Thursday, June 10, 2010

California Prop 14 Versus Pakistan's 18th Amendment

The approval of California's Proposition 14 yesterday does the exact opposite of what Pakistan's 18th amendment has done; Prop 14 takes power away from the major political "party heads" and gives it to the people. It strikes at the very roots of the duopoly currently enjoyed by Democratic and Republican parties. Under California Proposition 14, a measure that easily passed, traditional party primaries to choose candidates will be replaced in 2011 with wide-open elections. The top two vote-getters — whatever their party, or if they have no party at all — will face off in the general election.

Widely lauded by Pakistani politicians, political analysts and the national media for "strengthening democracy" by significantly curtailing the powers of the president, the 18th amendment has given extraordinary new powers to party bosses to unseat any member of parliament, including the prime minister and cabinet members. The unelected leaders of the PPP and PML have both succeeded through this amendment to consolidate their own power at the expense of their party members and the Pakistani electorate at large.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the text of article 63A of the 18th amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan:

(1)“If a member of a Parliament Party composed of a single political party in a House

(a) resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party,

(b) votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relation to

i. election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; or
ii. a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or
iii. a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill
he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Party Head may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer."


"(3) Upon receipt of the declaration under clause (1), the Presiding Officer shall within two days refer, and in case he fails to do so shall be deemed that he has referred, the declaration to the Chief Election Commissioner who shall lay the declaration before the Election Commission for its decision theron confirming the declaration or otherwise within thirty days of its receipt by the Chief Election Commissioner.
(4) Where the Election Commissioner confirms the declaration, the member referred to in clause (1) shall cease to be member of the House and his seat shall become vacant."


The 18th amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan has mainly served to concentrate even greater power in the hands of unelected party leaders, particularly Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who lead the PPP and the PML respectively in Pakistan. These new powers of "party heads" give constitutional protection to the reprehensible system of political patronage that is inimical to the interest of democracy.

Notwithstanding the significant new changes that California Prop 14 adoption promises in future elections, the American voters have always exercised much more power than the voters in British style democracies. Here are some key differences between the American democracy and South Asian democracies:

1. Unlike the prime ministers in India and Pakistan, the US president is directly elected by the people in a general election. The president does not have to pick his or her cabinet from the members of the legislature. Usually, the cabinet members in the United States are technocrats who are competent to the run the departments (ministries) they head. This system is more conducive to better governance.

2. Unlike major political party candidates in India and Pakistan, the party candidates for various offices and legislative seats in the United States are not given party tickets in backroom deals by the party bosses.

3. The presidential nominees of the major parties have to win primary elections held in all 50 states to qualify to represent their parties in the general election.

4. Party candidates for the legislative seats in Washington and various state capitals have to win primary elections to qualify for the party tickets in the general elections. The party bosses can not give tickets to their cronies in return for favors.

5. Pakistan has recently gutted the system of local city and district governments elected by the people that was established during Musharraf years. In the United States, there is grassroots democracy at the local level. Most of the local city and county officials running city governments, school districts, community hospitals, fire districts, law enforcement agencies, etc. are directly elected by the voters and they are held accountable to the people. They are not appointed by federal and state governments.

Parts of the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan that give extraordinary powers to the political "party head" are regressive. Concentration of power in the hands of a few usually leads to arrogance, corruption and abuse of power. It runs counter to the spirit of democracy. It perpetuates patron-client relationships rampant in Pakistan's feudal society. There can be no real democracy without transparency, accountability and a system of checks and balances. Unless the political system in Pakistan gives greater power to the voters, and it makes the nomination and ticketing process for political candidates transparent, it will be very difficult to achieve accountability and good governance at various levels in the country.

Related Links:

Pakistan Needs Truth and Reconciliation

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Feudal Clown Prince of Pakistan

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

36 comments:

Vishal said...

>> the party candidates for various offices and legislative seats in the United States are not given party tickets in backroom deals by the party bosses.

Google for the recent 'Joe Sestak' fiasco. Infact I haven't seen things go so much dirty even in India. These candidates washed dirty linen on almost all TV channels.

>> The presidential nominees of the major parties have to win primary elections held in all 50 states to qualify to represent their parties in the general election.

So do the parties in India.

>> The party bosses can not give tickets to their cronies in return for favors.

You must be joking :)

>> Pakistan has recently gutted the system of local city and district governments that was established during Musharraf years.

