I am SO VERY SORRY for the almost FIVE YEARS since I have posted ANYTHING on my WordPress!
It has been a looong and bumpy ride, with more downs than ups, but praise be to Allah that I still have a lot to be thankful for – even though my heart is not at rest and my soul is not at peace… But more on that later.
Since I’ve been gone, Pakistan has had an entire regime change: the PPP government completed its tenure – despite PM Gillani being disqualified by the Supreme Court – and handed over the reins to the PML-N in what seemed to follow the exact script (if not the letter and spirit) of the “Charter of Democracy”.
Then three years into the PML-N tenure, an international data leak from a Panamanian company called Mossack Fonseca revealed how much money (EX) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons, and his relatives and cronies, had amassed abroad – amounts of money that never did match any sources of income that the Sharif family revealed or claimed to have revealed. And after a year long case heard by five senior judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan – which actually constituted a Joint Investigation Team (the now-famous JIT) to thoroughly investigate the Sharif family’s wealth and money trail; in effect giving the Sharif family (i.e. the ruling family or shaahi khandaan as they are now known) yet another opportunity to provide all the proofs and prove to the people of Pakistan that they were being targeted by a so-called international conspiracy because the Nawaz government went ahead with CPEC and he is being made to suffer for it.
In FACT! What transpired was that our former Prime Minister, the Chief Executive of our nuclear-powered nation, was a bearer of an ‘iqama’ document: a work permit which allows a person to undertake commercial activities in the United Arab Emirates, a country which still guards the financial information and tax income of its citizens very ferociously. The implication is that Ex-PM and now convicted Nawaz Sharif, and most of his senior cabinet members who also possess an ‘iqama’, are money-launderers who use their status as workers/businessmen in the UAE to launder their monies throughout the world without any real check or balance from any international agency.
When General Pervez Musharraf wanted to be President as well as Army Chief, EVERYONE said that he is not permitted by law to hold an office of profit. Well, our third-time-elected AND now disqualified-for-life Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was concurrently serving as a ‘Marketing Manager’ for Capital FZE in Jebel Ali Free Zone, and was also promoted to the position of “Chairman of the Board”. As such, he was entitled to a salary of AED 10,000/- per month: now, Mr. Sharif claims that he has been disqualified because he did not take money from his son.
Such is the sheer stupidity of the arguments presented by a convicted felon to save his own skin and act without remorse to prove his point to his cronies and his quislings. As Prime Minister of Pakistan, you are not allowed to take money from ANYONE in ANY MANNER that may jeopardize the due discharge of the functions of the office of the Prime Minister – who clearly swears in his oath upon entering the office that he will not allow his/her personal interest(s) to influence his/her official conduct or (affect) his/her official decisions.
So even being eligible to withdraw a salary from a foreign company while concurrently serving as Prime Minister of Pakistan does not save one from the oath one made upon entering office: in fact, if it were a Pakistani company, things might have been much cooler because it would be an ‘in-house’ matter.
Who knows how much money has passed through Capital FZE and sooooo many other front companies and shell companies created by the Sharif empire throughout the world; what favors would have been paid for and promised to which people from which countries? Would the Chairman of Capital FZE have ever thought of doing business with people who wish to ideologically or physically harm Pakistan? The Prime Minister of Pakistan shouldn’t, and a conscientious PM wouldn’t.
BUT a private person can make any promises in any capacity and – if he or she is in a position of power – can also get away with it: unless he or she gets caught because of the sheer stupidity of keeping everything in one’s relatives names, and not generating back-dated documents to show the growth of such exorbitant wealth, and not even taking the second chance offered by the Supreme Court via the JIT and being aggressive and confrontational. PM Gillani was never given a second chance to prove he was being loyal to his oath by not violating the Constitution and sending a letter to a foreign organization to investigate a sitting President!
