comment
Dance on my friend
What is it about this ‘Yeh hum Naheen’
campaign that makes it
so inherently different from my neighbour’s dance video?
By Ameem Lutfi
I am saying no to terrorism, because Ali Zafar has asked me to.
Switch your television set to any channel that is currently wearing a green logo to show off its patriotic side, chances are if you watch them long enough (which essentially means having to claw through a million telecom and cola advertisements) you’re bound to catch a glimpse of the ‘anti-terrorism’ campaign titled ‘Yeh hum Naheen — Say no to terrorism’.

Taal Matol
Rashogullah!
By Shoaib Hashmi
If the first impression of Delhi is that one’s mind has wandered off somewhere in the middle of Lahore, then the one in Kolkatta is that one has lost one’s way somewhere in Karachi. There are parts of Karachi, once mostly populated by the Bohris and the Parsis, which are full of prosperous but genteel and discreet houses and quiet side lanes which still smell of gentle people living civilised lives. Well that is what most of Kolkatta seems like.

It doesn’t add up
A special audit initiated by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has unearthed misuse of local
governments funds worth billions of rupees
By Ali Waqar
With the future of local governments at risk after the shift in the political scenario following the general elections, the Punjab government has initiated a ‘special audit’ of the five city district governments, 30 district governments and 144 Tehsil and Town Municipal Administrations (TMAs) throughout the province.
Of the Rs13.27 billion identified misappropriations and irregularities unearthed in 74 Tehsil/Town Municipal Administrations (TMAs) of the local governments through special audit of an 18 month period, conducted by the newly elected Punjab government, about Rupees eight billion has been misused only in 21 TMAs of the province, TNS learnt from sources in the Punjab Government.

feature
Chimera of peace

The violence that is rapidly engulfing large parts of Jammu and Kashmir, set off by a controversial government decision to grant a tract of land to a temple trust in Kashmir, threatens to totally disrupt the already tenuous inter-communal relations in the region. This has frightening portents particularly for those parts of the state where Hindus and Muslims both live in substantial numbers, such as Rajouri, Poonch and Doda, all in the Jammu province.

Reform or perish
“Police reform in South Asia is too important to neglect and too urgent to delay”, concludes a
recently published report
By Asad Jamal
“Feudal Forces: Democratic Nations — Police Accountability in Commonwealth South Asia”, is a study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to ‘the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth’.
The study mainly focuses on the mechanism of accountability of police in legal frameworks in five South Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives (Commonwealth South Asia).

 

I am saying no to terrorism, because Ali Zafar has asked me to.

Switch your television set to any channel that is currently wearing a green logo to show off its patriotic side, chances are if you watch them long enough (which essentially means having to claw through a million telecom and cola advertisements) you’re bound to catch a glimpse of the ‘anti-terrorism’ campaign titled ‘Yeh hum Naheen — Say no to terrorism’.

Watching the numerous pop-industry and television glitterati grooving with an all so made-up earnestness, in a bid to show yeh hum naheen, reminds me of a sixteen-year-old neighbour of mine who would put up his dance videos on Youtube with the tag line “I dance for world peace, my dance is actually my way of fighting terrorism.” While my neighbor’s ridiculous claim is sure to get a laugh out of anyone, the more illustrious stars inundating the Yeh hum Naheen campaign demand zealous support from all those who disapprove of the ‘terrorists’ and their terrorising ways.

What is it about this campaign that makes it so inherently different from my neighbour’s dance video? And would my neighbour’s performance lose any of its comical character had it been officially endorsed by the Yeh Hum Naheen campaign?

As per the campaign’s website, the purpose of the whole song and dance routine is twofold: to dissuade other fellow Pakistanis from following on the path of the terrorists, and to show the world, by which they mean America, that Yeh Hum Naheen. Once you huff away the glitter, I am of the opinion that you will find both of the intended purposes of the campaign problematic in several ways.