True. But India still follows the elections for municipalities at city-level, panchayats at village-level, corporates at colony level and others. I believe Pakistan's model used to be similar, until everything was hijacked by successive periods of Military rules.

---

Even I used to believe that US model was all rosy, but not now. The 2 party system (or the presidential system) is hard to implement for a country as diverse as India. Even for Pakistan, that has had so many military dictators, I am surprised its citizens could ever look forward to centralized power.

Riaz Haq said...

Vushal: "Google for the recent 'Joe Sestak' fiasco. Infact I haven't seen things go so much dirty even in India. These candidates washed dirty linen on almost all TV channels."

I don't think you understand the basic fact that Joe Sestak won the primary and got Democratic party nomination by beating Sen. Specter who was supported by Obama. This is unthinkable in India where the party tickets are handed out (usually sold) to cronies by party leaders without any primary elections for party nominations.

The Guardian correspondent Randeep Ramesh in India recently wrote that "the selling of public office for private gain was so bad that the only way to make poverty history in India would be to make every person a politician. Last year the wealth of local representatives in the northern state of Haryana rose at an astonishing rate of £10,000 a month. Their constituents were lucky if their income increased by a few pounds."

Vishal: "So do the parties in India."

I think you are mistaken. There is no such thing as primaries in India. The party leaders hand out tickets to whoever they wish.

"Most Indian political parties are internally undemocratic and often dominated by political dynasties, none more famous the Gandhi clan", according to a recent story in New York Times about Indian politics.

Vishal: "True. But India still follows the elections for municipalities at city-level, ..."

Your assertion is incorrect. Only Delhi has an elected government among cities in INdia. Mumbai and other major cities do not....something all major Pakistani cities enjoyed until the end of last year when the PPP dissolved elected city governments and handed power to bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

The basic thing is this there are many systems of democracies all over the world all have their positives and negative points and to be stable they must come from within the country's political soil so to speak not come from outside.There is no absolute one correct model of representative democracy.

The main drawbacks of the US system is that since the executive does not sit in the legislature there is a great possibility of gridlock if the opposition controls the senate.

In addition the two party system is very prone to cartelization especially when dealing with business interests.


There are all sorts of models France has a very strong executive and no concept of popular local government the prefect of the local administrative union being appointed by the centre.But still the French state provides superior services to its citizens by all measures than both the US and the UK and has for instance the best healthcare system in the world.

The point being India inherited its political infrastructure and framework from the UK and it has taken about 50 years to stabilize.
Its a reasonably good framework which has a lot of scope for improvement in its implementation and it is indeed improving with new legislation such as Right to Information Act etc.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "The basic thing is this there are many systems of democracies all over the world all have their positives and negative points and to be stable they must come from within the country's political soil so to speak not come from outside.There is no absolute one correct model of representative democracy."

I fundamentally agree with you. However, I do think democracies need to continuously evolve to be more responsive to the needs of the people and to better serve them. I think the Californians are trying to do exactly that with direct democracy as manifested by the propositions that force the legislators and the executive to act when necessary.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree one should keep improving and experimenting with new frameworks but the thing is one shouldn't be dogmatic.

Direct democracy works very well in Switzerland but its been a disaster in California where politicians constantly trying to stay popular have created a fiscal black hole by not taking tough decisions to rein in wasteful expenditure and are still not taking tough decisions for fear of a recall petition.

Similarly a very strong bureaucratic state where buraucrats from the Grand ecoles become politicians,head the judiciary and run major public sector companies works very well in France.This structure has almost everywhere else created corruption and inefficiencies.

I guess the trick is to keep experimenting till you find something that gels with your social structure/ethos.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Direct democracy works very well in Switzerland but its been a disaster in California where politicians constantly trying to stay popular have created a fiscal black hole ...."

California's diverse and highly innovative and productive economy is the envy of the world. It has more universities ranked among the top 100 than any nation other than the United States. Its great university system is the result of investments in education by California. It is home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood. It's one of the largest exporters of fruits and vegetables and dairy and wines in the world.

California does have serious fiscal problems now but, unlike national governments like US, Britain and France, it doesn't have the option of printing its own currency or having its own independent monetary policy. Its toolbox is much more limited.

It's the willingness of ordinary Californians to try new approaches that will help the state recover from its current problems and put it back on top again.

Mayraj said...

Great post. It touches a subject dear to my heart. I have discussed one aspect in my term limits article, which is an earlier CA led effort to open the political system as is this most recent effort.

