately PMLN mobs ransacked the Supreme Court. At his weakest, suddenly the elastic conscience of his brother judges to gang up against him came to fore. Belatedly, they realized after three years that his appointment was illegal and stripped him. With him ended one chapter of Pakistan’s judicial anarchy [interpretation of Article 184 (3)] only to successively re-sink Pakistan whenever it suited the benefactors and beneficiaries.   The tug continues.

If one was to draw an organogram of Pakistan’s judicial and bureaucratic elites, factorise events with empiricism, the conclusions would be shocking and heart breaking.  These would authenticate the memoirs of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

As a hypothesis, the present judicial system is a continuation of the courts of Justice Nasim Hassan Shah and the young bureaucrats inducted into service in the 90s. One way or the other, the majority are directly or indirectly placed as beneficiaries of political gratification and what Qaid e Azam abhorred; jobbery.  As regards Panama Public Interest Litigation proceeds, these findings will be staring down the throats of many judges of the apex courts who are beneficiaries of the system.

The Shah has died. Long live the Shah.

Samson Simon Sharaf

The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson

SOCIOLOGY OF CONFLICT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:10 am

Conflict is a science of sociology emanating from conflicting interests. Not only wars but conflicts across the entire spectrum are competitive in nature. A modern nation state is a creation of this conflict and can only integrate when its diversities are bonded by complementary interests. This is called nation building.

Two very contrasting headlines captured Pakistan in the past weeks. The federal government announced mainstreaming Federally Administered Tribal Areas adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Afghanistan. The second related to stereo-typing Pashtuns in Punjab by a hyperactive police notorious for its high handedness. Both headlines affect Pakistan’s efforts at nation building and have to be handled like an artisan making his crafts. Given the hasty manner in which the government came out in mainstreaming FATA, the two events also seem interconnected and an effort at damage repair.

Like the Nation Action Plan which was more talk than action, the merger plan is conspicuous by its insensitivity. Given the hasty modalities, the meanings of nationalism, nation building and devolution seem to be least understood. The government does not seem to realize that it is about to embark on a journey into unchartered waters. Pakistan’s record at building inclusiveness and using diversity as strength is not good. The crises within All India Muslim League, separation of East Pakistan, Punjab centric approaches and existing marginalization of ethnic and religious minorities are a sorry tale at building nationhood. History has many examples where good ideas were ruined by bad plans. Pakistan needs a surgeon’s incisiveness and not a butcher’s cleaver.

There is only one way to merge FATA into KPK. This way is the RIGHT WAY drafting the aspirations of the people reflected in their ethnic, cultural and historical aspirations as also creating opportunities for mutually beneficial complementary alliances that strengthen national cohesion. Though the people of FATA have always yearned for a more inclusive identity within Pakistan, the abrasive manner of handling Pashtuns in Punjab was shameful to say the least. It provided an opportunity to the forces of disintegration and ultra nationalists to reopen the Pashtun question that is already dead in Pakistan. If the people of FATA feel that their immediate problems are not being addressed, how would they feel comfortable with a 5-10 year rolling plan whose outline is already controversial?

Since 1947, tribal regions were loosely federated with Pakistan with the will of the people represented by their tribal maliks. The Rahadari System and pastures permitted cross border movement which has now become extremely contentious. What separated Pashtuns living across the Durand line were the strong economic linkages with Pakistan. But the non compliance of federal laws had created an environment where FATA became a haven for illegal activities. This apathy and disregard gave way to turmoil, violence and lawlessness. Therefore, Pakistan must make the best of this decision. FATA with its people and its abundant natural resources that spread from Chitral to South Waziristan must be mainstreamed under a social, economic and political plan that benefits everyone. The rich rare earth minerals of Waziristan must not face the same fate as Reko Diq. If exploitation is avoided FATA has the potential to become the powerhouse of Pakistan.  In this backdrop, the merging of FATA into KPK is a landmark decision warranting astute socio-political, administrative and socio-economic handling. This is where the catch lies.

FATA comprises seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions. To cut a long story short, the arrangement represented the British forward policy against Afghanistan and Russia. This arrangement served the imperial designs of the Cold War when USSR occupied Afghanistan. FATA became the base of operations for launching a mock Jihad and so called Mujahedeen. Statistically, only a small group amongst these militants was Pashtuns. Others included Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks and Punjabis. Though FATA under the arrangements was designed a lawless area, the conflict, drugs, proliferation of weapons and diverse fighting groups marginalized the Maliks and made it a free for all hornet’s nest. It is only after a series of operations by law enforcement agencies that the area has been cleared of militants but only temporarily. Most fled to Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan to reorganize and live to fight another day.

