Tag Archives: Bhutto

Faiz Ahmad Faiz and reiterating Pakistan’s plural culture

Posted by Raza Rumi

Today is the 26th death anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose life and works are national assets. Faiz was a torchbearer of the glorious traditions set by great Urdu poets such as Ghalib and Iqbal. Faiz distinguished himself as a proponent of a revolutionary vision, which blended the romance of classical Urdu poetry with the idealism of revolutionary struggles. Faiz’s political ideology provided modern Urdu verse an unprecedented political and romantic expression. Faiz brought Pakistan international acclaim and the world bestowed on him the highest honours, including the Lenin Peace Prize (1962). He has also left a corpus of essays, editorials and commentaries from his years in journalism. This body of work still needs to be fully assessed for its literary dimensions. Faiz’s literary career coincided with the emergence of Pakistan and its unfortunate history of political instability and militarisation, which isolated its majority Eastern wing and resulted in its break-up in 1971. His famous poem ‘Yeh Daagh Daagh Ujala’ remains an apt comment on the creation of a ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan, which continues to grapple with issues of identity. The Pakistani state treated him shoddily as he remained under arrest for extended periods or in exile.

The decade of the 1970s witnessed a change when Bhutto appointed him as Chairman of the National Council of the Arts. Faiz authored Pakistan’s Culture Policy of [early 1970s], which was partially implemented. This new cultural discourse broke the hegemony of the Continue reading

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

Unpacking the governance debate

If the intent of the unregulated media and a recalcitrant establishment is to dismiss the government to achieve better governance then this is at best a delusional goal
Recent weeks have witnessed a supercilious debate on how the current government’s misgovernance is a potent reason to boot it out. Governance is about decisions, resources and management of public affairs. The sad reality is that Pakistan’s media now controls and spins the public discourse on these issues. The popular media never wanted this government to begin with. Since 2007, it sided with the ‘clean’ and morally correct lawyers’ movement that presented an alternative to the corrupt politicians and shunned the 2008 election. First, it vilified Benazir Bhutto for making a deal with the Generals on initiating a transition towards a power-sharing arrangement. This was a classic worldview of the urban middle class, which has never been a keen participant of the messy electoral politics that brings rural politicians with fake degrees at the helm of affairs.
The second critical moment was the election of the President, which sparked an unprecedented media trial with stories (mostly unsubstantiated) of Zardari’s corruption. There was a strong alliance between the local and the global media churning out a thousand stories highlighting his insanity, fallibility and venality. This happened despite the full confidence expressed by Zardari’s party and its allies. A rare federal consensus over the election of a President was undermined and the media perception intensified how all the crooks stand together to rob the country once again.
Now the third moment in the aftermath of the floods has arrived; and the high-pitched voices against the politicians have reached their peak. The charge-sheet is long but, in a nutshell, states that the feudal politicians were inept in handling the July-August 2010 disaster and harmed the poor to save their lands. This is a simplistic conclusion that has emerged without proper inquiry and mainly through anecdotes from the urban anchors visiting rural victims and interpreting their anguish as a condemnation of the politicos.
Discussions around regime change have strongly articulated the displeasure of the unelected institutions of the state on ‘governance’. The media has faithfully reported that the Army is unhappy about the corrupt ministers still in office and the looming economic crisis. The Judiciary is perturbed, as its judgement on NRO remains partially unimplemented and key appointments reek of illegality. The perennial power-seeker class of politicians has started to reconfigure the political landscape while fringe parties like Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf and the right wing Jamaat-e-Islami want to seize this opportunity for short term gains. The ever-ready crop of technocrats is also getting anxious due to the anonymous contacts being made by the invisible elements of the state.
This display of crass opportunism by Pakistan’s traditional elites is nothing new. Since 1947 (including that fateful year), they have cared little for the ordinary citizens. But the alarming aspect of our present dilemma is the way Pakistan’s much-touted free media has become an instrument in spurring political instability. The endemic problem with Pakistan’s governance is that regardless of the government in power, the state (if we were to include all the dominant classes in the wider definition) remains disconnected and disengaged with the citizens. What is more worrying is that the state no longer is a monolith as it has delegated the state’s monopoly powers to faith-based militant groups which are ready to exploit its increasing inability to ‘govern’.
With 20 million people still struggling to reclaim their livelihoods, entitlements (such as land), shelter and security, Pakistan’s establishment and its politicians are all but willing to do anything about it. It is therefore problematic to see a legitimately elected government preparing a summary on NRO cases for 34 out of 8,000 beneficiaries and the Supreme Court chiding it like an accused party. Or, to read about the panicky meetings of the PPP while the latter should be strategising about re-enacting the NDMA legislation or preparing a resource mobilisation strategy to rehabilitate the flood victims and reconstruct the damaged infrastructure.
Equally disturbing is to witness the saga of Courts in effect suspending new Constitutional provisions while they are expressly not mandated to do that; and placing abstract notions of people’s will above the Constitution. In a similar vein, the Army has a separate fund for flood relief and the elected Public Accounts Committee cannot be given the details of how and why a Rs 5 billion supplementary grant was given to the country’s premier intelligence agency.
The argument on misgovernance by a coalition government is bogus when unelected institutions of the state are unaccountable, non-transparent and unwilling to accept the oversight of public representatives. Until the Army budgets can be audited, and judges are appointed through parliamentary commissions and the bureaucracy is answerable to legislature, we will continue to swirl in a vicious cycle of political instability.
If the intent of the unregulated media and a recalcitrant establishment is to dismiss the government to achieve better governance, then this is at best a delusional goal. Pakistan cannot afford another upheaval and the recent signals by the Army that it wants stability are welcome. But then Pakistan is an unpredictable polity with a growing constituency for suicide missions. Strange times, indeed.
Raza Rumi is a writer and policy expert based in Lahore. He blogs at http://razarumi.com. Email: razarumi@gmail.com

