roundup
Volcano, Boulder and burst
It remains to be seen if Pakistan would remain firm on its new-found obsession with the question of sovereignty because it hasn’t fared well on this count in the past
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
The incident on the Durand Line border in Mohmand Agency on November 26 was waiting to happen. There had been a build-up of frustration and anger due to other incidents on the long and porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that had contributed to the distrust characterising relations among the two neighbouring countries and also the United States, the overbearing superpower that somehow becomes a factor in every international crisis.
 

Sorry, you still can’t vote
Only three out of about 18,000 women were able to cast votes in the recent by-election in Kohistan apparently due to an informal agreement among political parties
By Zia Ur Rehman
Once again, women voters have been barred from exercising their voting rights in the recent by-elections in district Kohistan of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where only three women voters out of about 18,000 were able to caste their votes.

Yeh Woh
Puls rocks  
By Masud Alam
Pakistan is a high-stress country. Its population has to contend with long power outages at home, assorted discriminations and injustices at workplace, and routine humiliation at the hands of security officials in their own streets. Hot weather, oily and spicy food, pollution, an abundance of sexual desire, and no way of satisfying it, only add to the strain on already volatile tempers.
If this society is still functional then, it’s all down to ‘comic relief’ which, thankfully, is in no short supply. And this is one area where police too does its bit: mostly situational comedy.

politics
Changing colours of politics
New political configurations adjust in an environment where sovereignty matters more than politics
By Waqar Gillani
Faisalabad’s Dhobi Ghat was packed with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers on the Sunday evening of November 25 seemingly to demonstrate their political wrath against the federal government, loudly chanting “Go Zardari go”. 

Give homeopathy a chance
Efficacy of homeopathy in epidemics
warrants its integration in the national healthcare system
By Saadia Salahuddin
Whenever there is an epidemic outbreak like that of dengue in Lahore for the last three months, the government is under great pressure to provide adequate treatment to the affected and control the epidemic. Such a situation certainly calls for utilising the available resources in the best interest of the people. A good number of patients went to homeopaths for dengue treatment and recovered fully. This calls upon the government to integrate homeopathy in the national healthcare system. 

From despotism to democracy
The first euphoria after the removal of Mubarak has been replaced with the realisation that the fight for democracy in Egypt is not over yet
By Ahmed Nazir Warraich
In the last two weeks, Egypt has seen violent clashes resulting in the death of at least 42 people and injuring thousands more, but at the same time, it has seen hope for a better future through the use of the ballot box. These are the kind of times that Egypt is passing through, violent and turbulent, but containing seeds of better future and hope. 

 

 

roundup
Volcano, Boulder and burst
It remains to be seen if Pakistan would remain firm on its new-found obsession with the question of sovereignty because it hasn’t fared well on this count in the past
By Rahimullah Yusufzai

The incident on the Durand Line border in Mohmand Agency on November 26 was waiting to happen. There had been a build-up of frustration and anger due to other incidents on the long and porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that had contributed to the distrust characterising relations among the two neighbouring countries and also the United States, the overbearing superpower that somehow becomes a factor in every international crisis.

Unlike past incidents, the cross-border raid by two Nato helicopters on Pakistan Army’s security posts named Volcano and Boulder in the Salala area in Mohmand tribal region has triggered a crisis situation of far-reaching consequences. Terms such as “it won’t be business as usual” between Islamabad and Washington in future have been used by Pakistan’s government functionaries led by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to remind that the situation has changed after the two-hour long “unprovoked and intentional” Nato attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and injured another 15.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s statement that everything should be put in black and white in context of her country’s troubled relations with the US in future was in a way admission of the fact that many aspects of their relationship were opaque due to the tendency of Pakistani rulers such as General Pervez Musharraf to make secret decisions primarily meant to advance personal rather than national interest.

A case in point is the small Shamsi airbase in Balochistan’s Kharan district where the US had based its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other assets and was using it to launch drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Successive Pakistani civil and military rulers had kept this a secret from their subjects apparently due to fear that the nation won’t approve of it. Only now it has emerged that the airbase was leased out to the UAE for use by its petro-rich Sheikhs fond of hunting protected species such as houbara bustard in the Balochistan desert and that the ruling Al Nahyan dynasty in turn gave it to the Americans for using it to practice head-hunting of humans in the tribal borderlands. How can this happen is a mystery and also shameful and it raises questions whether all this belated talk of sovereignty is believable or not.

