Perfunctory tut-tut
By Mushir Anwar
Society seems to be in a state of shock. We are behaving as if we have seen a dreadful nightmare, a hideous monster has made its appearance on the stage which was not in the act. No sir, let me submit, the Sialkot lynching and the recent bludgeoning to death of a businessman in Gujrat were not stray happenings, unscripted episodes in the horror drama we have been watching for more than a couple of decades now.

When a book guides a gun
In an exclusive interview, Baloch militant leader Dr Allah Nazar rubbishes allegations of killing moderate Baloch politicians as propaganda
By Sajid Hussain
Strangely, Dr Allah Nazar prefers books to guns. "I'd like to have both though. But if I have to choose one I'll prefer the book. It's the book which guides my gun," the 37-year-old militant leader tells this scribe via satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

education
Higher goals
The successes and failures of HEC aside, the higher education sector needs funds to transform Pakistan into a knowledge-based economy
By Aoun Sahi
Since 2002, after the establishment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) through a presidential ordinance, the higher education sector in Pakistan has undergone a dramatic change.

Truth seeker
A public intellectual of great integrity, Tony Judt was obsessed with big ideas all his life
By Dr Arif Azad
Tony Judt, professor of history at New York University, was a public intellectual of great integrity and ferocity. In him, the passion for truth seeking and public participation survived till the last day of his life despite suffering from a terminal muscle-wasting disease.

"No signal from the Presidency"
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi may have resigned from his ministry but he stands by what he said about the military and the judiciary
By Waqar Gillani
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, a senior politician of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and a four-time elected member National Assembly, lost his federal defence production ministry after his tirade against the military and the Chief Justice of Pakistan during a recent meeting with the media in Quetta.

 

 

A fallacious binary

Now is the time for Pakistan to make a choice -- not between secularism and Islam, but between progress which comes with reasoning and secularism, and religion which is anchored in anti-reasoning concepts and dictatorial concepts of governance

By Saqlain Imam

The word secularism seems to be the most contentious one in the Pakistani political culture. Anything that is anti-religion or non-religious is dubbed secular; it is understood as a Western concept with no direct connection with Islam; for example, some people might find some Christian or Judaic values or practices secular. The word is used in its smallest possible definition to the widest and wildest interpretations. But in all kinds of debates, one thing is common -- anti-secular groups use religion to justify non-democratic disposition of the state.

Although when we normally talk about secularism, it means governance that should stand separately from religion or religious beliefs, in the context of the Pakistani state, and indeed Pakistani society, the concept of secularism is widely, and perhaps deliberately, misconstrued.

It must be clearly understood right from the very beginning that religion, or in this case Islam, is not the only source to justify non-democratic governance. It depends on the peculiar circumstances of a nation and which forces are trying to use religion or secularism to support its non-democratic concepts of governance. Among Muslim states for instance, Turkey's army uses secularism to support its non-democratic role, so did Pakistan's Army in the 1960s. Currently, the Algerian government and Palestinian Authority are using secularism to strengthen their non-democratic role in their own systems of governance.

In Pakistan's case, the dominant argument for the non-democratic actors to influence the country's politics and governance is religion. This is not a suitable place to go into the details of how religion's narration replaced the secular narration in Pakistani politics, or whether there was ever a secular narration at all in the history of the people of South Asia. But the fact is that currently seculars are supporting democratic forces, while the religious forces are bent upon undermining the democratic disposition of the state, constitution and society.

Take the role of Pakistan Army; it is now known as a 'Jihadi' institution, its official motto is "Jihad Fi Sabil Lillah" (Jihad for the cause of Allah). Pakistan's Supreme Court's recent verdict on the NRO amply and loudly speaks that it wants to re-write the constitution where democracy should be subordinate to the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah. Few people have realised that it's a step to advance General Zia-ul-Haq's doctrine in a much bolder manner. General Zia made the "amended" Objective Resolution an operational part of the constitution through undemocratic means.