Firstly, by taking up the cause of promoting the more civil and hence liberal side of Pakistani society and alienating the not-so-civil side for the appeasement of the West, the campaign gives into one of the underlying demands of the West — to prove that we are not with the ‘enemies’ and that we are loyal enough. Am I being too critical of their message; after all, what is the need to break the “being Muslim equals being a terrorist” stereotype? Perhaps I am; but I am greatly bothered by campaigns such as this that continue to keep us on the back foot when facing the West. Why should we continue to speak in an apologetic tone? Why should we continue to be on the defensive?

This is just my personal politics talking; ignore this argument if you feel that we cannot afford to be on the front foot when facing the West.

A debate on the value of the campaigns’ other goal — to condemn terrorism in a bid to convince possible future ‘terrorists’ that suicide bombing is a definite no no — would lead us into a discussion which would not be limited to this campaign alone, but will incorporate all such campaigns intended to ‘educate’ the portions of population that ‘missed the train to modernity’ and need the help of the ‘civil society’ to bring them up at par with the rest of world.

Campaigns such as the one mentioned above, along with other morally-charged advertisement campaigns, such as the various women’s rights campaigns intended to ‘empower’ the women and to educate them about their rights, confuse me. Because I can never seem to figure out who their intended audience is.

I know it can not be the civil society for it is already the most conscious portion of the society when it comes to ‘human rights’. Contrary to what a lot of people might feel, ‘civil society’ is not a term created by our news anchors to refer to the sunglasses-wearing portion of the population. This term has been at the back of numerous post-modern and even post-enlightenment debates and carries with it a lot of theoretical and historical baggage. According to the famous post-colonial historian Partha Chatterjee, civil society in post-colonial states such as Pakistan and India is essentially a ‘bourgeois society...restricted to a small section of culturally equipped citizens.” I too subscribe to this definition of civil society given by Chatterjee. Civil society is the portion of the population that is perhaps closest to the western model of modernity and hence the most aware about their rights as citizens.

Thus if the campaigns are not meant for the civil society, which does not have any ‘catching up’ to do, then they have to be aimed at the portion of the population living outside the circle of civil society in communities. These communities in many ways are antithetical to civil society. While civil society is a space for autonomous associations, community is a space for ascriptive associations. Civil society is a space of contracts whereas community is a space of clientelism.

These ‘rights’ campaigns and morally-loaded advertisements are either based on an understanding of the entire population as being comprised of civil-society alone or a belief that the entire population should at least ascribe to the values of the civil society. What is missing from these campaigns is an understanding of the dominant relationship structures existent within these societies, which are all too alien for our civil-society walas. Most of these campaigns are based on the model of individualism even though strong community bonds continue to be the dominant relationship model.

If these campaigns had any understanding of these ‘alien’ communities, they would know that Ali Zafar’s vocals, however wonderful they maybe, cannot lead to change in heart. If they knew anything about their intended audience, which I have presumed are these para-civil-society communities, communities that produce deviants such as these ‘extremists’; they would know that none of the suicide bombers cared about what Hadiqa Kayani thought of them. So until these campaigns stop being petty ‘feel-good’ schemes for those associated with them and start to work towards bringing about real change, I would say to my dancing neighbour: dance on my friend; I for one can surely use a good laugh.

 

Taal Matol
Rashogullah!

If the first impression of Delhi is that one’s mind has wandered off somewhere in the middle of Lahore, then the one in Kolkatta is that one has lost one’s way somewhere in Karachi. There are parts of Karachi, once mostly populated by the Bohris and the Parsis, which are full of prosperous but genteel and discreet houses and quiet side lanes which still smell of gentle people living civilised lives. Well that is what most of Kolkatta seems like.

By now you must know that I am not a historian by training, nor a geographer for that matter, but it does not require a trained eye to speculate that Calcutta/Kolkatta was the first city to be established by the British in the subcontinent. And the clinching argument is that smack in the middle of the metropolis there is a huge park, called Maidaan which just means ground! Only the Brits thought of such things a la Lawrence Gardens in Lahore.

