analysis 
A world without rules
Perhaps we, the human beings, have forgotten what distinguishes us from animals
By Dr Khalil Ahmad
It is rules that distinguish human beings from animals. It is rules that distinguish a society from a jungle. Also, it is rules the absence of which transforms human beings into animals and a society into a jungle. That is what is happening around us today. In simple terms, I would love to formulate that Darwin's theory of evolution may have been one of the greatest discoveries in the realm of biological and social sciences, but were he alive he would have put forward an opposite of his theory today to demonstrate how species may (de)volve backwards. It would have been named as Darwin's 'theory of devolution'.

Newswatch
Bush is a four-letter word; so is shoe
By Kaleem Omar
Bush, of course, is a four-letter word. So is shoe. The two of them came together in a somewhat dramatic fashion during President George W Bush's farewell visit to Iraq at a news conference in Baghdad last Sunday when an irate Iraqi television reporter named Muntazer al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at the US president who ordered the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq -- a war that has so far cost an estimated one million Iraqi lives and has left US taxpayers with a bill of $900 billion, with no end in sight to either the killing or the spending.

firstperson
The dissenting voice
From Quaid-e-Azam to Asif Ali Zardari, no one has got the absolute power that we expect in a democratic country
Pakhtoon nationalist leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who is also chairman of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), was born in 1948. His father, Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, was himself a famous Pakhtoon nationalist leader who remained behind the bars for almost three decades before being eventually killed in a mysterious bomb blast in the 1970s. The young Achakzai did his BSc in Engineering in 1971 from University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar. A staunch nationalist and democrat, he is widely respected among progressive circles for his principled stance on human rights and rule of law.

environment
The impeding disaster
Global warming is fuelling tropical cyclones at an unprecedented rate
By Asma Rashid
Awareness regarding climate change and its economic and social impacts is one of the dire needs of the hour considering the ever-mounting phenomenon of global warming. Tropical cyclones, which bring in their wake huge devastation to life and property, is the area where people need to be educated beforehand, particularly at a time when global climate change has every likelihood to enhance their frequency and intensity with the passage of time.

The fattening black economy
The Afghan Transit Trade has virtually strangulated Pakistan's manufacturing sector
By Alauddin Masood
At 51 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to some studies, the underground economy has acquired a mammoth size in Pakistan, inflicting a colossal loss to the state in revenues. The cross border smuggling from Afghanistan, under the guise of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), in particular, has fuelled the already powerful black economy, which snowballed from Rs15 billion in 1973 to Rs1.115 trillion in 1996, with its share in GDP increasing from 20 to 51 percent.

No hope in sight
How to ensure social protection for the poor is a million dollar question
By Sikandar Ali Hullio
One out of every four Pakistanis is poor and one out of every two is vulnerable to falling into the poverty trap. The question of just how many Pakistanis live in poverty has become something of a figurative football in recent years; various organisations and government agencies have smartly played the figures up or down to suit their vested interests.

personality
A legacy of struggle
Benazir Bhutto was a visionary leader who resisted with courage the agenda of neo-colonial forces that want to make Pakistan a theocratic state incapable of progressing towards an egalitarian and democratic polity
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr Ikramul Haq
December 27 marks the first death anniversary of the late Benazir Bhutto. In recognition of her services, the twice former prime minister of Pakistan was awarded posthumously the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Award, which is given every five years, on December 10. This year's award is also special because it coincides with 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

book review
The effects of incompleteness
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 256
Price: Indian Rs395
First Edition: November 2008
American author and academic Alastair Lamb wrote of the Kashmir dispute as "incomplete partition". He wrote that had it not been for the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan and India might have worked out their differences and existed as two prosperous nations "evolving towards each other" -- which was the stated objective of partition in the first place -- instead of away from each other. The cleavage has instead widened and Kashmir remains etched in the consciousness of Indians and Pakistanis -- both anxious to claim it to complete themselves. So Basharat Peer's memoir epitomises the effect of this incompleteness that both Indians and Pakistanis have brought to bear on the lives of hapless Kashmiris.

 


analysis

A world without rules

Perhaps we, the human beings, have forgotten what distinguishes us from animals

 

By Dr Khalil Ahmad

It is rules that distinguish human beings from animals. It is rules that distinguish a society from a jungle. Also, it is rules the absence of which transforms human beings into animals and a society into a jungle. That is what is happening around us today. In simple terms, I would love to formulate that Darwin's theory of evolution may have been one of the greatest discoveries in the realm of biological and social sciences, but were he alive he would have put forward an opposite of his theory today to demonstrate how species may (de)volve backwards. It would have been named as Darwin's 'theory of devolution'.

It appears too much of an ordinary thesis which has been used, abused and misused in every nook and cranny of our society, from a street to a scholar's den, that we have our primeval animals quite alive and kicking in us to this day. No doubt, we are fond of passing this judgment that human beings are no better than animals and that they are still at the raw stage of evolution: at the stage of animality. Let me clarify I am not indulging in that cynic talk. It does not mean I am an optimist. I am no pessimist either. I am going to argue that if such and such things take place, they will most probably lead to such and such situations.

Here is the gist of the argument: animals have no rules to follow; they have their nature or their instincts that mostly direct their behavior, as we all know. This means they have no rules of their own making. Or if they have such rules, these are simply not comparable with those of human beings. This also entails that it is not rules alone that ensure survival. In that case, animals would have been extinct now. It means that human beings too can survive without rules. Of course, we are surviving others who succumb to mass murders, blasts, bombings, suicide attacks, deliberate killings, useless wars, and both state and non-state torture and oppression. This brings us back to that stage of evolution where we were no better than animals. Perhaps that is what our cynic's popular thesis means.

At that stage, we may have had rules like animals, but we had not started yet discussing and debating those rules. Or it may be that when we got ourselves free from the shackles of our inherent nature (and nature from without also) and instincts that we decisively separated ourselves from animals. We brought ourselves under the burden of rules of our own making. We subjected ourselves to a transformation of our liking with the help of those rules. These rules were not merely rules, but rules of just life and behaviour. Thus, it is just rules that dragged us to populate a community of our own far from the jungle of unjust rules. Clearly, if we abandon those rules and practically liken our rules to those of animals, we are doomed -- regardless of the wishes of pessimists or optimists. Cynics may enjoy and wager how the game finishes.

How this fits in the present scenario? Especially, in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the mysterious killings in Karachi and the escalating civil war like conditions in various parts of Pakistan? Actually, all the violence so widespread in our world and notably in South Asia, in the final analysis, is the result of blatant violation of the rule of right is might, which is also a consequence of the violation of rules of just life and behaviour. When rule of might is right prevails, violence infects everything. In effect, when violence ensues from an authority the sole rationale of which is the use of might, such as military takeovers or unjust civil governments in Pakistan, or other regimes the world over, such an authority will naturally lose its moral, legal and constitutional grounds. Not only does it sustain on violence and as a result of its acts provokes more and more violence, it also provides other sections of society with an alibi to justify their acts of violence. To dispel the confusion, it may be clarified that violence is the monopoly of an authority that is moral, legal, lawful and constitutional.

What makes an authority moral, legal, lawful, and constitutional? John Dewey pointed out: "The most pressing problem of humanity is living together." It is to address this problem that every community creates an authority to use violence in the name and for the sake of just rules. Sure, its purpose is not to perpetrate violence, but to protect life and property of all members of that community, and their inalienable or fundamental rights and their freedoms. It is to secure these objectives that that authority makes use of violence and of course strictly in accordance with the law of that community. That authority enjoys no discretion. It has to act within the ambit of that community's law. This is what makes an authority moral, legal, lawful, and constitutional; or vice-versa.

