Author Archives: dasghar

The Enraged Puplit

By D. Asghar

Oh no I am not going to the usual lament and shame exercise on the recent incident, which brought more black marks on our collective fabric. Yes the incident, where allegedly a personal row, quickly transformed into charges of blasphemy and an angry mob went into a rampage burning the houses of their fellow citizens in Badami Bagh area of the fort city of Lahore. The crime of the victims that they were Christians and it is extremely easy in the “land of pure” to get a Non- Muslim in a rather quick trouble by leveling this charge against them. From there on, what transpired is common knowledge. The promises, the compensation, the inquiries and very respectfully, the suo moto, all in vain. Because, this ugly episode will recur again and again, and we will continue the cycle of this so called denial, damage control and obfuscation, over and over again.

What I am going to focus a bit, is why are people so enraged. If you recall, the impetus behind demanding a separate land was the presumed persecution that Muslims, were going to face at the hands of the Hindu majority of the undivided India. Now what do you say to the people on the other side, when we cannot even tolerate any Non-Muslims on our own soil. Forget about the Non-Muslims, the God forsaken Muslims can’t even get along with one another. The circus of rage plays itself out so often that one just wonders, where did it actually begin. It perhaps began at the pulpits, where the enraged clergy decided to awaken the rather “not so faithful” with their fiery sermons.

I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to this part of the world and did not see a clergy on fire, screaming off the top of his lungs at the microphone on a Friday afternoon. Instead, I found a well-dressed man (mostly in a Western suit), on a pulpit in an Islamic Center, going over the essentials of our faith or highlighting a trait of the Holy Messenger (PBUH). There were no loud speakers mounted  around  and outside the building and no neighbors complaining about the unbearable yelling and screaming of a strange person.  The people who stood in front of us were professionals of their field and did the Friday sermons, out of sheer reverence and or love of their faith. These were not paid and salaried Imams, but people of faith driven by their faith on a purely voluntary basis.

The people here listen to the sermons and try to apply the teachings in their real lives to the best of their abilities. The idea of a plural homogenous society, where all citizens regardless of their faith make a meaningful contribution, in itself is very uplifting. None of us infringe upon each other’s religious freedoms and nor do we compete for each other’s congregations.  No bells ring endlessly from churches or temples nor are their loud speakers mounted at every Islamic Center to transmit the calls for prayers. Yet the people actively participate in their respective faiths. To say that it has taken a few years’ worth of efforts to get here would be more than just appropriate. Overall, people are comfortable and know that their progress and prosperity depends on their collective societal efforts. Their faith and their beliefs are a tool for their personal spiritual strength.

I am not making an argument, that back home our malaise rests solely on the basis of our enraged pulpits. But I can reasonably argue that it all begins there.  The people get a sense of direction from that particular area. Very often those pulpits make sweeping comments about other faiths or geo political issues. The enraged masses that are charged by such fiery sermons start to reflect in a negative sense and may I add that from there on become the victims of never ending spiral of failure.

Blaming others for our own short comings has been the favorite past time of the folks back home. Again, no one is arguing that Pakistan is free of foreign influence, but to argue that governmental organizations don’t function, or utilities and proper sanitation are not available because so called Backwater and other clandestine organizations are conspiring is downright ludicrous.

It is time that we as a nation, realize that those days of rage are over and if we continue on the path of rage and destruction, we are digging our own graves, so to speak.  Pakistan is a collective and cohesive nation formed by many people of many faiths, who are equal citizens protected by equal rights and freedoms. The pulpit s has to go through self-correction and lead this nation towards a positive path. No doubts that we have gone astray and no doubt that we still have time to fix ourselves.

 

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How To End Skepticism For Democracy In Pakistan

By D. Asghar

The burning question that most TV pseudo expert anchors ask their panel is, “Is democracy viable for Pakistan?” The answer to this question often gets obfuscated into the usual blame game and shouting matches among the participants.

It is a foregone conclusion that a true democracy and lack thereof for almost
four decades of our country’s existence can be attributed towards its poor understanding of this novel concept. Most people tend to have high expectations from the word, “democracy.” Democracy is a market place of ideas, and the means to an end, which is a system of governance by the people, for the people.

Ultimately in a true representative democracy the power resides with the people. Regretfully, in our case and in many other countries as well, the politicians tend to think otherwise. This is where the disconnect occurs and there is a lost love syndrome demonstrated by the electorate. The voters feel disenfranchised
from the system and consider it a non viable option.

The legislators are chosen by the voters, to represent them and their best interests in the assemblies. The legislators are often swayed by special and vested interests in the direction, which is entirely opposite of their constituents. Hence the gap between the public and publicly chosen officials widens.