Which reminds me: how high is the upper hand of former President Zardari now? 11 years in jail, not one case proven (thanks to NRO) and none will ever be proven because everything has been made squeaky clean during the Zardari regime of 2008-13. The “poor guy” couldn’t even manipulate elections in his own favor while he was a sitting President: just goes to show that democracy REALLY is the BEST revenge 😉
THAT’S what Nawaz Sharif would have realized and understood when Zardari said “No, the PPP and I are NOT going to support you”. President Zardari should have continued and said, “how DARE you ask me for help, you convict! I have spent 11 years in jail on trumped up charges and NOTHING has been proven against me. You have been convicted by the highest court of law in the nation, and you DARE to approach ME, a former President, the one who gave all the powers BACK to the Parliament that you never even visited unless there was a dharna going on outside or a foreign dignitary was visiting! You are a manipulator and we will NOT be used by you anymore. There is NO threat to democracy if you are not PM – but if you threaten to create problems for the democratic process, then you will REALLY find yourself alone: and neither Achakzai nor Fazlu will come to help you because they only go after the rising star and don’t waste their time on has-been’s like you!”
Now THAT would’ve been SOME conversation, huh? 😀
Do press the like button if you like this post – or if you just like the fact that I’m back 😀 😀 – and also share your thoughts in the comments below. Should Zardari have supported Nawaz or not? Should Nawaz have even asked Zardari for help? If there was money involved, how much do you think was offered and demanded?
Please FEEL FREE! I am DESPERATELY awaiting your comments to see what the nation actually thinks of these “leaders” HA!
Throughout various instances of flood and famine, war and strife, deprivation and inequality, destabilization and chaos, Pakistan has prevailed because its people are resilient, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Finally, something as catastrophic as the Pakistan floods of 2010 have made the country realize the benefits of unity, and the strength that lies in national brotherhood. It is for no other reason that our national anthem states: Pak Sar Zameen ka Nizam – Quwat e Akhuwat e Awaam. Through good times and bad times, through moments of pride and instances of shame, Pakistan has trudged on – lumbered forward – because there are still Pakistanis who refuse to be demoralized or let down by the circumstances around them, the apathy they witness, and the despair they experience. These true, blue-blooded Pakistanis know that it is not for the Taliban or extremist-fearing liberal Westerner to decide and define what Pakistan is, or who really represents the characteristic ethos of Pakistan. I, for one, am glad that the youth of Pakistan – despite various viewpoints, ideologies, principles, stances and choices – have one fundamental feature in common; resilience. Whether it is an English-speaking jeans-wearing liberal hippie or a beard-toting conservatively-dressed turbaned madrassa student, the resilience in either of them cannot be denied. This is a characteristic not ingrained by our families, or by our indoctrination at schools and universities in Pakistan; it is the culmination of a Pakistani ethos, that no matter who we are or where we’re from, as long as we’re Pakistan, we are confident in our resilience, and with it we can take on the world. (Now if the world considers that a “terrorist threat” or wishes to imply that it is, I would consider it media propaganda and Western hatemongering, because Pakistan indeed wants to compete with the international community, and because Pakistan is an important part of the international community and nobody can deny that).
An overcharged youth that is angry, even livid, at the mistakes of history (and at the incapacity to even recognize them – let along mitigate or fix them – by generations in power and generations past) has now resolved to take matters into its own hands. This is not an analogy to taking the law in one’s own hand, which automatically implies inequality in practice if not transgression of responsibility. In fact, the youth of Pakistan – ever so aware of the challenges of modern life and the critical shortcomings of the Pakistani state and Pakistani nation – is determined to correct these mistakes, challenge the status quo, eliminate grave inequalities, restore law and justice, and ultimately transform Pakistan into the great country that it was always supposed to be. The youth at large is aware not only through the media, but also about the media, so it can easily dissociate propaganda and sensationalism from information and factual reporting. The youth is not only intelligent enough to have an analytical and rational opinion on many issues, but they are also willing (and able) to exercise their principles and their rights in terms of these opinions. In a strong Pakistan, the most important ingredient is a conscientious Pakistan – not even a loud one, a powerful one, or a connected one.