5 Comments

Filed under Army, Pakistan, Politics

“The more they hate, the more we love…”

PTH is publishing this post submitted by Riaz Ali Toori. The views expressed are those of the author’s; however, in the interest of free speech and noting the biases of mainstream media, we are giving space to such pieces here.

“The much they hate Zardari, the more we love Zardari” the slogan I read over twitter by a worker of PPP. The comments on facebook attracted more I read “thanks to the opponents of PPP and Asif Ali Zardari for arousing the languid feelings of Bhuttoism inside my soul as a result of their chauvinism”.

Forcibly ruling over bodies is possible but rule on hearts is thorny. Nasty Zia ruled on the people of Pakistan for more than a decade but he couldn’t create a place in hearts of the people. Today Zia is memorized for spitefulness while Bhutto is ruling over hearts and minds. The way conspirators are busier in inciting plots against presidency is perilous not only to the evolution of nascent democracy as well as will take the politics in 80s.President Zardari yet believes strongly iwwn his policy of reconciliation and doesn’t want PPP be part of this negative game. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Pakistan, Politics, Zardari

Fatima Bhutto: please focus on fiction

Nasima Zehra Awan

Pakistan may have lost a talented fiction writer when Fatima Bhutto went into journalism. Clearly, she is adept at spinning a tale, fudging facts and re-defining reality in a manner that is the exclusive domain of talented story tellers. Throw in her photogenic looks and her propensity to endear herself with the security establishment and she is the poster child for them. This poor author does not share the same connections as Fatima Bhutto, so she will clearly not pass of (Fatima’s) alleged ISI links as established fact. Clearly, my humble perception was reinforced when I read her recent article, “Why my uncle Asif Ali Zardari’s rule in Pakistan cannot be trusted“.

The most outlandish spin in her article was that it was President Zardari who had banned facebook in Pakistan:”banned 500 websites — including YouTube, Facebook and Google — under the pretence of protesting against anti-Islamic material on the web” Two months ago, in their zeal to accommodate their political benefactors, Pakistan’s compromised Judiciary allowed for petitions that called for the banning of facebook and all the sites alluded to by Fatima. In their Islamist zeal, the Lahore High Court passed a judicial order that called for closing internet access to facebook. Zardari’s coalition government, already being lynched by the Judiciary had no choice but to comply. It is extremely disingenuous of Fatima to completely remove the context and the major instigators of internet censorship in Pakistan and place the blame on the President. The latter had already limited his role in governance by initiating and guiding the parliament to pass the 18th Amendment that gave back most executive powers to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers! What Fatima completely fails to mention is that the temporary facebook banning in Pakistan had nothing to do with Zardari and everything to do a politicized Judiciary that was returning favours to its Jamaat Islami backers. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Benazir Bhutto, journalism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Politics

