INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

August 30, 2014

THE SOFT BOOTS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 12:49 pm

A slightly outdated version appeared in today’s NATION

During the tense moments at Azadi Square yesterday, Arshad Sharif of Dunya News tweeted, “Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand“. He was referencing to Lady Macbeth who had assisted her husband Macbeth kill King Duncan in a rage of self-illusion created by his overheated brain and witchcraft. I retorted with a line from Macbeth’s soliloquy, just before the act of murder. “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing”. Had Macbeth waited a few seconds to cool himself, Duncan would never have been murdered. This is what happens when emotions override the reason.

Mian Nawaz Sharif (the Duncan) and the self-serving advisors (Lady Macbeth) made the Parliament irrelevant during fits of grandiose illusions and fears they let dominate. More than upholding democracy, vulnerabilities and self-preservations prevented stretching of imagination. In the peaking moments and rising adrenaline he lost cognitive control to let distortions dictate his decision fatale. Had Nawaz Sharif democratically co-opted the house and not made them feel threatened, he would have been in a constructive position of reviewing the situation. Had he carried the house with him to re-engineer the entire system and then resigned under moral compulsions, he would have lived to return another day; perhaps stronger as a GODOT. Rather than allow democracy to grow, he went back to bite and ridicule the institution that had bred and financed him illegitimately for decades. This is an aspersion on his democratic credentials behind a façade he created with aplomb, gratifications and shady politics.

His apparent capitulation was timid with a hidden dagger up his sleeve. From a hound who oversaw the Model Town massacre, he became the hare running for cover behind the boots he had publicly ridiculed in concert with a media house. !4 hours later, both somersaulted. Grandiose around him was built on a castle of sand with money, manipulative politics, shady gratifications and narrow self-interests. The capitulation from Reason to Boots (Daleel and Gulalil) was swift and perhaps fatal. In one bad decision, he reduced Pakistan’s premier decision making body to irrelevance, reflecting a mind-set that had no faith in the system he allegedly manipulated. As Prime Minister, he lied. 

The house he relegated to ignominy deserved the treatment it got. Parliamentarians with elastic conscience sat timidly through the motions awaiting instructions from their powerful party leaders. Most with stakes in the NRO imposed system lacked the morality and ethical conviction to take a stand on questions of moral authority. Why must Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweet “BB Hum sharminda hain” (Benazir Bhutto we are ashamed) when his father and co-chairperson could never rise beyond his balancing and compromising politics. Rather, he left the party in the lurch to travel abroad. On another extreme, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and Mahmood Khan moved to play their respective sectarian and ethnic cards. PPP in the Parliament is not far behind. What they have at stake is MNA funds and massive corruptions. 

But it is too early to predict the course of events.. The opposition and PMLN allies in the parliament have reacted in their own interests. Chaudary Nisar’s defiant tone means so. The Prime Minister himself has declared on the floor that he had never asked the COAS to arbitrate. It appears that after the rush of the moment, the Prime Minister has reviewed his stance and put the COAS in an embarrassing position. If retraction is true, then cunningly, he has lured the military and two political parties in the same bracket. This is not a game the Prime Minister should play with his armed forces.

This edifice of PMLN politics was not crafted in a day. After the Supreme Court rebellion in 1997, PMLN influence had permeated the apex courts. Politicised appointments were made in the executive and lower judiciary have now grown to be the decision makers. In 2006, elements in judiciary and a media house were co-opted to create a very strong non state group that could create perception, punish dissidents and promote political interests. Monetary gratifications were part of the package. If a sincere effort at retuning the system will reveal cabals, cartels and groups that work together to malign honest bureaucrats, heads of regulatory and accountability bodies to make shady deals. With remnants of Chaudary Courts still effective, it will be difficult to solicit balanced legal judgements. The unconstitutional precedence set by Justice Ramday empowering the full bench to review every decision will continue to haunt. Stay orders, writ petitions and delaying tactics may affect timelines.

A case study of how and why Chairmen NAB, SECP, NADRA and President State Bank of Pakistan were axed would reveal the extent of complicity amongst the trio. The media house would carry out the character assassination through select journalist; the targeted officials would be coerced by the top management while judiciary would move in through suo moto to misuse its writ. The same mechanism also worked towards rigging the election as alleged by an ex official of Election Commission and also the case of 35 punctures. The biggest test of reforms will be reclaiming the extra space gained by the judiciary through constitutional legislating. In case this is not accomplished, all cases of high handedness, criminality and accountability are likely to be over turned by the special benches.

