Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014 i issue 25 i pages 16 i Rs. 25
DOWN AND OUT PLAYING THE LOSING HAND IN SPORTS COVER STORY: SHAHAB JAFRY
DEALING WITH MODI – DIFFICULT BUT DOABLE BOTH SIDES WILL NEED TO REIN IN THE EXTREMISTS OpiniOn: ARIF NIZAMI
A LEOPARD’S SPOTS HISTORICALLY, IT IS RIGHTWING LEADERS THAT FIND SOLUTIONS TO DIFFICULT DISPUTES OpiniOn: HUMAYUN GAUHAR
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
editorial Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami
Arif Nizami Editor
Chief News Editor
A positive signal
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Sami’s patriots And Nisar’s, too, to an extent
T didn’t surprise many, especially not Nawaz, that when he first appointed Sami to mediate with the Taliban – and this was before the committees were formed – the Molana’s first public statement was that the Taliban were not at war with the state, but rather had taken up arms for the state. And then, months later, with talks frozen and ceasefire ended, he has pulled another novelty out of his hat. The Taliban, we are told this time, are patriots. Now this is important. everybody remembers how angry Ch Nisar got when Americans droned Hakeemullah on Nov 1. Red-faced and emotional, he lumped whatever grievance his mind could gather on the Americans, and in the process came perilously close to extolling the Taliban’s existence in the badlands, trying what-not to translate the drones’ violation of international laws as vindication of mullahs’ shari’a obsession. Then there was Munawar Hasan’s ridiculous shaheed title for the villain. And then the committees, and prime time media parading
the farthest of the far right, over and over again, till only small, shrinking secular bloc still pointed at the Taliban’s long orgy of death and destruction, and the necessity, still, of rescuing the national narrative and bring the murderers of tens of thousands to justice, not negotiations. It was, of course, entirely another matter that the interior minister was trying to hide his own incompetence, for which a few crocodile tears over Hakeemullah worked just fine. And the jamaat, it turned out, had increasingly “gone ‘Qaeda” since the ’07 lal masjid episode in which much of the Punjab’s clergy, especially militant proxies, turned on the state. But Munawar’s belligerence was just without the subtlety needed for diplomatic wriggling and the party soon tired of him; and he’s now more than welcome to consume his days lamenting the Taliban’s shaheed and the nation’s blind eye to shari’a proper, Fata style. The talks circus, especially the media circus, not to mention Nawaz’s own political circus in Islamabad, have all combined to
keep much of the country in the dark about the true nature of these talks, and the real level of the Taliban threat. Talking was important, it was decided at the APC, to control casualties and keep the fight from expanding into urban centres, not to legitimise non-state actors responsible for more than 50,000 deaths. That Nawaz failed to impress this on most people, especially his interior minister and committees charged with the negotiations, was perhaps the biggest mistake. That, of course, if it was not deliberate. And to let religion, shari’a, and such matters – which have very little to do with the Taliban or the government intrinsically – dominate matters was the second mistake; again, if it was not deliberate. So, talk to these militants if you must, prime minister, but remember they are proxy militias, armed and funded by Pakistan’s enemies. And their shari’a façade is gimmickry that we taught them – or to be more precise, the same patrons that brought you into the political world – so please do not be fooled by such rhetoric. g
Still too corrupt And still none the wiser
o, six years into real democracy and one civilian-to-civilian government transfer later Transparency International still finds us one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the region the worst afflicted. But Mian sb said things would be different this time. He knew what was wrong, and how to set it right. First it was long years of Musharraf’s dictatorial rule. Illegitimacy of command gives way to unfair appointments, and the cycle of corruption and nepotism spreads. And so it did in those years, even if the economy grew the fastest in many years. Then there was Zardari’s corrupt circle that pole vaulted to the presidency on the sympathy vote after Benazir’s assassination. And since the leadership was only technically democratic, hence only technically legitimate, so little surprise it went about doing just about everything the wrong way. How about the last one year, though? of course it is too early to tell, especially considering the troubles democracy’s sincere struggle has had to overcome in such a brief period. And then there are always time lags, especially in economic and social policies, before results of less corruption and increased efficiency begin showing. But the N league is reminded that one year is enough time to gauge policy direction of a new government, to see whether campaign slogans are being translated into real policy. And especially now since the election result itself is coming under scrutiny, with the ruling party unable to put the
matter of rigging to rest completely, corruption in the highest offices will once again become prime time news. By sticking to the old way of doing politics in Pakistan, and not making corruption his foremost priority, Nawaz will feel his own legitimacy fading. It doesn’t help that the problems he speaks of are largely self created, and tell as much about his priorities as his understanding of democracy. Civilian government does not strengthen when the military appears, or is made to appear, weak. In letting personal and ego matters take precedence and adopting an obvious anti-military posture, Nawaz reveals that his sense of strength lies in a feeling of institutional superiority, even as the military continues to be stronger. But these are not the old days, and people’s understanding has improved. Just take a look in India and try to comprehend the reasons behind Modi’s victory. The world’s biggest electorate did not care about the man’s personal outlook, just that his promise revolved around their core problems, and they will judge him for it. Back home, in not creating a similar atmosphere, our agents of democracy do the institution few favours. It is best, even for them, to understand and embrace powerful and dangerous winds of change. If the people do not see their will implemented in the capital, they will resort to other measures. The PM is advised to make corruption is core priority. He will be surprised how many other things will be sorted out automatically. g
Both Modi and Sharif enjoy heavy mandates
He advice to Nawaz Sharif to accept Narendra Modi’s invitation indicates that Fo is learning to take independent stands on an India related issue. There is however a rider added to the recommendation. Fo thinks the visit would only be useful if it leads to the resumption of dialogue process that would be “meaningful and constructive”. What is more the dialogue has to be “uninterrupted and uninterruptible”, whatever that might mean. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi has lobbied hard during and after the Indian elections for an early resumption of talks between the two countries, which shows the Fo is pursuing the government’ policy of improvement of ties with India. The immediate domestic reaction to the invitation was from leader of opposition Khurshid Shah, who urged the prime minister to accept the invitation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries. Narendra Modi has made a bold and unexpected move. While he has extended invitation to the prime ministers of all the regional countries, it has been noted by Indian media that it was in fact meant primarily for Nawaz Sharif. Coming as it does in the wake of Modi’s election days’ hard talk about Pakistan, it is being
interpreted as an olive branch. Bridging the trust deficit with India has been one of Sharif’s top priorities since he came to power last year. He once again stressed cooperation rather than confrontation in South Asia at Pakistan’s envoys Conference. Days before his winning, Narendra Modi was quoted as saying that India is fighting a war on poverty in South Asia along with Pakistan. What remains to be seen is whether the two leaders would be able to override their respective security establishments to reach out to one another? In Pakistan the issue of giving India the MFN status continues to hang fire on account of opposition from powerful circles. Another barrier in their way is the chauvinistic section of media in both the countries. Indian media made Manmohan Singh go back on his Sharm al Sheikh understanding with Gilani. What strengthens Sharif and Modi is the big electoral mandate given to them. The delay on the part of Sharif in sending a reply was presumably caused by back stage negotiations between the two sides. Nawaz does not want to come back from India without something concrete vis-àvis initiation of the stalled talks. But would it be realistic to expect too much from Modi on his first day in power? g
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Hello, sir, what is this commotion going on here? Hey, it seems to be a luncheon thrown by the PTI’s Aleem Khan. And who’s on the guest list? Why, it’s a number of TV anchors and journalists. And, oh my God, what do we have here? Some Geo journalists, attempting to create a liaison of sorts with a lady member of the PTI?! Is the party chairman around to see this? His flock being wooed by the channel that has been attracting his ire of late? Well, from the looks of it, he doesn’t care, because he’s tearing into the biryani, the karahi, the unfortunately named kunna gosht (ask a Pashtun friend to explain) and the dessert. Mian Nawaz Sharif might be famous for his food but the Kaptaan does like his food better. Because the former’s ticker’s been giving him some trouble, while the latter is fighting fit, not many would think Imran Khan has more of the lahori penchant for rich food. g
********** MArrIAGe halls are a big business all over the country, lahore being no exception. exception? The city’s probably leading the country in matrimonial extravagance. In fact, even the army’s gotten in on the business, with the Garrison halls. A splendid business to go alongside the force’s bank, leasing company, cornflakes brand etc. Well, the recently restored Faletti’s is also in the wedding business. Yes, the famous lahore hotel. The Quaid stayed there, so did Hollywood siren Ava Gardner – on the latter, do Google her if you’re too young to know who she is; your life is to be split up into two parts, one before you pressed “search” and the other, after. Well, everyone wants to get married in the place. Chaudhry Munir, who owns the place, faces a volley of calls on that front. But the place has a waiting list of two years for a wedding, he says. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
Dealing with Modi – difficult but doable Both sides will need to rein in the extremists
The writer is Editor, Pakistan Today.
CCEPtINg Indian prime minister designate Narindera Modi’s invitation to Nawaz Sharif amongst leaders of all SAArC members to attend his oath taking ceremony on Monday in Delhi should have been a routine matter. Ironically it was not to be. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s bus yatra to lahore in early 1999 cost Sharif his job. the Pakistani leader embracing a BJP prime minister did not amuse a recalcitrant military leadership headed by general Pervez Musharraf. In fact they had other designs. Musharraf did not hide his disdain for Vajpayee by refusing to salute him. Neither Nawaz nor his Indian counterparts were aware at the stage that the Kargil misadventure was on the anvil. Although there are some similarities, the situation is now intrinsically different from 1999. But perhaps the prime minister this time over was being doubly careful not to alienate the military by hastily accepting Modi’s invitation. Although Nawaz Sharif did extend an invitation to India’s prime minister elect to visit Pakistan, he is not coming any time soon on a friendship mission a la Vajpayee. Neither is Sharif embarking on a bilateral visit to New Delhi.
All the SAArC members have been invited. hence Sharif’s no show at the oath taking would have stood out like a sore thumb, especially in the backdrop of strained relations between the two neighbours. Although the foreign office had recommended that Pakistan should not spurn Modi’s invitation, its spokesperson did not rule out the possibility of someone representing the prime minister at the oath taking ceremony. Some had even suggested the president gracing the occasion. In ordinary circumstances he would have been a perfect choice. But being the chief executive of the country only Sharif can do business with his Indian counterpart. Modi ‘s hard-line against Islamabad in the past also entails that even a semblance of an olive branch from New Delhi should be reciprocated. Mamnoon hussain is a ‘shareef aadmi’. unlike his predecessor Asif Ali Zardari he is perceived as a rubber stamp president. hence sending him would be deliberately missing an opportunity to set the ball rolling on bilateral relations with the newly elected Indian government.