We have Pakistan as a typical example. Its 1973 Constitution ensures its citizens security of their fundamental rights. But the citizens of Pakistan have never been considered citizens with any fundamental rights by any government. In Pakistan, all those organs of the state that derive authority from this constitution have always abused and misused that authority and that constitution also. Since 1973, we have been having immoral, illegal, unlawful and anti-constitutional or quasi-constitutional or para-constitutional or ultra-constitutional governments, both military and civil governments, but no strictly moral and constitutional government. This shows how military and political might have been trampling the rule of right is might in Pakistan.

Here right is might may be taken as meaning what is right that be considered prevailing over might. Let me take liberty of ascribing a different, but not entirely different, meaning to the word 'right'. This changes the whole context of this debate. Our rights -- our inalienable and fundamental rights that are actually our freedoms -- ought to be mighty. In other words, might ought to flow from our rights and back to them. That is what has been the signpost of humanity. However, let me attach another explanation to it. When we say that rights are might, we mean to say that no entity, no matter how mighty it is, whether physically or militarily, can usurp our rights. On the other hand, let me add that no entity, no matter how mighty it is democratically, can encroach upon our rights. Thus, even a democratic government elected by an overwhelming majority has no authority to suspend these rights of ours.

Moreover, no entity of people -- even if it consists of 99 percent of its members -- has any authority to rule one percent of its no-members in a manner that curtails or suspends or defies their fundamental rights and freedoms. Let me highlight it that power does not belong to people, as the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) made us believe. In fact, power belongs to their fundamental rights and freedoms. Actually, it is moral might. This accords with the principle of rights are might mentioned above.

Thus, a revolt of any entity of people will be moral only when it aims at securing them their fundamental rights and freedoms through judicial reforms or change. This should be the sole objective of any revolt or rebellion. For all purposes, it means that it is the might of our fundamental rights that justify violence whether it is resorted to by the state in securing its citizens their fundamental rights and freedoms, or by an entity of people, be it a minority or a majority, when a government completely suspends their rights and that too for an indefinite period and without any moral, legal, lawful and constitutional justification and validation.

But that violence can be justified only when it is targeted and is validated by an alternate judicial authority only in order to protect life and property, fundamental rights and freedoms of those people; and that authority derives its justification duly from a just constitution: the original 1973 Constitution without any amendments. In this regard, the Magna Carta, American Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and US Bill of Rights are there to seek guidance. All other acts of coercion or oppression and revolt or rebellion, whether they ensue from the state or government or any other non-state entities, are but authoritarian and fascist in their very nature.

Also, this helps us understand clearly the burning issue of terrorism. It has three facets. First, that all the movements which are having recourse to terrorist or violent acts aim at establishing an authoritarian and fascist rule over a specific geographical area or globally. They have no idea of the principle of rights are might, and no regard either for the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. They just want an ideological regimentation of all and sundry without any exception.

Second, it is misleading to dub them terrorists. They are violating everything that pertains to morality and law. They are not terrorists but criminals of the highest order. Their criminality is disproportionate to the higher level of evolution human beings have attained. Probably they are still at the level of lower consciousness that retards their understanding of life and its blessings. A higher level of consciousness requires us to value our life and our fellow human beings' lives also; not only life, but its blessings too. It requires us to differ, disagree, wrangle, quarrel, fight, battle and indulge in all such things within the rules of just behaviour. It requires us to have regard for the fundamental rights and freedoms of our fellow human beings, as well as for their life and property.

Third, it may be objected that this does not address state terrorism. No way! This way of putting things exceptionally deals with the unjust state. Any state or government of a country that does not follow just rules both domestically and internationally is unjust. Sure, their laws and their constitutions are quite unjust if they do not ensure their citizens' security of their fundamental rights and freedoms, and abuse and misuse their legal and constitutional authority to coerce them and citizens of other countries in order to further their own agendas. In that sense, almost all the states and governments, including Pakistan, are unjust. There it is not the principle of rights are might that rules; rather it is the principle of might is right that rules with varying degrees.

As we see, as we know and as we believe, it is almost everywhere that powerful political, business and military elites, intelligence agencies, and their touts and their clout rule. It is the immoral, illegal and unconstitutional behaviour of these elites that begets and promotes violence, lawlessness and criminal ideologues and ideologies. No non-state actors anywhere will ever be strong enough to play havoc with the lives of innocent people until and unless they have state actors at their back. Red Brigades of Italy and the Japanese Red Army are good examples; after losing outside support, they died their own deaths. Also, there are many movements that are living in time, such as LTTE in Sri Lanka. How are they able to survive without outside state actors' help?

Thus, terrorism or, as its true form suggests, criminality of the highest order, wherever it exists or whatever its form is, be it on the part of state actors or non-state actors, is an amalgam of criminality and supra-bestiality. Since, it defies just rules of human society, it is criminal; and as it surpasses beasts in their beastliness, it is supra-bestial. Have we heard of any beast that kills other animals without any reason? These criminals do! Have we heard of any human being using a donkey as a suicide bomber? These criminals do! It is more than pathetic! It tells we are half way on the path of Darwin's theory of devolution, though we are improving a lot upon the ferocious behaviour of the most dangerous beasts. But, is it justified to use the pronoun 'we' here? No, absolutely not! Actually, these criminals must be separated from the majority of the people who believe in and follow just rules. This separation will achieve two things: on the one hand, it will strengthen us; and on the other hand, it will isolate and, thus, weaken them.

Also, will this help us wipe out this beastly criminality? Not in the short term. It may be a step leading us to a way out of this quagmire. We have discussed a long-term solution kit above. What is the short-term solution to this problem of popular criminality! It is also stored in that kit. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we urgently need the following:

First, the basic law -- the constitution of the country -- in its original form be restored and made supreme. Second, judiciary be made independent and autonomous, and as a first step towards this deposed judges be rewarded with reinstatement with grace and honour they deserve. Third, all the state organs and actors, be it judiciary, legislature, executive or military and its various agencies, or be it other state and semi-state entities, strictly be made to act within the limits of their legal and constitutional duties and powers. Fourth, any legal and constitutional violations by any authority or official be punished in accordance with the law and without any delay. Fifth, violations committed in the past be brought in a court of law and the violators be tried without any exception.

Sixth, protection of life and property be provided to all the citizens without any discrimination. Seventh, security of fundamental rights of the people ensured in the constitution be given top priority on the agenda of governance. Eighth, the business of government be run in accordance with the dictates of the original 1973 Constitution. Ninth, foreign relations with other countries, especially with the neighbouring ones, be reorganised on the basis of mutuality and furtherance of interests, peaceful co-existence, and open and free trade. Moreover, political or military entanglement with any country be avoided. In sum, a strategy of setting one's own house in order must be first adopted as the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy.

Reasonably, more than half century's time is enough to convince any thinking citizen of Pakistan how sincere are the ruling elites of the country in pursuing the abovementioned just rules of conduct, both for their persons and the institutions of the state they have been using to strengthen their social, political, judicial, constitutional and economic positions at the expense of the rights, freedom, prosperity and happiness of ordinary people. It is time for the citizens of Pakistan who believe in the supremacy of their fundamental rights and freedoms over the special interests of this or that class or section or any group or religious or political party to rise and wage a peaceful struggle to restore a Pakistan where all the organs of the state are strictly made to function in accordance with the laws and constitution of the country.

