Saturday, 11 May, 2019
How not to run the House A partisan Speaker and an obstructionist treasury
he way the Speaker conducted the National Assembly proceedings on Thursday was bound to lead to confrontation with the opposition. The item on the agenda for discussion was the 26th Constitutional Amendment Bill to enhance the seats of former FATA in the National Assembly and KP Assembly. There was an unusual bonhomie on the part of the opposition and the Treasury at the start of the proceedings when both joined hands to pass a motion presented by MNA Mohsin Dawar to suspend rules for consideration of the bill. Things however went out of control when the Speaker allowed federal minister Murad Saeed to speak, ignoring PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif who had sought the permission first. This was considered yet another display of partiality by the Speaker earlier he had interrupted PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari thrice and expunged his remarks, which were by no means un-parliamentary. It was highly unusual on the part of Federal Minister Murad Saeed to threaten to disrupt Khawaja Asif’s speech, who then declined to address the house, and the opposition staged a boycott of the sitting. The opposition traditionally resorts to tactics of the sort, while it is considered the Treasury’s task to bring the opposition back because it is primarily the ruling party’s duty to ensure the quorum and seek the opposition’s help in legislation. The opposition’s support becomes all the more crucial when the government needs to enact a constitutional amendment but does not possess the required two-thirds majority. The Speaker’s display of partiality led PML-N Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to maintain that the presiding officer should have resigned if he was under pressure from the government to abandon impartiality. As he didn’t, the opposition could no more trust him. Khawaja Asif said the Speaker ignores everyone when people who have special bonds with the PM take the floor. he also made it known that if the Speaker continued to dismiss the opposition, the opposition too would not allow the house to function. Khawaja Asif was heard without any significant obstruction on Friday. But only time would show if the change in the PTI’s behaviour was more than a tactical move.
And now Shikarpur Eight people, including seven kids, diagnosed as HIV positive
he news from Shikarpur district in northern Sindh is chilling. Tests of 517 people in four of its villages have shown seven children and a woman as hIV positive. This merely adds to the 157 children in 185 people who tested positive for hIV in Rato Dero in Larkana district. This alone would form a public health crisis of overwhelming proportions, but the authorities in Shikarpur, where a total of 22 people have tested positive, have taken the rather lame decisions of further testing, and raising awareness to prevent the spread. Perhaps some of the speculation among a doctor who spread the dread disease deliberately in Rato Dero was fulfilled by a desire to put the blame on a single evil personality, rather than on a healthcare system with inherent flaws. There would be a political motive, as the cases have emerged so far in a province governed by the opposition PPP. however, one prevailing factor seems to be unsafe injections, with the infection caused by used syringes is common. There are cases where unregistered clinics are run by quacks, and there are unregistered maternity clinics as well. The PPP has held office since 2008, and the current health Minister is not just wellconnected, but a qualified doctor. For such a terrible health crisis to have occurred is not a healthy sign. The problem is that it is not clear whether the problem is limited to two districts, or more districts within the province are affected. Only further testing will tell. The real problem is that the Sindh healthcare system is no worse than that in the rest of the country. Testing may reveal that other provinces, especially their rural areas, may also have a high rate of infection, because the problems that led to the horrific scenario in Sindh, exist in the rest of the country. A systematic survey is needed to determine the extent of the problem first, and then will come the means of tackling it. AIDS was once feared for Pakistan, and there is still a social stigma attached to it, but stigmas and taboos have become meaningless in the face of the human tragedy that is unfolding in Sindh.
Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami
Arif Nizami Editor Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad
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India: Hub of Islamic state
Did IS use India for the Colombo blasts?
