Monday, October 29, 2012

Imran Khan Draws 500 Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley

"We will rid the country of corruption within the first 90 days in office...I condemned the attack on Malala within 48 hours and was the first to visit her in the hospital...Taliban have killed hundreds of ANP workers...If I condemn the Taliban, they'll kill my workers too." PTI Chief Imran Khan in San Jose, CA. Oct 28, 2012

 There were many contradictions in PTI chief Imran Khan's San Jose speech that attracted about 500 Pakistani-Americans. The attendees were quite enthusiastic in their welcome of the national cricket hero who has turned to politics with a strong anti-corruption platform. Imran was accompanied by PTI leader Fauzia Kasuri and sufi rock singer- songwriter Salman Ahmad of Junoon fame.

When Imran Khan arrived, the fundraiser-dinner quickly turned into an urban middle class rally reminiscent of the PTI events in major Pakistani cities like Lahore and Karachi. The banquet hall at Dolce Hayes Mansion came alive with slogans of "Pakistan Zindanad" and "Imran Khan Zindabad" following Pakistan's national anthem  played by Salman Ahmad.

The well-attended Silicon Valley event was a confirmation of the fact that PTI is essentially an urban middle class phenomenon drawing support from people who are looking for new leadership to rid the country of corruption and misrule by Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the two major political parties which have dominated Pakistani politics since 1980s.

Anti-Corruption, being the key theme of Imran's speeches, elicited a number of questions from the audience. One questioner suggested that "99% of the people are involved in some form of corruption" and asked how would Imran Khan end it? Imran responded by citing low government salaries as the main cause. He said bureaucrats like his father were not corrupt because their monthly salary was large enough to buy a car back in 1950s.  He did not elaborate as to how he would raise government employee salaries to such lofty levels in Pakistan as part of his plan to end corruption in 90 days, nor did he elaborate on the role of the elite colonial-era civil service to control the population rather than serve the people.

Continuing on the theme of low salaries,  Imran Khan mentioned that one of his brilliant classmates at Aitcheson College became a top scientist but had such "low income that he could not afford to send his children to Aitcheson College".  After hearing this answer, the first thought that ran through my mind was to compare Imran Khan with the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney who is being portrayed as "out of touch" and "disconnected" from the ordinary folks.

A woman questioner asked him how he would "end corruption in 90 days when it takes 9 months to make a baby?" In response, Imran said "I am not talking about making babies". Then he proceeded to cite an example of an "honest police superintendent" in some small town near Dera Ismail Khan who ended all crime within 90 days.  He also saw the chief minister of the Indian state of Bihar as an inspiration for ending corruption and achieving double-digit economic growth.

Addressing a question about how he intends to deal with the Taliban, Imran blamed it on the US presence in the region and the use of drones. He said dialog is the way to end it. He also said that the number of  "irreconcilable" Taliban militants was very small and could be defeated by a "small military military operation" by Pakistan Army after the US exit from the region.

Responding to a question about PTI's election strategy, Imran Khan said he did not believe in "constituency politics" and would not give his party tickets based on the notions of electability. Instead, he is counting on a PTI landslide victory similar to the 1970 elections in which Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's PPP won big in West Pakistan.

After Imran's speech, I was asked by some PTI-USA officers about what I thought of it. I told them that I felt Imran was confused when he said he condemned the Taliban after the Malala shooting but then proceeded  to ask "who will protect my workers if I condemn the Taliban".  Three of the PTI officers, including Dr. Nasrullah Khan, rose to defend their leader's remarks on the Taliban by asking me "who do you think attacked Malala?" When I said the TTP has claimed responsibility for it, they claimed it was "someone other than the Taliban". As the discussion continued, Dr. Nasrullah Khan pulled up a picture of injured Malala on his iPhone and said "I am a cardiologist and I have seen gun-shot victims" and the nature of Malala's head injury shows the "attack was staged".

It seems that Dr. Nasrullah Khan and his fellow PTI members I met are discounting the fact that the Taliban have a long track record  in both Afghanistan and Pakistan of attacking anyone, regardless of age and gender, who disagrees with their goals or tactics. They have a record of using extreme violence to silence those who dare to criticize them.

My assessment of Imran Khan after yesterday's event is that he has very enthusiastic support among young urban middle class Pakistanis who are probably participating in the political process for the first time in Pakistan's history. This augurs well for the country in the long run. However, PTI's chances of emerging with a majority of seats in Pakistani parliament in 2013 elections appear remote.

I also believe that Imran Khan is well-meaning but he appears to be naive, even disconnected from the reality, when it comes to Pakistan's current electoral politics which is based on a system of patronage.  He is also significantly underestimating the serious national threat posed by the Taliban and other militant groups and the widespread culture of corruption in the country.

Here's a brief video clip of the event:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Malala Moment: Pakistan's Cowardly Politicians
Pakistan 2013 Election Predictions

Pakistan's Culture of Corruption

Imran Khan's Lahore Rally

Pakistan's Politics of Patronage

Pakistani Judges' Jihad Against Corruption

Incompetence and Corruption in Pakistan

 Culture of Corruption at Imran's Kasur Rally

 Imran Tells Obama: Leave Afghanistan

Pak Taliban Killing Spree Continues  

Appeasement in Swat

Pakistan's Growing Insurgency

Rising Intolerance in Pakistan
Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan

Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan

South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance 

Celebrating Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Birthday


Safwan said...

Your observations and analysis make sense to me. You and I are on the same page on this one. We usually are in a convoluted way.

Also - do see a movie called Agora (if you haven't already) - it is the story of Hypatia the astronomer who was a victim of the rise of Christianity in the 4/5th century. Constantine had become Christian and Alexandria was still pagan. One could compare it with the rise of the Taliban.

The movie is on Netflix.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Zaheer said...

I believe Imran Khan was "interrogated" by the homeland Security (brief news item, but not repeated), and had demanded an apology. Can anyone elaborate on the veracity of this?

Amjad said...

You summed it up well. Exactly my thoughts.

I also believe that Imran Khan is well-meaning but he appears to be naive, even disconnected [agree] with the reality, when it comes to Pakistan's current electoral politics which is based on a system of patronage [feaudalism]. He is also significantly underestimating the serious national threat posed by the Taliban and other militant groups and the widespread culture of corruption in the country.

Cemendtaur said...

Excellent, Riaz Haq.
Amidst the tsunami of cult hero worship, such an honest analysis is badly needed.

Hopewins said...

^^^He also saw the chief minister of the Indian state of BIHAR as an inspiration for ending corruption and achieving double-digit economic growth.


Did he say anything about the chief minister of the Indian state of GUJARAT as an inspiration?

After all, he is also credited with "ending corruption and achieving double-digit economic growth".

A lot of people are now saying that only the Taliban can bring about law & order and end the corrosive corruption that is eating away at Pakistan.

They point to the massive drop in crime and corruption in Afghanistan from 1996-2001 when the Taliban were in power there.

Could they be right? I mean the very thought that Imran will "end corruption in 90 days" is laughable. However, the idea that the Taliban will wipe out "crime & corruption in 90 days" is actually quite believable-- especially as they have a track record of doing just that in Afghanistan.

Would Hakimullah Mehsud make a good Emir for the Islamic Emirate of Pakistan?