The investigation of electoral rigging should be carried out through criminal investigations by a Federal Inquiry Commission and Joint Investigation Teams. All electronic trails, minutes at ECP and Ministry of Law, printing of ballot papers, violations of Articles 62-63 and the individuals who benefited must be subjected to critical criminal inquests. NAB is on record having provided list of individuals with records of corruption, defaults and accountability cases. It must be questioned why this information was ignored to benefit individuals and Chairman NAB removed in a controversial manner.

PMLN has naively offloaded its burden on the shoulders of the army and attempted to discredit it. If PTI and PAT do what they threaten, the military having established contact will be seen to be taking sides. If the army does not sail through the rigmarole it stands to lose credibility. Nawaz Sharif will urge them through more blunders to act. Then they hope, their proxies will wage a civil war.

In the scheme of events the government and sitting parliament will not cooperate; else soft boots are at risk of becoming hard ones.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

 http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/30-Aug-2014/soft-boots

 

August 24, 2014

CIVIL SOCIETY AND LIBERTIES

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:40 am

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It is déjà vu. The class struggle between the ‘Have Not’ and ‘Haves’ continues. They have endured the weather, trying conditions and long journeys in cramped vehicles for a dream. The past of 1970 is being repeated. The deep malaise of ruling elites is endemic and needs a strong medicine. Status quo political parties in denial of civil liberties are intransigent. If they cede, they fear the crumbling of politics whose edifice is built on an exploitative system that suits their interests. If they fight back, the peaceful protests could become violent and spread all over the country. Within this political turbulence, sceptics do not rule out an intervention by a third visible or invisible party. 

As events stand, the government is adopting a go-slow policy on inquesting and reforming an election system. The exercise of accountability would discredit their legitimacy and cease to put them in power through a process they master. Pro-democracy proponents in favour of sham democracy forget that fair and transparent elections are one part of democracy. The other aspect is empowering, reflecting and delivering the will of the people. Hence democrats of every description who wish to stand by the inertia are playing a negative role, history will never forget. 

Occupation of space by the state with no capability to administer has sucked people into many dark holes. These elites permeate administration at lowest level with Thanas, Patwaris and arm twisters. waderaism (fiefdoms), misuse of Madaris, drug and land mafias, marketing cartels, currency operators, private armies, militancy and Gullu Butts are a reflection. The Trojan of a mind-set with insatiable capability to permeate and control any movement is fast multiplying. The fault and notoriety of Imran Khan and Dr Qadri is that they are challenging it.  

The civil society of Pakistan that bears the primary responsibility for rights of civil liberties is mysteriously quiet since the 80s. It came to life for the wrong reasons in the restoration of the Chief Justice. As events prove, General Musharraf was right. The so called independent judiciary has not delivered for the rights of the people who swarmed streets during the movement, died, got wounded and endured jails. The judiciary made life exclusively miserable for the PPP government for five years. They impeded and obstructed transparency in the system. The suo moto were one sided. The apex courts remained suspiciously quiet on issues of public interests and civil rights.   

Civil Society demonstrates democratic activity outside the ambit of the state machinery. In political science philosophers like Georg Hegel and the revolutionary theorist Karl Marx, called them an inclusive concept of ‘society minus the state’. In the twentieth century the development of civil society is seen as a significant criterion of the development of democracy. In each culture, civil society is a reflection of the traditions, conventions and codes of behaviour outside the legal hierarchal structure of the state. Even as I write, a civil rights disobedience movement continues in Ferguson, St. Louis USA. 

Civil Society is the epitome of National Power and what Hans Morgenthau calls the ‘Sweeping opportunities of National Character and Morale’. It appears the civil society of Pakistan has resigned itself to the fold of the 60% masses who do not participate in elections. Either they do not have the desire to be counted or resign themselves to petty gratifications that come their way. There are no active labour and trade unions, no effective civil rights groups, no student movements, no revolutionary poets like Faiz, Faraz, Jalib, Daman and Munir Niazi. Pseudo Liberals living off NGOs and grants fail to realise that the fight for civil liberties is always fought on the streets to pressurise the legislature and executive in the right direction. 