How did that happen to the extent that today we are constrained to believe that everything here in this land of pure is Islamic is not the subject of this article. Right now, the issue is not how the idea of Pakistan was conceived or what Quaid-e-Azam had actually thought about what Pakistan was meant to be. Currently, the issue is what we have been led to believe and by what means. This is not an occasion to analyse how the history has been constructed. Some great writers and historians have already done some tremendously impressive work, which, unfortunately, is rarely read by our discussants and young writers.

This is the time to suggest that the binary construction of secularism versus Islam itself is a flawed one. Relying on a very common concept of secularism -- according to which the government should exist separately from religion or religious beliefs -- Kosmin, Barry A writes in "Contemporary Secularity and Secularism": "In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and the right to freedom from governmental imposition of religion upon the people within a state that is neutral on matters of belief. In another sense, it refers to the view that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on evidence and fact unbiased by religious influence."

If we look at the practice of the first state of the Muslims, we would starkly notice that this sort of binary construction on secularism and Islam did not exist, though both, apparently opposite, concepts were the basis of the State of Medina founded by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The state was founded by Muhammad, not as a man but as a prophet; his dominant authority as an arbiter was established because he was a prophet, but at the same time non-Muslims were given equal rights. If we take the state that existed during the days of the prophet then the Charter of Medina should be the guiding document for the Muslims. This document, however, is very rarely quoted by our religious scholars as it could possibly be termed the first secular document of Muslims' history.

The issue of secularism entered our parlance when we encountered modern Western discourses where church's political power was constrained to the church only and it was made to accept the limited power of the monarch; not to rule the state with his divine rights. Instead of this, the West took up a clear concept of reasoning to govern the issues of the state. Hence, the emergence of secularism in Western politics was a victory of reasoning, and that changed the whole power structure across the world. However, the oriental societies remained anchored with their traditional wisdom; the direct consequence of this anti-secularism was their backward in all sciences.

Now the choice for the Pakistani state and diaspora is not whether Islam is our identity or raison d'être. It's a decision about whether Pakistan needs to progress or not. The choice is between facing the world or a dead-end. One can keep Muslim identity while choosing a secular system of governance, because this would ensure the society to open ways of reasoning and progress in all fields including sciences, technology, politics, economics and the modern day challenges of futuristic technology.

With a dictatorship, even if it's Islamic, we cannot progress, because with dictatorship the power of reasoning is doomed. In Pakistan's context, dictatorship and reasoning cannot go together.

Some Muslims believe that by accepting the dominance of reasoning over their plethora of knowledge of Islam, they would be accepting the defeat of the Quran! It's one of the fundamental fallacies which cropped up as a result of the fallacious binary construction (secularism vs. religion). The Quran itself asks on more than one occasion to think, apply mind and reason out. So the Quran doesn't cap a Muslim's mind; it's the dictatorial undercurrents in Muslim societies which project reason and secularism as antithetical to Islam or religion. Turkey's change towards secularism was not a revolt against Islam; it was rather against the anti-reasoning of the Ottoman Empire in the previous decades which made Ataturk and his fellows to remove the Islamic identity that had become a synonym to anti-reasoning.

Now is the time for Pakistan to make a choice, not between secularism and Islam, but between progress which comes with reasoning and secularism, and religion which is anchored in anti-reasoning concepts and dictatorial concepts of governance. Pakistanis will not discard Islam or their Muslim identity when they choose secularism; instead they would discard dictatorial undercurrents once they are secular. Their religion, Islam, will never be in danger. The decision for secularism will be made by Muslim Pakistanis, so there would be a new kind of secularism, not the one which is practiced in the West.

A hostile approach to secularism has reduced Islam to rituals and hard core system of beliefs in which reasoning and free thinking are considered anathemas. This has also placed Islam as an equivalent of several irrational systems of beliefs where human being, who is considered "Ashrafal Makhluqat" (best of the creations) in Islam, is sacrificed at the altar of the church of Islam, an institution that does not exist in the Islam of Muhammad (PBUH). However, if a friendly approach is made towards secularism, Islam can discover its potentials hidden in its practices. For instance, Hajj, currently a big ritual where millions of Muslims get together every year ends up with no concrete results for humanity!