The Maidaan is big enough to have tucked in one small corner of the noted ‘Eden Gardens’ cricket ground, and miles and miles of open lawn. They were wise enough to decree that nothing would be built on it, and then handed it in to the army to ensure the rule was followed, and it was. There are dozens of sports and activity clubs on the Maidaan, and when they wanted an enclosed space for their stuff they were allowed to have a ‘tent’.

With time these ‘tents’ have become rather elaborate, with wooden walls and roofs, but for one week each year, the club activity shuts down, and the ‘tent’ is dismantled, to show it is temporary. Then they put it together again and say it is a new temporary ‘tent!’ At one edge of the ground is the Victoria Memorial which is rather grand, and also a little bit confused.

Confusion seems to have been the order of the day, for instance why a ‘memorial’ to the queen who was still on the throne! The statue of the queen in the great entrance hall of the museum, built I presume at the same time, shows her as a young woman in her mid-twenties, contrary to the image almost everyone has of the matron at her diamond jubilee.

As for a general first impression of Kolkatta, it is a beehive of fluttering energy with millions of people flitting about perpetually hurrying who knows where! Each one is armed with an umbrella, and at the first sign of a few drops presaging a Monsoon shower, they flip their umbrellas out like swords out of their scabbards, and carry right on. A very different mind-set from the one in Lahore where the usual headline is, “Showers bring city life to a halt.”

Park street is a fashionable boulevard, lined with bustling shops and eating places including ‘Flurys’ a coffee shop that could have been transplanted straight from Vienna or Park Lane in London. It boasts a continental atmosphere and lives up to it to the hilt, with luscious cakes to go with the cold coffee and scones to go with morning tea. The only odd thing is the niggling feeling at the back of the mind that there should be an ‘e’ somewhere in the name ‘Flurys’, but I am darned if I can say where!

My advice is don’t let it bother you and instead concentrate on the cuisine. Ever since we separated from East Pakistan, we have frozen our impression of a people who vaguely ate Maach-Bhaat, but it is very distinctive, very different and delicious. Here in Lahore we like our fish big, chunky and fried, like the Rahu and the Singhara. The Bengalis have made small fish cooked a speciality. I can even recommend the place for it — ‘Kewpees’ in Kolkatta. It could be ‘QP’s’ because I didn’t read the sign, but you can ask your way there like me. They serve it in the traditional manner in earthen plates and dishes, and you can polish it off and end with, also served in an earthen cup — the immortal Rashogullah!




 It doesn’t add up
A special audit initiated by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has unearthed misuse of local
governments funds worth billions of rupees

With the future of local governments at risk after the shift in the political scenario following the general elections, the Punjab government has initiated a ‘special audit’ of the five city district governments, 30 district governments and 144 Tehsil and Town Municipal Administrations (TMAs) throughout the province.

Of the Rs13.27 billion identified misappropriations and irregularities unearthed in 74 Tehsil/Town Municipal Administrations (TMAs) of the local governments through special audit of an 18 month period, conducted by the newly elected Punjab government, about Rupees eight billion has been misused only in 21 TMAs of the province, TNS learnt from sources in the Punjab Government.

After the formation of the new government, Punjab chief minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif decided to hold a special audit of 35 district governments and 144 TMAs of the province. A general report on the issue — regarding the Rs 13 billion bungling of 74 TMAs — was presented before the Punjab cabinet in a meeting held on August 4.

According to Punjab Government sources, the Auditor General of Pakistan has been asked to conduct audit of both the tenures of the 35 districts governments (2001-2004 and 2004-todate), while Punjab Local Fund Audit Department has been given the task to conduct the audit of 144 TMAs for the same period.

The initial outcome of the 74 TMAs special audit phase one (from fiscal year 2006-07 and 2007-08 upto August 31, 2008) reports gross irregularities involving cumulative financial implications of Rs 13.278 billion.

Punjab Government sources said that major financial irregularities involved suspected losses in OSR (Own Source Revenue) due to (alleged) misuse of authority, alienation of immovable property worth Rs5.452 billion; excess/overpayments worth Rs943.578 million; misappropriation/embezzlement of Rs606.719 million; irregular payments worth Rs1.281 billion and miscellaneous/procedural irregularities worthRs 5 billion .