‘Modi’s hard-line against Islamabad in the past also entails that even a semblance of an olive branch from New Delhi should be reciprocated’ once bitten twice shy. Sharif, before going to New Delhi, wanted to take all stakeholders — euphemistically speaking the military leadership — on board. this is indeed a sad state of affairs that within a year of being
Editor’s mail Send your letters to: Letters to Editor, Pakistan Today, 4-Shaarey Fatima Jinnah, Lahore, Pakistan. Fax: +92-42-32535230 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Letters should be addressed to Pakistan Today exclusively
Mother of betrayals Although there is a long list of betrayals that Pakistan has seen, like the sale of Pakistan’s eastern rivers and massive corruption by successive rulers, yet the mother of betrayals is the rank ingratitude in the wastage of our sweet water resources. For the past four decades there has been a steady deterioration of water resources from 5000 cubic meters per capita at independence to a nearly 1500 cubic meters per capita at present. there has been a complete failure of all the pillars of the govt, the executive, political or judicial, share the ultimate responsibility for non construction of any mega hydroelectric dam in the past four decades. the sad story of Kalabagh dam is before
sworn in as prime minister there is a strong perception that he has developed a trust deficit with the khakis. Proxies like hafiz Saeed supplanted by supportive voices in a small section of the media are crying at the top of their voice that Sharif should not shake hands that “are soaked in the blood of Indian Muslims”. Whatever hafiz Saeed’s problems with India, it is indeed ironical that BJP could not have secured a historical victory at the hustings without being buttressed by the Muslim vote bank. the hafiz is on the most wanted list of the Indians for his alleged role in the Mumbai carnage of 2008. But in Pakistan he is the darling of the establishment, as well as a section of the media. Attending Modi’s oath taking ceremony is a multilateral formal occasion rather than a bilateral visit. hence only good can come out on the sidelines of such a contact. Sharif has set a record of making fourteen foreign trips in eleven months of his rule — most of them useless. this one to India was necessary. But he was dragging his feet for obvious reasons. the late Zuliquar Ali Bhutto heading a truncated and vanquished Pakistan, in1972 embarked on a historic visit to Shimla to cut a deal with the Indian prime minister Indra gandhi in 1972. Before embarking on the visit along with his young daughter Benazir Bhutto, he took the stakeholders including the parliament on board. this oath taking is no East Pakistan debacle or lahore process moment that Sharif against his natural instincts was being overly cautious, to mend fences with our estranged neighbour. Nawaz Sharif and Modi, despite some basic differences, have similar economic agendas. Both of them head right wing parties with a
us. It is a joke that the KP chief minister has said that if no city of KP would drown there could be no objection to KBD. the chief minister is blissfully unaware of views of eminent engineer Shams-ulMulk, former chairman of WAPDA, belonging to Naushehra that the city would not drown as KBD lake would be 10ft below and 10 miles away from Naushehra city. Even the Apex Court has kept pending a petition to call for referendum on KBD for the past 14 years and has kept the issue in a moribund state of suspended animation. the end result of the historic betrayal is that the irrigated area of Pakistan has shrunk by four per cent while the human population is growing at higher than two percent each year. We speak of keeping abreast of India in all respects. It may be true for the defence department but alas on the economic front we are lagging behind, with obstinate refusal to utilise the god given resources of rivers that waste each year 32 MAF of water down to sea while we face famine like condition in thar and Cholistan year in and year out. the history shows that Yemen was devastated when Siddi-Muarib dam was destroyed by Allah Almighty due to disunity of the nation. Providence may forgive individual faults but mistakes committed at national level are never forgiven which result in
string of pro private sector agendas. Modi has been variously compared to free enterprise champions like the late Margret thatcher and ronald reagan; as well as to the father of China’s four modernisations Deng Xiaoping, some have likened him to the russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Drawing support from hinduvta, Modi’s treatment of the Muslim minorities in the past has been dismal. But the economic miracle he spearheaded in his home state of gujarat, where he was chief minister for the past 13 years, is spectacular. he has been singularly successful in doing what Shahbaz Sharif is trying to achieve in Punjab albeit with mixed results. granting most favoured Nation (MFN) now euphemistically rechristened as Non– discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) by Islamabad was ostensibly put on hold at the last moment on the plea that the status is granted to the next Indian government. Soon it will be the opportune time to initiate bilateral negotiations on the issue with the new BJP government. Islamabad will also like to discuss the Kashmir issue, Siachen and water disputes with New Delhi. Modi is committed to removing Article 370 of the Indian constitution giving a special status to Indian held Kashmir. removing it would be tantamount to legally annexing it. this would be an unacceptable position for Pakistan. the CoAS general raheel Sharif’s recent statement that Kashmir is ‘shahrug (artery) of Pakistan’ should be read in this context. the Indian wish list, apart from trade and economic cooperation from Pakistan, would include an end to what it terms as cross border terrorism on the line of Control in Kashmir. It would also demand more stridently than its
destruction of a nation. If we do not wake up our story would not be told in the annals of history as we would have been tried and found inept and failure bound. DR MUHAMMAD YAQOOB BHATTI Lahore
Poor governance in appointments thErE appears to be serious flaws or lack of requisite administrative experience and proper legal scrutiny of decisions before making appointments in judiciary that could stand the test of legal challenges. A political party in power cannot afford luxury of selecting a team of cronies, or those skilled in art of sycophancy, especially in a country like Pakistan, faced with gigantic problems, given the threat of terrorism, our economic problems and our history of weak political governments. As patron of PCB, it is within the discretion of the PM to appoint a chairman. It is for PM Secretariat to ensure that rules and procedures laid down are followed in letter and spirit, because discretionary powers are to be exercised within the confines of law, without breaching constitutional rights of any citizen.
predecessors that the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage be brought to book by Islamabad. Bringing Jamaat-e-Dawaa’s head hafiz Saeed to book is on the top of New Delhi’s wish list. But owing to known sensibilities this would be hard act to follow for the civilian government in Islamabad. Pakistan condemning the terrorist attack on consulate general of India in heart is timely. But Islamabad needs to precisely guard against the consequences of such incidents. Afghan leadership and the newly elected leadership will have no qualms blaming them on Pakistan based or supported groups.
‘Once bitten twice shy. Sharif, before going to New Delhi, wanted to take all stakeholders — euphemistically speaking the military leadership — on board’ the ghQ has a major stake in our India policy. hence any rapprochement with India is not possible without the military being on the same page. It is axiomatic that Nawaz Sharif is able to take general raheel Sharif on board when he makes his overtures across the border. the ubiquitous establishment opposing such measures will be disastrous not only in the regional context but also for future of democracy in the country. unfortunately real or perceived tension between the military and civilian leadership could not have come at a worst time. It could have detrimental consequences for Pakistan in the present developing regional scenario. g
the fact that numerous appointments made by this government could not stand up to judicial review should be a cause for worry for PM. he should order a shake up and ensure that in future his office does not face any embarrassment. If appointment of chairman PCB has been repeatedly struck down by judiciary, there has to be either a strong technical deficiency in working of this organisation, or in appointment procedure, or else in choice of individuals running that organisation. Whatever the reason, this points to a lack of good governance and administrative skills of those appointed by the PM to execute his decisions. A lot of water has flowed down under the bridges since PM Nawaz Sharif was in power in 1998. there is a relatively independent judiciary, more awareness, a vocal media and equally more expectations of those who voted him to power. his government has yet to deliver on its promises of making appointments on merit to head state corporations and institutions, and appears to have almost no visible desire to have strong accountability of tax evaders, land grabbers, hoarders or those involved in insider trading and fleecing the public. MALIK TARIQ Lahore www.pakistantoday.com.pk 03
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
A leopard’s spots Historically, it is rightwing leaders that find solutions to difficult disputes HumAyun GAuHAr
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
y right hand is swollen and hurts, bitten by some Islamabad insect. So I repaired to the city I love for a couple of days – Karachi to wit – even though it has insects of its own kind. Whenever I come to Karachi I find that the city I love is no longer there, replaced by a horrific chaotic cauldron indescribable, undecipherable, a veritable madhouse without functioning government or authority, where every man is a law unto himself, corruption rife. Not that the rest of the country is much better, but Karachi has become the essence of anarchy, a symbol of a dysfunctional system where little works. yet the people of Karachi remain vibrant and optimistic, many in their own bubble of denial. One has to remain hopeful, though. Anyway, I have promises to keep, so I keep writing. See how little the fast-changing world is understood. While everyone worried about the nuclear arsenal of undemocratic Pakistan “falling into the hands” of Islamic extremists, it is ‘democratic’ India and its nuclear arsenal that has fallen into the hands of Hindu extremists first. Three cheers for GK Chesterton’s democracy. In the third world Chesterton’s reasoning doesn’t apply beyond window dressing. Come to think of it, they don’t sometimes apply even in the first world, recall George W Bush’s first election and the global destruction that followed, most of all of America. Bush and his junta singlehandedly managed to bankrupt America in eight short years, kept alive today by China’s self interest. Wait till the yuan is floated backed by gold. India’s new Prime Minister Modi’s cuteness is transparent, inviting all leaders of South Asia to his inaugural, emulating the new British viceroys of yore who would invite every Indian prince and satrap to his durbar to demonstrate their loyalty to the crown. Nawaz Sharif invited Modi’s predecessor to his swearing in but he didn’t come. Sharif is caught in another bind: go, and emulate the loyal satraps
of old; don’t go, and be accused of spurning a ‘friendly’ gesture. Praiseworthy is the successful holding of the most logistically complex, largest and most expensive election ever in a country of hungry-downtrodden. While their fairness is unchallenged, is this all there is to democracy, a periodic electoral exercise while two-thirds of the populace remains wretched with no deliverance in sight? Said India’s Salman Rushdie: “…a democratic society is not simply one in which such a ballot takes place every four or five years. Democracy is more than mere majoritarianism. In a truly free democratic society, all citizens must feel free all the time, whether they end up on the winning or losing side in an election – free to express themselves as they choose,
‘Most Indians perceive Modi as charismatic, his chauvinist rants notwithstanding. They have actually propelled him to the top’ free to worship or not worship as they please, free from danger and fear. If freedom of expression is under attack, if religious freedom is threatened, and if substantial parts of society live in physical fear for their safety, then such a society cannot be said to be a true democracy.” Diplomat turned politician Mani Shankar Ayer likened the non-secular Modi’s election to “the dying light of freedom”. Jinnah stands vindicated: what Pakistan has made of itself is another matter. Goodbye Nehru and your secularism, never really rooted in the Hindu psyche. Only minorities and the majority untouchables embraced it for safety. Goodbye Gandhi’s non-violence, which never took off really except in the fables that are woven around fathers of countries. The children of Gandhi’s assassins have come to
power again, this time with a vengeance. Hello India’s reality, the land of Hindus where peoples of other religions are tolerated only as second-class citizens. Hindustan is the proper name for India. One wishes it well. Surprising that the name ‘Narendra’ wasn’t in my computer’s dictionary, considering he is known as the Butcher of Muslims, one of the main destroyers of the Babri Mosque where Muslim rulers had razed a temple that marked the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram, an act contrary to Islam that forbids the destruction and desecration of the places of worship of any religion. But that is Islam the faith given by God and this was political Islam crafted by clerics and implemented by conquerors, raiders and looters. What attracted most voters to Modi was the abject economic failure of 10 years of a deformed Congress government led by a proxy prime minister. Despite his awful record of genocide, Modi gave a facelift to Gujarat’s economy with crony capitalism, which will now be India’s lot. Crony capitalism may have helped America’s incredible economic progress in the early 20th Century, but today’s world is different, with vigilant global media breathing down the necks of the powerful while people have found voice and protest with sticks and stones. If India does not start reducing poverty and delivering, things could go awry soon, as they have in Pakistan. In Europe there is people protest. The wretched of the earth have risen and are breaking their chains of economic slavery. They will not be stilled any longer, not without delivery. Most Indians perceive Modi as charismatic, his chauvinist rants notwithstanding. They have actually propelled him to the top. He is a demagogue, not rightwing but a religious fascist bordering on terrorist given that he has shown no contrition over the killings of Muslims under his watch, likening it to a puppy coming under a car, his absolution by the courts forsooth. Whether Modi is a wild card or
not we will know soon. One shouldn’t take campaign rhetoric too seriously. Wait and see and don’t get apprehensive. If he gets rowdy, he will get an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. We have to remain vigilant, service our trouble-sensing and bullshit radars and strengthen our military and diplomatic defences. Any adventurism by Modi will bring in China, waiting and watchful. It’s not going to be easy for Modi to bully his neighbourhood. For us the positive is that it is easier to deal with reality than a facade, as President Musharraf found with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee but not with proxy Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Another positive is that India may perhaps be emerging from the “government of the family, for the family by the family” syndrome
‘Narratives are changing quickly as the world changes fast and Pakistan even faster. Now India and Afghanistan are joining us in the race of change: which changes faster’ that Pakistan is still trapped in. If Modi fails, India could be back to dynasticism. Historically, it is rightwing leaders that find solutions to difficult disputes for their patriotism is not questioned. People grow into their jobs: it is too early to tell whether Modi will or not. Instead, he could pull the job down to his level. Reality will dawn soon when Modi is briefed by his intelligence agencies about his domestic and external problems, that 40 per cent of India is under insurgency and war with Pakistan is an option only for a madman. Hitler was elected too as a national socialist, a man who could take Germany’s economy places. In power this leopard’s spots appeared and we had a fascist madman who nearly destroyed the world. It can be the opposite with Modi: starting out as
a fascist he could mellow with reality and the leopards spots could start fading though never disappear because people hardly ever lose their essence. If not, whatever destruction he causes his neighbourhood it will not hold a candle to the destruction he would cause to unwieldy India. As prime minister, Modi will have to improve his CV if India is to remain a serious upcoming player on the world stage. Politics being the art of the possible, a political leopard’s spots can fade somewhat. Nawaz Sharif changed from being the army’s pussycat to its ardent opponent in democrat’s clothing, but at heart remains a dictator like his mentor. Narratives are changing quickly as the world changes fast and Pakistan even faster. Now India and Afghanistan are joining us in the race of change: which changes faster. What was exercising the people’s minds a short while ago has gone to the backburner and new issues have come to the fore. The real narrative is all but forgotten: corruption, government’s ineptitude and deviation from its mandate, dysfunctional state institutions clashing with one another, raging terrorism and criminality… The list is long, too long. Forgotten in the din is the forthcoming budget, talks with the Taliban, hyperinflation, tax to GDP ratio declining, exports declining (obviously, with the dollar weakening) and the trade gap widening with no decrease in inelastic imports, breakdown in policing causing total lawlessness, the demented and contradictory chatter of ministers. Instead, we are talking about protest rallies, souring relations between the civilian government and the army, Geo TV’s suicidal shenanigans (a trait that it shares with Nawaz Sharif), the probable election of anti-Pakistan Abdullah Abdullah as president of Afghanistan hot on the heels of Modi… Nawaz Sharif could become the meat in the sandwich, with Modi one slice and Abdullah the other either side of him. He shouldn’t get nervous and into appeasement mode from which it is difficult for future governments to come out of. The best way to meet this challenge is keeping relations with the US and China on track, bringing peace and stability in the land, not talking with but eliminating terrorists, working for people-based economic growth and removing tensions with the army. Sharif has enough challenges; he shouldn’t create more, making enemies where there are none. That is the best way. ‘May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese curse. Curious, but think about it. Things are getting ‘curiouser and curiouser’. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
Accountability blues An increasing number of people are wondering when are the Sharifs investing in pakistan CANDID CORNER
The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, it is well worth holding on to our dignity. Frank Serpico ccountability can be broadly defined as the obligation of an individual or organisation to account for its activities, accept consequent responsibility, and disclose the results (of enquiry) in a transparent manner. this responsibility would naturally extend to matters involving money and other entrusted property. For nations to survive and prosper, accountability remains the most compelling requirement on the part of institutions, leaders and people alike. nations failing to pay heed to this essential component are generally consigned to the dustbin of history as would be evidenced by incessant reminders from the past. Even worse would be the case of those who thrive on the art of dodging accountability, but are in the forefront of clamouring for the same from others citing themselves as the prime examples of conformity to the highest scales of the virtue. unfortunately, it is in our midst that we find a host of leaders progressing and prospering by practising the art of how best to escape the clutches of accountability. that is why they have not only thickened their skins through stints in power, they have also devised and put in place clever mechanisms that are ideally suited to further their lust for more. individuals are not alone in their greedy quest to escape the dragnet of accountability. the state institutions are equally guilty of this failing. they have used the platforms provided by their professions to repeatedly escape the formulation and implementation of credible systems and mechanisms to guide everyone to stay within the confines of the appropriate constitutional parameters, professional requirements and ethical benchmarks. the current media spectre being enacted every day is a living example of the absence of the necessary laws and mechanisms to guide the conduct of institutions. Here, the burgeoning power of the media has been criminally used to escape the formulation and imposition of a code of conduct to regulate the institution. instead, its proponents hold forth their courts every evening to the angst of the millions of hapless viewers, pontificating to the world on a plethora of preconceived virtues and vices regarding the goings-on in the country and their lopsided recipes of salvation. it is a pitiable display of lack of intelligence, comprehension and a sustainable rationale.