One wonders if Muslims could hold seminars, debates and speeches on the real issues confronting them on the occasion of Hajj at Mecca, this would open up the power of reasoning and will also help Muslims across the world to contribute positively in the affairs of the world. This would not only be a fusion of secularism and religion, a logical evolution, but will also help abridge the gaps between different faiths, communities and sects at the same time. But since that fusion of secularism and Islam can possibly deprive the non-democratic forces in the Muslim societies of the power to suppress free thinking and reasoning, therefore, they would never allow it.

So if anyone wants to fight for the progress of Muslim societies, he or she will have no choice but to fight against dictators and discard the binary concept of the secularism versus religion in order to ensure the victory of reasoning.

The writer is a senior journalist.

Perfunctory tut-tut

By Mushir Anwar

Society seems to be in a state of shock. We are behaving as if we have seen a dreadful nightmare, a hideous monster has made its appearance on the stage which was not in the act. No sir, let me submit, the Sialkot lynching and the recent bludgeoning to death of a businessman in Gujrat were not stray happenings, unscripted episodes in the horror drama we have been watching for more than a couple of decades now.

The sadists who salivated at the Sialkot blood and bone orgy whose behaviour is causing so much moral consternation in the civil society just happened to be there in the front row of the theatre of which we all are the general audience, back up to the dress circle where the rulers sit. We have all been watching the matinee show from the trailer of General Zia's popular 'tiktiki' to the beheadings in Swat by the pious Taliban. And there is no dearth among the believers of people who not only justify these practises but pray for the establishment of this system in the country. Just go and listen to the Friday sermons in most mosques of the land.

The killing, lynching and burning of innocent citizens has been going on since the early days when the army took control of Lahore to save the Ahmadis from organised gangs the pulpit was despatching to cleanse the land of the followers of this sect. Was anyone punished for killing fellow citizens and torching their houses? General Azam dealt with the situation firmly. But that was the last time probably that the state had shown its muscle to establish its writ. It brought a semblance of sectarian peace in the country, but for a time.

Later on when mob justice became the law on Karachi streets and gangs freely burnt buses and vehicles involved in road accidents, the state just looked on and dismissed that as an urban phenomenon, making hardly any effort to catch the culprits. Gradually as Karachi's politics took an ethnic turn and mayhem became the order of the day, we in distant Islamabad comforted ourselves that the daily appearance of mutilated corpses in gunny bags would remain confined to that metropolis. In the horror movies Ghouls make no sound walking. They keep gaining ground.

Bhutto's controversial end shook the foundations of popular faith in justice and murder came to be seen as a convenient solution of complex social and political problems. Men like Hakim Saeed and Rais Amrohvi were killed. They were non controversial persons but they were punished as if for serving society. They had no other fault.

The sight of zealots of a politico-religious party distributing sweets on the morning of Bhutto's hanging was the nadir of callous piety. It was a sad day. Henceforth fair would be foul and foul, fair.

That was a turning point. Though the religious right insisted that Bhutto's elimination from the scene would purify society, what actually happened was their pious hopes' negation. With mercy and compassion exiled from the land, Pakistan became an unforgiving, revengeful and perverse society in which hypocrisy bleached out any vestige of colour, giving life the bland and dour face we prefer to be known by the world over.

The Taliban phase was the next mutilation of our human side. We helped them seize power in Kabul. The takeover ceremony was performed by butchering Dr Najibullah to death, dragging his body through the city and then hanging it upside down for the pious to throw filth and spit on his face. It was removed from there when the corpse started rotting.