The investigations further disclose that there were 21 TMAs with financial implications of losses, misappropriation and overpayments etc. worth over Rs200 million. The accumulative amount of financial implications and losses in these 21 TMAs is over Rs 8 billion.

Punjab government sources told TNS that the financial irregularities were detected while conducting the audit of budget estimates (income, current expenditures, development expenditures), and non-budget revenues etc.

Sources added that the report presented before the cabinet read that the amount of financial irregularities of Rs13.227 billion made by 74 TMAs in two years could only be a “tip of the iceberg” as with the progress of further audit the losses are expected to rise “exceptionally.”

Sources said the Punjab cabinet has decided to take strict action against the culprits, either political or social figures, through Local Government Commission.

Sources further added, following the cabinet meeting, the Local Government Commission headed by Local Government Minister of the province, Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa, had a special follow-up meeting on the same day in which the commission decided that inquiries and explanations of the alleged officials and nazims would be called by by the LG Commission members to recommend the punishment for the persons involved

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has on record stated that every culprit in these scams would be taken to task, while the former Chief Minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi has repeatedly declared this audit and other steps taken by the government against the local government system “biased” and a case of “political victimisation”.

On the other hand, following the formation of new provincial governments, National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) has also started a dialogue with the provinces in order to bring changes in the local government system according to the provinces’ choice, a senior member of the NRB, requesting anonymity, told TNS. “A couple of meetings have been arranged and more are scheduled,” he said, adding, “We will do what every province will require in the system. Previously 60 to 70 amendments including a dozen major amendments had been made in the Local Government Ordinance.”

The local government system, introduced through an ordinance in 2001 by General (r) Pervez Musharraf, was specially protected and shielded by the Musharraf regime despite the fact that there were many lacunae in its audit system.

Sources within the NRB audit department told TNS that though many districts governments in Punjab had been preparing their ‘audit reports’ on their own and getting it passed through the District Assembly without filtration through District Accounts Committee, which was supposed to be set up according to the LG Ordinance 2001.

Sources revealed to TNS that the system was not run properly because it was going to be ‘protected’ by all means.

Audit Department sources said that there had been operational, functional, legal, procedural and political problems with the system as the capacity building of the officials was not done properly.

“It is a new future for investigations. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was formerly told by certain government officials about the district government irregularities but they asked the authorities to keep quiet,” said a senior officer of the federal government. Sources in the Audit Department claimed that because of these procedural problems, huge amounts of money were wasted because of improper utilisation of funds, also spent against the capacity.

They added that District Accounts Committees, which were mandatory, were not set up in more than 30 districts, records were missing and there were no professionally maintained accounts at district, Tehsil, and Union Council level. According to Section 134, District Ombudsman was to be appointed but no district made this appointment and many sections related to accountability and audit including Nazim Report under Section 18 and Section 114 [4, 5, 6,] were still not applied. These sections include consolidation of accounts; a statement of monthly and annual accounts and such other necessary statements should be placed at a conspicuous place by the local government concerned for public inspection; and the respective Accounts Committees of the Councils should hold public hearings. That is why the reliability and sustainability of the system always remained under question.

“According to our estimates, as many as 80 per cent funds of the local government went in waste and were misused in the last seven years,” said an audit department official, adding, “The system needs re-engineering and transparency.”

caption

Major misuse.


feature
Chimera of peace

The violence that is rapidly engulfing large parts of Jammu and Kashmir, set off by a controversial government decision to grant a tract of land to a temple trust in Kashmir, threatens to totally disrupt the already tenuous inter-communal relations in the region. This has frightening portents particularly for those parts of the state where Hindus and Muslims both live in substantial numbers, such as Rajouri, Poonch and Doda, all in the Jammu province.

Economic interdependence and shared cultural bonds and traditions between the communities in these areas had kept communal rivalries in check, and people had, over time, evolved their own mechanisms to relate to each other despite their differences. Now, this delicate social fabric might, if the ongoing agitation continues unabated, tear apart.