Who has given them this right? Do they derive it from irresponsibly exploiting their new-found freedom, or the nonimplementation of the clauses of their license emanating from a weak, ineffectual and complicit government and its attendant institutions including the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory authority (PEMRa)? Simultaneously, it is also indicative of a serious lack of expertise and ethics at the grassroots level, thus gravely impacting institutional performance. Media is not the only institution afflicted with this malaise. Pick up any department of the state and you’ll hear harrowing tales of their lack of transparency, capability, capacity and delivery. it appears these departments have been constituted for the advancement of the interests of the coterie of people who come to be associated with them through their various stages of existence. they are milked dry to the personal aggrandisement of their handlers as also of their associates-in-crime till they are rendered non-functional and have to depend on the largesse of the state for their continued survival. the government does not disappoint as it has a direct interest in further corrupting an already corrupt system because therein lies its own survival. this is the crux of the criminal nexus that one sees connecting leaders with institutional decay.
‘The current media spectre being enacted every day is a living example of the absence of the necessary laws and mechanisms to guide the conduct of institutions. Here, the burgeoning power of the media has been criminally used to escape the formulation and imposition of a code of conduct to regulate the institution’ it has gone on like this for years, even decades and this is the way it is likely to be in the foreseeable future also: every actor working to his personal advancement and that of his criminal cohorts wherever they may be placed. the only change that is visible is that there are now more avenues and, consequently, more opportunities available, thus facilitating more people to indulge in the sickening trade. a special mention should also be made here of the only institution dealing with accountability in the country: national accountability bureau (nab). it should, more appropriately, be renamed as the nawaz-Zardari inc as its principal purpose seems to be safeguarding the evil-duo from prosecution. in the process, by cleverly manipulating the powers inordinately vested in the person of the chairman, the incumbent is proceeding steadily and stealthily to having his beneficiaries exonerated from all wrongdoings that they may have been guilty of. it is like handing them a clean chit to continue chartering their political careers built around brazenly and cruelly exploiting the national assets to their personal advancement. an avid testament of the corruption of the Sharif and Zardari families is provided by the figures of the State bank. During the two tenures of nawaz Sharif (1990-93 and 1997-99), total loans of Rs22.35 billion were written off. in his first tenure, a total of Rs2.39 billion were written off and, during
‘The inimitable words of Oliver Cromwell resonate through one’s consciousness: “Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes?”’ his second term, the amount written off went up to Rs19.96 billion. the written-off loans during the two tenures of nawaz Sharif constituted approximately 74.5 per cent of a total of Rs30.18 billion written off between 1986 and 1999. During the two tenures of late benazir bhutto, a total of Rs7.23 billion loans were written off, constituting 24.2 per cent of the total written-off loans. Rs494.97 million were written off in her first tenure and Rs6.74 billion in the second term. these figures clearly manifest that the two leaders were instrumental in writing off a much larger chunk of loans in their second stint in power as compared to the first – learning the tricks of the trade while in the saddle! imagine what the PPP government would have done in its next stint in power under asif Zardari and what one should expect of nawaz Sharif now that he is back in the prime minister’s office. it is absolutely loathsome. the spiralling of the Sharif business empire after he became the Punjab finance minister under the tutelage of General (R) Jilani is mind boggling. the worst part is that it was made possible through huge sums of borrowed money that were written off by various leaders to advance their personal political ambitions. one principal culprit who facilitated the illicit growth of their industrial empire was General Ziaul Haq. When the first Public accounts committee (Pac) calculated the written off loans, the Sharifs were one of the two people on top of the criminal list: the chaudhrys of Gujrat with Rs22 billion and the Sharifs of lahore with Rs21 billion. this is part of the Pac record. that is well into the past. Since then a lot more has happened which, quite literally, even escapes the stretched-to-breakingpoint limits of the bizarre. their investments have now been directed towards other capitals of the world with little to no financial stakes in the Pakistani market. this reflects their (lack of) commitment to the country that they have come to rule through a grossly flawed election process. billions may have exchanged hands to make that mockery possible which is well within the ethical benchmarks of the Sharifs. the incumbent finance minister ishaq Dar confessed to money-laundering in a 40-odd-page detailed statement. understandably, a growing number of people have started wondering aloud as to when, if at all, are the Sharifs going to invest in Pakistan. this does not reflect the entire spectrum of their corruption as most of it remains hidden from the public view because of the complicity of co-beneficiary individuals and institutions. it is like corrupting the entire system leaving little prospect of being caught. consequently, instead of correcting the system and acquiring the services of individuals of sound integrity and character to probe the mega-corruption scams of the high and the mighty, the accountability
charlatans generally dismiss the marauding loot and plunder of the leaders as part of the white-collar crime syndrome that cannot be busted. Raymond baker, in his book titled “capitalism’s achilles Heel”, provides a sickening dossier on the corruption of the Sharifs. according to the book, the Sharifs allegedly milked a clean $160 million from the lahore-islamabad motorway project, $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistani banks, more than $60 million through rebates on sugar exported by mills controlled by them and $58 million from prices paid on importing wheat from the uS. the author states that “the extent and magnitude of this corruption is so staggering that it has put the very integrity of the country at stake” and goes on to describe the elder Sharif as looking “corpulent” among “opulent” surroundings” – be it in Jeddah or elsewhere. Many offshore companies have also been linked to the Sharifs, three in the british Virgin islands by the names of nescoll, nielson and Shamrock while chandron Jersey Private limited has been named in the channel island. the inimitable words of oliver cromwell resonate through one’s consciousness: “is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? is there one vice you do not possess? ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes?” now, for a moment, behold the so-called movement that apparently is taking shape for the sake of bringing in electoral reforms in the country? Just try to get a measure of the divergence of opinion among the stakeholders that appear to be gathering on a
‘Whichever way one looks at it, the options are laden with regression and depravity, with promise of more of the same. If one were to clinically delineate the essential ingredients of a leader best suited to carry forth the politics of the status-quo in Pakistan, he or she would have to be a massive loan-defaulter, a versatile doublecross, a perennial transgressor of the rule of law and suffering from acute intellectual paucity’
single platform to spearhead the movement: the street fascism of the MQM, the failed promise of the Pti, the abominable trackrecord of the chaudhrys, the degenerate fanaticism of a bulk of the religious outfits lined up dutifully to reap the dividends and the fringe groups – all vying for a place on the stage. Who would be that one person to lead this sickly motley crowd in the battle to change the fate of the country? it escapes me, and millions of others who can think rationally and pragmatically. Whichever way one looks at it, the options are laden with regression and depravity, with promise of more of the same. if one were to clinically delineate the essential ingredients of a leader best suited to carry forth the politics of the status-quo in Pakistan, he or she would have to be a massive loan-defaulter, a versatile doublecross, a perennial transgressor of the rule of law and suffering from acute intellectual paucity. So, hail the Sharif and the Zardari clans! g www.pakistantoday.com.pk 05
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Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
The importance of vision peace in the Middle east WAsHington WAtcH Dr JAMes J Zogby
The writer is President, Arab American Institute, Washington.
few days ago, I spent an afternoon with members of the Syrian opposition delegation visiting Washington. they briefed me on their many meetings with the Obama administration (including a lengthy session with the president) and with members of the Senate and Congress. We also discussed problems they are facing on the ground in Syria and issues with their messaging strategy. at the very end of our wide-ranging conversation, a leader of the delegation surprised me with a few unexpected questions. he asked, “What is your long-term vision for the region — from Iraq to Lebanon — how do you see it in the future? and what do you see for us in the next three years?” I was surprised, but I was also delighted, because these are exactly the questions that should be asked and answered by leaders on all levels of government and civil society across the Middle East. It is critically important to have a broad strategic vision of the future that embodies the values and aspirations of your people. and it is equally important to be able to project how you can see that vision being implemented in the short term. My initial response might have been a bit flippant, saying that looking 100 years down the road I can see an arab boy from amman marrying an Israeli girl from tel aviv and taking a job and settling down in the suburbs of Damascus. But I quickly added that what I meant was that I envisioned a region at peace with itself, with integrated societies, economies, and open borders (or no borders, at all) allowing for the free movement of people and commerce.
‘My initial response might have been a bit flippant, saying that looking 100 years down the road I can see an Arab boy from Amman marrying an Israeli girl from Tel Aviv and taking a job and settling down in the suburbs of Damascus. But I quickly added that what I meant was that I envisioned a region at peace with itself, with integrated societies, economies, and open borders (or no borders, at all) allowing for the free movement of people and commerce’ Given the bloody wars of the last several decades and continuing tumult and tension, such a vision might appear to some to be fanciful. there will be naysayers who will go so far as to argue that it is not in the genetic makeup of this or that side to ever accept such a peace or integration. But I am convinced that they are wrong. No group of people is uniquely indisposed to peace and integration and no people are immune from the
inevitable pressures of history. In this regard, the Middle East is not exceptional. It is true that the region is plagued by war and upheaval – but then what region of the world has not been so plagued. Much the same despair was once widespread across Europe. that continent had, for centuries, been the setting for bloody conflicts that pitted nations and sects against each other, culminating in the 20th century’s two devastating world wars. Who, in the midst of the last century’s horrors, could have imagined a Europe at peace with itself? In the past few decades, Europe formed an economic union and then ended a Cold War that had divided the continent. though still not a “perfect union”, it is impossible to ignore the profound and positive transformations that have occurred and are still unfolding across that once tormented region. What is important is that, in the midst of conflict, people be given a vision of the future and the possibility of change, precisely so that they do not surrender to despair. Projecting such vision can inspire and motivate societies to move forward, rejecting the paralysis that comes from feeling trapped by present day “realities”. By projecting a progressive vision of the future, leaders are also able to present a stark contrast between the idea of the world they seek to create with notions advocated by those operating without such a vision. When applied to the conflicts raging across the Levant, the matter becomes clearer. What, for example would be Bashar al assad’s vision of the future? and who would want to live in the future projected by ISIS or Jabhat al Nusra? Is there anyone who hopes that Lebanon one hundred years from now is still divided by sect, with power monopolised by the same families who have governed their clans or regions for the past century? and is there any future in the exclusivist, irredentist notions advocated by hard-line Israelis or their counterparts in the Palestinian camp? having a progressive vision of the future allows one to challenge those who can’t think beyond the dead-end constraints of the present. It rejects those who for reasons of power and personal privilege want to freeze current realities or elevate them to the status of the eternal, and those whose blasphemous distortions of religion cause them to envision the future as a return to an idealised past. thinking about the future means we do not create “false idols” of the past or present. It means that we understand that we are human, subject to God’s laws, and that we do not allow ourselves become so arrogant as to subject God to our own whims and fancy. It also requires that we reject the temptation to use means that contradict the very ends we seek to accomplish. this leads me to consider my Syrian friend’s second but no less important question, which is to envision the Levant in three years’ time. In some ways, this is a more difficult challenge because it forces us to directly confront the constraints of the present day. While I believe that 100 years from now there will be no latter-day “al assad” on the scene, no “religious” fanatics tormenting those who are “less pure”, no clan leaders or ultranationalists — they are precisely the characters who define present day life. they must be defeated — but how they are defeated matters. that’s why a future vision based on values is important. Fighting evil with evil, repression with repression, or fanaticism with fanaticism, is a no-win proposition. New ideas matter and so do new means by which to bring those ideas to life. I thank my Syrian friend for asking his thoughtful questions and for the discussion that followed. It provided us both an opportunity to reflect on means and ends and goals. the very fact that he asked these questions made me appreciate his leadership. I would love to hear this challenge put to other leaders, on all levels, across the Levant. their answers would be revealing. g
How history was made Is Modi India’s new face of change? out of turn
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.
