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Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014

editorial Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami

Arif Nizami Editor

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Agha Akbar

Asher John

Joint Editor

Associate Editor

Chief News Editor

Lahore – Ph: 042-36375963-5 Fax: 042-32535230 Karachi – Ph: 021-35381208-9 Fax: 021-35381208 Islamabad – Ph: 051-2287273 Fax: 051-2818125 Web: Email:

after ttP infighting

What, after all, is the use of these talks?


He infighting among ttP groups has raised a number of disturbing questions. It was maintained that the ttP is a monolith united on the basis of ideology and following a strict discipline with the Shura having the last word in disputes which everyone was supposed to accept. When reports about bloody skirmishes between the ttP’s Sheryar and Said Sajna groups started appearing, these were explained away by the ttP spokesman as incidents caused by minor bitterness which would be immediately resolved following intervention by the ttP central Shura. Hadn’t Shahidullah Shahid said that all segments of the ttP abide by the decision taken by the central Shura? When the infighting broke out he had accused the media of exaggerating the incidents. as fighting spilled over from South Waziristan into Shawal in north Waziristan and Gomal area of tank, the ttP got panicky and appealed to the afghan taliban and Haqqani network to mediate. When the

mediation failed to stop the infighting the ttP started accusing the Pakistani agencies of causing rifts in the organisation, which claims to enforce Sharia and create a world Islamic state through use of force rather than persuasion. the taliban rely on violence for settling differences. they have vowed to enforce a system of their liking in Pakistan through bullet rather than ballet. Similarly differences among the taliban are not settled through argument, but resort to the use of weapons. the ongoing fighting between Sajna and Sheryar groups is interestingly not over how to enforce Sharia but on leadership, or in other words on power and pelf. these differences started when a successor to Hakimullah Mehsud was to be appointed. last month a key commander and Shura member of the ttP asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani had been killed in a targeted attack in north Waziristan by unknown assailants. Bhittani had opposed Sajna and supported Mullah fazlullah to replace Hakimullah

Mehsud as ttP chief. the infighting is the result of personal rivalry over leadership of the South Waziristan chapter. this should make the apologists of the ttP reconsider the importance of ideology in the ttP. Here are two prominent leaders of the Pakistani taliban attacking mercilessly their fellow militants with heavy weapons in pursuit of power. Ch nisar had led people to believe that the ttP represented all militants and a deal with it would ensure that there would be no terrorist attacks in Pakistan. now we find that instead of representing the entire spectrum of the militants, the ttP is itself is badly divided. the Sajna group and the Seheryar group are violently attacking one another for personal gains. Similarly the group of taliban led by Khorasani has cared little for talks the central leadership was holding with the government. If there are as many groups in the ttP as there are commanders then what is the value of agreements reached with Mullah fazlullah’s ttP? g

Crime and punishment in Punjab Unless strict action is taken, it is going to snowball


nfortunately, things have come to the point where Punjab’s rising crime rate needs the provincial government’s immediate and undivided attention, failing which not only will people suffer from lawlessness, but the government too shall find its mandate diminishing. first it was the grinding economy pushing the youth bulge towards increasing crime, a well known social phenomenon, especially in the third world. But taking it as just that, a social phenomenon, and not an indicator of grim future is what almost always causes it to snowball. and that is what is happening in Punjab. Precisely because law enforcement was minimal, and people could get away with crime, repeatedly in most cases, the range and scope of criminal activities increased. the pick pocketing, incidents of theft, and the occasional killing then made way to widespread rape, as we have noted in this space before. and again, since official response was near nonexistent, the idea that people could get away with crimes petty and serious only grew in force. the obvious spillover has been more heinous crime. newspapers and bulletins are now full of stories of theft, rape, honour killings, and even extrajudicial killings. tackling rising crime needs conviction to begin with, but it also needs mobilising huge machinery comprising the police force, judiciary, media, and the good offices of the chief minister. But it is not


just in Punjab that the Sharifs’ posture is weak on state retaliation. the episode of talks with the taliban, which seems to be unwinding slowly, exhibited in no uncertain terms what lengths they are willing to go to accommodate even blatant crime as long as their party line is towed. But Punjab is a very different story. and the CM has been in the seat for quite a while now. His first order of business must be to bring some sort of normalcy to the police force, arguably one of the most corrupt, incompetent and inefficient organs of the state. It is not just that the police almost always comes out embarrassing itself, but more importantly, it also brings shame to the CM, whose promises of stern action and better future turn out hollow largely because of the security force’s many inabilities. yet the buck does stop with him, and it is his responsibility to keep his province in order. after all he does depend on the people’s goodwill to stay in power. and if it is the police force that has been found wanting time and again in the matter of serious crime in the province, then perhaps he should take some steps that show he really means business this time. He will be surprised by how much the media and judiciary would come to his aid in such matters. But something must show first. and so long as there is no punishment, there will continue to be more crime under the CM’s Punjab watch. g

Circular failures The usual false arguments and glossing over facts


o, would the circular debt resurfacing – and with such astonishing speed – amount to egg on the face of some, at least one, of the government’s corporate, banker, super-rich, advisors who hammered the onetime-payment idea till Ishaq Dar actually did it last year? not if you ask the government. and definitely not if you ask the IPPs, or they would not have had the audacity to approach the water and power ministry to pressure Dar sahib into a rerun of last June 28. If it can be done once why can’t it be done again is not the easiest of arguments to rebut. It is an altogether different matter, of course, that the jury on the legality of the SBP’s transfer of rs480 to clear the IPP circular debt is still out. also, did someone notice the doublespeak in the water and power minister’s argument? Stressing the circular debt will not end in one year is one thing, especially after effectively ending it in the government’s first couple of months in office, but holding ‘provincial governments and giant corporations’ responsible, without blinking, is quite another. Surely Khawaja asif’s accusation would have ruffled some feathers at the party HQ, home to the largest provincial government and run by owners of quite a few of the giant corporations in the land. there should be a clearer, and more precise, explanation of just how and why the debt rose again, and at such speed. last time it took almost five years for it to grow to near rs500 billion. this time it has grown in excess of rs300 billion in a matter of nine months. and while it was typical of Khwaja sahib to quickly shift the argument to how many more thousands of MW we will be able to generate shortly, and how China will



also help us overcome our energy shortage, there is always glossing over the fact that we have enough generation capability, just not enough muscle to make big players pay. and unfortunately, many in the previous and present government constitute the black sheep that continue to wreck the system for one and all. there’s not much good news on the 3G, 4G spectrum auction front either and, if reports are correct and official government denials mere usual propaganda, Dar sahib is livid. and, rightly so. april 23 will show for sure, but the word is that expectations of $2 billion from the auction are unlikely to prove right and that too by approximately $1.5 billion. and however much proponents of democracy, especially those in power, argue the economy is still on an uptrend in our representative system, few will be able to convincingly argue it is in better shape than under the dictator now on trial for treason. If not much else, the Pta definitely saw better days under Musharraf, the telecom sector thrived and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs. no such optimism presently though. the auction disappointment delivers a cruel blow near budget time, and Islamabad will now have to revert to its old habit of borrowing to finance its government. that the government has invested time and effort in tackling these problems is appreciated. But in going its usual way, propping up and patching deep wounds artificially, it has only ensured repeated failure. Instead of employing political spin on the economy, the government must look at real problems, the biggest of which are failure to collect dues, and improve the security situation so foreign investors can be invited back. g

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Some cricketers, it appears, are more equal than others. Consider Umar Aqmal, whose brushes with the law don’t slide easily. His celebrity actually hurts him. The authorities seem to want to show that the law is the same for all. His wedding was raided and he was penalised for violating both the one-dish rule and for staying past the deadline. The wedding ceremony of Imran Khan’s nephew in Zaman Park, on the other hand, went by unhindered despite the same violations. The Cm, who had taken a personal interest in the former case, turned a blind eye in the latter. Not without reason. Accusations of inteqaam ki siyasat don’t need to look at the letter of the law. g

********** VIVA La Resistance! Habib Jalib was a poet of the masses. everybody could understand his verse. And he was a postmodern art form in the sense that he was his art himself; his life, full of strife, was an example of the never-sell-out, never die attitude. This is what animates the legions of Vodka-fuelled students in dorms across the country till this very day. Well, it doesn’t run in the family. They’ve been wanting to get financial relief in his name. And there’s nothing wrong with that; they’ve been down and out and there are a lot of fans who are willing to help them out. But the way they have been fighting amongst themselves has peeved everyone off. First there was a feud with a politician. Then, the brother vs the sisters. Now, the sisters amongst themselves. It’s game of thrones right there. But wait. Is this also an extension of aforementioned postmodern art form? Jalib, you beauty! g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Back from the brink Better sense seems to have prevailed – for now

Arif nizAmi

The writer is Editor, Pakistan Today.


NSTEAD of the civilian and military leadership embarking upon a suicidal path of mutually assured destruction, hopefully better sense has prevailed – for now. The recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on National Security chaired by the prime minister with the top brass in attendance might have saved the day, for the time being at least. Perhaps both sides have belatedly realized that this is not the time to go for a wrestling encounter. Issues like the TTP’s announcement to end its 40-day ceasefire, the fluid situation in Afghanistan, general elections in India and tenuous relations with Iran make it mandatory on the military and civilian leadership to remain glued to the same page. The utility of the National Security Committee formed last August cannot be overemphasized here. Successive military chiefs lobbied hard for the formation of such a body. But invariably, and for obvious reasons, the politicians strenuously resisted the proposal. The generals were bullish on the idea of forming an NSC (National Security Council), perhaps with the sole exception of Gen Jehangir Karamat, not for altogether altruistic reasons. They reckoned that the national interest as defined by the military was not entirely safe in the hands of politicians. Hence the NSC was to be employed as a custom-made tool to keep them on a tight leash.

The politicians for precisely this reason opposed the proposed NSC. It was argued that the president, already armed with the power to sack a prime minister under article 58 2(B) of the constitution, would use the forum in cahoots with the military leadership as another check on the powers of the chief executive. Just about to retire in couple of months as COAS in October 1998, Gen Jehangir Karamat went public with his demand for a National Security Council. He also accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of pursuing, ‘insecurity ridden policies.’ Heady with his heavy mandate and the fact that he had gotten rid of the Article 58 2(B) and a meddlesome president in the form of Farooq Leghari, Sharif had no qualms in asking for Gen Karamat to hand in his papers.

‘It was implicit in the timing of the Nawaz-Zardari meeting that there was a clear and present danger to democracy. If so, from whom?’ However, since the exit of Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2008, Pakistan has come of age as a democracy. The NSC has been rechristened as National Security Committee of the Cabinet, is headed by the prime minister with its secretariat in the foreign office building in Islamabad and Sartaj Aziz as the advisor to the prime minister on National Security. The high level committee’s meeting held on Thursday apart from providing inputs to the government on vital national security issues was hopefully instrumental in diffusing the tensions created by COAS Gen Raheel Sharif’s terse rejoinder, vowing to uphold the dignity of the armed forces. The statement was

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An unforgettable experience in my school life I was standing on the bridge over River Aswan, a tributary of the Nile, returning from school. The orange, andalsuian sun was beating down at the barren, lifeless Sudanese terrain, and I had stopped there to stare at the clash of nature and civilization stretching from beneath the bridge, to as far as the eye

‘Issues like the TTP’s announcement to end its 40-day ceasefire, the fluid situation in Afghanistan, general elections in India and tenuous relations with Iran make it mandatory on the military and civilian leadership to remain glued to the same page.’ an obvious reaction to intemperate remarks made by the defence minister Khawaja Asif in an interview with a private TV channel on top of Khawaja Saad Raqfique’s rants. According to some reports, the COAS is miffed at the treatment meted out to his erstwhile mentor, Gen Musharraf. Although the body language in the national security meeting was reportedly tense, all relevant issues were discussed. Obviously the fate of Musharraf was beyond the ambit of the meeting, but it remains a bone of contention between the civilian and military leadership. It will have to be sorted out in a one-on-one meeting between the two Sharifs. The sooner it happens the better. The prime minister a day before meeting the khakis had a high profile luncheon meeting with former president and leader of the main opposition party the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari. Apparently the two leaders vowed to fight against unconstitutional steps and to support each other to strengthen democracy. It was implicit in the timing of the Nawaz-Zardari meeting that there was a clear and present danger to democracy. If so, from whom? In the final analysis strengthening democracy as the chief executive was on the prime minister’s watch. Even hinting that the khakis were playing war games to undo the system will not sit well with them. It has not worked in the past, and will not work now. More importantly, however, the issue of dealing with the TTP was discussed in detail in the meeting. An unabashed policy of appeasement and capitulation

could see. This land had a myriad of tales, of famine, and of sparse cultivation, of old people living of whatever the land could provide them, and of children wailing their very existence in this country struck with misfortune. A tall boy with dark, curly brown hair, dressed only in stained, pale brown shorts, torn towards the knees, approached me. He had a sac laden on his back, heaving down at him, and he was carrying it, walking with lethargy. He dropped his sac beside me, picked up an amulet from among the multitude of brightly colored, intricately made handicraft items, and spoke in an animated manner: “Me…Marishet, Marishet Dires,” and he pointed at himself. “You?” “I am John Hale,” I replied confidently. “You not from here. Where you come from?” and he made funny hand gestures to complement his poor English. “Yes, I am not a Sudanian. My father works here for the United Nations Organization. He makes homes and schools for children like you.”