The towering mountains of Doda, thickly carpeted with evergreen forests, are dotted with tiny hamlets and home to roughly equal numbers of Hindus and Muslims. Militant Muslim outfits and Hindu chauvinist groups both have a presence in the region. Yet, strong ties bind other Hindus and Muslims and have halted the complete polarisation of the populace.

With the onset of militancy in Doda in the early 1990s, Hindu-Muslim relations rapidly deteriorated.

“Now we hardly visit each other’s homes or patronise each other’s shops. We are cordial to each other when we meet, and some Hindus and Muslims invite each other for marriages, but that is all. We really don’t have love in our hearts for each other,” says Mangat, an elderly shopkeeper in Udarana, a mixed Hindu-Muslim village near the town of Bhaderwah.

“It is not that before militancy erupted in Doda inter-communal relations were entirely cordial,” says Sharma. “In 1947, several Muslims, were killed by Hindu and Sikh mobs, in league with the Maharaja’s forces. Some Hindus were killed in Bhalesa, a Muslim-majority part of Doda. Under Shaikh Abdullah, radical land reforms were introduced in the state, through which share-croppers, mainly Muslims and Dalits, got land previously owned by Rajput and Brahmin landlords, and this naturally bothered the upper castes, who felt their dominance was being undermined.”

“Till 1947,” Sharma adds, “most Muslims were landless labourers, and there were only a few small Muslim traders in the region. Along with the Dalits, they were also treated as untouchables by the upper caste Hindus and forced to do begar or unpaid labour for the Hindu landlords. Changes after 1947 led to the emergence of a sizeable educated Muslim middle-class, who were now able to compete with the traditionally dominant ‘upper’ caste Hindus for government jobs and power. The nature of politics of the district, then, naturally began to change. It took a rapid turn for the worse with the rise of militancy in Kashmir and of Hindu chauvinist groups in Doda and beyond.

Zia Hussain, a shopkeeper in Doda town, points out that in large parts of Doda, Hindus and Muslims live in the same localities, as neighbours. “The sort of ethnically separated and divided localities that you have in places like Delhi and UP are totally absent here,” he says. “Earlier, Doda was cut off from the rest of the state due to the difficult mountainous terrain. We were, to a large extent, insulated from communal conflicts elsewhere. But now, with the rapid expansion of roads and communications facilities, new ideas brought in by communal forces, both Hindu and Muslim, have begun to take root. If any communal clash takes place somewhere in India, news travels at once to Doda and makes a sharp impact here. Militancy in the Kashmir Valley and oppression of Muslims in India, not any major local conflicts, lie at the root of growing Hindu-Muslim divisions in Doda.”

Certain new forms of religion being introduced from outside the state are playing havoc with traditional understandings of communal identity. A large number of temples across Doda are now controlled by pujaris from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Rampant unemployment in these states, plus the fact that few Brahmins from Doda would now consider working in temples as a career option, account in part for this. Many of these pujaris from outside are ardent supporters of the Hindu right-wing, fiercely anti-Muslim and disdainful of the ‘low’ castes, and that message is subtly put across to their followers. In contrast to the few local pujaris that remain, who, being rooted in local cultural traditions, a product of centuries of co-existence with Muslims, are considerably more accommodative of their Muslim neighbours, some of these new pujaris consider Muslims as mortal enemies. And then there is the rapid intrusion of new forms of Hinduism, the cults of various Babas and the orthodox, more exclusivist Brahmanic Vaishnavite tradition, in a region earlier characterised by the worship of local, possibly pre-Aryan snake gods and the cult of Shiva. 

This is paralleled on the Muslim side with the decline of the tradition of the Sufi Pirs, and the concomitant rise of more exclusivist Islamic groups like the Tablighi Jamaat and, to a lesser extent, the Jamaat-e Islami, both of which consider key aspects of the culture of local Muslims as ‘un-Islamic’ and who are less accommodative of Hindus than the Sufis were. Under Tablighi influence, growing numbers of Muslims have started keeping long beards and shaving their moustaches, wearing skull-caps and keeping their shalwars above their ankles, imitating the Deobandi model of Islam preached by itinerant Tablighi activists. These are visible markers of distinction, probably intended to set off Muslims from others. 

