Monday, August 10, 2009

"Ode" to the Feudal Prince of Pakistan

In spite of its claims to the contrary, the Bhutto family's private jagir (property) of Pakistan People's Party has been instrumental in preserving the feudal system in Pakistan, through perpetuation of its feudal democracy, controlled by the largest landowners in Sind and Punjab.

Z.A. Bhutto's nationalization in the 1970s was the biggest culprit that stymied industrialization of Pakistan and the growth of the middle class, while it preserved the feudal system. Bhutto emasculated the industrialists who encouraged better education and skills development for workers for their industries, while feudal rulers continued to take their toll on the rural poor living on their lands who remain their slaves and reliably continue to vote their feudal lords into power in the name of democracy.

The Bhutto era nationalization has left such deep scars on the psyche of Pakistani industrialists that, to this day, these industrialists are not willing to make long-term investments in big industrial projects with long gestation periods.

To perpetuate the feudal system in the name of democracy, the PPP has a new prince, Prince Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, with his father Asif Ali Zardari acting as regent. Prince Bilawal is being heavily used and abused by Asif Zardari to promote the interests of the his incompetent and corrupt leadership, and to ensure that PPP remains in power to serve the feudal elite under the guise of democracy.

Here are a couple of video clips of Prince Bilawal who spent part of his summer vacation in Pakistan stumping for the PPP:





The military governments have, in fact, been more pro-industrialization because the military elite benefits from the manufacturing sector as much much as it does from real estate and agriculture sectors.

I am disappointed that the military, particularly President Musharraf, did not dismantle and destroy the feudal system when they had a chance. Instead, to respond to external pressure from the West, the military dictators, including General Musharraf, bought off some of the PPP or PML feudals, held elections and created the facade of democracy. This allowed the feudals to continue to dominate Pakistan's political landscape under both military and civilian governments.

However, over the decades, Pakistani economy has consistently performed better and created a lot more jobs during military rule than under the PPP or the PML "democratic" governments. These new jobs have helped tens of millions in the rural areas with the option to leave the life of slavery on the farms to get jobs in cities in the industrial and services sectors of the economy.



Pakistan's average economic growth rate was 6.8% in the 60s (Gen. Ayub Khan), 4.5% in the 70s(Zulfikar Bhutto), 6.5% in the 80s (Gen. Zia ul-Haq), and 4.8% in the 90s (Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif). Growth picked up momentum in the 21st Century under General Musharraf, and from 2000-2007, Pakistan's economy grew at an average 7.5%, making it the third fastest growing economy in Asia after China and India. There were 2-3 million new jobs created each year from 2000-2007, which significantly enlarged the middle class, and helped millions escape poverty.


Related Links:

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Oxford

Biawal's Extracurricular Activities

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Taliban Target Pakistan's Landed Elite

Pakistan's Feudal Democracy

Will Someone Hand Bilawal a Spliff?

Pakistan's Military-Industrial Complex

Pakistan: A Cradle of Civilization Breeds a New Nation

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha ha!!! I had tears in my eyes - I laughed so hard. As someone quipped, he made his mother sounds like Ghalib ...

I miss Musharraf.

Anonymous said...

All Hail the Clown - err sorry Crown - Prince of Pakistan!

Anonymous said...

kayani should take over, seize all feudal land and distribute to farmers.

Anonymous said...

kayani should take over, seize all feudal land and distribute to farmers.

One small problem with that. Those "feudals" now include a bunch of current and former generals. 12% of Pakistan's land area has been appropriated by the Army and redistributed among its cadre - and often promptly sold for hefty profits to private parties.

Anonymous said...

"One small problem with that. Those "feudals" now include a bunch of current and former generals. 12% of Pakistan's land area has been appropriated by the Army and redistributed among its cadre - and often promptly sold for hefty profits to private parties."

Organization that help military and their families are not "feudals". you may be reading too much indian/neocon propegenda.

Riaz Haq said...

I have received emails from some ZAB supporters who are very critical of this post. Here are some of the points/questions I have raised for them:

1. Do you disagree that, for the last 62 years, the big landowners have controlled the lives of the vast majority of Pakistanis who live on their lands?

2. Do you think the first order of business for ZAB should have been to implement serious land reform, rather than focus on nationalizing a nascent industrial sector?

3. Do you know that ZA Bhutto chose fellow feudal zamindars, protected their vast land ownership, and implemented a pro-feudal agenda, rather than land reform?

4. Do you believe that Pakistani bureaucrats were honest and competent enough and they ran the nationalized businesses and industries for the benefit of the people?

5. Do you realize that Bhutto used jobs in the nationalized units for political patronage to hire his cronies who destroyed these businesses?

6. Do you know that ZAB issued the executive order creating a political cell within the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with the purpose of influencing political processes in Pakistan? This fateful decision in 1975 eventually brought ZA Bhutto's own downfall when he used this cell to unnecessarily rig the 1977 elections and was overthrown and executed by General Zia-ul-Haq. It was also this cell that helped Nawaz Sharif , a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq, get elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan after the General's death in a mysterious air crash followed by a brief term in office by Benazir Bhutto. In 1990 the ISI received 140m rupees (US$2.2m at current values) to rig national elections, according to supreme court testimony by the then chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a new BBC report on growing radicalization and terror in Southern Punjab which is the most feudal part of Punjab, with several feudal Makhdooms, including the prime minister and foreign minister as part of the ruling elite in Pakistan:

Interviews we have conducted with senior police officers, independent analysts and militants in custody suggest that southern Punjab could be Pakistan's next battleground.

Internal police documents we have seen paint a picture of a province at risk.

One report states that poverty stricken, extremely feudalistic and illiterate south Punjab could possibly provide shelter to Taliban and other jihadi outfits. It has the potential to become a nursery or a major centre for sectarian recruitment.

Some experts here argue that it has already reached that point. One describes it as a factory for suicide bombers.

Police say that al-Qaeda has access to a labour pool via the banned sectarian group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), among others.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8296485.stm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters report on feudal excesses and case for land reform in Pakistan:

Dotted around Pakistan are vast estates run by feudal landlords who command enormous economic and political power, condemning their tenants to poverty, reform activists charge.

On some of these estates, debt bondage has forced 1.8 million people to work the land for no pay, generation after generation, according to the campaigning group Anti-Slavery International. On others, sharecropping systems are practised, under which landless tenants hand over between two-thirds and half of the crops they produce to the landowner.

Unlike other countries in the region, including India, Pakistan did not carry out land reforms after 1947, and attempts in the 1950s and 1970s to reduce the size of land holdings had limited impact.

"Land reform has not taken place because the lawmakers in many cases themselves have large land holdings and will never want to transfer ownership to tenants. There will be no land reform until [the] people are in control of governance," Mubashir Hasan, a former finance minister and social activist, told IRIN.

About 2 percent of households control more than 45 percent of the land area. Powerful farmers have also taken advantage of government subsidies in water and agriculture, and benefited from technological improvements which have boosted yields, according to the World Bank.

By 1977 the biggest estates had only surrendered about 520,000 hectares, and nearly 285,000 hectares had been redistributed among some 71,000 farmers. Around 3,529 landowners have 513,114 holdings of more than 40.5 hectares in irrigated areas, and 332,273 holdings of more than 40.5 hectares in non-irrigated areas, according to the government's annual Economic Survey.

"We manage to earn a little for ourselves by selling the surplus corn and wheat that we take from the land. It is hard work, but despite this we have not been able to escape poverty. None of my four sons is educated beyond the eighth grade. We needed their labour on the land," said Kareem Muhammad, a landless tenant on a farm near the town of Okara, about 110km south of Lahore.

In Punjab, both sharecropping and fixed-rent contracts - where a rent per acre farmed is paid to the landowner by tenants - are practised. In Sindh, about one third of the land falls under fixed-rent contracts and about two thirds of the land is sharecropped, government surveys show.

The sense of injustice created by the continued hold of feudal landlords and the poverty this gives rise to has been a key factor in rising social discontent - aided and abetted by militant groups.

"I am a landless farmer. Last year my teenage son was persuaded by members of an organization engaged in jihad [holy war] to come away with them. They told him it is better to wield a gun and learn to use it than eke out a miserable existence tilling land," Riazuddin Ahmed, from Vehari in southern Punjab, told IRIN.

"My son is only 17. He saw no hope ahead of him, and therefore went away with these people. His mother and I are distraught. But we believe he has gone to the northern areas and we have no means of finding him," he said.

Former finance minister Hassan blamed this on oppression and misery. "Today, governance has collapsed. Extremism has grown and weapons have proliferated," he said.

Farming contributes 21 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 44 percent of the workforce, according to the government's annual Economic Survey. Of the total land area of 80.4 million hectares, about 22 million are cultivated, according to official data. Nearly 65 percent of this cultivated area is in Punjab, about 25 percent in Sindh and 10 percent in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the transcript of an NPR report on feudal power in Pakistan and how it enslaves people on the large feudal estates in Punjab:

LAURA LYNCH: The midday sun throws a harsh spotlight on weathered faces. Women crouch low, searching for, then plucking out barely ripe tomatoes. Every crease and crevice in their feet, their hands, even on their faces is dusted with dirt from the fields they farm. They work from dawn to dusk - and the landowner gets most of the income. Nearly two thirds of Pakistan's rural population are sharecroppers. One of the male workers, Abdul Aziz, says they all owe their livelihood to their boss - so they support the political party he supports. He has always voted for the Pakistan People's Party he says; the party of the late Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto and other wealthy landowners like her had always been able to count on the loyalty of those who toil for them in the fields. At her gracious home in Islamabad, Syma Khar traces her lineage - both familial and political - through the photographs she keeps in the cupboard.

LYNCH: Khar is a member of the provincial assembly of the Punjab - the largest province in Pakistan. She is also a member of one of Pakistan's most powerful families. The pictures are from the Khar family estate just outside the city of Multan. The sprawling property includes fisheries, mango orchards and sugarcane fields. Thousands of people work there - most are loyal to their masters. Syma's husband, his father, brothers, nieces and nephews have all turned that to their political advantage to gain office. The workers are by and large, poor, landless and uneducated. Pervez Iqbal Cheema of Pakistan's National Defence University says that's the way most feudals want to keep it.

PERVEZ IQBAL CHEEMA: A feudal, in order to maintain his influence, will be probably not very happy for extension of education or health facilities because as long as they have a minimum interaction with the outsiders then the chances of new ideas germinating or causing some trouble are relatively less.

................
LYNCH: That star power was evident when Benazir Bhutto staged her return from exile in Karachi in October of 2007. Though it was later marred by a suicide bomb attack, the Bhutto power base in rural Pakistan bussed thousands of loyal followers in to cheer her arrival and dance in the streets. Even after she died, Bhutto's political machine ensured her husband eventually became President. And her son, Bilawal, inherited the party leadership even though he's only 20 with no political experience. In a back alley off a busy road in Rawalpindi, boys are just starting a late afternoon game of cricket. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, rights activist and professor of colonial history at Lahore University of Management Sciences, keeps an office a few floors up. Akhtar sees the staying power of the feudals - and gives credit to the military. It is Pakistan's other power centre - staging four coups in the country's 62 year history. Akhtar says the military, interested in holding onto its own sphere of influence, finds a willing partner in the feudal class.
.........
KHAR: If they don't' keep that attitude then people will be doing daytime robberies because they are illiterate people. They will, you know, kidnap the daughters they will take away the children they will take away the properties, they will kill each other. So a boss has to be a boss. He has to have that sort of attitude.
.............
LYNCH: As a farm worker empties her bucket of tomatoes into a crate there is no smile of satisfaction - the day's work is still far from over. There's little chance her life will change soon. Several land reform programs have failed to change rural life in Pakistan. And failed to loosen the grip of Pakistan's large landowners on the country's politics.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a 2008 Guardian story by Dilip Hiro on Pak feudal power:

The roots of feudal dominance lie in history. The Pakistan Muslim League, the parent of its present two versions, is the descendant of the All India Muslim League (AIML). Formed in 1906 to promote loyalty to the British Crown while advancing Muslim interests, the AIML was led by Muslim grandees and feudal lords. It was not until 1940 that it demanded partition of the Indian sub-continent, with Muslim majority areas constituting independent states. Unlike the anti-imperialist Indian National Congress, it lacked an economic programme favouring small and landless peasants, and trade unions for industrial workers.

Given the traditional peasants' servitude to landowners, and almost universal illiteracy in rural Pakistan, where most people lived, electoral politics became the privilege of large landlords, who controlled vote banks. During elections their choice of a party depended on self-interest: which one will supply or raise government-subsidised irrigation water and/or fertiliser; or build roads to the villages they owned.

This continues. A recent report in the Observer from Old Jatoi (population, 3,000) in Sindh is illustrative. While the peasants working for the local grandee, Mustafa Jatoi, live in shacks, his spacious house is surrounded by green lawns and high white walls, with its driveway chocked with Toyota SUVs and Suzuki Mehrans, now deployed to transport him to drummed-up rallies.

His electoral rival, Arif Jatoi, too has similar assets. But he takes time off to fly to Islamabad to seek extra development funds for his area from the prime minister, allied with the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Q.

In the more populous Punjab province, the Lahore-based Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, a PML-Q candidate, charters a helicopter to campaign in his rural constituency, promising to bring a gas pipeline to the villages. The family's fortunes have come from textile factories. Likewise, Nawaz Sharif and his brother, the leaders of the opposition PML-N, have amassed millions from their industrial assets.

It would be naïve to expect such super-affluent Pakistanis to advance the interests of landless peasants or poorly paid factory workers.

The near-monopoly of power by the Pakistan Muslim League was broken in 1967 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of Benazir, established the Pakistan People's Party. He coined a catchy, all-embracing slogan: "Islam is our faith, democracy our polity, socialism our economy; and all power to the people." It won him the sobriquet of "a socialist demagogue".

While advocating socialist economy, he never uttered the term "land reform". He could not. He possessed 12,000 acres of rice-growing land. He behaved as haughtily as any other feudal lord. So too did his daughter, Benazir. The corruption and the affluence of her and her polo-playing husband, Asif Zardari, are widely known.

Just as with the Jatois elsewhere in Sindh, any electoral rivalry is between competing estate owners. In the Bhutto-Zardari case, it is Benazir's cousin, Mumtaz. Owner of 15,000 acres of arable land worth £12 million, he earns an annual tax-free income of £345,000 in a country with per capita income of £350 a year.