pursued by government interlocutors spearheaded by interior minister Nisar Ali Khan has been a major bone of contention between the military and civilian leadership. Unilateral release of so-called noncombatant prisoners proved to be the proverbial last straw. However, the TTP ‘s policy of asking for the moon and the interlocutors not in a position to deliver has predictably created an impasse. With a ceasefire no longer in place, the prime minister has rightly directed the military to be on high alert. A military action in North Waziristan now seems inevitable. In any case notwithstanding the histrionics of the appeasers it was never a question of if but when. The prime minister himself is on record that talks cannot take place amidst acts of terrorism. Even the interior minister now thinks that talks without a ceasefire are meaningless. In this backdrop the nation should brace itself for a long hot summer confronting the Taliban. The Taliban matrix is bound to get complicated with the bulk of US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan in the coming months. A growing nexus between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban will create more complications for Islamabad. The establishment’s policy of considering Afghan Taliban its asset has miserably failed. If the ISI had any leverage with these Taliban it is clear that it is not going to manifest itself in the future set up in Kabul. Afghanistan has had a successful first round of presidential elections. Whether it is Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani, the two top contenders as president in the next round in May,

“Oh!” He smiled. “Here is souvenir for you, no money, only heart,” and he deftly tied the amulet around my wrist. I looked at the delicate, well decorated amulet colored red, yellow, and greenRastafarian colors. However what surprised me, was, that he had not asked for money. On the contrary, he asked for something else: “Now give me pen!” I looked at him quizzically, trying to figure out what a poor, young Sudanian boy would want to do with a pen. “You see, I go to school, and the pen I use finish up. My family too poor to buy me pen. Please give me pen!” he requested, his eyes shining in anticipation. I took out a pen from my school bag and handed it over to him. “Thank you!” he said in an appreciative tone. “Now you give me your address, I write to you!” and then he talked of how he wanted to become a doctor or a lawyer, but the school in which he studied was not good. “I will talk to my father about you, Marishet! I will ask him to make good schools for students like you,” I said, as I handed a note bearing my postal and email address,

the long-term security deal with the US will be signed and sealed. It is unlikely that the Taliban will be part of the next government in Kabul. Hence the blowback will be towards Pakistan where in cahoots with the TTP they can wreak havoc in their quest to make Pakistan their Islamic emirate. In the ongoing general elections in India it is quite obvious by now that the BJP or BJP-led coalition will form the next government, headed by its firebrand leader Narendra Modi. The security committee has done well by reiterating government’s policy of good relations with neighbours based on mutual non-interference. Better relations with all our neighbours including Iran will be a tough call. For that to happen the military’s obsolete security paradigm

According to some reports, the COAS is miffed at the treatment meted out to his erstwhile mentor, Gen Musharraf. Although the body language in the national security meeting was reportedly tense, all relevant issues were discussed. will have to be tweaked. The Cabinet Committee on National Security, which should meet more often, is the best forum to debate it. In this context the prime minister should also consider instilling a more business-like style of running the government. The present tentative and ad hoc way of doing things does not instill much confidence. Presently there is no full time defence minister nor a law minister and no foreign minister. All these portfolios are important enough to merit full time incumbents. g

over to him. That night, I told my father about Marishet and his ambitions. Father told me that UNICEF had already been working on schools in Sudan, and he appreciated Marishet’s dreams a lot. Since that afternoon, I never heard from Marishet again, until years later, when I received an email titled ‘Greetings from an African boy’. Soon, I realized, that it was from Marishet, and while I figured out how might that tall and young, but poor Sudanian boy have been exposed to computers and the internet, I read that Marishet had continued going to school, and later, UNICEF had arranged for him to go to London, for higher education. Now, he had ended up at the University of London, studying Medicine. He was grateful for what my father and UNICEF had done for the children of Sudan, and signing off, he had written: “Thank you for the pen!” This had indeed been an unforgettable experience in my school life. MUHAMMAD AHMED TAJAMMUL Lahore 03


A sense of deja vu Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Whenever Nawaz Sharif comes to power, it comes back to haunt us HumayuN GauHar

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at:


ast sunday I turned 65. I looked back on the last quarter century that I have been writing articles in Pakistan. “Has it made any difference,” I wondered? “Or has it been an exercise in futility?” the answer was a resounding ‘No’. People have changed. When I first advocated the presidential system in 1991 I was roundly attacked. today more and more people are saying that this is precisely what we need. I suggested that the problem lies not in politicians but in the system that throws up such politicians. Many people accept this now, not because of my saying so but through bitter experience and contemplation. I suggested that the system is a product of the constitution that needs to be changed. that too is being increasingly understood today. I have always said that the army intervenes only when civilian governments create a vacuum in power and governance and people are seeing that happening before their eyes today. No, it certainly has not been an exercise in futility. If I thought that it had been I would have stopped writing, except to analyze for myself and clear my own thoughts. I too have learned a lot in this time, taking inspiration from four precepts that an elderly Buddhist monk of the Chung tai Chan Monastery told a good friend of mine: “1) Respect your elders; 2) Be compassionate to your subordinates; 3) Be harmonious to your fellow man; 4) Be truthful in your work, whatever it may be.” I have learned a fifth precept: “Don’t bother about what others are saying. Bother about what you are saying and ensure that you speak the truth as you see it at the time, which means be flexible and dynamic, not static by carving your notions in stone: adjust and change as you evolve and learn from evolving situations.” Now to the present: Whenever Nawaz sharif comes to power, déjà vu follows. In his first term he got on bad terms with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and army chief Gen Waheed Kakar and lost power, despite the supreme Court having restored his government. We all know about the second time: after unceremoniously throwing out one army chief and leaving the army smarting, he then illegally


sacked his successor while he was on a flight back home from sri Lanka, hijacked his commercial airliner with some 280 passengers on board because it arrived an hour late due to a storm giving the army enough time to react and, worse, asked the pilot to take it to India. How detached from reality can you get? Now in his third stint in power, he is belittling the army again, his ministers on a verbal rampage, including the defence minister, would you believe? How stupid can you get? How selfdestructive? the army let known its anger. the army chief had no option but to say that the army would protect its honour and prestige at all costs. His statement was repeated in a corps commanders meeting that followed. But more important was the fact that the army chief

‘Now in his third stint in power, he is belittling the army again, his ministers on a verbal rampage, including the defence minister, would you believe? How stupid can you get? How self-destructive?’ said this in response to a question asked by ssG commandos in their headquarters. It shows the growing unrest and unease in the army. the chief and other commanders can only ignore it at peril. after the corps commanders meeting the army chief flew in a helicopter for an unscheduled meeting with Nawaz sharif. also present were Nawaz’s brother shahbaz, the interior minister and the head of the IsI for a time. What happened there can only be imagined, for immediately thereafter the prime minister called a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC). talk of fast movement. Nawaz sharif’s people go on repeating the mantra, “the government and army are on the same page.” What could be better? Problem is, unless the army says so too, why should anyone believe a one-sided assertion? One side repeating it to the point of distraction betrays hysteria. In a parliamentary system the cabinet is collegiate, thus what ministers say comes with the approval of the entire cabinet including the prime minister, unless they are contradicted. things are getting ominous by the day. a great deal seems to be happening and nothing seems to be happening. tahir ul Qadri has announced once and for all protest marches throughout the country starting May 11 for a ‘People’s takeover’. If his last performance is anything to go by, Nawaz sharif should be worried,

‘Nawaz Sharif’s people go on repeating the mantra, “the government and army are on the same page.” What could be better? Problem is, unless the army says so too, why should anyone believe a one-sided assertion? One side repeating it to the point of distraction betrays hysteria.’ especially if other parties, like the MQM and PtI, join him. Large parts of the media will soon follow. It just might prove to be the catalyst that enables the agent of change to intervene, as has recently happened in Egypt twice. to top it all, but as expected, the taliban terrorists, with whom the government has been bootlessly negotiating peace against saner advice to launch a military operation to wipe them out all over the country, have announced that they will not extend the ceasefire. the interior minister’s feeble statement notwithstanding, that though talks without ceasefire are futile, the government will continue pursuing them unless the taliban commit a terrorist act when the government will be forced to act, we are in for even more turbulent times. so fasten your seatbelts tighter, folks. the prime minister summoned the DCC meeting the day after the ttP announcement not to extend the ceasefire. the DCC compromises, amongst others, the Chairman JCsC, the three service chiefs and the same verbally rampant defence minister who has been running the army down. Can you imagine the tension in the room? a military operation against terrorists of all hues now seems inevitable. Better late than never. Brian Cloughley, the admirable south asia analyst and defence expert recently wrote an article, ‘Giving in to the Enemy’ that is worth quoting in some detail.

“PM Nawaz sharif says he wants ‘permanent peace’ in Pakistan, which is what most sane people wish for. But the only way to permanent peace is to wage – and win – an all-out war on the terrorists who want to destroy the country. two recent international news items about terrorism might strike a chord in Pakistan. they concern an amnesty granted to 187 Irish Republican army (IRa) terrorists by a submissive British government in 1998 and the slaughter…of 30 civilians by knifewielding terrorists in the Chinese city of Kunming. “the British amnesty for extremists was revealed quite by accident when one of them arrived in the UK last month and was arrested on a long-standing charge of killing several people but had to be released because in 1998 someone in high authority in Britain authorised a letter, which he happily brandished, declaring he was not liable to prosecution. In the 1990s the British government was desperate to stop the vicious violence of the IRa whose members murdered people around the world in the name of ‘freedom’ for their cause of a united Ireland… “the IRa would also kill totally innocent people…the British government was running scared and imagined that the people of Britain were also frightened of a bunch of terrorists who were – if only the government had realised – on the verge of defeat by a brilliantly-run (if decidedly ruthless) intelligence operation that was having a shattering effect on the militants. “are you getting a picture, here? are similarities with Pakistan’s circumstances becoming apparent? Britain’s cave-in to the terrorists…ended (well, almost ended) the insurrection, but involved some amazing concessions by the British government, including, as has only just been revealed, quite by chance, an agreement to pardon 187 identified killers who had not yet been brought to justice. the other side obtained enormous concessions. In order to meet the terrorists’ demands the

British government went overboard. the British government released 428 IRa militants from prison in order to get the political supporters of these convicted criminals to agree to stop their associates waging a terrorist campaign… “Is there a parallel emerging between these awful times and Pakistan’s present circumstances? these IRa murderers were the worst of the worst…Fanatics never compromise. and if you try to reach a political solution with them, you will always lose the moral battle. Certainly, in Northern Ireland the IRa is not exactly in government. they have a political party of puppets who make sure the province is run with IRa approval. It’s the only place in the world apart from fascist Israel in which there are 20 foot-high barriers separating

‘“In Pakistan there are lessons to be learned from Ireland and Kunming; and the first is that elected governments should not treat terrorists as equals because terrorists have no right to such favour.”’

communities…this is civilisation? “…the slaughter in China’s Kunming city by another bunch of extremists [was] just as ruthless because their victims were totally innocent travellers at a railway station. It is thought the militants were connected with the Uighur minority in the Xingjian province who want autonomy from Chinese rule, and if this is so, then heaven help the Uighurs, because the Chinese state will be utterly ruthless in pursuit and eradication of these separatist terrorists. there won’t be any concessions made to evil thugs. “In Pakistan there are lessons to be learned from Ireland and Kunming; and the first is that elected governments should not treat terrorists as equals because terrorists have no right to such favour. they are murderous criminals and cannot be forgiven. the second is that, as in China, there should be pursuit and eradication of those who destroy the lives of ordinary innocent citizens in furtherance of their extremist ambitions. If Pakistan’s government does not destroy the militants who want to take over the country – well, the country will be taken over. and do you want to live under law as interpreted by a bunch of extremists? the only way to obtain Nawaz sharif’s ‘permanent peace’ is to wage total war on those who threaten the very existence of the country. It’s time to take the gloves off and destroy those who want to destroy Pakistan.” g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Battling for absolute control Consumed with anger and hatred, a prime minister falters gravely CANDID CORNER

Raoof Hasan

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire


irst, a small narrative of the depths this nation has plunged to. someone a friend knows well was driving down the Margalla road a couple of days ago and stopped at a red light. He also had a colleague travelling with him. When the light turned green, he took off only to be stopped by a traffic warden a few yards down the road. Plonking himself right in front of the car, the warden demanded the driving license. Upon enquiring as to why, the warden said that the guy had violated the traffic signal. By this time, there was some honking as the car was parked right in the middle of the road impeding the flow of traffic. When this gentleman tried to move it to the side, the traffic warden refused to budge saying that he would ‘run away’ and that he should first hand over the license. the fact that most of the people in the country, across divides, have lived literally by taking the law in their own hands and manipulating it to suit their convenience has led to a rapid shrinking of mutual trust and respect. Ordinary citizens are now looked upon as a bunch of fraudsters who would stoop to the lowest of the lows to have it their way irrespective of the damage it may incur to the legitimate interests of other people, even the state. there is a demonic rush for accumulating, whether it be financial benefits or the power that may be associated with the position that a certain individual may be occupying. the rot begins at the top and trickles down through all echelons of the society. the lust of the rulers to accumulate surpasses all benchmarks. the attempt to have a constitutional amendment passed to assume unchallengeable powers back in the nineties had laid the foundation of the ultimate ouster of the then government. But, the lust was caringly nurtured through the years in exile and through the innumerable scheming moves to ascend the mantle of power again. Once there, tragically and in defiance of the lessons of the past, the rulers continued to conspire to assume absolute control to the detriment of the empowerment and functioning of other key state institutions. For any sane leader, the predominant occupation after coming into power should have been to devote unerringly to tackling the scourge of militancy, improving the economic health of the nation and initiating projects of public welfare. instead, the primary attention has been focussed on settling scores of the past: to make Musharraf crawl for forgiveness and, in the process, heap ridicule on the institution of the army. One wrote repeatedly urging the prime minister to refrain from getting embroiled in a battle that, in the long run, will be to his detriment. But, the army-

bashing gang that he is surrounded with would not let any sane advice through. these myopic, self-promoting individuals fully exploited the prime minister’s contagious penchant to contribute to the anti-army chanting which, understandably, he has engaged in to his heart’s content. the decision to initiate the dialogue process with the militants was woefully jaundiced. Given a long history of collaboration between the PML-N leadership and a myriad of the banned militant outfits, mostly based in the southern Punjab, for gaining political yardage, the decision was, primarily, a reflection of the inherent vulnerability of the incumbent political leadership in dealing with the scourge of militancy. On the other hand, and having lost precious men and material at the hands of audacious onslaughts by the militants, immense pressure had been built on the army higher command to move against these criminal outfits. But, they were stopped in their tracks as the political government elevated the stature of the militants to ‘stakeholders’, on a par with the state of Pakistan, and constituted a committee comprising closet taliban to initiate the dialogue process with real-time taliban to bring peace to the country. Over four months down the lane, the negotiations have produced no solution and seem to have hit a dead end with the ttP announcing that it will not extend the ceasefire which had been in place for over a month. As a reason, it cited a lack of