(The writer is founder of the Alternate Solutions Institute.

Email: [email protected])

 

Newswatch

Bush is a

four-letter word; so is shoe

 

By Kaleem Omar

Bush, of course, is a four-letter word. So is shoe. The two of them came together in a somewhat dramatic fashion during President George W Bush's farewell visit to Iraq at a news conference in Baghdad last Sunday when an irate Iraqi television reporter named Muntazer al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at the US president who ordered the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq -- a war that has so far cost an estimated one million Iraqi lives and has left US taxpayers with a bill of $900 billion, with no end in sight to either the killing or the spending.

In a sign of lingering Iraqi fury over the war that will define the war-mongering Republican president's foreign policy legacy, al-Zaidi rose abruptly to his feet from about 12 feet away, as Bush was speaking, reared his right arm and hurled a shoe at the president's head while shouting in Arabic, "this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog" (a three-letter word in the English language) and hurled his shoes -- first one, then the other -- at Bush during a news conference with Iraq's puppet prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

A few seconds after hurling the first shoe, which Bush deftly ducked, the journalist hurled his other shoe at Bush, again with great force, this time shouting: "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Again, the shoe sailed over Bush's head, missing him by inches.

Throwing shoes at somebody is considered a supreme insult in the Middle East -- and a supreme insult was exactly what Bush deserved for what he and his fellow neo-con war hawks have done to Iraqi and the Iraqi people, in an unprovoked war of aggression that violated every canon of international law and was in flagrant defiance of world public opinion.

The whole shoe-throwing incident was caught for posterity by a battery of television cameras and repeatedly broadcast on television channels around the world. Bush may have thought that he was on a nostalgic final trip to the killing fields of Iraq and may well have expected, in his muddled fashion, that he would be applauded by his Iraqi audience. But what a well-deserved comeuppance he got!

Displaying a deftness that suggested that perhaps dodging shoes hurled at him is his real forte, Bush managed to duck both the shoes and was not injured. Bush's lady press secretary, Dana Perino, however, was not so lucky and got a black eye when she was struck by a microphone stand in the melee that followed the incident. Members of the White House press corps saw her sporting a bright shiner on her right eye after the presidential party flew back to Washington, DC.

When al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at Bush, he was subdued by a fellow journalist and then beaten by members of Prime Minister al-Maliki's security detail, who hauled him out of the room in his white socks. Al-Zaidi's cries could be heard from a nearby room as the press conference continued. He has been in custody since last Sunday and was due to appear in an Iraqi court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there have been massive protest demonstrations on the streets of Baghdad demanding his release. He has become an instant hero to the Iraqi people and to Arabs throughout the Middle East. "All Iraqis with their different nationalities are glad about this act," said Yareb Youssif Matti, a 45-year-old teacher from Mosul, in northern Iraq.

In Syria, al-Zaidi's picture was shown all day on state television, with Syrians calling in to show their admiration for his gesture and his bravery. In central Damascus, a huge banner hung over a street reading: "Oh, heroic journalist, thank you so much for what you have done."

Press reports from Lebanon said that curiosity about the episode was universal. An American visitor to a school in Beirut's southern suburb, where the Shia group Hizbollah is popular, was besieged with questions from teachers and students alike, who wanted to know what Americans thought about the insult. "It's the talk of the city," Ibrahim Mousavi, a Beirut journalist and political analyst, was quoted as saying.

Al-Zaidi, who has not yet been formally charged, faces up to seven years in prison for "committing an act of aggression" against a visiting head of state. But what about the thousands of acts of aggression committed by US troops against the Iraqi people, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children? How many years in prison are those US troops likely to face? The answer, of course, is none.

US military officials, who keep a careful count of the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq, have repeatedly said that they don't keep a count of the Iraqi dead -- as if only American deaths matter. There can be no more telling comment on the callousness and sheer lack of humanity displayed by the US military.

A statement from Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's government described the show-throwing as a "shameful act that is not related to journalism in any way." It called on Al Baghdadia, the Cairo-based satellite television network for which Muntazer al-Zaidi works, to publicly apologise.

But as of Monday night, press reports from Baghdad said that no apology from the network had been forthcoming. Instead, the network posted an image of al-Zaidi in a corner of the screen for much of the day. Reports said that when viewers were invited to phone in, the vast majority approved of his actions. Meanwhile, more than a hundred lawyers from around the world have offered to represent the Iraqi journalist in court free of cost.

 

firstperson

The dissenting voice

From Quaid-e-Azam to Asif Ali Zardari, no one has got the absolute power that we expect in a democratic country

Pakhtoon nationalist leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who is also chairman of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), was born in 1948. His father, Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, was himself a famous Pakhtoon nationalist leader who remained behind the bars for almost three decades before being eventually killed in a mysterious bomb blast in the 1970s. The young Achakzai did his BSc in Engineering in 1971 from University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar. A staunch nationalist and democrat, he is widely respected among progressive circles for his principled stance on human rights and rule of law.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai has been elected as a member of the National Assembly (MNA) several times from his home constituency of Qilla Abdullah-Quetta since 1974. In fact, he was the only Pakhtoon nationalist to be elected as an MNA in the 2002 general elections, which were swept by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Achakzai is not viewed favourably by many people in Pakistan, because he demands rights of Pakhtoons and wants provincial control over resources, such as water, oil, gas, electricity, etc. He has three sons and two daughters, and his major hobby is reading books. The News on Sunday interviewed him recently. Excerpts follow:

The News on Sunday: What kind of Pakistan the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party wants to see?

Mahmood Khan Achakzai: The Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party believes that Pakistan is a multi-nation state consisting of the historic motherlands of Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons, Balochs and Seraikis, who should live in harmony with each other. The parliament must be sovereign, and that military and secret agencies must have no role in state affairs. Here, no one must be a ruler or ruled. However, unfortunately since 1947, we have never seen true democracy in Pakistan. From Quaid-e-Azam to Asif Ali Zardari, no one has got the absolute power that we expect in a democratic country. Since the birth of Pakistan, Punjabi civil and military bureaucracies started their programme to run this country according to their own wishes. The country remained without a constitution for nine years. Then came the first constitution, followed by the second and the third, but we could not see real democracy in Pakistan. So, if we look at the political and constitutional history of Pakistan, we shall come to the conclusion that military and civil bureaucracies, with the help of judiciary, only want to create Punjab's hegemony in the country. After the 1956 Constitution, they compelled Bengalis to surrender to the Punjabi supremacy. When they realised that democratic forces would obstruct them, they imposed the first martial law that ultimately resulted in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

TNS: What should be the role of the army and secret agencies?

MKA: As I said earlier, it was just the behaviour of military and civil bureaucracies that resulted in the country's dismemberment. But even after this, they did not learn from their mistakes and imposed two more martial laws. After the imposition of the last martial law in 1999, they reached the peak of their strategic aim with the creation of the National Security Council. They held the general elections in 2002 under the army's shadow. As a result, a non-representative parliament came into being. And now Pakistan is totally hollow. It has nothing to present to its citizens or to the world. As Pakhtoons, we are not against the army or secret agencies. We want to see the Pakistan Army as one of the strongest armies in the world. However, whether it wants or not, the army must realise that it will have to stop involvement in politics. Especially people in the army from Punjab must realise the importance of this issue for the survival of the country. We are part of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army, but we want to strengthen the latter only as an army and not rulers.

TNS: Who in Pakistan should decide about war or peace?