In a recent interview, Mr. Bhutto waxed eloquent about his last summer holiday at Hotel Splendido in Portofino on Italy's Amalfi coast while his peasants suffered the humid heat needed for rice to grow. It was a break from his normal summer forays to apartments in London's posh Mayfair or Knightsbridge.

The glaring scandal of the present election campaign is the total absence of the long-overdue debate about land reform, where the state takes over the land above the legal ceiling and distributes it among landless peasants.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting analysis of how Pakistan has changed in this decade by a Ahsan, a blogger on Five Rupees:

In the last decade, this picture has changed dramatically due to three central factors.

The first and most important factor is the explosion of private electronic media. In the 1990s, it was difficult for most Pakistanis -- the vast majority of which cannot or do not read newspapers -- to get information that was not government-sponsored or, less mildly, propagandistic. ....

This picture has changed drastically, as anyone with even a cursory interest in Pakistan will be able to tell you. There are now dozens of news channels in Pakistan, each with their own ideological and partisan bent. Some are national-level, others more regionally and ethnically focused. The trend began in the early part of this decade and has plateaued only recently, as the market gets sated. And while few of these channels will win awards for calm understatement or presciently sedate analysis, the fact remains that the media -- if it can be spoken of as a collective -- has given voice to a mass of the population previously unheard from. It has become a player of truly monumental importance for its ability to shape, mold, and excite the public. It is, at once, sensationalistic, blood-thirsty, xenophobic, conspiratorial, humorous, investigative, and anti-government. And yet its arrival on the scene is more than welcome, first for providing the venue for disenfranchised interests to make themselves known and second because the alternative is much worse.

The second significant factor, related to but distinct from the first, is the rise of communication technologies in Pakistan, particularly cellular phones. In 2002, there were 1.2 million cell-phone subscriptions in the country. By 2008, this number had risen to 88 million -- an increase of more than seven thousand percent. In addition, more than one in ten Pakistanis had access to the internet by the end of the decade; low by advanced countries' standards but an astronomical rise by Pakistan's. These developments in communications meant that political narratives became congealed and disseminated at speeds never heard of before, and that information and the wider "war" for public opinion became incredibly hard to win if a battle was lost at any stage.

The third major factor is the economic growth that took place in Pakistan in the first half of the 2000s. Pakistan's GDP doubled between 1999 and 2007, and more than kept pace with population growth, as GDP per capita increased by almost sixty percent between 2000 and 2008. More to the point, this growth was overwhelmingly powered by expansion of the service sector, which is concentrated, quite naturally, in the urban centers of the country. For the first time since independence, the term "Pakistani urban middle class" was not a contradiction in terms.

This development had two effects. First, and more trivially, the urban middle class did what urban middle classes do: they bought televisions and computers. In turn, that allowed them to plug into the private media explosion in ways simply unimaginable previously. Second, it shattered the elite-only edifice of Pakistani politics, and made challenges to government based on Main Street issues -- the price of flour, the lack of electricity, the selective application of the rule of law -- a viable process. Fifty years ago, Seymour Lipset wrote one of the canonical articles in Political Science on the process of democratization, its relationship to urbanized middle classes, and how the demands and values of the latter lead almost inexorably to support for the former. Here was living proof of Lipset's analysis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from William Dalrymple's book "Nine Lives" about Bhuttos:

Benazir was a notably inept administrator. During her first 20-month-long premiership, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation, and during her two periods in power she did almost nothing to help the liberal causes she espoused so enthusiastically to the Western media.

Instead, it was under her watch that Pakistan’s secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped install the Taliban in Pakistan, and she did nothing to rein in the agency’s disastrous policy of training up Islamist jihadis from the country’s madrasas to do the ISI’s dirty work in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As a young correspondent covering the conflict in Kashmir in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw how during her premiership, Pakistan sidelined the Kashmiris’ own secular resistance movement, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, and instead gave aid and training to the brutal Islamist outfits it created and controlled, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat ul-Mujahedin. Benazir’s administration, in other words, helped train the very assassins who are most likely to have shot her.

Benazir was, above all, a feudal landowner, whose family owned great tracts of Sindh, and with the sense of entitlement this produced. Democracy has never thrived in Pakistan in part because landowning remains the base from which politicians emerge. In this sense, Pakistani democracy in Pakistan is really a form of “elective feudalism”: the Bhuttos’ feudal friends and allies were nominated for seats by Benazir, and these landowners made sure their peasants voted them in.

Behind Pakistan’s swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated, and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan, and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to the political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa, “Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look for alternatives. In the long term, these flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.”

Many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see political Islam as an anti-liberal and irrational form of “Islamo-fascism”. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people like Benazir Bhutto from the corrupt Westernised elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Riyadh, Ramallah and Algiers.

Benazir’s reputation for massive corruption was gold dust to these Islamic revolutionaries, just as the excesses of the Shah were to their counterparts in Iran 30 years earlier: during her government, Pakistan was declared one of the three most corrupt countries in the world, and Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari — widely known as “Mr 10%” — faced allegations of plundering the country; charges were filed in Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts, and they stood accused of jointly looting no less than $1.4 billion from the state.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a billion dollar LNG contract scandal uncovered by a complaint of the Fauji Foundation CEO, as reported by The News:

The NA members were told that the petroleum ministry bosses had never recommended to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to give the multi-billion dollar contract to French firm (GDF-SUEZ), whom surprisingly they all were religiously defending now.

It was disclosed that the petroleum ministry had actually recommended the award of the contract to Shell-Qatar, whose bid was higher than the French bid by $1.5 billion. But Shaukat Tarin had thrown this recommendation of the ministry in a dustbin after he learnt that he was being asked to award the contract to a party (Shell), whose bid was higher by $1.5 billion compared to the lowest bidder.

At the end of the hour-long presentation followed by a question-answer session, Chairman MNA Sheikh Waqas Akram, praised the journalist for his comprehensive presentation. Later, MD Fauji Foundation Lt Gen Rab Nawaz was said to have reiterated his old stance that his firm’s bid was the lowest if compared with the GDF-Suez, which was awarded the deal.

The committee met with Chairman Sheikh Waqas in the chair and was attended by MNAs Barjees Tahir, Nawab Yousuf Talpur, Wasan, Khurum Wattoo and others. Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar, Secretary Kamran Lashari, Special Secretary G A Sabri and MD FF General Rab Nawaz attended the meeting.

Klasra told the committee that his story was based on the minutes of the ECC presided over by then Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. The minutes had revealed that Tarin had got a telephone call from MD Fauji Foundation that the lowest bid given jointly by FF/Vitol had been rejected and the highest bidder GDF-Suez was given the lucrative contract. Tarin had informed MD FF that he was not aware of any such bidding because the petroleum ministry never shared such information in its official summary tabled before the ECC on Feb 9.

Consequently, Tarin had alarm bells ringing and had ordered a serious probe into the whole issue as to why the bid offered by FF/Vitol was not mentioned in the summary. But the petroleum ministry never replied to the queries of Tarin till he departed from his office at the end of February, much to the satisfaction of the petroleum ministry officials who thought that the issue had been buried but the publication of the scandal by The News shook them.

Petroleum ministry officials had even written a letter to Tarin, informing him that Minister Naveed Qamar had desired that they should not respond to him as he would “personally deal” with this issue. According to Klasra, he had contacted Shaukat Tarin to get his version about these startling developments and the ex-FM had confirmed on record that he was kept in the dark about the joint bid of FF/Vitol, which was claimed to be the lowest.

Tarin confirmed that he got no reply from the Ministry of Petroleum till he left the office. He also claimed that according to his calculation and information, there was a difference of one billion dollars in the bid price of the French company and FF/Vitol, so the country had suffered a loss of a billion dollar.


Minister Naveed Qamar is a close friend and ally of Zardari.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Asia Times report about tax cheating by the rich and powerful feudal politicians in Pakistan:

A case in point is Sardar Farooq Legari, whose estates extend from the Punjab to the Pakhtunkhwa. In 1994-95, he reported "zero income" while he was still the sitting president of Pakistan. Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (Pakistan's Justice Movement) shamed the entire landed class by revealing that a practicing lawyer, Khalid Ishaq, paid more in taxes in 1992-93 than all 273 members of the National Assembly combined - 85% of whom were large landholders.

This shaming, however, did not work on lawmakers who kept evading taxes. In 1994-95, celebrated journalist-writer M Ziauddin conducted a thorough investigation into the taxable farm income and tax-paying behavior of wealthy farmers. He found that all landlords in the country pitched in just chump change of 2 million rupees in taxes in 1996 against their annual income of 600 billion rupees. On this scale, Ziauddin concluded that the landowning classes had been evading taxes of 100 billion rupees a year.

This is a blatant case of tax theft, which has spawned its own vicious knock-offs, one of which is "black money" (that is, totally untaxed wealth). In 1996, an economist estimated that black money in Pakistan grew as large as to form 40% of GDP. If left alone, tax evasion in the above-ground economy or underground economy increases the budget deficit and forces governments to shift the tax burden to consumers or to increase money supply.

In either case, it is a whammy for the poor. In the 2008-09 budget, Pakistan has set itself on the course of widening the tax net. In terms of the tax-GDP ratio, the current budget features a relatively high ratio at 14%. The tax base also is on the rise. In 1994, it consisted of an overwhelming majority of the working middle class of 800,000 tax payers, who have now grown to more than 2 million.

The government, thus, can over the next 10 years raise $50 billion - $5 billion a year - to rein in poverty. At the current exchange rate, $5 billion comes to 345 billion rupees. Economist Shahid Hasan Siddiqi believes that Pakistan is undertaxed by 400 billion rupees a year. Its tax revenue should be 1.6 trillion rupees as against the projected 1.25 trillion rupees for 2008-09.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a story of arrogance and abuse by feudal politicians in "democratic" Pakistan written in a letter to "The News" in Karachi:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
I am a retired air vice marshal and have served the Pakistan Air Force for more than 35 years. About 6 p.m. on June 6, I was proceeding with my son to visit my friend's house in Street 27, DHA. While crossing 24th Street near Khayaban-e-Rahat, I saw a big Land Rover / Land Ranger-type vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. This vehicle occupied the central portion of the narrow road and it seemed that it would ram my car. I swerved to the left to avoid being hit. As we passed I told the driver of the vehicle to be careful rather than try and hit another car. The driver took offence and stopped and then started to back his vehicle. I too stopped my car. An argument took place where the young man, no more than 18 years old, driving the car remained extremely agitated and said that he was running out of his patience with me. He came out of his car along with his two guards with Kalashnikov rifles and another older person. They started threatening me and my son. One of the guards became violent and hit me with the butt of his rifle and started to cock his gun as if he would shoot. More arguments took place. Now both my son and I were being attacked. As if this manhandling was not enough, a police escort vehicle with six to eight police personnel, in both uniform and plainclothes, arrived in about five minutes and without ascertaining the facts attacked the two of us. Passers-by intervened and stopped the situation from getting any worse. The boy driving the car also realised that the matter had taken an ugly turn and asked his men to get into their cars which they did and sped away.

My cloths were completely torn and both of us received various injuries. The car's number plate was of Abu Dhabi (No. 80587). It also had an MNA plate on it. I did ask the boy his father's name. To which he arrogantly replied, "Go and find it yourself." After regaining my balance we proceeded to the Darakshan Police Station and reported the matter. We also got our medical done by the medical legal officer at Jinnah Hospital which was submitted for the 'Roznamcha'. Thankfully, the Air Force police arrived at the scene and assisted me fully. Otherwise, as one can imagine, even these formalities could not be completed easily. Whatever happened is sad, but I have the following questions to my countrymen: how can there be an Abu Dhabi-registered car running around in Karachi with an MNA plate stuck behind the huge vehicle? Is the young boy allowed to drive this vehicle? Does he have a licence? Is this young boy entitled to the privileges of an MNA? How did the police escort reach the place and joined in our physical assault? Are the police allowed to escort the young boy and why should they join in the altercation? When will these rulers learn to curb their arrogance and haughtiness and understand that they have been elected to serve the people, rather than harass and beat them up?

It is with great sorrow and pain that I have written this letter. If a senior person like me does not have the safety and is insulted, beaten and physically assaulted by the state police and private guards, what can we expect for the rest of the countrymen?

Syed Ataur Rahman

Air Vice Marshal (retired),

Karachi

Riaz Haq said...

There have been widespread allegations that Pakistani feudals, including many powerful politicians, deliberately flooded the poor peasants villages to protect their own crops and farms in recent monsoon rains. Here's a BBC report that says Pakistan's US ambassador is calling for an investigation.

A senior Pakistani diplomat has called for an inquiry into allegations that rich landowners diverted water into unprotected villages during the floods to save their own crops.

UN ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said there was evidence that landowners had allowed embankments to burst.

This led to waters flowing away from their land, he said.

More than 1,600 people have died in the floods, which have affected about 17 million people.

"Over the years, one has seen with the lack of floods, those areas normally set aside for floods have come under irrigation of the powerful and rich," Mr Haroon told the BBC's HardTalk programme.

"It is suggested in some areas, those to be protected were allowed, had allowed, levies to be burst on opposite sides to take the water away. If that is happening the government should be enquiring."

At the height of the floods, it is estimated that one-fifth of the country - an area the size of Italy - was underwater.

The flood waters are beginning to drain away to the Arabian Sea but inundations continue in parts of Sindh province.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11160995

Riaz Haq said...

Former Pakistani president Gen Pervez Musharraf launched a political party today. Here's a BBC report on his press conference held in London:

Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf has apologised for "negative" actions he took while in power, as he launched his new political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, in London.

Mr Musharraf said: "I... sincerely apologise to the whole nation" for the "negative repercussions".

But he vowed to galvanise Pakistanis and fight a "jihad against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and backwardness".

Correspondents say there is no real likelihood of him returning soon.

Mr Musharraf also appears to lack the kind of political organisation that could win him an election in Pakistan, they say.
'National salvation'

Mr Musharraf unveiled the All Pakistan Muslim League at a gentlemen's club in Whitehall.

There was tight security, with checks on all those entering the room.

Mr Musharraf apologised for some of the actions he took when in power.

"I am aware of the fact that there were some decisions which I took which resulted in negative political repercussions, repercussions which had adverse effects on nation building and national political events, and my popularity also, may I say, plummeted in that last year. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to the whole nation."

Mr Musharraf attacked the "total despondency and demoralisation and hopelessness which prevails in society today".