What are your thoughts? Do you think that Western-style democracy is just a waste of time for a feudal society like Pakistan? Would we not be better off with a Emirate that is more suitable to our conditions and our culture?

VC said...

... Dr. Nasrullah Khan pulled up a picture of injured Malala on a his iPhone and said "I am a cardiologist and I have seen gun-shot victims" and the nature of Malala's head injury shows the "attack was staged"...............

How does the good doctor explain the left-sided facial paralysis caused by nerve damage? Has he seen the path of the bullet?

Anonymous said...

Criticizing Imran Khan is fine as he is a public figure and presents himself for future leadership. But all the critiques have no point of reference.

When you criticize a leader, you compare the policies and character. Sadly, whom can you compare Imran right now in the whole political spectrum? Zardari? Nawaz? Pervaiz Elahi? Altaf Hussain?

As I said criticizing is fine, but you need to give an alternate too!! You have no alternative but you keep on criticizing thats not fair. You never criticize Sharif brothers or Zaradari? They are in power and have ruined the country. If not Imran, they will come back in power and do you see Pakistan's future in any of the ruling parties? They have no guts to stand up and show leadership, as they have none!

Cemendtaur said...

Imran Khan does not seem to like criticism. He is probably only used to people who get speechless in his presence. The Mick Jagger look alike Pakistani politician dyes his hair regularly and does daily workout to maintain his fashion-model appearance. And in Pakistan—in the Pakistani diaspora as well--you go a long way by just being pretty. In a fundraiser speech on October 28 in San Jose, California Khan lumped sectarian violence in Pakistan with the Taliban reaction to the drone attacks and got away with his ridiculous analysis.

Mariam Ispahani said...

I agree with some of your points, but find your post biased. Given that Imran Khan spent the longest time on the Taliban question, I can't believe you just pinpointed the line, "If I condemn the Taliban, they'll kill my workers too..." !!! I also think if you took that line and present it by itself, it is totally out of context! In a sense, that is not what he really said about the Taliban issue.

Riaz Haq said...

Marium:"Given that Imran Khan spent the longest time on the Taliban question, I can't believe you just pinpointed the line, "If I condemn the Taliban, they'll kill my workers too..." !!!"

"We will rid the country of corruption within the first 90 days in office...I condemned the attack on Malala within 48 hours and was the first to visit her in the hospital...Taliban have killed hundreds of ANP workers...If I condemn the Taliban, they'll kill my workers too." PTI Chief Imran Khan in San Jose, CA. Oct 28, 2012

I think Imran is himself confused on his stance toward the Talibs when he says he condemned the Taliban after the Malala shooting but then asks "who will protect my workers if I condemn the Taliban"....Did he or did he not condemn the Taliban? If he did, then why does he add that "If I condemn the Taliban, they'll kill my workers"?

Not only does Imran seem to be personally intimidated by the Talibs, he is also significantly understating the serious national security threat posed by the Taliban and other militant groups in the country.

Anonymous said...

says he is scared of talibans killing his workers, yet he is going to shoot down drones once in power and start a war with US which will kill 1000s of people. Imran bhai there is politics in Cricket but its not the same politics

Hopewins said...

Dr. Haq,

Read this scathing criticism of India, Nehru & the Congress by Perry Anderson--

He has exposed:
1) Fake democracy
2) Phony Secularism
3) Kashmir ruled by Guns
4) Muslims are outsiders
5) Dalits brutally oppressed
6) Indians are delusional
7) False Hyper-Nationalism
8) Essentially a Hindu State
9) No progress with Caste system
10) Heading for Break up

Can you do a blog article built on neutral, independent and unbiased essay on the Indian System by Perry Anderson?

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telegraph newspaper report on Pak politicians visiting Malala:

Critics at home fear her high profile has turned her into a political photo opportunity for politicians with an eye on elections next year, at a time when she needs rest and a chance to recover.

Malala arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham just over a fortnight ago after being shot in the head at close range and doctors are pleased with the progress she is making.

Last week, Islamabad's Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Farooq Sattar, visited the hospital. Since then visitors have included Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the daughter of Benazir Bhutto, Mian Iftikhar Hussein, information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Haider Ali, a politician from Swat, Malala's home area.

On Monday it was the turn of Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, who visited the hospital along with William Hague and a minister from the United Arab Emirates.

None was able to meet Malala but were briefed by medical staff and spent time with her family instead.

Sana Saleem, a well-known blogger and campaigner for women's rights, said the government of Pakistan had played its part in helping Malala but should now let her recover in peace.

"There's no need for ministers going to see her now," she said. "The government has supported her and taken her to Britain, but this is not going to help now."

Cyril Almeida, a columnist with the Dawn newspaper, said Pakistan had a culture of politicians sharing in public grief and they would be expected to be seen at the hospital.

But he added that it was poor substitute for helping protect Malala, tackling the Taliban or safeguarding girls' education.

"It's a great photo op which most of them can't resist - especially the second-tier politicians - but when it actually comes to doing something meaningful... let's see what happens," he said.

The 15-year-old has made an impressive recovery after being shot at close range three weeks ago by a Taliban gunman.

However, she still faces surgery to repair the damage done to her skull and a long road to recovery.

Her strong stance in standing up to the Pakistan Taliban - writing a blog about their brutality and later campaigning for girls education - has meant a flood of wellwishers, gifts and messages arriving at Queen Elizabeth Hospita.

A spokeswoman said only immediately family members were allowed to visit Malala for limited amounts of time and other requests were being refused.

"It's an easy thing to tell them because it's based on a medical facts and it's in the best interests of the patient," she said.

Gul said...

Imran khan may seem emotional and not experienced, but he is sincere and Pakistan's ONLY hope at this point, a lot of people try to criticize him to show that they "know" everything but always fail to give a solution to any of the existing problems in Pakistan. So my support, vote and prayers are with Khan sahb and PTI for at least making an effort to bring a change!

Riaz Haq said...

Gul: "Imran khan may seem emotional and not experienced, but he is sincere and Pakistan's ONLY hope at this point..."

This "ONLY hope" characterization of Imran suggests that his supporters think of him as the Messiah...a very dangerous assumption for any politician of any stripe to be anointed as a Messiah rather than be picked by a democratic and political process.

I believe Imran Khan is well-meaning but he appears to be naive, even disconnected from reality, when it comes to Pakistan's current electoral politics which is based on a system of patronage. He is also significantly underestimating the serious national threat posed by the Taliban and other militant groups and the widespread culture of corruption in the country. Imran's words and actions should not escape scrutiny just because we are not happy with the performance of PPP and PML(N). In fact, all Pak politicians now need to be scrutinized much more thoroughly than ever before.

Imran said...

Its interesting that Government of Pakistan is not paying for her medical services. She was airlifted by a Dubai based Aircraft ambulances. I am glad that British are denying the ministers, even their own. Rehman Malik made a comment, I couldn't understand a thing as the Chief Medical Officer was an Irish and his accent was too hard to understand. Actually he was a Pakistani and spitting out profanities that Rehman Malik is so used to.... I wish there were more Pakistanis spitting profanities 24x7 at Rehman Malik and other Politicians

Riaz Haq said...

Imran: "... I wish there were more Pakistanis spitting profanities 24x7 at Rehman Malik and other Politicians"

Profanities may be emotionally satisfying but have no effect on shameless politicians. What is needed is strong public pressure on politicians to act to stop future attacks on other Malalas in Pakistan and provide better governance and security to the people.