MKA: A truly elected parliament must be given complete sovereignty, and the army and secret agencies must be made subservient to it. The decisions about peace or war should be made by the parliament and not by the army. Unfortunately, we have never seen genuine democracy in Pakistan. Genuine powers have never been transferred to the truly elected leaders of the people. If any power has ever been transferred, that too has been at the behest of secret agencies. Unfortunately, our secret agencies only term those leaders genuine who are with them and act upon their directives, while those leaders who are against their role in politics are declared as traitors and unpatriotic. And the result is that Pakistan is passing through the worst-ever crisis of its history.

TNS: What kind of democracy does your party envisions for Pakistan?

MKA: Our party wants a truly democratic Pakistan and a fully sovereign parliament. We want one vote for one person; equality among different ethnic nations living in the country; creation of federating units on the basis of language and geography; and a true federation in which at the most three or four departments are with the federation and the remaining with the provinces. But our elders were imprisoned for up to 14 years for demanding the same.

TNS: Should all Pakhtoon areas of Pakistan be made one province?

MKA: Yes, of course. Why not? If we look at the map of the world, we shall see that the contiguous Pakhtoon belt is divided into four administrative parts. My question is why? We want all Pakhtoon areas of Pakistan -- whether they are in the NWFP, Balochistan or Punjab (Attock and Mianwali districts) -- to be made one province. We believe that the Northern Areas, such as Chitral, Gilgit and Baltistan, are also part of Pakhtoonkhwa. If this is not possible, at least the Pakhtoon areas of Balochistan should be made a separate province. As far as the inclusion of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is concerned, the people there should be asked whether they want to join Pakhtoonkhwa or not. If they want to join it, they are most welcome; if not, we are happy with their separate status. We are not against any identity nor do we want to occupy any land. We are not oppressors. We just want to have one province for Pakhtoons. We pray to God that Balochs may also get their own province.

TNS: How can you justify that Pakhtoons were different from Balochs?

MKA: If we speak from history, from River Oxus to River Indus was actual Afghanistan, while Kashmir and Punjab up to Dhaka were colonies of Pakhtoons. This means that, from Kabul to Dhaka, everything was in the control of Pakhtoons and Ahmed Shah Abdali was their leader. In 1803, when the British Raj tried to develop diplomatic contacts with Afghans, the then British envoy came through Multan and presented his documents to Abdali at Peshawar's Balahisar Fort. Peshawar was the British Empire's winter capital at that time, while Kabul was the summer capital. After Abdali's death, Ranjeet Singh, who was the governor of Punjab during Abdali's rule, with the help of some other forces, captured the today's NWFP and this area came under Lahore's control. Afghans kept on fighting against British forces until 1883, when the Raj drew the Durand Line and divided Pakhtoons into four parts -- Afghanistan, the NWFP, FATA and the Pakhtoon belt of Balochistan. In 1879, the Gandamuk Treaty was signed between British forces and Yaqoob Khan, the jailed prince of Kabul. According to this treaty, the Pakhtoon areas of Afghanistan were to be ruled by Yaqoob; FATA was to be under no one's control; the NWFP was declared part of Punjab; and for Pakhtoons of southern areas and four Baloch tribes -- Chaghi, Jamali, Murree and Bugti -- a new province named British Balochistan was established on November 1, 1887. The new province was to be ruled directly by the British monarch through agent to the governor general and with the help of a Shahi Jirga of 62 members. Of these, only eight were elected members from Quetta, while seven were Baloch members and the remaining Pakhtoon elders. Before this, Baloch tribes were under a Pakhtoon monarch and had their own identity. The Khan of Qalat was not a sovereign ruler, because he was under the command of a Pakhtoon monarch. His duty was only to provide safe passage to traders up to Qandahar and, in return, the Pakhtoon monarch assured protection from foreign invaders to him. Baloch areas, such as Qalat, Lesbella, Makran, Kharan and Jal Magsi, were independent states and had nothing to do with British Balochistan.

TNS: There are also talks of greater Pakhtoonistan in some sections of the society. Is there any truth in them?

MKA: Actually this debate started from the billboards installed in different parts of Pakistan, in which the Afghan government has asked its citizens to come back to their homeland. The words "Lar aw bar Pakhtoon yo day" (upper and lower Pakhtoons are one) were criticised. We also say that all Pakhtoons are one, but we have never said anything about greater Pakhtoonistan. We say that all Afghans and Pakhtoons are one, but they are like two brothers living in different homes. So these are only rumours and there is no truth in them.

TNS: What are your views about provincial autonomy in Pakistan?

MKA: To be fair, provincial autonomy is not the solution to the problems of Pakistan. Actually Pakistan needs re-structuring. Their must be five provinces on the basis of language and geography in Pakistan. Two things are of utmost important for Pakistan -- the issue of nationalism and economy -- and they need urgent attention. We have seen that Russia was the second most powerful state on the globe, but it vanished just because it did not pay heed to these two things. In the 1970 elections, people voted for two things: nationalism and economy. Pakhtoons, Balochs and Bengalis voted in favour of nationalism, while Punjab and Sindh voted for economy (roti, kapra aur makan). As a result, Pakistan had the worst-ever experience of its history when Bangladesh came into being. And the reason was just that these two issues were not addressed. It was the duty of the leaders and thinkers of that time to give importance to these issues, but unfortunately they did not. Moreover, the Pakistan Army will have to stop its involvement in politics. Basic education must be imparted to all citizens in their mother tongue and there must be equality among all the federating units. In a nutshell, I would say that four ministries -- finance, foreign affairs, communication and defence -- must be with the federation and all remaining ones with federating units. Finally, the appointment of chief justice, chiefs of armed forces, chief election commissioner, auditor general, federal ombudsman, ambassadors, and chairpersons of corporations, banks and other institutions must be approved by the Senate.

TNS: Who should collect revenues: the federation or the provinces?

MKA: Finance is of utmost importance and it must be with federating units and not the federation. I have already said that the provinces should have control over their resources and no one else should snatch them. Whether it is water, forests, gas or any other natural resource, the provinces should have the right to use them according to the will of their people.

TNS: The Pakhtoons in Karachi are facing many problems these days. Can you explain why?

MKA: I would say that Karachi is part of Sindh and its owners are Sindhis. However, Pakhtoons are not claiming its ownership; they are only claiming their right to livelihood there as citizens of Pakistan. They are playing their part in the development of Karachi. They want to live in peace, but some people are trying to sabotage the peace of Karachi for their vested interests. For example, on May 12, 2007, Shahrah-e-Faisal was blocked and 45 innocent people were killed in broad daylight. My question is why? Is the blood of Pakhtoons cheaper than that of others? I don't want to say blame either the MQM or the ANP, but who then are the terrorists? At that time, a dictator was in power, but it is strange that the case has not yet been investigated despite the fact that now there is a democratic government in the country. It is the duty of the army, the judiciary, the Sindh government and the federal government to look into the matter and find out who were responsible for it; otherwise, the results will be dangerous not only for Karachi but for the whole country.

TNS: During the previous regime, there were talks of breaking up Punjab into three smaller provinces. What do you have to say in this regard?

MKA: It was Dr Sher Afghan Niazi who initiated this discussion, but I am not in favour of breaking up any province. However, I must say that there must a separate province for Seraikis.

TNS: The people of Hazara division are not in favour of renaming the NWFP as Pakhtoonkhwa. What are your comments?