He added: "The time has come to redeem our pledge... to ensure the fruits of freedom are shared by all. The time has come for a new social contract to keep the dream of our forefathers alive... to make Pakistan into a progressive Islamic state for others in the third world to emulate."

Mr Musharraf said he wanted a party of national salvation that would "galvanise all Pakistanis regardless of religion, caste or creed".

Punctuated by chants from supporters, he added: "It is time to unfurl a Muslim league umbrella for all - this umbrella for all shall be the All Pakistan Muslim League."

The former army chief, who now lives in London, earlier told the BBC: "When there is a dysfunctional government and the nation is going down, its economy is going down, there is a clamour, there is a pressure on the military by the people."

He said he was launching the party in London because he risked assassination if he returned to Pakistan. He has survived a number of plots in the past.

Last month, Mr Musharraf told the BBC he would be standing for a seat in the 2013 parliamentary elections. From there he said he hoped to become either prime minister or president.

He made London his base, as a number of Pakistani politicians have done over the years, after his allies lost elections and he was ousted as president in 2008.

If he does go home, he faces legal cases, which he says are politically motivated.

Mr Musharraf seized power in 1999 when, as chief of Pakistan's army, he ousted elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Jacqueline Novogratz saying Pakistan needs more servant leadership:

I'm in the office of Dr. Sono, one of Pakistan's most extraordinary social entrepreneurs. Born a Hindu Dalit or "untouchable," he has worked for his country since his youth and emerged as one of the most important grassroots leaders in Sindh. He runs the Sindh Rural Support Organization, a nonprofit company that has emerged as the leading coordinator of local relief during the floods, providing food, sanitation, water and healthcare to six provinces, and serves 60,000 individuals two hot meals a day. With him are Sabiha Bhutto and Asma Soomro who Dr. Sono introduces as his "commandants." Both women carry serious expressions that give them gravitas and weight. Asma wears a black shalwar and an olive-and-rust-colored tropical print shawl over her head. Saibiha wears red-and-white narrow striped cotton. These two women led others to mobilize 80,000 people during the flood emergency.

I ask what they learned from the experience. Asma responds, "We learned to really go to their level, speak their language, feel what they would feel, and build trust." This is classic social-organizing language. "During these three weeks, I met a 90-year-old woman. She wanted to see how other people were coping in the disaster because she herself had gone through crises and was herself prepared for what might come. This inspired me a lot."

Sabiha speaks as much with her eyes as her hands. She remembers the sense of panic among people in Shikarpur who were understandably terrified by the threat of floods. "I spread calm to the people, and promised that Shikarpur would make it through the floods. I urged them to help those who were really in need." When local residents wanted to cross the river, she stopped them. She could see what others could not -- buffalos flying through the churning rapids, most of them drowning. Her neighbors trusted her, and lives were saved. I ask what she had learned. "I realize what it means to be brave," she answers.

Neither Sabiha nor Asma consider being a woman a hindrance, even in conservative parts of Pakistan. "People know that we are here for them," says Sabiha. "We've earned their trust." Between them, they've delivered sixteen women to the hospital to enable them to give birth during the crisis period.

Dr. Sono jumps in and says, "Last week, I received a phone call from a nearby village. The caller said people were drowning. And you know, I love that village." His eyes twinkle so that you can feel that love. I adore Dr. Sono for being so exquisitely alive and caring. He continues:

I called Sabiha and Asma and told them to go to the village and help people escape before the flood waters came. It was 10:30 at night, and still they went. This is a dangerous area, and women especially can be killed going out at night. But they went. And by midnight, the village was empty and there was not a single drowning.

The conversation turns to Pakistan's future, and what can be done about corruption.

Corruption is a big problem here. But we are seeing changes. We have minimized corruption at the district level, and now we have to translate that to the top level. We also have to focus on educating people at the grassroots, too, so that they begin to question government. This way, we can start to end corruption.

This way, the world can change.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a New York Times report filed Sabrina Tavernise on Pakistan:

In Mr. Dasti’s area, one of the hardest hit by the recent flooding, the state has all but disappeared. Not that it was ever very present. In the British colonial era, before Pakistan became a separate country, the state would show up a few times a month in the form of a representative from the Raj dispensing justice.

Later, the local landowner took over. For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”

Mr. Dasti, a young, impulsive man with a troubled past, is much like the new Pakistan he represents. He is one of seven siblings born to illiterate parents. Despite his claims of finishing college, he never earned a degree, something his political opponents used against him in court this spring. One of the 35 criminal cases against him is for murder, a charge he said was leveled by his political opponents. Detractors accuse him of blackmailing rich people in a job at a newspaper. He said he was writing exposés.

“I have more enemies than numbers of hairs in my head,” he said, bouncing down a road in a borrowed truck. “They don’t like my style, and I don’t like theirs.”

Riaz Haq said...

The latest Transparency International report says corruption has significantly increased in Pakistan during the last two years. Pakistan has slipped from 134th place in 2008, to 139th in 2009 and 143rd in 2010:

KARACHI: Pakistan's decline continue in Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and now its Index Score is 2.3 against 2.4 in 2009, and out of 178 countries, its ranking as most corrupt country has slipped 7 ranks, from 42 in 2009 to 34 most corrupt country in 2010.

The 2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem.

Syed Adil Gilani, Chairman TI Pakistan said in last two year there have been unprecedented cases of corruption involving tens of billions of rupees in public sector organization, which under the Rule of Law, should have been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau.

He said the political will of the government to fight corruption is lacking which has resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto action against mega corruption in NICL, Pakistan Steel, Rental Power Plants.

The CPI 2010 reveals that corruption in Pakistan is increasing, while in Bangladesh it is decreasing. Bangladesh was perceived to be the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and its ranking in 2010 is 39 most corrupt country.

Reduced corruption has paid dividends to Bangladesh whose annual GDP growth last year was over 5%, while Pakistan's GDP growth last year was near 2.4 %. Delay in formation of An Independent Accountability Commission by the parliament may further aggravate the situation.

Chairman TI Pakistan said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which has a declared policy of Zero-Tolerance for Corruption on 22 March 2009, in its order of 12th October, 2010 in NICL Case No.18 of 2010 involving six procurements is considers the Violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a criminal act. It is a landmark order, treating violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a federal crime and it will help reduction in Corruption.

The direct impact of increased corruption is witnessed in the rise in the prices of food commodities which according to the latest official data of Federal Bureau of Statistics, have increased up to 120 percent in last one year viz. sugar from Rs 54 to Rs 80, pulses from Rs 50 to Rs 110, eggs from Rs 35 to Rs 60, and the Foreign Direct Investment for the fiscal year 2009-2010 dropped to US $ 2.21 billion from US$ 3.71 billion in FY 2008-2009, and in July-Sept 2010 it is further dropped to US $ 387.4 million ( 68% of last year).

Foreign debt on Pakistan increased from US $ 40 Billion in 1999 to US $ 46 billion in 2008, whereas in last two years it has increased to US $ 53.5 billion.

Across the board Application of Rule of Law, Merit based appointments and easy Access to Justice is the only solution to save Pakistan from corruption, which is responsible for poverty, inflation, terrorism, illiteracy, lack of electricity and hording of essential food commodities.

In the 2010 CPI, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for first place with scores of 9.3. Unstable governments, often with a legacy of conflict, continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the CPI. Afghanistan and Myanmar share second to last place with a score of 1.4, with Somalia coming in last with a score of 1.1.

Riaz Haq said...

The Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has claimed that it has identified corruption cases worth Rs 300 billion in different federal government departments during the last one year.

Expressing his disappointment, Chairman TIP Syed Adil Gillani said that there was no effective accountability process in Pakistan due to which corruption was on the rise. He said that the TIP referred a number of corruption cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), one of Pakistan's controversial departments, but it did not initiated so far a single case against the perpetrators.

"Only the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) took notice of some of these corruption cases," he said.

The report released by TIP on Tuesday indicates that Pakistan is all set to hit further lows amongst the world's most corrupt nations. The 2009 report showed Pakistan climbing five numbers from the previous 47 to become the 42nd most corrupt country in the world.

Amongst the major corruption cases, Gillani said the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) of the government, was on the top. The government awarded 14 contracts in violation of the PPRA rules which caused a loss of over US$ 2 billion. The TIP had also written to the Supreme Court on this case of massive corruption and irregularity.

The sale and procurement policy of the Pakistan steel Mills had caused a reported loss of Rs 22 billion due to corruption. This corruption case had already been taken up by the apex court.

Gilani also informed of about the alleged violation of Pubic Procurement Rules 2004 by Pakistan Railways in the tender for procurement of 150 locomotives, only US made, which might have caused a loss of at least Rs 40 billion to the national exchequer. The project, he said, is presently on hold.

The other departments involved in mega corruption cases, according to Gillani, include Pakistan's Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL), National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL), PRIMACO (Pakistan Real Estate Investment and Management Company Ltd), National Highways Authority (NHA), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI). Pakistan's Oil and Gas Development Company Limited made headlines in the recent past when Prime Minister Gillani appointed his jail mate and a convict who was not even a graduate as its managing director.

Read more: Pakistan world's 34th most corrupt nation - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-worlds-34th-most-corrupt-nation/articleshow/6815792.cms#ixzz13Vn9ofdc

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excepts fom a recent Op Ed piece by Maliha Khan published on Chowk.com regading the need for land and tax refoms in Pakistan:

In September, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace reported that “Fewer than three million of Pakistan’s 175 million citizens pay any income taxes, and the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio is only 9 percent.” This is one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. Mohsin Hamid writes in his Dawn News Editorial that in comparison to Pakistan, “Sri Lankans pay 15 per cent of their GDP in taxes, Indians pay 17 per cent, Turks pay 24 per cent, Americans pay 28 per cent and Swedes pay a fat 50 per cent.”

The main reason behind Pakistan’s low tax-to-GDP ratio is tax evasion by the country’s elite. Federal officials, including ministers (even Prime Minister Gilani), only pay taxes on their government salaries and not on their personal assets. Although the government promises to take steps toward tax reform, it continues to dodge the issue every chance it gets.
----
Recently, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), a coalition partner of the PPP-led government, submitted the Redistributive Land Reforms Bill in the National Assembly. Land reform is a major potential contributor to tax reform. The bill proposed by MQM aims to “reduce the wide disparity of income and opportunity between the rich landlords and the poor tillers of the soils…” According to the World Bank, “More than two-thirds of Pakistanis live in rural areas, of which about 68 percent are employed in agriculture (40 percent of the total labor force).” Due to inequality in land distribution, there is a wide gap between landlords and peasants. Approximately 2 percent of households control 45 percent of the land. If implemented, the new bill will establish a limit on family holdings of irrigated land at 36 acres and 54 acres of arid land. Furthermore, the bill calls for the resumption and redistribution of all excess land amongst its landless cultivators, landless tenants, and small land-owners by the government, while also compensating the previous land owners.
-----
While the new bill specifically addresses land redistribution and agricultural development, it will indirectly play a great role in the expansion of the Pakistani tax base. In his article, “Doing Tax Reform Right: Think Big, Think Bold,” author Salahuddin Khan makes the case for “abolish[ing] all income tax and in its place introduce[ing] a gradually increasing property tax on real estate owned.” He points out that while liquid personal assets such as cash are easy to hide, real property cannot be hidden, and is therefore easier to tax. Khan also suggests incentivizing the ownership of smaller portions of land by making it “disproportionally expensive to own over certain thresholds of land.” The case Khan makes supports the undeniable link between tax and land reform. But even though his suggestions may be great, they are useless without any kind of land reform first.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Christian Science Monitor report on the adverse role of the big landlords on recovery from floods:

"Islamabad, Pakistan —
Like millions of other farmers across Pakistan, Abdur Razzaq of district Kot Addu lost the majority of his crops and livestock to the floodwaters that swept through the country in August. He estimates his financial loss this year around $3,000 – a huge blow given the poverty in rural Pakistan.

But his problems are compounded by the $2,000 in rent he owes to his feudal landlord, who, he says, is not inclined to forgive.

“If I ask him to defer payment, I would only have to pay back with greater interest,” he says. Instead, Mr. Razzaq says he will sell his animals at a discount and attempt to start fresh.

Those who refuse to pay – or can't – are forced out of their homes by armed gangs sent by the landlord’s family, and sometimes set upon by dogs.
"


"According to leading Pakistani historian Mubarak Ali, author of “Feudalism,” the problem lies with Pakistan’s two largest political parties, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and the Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N), whose representatives in southern Punjab and Sindh province consist almost exclusively of wealthy landowners.

Since the floods hit, Pakistan’s rural landowning class, who use their money and influence to gain seats in parliament, have made headlines for being conspicuously absent from their constituencies in their hour of need, diverting floodwaters to save their own lands, and for failing to disburse aid money entrusted to them to pass on to their communities.

-----
The practice extends up the chain of command in Pakistan's government. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi both hail from large feudal families in southern Punjab and have the added bonus of belonging to families with ancestors who are considered saints in the Sufi Islamic tradition. "


"Pakistan’s Army, the country’s most powerful institution, meanwhile, is unlikely to be the agent of change, says Dr. Ali, because of its own vested interests. “Over the years, the Army has granted large amounts of land to retired generals and brigadiers. So it’s not in anyone’s interest to have any land reform.”
--------
“I always call it feudal democracy because it’s not the people’s democracy, and they are not interested in solving the problems of common people,” he says, highlighting the mismanagement evident during and after the floods.

Despite the fact that agriculture accounts for almost a quarter of Pakistan’s economy, Pakistan's lawmakers have seemingly safeguarded their own interests by ensuring that there is no agricultural income tax."


"In rural Sindh, where, through a combination of wealth and religious standing, landlord power is most pronounced, thousands of laborers remain in bonded labor for debts accrued by their forefathers, and are confined to their villages to carry out hard labor till their death, according to IA Rehman, secretary-general of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which regularly undertakes missions to have such laborers freed.

--
If the workers do not return to their fields to cultivate the lands, this might undercut the position of the landlords there, says Ali. But he’s not hopeful.

“The whole local administration is under their control – the police and the bureaucrats. So it’s impossible to have any peasant movement," he says.

“They [the landlords] are brutal towards their peasants, to make them realize that they don’t have any power, and if you disobey they are in the power to punish you and put you in prison. Fear is their tool to dominate their people.”

Riaz Haq said...

