C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
editorial Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami
Arif Nizami Editor
Chief News Editor
Pakistan’s place New parade on the street in Gulf politics
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Who is right; who is wrong?
UCH about the Arab Spring, its spillover, and mutation into a bloody sectarian orgy has simply missed Pakistan’s attention. At least the leadership could have, should have been better informed. For example, the average Egyptian would have been quite amused about a half a decade ago if told Mubarak would soon be rubbished to the dustbin of history. Yet the unprecedented series of events set in motion by the famous Tahrir square protests have stood out as an important example for all Muslim countries except, perhaps, Pakistan. The following year saw the Muslim Brotherhood, not secular and leftist groups that protested, take the polls. But soon there was little to celebrate of the new democracy as the incumbent showed how easily public mandate could be bended to suit party objectives, in this case reframing society in the Brotherhood’s own narrow, far right of centre, mould. And so we had the military back before the ink could dry on (ousted) President Morsi’s wish list. What is more, almost all strands of Egyptians, except of course the mulla lobby, welcomed back the same military they had grown to
detest until very recently. Salafi hordes more radical than the Brotherhood, who have since followed the Spring every step of the way, have now been pushed largely to the fringes, into the Sinai desert, where Cairo and Tel Aviv take turns in neutering them. Pakistan was also without voice as the Spring rolled into Libya, and became practically dumbfounded when Nato partnered with the same al Qaeda groups that they were droning in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. And perhaps the Iranians and Russians were the only ones to smell a diplomatic rat when a similar effort was underway in Syria some three years ago. A horrific civil war and frantic cross-Atlantic diplomatic activity later the US was convinced that the biggest threat of the new century, fundamentalist militant Islamism, originated in the Wahabi kingdoms of the Gulf, and toned down its decades long ‘arrangement’ with their standard bearer, Saudi Arabia. But under Nawaz Sharif Pakistan made its only, and much criticised, public gesture of embracing the Saudi vision statement for the new emerging Arabia. That, of course, vindicates long standing suspicion that if the
Americans ever became awkward, Pakistan would replace them as the royal family’s gate guards. In the present circumstances, of course, the gesture could also quickly expand to military hardware for Syrian rebels, complicating the Arab situation from the outside, and inviting fury from neighbours like China and Iran. It is little surprise the prime minister delivered a more politically correct position when the House became hostile, but the real purpose behind parading Saudi and Bahrani royals across Islamabad remains unexplained. The Arab street, again except the clergy, received our prime minister’s tilt with visible disgust, rejecting interference from a supposed fort of Islam that only makes news for the wrong reasons, and has hardly ever taken any real interest in the Arab world beyond Saudi Arabia, and a few words of support for the Palestinians. If only Nawaz studied the Muslim world better, he would invite less problems in his own method of governance. But so long as he remains clueless about the most important political evolution of modern times, he will have little to deliver at home except complications and self defeating positions. g
When evil is not nipped in the bud The scourge of Boko Haram
brief review of the activities of Boko Haram would show what crimes are being committed in the name of Islam. Ever since its inception in 2009 the group has launched deadly attacks on schools and colleges, killing teachers and students in classrooms or while sleeping in hostels. The victims were targeted only because they were pursuing western education opposed by the terrorist network whose name translates into “Western education is disallowed”. Boko Haram have also burnt down churches and slit throats of hundreds of Christians because they practiced a different religion. In August last year they stormed a mosque in a town and gunned down 44 worshippers as the moderate prayer leader opposed terrorist attacks. Buses carrying passengers have also been subjected to blasts at busy terminals to terrorise the population. Since 2010, the militants have been blamed for killing more than 2,000 people. Like the TTP leaders in Pakistan, Boko Haram claims to be fighting for an Islamic state across Nigeria and to enact strict Sharia laws. The network has links with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and with Somalia’s al-Shabab. The insurgency by the terrorist group has put pressure on the economy of Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria’s security spending has risen to more
than $6.26 billion per year, or around 20 per cent of the federal budget. The militant network has thus turned into a bane of Nigeria which has Africa’s second largest economy and is top oil exporter. In perhaps the most ignominious attack since its inception, in mid April the militants kidnapped over 200 girl students from a school. On May 3 they kidnapped another eight girls, all between the ages of 12 and 15. Boko Haram chief Abubakar Sheikau later described the girls as slaves and announced in a video that he would sell them as allowed by Sharia. The incident has sent a wave of resentment all over the globe and shaken the conscience of world leaders. The US is reportedly sending a team of law enforcement experts and military advisers. France said Thursday that it would send a “specialised team” to help. The British government is also sending a small team, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said. British satellites and advanced tracking capabilities also will be used, and CNN has quoted Nigerian government claiming China has promised to provide any intelligence gathered by its satellite network The feeble Nigerian federal government was responsible for allowing the cancer of Boko Haram to spread. If firm action was taken at the outset, the country could have been saved from so many tragedies. g
HAT a lot of questions the politics of Tahir ul Qadri throws that beg answers. Difficult questions, of course, which means answers are hard to come by, and more often than not lack finality when they do. The threat to not stop this time, for example, unlike last time, when Zardari’s boys smartly sweet talked the leader of the revolution into a controlled oblivion. Does this mean he is not going to budge till all his demands are met, including the 35 provinces? It’s much hotter than the last parade, remember? Then there’s some words for the army, that he’ll deal with deal with the forces if they interfere with procession. But wasn’t the army already at (not so) hidden odds with the government on a host of issues? Why would the brass cross him, especially when he has publically sided with their preferences? And why rumour martial law? Surely he realises that wherever his antics might fling the pieces, they are not likely to fall anywhere as extreme as that. And as far as questions go, it is fair enough to wonder where he suddenly springs from, and how does the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) manage the millions needed to mobilise and maintain such masses? And then, of course, there is Imran Khan, whose parallel parade, though appreciated by Qadri, has also been pronounced a separate, if similar, affair. Kaptaan is still angry about the rigging, which is fair enough, since he did knock on a number of relevant doors before opting for the street. But he also says the main agenda will come at the rally, which would imply he’s
expecting thousands to march on the promise that they would agree with him – wholeheartedly – about what is best for Pakistan. Tricky politics, but Khan sb seems confident. But if it is his right to protest, then it is also his responsibility to explain promises not kept from the first tsunami days. We will jam the cities if they don’t declare their worth; we will end corruption in 90 days; we will make food and shelter affordable, and so it went. Yet there’s little the PTI chairman has done in the last year except go out on a limb for the Taliban and refuse to accept his party did not win. But the bigger surprise comes, as usual, from the ruling party. If Nawaz had not been humbled enough by Ch Nisar’s and Pervez Rasheed’s public appearances, he did himself no favour by letting Rana Sanaullah offer his two pence before the cameras on this one. Granted, nobody expected any government mouthpiece to promote the agitation, but Rana sb’s remarks to this paper regarding Imran Khan, that “he is under the influence of the forces that have patronsied him all along” is perhaps a not-so-smart continuation of the not-so-smart strategy of scoring one over the forces every now and then. The confusion does not hide the fact, of course, that the system is broken. And it doesn’t help matters when those running it drag personal egos in the domain of policy making. The protest and the fallout is for the government to lose. If people make a show of force, it is not because Khan and Qadri are necessarily right, but that the ruling party is certainly wrong. g
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So, PEMRA has given a directive to the channels to take azaan breaks in their programming. Well, this sort of forced piety is questionable at best but a problem of a global nature has also arisen as a result. Yes, literally global. our planet is a globe that revolves around the sun. The satellite channels of our outfits can’t show the same azaan in London, Lahore and Louisiana. You don’t need a PhD in astrophysics from MIT to know that much. g
********** EhTASAb-uR-RAhMAn, the federal government’s accountability czar in the last tenure of the League, had since fallen out of favour with them. Perhaps because he came clean about the witch-hunt he had launched against the bhuttos at his master’s voice. Well, he was conspicuously present at the launch of a massive infrastructure recently. Qatari money, Chinese technology. This was because he had arranged the money. It’s all good, all forgiven if you can bring some cash. g
C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
Politics of rallies May 11 will pass, but the PM needs to reset course – in order to survive
The writer is Editor, Pakistan Today.
ALLIES galore! The silly season of political protests and demonstrations is here in full force. All in the name of democracy and protecting the ubiquitous national interest. The first anniversary of May 11 – the day the first general elections that resulted in a smooth democratic transition for the first time in Pakistan’s checkered political history were held – is being marked as a day of protest rather than something to celebrate. All credit for that goes to PTI chief Imran Khan in cahoots or at least in tandem with the maverick demagogue Tahir ul Qadri has promised to paint the federal capital red on the day. The Khan is bringing his supporters out on D Chowk – the al Tharir square of Islamabad – in support of his demand of recounting of votes in selective constituencies. His narrative: the elections were free and transparent in KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) where he won and fraudulent in Punjab where he lost. The enigmatic Qadri protesting the same day is clamouring to change ‘the unjust and oppressive democratic system’ – all in the name of real democracy. Remember true democracy of former dictator Pervez Musharraf? As is well known, Qadri, a former protégé and creation of the Sharif family, is a proud citizen of Canada. As per his oath taken by him, he owes allegiance to the
Queen of England, the titular head of the British Commonwealth, but Canada’s sovereign. Qadri claims that he will play havoc on Sunday from his permanent abode in Toronto. On the other hand rallies being taken out mostly by non-entities in support of the ISI continue unabated all over the country. It all started three weeks ago after the dastardly attack on political analyst and television anchor Hamid Mir in Karachi. His parent channel GEO initially named the ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheer ul Islam as the perpetrator with great fanfare. The erring media group glibly claims that it was simply amplifying Mir’s younger brother Amir Mir’s sentiments. The matter is now before PEMRA
‘In the final analysis, the military knows that it is in no position to overtly rule. But at the same time it wants to maintain its suzerainty and will not let go easily.’ (Pakistan Electronic Media Authority) where the military through the ministry of defence has demanded closure of GEO. As if this was not enough, known assets like the much-feared across-the-border Amir of Jama’aat-ud-Dawaa Hafiz Saeed, and even relative non-entities like Maulana Tahir Ashrafi have come out of the woodworks in defence of our premier intelligence agency. They are being given a lot of air space by largely anti-GEO electronic media. The perennial quisling PML-Q being headed by Ch. Shujaat Hussain and the ubiquitous Jamaat e Islami is also lending a helping hand. The question that begs an answer here: is there a method in this madness? Do the war gamers
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Pakistan’s Middle East policy It is quite satisfactory to note that our Prime Minister has clarified his stance on Pakistan’s Middle East policy. He has categorically rejected the idea to maintain strong ties with one country at the expense of another. In context of Pakistan’s delicate relationship with Iran and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister has clearly stated that his government’s effort is to increase cooperation with both the countries. It is good to note that the timing for this clarification was
‘The PML-N government has been spectacularly successful in frittering away the goodwill it had enjoyed only a year ago, thanks to its maladroit policies. Sheer indifference bordering on arrogance has been the hallmark of its first year in power.’ really need support of such elements – mostly relative non entities – to shore up their image? Unfortunately the message that is going across is that in the name of image building (of the ISI) that the real target is not GEO but the PML-N government, and by proxy the democratic system itself. This somewhat infantile war of words is continuing unabated at a time when the country is embroiled in existential issues – namely fixing terrorism, governance issues and the economy. Funnily enough, battle lines are clearly drawn. On one side are those who ideologically or owing to sheer self-interest would want the civilian democratic system to survive. While on the other side of the divide are those who are known or long having been suspected as assets of the ubiquitous and powerful Pakistani establishment. The main opposition party the PPP, largely out of power ANP, the nationalists in Balochistan and even JUI-F of Maulana Fazal ur Rehman along with of course the ruling party would not like to upset the apple cart. The MQM is still pursuing its traditional policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound by sitting on the fence despite being a coalition partner of the PPP in Sindh. The PML-N government has been spectacularly successful in frittering away the goodwill it had enjoyed only a year ago, thanks to its maladroit policies. Sheer indifference bordering on arrogance has been the hallmark of its first year in power. The pervasive ethos amongst the ruling elite permeating right from the top is that we do not need to learn from our past mistakes, as
aptly picked by the Prime Minister. It was made just ahead of his visit to Iran and at time when the speculations are rife that Pakistan’s Middle East policy is based on Saudi dictates. The Prime Minister has made it clear that Pakistan is a sovereign nation and makes its own decisions. His visit to Iran will further help to dissipate any misunderstandings. It is encouraging to note that Pakistan’s foreign policy is based on extending mutual cooperation and strengthening bilateral ties with all without interfering in the internal matters of any country. A A SEHGAL Lahore
increase in salaries THE National Assembly has approved a resolution seeking increase in the basic salary of government employees in the upcoming federal budget. This is very good news for government employees for they have been struggling to meet their basic needs and any increase in their pay structure would give them a boost. The resolution was moved by a Minister of PML-N and was approved by all political
there were none made. That is why the people have returned us to power for the third time, they reckon. The care and caution that should have been exercised in dealing with the military has been conspicuously missing. That is why Nawaz Sharif has run into problems with his handpicked military chief just within a few months of his appointment. Whether it was the case of trial of former strongman and General Sharif’s erstwhile mentor Pervez Musharraf, handling the sensitive negotiations with the TTP (Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan) or the matter of tarring of the ISI chief by GEO, sensitivities of the military were either not kept in mind or deliberately ignored. In this backdrop, the common perception is that it is a proxy war in which pressure is being exerted on the elected government. It is nothing new. The PPP government faced a worse kind of squeeze at the hands of Kayani-Pasha duo in tandem with the then CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry. In the final analysis, the military knows that it is in no position to overtly rule. But at the same time it wants to maintain its suzerainty and will not let go easily. May 11 will pass. IK will have his rally and his tsunamic moment of glory. The malcontent Maulana would continue ranting from his perch in Toronto. And the Zaid Hamids of this world would also keep on doing the bidding on behalf of their masters. But Nawaz Sharif will have to reset his course in order to survive. He must realise that there are bigger battles to be fought and won than half-baked and hair-brained
parties. This was a very necessary step and the government employees will be much heartened by the fact that the government is taking their welfare into account. With the necessities of life getting out of reach and inflation driving up costs government employees barely make do with their salaries. An increase in their basic pay will motivate them to work harder and perform better. And if the government also introduces an incentive plan for the above average employees and those who are diligent workers they may work even harder. The government machinery will not be able to run without the government employees and so they must be provided with a conducive work environment and better pay packages. SADAF AZHAR Lahore
ADB extends support The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended support to the government in its development projects. ADB president Takehiko Nakao assured Financial Minister Ishaq Dar that ADB was more than willing to
attempts to conquer the army. Many democratic leaders have done this through a gradualist and nuanced approach. For starters the Sharifs should have a good look at their favourite Turkey’s example that successfully but gradually got rid of its meddlesome generals. The ISI on the other hand should also stay its hand and concentrate on its mandated job. Rapping GEO for its perceived acts of omission or commission on the knuckles is understandable but to try to shut down a news channel in this day and age will be unacceptable for democratic forces. Similarly all this hullaballoo on the streets of Pakistan in the name of protecting the honour of the ISI needs to be stopped forthwith. Enough is enough.