Deluded by the naïve thought the Mujahideen had made Moscow kneel down, the clergy on this side was nursing ideas about Islamabad. Swat and Malakand had been conquered where ritual beheadings and stoning to death of sinners had become a daily public spectacle. Videos of this gruesome justice were available on mobile phones which the devout carried in their pockets to show around and prepare the young for jihad.

Finding state legitimacy in short supply, two clerics on government payroll established a parallel government in Islamabad's Lal Masjid. Religious politicians who saw a chance there egged them on to challenge the state. Had the state not acted ultimately, we can imagine what would have happened. Even without them, Islamabad is a besieged, unsafe city. Thousands of innocent people have been killed in mosques, imambargahs, hospitals, market places, banks and hotels. Target killings in Karachi and Balochistan daily devastate families. We watch wailing women sitting around coffins of sons. Their lament drowns in mobile phone jingles. Our days begin with gore and end with scattered limbs. The police find the bomber's skull to gloat over.

Even flood ravaged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not touched their hearts of stone or slaked their thirst for human blood. When the waters were just receding reviving hope among the victims, the Taliban orchestrated a series of suicide bombings to crush the people's spirit by killing innocent men, women and children (in Laki Marwat) minutes after Iftar, showing scant regard for the ushra-e-nijaat of the holy month of fasting. And this, while their mentors were earning laurels for charity work in flood affected areas. Ah, the masquerade, the imposture! The marauding wolves in sheep's clothing! And the namby-pamby naivety of some of us in comparing this nautanki of social work with the countrywide services of the army and foreign aid agencies! Just listen to the loaded Friday sermons, the blatant justifications for the killing fields and the absolutely nauseating affront of their reluctant and conditional condemnation of suicide attacks which is as perfunctory as the sham chorus of tut-tuts at the Sialkot and Gujrat horrors whose dramatic crescendo is proving useful in helping to drown the uproar at the target killings in Karachi and Quetta.

 

When a book guides a gun

In an exclusive interview, Baloch militant leader Dr Allah Nazar rubbishes allegations of killing moderate Baloch politicians as propaganda

By Sajid Hussain

Strangely, Dr Allah Nazar prefers books to guns. "I'd like to have both though. But if I have to choose one I'll prefer the book. It's the book which guides my gun," the 37-year-old militant leader tells this scribe via satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

Claiming to derive inspiration from Mongol warrior and conqueror Changez Khan, he says, "Changez Khan may not be a perfect human being and I don't like much of his actions, yet I admire his war tactics. He was a great military strategist."

Dr Allah Nazar, blamed by the government for the assassination of Maula Bakhsh Dashti, Habib Jalib and other moderate politicians, has denied killing his political opponents. "It's the government's propaganda. I don't believe in eliminating political opponents. I'm a political worker, not a bandit and I've taken up arms for a political ideology," he stresses.

Apart from the government and military authorities, the National Party (NP) has also held Dr Nazar responsible for the murder of its leader Maula Bakhsh Dashti in Turbat. Some media reports suggest the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), a militant group believed to be headed by Dr Nazar, claimed responsibility for the killing. However, this politician-cum-militant leader says the NP was providing "an excuse to the military to knock him out".

"I've worked with Maula Bakhsh Dashti and other leaders of the NP during my student life. I've had political differences with them since then, but it doesn't mean I'll kill them for having ideas other than mine. I believe in political process and I'll prefer to persuade them through dialogue."

"Even Jalib Sahib's Balochistan National Party has held Pakistan military and intelligence outfits responsible for his assassination."

Believed to be the most influential figure among the radical Baloch youth, Dr Nazar belongs to a middle-class family from Mashkay, a town in the Awaran district, Balochistan. He started his political career as a member of the students' wing of the Balochistan National Movement (BNM), now the National Party. After parting ways with the then BNM, Dr Nazar formed his own faction of the Baloch Students Organistaion in 2001. He openly advocated an armed struggle for liberating Balochistan till 2003 -- when he went into hiding to organise his own militant group. His Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) made headlines when it claimed responsibility for killing three Chinese engineers in Gwadar on May 2, 2004.