The recent tragic assassination of Gov Salman Taseer has caused many to rethink whether the South Asian Barelvi or Sufi Islam is really more tolerant than Deobandi or Wahabi Islam imported into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the followers of Barelvi Islam have not hesitated in supporting blasphemy laws, and they have shamelessly cheered the murder of Salman Taseer who spoke for repeal of such laws.

I also think the Barelvi or Sufi Islam in Pakistan has been hijacked by the feudal-politcal class of makhdooms (Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shah Mahmmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Amin Fahim, etc) to exploit their self-proclaimed lineage from Prophet Mohammad (their so-called Syed status) as a way to maintain their feudal-cum-spiritual power over the poor peasants in Sind and Southern Panjab.

This feudal domination of politics has badly hurt the emergence of ral democracy and any advancement of the poor, illiterate rural folks in Pakistan, and contributed to the growth of religious extremism particularly in rural Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

Is the following a fake cable from Amb. Munter in Islamabad?

The fake cable says: Having been in Pakistan since October, I am forwarding a brief review of my first personal impressions.

1) View about America: Survey after survey has shown that the populace at large has very unfavorably views US government and policy. The perception in the corridors of power is very different. Given their propensities to focus on conspiracy theories most of them have a notion of US influence in Pakistan that far exceeds our real capabilities. Sometimes I feel as the “Governor General” from a bygone past caught in a historic time warp. From the highest office down to midlevel functionaries, perception becomes reality, when it comes to viewing US as the kingmaker. This mostly helps us in stacking the deck of cards in our favor but also works against us at times when diplomacy is seen as failing. The dilemma for our policy is incongruence between our objectives and the popular sentiment of the people in Pakistan. Changing this is not merely a matter of perception and has to be more than a public relations exercise. It will require a significant change in our strategic trajectory.

2) The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries. In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights. My first private party at a key minister’s residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiter with unsurpassed skill. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not in public display in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most of the American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well groomed (sic) modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for the masters to terminate their fracas. Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery.

3) Hypocrisy a new dimension: I was stunned to hear form a very senior political functionary about US interference in the internal affairs of the country. When pointed out that this interference could be curtailed if the government of Pakistan would refuse to take billions of dollars in US aid annually, his response was that monies were for services rendered in the fighting terrorism. Purloin of developmental funds to support the prodigious lifestyle of the ruling elite seems to be the normative. This can be only rationalized as a self-entitled narcissism of a collective of people with a rapacious appetite to loot the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Fake Cable contd:

4) The common man: My contact has been limited but even with limited exposure they continue to amaze me. In abject poverty and mired in the maelstrom of illiteracy they display a dignity and authenticity that is in stark contrast to the capriciousness of the pseudo westernized elites. Hospitable to a fault and honest despite being in the vortex of poverty the common everyday people of Pakistan display great ingenuity to survive against formidable odds, a gristle of the soul, that must come from a past rooted in spiritual life of a different sort.

5) Democracy: In Pakistan democracy has taken a dimension that borders on mockery of true representative government. The elected representatives come almost exclusively for the elite and privileged class. Rather than representing the populace they are more like local regional ‘viceroys’ representing the federal government and their own vested interests in the regions.

Most are in politics not with a sense of public service but more to maximize the opportunity to make money, which they do with total disdain. The mainstream political parties are oligarchies controlled by the founding patriarchs or their heirs. One wonders if this is the model, we seek to perpetuate? Given my background as a history professor I have my druthers.

6) Alchemy of change: The polarization in the society makes significant change likely in the near future but given the deficit of leadership and organization it is not inevitable. This situation is unlikely to be remedied in the short term. If such a leadership were to emerge then conflict between the polarized segments would likely ensue. Under these circumstances we will not be able to count on the military as a stabilizing force. The military though a disciplined and well led, is a egalitarian body with much of its leadership and rank coming from middle, lower middle and poor classes. Their support of any move to perpetuate the rule of the elite will be at their own peril. The current military leadership is unlikely to prop the existing structure if such a conflict was to occur and possibly may even be catalytic toward such change. This is in stark departure form the past.

Pakistan is a fascinating place the contradictions are glaring but the promise is great, ironically what may be good for Pakistan may at least in the short term not be good for furtherance of our policy goals. We need to take a long view and it may be worthwhile to cut our losses, uncouple from the ruling elite and align our self with popular grassroots sentiment in the country. This would change our perception in the short term and when change does come we, for a change, will be on the right side.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas's review of "India: A Portrait" by historian Patrick French arguing that India is becoming a hereditary monarchy:

Is India sliding into a pseudo monarchy of sorts? In his splendid new book, India: A Portrait, historian Patrick French dredges up some startling data on the stranglehold of family and lineage on Indian politics.

The research finds that though less than a third of India's parliamentarians had a hereditary connection, things get worse with the younger MPs. Consider this:

Every MP in the Lok Sabha or the lower house of the Indian parliament under the age of 30 had inherited a seat.
More than two thirds of the 66 MPs aged 40 or under are hereditary MPs.
Every Congress MP under the age of 35 was a hereditary MP.
Nearly 40% of the 66 ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha were hereditary members.
Nearly 70% of the women MPs have family connections.
Interestingly, for MPs over 50, the proportion with a father or relative in politics was a rather modest 17.9%. But when you looked at those aged 50 or under, this increased by more than two and a half times to nearly half, or 47.2%.

Also most of the younger hereditary MPs - and ministers - have not made a mark and sometimes have been shockingly conservative in their actions. A young MP from feudal Haryana, for example, was seen to be cosying up to extra-constitutional village councils in the state which were punishing couples for marrying outside their caste and clan.

"If the trend continued," concludes French, "it was possible that most members of the Indian Parliament would be there by heredity alone, and the nation would be back to where it had started before the freedom struggle, with rule by a hereditary monarch and assorted Indian princelings." He also worries the next Lok Sabha will be a "house of dynasts".

Most agree that growing nepotistic and lineage-based power in the world's largest democracy is a matter of concern. "The idea of India," political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan told me, "is rent apart by these two contradictory impulses."

But nepotism is a part of India life; and politics mirrors society. Power, wealth, land and status have hinged to a large extent on who your parents were, what they owned and where they stood in society. Most Indian businesses continue to be owned and run by families though the new economy is throwing up more first generation entrepreneurs. Bollywood, India's thriving film industry, is dominated by sons and daughters of famous actors and producers. Three members of one family - Nehru-Gandhi - have held the post of prime minister. If the Congress party wins the next elections and PM Manmohan Singh steps down, there is a likelihood of the dynast Rahul Gandhi becoming India's next prime minister. (It is no surprise that 37% of the MPs - 78 of 208 - in Congress are hereditary compared to only 19% hereditary MPs - 22 of the 116 - in the main opposition BJP.)

Despite French's troubling data, all may not be lost. "Please remember," Dr Rangarajan told me, "the MPs have lineage as a huge plus, but the posts are not hereditary." In other words, if they fail to deliver, they will be voted out of power. Merit triumphed over dynasty in the recent elections in dirt-poor Bihar. So though lineage remains a key factor in politics, remind analysts, it can only give a headstart, and nothing more. Thank democracy for that.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from a Time magazine opinion piece by Hannah Beach on the status of Asian democracies:

Asia gave birth to people power in 1986, when a sea of yellow-clad demonstrators peacefully overthrew a dictator in the Philippines. Other popular uprisings against authoritarianism followed, from Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan to Mongolia and Indonesia. Watching the events unfold in the Arab world, Asia's fledgling democracies can be forgiven for indulging in a moment of nostalgia. While revolutionary zeal may have toppled the region's strongmen, however, too few of their successors have bothered to build the institutions needed to sustain democracy beyond its first flush. Democracy through revolution is heady stuff, but it's not always a template for building lasting freedom and justice.

The withered potential of people power is best examined on its home turf. This month, the Philippines will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the start of its historic uprising. Those following the events in Egypt will find many parallels. Ferdinand Marcos, a corrupt, aging, U.S.-backed dictator, was ousted by a populace that rallied, in part, thanks to technology. (Then it was radio, not Facebook or Twitter.) But a quarter-century later, with the son of people-power heroine Corazon Aquino now serving as President, the Philippines is still beset by the poverty, cronyism and nepotism that provoked the 1986 protests. (See a brief history of people power.)

These failings are not the Philippines' alone. Across Asia, elections are held, but vote buying taints the results. Politics is dominated by the same old families. Economic growth often rewards the few rather than the many. And from Malaysia and East Timor to Taiwan and Thailand, I have met local journalists who passed information on to me because they felt it was too dangerous to write about the issues themselves. Without the crucial check of a free press — or independent legislatures and courts, for that matter — democracy exists in name only.

Still, Asia also offers heartening lessons for the Arab world. There's South Korea, for instance, which overthrew a U.S.-backed military dictatorship, then carefully constructed a prosperous democracy. And then there's Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. In 1998, after 32 years in power, strongman Suharto was forced out by massive street protests. Since then, change in Indonesia has occurred not in one cataclysmic jolt but instead through years of brick-by-brick nation building. That may not sound sexy, but it works. Indonesia has now peacefully cycled through several secular-minded leaders, and its civil society is flourishing. The country's problems are still immense: graft and poverty persist, as does sectarian conflict. But Egypt could do a lot worse than to follow the model of this moderate, Muslim-majority democracy

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting Op Ed by Prof Lev Ginsburg on democracy in developing world, as published in Aljazeera English:

The basic reason for democracy's lack of solutions to such problems (poverty, economic disparity) is that its principles have been formulated in industrialised capitalist societies characterised by considerable cultural homogeneity and relatively small economic gaps.

Democracy is a set of formal principles developed in Western Europe with the aim of facilitating the representation and articulation of the middle and working classes and designed to contain peacefully the conflicts between them and the upper class.

In the absence of a balance of power between classes, and a consensual unifying national identity, the automatic installation of formal democratic principles might only make matters worse.
----------
When there is a systematic link between cultural identity and economic status, democracy becomes a problem, rather than a solution. It exacerbates cultural conflicts to the point of violence, because it provides a formal opportunity for the majority to force their will on the minority.

Political sociologist Michael Mann has shown that in these cases democracy only serves to intensify conflicts among racial and ethnic groups, to which I would add, in the Middle Eastern context, the conflict between confessional groups and between the religious and the secular.
----------
The oldest case, mind you, is the US - the cradle of the democratic constitution which announced a "government of the people" and began the massacre of the American indigenous people because they were not considered part of "we, the people" of America.
--------
Whoever wants democracy under these conditions must first come up with a creative and consensual formula, according to which each cultural group would be free to live its unique cultural life without attempting to force its identity and customs on the entire citizen body.

In other words, demonstrating for democracy is not enough. What the countries of the Middle East require is political consensus on mutual recognition of rights and coexistence, guaranteed by a constitution and institutionalised by electoral procedures and representative institutions.

Egypt does have to worry, however, about economic inequality and the severe daily hardships suffered by most of its population. Without providing solutions to these problems, even the most democratic regime can be toppled by massive protests, possibly leading to new forms of dictatorship. A good example of such a failure of democracy was December 2001 in Argentina, when the masses flooded the streets calling for "all politicians to go home" and toppling five presidents in a row.

This happened only two years after democratic elections swept a broad leftwing front to power, which had promised to bring the country out of its deep economic crisis, but failed. The elected government pursued the policy dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which protected the interests of foreign investors against those of the local middle and salaried class. The crisis caused all holders of local bank deposits to lose 70 per cent of their money, with the blessing of the IMF.

Therefore, Egypt must realise that although democracy is essential, any formal constitution or system of government will not solve its economic problems. Immediately after the elections, Egypt's new policymakers will have to switch from the formal liberal discourse of democracy to face and discuss the fundamental questions of Egypt's economic structure. In the process, they are liable to discover that it is far more difficult to uproot a corrupt economic regime than to topple a single dictator.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an interesting open letter to the Arab pro-democracy protesters from an Indian writer Udayakumar:

1. ... ...there are hundreds of Members of Parliament (in both the upper and the lower house) such as Basudeb Acharia, Manikrao Hodlya Gavit, and Somnath Chatterji who are called "longest serving" members. I wonder if they should be called that or the "longest clinging" members. There is a similar trend in the legislative assemblies of all the states in India too. For instance, M. Karunanidhi, the present Chief Minister (US equivalent of State Governor) of Tamil Nadu state has been a member of the state house for more than 40 years now.

2. You rightly problematize the nepotism of your rulers and think that democracy could end all this. The dynasties of the Kennedys, the Bushs and the Clintons in the United States, and the Gandhi dynasty and quite a few smaller dynasties in India would prove that democracy and elections cannot curtail sycophancy, nepotism, and family succession....

3. ...In December 2008, while announcing federal corruption charges against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, FBI Special Agent Robert Grant said that "if [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it is one hell of a competitor." Blagojevich ended up in prison. Republican George Ryan is currently serving a 6 1/2-year term in federal prison for racketeering and fraud. Otto Kerner, a Democrat, was convicted in 1973 on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and other charges and sentenced to three years in the prison. In 1987 Dan Walker was convicted of bank fraud years after leaving office. Lennington Small, a Republican who served from 1921 to 1929, was indicted while in office for embezzlement. Most Indian politicians have no qualms about stealing public money and they are said to be the largest clientele of the Swiss banks. Rudolf Elmer, a Swiss bank executive, has said that "Switzerland is the most preferred tax haven for Indians" to stack up their illicit wealth (NDTV, January 19, 2011).

4. ...It is obvious that your leaders, kings and emirs use the national resources for their and their families' aggrandizement. Our democracies are not much different either. An article in opensecrets.org points out: “As Americans worry about their own finances, their elected representatives in Washington — with a collective net worth of $3.6 billion — are mostly in good shape to withstand a recession.” Before the meltdown rained on their parade, members of Congress, “saw their net worths soar 84 per cent from 2004 to 2006, on average.” The article points out that while US senators had “a median net worth of approximately $1.7 million in 2006,” only about “1 per cent of all American adults had a net worth greater than $1 million around the same time.” Reputed Indian journalist P. Sainath points out in his column in The Hindu newspaper (dated June 20, 2009) that the number of ‘crorepatis’ (millionnaires) in the present Indian parliament's lower house (Lok Sabha) is up 98 per cent as compared to 2004. Then there were 154 of them but now there are 306 — almost double. In both the United States and India, money from big corporations and business houses helps politicians secure election victories and eventually "own" them.