It is not only the conscience, will and determination of the youth, but also fading examples of Pakistan’s shining stars and true notables, that keep the glimmer of Pakistani pride alive. From matters scientific to aesthetic, from the world of conflict to the world of sport, there have always been Pakistanis who have had their names written in gold. Such heavyweights, of which few are alive to guide our mortality, offer a perspective into the true nature and foundations of Pakistan, not the ‘media image’ conjured by the West and enabled by regressive-minded Pakistan-hating citizens of Pakistan (an oxymoron). The most important step that must be undertaken by the youth – by the future of Pakistan – is the internalization of our differences and the externalization of our greatness. Our problems and our internal affairs should not be the subject of global tabloids or gossip and disdainful commentary in Western society. At the same time, there are things that should be headlined and trumpeted the world over, but Pakistan’s “free” and (according to the US) “vibrant” media utterly and miserably fails in showing things, events, instances and characteristics that make us great, give us the feeling of being a modern civilization amenable to capitalism and globalization, and allow us to successfully and legitimately compete with the international community not for individual gain but for global benefit.
Now let me explain to you what I am talking about. I am essentially presenting to you the critical characteristics of Pakistan that are suprisingly yet conveniently absent from the daily discourse dominated by “media buzz” and related chatter. What is Pakistan? Apart from being “just a country next to India”, Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world, and has the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world. It is also home to the 2nd largest Shi’ite population, it is the only Muslim-majority state with nuclear weapons, and it is the only ally that the United States has had (and has continued to have after the fall of the Shah of Iran) for more than 6 decades in the region. At the same time, Pakistan enjoys friendly relations with China, and was instrumental in bridging the gap between the US and China, as Henry Kissinger’s “secret trips” now reveal to us. Pakistan has been an important country in international geopolitics, and just because we are the “frontline state” in the “war on Terror”, or just because a “Pakistani NIC holder” has been caught and charged with terrorist acts in Mumbai or New York, doesn’t mean that Pakistan is bad – it just means Pakistan is being illuminated by a bad light, and is being colored in a bad palette. The root of all of this is the Pakistani identity – something we have either forgotten or forsaken, and something that has become an instrument of state power and distribution of rights, rather than an intrinsic power or endowment that every human being is born with. The only sad part is that in Pakistan today, our identity is not who we are, or what we do, but a green plastic card issued by the state and manipulated by cronies and vested interests – as an expose by the Dawn magazine publication Herald has recently revealed in an extensive manner. Any global terrorist – Arab or otherwise – can easily get a Pakistani NIC (and passport) issued from main NADRA offices in urban cities of Pakistan by furnishing a given amount of money to individuals within a nexus of agents and NADRA officials; these individuals not only provide fake documentation, but ensure its credibility and verifiability at any stage, and even fudge up the database records – so that the person with the fake identity gets away scot free, while the person whose identity it really is has to face an uphill struggle to prove himself innocent for the rest of his life. In such times, when even the life, liberty and security of an average Pakistani is not guaranteed – not guaranteed, mind you, by the police or by the Taliban – when even the identity of a law-abiding citizen can easily become (or be made) suspect, there exists a Pakistani within all of us whose sole purpose, whose sole desire, is to survive. Simply because we have no other choice.
I have heard the soothsayer say that Pakistanis will survive. I have heard the doomsayer say that Pakistan will break apart. I say to both of them; we will neither survive, nor will we implode. Come hell or high water, we will prevail, because Pakistan was not made to be a sociopolitical anomaly, a geostrategic hiccup, in the aftermath of the Second World War. Pakistan has ideological roots and principles upon which its nationhood is founded and based – it is not a by-product of postcolonialism in South Asia. Pakistan will prevail, not because it has to, but because it is bound to.
It is pertinent to end this opinion piece with the following golden words from a man to whom you, I and all Pakistanis owe a huge debt of gratitude – whether or not we believe in a common idea and/or ethos for Pakistan:
“My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation”
~ Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (RA), Founder of Pakistan
[ This report was originally a Spearhead Research Analysis product, published on August 31, 2010 ]
The Friday Times: Published in November 4, 2011 edition under the title “Generation Next“
For valid and practical reasons, the youth is always the most vibrant, energetic and hopeful constituent of any society. It is the ripe fruit which is cultivated and nurtured by every nation year in year out. In today’s Pakistan, though one can feel old if not fatigued by the time they reach their twenties, the generations that follow do not shun the standards of innovation and understanding that our society must desperately adhere to in the times we live in. New, avant-garde platforms that are collectively labeled as ‘social media’ offer a necessary space for freedom of speech, of expression and of association – in both the personal and the formal spheres of life – and like physical space in the territory of Pakistan, it is receding vis-à-vis exhibition of tolerance; it is being ceded to extreme and radical mindsets because people choose silence and expediency over voice and responsibility. In this situation, social media provides a platform for dialogue beyond distances, and across structural barriers, free of cost. But indirect connectivity can only do so much.
