essay
Left in Pakistan — I
Political alternative

Globally, the focus of the left has shifted from regime change to searching out political spaces and networks, and bringing people together to make normative claims about freedom,
justice and equality. Is the left in Pakistan, particularly the younger lot, committed to similar goals? Do they see the ‘party’ as one channel for what they are trying to do? Do they have
dogmatic formulations on this subject? Here’s an attempt to find answers to  these and many other questions
By Sarah Humayun
Discussions of the political left, as indeed the political left itself, will always search for their own relevance and never be in danger of being irrelevant.
It is within these parameters that we can begin to inquire into the conversations the political left is engaged in, with itself and with others — the conversations it is having on class, identity, revolution, authority, among others.

reforms
Education and self-interest

The elite in Pakistan are never genuinely convinced that expanding education opportunity will accrue benefits to them, even if they were to be in the form of enhanced stability and security
By Irfan Muzaffar
This is the first of a series of articles on education. In these, we will think through some very basic questions about education, such as, why do we need universal education? Should it be state’s responsibility to provide education for every child? Is education an instrument of equity and social justice? In addition to these and other key questions, we will also address some very specific issues pertaining to education reforms such as preparation of teachers, growth of private schools and their consequences, and other pressing issues. 

Limiting education
Public universities in the country don’t give admission beyond a certain age that discourage applicants with session gap
By Sher Ali Khalti
Miss a year at college or university and you miss the opportunity to get into one ever again. The doors of universities in Pakistan close to students who have a session gap or who have turned 25-year-old before admissions to universities open.
Result of graduation has been announced throughout Pakistan and students are enthusiastic to enter in relevant educational institutions but there is no opening for those who have crossed the 25 years age mark. It is printed in every public university’s prospectus and was clearly advertised as well. 

health
Qualified quacks!

Physicians educated in approved medical colleges, trained in recognised Unani Tibb institutions and homeopaths trained in homeopathic colleges are accepted as ‘regular practitioners’
By Syed Mansoor Hussain
The Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) recently announced that there were around two hundred thousand (200,000) quacks practicing medicine in the Punjab. By ‘quacks’ we mean ‘medical practitioners’ that have not gone through a proper educational and training process that qualifies them to provide medical care.
Physicians that graduate from ‘accredited’ medical college and receive post graduate medical training as house physicians and advanced training in medical specialties firmly believe that all forms of medical care ‘other’ than what they themselves provide is quackery. This in spite of the fact that officially, Homeopathy and Unani Tibb (Greek-Arab Medicine) are accepted as established alternate forms of medical treatment. So it would seem appropriate to try and define what exactly a medical quack is. A little bit of history is then worth looking at. 

Playing dirty
For decent urban living, sprawling Karachi needs an effective and corruption-free solid waste management system
By Dr Noman Ahmed
The Sindh Assembly has passed a new local government law in August 2013 which has virtually revived the status of municipal bodies to the level of 1979 status. The city had a development authority in 1979 which has disappeared as a consequence of devolution in 2001 and the post-devolution bargains among political power wielders. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) also seems to have miserably failed to maintain the sanitary conditions in the city. Heaps of garbage on main streets and neighbourhoods, rampant dumping along public open spaces, unregulated burning by sweepers and choking of city sewers due to solid waste are common observations. 

Monopolising nationalism
The people of KPK sent the ANP packing for its stereotyped nationalism aimed at maintaining status qou in politics
Dr Javed Badshah
The phenomenon of nationalism is very vague in today’s world politics. Generally, nationalism is attributed to the cause of a community whose language, creed, culture etc are the same since long. Nationalism has so many faces and concepts by virtue of which the objectivity and subjectivity of a specific community is set. Modern world has introduced various kinds of nationalism i.e, territorial nationalism, civic nationalism, state nationalism and so on.
In Pakistan, some political parties are having a federal face and a few parties proclaim to protect the rights of the people of a specific province, region or area.

issue
Withdrawal symptoms

All believe the control of Malakand
Division should be handed over to civilian administration. But, is the
situation ripe for army withdrawal?
By Tahir Ali
As expected, the Tehreek-i-Insaf-Jamaat-i-Islami coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has announced a phased ‘withdrawal’ of army from seven districts of Malakand Division — Swat, Buner, Shangla, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral and Malakand — after which civilians would take over control of administration in the region.
The troops’ pullout was expected to begin by mid-October and completed under a plan approved by the KP chief minister. However, the plan is put on hold for the time being after the Peshawar High Court orders. 

Genesis of violence
Karachi is no more a provincial or national issue now. A more complex regional and international vested interest operates behind what is unfolding in the city
By Naseer Memon
Karachi never evaded limelight during recent decades, albeit under a gruesome spotlight. The city has become an ever bleeding wound. Politics in the city is so fractious that a single incendiary statement can trigger death of dozens. An inflammatory rumour can ignite ethnic or sectarian inferno that may take days to douse. A single day strike call causes hemorrhage of billions to national exchequer and leaves millions of wage earners unfed. 

 






essay
Left in Pakistan — I
Political alternative
Globally, the focus of the left has shifted from regime change to searching out political spaces and networks, and bringing people together to make normative claims about freedom,
justice and equality. Is the left in Pakistan, particularly the younger lot, committed to similar goals? Do they see the ‘party’ as one channel for what they are trying to do? Do they have
dogmatic formulations on this subject? Here’s an attempt to find answers to  these and many other questions
By Sarah Humayun

Discussions of the political left, as indeed the political left itself, will always search for their own relevance and never be in danger of being irrelevant.

It is within these parameters that we can begin to inquire into the conversations the political left is engaged in, with itself and with others — the conversations it is having on class, identity, revolution, authority, among others.

In trying to write about this, however, I would like to steer clear of judgements on left’s standing in the ‘actually existing’ power politics of today. It is hardly news that the post-1990s left is extremely marginal to mainstream politics and diminished, with the exception of a few luminous struggles such as in Okara and Faislabad, even in their traditional stronghold of trade unions and peasant struggles. Or that its positions and perspectives find no forceful, organised articulation in the public discourse, although, as one activist pointed out to me, they are increasingly echoed there without necessarily being associated with the left.

But though the politics of the centre and the right have absorbed shades of leftist thought — as they have of liberal thought — it might be fair to say that this has happened without the centre having shifted to the left. In addition, the left has lost visibility in the public space; in this respect, it has fared even worse than the NGOs, whose liberal pro-civil-society thought has been similarly assimilated without increasing the appeal of liberal thinking as such in the public space.

Why pay heed to the left when they do nothing, or almost nothing that shows up on the media-charted political map of mainstream and populist politics? Why take an interest in their interminable bickering over dusty ideologies, their painstaking and fragile mergers, the promise and disappointment of their wavering existence?