He claims he has never been approached for talks by the government or military authorities.

Dr Nazar was picked up by intelligence agencies on March 25, 2005 from a flat in the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area in Karachi. After having remained missing for around year, he resurfaced on August 12, 2006 and was jailed in Quetta for several months. After his release on bail, he went into hiding again, where he says he "witnessed slavery and oppression very closely in those torture cells," says a bitter Dr Nazar. And now "The aim of my life is to purge Balochistan of Punjabi Army."

Does he work on an Indian agenda to destabilise Pakistan? He rubbishes this allegation and adds: "It's now an outdated allegation. Whenever the Baloch rise up for their rights, they are dubbed as Indian agents. But it has now been acknowledged that it's an indigenous movement."

So then where does he get cash and weapons from to run his militant group? He says he would appreciate any help from anyone -- but would not work in "anybody else's interest, except Baloch".

He reveals Baloch women have also joined them in their fight against, what he calls, slavery. "According to my estimate, we enjoy the support of 80 percent of the Baloch masses. And the popularity of our cause is growing with each passing day," adding the Baloch Liberation Front, Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army and other lesser known Baloch militant groups will unite at a later stage to wage a more organised and sophisticated war for Balochistan's independence.

 

 

 

education

Higher goals

The successes and failures of HEC aside, the higher education sector needs funds to transform Pakistan into a knowledge-based economy

By Aoun Sahi

Since 2002, after the establishment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) through a presidential ordinance, the higher education sector in Pakistan has undergone a dramatic change.

Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, a chemist at the University of Karachi and the then federal minister for science and technology, was given the task to overhaul universities. Pervez Musharraf, then the chief executive, fully backed the idea of Dr Atta and funding in the higher education sector was increased fivefold. The HEC introduced different scholarship programmes for students who wanted to get higher education abroad. The HEC set aside money for PhD students and started a tenure-track system that would give qualified professors a monthly salary of around Rs 80,000 to 350,000.

Dr Atta believes the reforms in higher education sector have brought remarkable results. The number of universities has increased from 58 to 127 since 2003, and new institutes focusing on proteomics and agricultural research have been developed. "Between 2003 and 2009, Pakistan produced 3,200 PhDs -- more than the number of PhDs produced since independence. More than 7,000 PhD students are enrolled now at home and abroad. Meanwhile, the number of scientific research publications has increased from roughly 800 in 2002 to more than 4,000 in 2009. The enrollment in our universities used to be only 135,000 in 2003 that has reached more than 400,000 now," says Dr Atta.

According to him, three of the Pakistan's universities were ranked among the top 300 in the world in Natural Sciences in 2009 (Karachi University 223, NUST 260, QAU, 270), whereas none had any rankings prior to 2003 (Times, UK Higher Education Rankings 2009). "I was and still am very clear if the nation could mobilize its universities, it could transform from a poor agricultural state into a knowledge-based economy."

Officials of the University of Karachi's Natural Sciences Department believe the HEC's role was very important in elevating the university's status in world ranking. "The HEC's scholarships for indigenous PhD students and grants for research and publication helped boost research activities in our institutions. Besides helping us to establish new research institution, the HEC also facilitated us to acquire state of the art equipment for these research institutions," says Shahana Urooj Kazmi, a biologist and pro-vice chancellor at the University of Karachi.

At present, more than 35 research projects have been running in Natural Sciences Department of the university and Kazmi is not sure about the fate of these projects. "We have not been getting enough funding from the HEC since 2009 and even facing problems in getting funds for PhD students of the past three years. The research instruments in different institutions also need money to remain in running condition. We may cut down some of the projects and decrease the number of the students to keep some of the very important projects intact," she says.