If democracy is a participatory process, then it seems like the participation of the electorate ends at the ballot box. Subsequent to that, it seems like the public is helpless and more or less dependent on the whims of the politicians, who are indifferent to the pleas of the public. Until the next cycle of election, they absolve themselves from any public scrutiny.

It should be based on the participation of the electorate on a daily basis. First and foremost, any bill which is placed on the floor, must be based on the voters approval. In other words, there should be an electronic mechanism to record, National ID card# and voter survey. Those having no access must dial in and record their consent as well via touch tone. Once the deadline elapses, only then with public opinion well measured, the bill should be introduced on the floor and debated.

Secondly, all assembly sessions should be held with an open camera and telecasted live on a channel, which shows the representatives in action to their voters. This way the legislating aspect can be as transparent as possible and people can see and hear their voices in its truest essence.

It will make the legislators accountable to their voters on a daily basis. This will further solidify the often alienated and fragile relationship that both parties currently have. This is not the remedy to the myriad of problems that our nation faces, but a step towards attaining a true participatory system, where all voices are heard and accounted for. A step towards building trust and a process which truly returns power back to where it actually belongs in a truly representative democracy.

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The Tyranny Of The Idiot Brigade

By D. Asghar

I was flabbergasted by the recent statements of Sunni Ittehad Council of Pakistan, warning of complete anarchy, in case if any blasphemy laws were repealed.

It is downright ridiculous to expect anything different from these idiots. Enough has been said and written about the recent case of Asiya Bibi. Of course any and everybody has weighed in on the case to gain maximum political mileage.

As much as it is denied, the hyper sensitivity of the religion in masses has brought us to this deplorable condition. It is rather comical to see us in such
a disarray in presence of such councils, which supposedly should bring various religious parties under an umbrella to create harmony. But in our country the words, clergy and harmony, are supposedly never aligned, no matter what.

Agreed that religion is a way of life, but we very often tend to forget that a way of life for personal betterment. When it becomes an enigma and most often in our case an obsession, then some correctness becomes absolutely necessary.

I have repeatedly stated on other forums in the past as well, that there is nothing wrong in the religion (s) for that matter. It is always the application of the religion, where the question becomes more murky and puzzling. My faith
regardless of what it is, is solely for my redemption in the hereafter.

The traditional opponents of Islam have a field day, when they see our idiotic fervor. The way our politicians cave in under pressure from religious zealots is equally pathetic. I agree with many here, who say that Jinnah’s Pakistan has
been hijacked by the all powerful clergy and their likes, who had vehemently opposed him in the past. Since Jinnah’s passing, they have wrong fully steered
his vision into this idiotic path of no return.

The bigger question that most emotionally charged Pakistanis and in most cases, most Muslims tend to over look is, can a Danish cartoonist, a Salman Rushdie, a
Face book page or even Asiya Bibi (assuming just for the sake of argument all allegations against her are correct), adversely impact the faith of billion plus people. Is Islam so weak that it cannot stand a negative comment or abuse? I don’t think so and many would agree with me.

The reverence of Islam’s Prophet can never be diminished by any frivolous allegation, ridicule or scorn. Many tried that at the dawn of this faith and through filth at our beloved Prophet PBUH. If Prophet PBUH was the vengeful
kind, he would have awarded the harshest punishment to his detractors. But it was not in his character to do so. Yes, if we really need a lesson to enhance our character, we need to emulate a fraction of his patience and perseverance.

The religious zealots have always used mis placed anger and passion to ignite the discord among various sects of the Muslims and Non Muslims for that matter. Again, when a following of a religious belief leads to killing of another human being on the basis of allegation and innuendo or for that matter disagreement, some correction is badly warranted.

In my humble opinion, it is not the law which is an issue here. Even if the law is reversed, the hyper religious forces will react negatively one way or the other. It is in the mental mould that, “my way or the highway.” The highway in this case means death in most cases.

It is high time that mental over haul of the masses is done in our land. This scribe in his previous scribbles has touched on some of the remedies that are badly needed to alter the corroded mind set. The foremost step that our nation needs to take is, to separate the religion from the state. By doing so Pakistan will not become “un-Islamic.” This will actually enhance and augment the true principles of our faith. The clergies must be awarded exemplary punishment who instigate violence in the name of our faith.

Tyranny of any sort, even of religion is harmful for the state. This is what our brigade of idiots fails to understand. The state has an equal obligation to its
citizens when it comes to life, liberty, rights and security. The rule of majority does not apply at that particular point. Some of my friends will call this all a liberal rant, but in fact it is not. It is a human assessment based on solid facts. We are deviating from the basis of our faith, sadly in the name of our faith.

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Its The Efficiency Stupid!

By D. Asghar

Our beloved Premier Gilani has issued an executive order to curtail the two day weekend to a one day weekend in the government offices. The move on the surface seems to be of well intentions and to increase and enhance productivity.