All India Muslim League grew out of the Mohamadden Education Movement, itself a civil society organisation. In a resource starved post 1947 Pakistan, it was mostly the civic organisations that took on the onerous tasks of rehabilitating refugees, running education institutions and promoting egalitarianism. Even today, it is the civil society that remains the most vibrant and effective means of relief. 

The role of village panchaits, jirgas, joint community care, and collective participation in celebrations and mourning are aspects that are still practised.  In Pakistan, multiple inheritances give rise to unresolved struggles between the practices and values of authoritarian legacies and democratic aspirations. Post colonialism a new class of neo colonialists has emerged with an exclusive fiefdom of its own. Governments once elected forget their legislative functions to expand space into the executive. In Pakistan, all elections represent an inclusive strain, but once done, governments recluse themselves to an exclusive domain. Workers who accomplish all the donkey work are ignored. The present government calls it the loser while President Zardari used to refer to them as political jokers. The result is a complete disconnect from the constituencies. 

The massive sit-ins on the constitutional avenue cannot be dismissed as unconstitutional and power politics. These are demands of two political parties that focus exclusively on civil liberties.  It is a reaction to the suffocation within a rigged legislature that refuses to bridge the gap between the people and state and holds fundamental rights of its citizens in abeyance for its vested interests. 

The struggle can no more be described an agitation by particular groups to wrest political power unconstitutionally. The call is for complete transparency. It is a desire and aspiration to truly empower the people and bring meaning to the sanctity of the ballot and power to the people as enunciated in the constitution. This has remained the missing link ever since Qaid E Azam laid out Pakistan’s social contract with people on 11 August 1947.

The civil society needs to galvanise and throw up new leadership capable of exerting relentless pressure on the government and political parties. The silent majority has to venture out of their homes.  People need to reoccupy space they have ceded. The success of this movement depends on the people. If they come out and be counted, the wide gulf between the people and the state may be bridged in future. If they do not, a cause would have been lost to exploitative politics.

Those who are unwilling to join this Civil Liberties Campaign have to do so vociferously. Keyboard revolutionaries should never ever criticise the system. They will live in captivity for a century. 

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/23-Aug-2014/civil-society-and-liberties

 

August 20, 2014

HURRICANE X: IMRAN-QADRI FACTOR

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 7:18 am

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his book, ‘If I am assassinated’ gave one of the reasons for his imprisonment as his efforts to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. His agenda of Islamic Socialism was built on the slogans of Roti Kapra aur Makan (food, clothes and housing). Though Bhutto was able to mesmerise masses with his style of politics, apart from ruining the entire socio-economic system through nationalisation, he did nothing tangible to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. By the time his contentious second term began, he had side-lined most of his socialist entourage and started relying heavily on tradition feudal politicians. He abandoned his constituency earlier than expected. The only thing Islamic about his socialism was nationalisation of Non-Muslim educational Institutions and declaration of the Ahmadiya Community as a Non-Muslim Minority. Societies have innate ambitions and aspirations and respond their own way. Bhutto’s biggest mistake was the politicisation of Jinnah’s legacy. The people lost trust in him and never stormed to release him.

Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s aspirations about Pakistan were simple, realistic and practical. His speech of 11 August 1947 provides guidelines for a people centric Pakistan in which the legislature and executive were directed to work for the welfare of the people. He confined the Constituent Assembly to framing a Constitution for the welfare of the people without any ethnic, religious and class prejudices. He directed the Executive to take a people friendly start and work against corruption, jobbery, nepotism and ensure public safety. He promised to make Pakistan an egalitarian state where no class divides including religion would impact the functioning of the state. 

Unfortunately, the onerous task of nation building never took a start. Lobbies within the nascent Pakistani system were upset and within hours of his death set about redefining Pakistan according to their own interests. Jinnah’s legacy does not exist in the distorted history books of Pakistan’s education curriculum. Very few make the effort to unearth the facts. But as time has passed, even religious parties that opposed him have realised how integral he remains to the spirit of Pakistan.  

Successive civilian governments have failed to provide the type of relief Jinnah and Bhutto promised to the people. Jinnah’s death precluded his vision. Bhutto fell into the familiar pit. Successive regime changes since 1988 are a musical chair between PPP and PMLN that promote Jinnah’s anti thesis.