By self-admission, the left is in a state of crisis. The 2013 election delivered a clear mandate for a socially-conservative, economically-neo-liberal and poor-indifferent political parties. But the elections did not so much as mark a shift to the right than extend and confirm it. Religious conformism that gives direct and indirect support to murderous policies towards Qadianis and Shias, not to mention other groups classified as ‘minorities’, is one of the more obvious markers of the shift.

Significantly, the populisms of the last few years, from Imran Khan’s faltering tsunami to Tahirul Qadri’s pro-establishment long march to judiciary and media activism, have been pro-right or, in the lingo of the moment, pro-middle-class. Their slogans are corruption, security, and good governance, often justified with reference to religion and nationalism, or presented in the idioms of righteous piety and nationalist hysteria. These slogans make hegemonic claims on ‘our’ behalf and have successfully come to dominate the public space as the rightful demands of the ‘people’, without significant alternative being articulated by groups whose interests may not be aligned or be differentially aligned with them.

At present, the issues of the middle-class (as commentators are noting with increasing insistence) are making a claim to being ‘everyone’s’ problems, or everyone’s in the same way. This point is only rarely made in mainstream public media (a recent article in Dawn, http://dawn.com/news/1034430/terror-talk, was a welcome exception).The middle-class represents a sizeable chunk of key state institutions — army, bureaucracy, judiciary — as well as the media and the professions. It is interested in producing wealth and acquiring education, in better service delivery and a functioning government. But it is also invested, its critics would say, in regressive norms of social stability, in opposing collective action for labour issues, in patriarchal and exclusionary religion that favours social conservatism and sexual puritanism, in enforcement of law without change in the status quo and without radical interventions on the side of social equality and wealth redistribution.

Would the picture change if we admit other collective entities as parties to the public space, resources and policies in their own right, entitled to make a bid for the name of ‘the majority’ or ‘the people’? ‘Class’ could draw attention to the fact that security, governance and corruption can have a different place in your life depending on differential ownership or influence over resources, your ability to create opportunity or control your environment through possession of material or cultural assets, or to mobilise with others to defend what is in your interest. A working-class position, it has been argued, generates conditions and experiences that form subjects who are marginal to or altogether outside the prevailing status quo, who perceive illusion or division in socially-inscribed reality where another class might see them as given or necessary.

Class in this sense is not necessarily an empirical category; it is a socially-constructed subject position to which meanings and possibilities can be ascribed, and not just by people who count themselves as its members.

But how might class be mapped on the grid of today’s cultural and social figurations, and what can be accomplished politically with it is far from clear. A lot depends on whether a class is seen to exist prior to the struggle for its ‘emancipation’ or whether it is political struggles themselves that shape the parties who struggle, for which ‘class’ may be one name among others. In other words, are emancipatory struggles hitched to groups who define themselves as classes or nations? Or are politics or political struggles themselves shaped, not by a social and historical vector that remains constant, but by the unpredictable unfolding of contingent and context-bound political processes?

The new-er leftism seemed inclined to take the latter route. Globally, the focus has shifted from regime change favourable to the left to searching out political spaces and networks, discrete articulations and struggles, which may or may not link up to produce the phenomenon recognised as class struggle or collective identity but which nevertheless brings people together to make normative claims about freedom, justice and equality.

The recent Arab uprisings are a case in point; they will keep the mandarins arguing for long about whether or not they count as ‘revolution’ — perhaps only to answer both yes and no. Benjamin Arditi noted after the events of 2011 that they gave ‘political thought with the opportunity to come to terms with the loss of loss’, which means ‘parting ways with a grammar of emancipation that was never there to begin with, at least not in actual uprisings: an alternative to the existing order comes in handy but has rarely played a central role in rebellions. One can then begin to think the difference between insurgencies and programmes as a difference in nature instead of framing their relationship within a hierarchy of stages that commits us to place programmes above revolts in the political food chain’.  This dialogue with an event is critical because it puts the narrow worlds of both academia and the organised left in contact with an outside which has no obligation to prove them right.

One of the more striking thing about the admittedly few young lefties that I met (all have or have had a link with the Awami Workers’ Party, though not all are current members) is that they see the ‘party’ as one channel for what they are trying to do. No doubt, they are cautioned by the left’s history of parochialism and factionalism; but possibly their imaginations are no longer limited by the horizons offered by party politics.

Refreshingly, I did not hear many dogmatic formulations on this subject. The form of the party does not seem obsolete, and there were lots of remarks that suggested enthusiasm for elections, even if only as a mobilising opportunity, and a considered engagement with party squabbles that showed amusement, exasperation, and perseverance. Everyone had something interesting and slightly different to say about this, and did not seem particularly concerned with reaching agreement; even at times pointed out express disagreements between themselves.

What this means for the long-term strength or coherence of ‘the party’ is difficult to say, but to those in search of a different politics of heterodox forms, the opportunities to come together will have a value of their own. ‘The left gathers those who seek to improve on existing thresholds of egalitarianism and solidarity through critical thought and collective action’, writes Benjamin Arditi in a recent discussion of what counts as the left today. ‘It is not particularly relevant whether this pursuit is channeled through mainstream institutions of liberal democratic states — parties, legislatures, and executive branches of government — or through other sites of intervention that are starting to demarcate a post-liberal setting for politics. Echoing Karl Marx, all this happens in circumstances that are not of the left’s choosing and within the constraints imposed by the strategic relationships with others, the available resources, and a particular time frame.’

Is it surprising that the political left — with its insistence that the ‘social’ cannot be mapped solely by monotheistic or monopolistic forms like state, capital or religion, its organising metaphor of ‘class’ that stresses division —  is disunited, perpetually on the verge of merger or split, perpetually restless and in disagreement? (I would point anyone tempted to think this a peculiarly Pakistani affliction to read this article on the Indian left is the latest EPW http://www.epw. in/commentary/why-left-more-divided-right.html, and this article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian .com/politics/2013/sep/09/time-for-leftwing-ukip-labour on the new British far left, which mentions its ‘apparent belief in an age-old socialist maxim: why have one party when 59 will suffice?’) This can seem like a good or bad thing depending on where you stand — but it is certainly discouraging for those who want the left to present a unified front and maybe even make some kind of showing at the polls.

In 2012, news of the merger of three left parties (Labour, Awami and Workers’ parties) in the Awami Workers’ Party revived a degree of interest in the subsequent course of action of the organised left. I asked a couple of left activists about life after the merger. One senior activist I talked with described it as an arranged marriage, in which you have to get to know the person after you end up with him. Unfamiliarity with electioneering and perhaps a fear of democracy-by-vote caused organisational friction. Fear stemmed from recoil from what abject defeat could confirm about the present status of the left among the awam as well as what the process of engagement would do the parties who had spent much of the 1990s closeted in on themselves. In the event the AWP did field some 14 candidates.