‘The fact that most of the people in the country, across divides, have lived literally by taking the law in their own hands and manipulating it to suit their convenience has led to a rapid shrinking of mutual trust and respect. Ordinary citizens are now looked upon as a bunch of fraudsters who would stoop to the lowest of the lows to have it their way irrespective of the damage it may incur to the legitimate interests of other people, even the state.’ positive response from the government to its overture(s). this relates to the government’s inability to free over eight-hundred combatant prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody. in response to this intransigence, the government responded by reiterating its policy of appeasement and vowed to continue talking to the militants. At the beginning of the dialogue process, there were three key mitigating factors. the foremost was the narrative factor. While the militants preached a theocratic and regressive narrative that would bring in the stone-age injunctions, the constitution of Pakistan, in spite of serious aberrations that need to be looked into, advocated for a democratic and enlightened polity. For innumerable scribes, these narratives were irreconcilable so much so that the two sides would have struggled to understand each other. to nullify that gulf, the political leadership assiduously put together a team that was hardly capable of representing the true ethos of the state and whose members had been, individually and collectively, supporting most of what the militants stood

‘Musharraf could and should have been left alone. He was no threat to the government. The military was in no mood to intervene. But we don’t have a leader here. We don’t have a Mandela. We have a prime minister who is consumed with anger and hatred of a person who pushed him out of power. It does not end there. This anger and hatred extend to the institution the General belonged to. In the General’s humiliation, the prime minister sees the humiliation of the army. In the General’s incarceration, the prime minister sees his freedom. From the General’s pain, the prime minister derives sardonic pleasure.’

for even before a word had been spoken. in spite of that, and in spite of some overtures made by the government including the freeing of some so-called non-combatant taliban who were held in Pakistan’s custody, which was contrary to the spirit of the dialogue, the exercise produced no tangible results. the second factor pertained to the number of militant groups that were engaged in terrorist activities and which among them the government would or should talk to. the situation has been further aggravated in the wake of an open split among various factions of the militants with one group coming out openly against the other and also against the process of dialogue. in fact, this scribe had raised this point in numerous writings whether peace with one faction of militants would be deemed as peace with all factions. And if that were not to be the case, what would be the worth of this process which was aimed at bringing peace to the country? the fear emanated from the fact that, even if the government managed to broker peace with some militant factions, the others would continue to fight. After wasting precious months, thus allowing the militants time and space to regroup in the wake of the limited targeted operation conducted by the military, the government again stands at square one contemplating where and how to proceed further. the third factor was the possible impact the dialogue process would have on the civil-military relations. this specifically related to whether the political leadership had the moral strength and capacity to withstand pressure from the GHQ in the event the two discourses did not converge? One had felt the strains in this relationship early on and one also wished that, through sagacious and wise decision-making, the political leadership would be able to carry the military along which was integral to the attainment of any sustainable solutions. Because of the immense negative baggage that the prime minister carries from his earlier stints in power, and having added further venom to it through his years in exile, he was, from the outset, not the best person to be heading a government. the challenge became graver in the light of his considerable inadequacies in the realms of vision, capability and capacity. Add to that the absolutely unnecessary drama that is being enacted around the

person of General Musharraf, and all this because of an inherent inability of the prime minister to cope with anger and hatred. i am reminded of Nelson Mandela’s response to Bill Clinton who asked him whether he still hated his captors when he walked out of the prison gate. Mandela replied: “i felt hatred, anger and fear. i hadn’t been free in a long time. When i got to the gate, i said, i want to be free. And i knew if i still hated them when i drove out the door, i would be their prisoner. i wanted to be free. And so i let it go.” Musharraf could and should have been left alone. He was no threat to the government. the military was in no mood to intervene. But we don’t have a leader here. We don’t have a Mandela. We have a prime minister who is consumed with anger and hatred of a person who pushed him out of power. it does not end there. this anger and hatred extend to the institution the general belonged to. in the general’s humiliation, the prime minister sees the humiliation of the army. in the general’s incarceration, the prime minister sees his freedom. From the general’s pain, the prime minister derives sardonic pleasure. i don’t carry a brief for Gen Musharraf. i am probably one of those who wrote the most against what he did to Pakistan during his days of ascendency. But, in matters of state craft, personal hatred has no place, no relevance. Policies cannot be formulated that stand on the platform of anger. this would give way sooner than one may realise. And, when that happens, it is likely

‘So, it seems, may actually happen to this latest stint in power of the prime minister. The interior minister has conceded that the civil-military relations are strained. That is saying a lot going by the way the incumbent government operates: it does not believe in taking matters to the parliament or discussing them in public. Instead, it tries to tackle them among the coterie of armybashers that the prime minister is surrounded with. This hatred has ignited unnecessary fires. As minutes tick, the heat is becoming intense and may soon be unbearable. The entire onus is on the prime minister. In his quest for absolute control, he may lose his very moorings.’ to bring down the entire edifice. so, it seems, may actually happen to this latest stint in power of the prime minister. the interior minister has conceded that the civil-military relations are strained. that is saying a lot going by the way the incumbent government operates: it does not believe in taking matters to the parliament or discussing them in public. instead, it tries to tackle them among the coterie of armybashers that the prime minister is surrounded with. this hatred has ignited unnecessary fires. As minutes tick, the heat is becoming intense and may soon be unbearable. the entire onus is on the prime minister. in his quest for absolute control, he may lose his very moorings. g 05


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Eurobonds – Magic wand or just another loose thread? A loan, at the end of the day, is a loan, and will have to be repaid HAssAn YousAf sHAH


he official IMF economic report for 2014 arranges two different paragraphs side by side on the general economic health of global economies where each paragraph contradicts the other in a subtle and careful way. Interestingly the report claims that the US economy is not only stable but recovering, however in the next paragraphs depicts another picture “These transitions are far from complete, and stability conditions are far from normal. Since October, bouts of financial turbulence have highlighted the substantial adjustment that lies ahead”. These words are not uncommon even amongst senior global economists, heads of central banks who discretely discredit similar recovery reports and discount numbers coming out of economic indicators. In short, many economists and economic advisors are still not convinced things are stable as yet. even the most optimistic reports talk about challenges and conditions which if remain unfulfilled would mean that the world global giants will fall back in the red zone and face uncertain economic times ahead. If nothing else, gigantic debts and apathy towards reducing the US debt is cited as the main concern for any recovery. Where does Pakistan stand when it comes to the global recovery? Interestingly economic managers are boasting recently crossed $10 billion reserve mark, gains of Pak rupee against dollar, preferential treatment of eU commission regarding exports and finally the case of eurobonds. The argument goes deeper and the claims are getting taller by the day. Is this the turning point in the history of Pakistan? Will we now become part of the “Asian tigers” or close enough creatures which will dominate the economic battlefield, become as potent as economies like Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore; not to miss the trophy, finally beat India in the fields of commerce and trade? Will the economic downturn for the common Pakistani end, and a new era of economic prosperity began? Or are we beating the trumpet too loud and without any course? Common claims — US debt crisis and Pakistani economic miracle Interestingly, both global (US, Japan, and eU) and Pakistani recovery drives have had three things in common. One, both have contradictory claims if not tall ones, regarding economic recovery and yet they do not discredit inherent weaknesses and uncertainties within their systems. The IMF report is a prime example. When US and global economies have not risen out of the crisis, Pakistani economy is more vulnerable and fragile. Two, eU, Japanese and


Pakistani economies are marred with gigantic debts and face budgetary and fiscal deficits which, in case of Pakistan, is far more concerning. The resolution of US and global debt may have some hope after all because the entire world depends upon it. Three, the two economies, Pakistani and US, are trying hard to convince themselves and perhaps respective citizens that the debt crisis will be over and life will be easy. The most irritating fact is that if the US economy cannot remain immune from the debt crisis, Pakistani economy, which is far more fragile, is sitting on a time bomb of debt. According to some, the current political government’s recent drive to raise forex reserves is through raising debt, and the entire recovery drive is in fact another debt expanding exercise which if unchecked will explode and may lead to yet another economic meltdown. Let me explain the last point in simpler terms; if the US economy is flattened because of an unprecedented increase in its debt, and the possibility of debt ceiling faltering can lead to a global crisis, how can a small scale economy like Pakistan reach heights of economic prosperity by increasing its debt? The two situations are not comparable because of many different economic variables, scales and proportion, but the bottom line is that increasing debt is not a solution. If we can understand this simple point, then we can also understand that floating eurobonds in global market is no different than

‘Governments borrow to finance fiscal deficits and government expenditure, and short term repayments of debt financing.’

taking debt at commercial rates. Eurobonds in a nutshell There are lots of arguments which substantiate claims that eurobonds are beneficial and comparatively cheaper than other alternatives. It was over subscribed for one, and many other indicators also suggest it was not a bad option in view of the fact that we can move away from the IMF. however, it is a loan at the end of the day. This needs to be paid back and if it was oversubscribed it also means it was overly lucrative for them (the most troubled economy of Greece too bought the bonds). In order to understand the long term impact of

this loan, it is important to first understand why we seek the loan in the first place. Governments borrow to finance fiscal deficits and government expenditure, and short term repayments of debt financing. In short, we are borrowing to run governments, pay salaries, run Raiwand PM houses, repay short term loans, and pay interest payments for the outstanding long term loans. If we ran the government the way Punjab is being run, we may also end up taking loans to build more Metros, exuberant ring roads (that too restricted to the metropolitan capital), spend on laptops, youth festival, world records, or start making cheaper rotis for the masses. What are numbers suggesting then? Our internal debt is close to Rs 14,000 billion, while our foreign debt is

‘Our internal debt is close to Rs14,000 billion, while our foreign debt is approximately $56 billion, which is growing far more than revenue sources.’

approximately $56 billion (based on 2013 data, numbers are rounded off), which is growing far more than revenue sources. Does it ring an alarm bell? It sure will make many economists paint a scary picture when the debt is increasing at an alarming 5-6 per cent annually in real terms while revenue is increasing at less than two per cent. There is a strong possibility that the present government may miss the tax collection target for 2013-14 again, and many blame its weak tax policy. Others also point at unexplained SROs exempting certain politically powerful sectors. When the government was sworn in last year, it raised the sales tax in an effort to increase revenue which, according to some, had burdened the poor while letting the rich go unchecked. So when government needed to plug its expenditure gaps, pay its debt while its revenue was dropping due to its “weak policy”, the government decided to go to commercial sources and borrow globally and eurobonds were born. g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


taxation without persecution Leading industrialists, such as Mian Mohammad Mansha, his family and conglomerate of companies pay massive taxes to the government, a practice that should be emulated by all our business houses in a transparent manner

SAJid khAn Lodhy The writer is a journalist. He corresponds at and tweets @sajidsadeem


S a part of the Prime Minister Tax Incentive Package, Taxpayers’ Privilege and honour Card Scheme, under which this list has been issued, lists 100 people and companies in each category, apparently as an incentive to make them more amenable and willing to pay taxes. The list includes prominent private businessmen such as Mian Mansha and family, national assets like National Bank of Pakistan, privatized former national companies such as the Oil and Gas Development Corporation, telecom sector, and the vast construction sector, among many others. Taxes are among a country’s most valuable income source. They

are also indicative of how well documented an economy is. Pakistan over the years has been lacking in both: in collecting taxes and in documenting its economy. however, some small strides have at least been made in the first part. The Federal Board of revenue, the country’s federal tax collection agency, has issued a list of top tax payers. The list is categorised into Salaried, Non-Salaried, Association of Persons (AOP) and Companies. Details of the high-flyers: Tariq Nisar paid the highest amount of tax rs 189,910,478 within the category of Salaried Individuals. The top five taxpayers also include Mohammad Naeem Mukhtar rs 159,149,750, Muhammad Waseem Mukhtar rs 158,858,269, hassan Mansha rs 149,423,639 and Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed rs 147,855,957. Irfan Usman topped the NonSalaried Persons category with rs 749,008,253 paid as tax during the period. Among the top five were also Wazir Ali Pardhan rs 210,332,864, Tariq rafi rs 174,246,502, Muhammad Irfan Ghazi rs 117,179,385 and Sh Jhanzeb Jilani rs 104,780,291. LTh JV was the top taxpayer in the category of Association of