The universities have been finding it tough to keep the research projects intact as the present government has refused to release even the promised HEC money for the second consecutive year leaving the entire system of higher education on the brink of collapse. Last year, the government had committed Rs22.5 billion for the HEC, but could release only Rs11.5 billion. This year, Rs15.7 billion had been allocated against the demand of Rs 30 billion, but only Rs2.1 billion have been released for the first quarter of the year against the need of Rs5 billion and that was done only when vice-chancellors of 71 public universities threatened to resign. It may be worth mentioning that the annual budget of National University of Singapore is $3.5 billion (more than Rs 30 billion). The government of Pakistan's own education policy that was released in 2009 says that by 2015 spending on education sector will be increased form 2 percent to 7 percent of GDP and the number of students getting higher education would also be doubled which means we need to double the number of universities in coming five years. At present, Pakistan has been spending only 7 percent of the education budget on higher education sector which should at least be 20 percent according to international standards.

The government has also been asking the universities that they would have to concentrate on other resource generation opportunities such as by selling surplus lands, going for public-private partnerships or even increasing student fees. "Students' fees make only 4 percent of the total budget of our university and even if we increase it by 100 percent, its share in our budget will remain less than 10 percent. It will also decrease the number of youth hailing from middle class to get university education many folds", says Shahana Kazmi. "I am not against resource generation for universities, but it will not be done in a day and will take at least two years."

This sudden funding crunch has left supporters and opponents arguing over the utility of this experimentation in higher education sector of Pakistan. Architects of this institution say that the infusion of money has revived our deteriorating universities. But the opponents believe that the numbers do not tell the entire story and this experiment is, in fact, a wastage of resources incorporated with corruption that has resulted in more harm than good.

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physicist at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, who was initially supportive of the HEC, is now its most prominent critic. On September 25, 2010, he wrote an article for a newspaper in which he termed this experiment a splendid boom to painful bust. "After 9/11, the world suddenly realised that something was dreadfully wrong with Pakistan. Foreign donor agencies and governments tripped over each other to offer aid for education, fearing that an uneducated and unskilled Pakistan could become an epicentre of terrorism. Their thinking went like this: more money, better universities, less terrorism and a cash-laden tsunami soon hit Pakistan's public universities. Spending money became confused with progress. Expensive scientific equipment was imported that, years later, lies unused," he wrote in his article.

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy has been critical of the HEC policies since 2005 and he has raised several questions. He has also been quoted as saying that professors have enrolled PhD students simply for the cash stipends they can claim, that plagiarism has increased and that standards have dropped. There are some evidences to support his claim. In 2007, the HEC cut the funding of the University of the Punjab, Lahore, as its administration refused to take action against the teachers and students found guilty of plagiarism.

"I know some cases of professors enrolling PhD students only to earn money. They encourage students for plagiarism instead of doing original research. Most of the research journals are also not up to international standards and are being used by teachers to publish research articles to get promotions," says a teacher of the University of the Punjab on condition of anonymity.

It is undeniable that some mistakes were made by the HEC during its course of reshaping the universities in the country. But according to an editorial of the September issue of the Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific magazines in the world, much was achieved in Pakistan in higher education sector after the establishment of the HEC.

Dr Suhail Naqvi, Executive Director HEC, while talking to TNS, says that so far more than $3 billion have been spent on higher education sector since 2002. "Most of the chunk was provided by the government of Pakistan and not by donor agencies. A $100 million loan was provided by the World Bank in 2008-09 and $45 by USAID last year. We are now in advanced stages of working out a $300 million loan from the World Bank to support higher education in Pakistan."

He is of the view that it is easy to criticise the HEC, but to come to a fair conclusion we need to see the facts. "We have seen 1000 percent increase in citations from the research done in Pakistan." Naqvi says the government has assured to fund the PhD scholars already enrolled. Projects that have been 80-90 percent complete will be finished. "Government wants to support HEC, though they have been finding it tough because of economic depression and floods. But we can't let go waste the investment of billions of rupees we have done in higher education sectors during the last 8 years. We need to understand that spending on higher education should not be termed expenditures, but investment," Naqvi concludes.