The process of radicalization in Pakistan, and targeting of its youth by radical elements, has taken hold over a period of three decades. After political organizations began using religion as an implement of social power – by defining Muslims (and kafir’s, or murtad’s thereof) as stipulated in the 1973 Constitution – Islam ceased to be a faith among many practiced by the Pakistani people, and became a force potent enough to engulf the apparatus of the modern state, render it redundant, and eliminate its writ from within its very territorial jurisdiction. In essence, Islam was no longer a faith that bound a worshipper to the Almighty, and became a structural institution that could manifest in social, political, economic, and even military forms. Abuse of religion for political ends sowed the seeds of hatred that continue to bear fruit after decades.
Ugay na mout zameen par toh aur kya hoga / Kay beej zeher kay baantay gae kisaan’on mayn
Religion as a deliberate enterprise to seize the ultimate principle of value, and thereby to reintegrate the forces of one’s own personality, is a fact which cannot be denied.
– Sir Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal
I am not an Islamic scholar, but I am a Muslim. I believe, but my belief has run into lots of troubles recently. Some say that I am too much of a Muslim, that everything or the other has something to do with Islam or Allah; some say I am a heretic and apostate, who comes up with his own examples and facts and metaphors to suit a certain argument or discourse. Well, maybe both are right, or maybe both are wrong; I am least bothered, because the true value of this judgment – to me at least – can only be revealed once Allah Almighty makes this Judgment Himself. For the time being, I would let Pakistanis make the judgments that only Allah is supposed to make, because that is the kind of Islam that prevails in Pakistan. It is when people have a problem with me being Muslim – although my choice of identity is totally up to me – that I call myself a Pakistani, even though I am the same person and my religious and national identities are not exclusive to each other. I am a Pakistani Muslim, and I am a Muslim Pakistani; apparently that is too hard for a lot of people to understand.
Most of Pakistan’s problems today stem from the fact that Pakistanis – and the country’s legal structure in particular – find/s its legitimate roots in the notion of Pakistan being an “Islamic” state. But what does this mean? Today, this question haunts us as much as terrorism, deprivation, crises, inflation, marginalization, corruption, ineptitude, misgovernance, insensitivity and poverty does. Does an Islamic state mean that Pakistan was ordained by Almighty Allah Himself? Or is Pakistan an Islamic state because the majority of its population – at the time of independence and even today – are Muslims? And if it indeed is an Islamic state, then what does being an “Islamic state” entail? Does it imply that the Holy Qur’an is the national political constitution? Does it imply that prevention of vice and promotion of virtue should take place according to the transcribed Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH? Does the state govern the people according to Islamic laws and administers these laws, or is the state itself subject to Islamic law? And in a modern circumstance, where does all this leave the non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan? Are they equal citizens of the nation-state, or are they supposedly ‘second-class’ citizens in the form of protected “dhimmi”s?
On May 2, 2011, while it was still the night of May 1 in the U.S., the world was greeted by a surprising news story: President Obama confirmed that Osama bin Laden was killed in a CIA operation (dubbed Operation Neptune’s Spear according to some sources) in Abbottabad, Pakistan. President Obama acknowledged Pakistan’s help, but left Pakistan’s integrity to the dogs (after apparently violating its sovereignty) when international media revisited its reports about Osama hiding in Pakistan, about Pakistan being the epicentre of terrorism, and about Pakistan’s state being in collusion with rogue terrorist elements. Why should President Obama care? This is his victory, and whether or not May 1 was a great day for America, it was indeed a great day for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Why do Obama and Clinton praise Pakistan yet their media vilifies us? Some even went to the extent of saying that Obama had neutralized Petraeus’ possible Republican nomination for President in 2012, by denying him the accolades of killing Osama while he was US-ISAF chief in Afghanistan. On the other side of the same coin, this could be Petraeus’ signal about a new, militarized role for the CIA in projecting America’s strength and protecting America’s interests. Nobody notes that US Special Forces and Navy SEALs were not part of the US-ISAF force, but were stationed in Afghanistan on the request of the CIA and under the command of CIA officers who would use them for a calculated and surgical strike. However, Pakistan Today reports that the US refused to rule out Pakistan’s official backing for Osama.
