Politics Versus Economics (FreePakistan Newsletter # 143)
0 Issue of the month: Trampling Balochistan
FreePakistan Newsletter # 143
0 Politics versus economics
By Dr Ishrat Husain
By Dr Ishrat Husain
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Trampling Balochistan
0 Basic social services to all
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POLITICS VERSUS ECONOMICS
By Dr Ishrat Husain
By Dr Ishrat Husain
[The writer is a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. The article first appeared in The News International (Money Matters) on October 22, 2012.]
A question often asked is that when current economic ills have been diagnosed and we know what needs to be done, why doesn’t it happen? The reason is the inherent disjuncture between the political risks a ruling party is willing to take and the economic rewards accruing through prudent economic management that will take care of these economic ills.
This asymmetry between the incurrence of the costs and the appropriation of benefits lies at the heart of the non-reformist stance of democratically elected governments. India – the largest democracy in the world – has recently been faced with a similar dilemma. The Coalition UPA Government was – and is still – under serious threat of rupture because of the courageous economic reforms recently initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Prudent economic management requires control on public expenditures, raising unpopular taxes, removing subsidies, stripping off public sector corporations, restraining non-productive job creation in the government departments/ agencies, tackling corruption and waste and appointing the right person to the right job. The rewards of this prudence will appear in the form of reduction in fiscal deficit, lower inflation, monetary and exchange rate stability, resurgence of growth and decline in indebtedness.
Further, economic rewards usually become available with the passage of time when the ruling party or the coalition may no longer be at the helm of the affairs and the credit may be claimed by their opponents. Furthermore, the benefits are spread widely and diffused over a large segment of population – not necessarily among the supporters of the ruling party that has taken unpopular decisions to set the economy on the right path. As a matter of fact some of the supporters of the ruling party or coalition may actually be deprived of their privileges and pelf as a result of these reforms.
What are the immediate or short term political costs? In a constituency-based electoral system, the sitting elected representative has to satisfy the expectations of the people at the local level. These people are least concerned with larger macroeconomic issues but are preoccupied with their own bread and butter issues. They want roads, electricity, drinking water, schools, clinics, fertiliser, cooking gas in their areas, whether these are economically justified or not. They want subsidies on irrigation water, electricity, gas, seeds, fertiliser and tractors. They want jobs for their sons and daughters and do not care if the latter are qualified for the position or not.
The aggregation of these local demands at the national level creates a catastrophe for the fiscal and macroeconomic situation. The public sector is overstaffed to accommodate the constituents’ demands. Subsidies are administered without any targeting and wreck fiscal accounts. Development expenditure on unviable projects and at inflated contract prices is made liberally, forcing the government to borrow while funds are siphoned off as kickbacks, commissions, payoffs by the politicians to build the war chest for election expenses.
Further, when jobs are dispensed on the basis of connections rather than merit, performance is unlikely to be stellar. If the SHO, tehsildar, Irrigation SDO, teachers and other officials are posted at the recommendation of the local member of assembly, they have no choice but to oblige him and his supporters and harass and harm opponents. It doesn’t matter if the law and order situation deteriorates, crimes rises, revenue collection declines, water is wasted.
The constraints of constituency politics are exacerbated by the dynamics of coalition politics. As Pakistan is likely to be governed by a coalition in the future, minority partners will extract a price in return for providing support to the government. Threats to quit the government on one pretext or another weaken the resolve of the majority party to take tough but right economic decisions. The resistance against the General Sales Tax by one of the components parties in 2010 ultimately led to the breakdown of the agreement with the IMF, causing irreparable harm to the economy. The majority party could not do very much as its very survival was at stake.