Truth seeker

A public intellectual of great integrity, Tony Judt was obsessed with big ideas all his life

By Dr Arif Azad

Tony Judt, professor of history at New York University, was a public intellectual of great integrity and ferocity. In him, the passion for truth seeking and public participation survived till the last day of his life despite suffering from a terminal muscle-wasting disease.

Not many months before his death in August, he thought it appropriate to his role as a public intellectual to denounce Israeli's handling of Turkish flotilla through the pages of New York Times. Being a Zionist Jewish in his youth, Tony Judt had come a long way from that position to the one he espoused in the pages of NYT. This act denoted his commitment to intellectual honesty and engagement in public affairs. All his life he was obsessed with truth seeking and large ideas, adopting some of them with great consistency, although with skepticism. In the end, he grew tired of orthodox Marxism, Zionism and European Union project and sought to bring a new intellectual impulse to all these ideologies. He morphed from a Marxist to a praise singer of social democracy, and from an ardent Zionist to a strident critic of Israel.

Judt was truly a cosmopolitan intellectual, with universal social and political impulses running through his make-up. Born to working Jewish parents in 1938 in East London, he made it to Cambridge which played a large part in shaping him. From an early age, he fell under the spell of words and used them to great effect and precision in his verbal and written intervention. The next stop after Cambridge was France where he began to think like publicly engaged European intellectual in the tradition of French intellectuals which formed bulk of his academic work in early years. His fascination with ideas and healthy skepticism of received ideas grew out of his specialist academic work on French left intellectuals. This was to see a string of books on French left which established his academic reputation. During this period, he also took to ardent Zionist causes before developing doubts about his attachment to any fixed ideology, be it religion or Marxism (he always loved intellectuals who were equally skeptical of orthodoxies).

The blend of attachment to intellectual ideas and skepticism of political positions marked his career and contributed rare brilliance to his publicly engaged writings. Tony Judt stayed in England till 1987.

In 1988, he moved to New York to teach at the New York University which provided him a fertile ground for his ceaseless intellectual productivity. It was in the US that Judt began to re-imagine Europe and pour himself into public issues on the US political scene. This was to play out, on the one hand, in critiquing pro-Israel intellectual discourse in the US, and on the other, taking a hard look at Europe from a detached distance. His brave public stance on Israel's state earned him the ire of powerful Jewish lobby which resulted in Judt being removed from the masthead of New Republic. Though this did not deter him from sparring with those he profoundly disagreed with on issues of the day.

With Robert Sliver's edited New York Review of Books offering him a writing platform, he flowered as an essayist and a public intellectual, contributing finest writings on a vast range of subjects. Besides contributing essays to NRB, he also began work on his magnum opus: Postwar, history of Europe after the Second World War – always a work in progress since he left Europe for America.

This work was to take more than two decades before seeing the light of the day. When the book finally hit bookstands, it became quite a sensation for a different kind of history which interwove intellectual and political history of Europe in one big sweeping narrative, without shutting Eastern Europe out of the narrative, which was usually the case with mainstream historiography. The book, released in 2005, received favourable critical notices for its wide erudition, and remains one of the finest histories of Europe written so far.

Similarly, Iraq war did not leave him untouched. Through his powerful pen, he denounced intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens who had allied themselves with Bush in an article contributed to London Review of Book (LRB) titled 'Bush Useful Idiots'.

Judt's great contribution to political and intellectual thought was somewhat eclipsed by the last two years of his life which were blight by a rare motor neuron disease. The disease, wasting him incrementally, also provided him opportunity to range over his life with great deal of urgency. His essays dictated from his death bed form a sparking collection of a great mind in gradual erosion. Rather than showing self pity, he plunged headlong into mining the life of the mind. For someone raised and nurtured on words, and who took immense delight in using them in speech and books, the loss of words was acutely and painfully felt by Tony Judt in his fatal illness. No better tribute to the power of words has emanated from anyone else except Judt's in the New York Review of Books.