NDIA has been exerting tremendous pressure on China, the USA and europe for having Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar declared a terrorist by the UN, and has succeeded. While under the Masood obsession, India ignored the lurking presence of Islamic State affiliates in several of its states. Sri Lankan investigations reveal that the easter Sunday suicide bombers were radicalised in India. Sri Lanka hauled up 116 suspects, including a Tamil-medium teacher and a school principal with 50 SIM cards. Those arrested confessed to having been tutored by Islamic-State moles in Tamil Nadu. Posters and social media postings in native Indian languages confirmed that the IS does have networks in several Indian states. A pro- IS Telegram channel released a poster in Bengali which reads read: “Shighroi Aschhe [coming soon], Inshallah. The poster carried a logo of a group called Al-Mursalat. Some social posts in Sinhala appeared in Tamil Nadu. Instead of taking notice of IS propaganda, the BJP-led government has been exploiting the matter for political advantage. BJP leader Vijayvargiya in West Bengal alleged, “If Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stays, the Islamic State can enter West Bengal anytime.” India shrugs off the allegation saying that IS adherents in India are a spill-over of Bangladesh’s new Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Call Detail Records of Sri Lankan terrormastermind Zaharan hashim indicated his links with IS adherents across India, including R Ashiq, Ismail, Salavuddin, Sadiq, Ali, Shahul hameed, and Shamsuddin. In a video, hashim is seen exhorting Muslims from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka to wage jihad. hashim and another Sri Lanka bomber, Mohammad Azaan, had travelled to India in 2017 and 2018 to discuss the plans of IS. By 2013, India knew that its ‘missing’ citizens were fighting alongside IS in Syria. It remained unruffled even until 2014 when IS kidnapped 39 ‘traitor’ Indians in Iraq and executed them. India’s RAW remained listless to an IS map of the Khorasan Caliphate showing engulfing some Indian territory. BBC reporter Andrew hosken, who included the map in his 2015 book Empire of Fear: Inside the Islamic State said IS wants “to take over all of what they see as the Islamic world”. India arrested about a hundred IS suspects while they returned to India after fall of IS’s last stronghold Baghouz in Iraq.
India is a fertile ground for ISIS cultivators because of the persecution of Muslims. Indian Muslims have less than two per cent parliamentary representation though they are about 14 per cent of the Indian population. The Muslim in India are about 172 million (14.2%), the second largest religious community, according to the 2011 census. The Muslim is a feeble voice within the parliament and without. The BJP gave less than two per cent of its tickets to Muslim candidates. Still, none of them were elected. The 2014 Lok Sabha had the lowest share of Muslim MPs in India. So it was despite increase in share of Muslim population in India from 13.4% to 14.2% between 2001 and 2011. Names of about one-fourth of the eligible Muslim voters were deleted from the voters’ list with impunity. In Karnataka alone, the names of 6.6 million people were missing from the electoral list. Later, about 1.2 million were re-enlisted. The Muslim population increased. Yet, the number of Muslim voters declined over the years. Obviously, the undercounting and deletion from voters’ list was actuated by planned discrimination, political exclusion, and total elimination. A caricature of Article 326 of India’s Constitution? Muslims experience low literacy and high poverty rates, and hindu-Muslim violence has claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives. Are Muslims marginalized in India? The Muslim literacy rate ranks well below the national average and Muslim poverty rates are only slightly higher than low-caste hindus, according to a November 2006 government report. Muslims make up 13.4 percent of India’s population, but hold less than 5 per cent of government posts and make up only four per cent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities. Practically, Muslims, under hindu influence, are divided into three groups of Indian Muslims—ashraf, ajlaf, and arzal. The ashrafs are upper-class Muslims of Arab ancestry. Ajlafs are hindus who converted to Islam to escape persecution, and arzals, correlate to the lowest caste of hindus (harijans). The November 2006 Sachar Report made recommendations to ameliorate the lot of the Indian Muslim. University of Chicago Professor Steven Wilkinson says, “The conclusions aren’t very revolutionary and I wouldn’t expect
much in the way of policy change from it.” The professor of political science focuses on ethnic politics in India. Wilkinson says the report fails to offer a clear analysis of the nature of Muslim marginalization, and leaves in question whether solutions should focus on Muslims or general public poverty alleviation. hard-line hindu nationalists argue Indian Muslims (as well as Christians) converted from hinduism, should reconvert to the majority religion. The ruling BJP seeks to win votes proposing to build a temple on the site of a former mosque in Ayodhya, a city in India’s most populous and politically important state of Uttar Pradesh. IS India not only imparts motivational training to volunteers but also equips them with the necessary kit to carry out explosions. Besides imparting ideological training, the IS in India equips fresh recruits with improvised-explosive devices. Unreliability of dry-battery cells in IeDs forced the IS to opt for solar cells. The study, conducted by Conflict Armament Research (europe), has confirmed that Indian solar-cell and detonator-producing industries are a big exporter to the IS importers abroad. To bypass customs surveillance, Indian companies export the hardware through intermediaries. The study revealed, ‘Seven Indian companies figure in a list of 51 commercial entities from 20 countries that are involved in the supply chain of over 700 components used by the Islamic State to construct IeDs. The Indian firms meet the bulk of the IS’s demand for detonators, detonating cords, safety fuses, cables, wires, and other electronic components. India’s trade laws allow export of such components. The companies include Solar Industries, economic explosives, Premier explosives, Ideal explosives, and Chamundi. Some countries disowned the blame, saying the IS has more convenient Nokia 105 mobile phone for remote detonation. Indian products came to light when seized during battles in the Iraqi towns of al Rabia, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Tikrit and the Syrian town of Kobani. Let India stop politicising Masood Azhar and focus on the IS threat. India needs to revamp its attitude to the menace before it is too late. Amjed Jaaved is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Time to be alert! How things can be made worse than they are