Yet, the younger activists or engagés that I met with seemed to be under no illusion about their ‘objective’ standing in electoral or popular politics. One admitted that their participation in the Lawyers’ Movement, which aggregated the forces of lawyers, civil society activists and some political parties, brought home to them the sorry state of their ability to mobilise street power.

The PPP’s legacy casts its huge shadow or glow, depending on how you see it, on the left today; the time may now be ripe to have an informed, multivocal debate about what the left, specifically, can take away from this legacy. For some left activists, the current state of the state is a direct corollary of the disappearance of left-wing politics from the public sphere, which leaves the field wide open for rightist religious extremism and pro-market social conservatism. In this narrative, the PPP is sometimes credited with keeping the floodgates closed. It presented a confused hydra-headed form — Islamic-socialist, secular, pro-nationalist, pro-Sindhi-nationalist and pro-poor, and perhaps even pro-intellectual —  that managed to win a substantial public space. As long as it was not in a full-term government, where possibility decisively failed to translate into performance.

But beyond the nostalgia for the PPP myth, a more pertinent question for the left might be if there is any appetite left for a politics that makes a reality out of so many illusions and compromises. What cannot be underestimated, however, is the value that attaches to representation of interests above and beyond the success of a particular political party. Are the ‘people’ are in need of a new party — the disenfranchised factory labourers, peasants, slum dwellers, women, liberals and artist whose constituency was so ambiguously represented by the PPP? Or is this a juncture at which a new politics is possible, one that would put the PPP in perspective and possibly make a case for a politics not against but adjacent to the state-party-establishment form.

Sarah Humayun is a writer based in Lahore. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reforms
Education and self-interest
The elite in Pakistan are never genuinely convinced that expanding education opportunity will accrue benefits to them, even if they were to be in the form of enhanced stability and security
By Irfan Muzaffar

This is the first of a series of articles on education. In these, we will think through some very basic questions about education, such as, why do we need universal education? Should it be state’s responsibility to provide education for every child? Is education an instrument of equity and social justice? In addition to these and other key questions, we will also address some very specific issues pertaining to education reforms such as preparation of teachers, growth of private schools and their consequences, and other pressing issues.

In this article, I will consider the rhetoric of Education for All (EFA). Those of us working in education sector have repeatedly grounded their work in EFA. Since the introduction of the term in 1990s, both the civil society and government have talked about Pakistan’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in terms of an obligation to the international community.

Nearly every new proposal and policy framework that I have seen invokes EFA, and now MDGs, as international obligations to be met by our government. Just to give you an example, the second paragraph of the most recent National Education Policy (2009) justifies the review of the earlier policies in these words: “…the performance remained deficient in several key aspects including access, quality and equity of educational opportunities and secondly, the international challenges like…MDGs, …EFA Goals and the challenges triggered by globalization...” The policy proposals must be grounded in an overarching policy framework. The rhetoric of EFA and MDGs works to supply such a framework in the case of education sector in Pakistan.

Although EFA is usually traced to the UN conference on education in the Thai city of Jomtien in 1990, the rhetoric is certainly not new. Most countries becoming independent from the colonial rule mentioned the idea of universal education as a central plank of nation building.

In Pakistan, for example, the participants in the very first national conference on education held in Karachi in 1947 resolved to provide free and compulsory education for a period of five years, which was to be gradually raised to eight years. Likewise, even before the 18th Constitutional Amendment that made state responsible to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 5-16 years, education for all was on the constitutional anvil as a principle of state policy. So the rhetoric of EFA only assumed an international tenor after Jomtien, while it had been with us all along.

But there was one crucial difference between the new and the old EFA. The early advocates of universal education grounded its justification in terms of such imperatives as nation building, individual and national progress, and so on. The later advocates of EFA needed only refer to the international obligations of their state. While the early advocates of EFA articulated it in terms of state’s obligation to its citizens, the recent advocates justified it in terms of state’s obligation to the international community. Does this difference matter in terms of actually achieving education for all? Let us this question by looking at the history of the struggle for universal education.

Not many people realise that human civilizations have not always entertained the idea of universal education and that it was necessitated only after substantive changes in the organisation of societies. This has nothing to do with the importance given to education per se. For instance, it is undeniable that Islamic civilisation at its peak supported both knowledge acquisition and production. Yet it did so without ever requiring all children to be educated at state’s expense.

If you could go back about 300 years in a time capsule, and then keep going further back, you are highly unlikely to find any civilisation on the planet that supported universal education. It is only in the last three hundred years or so that the idea of universal education took roots. How did nations arrive at this strange idea to educate everyone at state’s expense? As you may have guessed, the rationality behind this universalisation of education was anything but moral.

Establishing a system of universal education required huge financial commitments by the state. This is never easy as demonstrated by our own experience with frustrated attempts to raise the percentage of GDP spent on education. How difficult it must have been to persuade the policy elites to pay for basic education of all children with public funds. The advocates of common schools in most countries that universalised education in the mid to late 19th century were involved in a protracted struggle to convince the policy elites of the benefits that would accrue from educating everyone in the society. Their arguments were largely pragmatic.

Just to give you one example, Horace Mann, one of the most fervent advocates of common education in the US, used to draw the attention of policy elites towards a growing tide of menace and decline at the source of which, he claimed, was the unschooled mind. The following quote from his lecture succinctly captures the argument for EFA in his times: “The mobs, the riots, the burnings, the lynching, perpetrated by the men of the present day, are perpetrated, because of their vicious or defective education, when children. We see, and feel, the havoc and the ravage of their tiger-passions, now, when they are full grown; but it was years ago that they were whelped and suckled. And so, too, if we are derelict from our duty, in this matter, our children, in their turn, will suffer. If we permit the vulture’s eggs to be incubated and hatched, it will then be too late to take care of the lambs.”

So those championing common education saw it as an instrument to create a secure society, to ward off the menace of undesirable ideologies, and to help achieve the goals of economic progress and individual fulfillment. It is easy to see that Horace Mann’s frontal arguments would have lost their rhetorical force if he were to ask his fellow citizens that it was their international obligation to expand educational opportunity.

It is not always the fact that the policy elites are well meaning, that they really intend to expand public education of a decent quality to all citizens for moral reasons, but are finding it hard to do so.

The findings of some recent research on political economy of education are quite provocative in this respect. When the governments undersupply public education they do so because those who control the policy do not want other people’s children to become educated (B.W. Ansell. (2010) From the ballot to the blackboard: The redistributive political economy of education).