MKA: I think it is not a big issue. They are our brothers and we can talk to them. We want to have one province extending from Chitral, Gilgit and Baltistan up to Chaman. Everyone knows that the people of this belt speak many languages, but this does not means that they are not part of our land. You can see that people speak Hindko in Kohat and Peshawar, and Seraiki in Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan, but are they not our part? They are our brothers and it is the duty of every Pashto speaker to assure them that they are safe and have every right.

TNS: There is an ongoing war in the Pakhtoon belt (FATA and Swat) and dozens of people are dying daily. What are your views on this?

MKA: The basic question is that why this war started? We will have to respect other's sovereignty and stop interfering in their affairs if we want peace in our country. Every person is the owner of his or her home and no one else has the right to interfere in his or her affairs. Four years ago, Pakistan faced four accusations: 1) The country's nuclear arsenal is in unsafe hands and it has been sold to other countries; 2) It is a safe place for international terrorists; 3) There is no democracy in the country, and the army and intelligence agencies run it; and 4) It is interfering in the affairs of other countries. The nuclear arsenal of no other country except Pakistan is discussed. Why these double standards?

TNS: Should the army be withdrawn from FATA and Swat?

MKA: I think this question must be asked from the people of FATA. There must be elected jirgas of every tribal area, just like district councils of settled areas of Pakistan, which should decide this question. The political agent must also be subservient to this jirga. If we look into history, every invader from Alexander the Great until now has tried to capture this land, but we have always successfully defended our homeland. We are not terrorists, but we know how to defend our own homeland. And if defending motherland is terrorism, then we are proud of this terrorism.

TNS: You boycotted the last general elections to show solidarity with lawyers. Do you think that the move was right?

MKA: I am all for an independent judiciary in Pakistan and the lawyers' movement is one the greatest movements in the history of the country. However, I must make it clear that we did not boycott the elections only because of the lawyers' movement. We boycotted the elections because of the APDM's London Declaration, which said that none of the parties in the coalition would take part in the elections under a dictator.

 

  environment

The impeding disaster

Global warming is fuelling tropical cyclones at an unprecedented rate

 

By Asma Rashid

Awareness regarding climate change and its economic and social impacts is one of the dire needs of the hour considering the ever-mounting phenomenon of global warming. Tropical cyclones, which bring in their wake huge devastation to life and property, is the area where people need to be educated beforehand, particularly at a time when global climate change has every likelihood to enhance their frequency and intensity with the passage of time.

Among the most consequential effects of global climate change is a probability of change in tropical cyclone activity. Hurricanes, severe cyclonic storms or typhoons are region-specific names of intense tropical storms of sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and greater. The recent past has witnessed unprecedented manifestations of cyclone occurrences. The period between June 1 and November 30, 2005, witnessed the most active and robust hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean in the recorded history. Seven hurricanes were formed in the Atlantic during this time, wrecking property of over $120 billion and claiming more than 2,000 lives.

Similarly, the 2007 cyclone season in the Indian Ocean happened to be very active and distinctive in the known history. Tropical cyclone Gonu and tropical storm Yemyin developed in the northern Indian Ocean in the space of just two week, during June 2007, a unique happening for the basin. Moreover, Gonu (a Category-5 cyclone in the Arabian Sea) and Sidr (a Category-4 cyclone in Bay of Bengal) were the unprecedented high-intensity cyclones formed in 2007 in the Indian Ocean. Scientists speculate that the increase in intensity, number and associated destructive potential of tropical cyclones is due to the rising ocean surface temperatures associated with global warming.

Tropical cyclones do not form till certain conditions are met. A sea surface temperature usually higher than 26 degrees Celsius, associated with high humidity and low wind shear, provides conducive circumstances for the formation of a tropical cyclone. Some recent scientific articles have reported 40 percent increase in tropical cyclone energy, numbers and wind-speeds in some regions during the last few decades. An increase in ocean temperature and water vapours contributes to more intense tropical cyclones.

The world's oceans have absorbed about 20 times as much heat as the atmosphere over the past half-century, leading to higher temperatures not only in surface waters (depth of less than 100 feet) but also down to substantial depths, with the most severe warming occurring in the first 1,500 feet below the surface. In addition, observations of atmospheric humidity over the oceans show that water vapour content has increased four percent since 1970. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fourth Assessment Report, speaks of the evidences of increased cyclone activity since the 1970s.

In August 2005, a study by Emanuel was published in weekly scientific journal Nature claiming that the power dissipated by tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean has approximately doubled since the 1950s, with most of the increase occurring over the past three decades. Another article by PJ Webster, published in weekly journal Science in September 2005, revealed that the percentage of hurricanes of Category-4 or -5 intensities has increased over the same period in all six tropical storm basins: North-western Pacific Ocean, North-eastern Pacific Ocean, North-central Pacific Ocean, Northern Atlantic Ocean, Northern Indian Ocean and South-eastern Indian Ocean. The findings from both studies correlate with the rise in sea surface temperatures in regions where tropical cyclones typically originate.

A study by Knutson and Tuleya, published in Journal of Climate in September 2004, shows that a one percent annual increase of atmospheric Carbon dioxide concentrations over the next 80 years would produce more intense storms, and rainfall would increase at an average of 18 percent compared with the present day conditions. The World Meteorological Organisation projects a 3-5 percent increase in wind-speed per degree Celsius increase of tropical sea surface temperatures. Water vapour in the lower troposphere (0-3 kilometres) will increase about 6 percent for every 1 degree Celsius of warming.

Rising sea levels resulting from climate change also contribute to the damage caused by cyclones. The inflow of water from polar and glacial ice, melting due to increasing atmospheric temperature, raised global sea level at an average rate of 1.8 (1.3 to 2.3) millimetres per year from 1961 to 2003. The rate was even faster between 1993 and 2003: about 3.1 (2.4 to 3.8) millimetres per year, according to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. A rising sea level means higher storm surges, even from relatively minor storms, which increases coastal flooding and subsequent storm damage along coasts. In addition, the associated heavy rains can extend hundreds of miles inland, further increasing the risk of flooding.

The increased cyclone activities around the globe pose serious threat to Pakistan also. It is a bi-modal phenomenon in the Indian Ocean: tropical cyclones occur in the months before and after the monsoon season. The 1,050 kilometre-long coastline of Pakistan along the Arabian Sea, with 800 kilometres of it belonging to Balochistan and the remaining 250 kilometres to Sindh, renders the areas highly vulnerable to destruction by cyclones.

Development of tropical cyclone Gonu and tropical storm Yemyin in the Indian Ocean in June 2007 was an unprecedented spectacle of cyclonic activity in such quick succession. The cyclone Gonu was the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the northern Indian Ocean. Fortunately, it did not make landfall on Pakistan's coast. However, cyclone Yemyin did made its landfall along the Makran coast and ravaged the southern parts of Balochistan.

According to government sources, 250,000 people were rendered homeless in Balochistan by the cyclone and the ensuing heavy rains and flash floods. On the whole, the disaster affected 2.5 million people in Balochistan and Sindh, destroying habitats, as well as social and physical infrastructure. The disaster has been deemed by the UN disaster prevention official, Salvano Briceno, as an "indication of what might happen more frequently and severely due to global warming."

Keeping in view the economic pulse of Karachi and Gwadar ports, the need to attend the adverse impacts of climate change and global warming on coastal areas of Pakistan is a must. Research efforts on cyclone activity in the Arabian Sea are sparse despite the critical economic significance of the area. As a matter of fact, a research-guided approach to mitigation and adaptation needs to be adopted to address the losses not only to the coastal communities of Pakistan, but also in the larger economic interest of the country.