‘The question that begs an answer here: is there a method in this madness? Do the war gamers really need support of such elements – mostly relative non entities – to shore up their image?’ There is need to bridge the ostensible trust deficit between Nawaz Sharif and Gen Raheel Sharif. For starters the civilian and military leadership should be on the same page on the inevitable operation against the terrorits holed up in our badlands. The two Sharifs were reportedly in agreement when they met on Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the attack by the TTP in North Waziristan in which nine soldiers perished. For a change all state institutions should learn to stick to their own domain and get on with the business at hand. And that includes the media barons trying to punch above their weight and in the process biting more than they can chew. g
give Pakistan a helping hand. He also said that Pakistan had the potential to become a robust economy in the next few years with high growth, low inflation, employment opportunities and infrastructure development. At the annual ADB meeting in Astana the ADB President said that he would visit Pakistan in September to further enhance cooperation with Pakistan in the light of bank’s new strategy for enhancing resources to meet the needs of its developing member countries. The ADB President commended the Pakistan government’s efforts to bring economy back on the right track by implementing structural reforms and stabilisation measures in less than a year. For the ADB to appreciate Pakistan’s efforts should be a morale booster for us and we should work to further improve our economic policies. With the help of our global partners we can do even better in terms of turning around the economy. We need to make serious efforts to safeguard our future and let us hope the present PML-N government can do so. AMJAD KHAN Lahore www.pakistantoday.com.pk 03
C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
It’s the system, stupid People should do what they believe is right and let the devil take the hindmost Humayun GauHar
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
mran Khan is holding a oneday rally in Islamabad today to protest against blatant rigging in four constituencies where he wants re-elections. Perhaps his real intent is to show that the entire electoral exercise was deeply flawed and illegitimate, which it blatantly was. But that is no longer the issue. The issue is that this system must go. Tahir-ul-Qadri, on the other hand, is also holding a one-day rally today. His intent is to overthrow the political system and craft a truly democratic constitution. He is right. The continuous protest movement will start around July, says Qadri. Qadri sees the big picture, Imran doesn’t. Imran doesn’t even want mid-term elections, just reelections in a few constituencies. See the big picture, Imran. Leave your alpha male ego aside and join hands with Qadri. Take our people to revolution that they so badly want. Remember what I told you a long time ago? You cannot change the system from the inside. It will change you instead without your even realising it. What I am about to say may be yet another pipedream but it is worth trying, for then there will be no regrets and we can stand confidently before the Almighty on the Day. People should do what they believe is right and let the devil take the hindmost. A Muslim never loses hope. Don’t expect success in your lifetime. Become a link in the chain of revolution. One day your children and children’s children will see the dawn. Allama Iqbal wasn’t there to see Pakistan’s birth. But without him it may never have come to pass. The world is always changed by dreamers and idealists, not by pragmatic realists who worship the satanic status quo or are afraid of rocking the boat. Dreams are the stuff revolutions are made of, mindless pragmatism born of fear of the unknown is the stuff decadence is made of. All God’s messengers were initially called unrealistic dreamers. When they succeeded they were called great revolutionaries who changed the world. Their enemies are remembered only because they were their enemies. Their followers deformed their messages but others became reformers and returned to the original ideal. This is so with secular revolutions too. See how Deng Xiao Ping reformed Mao Zedong’s ideology and gave it new life, taking China so high so quickly that the greatest number of
people came out of hunger and poverty in the shortest time ever. It was a revolution as great as the Great October Revolution, but without Mao’s revolution Deng’s revolution would never have happened. Each is a link in an ongoing process of change and progress – The Permanent Revolution. The time for Pakistan’s Revolution of 2014 is nigh, to return us to the ideals of our founders. When the irresistible force of the people meets the immovable object of an anti-people autocracy camouflaged in the cloak of democracy, it blows a hole through it. Don’t get diverted by this
‘The world is always changed by dreamers and idealists, not by pragmatic realists who worship the satanic status quo or are afraid of rocking the boat. Dreams are the stuff revolutions are made of, mindless pragmatism born of fear of the unknown is the stuff decadence is made of.’ politician or that, this political party or that, sham democracy or rigged elections. Focus on upturning the system that begets such politicians, political parties and rigged elections. We have to free our country from the tentacles for an avaricious few. But sitting back to witness the spectacle and hoping that Qadri and Imran will succeed won’t do. Unless all of us participate in our own way with whatever energy and talent the Almighty has bestowed upon us, they cannot do it alone. Nothing is working. All we have are hollow shells passing for institutions. Our governments are pantomimes playing government-
government, like children play doctor-doctor. Adults playing such games are retarded and cause incalculable damage. Children playing doctor-doctor don’t actually cut open another’s stomach pretending to do a surgery. Adults playing government-government actually do rip open stomachs by taking unconsidered decisions driven by personal benefit that leave the country bleeding. By now Pakistan has lost so much blood that it is totally anemic and in danger of dying of blood loss. The executive treats Pakistan like a fief, not realising that when it deviates from its mandate it loses legitimacy and the right to rule. The people have not given them a mandate to rule for five years. They have given them five years to deliver their mandate. When they forget their mandate they lose the right to rule and become usurpers. If your lawyer deviates from your brief you sack him and get another. Same with rulers, five years be damned. Five years more and our country could be dead or beyond reprieve, God forbid. Our parliament is just a building infested with violators of Articles 62, 63, toothless in checking the executive and balancing its excesses – obviously, when the executive is born from parliament’s womb. The judiciary fails to deliver justice down the line. All institutions and organisations under them are in a shambles. The media are unregulated and have become runaway political groups, some mindlessly working against the State for pecuniary gain. Laws and courts don’t exist in the book of the rich, powerful and ugly, except when they work in their favour or to take revenge. The only institution left standing is the military, but it is under vile attack by the government in cahoots with powerful parts of the media and judiciary. Their nefarious design is to degrade our army and upgrade our enemies so that it can never
intervene again when a civilian government goes completely over the top, like hijacking our army chief’s aircraft and asking the pilot to take him to India with all our military secrets, war plans and nuclear codes in his head. Talk of being bananas. They don’t have the brains to understand that if they rule well and don’t violate their mandate no one would dare overthrow them or even wish to. Pakistan has been serially abused but still has enough life left in it to kick, with the non-errant media, writers and the public hitting back. Many tunes have changed diametrically as happens
‘Pakistan has been serially abused but still has enough life left in it to kick, with the non-errant media, writers and the public hitting back. Many tunes have changed diametrically as happens when an intelligent person realises that his survival is at stake because the Big Bad Wolf is about to blow his house down.’
when an intelligent person realises that his survival is at stake because the Big Bad Wolf is about to blow his house down. If only they could see the pathetic condition of stateless people. They are without identity, without rights, with only a piece of paper that allows them to live somewhere at someone’s compassion, charity and mercy. They are non-persons. Their identity is their struggle. Their sole objective: to regain their statehood. Ask the Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir or the Palestinians moving from ghetto to ghetto. Their homes are burned down at will, their women raped,
their lives in perpetual danger of being extinguished. It is worse than the old slavery because those slaves at least had owners. No one owns stateless people and stateless people own nothing except their pride, self-esteem and struggle. Struggle, struggle and perpetual struggle is the story of our Holy Prophet Muhammad’s life (pbuh). It should be our life story too. Struggle is jihad against an inhuman, anti-people system to forge a better one. That is exactly what Muhammad (pbuh) did. That is exactly what we should do to win our freedom from our own ruling elite. No one will win it for us and give us freedom on a platter. We have to win it ourselves. I don’t know what will come of Imran and Qadri’s efforts. They might fail. That is in the hands of God, on whether He thinks Pakistan is worth saving or not. But we have to try saving it ourselves before God does because He helps those who help themselves first. Our situation is so dire that the time has come for all patriotic Pakistanis to come out in protest. Not everyone may like or agree with Imran and Qadri, but in the face of extinction such feelings become facetious. Save your home, your identity, and your country first. Overthrowing this horrible system should be our only objective right now, so we should support all forces trying to save Pakistan and not indulge in nitpicking. This may be our last chance. It is incumbent upon us to see the big picture and support Qadri, Imran and others taking to the streets in protest against this vile dispensation. Imran is right, but re-elections in certain constituencies will not solve the problem. It’s the system, stupid, not its spawn the politicians or particular governments. Elections under this system will always throw up the same sort of dreadful governments. Even if you win Imran, your government will be infested by your collection of ‘electables’ that degrade your party. Democracy will obtain when there is a system in which the carpenter defeats the carpetbagger. Imran should see the big picture that it is Pakistan that needs to be saved, not an election or this system. Qadri is out to change this alien system born of our perpetual colonial hangover by changing the constitution that begets all our rapacious systems. The legitimacy of this constitution is questionable anyway, made as it was by a rump assembly of losers, mutilated repeatedly by civilian more than military dictators. Hopefully, others will join him too, most importantly the downtrodden people, media, civil society, small bureaucrats, traders, shopkeepers, farmers, women and youth to bring revolution. All put together we can build such a powerful head of steam that this ugly fairyland of criminals that our ruling elite has built for itself will be swept away by the tidal wave of humanity and “crowns flung high and thrones overturned” in victory. Defeat or victory, the struggle goes on. Pakistan Zindabad. g
C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
May 11 protest and its possible ramifications providing remedial measures, or bringing the whole moth-eaten edifice down?
