Tag Archives: Zardari

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
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Filed under Army, Pakistan, Politics

Denialistan: DAWN’s romance with jihadis exposed

Nasima Zehra Awan laments the media romances with sectarian Islamists while the country drowns

The August 21st editorial by DAWN is a good example of what is wrong with the media in Pakistan. “Hardliners and Flood Relief” is precisely the kind of vacillating apologia for extremists that is the bane of the local media.A media that has anointed itself as “Independent” for hounding out elected politicians at the behest of a powerful establishment, has failed in informing the public about the various Islamist militant groups and their agendas. In this regard, it is baffling that DAWN’s editorial prefers to maintain an Ostrich-like approach to the exponentially growing existential threat from these sectarian bigots.

President Zardari is absolutely correct in pointing out this threat. The exclusive bashing of elected PPP leaders is the national sport in our elite drawing rooms and reflects our impotent rage that can never be directed at the actual source of our problems but at those who cannot strike back. It is therefore sad that DAWN follows suit and completely disregards the warning of Pakistan’s elected president and chooses to maintain the establishment-led status quo in protecting its Jihadi assets.

In covering the hundreds of targeted killings of minority sects and religious groups like the Ahmadis, Shias and Christians, DAWN studiously maintains a policy of obfuscating the issue via the use of euphemisms. In doing so, it dishonestly creates a false symmetry between the victims (Ahmadis, Shias and Christians) and their killers, the vast nexus of sectarian Salafist Jihadi groups like Sipah Sahaba, its militant wing, Lashkar Jhangvi, Lashkar Tayabba, Jaish Mohammad and Harkat ul Mujahideen amongst a host of other related subsidiaries. For a newspaper that allies itself with Jinnah, the irony that the country’s Shiite Muslim founder would have been a fair game for these sectarian groups is completely lost on DAWN!

Since the beginning of the flood crisis, Pakistan’s media has preferred to lynch the elected government as opposed to galvanizing the public and the International community towards relief efforts. In trying to divert attention away from banned groups who are using the tragedy of these floods to increase their hold on Pakistan, DAWN has allied itself with the same reactionary and bigoted class that prefers an authoritarian future for Pakistan under an Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Democracy, Islamism, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, minorities, Taliban, Terrorism, violence

Pakistan has to make a choice

Bilal Qureshi

For my mental health, I never watch Pakistani television, be it state run or the so-called ‘private’ channels.  And if I am forced for whatever reason to put up with it for an hour or so, it is, and I am not exaggerating here, the most painful experience; an experience I find difficult to explain in language that is utterly unacceptable in any civilised society.

Personally, I am convinced that as soon as the media became independent in Pakistan, it has been a race to the bottom by these anchors and other personalities on T.V.  And except for one or perhaps two voices of reason, majority of the talk show hosts in Pakistan are narrow minded, one dimensional,  Zardari hating, Osama worshiping, illiterate gangsters who are determined to destroy logical and analytical thinking in Pakistan by constantly airing pro-Taliban and anti American views.

This madness has to stop.

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Filed under disaster, Media

Disaster management – which way now?

Raza Rumi

When the earthquake hit us on the morning of 8th October 2005, we said that the disaster caught us with our pants down. The mini disasters of Cyclone Yemyin in 2007, the Ziarat earthquake in 2008 and the presently unfolding mega disaster suggest that we never bothered to pull our pants up and are continuously trying to cover our nether regions with Post-It stickers. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was launched in 2007 with a lot of fanfare but a quick look at the (recently lapsed) National Disaster Management Ordinance tells us that it is another toothless tiger whose job is to ‘coordinate’ among its provincial, regional and district-level counterparts. Now, we are a very funny nation. When it comes to taking responsibility for public, we quickly don our ‘federal’ garb and declare that the centre cannot interfere in a job that is primarily provincial/local. Such commitment to federalism, alas, is never forthcoming when it comes to resource exploitation, but that is another story.

NDMA’s mandate can perhaps be classified into three categories: mainstreaming risk-reduction in development programmes, overseeing contingency planning, and coordinating response to disasters.

Before the media promotes NDMA over Zardari and fake-degree holders, as being chiefly responsible for all our woes, it would be pertinent to look at the organization’s capacities and powers. After its establishment, a retired army official was appointed as its head. It took a while before the consultants hired by the United Nations could come up with an organizational structure. But NDMA could not attract the best of professionals chiefly for the work environment. This resulted in NDMA ending up mostly, with pen-pushers. Continue reading

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Floods and the Existential Threat

By Adnan Syed

 The existential threat comes from disowning the democratic structure, giving up on it and looking yet again for another instant messiah in face of tremendous adversity and hopelessness.

 We were wrong in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s when the elected governments were overthrown. And if we continue with our mindless obsession with artificial stability, we would be wrong in 2010 yet again.

 (AZW)

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Filed under Army, baluchistan, Constitution, Democracy, Judiciary, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, public policy, Rights

Pakistan’s disaster could lead to a systemic collapse

Raza Rumi

The colossal humanitarian tragedy and the imminent economic meltdown, will now shape a new Pakistan or rather, exacerbate its predicament in the months and years to come. Pakistan’s chronic political instability, structural economic constraints and a warped national security policy are all going to be affected by the unfolding drama of the national disaster, perhaps the severest, in the country’s history. Whilst the challenges have snowballed within a short duration of ten days, the response of the Pakistani state and society underline extremely dangerous trends and make us wonder about future of the country, as we have known it for the last 63 years.

Systemic shock:

Pakistan had reverted to quasi-democratic rule after a decade of dictatorship in March 2008. Since the resumption of the electoral process in February 2008, the traditionally powerful unelected institutions, had acquired both legitimacy and unprecedented powers. The power troika of the 1990s had transformed into a quartet comprising the army, judiciary, the media and the civilian government which was represented by a ‘discredited’ president who has been a constant punching bag for the unelected institutions of the state.
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Filed under baluchistan, disaster, Pakistan, strategy, Terrorism, violence, Zardari

“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

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Filed under Pakistan, Politics, Zardari