Let us imagine a society, which, in its given state, consists of two segments of population, a small educated elite and a very large inadequately educated semi-literate or illiterate segment. Someone demands that this society should be given educational opportunity and that doing this will increase the life chances of everyone in it. Imagine further the existence of a small policy elite in this society and assume that it has the wherewithal to make and influence all policy decisions. If the size of the economy of this society is small then it is imaginable that redistribution of resources aimed at making the disadvantaged better off would leave the rich worse off. If so, wouldn’t it be perfectly rational for the policy elite to block educational expansion if it were likely to leave them worse off?

The readers can see how difficult it might have been to persuade the key players within a political economy to expand educational opportunity. It only happened because the elite were convinced that it was in their own benefit to spend on education of all children. It was not because they owed it to some international agreement but because they were genuinely convinced that they would be better off by spending on education.

In this country, we have a similar situation. The elite are never genuinely convinced that expanding education opportunity will accrue benefits to them, even if they were to be in the form of enhanced stability and security.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, the rhetoric of EFA has been with us all along but after 1990, the civil society and government started referring to Pakistan’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in terms of her obligation to the international community. I would like you to contrast this with the justification for education proffered by Horace Mann to his own policy elite in the mid 1800s. The justification appealed to the self-interest of the people and not to external treaties.

The recent rhetoric of EFA and MDGs etc. has had an unfortunate effect of justifying in terms of international treaties, what should have been grounded in, and justified on the basis of, a compact between the state and its citizens and on the basis of enlightened self-interest of all segments of the society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limiting education
Public universities in the country don’t give admission beyond a certain age that discourage applicants with session gap
By Sher Ali Khalti

Miss a year at college or university and you miss the opportunity to get into one ever again. The doors of universities in Pakistan close to students who have a session gap or who have turned 25-year-old before admissions to universities open.

Result of graduation has been announced throughout Pakistan and students are enthusiastic to enter in relevant educational institutions but there is no opening for those who have crossed the 25 years age mark. It is printed in every public university’s prospectus and was clearly advertised as well.

Those who have no finance to get education now, after 3 or 4 years if they become able enough to afford education they will not be allowed to apply for admission in public universities and their affiliated colleges.

The literacy rate of Pakistan is 58 percent which is not good to live in the 21st century and only 16 percent are going to take admission in universities. Most of the people don’t even knock the door of universities due to poverty but those who do, must get an opportunity to study. This calls for declaring emergency in public universities as well.

Muhammad Anwar Sajid, Registrar University of the Punjab, says preference will be given to fresh graduates if they seek admission in Bachelor and Master Degree Programme. Although there is 2-year relaxation for male and 3 years for female candidates, those who fail to get admission can apply on self-support programme.

Director Admission Committee student’s affairs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir says, “We have set criteria for admission. After 22 years no student can be enrolled in BSc and if the candidate touches his 26 birthday he will not be given admission in Master programme. There is no space for students who are overage and have session gap. The government should provide more land and buildings for students because population has increased and in the given structure only as much as can be accommodated.”

He considers the present admission policy oppressive — prohibiting people from seeking knowledge.

He says one can get education at any time and state should facilitate people in the pursuit of education. There is no concept of age and session gap in learning of human beings in the developed countries. We need to create equal opportunity and we have a long way to go.

Deputy Registrar Farhat Safdar from Sardar Bahadur Khan University Balochistan told TNS that she is not aware of age and session gap because the university does not come across such cases. Balochistan is a backward province and people are poor so majority of the graduates don’t get education in Master’s programme. “We have opened the door to everyone.”

Lahore College for Women University doesn’t give admission in BS 4 years programme if the applicant is more than 22 years old. “If a student wants to get admission in MS or PhD, age and session gap don’t matter,” says the Deputy Registrar of LCWU, Shahid Jameel.

Universities in the west have a different concept. Correspondence with some top of the line universities revealed that age and session gap are no issues there.

Harward and Cambridge University see years spent in work after graduation or pursuit of one’s career as no limitation to their programs.

Oxford University puts no age limit to any of their programmes of study. “We find that students are more frequently working for a number of years before undertaking graduate studies, however you might like to discuss your situation and your application with the department before applying, to ensure that you do have necessary background to undertake our programme,’’ was the reply from Oxford University.

Even in an African university — Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria, a 74-year-old man got admission. Some universities take their own tests along with taking grades under consideration.

An intellectual, senior journalist and columnist Khawaja Jamshaid Imam Butt says this policy was introduced during Gen Ziaul Haq’s reign to eliminate influence of students’ federations. It was necessary for Zia to keep the youth away from politics.

Butt says first word of revelation is “Iqra” which means “read”, Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was taught at the age of 40. “Why are his followers being stopped from getting education,” he questions. “According to 1973 Constitution no law or policy can be drafted in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which is contradictory to the Quran and Sunnah. Denial of admission on the basis of age or session gap goes against them. It is a violation of the fundamental right to get education.”

“You would be surprise I got admission at MAO Post Graduate College affiliated with Punjab University at the age of 48 and got my degree when I was 50 years old just 2 years ago. I got admission on the call of HEC secretary Ahad Cheema to chairman mass communication department MAO College. We are living in class-based society where law is only for the fragile.

Member of National  Assembly Muhammad Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha from Sargodha sees the age bar/session gap policy as a hurdle in getting higher education. “I condemn this policy of admission. Every citizen has the right to get education any time. He promised to do something to change the government policy regarding this matter.”

Shahzad Roy, a famous singer, social worker who has a lot of contribution in the field of education says, “Everyone has the right to seek the light of education. It gives the opportunity to look outside the window, the door to knowledge should never shut at any cost.’’ He demands from the government an end to age and session gap policy. “I will launch a programme against this discriminatory policy which has become a hurdle in the way of education,” he says.

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

health
Qualified quacks!
Physicians educated in approved medical colleges, trained in recognised Unani Tibb institutions and homeopaths trained in homeopathic colleges are accepted as ‘regular practitioners’
By Syed Mansoor Hussain

The Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) recently announced that there were around two hundred thousand (200,000) quacks practicing medicine in the Punjab. By ‘quacks’ we mean ‘medical practitioners’ that have not gone through a proper educational and training process that qualifies them to provide medical care.

Physicians that graduate from ‘accredited’ medical college and receive post graduate medical training as house physicians and advanced training in medical specialties firmly believe that all forms of medical care ‘other’ than what they themselves provide is quackery. This in spite of the fact that officially, Homeopathy and Unani Tibb (Greek-Arab Medicine) are accepted as established alternate forms of medical treatment. So it would seem appropriate to try and define what exactly a medical quack is. A little bit of history is then worth looking at.

