Pakistan’s devastating floods have opened up a Pandora’s Box of governance dysfunctions and historical distortions that have plagued the polity since independence. It remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the greatest calamity in our recent history. Various estimates show that the floods have affected 18-20 million people. The death toll has crossed the figure of 2000 while 2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed. Floodwaters are receding in many areas, and though there are concerns about standing water that remains in Punjab and other areas, the worst of the current flooding is taking place in Sindh.
The disaster is still not over but the fissures within Pakistan have started to erupt and once again proving how vulnerable the state is and how fractured the Pakistani society has become. Five key crises have emerged, some old and some new. However, they point to the fact that our continuous refusal to address structural problems remains a key challenge.
Martial state syndrome: Pakistan’s history is an uninterrupted tale of direct and indirect military rule and centralisation. Each time there is a crisis there is a need to resort to the de facto, real governance paradigm: the military rule. Therefore, Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are not saying anything new. The perennial search for a Messiah, rooted in the religious ideology that the state and education system have cultivated, is back in full force. This time the media and other discordant voices are calling for another phase of direct military rule. Continue reading
Earlier, I had written a piece on citizen accountability and Jhang model innovated by a bureaucrat – Zubair Bhatti – who ironically resigned from the civil service. I am posting a video of his talk and the article for readers here at PTH.
By Adnan Syed
This series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a politically Islam dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.
Originally planned as a two part series, I decided to split it to three parts due to the sheer volume of information in interviews in the Munir-Kiyani Report.
SOVEREIGNTY AND DEMOCRACY IN ISLAMIC STATE
Munir-Kiyani report was one of the first studies into the contradictory stance taken by framers of the Objectives Resolution. The report pointed out that the Resolution misused the words “sovereign” and “democracy” when the Resolution stated that the constitution to be framed was “for a sovereign state in which principles of democracy as enunciated by Islam would be fully observed”.
By Adnan Syed
This two part series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a political- Islam-dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.
The interviews are as relevant today as they were 56 years ago. If anything, they foreshadowed the violence that would engulf Pakistan as the state gradually ceded to the demands of the Islamic right wing parties. Religious parties kept incessant pressure on the newly formed state to take a turn towards Islamism. At the same time the pressure was on to the governments to kick the Ahmadis out of the fold of Islam by a state decree. It was not until 1974, that another bout of religious agitation got Prime Minister Bhutto to accede to their demands and get Ahmadis declared non-Muslims. If anything, Pakistan has paid dearly for ignoring its founding father who spoke unequivocally that the newly formed state would not be theocratic, and that everyone is free to practice their religion as an equal Pakistani first and foremost.
Faisal Naseem Chaudhry has contributed this excellent piece for PTH. Apparently, the Supreme Court has taken notice of this incident. But this incident itself is reflective of the growing frustration among Pakistanis with respect to governance and in particualr the failures of the criminal justice system. As Faisal says people have lost faith in the judicial system, no matter whosoever heads the institution! Whilst Pakistan gears its creaky state machinery to face the monumental challenges ahead, this incident is a parable of our times. The pending reform agenda of improving the police, the courts and administration cannot be further delayed lest we want to promote anarchy and mayhem in the country. Raza Rumi
A horrifying incident took place in Mauza Buttar District Sialkot on 15 August when two alleged dacoits were not only stoned and beaten to death rather their dead bodies were hanged upside down for four hours in the presence of District Police Officer (DPO Sialkot), and later put on a tractor-trolley for public exhibition. According to the printed news appearing in Daily Express, Daily Khabrein, and Daily Pakistan;
1. A total of 4 dacoits were robbing people of their belongings at 6 AM on 15 August.
2. One namely Bilal was killed by the dacoits. A few others were injured.
3. Those injured were strong enough to get hold of two dacoits whereas remaining 2 managed to flee successfully.
4. The captured one were beaten and stoned to death, dead-bodies hanged with a pole.
5. After ‘negotiations’ the bodies were handed over to Police.
6. A case has been registered against the deceased ‘dacoits’ and their buddies who managed to flee the scene.
7. The grand-father of the deceased dacoits stated that one of them was a Hafiz-e-Quran; both were brothers and were going on a motorcycle to play cricket in the morning after SEHRI. When they were passing by the place of incident, they were apprehended by the village men (perhaps because they were riding a motorcycle and dacoits do it) and mercilessly killed.
The above incident reminds us of an incident dated February 2010 when two dacoits were burnt alive in Karachi. Continue reading
PTH is starting a series of posts devoted to the Pakistan’s current crisis effects of which will be long term in nature. While millions of Pakistanis are in dire need of emergency help, our country’s political and economic instability will have ramifications for the region and the world. This is why it is extremely important to understand how several parts of Pakistan have lost decades of development and a state with weak capacities needs billions of dollars in the short term to start a major programme of rehabilitation. If Pakistani state is unable to intervene, the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda militants (and their allies in South Punjab) will find a golden opportunity to annihilate the Pakistani state, discredit constitutional governance and capture political space. Pakistanis cannot be silent victims and therefore we will speak. Pakistan has to be rescued and the international community cannot absolve itself of the responsibility towards its frontline state. Raza Rumi
AA Khalid, a regular at PTH, has written the first article for this series.
Pakistan Floods – Issues and Lessons
The weakness of the State in Pakistani politics has always been a concern but with the advent of the tragic floods it has been exemplified and magnified. In a recent Guardian article it has been observed that:
‘’Ever since Pakistan was created, the army has been the only institution capable of responding to natural disasters. One of the reasons that the military has been so politically dominant is that successive civilian governments have relied on the generals to help them deal with national crises.’’
This is not a problem contingent on which political party is in office, but rather is a comment on the inability of the State to take control and have a discernable sphere of influence and power.
Elsewhere it has been noted that the problem of the international response has been marred by perceptions of Pakistan that have been focused and limited to violence. In another Guardian article:
‘’ Compare and contrast: within days of the 2004 tsunami, £100m had poured into Oxfam, the Red Cross and other charities, and by February 2005 when the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) closed its appeal, the total stood at £300m. The Haiti earthquake appeal closed with donations of £101m. The DEC total for the Pakistan floods appeal has just reached £10m. .’’ Continue reading