(The author is Scientific information Officer at Global Change Impact Studies Centre, Islamabad.

Email: [email protected])

 

The Afghan Transit Trade has virtually strangulated Pakistan's manufacturing sector

 

By Alauddin Masood

At 51 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to some studies, the underground economy has acquired a mammoth size in Pakistan, inflicting a colossal loss to the state in revenues. The cross border smuggling from Afghanistan, under the guise of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), in particular, has fuelled the already powerful black economy, which snowballed from Rs15 billion in 1973 to Rs1.115 trillion in 1996, with its share in GDP increasing from 20 to 51 percent.

During the same period, tax/custom duty evasion increased to Rs152 billion from 1.5 billion, says Dr Sayed Waqar Hussain, author of The Impact of Afghan Transit Trade on NWFP's Economy. A joint publication of Peshawar University and German Hanns Seidel Foundation, the book published in mid-2008, notes that the smuggling swelled to over Rs300 billion by 1998 against only Rs100 billion in 1993.

The ATT has virtually strangulated Pakistan's manufacturing sector, particularly in the NWFP, forcing many investors to close their operations and thereby increasing unemployment in the country. The smuggling of transit goods into Pakistan has, thus, deprived it of substantial investments and the antecedent revenues amounting to over $2 billion annually.

Today, some 75 percent of the demand for bus/truck tyres in Pakistan is fed by ATT rerouting; while the country's indigenous industry and legal importers meet the remaining 25 percent. As a result, the legal import of tyres is on decline and the government is losing billions of rupees in revenues. Likewise, out of a total market for 78 billion sticks of cigarettes, the formal sector supplied 63 billion sticks, while the informal sector marketed the remaining 15 billion sticks, evading Rs7.8 billion in duties/taxes.

To cite another example, Pakistan has its own industry for manufacturing air conditioners. In 1994, the country imported air conditioners worth Rs30 million, but Afghanistan, which was then bereft of electricity, imported through ATT air conditioners worth Rs1 billion. Ultimately, most of those air conditioners ended up in Pakistan.

The proliferation of Bara markets in major towns and cities of Pakistan speaks volumes of the continuous increase in the smuggling of goods into Pakistan and the lucrative business of traders in the efficient network of Bara markets. Moreover, under the ATT's cover, large quantities of Pakistani wheat/flour passed illegally into Afghanistan and even to some states beyond Afghan borders, creating periodic food shortages, like the one witnessed early this year, in Pakistan.

"The brisk and booming transactions of smuggling," says Dr Waqar, "owe largely to the patronage and facilitation by a number of political heavyweights. Some of them are actively involved (they have personal investment), others shelter and patronise them, whereas others use their 'good offices' to influence the anti-smuggling authorities or broker deals with them and extract monetary and other material benefits."

In addition to smuggling, piracy and counterfeiting have also emerged as major problems, which inflict huge losses to the nation -- citizens, trade, industry and the state exchequer. The counterfeiting, according to Dr Waqar, has cast its most devastating effect on the trade behaviour of people in the NWFP. Being inimical to creativity, counterfeiting discourages new inventions / discoveries and production of original works, thus stifling prospects for economic development, new investments and job creation in societies afflicted by this vice.

From street level in the Peshawar district, counterfeiting extends to established firms in Peshawar, Swat, Mardan, Haripur and Gadoon Amazai in the NWFP; to Lahore and Karachi at the national level; and to Dubai and China at the international level. The products counterfeited range from small products (such as soaps, toothpastes, cigarettes and shaving razors) to large items (such as tyres), and to sophisticated electronics (such as televisions, CD players, computers and electrical goods like irons, air conditioners and juice blenders), reveals Dr Waqar after analysing trade trends and data from 1990 to 2000.

In Peshawar, the field observations of two sites -- Karkhano Market and Kachi Mohallah -- revealed that they were producing fake brands of popular consumer goods, such as bath soaps, toothpastes, shaving creams, shampoos, hair conditioners, detergents, cosmetics and beverages. These items are sold throughout the NWFP.

The smuggled black tea is adulterated by mixing it with the husk of pulses, and the mixture is dyed with blood collected from slaughter houses. This look-alike black tea is sold to wholesalers, who sell it to retailers in far-flung areas of Swat, Kohistan, Mansehra, Malakand, Karak and Lakki Marwat. Similarly, cigarettes of popular brands are produced in Kachi Mohallah and sold in the rural areas near Peshawar.

The respondents estimated that 50 percent of the lubricants sold in Peshawar were adulterated. The counterfeiters obtained used lubricants from workshops and lubricant-changing stations and then boiled these in large containers, after mixing polythene bags in proper proportion to produce the desired adhesion, at their clandestine factories in Wazirbagh, Chamkani and Ring Road areas of Peshawar. They also mix various colours, so that the counterfeit lubricants resemble the intended counterfeiting brand.

A prominent feature of these counterfeited products was the availability of exact wrappers, labels and other packing material, skillfully prepared in Lahore and the Tribal Areas. The counterfeiters have not even spared the medicine sector, creating health hazards for the patients and posing serious administrative problems for the pharmaceutical companies. To plug the counterfeiting, the pharmaceutical companies have to frequently check and recheck the batch number of delivery, voucher, warranties, receipts and other documents with the wholesalers to determine the legal/formal delivery of drugs.

Counterfeiting and fake production also took place at the industrial level. Among the prominent products counterfeited at that level are electric irons, non-sticking cooking pots, popular cigarette brands and cosmetics of well-reputed companies. The counterfeit cigarettes were marketed by the tobacco companies in Swabi, electronics by concerns in Gadoon Industrial Estate and cosmetics by ventures in Swat.

Pakistani cloth was counterfeited under Japanese stamps. Millions of metres of Pakistani cloth is transported to the Tribal Areas from Punjab and Karachi for the fake of stamping and eventual sale in Bara markets throughout Pakistan as smuggled Japanese cloth. The counterfeiting has adverse fallout on the advertising revenue of publications, because some companies feared that advertising through newspapers would increase the sale of counterfeited products rather than theirs.

For curbing smuggling and counterfeiting, civil society activists call for rationalisation of taxes and duties, because they insist that high rates of taxes/duties often lead to the smuggling of products. Since smuggling and counterfeiting discouraged creativity, innovation and invention, as well as arrested growth of national economy by inflicting heavy losses upon the government, it is the need of the hour to curb these vices trough vigorous enforcement of law, deterrent punishment to criminals, rationalisation of duties/taxes and launching of motivational campaigns through the media.

(The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist.

Email:[email protected])

 

 

No hope in sight

How to ensure social protection for the poor is a million dollar question

 

By Sikandar Ali Hullio

One out of every four Pakistanis is poor and one out of every two is vulnerable to falling into the poverty trap. The question of just how many Pakistanis live in poverty has become something of a figurative football in recent years; various organisations and government agencies have smartly played the figures up or down to suit their vested interests.

Currently, the Planning Commission of Pakistan believes that about 35 percent of population lives below the poverty line, while the official survey of Finance Ministry says that only 22.3 percent are below the poverty line. Unofficially, free of political or bureaucratic bias, a recent survey by Centre for Research and Security says that "70 percent of the population is living just over, just on or just below the poverty line as defined at an income of $2 per day, and that 49 percent of the population lives in absolute poverty."

Responding to this poverty trap, the National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) was drafted in 2007 by the Government of Pakistan, which comprises a range of social nets in the shape of programmes and policies, social insurance plus assistance, and income transfers to poor and vulnerable households, while recognising that social protection has a major role to play in promoting pro-poor growth and tackling exclusion and inequality.

