Express Tribune: It has been rather disturbing to witness the way Sherry Rehman has been the latest target of the purists within the ruling PPP. For years, Sherry has represented the intellectual vigour within her party. From drafting of manifestoes to holding the important portfolios, she has been an articulate defender of the PPP and its government. Her decision to resign in the wake of the judges’ saga and media handling of the 2009 Lahore-Gujranwala Long March was a matter of democratic choice.
After her resignation, she did not defame her party leadership and continued to demonstrate her loyalty. She is now a victim of an unwise ban on PPP leaders and legislators preventing them from appearing on a particular television channel. Worse, she has been lumped with the other dissenters — Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi — whose politics is altogether different. Continue reading
Pakistan’s recent disaster has exposed the long standing crisis of statehood. It would be a cliché to state that even the best prepared country would have been swamped by the scale of the floods. However, the flood also exposed our failing state and never before have we witnessed such radical damage wreaked on the governance institutions in the country.
Beyond the early recovery phase: The enormity of the humanitarian crisis requires concerted planning and a seamless transition into the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. A key reason for the skepticism of citizens and the international community relates to the obvious challenges of governing Pakistan and ensuring that the state delivers on its inherent mandates. Humanitarian assistance has been forthcoming and the pundits’ credibility-deficit argument has been trashed by the world as it made pledges of over 600 million dollars. However, resources for the post-relief phase are uncertain. The usual recipe of the international economic order through IFI loans seems to be the only solution in sight unless the world wakes up to the potential long term consequences of this disaster and finds other ways than to increase its debt.
Financing challenges: A bigger challenge that faces Pakistan’s crumbling governance is related to financing the disaster-management. Already, competition between the Pakistani state agencies and the United Nations system seems to be apparent. The intentions of the UN notwithstanding, its inefficiencies (such as high administration costs) are all too well known. Similarly, the funding tensions between the federal and provincial governments will also come to light as and when assistance arrives. The criteria are unclear – Punjab wants it according to the damage while the smaller provinces are already talking about the state of ‘relative devastation’ and losses. This is something that the national council of common interest will have to resolve, lest it creates more fissures and becomes another pretext for an extra constitutional upheaval. Continue reading
D. Asghar’s latest post for PTH:
Lately in many discussions, about various events which have unfolded in Pakistan, it appears that Pakistanis in or outside Pakistan, find only one person responsible, its President Asif Ali Zardari. To clarify, I reside in the US, have no affiliation with him or PPP. As a teenager, when I was in Pakistan, I admired ZAB, but according to my analysis, the ideals of PPP died along with ZAB on the ill fated day of, April 04, 1979. Even late BB, failed to impress me as she made some huge blunders, and used ZAB’s name to advance her political career. There is no denying of this fact, that till this day PPP, uses ZAB and now BB as well to tap into the vote banks. It is the sheer charisma of ZAB, which still resonates with the masses.
Getting back to our infamous President, the blogospheres are on fire chastising him for almost any and everything. Whether it is the bomb blasts, floods, mob lynching or cricket betting scandal, he seems to be the target of everyone’s scorn. Undoubtedly, AAZ has a questionable past and his actions subsequent to taking the oath are definitely worthy of criticism, but definitely not worthy of any military intervention. Continue reading
The debate on fake degrees has captured the middle class imagination of Pakistan’s mainstream media. True that lying and misrepresenting facts is not acceptable. Yet, discriminatory laws against the political elites are not kosher either. The debate on the issue remains sensationalist, purist and devoid of the larger context of Pakistan’s democratic history.
Each era of our existence has witnessed such campaigns. In the 1950s laws to screen out the corrupt politicians was launched with much fanfare. It was a clear tool for the unelected institutions to tame and manipulate the political class. In the 1960s such a process was institutionalized and Pakistan reeled under the ill-effects of authoritarianism leading to the break up of the country in 1971.
The establishment continued the policy throughout the 1980s and we witnessed the growth and proliferation of politicians who were absolutely wedded to the fortification of Pakistan as a national security state. In the 1990s, such games continued and we have cases from that decade which are yet to be adjudicated. The state as a whole has used these as bargaining chips. This is why the debate on NRO is complex and its moral simplification becomes a historical act in itself. Continue reading
Few nations are as fortunate as us, in that the founder of our nation has left behind for us explicit guidelines and profound words of guidance, in relation to the involvement of Religion in matters of the state.These words of wisdom embody the Will of Jinnah to the nation he founded. This nation still has hope if it succeeds in reverting to Jinnah’s Will :
1 : “….Religion should not be allowed to come into Politics….Religion is merely a matter between man and God”.[Jinnah, Address to the Central Legislative Assembly, 7 February 1935].
In this principled statement Jinnah draws a clear line between Politics and Religion, and also defines the parameters of Religion by the words “between man and God”. This statement of his harbours the soul and spirit of Secular Statecraft.
2 : “….in the name of Humanity, I care more for them [the Untouchables] than for Mussalmans. ” [Jinnah, Speaking about the Shudras or Untouchables, during his address at the All India Muslim League session at Delhi, 1934].
Jinnah’s pro-minority thinking is once again patent from these words. These words were not uttered before a Hindu gathering, which if they were, could have led some to argue that perhaps he was trying to win their favour. These words were, in fact, uttered during his address at a Muslim League session.
3 : “….I am NOT fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.” [Jinnah, Press Conference, 14 November 1946] Continue reading
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
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.
Hit and run
By Shakir Husain The News, May 17, 2010
Whenever people ask me about the funniest Asif Zardari joke I’ve ever heard, my response is always, “That he is the most successful president in the 63 year history of Pakistan.” I can picture readers cringing, noses wrinkling, and people asking to be passed the sick bag. What makes this nauseating sensation worse for most is that if you can get past the silly grin, the last name, the face – whatever your pet Asif Zardari peeve is, you will realise it’s true. Before you abandon this piece here to go and fire off a nasty email to me and the Editor, think about this rationally by removing the last name from the presidency, and just objectively look at what the man has achieved in the two years he has been in office.
Asif Zardari has spent more years in jail than any other politician in this country, has had millions of dollars spent on investing several dozen graft cases which have amounted to nothing concrete against him. Today, he controls the largest national political party in the country – the PPP. The man has dodged more silver bullets in the last two years than any other politician could even imagine. Asif Zardari has overseen the signing of the NFC Award, a feat unto itself. He has signed the18th Amendment to the Constitution defanging himself and any future president who feels like dismissing parliament. Asif Zardari has given provinces more of a share of the revenue they contribute to the federal government, which has always been a sticking point, and he has given the provinces the right to raise additional taxes and retain them. All sore points during Pakistan’s history. Continue reading