Riaz Haq said...

It takes no courage to blame everything on US and condemn America in Pakistan where anti-American sentiments are very fact, Imran is exploiting anti-Americanism in Pakistan to gain popularity.

The definition of real leadership includes the courage to stand up to killers at home who target innocent people, including women and children, in the name of Islam. ANP, PPP and MQM all fit that definition, because each one of them have paid the price in terms of the lives of their workers by standing up to the TTP thugs and killers.

Nice said...

I don't know where you belong to Mr Haq, but the fact is that you don't know the ground realities by sitting in USA (which I assume yuo are in USA. It is very very easy to pass comments and give your judgement in sitting in a peaceful environment but if you come to my village, in Mohmand Agency, you will see whatever IK said is 100% right. He might not disclose the whole plane, for some reasons, but whatever he says is right that's it appeal us- the main sufferers.

But it is not only your problem,this problem exists with most of your age group who become so much cynical that if even angel come to the earth you wouldn't believe it unless prove themselves.

Then you talked about that PTI is a Urban Middle class party by attending that small gathering. First of I got completely astonished that how can you considered those 500 people as the representative of all the urban class? Strange! Take my example, I am in UK and I belong to a backward village of Mohmand Agency and if I join such event in UK, then what would say about that? Not only me, my all friends belong to villages and they support IK.

BTW the Urban area is also about 35-45 % meaning about 95-108 NA seats. It doesn't mean that PTI will win all urban seats but according to you PTI can win a big chunk of it.

This is also mere a propaganda against PTI to discourage people to vote for PTI otherwise PTI did huge Public Gatherings in Rural areas like Pindi Gape, Gujjar Khan etc. as well but you just remember only Lahore and Karachi Jalsa.

OR You mean to say that there are "Bhair Bakria" (Animals) living in village who can't understand IK's stance or who are very happy in Zardari-Nawaz era? Again I must say that you are trying to distract people without knowing the ground realities. In the whole FATA and KP, it doesn't matter whether it is city or village, people want to vote IK and same, in many cases, might true in Punjab as well. Sindh is bit different so can't say for sure. Baluchistan doesn't count too much in this race because it has just 13 NA seats but PTI might win 2-3 seats from there as well.

So I must advise you to have a visit of FATA to make clear your vision. Only after visiting there, you would understand IK's stance otherwise would be living in typical fools paradise of liberal fascist for ever and will make confuse others as well. So stop writing and visit FATA in your earliest and all those who agree with you are also naive like you and in their great "Love" for IK, they say so.

I hope you didn't mind if I use some harsh words. It was just a prompt reaction for those words which you have used for IK, like he confused, naive etc.


Riaz Haq said...

500 ANP workers and leaders have so far been killed by the TTP, according to Central Asia Online:

Amid Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threats, Karachi Pashtun supporters of the Awami National Party (ANP) remain committed to supporting their party, fighting militants and pursuing a more democratic society.

“The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (is) destabilising the democracy and targeting the pro-democracy parties in the country,” ANP Sindh Provincial Secretary Bashir Jan told Central Asia Online July 25.

The Taliban have killed more than 500 ANP leaders and workers in recent years because the party has been part of the democratic government. By threatening party members, the TTP hopes to weaken the democratic process, officials said.

“In Karachi, the TTP has conveyed a threat to our supporters (telling) them to quit the party; otherwise, they (the militants) would teach the workers a bitter lesson for supporting the ANP,” he said.

This latest militant ultimatum largely targets Karachi Pashtuns, ANP leaders and the TTP confirmed to Central Asia Online July 18.

Riaz Haq said...

I have received a number of messages asking for my opinion about why Imran Khan was "interrogated about drones" at Toronto Airport prior to his departure to the United States.

From what I have heard, IK was first cleared to board the plane by US Immigration and while he was waiting for take-off someone called the TIPS line to say IK was fundraising on a US visit visa and that he is sympathetic with the Taliban. That prompted the US Immigration officials to talk with IK who was furious with the officials for being taken off the plane after being cleared.

The US Homeland security guys are paranoid about any risk posed by any one visiting the US.

One might recall that Indian actor Shahrukh Khan was detained at the airport in New Jersey. And at at one point a few years ago, even late Sen Ted Kennedy was stopped by Homeland Security from boarding a plane in Washington. The US just does not have the kind of "VIP culture" Pakistanis and Indians are used to.

Haseeb said...

And US departments are that lame that they needed this TIP to know what IK was planning to do? Wow! Why are we spending that much money on these departments while US is going bankrupt. Maybe we should just expand the TIP line, get rid of these departments and save some money in the US budget.

Riaz Haq said...

Haseeb: "And US departments are that lame that they needed this TIP to know what IK was planning to do? Wow! Why are we spending that much money on these departments while US is going bankrupt...."

US Homeland security guys are paid to be paranoid.

Riaz Haq said...

Imran Khan raised Rs 70 million for PTI during his recent visit. Here's a News report:

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, Wednesday harbingered that the nation would see a new Pakistan coming into being in 2013, the year of election, Geo News reported.

The newsmen, whom he was talking to at the airport here, quoted him as saying that he was interrogated at the Toronto airport for his stance against drone attacks.

“I am cool. Such intimidating tactics cannot faze me. I absolutely not upset at having to spend three or four hours at an airport against my will. It’s not a big deal for me”, Khan said.

He found the government’s sewing up their lips over the maltreatment he received in Canada very regrettable.

“The hush in the Presidency and Prime Minister House speaks volumes about how they have taken this incident”, said he.

To a question, he said PTI was registered in US as a political party, adding, around Rs70 million had been raised for party election in US alone.

“Though, conducting party elections was a daunting task, but this month would see us doing it come what may,” said an aspirational PTI leader.

He also brought up JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman’s facing the same situation at Duabi airport back.

“ I condemned it loud and clear when Maulana was stopped at the airport, but it appears he has forgotten it.”

Anonymous said...

Imran thinks he can steal the religious votes from KPK bt as long as mulana fazl-ur-rehman is there , I don't see IK getting anything from KPK to put a major dent in KPK,s domestic politics!
He is power greedy, & uncle Pasha is gone!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the link to Imran Khan's recent interview to Canadian TV

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a ET report on TTP threat issued today against MQM leaders:

PESHAWAR / KARACHI: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has announced its decision “to liberate Karachi” from the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), adding that “every step would be taken against them.”

In a statement issued on Friday, TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the decision has been taken to set the people of Karachi free from the clutches of “these persecutors”.

Furthermore, Ehsan called on the leaders of all nationalist parties, including the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Sindh Liberation Army, to struggle for their rights in “an Islamic way”.

“Islam protects everyone’s right and you (nationalist parties) are passing through dark ages of oppression and this shackle of suppression has to be broken down,” the statement read.

Earlier, MQM had announced that it would hold a referendum throughout Pakistan, urging people to vote on whether they want to live in a Pakistan run by the Taliban, or the one envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam.

“We want a Pakistan that does not discriminate based on religion but one envisioned by the Quaid-e-Azam. The referendum will go ahead next week,” said MQM leader Faisal Subzwari. However, he declined to comment specifically on the TTP threat aimed at the party.