The only respite to people came through military regimes. But the military psychology of ‘Welfare of the Men’ failed to arch beyond a point where elitist demons are allowed to permeate and take over. Military’s efforts at reversion to civil rule were followed by a familiar deluge of fly by night reformers who perpetuate a corrupt system.

Pakistan’s politics lacks a centre from where the left or right can be differentiated. What prevails is an elitist approach that usually co-opts the religious parties as expediency. As a result society continues to get intolerant. Having been excluded, the people of Pakistan are weary of the system and willing to forge a new bridge for their social contract.

I came across an interesting comment by Rauf Klasra. He said that two rightist parties in Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek are actually propagating a leftist agenda. I agree with him with the logic that the left in Pakistan has never existed after 1960. Whatever remains has since become pseudo liberal. What we see in the existing right/left is a status quo of elitist interests that allies with the religious right for exploitation. What I wrote in ‘Khan’s Nouvelle Pakistan’ (6 November 2011), that the people have shunned the old politics and opted for change remains true today. It is Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri who will now define the centrality of Pakistan’s politics.

Both PTI and PAT are parties riding the winds of change. Their agendas and manifesto revolve around Jinnah’s speech of 11 August 1947. Both appear people centric. Both talk of egalitarianism, rule of law, social justice, empowerment of people, village councils, peace at home and peace abroad, transparency, rights of Non-Muslims as equal citizens, a drive against corruption, a transparent electoral process, constitutional reforms and separation of legislature from the executive. But there is more.

Deep down, analysts in both parties realise that a Parliamentary system unitary in nature does not suit a federal system in which both parties promise devolution of provinces on administrative convenience. In case both parties manage to sweep next elections, the two could combine to carry out sweeping reforms based on separation and devolution of powers. With an agenda such as this both parties will have to face the wrath and machinations of the status quo they abhor and use for populist politics. Repeated incidents of violence in Model Town and today in Gujranwala reflect this mind-set.

Politics of change is a very tall order, easier said than done. The innate ambitions and aspirations of people have come to fore represented in snowballing rallies marching to Islamabad. The people have vested their confidence and reposed trust in Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri. The march is turning out to be Pakistan’s biggest mass mobilisation in history. Islamabad, a custom built capital is already choking with people. By the time this opinion gets to print, it would have further choked.  The frenzied crowds with sweaty faces, sleepless nights and radiant energy will demand a minimum roadmap of change.

My opinions are strong and based on empiricism. Last time when Bhutto did it, we as students were on the streets in his favour. When he nationalised education institutions, we were against him on the roads of Lahore. Having repeatedly analysed Pakistan’s constitutional and political crises over many years, nobody in masses trusts the present system. If the two do not deliver on promises, they will betray their flock.

The march to Islamabad means a cry for genuine change. This change must be premised on Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Speech. The people want a Naya Pakistan that actually means Jinnah’s Pakistan. As the two systems from the South converge onto Islamabad and join the one already there from KPK, the hurricane will generate unprecedented synergy.

Much will depend how well the two leaders articulate their demands on a time line. Perhaps an independent investigation into the illegal printing of ballot papers would make the entire elections irrelevant. No judicial commissions and no NADRA verification.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

 

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/16-Aug-2014/hurricane-x-imran-qadri-factor

 

 

August 14, 2014

The Illusion of Destiny? By. Dr. Zafar Altaf

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 9:36 am

Every now and then Pakistan is at a cross road. Why? In my forty years of service I have yet to see years of tranquility. Our tryst with destiny started in 1947 and through that period till today we have been rocking ourselves so terribly that perforce we do not need an external force to destroy us. This world is full of conflict between nations and within themselves. Much of the conflicts within nations was and is the result of poor to bad governance. Pakistan is in terrible straits and despite what is being argued there is little chance of the situation correcting itself. Should the present government stay? Will the next government be any better? Why this ill will? For one there is massive evidence with Imran Khan and others as well, that property and assets have not been properly acquired or earned. When such a situation arises in which the perception about the country’s leaders is one of deceit and improper behavior then it is difficult to get the public to think otherwise. I have seen this perception and its consequences in former East Pakistan. We lost it to the world that went around that the west was using resources that were generated in the east. The same thing is happening in Scotland where the nationalist party is of the view that the resources generated from the offshore oil rigs in the North Sea are being utilized by Britain. There is a need to understand the difference between excluded development and the use of resources generated in the poor areas but utilized in the rich areas and for the rich. When the two reinforce each other there is dynamite in the social system.