His long lecture on the nature of European democracy and its comparison with US democracy, delivered from a wheel chair, was a clear sighted exposition on the origins of social democracy in Europe. Tony Judt maintained that social democracy in Europe was formed on the worldview of Keynesian in the post-war Europe in which uncertainty led to the formation of a welfare state. The opposite was free market, minimal state which grew out of Hayek experience.

I keep referring to his recent writings for finding clarity in the chaos of things. With world growing banal and superficial, the genius of Tony Judt shall be sorely missed.

Dr Arif Azad is Chief Executive of the Network for Consumer Protection [email protected]

 

"No signal from the Presidency"

Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi may have resigned from his ministry but he stands by what he said about the military and the judiciary

By Waqar Gillani

Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, a senior politician of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and a four-time elected member National Assembly, lost his federal defence production ministry after his tirade against the military and the Chief Justice of Pakistan during a recent meeting with the media in Quetta.

On September 25, a day before the government was expected to submit a summary in the Supreme Court on National Reconciliation Order (later the government did not present it seeking more time for legal consultation), Jatoi castigated the military and the judiciary, holding the institutions part of a conspiracy to destabilise the PPP regime.

Following his press conference, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani immediately summoned him to Islamabad and requested him to clarify his statement -- or resign from the cabinet. Jatoi opted for resignation.

The News on Sunday spoke to Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, the controversial MNA from Muzaffargarh, after the episode.

The News on Sunday: What happened on September 25?

Abdul Qayyum Jatoi: I was in Quetta to attend a family wedding. While there, I paid a courtesy call to the sons of late Nawaz Akbar Bugti. During the meeting, some journalists said "boots" (a symbolic term used for martial law) were coming. The journalists asked for my views on martial law. I replied, boots have nothing to do with the country's politics. I still stand by what I said then.

TNS: Why blame the army?

AQJ: The army is supposed to safeguard Pakistan's boundaries and it should not intervene in politics. We have given them guns to use on the border, not on us. I will always criticise army for interventions to derail democracy. I wanted to say Ziaul Haq and Musharraf had killed ZAB, Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti, but in haste I uttered the word army.

TNS: And why criticise the judiciary? Was it pre-planned? Did you get signals from the presidency?

AQJ: No. No signals from the presidency at all. All over the world, judiciary is supposed to resolve problems, but here we see judiciary creating problems. Are these not the same judges who took oath under Provincial Constitutional Order (PCO) during the Musharraf regime, much before the CJ was removed and emergency was imposed? I pray to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to make judiciary proactive to safeguard public interest and let democracy work.

TNS: You have also talked about "equality in corruption" rather than accountability. Why?

AQJ: Corruption started in this country after 1977. There is no accountability of any institution including army, politicians and judiciary. I believe if there is no accountability of all, there should be equal opportunity of corruption for all. There should be equality in corruption instead of discrimination. Why only blame the PPP for corruption? Have we ever held other intuitions accountable for corruption?

TNS: How do you evaluate the performance of your government in the past two and a half year?

AQJ: The democratic setup must continue. The prime minister and the government are doing well in serving the masses. Twenty seven, out of 32, points of Charter of Democracy (CoD) have been implemented, Balochistan package has been announced to give Baloch their rights, an agreement with Iran for the supply of gas has been signed, National Finance Commission has been decided and historic 18th Amendment has been approved by the parliament. These are big achievements. Things can be further improved if we are given more time.

TNS: So you do think the PPP can be blamed for poor performance?

AQJ: We are fighting on many fronts -- media, judiciary, establishment, war on terror; and now floods. The PPP has ruled only for 10 years against the 50-year rule of the establishment, and all big decisions were made during the PPP regimes.

TNS: How do you think the political scene will evolve in the near future?

AQJ: This tension will continue for another two to three months and then things will come to normal. We need to identify the elements that are conspiring against the PPP by provoking the army and judiciary against it. Let me tell you, this country will not survive if democracies continue to be derailed.

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