Hopewins said...

Looks like Imran Khan was RIGHT.


Otherwise this could have been him or his party colleagues....

Hopewins said...

Not only will IMRAN not criticize the Taliban, he will actually make speeched defending them...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Globe and Mail story on support for drone attacks in Pakistan: they make Pakistan safer?

The markets of Lahore were thronged with people in the days before Eid al-Adha last month, with families buying clothes for the children and knickknacks for their homes. In Islamabad, there are new cafés and boutiques in every neighbourhood; red-velvet cupcakes are trendy.

Two years ago, when the Taliban were sending suicide bombers into crowded public places in these cities every week or two, the markets and the coffee shops were deserted and people were afraid even to go to mosques.

That terror campaign has been checked – either because the Taliban have changed tactics or, as many analysts here suggest, because the intensified drone campaign has weakened them.


Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, who is retired from a top position in the army, has a kinder interpretation. In an interview in his cozy Islamabad living room, he says it is simply unrealistic to think that the Pakistani military, equipped as it is, can fight a fleet-footed insurgency in some of the world’s harshest terrain.
Given that, the drones do not look so bad: That is the politically incorrect sentiment one hears in private conversations across the political and socio-economic spectrum, in marked contrast to the anti-drone arguments that fill the editorial pages.

Drones are also, some argue, preferable to having the United States deploy soldiers in Pakistan – which the U.S. government would be unlikely to do in any case.

Drones are also better than risking the lives of even more Pakistani soldiers to the near-constant Taliban attacks in the tribal areas, this argument runs.

“A lot of high-profile targets are eliminated, and who would do this job if Americans boots are not on the ground and the Pakistan army won’t?” says Arif Nizami, editor-in-chief of the daily Pakistan Today.


“Drones are a very hard choice for a pacifist to make,” says Pervez Hoodbhoy, a nuclear scientist turned peace activist who is the best-known advocate for non-violence in Pakistan.

Is it better to kill Islamists than to have them killing people? That’s the debate, he says, burying his face in his hands at the thought of the moral quandary his country faces.

Many Pakistanis believe the military actively feeds the drone program intelligence about insurgent activity even today, because it, too, perceives the campaign as more effective than other options, Mr. Nizami says.

The army spokesman’s office declined repeated requests for an interview.

The last person who would ever give up the fight against drones is an erudite lawyer named Shahzad Akbar, who runs an organization called the Foundation for Fundamental Rights in a leafy neighbourhood in the capital, where he works to make heard the voices of victims from the tribal areas.

While he understands that the killings may make someone sitting in Islamabad feel safer, he says, he finds it ethically abhorrent to conclude that drones are a boon to the country.

“The whole burden of proof has been reversed by the U.S. in the public narrative: You are killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, so you are a militant until you come out of your coffin and say otherwise,” Mr. Akbar says. “We have to have rule of law to have a civilized society. We have to agree that illegal killing is illegal killing – whether the Taliban or the Pakistan army or the U.S. army is doing it.”

He also noted that the drone campaign has been under way since 2004, with no overall decline in attacks.
Yet Mr. Nizami says he believes that there is considerable support for the drones in many parts of the Taliban-plagued northern region of Khyber Pakthunkwha.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Daily Beast piece on former US Ambassador Munter:

....What Munter did want, however, was a more selective use of drones, coupled with more outreach to the Pakistani government—in short, a bigger emphasis on diplomacy and less reliance on force. “What they’re trying to portray is I’m shocked and horrified, and that’s not my perspective,” he said, referring to The New York Times article. “The use of drones is a good way to fight the war. But you’re going to kill drones if you’re not using them judiciously.” Munter thought the strikes should be carried out in a measured way. “The problem is the political fallout,” he says. “Do you want to win a few battles and lose the war?”

“What is the definition of someone who can be targeted?” I asked. “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40,” Munter replied. “My feeling is one man’s combatant is another man’s—well, a chump who went to a meeting.”

Munter wanted the ability to sign off on drone strikes—and, when necessary, block them. Then-CIA director Leon Panetta saw things differently. Munter remembers one particular meeting where they clashed. “He said, ‘I don’t work for you,’ and I said, ‘I don’t work for you,’” the former ambassador recalls. (George Little, a former CIA spokesman who is now at the Pentagon—where Panetta is currently serving as Defense secretary—disputed this account. “I’ve heard these rumors before,” he said. “That’s exactly what this is: rumor. [Panetta] has had productive relationships with Ambassador Munter and other ambassadors with whom he has worked.”)
That made what happened in March 2011 all the more extraordinary. That month, the CIA ordered a drone strike against militants in North Waziristan. Munter tried to stop the strike before it happened, but, according to the Associated Press, Panetta “dismissed” Munter’s request.

The timing of the strike was noteworthy: it was the day after CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who had shot two Pakistani men, was released from a Lahore jail. The fact that Davis had been detained for weeks reportedly angered the CIA. “It was in retaliation for Davis,” a former aide to Munter told the Associated Press, referring to the strike. (The CIA did not respond to my request for comment.) In the end, the strike killed at least 10 militants, and reportedly 19 or more civilians. And Munter wasn’t the only one who was upset. So were the Pakistanis: Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief, said the men had been “callously targeted.” Rumors circulated that some of them were spies for the military, risking their lives to help fight the Taliban.

Following the strike, President Obama set up a more formal process by which diplomats could have input into these strikes. “I have a yellow card,” Munter recalled, describing the new policy. “I can say ‘no.’ That ‘no’ goes back to the CIA director. Then he has to go to Hillary. If Hillary says ‘no,’ he can still do it, but he has to explain the next day in writing why.”
...Vali Nasr, who served as a senior adviser to Holbrooke and is now at Johns Hopkins University. “The real issue was that he was not on the same page as Washington.”

During our interview, Munter criticized the way White House officials approached Pakistan. “They say, ‘Why don’t we kick their ass?’ Do we want to get mad at them? Take their car keys away? Or look at the larger picture?” He leaned back in his chair and recalled his last National Security Council meeting: “The president says, ‘It’s an hour meeting, and we’re going to talk about Afghanistan for 30 minutes and then Pakistan for 30 minutes.’ Seventy-five minutes later, we still haven’t talked about Pakistan. Why? Because Pakistan is too fucking hard.”

Anonymous said...

A very apt analysis Haq!

Though I'd have to add that since election in Pakistan usually means choosing the lesser of all evils, Imran seems to be a good choice.

Surely no living being can be more näive than George Bush and even he made it to that house on the corner.

Beter naivity than "clever" corruption!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's LA Times on TTP claiming responsibility for attempt to bomb Hamid Mir:

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a failed attempt to bomb the car of television anchor Hamid Mir, whom the militant group had earlier threatened because of his reporting on the shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.

A Taliban spokesman told reporters that Mir had been following a secular agenda and warned the group would target others like him. Police had defused a bomb found under Mir's car Monday in Islamabad after a neighbor reportedly spotted the device.
Mir, a veteran journalist who anchors a political talk show on Geo Television, had received threats for several months, he told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Over the years, his reporting has put him at odds with a laundry list of government officials and extremist groups. When the bomb was found under his car, he told the Associated Press he wasn’t ready to blame the Taliban, since others had also threatened him.