5...P. Sainath points out the firm links between wealth and winning elections in India in his above-mentioned article.... This is in a country that has 836 million people who scrape along with less than Rs. 20 (50 US cents) a day. Do you think the poor will ever have a chance of voicing their concerns in the policymaking circles?

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Salman Taseer's book "Bhutto: A Political Biography", as quoted by Dawn columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee:

"After the conflict was over, Bhutto commissioned a report on the entire Bangladesh episode from Mr Justice Hamoodur Rahman, Chief Justice of Pakistan, and himself a Bengali. Bhutto testified before the commission whose sessions were held in camera throughout, but he never published the final report, arguing some parts of it could embarrass Pakistan in its conduct of foreign that some parts of it could embarrass Pakistan in the conduct of foreign relations. His detractors preferred to suggest that Bhutto never dated issue the report because he was so heavily implicated in the political chicanery and blundering that preceded the country's break-up. That may be so. But it is equally likely that the Hamoodur Rahman commission report was by no means the final word on political responsibility for the catastrophe that overcame Pakistan. Considering the circumstances in which the commission worked, its final report may even have erred in Bhutto's favour.

"Blame can never be satisfactorily or finally apportioned to the major players in this grisly drama, but that Bhutto, Mujibur Rahman and Yahya Khan share responsibility there can be no doubt. Many, indeed, are inclined to the view that Bhutto, as the most sure-footed politician of the three and thus the best equipped to assess the consequences of his actions, must accept the lion's share of the blame. Argument on this point will remain one of the central themes of Pakistani politics, perhaps for decades."

Comments on Bhutto's political nature:

"After the election the situation changed drastically. Bhutto now saw that Mujibur Rahman with his majority of seats could form a government even without support from West Pakistan. And yet he was not the man to play second fiddle. With control of only two provincial governments out of five, he saw his position as far from assured." [As for playing second fiddle, I myself have heard him say: 'I'd rather be the top dog of half of Pakistan than an underdog of the whole of Pakistan.']

"Perhaps another politician with more moral scruple and with greater respect for democracy would have bowed before the will of the majority and quietly entered the Constituent Assembly to debate the future of Pakistan. Bhutto, however, possessed none of these gentle characteristics. He never had much faith in the parliamentary process."

"There was another danger in convening the Assembly. It was quite possible that a number of elected members from West Pakistan would give way to the Awami League's dominant position and compromise with them, enabling Mujibur Rahman to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass the constitution. Bhutto could not trust his own party, which consisted of a motley group of individuals, some of whom he barely knew and who had been swept into power on a wave of pro-Bhutto feeling."

On Bhutto's speech made on February 28, 1971, at public meeting at Lahore, where he offered Mujibur Rahman a carrot in the form of three alternatives - agreement on three of the Six Points, or postponement of the National Assembly meeting, or a waiving of the Legislative Framework Order.

"After the carrot, he them threatened the stick. The latter part of his speech was possibly the most belligerent he had ever made. He threatened a strike from the Khyber Pass to Karachi - 'not a single shope would be allowed to remain open.' He promised that the people of Pakistan would take full revenge from anybody who attended the Assembly session when they returned from Dacca, or, as he expressed himself, he 'would break their legs'. In spite of Bhutto's three alternative conditions, Sheikh mujibur Rahman refused to budge."

Riaz Haq said...

India, too, belongs in this discussion because it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who played a huge role in precipitating both 1965 and 1971 wars with India.

In 1965, it was ZAB who urged Ayub to wage a limited war in Kashmir. But he miscalculated badly and India turned it into a full scale war by crossing the international border in to Lahore and Sialkot on Sept 6, 1965.

Then again, in 1971, ZAB welcomed the army operation in East Pakistan by saying "Thank God, Pakistan is saved" on the day the military started its action in East Pakistan....knowing full well that it would invite an Indian invasion as it did.

ZAB was the closest thing to America's Benedict Arnold in Pakistani context.

Mayraj said...

The Journey to Disillusionment

by Sherbaz Khan Mazari

Excerpts from his book . . ..

Page 330 - Bhutto’s fixation with Hitler was manifested in a similarity of coincidences. The concentration camp at ‘Dalai’ and the FSF ‘storm troopers’ were clearly products of Bhutto’s Hitler fixated mind. Aping Hitler, Bhutto chose to use a policy of systemic terror to brutalize his opponents.



Page 331 - By 1974 four political activists were victims of political assassination. The fifth was a botched attempt at killing a man Bhutto had grown to hate: Dr Nazir Ahmed, Jamaat-i-Islami MNA – shot dead at his clinic at Dera Ghazi Khan on 8 June 1972; Khawaja Muhammad Rafiq, leader of Itehad Party – shot dead by a sniper during an anti-government demonstration in Lahore on 20 December 1972; Abdus Samad Achakzai, leader of NAP Pakhoonkhwa of Balochistan – killed in his house in Quetta by a grenade attack on 2 December 1973; Maulvi Shamsuddin, JUI MPA and Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan assembly – shot in his car on his way to Fort Suleman on 13 March 1974; Muhammad Ahmed Kasuri, father of Ahmed Raza – killed mistakenly, during a bungled attempt to assassinate his son, who was present in the car along with him, in Lahore on 10 November 1974.

(Bhutto was lucky he got hanged for only one of these murders).

Page 331 – Others were killed as well. On 28 September a serious attempt was made on Wali Khan’s life as he was driving to Swat. Both his driver and guard were killed but Wali Khan luckily emerged unscathed.

Page 331 - On 5 October Ali Buksh Junejo – a former Khalifa of Pir Pagaro, who had joined the PPP, was murdered in Sanghar in broad daylight. The next day Six supporters of Pir Pagaro, who were attending a court hearing against them, were taken by the police to a deserted location and murdered in cold blood.

Page 332 - Apart from the killings during this period, thousands of people were detained from all over the country. There were those like Kaswar Gardezi, secretary general of NAP, who was sadistically tortured by the police while in detention. In a voice breaking with emotion Gardezi later related his horrifying experience to me (details of the torture not included here).

Page 333 – In September 1972 Khawaja Mana Rahman, of the Dawn group, was shot at the Karachi Boat Club by hired assassins who made their escape. A few months later an attempt was made to shoot his daughter while she was driving her car.

Given the circumstances I was disappointed , but not surprised, when Mana Rahman called on me to tell me that both he and his brother-in-law, Mahmood Haroon, has sought and received forgiveness from Bhutto. They had done so because they “lacked the courage to continue to oppose him”. The people who stood firm against Bhutto’s autocracy were getting smaller in number and in time would shrink further.

Page 334 – If any of his subordinates showed even a modicum of independence, he would be swiftly punished. In December 1973 he dismissed Mumtaz Bhutto as chief minister of Sindh. In March 1973 Khar was sacked as chief minister of Punjab.

Bhutto’s obsession with maintaining a aura of invincibility was so strong that he would spare no one, not even those who had done him valuable and devoted service over the years...

Mayraj said...

Mazari book "The Journey to Disillusionment" excerpts contd...

Bhutto’s obsession with maintaining a aura of invincibility was so strong that he would spare no one, not even those who had done him valuable and devoted service over the years.

Page 335 – On the evening of 2 July 1974 J A Rahim was invited, along with the senior hierarchy of the PPP, to a dinner at the prime minister’s house. The invitation was for 8 pm but the host had failed to show up. By midnight the seventy-plus-year-old Rahim lost his patience and left uttering some harsh words.

In the early hours of the morning as Rahim lay sleeping he was informed by his servant that a posse of men were demanding to be let in. Rahim went to the front door to discover that it was Saied Ahmed Khan, the chief of prime minister’s security, who told him he had come to deliver a personal message from the prime minister. When he opened the door the security chief began by pummeling Rahim’s face and body with his fists until Rahim fell to the ground. Then one of his men hit Rahim with his rifle butt while he lay prostrate. Rahim’s son, Sikander who rushed to intervene, was soon beaten unconscious by the FSF troopers. Having delivered Bhutto’s message Rahim was dragged by his feet and flung into a jeep, along with his son, and taken to a police station. Rafi Raza arrived at the police station a couple of hours later and rescued him.

Even Bhuto’s close associates and cabinet ministers now lived in dread and fear of the unpredictability of their master’s temper. Bhutto would not brook any criticism. Rafi Raza revealed that Dr Mubashir Hasan told him that when he wished to speak to the prime minister he would do so only privately to avoid ugly consequences. Rafi Raza also mentioned that Bhutto forbade him to speak openly at cabinet meetings to prevent others from becoming ‘too independent and contrary.

(this policy was continued by Benazir Bhutto. No one could speak until spoken to. Not even Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Khurshid Shah or even the benign Iqbal Haider, not to mention the small fry Sherry Rahman, Farzana Raja and Fauzia Wahhab. A US official told of a meeting with Benazir Bhutto -- she spoke 90 percent of the time).

Part II

Page 344 – Bhutto did not trust even the closest of his associates and kept them in check by pitting one against the other. In Sindh he had controlled his cousin Mumtaz through his rival Jatoi. Jatoi in turn, as chief minister, had no control over Jam Sadiq Ali, who reported directly to the prime minister. Jam Sadiq Ali, his hit man had total control of Sanghar, Pagaro’s vote bank. Larkana was made into a division and Khalid Kharral became its first commissioner, reporting directly to Bhutto. Rather than trying to bring his warring subordinates together, Bhutto encouraged them to squabble even further, all the while enjoying the complaints of one colleague about the other.

Page 345 – Creating rivalries between his subordinate gave Bhutto a sense of security. As his confidant Rafi Raza admitted: “By nature suspicious, he sought to have ’dirt’ available against his ministers and leading party members, and in early 1976, assigned to his intelligence chiefs the task of preparing secret dossiers about them, to be used against them in case of need”.

Page 342 – NAP/JUI government in Balochistan was dismissed illegally and unethically and inspite of sending Baloch leaders to jail, the federal government had not been able to form a majority government there. People were shot like dogs, the army had blockaded sizeable populations, air force had been used to strafe people, Iranian ammunition was being used against the locals and thousands of political workers had been jailed.

Page 350 – On 25 June while I was at Karachi I read in the evening papers that over nine hundred people had been slain by the armed forces in the Mari tribal area. The newspapers mentioned the use of the Pakistan air force in aerial bombing of the hapless civilians....

Mayraj said...

Mazari book "The Journey to Disillusionment" excerpts contd...

Page 352 – A ‘mohtabar’ informed us: "On a recent visit to Harnai I met with an army Subedar at a local ‘chaikhana’ who told me that he was a paratrooper who had participated in the action against the Marris. The Subedar said many members of his section had been dropped by parachute at night near identified Marri settlements. At dawn they surrounded the settlements and attacked them killing all those who resisted, After burning down their homes, they arrested all the able bodied men and took away all their livestock. When I asked the Subedar about the Marri women, he told me that they took with them only the pretty ones for obvious reasons and left the others to fend for themselves. The ‘mohtabar’ then confirmed that in his presence alone he saw the army auctioning off over 15,000 heed of captured cattle".

Page 353 – On our return to Islamabad a number of us in the opposition including Wali Khan, Pir Pagaro and I sent separate similarly worded telegrams to Chaudry Fazal Elahi, the president:

"The action committee of UDF hereby bring to your notice that the actions taken by the federal government in Balochistan are unconstitutional and unlawful. In compliance with such orders the Pakistan army and air force are indiscriminately shelling, strafing and killing innocent inhabitants, including women and children. Their properties are being destroyed and their livestock looted. Concentration camps have been established where innocent and patriotic people of Balochistan are being kept and maltreated. Their women are dishonoured and innocent children tortured. Implementation of such orders of the federal government by the Pakistan army and air force is damaging the unity of the country and may lead to further disintegration, thus a reign of terror is prevailing in the whole province for the simple reason that the people of Balochistan did not vote for the People’s Party in the last general elections".

Page 354 – only two days later I received a report from Mukhtar Hasan, a newspaper correspondent who had just returned from Balochistan. He told me that while he was there two Marri women were raped near Balpat station by soldiers. The culprits were later caught and given only extra drill as punishment. In another incident, one Lal Han Marri’s wife was abducted in Kohlu and raped by several soldiers. Rape in any society is a most reprehensible crime, but when a country’s army, whose sworn and only duty is to defend the borders of a country, indulges in criminal raping of its own hapless citizens, it is nothing less than an act of treason. What disgusted me most was the fact that only token punishment was being awarded by the army for the perpetrators of this most monstrous of crimes. The Pakistan army was behaving as if it had occupied a foreign country, and an iniquitous occupation at that. It reminded me of the atrocities committed by the army in East Pakistan.

Page 356 – in late August I was asked by Bhutto to meet with him in Karachi. I took the opportunity of remonstrating with him about the continuing military action against the tribesmen, especially the use of aircraft against them. It was then, in my presence, that Bhutto finally, openly admitted that military aircraft had been used in Balochistan, but he insisted that no bombing had taken place, the aerial attacks, according to him, had been restricted to strafing and rockets....

Mayraj said...

Mazari book "The Journey to Disillusionment" excerpts contd...

Page 356/357 – within weeks of the dismissal of the NAP government in Balochistan in February 1973 a disparate group of Baloch guerillas had sprung up largely in the Marri and Mengel areas. These guerrilla groups, despite their meager numbers, constantly harassed army convoys. Adopting the classical guerrilla approach of avoiding any large scale encounters with the armed forces. Between the period of 1973 and 1975, there were 178 major recorded army encounters with the guerrillas. Despite the army’s enormous 80,000 man force it would find itself increasingly frustrated with its inability to deal with small groups who attacked at unexpected moments and then swiftly melted away into the mountainside. The army’s heavy handed approach of avenging itself on the innocent, ordinary tribal folk only worsened the situation.

Page 361 – the army now decided to take advantage of the presence of a large concentration of Marri families in one particular locality and launched Operation Chamalang on 3 September 1974. By attacking the tent villages of their families the army hoped to lure the fighting tribesmen down from the hills. The strategy worked and thousands of armed Marris poured down from the hills to defend their wives and children. It is said they fought for three consecutive days and nights before running out of ammunition and being forced to retreat to the hills.

Page 364 – News of the Chamalang Operation reached me late. I had spent a week in Sonmiani and found myself – as was the case in those days without telephones, newspapers or even electricity – completely cut off from all but urgent telegrams, which would take a couple of days to reach. It was only when I reached Karachi on 18 September that I was informed by Ahmed Raza Kasuri that the army had occupied Chamalang. He told me that about 800 Marris and over 200 soldiers had been killed in the fighting. I was shattered by the enormity of the event.