Pakistan should also have Proportional Representation, which US does not have. CA has been leading efforts to open system for a very long time. Term limits and nonpartisan efforts are earlier efforts. They are both applicable in CA;but, what Proposition 14 demonstrated they were not enough to combat party machine politics.

I hope CA improves its education system as the oncoming minority-majority era in politics means uneducated public will not know how to properly judge their candidates or know what to demand from them. The heart of a democracy is its electorate. if it is dysfunctional, so will the political representatives be. In a country where money decides who gets to be elected, an intelligent and knowledgeable electorate is all the more important.

Zardari is a feudal. Fuedals are not going to support opening of system. How can you expect that from someone like that unless he is a turncoat fuedal, which Zardari is by no stretch of the imagination.

But, I am glad you shone light on the contrasts. Pakistan is really going backward not forward. Even the tiny steps forward they cannot handle like local; system, term limits and nonpartisan elections. The politicians want to show that they are modern;but, they are not.
They seem to have no idea what is going on outside their village.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "I hope CA improves its education system as the oncoming minority-majority era in politics means uneducated public will not know how to properly judge their candidates or know what to demand from them...."

While California K-12 students consistently lag some of the top European and Asian nations' students in standardized tests, California's higher education system remains the envy of the world. There are more California universities (including the UC campuses) ranked in the top 100 than any other nation other than the United States. There is only one Silicon Valley in the world and it is in California.

I think the key reason is that the US educators rely much less on rote learning, and encourage reasoning skills over memorization of facts. I did a post on it "Teaching Facts Versus Reasoning" last year that you might want to read.

But I do agree that California can not afford to ignore its K-12 system and still expect to maintain the high rankings of its university system fed mostly by its K-12 student population.

Mayraj said...

But, K-12 system will fill higher end ed. If they suffer so will system.
The K-12 system is down by a large margin, it's not a little margin.
This is the beginning of the downward spiral. You had it good, next generation will not unless CA changes its ways and so does rest of America as in 45-50 years it will be national profile.

Riaz Haq said...

International math and science test results have consistently shown for over a decade that Asian students from China, Japan, Singapore and Korea perform better than American students. In spite of such results, the US continues to excel in scientific and technological innovation as measured by the number of Nobel prizes and number of international patent filings. Most of the recent breakthrough innovations have come from the United States. Six of the top ten highest ranked universities are in the United States. There is only one Silicon Valley in the world and it is in the United States. This valley represents more of a state of mind rather than a physical place. Why is it? Do Americans focus more on scientific reasoning than facts and content? Is there greater focus on rote learning in Asia? Do Americans foster more creativity and greater exploration? Does freedom of expression in America encourage more questioning and better reasoning?

Mayraj said...

Current US place is due to past. US Government has also supported research. it will not be able to do so in future. You can have silicon Valley anywhere, as you said a state of mine. Entrepreneurs will not want to be in an area with declining condition. They will flee.

Mayraj said...

Current US place is due to past. US Government has also supported research. it will not be able to do so in future. You can have silicon Valley anywhere, as you said a state of mine. Entrepreneurs will not want to be in an area with declining condition. They will flee.

Riaz Haq said...

Obama's stimulus package allocated $100 billion to public education. This unprecedented federal funding nearly doubled the Department of Education’s annual budget.

While it's ok to worry about US competitiveness, I think the alarm-sounding in America is overdone to get an even bigger slice of education spending than what the US already spends.

A 2006 report from the London-based Center for European Reform, "The Future of European Universities" points out that the United States invests 2.6 percent of its GDP in higher education, compared with 1.2 percent in Europe and 1.1 percent in Japan.

Of the top ten universities in the world published by Times of London, six are in the United States. The US continues to lead the world in scientific and technological research and development. Looking at the industries of the future such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, green technologies, the US continues to enjoy a huge lead over Europe and Asia. The reason for US supremacy in higher education is only partly explained by how much it spends on it.

Data Cruncher said...

"from China, Japan, Singapore and Korea perform better than American students. "

US is pretty low in this. Even in US Asian Indians and Asian Chinese students perform better than American. In UK studies UK Indians were significantly ahead of british white students in studies.

Chinese believe that Han race has superior IQ. Do you believe it?

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

First generation Indians in US were disparaged as coolies(I've never been there, only heard so), those who migrated later became upper middle class and entrepreneurs. Now I am hearing stories of several Indian politicians and members of other high office in US. If the trend continues, I see that US-Indians over the next decades could become the most powerful group in USA, after Israeli Americans.

Riaz Haq said...