The NSPS also recognises that cash transfers and social care services are critical for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as for poverty reduction. In 2000, the Government of Pakistan signed the Millennium Declaration, along with other developing and poor countries, agreeing to change its policies for the welfare of the poor. Its goal number one was to eliminate poverty and hunger. But after eight years, the fact is that more and more people are being defaced or eliminated by hunger and poverty.

Worldwide, all countries are called upon to commit for drawing up of a Global Social Protection Strategy by 2010 to target the eradication of extreme poverty by 2025. In South Asia, many countries have introduced systems of social protection. Recent examples include India's Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill 2007, Nepal's Social Pension System and Afghanistan's draft Social Protection Strategy.

Social protection schemes have been shown to make a tangible difference. One of the most well-known cash transfer schemes in South Asia, Bangladesh's Female Secondary Education Programme, has contributed to increasing secondary school enrollment: retention rate of girl students almost doubled since its introduction in 1994. As a result of safety nets, poverty rates in South Asia have decreased remarkably. However, still over 400 million people remain under the poverty line, representing almost 40 percent of the world's poor.

For the current fiscal year, the Government of Pakistan has already envisaged an increase in spending on the social safety nets from 0.6 percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) to 0.9 percent of GDP. Under the NSPS, Pakistan has a network of direct and indirect social protection mechanisms. Direct provisions include employment-based guarantees (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution, Workers Welfare Fund and provincial social security benefits), direct transfers (Zakat and Pakistan Baitul Maal) and market-based interventions (microfinance schemes), including indirect provisions of the minimum wage and subsidy on flour through utility stores.

Over the years, funding for these safety nets, unfortunately, has been insufficient and irregular, with an already fragmented and duplicative target populations. This has also resulted in infrequent and irregular payments, including inadequate administrative arrangements, and poor monitoring and implementation capacity, negatively impacting implementation of these programmes, thus having limited impact on poverty and vulnerability.

According to second-generation Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2008-2011), currently under preparation at the Planning Commission of Pakistan, the budgetary pro-poor allocations for the financial year 2008-09 for various programmes have increased, but are still not enough to cater to all the population living below the poverty line. Rs 34 billion have been allocated to the Benazir Income Support Programme, Rs21.60 billion to the Punjab Food Support Scheme, Rs6 billion to the Pakistan Baitul Maal, Rs32.50 billion to the People's Rozgar Programme and Rs26 billion to the People's Works Programme.

This does not include low cost housing and sasti roti provisions, which are part of the proposed plan but have no specific allocations. Besides, the non-budgetary allocations for the year are, Rs6.523 billion for Zakat, Rs7.464 billion for the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution, Rs7.975 billion for the Workers Welfare Fund and Rs37 billion for micro-credit.

With these arrangements, the government has already increased the total allocation for various programmes under the NSPS. The Benazir Income Support Programme alone has been allocated Rs34 billion, which is more than the total allocations for all programmes last year. Moreover, a recently released International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Pakistan says that "the expenditure on the social safety net will be increased to protect the poor through both cash transfers and targeted electricity subsidies." Pakistan also plans to work with the World Bank to prepare a more comprehensive and better-targeted social safety net programme.

In March 2008, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani laid out a series of future commitments in his 100 days agenda, which included employment generation with the help of a new Employment Commission, to facilitate creation of jobs in the public and private sectors and to provide employment to one member of each poor family in half of the districts in the country; provision of labour laws as per requirements of the International Labour Organisation (minimum wage of Rs6,000 per month); amendments in the civil services regulations; development at union council level; low-cost housing; provision of medical insurance of Rs15,000-20,000 per year to the poor; and provision of financial assistance to widows and children of victims who lost their lives in terrorist attacks. In reality, most of these commitments remained only lofty targets.

Overall, these social safety programmes have failed to produce the desired impact on poverty alleviation over the last three decades, due to non-spending of appropriate percentage of GDP, which needs to be enhanced looking at the realistic not budged figures. High GDP growth rates alone would not be sufficient to reduce poverty; rather appropriate social policy measures are required to ensure that growth is pro-poor at the grassroots level. Moreover, the conventional top-down model of development has been a top impediment to engage the poor and marginalised segments to be an integral, effective part of development process in the country.

(The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance contributor.

Email: [email protected])

 

personality

A legacy of struggle

Benazir Bhutto was a visionary leader who resisted with courage the agenda of neo-colonial forces that want to make Pakistan a theocratic state incapable of progressing towards an egalitarian and democratic polity

 

By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr Ikramul Haq

December 27 marks the first death anniversary of the late Benazir Bhutto. In recognition of her services, the twice former prime minister of Pakistan was awarded posthumously the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Award, which is given every five years, on December 10. This year's award is also special because it coincides with 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Renowned scholar Prof Amin Mughal writes in his paper titled After Benazir Bhutto: Some Reflections: "I confess, in the least uncharitable terms, that I was never fond of Benazir Bhutto. In fact, I was inimical to her politics. In death, however, she has redeemed herself. In the imagination of the masses, she has acquired a mystical significance that is destined to be a never-ending source of inspiration in their struggles ahead.

"Most authentic martyrs in history were reluctant to die. All of them were, however, prepared to accept death. Benazir went further. Her detractors have accused her of being foolhardy. That is not true. She only embraced what she had in the last days of her life come to perceive to be her destiny. Hers was an act of courage steeled in deliberation and schooled in the imagination. It matters who killed her, but what matters more is that she knew she would be gunned down. Had she escaped death that day, the suicide bombers would have done her in sooner than later. Yet, she decided to take the risk. Again, it matters whether she died of the gun wound or was later levered down into death. But what matters more is that she was there, facing a possible killer. She did not flinch."

The act of courage demonstrated by Benazir Bhutto has been praised by many other scholars also. In fact, her assassination has changed the entire political scene of Pakistan. Some analysts and scholars believe that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated for resisting the agenda of the forces of obscurantism, working on the dictates of their neo-colonial masters. As we have all seen, her removal from the scene paved the way for the United States to get rid of General (r) Pervez Musharraf and install a government both willing to toe its line and implement its agenda.

In her last book published posthumously, titled Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, Benazir Bhutto tries "to trace the roots, causes and potential solutions to the crisis within the Muslim world, and the crisis between the Muslim World and the West." She quotes extensively from the Holy Quran to prove that Islam is a religion of peace that has been brutally abused by a handful of extremists to create chaos and disorder in the world.

In the book, Benazir Bhutto also explores the reasons for the increasing militancy among Muslims, and exposes the colonial and neo-colonial forces responsible for it. These views may have annoyed the forces bent upon destabilising the Muslim world for their nefarious designs, and the same may have used their proxies -- Islamic militants -- to get rid of her.

After Benazir Bhutto's assassination, which is still shrouded in mystery, there was euphoria among Pakistani liberals over the presumed 'return to democracy'. Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan, a visiting research scholar at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, notes with concern in his paper titled The Great Game Continues that these liberals "are yet to discover 'Late Neo-Colonialism'."

He argues that the removal of Benazir Bhutto easily manoeuvered Asif Ali Zardari's victory in the presidential elections that "brought to a high point the tortuous process of regime change in Pakistan. Anyone who has followed the 'colour revolutions' that installed pro-American rulers in Georgia (Rose Revolution, 2003), Ukraine (Orange Revolution, 2004) and Kyrgyzstan (Tulip Revolution, 2005) could surely not have missed the tell tale signs."