Disagreements already exist between Pakistan and the US over the chain of events that caused the Mohmand Agency incident on the night of November 26. The inconclusive and divergent outcome of separate and joint investigation of past border incidents haven’t helped and it remains a factor in contributing to the lack of trust in each other in probing the recent happening. The US, the dominant Nato member whose helicopters were involved in this and every previous incident of cross-border raids, has been insisting that the attack wasn’t deliberate. Its spokesmen, along with the Afghan officials, have been claiming that the US Special Forces operating in the border area were fired at from the Pakistani side of the Durand Line and that close air support was requested to attack the position from where the fire was originating. A disproportionate force comprising jet-fighters, gunship helicopters and drones was then scrambled to hit two small ill-equipped border posts helplessly located at a height of 8,000 feet. It was a cowardly attack because any soldier who moved was strafed and reinforcement troops sent from a downhill post to find out the situation and possibly help the injured were also attacked from the air and killed and maimed.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is convinced that its borders were violated and its forces were attacked from the air without any provocation. Its military authorities have already established a strong case and even shared it with the national media. They are in no doubt that the Nato attack was an act of aggression and intentional as it continued even after the Pakistan Army had conveyed to the US-led coalition forces through the well-established mechanism put in place to avoid such incidents that its troops in Mohmand Agency were under attack. So strong was the conviction in its account of the incident and such was the level of anger in Pakistan that the government took three major decisions not only to protest the Nato air strike but also send a strong message that henceforth there would be no compromise on protecting Pakistan’s sovereignty and honour.

Critics would say this would not have happened if Pakistan had adopted a tough position on the issue of its violation of its sovereignty by the US in the past. Also, it remains to be seen if Pakistan would remain firm on its new-found obsession with the question of sovereignty because it hasn’t fared well on this count in the past.

Of the three steps taken by Pakistan to show its anger and record protest over the Mohmand Agency incident, the first to undergo a test would be the international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn on December 5. Pakistan has announced boycott of the conference, labelled Bonn-2 as it is seen as a continuation of Bonn-1 held in December 2001 in which major decisions about Afghanistan’s fate in the post-Taliban period were taken, but it is under tremendous international pressure to take back its decision. At the moment Islamabad seems determined to stay away from the Bonn conference and all indications are that it would stick to its decision to express its resentment over the actions of not only the US and its Nato allies but also Afghanistan. The US appealed to Pakistan to attend the event even if it is a lower level of participation. Germany as the host nation also sought Pakistan’s attendance and so did other friendly countries.

The unhappiest country over Pakistan’s boycott was Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai phoned Gilani to request Pakistan’s participation. The Afghans saw it as an unfriendly act because they believe there can be no peace and stability in Afghanistan unless Pakistan is on board with regard to any peace-making formula due to its closeness to the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has made it clear that its own security and sovereignty were more important than striving for peace in Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan is angry with Afghanistan on three counts as it feels Kabul acted in an unfriendly manner by accusing Islamabad and its army of involvement in former Afghan president Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination without providing any concrete evidence and then signing a security agreement with the Indian government for training of Afghan army officers in India. The third cause of Pakistan’s anger was the use of Afghanistan’s soil by the Nato forces to launch the recent cross-border raid in Mohmand Agency. Pakistan even took the rare step of lodging a formal protest with the Afghan government over this incident. The message of disapproval from Islamabad was loud and clear and it should also be seen as a severe setback to any hopes of moving forward any peace process in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s support and mediation.

The other two Pakistani decisions could also have consequences. December 11 is the deadline for the US to vacate the Shamsi airbase and there are indications that the military is mobilising troops to take control of the property as soon as the Americans move out. Though the US authorities have said they have alternate arrangements in place for launching drone attacks, the loss of Shamsi airbase would be felt by the Americans and also seen as an unfriendly act by Pakistan. They could even equate it with lack of Pakistan’s commitment to fight the so-called “war on terror.”