hat do we mean when we suggest that history has been made? history has to be something more than just another event; beyond a day’s or even a week’s headlines. history is a miser. It applauds only a pivotal moment that turns a nation’s course. there has already been much comment on the fact that this is the first election since 1984 to deliver a simple majority for a single party. One might, in theory, go back further. If Mrs Indira Gandhi had not been assassinated in 1984, the subsequent Parliament would have been woefully fractured, with Congress short of a majority, and non-Congress parties still in wild disarray after the searing implosion of Janata in 1979. We might well have seen the first UPa in 1985. Be that as it may, Narendra Modi has inspired a mandate that is still beyond the belief of Delhi’s elite drawing room squads which led a motivated and nasty offensive against him. Congress’ annihilation has been compared by its spokespersons to 1977, not to highlight the reasons for burial but to hold out the promise of resurrection. this argument is punctured by facts. In 1977 Mrs Gandhi lost power in Delhi, but won a handsome 150-odd seats in Lok Sabha from the south. She had a very firm base from where to construct her recovery. In 2014, Congress has been smashed everywhere, unable to achieve double digits in any state. No matter who won — Modi, Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee or Naveen Patnaik — Congress lost. Which, in turn, brings us to the second deeply significant fact: this is the first since 1947 that a nonCongress party has won a simple majority. Nor is the BJP’s triumph geographically limited. Its vote share has leapt up even in states where it did not get seats. Bengal is an obvious instance. BJP was less than a marginal political fact before the Modi campaign. It established a lead in 40 assembly constituencies, and even polled 185 votes more than Mamata Banerjee in her own seat, Bhowanipore. Where BJP is not in power, it is now in contention. It has become a national party in the true sense of the term. the reason is Narendra Modi. he lifted electoral politics from a language generated in the 19th and 20th centuries, of vote banks capitalised through demographic fault lines, and placed it on the one platform that every Indian could share beyond the divisive breach of
factional identity: a better economy that could end the curse of poverty through good, honest, accountable governance. he broke governance into component parts that the citizen, and particularly the voter mired in the worst poverty, understood: electricity, water, jobs. an end to corruption. he snubbed any reference to the politics of the past, if it came from Congress and its explicit or implicit allies; and stopped it if it arose from his own ranks. he was absolutely focused from start to final polling day: this election was about the stomach, and about bringing light [literally] into areas of darkness. Congress had nothing to offer as counterpoint except a fading dynasty, represented by Rahul Gandhi, who seemed to live in a planet of his own, and Robert Vadra, whose rapid accumulation of wealth could have become a case study in business schools if it had been done honestly. If anything, the voter was more tired of this dynasty than of Congress. Mrs Indira Gandhi justified her right to sit in her father’s chair by promising, in 1971, to end poverty. a child born in 1971 is middle aged now, having outlived the dreams of youth. the substantive majority of today’s voters are children of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, three lost decades in the annals of India’s economy. this year, Narendra Modi fused the negative undercurrent of anger against Congress with a positive power of hope to create an
‘Congress’ annihilation has been compared by its spokespersons to 1977, not to highlight the reasons for burial but to hold out the promise of resurrection. This argument is punctured by facts. In 1977 Mrs Gandhi lost power in Delhi, but won a handsome 150-odd seats in Lok Sabha from the south’ electrical storm. the crowds are chanting ‘Modi’ because for them it is synonymous with aspiration. the poor trust Modi because they know he comes from their background. For Modi, poverty is not a tourist’s destination. It is the mental anguish and physical deprivation from which he has emerged to become prime minister of India. Understandably, such volatile aspirations come lined with impatience. the young want Modi to shift into top gear from his first week in office. they will not have much patience with politics as usual, because they have delivered an unusual mandate. the BJP’s simple majority strengthens Modi immeasurably, but it also eliminates the comfort zone that is home to many an alibi. this is the stuff of history because Modi’s dialectic has made a return to the politics of identity almost impossible for a mainline political party. Fringe parties might continue to feed from an old trough, but their diet will restrict them to the margins of India. g
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Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
The media touches nadir Aziz-uD-Din AhmAD The writer is a political analyst and a former academic.
he way media houses were working, Geo more than anyone else, this was bound to happen one day. The main responsibility lies with the owners of these houses. The journalists working in the empires who failed to put their foot down and demand that print and electronic media should be run professionally would have to share the blame. The only factor that could have stopped the long standing Geo-ISI tiff from taking a nasty turn was a timely intervention by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It suited him however to let Geo and ISI sort each other out. The intervention would however have only postponed the inevitable opening of the Pandora’s box It is an irony that Geo, which has sold religion more than any other channel as an entertainment item is itself facing the charge of blasphemy. This only proves the adage that to rear a tiger is to court calamity. In the case of Geo the responsibility lies with the media empire owner’s peculiar system of remote controlling the print and
electronic media’s content from Dubai. The owners of media empires in general have treated their channels and newspapers as lucrative business ventures. They forgot that media ownership also imposed social responsibility and required following a code of conduct. Unlike other industries a mishandled media can create far reaching problems for society. The owners initially used the influence they wielded as moulders of public opinion to expand their empire. As time passed they developed the illusion that they could act as king makers. They used the newspapers and electronic media under their control to support sometime one, sometime another political party, to humiliate powerful rivals and take revenge from adversaries. While pleasing themselves they sometime crossed the limits of decency or legality. Business rivalries between media empires took toll on whatever flimsy code of ethics media owners had ever recognised. Marketing competition stood in the way of lending support to rival groups when one of them was under attack. Appeals for help from journalists of the beleaguered paper or channel were ignored by fellow journalists who, basking in the reflected glory of their employers, dutifully followed the dictation from above. This tended to replace camaraderie with antagonism among media workers belonging to rival houses. Geo is thus reaping what it has sown. So will others who are presently throwing stones at it. Geo owners managing their business from abroad have developed a unique system of commanding the flow of information and opinion. The arrangement does not require professional editorial control of either the papers or the channels. The arrangement has
Those calling for Geo’s fall will find their own influence reduced too
already led to enough mischief, the repetition of allegations against the ISI chief and the blunder in the morning show being only the latest examples. Those dutifully running media houses at the owners’ behest have often no training in journalism and no concept of basic media ethics to guide them. They have thus frequently rushed in where angels fear to tread. The system allows critical error of judgment to take place too frequently. While reporters, particularly investigative reporters, have to be in contact with political parties, government circles, extremist groups and intelligence agencies they are supposed to extract information rather than become the spokesmen of any one of those they meet in the line of duty. As newspaper columns and talk shows indicate there are worrisome developments. There are journalists who have an agenda of their own. Some deliver fatwas, calling those holding different opinions ‘foreign agents’, ‘anti-Pakistan elements’, and ‘traitors.’ There are others who work for mafias of all sorts. Over a month long no-holds-barred infighting has considerably weakened the media. If the opponents of the Geo TV manage to get it banned as they are trying their level best to do, what they will achieve is a Pyrrhic victory where the victor also falls with the victim. every media house, Geo as well as its opponents, will lose influence. They will have to work for years to regain the public prestige and the social clout they enjoyed before April 19. The infighting has exposed the worst in the industry that many had tended to overlook on account of the support provided by media to popular causes at crucial times and for
highlighting the issues so far considered taboo. The media aired round the clock reports of the struggle for the restoration of independent judiciary. The reports electrified civil society and mobilised lawyers, students and political activists. The reports were accompanied by newspaper columns and talk shows that exposed Musharraf’s shenanigans. Both print and electronic media played a role in developing public consciousness regarding the need for an independent judiciary. It goes to their credit that despite their unending hunch for a role in the game of thrones the media houses strongly supported democracy. Later they refused to be cowed down by threats from Pakistani Taliban. how much of this was done out of a commitment to truthful reporting or attachment to democracy and how much because support to popular causes added to the channels’ ranking is of little consequence as in the long run it helped to strengthen democracy. The media gathered more clout as it took up the issue of the missing persons and the injustices done to the Baloch. The 54 journalists who laid down their lives from 1992 to 2014 while fearlessly performing their professional duties also added to the media’s its prestige. Along with judiciary, media came to be considered as one of the two forces whose presence guaranteed the unobstructed continuation of democracy. The infighting wherein recourse was made to most indecent tactics has compromised media’s credibility. It is widely seen to be a plaything in the hands of unscrupulous owners, intelligence agencies and religious fanatics. Democracy has thus been deprived of what many considered one of its two major safeguards along with judiciary. g
Dealing with the emerging world Leading and surviving change 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
he fast pace of scientific and technological breakthroughs has enabled mankind to surmount many serious obstacles, be it in the domain of medicine, space, information technology, or engineering. At the same time, these leaps have also brought to the fore unique implications. For example, cloning has presented special opportunities but has also raised many ethical dilemmas. Moreover, researchers predict the increased use of Internet to find information is overtime changing the way our brain operates, with memory function on the decline. The full magnitude of the societal impact being caused by the information and communication revolution is not clearly known but it has opened up a Pandora’s Box of issues. Many claim the Arab Spring may not have bloomed the way it did if not for the facilitation offered by social media tools. It pointed out
to the divide between virtual and physical reality, and it was the virtual reality that appeared to have influenced the ground reality. In essence, cross-pollination of free flowing information has created serious consequences for existing structures of governance, while threatening the status quo in many places of the world. The information technology revolution is also posing unique security threats in the form of cyber crimes and cyber warfare. Self-help guides on how to construct Improvised explosive Devices (IeDs) are easily accessible on YouTube for non-state actors and individuals to utilise. On one level, questions are being raised about what laws and conventions apply to different risks and challenges introduced by new technologies, such as the drones and robotics. On the other hand, there are hurdles of how to make policy in an unpredictable environment and fast moving change. Most seriously, when so much is uncertain, how to make decisions. Inadvertently, the focus has shifted to deal with the immediate constant crisis, at the cost of longterm planning and strategy. Widely available communication tools have enabled and empowered individuals while creating new sources of influence. Although the application of hard power has persisted, soft power is increasingly at play as well. With the rise of nonstate actors and technological advances, a debate has emerged about when and against whom should a state apply different tools of
its economic, political and military power, and what does that imply for international law and state sovereignty. Former US sectary of state Madeline Albright recently conceptualised this debate as a distinction between being objective or subjective. There is growing realisation and alarm that the present governance structures, institutions, and policies, which most nations have in place, are not fit, or are moving too slow, to deal with the impediments. Renowned American strategist and former secretary of state, henry Kissinger, commented at the inception of Asia Society’s Policy Institute (ASPI) in April that the world needs fresh conceptual frameworks to identify underlying problems, analyse them, and develop solutions. Associated with this concern was a discussion about the availability of conceptual contexts to understand world affairs and where it may be heading. For example, he stated, there is a difference of opinion on what triggered Arab Spring and its future direction. And if there are no mechanisms in place to identify problems and risks, understanding and solving them will become even more difficult. But how does this global transformation apply to the region of South Asia and Middle east? It appears that the leaders of these regions dedicate most of their attention to distracting the masses from the real challenges and not on educating them. This in turn becomes their weakness. As opposed to working on trends and
understanding the underlying causes, their focus is on the outcome of these patterns. The lofty goals of spreading health, education, and economic opportunities, only work in stable law and order situations. If security threats from state and non-state actors continue to dominate the national landscape, all other domains will suffer and disorder will spread. In fact, it can be argued that preoccupation with political and security risks may have resulted in the very situation that is confronted today in these regions. Meanwhile, a new kind of non-state threat has been added to the list: climate change, or the risk posed by nature. These pressures have made governance even harder, when citizens are increasingly empowered to question their governments. Moreover, when governments fail to administer and as extremism spreads, the chances of a state failing grows even further. In this environment, western capitals are increasingly worried about a whole array of political, economic, security and technological threats posed by these regions. From the western perspective, many parts of the world are likely to be unable to cope with the fast moving technologically driven change. To protect their interests, they have to be ahead of the curve to mitigate the risks. In the era of financial recession, agility to respond is more and more the buzzword in western strategic policy making circles. Threats are quadrupling and this requires dealing simultaneously with state and non-state actors, while the
resources to prepare for these risks are drying up. At the same time, many western strategic thinkers are pondering if the goal of aspiring stability as even attainable in such uncertain times. Perhaps, it is wiser to get used to the constant flux and uncertainty, while managing change and the accompanied anxiety, as best as possible. The very scientific and technological advances that leapfrogged human civilisation are also on the other hand becoming sources of chaos, by making affairs unmanageable and changing the very norms under which the present world operates. While the risks created by humans may be manageable, more worrisome are the threats emerging from nature, which may ultimately provide the true black swan event. And even behind climate change, human tinkering is involved. At the same time, the spirit of human adventurism cannot be tempered down. The nations that have the best ideas, accompanied by smart utilisation of resources to explore them and solve problems, will have the advantage; to not only shape the emerging world but also to formulate rules that govern it. This realisation is further fuelling the race amongst competing powers to acquire cutting edge technological knowhow, whether by hook or crook. The ones left behind will once again be relegated to complain, adapt or perish. The battle is between status quo and change that is inevitable, and the ones that are able to master the art of transformation will no doubt win. g www.pakistantoday.com.pk 07
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cover Story: dowN aNd out
Playing the losing hand in sports Never appointing the right man for the right post Shahab Jafry The writer is Associate Editor, Pakistan Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