Persons (AOPs) with a total of rs 496,882,503. United Agro Chemical rs 464,893,376, LIMAK JV ZKB rs 424,226,717, Zahir Khan & Brothers rs 384,895,596 and Chawla International rs 357,433,819 comprised the top five. Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd was the top taxpayer with rs 36,963,745,646 in the category of Companies. The top five also included Pakistan Petroleum Limited with rs15,404,269,282, habib Bank Limited with rs11,786,705,153, Government holdings (Private) Limited with rs 10,756,321,121 and Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited

rs 9,898,049,256. Making the list public is no doubt a good idea, as it provides an incentive both to the people and companies on the list and also to those who are at present outside the tax net. Commenting on the list being made public, Mian Mansha, the chief of the house of Nishat and one of the country’s foremost business tycoon said that honest taxpayers should be appreciated as they are contributing their rightful share to the country’s development. Last year Mian Mansha’s family paid well over rs271 million in individual taxes alone. This was in addition to the corporate tax and

income tax that his companies, the conglomerate Nishat Mills and the MCB contributed to the national exchequer. While Mian Mansha’s diverse business interests are streets ahead, there are other business houses that have also declared huge profits and paid vast amount in taxes. Incentives like these may well help the FBr to achieve its revenue collection target of rs 2,345 billion set for the current fiscal year. While it is easy to criticise businessmen for not being honest about the taxes presently being paid by them, the government too is equally responsible, first for letting the undocumented economy grow on such a massive scale, and second, its lack of political will in implementing even the meagre laws on the subject. Instead of persecuting honest businessmen the government should opt for more lenient methods and offer more tax amnesty schemes with reasonable penalty and sufficient security. Taxation is not persecution, nor should it seem like targeting. It is in fact one of the most fundamental resources for running the government. Cooperation should be the key. g

A vote for jobs this election is about india’s revival, and that is why the young are voting for change out of turn MJ AkbAr

The writer is a leading Indian journalist and author. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Guardian. He has also served as Editorial Director of India Today.


here did it all begin to go wrong for the UPA government? The precise point, if there is ever such a thing in the rolling caravan of politics, is a decision made by Mrs Sonia Gandhi after re-election in 2009. Mrs Sonia Gandhi has always been the person in command in the two terms of UPA; she was the power in front of the Manmohan Singh throne rather than behind any veil. She chose the PM; she gave the orders on who got which portfolio; she had the last word on critical decisions; and she was the arbiter when senior ministers did their pirouette with one another, a familiar competitive dance in every hall of power. When BJP’s seats actually declined after five years in opposition, Mrs Sonia Gandhi concluded that BJP had become an

irreparably damaged brand. The stage, she and her advisers thought, was set for Congress to remain in office for the foreseeable future. An UPA 3 was a common refrain within the wider Congress punditry of Delhi till even a few months ago. There was, consequently, no particular reason to hurry rahul Gandhi towards Dr Manmohan Singh’s chair. he could remain on a well-financed holiday for another few years, emerging only in time to campaign for 2014. The young heir was missing from action even when the youth of the country were on the streets, venting their rage, as over the horrific instance of rape in Delhi. But Mrs Gandhi, wisely, also recognised that there was a serious danger in leaving opposition space untenanted. This however induced a fatal mistake. She decided that she, and the Congress party, would act as the pretend-opposition while Dr Singh continued to behave as the pretend-government. Two instances will serve as illustration. When Dr Singh, aided and abetted by officials like Shivshankar Menon and M.K. Narayanan, made a totally unwarranted concession to Pakistan over an alleged Indian role in the Balochistan insurrection during the 2009 nonaligned summit at Sharm el Sheikh, Mrs Gandhi publicly censured the PM she had selected. But she did nothing to actually change the PM’s soft policy towards Pakistan. Second: During a budget debate in the Lok Sabha, she ostentatiously applauded the populist points made by the Marxist MP Gurudas Dasgupta. Once again, in actual practice she did nothing. You can always see a boomerang hurtle away; you rarely see it on a return journey.

‘But the Congress establishment was so pleased with itself over the management of Delhi politics, that it either missed or underestimated the real challenge – a subaltern earthquake with Gujarat at its epicentre.’ This thin duality did not work. But the Congress establishment was so pleased with itself over the management of Delhi politics, that it either missed or underestimated the real challenge – a subaltern earthquake with Gujarat at its epicentre. Narendra Modi did induce a degree of unease among Congress leaders, but they thought it was a problem that could be defused by character assassination. And so we witnessed in the past decade the most intense scrutiny ever done on any Indian politician since 1947 through police, courts, academia, media and NGOs. The aim was never really to discover the full truth about the Gujarat riots, but only to establish somehow, anyhow, that Modi was personally culpable. Such was the frenzy that every irony was lost. even today, we do not seem sufficiently aware that Congress continues to protect and reward the principal accused in the 1984 riots, Sajjan Kumar, and others like Jagdish Tytler. This effort floundered when nothing was found that could establish personal culpability. But in the process, demonisation

became the template weapon. This is now a staple of rahul Gandhi’s campaign, and little changes despite the fact that the electorate is cold to this stream of hot air. The anecdotal evidence from the ground after more than a hundred constituencies have polled, is that Congress is sinking without much trace. The voter is taking a call on what Modi will do in the future, for jobs and the economy. The prospect of electoral disaster has unhinged Congress rhetoric even further. When all you have in your arsenal is questions of a marriage that was arranged by impoverished parents in another age, and which led to virtual separation by mutual consent, then you are truly descending to personal depths which Indian electoral politics has avoided for more than six decades. At least one senior Congress leader from Gujarat has asked his party to desist from such tactics. This election is about jobs, jobs, jobs – and jobs for everyone. It is about development up and down the line. It is about rescuing a national economy turned moribund by governance that lost its way between the confusion of duopoly and the inertia of complacence. It is about turning the young into a powerful engine of growth, rather than abandoning them outside the station. The person who drove the car on a recent trip to Mumbai put it succinctly: if this kind of governance continues for another five years, the middle class of Mumbai will disappear. he considered himself middle class, and was staring at the possibility of poverty. This election is about India’s revival. That is why the young are voting for change. g 07


Cover sTory: deMoCraCy: sTill ThreaTened froM wiThin?

Challenges to democracy An evaluation of the years from 2008 to 2014

aziz-ud-din ahMad The writer is a political analyst and a former academic.


haT the PPP government completed its five-year tenure was by itself an achievement of sorts, for no elected government in Pakistan had so far been able to perform the feat. It was all the more significant because the party did not enjoy majority in the National assembly and for a prop had to rely on strange bedfellows. The election results which led to the odd alliance did not correctly reflect public opinion as the pitch had been queered before the elections in favour of the PmL-Q, the King’s party, and its allies by the agencies. The completion of its tenure by fulfilling the illegitimate demands of the mQm and PmL-F was to cost PPP dearly. The party had to pay at the 2013 elections not only for the numerous sins of omission and commission on its own part but also for the shenanigans of its partners. During its tenure the PPP had to face hostility from an overbearing army leadership, a meddlesome Supreme court, an unfriendly media and a less than patient opposition. conflicts with the army leadership started soon after take over. In June 2008, the government had to backtrack in less than 24 hours on a decision to place the ISI under the control of the interior ministry. Zardari’s statement in November 2008 about Pakistan not to be the first to make use of the nuclear weapons was strongly resented by the establishment. Such was the noise made over the issue that Zardari never repeated it. a year later the PPP government was berated for agreeing to the demand in Kerry Lugar Bill to bring the army under civilian control. The documents released by Wikileaks reveal that it was Gen Kayani’s opposition that led to the conflict on the Bill. There was a major crisis in the wake of the abbottabad affair. Not knowing the view of the army, which took days to speak on the american raid, Prime minister yousuf raza

Gillani promptly welcomed the success of the operation maintaining that “we have intelligence cooperation (with the US).” hell broke loose after this and Gillani was made to eat his words. The memogate affair gave birth to a major civil-military confrontation. Gillani faced unprecedented opposition after he retorted in an interview that the statements by Kayani and Pasha were submitted before the Supreme court without the permission of the competent authority. responding to the remark, the ISPr issued a threatening statement, saying the prime minister’s interview may have “very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.” The prime minister again had to take a Uturn. he said he wanted to dispel the impression that the two generals had submitted their replies to the Supreme court in violation of rules of business and the constitution. The PPP government was willing to strike any deal with anyone who could help it to remain in power. It allowed the Law enforcement agencies to continue their reign in Balochistan uninterrupted. The biggest blot on the PPP scorecard was the agencies’ treatment of the Baloch. This meant an already bad situation continuing from the musharraf years to get worse, causing immense human suffering. There was an unprecedented rise in forced disappearances and dumping of tortured dead bodies. a highly corrupt and uncaring provincial leadership comprising several parties led by the PPP misappropriated the huge development and welfare funds released for the province. The intervention by the Supreme court to end forced disappearances failed as the agencies and the provincial government avoided to cooperate with the court. Failures by the executive, parliament and judiciary to end the atrocities added to the feeling of alienation in the province. The inhuman acts pushed hundreds of youth who would otherwise have been a part of the mainstream nationalist politics into the embrace of the secessionist networks. The Supreme court continued to breathe down the neck of the PPP administration throughout its tenure. It arbitrarily took up cases against the federal government neglecting others that many considered more important. The apex court struck down the Nro for being violative of article 62(f) which requires a member of parliament to be

‘sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen,’ thus judging the moral standing of parliamentarians on stringent standards set by the notorious Zia regime. The court intervened in government officials’ postings and transfers and tried to fix prices of commodities and services. on top of that it ordered the government to seek the revival of Swiss cases against its own president. Finally, the apex court sent two prime ministers home. The PPP tried all available legal loopholes and remedies to bypass some of the more damaging verdicts but instead of defying accepted whatever judgment was made. at times it seemed the PmL-N was just a step short of pushing the government and the system down the abyss. Shahbaz Sharif threatened to drag Zardari in the streets for corruption. Nawaz Sharif and Khawaja asif rushed to the Supreme court over the ‘traitorous act’ committed by Pakistan’s US ambassador haqqani at the instance of ‘someone’. They maintained in the petition that the memogate scandal had ‘ridiculed’ and ‘maligned’ the armed forces of Pakistan. The alleged memorandum, the petition said, was mutinous, treasonous, shocking, repulsive and harrowing for any patriotic Pakistani. While Nawaz Sharif generally kept his cool, a number of his aides pressured PPP to resign in midterm, maintaining that it had already lost its mandate. They subsequently demanded that it step down before presenting the last budget. an influential media house and the dominant section of the Urdu press remained hostile to the PPP government throughout the five years of its rule. The PPP’s tenure was marked not only by missed opportunities, blunders and scams but also by major achievements. The PPP’s biggest achievement was the constitutional amendments enacted through consensus. The 18th amendment removed the imbalance of power between the president and Pm created by Zia and musharraf. It led to the revival of parliamentary system as visualised in the 1973 constitution. another achievement was the consensus NFc award which re-determined the share of the provinces significantly enhancing the share of Balochistan and KP to remove the feeling of deprivation there. These developments were possible only in a democratic setup. There were no political prisoners while the government displayed no sign of hostility to media even when it acted as a partisan.

‘Democracy will lose much of its charm if the government continues to be manipulated by the rich on the one hand and the mullahs and extremists on the other.’ The PmL-N has completed ten months of its tenure. It is fortunate, as like 1997, it enjoys a comfortable majority in the National assembly besides further support provided by its allies. The media is much more supportive and the courts are less meddlesome. Sharif enjoys the support of the opposition on crucial issues like talks with the militants and relations with India. It remains to be seen if the PmL-N is capable of building bridges with the opposition. Further whether it can resist the tendency to unnecessarily lock horns with the institutions. Sharif nevertheless needs to retrieve the civilian turf occupied by other institutions over time. The test of statesmanship will come when the government tries to put the civilian government in command of the army. one of the indicators would be a genuinely civilian rule in Balochistan, leading to an end to forced disappearances, dumping of dead bodies and mass graves. It is a shame that despite posing as champions of democracy neither the PPP nor PmL-N have shown willingness to hold local government elections. Unless the mainstream parties learn to share power with the local bodies’ would not take roots. Both parties have played in the hands of urban and rural vested interests ignoring the man in the street. The powerful elite have been provided relief while the common man is burdened with indirect taxes. Both have overestimated the strength of the mullahs and extremist sections and failed to stop the ongoing persecution of the minorities and women. The parliament under both has become a millionaire’s club. Wide-ranging electoral reforms have to be introduced to make participation in elections cheaper and affordable. Democracy will lose much of its charm if the government continues to be manipulated by the rich on the one hand and the mullahs and extremists on the other. g

Democracy in Pakistan Meandering along

Khawaja Manzar aMin The writer is a freelance columnist.


emocracy in Pakistan has just meandered along, without many successes to show for it, while spawning quite a few aberrations such as ambitious men on horseback and the corrupt business-politicians in the process, and which of the two has actually proved more damaging to the country is a question that still frays tempers among the chattering classes. Political parties and even prime ministers


have materialised out of thin air, it would seem, and having served their usually dark purpose, vanished into oblivion. and one still waits (in vain) for the bold, reformist and nationalist-minded political leader of high personal integrity, who would bring progress and prosperity in his wake, though it is often said that ‘the hour produces the man’. Dynastic democracy, although an oxymoron, has increasingly become an established part of our political system, and one in which the youthful scions of the rulers see themselves as being gifted with a divine right to rule because of their ‘exalted’ birth. Political parties exist in a democracy to resolves national issues in a peaceful manner, but here the leaders’ personal likes and dislikes

or rather spite and malice takes precedence over everything else, as happened with the PPP and the PmL-N in the 1990s. Those watching from the fence were thus emboldened to jump into the fray. Thankfully, this mindset has

begun to change, though a bit late in the day, as the problems have multiplied manifold while the leaders were busy settling personal scores with each other. But the emphasis over the past many decades has essentially been on a ‘cult of the personality’ rule rather than on developing and strengthening national institutions. our politicians, of all hues, have hardly proved to be exemplary role models, and they have certainly not been paragons of financial orthodoxy, to put it mildly. Provincial concerns have not been addressed, with the Balochistan grievances giving birth to a full-grown insurgency by a minority, with foreign involvement. The financial and social rewards of democracy have remained confined to a narrow section of society, and there has been a total