Religion is being marshalled as the prime vehicle to foment communal divisions by both Hindu and Muslim groups, but there are possibilities of it being used for precisely the opposite purpose. Says Sajjad, a Muslim student from Bhaderwah, “The Quran says that God has sent prophets to every nation, and so it is possible that some of the religious figures of the Hindus were also prophets. Islam teaches us that we must relate to all non-Muslims who do not oppress or oppose us with love and concern. Self-styled militants who kill innocents in the name of jihad are doing the work of the devil. They are motivated simply by power and pelf, not for the sake of God, and so what they are doing cannot be called jihad. They have zikr-e khuda (the name of God) on their lips, but their hearts are empty of fikr-e khuda (remembrance of God). Some people wrongly think that picking up the sword against all non-Muslims is jihad, but, actually, doing anything good, even speaking a good word to someone, is a jihad.”

“Hindu chauvinists are no different,” says his Hindu friend Raja. “Mooh Mai Ram-Ram, Baghal Mai Churi (“They have Ram’s name on their lips and hide a knife in their hands”).”

“Our principal task as Muslims is to tell others about Islam, through love and good deeds,” explains Abdul Hai, a shopkeeper in Kishtwar town. “As long as we are allowed to freely practice our religion, we cannot declare jihad. Taking up arms, as some of us have, just to set up a separate state or join another state or for any such worldly purpose cannot be called a jihad.”

“But,” he goes on, “when we look at how Muslims are being persecuted in India, how efforts are being made to destroy Article 370 that guarantees a special status for Jammu and Kashmir, how armed forces goes around killing innocent Muslims here in Doda and elsewhere in our state and how Hindutva forces seek to destroy us, we Muslims, even those of us who are vociferously opposed to the militants, naturally become increasingly apprehensive.”

Despite the communal divide, there are no organised forums in Doda to promote inter-community dialogue. Some fear that to vocally speak in favour of peace and harmony might invite the wrath of their co-religionists or even possible death. Or, perhaps it is just indifference. As Suleiman, a village elder from Kulhand, says, “Maybe our youth have become too materialistic, indifferent to such social concerns.”

But at the same time as communal identities have become increasingly polarised, large numbers of Hindus and Muslims still privately insist on the need for cordial relations and do their own bit in that regard in their own ways: jointly demonstrating against the slaughter of innocent villagers in a remote village, pooling resources to rescue people trapped in an avalanche or injured in a road mishap, or simply pointing out that true religion teaches love and that, as the tired cliches go, “God is one” and “Everyone’s blood is red”.

From the last five years onwards, things began limping back to a semblance of ‘normality’ in Doda. The number of killings by militants and the armed forces registered a rapid decline. Long spells of curfew were done away with. As were the army checkpoints that had come up at every kilometre or so on the road connecting Doda with Jammu. My friends in Doda, Hindus and Muslims, were ecstatic about the prospects of peace. But now, with the on-going agitation in Jammu and in Kashmir over the Amarnath yatra, that might be a mere chimera if things are allowed to spin out of control, as they indeed seem to be.

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Dangerous portents in Jammu and Kashmir: a view from Doda

By Yoginder Sikand

“Feudal Forces: Democratic Nations — Police Accountability in Commonwealth South Asia”, is a study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to ‘the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth’.

The study mainly focuses on the mechanism of accountability of police in legal frameworks in five South Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives (Commonwealth South Asia).

Transparency, accountability and democratic participation are the three major strands that make the present day society work in an efficient and just manner. Among these three fundamental requisites, reliable processes of accountability make the police a public service in the real sense. The need to reform the police and develop strong accountability mechanisms arises in view of the public experience of policing in the Commonwealth South Asia, as the CHRI study points out: “Public experiences of policing show that police are more often characterised by violations of laws and individual rights rather than protection of them. From murders, to torture, disappearances, excessive use of force, failure to follow due process, biased policing, to corruption — the list of violations committed by the police is endless.”