Modern medicine is indeed a modern reality. However, there are some systems of medicine that have been around for thousands of years. Of these, the best known is the Greek system of medicine that is often associated with Hippocrates (Buqrat) circa 400 BCE and Galen (Jalinoos) circa 200 CE and was refined and improved on by generations of Arab physicians during the previous millennia including the likes of Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Well into the sixteenth century, this was the primary medical system in Europe. However, this started to evolve in the seventeenth century or so into a more modern ‘scientific’ system while it continued relatively unchanged in the Indian subcontinent especially under the Muslim rule. Hakeem Ajmal Khan was perhaps its most famous practitioner in India during the twentieth century.

Besides the Hippocratic system, we also have Chinese medicine that includes herbal medicine, acupuncture and other modalities like massage therapy. All these three have survived into modern times with some change. Then we have the Ayurvedic system that originated in India in antiquity and survives even today. Most of these ‘ancient’ systems are relatively ‘benign’ in terms of treatment with the emphasis being on diet, exercise and ‘behaviour modification’. Herbs and other indigenous substances were also used for treatment and still are.

What we call the modern system of medicine started to develop during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as scientific discoveries helped to advance medical science. These included the discovery of ‘germs’ and then identification of germs as cause of disease. Also herbal medications were chemically broken down to identify the ‘active’ ingredients in them and these were then synthesised in the laboratory.

Most importantly there developed the idea to use a particular type of treatment and record its results; this was followed by the concept of medical trials that further refined treatment. This gave rise to what is now called ‘evidence based medicine’. General anaesthesia, discovery of blood groups and development of blood banking as well as the concept of sterilisation revolutionised surgery. Until the discovery of antibiotics and many modern medicines, even the so called modern medicine was still relatively primitive and its results were often not satisfactory.

During the nineteenth century as medicine was evolving, many other schools of treatment based often on what are now proven to be errant scientific ideas also developed. Of these, Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Homeopathy survive albeit with modifications. So, patients disappointed by regular medical treatment often resorted to these forms of therapy looking for relief. The important thing about these systems especially Homeopathy is that treatment is unlikely to produce any serious adverse effects. To sum it up, in Pakistan physicians educated in approved medical colleges, trained in recognised Unani Tibb institutions and homeopaths trained in homeopathic colleges are accepted as ‘regular practitioners’. All others that practice medicine then are by definition quacks.

But let us look a bit deeper into this situation. Should all those that provide some form of basic healthcare without belonging to one of the three categories mentioned above be called quacks? As it is even in a country like the US that has strict laws about who can practice medicine, we are seeing some liberalisation when it comes to primary healthcare. Nurses and pharmacists are being allowed to take care of some basic medical problems and midwives are allowed to oversee uncomplicated home deliveries. The understanding, of course, is that any problem above and beyond the capability of such ancillary medical personnel to manage will be referred to a qualified physician. This allows physicians to take care of those that really need their services.

Besides freeing up physician time, when ancillary personnel participate in primary and basic medical care, the cost of treatment is also considerably decreased. Things like a fever with flu, a sore throat, and an upset stomach can all be treated quite adequately by a nurse, a lady health visitor or a pharmacist. And that is often what does happen in many of our rural areas as well as in more than a few urban areas; people that have had some medical training provide basic medical care. As long as such ‘practitioners’ stay within the ambit of their abilities and appropriately triage patients to hospitals and qualified physicians as needed, their services should be allowed.

More importantly, since these practitioners are community based, therefore, they have a better idea of local problems and also have the need to provide ‘good’ results if they want to continue to offer their services in that particular area. In my opinion then, such practitioners should not be penalised but should rather be mobilised and provided educational resources so they can provide better care including immunisation and pre and post-natal care.

That then leaves two categories of people that should be called quacks. The first are those that have little or no medical training but pose as qualified physicians. The major problem with such practitioners is that they often misdiagnose patients, treat them with incorrect medicines and make things much worse. There are those among them that to make money often give unnecessary ‘injections’ with inappropriately sterilised needles and syringes. This can produce massive infections and worse transmit deadly diseases like Hepatitis C from one patient to another. In this category, we should also include ‘road side’ dentists that use unsterilized instruments and are also responsible for spreading Hepatitis C.

The second category that I consider quacks are also sometimes referred to within the medical profession as ‘hacks’ are ‘qualified’ physicians that out of greed give every patient an injection or worse an intravenous infusion (the bottle) whether the patients needs it or not. And they often reuse needles exposing their patients to the risks mentioned above. Such physicians frequently over treat patients even when the patient is not getting better and will only refer the patient onwards to a major hospital when the patient’s condition has deteriorated and is often beyond salvage. Little can be done about them since they possess a ‘genuine’ MBBS degree.

As long as there is a need for inexpensive and locally available healthcare, especially in areas where qualified physicians are not available, quacks will fulfil that need. And as things stand, there is little the PHC can do to control this problem.

The writer is former professor and Chairman Department of Cardiac Surgery, KEMU/Mayo Hospital, Lahore: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Playing dirty
For decent urban living, sprawling Karachi needs an effective and corruption-free solid waste management system
By Dr Noman Ahmed

The Sindh Assembly has passed a new local government law in August 2013 which has virtually revived the status of municipal bodies to the level of 1979 status. The city had a development authority in 1979 which has disappeared as a consequence of devolution in 2001 and the post-devolution bargains among political power wielders. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) also seems to have miserably failed to maintain the sanitary conditions in the city. Heaps of garbage on main streets and neighbourhoods, rampant dumping along public open spaces, unregulated burning by sweepers and choking of city sewers due to solid waste are common observations.

It is disappointing to note that despite investment of billions of rupees in SWM sector by international financial institutions and the federal and provincial governments during the past 25 years, the position of cleanliness has been reduced to a null status. Needless to say that decent urban living is unimaginable without a credible system of solid waste management.

The changing life styles and rise in consumer-oriented tendencies have been catalytical in increasing the quantity of waste. According to conservative estimates, the total amount of waste generated in the city is over 13000 tonnes per day. This waste does not include the construction, electronic, industrial and hospital waste for which authentic statistics are not available. About 12 per cent of this waste is segregated and disposed of at the household level, 10 per cent is separated and disposed of by the waste pickers, 5 per cent is used for different operations in land reclamation, predominantly along the coastline of the city and 33 per cent is picked and disposed of by municipal bodies – when they work normally – and an equal amount is dumped in natural drains, nullahs and creeks.

In terms of composition, a sizable part of this waste comprises urban organic waste with low calorific value. Recyclable items are largely separated at source or at the kundi where they are sold to junk dealers. Over 600 units of recycling industrial units exist in the city, which belong to informal sector.