he more the Najam Sethi-Zaka Ashraf controversy unfolds, the more it reflects the systemic breakdown plaguing the official machinery, of which the PCB drama is but one small part. At the heart of the problem is the custom of making important appointments not on merit but affiliations. And since the PCB chairmanship is always special – jokes that it brings prestige and perks second only to the prime minister’s seat are not entirely without merit – its appointments tend to be controversial, especially of late. But this latest episode has been more ridiculous than normal. The tussle, and resulting uncertainty, not to mention repeated hiring and firing of key officials, has filtered down to the team. And the public is furious. Cricket was the only sport where Pakistan still commanded some degree of respect in the world. The way it arouses collective national passion, and unites Pakistanis at home and abroad, needs little explanation. It is undoubtedly a significant feature of our international relevance. And all the while the prime minister has tried one way and then another of forcing his preferred client to head the PCB, the team’s performance has deteriorated, its morale has dropped, and there is public fear that cricket too might follow in the footsteps of Squash and hockey. In both sports Pakistan established itself at the top of the world, and in both now it has no standing of significance. And in both cases stakeholders blame government inaction and incompetence for the fall from grace. Lucknow example The problem runs far deeper than controversial appointments and exposes the whole management system as ineffective. Sports need to be nurtured at the student level, at education institutes. Despite repeated requests from sporting bodies, the government has not increased admission quotas for sports from two per cent. This number needs to be raised to 10-15 per cent, and various governments have been repeatedly
made aware of it, yet nothing has been done. PCB is all the more Ridiculous at all College and university level competitions disturbing. The PM’s levels ‘Even though the Sethitoo must get more government patronage. involvement has become When chairmen, Ashraf standoff has become Analysts cite an interesting and relevant problematic not just general managers, embarrassing for Pakistan example from the old days, when Pakistan because of his timing, but selectors and coaches won the historic ’52 Test in Lucknow. The also because of his become uncertain about internationally, the PM is national team featured nine players from insistence that Najam their positions, so do sticking with his man, not Government College Lahore and Islamia Sethi head the PCB. team players. College Lahore. An Indian newspaper the Critics have obviously “The sport is suffering opting for a third, less next day described how Pakistan’s team of questioned Sethi’s at all levels”, said Khalid controversial name to settle college boys flattened India’s national team. credentials, especially Mehmood, former PCB the matter once and for all’ Building institutions and nurturing talent since he is not without a chairman. from an early level is more important now than history of being awarded “Right now the whole ever because sports have become increasingly prized positions, and his team is divided. Players competitive and institutionalised all over the ‘services’ as CM Punjab are unsure about world. Just as much as national prestige, they have drawn strong allegations of corruption, officials, who to take refuge with, who to are an indication of national achievement. particularly from Imran Khan’s PTI. make links with. It is causing embarrassment “If you look closely, you will notice how And it’s not just that Sethi’s cricket and is just ridiculous at all levels”. sports reflect the level of achievement of credentials are in question, it is also not clear Former chairmen like Mehmood critique societies as a whole”, a sports analyst said. “In why the prime minister cannot find someone the government for not only backing the the old days, top level Olympic competition more appropriate for the cricket board. Why wrong people in the wrong way, but also not was between USSR and USA, the two most have people like ehsan Mani, Dr Zafar Altaf, doing anything positive for the sport. And advanced nations in the world. Now and Khalid Mehmood not been considered? this regressive trend has been visible for increasingly China challenges America for Mani worked at the ICC for more than 30 more than a decade. Officials, not always superiority as its position in the world years, and for all purposes was the first and appointed on merit, have always worried improves. When Putin became president of last Pakistani to head the organisation. Dr about their tenures, and often turned to Russia, he met with the OIC president for Altaf and Mehmood have served as PCB changing and abrogating the constitutions advice on a sports chairmen previously. to favour themselves. revolution in his country”. And even though the The question now is about who has the But building and Sethi-Ashraf standoff has ultimate authority. If Zaka had made the ‘The problem runs far nurturing such talent become embarrassing for mistake of approving the constitution by requires active Pakistan internationally, ignoring the biggest stakeholders, the deeper than controversial government involvement. the PM is sticking with prudent way to proceed was to call a fair appointments and exposes One reason hockey his man, not opting for a election. the whole management declined was that the third, less controversial “But the insistence of forcing his own system that offered name to settle the matter person, whatever the cost, is neither system as ineffective’ talented players from the once and for all. democratic nor controversial”, added rural periphery jobs and “The prime minister Mehmood, and it will not make the job of survival disappeared over must decide, and the any future chairman any easier. time. There are no examples any more like sooner the better”, said Gen (R) Tauqir Zia, Sports matter Shahbaz Sr, our last hockey superstar, who former PCB chairman. “even if the government The recurring comparison with hockey is was the world’s best player for 10 years and is determined to bring one particular person not without reason. Numerous stakeholders now serves as PIA station chief in Jeddah. to the post, there are better and less cried for help as the system was collapsing Now, with the official structure no longer embarrassing ways of doing just that”. from within, but no reforms were supporting sports stars, players are reluctant But the way this musical chairs is being undertaken and no serious effort was made. to turn professional. played out, the whole board is becoming In squash, too, there was no structure to What the PM does paralysed. prop up emerging players, and when a That is why the embarrassment at the “how can the board function normally couple of families’ personal domination ran when the chairman is insecure about his out, so did Pakistan’s grip on the world position?” asked Gen Zia. “The chairman is number-1 position. busy with courts, people under him are not Aisam ul haq’s impressive rise in tennis sure about their jobs, it is natural for the proved a similar one-time, one-man effort, dysfunction to spread to the team”. with no official patronage or arrangement to provide serious, competitive training. And things have regressed to the point that sports are no longer taken seriously at any level. “There is no political party in Pakistan now that has sports as part of its manifesto”, said Air Marshal Syed Razi Nawab, senior vice president of the Pakistan Squash Federation. “Also, parents are not interested in encouraging their students to turn seriously to sports. education institutes no longer offer sports scholarships like they did, at least in my time. There is neglect across the board, and sports and sportsmen suffer as result”. The first thing we need to do, according to the air marshal, is put our house in order. Pakistan has already suffered from years of sports isolation following the attack on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009. And the first thing to do is to appoint the right people at the right posts. So long as genuine stakeholders do not take the reins of the system, the right decision will just not be taken. The state, too, must take a much more proactive role in encouraging budding sportsmen. “The government must realise that sports matter”, said Gen Zia. “In my time I tried to help hockey, golf, and bridge bodies, but instead of such efforts being appreciated, I was questioned by the Public Accounts Committee”. Such regressive behaviour needs to change. And that change will begin by reforming institutions, for which appointing the right heads is crucial. Otherwise, the government will be guilty of deliberately playing a losing hand at sports. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
what they Say
Gen (retd) tauqeer Zia Khalid Mehmood former Pcb chairman
Former PCB Chairman
heRe is politics all over the cricket world. If the ICC indulges in excessive politics, it is natural for boards to do the same too. But the Pakistani position has become a political mess. And the prime minister will
have to make up his mind quickly about what he really wants. If he really wants to place his own man at the top of the PCB, surely there are better ways of doing it, like call an election, manage the vote, and secure the position for three years. Now there is complete confusion. how can the board function normally when the chairman is insecure about his position? he is busy with courts, people under him are not sure about their jobs, and it is natural for the dysfunction to spread to the team. It seems the government is just not interested in playing a positive role. In my time I tried to help hockey, golf, and bridge bodies, but instead of such efforts being appreciated, I was questioned by the Public Accounts Committee. g
hIS trend of making the chairman’s appointment not on merit but on personal liking has persisted for a long time now, perhaps more than a decade. Invariably in such cases, appointees are insecure about their tenures, and never make the right decisions for the board or the sport. That is why we have this trend of changing and abrogating the constitution. I think it has already been changed eight or nine times. Therefore we do not have democratic processes, consultative processes, or any form of accountability in the system. In the present turmoil, where two men have been at logger heads for months, the sport is suffering. Right now the whole team is divided. Players are unsure about officials, who to take refuge with, who to make links with. It is causing embarrassment and is just ridiculous at all levels. The focus should be on
building proper infrastructure and ensuring the right kind of discipline comes to the board, which will not be possible without making right and serious appointments. g
Khwaja Zaka ud din
Former coach, chief selector and manager of Pakistan Hockey Team
UR sports suffer from a collective administrative failure. We have already seen the worst effects in hockey and we are seeing them again in cricket. This drama about
irresponsible appointments must come to an end. For God’s sake, I implore relevant authorities to finally do the right thing and make the right decisions. We need a transparent
administrative policy for the entire sporting industry. The boards must be better regulated and disciplined. We must ensure constitutions are rectified and transparent elections held.
Only then will the right people come to the top and the problems of indiscipline, corruption and utter neglect be addressed. Otherwise there is no hope. We will continue with the downward spiral. g
Air Marshal Syed Razi Nawab akhtar rasool Senior vice President, Pakistan Squash federation
AKISTAN’S sporting problems have increased since the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, which has led to long years of sports
isolation. We have degenerated otherwise also and sports are on a decline overall. At such times, international exposure is important to increase sportsmen’s competitiveness. So far, the PSF has succeeded in its efforts to end this isolation, getting the Professional Squash Association (PSA) to become the first international body to lift the sports travel ban on Pakistan. But we have much deeper problems. The importance of sports is fading. There is no political party in Pakistan now that has sports as part of its manifesto. Also, parents are not interested in encouraging their students to turn seriously to sports. education institutes no longer offer sports scholarships like they did, at least in my time. There is neglect across the board, and sports and sportsmen suffer as result. There is an urgent need to address the indiscipline that has gripped our sports industry. And the government needs to take the first right step by selecting the right people for the most important posts. g
Former PHF Chairman
T is true that Pakistan hockey has suffered the worst of neglect over the years and we have fallen from great heights to unenviable lows. But all is not lost. Key stakeholders have now got together to find a way out of the mess. Old heroes, notable players, managers, coaches, etc, have joined hands to breathe new life into Pakistan hockey. And we are very optimistic that the tide can be turned. And if we can do it in hockey, there is hope for other sports too. We have started coaching programs for junior as well as senior teams. We have also made significant efforts to revive the national circuit and address key problems that are keeping good players from joining professional ranks.
In the coming months and years these efforts will begin bearing fruit. So watch the next few national and international tournaments carefully. hopefully you will be able to see the difference. g
C M YK
IntervIew: DauDa DanlaDI
Eco-charm offensive – African style Nigeria and Pakistan are coming close like never before by ShAhAb JAfry
e got to meet the Nigerian ambassador at Lahore’s Pearl Continental Hotel. The chief political correspondent came as well, and this time the traffic was really to blame for the negligible delay. But it didn’t matter. The Nigerian charm offensive had caught on, and Ambassador Dauda Danladi was still busy with TV cameras. And even though his efforts have missed our news bulletins so far for some reason, he has done a remarkable job of bringing Pakistan and Nigeria closer in the year that he’s been here. And he’s gone to the most basic of economic concepts – comparative advantage, natural endowment, coincidence of wants, etc. Nigeria, under Good Luck Jonathan, seems to have finally come to the realisation that it is far too well endowed for so much of the nation to have such poor standard of living. The corruption, dishonesty, and outright looting, especially of the country’s precious energy resources, had simply gone on far too long. And it wasn’t long before very compelling results began emerging. Within a few years Nigeria has become Africa’s biggest economy and internal reform having been implemented to a satisfying degree, the new strategy is to reach out. Take what Nigeria has to offer to the world, and bring back what it needs – simple, progressive economics. For Pakistan’s unimpressive export market, this means a giant, unexpected trade corridor that had not even been calibrated in recent trade estimates. And its
good luck that Good Luck’s government is on the lookout for trade in fields of agriculture, textiles, defence equipment (and training), pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment, CNG and fertiliser expertise, and even some fruits Pakistan produces in abundance. Global village approach “The world has become a global village”, he keeps saying. And while that is not quite a
‘Pakistan, in turn, not only stands to benefit from much appreciated forex inflows, but also finds a valuable job market for its surplus workforce. The ambassador also remembers well the old days, when Pakistani bankers littered the Nigerian financial industry, especially in and around Lagos, in the now controversial BCCI days’
novelty Nigeria’s leaders have just stumbled upon, it does suddenly seem strange that third world countries like ours continue to place political interests ahead of economic ones, even in trade matters. And the simplest of efforts to put matters in perspective suddenly yield encouraging results. Pakistan, in turn, not only stands to benefit from much
appreciated forex inflows, but also finds a valuable job market for its surplus workforce. The ambassador also remembers well the old days, when Pakistani bankers littered the Nigerian financial industry, especially in and around Lagos, in the now controversial BCCI days. “Pakistani bankers did a lot for the industry over there in those days”, he says. “Now a more diverse workforce can establish itself in Nigeria, considering the vast array of fields we are getting ready to do business in”. But what of the bad press? I tell him a story my old boss from Dubai’s financial industry used to tell international investment bankers on their way to Africa. Back in his Chase Manhattan days, once in Lagos some local bankers visited him in the hotel, to show him around. But they were surprised to see him booked on the sixth floor, not the first, which was unusual for foreigners. “That so if they come for you in the night, you have half a chance of surviving the jump from the window”, they said, warning of criminal gangs always on the lookout for rich travelers. “That’s more a bankers’ joke”, he says, “things were never that bad”. “But now these problems have been largely overcome, and travelers and investors are safe”. But doesn’t the recent Boko Haram episode beg the ‘Oh Really’ question? “Not really”, if you ask him. “It’s not very different from the Taliban problem in Pakistan, although there are large points of divergence”. The Boko Haram are an isolated entity that gained in prominence when weapons from Libya’s Arab Spring episode
reached different parts of Africa. And because of porous borders, they have the option of melting into Chad, Cameroon and Niger. But now the noose has tightened around their neck, and incidents like the school girls kidnapping will never be repeated. Plus Nigeria has an excellent army, and has helped settle conflicts across the continent, especially Sierra Leone. And what about xenophobia? Like the South Africans pushing out foreigners once their economy took off?