The compulsions of political expediency are at loggerheads with the dictates of good governance and prudent economic management. If a well-meaning finance minister, worried about the economic decline and dysfunctional economic institutions, sticks his neck out with corrective measures, he is vehemently opposed by his cabinet colleagues. He is accused of sabotaging their chances of victory at the hustings, alienating their voters and eroding popular support. Insinuations and false allegations are hurled about in the media to weaken his resolve. The collective wrath, outrage and intrigues against him become so ferocious that he has either to backtrack, soft pedal or put his proposals on the back burner. Those who resist the pressure and persist with their views are shown the door.
How can this in-built tension between political risks and economic rewards be resolved?
The point to remember is that this tension is not unique to Pakistan but is commonplace among most democratic countries. Those who succeeded in resolving this tension were visionary leaders with a sense of history and their place therein. They had foresight, which extended beyond the next electoral cycle. They chose competent persons to head key institutions, gave them power and held them accountable for results without interfering in day-to-day affairs. They selected and retained ministers who could deliver on the goals assigned to them – fix energy shortages, build sound infrastructure, increase educational enrolment etc.
This type of visionary leader realised that he and his party would ultimately look good if the benefits of his policy and management are widely and evenly distributed across the various segments of population. The local politician would derive support in this constituency on the basis of this general boost in economic growth, employment opportunities, higher incomes, access to education, health and drinking water; he can bask in the glory of achievements of his party in power.
The visionary leader made his party realise that the game they were playing – selective benefits to a few – was fraught with greater political risk. With a vocal media and a vigilant civil society at hand, the tales of their corruption, nepotism and misuse of power are exaggerated by their opponents and disseminated widely bringing them and their party a bad name. But if the country and its people enjoy the fruits of economic development and prosperity, the party can use this track record to convince the electorate to vote them back into power. The chances they would are quite high. In this scenario, the political risks are minimal and economic rewards are maximized. [Courtesy The News International]
BUY THE ROAD, SIR
[A concerned citizen, Karachi]
This is with reference to the Supreme Court’s suggestion to the president to buy the road in front of Bilawal House in Karachi with reference to your report of October 24. With due respect to the honourable court, offering the option to buy public property sets a wrong precedent since, for our politicians, money seems to be no issue. Over the years, barriers, walls and armed checkpoints have been erected to prevent public access to the road in front of Bilawal House. Commuters are forced to either take the service lane or a much longer alternative route. Is the court implying that politicians are free to encroach on public property as long as they pay for it? [The Express Tribune]
SOME FACTS ABOUT SMILES
[Ashfaq Sharif, Karachi]
I want to share a little about smiles with everyone, irrespective of their religion and belief system.
A smile is the first language of love.
A smile is the mirror of personality.
A smile is the second name of life.
A smile is the symbol of happiness.
A smile is the sign of sweetness.
A smile costs nothing but gives a lot in return so always keep smiling and stay happy. It does not mean that those who are always smiling do not have problems in their life; it just means that somebody has learned how to hide tears behind a cheerful face. [Daily Times]
CULTURE OF VULTURES
[Ali Malik Tariq, USA]
Pakistan must revert back to a modern welfare democratic state, instead of distorted version of a security state that it has been forced to become by military dictators in collaboration with corrupt civil bureaucracy inherited and trained by ‘Colonial Raj’ to rule an occupied colony. The armed forces have a role in the country that of protecting the geographical boundaries, not to assume unto themselves supra constitutional powers to detain citizens in times of peace and be allegedly involved in missing persons case. They lack the intellectual capacity and foresight to rule and set priorities for a sovereign state to develop its infrastructure and become self reliant both economically and technologically, nor the political wisdom to be respected in comity of nations.
It were corrupt adventurers like Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf, who abused their offices to illegitimately occupy power and deliberately introduce culture of institutionalised corruption within the forces by legitimizing plunder of real estate and involvement of security establishment in corporate business ventures. The British distributed land, titles and jobs as bait for natives to buy their loyalty, such tactics are rarely resorted to by sovereign states, which focus on welfare of the most deprived sections of society, instead of welfare of its paid elite civil and uniformed servants, for doing jobs that they are paid for.