DC:"Chinese believe that Han race has superior IQ. Do you believe it?"

I don't subscribe to such claims.

However, there have been some controversial studies and research papers published by psychologist Richard Lynn on racial differences and IQs. Lynn regards considers clusters as "races". He concludes that the East Asians-Chinese, Japanese and Koreans-have the highest mean IQ at 105. Europeans follow with an IQ of 100. Some ways below these are the Inuit or Eskimos (IQ 91), South East Asians (IQ 87), Native American Indians (IQ 87), Pacific Islanders (IQ 85), South Asians and North Africans (IQ 84). Well below these come the sub-Saharan Africans (IQ 67) followed by the Australian Aborigines (IQ 62).

Lynn also studied people of different races who are living in North America and Europe and found that the context and the environment do have an impact on the IQ test results but they do not completely erase the difference. However, the debate continues with lots of questions as to the design, the content and the bias in IQ tests.

IQ alone does not determine success. For example, whites are far more advanced in terms of new discoveries and innovation in spite of having lower reported IQ than East Asians. Creativity is apparently different from intelligence, and depends much more on challenging the status quo and freedom of inquiry without fear....something often missing in Asian cultures where conformity is highly valued.

The neutrality and factual accuracy of Lynn's studies and data have been questioned by many researchers and scientists. The most common criticisms are that these studies and tests are developed in the European context and they measure mainly problem-solving capability and skills.
For those who are curious, Pakistanis are included along with Indians among Southern Asians with an average IQ of 84, about 16 points below Europeans and almost 21 points behind East Asians including Chinese, Japanese and Koreans.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2007/10/are-people-of-color-less-intelligent.html

Saad said...

You conveniently forget while making your comparisons of India and Pakistan with USA that,


Unlike India and Pakistan the US is

1. a three hundred year old democracy,

2. the assemblies at Albany and were occupied by gangsters and mafia not more than a century back, infact read up Kennedy's political connections,

3. that the said article provided the much needed stability to US governments for a long period of time ie three centuries,

4. that last time Pakistan tried the Presidential system we had a civil war.

The Pakistani democracy is barely three years old thus your comparisons and the resulting confusion is beyond me.

Riaz Haq said...

Saad: "The Pakistani democracy is barely three years old thus your comparisons and the resulting confusion is beyond me."

I think you are confused. It's not about 3 years or 300 years. It's about the fact that the 18th amendment has taken constitutional powers away from the office of the president and concentrated it in the hands of a couple of "party heads" who are themselves unelected dictators with no internal democracy within their own parties. It puts the entire party membership and the government at the mercy of "party heads".

The whole process and the results are cynically designed to serve the interests of Zardari and Sharif rather than the cause of democracy in Pakistan. It's a naked power grab by Pakistan's crooked top politicians disguised as democracy.

Anonymous said...

'California's diverse and highly innovative and productive economy is the envy of the world...'

It was all this long before it tries its hand at direct democracy.

Circumstantial evidence points that except switzerland direct democracy invariably means politicians becomee very reluctant to make difficult decisions which involve short term pain for long term gains.


Besides direct democracy requires a societal maturity at least a century away in the case of South Asia.Direct democracy here will inevitably mean tribal councils and khap panchayats.Lets not compare the richest state in the richest country in the world(California) to Pakistan,its absurd.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "It was all this long before it tries its hand at direct democracy."

California has had direct democracy in the form of ballot props for as long as I can remember.

anon: "Besides direct democracy requires a societal maturity at least a century away in the case of South Asia.Direct democracy here will inevitably mean tribal councils and khap panchayats.Lets not compare the richest state in the richest country in the world(California) to Pakistan,its absurd."

All of this is irrelevant as far the 18th amendment is concerned. Instead of forcing the political parties to become more democratic internally, the amendment concentrates even greater power in the hands of unelected dynastic "party heads" who are only interested in perpetuating a corrupt system of political patronage.

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

Data Cruncher said...

Riaz,

IQ test can very well be prepared and achived higher with preparation. China takes pride in all those tests. Just like former communist countries of Europe (East Germany in particular) use to sweep medals in Olympics. they are no where to be seen now.

However it is undeniable that certain groups have achived more. Jews population is same as that of Islamabad. Yet they have achieved phenomenal in science and technology. In fact west contribution without them is questionable.
Orientals now are doing fine and so are Indians in select fields like IT, Medical.

Point to ponder is that why we muslims are so behind in all this. Half of muslim anger is because of this

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Point to ponder is that why we muslims are so behind in all this. Half of muslim anger is because of this .."