‘Nigeria is now the launch pad for deeper penetration into the continent. Having already become the continent’s most promising economy, it is an encouraging sign that they are attaching immense importance to Pakistan’ “Ours is a very different policy orientation”, he quickly says. “This phase of our reorientation is meant to reach out to the world and integrate with the global village. That is the only way forward in the new global economy”. President must come There are encouraging signs of mutual trade enhancement. But it doesn’t say much that there has been only one joint ministerial committee meeting in 22 years. And this is where Ambassador Danladi’s charm offensive has made all the difference. Over the last year, he has mobilised
chambers of commerce, business bodies, investors, governors, and political heavyweights across both countries. earlier this year Pakistan’s petroleum minister visited Lagos and set the ball rolling, a communiqué and draft agreements were made for industrial cooperation, initially eying cooperation in agro based industry, particularly textile and fertiliser, and moving on from there. To cement this partnership, President Mamnoon Hussain was scheduled to visit Nigeria shortly. “But Pakistan’s political climate has led to a delay”, says the ambassador. “We are really looking forward to his visit. This would be the first time a Pakistani president visits our country, and we would be honoured”. It would indeed make much sense for the president to visit, even make some noise about it. Nigeria offers not only trade opportunities, but could also help overcome our gas shortage, and offer avenues other than controversial or unfeasible options that we have currently. Also, Nigeria is now the launch pad for deeper penetration into the continent. Having already become the continent’s most promising economy, it is an encouraging sign that they are attaching immense importance to Pakistan. As we left, the ambassador got on the phone with one of Pakistan’s cement (and various other) sector stalwarts, hinting that there might be some notable investment in the African cement industry as well. Surely, the president must go to Nigeria. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
Media circus and state of denial
The government’s disregard for institutional framework is surprising Mian abrar
The writer is an Islamabad based journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com.
ith the media circus turning into a total vortex because of personal differences and market objectives taking over media barons, the inaction of the PML-N government is typical of the kind of politicians we have at the helm of affairs today. the capital is abuzz over the possibility of yet another military takeover if things are not handled immediately and properly. the recent operation in North Waziristan has the capacity to turn the tide in the army’s favour. Jeremy Bentham, the well-known British philosopher, jurist and reformer, once said that tyranny and anarchy are never far apart. Pakistan can still avoid any mishap to the democratic process if the chief executive and his team rise from bewilderment and act prudently. When Mian Nawaz Sharif took oath of the office of prime minister for a record third time, every common Pakistani thought that he would be a changed man who would leave no stone unturned to get the country out of the political mess created by his predecessors since 2006, including Musharraf the dictator; Gilani, the obtuse; and Pervez Ashraf, the raja rental. however, shocking as it may be to many, it seems that Mr Sharif is much too cautious this time around – so guarded that his government is at a standstill and complete confusion prevails. Even top PMLN leaders, including high-ranking ruling party office bearers, lawmakers and ministers seem clueless. Most of them keep asking journalists what strategy the government would adopt to deal with the crisis situation. it is a pity that a total paralysis has taken over the government within only a span of one year. the dilemma is that while the government looks paralysed, the army under its new chief looks confident, clearheaded and committed to tackle major challenges faced by the country. Under its new COAS General Raheel Sharif, the army has got rid of the philosophical approach
which was the hallmark of former COAS General Kayani. it seems the confusion that made General Kayani dormant has now travelled to the prime minister’s house. General Kayani, known as a “thinking soldier”, was totally clueless about how to deal with issues confronting the country while he was in charge since 2007 – from the US incursion into Abbottabad to the reign of fear unleashed by ttP miscreants. the paralysis of governance is not new for the PML-N administration though. Nawaz Sharif has a history of either inaction or appointing kiths and kin at top government positions. however, since the media is vocal and alert, the family business is going on covertly. the fact of the matter is that the prime minister has yet to appoint heads of many public sector enterprises while many institutions have to work with incomplete boards. this is adding to the governance problems because adhoc managements never deliver in crisis situations. Just take the case of PEMRA, which is another body functioning without a chairman. in search of cronies, Sharif has failed to appoint a new head to PEMRA. And the entire country has to face the music as a media circus is in full swing. From army to judiciary and from clergy to the people in the streets, all are blaming either PEMRA for its inability to act in time to block objectionable material, or they are cursing the prime minister for his inaction and confusion. had there been a PEMRA chairman to deal with the Geo matter, things would have remained under control and the infighting between tV channels would also have been curtailed. it seems that most PML-N leaders from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to information minister Pervez Rasheed and from Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah to the ordinary worker of the ruling party in the streets, still believe they are in the opposition. their statements against the establishment reflect that the PML-
‘There is no doubt that PEMRA itself is a decisionmaking authority and its ordinance does not allow blatant interference by government employees like federal secretaries of ministries for interior, information and law’ N leadership is still in a state of denial and whenever an issue of governance occurs, government ministers take refuge in cursing the military establishment for all ills without taking any action to put things in order. the recent announcement of suspension of Geo tV channel by five members of PEMRA and the government’s immediate act of disowning it reflects that the government was determined to disallow the regulator to perform its duties. the Geo-army tiff could have been sorted out if the government had allowed PEMRA to act
independently on the defence ministry’s complaint. initially, the government had tried to influence PEMRA’s functioning by appointing half a dozen federal secretaries and others into its board in violation of the PEMRA ordinance. there is no doubt that PEMRA itself is a decision-making authority and its ordinance does not allow blatant interference by government employees like federal secretaries of ministries for interior, information and law and justice. the quiet meeting of information minister Pervez Rasheed with DG-iSi, seeking apology for Geo tV and the subsequent refusal by the officer has proved that the army’s top brass is not ready to have a backchannel solution of Geo’s matter and rather it wants everything to be made through proper channels – PEMRA and courts. Delaying tactics by the government to resolve the matter would not succeed. Army wants suspension of Geo channel and any apology can only be accepted once the transmission of the channel is taken off air. Otherwise, security clearance for Geo Super – the major moneymaking channel of the Geo group which still needs a valid license – is yet to be
‘Delaying tactics by the government to resolve the matter would not succeed. Army wants suspension of Geo channel and any apology can only be accepted once the transmission of the channel is taken off air’ attained from the iSi. Under clause 8 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002, the chairman or, in his absence, the member elected by the members for the purpose, shall preside at a meeting of the authority. Under sub-clause (2) of clause 8, one-third of the total members shall constitute a quorum for meetings of the authority requiring a decision by the authority. this is what was done by five members of PEMRA who held a meeting on May 20th. On the contrary, the secret visit by information minister along with prime minister’s special assistant to Dubai to hold talks with the Geo management, and on return making a failed effort to get the matter settled by bypassing the regulator reflected how committed the PML-N leadership was towards appeasing Geo tV management. in the meantime, the government is making an effort to establish a Media Complaints Commission (MCC), headed by a retired judge of the apex court of the country, which would act as an independent watchdog for media and in case any violation of a code of conduct is made, whether by print or electronic media. it would have powers to take action on written complaints while it would also have powers to take suo motu notice of any breach. Setting up such a parallel watchdog would make PEMRA a toothless body without the power to act against any broadcaster. this reflects that the government wants to do away with all the good institutions made and nurtured under the reign of General Musharraf. it also shows that the government has no regard for institutional framework and rather wants parallel bodies which would lead to overlapping disputes, eventually leaving total chaos and anarchy. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
Imran Khan should demonstrate political maturity For he is not another Bhutto saeed Qureshi The writer is a senior journalist, editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. You can read this and other articles of the writer at his blog www.uprightopinion.com
MRAN Khan and his unruly and impulsive political cohorts should not demonstrate indecent haste in dislodging the incumbent elected PMlN government thus opening a corridor for the army to take over power. He should understand that by doing so he would inflict a deadly blow to democracy that has been barely in place for six years now. Is he mindful what could be the cost of holding fresh elections both financially and administratively? let us honestly admit that Imran Khan is not another Bhutto. Nor the conditions are as chaotic and desperate as these were way back in 1980s. It is time to show political maturity and studied restraint to allow the democratic culture to sprout and take roots. The knee jerk acrobatics and incoherent demands and flashy slogans being stirred up by Imran Khan and other political contenders are outright uncalled for, amateurish and can derail democracy. The most cherished and sublime form of government called democracy, has visited Pakistan after almost a decade of a military or quasi-military rule. Yet a part of the political leadership seems to be impatient to get rid of the PMl-N government and thus is inadvertently creating conditions for the military to snatch the reins of the government once again. A bunch of political parties have whipped a smear campaign discrediting the incumbent government for rigging and thus pushing it to hold re-elections on some constituencies or otherwise quit. This tornado for re-elections has been
primarily hurled up by Imran Khan. The PTI and other small time politicians are trying to push the government into a corner in order to pave way for another bout of general elections. In the past such imprudent and expedient manoeuvres and a kind of political insurgencies have finally landed Pakistan onto the military turf. one has to only look back if Pakistan ever benefited from a military rule? The answer is in negative. we should not be short of memory to remember that unwarranted rabble rousing and a compelling propensity to dislodge the sitting governments have finally pushed Pakistan under the marshal boots. why don’t Imran Khan a raw budding politician and relatively new entrant in the political arena and his ilk realise that such musical chairs replay has been detrimental to the consolidation of a democratic culture in Pakistan? To ride on the crest of expediency and for ulterior motives may not harm the politicians but certainly would put a spanner in the march of democratic apple cart, towards the establishment and continuance of a popular rule in Pakistan. If the PPP could stay at the helm for five years with all the follies and insinuations then what is wrong with the ongoing set up that the amateurish sabre rattlers as Imran Khan and of late Sheikh Rashid want it to be dismantled? Are they conscious of what could be the disastrous fallout for a democratically elected government to be stymied and cut short? The PMl-N government under Mian Nawaz Sharif is doing a decidedly much better job than what the previous governments have been doing. A government hoisted on the basis of adult franchise should be allowed to stay and complete its constitutional tenure. The choice should be left to the people of Pakistan to re-elect the present lot or reject them in the next elections. The PMl-N government has to its credit several far-reaching and milestone reforms and nation building policies
channelled in a short span of a year or so. why don’t the rival politicians realise that when the present government took over there was a proverbial “Augean Stable” of diverse problems and Pakistan was plagued with an all pervasive mammoth mess? Mian Nawaz Sharif does not have a magical wand in his hand to straighten every wrong and to make the solid of Pakistan a paradise in days. But in all fairness he is doing his best to deliver for the good of the country and to streamline the systems hugely corrupted and turned dysfunctional. The miserable plight of the teeming millions in Pakistan cannot be ameliorated overnight or in a short time frame even by the best of the mavericks, planners and reformers. The socio-economic landscape and political culture of Pakistan is disfigured and distorted that it would take time to shine it. The non starter politicians like Imran Khan and false religious demagogues like Maulana Qadri may be adept in spoiling the show but it would be beyond their competence to reorder things and rebuild a prosperous Pakistan. The tribal justice system that is so precious and a kind of panacea for Imran Khan for all the ills in Pakistan could be a replica of what Taliban are doing. Their justice system is to kill by beheading their ideological opponents and thus strike terror and revenge instead of abiding by the established rule of law and fulfilling constitutional prerogatives. During the past one year of PMl-N’s government, the electricity generation has certainly improved. The economy that was almost in shambles is showing healthy signs. There is mega plan to build highways, link roads, dams and industrial estates, to recast the moribund railway system and so on. what else could one expect in one year? Mian Nawaz Sharif is trying to find a way out of a dark jungle of innumerable bottlenecks and detours and thus far he has been on the right track. Among the eight agreements signed between China and Pakistan, one is the US
$18 billion project to build a road and rail track, including string of tunnels in the mountainous track passing over a height 4,693 meters to be used as part of the Pakistan-China Economic corridor. This project alone would be a giant leap for an unprecedented economic uplift for Pakistan. The PMl-N government is trying a peaceful option to tame the unbridled murderous bands of Taliban with the use of force option kept open. The armed forces for the first time have cordial working relationship with the PMl-N dispensation. It is a delightful development that would stand in good stead for a strong and stable Pakistan. So let the politicians set aside their undue political penchant for fresh elections and instead bear with the present government to fulfil its mandate. The opposition politicians and parties should give enough time pace to the ongoing government to honour her pledges made to the people of Pakistan and to implement its plans for a great Pakistan. The incumbent government would have done her job if it can bring peace within the country and without, if the quality of life improves, civic amenities abound, social evils are nabbed, and crime and mafias are liquidated and it presents the model of a clean government. If it cannot deliver let it be dethroned in the next elections. let us learn a lesson from the neighbouring India where political democratic culture is so firmly embedded that a kind of pariah in politics and an extremist BJP leader Narendra Modi can be chosen by the people discarding the Congress that has been ruling the roost for most of the time after 1947. Such is the power of the electorate and that power should be allowed to be unleashed in Pakistan during the next elections. Pakistan cannot afford a military intervention any more. If that bleak development takes place then the entire responsibility would devolve on Imran Khan and his cabal and the opportunistic political outfits. g
Mubasher Lucman’s fight against blasphemy law The great man’s playing the role of a nonsensical puppet brimming with professional jealousy for the greater good of the country
llow me to put in a necessary disclaimer first of all: I am a diehard fan of Mubasher lucman. This basically means that I might sound a tad biased in my analysis. But who cares when it is the great Mubasher lucman that we are going to be talking about. The gladiator who has singlehandedly taken on the biggest issue facing this country right now: religious extremism; and is brave enough to fight the menace of the blasphemy law. Mr lucman is well aware of the threat of the blasphemy law and how it is contributing to religious extremism in the country. The law’s misuse has seen colonies being burnt, and
likewise churches and temples have been torched as well. Mostly the blasphemy card is conjured when there are personal scores to settle. Furthermore, the fact that criticising the blasphemy law is considered akin to blaspheming as well now reveals how the circus surrounding the blasphemy law has become increasingly ridiculous. And who better to be associated with ridiculous stuff than Mr lucman himself. He has realised that the best way to make the insanity prominent is to highlight the absurdities surrounding the blasphemy law. And that is precisely what the great man is doing vis-à-vis Baba Jee these days. Mubasher lucman is playing a wonderful game here. He is portraying himself as this egocentric, nonsensical anchor person whose strings are being pulled by the powers that be, and who is brimming with professional jealousy, which is driving him on in his jihad against Geo. Jingoists love him, rationalists abhor him – that is the part the great man has got to play to sort out the mess in this country.