With the Quaid-i-Azam‘s death, elements of the Unionist Party, that had joined the bandwagon of Muslim League prevailed and the establishment resorted to large scale allotment of vast evacuee property on fake claims, to plunder assets left behind by affluent Hindus and Sikhs, thereby creating a new class of novae rich who then assumed political power and laid foundations of a culture of corruption that has now eroded the very foundations of Pakistan. Our founding fathers led by Quaid-i-Azam, Allama Iqbal, Fazalul Haq, Abdullah Haroon, Malik Barkat Ali etc could never have visualized that ‘Land Mafia Dons’ would emerge as kingmakers of Pakistan, who could defy not just our highest judiciary, but get away with robbing the poor and destitute, a country where institutions of state, meant to serve public, such as Railways, PIA, OGDC, FBR are handed over to thugs, crooks or dual nationals to be destroyed systematically. [The Nation]
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]
It is reported in the FP on 7th October that the former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani decided to leave the President House the day when his son, who is involved in a criminal case, was arrested in front of the main gate of the Presidency. In my opinion his excuse is selfish. In the first place Mr. Gilani should explain as to why instead of going back to his home he remained hiding in a hole in the Presidency? And if his son is innocent then he should present him for independent investigation through legal process as has been done by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for his own son Arsalan. Could Mr. Gilani differentiate between his and the CJP conduct and conscience when both of them held the top posts?
It is a fact that whenever a person is bestowed with the authority or riches by the Allah Almighty, actually he is put to a test as to how he would make use of that authority or the riches for himself and humanity. In both the cases the position is clear to this nation. As for his assertion regarding removal of the bureaucrats by the incumbent PM, Mr. Gilani should know that every head of government wants the officials of his confidence and choice to run day to day business smoothly and efficiently.
The ex-PM is advised to return to his home town and seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah for his misdoings which he committed during his tenure when he was made guardian of the public, or then continue his family business of swindling the simple hapless Mureeds by writing charmed amulets them. [The Frontier Post]
WHAT A MINISTER!
[Shahryar Khan Baseer, Peshawar]
Rehman Malik is the interior minister of Pakistan but he seems to have little knowledge about Pakistan’s actual situation. The ‘great’ minister made a statement in the press recently saying that he was aware of the people who had shot the brave Malala Yousufai in Swat. Unfortunately, just below this report in the newspaper was another report in which the government was offering a reward for any information on the people who had attacked Malala. Why does the government not pay Rehman Malik, as he seems to know all these things, and use the information he gives to capture the people who are responsible? If Rehman Malik does not have the information as the interior minister of Pakistan, he should stop giving fake statements, especially in cases that are sensitive in nature for the people of Pakistan. [Daily Times]
CM BALOCHISTAN AND EDUCATION
[M Rafique Zakaria, Karachi]
“Future building depends on promotion of education...promotion of education is key to development,” says none other than Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani in a quarter-page advertisement, released by the government of Balochistan. Isn’t Nawab Raisani the same person who had proudly told this nation “degree to degree hoti hai, asli ho ya naqli?” After this legendary saying, does the CM Balochistan have any moral authority to lecture people on the importance of education? [The News]
ART OF LETTER WRITING
[Col. Syed Riaz Jafri (r), Rawalpindi]
It seems that letter writing is the most difficult task for the Minister of Law as this is one of several drafts that have been written and the apex court has objected numerous times. This exercise has been going on for quite some time now and one fails to understand as to what is so difficult in wording a simple letter of cancellation. The letter could be phrased very simply and should have no ambiguity, or, if there is something that the government (the Law Minister) cannot understand then an Honourable Judge of the SC should help him draft the letter? The whole issue can be resolved in a few minutes. This seems to be an exercise in wasting time that our government and courts seems to excel at. I would have taken the simpler and easier action if this had been my Special Military Court during the Martial Law. [The Nation]
IMRAN’S AMAN MARCH
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
A lot is being discussed on TV shows and written in the print media about Imran Khan’s announced ‘Aman march’ to Wazirastan but which ended with his speech at the Jahaz Ground, Tank, a few miles short of its destination. The detractors looking visibly pleased for his not making it to the end conveniently forget the APCs, the containers and other impediments placed in the path of the marchers which delayed them and deprived them of the sun light so badly needed to move in the mountainous area. The army and other security agencies strongly advised Imran Khan against taking any risks which could jeopardize the life of the marchers.