The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
‘The more a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.’ –George Orwell here is a protest call for May 11 from two different parties: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek of Tahirul Qadri. Both have one thing in common: strong reservations about the electoral system and the results of the last elections paving the way for the PMLN-led government to take charge. Tahirul Qadri’s reservations extend to the system itself and its transparency and relevance in ever allowing any credible leadership to emerge in the country. he calls it undemocratic in essence. Both have a point. The electoral system is corrupt as was amply demonstrated during the last elections and the subsequent failed attempts by PTI to have its reservations and complaints remedied. Because of the deep tentacles of the traditional ruling hierarchy and its close networking with other organs of the state that were instrumental in rigging the elections, there was no heeding the complaints. election Commission of Pakistan (eCP), the election Tribunals, the returning Officers (rOs) and, ultimately, the judiciary itself did not appear inclined to listen to even some of the most genuine complaints of the aggrieved party which principally pertained to the demand for the finger print verification in four test constituencies in Lahore. Instead of heeding this justifiable demand, the government went for sacking the NADrA chief who had agreed in principle to conduct the necessary finger print verification in the concerned constituencies. he was sent packing in the middle of the night and his family threatened with dire consequences if he resorted to legal recourse. The rOs were profusely praised by none other than the former chief justice who has, therefore, also been accused of complicity in the act of rigging. The election tribunals behaved like they did not exist. So, after a year of knocking at all available doors, PTI realised that it had to resort to different methods to be heard. Alongside the necessity of holding credible and transparent elections in the country, it was primarily the eCP’s responsibility to provide an effective forum to remedy the complaints that emerge from the electoral process. That, unfortunately, has not been the case. Instead, indications have surfaced that there was a concerted move to strangulate all such avenues of remedy, thus forcing the complainant parties to accept the results of the elections nonetheless. A dictatorial approach has been palpably visible and an attempt has been made by PML-N to conduct the affairs of the state in close coordination with the leading opposition party - PPP - which is built around the
understanding that the two will not try each other for corruption and all pending cases against their leaders will be systematically consigned to the bin. The eCP’s role in conducting a flawed election has been acknowledged by the independent observers. In fact it goes well beyond just being flawed. It was consciously driven to suit the party that had been chosen to win it in advance of the commencement of the election process. The provincial representatives on the eCP played a key role in this regard and their partisan involvement, particularly in the Punjab, was highlighted at various forums. Instead of listening to genuine complaints emerging out of the election process, the Chief election Commissioner decided to quit, thus leaving the field to those who had been guilty of complicity. he cannot be exonerated of the blame as he provided an extremely weak leadership and generally allowed the provincial representatives on the Commission to do their favourites’ bidding. Once the CeC had gone, the eCP was like a rudderless ship in the hands of people who had blood all over them. The election tribunals were in no mood to listen to the complaints. They appeared to be under instructions to act in a certain manner. here, the involvement of the judiciary as an institution, under the command of the former chief justice (CJ), cannot be ruled out. he showed arrogance in the face of mounting criticism of the role of the rOs and tried to settle the matters with the head of PTI by summoning him for contempt of court. This added fodder to the fire as it precipitated the
Because of the deep tentacles of the traditional ruling hierarchy and its close networking with other organs of the state that were instrumental in rigging the elections, there was no heeding the complaints… Instead of heeding this justifiable demand, the government went for sacking the NADRA chief who had agreed in principle to conduct the necessary finger print verification in the concerned constituencies. perception of his involvement in guiding the election process along pre-meditated lines to suit one political party. The deteriorating situation could have been arrested at some point but, persistent arrogance of individuals and institutions alike, continued to make it worse, thus generating an indelible feeling that authorities with institutional support were not willing to remedy the situation. That gravely accentuated the feeling of frustration in the face of fraud in the elections and subsequent engineered results. Islamabad, where the PTI protest is going to be held on May 11 (the day this article appears in print), is already showing signs of the onset of a pitched battle. The protest area has been cordoned off and trenches have been dug up to stop the protestors from crossing a certain line. Containers have been placed to further block the area from the crowd. One had anticipated better sense to prevail. One agrees that protest is every political party’s right. PTI is well within its lawful
One agrees that protest is every political party’s right. PTI is well within its lawful domain to protest the rigging of an election process where they believe that their legitimate rights were usurped. That, per se, is undeniable. But, when they go further and state that they are protesting because they are the harbingers of change and the forces of the status quo have conspired to deny that to the people of Pakistan, the element of the grotesque enters the equation. domain to protest the rigging of an election process where they believe that their legitimate rights were usurped. That, per se, is undeniable. But, when they go further and state that they are protesting because they are the harbingers of change and the forces of the status quo have conspired to deny that to the people of Pakistan, the element of the grotesque enters the equation. how would the PTI chairman want us to look at his party to believe that it has the merit, the personnel and the wherewithal to bring about change in the country? What has been its performance in the KPK over the last one year to convince us that it can do so? Look at the people who are surrounding him today, look at what they have stood for through their years of working with dictators and despots. Look at the way they have manipulated the party and its resources to perpetuate their stranglehold. Look at the way they have tried to handle the affairs of KPK from the capital and the manner in which they have accrued to themselves the benefits of the government in the province. Look at the way contracts have been awarded to the ones closest to the top in the party echelons. Does the PTI have the potential to bring about change, or has it grown to become even more corrupt than the traditional political outfits of the country? And what, if one may ask, are the contours of that change that it keeps talking about: a mere change of one set of corrupt rulers with another? Further regression, further compromise with the forces of the status quo, further slump into the dungeons of darkness, denial to Malala’s book launch within the KPK boundaries, a fatalistic embrace with the degenerate forces representing the opposite of all that could be construed as change? Who is trying to fool whom? Protest, yes, but protest for what? Correction of certain election process anomalies and fraud leading to some more seats for the PTI would not do anything to correct what essentially needs to be corrected in the country: a change of narrative that Pakistan appears to be abysmally embracing, apparently without a prospect of reprieve. PTI has been the principal proponent of that narrative and the sickness that comes with it. The election-day fraud, or what preceded and what followed it, are the symptoms of this deeper malaise that afflicts the PTI equally. There is hardly a difference. Pakistan is in the grip of an existential challenge that is the making of all political parties combined, PTI included. May be, more blame for the regression that engulfs
the country today would rest with the PTI primarily for the reason that it has been in the forefront of the demand for negotiating with bands of terrorists whose hands are soiled in the blood of more than fifty-thousand people of the country including personnel of the armed forces, security agencies and innocent civilians. In spite of the government constituting its own Taliban Committee to negotiate with the criminal groups, the scourge of militancy and murder has not ended. People are dying on a daily basis and the nation has become insensitive to even grieving over it. It has been reduced to just counting the numbers. rape, arson, loot, plunder, extortion, murder, regression, terrorism and suicide bombings - these are some of the features that Pakistan is recognised by today. PTI must take part of the blame for this shameful fall. There is a lot of hue and cry on the timing of the planned protest. The PML-N and PPP stalwarts are going hoarse that it has the backing of the forces that are inimical to the democratic process. This charade has gone on for too long and has lost its meaning and relevance. If the so-called corrupt rulers cannot advance the cause of democracy because of lack of performance resulting in an increase of the misery of the underprivileged and the downtrodden, they have only themselves to blame for whatever may happen. The timing of a protest is no argument to take its right away. In the absence of remedial mechanism, or its lack of functionality either because of the operational issues or the malevolent involvement of leaders who have benefitted from its unlawful largess, protest remains the only option in a democratic process to put across the grievances of the people and institutions.
Protest, yes, but protest for what? Correction of certain election process anomalies and fraud leading to some more seats for the PTI would not do anything to correct what essentially needs to be corrected in the country: a change of narrative that Pakistan appears to be abysmally embracing, apparently without a prospect of reprieve. PTI has been the principal proponent of that narrative and the sickness that comes with it. The election-day fraud, or what preceded and what followed it, are the symptoms of this deeper malaise that afflicts the PTI equally. There is hardly a difference. One also understands that the protest of May 11 is not the beginning of a movement for PTI. It is only a one-day protest and the subsequent course of action will be announced later. This may provide an ideal breathing ground for the leaders to think their strategy out: whether they want to remedy the genuine grievances, or they want to further ignite the fire of protest that may bring the whole moth-eaten edifice down which, principally, is what is required for any genuine process of change to commence. g www.pakistantoday.com.pk 05
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
The gathering political storm and NS strategy
What is holding the government back? Saleem a Sethi
The writer is a freelance columnist and political analyst associated with a Pashto TV news channel. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ome rapid and rather unexpected political developments in recent days have apparently caused serious setbacks to the government of Nawaz Sharif (NS) creating the impression as if it is moving towards political instability that in turn may affect its economic agenda. Strangely, however, the government appears to be in its characteristic ‘dormant’ mode despite the events accelerating at an unusual speed. The most frequent question that is being asked is; what is holding the government back to respond to so many developments on so many fronts. Political observers are looking for the answer to this most vital of questions concerning the present government and those who are running it. And they are coming up with different explanations and answers. But most probably the reasons for its apparent inaction lie in three different elements; the leadership’s predetermined but rigid political and economic agendas, its inborn religious conservatism, and the fear factor which is the hallmark of NS and his coterie of confidants and advisers. The so-called government-military differences spiraled initially from the stand government took on the musharraf issue. It wasn’t long before the government took another position essentially different from that of the army. This was regarding the terrorism and Taliban problem. Soon it were other initiatives relating to policies particularly about India and Afghanistan that increased the distance between civilian and military setups. The remaining gape was filled by the Geo-military tiff in which the government, so to speak, was seen reacting rather belatedly. At the moment it is the Geo-military tension and insidious infighting amongst different media groups that is creating a furore-like situation giving impetus to an overall feeling of political turmoil. Add to this the planned protest of Imran Khan on may 11 against the so-called stealing of elections and the ominous descend of TahiulQadri, and the recipe for an uncertain future seems to be complete. Amidst this entire gathering storm, it is the government’s ‘predetermined’ political and economic agenda that seems not only to be the main source of most of the problems but which is likely to suffer an irreparable damage if the government didn’t shift into damage-control gear immediately. The original agenda consisted of; a) creating a semblance of economic boom (rather than stability) on urgent basis, and b) taking strength from economic gains, moving on to the objective of establishing civilian
supremacy over the military both in internal and foreign policy domains. However, there was more to it than what met the eye initially; the factor of personal vendetta (as the democratic project had to start from musharraf). That would have killed two birds with one stone; while settling personal scores it would establish civilian (his) supremacy over (the generals of) the armed forces. To achieve this end NS wanted to emulate the Turkish model, i.e. strengthening economy before taking effectively on the generals. But he couldn’t wait for it to happen the natural way so he decided to reach the desired point by trying to fast-forward the whole system to it. He very shrewdly kept the people guessing about his real intentions regarding musharraf yet taking very small, ambiguous and almost unnoticeable steps in order not to let him completely off the hook, i.e. not to let him slip away from the country, at least. In the meanwhile NS government concentrated all its efforts to inject around $ 10 billion (Rs 10 trillion) into the country’s economy. This was managed through Saudi ‘gift’, eurobonds and 3G-4G sale and ImF tranches, along with other routine national and foreign revenue generation sources. This lubricated the economic machine to a reasonable extent but this in itself was not enough for him to pronounce his intentions loudly about the person of musharraf and declare war on the armed forces in a subtle way. He had to build public support behind him before the start of the formal war and for that it was necessary that the fruits of economic revival reach the people. But this is easier said than done. Translating macro-economic gains into micro-economic benefits takes time. It took Turkey almost a decade to reach that point and create a growing and prospering middle class, making a large chunk of population real stakeholder in the evolving democratic system. That’s where NS opted fastforwarding the process by creating an artificial trickle-down effect through marginal decrease in petroleum products prices, nominal reduction in electricity rate, lowering down dollar’s exchange rate vis-à-vis the rupee, announcing substantial relief package for Ramazan, and promising rise in salary to government employees in the upcoming budget. All these measures were aimed at winning or increasing popular support before the government entering into a formal powerstruggle with the traditional powers that be. However, this wasn’t to be the case because temporary (and nominal/artificial) economic relief to the people cannot bring a social change overnight. That change comes when people feel the difference between the previous and current sets of rulers and the systems they represent; and when they see long-term betterment in their lives or feel their economic interests threatened when the system is faced with instability. Then they take their sides and stand with the ones they feel can ensure durable economic prosperity. That’s the difference between temporary economic boom and sustainable economic development. Despite lesser chances of success, this strategy had the capacity to pay were NS able to keep the irritants confined to one or two and that, too, within manageable levels.