Dr Sathananthan's argument gets credence in the wake of events that took place after Benazir Bhutto's assassination and culminated in the recent Mumbai attacks. He rightly highlights that "the earliest foreboding surfaced in the backroom manoeuvres by the US and British intelligence services to engineer panic about the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets. It was a repeat of the duplicitous hysteria they generated over non-existent weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly possessed."

A carefully-worded article, co-authored by former US State Department officials Richard L Armitage and Kara L Bue, signalled the shift in the American policy. After formally acknowledging then-President Pervez Musharraf's many achievements, the authors write: "Much remains to be accomplished, particularly in terms of democratisation. Pakistan must eliminate the home-grown jihadists. And it must prove itself a reliable partner on technology transfer and nuclear non-proliferation." And the denouement: "We believe General Musharraf deserves our attention and support, no matter how frustrated we become at the pace of political change and the failure to eliminate Taliban fighters on the Afghan border. Translation: Musharraf has to go."

It was Washington's renewed interest in Zardari, and not Benazir, that forced Musharraf to offer firm opposition to America's 'Late Neo-Colonialism' to ravage Pakistan. According to Dr Sathananthan, "politically challenged Pakistani liberals -- a motley crowd that includes members of human rights and civil liberties organisations, journalists, analysts, lawyers and assorted professionals -- are utterly incapable of comprehending the geo-strategic context in which Musharraf manoeuvered to defend Pakistan's interest. So they slandered him an 'American puppet', alleging he caved in to US pressure and withdrew support to the Afghan Taliban regime in the wake of 9/11, although in fact he removed one excuse for the Bush Administration to 'bomb Pakistan into stone age', as a senior State Department official had threatened."

In view of the above, it is easily understandable why Benazir Bhutto decided to join hands with Pervez Musharraf to resist America's 'Late Neo-Colonialism'. The American discomfort with Musharraf's government was palpable by late 2003, after he dodged committing Pakistani troops to prop up the US-led invasion of Iraq. When he offered to cooperate under the auspices of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), naive Pakistani media and analysts lunged for his jugular, condemning him once again for succumbing to US demands. But, in fact, Musharraf nimbly sidestepped American demands: he calculated that diverse ideological stances of the 57 Muslim member counties would not allow the OIC to jointly initiate such controversial action and, therefore, the possibility of Pakistan's participation in the invasion of Iraq could not arise. His calculation later proved to be right.

Benazir Bhutto was fully aware that the Bush administration had been becoming increasingly hostile to Pervez Musharraf's determination to prioritise Pakistan's interests, when steering the ship of the state through the choppy waters of the unfolding 'New Great Game', in which the West -- led by the US -- has been manoeuvring to contain growing Russian and Chinese influences in Central and West Asia. She, therefore, decided to work with Musharraf for resisting the agenda of Pakistan-hostile forces and, as a result, became their prime target.

Since then, events have proved that Pakistan would side with enemies of the US in the 'New Great Game'. Benazir Bhutto became a victim of this game, in which her own party stalwarts also betrayed her. Hers was a legacy of struggle and we need to continue her legacy, for which we will have to resist the 'New Great Game' aimed at the control of South Asia by neo-colonial forces through the bogey of Muslim militants.

(The writers, researchers and historians, are visiting professors at LUMS.

Email:[email protected])

 

 

book review

The effects of incompleteness

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

 

Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer

Publisher: Random House India

Pages: 256

Price: Indian Rs395

First Edition: November 2008

 

American author and academic Alastair Lamb wrote of the Kashmir dispute as "incomplete partition". He wrote that had it not been for the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan and India might have worked out their differences and existed as two prosperous nations "evolving towards each other" -- which was the stated objective of partition in the first place -- instead of away from each other. The cleavage has instead widened and Kashmir remains etched in the consciousness of Indians and Pakistanis -- both anxious to claim it to complete themselves. So Basharat Peer's memoir epitomises the effect of this incompleteness that both Indians and Pakistanis have brought to bear on the lives of hapless Kashmiris.

Curfewed Night is a chronicle from the eyes of a Kashmiri growing up in the valley and watching it transform into a hotbed of violent militancy pitted against state oppression. It is also about people unwilling to lose their identity. What is it about identity anyway that causes people to sacrifice their future in its name? Identity is the most powerful mobilising force in history. But what happens when identity gets into a perpetual conflict with those who want to crush it? Does identity dissipate? Kashmir has been ill-served by India, Pakistan, the militants and even its own politicians, who have failed to work out a compromise. It has turned the serene valley into the bloodied nose of Asia.

Peer tells the story of this valley at peace in the 1980s, but also of the people who consciously refused to associate themselves with India. Then national identity had just one litmus test: which side were you on of Javed Miandad's famous last ball six at Sharjah? Peer describes the jubilation that his family and neighbourhood, as well as the whole valley, experienced when the "stocky" Pakistani batsman hit Chetan Sharma for a six to win Pakistan an impossible victory. Pakistan won and Kashmir jubilated. It wasn't just Pakistan; Kashmiris supported all teams that played against India. They rejected India more than they associated with Pakistan; a point often forgotten by Pakistanis. In subjection, Kashmiris held on to their identity and rejected the one imposed on them.

Peer's narrative then takes us into the 1990s, when militancy against Indian occupation takes full swing and India responds with the full force of state power. The valley of Kashmir becomes an endless maze of check-posts with gun totting Indian soldiers. As violence spreads, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the terror unleashed by the state forces and that which is inflicted by militancy. There, Peer's memoir becomes a cry for help rather than a cry for freedom, which many among militants and in Pakistan would like to hear. No one can remain a perpetual hostage to identity alone; that requires the determination of a mad person.

Peer's narrative evolves through personal experience. We meet the young Kashmiri child, at home with his own Kashmiri identity and yet paradoxically at peace with Indian occupation that he rejects; the Kashmiri teenager who is sick of living in fear of the Indian army and tries to become a militant; the young student at Aligarh who finds Indian Muslims out of touch with the reality in Kashmir; and finally the journalist who pens the memoir that tells it all.

To me, Curfewed Night echoes Khatirat by Zafar Hassan Aibak and Kala Pani: Tarikh-e-Ajeeb by Jafar Thanisari. The two earlier authors experienced similar subjection to the British rule, which they tried to overturn through violent militancy. However, they later became moderates because of exposure to the world. Theirs was a case of evolving in their identity and not out of it. Basharat Peer represents a similar evolution and thanks to it, he now can have his story heard by the world. A wrong turn somewhere and he would be a statistic like many young men and women of Kashmir.

The most poignant lesson, however, is a political one -- drawn both from Peer's personal story and the story of his people: militancy has but limited success in the way of any cause, especially when the same militancy leads to violence against those it claims to be liberating. The militants and their backers in Pakistan must make a note of this, and stop making the mess they have created in Kashmir. That said, a people have the right to govern themselves.

In Kashmir's case, the right to self-determination was conceded by India's first prime minister. No Indian leader has kept that pledge starting with Nehru himself, who imprisoned India's closest ally in Kashmir, Shaikh Abdullah, because the latter would not settle on Nehru's terms. Forced subjection of an unwilling group will continue to fuel the anger that leads to militancy harming the peace of the entire region. It is the responsibility of India, Pakistan and the world at large to solve what now is the oldest existing dispute on the United Nations' agenda. Kashmir's cry for help should not be ignored, because our collective future, particularly in India and Pakistan, is directly linked with it.


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