Far more important for the US and Nato is Pakistan’s decision to block supplies for the more than 140,000 coalition forces deployed in Afghanistan. Right now the blockade of trucks, trailers and oil-tankers carrying fuel, food and according to some reports even arms and ammunition for the Nato forces via the Torkham and Chaman border towns to Afghanistan has been termed indefinite rather than permanent, but Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik, both not known to be particularly well-informed about the military’s thinking, have said that the decision was irreversible. Though the US has developed the alternate northern route via Russia and the Central Asian states to supply Nato forces in Afghanistan and is also using planes for the purpose, the Pakistani route is far more useful as it is short and less costly. A permanent blockade of Nato supplies by Pakistan would be seen as an extremely unfriendly and punitive act by the Western nations and would lead to irreparable harm to Islamabad’s relations with the US and its allies. It seems Pakistan would not take things to that extreme and would want to mend ties with the US provided the latter seeks a formal apology for the cross-border raid in Mohmand Agency and agrees to iron-clad guarantees to prevent recurrence of such incidents, becomes willing to review its relationship with Islamabad in line with the latter’s genuine aspirations and past complaints, and is ready to keep Pakistan’s interests in view vis-à-vis India during the course of decision-making with regard to the end-game in Afghanistan.

 

 

Sorry, you still can’t vote
Only three out of about 18,000 women were able to cast votes in the recent by-election in Kohistan apparently due to an informal agreement among political parties
By Zia Ur Rehman

Once again, women voters have been barred from exercising their voting rights in the recent by-elections in district Kohistan of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where only three women voters out of about 18,000 were able to caste their votes.

The by-election for provincial assembly constituency PK-61, Kohistan 1, which was vacated after the demise of Awami National Party (ANP) MPA Maulvi Obaidullah, was conducted on November 24. As many as 84,590 voters are registered in PK-61, including 65,786 male voters and 18,804 female. The seat was won by Sajjadullah Khan, an ANP candidate backed by the Pakistan People Party (PPP).

According to the preliminary election observation report of the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), an Islamabad-based independent election monitoring body, no female voters were seen on the election day, reportedly due to an informal agreement among political parties to prevent women from exercising their rights to vote.

“All the candidates belonging to different political parties, including the ANP, PPP, PML-Q), JUI-F and independent candidates, decided in a jirga on November 17 that women of the constituency would not be allowed to caste their votes,” a local elder, who attended the jirga, told the scribe. “Some of the candidates suggested that male members of a family be allowed to cast votes on behalf of their women, but the idea was rejected by the jirga members.”

This was also corroborated by ANP MPA Bushra Gohar, who informed the National Assembly that women were barred from voting under an agreement reached between contesting candidates at the office of the district coordination officer. She also demanded nullification of the result of Kohistan by-election won by her own party.

“Casting vote is the fundamental right of every Pakistani woman and if women were barred from exercising their voting rights, how can we legalise such elections?” Gohar questioned, adding that it is a mockery of an election when female voters are not allowed to cast their votes.

Kohistan is a conservative and backward district of Pakistan with the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) along with Shangla, Dera Bugti, Tharparkar and Jhal Magsi districts. In the past elections, including the general election of 2008, women in Kohistan district were barred from casting their votes.

In Shangla, a neighbouring district of Kohistan, women were also barred to cast their votes in PK-87 by-election held on January 29, where only around 100 women out of 59,711 registered female voters were allowed to cast their votes. Similarly, in the by-election of NA-21 Mansehra-cum-Tor Ghar held last year in January, women voters were kept away from casting their votes.

The practice of barring women to exercise their voting rights has been going on for years in several parts of KP and Fata, and conservative tribal customs support this ban. Shangla, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Karak, Bannu, Battagram, Kohistan and Tor Ghar (Kala Dhaka) are the districts of KP where women are traditionally kept from voting. Normally in every election, workers of political parties take the ID cards from female voters and cast their votes according to a formula agreed upon by all contesting candidates.

In the past elections, especially in local bodies’ elections, media reported that all religious and so-called progressive political parties reached agreements at district level through jirgas to bar women from voting. Even in one case, Mufti Gohar Ali, a pro-Taliban leader of JUI-F of Mardan, had warned that violators of such accord would be fined Rs500,000.