The reasons for this continuing saga are many including impunity or safety from punishment provided under law to errant police, legal and institutional impunity, protection from prosecution under ordinary law, special or emergency laws, specific indemnity laws passed to condone past acts retrospectively, institutionalised procedural techniques for impunity, political interference, militarisation of police and support for tough policing under circumstances of increasing violent crime — and a lack of accountability.

Intriguingly, there exists a remarkably similar pattern of these trends in South Asian countries. A public perception survey conducted by Transparency International has indicated that people in the region see police as the most corrupt of seven basic public services. The police in South Asia follow the regime style model which serves the government of the day.

The CHRI report gives an overview of available accountability mechanisms or the lack thereof in the Police laws in the Commonwealth South Asia, and highlights internationally established principles to improve them. It notes that the existing policing models in these countries have their foundations in colonial era and the ruling elites have kept these models largely and essentially intact. The study records several instances in the five countries when initiatives were taken for improving the legal frameworks and put them in practice but were made to fail by the vested interest on one pretext or the other. For example, India has witnessed several initiatives to reform the police including setting up various commissions at the state/provincial as well as union/federal level. However recommendations by such commissions have never been implemented.

In Pakistan, a number of commissions (the report enumerates seven of them) have recommended police reforms. No serious effort was made to implement any one of them till 2002 when the new Police Order with a number of new features replaced the colonial Police Act of 1861. However, this has also met with strong resistance from the vested interest. The authors of the report are of the view that “the new law puts in place mechanisms and processes to institutionalise police reform by checking political interference with police functioning and ensuring accountability for performance and misconduct.”

However, the effort aimed at reform was resisted by the provincial governments on the pretext of invasion by the federal government into the provincial domain thus derailing the process. Several amendments were made to dilute the intent of the original law. The contrast in the two examples of India and Pakistan is ostensibly stark. At first, it seems that while even a continued democratic process has not ensured people friendly police in India; an unrepresentative regime in Pakistan did at least replace the colonial law governing the police.

An interesting observation made by a delegate in a regional conference and quoted in the report is relevant: “...while democratic governments in South Asia were resistant or slow to reform, governments that were not chosen by popular mandate (the military dictatorship in Pakistan and the caretaker government in Bangladesh) were more willing to put in place police and other administrative reforms. It was suggested that it was an attempt to gain legitimacy.”

The report points out that the push for police reform in Pakistan came from international donors, in this instance the Asian Development Bank, and coincided with the military regime’s desperate need to get international legitimacy. Reform without public debate leads to a situation in which people remain alienated from the process, and the entrenched vested interest can easily sabotage any such effort. Democracy, therefore, is an essential condition for reform, but, as the Indian case highlights, is not sufficient. Several other factors, political and social, may also play a role.

The study makes several recommendations for police reform. Some of the important reforms (such as in case of Pakistan the Police Complaints Authority and Public Safety Commissions as originally envisaged in the Police Order, 2000) aimed at enhancing police accountability in South Asia have been discussed at length. Considerable space has been allocated in the report to possible mechanisms of oversight and accountability such as the Parliamentary and judicial oversight of the police. It is pointed out that the existing internal disciplinary systems, created in the colonial era, are non-transparent with no space for the complainant to play his/her due role, and are used as a tool to keep the police officials in line with government policy.

The best accountability systems incorporate independent external accountability mechanisms with a strong internal system to address internal breaches of discipline. Only a democratic police can give a break from the ‘regime police’ meant to serve the vested interest. Democratic police is accountable to the law, and democratic government structures, and creates a security environment which best promotes democracy. It communicates with and serves the public in a transparent manner.