The national narrative

Salman Tarik Kureshi         Daily Times, June 12, 2010

What happened through the 1950s was the piecemeal articulation of a national narrative for the new state. Jinnah’s liberal, inclusive vision was converted into a faux Islamic exclusivism. Conformity was imposed on political pluralism and a unitary state, belying the Quaid’s crusades for provincial autonomy, was created

Pakistan, we learn, is rated among the five most unstable countries in the Global Peace Index. Scarcely surprising, given the ongoing civil war with half-savage bands of highly organised, well-financed and heavily armed insurgents, and the accompanying terrorist bombings and violent mayhem across the land. This is not to mention the internecine not-so-civil war between major state institutions, the bizarre conspiracy theories aired over the media, the bigotry trumpeted in pulpits across the land and the genocidal sectarian frenzies that are leading us ineluctably to national and civilisational suicide. The most unstable list includes Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, in addition to our beloved homeland. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Army, civil service, Colonialism, Constitution, Democracy, History, Judiciary, Media, Pakistan, state

The Rise and Fall of the Maoist Movement in Pakistan

We are publishing this insightful paper authored by Ishtiaq Ahmed. This paper was written as part of a theme ‘More than Maoism: Rural Dislocation in South Asia’ under the aegis of ISAS, National University of Singapore. In many ways, documentation of the Left movements is an important area that has not been researched and documented. This is why Dr Ahmed’s contribution is so important. Raza Rumi

Abstract

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Maoist ideas gained considerable popularity and influence in left politics and the labour movement, and made an impact on Pakistani mainstream politics, which was out of proportion to the Maoists’  political strength in the overall balance of power. Neither class structure nor the ideological and political composition of the state apparatus warranted any such advantage to Maoism. Clues to it are to be found in the peculiar power game over security and influence going on at that time between several states in that region and, perhaps, more crucially in the internal political situation surrounding the rise to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77).  His fall from power, the coming into power of an Islamist regime under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88), and the Afghan jihad spelled disaster for leftist politics. In the 1980s, Maoism faded into oblivion.

***

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Imperialism, movements, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, south asia, violence

Why waste your time with me, after all I am an Ahmadi

It is a shame that a massacre of Ahmadi community by religious fanatics has brought to fore their plight in Pakistan. We firmly believe that any one’s religion is his or her own private matter and the state of Pakistan is absolutely wrong in branding its citizens as Muslims or non Muslims. Based on conversations with many of my Ahmadi friends inside and outside of Pakistan, it seems almost inconceivable that the state and the society can so heartlessly discriminate against a minority sect. Below we are reproducing a touching blog post by Wajahat S. Khan titled “Why waste your time with me; I am an Ahmadi”. For all of our valued readers, we want to make it clear that we are not a theological debating forum. We are about complete seperation of the state and the mosque. This post is absolutely not about the theological merits or demerits, but rather about the wrongs committed by Pakistani society in its religious zeal and fervour.  (AZW) 

Why waste your time with me, after all I am an Ahmadi

By Wajahat S. Khan

http://wajskhan.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/i-am-an-ahmadi/

I am an Ahmadi. There are four million of me in Pakistan. This Islamic Republic is the only state in the world which has officially declared me to to be a non-Muslim. Why? It’s simple. I am an Ahmadi.

Ordinances have been passed against me. Acts and Constitutional Amendments have been drafted around me. Shortly after the heart and soul of our nation was ripped into two, a country reeling to define and defend its own identity unleashed itself upon me. In 1974, a parliament I had voted for adopted a law that outlawed me.

The rest of you were given a different story. Unlike you, I was not a “a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH”. But nobody really asked me what I  believed in. Why? Because I am different. Because I don’t matter. Because I am an Ahmadi.

Continue reading

29 Comments

Filed under human rights, Identity, Islam, Islamabad, Islamism, Jinnah's Pakistan, Lahore, minorities, Pakistan, Punjab, Religion, secular Pakistan, state, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, World