Some political analysts think that growing militancy and Talibanisation in KP and Fata is a major threat to participation of women in politics. Threatening pamphlets issued by militants and religious extremists were plastered on walls in some parts of KP and Fata in previous elections, warning women of suicide attacks if they came out to vote.

“We don’t allow women to go to polling stations and show their faces to strangers as it is un-Islamic and against our Pashtun traditions,” says a leader of the ANP in Kohistan, adding that the practice of women voting had led to tension between local Kohistani tribesmen in the 2008 general polls.

But some commentators completely deny it, saying that barring women from voting rights has nothing to do with Pashtun traditions. “The ANP and the PPP, the so-called liberal parties, have also signed several accords in different parts of KP not allowing women to cast votes,” Aqeel Yousafzai, a Peshawar-based political commentator, laments while talking to TNS.

“Kohistan election indicates a completely failure of the government, especially Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), to create a favourable environment for women’s participation in the polls despite the media reports published before the polls stating the candidates are conspiring to prevent women from voting,” he says. “Kohistan is a peaceful area of the KP where Taliban militancy doesn’t exist and the government has complete writ in the area.”

“All NGOs are busy in development and charity work in the flood and earthquake-hit Kohistan, but no one has bothered to sensitise and educate men and women of the area about politics and voting rights,” Syed Latif, a social activist working in Tor Ghar, tells TNS.

“Pakistan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2010 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1996. These legal agreements obligate the government, including the ECP, to take all measures necessary to ensure that women’s right to vote can be implemented in practice throughout the country, including Kohistan,” FAFEN said in its recent report, demanding the ECP declare null and void the results for constituencies where women are prevented from voting.

 

The writer is a journalist and researcher and works on militancy and human rights. Email: [email protected]

Yeh Woh
Puls rocks  
By Masud Alam

Pakistan is a high-stress country. Its population has to contend with long power outages at home, assorted discriminations and injustices at workplace, and routine humiliation at the hands of security officials in their own streets. Hot weather, oily and spicy food, pollution, an abundance of sexual desire, and no way of satisfying it, only add to the strain on already volatile tempers.

If this society is still functional then, it’s all down to ‘comic relief’ which, thankfully, is in no short supply. And this is one area where police too does its bit: mostly situational comedy.

Walking to work every morning, I used to pass through a small link street on which the only building was that of Kohsar Police Station. I quietly amused myself as I saw armed Elite Force men (they are a notch above the blue-clad police and have the motto ‘No Fear’ inscribed on their black shirts) position themselves at the street corner, stopping all vehicular traffic. Then a barrier was erected at the entrance and sandbag bunkers started appearing on both sides of the street. Then a wall started going up around the building.

One morning when I tried to enter the street, one of the Elite came up to me, smiled and said he knows I use this route to go to work, but he has orders not to allow even pedestrians onto the street. I was dumbfounded. ‘But this police station is meant to protect me, right? And you are telling me their security will be compromised if I walk past it?’ I think I saw him going slightly red in the face. ‘Sorry but I have to obey the orders’.

I went round the block, through an unpaved dirt track dotted with puddles caused by overnight rain, still a bit puzzled. Then I stepped onto a patch of mud. I looked down at my soiled shoes and burst out laughing. I am made to walk through mud and water just to protect the local policemen! Policemen who had their weapons stolen from this very police station!

That was a while ago. Today, Islamabad police has set up shop on every road amusing motorists with unanswerable questions like ‘where are you coming from?’ If you wanted to go a kilometre and a half from F-8 to D-ground you’ll have to pass three check posts manned by at least four armed officials each, who you’ll most likely find chatting among themselves or standing on the roadside not even glancing at the traffic that may include a car driven by a potential suicide bomber. The sharp shooter positioned behind a bunker of sand bags is usually on lunch or smoke or prayer break leaving behind a machine gun dangling on sand bags.

The other day I took my family out for a cinematic treat. The nearest cinema is about 30 km and a dozen check posts away. The traffic suddenly came to a standstill on the eight-lane Islamabad Highway at the Zero Point junction. Probably an accident, since it’s not a regular naaka. We crawled towards the bottleneck only to find a hastily set up roadblock manned by two sentries who seemed to be discussing their marital problems with their backs to the traffic.