Imran being a sane and caring person and not given to personal ego decided not to endanger the lives of his party men and compatriots. Who knows, his such decision might have actually saved the lives of many – may be hundreds of them – and thus avoided sacrificing them at his ego alter? How I wish BB had also heeded to the warnings of the govt. on 18th October 2007 for her 10 hour snail speed march and that too during the night from Karachi airport to Quaid’s mausoleum and had not thus deprived about 150 families of their bread earners for the rest of their lives?!
FAILURE OF SECURITY FORCES
[Gangly Khan, Mandi Bahauddin]
Security forces of Pakistan have failed to eliminate terrorism in the country. The terrorists have gained superiority over security forces. They can hit anywhere at time of their choosing. Government has no writ in Tribal Areas which have attained status of no go area for citizens of Pakistan. Army deployed there have no clear mission. The area is ruled by Taliban’s. Our rulers are busy in making money. Politicians struggle to get share in government to promote their own interests. Religious leaders act as contractor of Islam and interpret teaching of Islam in a way that suit their personal interest. Establishment is busy to misappropriate funds and fleece poor public. At district level, government officers and their staff pounce on the weak to suck their blood. In mosques every sermon is ended with giving blaming rulers as agents of US. They openly show support and sympathies with Taliban. A propaganda campaign is going on against armed forces to lower troop’s morale. It appears forces responsible for maintenance of peace have knelt down before Taliban. No one can dear to raise voice against their brutal acts.
Terrorists live and hide among the people but no one have courage to point out their presence. Police hesitate to arrest them. If police challan them the courts acquit them. They have free hand to take on any one. They have no respect for life. When they give threat to anyone that is taken as final word. No one is safe from them. Under such situation they are going to succeed in their mission. Our present government set up is completely confused and it has no plan to deal with terrorism menace. They in their meetings continue to reiterate their commitment and renew their pledge to kill terrorists on all costs. Practically, the time has shown they have no capability to do so. Can some one give some workable solution other than condemnation of brutal attack on Malala and other girl students?
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
Not a day passes when a dozen or so innocent people are not killed in Karachi, mostly on account of preplanned target killing. Though the law enforcing agencies are blamed for their incompetency to control the crime yet, I think it is just beyond them. The main reason is that the terrorists have the initiative to chose the time, place and the target which is not known to the law enforcement forces, and they cannot be at every place. Each incident comes to them as a total surprise and they can only react to it after it has happened rather than preempt or prevent it before hand. Again 99 percent of the killing is done by the motor cyclists, who after committing the crime disappear weaving their way through the side streets and the bylanes of the thickly populated Karachi city.
Now, it is a common knowledge that there have to be at least two of them on a bike to perform the heinous act. A single person on the motorbike cannot do it. So, wouldn’t it help if the pillion riding is banned in Karachi for good or for as long as required, as it is done on certain special religious occasions and political rallies etc? I am fully aware of the inconvenience it would cause to the general public, especially the middle class, but would that be more than the loss and agony suffered by the families of the victims who lose their near and dear bread earners for the rest of their lives?!