If someone in Pakistan’s elitist decision makers thinks that palming off FATA to KPK is a good idea, he is grossly at fault. This thinking without an imaginative back up plan will only make things worse. The much touted FATA Reforms Package and merger plans spread over five to ten years may just be the beginning of the challenges. No plan works to perfection and practical challenges will emerge as and when the plan is put into effect. Widespread criticism of lawmakers of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over the hastily agreed arrangement is only the beginning of challenges. At the same time the government should resist the temptation to put the merger plan at the mercy of Pakistan’s polarized and corrupt politics. But this is exactly what it seems to do.

First the much touted six-member committee constituted in November 2015 based its consultations and recommendations on a two day flying visit to FATA.  In this time it was impossible to consult over 3,500 representatives it claims. Consultations have only been peripheral and exclusive.

Secondly, it is impossible to ordain inclusiveness to a problem that has lingered ever since the Sikhs handed over FATA to the British. The scars of history, questions of identity and culture, the miseries of people, and their aspirations cannot be absorbed and articulated in hastily called jirgas within two days. People of FATA as a start point want their return to homes, reconstruction and rehabilitation (3Rs) under their own supervision. The merger plan is non representative and controversies will emerge along the way. This is avoidable.

Thirdly, the province that has to absorb FATA is only in an indirect loop. No KPK representatives are part of the merger committee. It is unimaginable that a province that has to do all the donkey’s work is not represented in such consultations. There is an immediate need that all elected representatives of FATA and at least three members of the KPK cabinet should also be co-opted in the merger committee.

Fourthly, the civil society and activist of FATA, many of whom are highly accomplished individuals are not happy with the merger plan. As a start point they want the 3Rs to begin under their own representatives. This means either constituting Jirgas at Tehsil level or conducting local body elections immediately. As is obvious from the Prime Minister’s statement, this is not a federal priority. All development work will be conducted under the unpopular political agent’s office.

Following measures are of extreme importance.

The government must assemble a consultative group of eminent sociologists and those with hands on experience in FATA to reevaluate the FATA merger plan. This group must be cognizant of the sociology of conflicts and draft best measures to promote nationalism.

The work on 3Rs must begin forthwith. This will reassure the people of FATA that they are not being exploited for someone else’s political gains.

The federal government must direct all chief ministers of provinces to exercise caution in exercising authority that appears racist and counterproductive to Pakistan’s nationhood.

As a last comment what happens to devolution of larger provinces? To the contrary, another mega province is being created. I only hope that halfway in implementation, a future government does not decide that devolution is a good idea. Then we will be back to square one. So why not consider devolution right now?

Samson Simon Sharaf

The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson

 

 

February 25, 2017

The Panama Pyre

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:53 am

 

The hearings of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Panama by a bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan have concluded and the judgment reserved for future. Litigations filed by Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI), Jamaat e Islami, Watan Party and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad were earlier dismissed. The Registrar of the Supreme Court had ruled that these petitions were frivolous for pecuniary gain but was overruled by the Chief Justice who constituted a bench that dissolved on his retirement and was again reconstituted with Justice Asif Khosa heading it.

What is important is that the Supreme Court ‘in principal’ accepted the petitions in the spirit of public interest in as much it exercises the jurisdiction of suo moto, (representative of people and strengthening democracy in public interest). It took on the onerous task of ascertaining the wrongs done to the fundamental rights and interests of the people of Pakistan. In the days of Justice Retired Iftikhar Chaudary, the Supreme Court has invoked this jurisdiction repeatedly.

The proceedings were never about the petitioners versus PML-N. Though the media did try reflecting debates as adversarial they were in fact inquisitorial with the Supreme Court Bench acting as a surrogate of public interest. The questions on money trails were inquisitorial in nature and the respondents exercised evasion. As PILs the world over imply, it was the bench ascertaining facts with assistance of litigants who represented the people of Pakistan. It was in this spirit that Imran Khan, Chairman of PTI invoked Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan and reminding the court that his petition was justified in advocating the interests of the people.