Turning on to the airport road there was another pile up that was again caused by an irregular roadblock by policemen who were animatedly discussing something other than the fate of motorists. And there was another long queue at the entrance of the cinema because each vehicle was being checked by hawk-eyed security guards and every driver was being asked if they were carrying anything suspicious. As if people are supposed to break down and say: ‘sorry I am carrying two persons with me who plan to explode themselves in the cinema hall.’

By the time we got into the hall the first half of Rock Star was nearing its end. That’s the half with funny bits. The rest of the movie was an endless repetition of Ranbir Kapoor performing as a rock star, Ranbir slapping policemen around, Ranbir being taken to jail … I found the film quite confusing but my son who was mad at all the delay caused by police check posts, picked up other ideas. How many days you have to spend in jail for slapping a policeman? He asked me at the first naaka on our way back.

[email protected]

    

politics
Changing colours of politics
New political configurations adjust in an environment where sovereignty matters more than politics
By Waqar Gillani

Faisalabad’s Dhobi Ghat was packed with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers on the Sunday evening of November 25 seemingly to demonstrate their political wrath against the federal government, loudly chanting “Go Zardari go”.

Watching the colours of the political landscape of Pakistan from a 40-foot high container’s top, especially arranged for the press on the left side of the ground, was an unusual experience. People thronged the venue to listen to their leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. They seemed mobilised, but not charged.

In speeches that lasted for several hours, there was hardly any speaker, except Nawaz Sharif himself, who did not directly or indirectly target the emerging popular politician Imran Khan. The “go Zardari go” chants notwithstanding, the PML-N’s Faisalabad public gathering was an attempt to show strength especially to the PTI, reclaiming its title as the real popular political party of the Punjab province.

Political temperature of the country is rising these days, especially after Imran Khan’s ‘historic’ jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan about a month ago. The predictable entry of former Pakistan People’s Party senior vice-chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s in the PTI has added extra flavour to this politically charged atmosphere.

The PTI’s emergence as the third power, allegedly instrumented by the establishment, backed by the public spirit aspiring for a “change” has suddenly brought the party in the mainstream politics. More candidates from the PML-Q and the PPP are expected to join the PTI in the coming days.

The Memogate scandal of Hussain Haqqani and the recent Nato strikes at Pakistan border killing at least 24 Pakistani soldiers in one go have also impacted the already charged political scene of Pakistan. The PML-N has taken up the Memogate issue to the Supreme Court for more political mileage. 

Noted political scientist Rasul Bux Rais says that Nawaz Sharif has two major targets in his politics now: Asif Zardari and Imran Khan. “After seeing the rising strength and popularity in public, Nawaz Sharif has to come out and counter Khan’s political image,” he says, adding, “His stand on the Memogate scandal and his party leaders’ reaction to the PTI rallies show that Nawaz Sharif has finally realised that staying quiet will not politically benefit him at all.”

“Memogate scandal has provided an opportunity to the opposition parties to press the ruling party and get political advantages by highlighting the issue at different forums,” observes political scientist Prof Dr Farooq Hasnaat. “The issue has added fuel to the fire as the opposition parties were already geared up for their future electoral campaigns.”

The PTI is mainly attracting the urban vote-bank of the PML-N with its right wing public support. Gradually, it is becoming the combination of the PML-N’s lost electoral reservoir and disgruntled (or rejected) PPP politicians, those disagreeing with President Zardari’s policies.

Dr Hasnaat says that it is extremely important to analyse the PTI graph and its current popularity. “The PTI is definitely making inroads in youth and women. Fifty two per cent population of the country now consists of women and their role means a lot if they actively participate.” He thinks that if Imran Khan is getting positive signals from ‘certain corners’ then he will be able to have a good show in Karachi in December 25.

On the other side, the PPP is also struggling for its political survival by, sometimes secretively and sometimes openly, countering the army policies over foreign and internal security issues. Both the PPP and the PML-N are moving in the same direction, but at 180 degrees from each other because of lack of trust. They blame one another for political victimisation and backstabbing.

The PTI and the PML-N, both sharing the same ideology, are now in competition for displaying patriotism and power. The major and perhaps the only difference between the two parties is that one enjoyed the establishment’s support in the past while the other is enjoying the same support now.