This is also due to the fact that electricity is not a major issue in winters and hence the business of the government can be conducted in a more conducive and viable environment. The underlying issue here in my opinion is not the weather or number of days. The bigger issue is lack of proper metrics to measure productivity.

In this day and age, where we are in the electronic age, very sadly a lot of public departments are still running on paper and antiquated filing system. If you were to go to the offices the lines of people in front of government offices speak volumes of our inefficiency. The vultures in the form of agents are trying to take advantage of the people, who are ill informed. The people are trying to cut the red tape to get on with their lives.

Skeptics call this process of inefficiency with an often heard and despised term, bureaucracy. No matter where you are, in whatever part of the world, you have to go through some of this to get your need fulfilled. However, in our part of the world we are still functioning on the post colonial paradigm, and in 63 years or so, there has been a minor shift.

The government for all intents and purposes is an enterprise. Collecting revenue and incurring expenses. With the old and outdated ways still not able to fulfill the needs of its ultimate customer, the public.

There is a lot of hue and cry every minute about the incessant and ever increasing corruption in every department of our beloved government. Very rarely, we focus on the facts that it is meager salaries in a lot of areas and excessive inefficiencies which give birth to this ugly monster of corruption.

In todays day and age, any service can be initiated electronically by opening a ticket. The customer gets notified that their request has been lodged in a proper queue. The queue has to be managed internally by the appropriate department of the government with proper checks and balances. It is transparent and curtails the possibility of misuse. When people will be terminated on the spot for any misuse, it will set the zero tolerance culture for corruption automatically.

Similarly the public should have information on every departmental website to determine what the requirements and steps are to complete their request. There should be no mystery surrounding the service being offered by the department.

We often look at other countries and wonder why those countries have moved ahead and we are still lagging. One of the reason is that we have failed miserably in managing people’s business as a business. The government still functions in the colonial mind set that it is bestowing a mercy on the public by fulfilling their genuine needs. In reality, it should be the other way around.

If proper measures are not in place and there are no metrics to measure efficiency and productivity, it would not matter even if the government functions 7 days a week. The end result will still be the usual frustration, disgust and anger which the nation very rightfully demonstrates at the mention of the word, “government.”

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Another Scandal Rocks Pakistani Cricket

By D. Asghar

The recent incident where a Pakistani cricketer, Zulqarnain Haider went missing in Dubai, and surfaced in London, should not surprise any one at all. In the wake of a full blown undercover sting, done by a British tabloid, where Pakistani cricketers allegedly participated in a match fixing scam, anything is expected from our national heroes.

The details of his sudden disappearance from Dubai rocked the entire Pakistani media. Then his announcement of resignation from cricket, due to threats to his life by unknown people fueled the mysteries surrounding this incident. In a nutshell, what he is alleging is that, he was approached by the “match fixers” and he refused to budge. ZH was questioned by British Immigration officials for hours as he supposedly applied for asylum in the UK. Continue reading

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The Mush Show In New York

The Big Apple was set on fire by the revolutionary speech of our former President Musharraf. Mr. Musharraf has been at the offensive firing salvos at his arch rival, former PM, Nawaz Sharif at any place, he is able to attract a crowd.

Barely less than 2 years after his resignation, Mr. Musharraf thinks that Pakistan is in deep slumber. Musharraf Sahib rubbished the idea of facing any courts on his return to Pakistan. By the way, NS Sahib wants to try Mr. Musharraf for violating the constitution and declaring the “phony emergency.” Mush Sahib was defiant, and felt that NS will never be able to reach the level of Premier ship, hence the trial was completely out of question. Read these lines very carefully, as there seems to be a tacit admission of guilt here. Continue reading

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The Highest Act Of Cowardice

By. D. Asghar

Yet another murderous day, claiming 70 plus lives in KP has blazed the electronic media around the world. The same old suicide bombers targeting innocent civilians, in the “House of GOD.” The place which is supposed to be a sanctuary for any human being. Avenge, revenge, blood, cries, fear, pain and despair. Some how our psyche is constantly being tested by these words. The loss of life has become the order of the day. Those who call the perpetrators of such acts, “beasts” are fairly humble. In my opinion, not a single word in any dictionary can rightfully encapsulate this savagery. Yet again, a famous organization immediately claims responsibility of such unprecedented act of valor.

Certain elements in the media go buzzing about this sheer brutality being cost of doing business with the US. The poor Mujahids are avenging the drone strikes by slaying their own brethren to send a befitting response to Washington. Then there are those, who realize that this monster is the enemy within and the nation is dying from the inside. Condemnations like this scribe, may come and go, but there is one thing for certain, the 70 families or more, may not be the same forever. Continue reading

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