Consider Baluchistan and Ricko Dig the mineral rich where to surface copper the impurity is gold. So it is not only a copper mine but also a gold mine and why should Baluchistan lose their mineral wealth and allow it to be used by Federal government. It is unfair to the people of Baluchistan and it is nearly a decade and still no decision to exploit those resources and place them at the disposal of the provincial government. In any case the decision should not have been with the Federal government in the first place and should have been with the Baluchistan government. We are such goons. The trouble with us Pakistanis is that we seem to know and decide what the others have to do and for our part we have not done anything wrong; ever seen any one at any level accept responsibility. All that we do is deny all wrong doing. There is a flip side to this. The flip side is that the ignorant that finds himself in power is vindictive and malicious to a point that the others point of view is not only not accepted but is jeered at. This is obvious from the current scenario.  The political scene is not such a mess when it is analyzed psychologically and the players that have acquired wealth and riches by any means are not willing to let go even though there is this kind of social happenings. This is a curious nation. When Shaheed BB was accused under the official secrets one analyzed it. The Official secrets act was a colonial document and was for the Quit India movement. When Gen. Zia wanted an act the jokers in the Ministry simply removed the preamble and presented the overnight constructed act. That was funny. Preamble is an integral part of legislation and lays down the macro objectives and purposes of what follows. Similarly I have been stating that we need a Law of Torts so that the rubbish and stinky speakers are sorted out for their malicious and sometimes wild allegations. Because of electronic media there is complete breakdown of decency. All kinds of allegations are propounded. The government uses the machinery of the state for malicious purposes.

Normally in any country there are lobbies and groups but here the rule is that solitarist groups can be and are in every field. In such situations reason is almost always laid down by a powerful group. In the Punjab There are the Ranas and the Kashmiris in an unholy alliance, one replacing the other. Family appointments and the acquisition of resources are common phenomena. What do democratic countries do where such blatant actions are ordered by the highest in authority? It is more of a mockery. What nonsense and rot. These solitarist groups are based on mutuality of interests and there hunger for assets is not satiable. The assets are not limited to the politicians but also to their respective wives and their sons and daughters. In fact the evidence that I have is that their assets are more than the combined efforts of their parents. In fact Pakistan’s corporate sector fell short of their management structure by not including the unborn child onto its Board of Governors. We are what we make of ourselves. No country can help us change our values and attitudes. The nature nurture controversy has been laid bare in this country and by the politicians. Nature is superimposed by nurtured systems. That is the genetic format is helped on its way by the social format for a limited number of families. The politicians have much to be blamed for.

So where is reason in a democratic format in this country? I am least bothered about other countries. But there is no option without choice? Consider what is going on in Pakistan? Can we determine our identity? Is it possible to live in a situation where the self is a part of that choice? A country that does not understand what is proper selfishness. For fourteen months the ruling party had a choice before them but they dilly dallied and the net result has been that the forces that were in opposition finally decided to go on the roads. There has been much noise about the constitutionality of these actions. But the powers that be must understand that majoritarian rule is no longer valid in a modern democracy. People have now started to compare this lot with the tyrannical rule of Musharaf. This present lot brought in Musharaf as army chief when reason and choice should have gone to Gen. Ali Quli Khan. This ruling party does not believe in merit. It never did.

When choice and reason are not working in tandem one has a problem that is difficult to resolve. Social conditions deteriorate. It was so in the East Pakistan affair and it will be so when we next handle any such country wide issue [s]. Grey matter matters. Illusions do not matter.

 

August 13, 2014

My Exclusive Analysis for Nation. A CONSTITUTIONAL WAY OUT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:06 am

A CONSTITUTIONAL WAY OUT

Successive spates of high handedness of the incumbent government have tipped balance in favour of PTI and PAT. Containerised politics have widened gulfs. Confrontation is at nadir. Hawks within PMLN perceived and called a bluff that was not. Persistence with force could only damage the incumbency. Use of assets in Punjab will be a nightmare.

Politics of confrontation is integral to PMLN style politics. Punjab or centre, they have displayed consistency in challenging institutions, federal or provincial governments, judiciary, other political parties and Chiefs of Army Staffs. This time they have to confront their own medicine from the wrong end.