“Imran Khan is the leader of the future,” views Rais, maintaining that the popularity of Sharif and Zardari will be further lowering in future. He believes Imran Khan will have a good show in Karachi because Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will not be able to resist him. “Also, it seems there is a kind of truce between the MQM and Imran Khan.” 

Political experts believe the continuing differences with the military establishment over foreign policies and the lowering graph of the PPP and the vendetta of Nawaz Sharif against the army’s role in politics is once again providing an open opportunity to the military establishment to nurture a third power — making the PTI another King’s party for the coming general elections. Every ‘yes man’ in politics will happily jump on the PTI’s bandwagon considering it another opportunity to enjoy power.

 

[email protected]

 

Give homeopathy a chance
Efficacy of homeopathy in epidemics
warrants its integration in the national healthcare system
By Saadia Salahuddin

Whenever there is an epidemic outbreak like that of dengue in Lahore for the last three months, the government is under great pressure to provide adequate treatment to the affected and control the epidemic. Such a situation certainly calls for utilising the available resources in the best interest of the people. A good number of patients went to homeopaths for dengue treatment and recovered fully. This calls upon the government to integrate homeopathy in the national healthcare system.

Recently, the Punjab government decided to offer dispensaries for adoption. “Masud Homeopathic Hospital has adopted five dispensaries, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) two dispensaries and Nishat Group has also adopted two dispensaries. APTMA has bought two cell separators and four CBC machines. The doctors here will be homeopaths and medicines homeopathic,” says a district health officer of the Punjab government. Now that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has opened public private partnership in this area, more resourceful groups need to come forward and adopt homeopathic government dispensaries. After all they say Pakistan is one of the most charitable countries in the world.

There is no shortage of homeopaths either. According to the ex-president of the National Council for Homeopathy, Dr. Mahmoodul Haq Abbasi, 36-37 thousand homeopaths are getting their licenses renewed every year which shows they are practicing while approximately there are one lakh homeopaths in the country in the absence of any homeopathic college and hospital in the public sector.

Dr Khalid Chaudhry, who has his homeopathic clinic in Lahore says, “If we get the facility of free dengue tests, homeopathy can prove how a dengue positive patient when tested after homeopathic treatment shows dengue negative report.”

While blood count test is conducted free of cost at many places in the city, dengue test is conducted only in hospitals on the prescription of an allopath. “Panadol, which is given in case of high fever by allopathic doctors in general, results in further sweating and fluid loss. There are medicines in homeopathy which help speedy recovery. We too advise maintenance of good fluid level in the body by taking nimkol, vegetables, juice extracted from papaya leaves, lemonade and any juice available,” says Dr Chaudhry.

The DG Health directed homeopaths a fortnight back not to treat patients who complain of high fever for four days with severe headache and nausea because these are symptoms of Dengue shock and Hemorrhagic fever. Homeopaths were asked to refer such patients to a hospital, but homeopathy has good cure for dengue and many patients who went for homeopathic treatment, have recovered from the last outbreak.

Dr Salim Sheikh, son of late Dr Abdus Salam Sheikh, a known homeopath, says homeopathy has not only effective cure in all kinds of dengue situations, it is also cheap. “Who can treat a patient for Rs 5 per day.”

Dr Salim who himself had dengue in early September and fully recovered from it, went on to inform TNS for the benefit of the readers, dengue symptoms and corresponding medicines in homeopathy that have cured thousands of people by now.

According to Dr Salim Sheikh, who practices single remedies in homeopathy, 99.9 per cent of the medicines are used in 30 potency, but the dosage is according to the condition of the patient and that only a doctor is competent to prescribe.

Dr Nadeemur Rehman says dengue was discovered 200 years back and homeopathic medicines were first determined and published in 1920 in Boericke’s Materia Medica. Dr Nadeem finds it important to clarify that “homeopathy treats the patient, not the disease. It treats the body as a whole and does not divide it into compartments”.

While there is a Royal Homeopathic Hospital in the UK, there is no government homeopathic hospital for the masses. In Pakistan too, there is no homeopathic hospital in the public sector while homeopathic treatment is very cheap and the medicines are known to be free from side-effects.