Now, I don’t know who to listen to: John Brennan, or Barack Obama.
The media frenzy and political gimmickry after Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, and now Shahbaz Bhatti’s brutal murder, fails to answer questions, and instead, posits more queries and conundrums which are completely uncalled for
On the morning of March 02, 2011, Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down near his house in I/8-3 sector of Islamabad. He did not have his security protocol with him. The assassins sprayed his car with bullets, and after confirming the death of their target, littered the murder site with pamphlets that proclaimed the incident as having been commissioned by the hitherto-unknown Punjabi Taliban.
As soon as news of the assassination broke out, civil society demonstrators and protesters held rallies throughout major Pakistani cities, while the Pakistani Christian community was divided on whether to take to the streets over the murder of their biggest politician in broad daylight, or to stay silent and remain within the shelter of their homes.
We only think about what to do, what to say, and (thanks to the media) what to feel AFTER something tragic and unthinkable has happened. Yet, the tragic and unthinkable happens so often, that one would imagine we would be prepared for it by now, even if we are not desensitized to it.
Express Tribune, a mainstream newspaper, reflected the views of the protesters as follows: nobody is safe, not even the protesters.
Tomorrow if I say something that someone doesn’t agree with, I will also be killed. When people can kill with so much impunity in the capital, no one is safe.
Anyone who speaks the truth is unsafe.
This is another attempt by the extremists to silence the truth and those who dare to work for the rights of minorities, claimed the protesters.
Could Egypt happen to Pakistan?
Since January 25, 2011, the world has been captivated by developments in Egypt. One after the other, like the domino effect, major cities in Egypt erupted in protests, calling for the removal of the Mubarak regime. Reminiscent of the color revolutions that took place in Eastern Europe during the twilight of President Bush’s administration, the Egyptian situation has caused consternation for a lot of international actors, and analysts are on the edges of their seats trying to determine what this sociopolitical movement means for democracy in the middle east, and for political rights in the modern Muslim world at large.
There are a lot of causal factors that point to the current turmoil in Egypt. Most believe that it was Hosni Mubarak’s elongated rule that will come to 30 years in power if he continues till October 2011. Almost all of this administration has been under emergency rule, which says a lot about the democratic process in Egypt and the freedoms Egyptian citizens enjoy – despite being allied to the United States. Even though Egypt has seen two revolutions – one in 1919 and another in 1952 which brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power – the current regime is also descended from the ‘revolutionary’ legitimacy of the Nasser and Sadat eras. On January 21st, Ahmad Aggour wrote that Egyptians should learn a lesson from the Tunisians and send Mubarak packing, just like Zine el Abidine ben Ali.
It seems that the current revolution is designed to install a true democracy of the Egyptian people, thereby upturning the status quo established by the July 23 Revolution of 1952.
Larbi Sadiki has written an interesting opinion piece in Al Jazeera, where he labels the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions as ‘bread intifadas’. Arguing that the real terror facing Muslim societies is that of political, social and economic marginalisation, Sadiki claims that these bread riots come and go but regimes stay. Countries like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia continue to be “the fodder of chaos in the absence of social justice, culturally sensitive sustainable development and democratic mediating networks and civic channels of socio-political bargaining and inclusion”. “Oppositions and dissidents have not yet learned how to infiltrate governments and build strong political identities and power bases. This is one reason why the protests that produced ‘Velvet revolutions’ elsewhere seem to be absent in the Arab world.”
Sadiki says that bread uprisings have positive and negative outcomes: “On the positive side, they act as elections, as plebiscites on performance, as an airing of public anger, they issue verdicts on failed policies and send stress messages to rulers”.