PMLN thinking on firm handling confrontation is illusionary. The Ex COAS had been amenable; pressurised President Zardari to restore the Chief Justice and even looked the other way when the massive electoral rigging plan was underway. They soon regretted rejecting a COAS of General Kayani’s choice to launch a campaign against the Army and ISI.  The opposition saw the chink and exploited it.

The government stutters on a comprehensive counter terrorism policy. Instead it has a flawed framework necklaced by Anti-Terrorism Act, PPO and Article 245 of the Constitution. Fears are vindicated. The police massacre at Model Town, high handedness against PAT and PTI, containerising Punjab and Islamabad and the flimsy national security conference indicate a familiar mind-set to a point it becomes a political martyr. Unfortunately, if past is precedence, they lack the nerve at brinkmanship. The escalation has political remedies but government seems bent to reach a firebreak point. Then only extra constitutional measures will be the only solution. They are well advised to exercise constitutional mechanisms that exist aplenty and not ditch Pakistan’s politics for an indefinite period. The Prime Minister has options to go down in history as a democratic beacon. Democracy is an inclusive cake and must be shared.  

First, he should step down as the Prime Minister and use his powers as party head to pass an ordinance to audit electoral results of 2013. At the same time, Chief Minister Punjab should also step down. To ensure transparency, NADRA Chairman should be reinstated.

Secondly, all members of ECP should be non-functional during the election audit. The audit must comprise jurists and members of civil society agreed by political parties. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

Thirdly, the New Prime Minister should hold an All Parties Conference on electoral reforms, followed by an Ordinance that empowers the Electoral Reforms Commission. The commission should represent political parties, constitutional experts and representatives of oversight bodies. These reforms must include the election of special seats. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

Fourthly, all heads of regulatory bodies should be reappointed with the consent of all political parties. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

 

Fifthly, a commission should be formed to formulate constitutional reforms including separation of executive functions from the legislature. It should also review the last three constitutional amendments to build greater harmony with the provinces and the people. Issues related to religious minorities and special seats merit incisive decisions.

The entire process should be given a dead line of 90 days followed by new legislation. Assemblies should then be dissolved and elections conducted under a care taker government by April 2015.

There are many ifs and buts about his Judicial Commission.

First, such commissions in Pakistan’s history end up as delaying tactics.

Secondly, with the government in power, the conflict of interest at all levels cannot be ruled out.

Thirdly, the proposal nullifies all election petitions and some decisions that have come in favour of protesting candidates.

Fourthly, it violates Article 225 of the constitution. Parliament will have to pass an amendment to make a commission constitutionally effective.

Lastly, Judiciary itself tainted in electoral rigging is no solution.

But the Prime Minister still thinks differently. He has endorsed elections as fair and transparent. He has fudged economic indices. He has given wrong statements on economic development. He intends taking the street protests head on. Confrontation is likely to reach a new crescendo. 

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/13-Aug-2014/a-constitutional-way-out

August 11, 2014

My Talk show on Jinnah’s 11 August Speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:39 pm

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23c1g8_programme-views-on-news-topic-11th-august-minorities-day_news

 

August 9, 2014

TAKFIRI: THE ARAB SIDEWINDER My OP-Ed in Nation

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The Islamic Summit in Lahore was an effort by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to give a new identity and geo strategic importance to the Muslim World. He convinced Muslim oil producing countries to use oil exports as a policy tool. Egyptian invasion of Israel in 1973 was a continuation. Egypt regained lost territories. The oil embargo hit hard on international currency markets. Arab countries got richer by billions and spent surplus on luxury and arms acquisitions. The Western policy of divide and weaken created security dependencies and surge in arms exports. Dollars went back from where they came.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution provided impetus to widen fault lines within the Arab world. USA and western countries played on the Shia-Sunni divide and vulnerabilities of non-democratic kingships and despotic regimes. CIA also got control of Takfris to employ against USSR. The scenario was often played in CENTCOM War Games warranting US intervention. Lawrence of Arabia lived a thousand lives in these scripts.

All four leaders of the Islamic renaissance met unusual tragic ends. The last of the revolutionary, Col Qaddafi of Libya died in a sewage hole. Today, there is no Bhutto, King Faisal, Shah Iran, Anwar Sadat or Qaddafi to challenge. Whatever remains of the Muslim world comprises political touts and carpetbaggers. The map of Middle East has changed forever.