“I was banned by the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf from appearing on television because of my pro-democracy talk shows. I was even kidnapped in war zones by the Afghan Taliban and the Hezbollah,” Mir wrote last month on his website. “But I am lucky enough to have ducked all such dangers successfully, so far. For me, journalism is not a profession but a passion.”

Mir had recently devoted attention to the plight of Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old activist who survived an attempted assassination by the Taliban last month after speaking out for girls’ education. The girl's shooting outraged Pakistanis and captivated the world.
This fall, the country won praise from Reporters Without Borders for speedy safety measures after another round of Taliban threats against journalists. But two local groups argued the attempted bombing Monday, though unsuccessful, reflected a government failure to protect Mir.

“Mir has been reporting receiving threats time and again. But placing of a bag with explosives under his car means no serious measures have been taken to ensure his security,” leaders from the South Asian Free Media Assn. and Media Commission-Pakistan said in a joint statement reported by the News International.

Pakistani police told reporters they are investigating the attempted attack. An award of roughly $500,000 is being offered for information about the bomb, according to news reports.,0,382598.story

Riaz Haq said...

In recent by-elections, PML(N) won the National Assembly seat already held by it and for the one Punjab assembly seat PML (N) did pick up, their candidate had previously won the seat on a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ticket. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) backed one independent candidate who came in second in Sahiwal. Here's an ET story:

NA 162 Sahiwal

Newly inducted PML-N member Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal won back his NA seat with 75,966 votes, while independent candidate Rai Hassan Nawaz followed with 65,775 votes. The seat was vacated by Iqbal when he was in the PPP; however, he went on to later join the PML-N. According to the PML-N’s media office, Iqbal defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed independent candidate Rai Hassan Nawaz.

NA 107 Gujrat

According to unofficial results, PML-N candidate Malik Hanif Awan bagged 70,434 votes, while PML-Q’s Rehman Naseer got 49,074 votes till the filing of the story. This seat was vacated by a PML-N MNA.

PP 26 Jehlum

PML-N-backed candidate Ch Khadim Hussain got 73,905 votes, while independent candidate Raja Muhammad Afzal Khan was the runner up. This seat was vacated by a PML-N member, who left the party due to intra-party differences. After winning, Hussain announced to join the PML-N.

PP 226 Sahiwal

Even though this seat was vacated by a PML-Q member, PML-N candidate Muhammad Hanif Jutt bagged 42,294 votes, while PML-Q’s Naseem Iqbal was the runner up.

PP 92 Gujranwala

PML-N candidate Nawaz Chohan bagged 36,537 votes, while PPP’s Lala Asad followed with 16,492 votes. This seat was vacated by a PML-N member.

PP 122 Sialkot

PML-N’s candidate Muhammad Akram bagged 27,291 votes, while PPP’s Raja Aamir received 4,797 votes. This seat was vacated by PML-N.

PP 129 Sialkot

PML-N candidate Mohsin Ashraf bagged 52,195 votes, while PML-Q’s Ch Ansar Iqbal got 30,148 votes. This seat was vacated by the PML-N.

PP 133 Norowal

PML-Q’s candidate Chaudhry Umar Sharif bagged 28,998 votes, while PML-N’s Dr Niamat Ali followed closely with 22,537 votes. This seat was vacated by PML-N’s Dr Tahir Ali Javed.

PS-21 Naushero Feroz-III

According to unofficial results from 106 out of 129 polling stations, PPP candidate Syed Sarfaraz Shah bagged more than 29,850 votes, while National Peoples Party’s Syed Abrar Shah trailed behind with 21,552 votes.

The seat had fallen vacant following the resignation of PPP’s Dr Ahmed Ali Shah for possessing dual nationality.

Although there were 16 candidates contesting the by-polls from the area, the main contenders were Sarfaraz Shah, Abrar Shah and independent candidate Zohaib Shah, who is the nephew of PPP MNA Syed Zafar Ali Shah.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Financial Times on Tahir-ul Qadri's return:

A respected Islamic scholar has burst on to Pakistan’s political scene, threatening to storm the capital with a mass public protest unless his demands for sweeping electoral reforms are met this week.

“I will lead an ocean of people to change Islamabad,” vowed Tahirul Qadri, who last month returned to Pakistan after four years abroad.

To the consternation of many established politicians, including the coalition government of President Asif Ali Zardari and its main opponents, he is calling for comprehensive political reforms before a general election set to be held between March and May.

Mr Qadri, until now considered a minor force in politics as leader of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) or Pakistan People’s Movement, attracted tens of thousands of people to a political rally in the central city of Lahore on December 23, one of the largest such gatherings in recent memory.

“People who came were not just my supporters,” he told the Financial Times in an interview at his home in Lahore. “Pakistanis are anxious to see major changes in the way their country is being run.”

Mr Qadri draws his support from Pakistanis who are frustrated at the domination of politics by a handful of elite leaders from well-known families and who are embittered by the parlous state of the economy.

Some commentators have compared him to Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption campaigner in neighbouring India, who emerged last year as a voice for middle-class resentment over entrenched corruption and patronage.

Since Mr Qadri’s December gathering, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – the main political party from the southern city of Karachi, allied to Mr Zardari’s Pakistan People’s party – has decided to join Mr Qadri’s Nizam Badlo, or change the system movement. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf led by Imran Khan, the former cricket star turned politician, is widely expected to join future protests too.

By contrast, leaders from Mr Zardari’s PPP and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the two biggest political parties, have united in accusing Mr Qadri of disrupting the build-up to parliamentary elections this year. The polls are being hailed as the first chance for Pakistan to see a smooth transfer of power from one elected government to another since the country was created.

The US and other western nations are ambivalent about Mr Qadri’s sudden reappearance in Pakistani politics as they seek to restore stability in the region amid a withdrawal of Nato forces from neighbouring Afghanistan. “He brings in an element of unpredictability to future politics, said one western diplomat in Islamabad. “ With others [from mainstream parties] you can predict intentions, but not with Qadri.”

Hopewins said...

^^I will lead an ocean of people to change Islamabad....

How? Specifically what "changes" do these "Nizam Badlo" people want to make?

Nobody seems to even have asked. Everything seems blurred, muddled and murky. All we will see is a tamasha of herds of people who are angry making a lot of noise.

But after the "long march" is over, what then? What are their plans? Do they want to get rid of the parliamentary system and introduce a directly-elected president? Do they want to ban multiple-terms? Do they want to place restrictions on representatives from feudal/rich families? Are they planning strong land-reform of the type carried out in India 2 generations ago?


Anonymous said...

Imran Khan – A Man with No Plan

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Imran Khan – A Man with No Plan"

Who says Imran doesn't have a plan? His plan is to end corruption in 90 days.

Anti-Corruption, being the key theme of Imran's speeches, elicited a number of questions from the audience. One questioner suggested that "99% of the people are involved in some form of corruption" and asked how would Imran Khan end it? Imran responded by citing low government salaries as the main cause. He said bureaucrats like his father were not corrupt because their monthly salary was large enough to buy a car back in 1950s. He did not elaborate as to how he would raise government employee salaries to such lofty levels in Pakistan as part of his plan to end corruption in 90 days, nor did he elaborate on the role of the elite colonial-era civil service to control the population rather than serve the people.