‘Translating macro-economic gains into micro-economic benefits takes time. It took Turkey almost a decade to reach that point and create a growing and prospering middle class, making a large chunk of population real stakeholder in the evolving democratic system’ Unfortunately, in the situation that is in the making, this may not be a viable possibility anymore. A long and painful summer season is in while KhwajaAsif says power will be out. Frequent power cuts have already agitated the masses. Differences with the army on some important matters are ballooning. People are already out on the streets to show solidarity with ISI and the armed forces. Imran Khan seems all bent to get maximum political mileage out of ruling party’s difficulties. And last, but not the least, TuQ will feel no scruples even if it meant rocking the boat altogether. The likely emerging situation suggests that fast-forwarding to economic and then political stability will not materialize, even if it were possible otherwise. This demands flexibility in that pre-determined and rigid agenda NS started with. This is not to alter his plans of action by trying to scare him with the possibility of armed forces clamping down martial law on the country once again. No. Not at all. There seems no immediate threat of such an ominous development. The simple fact is that the longer this unstable situation prevails, the greater the losses will be for PmL (N) and the people of Pakistan because it will hamper the economic journey PmL (N) government has started with great effort. Its leadership will have to shun personal grievances if it wants to make right decisions based on serving greater national interests. It has to acknowledge there are no short-cuts to long-lasting economic prosperity. And unless that is achieved through a time-consuming natural democratic evolution, it will be hard for any politician to lay claim on political supremacy. All this is possible if it is accepted that there are flaws in the original blueprint
and that the time-frame for it needs to be reassessed. There is a general consensus that situation will start defusing as soon as the present government showed its willingness to do the following: A concrete decision is taken and a firm stance taken regarding the menace of terrorism, input from the armed forces is given due weightage and people are not just taken into confidence about it but also kept updated routinely. musharraf’s issue is given a fresh look and resolved or done away with in some facesaving manner. Some of the concerns of Imran Khan are addressed, particularly his complaints about rigging in certain constituencies. This will auger well for the future of democracy as well. It plays a mediating role in lowering tensions between the quarrelling media group and an aggrieved and somewhat hurt military. This tiff has its bad repercussions on the whole of the media and consequently on the overall political atmosphere of the country. The government accepts that only longterm solutions are proper solutions to fix the economy; and that the long-term solutions include permanent resolution of the prevailing law and order and terrorism problems in the country. It’s true that all these measure are difficult, painful and time-consuming but there is no way bypassing them. But then it is also true that nations under visionary and fearless leaders sometimes take hard decisions for their survival and betterment. Also, history shows that best leaders are considered those who take decisions and render sacrifices for the cause of posterity. A great setback to democracy can be easily avoided if NS resisted the temptation of personally seeing a former dictator disgraced. An existential threat to the state can be neutralized if personal conservative religious thinking is kept aside and the fear of death is shunned. A temporary political irritant can be soothed if some demands of opposition political leaders are accommodated. That, in turn, will benefit economy which ultimately will serve the interests of PmL (N), the country and its miserable populace which is crawling on all the fours under the burden of poverty, ignorance and disease. g
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
the importance of being the last seat Elections have this extraordinary ability to reinvent themselves through multiple twists and surprising turns 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.
he only pan-Indian, 2014 event longer than the general election is the IPL season. Perfectly logical, then, that there should be signs of serious fatigue in both. But with a difference. This self-obsessed, frenetic form of cricket has become frayed and listless from its first day of play because its credibility has withered. Democracy remains vigorous, because despite dents inflicted upon it by high-level corruption its integrity is in the hands of the voter, not the ruling class. electoral fatigue is physical, not mental or psychological. If the election Commission had to face a referendum on whether this general election should have been spread out over six weeks or three, the Commission would have lost the popular vote. But the
same voter is ready to poll heavily — in many cases breaking previous records — when democracy arrives at the doorstep. The seeming contradiction is easily explained. Voters are restricting their emotional energy to their own regions even while they watch, with a beady eye, the unfolding process across the country. They want a stable government at the Centre, and understand that this can happen only if each seat contributes to stability. elections have this extraordinary ability to reinvent themselves through multiple twists and surprising turns. A complex electoral demography like India’s becomes a virtual maze; even in those faraway days when Congress claimed single-party majority, it never won every state. And so each phase throws up challenge and opportunity. The 89 seats that went to the polls on 30 April, for instance, are a crucial test for Congress, which won a handsome 44 of them in 2009. The Congress performance in Telengana and central UP was a triumph. BJP won only 30 seats out of 89, and others 15. Topsy has become turvy within five years. Andhra has been split, energising huge and mutually hostile passions. In Bihar, the BJPJDU alliance that won easily is asunder, turning 2014 into a triangular contest. True, two sides of this triangle, NDA and UPA, are far bigger than the short third, with Nitish Kumar reduced to a lonesome battle, but the outcome could still depend on what percentage of the minority vote Nitish Kumar manages to pull away from UPA. each round of voting adds its own mathematical nuance to the complex algebra of an emerging Lok Sabha.
‘There will be time enough to offer laurels to the winner and consolation to the defeated, but in the meantime let us celebrate a victory that has already taken place. Fulsome congratulations to the voter, who has displayed enthusiasm, commitment and a determination that should be the envy of every democracy.’
The battle is not so much about forming a government — every election produces a government — but about a stable government. This is why the conflict is going to be as keen to the bitter end. On 7 April everyone had everything to fight for; on 12 May, all that will be left to determine is the confidence level of the next administration. The best Congress scenario is a fractured Parliament in which a game of shifting numbers can thrive. NDA, on the other hand, wants to maximise its strength so that government does not become vulnerable to either maverick allies or a belligerent opposition. This will be determined by how well a political party does on new turf. Narendra Modi has been drawing crowds reminiscent of the late NT Rama Rao in Andhra. In Bengal, an anxious Trinamool has been forced, in one constituency, to spread the canard that the BJP candidate has passed away, while the
Future of South Asia
Us, Chinese visions compete
Arif AnsAr The writer is chief analyst at PoliTact, a Washington-based futurist advisory firm (www.PoliTact.com). He can be reached at: email@example.com, and on Twitter at: @ArifAnsar
FTeR more than a decade of status quo in the geopolitical environment of South Asia, the region is now entering a phase of tremendous flux. The transformation underway can be viewed from the regional lens and through the global angle. At the regional level, elections in Afghanistan and the US withdrawal represents the first level of change. The Indian election and its potential outcome symbolises the second level, while the tussles of Middle east demonstrate the third. The fourth level of change can best be grasped by the interrelations of established and emerging powers. Some may call this the BRICS versus europe/North America dynamics. Many analysts tend to connect the future of Pakistan with how it deals with extremism and manages ties with Afghanistan and India. These analysts also tie the future of
US-Pakistan relations to this calculus. Perhaps the most important determinant of the future of US-Pakistan relations, and the region, is the emerging and established power dynamics. The manifestations of this factor are amply at display around various global fault lines, especially in Ukraine and Syria. Analysis PoliTact has for long maintained that the situation in the Middle east is likely to impose far more influence on the affairs of South Asia than any other region. To some extent, this has already proven true with both Saudi Arabia and Iran attempting to influence the position of Pakistan on Syria, for example. And in this regard, Pakistan has so far propagated neutrality. If the situation of Middle east continues to deteriorate, the role of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan is likely to become even more critical; first of all because these states have economic and religious ties with the Arab region. Any worsening of affairs there will have an adverse impact on the economies and the religious balance of these three states, albeit disproportionately. At the same time, it’s the Shia influence that is resurgent in the Arab world and Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India cannot afford to alienate Iran at the cost of the Arabs. If Iran’s détente with the west progresses despite friction with Russia over Ukraine, the Gulf states’ paranoia is likely to increase. These
states would not like Pakistan pull away from their orbit under these circumstances. Recognising the growing clout of emerging states, and disillusionment with the US over Syria, Gulf States are increasingly balancing their relations with China and India. On the other hand, it is possible that the détente runs in to trouble and the west does agree to arm the Syrian opposition, as demanded by the Saudis. This prospect has even higher chances of escalating ShiaSunni fissures. Thus the situation in the Middle east will have a greater influence on South Asian affairs due to religious and economic reasons. One of the ways to counter this tendency is perhaps envisioned in the ‘New Silk Road’ regional integration strategy, which transfers the nucleus of South Asia toward Central Asia instead, especially in connection to the energy needs of the region. Former American secretary of state hillary Clinton had stated in Dushanbe in 2011, “We want Afghanistan to be at the crossroads of economic opportunities going north and south and east and west, which is why it’s so critical to more fully integrate the economies of the countries in this region in South and Central Asia.” Good ties between Pakistan and India, and stability in Afghanistan, are essential prerequisites for this strategy to work. Another challenge includes: both Russia and China view the Silk Road Initiative with
Left continues to fade. But we will know which candidate has gone first past the post only on 16 May. By then, of course, all nuances will be forgotten. history, and even journalism, does not waste much ink over the ill-starred politician who lost by one vote. But it does devote a few chapters to a government which falls because of one MP. Just in case you believe this to be fanciful, consider what happened during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s first term. he had to call a general election because he lost his Lok Sabha majority by one vote. There will be time enough to offer laurels to the winner and consolation to the defeated, but in the meantime let us celebrate a victory that has already taken place. Fulsome congratulations to the voter, who has displayed enthusiasm, commitment and a determination that should be the envy of every democracy. There has been a minimum ten per cent rise in voting throughout the country. My own view is that most of this rise comes from first and second-time voters, as they have the most to lose from a faltering economy and the most to gain from recovery. While only a foolish observer would dare predict anything more specific than a trend, common sense suggests that most voters want a stable government under a dynamic prime minister who hasn’t lost his voice, or left his authority hostage to a family’s interests. I write this on a day when the previous winners of IPL, Mumbai Indians, have lost all their five matches. Is this an omen for previous winners of a general election as well? g
suspicion and as an attempt to undercut their influence in Central Asia. For China, it probably provokes a comparison to the politics of Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, through which US is attempting to workout trade pacts with nations of the Pacific region. In South and Central Asia, China did in fact come up with its own Silk Road vision, which bypasses Afghanistan and instead passes through Northern Pakistan to reach Gawadar. The critical question to examine is what does South Asia expect in the future from US and China and vice versa. If the Middle east provides any precedence, the western priority there, first of all, involves dealing with the weapons of mass destruction. At the second level, it is to tackle the extremists, and reforms to the political system particularly in view of the Arab Spring come last. The justification for this is simple; if the law and order situation worsens, like it has in Syria, WMDs can fall in the hands of extremists and threaten the security of Israel and the region. Dealing with Iran’s nuclear program has a similar logic. While egypt does not posses any such deadly weapons, its security apparatus is key to holding the peace with Israel and keeping the Islamists at bay. In this calculus, the Gulf states were never critical for security purposes and their energy dependence has been decreasing for the US but increasing for China. In the grand scheme of things, and as US pivots to Asia, it’s conceivable there is an attempt to make the Middle east, and even Africa, inhospitable for China and Russia. Applying the same logic to
South Asia presents an interesting picture. While India is not only an important market for the west, it wants to use the country to contain China; a security role India often appears reluctant to play. Pakistan, on the other hand, not only has the nuclear weapons but also the extremists linked to cross border terrorism. Thus, the security cooperation of Pakistan is of an utmost importance for the west. What Pakistan desires is trade and the same economic wherewithal as that of India, and China and US are both offering Pakistan their competing visions. At the same time, the trade and economic prowess Pakistan aspires requires stable law and order as a perquisite. Without cordial relations with Afghanistan and India, neither of them is going to allow it stability. In the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country may become the test case for how US, China, India, Pakistan and Iran manage their security, political and economic interests there. Moreover, how Pakistan, including Afghanistan and India, balance the competing Chinese and American visions for the region, and offset the Arab and Persian influences, will play an important role towards regional stability and future prosperity of South Asia. The interplay of security, economic, and religious influences are creating a unique push and pull in the region and beyond. The security factors are coming in the way of economic and trade ambitions in the Asia Pacific and europe. If the security situation of the Arab world continues to decline, it may ultimately lead to a situation where religious factors are given preference over both political and economic calculations, and this is indeed a grave risk. g www.pakistantoday.com.pk 07
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cover sTory: roAdshow or sIdeshow?