Achievement is not based on what religion one follows. And it goes in cycles. The recent centuries have been essentially western centuries where most Jews happen to live. Even the non-Western Nobel Laureates in science and technology have worked and lived mostly in the West.

Last year, Barack Obama talked about the contributions of Islamic civilization to the world of science and discovery. He said, “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar University — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing.”

The claim of Muslims as being mere "conduits" of knowledge has been rejected in "Lost Discoveries" by Dick Teresi. Says Teresi, "Clearly, the Arabs served as a conduit, but the math laid on the doorstep of Renaissance Europe cannot be attributed solely to ancient Greece. It incorporates the accomplishments of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt, India, China and the far reaches of the Medieval Islamic world.

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a Persian Muslim astronomer and mathematician, developed at least one of Copernicus's theorems, now called The Tusi Couple, three hundred years before Copernicus. Copernicus used the theorem without offering any proof or giving credit to al-Tusi. This was pointed out by Kepler, who looked at Copernicus's work before he developed his own elliptical orbits idea.

A second theorem found in Copernican system, called Urdi lemma, was developed by another Muslim scientist Mu'ayyad al-Din al-Urdi, in 1250. Again, Copernicus neither offered proof nor gave credit to al-Urdi. Columbia University's George Saliba believes Copernicus didn't credit him because Muslims were not popular in 16th century Europe, not unlike the situation today.

Riaz Haq said...

Contd:

And let's not ignore the great contribution of another giant of science from the Islamic world, Ibn Haitham (Alhazen), who developed the "Scientific Method". Alhazen is also considered the father of modern optics. The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to explain that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

The algebra as we know today came from the Muslim world. Al Khwarizmi wrote the first book on algebra. The term "algebra" was first used by him. Al Khwarizmi was born about 790 in Baghdad, Iraq, and died about 850.

In the ninth century, al-Khwarizmi wrote one of the first Arabic algebras with both proofs and examples. Because of his work, he is called "the Father of Algebra." Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian born in the eighth century. He converted (changed) Babylonian and Hindu numerals into a workable system that almost anyone could use. He gave the name to his math as "al-jabr" which we know as "algebra".

Data Cruncher said...

All of this achievements were in the past. Do you deny that last 500 odd years has been bad for muslims from progress point of view. We haven't even reformed like Christians did after Renaissance.

As you know I am an atheist and a critic of all religions including Islam. I however admit that Islam is not the only religion with violence in its history. Christianity and Judaism is no better. But they evolved. We haven't. That probably explains our sorry state.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "All of this achievements were in the past."

Yes, I already said that. The history tells us that the sun doesn't stay in one place. It moves and shines in different parts of the world on different peoples at different times.

DC: "Christianity and Judaism is no better. But they evolved. We haven't. That probably explains our sorry state."

Have they, really? How do you account for the hundreds of millions killed during colonization of Asia, Africa and America? And the two world wars? The use of nukes on civilians in Japan? The brutal occupation of Palestine and the Nazi-style concentration camp in Gaza under siege? Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan?

Data Cruncher said...

Riaz, Answer this honestly. Why do millions of muslims live in UK/Canada/USA/Australia/Europe and not in their own country. Are muslims treated here worse than non muslims in muslim countries. Heck, muslims are in such a sorry state that in their own countries that they kill each other. More muslims have killed each other than non muslims killing them.

Data Cruncher said...

hello what is this

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/06/13/general-as-pakistan_7683895.html?boxes=Homepagebusinessnews

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Why do millions of muslims live in UK/Canada/USA/Australia/Europe and not in their own country. Are muslims treated here worse than non muslims in muslim countries."

There are also many more non-Muslims from Asia, Africa and Latin America who have moved to the West.

Over a million Indians, mostly Hindus, are escaping their country each year to go work in the Middle East, Europe and North America.

Here's how an Indian blogger CyberGandhi begins one of his recent posts "Why 1 million Indians Escape from India every year?"


"Any crackdown on illegal immigrants abroad or restricting quotas to Indians are a major concern to India’s politicians. The latest statistics from US Department of Homeland Security shows that the numbers of Indian illegal migrants jumped 125% since 2000! Ever wondered why Indians migrate to another countries but no one comes to India for a living?"

It's basic demand vs supply that guides peoples movement around the world in a more globalized labor market.

Riaz Haq said...

DC:

The AP story in Forbes about ISI is not even worth the paper it is written on.