Just think about it. Do you actually believe a sane adult who happens to have penetrated inside the very dangerous realm of journalism would accuse someone of blasphemy just because they narrated a Quranic tale in a metaphorical way? And for playing a Qawwali that most of the Shia weddings in Pakistan witness? Ignoring the fact that it would invite the wrath of the metaphorical takfiris’ wrath,
anyone would see that this means taking professional rivalry to a whole new, unprecedentedly dangerous level. why would anyone put someone’s life in danger in the ratings war? It is not as if it is an actual war. Do you not see what Mr lucman has done here? He has showed us all how the blasphemy allegation can be twisted to put someone’s life in danger. Someone who might not have in their wildest dream dreamt about defaming any religious sentiment. Case in point: the poor girl from the Geo drama’s clip talking about iddat, who made Allama Hassan Zafar Naqvi cry live on TV and is now smack in the middle of the blasphemy row. what is the poor girl’s fault? All this for ratings? Nope, all of this was necessary to highlight the misuse of the blasphemy law. And to prove how absurd it can be, Mr lucman has conjured the most absurd of absurdities from within and seemingly bombarded with allegations of blasphemy. It would be pretty safe to suggest that no one has made a stronger case for repealing the blasphemy law. Ever.
It was always important that a big fish got formally accused of blasphemy, with the consensus of the mullahs of course. Even though it is not likely at all, but once the big guns get embroiled in blasphemy allegations, some action might be taken against the blasphemy law as it stands. It is easy to accuse poor Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis and torture them for blasphemy. It has to be a big shot, facing down the barrel of the blasphemy shotgun for there to be even an iota of a possibility of a rude awakening. And the great Mubasher lucman had to excommunicate Geo to do that, taking “literal interpretation of Quran” to a whole new level live on ARY, making himself seem like a sick-minded buffoon, for the greater good of the country. TTP’s interpretation seems almost metaphorical now. g The writer is a renowned proponent of the Lucmanean school of thought and tries to avoid blaspheming as much as possible. All side effects of The Horizontal Column are the readers’ headache. www.pakistantoday.com.pk 13
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No Place to Hide Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
Glenn Greenwald’s insider account lays out what happened day by day as Edward snowden blew the whistle on the NsA and went on the run
heN General Keith Alexander, head of the Us National security Agency, was given a tour of GChQ in 2008, he might have been justified in feeling that he owned the place. Last year, the whistleblower edward snowden revealed that the NsA had paid more than £100 million over three years to buy influence over GChQ’s work. When discussing the kind of data it should collect, Alexander is said to have asked: “Why can’t we collect it all?” It was not the first time Alexander had used this phrase. “Collect it all” occurs so often in the stash of files released by snowden that it is clear it had become the NsA mission statement. We live in a world of mobile phones, GPs, email, skype and social networks – in short, everything that in wartime would be covered by the term “sigints”. Once, signals intelligence was all about submarines and codes: today it is the stuff of our everyday lives. As a result, sigints has moved from a supporting role in the security services to centre stage. slowly, too slowly, the power and reach of government listening posts have
become a cause for concern. By the summer of 2013, when snowden released his cache of files, “collect it all” was no longer an abstract slogan. the documents showed that GChQ and the NsA were gathering data from all of the big telephone and internet companies, Verizon, Google, Microsoft and others. No Place to hide is the inside account of these revelations, written by the journalist Glenn Greenwald who took snowden’s files to the Guardian newspaper. In two action-packed chapters, Greenwald lays out the events, day by day, as snowden was pursued through hong Kong by spies and reporters desperate to uncover his identity. the remaining three-fifths of this engrossing and polemical book explains why the revelations matter. the vast quantity of data gathered by the spy agencies has led to new ways of reading our conversations, using logarithms to detect patterns such as times and dates, geographic spread and all the internet sites that interest us. the results of these analyses, the so-called “metadata”, reveal everything about our lives. We might lie in our calls and emails, but the metadata faithfully record our politics and religion, our closeness to friends and family, and all of our secrets. In this week’s
New York Review of Books, Gen Michael hayden, head of the NsA before Alexander, is quoted as saying: “We kill people based on metadata.” snowden was born in 1983 and has grown up at the heart of a communications revolution. In the exculpatory statement he released with the stolen files, he is idealistic about “open source” communities and a “free internet”, and furious at the abuse of power by “the darkest corners of government”. Greenwald, though 16 years older, shares snowden’s values. A onetime lawyer, he became a journalist via a blog, a route taken by other new journalists such as Nate silver, the statistician who predicted the results of the Us election, and eliot higgins, also known as Brown Moses, the self-taught munitions expert who charts the use of chemical weapons in syria from Youtube videos. the focus may be narrow, but they have managed to get to the big stories fast. Greenwald is scathing about traditional journalists. his writings spit venom at the “beltway media establishment” in collusion with government. even while employed by the Guardian, he froze out colleagues in the most petty ways until they proved their worth, always threatening to publish directly to the internet if the paper did not follow his schedule.
Greenwald may be right to be so prickly: this is a bad world. his husband was dragged off a plane at heathrow by MI5; the editor of the Guardian destroyed data at the behest of GChQ (though only after he knew it was safely copied). Yet as important as this book is, Greenwald and snowden make life difficult for potential friends. Both are motivated by an alltranscending faith in the founding principles of America, which they regard as an ongoing revolution against government. It leaves them unable to imagine that government might also be an inclusive institution. snowden is
d Hide: Edwar No Place to and the SA N e th Snowden, e State Surveillanc d nn Greenwal le G Author: ilton m Ha h is m Ha Publisher: 8 £1 Price: Pages: 272;
now living in Russia, which is just about the blackest joke one can imagine. g
City of lies
The book by Ramita Navai explains how the truth is more bizarre than fiction in modern-day Tehran ElizA Griswold
et’s get one thing straight: in order to live in Iran you have to lie,” the BritishIranian journalist Ramita Navai begins her searing account of life in tehran, City of Lies. It’s an audacious disclaimer with which to open a book of true-life stories. It was Camus who said that “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth”. But this isn’t fiction, Navai tells us. these profiles are based on real Iranians. In order to survive, the eight Iranians she writes about have to bear the weight of desperate secrets. the setting is Vali Asr street, the sycamore-lined road that both unifies and divides the debauched rich and devout poor of the Iranian capital, a city of more than seven million people. Although Navai has altered details and created composites to protect their identities, her Iranians share stories intimate and unforgettable enough to establish City of Lies as a remarkable and highly readable map of its human geography. she speaks to a bumbling
Iranian-American terrorist who botches an assassination attempt. A devout schoolgirl who escapes a horrific marriage. An underground blogger struggling to come to terms with his parents’ assassination. A local gangster cooking up sheesheh – crystal meth. A porn star risking her life. A basiji boy leaving his militant thug life to have a sex change. In one chapter, a dapper jahel, an old-school hoodlum, loses his wife. In another, an ageing socialite comes to terms with her vanished Iran. even when the religious police raid her high-end belly-dancing class under charges that it could encourage lesbianism, she resolves to stay. the stories are almost unbelievable. they reveal a tehran so riddled with social, political, sexual and religious contradictions that it’s difficult to imagine how someone could navigate the fraught maze of daily life. Navai stunned this reader with her attention to detail: devout girls wear skinny jeans and Converse trainers to accentuate their slimness while still remaining modest; anal sex is practised to preserve virginity; rural villages are paradoxically
Iranians doing drugs and attending raves, as it also challenges those about devotionaddled zealots who have benefited from the rise of religion after the revolution. Navai doesn’t shy away from drugs, sex and self-flagellation; she moves through stories about each to reveal the underlying motivations beneath the nose jobs and restitched hymens. “sex,” she writes, “is an act of rebellion in tehran. A form of protest. Only in sex do many of the younger generation feel truly free.” With a keen eye for the absurd, she watches prostitutes and taxi drivers approach one another awkwardly, unsure of who’s a d trick and who’s a an th Dea : Love, Sex, more free ride. an City of Lies hr Te in for Truth than urbane the Search Navai’s i va Na ita tehran; on ls Author: Ram co prose is Ni & Weidenfeld “going to san Publisher: 99 startling. As 8. £1 e: Pric Francisco” Pages: 320; they trudge up means having and down Vali sex. the Asr street to work, eat, shop, much-touted Iranian films that pray, turn a trick, Navai’s Westerners flock to see are, in her characters observe the wrecked characters’ eyes, “overrated and beauty of the world around them. pretentious”. through these observations, the City of Lies explodes the book is elevated far above typical stereotypes of rebellious young reportage. she picks up snatches
of songs, poems, billboard propaganda and is quick to find the knife and turn the blade on the hypocrisy of the city she knows so well. One regime billboard advises: “Let’s not spend too much time discussing society’s problems in our homes.” As Bjian , her young gangster, drives to his meth lab, he listens to the music group Anonymous sinners sing a satire of a famous old war song: “there’s no prostitution, no drugs, press freedom, food and jobs, oil money for everyone, people are so happy they never complain…” But in the course of the book we discover that complaining in Iran is de rigueur; an art form, even. the demands of secrecy pervade every aspect of city life. Many people are trying to find a way to endure the challenges of poverty and an oppressive regime. the government is cutting down the sycamores on Vali Asr in the dead of night. No one knows why they do it at night, other than to avoid the voice of protest rising from the streets of tehran. In Navai’s energetic, eloquent book, these protests are sometimes a mumble, sometimes a scream. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
a time bomb in afghanistan’s ballot box It’s an election featuring fake votes, angry candidates, and promises of a ‘river of blood.’ Just wait ‘til the final campaign gets started. KImberly DozIer
fghans learned that they have to vote again to choose between two would-be presidents. On the surface, that’s seemingly good news for Washington; both candidates are thought to be anti-Taliban, anti-alQaeda, and for a Us security deal. But danger lies in this second round between frontrunner and former foreign Minister Dr abdullah abdullah and former finance Minister Dr ashraf ghani ahmadzai. The revote could expose afghans to risk from the Taliban, delay a Us security deal and possibly make a smaller Us footprint or none at all a fait accompli. Worst of all, the second round could pit the two afghan contenders against each other in an ugly fight that could preclude much needed political cooperation when the election is done—tension evident when both men sat down to talk to The Daily Beast. Each obliquely accused the other’s campaigns of voting fraud in the first round, and neither man indicated a willingness to include the other in a future afghan administration. some seven million afghan voters already risked the Taliban’s wrath on april 4th, defying the militants by turning out in unexpected droves. The Taliban fired a round of commanders who failed to produce enough bloody attacks that time. The June 21st vote gives them a chance at a do-over. The second round also keeps Us decisions over how many troops to leave in the country after 2014 on hold—while keeping the troops themselves focused on packing up their bases rather than helping afghans focus on the enemy. Both candidates have pledged to sign the security pact that outgoing President hamid Karzai has spurned. But a new afghan president won’t take office until august, just ahead of the unofficial september drop-dead deadline by which Us commanders have to start packing in haste to get out by the end of the year. This delay comes as the White house grapples with how many troops to leave even if there is a deal. The choices so far: the 10,000 troops that Us commander in afghanistan gen Joseph Dunford recommends, allowing him to keep six regional bases open to support the afghan military as well as Us diplomats and intelligence officers; or the 5,000 or less that some in the White house favour, meaning a narrow counterterrorism and advising mission based in and around Kabul. The later the afghan decision comes, the smaller the Us force will already have shrunk, possibly making the smaller numbers the White house is considering a foregone conclusion. Us officials in Kabul and Washington say the runoff also
threatens to inject more bitterness between the two candidates, making it harder for the eventual administration to form stable governments afterwards just as the country is grappling with a drawdown in Us troops and international aid. Us officials have said they would welcome working with either candidate—adding that the political “bench” of talented, highly educated afghans is so narrow that the country needs both. They need the diplomatic and financial skills of ghani the Pashtun former World Bank official and professor who spent much of his life overseas, whose delicate form, gentle mannerisms and careful academic speech leads some to call him “the afghan Mahatma gandhi.” and they need the political and military connections of abdullah, a former member of the anti-Taliban northern alliance who stayed in the country throughout the conflicts with the soviets and the Taliban, with his deep ties to the afghan community forged through that wartime experience. Us officials said naTO’s own analysis of the first round of voting points to an even larger abdullah win in the second round, which could damage ghani—effectively ending the political career of a man seen as uniquely able to navigate the world of the international aid and economic development needed to keep afghanistan afloat. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly. The naTO voting analysis, obtained by The Daily Beast, shows that of abdullah’s 45 percent share of the april vote to
‘The later the Afghan decision comes, the smaller the US force will already have shrunk, possibly making the smaller numbers the White House is considering a foregone conclusion’
ghani’s 31.6 percent, abdullah won 14 out of the top 20 provinces in terms of voter turnout, and that throughout the country, he won 18 percent of the Pashtun vote—though he has a Pashtun father and Tajik mother, and is most famous for his aforementioned role fighting the Pashtun-majority Taliban. ghani would have to win 80 percent of the 1.6 million votes that didn’t go to either man, whereas abdullah only has to win 22 percent—and he just won the backing of the candidate who came third in the race, Pashtun Zalmai Rassoul, the ex-foreign minister who took 11.5 percent of the vote in the april poll. In the interview with The Daily Beast, ghani was undeterred, insisting he will pick up the lion’s share of the votes in the second round. abdullah was equally convinced he would win. neither man indicated a willingness to include the other in their future administration—one sign of that growing bitterness Us officials feared when both men sat down in their homes-turnedcampaign headquarters for interviews with The Daily Beast.