Continuing on the theme of low salaries, Imran Khan mentioned that one of his brilliant classmates at Aitcheson College became a top scientist but had such "low income that he could not afford to send his children to Aitcheson College". After hearing this answer, the first thought that ran through my mind was to compare Imran Khan with the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney who is being portrayed as "out of touch" and "disconnected" from the ordinary folks.

A woman questioner asked him how he would "end corruption in 90 days when it takes 9 months to make a baby?" In response, Imran said "I am not talking about making babies". Then he proceeded to cite an example of an "honest police superintendent" in some small town near Dera Ismail Khan who ended all crime within 90 days. He also saw the chief minister of the Indian state of Bihar as an inspiration for ending corruption and achieving double-digit economic growth.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Imran Khan's intent to hold "biggest ever protest" rally in Pakistan's history:

While the people and the media of Pakistan have not gotten over Tahirul Qadri’s long march, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan announced on Friday that his party will hold the “biggest ever” protest which will “trump all other protests people have seen in the past.”

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Khan said that he had kept his party members on standby for the protest, which is why, he said, he had earlier announced a 7-point agenda.

“Being a political party, we hold the right to lodge protests. About two million people in the United Kingdom took to the streets in order to protest the Iraq killings,” said Khan.

He said that there was a lot of pressure on him from his party members to join Minhajul Quran International chief Qadri’s long march, however, he said that he told his followers to wait for the “right time”.

Khan said that he will lead the protest “only to get free and fair elections conducted in the country.”

Responding to a question, the PTI chief said that there was “no question” of boycotting the elections, because “the upcoming elections are the most important throughout Pakistan’s electoral history.”

While talking about a caretaker setup to be put in place, Khan said that all political parties should sit together to deliberate upon the issue and that the caretaker prime minister should be the one agreed upon by all the parties.

However, he said that so far, no one had approached his party to discuss the caretaker setup.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Fox News on Imran Khan being "confident of sweep in upcoming elections":

Imran Khan, a former Pakistan cricket star turned populist politician, says he's more confident than ever that his party will sweep upcoming national elections and that he will become the country's next leader.

On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Khan says he is optimistic the country wants change.

He claims 40 million young Pakistanis will vote for the first time, out of an electorate of 90 million, and that they represent a "big vote for change." The general election is expected in coming months.

Khan accused those wanting to maintaining the status quo of closing ranks, giving huge amounts of money to the media to criticize his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, and conducting a propaganda campaign accusing him of being pro-Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on a peasant defeating a landlord in PTI elections:

A peasant here on Tuesday defeated a wealthy businessman and landlord and was elected the district president of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI). With elections for the 72 union councils of the district having been held three weeks ago, the intra-party election process in Attock is now complete.

The chairman of the PTI district election commission, Rafique Hussain Niazi, confirmed that peasant Waheed Murad garnered 432 votes while his rival Sardar Mumtaz Khan, a landlord, received 360. Murad had the support of Malik Suhail Khan, running for NA-58 Attock-II, and former MPA Syed Ejaz Bukhari, who is contesting PP-15 Attock-I. Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, who was elected unopposed to the position of district general secretary, and former state minister Malik Amin Aslam supported Mumtaz Khan.

The polling station, at a hotel in Attock, was crowded from the opening of voting at 9am until closing at 5pm.

Around 900 PTI workers from six tehsils gathered with supporters of both candidates attempting to gather votes. While some disagreements ensued – over mismanagement of the polling station or workers not being allowed to vote due to missing membership cards – leaders of both camps described the disagreement as positive and democratic. “After the elections, the PTI will be united,” they said.

In other elections, Mohammad Zubair Tanoli and Mohammad Faazil Khan Wardik were elected unopposed as the district’s senior vice-presidents.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast Op Ed by former British PM Gordon Brown on TTP attacks against schoolgirls and teacher in Pakistan:

As pupils gathered early on Saturday to receive exam results, grenades were hurled into the Baldia town school in Karachi, causing carnage. Principal Abdur Rasheed died on the spot. The perpetrators are thought to be from TPP, a Taliban terrorist sect, as their campaign of violence against girls education moves from the tribal areas into Pakistan's largest city.

The latest attack follows the murder earlier this week in the Khyber tribal district of Shahnaz Nazli, a 41-year-old teacher gunned down in front of one of her children only 200 meters from the all-girls school where she taught. But this time the wave of terror attacks – orchestrated by opponents of girls' education – is provoking a domestic and international response, a groundswell of public revulsion similar to that which followed the attempted assassination of Malala Yousefvai, who was also shot simply for wanting girls to go to school.

Today, on top of a a petition now circulating on calling for a cessation of violence against teachers who are defending the right of girls to go to school, a scholarship fund in honor of the slain Shahnaz Nazli is being announced. Education International, the world teachers organization with 30 million members, has said that the scholarship memorial to Shahnaz will support Pakistan teachers and students victimized simply because of their support for girls' schooling.

The petition and the memorial signal a fight back against attempts to ban girls’ education, and come in the wake of the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a special communique, has spoken out against the shooting of Shahnaz and given his personal support to teachers persecuted for their advocacy of girls’ education.

This week's attacks are, however, a stark reminder to the world of the persistence of threats, intimidation, shootings, arson attacks and sometimes even murder that are the Taliban’s weapons in a war against girls’ opportunity.

Last October, shocked by the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai and pressured by a petition signed by three million people, the Pakistani government agreed for the first time to legislate compulsory free education and provided stipends for three million children.

Now authorities in Pakistan are under international pressure to deploy their security services to ensure the safety and protection of teachers and girls trying to go to school.

Last October’s demonstrations were a spontaneous response from girls who identified with Malala’s cause as she fought for her life in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now these girls are being joined by a high-profile campaign by teachers themselves, determined, despite the threat to their lives, to stand up for girls' education and to take their campaign even to the most dangerous of places

But as the forthcoming teachers’ initiative and the the UN Secretary General’s vocal support both demonstrate, the voices in favor of these basic rights for girls cannot any longer be silenced. And because this is a movement that is now being forged at the grassroots by girls demanding their human rights and by teachers organizing in support of them, 2013, which has started with so many violent attacks on girls schools, can still become the year when the cause of universal girls education becomes unstoppable.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on growing Taliban violence in Karachi:

For years there have been fears that the Taliban were gaining ground in Pakistan's commercial capital, the port city of Karachi. There is now evidence that the militants' influence in the city has hit alarming new levels, reports the BBC's Ahmed Wali Mujeeb.

More than 20 people are gathered outside a ramshackle house in a suburb of Karachi - Pakistan's largest city.

They say a plot of land, which was the property of a local businessman, was forcibly occupied by a local mafia last September, and they are here to complain.

The difference now - and a source of much alarm to those in the know - is that this group of Karachi residents are choosing to bring their complaint to the Taliban.

After a two-hour session, the Taliban judge adjourns the hearing to another date and venue which he says will be disclosed shortly before the hearing.

This mobile Taliban court does not limit its interests to this one shanty town on the outskirts of Karachi. It has been arbitrating disputes across many suburbs in the metropolis.

The Taliban largely emerged in poor areas on the fringes of the city, run-down places with little or no infrastructure for health, education and civic amenities.

Their mobile courts have been hearing complaints for quite some time, but in recent months they have also started administering punishments - a sign of their growing clout.