Part III

Page 371 – on 8 February my eldest son Sherazam informed me that he had just heard on the radio that Hayat Muhammad Sherpao, the PPP senior minister of NWFP had been killed in a bomb explosion at Peshawar university.

Mayraj said...

Mazari book "The Journey to Disillusionment" excerpts contd...

Page 371 – on 8 February my eldest son Sherazam informed me that he had just heard on the radio that Hayat Muhammad Sherpao, the PPP senior minister of NWFP had been killed in a bomb explosion at Peshawar university.



There are many theories about who arranged his assassination. One theory that cannot easily be dismissed was that it had been carried out on the direct orders of Sherpao’s own leader – Bhutto himself. It is a known fact that before his death Sherpao had become very disenchanted with the leader he had once hero-worshipped. Bhutto had noticed Sherpao’s growing popularity and had come to resent it and had begun politically sidelining him at every available opportunity. Even one of their close PPP colleague commented:



“ A few months before his death, Sherpao seriously considered leaving the Party altogether. He only changed his mind on the persuasion of myself and other friends from the Frontier ----- . Of all those around Bhutto, sherpao’s personal devotion had been the greatest, and his subsequent disillusionment was consequently the most profound”.



Page 372 – The death of Sherpao provided Bhutto with an excuse to clamp down on Wali Khan and his NAP. It was eerily reminiscent of the dismissal of the Balochistan government on trumped up charges of being responsible for the arms found in the Iraq Embassy in February 1973, two years previously. The day following Sherpao’s assassination, Wali khan and all the national and provincial leaders of NAP were either under detention or being urgently sought out by the authorities. The next day it was announced that NAP had been banned and all its assets confiscated. The First Amendment to the 1973 Constitution allowed the Federal Government to ban political parties formed or those ‘operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty of Pakistan’.



On the evening of 10 February I got a call from Jennifer Musa from Balochistan, who had been a NAP MNA, from Islamabd. She told me that over 800 of the NAP party members had been arrested. She also informed me that an ordinance had been passed in the Assembly which allowed for the arrest of MNAs while the Assembly was in session. It had become obvious that the government had begun an intensified assault to destroy all vestige of NAP. A brutal campaign had begun to pin Sherpao’s death on NAP party members. A number of them including, Asfandyar were very brutally tortured in an attempt to extract ‘confessions’. A few days later NWP Governor Aslam Khattak and the Gandapur Government was also sacked and the federal Government imposed its direct rule in the province.



Page 372/373 - On 18 February at 1 a.m. I was woken up by a telephone call from a very distraught Mrs Azizullah Shaikh. Her home was being stoned by hooligans. Her husband had gone into hiding to evade arrest, and she was alone at home with her three young daughters. I took my son Sherazam and a couple of our servants and rushed over to her house. We saw a dozen or so thugs fleeing into the surrounding darkness when they saw our car approaching. Inside we discovered Mrs shaikh and her three daughters cowering in the corner o a room. The idea that a government could stoop so low as to threaten a defenseless woman and her young daughters sickened me. My son and I kept an all night vigil and left only after sunrise...

Riaz Haq said...

The conclusion of Sherbaz Mazari's book on Bhutto in 1970s:

(the following is being included much against my grain, only to show the kind of man Bhutto was, and to what limits he could go):

On the sixth day of the hunger strike I experienced severe chest pains that almost rendered me unconscious. I sensed someone watching me from the other side of the bars. I was surprised to see the jail superintendent standing there all by himself. He seemed very perturbed for some reason. Then strangely he broke down, “as a jail superintendent I’ve done some awful things in my life but I have my limits. Bhutto Saheb personally rings me up almost daily to see if I have broken you yet. But today he gave me orders which, even though I am scared of him, I cannot obey. I have applied for leave and am taking off tomorrow. I’ll face the consequences of my decision but my mind is made up”. Then he warned me, “the deputy jail superintendent is a vicious man, I don’t know what will happen when I’m gone” ----------

I had known Bhutto for some 23 years. To him lying, double-dealing and deceit were normal means of attaining and keeping power. His evident acceptance of new elections was now belied by his unexpected trip abroad. It was a clear indication that mischief was afoot.

During one of the PNA meetings at Sihala Asghar khan revealed disturbing news, Bhutto had decided to deal with the PNA hardliners once and for all. Bhutto had now concocted an ingenious plan by which Kausar Niazi and Ghulam Mustafa Khar would become victims of an assassination plan. In retaliation an enraged PPP mob would then proceed to murder Asghar Khan, Shah Ahmed Noorani and myself. This may seem a bit farfetched to some, but even Kausar Niazi, one of the plot’s two sacrificial victims, believed in its authenticity.

Gen Arif writes about a very revealing episode: “Gen Zia expressed his apprehension to Bhutto that, if the agitation did not end, it could erode army’s discipline and cause division in the ranks. This would be a disaster for the army and for the country. Mr Bhutto sensed the mood and laid on the charm, “you are my brother and I trust you”. He asked Gen Zia not to get unduly worried as the government did not plan to employ the army in a hurry again. He went on to confide that he had taken ‘other measures’ to deal with the PNA situation. That statement rang an alarm in Gen Zia’s mind”.

The rest is history.

Here's the link to extensive excerpts from the book on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto- "The Journey to Disillusionment" by Sherbaz Khan Mazari:

http://www.pakalumni.com/forum/topics/sherbaz-khan-mazari-on

Riaz Haq said...

A 1979 Time magazine report said the following:

A message by Bhutto, smuggled out of prison before the Supreme Court ruling, warned that "my sons will not be my sons if they do not drink the blood of those who shed my blood."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912367,00.html#ixzz1KJysTc7P

Riaz Haq said...

I finally had a chance to see the documentary "Bhutto" by Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O'Hara last Thursday in Oakland, CA. The screening was sponsored by the PACC along with several other orgs.


It seems to me that the documentary is quintessentially a celebration of Benazir Bhutto and her mystique as the first female prime minister of an Islamic nation.

It advances a liberal western view of the Bhutto family through a narrative made up of sympathetic western and Pakistani commentators who see the Bhutto family as outsiders up against "the establishment"...a reference to Pakistani military and the ISI. It even lays the blame for Zardari's moniker as "Mr. Ten Percent" on ISI.

The movie does mention the 1977 poll rigging but it says it was done by "overzealous supporters" of the PPP, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the ISI political cell, created by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, actively rigged the vote on ZAB's behalf thus laying the foundation for as larger role for "the agencies" in Pakistan's political and electoral processes in 1970s, 80s, 90s, and the last decade.

Former President Musharraf made a reference to it in an interview in which he acknowledged that no new parties are created in Pakistan without "the agencies" influencing the process.

Here is an excerpt of a Dawn report on the Musharraf interview:

"Pervez Musharraf said he had no regrets over the military coup of Oct 12, 1999, and the unconstitutional steps taken on Nov 3, 2007. “It was my good luck that the coup happened.”

When reminded that the Constitution had been abrogated on both occasions, he said the country was more important than the
Constitution, which, according to him, was a piece of paper.

Pervez Musharraf said he had appointed Senator Mushahid Hussain as secretary general of the PML-Q after consulting Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He said the PML-Q had virtually fallen apart and most of its leaders would not contest the next
elections from its platform. Many of them had contacted him and some were considering contesting elections as independent candidates, he said.

The former president admitted that setting up a new party without the help of government and intelligence agencies was a difficult job.

He said he had written letters to the former nazims of all districts, inviting them to join his party and had received a good response."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Prof Anatol Lieven, the author of Pakistan-A Hard Country, explaining P2K in an interview with Harpers magazine:

This represents a shocking surrender on my part to SMS-speak, which comes of associating with students!

What it stands for is “Patronage to Kinship,” which is central to the nature and workings of the Pakistani state and political systems. In my book, I argue that this system—especially in the countryside but to some extent also in the cities—revolves around local elites using their own wealth to gain leadership positions in their kinship groups, using these positions to advance in politics and get elected to the provincial or national assembly (whether under civilian or military rule), and then in turn using their influence on government to extract corruption.

However, by contrast with some systems, like Nigeria’s, the benefits of this corruption cannot simply or even mainly be kept for the immediate beneficiaries. In order to retain support, they have to distribute a reasonable proportion of it to their kinfolk and other supporters—otherwise they won’t go on supporting the leaders for very long. Even within quite tight-knit kinship groups, there is usually a rival relative who will step forward to claim the leadership if the existing leader is seen as mean, greedy, and unresponsive to his followers’ needs. There are two good U.S. quotes which illustrate the morality behind this. The first was said about Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago by his supporters: “He dunks, but he splashes.” The second comes from Bruce Springsteen’s song “Highway Patrolman”: “A man turns his back on his family, he ain’t no friend of mine.”

In my book, I describe this system as “Janus-faced.” On the one hand, because of the way in which it maintains kinship links and spreads a certain amount of patronage through society, it helps maintain the existing system’s resilience in the face of the threat of Islamist revolution. On the other hand, it cripples the state’s ability to generate and spend resources effectively on infrastructure, education, and every other form of state service, and it is therefore disastrous for Pakistan’s economic development and social progress.

I argue that the power and prestige of the Pakistani military within the Pakistani system has been due chiefly to its ability to separate itself from the normal workings of the patronage and kinship system, and to operate as a relatively efficient and honest meritocracy. However—and I do wish more of my critics would notice this—I also say repeatedly that the reason the military has been able to do this is that it has in effect functioned as a giant patronage network, extracting a massive share of state resources and spending them on itself, albeit in an orderly way and with some benefits reaching the ordinary soldiers as well as the officers.


http://harpers.org/archive/2011/05/hbc-90008092

Riaz Haq said...

All the pretensions of western style institutions make little sense to most inhabitants of India and Pakistan and other former colonies.

The colonial legacy of parliamentary democracy and British style rule of law are alien concepts in South Asia and never touch the lives of over 90% of the population.

With few exceptions, the disputes and conflicts are resolved using traditional rules set and adjudicated by local village councils (panchayats and jirgas) which are at odds with the laws passed by the national and provincial legislatures and implemented by the governments' justice system.

Riaz Haq said...

Some 5,800 peasants in Sindh province are set to receive farmland previously designated as government-owned flood runoff. By the end of March, some 92,000 acres will be allotted to women only, according to Christian Science Monitor:

.....When the fields are cleared, Nimat Khatoon, a 50-something peasant farmer who has worked for the wealthy owner of these fields since her childhood has something worth the wait: a four-acre slice of land to call her own.

"It's something I couldn't dream of seeing in my lifetime. We're so happy," she says with a toothy grin, as her children play around her home made of wooden slats and a thatched roof.

Ms. Khatoon is one of some 5,800 peasants in the province of Sindh to receive farmland, previously designated as government-owned flood runoff, from the provincial government over the past two years. A total of 95,000 acres has already been doled out, and in March another 92,000 acres are to be allotted to women only.

The land allocations could help break the cycle of debt accrued by landless peasants, and serve as a jump-start to those whose livelihood was threatened even after the floods receded.

"Land is the main source of wealth in rural Pakistan," explains Amil Khan, a spokesman for the charity Oxfam, which is assisting the government with the project. "If you have no land you don't have a stake in the system."
Cycle of debt

Indeed, seeds and fertilizers are provided by landlords to tenants who are then forced into high interest rates when repaying their debt. What's more, it has become the norm for landless farmers to receive far less than half the profit from the crops, and use most of that to begin paying their never-ending debt.

The government of Sindh – a province home to Pakistan's biggest landlords – embarked on this project in an effort to redress this widening imbalance. But it has taken on a special significance after the 2010 floods, which destroyed 2 million hectares of crops, pushing landless tenants deeper into debt.
------------
Khatoon's family still owes some 40,000 rupees ($470) to the landlord her family has worked under for generations – a princely sum, which could still take another year to clear – though thanks to her newly acquired land, she's hopeful that for the first time ever, the cycle of debt won't begin afresh next year.
After the floods

It's a rare piece of good news to come out of Pakistan after the floods. According to the United Nations World Food Program, hundreds of thousands of flood victims are still living in temporary camps or shelters, while analysts warn of Middle-East style unrest if food inflation, which has soared to some 64 percent in the past three years, continues to rise as the government prints money to finance its deficits.
------
Food insecurity continues, she explains, because "the livelihoods of the lowest strata are not being addressed. First, they are still beholden to debt cycles." Second, the low-interest loans from the government favor large landowners, she explains, because small-scale farmers usually don't use the banking system.

Dr. Habib says these policies came about because of the influence of feudal landowners in Pakistan's parliament, who have held sway since the country gained independence from Britain in 1947. But the move away from that to the new program is a key step toward undercutting that influence.

The Sindh government initiative distributes high-risk government land that runs alongside rivers and tributaries. This land was previously designated as government-owned flood runoff, but was used by local landlords. Rich landlords have struck back by filing legal challenges via local peasants in their employ, to wrest back land that was in their de facto control.

Riaz Haq said...

Hedge funds are behind "land grabs" in Africa to boost their profits in the food and biofuel sectors, a US think-tank says, and BBC reports:

In a report, the Oakland Institute said hedge funds and other foreign firms had acquired large swathes of African land, often without proper contracts.

It said the acquisitions had displaced millions of small farmers.

Foreign firms farm the land to consolidate their hold over global food markets, the report said.

They also use land to "make room" for export commodities such as biofuels and cut flowers.

"This is creating insecurity in the global food system that could be a much bigger threat than terrorism," the report said.

The Oakland Institute said it released its findings after studying land deals in Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Mali and Mozambique.

'Risky manoeuvre'

It said hedge funds and other speculators had, in 2009 alone, bought or leased nearly 60m hectares of land in Africa - an area the size of France.

"The same financial firms that drove us into a global recession by inflating the real estate bubble through risky financial manoeuvres are now doing the same with the world's food supply," the report said.

It added that some firms obtained land after deals with gullible traditional leaders or corrupt government officials.

"The research exposed investors who said it is easy to make a deal - that they could usually get what they wanted in exchange for giving a poor tribal chief a bottle of Johnnie Walker [whisky]," said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute.

"When these investors promise progress and jobs to local chiefs it sounds great, but they don't deliver."

The report said the contracts also gave investors a range of incentives, from unlimited water rights to tax waivers.

"No-one should believe that these investors are there to feed starving Africans.

"These deals only lead to dollars in the pockets of corrupt leaders and foreign investors," said Obang Metho of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia, a US-based campaign group.