PTI’s rally and Qadri’s annual roadshow Wrong way of doing the right thing?
AzIz-ud-dIn AhmAd The writer is a political analyst and a former academic.
ahirul Qadri and imran Khan are protesting in the twin cities on the same day. The two sit-ins are being held within less than 10 kilometers of each other. islamabad is the seat of the federal government and the presidency, prime minister house, federal secretariat, parliament and the Supreme Court all located at a stone’s throw from the D-square. Shutting down islamabad is tantamount to shutting down the federal government. a march on the capital city is like a category-5 cyclone making landfall. What has raised concerns is the timing of the sit-in. There is presently a visible tension between the civilian government and the army. With Mushrraf’s aPMl joining the PaT show and prophet of doom Sheikh rashid that of the PTi, rumour mills have been provided enough grist. Similar protest rallies in the capital cities of a number of countries have been used to overthrow the governments. Prominent among these are the rose revolution in Georgia (2002) where President Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to resign after widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections. Yet another fiat of the sort was performed in ukraine through protests beginning in late November 2004 and ending in January 2005. here too presidential election was claimed to have been marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud. The protests led to re-election resulting in the replacement of President Viktor Yanukovych by his rival Viktor Yushchenko in both situations there were basic differences from Pakistan. Georgia and ukraine became independent after the dissolution of Soviet union and had no history of democratic institutions or traditions like multiparty system,
independent judiciary, autonomous election commissions and free media. in both cases people were fed up with the incumbent regimes. Eduard Shevardnadze had been holding office for eight years and Viktor Yanukovych had already completed four years. again, both enjoyed the backing of russia. The uS was keen to bring in governments friendly with the west and actively helped the opponents to during the agitation. The removal by Thailand’s Constitutional Court of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office has set another example of removing an elected government through public pressure. There is however no likelihood
‘The removal by Thailand’s Constitutional Court of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office has set another example of removing an elected government through public pressure. There is however no likelihood of any court in Pakistan interfering to help the PMLN opponents in view of the Supreme Court’s support for the democratic system.’
of any court in Pakistan interfering to help the PMlN opponents in view of the Supreme Court’s support for the democratic system. again, the PMl-N has been in power for eleven months only. Despite some of its glaring inadequacies that include failure to curb terrorism, continuous power and gas shortages and an irresponsive style of governance, there is a sentiment in the country to give the party a chance to fulfill its promises. The bulk of the opposition parties that include the PPP, aNP, nationalists from Balochistan, and JuiF are unwilling to lend support to any agitation aimed at removing the government in the midst of its tenure. The uS is opposed to any instability in the country as it would foil attempts to stabilise afghanistan while it would promote the spread of militancy in the region. Despite the PaT and PTi holding rallies on the same day, the two are putting up altogether different demands. For imran
Khan it is a protest against stolen mandate. Tahirul Qadri’s slogan for May 11 is “Protest against corrupt system”. his objection to the 2013 elections was that “corrupt and notorious politicians have been awarded with certificates of honesty and sincerity” in violation of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution. Consequently Tahirul Qadri declared casting votes under current system a cardinal sin. Qadri’s protest is an annual road show. it is Qadri’s version of the Tablighi Jamaat moot, though a more noisy one. it is a kind of a religious ceremony where followers of Qadri’s sect will come, raise slogans, denounce the devil called corrupt system and then leave for their homes. imran Khan didn’t want to be a part of Tahirul Qadri show in 2013. how could a Messiah become someone else’s follower? Tahirul Qadri wanted the entire Election Commission to be dissolved and was unhappy with the Supreme Court. While rejecting four members of the Commission appointed by the provincial governments as partisan, Khan showered praises over the Chief Election Commissioner. he also had full confidence in the Supreme Court and its Chief Justice. Despite its reservations the PTi took part in the elections. later, when Khan found that the results didn’t match his expectations, he regretted the decision and conceded that Qadri’s objections to the Election Commission were right. PTi won the second highest votes in 2013 polls. For a while Khan was undecided regarding the stand on the outcome of the polls. On May 14 while bedridden in Shaukat Khanum hospital he claimed the PTi had collected evidence of rigging in 25 constituencies of the National assembly and asked the Election Commission to look into the complaints. a few days later Khan seemed to have reconciled with the results. he was conciliatory towards Nawaz Sharif when the later paid him a visit at the hospital. On July 1, speaking at the first meeting of the party candidates and workers of Punjab, Khan said Tehrik-e-insaf had greatly learnt from its mistakes and would form the next government. Till complaints of rigging remained unaddressed for months, imran was by and large satisfied with the results The Eu Election Observation Mission had taken note of ’procedural shortcomings’ witnessed during the polls but maintained that there was an ‘overall acceptance of the
‘Imran Khan didn’t want to be a part of Tahirul Qadri show in 2013. How could a Messiah become someone else’s follower? Tahirul Qadri wanted the entire Election Commission to be dissolved and was unhappy with the Supreme Court.’ outcome’. The Mission had recommended implementation of improved practices to fine tune the next electoral exercise. The 140member Eu Mission formulated 50 recommendations to help ensure better transparency in future elections. Ne heed was paid to the recommendations however by the ECP or the government. The PTi issued its White Paper on election rigging on august 21. it wanted to get a sampling of thumbprint verifications from NaDra for four constituencies only. The party still wanted to resolve the issue within the system. The Paper said “This is not to seek to overturn the elections as a whole but to ensure that such malpractices do not occur for the future. This is essential if we are to strengthen the democratic culture in this country.” imran Khan feels frustrated now. he says he had gone to courts, tribunals and parliament against the alleged rigging but no institution was ready to listen to him. The speaker of the National assembly has taken stay order against his plea. after disappointment from all institutions, his party has decided to stage protest. imran’s complaints are not without weight. The process of redressing electoral grievances moves at a snail’s pace making the entire exercise irrelevant. The way the government removed the NaDra chief strengthens imran Khan’s charges of rigging. is the sit-in meant to get the PTi’s concerns regarding rigging on certain seats addressed? is the party seeking a change in the constitutional formula of the appointment of Election Commission? Or is it gearing up for change of government through street protests, the present sit-in being an exercise in warming up for further agitation? imran’s mercurial nature makes him unpredictable. his intentions will become clear only when he presents PTi’s charter of demands on May 11. g
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
Fight for democracy or fighting for spoils? who really wields power in Pakistan, the people or the establishment? shAhAb JAfry The writer is Associate Editor, Pakistan Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
ESPiTE appearances, the PaT and PTi demonstrations have little in common except the date and place, and of course the clichéd fight for democracy. Otherwise Tahir ul Qadri has problems with the system of governance itself, whereas imran Khan is more concerned with electoral fraud, the latter implying that the system breaks down when the incumbent does not represent public mandate, but rather hijacks it. But there is also much both parties have not bothered to explain, which has split public opinion, perhaps intentionally. Qadri has promised to go all the way this time, unlike his previous show when the PPP government was able to take the sting out of what seemed like a particularly strong show of force. Yet his demands are too out-of-the-box to be accepted as-is, and of all people Qadri knows the government will not capitulate no matter how many thousands he gathers this time. So why the promise, especially after his reputation from last year, that his fiery rhetoric fades away just as quickly as it emerges, or reemerges as in this case? any compromise will make him appear weak, and keeping too many people out in the summer heat for too long will be impossible, especially if the centre doesn’t blink, which it won’t. Khan’s is a different show. PTi’s strategy revolves around giving another kind of ‘or else’ demand. They do not intend to dig in till something gives way, but rather make one strong show of force and
present a set of requirements along with deadlines, which they will monitor carefully. Between protest and agitation “We do not wish to destabilise the capital, especially at this critical juncture when the country faces a host of problems”, said Ejaz Chaudhry, PTi’s Punjab president. “We are not militants or fanatics. We are just giving a public call, and the people’s response seems to show they are really disgruntled with the ruling party”. The government has been unable to get a handle on the country’s most pressing problems like inflation, circular debt, energy shortage, etc, according to PTi, because those in power simply do not represent popular public mandate, but came to power by rigging the polls. Therefore, it is little surprise that they are more interested in their own issues and agenda than the public’s. “and it is not something that happened overnight. We have been crying hoarse about rigging for exactly a year now, with good reason, but have been let down by every legal avenue, hence the option of taking to the street”, added Chaudhry, and “the party chairman will present a set of demands along with a suitable timeframe for the government to follow. We do not intend to stay and agitate, we are exercising our right to protest”. But such strategy can easily fall in the realm of tricky politics. That PTi has a very loyal support base cannot be disputed, but whether or not it is smart to expect thousands to march onto the capital in support of policy objectives that have not been announced or discussed remains to be seen. it is also not clear how closely workers of Shaikh rasheed’s awami league will share their PTi counterparts’ unflinching support for the kaptaan’s vision.
The government has been unable to get a handle on the country’s most pressing problems like inflation, circular debt, energy shortage, etc, according to PTI, because those in power simply do not represent popular public mandate, but came to power by rigging the polls. and such uncertainty has taken some of the shine off the protests before they could gather momentum. “i do not see this as a prudent way to protest”, said Dr Mehdi hassan, prominent journalist, writer and analyst. “Such gestures are not likely to impact the people much. if anything, i expect these protests to fizzle out sooner rather than later”. Dangerous perception The government’s position has not helped clarify matters either. Throughout the talks with the TTP its public face, for obvious reasons, has been the federal interior and information ministers. and of course, sitting government ministers don’t make public statements, especially about important and sensitive issues, without proper consultation and go-ahead from the party hierarchy. That is why it is all the more strange that Nawaz Sharif greenlighted Punjab law Minister rana Sanaullah, never the party’s most articulate voice, to take the lead on these protests. and while it is no surprise for any government to rubbish antigovernment rallies, Sanaullah went a step ahead and suggested the military was pulling strings from
behind the scenes. “it has been proven that imran Khan is under the influence of the forces that have patronised him all along”, he told this paper recently. But his analysis finds few takers. “it seems the N league does not have good strategists”, added Dr hassan. “They do not have any strategic programs either. This has been visible throughout the talks with the Taliban as well. The government was without a workable strategy whereas the militants were very clear in what they asked for and got”. Sanaullah’s accusation was not without its share of irony. Most Pakistani politicians are products of the military’s power machine, but the most prominent has been the ruling party chief Nawaz Sharif himself, prepped and pushed by Gen Zia, something that the Sanaullahs of the party do not point to when questioning the military’s puppeteering. and such accusations give rise to more outlandish assertions. The PPP’s position is particularly interesting. “a very dangerous perception is being created”, said Taj hider, PPP old timer and founding member. “The claim that the establishment is sponsoring these protests to sabotage democracy is very dangerous indeed. in politics, perceptions matter more than reality at times”. haider believes that the government’s efforts to deflect blame towards the military are meant to hide the real truth behind today’s supposedly antigovernment protests. The government, as well as protesting parties, represent right of centre elements. and despite their fallout before the public, their interests are in fact aligned, and this is merely in-house fighting. “The establishment is involved all right, but this fight is about sharing the spoils”, added haider.