In January, they publicly administered lashes to an alleged thief after recovering stolen goods from him. The goods were returned to the owner who had reported the theft.
Suburban Taliban

But the picture is complicated.

There is a tussle under way between mafia groups (becoming more prolific and powerful in Karachi) who seek to seize land and militant groups who are also grabbing land. This includes the Taliban, for all their willingness to arbitrate in these disputes.

It is clear that they want to tighten their grip in Pakistan's biggest city, its commercial centre. And they appear to have great influence in those suburbs dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group.

These include many of the districts on the edge of the highways and roads leading to neighbouring Balochistan province.

And when they think their authority is being encroached on, they act with deadly force: The MQM lawmaker Syed Manzar Imam was killed by Taliban gunmen in January in Orangi town, which borders a Pashtun area.

One former leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) - a party of the ethnic Pashtun nationalists - recently left Karachi and said more than 25 of his party offices had been forced to close because of threats from the Taliban.

A senior police officer who does not wish to be named told me simply: "Taliban are swiftly extending their influence.

"There needs to be a strategy to stem the Taliban's rise, otherwise the city will lose other important and central parts to them," he says.
Taliban 'gangs'

Muhammad Usman is a 26-year-old Taliban commander from the Swat valley. He came to Karachi after the Pakistani army started an operation in Swat in 2009.

He says he was first part of a group of Swati Taliban in Karachi and was offered shelter and safety by them.

After some time, he gradually got involved in what...
Karachi's network of violence

Intelligence sources say that there is one Taliban chief for the city, and heads of groups operating in different areas answer to him.

"Though the government has expressed its resolve to eradicate militancy, other state institutions are not co-operating," analyst Professor Tauseed Ahmed Khan says.

He argues that the security forces are losing morale when it comes to the battle against the militant groups and adds that this is not improved when rebels find it easy to get released on bail by the courts.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on British Council sponsored survey of Pak youth:

Government, parliament and political parties are all held in overwhelming contempt by Pakistanis aged 18-29, while the army and religious organisations are the two most popular institutions in the country. The survey of 5,271 young people is a sobering reminder of the challenges posed by Pakistan's peculiar demographics, where 46% of the population is aged between 15-29.

The troubled nation's vast youth bulge has been seen as a cause for optimism by some observers, with hopes pinned on a wave of young people pouring into the workforce in the coming decades that should trigger dramatic economic growth and development.

But the report warns that Pakistan faces a demographic disaster if it fails to use its young people. Talent was wasted by an "education emergency", a poor climate for business investors and high unemployment – half of the "next generation" does not work, according to the report.

"Pakistan could be one of the first countries ever to grow old before it has grown rich," it said, pointing out that the country will start to age by mid-century.

It also makes depressing reading for the politicians gearing up for general elections on 11 May, when more than 30% of the electorate is aged 18 to 29.

The survey found 94% thought the country was going in the wrong direction, with much of the blame laid at the door of the civilian institutions that have run the country since power was seized back from the army in 2008.

It said 71% had an unfavourable opinion of the government, 67% of parliament and 69% viewed political parties unfavourably. By contrast, 77% of young people approve of the army, while 74% were favourable inclined towards religious organisations.

Only 29% of young people believe democracy is the best political system for Pakistan. Military rule would be preferred by 32% and Sharia law by 38%.

With 13m new votes up for grabs among an army of first-time voters, there is a "transformational opportunity for any party that succeeds in motivating young voters to go to the polls", the report said. However, only 40% are certain to vote.

Imran Khan, cricket star turned politician, hoping to pull off the unlikely coup of going from zero seats in parliament to enough to lead the next government, is banking heavily on young people who flock to his mega rallies.

The survey shows the primary youth concerns are economic, with people worrying about soaring inflation, a jobs crisis and poverty.

Because fewer than half of young women are expecting to vote, the report branded housewives a "potential game-changer" if more of them could be inspired to take part in elections.

"Basically the ideal candidate to get the housebound women out is Margaret Thatcher in burqa," said Fasi Zaka, a columnist who was a member of the taskforce that helped produce the report for the British Council.

"They are fundamentally worried about their economic position and they are conservative, they want someone that talks about values."

According to the report, moderates and liberals are a minority among Pakistan's youth, with two-thirds of women and 64% of men describing themselves as religious or conservative.

Some commentators fear the most likely result of the election will be a hung parliament, or a shaky coalition led by one of the two established parties, that would struggle to deliver the economic growth and jobs that young people crave.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt on "corruption eruption" from USIP:

According to (Moises) Naim, the word ‘corruption’ has become the “universal diagnosis for a nation’s ills” (Naim, 2005). This has the lead to perspective that if one can curtail the culture of greed in a given society, all other problems will be easy to solve. The problem, however, corruption is not necessarily correlated with economic prosperity. In countries such as Hungary, Italy, and Poland, a certain degree of prosperity has been able to coexist with systems of corruption. Furthermore, China, India, and Thailand provide examples of countries deemed to been highly corrupt while simultaneously experiencing high levels of economic growth.

Additionally, the fixation on corruption as the ‘ends-all’ problem drives the public debate away from other critical problems affecting a given state. Media outlets are more likely to publish on topic regarding corruption or scandalous activity, perceiving this to be more newsworthy. In doing so, they neglect to draw attention to other critical problems such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, or the economy. Although these problems may be aggravated by corruption, they were not created by corruption alone. They are the result of underdeveloped institutions that have been exploited by corruptive practices. Thus, the tendency to assume that the abolition of corruption will bring about prosperity is a very limited perspective.

Finally, the focus on corruption as the source of a state’s problems creates unrealistic expectations as to what is required to improve the standard of living within that state. There is a belief that by simply removing a corrupt leader, prosperity will follow. However, there is no direct correlation between theses two factors; the situation is more complex, involving a multitude of factors. If the expectations is that lustration will result in improved standards of living, this sets the stage for societal discontent and possible social unrest.

Hopewins said...

Is this the DISCIPLINED PTI that you expect will transform Pakistani politics for the better?

Riaz Haq said...

Fauzia Kasuri has left PTI because it has been "hijacked by a mafia".

She was first disqualified within PTI's internal elections, then denied party ticket for open seats even after she gave up her US nationality.

This seems to be part of the intolerance and hatred of all foreigners including dual nationals of Pak birth.

Such animosity against overseas Pakistanis was on full display in Pak Supreme Court when TuQ petitioned against EC.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time mag article on Malala Day in Pakistan:

Last Friday, Malala Yousafzai took to the podium at the United Nations. It was her 16th birthday, and her first major public appearance since the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate the Pakistani schoolgirl last October for her efforts to promote girls’ education. Traces of the near-fatal attack were still visible, as the disfiguring on the left side of her face showed. But as she demonstrated in a powerful and moving speech, her resolve had not dimmed.

Yousafzai issued a simple plea: she wanted the world’s leaders to offer children free and compulsory education. She said that she wanted to wage a war against illiteracy and terrorism, but had no use for the tools of violence. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” Yousafzai urged. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” The audience, both inside the U.N. hall where she spoke and among the many who saw the speech live on television around the world, responded with tearful applause. Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Yousafzai as “the most courageous girl in the world.”