However, not all companies named in the report accept that their motives are as suggested and they dismiss claims that their presence in Africa is harmful.

One company, EmVest Asset Management, strongly denied that it was involved in exploitative or illegal practices.

"There are no shady deals. We acquire all land in terms of legal tender," EmVest's Africa director Anthony Poorter told the BBC.

He said that in Mozambique the company's employees earned salaries 40% higher than the minimum wage.

The company was also involved in development projects such as the supply of clean water to rural communities.

"They are extremely happy with us," Mr Poorter said.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13688683

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting Op Ed by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi published by The News:

At a time when daunting problems of security, a weakening economy, crippling energy shortages, inadequate public services and an exploding population are blighting the country’s future, no policy thinking is going on within or among parties about appropriate strategies to deal with any of these.

Instead the preoccupation is with politicking, power plays and deal making for the campaign season ahead, which will start with the senate elections in March 2012. There is little or no focus on issues except in terms of vacuous platitudes or slogans, and virtually no debate on national policies even as parties gear up for another round of electoral politics.

Why is there such a disconnect between politics and policy, between challenge and response and between multiplying problems and the solutions needed to fix them?

The answer lies – in large part – in the persisting nature of Pakistan’s politics that has undergirded both civilian and military rule. The defining character of such politics is that it pivots around patronage and operates principally on the basis of patron-client structures that tie politics to a web of hierarchal relations and obligations rather than to a world of citizens, rights and policy.

This form of politics rests on working a spoils system rather than responding to the needs of the people. Political competition is about gaining access to the spoils of office and its distribution among supporters. Patronage not policy is the driving force.
---
Certain types of social structures give rise to networks of relationships of obligation and patronage. The personalised nature of Pakistan’s politics is closely related to the dominant position enjoyed throughout its history by a narrowly based power elite that was feudal in origin and remained so in outlook even as it gradually came to share power with well to do urban groups. While different in social origin and background, members of the ‘newer’ power elite shared a similar ‘feudal-tribal’ style of conducting politics: personalised, based on working ‘biradari’ or clan networks, characterised by patronage-seeking activity and focused on protecting and advancing their economic interests and privileged status.

Seen from this perspective, ‘feudal’ attitudes reinforced by a social system of biradari and tribal alignments have long spilled into and influenced Pakistan’s urban politics. This has expressed itself in patron-client forms of representative politics.

Even urban members of many parties function much like their rural counterparts, in that their efforts at political mobilisation rests more on working lineage and biradari cleavages and alliances than representing wider urban interests.

Politics embedded in these structures are more oriented to patronage than to issues of policy. When parties become extensions of personalities, influential families, clans and biradaris, the focus is not issue-based politics, but what promotes or cements their ‘clientelist’ networks of support and bolsters their privileged positions.

Electoral competition becomes principally about gaining control of state patronage to cement patron-client relationships and reward supporters. Politics and governance becomes more about leveraging the spoils system than framing policies. Political contests are rarely about issues but reflect a tussle over the privileges and resources that power confers.
---------
To align governance to public purpose, the basis of politics must change – away from patronage and towards policy and professionalism in managing the country’s affairs.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting review of Anatol Lieven's book "Pakistan-A Hard Country" by Ahmad Ali Khalid published in Dawn newspaper:

Pakistan is hence not a “failed state’’, but it’s not democratic either. In many ways, it is not a modern nation-state at all, but a social conglomeration defined by the ideals of patronage and kinship. It is this durable socio-economic glue that has kept Pakistan going over the last 63 years. It is not a state in the modern sense at all but awkwardly combines the deep rooted customs of patronage politics with the outer trappings of a democracy. Democracy isn’t a philosophy of life in the country because that space for social deliberation and political negotiation is taken up by pre-modern paradigms of negotiation and conflict resolution. There is no space for democracy in the Pakistani public sphere, not because of radicalism but because of traditionalism.

Pakistani policy makers are in a fix. Advocating reforms of traditionalist feudal structures may pave the way for liberalisation, but as Lieven warns, it may opena Pandora’s box where provincial nationalism ultimately fragments and breaks up any hope of a universal Pakistani narrative. The clientele of the feudal lords to the authority of the Pakistani state is paramount to its continued existence.

Furthermore, the appeal of the Islamist parties does not stem from deep theological commitment to the political project of the “Islamic state’’. On the contrary, it is actually the deep seated aggravations and frustrations with the fragile and anaemic civic, juridical and political organs of the nation’s nascent democracy. It is the failure of the westernised “liberals’’ of Pakistan through their acquiescing to the feudal leadership that has created a space for Islamist protest.

The theocratic Islamist project is one born out of protest, frustration, alienation and anxiety — it is an ideology of “resistance’’. In the words of Khaled Abou El Fadl it is “an orphan of modernity’’ that struggles to find certainty and justice in the messy aftermath of colonialism. In this respect Alaistair Cooke’s study, Resistance — The Essence of Islamist Revolution complements Lieven’s work on this topic.

In many ways Lieven argues that Pakistan is closer to 18th century Europe in terms of its political culture rather than Somalia. Pakistan’s socio-political conservativism also provides the foundations of economic transactions. The resources of the state are not redistributed through modern means, such as welfare politics, as in Europe for instance, but through the same traditional institutions that have loomed large over sub-continental life over the last few hundred years. But stagnation has set in — the landowners of Sindh have kept such monopolistic control over politics that any hope for the emergence of creative enterprise or economic liberalisation is squashed in the rural hinterland. The big landowners are perhaps the most serious obstacle to democratisation, universal education and other cherished virtues of meaningful politics.

The challenge for Pakistan is to develop a distinctly indigenous and organic discourse of democracy that reconciles the conflicting political psychologies at play when operating in a democratic framework and in a feudal framework. But such suggestions in the past have come only from dictators and never from elected representatives.

The challenges, Lieven mentions, are not unique to Pakistan but are rather symptomatic of the post-colonial experience. In fact, the most grievous challenges to Pakistan’s social organisation do not emanate from Islamists but from the brutish forces of mother nature itself. Lieven writes that, “Over the next century, the possible long-term combination of climate change, acute water shortages, poor water infrastructure and steep population growth has the potential to wreck Pakistan as an organised state and society’’.

Riaz Haq said...

Begum Nusrat Bhutto passed away in Dubai today, report Gulf News:

Dubai: Nusrat Bhutto, mother of the late Benazir Bhutto and mother-in-law of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, died in Dubai yesterday after a protracted illness. She was 82.

Nusrat Bhutto, who was born on March 23, 1929, to the Esfahan family in Iran, had lived in Dubai for more than 10 years.

She was recovering from a stroke and had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years.

Nusrat breathed her last yesterday at the Iranian Hospital where she had been admitted about two months ago.
------------
Nusrat married the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) on September 8, 1951. It was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's second marriage.

Nusrat outlived three of her children — Benazir Bhutto, Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Shah Nawaz — all of whom were assassinated. Sanam Bhutto is her sole surviving child and lives in London.

Nusrat is widely credited for introducing politics to the women of Pakistan.

The Pakistan government has announced one day of mourning and the ruling PPP has announced the suspension of all political activities for at least ten days in the wake of the death of the woman who was Pakistan's former first lady from 1973-1977.

"Begum Nusrat was a towering personality and a very brave woman. [The] late Benazir Bhutto always took great care of her mother as she used to feed her mother with her own hands," said Sardar Javed Yaqoob, a PPP supporter in Dubai.

A large number of PPP supporters from all over the UAE gathered at the Iranian Hospital after hearing the news of Nusrat's demise.


http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/benazir-bhutto-s-mother-nusrat-dies-after-illness-in-dubai-1.917035

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting piece about democracy and oligarchy by Michael Hudson:

Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.

Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.

Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.

By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.

--------------
What is missing is the counterweight to a tiny minority who didn’t set out to be petty kings but who know perhaps realize that there is no one and nothing in their way as things stand. . . . As things stand: things will change. Revolution is as likely as oligarchy; more likely I would say. And revolution has more modern precedents than does oligarchic recession. But I do think that society is not presently well-balanced to restrain finance-capital: so it’s them or us who goes down. Let’s make it them.


http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/12/michael-hudson-debt-and-democracy-has-the-link-been-broken.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dr. Ataur Rahman's Op Ed in The News on building Pakistan's knowledge economy:

Agriculture represents the backbone of our economy. It can serve as a launching pad for transition to a knowledge economy, as it has a huge potential for revenue generation. But that can happen only if agricultural practices are carried out on scientific lines and use of technology maximised. The four major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane. They contribute about 37 percent of the total agricultural income and about nine percent to the GDP of Pakistan.
-----------
Wheat is the most important crop of Pakistan, with the largest acreage. It contributes about three percent to the GDP. The national average yield is about 2.7 tons per hectare, whereas in Egypt the yields are 6.44 tons per hectare and in European countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom they are above seven tons per hectare. We presently produce about Rs220 billion worth of wheat. If we can boost our yields to match those of Egypt, it can generate another Rs350 billion, allowing us to systematically pay off the national debt and make available funding for health and education.

However, the government has been reluctant to invest in research, water reservoirs and dams and extension services so that the country continues to suffer. Some progressive farmers in irrigated areas have been able to obtain yields of 6-8 tons per hectare but they are very much a minority. In rain-fed areas the yields are normally between 0.5 tons to 1.3 tons per hectare, depending on the region and amount of rainfall. In irrigated areas the yields are normally higher, in the range of 2.5 tons to 3.0 tons per hectare. Improved semi-dwarf cultivars that are available in Pakistan can afford a yield of wheat between 6-8 tons per hectare. It is possible to increase the yields substantially with better extension services, judicious use of fertilisers and pesticides, and greater access of water from storage reservoirs and dams that need to be constructed.

Cotton represents an important fibre crop of Pakistan that generates about Rs250 billion to the national economy, and contributing about two percent to the national GDP. Pakistan is the fourth-largest producer of cotton in the world, but it is ranked at 10th in the world in terms of yields. The use of plant biotechnology can help to develop better cotton varieties. Bt cotton produces a pesticide internally and safeguards the plant against chewing insects. The yields of Pakistani seed cotton and cotton fibre are both about half those of China. A doubling of cotton yields is doable and it can add another Rs250 billion to the national economy.

---------

The failed system of democracy in Pakistan is strongly supported by Western governments. It serves Western interests as it leads to docile and submissive leaders who serve their foreign masters loyally. The stranglehold of the feudal system thrives with no priority given to education. More than parliamentarians have forged degrees and the degrees of another 250 are suspect. The Supreme Court decision of verification of their degrees is flouted and ignored by the Election Commission. The bigger the crook, the more respect he is given by the government and the biggest crooks are conferred the highest civil awards. The economy has nosedived and we are today ranked among the bottom six countries of the world in terms of our expenditure on education.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=83815&Cat=9

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Wall Street Journal on Bilawal Bhutto's first ever Op Ed published in Pakistan's Express Tribune:

Mr. Bhutto Zardari uses his op-ed, published in the English-language Express Tribune newspaper, to enumerate what he sees as his mother’s achievements, including pushing women’s rights. The PPP in the 1980s could have used its popular position to unseat the military-run government of the time, but did not do so, he writes. “The PPP has always been careful to distinguish between the army as an institution and the dictator who abuses his position,” he says.

It’s a challenge to the military to stay out of politics. And it seems that army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for now has no designs to take over the government.

Still, the PPP is a lot less popular in Pakistan than it was in Ms. Bhutto’s day and you sense her son feels that. In many places of the op-ed, it feels as if he is writing as the head of an opposition party, not co-chairman of the ruling PPP.

“We can only dream of what might have been had she lived,” he writes at one point of his mother.

He enumerates the challenges facing Pakistan –from education, to energy shortages to the investment-starved economy – but offers no solutions. It’s easy to forget reading it that the PPP is in power.


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/12/27/bilawal-bhuttos-first-pakistan-op-ed-marks-mothers-death/?mod=google_news_blog

Here's an excerpt from Bilawal's Op Ed:

What we do know is that there are 86,000 more schools because of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. That, under her government foreign investment quadrupled; energy production doubled; exports boomed. Under her government, 100,000 female health workers fanned out across the country, bringing health care, nutrition, pre and postnatal care, to millions of our poorest citizens. It was under her government that women were admitted as judges to the nation’s courts, that women’s police departments were established to help women who suffered from domestic violence and a women’s bank was established to give micro loans to women to start small businesses. It was under Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s leadership that cell phones, fibre optics and international media were introduced, and the Pakistani software industry blossomed. And it was on her very first day as prime minister, that all political prisoners were freed, unions legalised and the press uncensored. It was an amazing record of accomplishment, made even more remarkable by the constraint of aborted tenures, by constant pressure from a hostile establishment and presidents with the power to sack elected governments.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/312290/on-the-fourth-death-anniversary-of-my-mother/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Associated Press report on Pakistan's assertive judiciary challenging the military and civilian leadership:

....Some believe the court’s actions are part of a necessary, if messy, rebalancing in a country that has long been dominated by the army or seen chaotic periods of rule by corrupt politicians. Others view the court as just another unaccountable institution undermining the elected government.
-------------
The army has been the principal point of contact for the U.S. in the decade since it resuscitated ties with Pakistan to help with the Afghan war. While the army remains the strongest Pakistani institution, recent events indicate it has ceded some of that power to the Supreme Court and the country’s civilian leaders.
----------------
The Supreme Court’s activism was on full display Monday.

The court charged Pakistan’s prime minister with contempt for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against the president. Later, it ordered two military intelligence agencies to explain why they held seven suspected militants in allegedly harsh conditions for 18 months without charges.

Some government supporters have accused the court of acting on the army’s behalf to topple the country’s civilian leaders, especially in a case probing whether the government sent a memo to Washington last year asking for help in stopping a supposed military coup.

But no evidence has surfaced to support that allegation, and the court’s moves against the military seem to conflict with the theory. The judges have also taken up a case pending for 15 years in which the army’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, is accused of funneling money to political parties to influence national elections.
------------
The court’s actions against the army are a significant turnaround. For much of Pakistan’s nearly 65-year history, the court has been pliant to the army’s demands and validated three coups carried out by the generals.
-------------
The Pakistani media have largely applauded the court’s activism against the army, which has also had its power checked by a more active media and the demands of a bloody war against a domestic Taliban insurgency.
-----------
“I think the Supreme Court is going too far,” said Pakistani political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. “In the past, it was the army that would remove the civilian government, and now it’s the Supreme Court, another unelected institution trying to overwhelm elected leadership.”