Fact finding studies by Urban Resource Centre — an action research based NGO — has revealed that over 7500 households draw their livelihoods from the informal recycling industry. The city lacks properly designed transfer stations for interim storage, sorting and onward transfer of waste. As a result, informally designated garbage dumps can be found almost every where in the city.

There is no scientifically designed sanitary landfill site for the safe and final disposal of waste. Most of the garbage is presently dumped in Jam Chakro dumping site near Surjani Town; Govind Pass (near Hub) and Mehran Town near Korangi. Sizable waste is illegally dropped by municipal trucks on the way to dumping sites in connivance with waste pickers and higher municipal officials. As no public health procedures are applied, open dumping causes enormous problems.

Due to visible falling standards in performance in the past, privatisation of services was conceived as a universal remedy by the donor agencies for performance ailments in the developing countries. SWM was attempted for privatisation in the previous formats of local government.

In 1994, the KMC contracted the waste collection to a private entrepreneur. He had installed an imported plant to convert urban organic waste into compost (which is a form of plant food used for soil enrichment). However, due to various administrative and procedural reasons largely unknown, the plant closed down and the contract was prematurely terminated.

In 1998, DMC-Central awarded a contract of waste collection and disposal for North Karachi and Federal B Area to a private contracting firm. The contract ran into controversies soon after its takeoff. There were allegations and counter allegations between the contracting parties. It was soon terminated.

According to the contractor he had to undergo heavy financial losses in the capital investments made for purchase of vehicles (trucks and other form of vehicles) and manpower. The DMC-Central accused the contractor of poor performance.

The outputs of SWM privatisation were below the desirable level. Most of these experiments have encountered different types of problems during their initial phase. The donor agencies, principally the World Bank, have been promoting the concept of private sector participation for improving the efficiency and level of service in a cost-effective manner. A number of formats and arrangements have been tried and tested in this respect, which have met a varying degree of success.

It is a typical situation in most of the developing countries that the private sector operators are small in scale and capacity and are not able to handle all aspects of the services themselves. They also have to bear the load of taxes and duties on their equipment and accessories. In order to remain profitable in the market situation, they establish political linkages with the members of the government to get better conditions in the contract. This is a case found prevalent in most of the Latin American cities.

Cost recovery and financial fitness are two essential criteria for inducting private sector in a municipal system. With the passage of time, the municipalities find it difficult to maintain the large scale sanitation infrastructure and components as well as the spread out staff which is generally inefficient. The private sector is normally hired at lower costs but due to its compatible scale of operation, it generates an optimum level of efficiency. Cities in Nigeria, Brazil and Colombia are examples in this respect. Several lessons can be derived from these experiences.

Livelihoods of certain low income households are linked to SWM belonging to informal sector. While devising a system of formal privatisation, the existing informal practices of picking, sorting and recycling should be kept into view. It is interesting to know that while we talk of privatisation today, the informal private sector has been doing its job for several decades. It not only maintains its own survival but also provides useful service to the city by reducing the waste volumes, generating some useful products and bye-products through recycling and creating avenues of employment for skilled and unskilled labour force.

According to studies, there are more than 200,000 labourers/people in Karachi who are directly or indirectly involved with income generation activities related to waste on a part time or full time basis.

 

 

 

 

 

Monopolising nationalism
The people of KPK sent the ANP packing for its stereotyped nationalism aimed at maintaining status qou in politics
Dr Javed Badshah

The phenomenon of nationalism is very vague in today’s world politics. Generally, nationalism is attributed to the cause of a community whose language, creed, culture etc are the same since long. Nationalism has so many faces and concepts by virtue of which the objectivity and subjectivity of a specific community is set. Modern world has introduced various kinds of nationalism i.e, territorial nationalism, civic nationalism, state nationalism and so on.

In Pakistan, some political parties are having a federal face and a few parties proclaim to protect the rights of the people of a specific province, region or area.

After 9/11, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa came into the international limelight due to its close boundary with Afghanistan. The nature and nomenclature of the Khyber Pakhthunkhwa is very heterogenous not only in the form of its geological/geographical structure, but in the form of communities living here with different origins, castes, creeds and languages.

Keeping in view the very recent history of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, some valid questions arise in one’s mind about the political parties of this federating unit. The ANP normally claims to be the champion for the rights of the people of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa and its slogan is Khpala khawara Khpal Ikhthiyar (our soil, our authority) and for this slogan it manipulates nationalism.

The ANP usually claims to protect the rights of Pakhthuns, but its role in the provincial and federal level is not in line with the concept of nationalism. Rather it appears that the slogan is wrongly interpreted and exploited for personal wishes and whims. The party credits itself for giving the province its present name i.e, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa. The truth is that the very same resolution was passed twice unanimously by different parties (both national and provincial) of the former provincial assemblies. It is worth mentioning that the name suggested for the province in those unanimous resolutions was “Pakhthunkhwa” and not “ Khyber Pakhthunkhwa”. The ANP compromised on these resolutions accepting the ammendment in the name with the word “Khyber”.

It is really astonishing that with the change of the name of the province, suddenly the movement for the Hazara province got currency. The ANP’s policies gave justifiable reasons to the people of Hazara for carrying on an active movement for a province of their own.

In 70s, the JUI being a religious party and the ANP being a secular party formed a coallition government. Can anyone point out as to what the ANP gained for its nationalistic motives in this respect? If one wants to bring benefits to people, there are several other issues such as health, education, social sectors etc that can be used in manifestoes and slogans. But the ANP stereotyped nationalism for its very own interests to maintain its status qou in politics.

It is high time that the ANP leadership revise its concept of nationalism and determine the parameters of idealogical nationalism, territorial nationalism and state nationalism. Pakistan is a federation and the ANP has its roots in one of the federating units, but its concept of nationalism still carries a big question mark.

In the light of recent elections, the ANP also needs to re-consider its position in comparison to the PTI, which managed to grab majority seats in the provincial and national assemblies. The 2013 election has conveyed a message that the people of the province, instead of banking on nationalism alone, want uplift in the fields of education, health and other social sectors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

issue
Withdrawal symptoms
All believe the control of Malakand
Division should be handed over to civilian administration. But, is the
situation ripe for army withdrawal?
By Tahir Ali

As expected, the Tehreek-i-Insaf-Jamaat-i-Islami coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has announced a phased ‘withdrawal’ of army from seven districts of Malakand Division — Swat, Buner, Shangla, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral and Malakand — after which civilians would take over control of administration in the region.

The troops’ pullout was expected to begin by mid-October and completed under a plan approved by the KP chief minister. However, the plan is put on hold for the time being after the Peshawar High Court orders.