Back home in Pakistan, however, the reaction was depressingly mixed. Yousafzai’s supporters were thrilled to see her defy the Taliban militants who tried to silence her. They were impressed by her message of forgiveness, saying that she did not “even hate the Talib who shot me.” Some of the country’s main television channels showed her speech live; most did not. There were a few politicians like former cricket legend Imran Khan who tweeted tributes to her bravery. But even as the world was marking “Malala Day,” as the UN had named it, the Pakistani government didn’t bother to register the occasion.

The most troubling were the many voices that denounced Yousafzai and her speech as “a drama” – a colloquial expression commonly used to describe “a stunt” or “a hoax.” When Yousafzai was shot nine months ago, there was widespread sympathy. On television, messages of solidarity were broadcast. Children in mosques, churches, and temples were shown holding candlelight vigils. But since then, the mood has turned dark, and Yousafzai has become the object of widespread and lurid conspiracy theories.....
It becomes more comforting to cast blame on “outside actors.” Incidents like the appearance of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot two men in Lahore in 2011, do end up lending some substance to these claims. It is perhaps inevitable that Pakistanis wonder how many other foreign intelligence agents lurk in the streets and bazaars. Enduring drone attacks, seen to kill many innocent civilians, have seen sharp rise in anti-American feeling. It is part of the reason why some spurned Yousafzai as a local hero. Her acceptance by the West led to her being rejected at home.

But a deepening sense of denial makes it difficult for Pakistan to confront its enemies at home. The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that it would like to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban to end domestic terrorism. But the militants don’t appear willing to talk. In the few weeks Sharif has been in office, a reported 32 terrorist attacks have claimed some 250 lives. For that trend to stop, more Pakistanis will have to see past the conspiracy theories. It is impossible to take on a threat you refuse to see.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report of a planned documentary on Malala Yousufzai:

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, will be the subject of a documentary film, its producers said on Tuesday.

Davis Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," starring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will direct the yet-to-be-titled documentary that is slated to be released in late 2014.

The film will follow Yousafzai as she campaigns for the right of children to education, said producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who also produced the 2007 Afghan drama, "The Kite Runner."

Yousafzai was targeted for killing by the Islamist Taliban in October last year because of her campaign against the group's efforts to deny women education.

She not only survived the attack, but recovered to the extent that she celebrated her 16th birthday last week with a passionate speech at the United Nations in New York.

"There are few stories Laurie and I have ever come across that are as compelling, urgent or important as the real-life struggle of Malala and her father Ziauddin on behalf of universal education for children," Parkes said in a statement.

The teenager was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate.

Unable to return safely to Pakistan, Yousafzai enrolled in a school in Birmingham, England in March.

"Let us pick up our books and pens," she said in her U.N. speech. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution."

The film will be funded by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of government-owned Abu Dhabi Media, which is based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Riaz Haq said...

Hundreds of girls' school are closed in PTI-led KP province.
Questions over the closure of girls schools in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has sparked angry debate in the region's parliament.

The province's Education Department informed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on April 17 that 159 schools for girls in the province have been shuttered due to a variety of reasons, including threats by the Taliban and a lack of female teachers.

But lawmakers accused the Education Department of giving "false information," citing data that shows that 385 schools remain closed in the region, including 295 schools for girls.

The provincial minister of primary and secondary education, Atif Khan, dismissed accusations of providing false data, saying that the figures have been changing quickly in recent weeks.matter has been referred to committee for further discussion.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #ImranKhan considers #Taliban '#terrorists' @AJENews #PTI

Imran Khan, the Pakistani politician and former cricket star, considers the Taliban a "terrorist" group and believes that it is "absolute nonsense" to speculate that he supports "extremism".

In an interview with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan, the host of UpFront, Khan said: "Yes they are [a terrorist group]. Anyone who kills innocent people are terrorists."

The interview will be aired in full on Friday at 19:30 GMT.

Khan was also asked about his alleged relationship with the Pakistan Taliban and whether, as some have speculated, he supports the armed group.

"This is absolute nonsense. It's just not true," he said. "All you have to do is look at my statements for the past ten years."

Khan also responded to accusations from Asif Ali Zardari, former president of Pakistan, that his large financial donations to Darul Uloom Haqqania, a school known for educating Taliban fighters, was evidence that he supported "extremism".

"This is totally out of context," he said, explaining that the purpose of the funding from his party was "to get the madrassa system into the mainstream".

Khan said "if it was a university for jihad, it should have been shut down" by previous Pakistani governments.

He said that Zardari's comments were "like so many of the Muslim corrupt rulers, ex-rulers, trying to win Western support by saying how liberal they are and how anti-Taliban they are".

Khan also spoke about Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws.

Riaz Haq said...

I attended Silicon Valley book launch of Pakistani-American Saqib Mausoof's "The Warehouse".

The Warehouse is set in Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA) that has seen a powerful Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The author's novel's protagonist is Cash (Syed Qais Ali), an insurance company adjustor from Karachi who ends up in Waziristan to survey damage in a warehouse fire.

During discussion at the launch event at PACC last Saturday, Sept 10, 2016, Mausoof said he saw many FATA women attending Namal University in MIanwali that was founded by PTI Chief Imran Khan.

Namal University is located close to Pakistan's tribal areas where women have traditionally not benefited from higher education.

Mausoof saw several women from FATA wearing veils using computers and developing software in information technology classes at Namal.

Fyza Parviz, originally from Peshawar but currently in SF Bay Area, confirmed that she too is seeing many veil or hijab wearing Pashtun women from KP's rural areas attending colleges and universities.

Fyza Parviz originally hails from Peshawar Pakistan and has been living in the Bay Area for 14 years. She is a Software & Electrical Engineer by profession and loves to read, write, attend events, and create literary experiences. She is also the Web Producer for the Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. She is currently developing an engaging Online Social Platform for writers and readers. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in PaperCuts Magazine and LitSeen.

Here's a news story from last year's graduation ceremony that feaured Imran Khan as keynote speaker at Namal:

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday attended the convocation ceremony of Namal University at Mianwali.

Imran Khan, while addressing the ceremony gathering, welcomed the Parents of the students hailing from Waziristan and also extended his congratulations to the parents whose children earned Bradford degree.

Imran Khan, in his message to the students, said that those people had never failed, who stuck to their aim, adding that unfortunately quality education in Pakistan was not accessible to poor’s segment of the society.

Riaz Haq said...

#PTI leader #ImranKhan passed BA in 3rd class from #Oxford in 1975. …

#Pakistan PM #NawazSharif's BA degree shows that he passed in 1968 from Government College #Lahore in 2nd division with just 340/700 marks

Riaz Haq said...

Dailytimes | #ImranKhan to perform ground-breaking of #Karachi's cancer hospital on Dec 29 - #PTI via @Shareaholic

The ground-breaking ceremony of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Karachi would be held on December 29, 2016.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's chairman Imran Khan, who is also Chairman Board of Governors Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust will lay the foundation stone.

In February this year, the then Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Shareef had granted a 20 acre plot for the construction of the cancer hospital in Defence Housing Authority located at the Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway.

A statement of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust said, "The construction of a comprehensive cancer diagnosis and treatment facility in Karachi will not only provide the most modern cancer treatment to the people of Sindh, but will also help raise healthcare standards and provide training and employment opportunities in the region."

It is Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust's third Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in the country. Trust has already established two hospitals - one in Lahore and the other is in Peshawar.