In such cases as provided in Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the inquisitorial and judgment writ of the Supreme Court extends beyond what exists in judicial precedence. It is for these reasons that while the petitions provided leads to the violations of public interest, the onus of ascertaining the truth and facts fell on the Supreme Court. For this reason, many jurists in Pakistan commented that the ‘Supreme Court was on trial’. The petitioners repeatedly reminded the bench that they were not an investigating agency. To invoke the inquisitorial jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and enable it to question investigative agencies and lower courts, PTI had prayed for the following actions by the court: That Mian Nawaz Sharif, Captain Retired Safdar and Ishaq Dar be declared to be disqualified to be Members of the National Assembly. There should be a direct recovery of looted/laundered money along with properties purchased through British Virgin Island Companies and companies in other safe havens. A direction to Chairman NAB must be given to discharge his obligations under S.18 read with S.9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and complete investigation in mega corruption cases pending for the last fifteen years. The Secretary Interior was to be directed to take steps for placement of the name of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members named in Panama leaks on the Exit Control List. Secretary Law and Chairman NAB must be ordered to initiate claims on behalf of Government of Pakistan for recovery of the properties in question. The FBR is to be directed to probe and minutely scrutinise the tax returns and assets declarations of the respondent and the entire Sharif family. Any other relief, direction or order deemed just and proper may also be afforded, issued and given.

PILs and suo motos have a historical precedence and past decisions of the Supreme Court have an effect of law. These are always inquisitorial and non-adversarial.  Judicial activism and what some may call the power of the Suo Moto emerged in Pakistan post-1985. According to Rafay Alam, “the creation and development of the PIL jurisdiction can also be seen as a manifestation of the Islamic and democratic ideals enshrined therein… the non-adversarial nature of PIL proceedings often result in consensus which appear similar to the principle of Ijtma in Islamic law…PIL jurisdiction is one of the few places citizens can challenge their elected representatives and the institutions they operate without recourse to the polls. With some Islamic scholars arguing that the use of Ijtma makes Islamic law compatible with Democracy, the link between PIL and Islamic and democratic principles is becoming difficult to ignore.”

It appears that the court hearing the Panama PIL forayed into unchartered territory and therefore learnt as it proceeded. The case itself that spans irregularities from 1992 to this day, requires unprecedented inquest. This is the reason why PTI had made NAB and FBR as respondents and also included the proviso of ‘deemed just and proper’. The challenges for the honourable judges were reflected in the exchange of dialogues during the proceedings.

But the first prayer of PTI had no ambiguity. It related to Sadiq and Ameen about which the court had set precedence in the past like disqualification of elected representatives failing Articles 62-63 of the Constitution of Pakistan. In the case of the disqualification of Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Supreme Court itself had disqualified the Prime Minister after conviction rather than refer it to the Election Commission of Pakistan. The litigants felt that based on evidence, past precedence and the evasive attitude of the respondents in the court, the bench in a short order could disqualify Mian Nawaz Sharif under Articles 62-63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Other prayers of PTI will take time to address. The respondents, cognisant of dire consequences, deliberately kept the issue of money trails ambivalent. Stopping the buck at 2006 and Qatari letters were used to confuse the court. The crucial links to untangle the knot and discover the trails back to 1992 lay in the Economic Reforms Act of 1992, Hudaibya Paper Mills and Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement on money laundering. These cases were not probed enough and governor State Bank of Pakistan never questioned.

The appearance of Chairman NAB in the courts was more for optics. It was the courts and not NAB that had shut doors on the Hudaibya Paper Mill case. In one case, the judge who closed the case is named in Panama papers. The Lahore High Court, while quashing a NAB argument admitted that Nawaz Sharif had nominal shares in the business. Judge Anwar Ahmed of accountability court termed all charges ‘politically motivated’, a remark that was never deliberated. The bench should have investigated these court decisions before admonishing Chairman NAB, who stood his ground with grace.

Another missing link and not probed enough was the Economics Reforms Act 1992 and its relevance to money laundering. These trails are mentioned in detail in FIA report investigated by Rehman Malik. Though the report did find mention in the proceedings, it is available with the bench to determine the relevance with evidence provided by the litigants. While the bench deliberates over the final outcome, it is hoped that State Bank of Pakistan will be asked to furnish crucial financial data from 1992-98. These, combined with the judgments of British Courts will make a water tight case. Indeed, if proved, it will result in convictions and recovery of Pakistani assets. Individuals who abetted in hiding money trails before the bench will all be in the firm grip of the long hand of law.

Given the damage done to Pakistan and its people, the final judgment of the bench could comprise a short order followed by more investigations. During that phase, the courts that ruled in favour of Sharifs, FBR and State Bank of Pakistan will all be under inquest.

In case the prayers of Imran Khan are not addressed, the litigants will always have a right of review. Then a legal team of PTI will raise issues on questions of law (not framed by the bench) leading to more inquests. To assume that Panama Case will be dead after the bench gives its judgment is wrong. To the contrary, the game would have just begun. The Panama Pyre will burn.

Published in Nation. 25-2-17

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