How these protests play out will tell a lot, especially the government’s reaction. If they lose steam quickly and reach a settlement that falls short of tall claims, a lot will become easier to understand, particularly about agendas of various leaders involved. “The establishment distributed the gains of the last election among centre-right parties, and imran and some of his friends simply want more of the pie”. The most likely outcome, therefore, is a reasonable patch up that does not take very long coming. The protagonists do not have the best democratic credentials either. Qadri’s only contribution to democracy has been to try and disrupt it, during the PPP government and again now. and imran, having taken KPK, has failed to live up to any of his campaign promises, devoting his energies not to education, health, corruption, etc, but to the Taliban and blocking nato supplies. For these forces to hold the centre accountable before the people is not without its share of irony either. how these protests play out will tell a lot, especially the government’s reaction. if they lose steam quickly and reach a settlement that falls short of tall claims, a lot will become easier to understand, particularly about agendas of various leaders involved. “The real question in Pakistan is about who wields the ultimate power, the people or the establishment?” questioned haider. g
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IntervIew: Zafar IQbal QuereshI
Saviour of the public sector Quality education is very important to develop skills and attributes required for assuming leadership roles by Nadeem Syed
afar Iqbal Quereshi, better known as ZIC in academic circles, believes that if the country’s service sector is to be improved, without which the private and corporate sectors cannot serve as engines of growth, there is a dire need to change the entire outlook and working of the civil bureaucracy. This is the crux of his lifelong experience as a dynamic teacher and a technocrat with a very long association with the Punjab government. His desire to put the fear of God among the leaders of public sector organisations increased after joining hands with the provincial government, which he served in various capacities but without any personal interest. Whether it was the chief minister’s advisory council, Punjab’s health and education sectors, or local governments, he has been quietly engaged in carrying out reforms, giving his best and honest input. at present he is attached with LUMs, Lahore’s premier private sector institution, which is recognised the world over. He is heading its assessment and Strengthening Program (aSP), in addition to establishing a Centre for Governance and Public Management to replicate the same on a much wider scale on indigenous basis. His aim is to create a state of the art institution, forming a niche especially in the region. We had the good fortune of sitting down for an enlightening conversation with ZIC regarding his new Centre, its launch, the aSP program and the general working of Pakistan’s bureaucracy. QUESTION: Give us some background of ASP and why you think we still need such programs? ANSWER: I increasingly
realised during my attachment with the government that civil servants utterly lack the right kind of mindset – the mindset to serve the public despite being public servants. They have a very selfcentred focus with an input-oriented approach. They want more resources but are not ready for accountability. They want all kinds of budgetary allocations but are just not committed to showing any results. There is also a big question mark over their operational excellence. Hence, projects get delayed,
‘Strengthening the public sector through quality and best practices based training of officials at the helm of important organisations and projects is a big challenge. The public sector needs to train managers to work effectively to provide efficient, transparent, and cost effective services to the citizens.’ adding to their cost. What is more important to note is that as long as your public sector is not delivering, your corporate sector cannot serve as an engine of growth, as expected by the leadership. Strengthening the public sector through quality and best practices based training of officials at the helm of important organisations and projects is a big challenge. The public sector needs to train managers to work effectively to provide efficient, transparent, and cost effective
services to the citizens. With a mission to strengthening the country’s leading institutions, USaID funded assessment and Strengthening Program (aSP) at LUMS is training managers and officials from the public sector and civil society. It was a five-year project starting in October 2010. I was Provost at LUMS. The project was not taking off as desired. Even USaID was not happy with its progress. So the LUMS administration requested me to take over the project. I took it as a challenge. There was no team, no office space. after overcoming initial hiccups, within no time there was a visible turnaround. at present we are ahead of our targets. at this forum, we have covered almost 77 districts of the country which is more than half of Pakistan. aSP-LUMS has trained over 2000 managers. MOUs with leading institutions of the country have been signed to build training capacity of the faculty to conduct similar trainings on their campuses. Our mandate was to train civil servants. Training is being imparted in wide-ranging areas including finance, procurement and human resource management, monitoring and evaluation, project management, leadership and cultural change, development and leadership, training the trainers and communication strategy and management. aSP-LUMS has also designed and developed courses in areas of forensic audit, fiscal decentralisation and procurement audit. We have also developed online courses to refresh the knowledge of the civil servants. We are making sure that students from LUMS do internship in public sector organisations. We have
been doing research to help out policy-makers. for training we have largely relied upon teaching methods that were based on local traditions. The objective was to create more result-oriented civil services. Q: Who are officials benefitting from the program and what is your feedback? A: This program is meant for officials working at US-sponsored projects from public sector and NGOs. They are working on projects in governance, health,
‘Our mandate was to train civil servants. Training is being imparted in wideranging areas including finance, procurement and human resource management, monitoring and evaluation, project management, leadership and cultural change, development and leadership, training the trainers and communication strategy and management.’ education, energy and agriculture sectors. Here we trained officials from Sindh, KPK, Balochistan, azad Kashmir and Punjab keeping in mind gender balance. The feedback from the lot trained here has been highly encouraging. Officers who never mingled with the junior staff now share with us the benefits of team work and participatory approach. The quality of intake varies. But due their background, DMG officers stood out during the training.
But due to our faulty education system, thanks to the Zia regime, quality has been compromised. Last year 12,000 candidates appeared in the competition exam. The result was not more than 2.5 per cent. Quality education is very important to develop skills and attributes required for assuming leadership roles. and we need leaders on all levels not just at the top. Q: What will be the mandate of Centre for Governance and Public Management? A: In order sustain this program beyond its own life, we have laid the foundation of a new centre. It is ready for launch with an aim to develop a unique institution nicely fitting in the brand name of LUMS. Professors drawn from all-over the country will be members of its advisory council. It will award academic degree besides conducting research to influence public policy making. We will keep it open-ended as far as admissions are concerned with officials from public and NGO sectors free to join. Q: What ails the public sector right now? A: first, the system of accountability is very weak. Officers are more power-hungry and less service-minded. Salaries are highly depressed. Performance Evaluation System is quite archaic. as such bright and talented people are more interested in the private sector. reforms need to be started from service delivery system. We need to develop a citizen centric approach among our leaders. The masses can benefit a lot if the reforms are carried at district level. We also need changes at policy level. The policies need to develop in accordance with circumstances. g
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
Will Modi succumb to the burden of history?
Brought up in the virulent RSS culture of hate and violence, this is the albatross of history that will continue to hang around his neck
Basharat hussain QizilBash The writer is an academic and journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com.
t seems a matter of few days before Narendra Modi puts on the crown of Delhi. He claims to be an ardent proponent of Hindu nationalism therefore it becomes imperative to understand the philosophical and historical bases of this brand of nationalism. Historically, Hindu nationalism emerged as an organised force in the first quarter of the twentieth century but today we shall restrict to only that brand of Hindu nationalism which was espoused by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in which Modi had his political education and training. the Hindu nationalist ideal conceived and propagated by the RSS was the result of the peculiar circumstances of that time. In other words, its growth was not organic but a reaction to what a small section of the Hindu community felt about itself. I say ‘small’ because the RSS struggled to sell itself in the late 1920s in the Central Provinces and took another two decades to register its presence in northern India, and that too mostly in urban or semi-urban areas. What were those ‘peculiar circumstances’? there was actually a wave of Hindu- Muslim hatred and violence in the 1920s, which was exacerbated by the rise of Khilafat Movement (1919-22), the Moplah Revolt (1921) and the consequent sprouting of bigoted Hindu communal organisations such as ‘Shuddhi’ and ‘Sanghathan’ and their Muslim counterparts like ‘tanzeem’ and ‘tabligh’. the
discourse of Hindu nationalism as created by the RSS was ‘reactionary’ because it was based on the hatred towards the Muslims who were labelled as ‘the Other’. With one broad stroke the RSS painted the entire Muslim community as a ‘threat’ to the ‘fearful’ Hindu community. to address this fear factor, the RSS made use of the Hindu religion to organise and revitalise the Hindu community in which the policy of opposing the Muslims and their religion became the core of its creed. One manifestation of this Hindu assertion assumed the form of playing loud music in front of the mosques particularly at the prayer times during the passage of Hindu religious processions. It was an old controversy yet it served the RSS purpose because the communal cauldron was boiling in those years. this controversial RSS practice was defended by the Hindu nationalist press such as the Poona weekly, the Mahratta as not a denial of ‘pleasure or privilege’ but of “rights immemorially enjoyed by the whole Hindu community.” Instead of restraining such happenings from causing unnecessary frictions, which all leaders are expected to, Dr Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS personally indulged in this offensive practice. BV Deshpande and S R Ramaswamy state in “Dr Hedgewar: the epoch- maker” that “Because of the in- built fear of the Muslims among the Hindus, the band troupes sometimes shirked to play before the Masjids. On such occasions, Doctorji himself would take over the drums and rouse the dormant manliness of the Hindus.” the Hindu nationalist press consciously presented the Hindus as a stigmatised community that had lost its ‘vigour’ and ‘manliness’, and therefore had to bear ‘insult’ and ‘humiliation’ at the hands of the Muslims. Just imagine how one such newspaper ‘Swatantra Hindusthan’ pumped up the Hindu emotions: “the fact is that ever since the Hindu society became dead to its sense of honour and
‘What Germany got in the form of Nazis and Italy in the garb of Fascists in the 1930s, India produced its equivalent in the form of the RSS in the 1920s. The only diﬀerence between the two being that the tragedy those ill-fated European countries had to bear in the first half of the twentieth century, India, in the form of Narendra Modi, who has been an ‘RSS man’, is poised to experience at the beginning of the twenty-first century.’ self- respect, any community can insult it with impunity…. If the Hindus at all want to survive such humiliations, they ought, without delay, to organise themselves into a compact whole and be prepared to act in the world more manfully than they have hitherto done.” In this way, the ground was prepared for the establishment of a purely Hindu body that was religiously motivated and organised on militant lines to take on the Muslim ‘menace’. thus, emerged Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a Brahman from Nagpur, who formed the RSS in 1925 and in addition to assuming the grand title of ‘Sarsangchalak’( the absolute leader); he also instituted the policy of “ekchalak anuvartita” i.e. following one leader as the central philosophy of the RSS discipline. this policy was indicative of the fact that from the beginning, the party was not to be groomed in a democratic culture in which the rank and file set the agenda but to be run in an autocratic manner in which the dictator at the top was to be looked upon as the unquestionable source of perfect wisdom. What Germany got in the form of Nazis and Italy in the garb of Fascists in the 1930s, India produced its equivalent in the form of the RSS in the 1920s; the only difference being that the tragedy those ill-fated European countries had to bear in the first half of the twentieth century, India, in the form of Narendra Modi, who has been an ‘RSS man’ is poised to experience at the beginning of the twenty- first century. to mobilise the Hindus to the
cause of militant nationalism, the RSS intelligently used the already existing popular institution of ‘akhara’ where the members were taught the art of wrestling and other quasi- military practices such as drills, the use of sticks for defence and offence. the emphasis on the learning and use of violent means was intentional because the RSS presented itself as a counter point to ‘ahimsa,’ the ‘feminine’ philosophy of ‘non- violence’ so arduously preached by Gandhi. the strategy proved quite effective because many Hindus joined the RSS due to the attraction of the ‘akharas’, whose number grew in the RSS heartland of the Central Provinces and Berar from 466 in 1921 to 1338 in 1931. the recruits were enrolled in the grassroot political unit called ‘shakha’ with an eye on the educated youth where, in addition to physical drill, lathi training, singing and ideological discussions; all members were to “congregate and pray together for fifteen minutes every day.” the members of the RSS were classified into two categories: the first level members called ‘swayamsevaks’ were ordinary people, who had jobs, families, etc to look after but had to attend their respective ‘shakhas’ daily and were under oath to serve the organisation as and when required. the second and higher level members called ‘pracharaks’ were the ‘ideal’ full time, unpaid workers, who, while living in party’s accommodation did the organisational work and generally either remained unmarried or lived
a life of celibacy which is termed ‘brahmacharya’ in Hinduism. the trait of ‘brahmacharya’ was also practised by Gandhi in the later part of his life and the author of “RSS: Spearheading national renaissance” while recalling a visit of Gandhi to an RSS camp at Wardha in 1934 states that when Gandhi “came to know that Doctorji (Hedgewar) had neither taken to any profession nor to a married life, he explained ‘Ah, that explains the remarkable degree of your success in such a short time.” Incidentally, Narendra Modi has also served as a ‘pracharak’ in the RSS and although it is imprudent to comment on the personal life of a public figure yet his reported separation from wife for decades without a record of any indulgent affair being unearthed by the ever intrusive press tempts one to assume that true to the spirit of an ‘ideal’ RSS ‘pracharak’, he might have been living the life of a ‘brahmacharya’ during all these years. It is a fact that RSS was a religiously inspired militant organisation. It is also a fact that its agenda was communal, and its target was the Muslim minority community. that Modi was bred and brought up in the virulent RSS culture of hate and violence can also not be denied. this is the albatross of history that will continue to hang around his neck during the premiership. Whether he succumbs to this burden or not, only time will tell. g
‘The Hindu nationalist ideal conceived and propagated by the RSS was the result of the peculiar circumstances of that time. In other words, its growth was not organic but a reaction to what a small section of the Hindu community felt about itself.’