If these stories had any grain of truth, the Americans and NATO would not be seeking nor getting any help from the Pakistani military that they are in the form of sustained pressure on the Taliban in FATA and elsewhere in Pakistan. Pakistan is doing it for its own sake. Pakistanis are now the biggest victims of Taliban terror.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

@Riaz, DC
"Achievement is not based on what religion one follows. And it goes in cycles. The recent centuries have been essentially western centuries where most Jews happen to live. Even the non-Western Nobel Laureates in science and technology have worked and lived mostly in the West."

Not just that - tell a secular Frenchman or a Swede that their material progress is thanks to their religion, they would be highly offended, as Europe is in a post Christian stage since centuries. Dar Al Islam is in a limbo - Islam is interpreted in a way that makes it look like a joke sometimes. The values it claims to stand for is discarded all the time. The recent rape of a British-Pakistani woman at a Dubai hotel and the handling of that case shows that some serious change in mindset is needed - not saying Islam caused it, but the mindset of some of its followers need a change. Otherwise, even after another 500 years, Muslims would be talking about a lost Golden age.
Jews were in a very unique position whereby during Islamic Golden age, they identified themselves with their semitic cousins and prospered along with Muslims. When situation changed, they identified themselves with West, calling it a Judeo Christian West. Islam by its sheer size and its own past cultural and social achievements is not capable of accepting another dominant system so easily. This is not Muslim's fault as many claim - we can solve the clash of civilization by only accepting that world is diverse and Islam and its practices - both good and bad are going to stay here just like the we have to live with both the good side and bad side of West.

Riaz Haq said...

By evacuating 250 Pakistani students, and the body one slain Pakistani, in an airlift from Kyrgyzstan, Pakistani government has demonstrated that it cares for its citizens abroad. I see this as a good sign of responsive democratic governance emerging in Pakistan. I hope there will be more signs of it to come, and I expect Pakistani media to continue to play their role in such matters.

Meanwhile, India's foreign ministry has said that 116 Indians - mostly students - were still stranded in southern Kyrgyzstan due to the fighting.

"Everything possible is being done to ensure the safety and well-being of the Indian nationals, within the constraints posed by the difficult ground situation," said the ministry in a statement.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a New York Times quoting Riyaz Hussain Naqvi, a retired government official who worked in tax collection for 38 years, as saying, “This is a system of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. It is a skewed system in which the poor man subsidizes the rich man.”

The problem starts at the top. The average worth of Pakistani members of Parliament is $900,000, with its richest member topping $37 million, according to a December study by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency in Islamabad.

While Pakistan’s income from taxes last year was the lowest in the country’s history, according to Zafar ul-Majeed, a senior official in the Federal Board of Revenue, the assets of current members of Parliament nearly doubled from those of members of the previous Parliament, the institute study found.

The country’s top opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, reported that he paid no personal income tax for three years ending in 2007 in public documents he filed with Pakistan’s election commission. A spokesman for Mr. Sharif, an industrialist who is widely believed to be a millionaire, said he had been in exile and had turned over positions in his companies to relatives.

A month of requests for similar documents for Pakistan’s president and prime minister went unanswered by the commission; representatives for the men said they did not have the figures.

“Taxes are the Achilles’ heel of Pakistani politicians,” said Jahangir Tareen, a businessman and member of Parliament who is trying to put taxes on the public agenda. He paid $225,534 in income tax in 2009, a figure he made public in Parliament last month. “If you don’t have income, fine, but then don’t go and get into a Land Cruiser.”

The rules say that anyone who earns more than $3,488 a year must pay income tax, but few do. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based political economist with the Carnegie Endowment, estimates that as many as 10 million Pakistanis should be paying income tax, far more than the 2.5 million who are registered.

Out of more than 170 million Pakistanis, fewer than 2 percent pay income tax, making Pakistan’s revenue from taxes among the lowest in the world, a notch below Sierra Leone’s as a ratio of tax to gross domestic product.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts 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.
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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.
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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 excerpts 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 Raymond Baker's book "Capitalism's Achilles Heel" regarding Pakistan's venal politicians:

"While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm."
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Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
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Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.


http://books.google.com/books?id=Wkd0--M6p_oC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Capitalism%27s+Achilles+Heel&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R_2jT569HofViAKLzpzLAw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=nawaz%20sharif&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=Wkd0--M6p_oC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Capitalism%27s+Achilles+Heel&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R_2jT569HofViAKLzpzLAw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=zardari&f=false