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014

Fruits of Pakistan’s democracy

is civilian dictatorship preferable to other forms of dictatorship? shahab jafry The writer is a Lahore-based journalist and can be reached at


aWaZ’S move to ‘consult’ with asif Zardari on ‘important national issues’ – while the ruling party carefully stokes civ-mil tension even as both keep up the same-page façade – has brought media focus back to the institution of democracy, and the need to preserve its sanctity. But the Pm’s posture since taking power has also triggered a parallel debate; does representative government really mean more power to the people, and should democracy still be the preferred system if it allows the incumbent to concentrate power around a preferred clique, even engineer a civilian dictatorship of sorts? Nawaz raised the first red flag with his talks initiative with the Taliban. he favoured negotiations over military action on the campaign trail, but the manner of his reconciliation process has drawn widespread criticism, including accusations of misrepresenting public mandate. one, the decision reflected confusion at the highest level of government, since it came when he had prepared everyone, especially the military, for a North Waziristan (NW) sweep. Two, he consulted only with the right wing religious lobby in deciding the fate of the Taliban, and both negotiating teams clearly represented a narrow fundamentalist outlook not accepted my a majority of the public. he left religious minorities, liberals, and even the military – who have suffered the most from Taliban’s insurgency – out of the decision making loop. Three, far from talking from a position of strength, the

government seemed going out of its way to cuddle the TTP hierarchy, even releasing prisoners without a reciprocal gesture, and chose not to inform the army. and four, he refuses to change course even as the Taliban accuse the government of double dealing and refuse to extend their ceasefire. There is talk of tension in Islamabad, that the military has become increasingly unhappy with the back-and-forth on the talks, and will not allow them to linger indefinitely. and N raised the second flag when his inner circle decided to go all out on musharraf. The military had kept quiet till the indictment, but after the fallout over the ecL proposition, and Saad and asif jabs, it became clear more differences would emerge sooner rather than later. Long road, wrong road and then we had the crucial Nawaz-asif meeting, complete with broad smiles backing confident claims. among other things, they said, there had been a spirited renewal of the commitment to preserve the democratic process. It seems to have had the desired effect too, to an extent. Talk of institutional clash seems toned down a notch, even if only temporarily. But the question of people benefitting from democratic government more than authoritarian ones still remains unanswered. and does netting the military suffice to make democracy work? “The notion that politicians clashing with the establishment and government scoring wins over the military implies success and strength for democracy is ridiculous”, said Sajjad mir, prominent analyst and journalist. “For democracy to be functional, all state organisations must demonstrate a democratic culture. Just the exercise of voting is not enough, it is a far bigger process”. Simply imposing a political

‘And in this simple statement lies the root cause of the failure of our peculiar democracy, the lack of political will on the part of the leadership in bringing about genuine reforms and change. The status quo clearly serves their needs and interests better.’ absence of the ‘trickle-down’ effect. Poverty is all-pervasive and growing at an alarming rate, while there is no safety net of unemployment benefits, health cover or insurance facilities. Illiteracy, a curable disease, has turned into an epidemic of alarming proportions. murderous sectarianism, terrorism, ignorance and bigotry as well as superstition are all its rightful adjuncts. our powerful feudal system also makes a mockery of the basic democratic concept with its captive tenant-voters who are offered voting choices they dare not refuse. In February 1992, the founder and maker of Singapore, Lee Kuan yew visited Pakistan at the invitation of the then Prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was much impressed by the

system, however desirable, is unlikely to work in the long term, according to mir. and forced democracy has had its share of failures recently, like Iraq, Ukraine, etc. Unless proper checks and balances are put in place, and respected, the tendency to concentrate power around a select elite faces little opposition, and those who wield power benefit instead of the people, much like a dictatorship. and our system is without such preventive measures or checks. But Pakistan’s internal situation and geopolitical realities are such that democratic nuances have little to do with who is comfortable while in power in Islamabad. The government depends largely on foreign funding, even for its day-today functioning. and more than Pakistan’s citizens, it is important for those paying our bills to be happy with Islamabad’s policies. “The present government is confident because it seems to have foreign backing, especially america’s,” added mir. “Zardari did initially but then he lost their trust, just like musharraf before him. It is not a good thing, but that’s how the world works. and while democracy might not be on the right long term path, it is still preferable to an outright dictatorship”. But there is also the question of providing equal opportunities to all citizens, the basic functioning rule of democracy. “Pakistan’s intended democratic model was reflected in ma Jinnah’s famous aug11 speech,” said Dr mehdi hassan, senior analyst and academic. “But unfortunately Pakistani politicians have proved incapable of framing and following a constitution that ensures equal rights for all beyond mere words.” Dr hassan also reflected on a deeper aspect of democracy, which is central to impartial governance yet missing from our system of politics. “No democracy can function properly until the state is completely

city-state’s remarkable economic progress. he wrote in his autobiography, From Third World to First, published in 2000: ‘It was soon obvious that they (that’s us!) faced dire and intractable problems. They had a low tax base with income tax yielding only two percent of their GDP. many transactions in land sales were not documented and tax evasion was widespread. They subsidised agriculture, railways and steel mills. Defence took 44 percent of the budget, debt servicing 35 percent, leaving 21 percent to administer the country. hence their budget deficits were eight to ten percent of their GDP and inflation was also reaching double-digit figures… The solutions were obvious but political will was difficult to exercise in a country without an educated electorate and with the legislature in the grip of landowners who controlled the votes of their uneducated tenant farmers. This made land and tax reforms near impossible. corruption was rampant and massive thievery of state property, including illegal tapping of electricity… Friendship, especially political ones, determined who got what (in the privatisation process)…he (Nawaz Sharif) always believed that something could be done to make things better. The problem was that often he had neither the time nor the patience to have a comprehensive study made before deciding on a solution…’ and he wistfully notes

secular,” he said, and “religiosity in the governance system impedes democratic advances”. and the way religion as an institution has been allowed to overshadow Pakistani politics, there is no real chance of real democracy taking root. “With elections and transition of power, we have taken the first steps on a long road, but from there we have also taken the wrong road forward”, he added. “Unfortunately, no muslim country in the world is democratic”. Not even Lebanon, where 19 religious and sectarian representations make up a unique balance in parliament. More unfortunate signs So it would seem our democratic evolution has led us to the point where the elected leader’s personal outlook, and that of his close circle, and the need to please foreign paymasters, play the key role in policy making, even if they run contrary to public mandate. and there are more signs that N’s understanding of democracy underscores the need to keep as much power as close to him as possible. “Their initial public mandate cannot be faulted, but the government does seem lacking in some respects,” said Khurshid Kasuri, former foreign minister and one of PTI’s senior most leaders. “Democracy is about more than just coming to power. It also means sharing power, and the way the prime minister likes to keep important ministries to himself shows clear reluctance to even procedural delegation of duties”. The Pm let go of the defence ministry only when the Supreme court asked him to appear in the missing person’s case and till recently held the commerce ministry portfolio as well. he is also still the foreign minister and the ever loyal Sartaj aziz his most trusted advisor. “other than the ministries, the prime minister is also reluctant to appoint heads and board chairmen of important institutions”, added

that, ’I discovered that many of my recommendations had not been implemented’. and in this simple statement lies the root cause of the failure of our peculiar democracy,

Kasuri. “It is always easier to exercise power and manipulate people when appointees are doubtful about their tenure, etc”. Then there is the friction with the military, which prompted the meeting with Zardari, and the subsequent show of democratic political strength. Steps like alienating the army in the talks with the Taliban, and scoring political points in the wake of musharraf’s trial are unfortunate, according to Kasuri, and reflect political priorities that are far removed from the interests of the people, supposedly the backbone of the democratic process. The people yearned for an end to the insurgency and policies that ensured a stronger economy when they voted for change last year. Privately, most people journalists talk to, including lawyers, analysts, even members of the bureaucracy, confess a growing distaste for democracy, especially since the present administration took office. and few deny that everyday life, especially for middle and lower groups, was better in the time of Gen musharraf, now fair game for ruling party loudmouths and facing possible death penalty in this treason trial. This government’s soft approach to the insurgency has been as ineffective as its civilian predecessor’s non-approach. and its contribution to the economy has been minimal, where other than the eurobond sales its only achievement has been a slight, artificial uptick in the rupee. and that too allegedly comes with a price to pay in international politics, leaning with Saudi arabia and helping arm al Qaeda militias overthrow a sovereign government (Syria). There is no denying that fruits of democracy reach politicians that fought long and endured military persecution to achieve people’s rule, but they remain far from the people themselves, no matter how directly or indirectly they exercise power over their rulers. g

the lack of political will on the part of the leadership in bringing about genuine reforms and change. The status quo clearly serves their needs and interests better. g



Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014

cover story: Democracy: still threateneD from within?

limits of modern democracy

In its modern context, democracy may be of the people, for the people, but definitely not by the people in its genuine sense Khawaja manzar amin The writer is a freelance columnist.


emocracy, like so many other modern Western concepts, especially in art, architecture and culture, is essentially an inheritance bequeathed by ancient or classical Greece. The Greeks were unrivalled in the art of definition, classification and categorisation of abstract themes (aristotle has described and compared over a hundred constitutions of his day), which quality has rightly been called the prerequisite or precursor of civilisation. This political system was ideally suited for the small city states of the Hellenic world such as athens in which the actual voting population was said to range from 10,000 to 50,000 only, and in which all eligible adult citizens (except for women and the person of slaves) could be physically present to vote on an issue at one place outside the city. Because of various flaws such as party interests being given preference over the national interests, corruption, and infighting and intrigues among various factions, Plato even then called it ‘mob rule’ and preferred the detached and rational rule of his philosopher king, which found an approximate historical

example in only one instance, in the roman emperor marcus aurelius. World democracy today faces a host of challenges, not least of which is that populations since that period of antiquity have mushroomed into millions and now into billions. In most instances, this has resulted in uneven benefits to the citizens and asymmetric economic growth creating frustration and resentment within the bodypolitic. many in long established democracies still remain on the fringes of society: they are the marginalised, the uprooted and the disinherited. The ongoing Indian national election is a case in point: in the world’s largest democracy, over 800 million voters will decide the next leadership over a five week period in an exercise spread across the length and breadth of the vast country. But, despite uninterrupted democracy, except for the brief Indira Gandhi emergency of the 1970s, Indian democracy has not been able to provide even basic needs or equal opportunities of growth to the vast majority of its citizens. The urban-rural divide alone represents a wide unbridgeable chasm and cost the BJP the last election because its slogan of ‘Shining India’ only appealed to the urban elite. The rigid caste system also

‘The major drawback of modern-day democracy lies in its economic aspect, the capitalist system, with its supply and demand mantra, its ‘markets’ and stock exchanges and the concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a fraction of individuals’

remains firmly entrenched in many regions. compare to this, a controlled one-party model, the chinese, has brought about much broader prosperity to its people in the same time span, and a robust minimum ten percent growth every year, regular as clockwork, despite all the pundits’ gloomy forecasts. and this in a country about whom Karl marx had remarked that ’opium was the religion of the people’. The major drawback of modern-day democracy lies in its economic aspect, the capitalist system, with its supply and demand mantra, its ‘markets’ and stock exchanges and the concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a fraction of individuals, dare one say openly, mainly the investment bankers of Wall Street? Not to mention pressure groups, lobbies and giant business interests, which dominate and direct the political apparatuses in cities big and small. crony capitalism, unbridled greed for profits by manipulating the system and outright fraud followed by bailouts at taxpayers’ expense have shaken the world’s

trust in this cannibalistic form of capitalism. The ‘march on Wall Street’ movement, a symbolical expression of a common disgust by ordinary americans was brutally suppressed in New york by mounted police. The movement struck a deep chord and was replicated in many european capitals. modern day democracy will have to come up with a more equitable and just economic model, one that also caters to the needs of those at the lowest end of the social scale. It is mistakenly said that democracy ‘triumphed’ over all other systems in the disastrous 20th century, which witnessed two world wars, and saw the rise of communism, Fascism and National Socialism. But in the Second World War, which was an epic struggle for world domination, the victorious allies included (the then) Great Britain and the ultra-capitalist USa on the one hand, and an ultra-marxist state, the Soviet Union, headed by that ‘inimitable democrat’ Uncle Joseph Stalin on the other. The european democracies, except for the ‘Western Isle’ quickly fell before the German blitzkrieg, and the watershed battles that turned the tide of war in the allies favour were actually fought in the Soviet hinterland. In fact, ‘democracy’ barely scraped through by the skin of its teeth. Democracy’s strong point was and remains its dogma of freedom of expression, its emphasis on personal liberty and civil rights, and the choice for all citizens of a life dictated by one’s own preferences. But as one political writer has remarked in its modern context, democracy may be of the people, for the people, but definitely not by the people in its genuine sense. The politicians and the bureaucrats have seen to that. g

Rising or falling? Pakistan’s rise at the moment is being tempered by other factors

Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual. Website:


IKe Pakistan, Greece entered or re-entered the international bond market with a euro 3 billion ($4.1 billion) offering. This was seen as an act of desperation totally out of sync with the systemic economic difficulties that the Greek economy has been facing. The verdict was that this return to the international market in the absence of reforms would inevitably lead to more debt and that Greece would remain perennially dependent on support. The Greek problem has to be seen in the context of the european Union and strong German backing and strategic intervention. Pakistan’s situation is different. What the finance minister of Pakistan has done is nothing short


of a miracle. He has brought the rupee to dollar rate from a high of rs107 to a low of rs96. He has shored up Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves that now stand at over $10 billion. more dollars are expected from the sale of 3G and 4G licenses, the US coalition Support Funds, the ImF, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. all this comes on top of the $1.5 billion ‘gift’ from a friendly arab state. He has successfully re-launched Pakistan into the international bond market with a two-tranche bond launch totalling $2 billion though his original target was a modest $500 million. This will cost Pakistan $155 million over the first five years and $82.5 million over the next five. all this has happened in spite of a below investment grade rating for Pakistan from moody’s and Standard and Poor. Pakistan already has loans from ImF, Islamic Development Bank and a consortium of bankers. obviously the US, ImF and WB vibes helped Pakistan and the overall liquidity in the international market was correctly read by the finance minister. But Pakistan now has to undertake structural reforms to sustain itself on the track on which