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Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
Pakistan’s eurobond success: when will we hear the truth? A long term liability for a short term solution HAssAn YousAf sHAH The writer is an independent professional who has worked for different multinational and multilateral organisations including the Asian Development Bank. He has been contributing on economics, finance, and regional foreign policy since 1997 for different newspapers. You can follow him on twitter @ hyshah1.
he government has been exploring possibilities of financing its deficit from multiple sources namely, IMF, World Bank, domestic borrowing and now it has found the easiest, yet extremely expensive, solution of all, eurobonds.
Currently, Pakistan’s taxation system is marred with political influence. The current administration has been issuing numerous SROs which, as per sources, favour a few industrial giants at the expense of the common public. Government spokesmen and talk show hosts will visit different socio political aspects, run endless shows on not so trivial issues, yet very little is said or raised regarding Pakistan’s seriously vulnerable economy. The present government’s economic advisors are investing their time and energy in actually borrowing and building up reserves rather than taking the bull by the horn. This government, like its predecessors, instead builds a smoke screen around short term economic gimmicks such as current rate of dollar, buildup of foreign reserves by deferring foreign payments, stock market ascend, etc, while discretely evading key question surrounding economic policies; let us briefly examine a few. Currently, Pakistan’s taxation system is marred with political influence. The current administration has been issuing numerous SROs which, as per sources, favour a few industrial giants at the expense of the common public. The net result is that as taxes fall the deficit is filled from unprecedented borrowing, and increasing tariff rates of electricity, gas and other indirect taxes. Pakistan’s energy deficit is directly affecting the poor and the circular debt is also something which directly the government owes to the people. If this did not raise alarm bells, the circular debt is also a debt which the government owes. In short it then borrows more, or supports inflation to pay the circular debt. This debt is then paid
back by squeezing the common man through tariff increase, or sales tax while it is letting bigger “power brokers” off the hook. The fiscal deficit is increasing thanks to weak management, and extravagant government spending. Do we really need motorways, metros, guineas book world record, danish school schemes, sasti rooti, world tours, watan card, Benazir income support scheme, etc, while our basic common economic policies are in disorder? So when most of the policies are going haywire, what is the government doing right? The only thing it is doing heavily is borrowing and that too from expensive sources. Budgetary deficits are increasing and are financed from taxes, privatisation receipts, or government borrowings. Let us examine how the three are dealt with by this government. Taxes are being heavily poised in the favour of the rich few, who only recently have enjoyed successive breaks thanks to newly inducted tax break schemes and SROs. Stock markets have been carefully kept out of the main tax net. The agriculture economy is suffering due to inadequate power and energy, and biased policies of the government. So in short, the poor is asked to pay more while the rich get away. That leaves the next big ticket item, privatisation of big enterprises, which will bring one time relief to the government kitty and will eventually be mostly consumed in debt repayments. So how will the government then run itself other than by borrowing heavily? Eurobonds – when will we tell the people the truth? Debt is mainly categorised into domestics and external. Domestic debt is the easiest to increase and
The Sri Lankan bond was oversubscribed too. That means if we had decreased our interest rate offer perhaps we would not have had to pay installments at such high rates after all.
has been reaching exhaustion levels lately as subsequent governments have reverted it inadvertently for covering up their mismanaged deficits, unnecessary expenditures, and many misadventures. According to political analysts, whether it was PPP, PML-N, or even others, the domestic debt has been “abused” and at times figures have been “managed” to keep people from finding out. For instance, circular debt which the government or its subsidiary PSO owes to the power companies is also a debt however it had been kept under a different heading for some odd reason. The current regime has exhausted the domestic borrowing option or rather stretched it to the limit, hence it needed to find other sources of borrowing. The IMF has been extremely rigid when it comes to general terms and conditions surrounding its loan policy, and the government has struggled to pay its short terms installments. In order to repay IMF and other loans, the government went off shore to borrow in the international open market commonly known as eurobond. The table below reveals a
comparative analysis of the Pakistani eurobond. Let us summarise the above table in a bullet format. 1. It is an expensive option. The eurobond, which was issued in 2007, was at a much cheaper rate than the 2014 one under the current regime. Interestingly, according to informed sources, the high mark up rate also suggests that someone within the ministry may have “miscalculated” many “other” financial factors and “trapped” the Pakistani government into a high rated long term loan commitment. 2. The interest rate for a much smaller economy, Sri Lanka, is far cheaper. Once again the reason for why our financial managers “locked” the government into such an expensive ordeal is raising questions. 3. The reason why Pakistan’s eurobond was oversubscribed was mainly due to the fact that it was extremely lucrative for some and extremely unfavourably expensive for Pakistan. Simply when Sri Lanka is offering lower rate of five per cent, why did Pakistan offer
seven per cent, which makes it 25 per cent more expensive. 4. The Sri Lankan bond was oversubscribed too. That means if we had decreased our interest rate offer perhaps we would not have had to pay installments at such high rates after all. 5. International loans are more expensive than domestic loans. The government is increasing international loans and hence the loan portfolio is tilted towards expensive sources of funds. The implications will be felt in later years. 6. even if the dollar rate is lower at present, however it is worth mentioning that eurobonds will eventually be paid off in dollars and that too at the then prevailing rate. So the government earns in rupees but pays the loans in dollars and that too at the then prevailing rate. It is anyone’s guess what would be the dollar rate 7-10 years down the road. So, in a nutshell, the eurobond was taken to partly payoff the previous debts and IMF loans. The bond was overly subscribed because it was expensive and government entered into a long term commitment for shorter term relief, which will not equate well in the coming future. So was it such a big success after all or not? As said above, your guess is as good as mine. g
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Thank you, mom Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
A brave girl thanks her even braver mother
oTHEr’S Day presents an interesting opportunity for someone like me. I don’t always collect my thoughts about you and place them one after the other in such orderly fashion. And this is by no measure an easy task. This collection of all the reasons why I hold you dear. Where does one even start? From the fact that no one cooks pulao better than you to the fact that you’re one of the nuttiest amazing people I know, dearest mom, thank you. Ever since I could put two mispronounced words together I know you’ve quietly stood behind me with a smile plastered to your face. As I grew older I got more hyper. Life was bursting out of me every chance it got. The world told you to calm me down, you only shrugged in response. The world told you I was just a girl, you only shook your head and smiled. The world tried to put me in my place, and you taught me that I was meant for higher places. Throughout my life I have been at odds with you, dear mother, never realising how steady your hands were each time you told me to be careful, never
realising how sure your eyes were each time you told me I should always consider that I could fail. I never got it, did I? All this time we were batting for the same team. I continued to grow with time, and so did my journey. I was fierce, I was aggressive, I was out to do all the things people told me I would never be able to. I was a child pretending to be an adult. I was lost while pretending I had it all figured out. And then I was molested. I was also only 14. Throughout my life I had seen you smile and nod in response to people asking you to set me straight. I remember thinking I had to tell you and I remember thinking there wouldn’t be anything you could do about it. And then I saw you turn into fire, the kind that devours people whole. To me you were only a small spark, not a fire that could burn a forest down. Being turned into a sexual object is nothing new for women in Pakistan. It’s not something we even get mad about when it happens in passing; that’s how used to it we are. But it’s never something you told me to just put up with, did you, mom? I remember when I was seven I was a horrific reincarnation of Denise the Menace. I was always in trouble and you were always angry. I was “abu ka bacha” and wanted to steer clear of you constantly. But anytime I was in
Being turned into a sexual object is nothing new for women in Pakistan. It’s not something we even get mad about when it happens in passing; that’s how used to it we are. But it’s never something you told me to just put up with, did you, mom? trouble you were the one I went to. A friend of dad’s tried to touch me funny, dad wasn’t around but you were. I told you around 30 seconds after it had happened. You marched right up to the man and told him to get out of the house before you start hitting him with the jharoo at home. of course I wasn’t the only one you were protecting. A few years later when a shopkeeper coaxed my little brother into his shop he came home running and told you. You didn’t sit and wait for dad, you waited for no one. It took you a minute to run down the flight of stairs and then bolt to the shop itself. What happened to the shopkeeper was a lesson for the entire neighbourhood – when you were done slapping him silly the
neighbours took over for you. And then that monster of a man had to shutter down his shop. I had no idea you had that strength in you, mom. I had never known there was a warrior hiding within your small frame. That there was a jharoo wielding maniac hiding behind those green eyes. I had no one else I could go to except you seven years later. When I eventually opened my mouth to speak I saw your face change from normal pink to angry red, and then I saw something very dangerous in your eyes – something I had never seen before. So, my meek and subtlety loving mother turned into an Amazonian war goddess. Who were her opponents? Just my entire paternal family! Why is this relevant? She had never ever stood up to them before. I don’t know what clay you’re made of, my dearest mother, but that was amazing. I remember you calming me down throughout the mess. I remember you telling me nothing was my fault. I remember you making me feel like the world wasn’t really going to fall apart. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget. It wasn’t an easy ride either. You got called all kinds of names, I got called all kinds of names, but the fire in you never died for a second. There were days I wanted to pretend nothing ever happened or I stopped existing – but there was never a day
you took a break from giving people hell on my behalf. A lot of girls don’t have this luxury, mom. A lot of girls don’t have mothers who will stand by their side and grab the nearest jharoo – proverbial or otherwise – and then proceed to whack the literal life out of the person going after their children. I don’t know how to thank you, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to. As an adult I now frequently deal with the subject of child abuse and rape at my job. I have had to learn how difficult it can be for people to come forward and to report crimes. The victims often become the criminals. Expecting any sort of justice is akin to living in a fool’s paradise. But these are realities that you already knew when you stood up for me, when you set out to protect me and my siblings. And a lot of young girls don’t know that there’s a fire burning inside their mothers too. That they would have someone to protect them if they only spoke. Around 13 years later I have no regrets in life. I have done things that a lot of boys my age couldn’t manage to do. I always thought I was turning into my dad growing up, but I was really turning into you, wasn’t I? I’m the unapologetic and uncensored version of you. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you, mom. g
Documentary review: Freedom to broadcast Hate
Messing with the sacred
Fundamentalists are fast catching up with the media to spread their provocative messages
MeHreen OMer The writer is a digital media scientist and a cultural critic. Follow her on Twitter @mehreen_omer
n an era marked by sectarian violence all across the Muslim world, BBC’s ‘Freedom to Broadcast Hate’, seems to be a timely production allowing us to understand this issue deeply. As the media becomes an ever more potent influencer on a common man’s psyche, the fundamentalists are fast catching up with it to spread their provocative messages. The documentary explores the inciteful speeches and sermons of Sunni and Shia clergy-men which
are broadcasted live on television for millions of viewers to see. While the regulatory authories claim to have shut down the sectarian channels, many are still functional in Iraq and Egypt. They have either their head offices situated in their home countries, or have relocated to unlikely places such as the US or the UK. Ever since the Arab Spring in 2011, the Middle-East has seen a new surge in the number of private television channels, many of which include religious channels. Lectures by Shia Imams in which the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) are abused and cursed are aired on national televison that have led to massive uproars and bloodshed in the Sunni community. When a young Shia activist was asked if he understands the fact that his hatefilled messages are causing bloodshed, his response couldn’t have been more indifferent. He simply stated that there was bloodshed during the time of Prophet (pbuh) too but that didn’t mean that he should stop preaching the truth! Similarly, the
Sunni leaders are seen touting hatred against the Shia calling them filth and begging God to eradicate them off the face of the earth. Many of the Shia and Sunni religious leaders own their television channels and spread religious intolerance via them. They are funded by undisclosed sources which as the documentary
explores, are mostly based in Kuwait, a region perfectly sandwiched between the Shia Iran and the Sunni Saudi Arabia and neighboring Iraq which is the most lethally hit by sectarian riots. What’s amazing is the fact that Kuwait has no sectarian problems of its own, but here the elite are conspiring to fuel sectarian
violence elsewhere. These wealthy donors residing in Kuwait have no qualms donating more than $350,000 a month to these television stations. This leaves us with an age-old enigma associated with freedom of speech; does the freedom of speech encompass the freedom to broadcast hate? If no, then who decides what hate is? Such sectarian-minded television channels in the MiddleEast definitely need to be crushed for ‘banned’ is a much polite word, but what about the many television shows in the US and UK that broadcast hate against the Muslims on prime-time television? Why should they have a license to broadcast hate? Haven’t their insults already caused much bloodshed in the Muslim world? But then again, it only begs the question: just because you are incited, does that mean you are necessarily supposed to act on your instinct? Those Muslims who are angered by an insult, are only weak, because strenght does not lie in the body but in your ability to control your anger. Let the dogs bark. The question is: are we, as Muslims, a strong nation? g
C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
Breaking news What you should know this week Fraudian Slip
The author handpicked the most important news to be shared with the audience this week.