The authors are of the opinion that South Asian countries must all ratify international human rights treaties and affirm compliance with the standards of policing required by International Bill of Rights, and review police laws, rules and regulations, especially those pre-dating the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in view of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms. The report also recommends that the South Asian states must promote and strengthen institutions such as human rights commissions and ombudsman’s office and involve citizens by introducing the concepts of community policing. “Police reform in South Asia is too important to neglect and too urgent to delay”, concludes the report.

(The CHRI report can be accessed at http://humanrightsinitiative.org)

By time this is published, a lot may (or may not) have happened on the impeachment issue. However, since the president is a former army chief and commando, and since he is the very epitome of a forward-looking westernised officer of the Pakistan Army (and one is not saying this in a bad way), he must be familiar with the works of German general Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) and the ancient Chinese theorist Sun Tzu (544-496 BC). Of course, there is Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) as well but he has already been commented upon extensively by various Pakistani columnists.

And while I claim no connection or personal knowledge as to what courses are at taught at the National Defence University or the war colleges, I can say with some surety that officers who go through these courses — and which are a requirement for promotion to a higher rank — would at least have Clausewitz’s ‘On War’ and Sun Tzu ‘The Art of War’ on their reading lists. In most professional armies, such books — and perhaps even Kautilya’s (350-283 BC) ‘Arthashastra’ — would be required reading for the officer staff. Well, back to the domestic situation. Given that President Musharraf served most of his life in the army and was said to be a good officer and general — which should explain why he was made army chief — it would be fair to assume that he would have read both Clausewitz and Sun Tzu.

So, what would have a reading of Clausewitz, tell us about the actions of the general on March 9, 2007 and Nov 3, 2007? According to Clausewitz, war is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. He said that the analogy of two wrestlers, each one trying to make the other submit to his will, would help understand a war between two states. In the current geo-political context, this would be America/NATO/the-West compelling the rest of the world to act a certain way under threat of force (Iran, North Korea and Cuba being good examples of states subjected to such threats — some would also put Pakistan in this category). Of course, this also means that Pakistan or Iran or North Korea would do the same if they had a chance - i.e. make their opponents submit to their will, and some would say that the Pakistanis try to do this in Afghanistan and to some extent in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the case of Musharraf, the opponent would have been Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and if the general’s mind had become conditioned by Clausewitz, he must have seen the currently-deposed chief justice as his nemesis and thought — or was led to believe — that the only way to come out on top would be to force the Justice Chaudhry to act a certain way: hence, his forcible removal from his office, physically preventing him from attending his office, and physically preventing him and his family from leaving their house. Of course, such acts — given that they are conducted in a state of war — have little regard for the law.

Perhaps, the general believed — as a military commander would have in a typical war — that laws and deference to them can only be a hindrance in his objectives. It is only once the objective of making one’s opponent submit to one’s will is achieved that the law comes into effect and according to Clausewitz, that is when the victor “dictates the law to the latter” and then “both proceed to extremities to which the only limitations are those imposed by the amount of counteracting force on each side”. In other words, everything is fair in a war, and the amount of force one opponent exerts is not to be limited by any law as such but rather by the counter

At least that is what a military-trained mind would have thought and done and perhaps this is how Generals Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Ziaul Haq must have been trained to think and for them suspending or abrogating the Constitution did not amount to too much of a moral dilemma.

And then there is Sun Tzu — who also is required reading in most military schools. Though he lived almost 2500 years ago, he seemed to have read the human psyche very well and the measure of his analytical ability is that much of what he said on war and its conduct is found in the way countries today engage in war — or for that matter people.

Sun Tzu said “all warfare is based on deception” and that this doesn’t mean only deceiving one’s foe but friend as well. He says: “Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” A good tactician, he said, plays with his opponent as a cat with a mouse — pretending to be weak and immobile and then using the element of surprise to suddenly launch an attack. Other maxims of war that would apply to the present day are that if your opponent’s forces are united, separate them; “attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected”.

And perhaps the most relevant of all in these days of domestic turmoil, much of it caused by repeated military interventions and of late by the events of March 9 and Nov 3 — both last year: “The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all!”

The writer is Editorial Pages Editor of The News.

Email: [email protected]

 


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