Post 1973 events are a chronology of stark inferences that cannot be missed even by deaf and blind. Afro-Arab states like Egypt, Jordon and Syria shrunk while Israel expanded. Egypt and Jordon acquiesced while Syria and Iraq defied. Any defiance shown by President Morsi was quickly stamped by boots. PLO has become inconsequential while Hamas, an offshoot of Brotherhood faces the combined wrath of Israel, Egypt, Jordon, Saudi Arabia and the West. A plan seems to be in place where Israel in return for security of Jordon, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Lebanon sans Hezbollah would be allowed more space to create a strategic depth for its security.  Libya, Iraq, and Syria are at civil war waged by ethnic war lords, religious proxies and gangsters with USA, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE supporting them. The mess that is created seems anarchic but there is always order to confusion.

Let us not forget the US sponsored Iraqi invasion of Iran, the first Gulf War in which Iraq was winked by US ambassador to occupy Kuwait and 9/11. Post Twin Tower incident USA attacked Iraq instead of Afghanistan. Despite peace, surrender and coup overtures by Iraqi generals, USA insisted on the invasion. Imbedded journalists shaped an illusion. The real objective was not Saddam Hussain but the Iraqi Army. Once done, a process of unearthing and bringing to life the hibernating sidewinder began. Jordon became the assembly and training area. Efforts were made to co-opt Pakistan to replicate the Afghan mock Jihad.  Suspicious dollars were poured in. Perhaps General Sharif has stopped it.

The strategic advantages these conflicts bring to Israel remain subservient to the interests of the West. This interest is security and control of oil supply lines that sustains the western juggernaut. The control of rich oil fields of Iraq and Mosul Dam to ISIL without a fight is too facile to be termed a spectacular victory. The word Islamic Caliphate of ISIS and Levant has been accepted far too quickly by the western press. How could West allow these three events to happen without a whimper if its core interests were threatened? It will be a defining moment when Iran directly intervenes to protect Shia populations and holy sites or Turkey to secure its Kurd annexations. The initiative lies elsewhere.

Oil wars are serious stuff and the embargo of 1973 taught West lessons they will adhere. The run up policy to recent events suggests far more western complicity and Arab timidity than appeals to the eye. Dirty rich Arab Kingdoms and Sheikhdoms have sacrificed the entire Middle East for their short term petty interests. They raised, funded and trained blood thirsty hordes hidden in the sands for centuries; with a false notion that their version of religion would ultimately prevail over other Muslim sects and Arab religions like Christians, Bah’ha’, Druz, Yazidi, Mandean, Gnostics,  Yarsanist, Shabakist and Zoroastrians. ISIS Levant comprising Takfiri is a temporarily phenomenon. Right from the times of Hazrat Ali, they have been used selectively to create fault lines within the Muslim World. Like always, they will hibernate into the desert once Israel has expanded its security zone. With terrorism becoming a floating threat, these serpents could become difficult to handle. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Gulf States will have to pay a price.

Events in Ukraine and Crimea are at the other end of the triangle that links to Middle East oil politics. According to Michael Hirsh, “the United States and Russia have both crossed a Rubicon in the Ukraine crisis, and Washington must now confront the likelihood that if the standoff continues, it will dramatically alter relations on a much larger map than Eastern Europe, inviting Russian recalcitrance in crisis zones as far afield as East Asia, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan.” A new Cold War has possibly begun and Russia in Alliance with China will move quickly to hedge its interests in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, India and perhaps even Pakistan. This completes the Devil’s Triangle (Nation. 22 March 2014). The game will become bloodier and dangerous once Iran and Turkey are sucked into the situation. If that happens, Pakistan will have to re-evaluate its options.

In the 80s, Pakistan drifted from the notion of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) to become dependent on the Middle East. Perhaps the Pak-Iran proxy war in Iran had something to do with it. Perhaps it was also the lure of petro dollars; or yet still, RCD was seen as a relic of Baghdad Pact and CENTO. In the final analysis, this rim shall contain the engulfing flames from reaching Europe, Central and South Asia. Either way this crescent is of strategic importance. Events could force Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to join hands and challenge these developments if not for the security of hapless Muslims in Middle East, but for their own security. Russia and China could be crucial.