Initially, troops would be pulled out of Buner and Shangla. In the second phase, after assessing the impact of withdrawal of troops from these areas, a decision about troops’ withdrawal from other areas would be taken.

It hasn’t been explained whether it will be a complete withdrawal of army from the region or it will only restrict its visibility and relocate to barracks by handing over control of administration to civil authorities. In the former case, it will have far reaching consequences. In the latter, it will be a routine matter.

Arguments for and against it:

Sardar Husain Babak, the parliamentary leader of the ANP in KP Assembly who hails from Buner, terms the decision an attempt at point scoring and grabbing newspaper headlines. “Malakand has been badly hit by terrorism. Any decision about it should be taken after due deliberations, consultations and assessment of ground situation and capacity-building of civilian institutions, if required. I don’t think these steps have been followed. At a time when insurgents could attack and kill as high a target as General Officer Commanding of Swat, Major General Sanaullah Niazi, I think the decision is illogical. The PTI leadership is confused and devoid of any vision and ideas. While the other side asserts it is at war with the state, this government declares them as its brothers,” he said.

Zahid Khan, the president of Swat Qaumi Jirga (SQJ), who was shot and critically injured by the TTP target killers, thinks the decision is tantamount to presenting Swat as a cake to Taliban.

“If Taliban accept the constitution and writ of the state, army can be withdrawn. But at a time when even a major general is not safe, neither have talks with militants begun nor any pact concluded with them, Taliban still denounce the constitution/ sovereignty of the state and police is insufficiently trained, ill-equipped and therefore ill-prepared to be a substitute for army, the decision is uncalled-for and wrong. Whatever peace is there in Swat, it is due to the vast intelligence network and quick response of army,” he adds.

He asserts the decision to keep or withdraw army from the region will be taken by the SQJ. “If the government plans to withdraw army from the militancy-hit Swat, it should also pullout troops from cantonments in Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera and other cities. Swat needs army. There should be cantonment here so that troops are available immediately if need be.”

Afzal Khan Lala, the famous nationalist leader from Swat, says the PTI government is mandated to take whatever decisions it likes but it should think that army was called by the government itself.

“Fazlullah-led TTP had challenged the state writ. And whether by design or per chance, they attacked police — the first line of state’s defence. The civilian forces could not withstand the insurgents. So army was called up. It defeated the militants, restored the state authority in the region for which we Swatis are indebted to it. Army shouldn’t have permanent control over civilian administration but as for its withdrawal, the question is: is police ready and able to take complete control of the region from army? If yes, it should come, otherwise army presence should be maintained.”

Replying to a question, Lala says if Swat or any other area needs a permanent cantonment, it should be built. “After all army, police and we all are sons of this soil. They can be stationed anywhere including Swat if needed.”

Religious parties, however, support the withdrawal plan.

“Army personnel are ignorant of and careless about local culture and traditions. They, for example, intrude into homes without permission. Their presence in MD has created lots of malice and misgivings about them. We are against the use of army in Malakand and elsewhere. Army can’t/shouldn’t be assigned permanent control of administration. Civilian institutions are best suited for this. The sooner the army is pulled out, the better,” opines Mufti Fazle Ghafoor, a JUI MPA from Buner.

When asked was police ready to take over, he said it should be enabled if it isn’t.

Is the situation ripe for withdrawal?

Analysts say the ineptness of the withdrawal offer was revealed barely a day after the government announced the pullout plan when the militants killed three army personnel including Major General Sanaullah Niazi.

Prolonged presence and dominance of military in civilian administration is not desirable. In principle, the army should withdraw from Malakand sooner rather than later. It should be pulled out of Fata as well. But is this a realistic supposition in the given circumstances when the TTP stresses it is at war with the state forces and won’t miss any opportunity to attack them?

The Peshawar High Court recently asked the federal and the KP governments to make laws before withdrawal of troops from Malakand division as withdrawal without proper legislation will result in legal and constitutional crises such as the maintenance of army’s internment centres and future of the hundreds of detainees kept there, transfer of detainees to regular prisons and the future course and mode of their trials.

The court also asked the authorities to think over the legal consequences of withdrawal since the notification issued by the prime minister calling troops, Action (in aid of civil power) Regulation 2011, was still in the field.

Basic ingredients of any counter-terrorism strategy are: clear, hold, build and transfer of authority to civil administration. Residents of the area say that extremists’ ability to occupy an area permanently has been weakened but they fear militants could stage a comeback if the army is withdrawn without consolidating the civil law enforcement agencies and taking precautionary measures.

The army flushed the TTP militants out of Malakand and restored the state’s writ in 2009. Later, it was decided that army would remain in Malakand for two years. It was hoped the local security infrastructure would be fully operational and capable by then, however it’s not clear whether they are or aren’t.

Police has been fairly successful with the limited resources after it was given partial control of Buner and Shangla in May 2011. But more information needs to be made public about its strength and state of preparedness. Repeated attempts to take feedback from police in the region could not materialise.

Also, it is not clear whether the federal government and the newly-reconstituted Cabinet Committee on National Security have approved the plan and whether the army and police are on board?

Peace has been established in the area but improved governance, provision of speedy/cheap justice, equitable distribution of wealth, poverty alleviation through job opportunities, rule of law and tolerance are other requisites for sustainable peace. The state also needs to fight the “political, psychological or religious” trends that lead to radicalism.

There is no room for complacency as militants continue their hit and run campaign. “Six of SQJ activists have been killed in 2013 in target killings claimed by Taliban. Unfortunately, there has been no further investigation,” says Zahid Khan.

Then Malakand Division is both a settled district as well as part of PATA. Both Fata and PATA are inherently different from rest of the country. The CrPC or PPC aren’t applicable there – PATA are governed by PATA regulations and the Fata by FCR. Income tax, customs act and many other laws of the land are not applicable there unless specifically notified. These anomalies need to be removed.

The write blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be contacted at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis of violence
Karachi is no more a provincial or national issue now. A more complex regional and international vested interest operates behind what is unfolding in the city
By Naseer Memon

Karachi never evaded limelight during recent decades, albeit under a gruesome spotlight. The city has become an ever bleeding wound. Politics in the city is so fractious that a single incendiary statement can trigger death of dozens. An inflammatory rumour can ignite ethnic or sectarian inferno that may take days to douse. A single day strike call causes hemorrhage of billions to national exchequer and leaves millions of wage earners unfed.

Debilitated by unremitting violence, the city has descended into a quagmire of felony. Magnitude and complexity of fratricide in Karachi has proved that the prevailing malaise is far deeper and sporadic surgical interventions can only restore semblance of peace that may be also too ephemeral to rejoice. Long term socio-political solutions are already over due.