‘Pakistan has to put itself on the right track in all policies not just the economic policy. This will not happen if it is not orchestrated without unimportant distractions.’

it has set itself. Pakistan’s rise is however, being tempered by other factors. The admission by a minister that there is a problem—‘irritant’— in civil-military relations and the daily ‘battles’ being fought in the media have led to much unwarranted speculation. If major political forces are seen to be joining hands to cow down the military then more gauntlets may be thrown. This will not support the economic rise being orchestrated by the finance minister. The whole situation needs to be played down and not up, and the civil and military should be seen sitting together at the decision-making table—the ccNS (cabinet committee on National Security) frequently so

that institutions stop talking to each other through the media. another situation brewing is the fate of the ‘dialogue’ with the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan). The infighting between Taliban factions seems to have disrupted or at least interrupted the process. more ominous is the report that the TTP is reaching out to the afghan Taliban leadership to intervene, thereby signalling some kind of compact between these factions in the post 2014 situation in afghanistan. If the dialogue process gives legitimacy and geographic space to the TTP then its nexus with the afghan Taliban who may continue the fight in afghanistan starts looking ominous for Pakistan and the region. Speculation triggered by the admission of a civil-military rift also hints at disagreement between the military and government on the dialogue and all matters connected to it like the release of prisoners. again a joint presence at a formal decision-making table could kill all speculation. There are no two views on the need for good bilateral relations with all neighbours but much will depend on the outcome of elections in India and afghanistan, and Pakistan’s ability to forge good or

‘The whole situation needs to be played down and not up, and the civil and military should be seen sitting together at the decisionmaking table—the CCNS (Cabinet Committee on National Security) frequently so that institutions stop talking to each other through the media.’

at least functional relations all round. Pakistan should note that china’s clout is likely to grow as the Ukrainian crisis brings russia closer to china. The Sco (Shanghai cooperation organisation) is also likely to gain far more importance with russian support. There are opportunities and challenges that have to be understood Pakistan has to put itself on the right track in all policies not just the economic policy. This will not happen if it is not orchestrated without unimportant distractions. g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014

Brandeis University: opinion

You’ve made a real booboo the onus for change lies with Muslims alone

Luavut Zahid The writer is a journalist based in Lahore. Her writings focus on current affairs and crisis response. She can be reached at, she tweets @luavut


randeis University had seemingly flipped the wrong coin when they decided to present an honourary degree to ayaan Hirsi ali. That unfortunate side of the coin would have irked the entire Muslim world - and that is not something any organisation, institute, government, or individual ever intends to do. The logical next step was to politely let Hirsi ali know that islamophobes do not deserve degrees. a campaign by the Council on americanislamic relations effectively ensured that Brandeis University would think twice before honouring someone who doesn’t mince their words when criticising islam. Troubling news related to the faith only grow in number each day. ranging from the bigger trophies, terrorist attacks, to small fry issues like female genital mutilation, something that Hirsi ali has fought long and hard against. To make matters worse, the paranoia within such regions is so strong that even something as benign as polio drops are thought to be lethal. Therefore, hopes of reformation and change, like that of Christianity and Judaism, are just that: hopes. irrespective of how the intolerance and violence grows, most continue to yo-yo between criticism and silence. Why? Because it is fashionable – no, fundamentally essential – for individuals related to the ideology to react with aggression. and no one wants to be on the receiving end. explanations for this behaviour include justifications such as, “we care about our faith from the heart, we’re not like those westerners who poke fun at their own Jesus,” and more popularly, “i could lay my life for my faith, why would i entertain this nonsense, off with their heads.” a list could be presented of such troubling logical absurdities, an endless list. and it is that list that scares people into submission. ayaan Hirsi ali refuses to submit. she refuses to be silenced and she refuses to take the easier way out. Hirsi ali’s struggles should not be at all alien to women in Pakistan or women in Muslim regions in general. if anything, they are inspirational. in 1992, she ran away from the prospect of marrying a relative. after immigrating to the netherlands soon after she worked her way up from the ground. she has even served as a member of the dutch Parliament for three years. While these offences are surely great when measured through an islamic lens, they are far from her greatest. during 2003, she penned two books, which spoke about the treatment of women in islam. is Hirsi ali infallible? no. Has she at times

propagated an extreme method of tackling ali’s opinion is subjective. When she says the faith? Yes. Can we blame her for it? she fears for her life, her fear is real, she has That’s the tricky part. been targeted and she’s even gone into Hirsi ali’s work often expands on her hiding. While many others would find own struggles with the religion and tries to comfort in silence and back down, Hirsi ali help other women break out from came back stronger with a much harsher oppression. Her harsh stance has helped stance. But we must stop and ask ourselves, brand her an extremist and an intolerant is Hirsi ali really the problem here? woman. she is further accused of distorting The campaign against Hirsi ali the islamic faith and presenting a skewed repeatedly reminded everyone to realise that version of reality. Women suffer all manners the islam she spoke of was in fact not the of horror in the name of religion, and more real islam at all. it was barbaric and specifically modesty. From marital rape to distorted indeed, concocted by mere men female genital and not some divine mutilation – there is entity. even if one not much left to the were to accept that ‘Hirsi Ali’s work often expands on imagination, it is female genital her own struggles with the religion happening, it is real mutilation is not an and women are islamic problem, and tries to help other women break living it every single and more of a out from oppression. Her harsh day. But each time cultural issue, it still stance has helped brand her an someone tries to cannot answer how question why, and it is spread out as extremist and an intolerant woman.’ points at this far as Malaysia. The particular faith, all reasons for the hell breaks loose. practice are the and if the person questioning it all is a same every time: religion. strong woman, then the hottest of hell’s However, that is not the most confusing wrath would not be hot enough. part. Let’s accept that it’s solely a cultural The tactics of terror used by islamic problem for the sake of argument, it still countries and Muslims at large in general seems fairly odd. For instance, why is it that ensure that people will either put up with only when someone connects the dots them, or shut up and leave. There is no between female genital mutilation and concept of freedom of speech, and there is islam, people spring into action. a more furthermore no concept of criticism. Hirsi pertinent question instead would be why

‘Religious scriptures have been used time and again to establish laws, rules, norms, etc, to keep women in line. The liberal lot will rise to the occasion and ask people to consider a more lenient religious point of view.’ people never spring into action when someone passes a fatwa allowing and requiring female genital mutilation. if it is not real islam to circumcise young girls, then why did people realise it only after Hirsi ali spoke about it? Fatwas are not passed out in secret, they are not hidden, and they are not covered under any imaginary cloaks. a Muslim’s war is not against a white supremacist, it is against his own kleptomaniac brethren. To put it into perspective: this is similar to standing around and watching, with stoic disinterest, a distant cousin rent a car out in your name. This cousin then proceeds to place a bomb inside this car. and then the car explodes and kills all those standing around. When a passerby then sees the carnage and points out that the car was rented out in your name only then do you react. But you do not go up to the distant cousin to ask them what on earth they were thinking, you yell and scream at the passerby for having an opinion and being horrified. You then raise hue and cry because you’re being demonised and ostracised. Why did you not react when your distant was very loudly, visibly, and obviously putting up your name on the paper? Why do Muslims not march onto the streets and question the ulema first, if this is indeed not islam? Why is the original misinterpretation not questioned? religious scriptures have been used time and again to establish laws, rules, norms, etc, to keep women in line. The liberal lot will rise to the occasion and ask people to consider a more lenient religious point of view. Perhaps it provides some sense of comfort. an augmented cognitive dissonance is a remarkable thing, really. Hirsi ali and women like her are constantly asked not to generalise their own experiences to criticise religion. When they speak up they’re told they’re isamophobes for objecting to a faith whose followers are literally trying to kill them. How many women will it take to make a sample big enough to generalise? The response to all women like Hirsi ali is the same: please stop talking, you are wrong. Hirsi ali has suffered real loss because of the things she says. does she at times sound too extreme? definitely. But stop for a second and ask yourself this: how many Muslims has she killed? How many Muslims have had to go into hiding because of her? The onus for change lies with Muslims alone. if they are so hell bent on proving that this extreme interpretation of their faith is wrong, then they need to come forward and start transforming things from the inside. Hirsi ali cannot and should not be called an islamophobe only because she loudly repeats the things that she has experienced, and continues to see happening around her, and all in the name of god. g 11


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Let history teach us coexistence From Spain’s Al-Andalusia period to Indian subcontinent’s history of pluralism, the past has lessons for our present on living together ‘Two generations down the line, Akbar’s enthusiasm was revived by Dara Shikoh, the heir apparent of the Mughal Empire. Shikoh was inspired by Sufi teachings and translated the Hindu sacred texts of Upanishads in Persian.’

‘In Spain, the cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada are replete with such examples of Islamic and Christian architecture fused together. The silent structures in brick and stone tell tales of conquests, re-conquests, and also embellishing stories of tolerance.’

pAwAn BAlI

Pawan Bali is an Indian journalist and a filmmaker. Currently she is pursuing her Masters in International Peace and Conflict Studies at American University, Washington DC. Twitter id: Bali23


he great victor of the Crusades Salahuddin Ayyubi famously said, “The best way to destroy a country is to make its people disenchanted with their army.” The lofty tower of La Giralda in Seville is a fitting symbol of coexistence. In its arched niches and minarets, the magnificent 104meter structure combines the Islamic art and the Spanish Renaissance architecture. Famously known today as the Bell Tower of the world’s largest Gothic Church, La Giralda has not completely erased its past. Like the Spanish Ambassador eduardo Busquets puts it, “The tower is two-


third Islamic art and one-third Christian”. Its base is a remnant of a 12th century mosque of the Muslim Almohad dynasty, and its top, a grand symbol of a Gothic Cathedral. Busquets was referring to La Giralda at a special lecture on The Islamic Legacy of Spain hosted by Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University – an event attended by a select group of academicians, diplomats, and interfaith leaders. As he explored the impact of the medieval period of Muslim Spain, his next reference was the Mezquita Cathedral de Co’rdoba, or commonly known as the MosqueCathedral of Cordoba – a mosque built during the 8thcentury and an imposing Roman cathedral in the middle of it. This magnificent structure again unites elements of Islamic and Occidental cultures – a grandiose that awed onlookers and inspired poets – one of them being Urdu’s great Allama Iqbal. “In his eloquent poem on the Cordoba mosque, Iqbal links its past to the present, the east to West”, says Ambassador Ahmed, adding that the poem is apt tribute to the merging of the two sides. In Spain, the cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada are replete with such examples of Islamic and Christian architecture fused together. The silent structures in brick and stone tell tales of

‘The mingling of faiths extended from emperors to poets and saints like Kabir and Dadu. Both were born in Muslim families, but transcended sectarian boundaries in their teachings, writings and following.’ conquests, re-conquests, and also embellishing stories of tolerance. Many of these structures trace their origins to the Golden age of Al-Andalusia in Spain – the oftquoted period of La Convivencia (the Coexistence) when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together peacefully. Ambassador Busquets says it is this history of togetherness that Spain is now vigorously emphasising. Precisely why, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in 2006 set up Casa Arabe – a body to preserve and promote the country’s Islamic heritage. Busquets, who is the director general of Casa Arabe, says the purpose is to fight prejudices and build stronger social-political ties with the Arab and the Muslim world. If the past has seen the splendour of living together, there

is no reason that the present cannot witness that again. Spain’s history of coexistence is not a stand-alone case in history. Parallels can be drawn in South Asia, where in the middle of bloody battles and violent conquests, proximity of different faiths stands out. For instance, the ellora caves in Maharashtra in South of India. The 35 caves carved in the hills between the 5th and11th century include12 Buddhist, 14 hindu and 5 Jain temples – the different faiths merged in the hills. Another example is the third Mughal emperor, Akbar, who ruled the Indian subcontinent during the 16th century and stamped his era with pluralism. he abolished taxes on non-Muslims and merged the Islamic Persian culture with Indian ideas. Akbar married within faiths – a hindu Rajput wife, Jodha Bai and a Christian wife, Maria Zorani Begum. In his effort to build pluralistic identity, Akbar even founded a new religion, Din-e-Elahi, which incorporated teachings from Islam, hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Two generations down the line, Akbar’s enthusiasm was revived by Dara Shikoh, the heir apparent of the Mughal empire. Shikoh was inspired by Sufi teachings and translated the hindu sacred texts of Upanishads in Persian. Later, his book Majma ul Bahrain (The Confluence of Two Oceans), he explored the similarities between the Islamic and Vedantic teachings.

‘“In his eloquent poem on the Cordoba mosque, Iqbal links its past to the present, the East to West”, says Ambassador Ahmed, adding that the poem is apt tribute to the merging of the two sides.’

The mingling of faiths extended from emperors to poets and saints like Kabir and Dadu. Both were born in Muslim families, but transcended sectarian boundaries in their teachings, writings and following. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh faith, quoted extensively from Quran and Vedas. Nanak’s two closet companions were a hindu and a Muslim. From mystics to rulers, from poets to powerful men, from europe to South Asia, the idea of coexistence has lived and flourished in the past. Skeptics may argue that these examples are blurred by bloody battles for power and violent crusades. Maybe, yes. Maybe, no. Maybe, it is how we chose our lessons from history. The present times are once again fraught with battles of ‘Us versus Them’ and the clashes of faiths. These are the times when Bamiyan Buddhas are reduced to rubble, when a temple vs. a mosque battle claims hundreds of lives. These are the times when sectarian divides are seen as the enemy and religion as the foe. history has not been kind either; perhaps even more brutal. But then in these few lessons of coexistence, lies the hope for our future. We live in fragile times. So for the sake of our present, and for our future, if history could teach us one important lesson, let that lesson be of tolerance. Let that lesson be of love. g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014

symbols of sultanic power


When Sultan Ala al-Din visited the abode of Nizam al-Din Awliya, the latter said, “The house of this fragile old man has two doors. If the Sultan enters through one door, I exit through the other.”