Pakistan’s first priority should be the cessation of all military support to Middle East States followed by an independent foreign policy. Much cannot be expected from a Saudi pliant government. Pakistan could go down the spiral of a funnel unless there is a structural shift in policy. The time is now before it is too late.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/09-Aug-2014/takfiri-the-arab-sidewinder

 

August 3, 2014

11 AUGUST 1947: AN INTERPRETIVE ESSAY TO RECLAIM PAKISTAN

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:16 am

jinnah-11August1947

Much has been written on Qaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Inaugural Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The contents have oft been deliberately obscured and sometimes debated with reference to other speeches. The objectives have either been to reinforce or demonise views of the Father of the Nation. Ultra-rightist considers it a figment of imagination. Others absorb it as a genuine directive by Jinnah at grassroots to make Pakistan truly egalitarian. 67 years hence, Pakistan’s political evolution is a reflection of this debate wherein every school of thought has attempted to envision Jinnah’s Pakistan in the context of its political leanings. Inasmuch as Pakistan’s politic body has been raped, fissured, dissected and divided, Jinnah’s speech and vision of Pakistan has suffered no differently.

To lay the foundations in a Pakistan just born and about which analysts cast serious doubts, Jinnah laid guidelines that are equally important. He said that, “The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan”. Jinnah clarified that the role of the Assembly was legislation. Successive assemblies could neither frame a constitution nor allay the forces of exploitation in the society. Once in power through adoption of the parliamentary system, political parties preferred executive powers to expand their clout.

Jinnah knew that Pakistan needed to take a start from zero from solid foundations. He elaborated this vision by saying, “You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State”. He continued, “One of the biggest curses from which India is  … is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so”. He said, “Black-marketing is another curse. I think they ought to be very severely punished, because the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want, and even death”. He declared emphatically, “I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me”. Unfortunately, rulers of Pakistan did the opposite. The people of the country are not secure, corruption is rampant, consumer cartels proliferate and jobbery and nepotism abhorred by Jinnah, a gateway to success.

The people of the country were Jinnah’s major constituency. He underlined their importance by declaring, “Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor… If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make”. Unfortunately, after his demise, what emerged is a fractured, divided and an insecure Pakistan that successive governments have failed to deliver. The people upon whom Jinnah made the foundations are abandoned.

Commentators ignore the fact that this speech was made in the backdrop of partition of United India on the basis of two religious identities ie Hindu and Muslim. In his later clarifications Jinnah asserted that Muslims living in India were under an obligation to remain loyal citizens of India as were Hindus residing in Pakistan accepted as equal citizens. He initiated a template on respective Hindu-Muslim Majority areas where religious, ethnic, sectarian and other minority groups would be elevated as equal citizens. Rather than religions, he was attacking the class system of the sub-continent based on caste and feudalism that made the region vulnerable to colonialism. He made a final dash to forestall large scale communal migrations. He was adamant that religious minorities elevated to equality, had better socio-economic prospects in Pakistan than in India. Here was a challenge he threw at Congress that Pakistan was prepared to positively compete with India in a classless society. He went on to say: –

“We should begin to work in that spirit, and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community – because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis and so on — will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence, and but for this we would have been free people long long ago…Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this”. Little did Jinnah know that despite his message of co-existence designed to bringing an end to religious identities in the sub-continent, the communal migration would lead to some of the worst human atrocities of the century? No government in India or Pakistan has persevered to obliterate the class system mainly because it is anathema to elitist interests.

For Jinnah, Pakistan existed the day he made his speech. He said, “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”. Reinforcing the communitarian and egalitarian spirit of Pakistan Jinnah desired, “You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” But these were not just words.

Jinnah manifested this vision by appointing Joghendara Nath Mandal, a Bengali Hindu as his first Federal Law Minister,  Chaudary Chandu Lall a Christian as Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Sir Zaffar Ullah as his foreign Minister and Samuel Martin Burke of Shahkot as his diplomat at large. He engaged the Christian Goan community of Karachi to set up Pakistan Railways, Police and District Admirations. Very few know that after hoisting the national flag on 14 August 1947, he joined Mr. Gibbons a member of the Constituent Assembly to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for thanksgiving. It was the first and last time in Pakistan’s history that such diversity existed at the highest levels of Pakistan’s politic body.

There is an attempt to obscure Jinnah’s historic address as Minorities Day. It is in fact a NATIONAL INTEGRATION DAY. Azadi March is an opportunity to turn back the clock to Jinnah Ka Pakistan.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/02-Aug-2014/august-s-social-contract

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