The ongoing turf war among different groups is embedded in years’ long inept politics of myopic minds. Ethnic and social stratification fueled by free movement of arms has made the city a fertile battleground for fiercely fragmented population. Genesis of the turmoil can be traced into unregulated migration and refugee settlement in 1947 that laid the foundation of the powder-keg called Karachi now.

Being the most developed port city in 40s, the smart, educated and socially advanced migrant community fastidiously chose Karachi and other developed towns to be their abode. To make it almost exclusively a migrant city, administrative steps were taken to keep other communities specially the natives at bay.

According to a report of Pakistan-Sindh Joint Refugees Council, by May 1948 more than 700,000 refugees entered Sindh and three-quarters of them settled in Karachi alone. Sindhi speaking made 61 per cent of the population of Karachi in the Census of 1941 against only six per cent Urdu speaking. Mass influx in the wake of partition, altered the demographic composition of Karachi. A corollary of unbridled emigration, Urdu-speaking population swelled to 50 per cent and Sindhi-speaking shrunk to only 8.6 per cent in 1951. This deluge systematically excluded Sindhis from Karachi through evacuee property laws and other administrative measures which created an ever yawning crevasse among the two permanent communities of Sindh. Baring few ruses hardly any serious efforts were taken to forge some meaningful bond among Sindhi and Urdu speaking population.

Being more educated, socially advanced and better penetrated in civil-military bureaucracy, urban leadership preferred bonhomie with Punjabi-led civil-military establishment. Streak of superiority and imprudent political arrogance of migrant community fueled an acrimony that jeopardized shared interest of both Sindhi and Urdu-speaking communities.

Enigmatic murder of Liaqat Ali Khan marked the decline of migrant’s supremacy in the state matters. Over the period, Punjabi-led establishment became the prime ruler and the migrants were reduced to a junior partner. After the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan, the politics of Urdu-speaking community was trapped in a pernicious mania of sense of insecurity. Outmaneuvering by Punjabi establishment sowed the seeds of insecurity among them. This sense of insecurity was fully exploited by their leadership while the false sense of superiority distanced them from native Sindhis.

Influx of Pakhtuns in 60s further multiplied the feel of insecurity. With the rise of Bhutto, rural Sindh strode from a predominantly feudal society to a gradually transforming middle class-based society. This middle class-led Sindhi society asserted its legitimate political share in the province and Urdu-speaking population already spooked by sense of insecurity construed them as yet another competitor.

Language riots and the movement against Bhutto in 70s further drifted Urdu-speaking population away from Sindhis as their leadership aligned with anti-Bhutto security establishment, thus paving the way for a dark decade. In the ensuing years, indifferent attitude of urban population during MRD movements of 1983 and 1986 was another lost opportunity to cement ties with local population.

Isolation of Urdu-speaking community was further sharpened when the MQM raised the slogan of Mohajir nation and entered into bloody confrontation with Pakhtuns, Punjabis and Sindhis in 80s and 90s. Gory incidents of September 30 and October 1st, 1988, perpetrated by hawks on both sides worsened the matters. This made Urdu-speaking population acrimonious to all other communities thus becoming more vulnerable to exploitation with a sense of insecurity. The irony was that a sense of insecurity was initially inculcated by urban leadership, then nurtured and ultimately exploited to its full at the cost of thousands of innocent lives.

In the meanwhile, an active social transition continued in rural areas of Sindh and during 90s a self-grown rural middle class made inroads into urban centres. Excruciating law and order situation and faltering agriculture economy forced rural Sindhis to migrate to urban enclaves of Hyderabad and Karachi. Ethnic riots in 80s and 90s virtually bifurcated Hyderabad and Karachi into Sindhi and Urdu-speaking precincts. Since then the short spells of peace were frequently punctuated by abominable bloodshed.

However, the major conflict in Karachi started when unabated migration of Pakhtun community started claiming their share in businesses and politics. Major influx of Pakhtun community from up country was witnessed after the army operation in tribal areas.

In 2008, ANP first time scrambled to wring out two seats and became shareholder in Sindh government. Baloch militancy further shoved the MQM from old Karachi and deprived it of sizeable extortion revenue from its areas of influence. Spook of false sense of insecurity and isolation has now attained a new peak among Urdu-speaking population as they feel that Karachi is no more a unilaterally regulated entity. Religious extremism is the latest entry that has added a new dimension to prevalent anarchy. An estimated three to four million illegal immigrants are also a contributing factor to the ongoing malaise.

Meanwhile, police department went through a rapid institutional decay due to mass recruitment of political loyalists by the PPP and the MQM. The recent years witnessed an unprecedented surge in crime and homicide as the police department has been paralysed. Gravity of the situation can be fathomed from the statement of former DG Rangers Sindh, Major General Aijaz, recorded before the Supreme Court on September 7, 2011. He made a startling statement by lucidly mentioning that “the problem in Karachi is very serious, rather more serious than that of South Waziristan. The political face of the city has been taken hostage by militant groups of political parties. Political parties are penetrated by the criminals under the garb of political groups who use party flags. The militants and criminals are taking refuge in the lap of political and ethnic parties which use the flags of these parties to commit illegal activities with impunity.”

Politics of violence and gun power that was induced in the city in mid eighties has now sprawled in other communities with an alarming ferocity. This has perturbed the ranks of the MQM who enjoyed almost unparalleled authority in yesteryears. The party leadership seems to have got fractious and committing fatal mistakes one after the other, thus making life tormenting for its own constituency.

The MQM’s ethno-centric politics that refuses to shun violent means and its addiction to power seat have impaired its cognitive abilities to take sagacious political decisions. Demanding new provinces and issuing irresponsible statements about integrity of Sindh at this juncture is a decision bereft of political prescience that may erode the residual scant affinity among the two permanent communities of Sindh. The MQM ought to realise that sense of superiority, appetite for sole proprietorship of Karachi and dictating terms through gun power would only heap more miseries for Sindh, specially for Karachites.

Also, Karachi is no more a provincial or national issue now. A more complex regional and international vested interest operates behind what is unfolding in the city.

The Nato’s exit from Afghanistan in 2014 and Sino-American cold war make Karachi an epicentre of the regional power race. A peaceful Karachi would only be possible if politics is detached from violence, streets are indiscriminately combed to flush out terrorists and their arsenal, police are purged of obnoxious Trojan horses and illegal immigrants are expelled. Dilatory cure has already perverted Karachi and any further laxity may culminate in a meaningless mourning. All this requires a firm political will that is not subdued by machinations of power politics.

The author is a writer and analyst; [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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