Each accused their opponent in veiled language of voting fraud. “This time we are going to do everything to ensure both that we have monitors and that we support the presence of third party monitors so fraud can be avoided,” ghani said, careful in the interview not to slam his opponent by name. But a day after election officials announced the second round, ghani got more pointed in a news release: “Regrettably, inflammatory language and threats of violence—where the opposing team promised ‘rivers of blood’— created a chilling environment, in which close to 800,000 votes that should have been declared fraudulent were included in the final count,” he said. “Our documented complaints regarding districts where people had not been able to vote, but boxes had been stuffed, were ignored.” abdullah dismissed charges his supporters were threatening violence, saying some of them had simply gotten “emotional” over voting fraud he said was aimed at him. “It’s been like a systematic shutting off of our share,” abdullah said. “To begin with, it was a shortage of ballot papers in the areas where there would be more voters,” likely to vote for his campaign. abdullah already lost one election to widely-reported voting fraud, to Karzai in 2009. he said he didn’t believe a second round would be any more honest, so he withdrew. he said this time around, he would use every legal measure available to fight the results if he suspects fraud again—but not
violence. “If we didn’t win because we didn’t have votes, I’ll take it as it is,” he said. Both men agreed on one thing: the West’s patience and pocketbook is running out, and serious fence mending with international donors is needed. “simply put, our national revenue is $2 billion,” ghani said. “Our security expenditure is $5 billion.” Until the afghan economy picks up, continued international support is the only way for the country to survive, he said. Eventually, he said afghanistan’s mineral wealth and other resources would spell economic independence. “We are in the heart of asia,” ghani said, going into pitch mode hearkening back to his time at the World Bank, when he would build a case for providing aid to a struggling country. “asia is being transformed into the largest economic continent in the world. Without a stable afghanistan,” he said, you can’t have a stable asia. “afghanistan’s golden times are behind us when the maximum level of support from the international community was available,” abdullah said. “so there will be tough times ahead of us,” that he hopes to combat by reassuring international investors that afghanistan is worth spending more money on. “The legitimate outcome of the elections will provide an opportunity and the afghans will come back together once again to help reviving the economy,” and spending their cash—and encouraging the international community to keep doing the same. g
C M YK
Sunday, 25 - 31 May, 2014
What to expect in a BJP-led India
Modi, who comes from an impoverished low-caste family, hammered his opponent as a pampered dauphin: The election was between a chai-wallah and a shahzada, a tea-seller versus a princeling Jonah Blank
ndia has never had an election like this one—and its political landscape will likely never be the same again. The victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the long-reigning Congress Party was expected, but the magnitude of the blowout took almost everyone by surprise. The final results were stark. as of May 16, the BJP had won an absolute majority of seats in parliament; together with its closest coalition partners, it will hold nearly twothirds of the seats—and more parties will undoubtedly jump on the bandwagon. The Congress Party, which has governed india for most of the country’s 67-year history, didn’t even win enough seats to qualify as leader of the opposition. now, narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP and india’s most polarising political figure in a generation, will become prime minister with a virtually unchecked mandate. What that means for india and the world boils down to five key points. First, the primary issue in this election was the economy and governance. Voters were tired of a Congress government widely seen as inept, corrupt, and unable to get the nation moving. during the campaign, there was no dispute about india’s problems; even Congress leaders spoke of the pressing need for reform, and a brand new party was born out of the widespread anger at official corruption (the aam admi Party, or Common Man’s Party, surprised observers by briefly gaining control of the local government of delhi last year; its leader lost to Modi in a head-tohead contest for a parliamentary seat in the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi). For his part, Modi galvanised the electorate with a promise to do better. He ran on his economic track record as leader of the state of Gujarat, which has out-performed most other parts of india. The indian business community—and companies around the world hoping to enter the indian market—hope that the size Modi’s mandate will enable him to cut through the bog of red tape, vested interests, and corruption that plague india’s economy and government. (The indian stock exchange soared on news of the BJP rout.) and, so long as Modi maintains control of his party’s seats in parliament, he can pass any law he wishes, and need not go to the polls for five years. He might indeed use his power to cleanse the system, but similar hopes were voiced when outgoing Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first took office ten years ago: during his tenure as finance minister in the early 1990s, it was Singh who ushered in the most radical economic reforms india had (or has) ever seen. in other words, the standard disclaimer attached to
every mutual fund prospectus should also be applied to politicians: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Second, some fear that the BJP will use its power to rule on the basis of “Hindu nationalist” ideology. indeed, the BJP victory represents the biggest philosophical shift in india’s political history. The party is based on Hindutva, an ideology that can be summed up as the belief that india is, and should be governed as, a Hindu nation. This belief dates back to colonial times and was nurtured by the BJP’s parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). although over 80 percent of india’s population is Hindu, however, the nation was founded as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic state: this secular ethos was embraced not only by the country’s founding fathers, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal nehru, but also by every prime minister except the sole previous BJP office holder. and during that time (1998-2004, with an additional 16-day stint in 1996), Prime Minister atal Bihari Vajpayee was constrained by coalition partners that did not share his party’s philosophy. now, there is no such counterweight. it remains to be seen how serious the BJP will be about putting its social agenda into practice. in the past, party officials have pressed to turn historic mosques into Hindu temples, make school textbooks reflect Hindu nationalist precepts, and end what they call “special privileges” for religious minorities. For his part, Modi began his career as an RSS member, and has championed Hindutva doctrine throughout his life. That worries many of india’s non-Hindus, some 200 million citizens, a population larger than those of all but five of the world’s nations. Still, Modi’s heavy emphasis on economics and governance during the campaign suggest that his priorities will be these practical issues. if he expends too much political capital on a social agenda, he may have little left for carrying out the promises on which his administration will ultimately be judged. Third, the BJP’s ideology, and Modi’s own record and rhetoric, have raised fears of aggression: towards indian Muslims, towards Pakistan, and even towards China. The biggest scar on Modi’s record is the wave of anti-Muslim pogroms that left more than 1,000 dead in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister there. Modi has not been convicted of criminal responsibility, but under him, the state’s security forces pointedly refrained from intervening to stop the massacre. Modi has never apologised for his administration’s inaction, and he is widely believed to have tacitly supported it. not helping matters has been his fiery rhetoric on domestic and international issues alike. He has demanded the expulsion from
india of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants (but not Hindu ones) and blasted Singh for his restraint towards Pakistan following the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai and China during the confrontation over the Ladakh border in 2013. Modi’s stance towards indian Muslims will have a direct bearing on india’s relations with Muslim-majority nations around the world. Pakistan and Bangladesh are the countries most directly affected, but Modi’s ascendency has raised concerns from iran to indonesia. as a chief minister with little international experience, Modi faces a steep learning curve on foreign policy issues. But the very size of his victory may be reason for optimism. With no need to fire up his electoral base, Modi has considerable room to take a less confrontational approach—both domestically and abroad. He has the political space to reach out to indian Muslims and even seek accommodations with Pakistan and with China. if he wants to be a truly historic national leader — and nobody has ever accused him of lacking ambition—he will have to display far more nuance in new delhi than he did in Gujarat. Fourth, some believe that this election marks the end of the Congress Party — and the nehruGandhi dynasty. The Congress Party led the nation to independence, and governed it for most of its history. The party of Jawaharlal nehru, his daughter indira Gandhi, and her son Rajiv Gandhi had no real opposition for decades. in this election, Rajiv’s son Rahul was unable to articulate any rationale for voters to support him other than the shop-worn mantle of dynastic inheritance. Modi, who comes from an impoverished lowcaste family, hammered his opponent as a pampered dauphin: The election was between a chai-wallah and a shahzada, a tea-seller versus a princeling.
india has many more chaiwallahs than princes—and they vote. This time, they voted Congress out of all but 40 or 50 seats: by far the worst showing the party has ever recorded. The problem went much deeper than Rahul Gandhi’s shortcomings as a leader, or disillusionment after a decade of lacklustre governance. To many indians, Congress represents nothing other than tired politicos trying desperately to retain their unmerited privileges. it was clear what nehru stood for: the values of secularism, social equality, communal harmony, and international nonalignment. it was equally clear what indira Gandhi, stood for: an india that faced down its foreign adversaries as it attempted to abolish poverty at home. These leaders may not have achieved their aims, but their followers knew what those aims were. The same cannot be said for the nehru-Gandhi dynasty today, or with the party with which it is virtually coterminous. There probably is still a future for Congress. it remains the only truly national party apart from the BJP, and it has been on the ropes before. But any comeback will require a shift of power from the nehru-Gandhi clan to a new set of leaders and some deep thinking on what the party stands for in the twentyfirst century. Finally, observers in the United States are especially interested to see whether Modi’s relations with the United States will pick up where his BJP predecessor’s left off. Perhaps the greatest red-herring issue of this campaign, at least from a foreign policy perspective, is the question of whether Modi bears a lasting grudge towards the United States because, in 2005, he was denied a visa to enter the United States based on allegations of complicity in the Gujarat riots. Modi may or may not harbour resentments, but, if he does, he is unlikely to let them affect his
policy decisions. The United States has for years hinted that Modi would likely be granted a visa if he reapplied (the 2005 denial was for private rather than official travel, a key distinction), and the US ambassador to india travelled to Gujarat three months ago to smooth over differences. On May 16, the White House explicitly announced that Modi would be granted a visa and that US President Barack Obama had telephoned to congratulate him on his victory. it is hard to see Modi blaming the current US government for a decision made during the Bush presidency. Further, the prior BJP administration had very close ties to the United States. in fact, Vajpyaee’s tenure ranks as one of the warmest times in the two nations’ history. This was not a matter of partisan bent. The icebreaking began under US President Bill Clinton, who made the first trip by a sitting president to india in two decades and who helped Vajpayee prevent the Kargil conflict from spiralling into a fourth war with Pakistan. But relations only continued to grow warmer during the presidency of George W Bush, who initiated the civil nuclear deal that was eventually sealed with Vajpayee’s successor. it is thus more likely that, Modi, recognising the importance of US trade, security cooperation, and support for a larger indian role on the international stage, will pick up where Vajpayee left off rather than letting his pride get in the way. The indian electorate has given Modi and the BJP a historic mandate that could have broad implications for its domestic policies and how it engages with the world. Many signs are positive. Some are worrisome. active but quiet US engagement will help. g Jonah Blank is a senior political scientist at the non-profit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.