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president based on recommendations from a judicial commission working in conjunction with parliament. The judges can serve until the age of 65 and can be removed only by a judicial council.

The cases have distracted the government from dealing with pressing issues facing the country, including an ailing economy and its battle against the Pakistani Taliban.

Moeed Yusuf, an expert on Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace, said the jockeying for power between the army, Supreme Court and civilian government was expected given the shifting political landscape and could be beneficial to the country in the long run.

“No country has managed to bypass several phases of such recalibration before they have arrived at a consensual, democratic and accountable system where institutions finally are able to synergize rather than compete endlessly,” Yusuf wrote in a column in Dawn.
-----------
“No single group will totally dominate the system,” said Rizvi. “That will slow down decision making further in Pakistan because nobody can take full responsibility for making a decision.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistans-assertive-supreme-court-signals-power-shift-in-vital-us-ally/2012/02/14/gIQAIZHODR_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Trib story on a feudal PPP candidate intimidating election staff in Sindh:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday withheld official results of the Tando Muhammad Khan provincial seat by-poll (PS 53), taking serious note of Saturday’s assault on polling staff by candidate Waheeda Shah Bukhari.

Bukhari was declared the winner in the initial vote-count – but the situation now is far from a celebratory one for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate.

In addition to withholding the poll result, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza ordered that an FIR be registered against Bukhari, who was caught on camera slapping two women at polling station No. 16 at the Government Girls High School. “It was agreed without demur by the members of the ECP that the official result of the said constituency may be withheld till the completion of the inquiry,” said the official statement.

“The slapping incident shocked the whole nation,” observed members of the ECP. “We condemn the unruly behaviour of a person aspiring to represent the people of Pakistan.”

The CEC also directed the Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh to take necessary action. The ECP also stated that an FIR, No. 33/2012, had been registered against the accused at the local police station under section 86 (3) (b) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976. She has been charged with ‘disorderly conduct at polling station’, an offence punishable with three months imprisonment, Rs1,000 fine or both. It also warned that no one would be allowed to threaten or use force against the polling staff whose services were hired by the commission. It also expressed concern and disappointment over the failure of police personnel present to take action. Ali Asghar Siyal, the Returning Officer of the by-elections in the constituency, lodged the FIR....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/342796/assaulting-polling-staff-ps-53-election-result-withheld-case-lodged-against-winning-candidate/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Economic Times story on the wealth of Balochistan ministers:

A provincial minister in Pakistan owns a tract of land that equals a small town - 24,338 acres to be precise. Another wears diamond-studded Rolex watches while a lawmaker runs seven mines and owns 300 guns.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani drives a luxury sport utility vehicle Hummer H2 that was gifted to him and a Harley Davidson motorcycle brought to Pakistan after a waiver on customs duty, showed statement of assets and liabilities submitted to the Election Commission for 2010-11.

Besides owning a safety and security firm, he also has a mining company with a capital investment of Rs.106.5 million, the Dawn newspaper reported.

But, he is easily overshadowed by his Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs, Mir Zafar Ullah Khan.

Khan owns a staggering 24,338 acres of land, most of which he has inherited. He has Rs.51 million in two bank accounts.

Building Minister Agha Irfan Karim owns four properties, including a farm house, 150 acres of agricultural land and a house in Quetta.

Karim also two diamond-studded Rolex wrist watches, two more with gold and silver, 10 diamond-studded cufflinks and 200 tola of gold.

Pir Abdul Qadir Algilani, a lawmaker, too has a generous land holding.

He owns 3,200 acres of land and an under-construction farm spread over 400 acres.

That's not all.

Algilani's other properties include two coal mines, three manganese mines, one copper mine and one iron ore mine in his own and his wife's name.


http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/a-pakistani-minister-mir-zafar-owns-almost-a-town/articleshow/12368249.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on history of land rights and politics in Pakistan:

The extraction of rural surplus from the Indian subcontinent enabled the Mughals to fund empire building opulence and warfare through an increasingly sophisticated land administration system. Peasant revolts against this exploitation were identified as one of the reasons for the downfall of the Mughals. Under the historic mansabdari system, however, agrarian tillers were at least rooted to the land they cultivated since mansabdars appointed above them were state representatives designated to collect revenues from land, which essentially belonged to the empire — rather than to mansabdars themselves.

The British desire to fuel industrialisation in England through boosting cash cropping in its colonies led to experimentation with provision of private property rights in the subcontinent based on the presumption that this would incentivise productivity and investment in agriculture. Sidestepping the poor rural populace, the British preferred giving land rights to the upper peasantry. Moreover, the colonial government gave titles and land grants to ‘noblemen’ willing to recognise their authority and the British Raj also began using land for inducing military recruitment and breeding horses for the cavalry, under the ghora paal (horse breeding) scheme. Economic historians have identified this latter colonial policy of using land for military purposes as setting the stage for the growing influence of the military in the country’s political economy.

Unlike India, landlords with large landholdings dominated the Muslim League and continued to sabotage effective land reforms in the country. Over time, landholding interests not only pervaded the establishment but also acquired industrial interests. It is thus not uncommon for large landed Pakistani families to have family members in the national and provincial parliaments serving as senior bureaucrats and army officials, as well as owning sugar and cotton mills.

A political economy perspective further sheds light on broader configuration of production relations at both national and global levels. The IMF and the World Bank have actively sought to influence agricultural production processes and policies through liberalisation of the agricultural sector — in developing countries which receive their loans — in a bid to integrate them into a global trade regime.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/412073/the-political-economy-of-land-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Independent on Bilawal Bhutto's maiden speech to a large political rally:



Five years after the assassination of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her son and political heir has outlined his vision for the country in a speech his supporters claimed marked the launch of his own career in politics. Critics said it underscored the enduring presence of dynastic politics, more than 65 years after the creation of Pakistan.

More than 200,000 party workers and supporters gathered at the Bhutto family mausoleum near Larkana in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh to hear 24-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari deliver his first major political address. Security was reportedly very tight and more than 15,000 police were on duty as the Oxford University graduate and other leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) addressed the crowds, and paid emotional tributes to the late Ms Bhutto.

"Benazir sacrificed her life to uphold democracy," Mr Bhutto Zardari said of his mother, who was killed five years ago in Rawalpindi while campaigning ahead of parliamentary elections. "The beacon of democracy continues to shine."

Within days of the 27 December 2007 killing of Ms Bhutto, who twice served as the nation's premier, her son was appointed co-chairman of the PPP, along with her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who became President.

At the time of his mother's assassination by the Taliban, Mr Bhutto Zardari was aged just 19 and for several years he kept a low profile. But the late premier's supporters have always wanted to push the young man to take on more responsibility within the party, even though he cannot stand for election until his 25th birthday in September next year. Earlier this year, he accused Pervez Musharraf of "murdering" his mother by sabotaging her security – an allegation the former military ruler has denied.
---------
The party's intention to capitalise on the Bhutto legacy was underscored by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. In a statement, he said: "Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, following in the tradition of generations, will prove to be an important turning point for democracy and politics."

Dynastic politics remains pervasive in many parts of south Asia, and in Pakistan, there is no more powerful dynasty than the Bhutto family. Rasul Baksh Rais, a political analyst, said Mr Bhutto Zardari's political blooding had long been anticipated. "Politics is dominated by influential political families who build coalitions to hold power," he said. "There's no ideology, no questions about past allegiances or support for the military. It's a pragmatic approach."

Raza Rumi, a writer and analyst with the Jinnah Institute, said Mr Bhutto Zardari's "foray into politics" is "an opportunity for the party to connect with the younger Pakistanis who now comprise majority of the population".


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hundreds-of-thousands-turn-out-to-see-pakistans-rising-son-8432172.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a CNN report on slavery in the world:

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A new report claiming to be the most comprehensive look at global slavery says 30 million people are living as slaves around the world.
The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).
The top 10 countries on its list of shame accounted for more than three quarters of the 29.8 million people living in slavery, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh completing the list.
In terms of countries with the highest of proportion of slaves, Mauritania in West Africa topped the table, with about 4% of its 3.4 million people enslaved, followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
-----------
In some of the worst-hit countries, the report said, the affected parties were citizens ensnared in endemic, culturally-sanctioned forms of slavery -- "the chattel slavery of the Haratins in Mauritania, the exploitation of children through the restavek practice in Haiti, the cultural and economic practices of both caste and debt bondage in India and Pakistan, and the exploitation of children through vidomegon in Benin."
In other examples, including Nepal, Gabon and Moldova, it was migrants who were most vulnerable to exploitation. In many examples, noted the report, child and forced marriage was prevalent and child protection practices weak.
It noted that in India, the country with the most slaves, the risk of enslavement varies markedly from state to state.
The Middle East and North Africa, it said, showed the highest measured level of discrimination against women, with one result being a high level of forced and child marriages within the region, and widespread exploitation of trafficked women as domestic workers and prostitutes. Vulnerable male migrants also frequently found themselves in exploitative working conditions.


http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/17/world/global-slavery-index/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting opinion of ZAB in Friday Times:

Bhutto apologists peddle every one of his striking list of hypocritical ‘follies’ as being the need of the hour; the only possible solution or the product of political ‘pressure’ that the man succumbed to with escalating frequency. This leeway is reserved for only two leaders in Pakistan’s history, Jinnah and Bhutto. Everyone else is answerable to our liberals, sometimes simply owing to the fact that they propagated an ideology that our liberals do not conform to.

Just because Bhutto signed the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims reluctantly it should not purge him from allegations of bigotry
The Bhutto and Jinnah apologists are no different to the Taliban or Islamism apologists – they pick their favourite cherries. That Bhutto – or Jinnah – took leaves out of the aforementioned ideology to propagate themselves is paid no heed, since all one needs to do to become the proponent of secularism in Pakistan is not be a practicing Muslim, and everything else becomes justifiable thenceforth.

It was ‘secular’ Bhutto whose constitution made Pakistan an Islamic Republic – an A-grade oxymoron. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who shut down bars and banned alcohol – which apparently is compatible with our liberals’ brand of Islam. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who vied to personify Iqbal’s pan-Islamic ‘Mard-e-Momin’, by uniting the Islamic world and formulating the Islamic bomb to counter the threat of the imaginary Jewish, Christian and Hindu bombs. And of course it was ‘secular’ Bhutto under whose leadership Ahmadis were excommunicated in 1974, politicising the process of takfir and in turn creating a beast of bigotry that has its claws around the Shia community as things stand.

The justification provided for all of the above manifestations of ‘secularism’ is solely: reluctance. Just because Bhutto reluctantly signed the paper declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims it should suffice in purging the man from allegations of bigotry, but Zia’s Ordinance XX that debarred Ahmadis from using any Islamic titles is a brazen depiction of bigotry, since it was in synchrony with his own ideology.


http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/the-question-of-bigotry/

Riaz Haq said...

Ayesha Siddiqa on PPP and Bilawal:

What happens when too many cooks make the broth? The same when a number of uncles and aunties try to write your speech. Bilawal’s speech had a robust aftertaste of many ingredients lying around the PPP kitchen for long — a strong taste of ethnic nationalism all wrapped up in political victimhood, but with an outer layer of Pakistani-military nationalism. The speech mentioned the party’s suffering at the hands of General Zia’s legacy in the same breath as talking about all that is close to the military’s heart — the Kashmir issue, the Swat operation, etc. The justification being that you cannot survive in Pakistan without the GHQ’s blessings. Even Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had gone around as an ambassador for the Kashmir cause while Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was incarcerated for the Agartala conspiracy case. The party’s newly hired retired military gurus would have advised the young man to stay on the side of caution. But then what such advisers do not understand is that politics is a game of big risks. You have to offer something new and substantial for the people to follow you.
But some were excited. The liberal folk were relieved to hear someone finally talk about minority issues of all kinds. There are some who may now believe that the empty space between Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan might get filled. Nevertheless, Aasia Bibi, Balochistan and being anti-Taliban are three fundamental steps, which will determine the direction this country will take. Moreover, these cases are symbolic of a larger malaise. More than an individual’s tale, Aasia Bibi’s story is about a state which no longer has the capacity to dispense justice because its vision is clouded by dogma. Her tragedy lies in the legal regime of the 1980s couched in redefinition of the state during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto regime in 1974.
Similarly, Balochistan is a gaping hole pertaining to the frustration and unhappiness of a people regarding a contract of a federating unit they were a party to, but no longer feel that it is being honoured. Improving conditions call for a more serious engagement than running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Will the unhappy Baloch find the former president’s apology sufficient to nurse his/her wounds, especially when when he/she also heard in the speech that the grandson would most likely follow the grandfather in allowing the state security apparatus to use brute force in Balochistan anytime it seemed to threaten the state? While some rejoiced, for others, the speech would have given them a sense of deja vu.
Eliminating the Taliban is equally tough, not only because Punjab is full of such characters and the provincial government’s leadership is accused of having ideological sympathies with the zealots, but also due to the fact that every other place is becoming like Punjab. Lahore may be responsible for a lot of ills, but it certainly cannot account for why the PPP government failed to check the proliferation of questionable madrassas under its watch in Sindh. Or how the interior ministry in the previous government built ties with the Lal Masjid/Hafsa madrassa crowd. Notwithstanding the nervousness of many Sindhi friends on the issue of changing social ethos of the province, the fact is that south Punjab had also transformed the same way. It is not about ordinary people popularly thinking like the Taliban, but the militants taking roots in a society because they find an enabling environment and infrastructure. What enables them are not the poor, but the powerful, who initially used jihadis mainly as temporary partners for their own power enhancement until they were left with no option but to surrender to them permanently. Sindh is undergoing a transformation just like south Punjab.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/779443/too-many-cooks/

Riaz Haq said...

The internal inquiry committee had failed to hold Professor Abid Hussian Imam (Assistant Professor at the LUMS Law School, son of powerful feudal politicians Abida Husain and Fakhar Imam) guilty, despite finding instead that his actions were “unbecoming of a professor at LUMS” for “use of inappropriate jokes many times with sexual innuendoes and undertones, and obnoxious language.” The committee asked Professor Imam to render an apology, and he allegedly preferred to resign—but the Ombudsman found that LUMS was unable to produce any proof of said resignation.

http://qz.com/292866/a-high-profile-sexual-harassment-case-in-pakistan-is-exposing-the-hypocrisy-of-the-educated-elite/