Basharat hussain QizilBash The writer is an academic and journalist. He can be reached at


onstitutionally the highest offices of power in Pakistan are of president and prime minister. the power exercised by them is considered legitimate if they are elected and good adherents of the islamic faith. the criterion of elections is relatively new in the subcontinent being introduced by the British at the end of the nineteenth century whereas the requirement that a ruler should be a model Muslim is almost eight centuries old when the Muslim sultans set up a sultanate with Delhi as its capital. if vote is the symbol of power today; it was sword in the past yet not just enough to establish legitimacy. the challenge for ruler was not only the physical submission of the conquered but to win their acceptance through legitimacy that depended on the religious sanction from the highest authority i.e. the caliph, who combined in his person the sources of temporal and spiritual authority just because religion holds the central position in the lives of the people irrespective of the fact whether they actually follow to it or not in letter and spirit in their daily lives. legitimacy was not an issue in itself for the caliphs even when parallel caliphates existed for centuries in arabia and spain because they could claim descent to Prophet Muhammad (PBuH) but it was not so for the Delhi sultans of medieval india, who were turkish and not arab in ethnicity, and ‘slave’ in their origin and could not establish association with Prophet (PBuH) through blood lineage. this crisis of legitimacy for sultanic power was innovatively addressed by sultan iltutmish, who started the tradition of procuring the deed of caliphal investiture and caliphal robe from the caliph of the day in Baghdad, which were then displayed with great fanfare to the public in the specially staged ceremonies. sometimes the investiture from the caliph brought along grand titles for the sultan such as the ‘Chief of sultans’, the ‘sword of Caliphate’, ‘Partner of the Commander of the Faithful’, etc that legitimized as well as boosted the image of sultan in the public eye. Moreover, the investiture

became all the more important for ‘self-legitimacy’ because sultan Muhammad bin tughluq felt that a sultan was a usurper and his government illegitimate if it did not have the approval of the caliph unlike Qutb al-Din Mubarak shah, who was the only sultan that dared to declare himself the caliph. it seems as if the use of religion to legitimize political authority is a centuries –old phenomenon in this part of the world. Religious inscriptions on coins were used as an effective method for legitimacy by the sultans, particularly Muhammad bin tughluq, who struck coins such as the ones that bore his own name surrounded by the names of the first four caliphs or contained religious references like “obey God, obey the Messenger, and those with authority among you” or “He who obeys the sultan obeys God,” all these were unspoken yet clear instructions to the people that their obedience to sultan was a holy act. through a conscious effort, the sultans encouraged the historians of their times to craft a narrative that projected them as the rulers following the footsteps of Prophet (PBuH). Minhaj siraj Juzjani, the author of ‘tabakat-i-nasiri’ portrayed sultan nasir al-Din Mahmud shah as the king who wielded the ‘qualities of the friends of God’ (awsaf-i-awliya) as well as the ‘virtues of Prophets’ (akhlaq-ianbiya) and ‘sultan-i-islam’ whereas sultan iltutmish for his bravery was bestowed upon the title of ‘second ali’ (Ra). one of the titles of Prophet (PBuH) was the

‘seal of the Prophets.’ another historian, shams siraj afif, the author of ‘tarikh-i-Firoz shahi’ manufactured corresponding titles for sultan Firoz shah such as the ‘seal of sultans’ (Khatm-i-salatin)’, ‘seal of the Crown bearers’ (Khatmi-tajdaran), etc. some other grand titles accorded to the sultans included the ‘supreme sultan’ (sultan al-azam), ‘Beacon of the shariah’, ‘saviour of islam’, etc. not only the historians went out of the way to enhance the prestige of the sultans but also made strenuous efforts to emphasize the importance of Delhi, the capital of the sultanate as a refuge for the Muslim world after the destruction of caliphate in Baghdad at the hands of the Mongols. While the sultanic coinage referred to Delhi as the ‘abode of islam’; Juzjani went further by sanctifying this city as “the centre of the circle of islam, the cradle of the commandments and prohibitions of shariah, the territory of ‘Din-i-Muhammadi’… and the dome of islam of the eastern part of the world.” thus, if today, one hears expressions such as Pakistan being the ‘Fort of islam;’ one should not be surprised because the people of this region have had a long history of sanctifying both the place and the person. the crisis of legitimacy was addressed to a great extent by the portrayal of the sultan of Delhi as someone who was a role model Muslim adhering to the tenets of islam and enjoying the blessings of the caliph of the time. this was the external religious connection that

was internalized over a period of time; however, side by side the formation of sultanate, another powerful institution had evolved inside india that was equally challenging to the sultanic authority. it was the institution of sufi orders. Blain H auer in his groundbreaking study entitled “symbols of authority in medieval islam” opines that if the sultan of Delhi represented the ultimate political and military power then the friends of God (awliya) traversing the mystical path were the epitome of religious power. the common man loved and respected the sufis from the core of his heart and in this way the latter exercised an invisible command and control over the populace. if the sultan could somehow or the other manage to secure the blessings of the sufis for his person and power, he could automatically win the acceptance and obedience from his subjects. With this objective in mind, the sultans of Delhi deliberately encouraged the crafting of yet another narrative through various commissioned works of history whereby it was impressed that the sultans had actually acquired power through the blessings of the saints. For example, afif has written in his classical work that Firoz shah became a sultan as a result of the blessings of four dervishes namely nizam al-Din awliya, Bu ali Qalandar, nasir al-Din Mahmud Chiragh-i-Delhi and ala al-Din (grandson of Baba Farid). Ziya alDin Barani in his monumental treatise ‘tarikh-i-Firoz shahi’

credits nizam al-Din awliya for all the peace and prosperity during the reign of sultan al al-Din. iltutmish, too, is on the record to have admitted that he achieved power due to the blessings of a dervish, while he was on an errand as a slave in the city of Bukhara. the practice of patronization or visits to the tombs of the saints such as Data Ganj Baksh in lahore, Moeen-ud-Din Chishti in ajmer, etc by the rulers of Pakistan to seek blessings is also ingrained in our history. the sultans of Delhi often performed pilgrimages to the shrines of the respected sufis particularly in times of crises or before launching military expeditions. the sultanic overtures to seek affinity with dervishes were not always reciprocated, especially by the ‘other-worldlies’ of the Chishti order. When sultan ala alDin visited the abode of nizam al-Din awliya, the latter said, “the house of this fragile old man has two doors. if the sultan enters through one door, i exit through the other.” Baba Farid’s advice to another mystic is equally instructive: “Do not mix with kings and emirs. imagine their coming and going to your house as a deadly place to inhabit. Every dervish who has mixed with kings and emirs has had a disastrous end.” of and on, the sufis asserted their superior moral authority and ethical command over the sultans. afif records at least two such instances in which shaykh Qutb alDin Munawar not only admonished sultan Firoz shah for excessive drinking and hunting but also rejected the gift of an ostentatious robe because it was prohibited by the shariah. in spite of the noncongruent nature of sultanate and dervishi, auer avers that “there is a discernable historiographical trend in which the figure of the sultan was increasingly crafted with religious imagery, such that he came to resemble the sufi shaykh.” While Juzjani’s history writing pioneered the effort to consciously conceive the image of sultan as possessing saintly attributes by stating that in the person of sultan nasir al-din Mahmud shah, God had planted the “attributes of the friends of God” (awsaf-i-awliya) whereas afif completed this task by constructing the “image of a perfect king based on the ethical and moral attributes of sufi shaykhs.” thus, the sultan who was initially a seeker of saints’ blessings to legitimize his rule was now himself personified into a source of spiritual blessings for the public at large. this is how the sultans of Delhi used the discipline of history as a handmaiden to manipulate the realms of religion and mysticism to legitimize their political power in the eyes of the people. g 13


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


Sufism in the subcontinent The spiritual dimension of islam ‘During the time of the Delhi Sultanate, Sufi poets and saints were patronised by the state for their role in the spread of Islam. The Sufis meshed with the different religious groups in the society together on the grounds of common spirituality. It was hence a time when culture and arts flourished.’


t may seem ironic to many that throughout Islamic history the voices against religious fundamentalism did not come as much from the outside as from within the Muslim society. The writer is a social innovation Indeed, for those attuned to the advocate and a digital media biased historical version of specialist. She tweets at Islamic history, the @mehreen_omer discovery of Sufism as a major contributor to the spread of Islam would be insatiable. But the fact is that the expansion of Islamic rule in Indo-Pak was led not as much by Muslim warriors as by the Sufi saints. As early as the 12th century, many Sufi orders had emerged in the Muslim world. Five of these Sufi orders migrated to the subcontinent in the coming centuries, namely the Chishti, Suhrawardi, Qadri, Naqshbandi and the Firdousi schools. the Chishti order which became the most prominent in the subcontinent, originated in Afghanistan in the middle of the twelfth century. It was Moinuddin Chisti who introduced the Chishti order in Punjab, mainly in the cities of Lahore and Ajmer. the Suhrawardi order originated in Iraq in the late twelfth century and was popularized in the subcontinent by Baha-ud din Zakariya and Jalaluddin Surkhposh Bukhari who made Multan and Uch the center of their activities respectively. Contrary to widely-held beliefs, the Muslim authorities at that time actually supported these Sufis; Shamsuddin Iltutmish of the Delhi Sultanate even appointed Baha-ud din Zakariya as the ‘Sheikh-ul-Islam’. During the time of the Delhi Sultanate, Sufi poets and saints were patronized by the state for their role in the spread of Islam. the Sufis meshed with the different religious groups in the society together on the grounds of common spirituality. It was hence a time when culture and arts flourished. While most people know about the strict edicts of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb under the pretext of Islamic law, historiographers conveniently choose to omit the antics of his brother Dara Shikoh who played an equally important role in the subcontinent, if not more. While

Mehreen oMer

‘With deep devotion to the love of God as the basic tenet of their spirituality, Sufis connected the Muslims with the Hindus. The Sufi saints of the 12th and 13th centuries were not missionaries. Neither were they merchants of faith peddling their religion onto others. They were simply men drunk with the love of God, and aspired only to work for divine pleasure.’ Aurangzeb’s Fatwae-Alamgiri showed little tolerance towards people of other faiths, Dara Shikoh’s doctrine of inclusivity was its direct antithesis much to the enmity of his brother. Almost all Islamic Studies and Pakistan Affairs textbooks glorify the conquerors and warriors who expanded Islamic rule in the subcontinent. But there is hardly any such praise for those who did not get to exercise political authority, but certainly did hold spiritual authority in the hearts of many. Dara Shikoh’s poetic accounts of the events clearly indicate his stand against traditionalism. With deep devotion to the love of God as the basic tenet of their spirituality, Sufis connected the Muslims with the Hindus. the Sufi saints of the 12th and 13th centuries were not missionaries. Neither were they merchants of faith peddling their religion onto others. they were simply men drunk with the love of God, and aspired only to work for divine pleasure. they served humanity regardless of their faith, caste and nationality. the teachings of the Bhakthi movement in Hinduism closely synchronized with that of the Sufis. the Bhakti movement was a reform from within Sufism that sought to break away from the prevalent caste system whereby the Brahmins were declared as superior to all other castes and the Dalits or the untouchables were discriminated badly against. It sought to create a more inclusive society, and the only criterion of its membership was boundless love for other human beings. Interestingly the four famous Sufi saints in India, Moinuddin, Fariduddin, Qutbuddin and Nizamuddin were all Afghans. they came with the Muslim invaders to India. Perhaps this is the reason why many people confuse the spread of Islam in the subcontinent with the invasions from Afghanistan and Central Asia. Both the soldiers and the Sufis came around the same time, and since conversion was a mostly peaceful process, the latter had to play a larger role in it. Nizamuddin Auliya spread Sufism in Delhi from where it


diffused to the south of India accompanying the expansion by the tughlaq Dynasty. Not surprisingly, the orthodox ulema did not like the prominence that the Sufis were gaining and called for a return back to the ‘pure’ version of Shari’a. After the fall of the Abbasid Dynasty in 1258 when the Mongols clawed down Baghdad, the biggest intellectual and cultural centre of the time, many had lost hope about the future of Islam. Islam in India, on the other hand, not only survived the Mongol terror, but bypassed it quite effectively. And the credit goes not to the fuqaha who dominated the Abbasid era, but the Sufi saints who preserved and nurtured the spiritual dimension of Islam. the infamous Mughal Emperor Akbar granted the same status to Hindus as was given to the People of the Book, the Christians and the Jews. the Jizya, or the poll-tax, on the non-Muslims was abolished. He even defied tradition by marrying a Rajput, and then allowing her to practice her religion within the palace. Akbar was deeply devoted to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and regularly visited his tomb in Ajmer on foot. Even the Mughal Emperors, Babar and Humayun were known for their admiration of the Sufi saints, and the later always visited the tombs of Islamic mystics whenever he went to Persia. But Akbar was to become a controversial figure in Islamic history, because of his alleged creation of a new religion called ‘Din-e-Ilahi’, which was only a collection of ethical standards based on the religious discourses he attended. It is true that he commissioned the building of Hindu temples, but he also built many mosques. And while most would consider him to be a heretic,

he never denied the Islamic Shari’a. Many of the misconceptions crept in due to a lack of understanding of tasawwuf. He never thought of himself as a prophet trying to gain followers, but rather he understood himself as a Pir (Sufi saint) and his devotees as murids(disciples). If anyone is to be credited for the creation of a new religion, it is to be Guru Nanak, who founded Sikhism by the 16th century to bridge the gap between Islam and Hinduism. Perhaps there needs to be through revision of the criterions of historiography. the Muslims of the subcontinent are greatly indebted to the Sufi saints in history for they created an environment of co-existence in a society where the Muslims were always a minority. Many of the great kababs and savoury dishes that we like to enjoy today were actually first prepared in Sufi khanqahs. Much of the classical music in the subcontinent that delights our ears today arose out of Sufi meditational practices. Perhaps it is not ironic then that many Pakistanis and Indians still lament about the partition and wish it never had happened. How could these two communities who had shared so much common with each other, be divided all of a sudden? Surely this may not discredit the twonation theory and but is certainly a food for thought why we should not see the people across the border as ‘aliens’. g


Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014


The miraculous life of gabriel García Márquez The colombian author’s book one Hundred years of Solitude established him as the defining member of a movement known as magic realism. A Nobel laureate, García Márquez died on April 17 having inspired an entire generation of Latin literature

Pico iyer The writer has written nonfiction books on globalism, Japan, the 14th Dalai Lama and forgotten places, and novels on revolutionary Cuba and Islamic mysticism. He regularly writes on global culture and the news for TIME, on literature for theNew York Review of Booksand for magazines around the world.


hEN Gabriel García Márquez was born, in 1927, in the sleepy little town of Aracataca, not far from Colombia’s Caribbean coast, there were certain established fixities in the world of letters. The centers of gravity were Europe and North America, with a few auxiliary poles in Wellington, perhaps, or Kolkata. The novel, just beginning to be shaken up by Joyce and Woolf, told mainly of carriages moving under birch trees and conversations on rainy boulevards. Its characters, as often as not, were the people you might meet at dinner parties thrown for Count Tolstoy or Marcel Proust. By the time García Márquez died at 87 on April 17, all that had changed, and largely because of him. A new continent had been discovered, so it seemed, rich with tamarind trees and “pickled iguana,” and folk cultures everywhere had an epic voice. Villagers could be imagined seeking daguerreotypes of God, and men arriving on doorsteps amid a halo of yellow butterflies. Macondo, a never-never town of almond trees and “banana wars” (a lot like Aracataca) had become as much a part of the reader’s

neighborhood as Yoknapatawpha County or St. Petersburg. The story behind this was, of course, half-miraculous. The eldest of 11 children, “Gabo,” as he was universally called, was born to a telegraph operator and a colonel’s daughter. When his parents moved to another city in search of work, he was left behind, a tropical Pip, to spend his early years with relatives. From his grandfather, he heard tales of fatal duels and his country’s unending civil wars; from his aunts and grandmother, he absorbed all the spells and spirits sovereign in a world in which Arab and Indian and African cultures mixed. Scarcely was he out of his teens than the boy was publishing short stories in a newspaper, while studying law with a view to help the disenfranchised. The newspaper for which he also wrote columns was called — too perfectly — El Universal. One day, after 18 months of continuous writing, he completed a book, his fifth, so large that his wife Mercedes had to pawn her hair dryer and an electric heater to pay for postage to send it to the publisher. Cien Años de Soledad was published in 1967 (such was the interest in Latin writing then that it did not even make it into English till three years later), and Pablo Neruda, South America’s reigning Nobel laureate, pronounced it “perhaps the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since the Don Quixote of Cervantes.” he could as easily have called it a narrative Alhambra, a palace in the Spanish tradition but fluent with foreign shapes and dizzy curlicues amid the water and the orange trees. One Hundred Years of Solitude promptly established García

Excerpts from an interview: Asked in 1981 about his ambitions as a writer he suggested that it would be a “catastrophe” to be awarded the Nobel Prize, arguing that writers struggle with fame, which “invades your private life” and “tends to isolate you from the real world”. “I don’t really like to say this because it never sounds sincere,” he continued, “but I would really have liked for my books to have been published after my death, so I wouldn’t have to go through all this business of fame and being a great writer.” Márquez as the defining member of what was called the boom in Latin American writing and a movement known as magic realism; yet, really, he was throwing open the gates for writers from forgotten everywheres — you can see his influence in India’s Salman Rushdie, in Nigeria’s Ben Okri, even in Murray Bail from Australia. he was, essentially, a trafficker

in wonder. “Incredible things are happening in the world,” says a sometime alchemist in the first chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude, as he sees a gypsy’s dentures; García Márquez’s realization was that the world of the alchemist, the dew still on it, could be equally incredible to the denture maker. he spun out his tales of everyday miracles with

such exuberance that 30 million copies of the book were not just bought around the world, but read. Not one to stay put, he followed that imaginative dawn with The Autumn of the Patriarch, an unflinchingly political novel that consisted of just six paragraphs, each 30 pages or more in length, and his tales of unexpected innocence were forever intertwined with more hardheaded stories of the solitude that comes with power. Realistic enough to be a true romantic, he treated dreams and revolutions with equal weight: if his fabulous flights were always, he insisted, just the documentary work of a reporter with an eye for marvels, his nonfiction accounts of corruption such as News of a Kidnapping featured secret messages transmitted on TV programs and kidnappers offering talismans to their hostages. A friend to Presidents as well as revolutionaries, García Márquez never abandoned the public world: even in his 70s, 17 years after winning the Nobel Prize, the most famous man in Colombia was writing articles like a cub reporter. Though García Márquez lived in Paris, Mexico City, havana and Barcelona, he was proudly claimed by Colombia — by all South America — as one who had taken an area too often associated with murders and drugs, and infused it with an immortal light: a literary Columbus discovering a New World that would soon belong to us all. When he fell ill, therefore, in the summer of 1999, much of the continent seemed to hold its breath, urging “el maestro” back to health. And when he died on Thursday in his home in Mexico City, it did not seem impossible that a man could open his mouth and songbirds would fly out. g

World reacts to death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez Reaction to death of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “A thousand years of loneliness and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time!” — Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos ******* “With the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers - and one of my favorites from the time I was young ... I offer my thoughts to his family and friends, whom I hope take solace in the fact that Gabo’s work will live on for generations to come.” — US President Barack Obama ******* “A great man has died, one whose works gave the literature of our language great reach and prestige.” — Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, who had once famously feuded with Garcia Marquez ******* “I owe him the impulse and the freedom to plunge into literature. In his books I found my own

family, my country, the people I have known all my life, the color, the rhythm, and the abundance of my continent.” — Chilean writer Isabel Allende ******* “A great artist is gone, but his grand art remains with us. Most authors are only shadows, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez belonged to those who cast a shadow, and he will continue to do so long after his death.” — Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Nobel Prizeawarding Swedish Academy ******* “One would really have to go back to Dickens to find a writer of the highest literary quality who commanded such extraordinary power over whole populations.” — British novelist Ian McEwan, to the BBC ******* “On behalf of Mexico, I express my sadness for the death of one the greatest writers of our time: Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

“From the time I read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ more than 40 years ago, I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty ... I was honored to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years.” — former US President Bill Clinton ******* “With Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a writing giant who gave worldwide reach to the imagination of an entire continent has passed. ... His committed articles as a journalist and his tireless struggle against

imperialism made him one of the most influential South American intellectuals of our time.” — French President Francois Hollande

rare thing.” — Cristobal Pera, editorial director of Penguin Random House in Mexico

******* “His unique characters and exuberant Latin America will remain marked in the hearts and memories of his millions of readers.” — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

******* “Gabo’s death is a loss for Colombia and for the entire world. His work will safeguard his memory.” — Colombia’s largest rebel group, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, said in a tweet

******* “He is like the Mandela of literature because of the impact that he has had on readers all over the world. His influence is universal, and that is a very

******* “He had the capacity to see stories that many of us have in front of us and don’t even notice. He was unique in that.” — Nicaraguan writer Sergio

Ramirez Mercado ******* “In recent times it wasn’t easy to communicate with him, although he understood and continued the conversation. He was always loving and generous and extraordinarily clever.” — Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, director of Mexico’s National Council for Culture and the Arts ******* “Gabo has left us and we will have years of solitude. But his works and his love for the motherland remain. Farewell until the victory, dear Gabo.” — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa ******* “If you’ve read him, you know that he’s not really gone. He is in an afterlife of his own creation, his own Macondo.” — Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author ******* “Cuba suffers from this death, as do all readers of a writer who is an icon.” — Miguel Barnet, Cuban author and essayist 15



Sunday, 20 - 26 April, 2014



Car queue from Lahore CNG station to Gujranwala breaks Guinness World Record



Our WOrld recOrdS cOrreSpOndent

94 kilometre long queue of vehicles from Total CNG Station on MM alam road lahore to Gujranwala Cantt has broken the Guinness World record for the longest car queue ever recorded in human history. The queue has shattered the previously held record by China, where 62 kilometre of traffic was the longest recorded queue in history until last week. This is another feather in the cap of the Punjab government and Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, who had earlier overseen 33 records being broken in the Punjab Youth Festival. The record breaking spree was ranked second in Khabaristan Today’s list of top 10 achievements by Pakistan in the first quarter of the year 2014, behind the $2.25 billion “gift” received from Saudi arabia and Bahrain. However, unlike 32 of the 33 Guinness records broken under

the auspices of the Punjab government, the longest car queue record has officially been recognised by Guinness World records. The 24,103 cars and their drivers who have etched their names in history began queuing up as soon as the new CNG schedule was announced for april 1 onwards. “I thought the energy ministry had come up with the biggest april Fool’s day prank of modern times by announcing the new CNG schedule,” said a driver feeling stranded on Multan road. “and it is still a long way to go before I figure out whether that is really the case or not,” he added. another driver queued up on near the outskirts of Gujranwala, on condition of anonymity told Khabaristan Today, “I live at a walking distance from the Total CNG Station on MM alam road but was told to queue

up behind the cars that had reached the station before me. and for that I had to drive all the way to Gujranwala,” he said, adding that, “I had to get CNG at all costs, and the new CNG schedule has made it impossible to get gas on time. However, seeing all these cars queued up behind me does give me a reason to rejoice.”

Altaf bhai wants ‘Teen Talwar’ as identification mark on new ID card


London Our altaf Bhai cOrreSpOndent

He Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief altaf Bhai has reportedly applied for a Pakistani passport, Khabaristan Today has learnt. Our correspondent has been told that altaf Bhai has contacted the High Commission in london regarding his application for a Pakistani passport. altaf Bhai, whose British passport is all shiny and brand new, also needs to renew his Id card, if he wants to get a new Pakistani passport. It is worth mentioning here that altaf Bhai’s previous passport was issued in 1991. according to reports there has been a slight problem for altaf Bhai as he looks to get a brand new Id card made as well. The MQM chief wants a couple of changes in his existing Id card in addition to the expiry date and address. altaf Bhai wants ‘Teel Talwaar’ as his

a man whose Suzuki Mehran was fourth in this growing queue of 24,103 cars told Khabaristan Today that he was a professional “CNG escort”. “I get CNG for cars. This is what I do for a living. I have studied CNG queues all my life, and my survey of regional stations helps me plot CNG filling strategies. I work both as a consultant and an escort. The 10 pm to 4 pm CNG schedule means that everyone who has a life to live and cannot afford to pay rs 109 per litre for petrol, needs CNG escorts.

Mushy is a buddy: Saad Rafiq

shanakhti alaamat (identification mark) on the Id card, as he believes that there is nothing else in the world that he would better identify with. He believes that ‘Teen Talwaar’ completely describes everything that he has always stood for, and the means that he has used to achieve whatever he has managed to achieve in his life. also, altaf Bhai believes that to mention – or question – the jins (sex) of the individual on the Id card is a blatant manifestation of sexual discrimination. He has told Nadra to immediately scratch the question or else look at his shanakhti nishaan for consequences. It is worth mentioning here that altaf Bhai has always stood for the lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (lGBTQ) rights, as manifested in his best seller Falsafa-e-Mohabbat (The Philosophy of love). Hence, removal of the jinsi question from the Id cards is now high on the MQM agenda. g

Lahore Our Special cOrreSpOndent


ederal Minister for railways Khwaja Saad rafiq has clarified that his verbal blitz against former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was merely “friendly banter”, Khabaristan Today has learnt. after coming under severe scrutiny for his choice of words against a former military chief, the minister for railways, in an exclusive interview with Khabaristan Today, has clarified his stance. “Mushy is a buddy and he knew exactly what I meant. I mean I have worked under him, why on earth


Here is my card,” he said, giving our correspondent his visiting card. The record breaking CNG car queue that has blocked traffic in Gulberg, near Firdos Market, around Cavalry Ground and Kalma Underpass all the way to Thokar Niaz Baig, continues to make Pakistan proud. Talking exclusively to Khabaristan Today, Shehbaz Sharif said, “We are proud of these 24,103 patriotic Pakistanis who have not cared about the heat or the time that they have stood in the queue. Their dedication is commendable. Pakistan zindabad!” When told that the cars had to consume significantly more fuel than was being filled in the car’s tanks to get anywhere close to CNG terminals, the Punjab CM promised to create mobile CNG stations for the cars that had to wait in queue in lahore. “I hereby announce the creation of Metro CNG, a mobile project to help CNG cars get gas as they await their turn in CNG queues. Get CNG while you wait for CNG!” the chief minister of Punjab said exuberantly. g

would I use such vitriolic language if it were intended literally?” rafiq said. He then went on to add that phrases like “mard ka bacha” were used as a part of friendly banter that goes back many a year. “I mean just look the way I talk about him. Had it not been such an official setting I would probably have been using Punjabi expletives. You media folks have no sense of humour,” he added. The railway minister also said that his “constructive criticism” was directed at Musharraf the person, not Musharraf the former chief of army staff. “It is a human that imposes martial law after all, not an army chief,” he concluded. g

Dna issue 20[smallpdf com]