Saudi preacher says travelling to Pakistan is haram HeIkH Abdullah al-Suwailem has expanded on his earlier decree that travelling to kaffir countries is haram by further establishing that travel to Pakistan is also haram. the country has a long-standing history of not being able to resolve its religious issues. As things stand everyone and everything in Pakistan is kaffir, making the country a dangerous place to travel to for anyone from
Saudi Arabia, which is the original land of the pure. the Sheikh further reiterated that whoever dies in an infidel and kaffir country could end up in hell. this is troubling news for Pakistanis who are almost always telling each other that while their one-way ticket to the stairway to heaven is confirmed, the other person is indeed headed for the fiery pits of hell. In order to get back in the good graces of the Saudi Sheikh, Pakistan will first have to decide if there is a relevant segment that is absolutely Muslim, and then ensure that said segment is in majority. For example, most Sunnis fear that Shias maybe kaffir, and Ahmadis are thought to be kaffirs by default. Further complicating matters for Pakistan are the actual non-Muslim minorities including Hindus, Paris and Christians. Most recently, the country has also been battling a steady war against freethinkers, agnostics and atheists etcetera etcetera. the Sheikh has outlined that Pakistanis might have to apply for an “I’m not a kaffir” certificate soon in order to be able to travel into Saudi Arabia as well (much like the polio vaccination). YouTube tax to be announced soon the government has finally found a way to make everyone happy and bring Youtube back. Since Pakistan is a developing country, the only logical thing to do about the Youtube debacle was to monetise it for the government’s revenue. the move is being applauded by many as being the solution to all of Pakistan’s GDP problems. It’s a sure short two-birds-one-stone solution. this isn’t the first time such a strategy is being implemented in the country. During the last few years telecommunications companies have seen unprecedented taxation. the more people enjoyed using their phones to communicate with others, the more these activities got taxes. Judging by Youtube’s
popularity amongst the masses it is expected that the Sharif government will be able to pay off all foreign aid and debts by the end of its tenure through tax money earned from Youtube alone. At this point most people aren’t sure how to feel about the new tax that has been announced; however, like previous taxation policies it does seem like the matter is going to be up for debate. Warid to launch 5 1/2G services nationwide After getting miffed by the PtA’s decision to play hard to get with the company when it comes to the 4G license problem, Warid has now decided that it will go ahead and provide services that no other company can even dream of bringing to Pakistan. the firm had earlier refused to participate in the 3G/4G auction because it felt that it had a right to operate under its original license. After the PtA yo-yoing between a yes and a no, the company finally seems to have had enough. In an official statement, the CeO announced that they would be launching the 5 1/2G services by the end of the month and offering it for free to all users. “If we offer it for free then it’s a
free service and we don’t have to pay the government a penny”. experts are lauding the move as extremely brave and somewhat confusing since without a license Warid will have trouble running any real services for its users. At present, all Warid customers are extremely excited about the news that they will be receiving free upgrades. Let’s see if Ufone, Mobilink and Zong follow suit. Veena Malik to become preacher Veena Malik is one talented woman. After her transforming from bad actor to good pure woman, the lady had recently announced that she would soon be entering politics. However, it seems like she has more tricks up her sleeve. Following in the footsteps of her favourite preacher i.e., Maulana tariq Jameel, Veena is expected to soon start preaching good Muslim values to the masses. Veena feels that her past work will help her in her upcoming career prospects and sees this as a good move for the long run. Veena had earlier proclaimed that she had a spiritual crush on tariq Jameel’s soul and it was only a matter of time before she started acting more like him. Let’s see what the future holds for her, hopefully it will not be as disappointing as her acting career. g
Shaan, ali zafar and MFn to india Chennai Express and Dhoom 3 can help improve Pakistan’s economy
t was extremely heartwarming to see Pakistan’s best actor by a country mile – and then some – Shaan Shahid at his xenophobic best at a film awards show recently. Some people were left wondering if the star actor had forgotten to switch off from his role in Waar. But then everyone realised that he is normally pretty patriotic – read jingoistic – regardless of the presence of a camera, so it made sense that he would call everyone working in Bollywood a “cheap sellout” during the ceremony. Shaan’s verbal blitz can incidentally also be used to make a case against granting India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. Coincidence? We believe not. Ali Zafar seems to be a staunch
believer in economic laissez-faire or cinematic laissez-faire. He managed to extract offence from Shaan’s conspicuously offensive remarks, as he presented his case in favour of Pakistani stars working in India, which in turn made a strong case in favour of granting India the MFN status. Coincidence? We believe not. there of course was a subplot to Shaan and Ali Zafar’s debate that seemed to be surrounding trade and commerce. Shaan believes that just like other Pakistani industries should be protected by not giving India the MFN status, in turn preventing an influx of Indian products, the Pakistani film industry should be protected by preventing an “outflux” of Pakistani talent to India. Ali Zafar believes that it is absolute nonsense – or words to that effect – and that not only would Pakistani industry improve by interactions with India, youngsters would be able to learn a lot as well. So basically the argument against MFN status to India is similar to the argument against screening Bollywood movies in Pakistan. the condescending jibes against Pakistani actors that seek “greener pastures” in India, are
but a corollary of that. And hence, both the fear of MFN and Bollywoodphobia, have the same root: fear of competition. that this competition comes from the (much stronger) “archenemy” augments the fear. there is a case to be made in favour of Dhoom 3 and Chennai Express potentially doing more for Pakistani economy than most finance ministers in the history of
the country. It is no coincidence that Pakistan has started producing films like Waar and Zinda Bhaag ever since the local cinemas started screening Bollywood movies. You see when there are better products in the market, local products won’t survive unless they are improved. “We make excuses to hide our weaknesses, sometimes in the name of patriotism, sometimes in the name of other things”. this is
what Ali Zafar said, while accepting the “International Icon of the Year” award at the said award ceremony, in response to Shaan’s speech earlier on. He followed it up by saying, “We should speak the truth and the time has come when the new generation should be told the truth.” the “truth” is that India as a country is growing economically and direct trade between the two countries would help Pakistan more than it would help India. the “truth” is that indirect trade via Dubai is seriously hurting our fiscal numbers, while not doing much damage to India. the “truth” is that Bollywood is light years ahead of Lollywood, and it is only to Pakistan’s benefit if our actors work in Bollywood. And the “truth” is that India has progressed through seriously reducing jingoism in the country, and that is the most important lesson that we can learn from India. Let us stop making excuses and tell the next generation the truth. g The writer auditioned for the villain’s role for both Waar and Dhoom 3. All aftereffects of reading the Horizontal Column are the readers’ headache. www.pakistantoday.com.pk 15
C M YK
Sunday, 11 - 17 May, 2014
TELLING IT LIKE IT ALMOST NEVER IS
New law outlawing its own criticism found ridiculous firstname.lastname@example.org
everyone concerned was factored in. Following this the law minister became the butt of ridicule – and Punjabi expletives – because no one could understand how criticising a law could connote its violation. An opposition leader on condition of anonymity told Khabaristan Today that “the government believes the law is pretty important and alright, considering the country we live in i can understand why. But if you outlaw the criticism of a law, any law, how on earth can you even think about getting justice?” Another Senator believed that the law would be misused to target one’s enemies and that no law should be above criticism.
Our speCial COrrespOndenT
new law tabled in the Senate yesterday received a massive backlash after it was found that criticising the law would be akin to committing the crime that the law wants to protect, Khabaristan Today has learnt. the draft for the proposed law was formulated by a committee that was headed by Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister Rana Sanaullah Khan. He told the Senate about the law’s salient features and said that the government would enforce it via an ordinance after inputs from
Pakistani mobile consumer wonders if he can still send missed calls after 3G
lahore Our TeChnOlOgy COrrespOndenT
Pakistani mobile consumer was caught wondering whether he would be able to send missed calls to his contacts now that there is 3G and 4G technology in the country, sources privy to Khabaristan Today revealed. the man did this act of wondering while sending his 214th missed call of the day – this one was to his barber. it is
worth mentioning here that a missed call by the barber in return would have meant that he is free and available. ever since the 3G hullabaloo has engulfed Pakistan, the mobile consumer has been worrying whether his primary activity on mobile phones would come in any jeopardy now that there is new technology in the country. According to latest reports the man is relentlessly hoping against hope that 3G technology does not do anything to missed calls. g
“the law treads on an extremely fine line and could easily be misinterpreted. this is precisely why it is important to make sure that there is proper critique to ensure that the law does not cause any injustice,” she said. Law minister Rana Sanaullah, speaking exclusively to Khabaristan Today, said, “i would make sure that this law is sanctioned because my political allies want it that way,” finishing that particular sentence humming the famous Backstreet Boys track. When asked what it was that the law’s opponents didn’t like, Sanaullah said, “i cannot tell you that, since that would mean violating the law that i want to implement.” g
Second pair of twins most pleasant surprise since facing Roddick in Grand Slam finals: Federer
Bloody hell, I miss drones: Imran Khan Peshawar Our iK COrrespOndenT
AKiStAn tehrik-e-insaaf (Pti) Chairman yelled, “Bloody hell, i miss drones” in his dream last night, nosy sources told Khabaristan Today. it is believed that while having a conversation with himself – a practice the Pti chief carries out in the real world as well – during his dream, Khan told himself that he really misses drones a lot, and has no one to blame for his political booboos now. After listening intently to Khan, the only person imran Khan ever listens to properly, Khan told himself that he was stating the obvious. it is believed that the conversation involved
terrorism, taliban, failed talks, security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Geo, iSi, a 21-year-old girl, today’s bizarre rally and tahirul Qadri. Khan told himself that if he blamed anything wrong in the country these days to drone strikes, it would be ridiculous even by his own standards considering there hasn’t been a single drone strike in the country in 2014. Protesting against last year’s elections, you know the same ones which gave him the mandate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was hence the only thing he could make an issue about, he told himself. “Well, i am no longer interested in KP’s mandate. things have gone out of hand, i hope you realise that. Bring on tsunami 2.0!” Khan told Khan rather decisively. g
Madrid Our Tennis COrrespOndenT
7-time majors champion Roger Federer has become a father again, after wife mirka Federer gave birth to twins again. Already father to twin daughters, Federer’s mixed double matchup was completed after two twin sons were born this time around. talking exclusively to Khabaristan Today, the Swiss maestro revealed his excitement. “i am absolutely over the moon. i did not expect this at all,” Federer said seeming more human than in most of his Grand Slam trophy
accepting speeches. “it is one of the biggest, one of the most pleasant surprises of my life. it is quite possibly the most pleasant surprise i have had since facing Andy Roddick in Grand Slam finals,” he added. “i mean of course the slump in the level of tennis players – that is my competition – was obvious between 2003 and 2007, but i could never believe that someone like Roddick would be making major finals and wining one as well,” Federer said with a massive smile on his face. “Having a second pair of twins ranks right up there with playing against Andy,” he concluded. g