N Pakistan, things are not as disappointing and depressing as portrayed by some of our media-men and social media activists. The Imran Khan government is neither inefficient nor incompetent; the actual problem seems the promised timeframe. People were expecting that everything shall come to the normal; there would be a lot of job-opportunities, ceaseless foreign investment, an end to the energy crisis, reduction in the prices of fuel and electricity, a better law and order situation and so many other things; just in twinkling of an eye. People were right in all their expectations, their dreams and desires were not unnatural in any way, but things take time. We can never upgrade any social system by pushing an imaginary button. Upgradation, reformation, renovation are the terms pointing towards the process of overhauling; certainly a long and time-taking process. Things would be in a better situation soon if we don’t let disappointment and Karachi – Ph: 021-35381208-9
depression be a hurdle in our way. Certainly the responsibility of keeping the flame of hope alive goes onto the shoulders of all those who are blessed with the power of using words in written and spoken form. Such people include teachers, religious scholars, writers, speakers, and journalists belonging to the print and electronic media. The social media activists can also play a very vibrant role in this context. Spreading of depression and disappointment along with spreading of disinformation among the people is nowadays being used as one of the most fatal weapons all over the world. everywhere the hostile forces have their own specific targets and to hit these targets they adopt all fair and foul means; most frequently used of all such means is the media. Recent exploitation of a statement by Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is the worst example of spreading disinformation. A few days back, General Bajwa went to Peshawar, and there he had a meeting at Corps Auditorium with students from various universities of KPK. Talking about the negative role played by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, “A few individuals playing in foreign hands are by design exploiting the sentiments of the people who have actually suffered at the hands of terrorism and now need care.” he further said that
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both government and the security forces are working to address genuine issues of the tribals regardless of where they come from. One of the participants was a Sikh student from FATA who requested that he should be allowed to put a picture of Ranjit Singh in Qila Bala hissar as Sikhs had ruled Peshawar during his time. Just to honour the Sikh minority, General Bajwa acceded to that request. The students present at the moment sincerely appreciated the goodwill gesture of the Army Chief and promised that they all would provide all possible moral support to the Pakistan Armed Forces. They also expressed their determination that they would never be swayed by detractors of any type. One of the students present there said, “We promise to be the contributors and not bystanders to bright future of Pakistan.” Certainly it was a heart-winning speech of the Army Chief but at the same time it pinched and pained a lot of groups hostile to Pakistan. On Facebook and in various WhatsApp groups, these hostile forces started levying baseless allegations on the Army Chief. It was said that the Army Chief was promoting Punjabi culture in KPK as Ranjit Singh was a Punjabi. It was also blamed that by giving importance to a non-Muslim character of the regional history, the Army Chief was trying to protect and
promote secularism in the country. The fact of the matter is that by allowing the placement of a picture of Ranjit Singh in Qila Bala hissar the Army Chief meant nothing but wanted to tell the world that all minorities enjoy equal rights in Pakistan. his was a message to the world that Pakistan is a safe land for the minorities where their desires and wishes are valued and honoured at every level. his objective was neither to promote any regional culture nor to project secularism. The Pakistan Army is a uniting force for the whole nation. There is no discrimination on the basis of any caste, creed or language in the Army as its soldiers and officers represent different linguistic and religious backgrounds. The only priority of all soldiers and of all officers of Pakistan Army is Pakistan; the Land of the Pure. The propaganda move against the Army Chief is just a childish reaction of those who didn’t like Army Chief’s remarks on the anti-state activities of the PTM. Whatever the Army Chief said with particular reference to the anti-state activities of the PTM is in fact the voice of all Pakistanis including the Pashtuns; such activities, if allowed to flourish, would simply push the country towards a hell of disintegration and degeneration. Such activities of PTM-type organisations would give birth to political instability, social anarchy and economic chaos which in no way could be affordable at this crucial juncture of our history. For all of us it is the time to be alert; Time which never comes back. Ali Sukhanver is a freelance journalist.