 

[email protected]



 

From despotism to democracy
The first euphoria after the removal of Mubarak has been replaced with the realisation that the fight for democracy in Egypt is not over yet
By Ahmed Nazir Warraich

In the last two weeks, Egypt has seen violent clashes resulting in the death of at least 42 people and injuring thousands more, but at the same time, it has seen hope for a better future through the use of the ballot box. These are the kind of times that Egypt is passing through, violent and turbulent, but containing seeds of better future and hope.

Egypt caught the Arab Spring flu last spring, and with 18 days of protests managed to get rid of the seemingly well-entrenched Hosni Mubarak, that blew winds of hope and optimism throughout Egypt and the Arab World. Since then Egypt has faced riots, alleged human rights abuses and persistent socio-economic problems culminating in the just-held phase one of elections to the lower house. In spite of reported incidents of irregularities and some violence and despite earlier apprehensions that the elections may not be even held at all, the elections seem to have been quite fair and trouble free.

The first euphoria after the removal of Mubarak has been replaced with the realisation that the fight for democracy is not over yet. The process started with the assumption of power by the military high command. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is headed by Mubarak’s former Defense Minister Field Marshall Tantawi. He is 76 years old. Many feel that he is not the man people should expect to bring a revolution. Many commentators feel that the military is afraid of what the future may entail, and therefore wants to control events, and considers itself the best guarantor of national interest and wants to phase Egypt into a controlled democracy, whereas the youth of the Tahrir Square heady with the whiff of freedom that they have felt in their nostrils, don’t want half measures. They want the whole gamut of pure, unadulterated democracy. It is a classic case of a tussle between the doctrinal purists and the worldly wise practical establishment. Perhaps, both in their own way wanting to do what is best for the country.

The SCAF planned to hand over power to a civilian government in 2013 through a phased process of elections to the lower house, then upper house, writing of the constitution, and holding of presidential elections. However, the violence of the last few weeks has forced them to cut short the transition timetable by a year, and now the power is to be handed over in 2012. In the meantime, the army’s image has taken a hit.

Egypt has never been democratic. It will take decades for the nation and its institutions to become fully democratic. We have had periodic periods of democracy in Pakistan, and have a fully independent judiciary and a fiercely independent press, and even then democracy is still evolving. Egypt never had democracy, its revolutions so far have been coups. Some want absolute pure democracy; others are afraid of the Islamists hijacking it and still others only wanting a stable and prosperous Egypt. Egypt since the Arab Spring has been in periodic convulsions with troubles erupting regarding minorities’ issues, law and order problems, constitutional issues, transition to civilian rule, etc. Tahrir Square has always been not just about free elections, but also about ‘dignity, freedom, equality and social justice’. The achievement of these goals, entails more than just a political process.

The first phase of elections has been held on November 28 and 29, 2011. Muslim Brotherhood is expected to be the main winner which is why it is not taking part in the current protests and hence being criticised. Regardless of the elections, the protestors are determined to stay in Tahrir Square, as many of them do not trust the SCAF’s promise of handing over power to the civilian government. Some even boycotted it, others only took part to circumvent the Muslim Brotherhood’s coming into power.

Would the elections being held be fair and free? Would one election change it all? Time will tell. The elections seem to have been quite free, although the electoral process is very complex, and critics feel that such complexity can easily lead to result manipulation. CNN reports that many young supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have broken off from the party and joined the Tahrir Square protests. Protestors want the Field Marshall and the SCAF to resign now. Many of them don’t trust the regime’s promise of holding Presidential elections next year. However, a big test for the revolutionaries is their ability to draw huge crowds, although so far the crowds have not been as large as during the Arab Spring.

The task for Egypt’s revolutionaries lies in navigating the revolution through snags, possible surprise attacks onto a stable functioning and institutionally entrenched democracy. Democracy is a process and takes time to set in. Egypt is learning the same lesson the hard way. As one observer put it, earlier the people saw the Army and the people as one, now some at least have started seeing the Army and police as one. The Military high command needs to quickly move to dispel any such notions, and take charge of the change for the betterment of Egypt and its people.

Democracy requires a change in not just the institutional makeup, but also in the mindsets. It is, therefore, a journey that is made in stages and not in one go. It could take a long time for a fully functional democratic setup to become entrenched, but it is a goal well worth the effort. The Egyptians should not give up.

 

The writer is a Lahore based political analyst and lawyer.

 

 

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