Issue of the month: Trampling Balochistan
A PROVINCE WITHOUT HOPE
[Jalaaluddin Baloch, Quetta]
The narrative of the Baloch youth is clouded over with hopelessness and pessimism. Young students can typically be heard lamenting the loss of peace, the failed education system and their lack of liberty. This sentiment mocks the loud claims made by the government of removing the many grievances of the Baloch people. Hopes and expectations have been raised time and again, only to be shattered when there is no real development made in making Balochistan a safer, more secure province. Peace has evaded the people here because of a lack of law and order and only foreign intervention seems to get the Pakistani government up and moving on our issues. Recently a UN mission was called in to take note of the missing persons issue. While sharing their views, some university students in Balochistan have pointed out the influential nexus between members of the powerful elite, allowing them to control the narrative of the province.
One needs to beware of the “pitfalls of national consciousness”, as explained by Frantz Fanon. Nationalism, as Fanon argues, often fails at achieving liberation across class boundaries because its aspirations are primarily those of the colonised bourgeoisie — a privileged middle class that seeks to defeat the prevailing colonial rule only to usurp its place of dominance and surveillance over the working class. It is true that the people of Balochistan have been robbed of their liberty but it is the liberty of free thought that they have lost. The Baloch must be liberated from the shackles of illiteracy, which is possible only by launching an educational campaign for the people of Balochistan. Considering the increase in Balochistan’s budget, not much would be needed to resurrect the education sector. The Baloch must be brought into the mainstream after having lost their peace and liberty. [Daily Times]
WHICH WAY FOR BALOCHISTAN?
[Nirode Mohanty, CA, US]
This is with reference to Kamal Siddiqi’s article “Which way for Balochistan?” (October 1). Since 1947, Pakistan has been a great advocate of the right of self-determination of Kashmiris and has spent huge sums of money over the years for the sake of its stance on the Kashmir issue. Can Pakistanis acknowledge and give Balochis the same right of self-determination, which they want for the people of Kashmir? Pakistan should accord this right to Balochistsan first. Then it will have the moral right to demand the same in Kashmir. [The Express Tribune]
[Khawaja Umer Farooq, Jeddah, KSA]
Due to government silence and weak position things are going bad to worse in Baluchistan province and killing of innocent people still continues in different parts of province. Infect sentiments are going high in province and government is also losing battle against time. According to media new Bloch nationalist leader Akahtar Mengal submitted his details statement in supreme court regarding recent unrest and missing people case in Balochistan province. Although government powerful agencies denied all allegations regarding missing people and said no one is in illegal custody but true reality is that case of missing persons has become miserable chapter of Pakistan political history. After US led war on terror thousands of people are missing and believed to be in illegal detention by national and international secret agencies.
During the last four years several charred bodies are found in different parts of province and according to human rights organizations more than four thousand people are still missing. Ethnic Hazara community is paying high price and several members of community lost their lives in incident of Target killing. Terrorist are targeting school teachers, security personnel’s, labors and ordinary people. Recently college principle who raised national flag in his college was shot down in front of his house with his small children. Brother of member of national assembly also lost his life in incident of target killing. According to FC sources more than twelve foreign agencies are working in Baluchistan and providing weapons, training and money to different groups. Several ministers belonging to ruling party are also involved in lawlessness. [Pakistan Observer]
POOR HEALTHCARE IN QUETTA
[M. Aamir Kasi, Quetta]
Balochistan is backward in all sectors if one compares it with other provinces of the country. Quetta is considered the most developed city of the province. In fact, poorly developed infrastructure, deteriorating security situation and population explosion has made Quetta not worthy of being the capital of the province. Along with other burdens, one more burden on the citizens is exploitation of their basic right of health. Provisions of basic health facilities in public hospitals are almost zero as doctors in Quetta pay more attention to their private clinics rather than their service in public hospitals.
One finds crowded private hospitals round the year because a large number of Afghans from different cities of Afghanistan and rural areas of Balochistan come to avail themselves of Quetta’s health facilities. Doctor’s prime concern is to earn money. There are some doctors who see 120 to 200 patients from afternoon till late night. It is impossible for them to diagnose and give required time to address patients’ problems while checking such a large number of patients in a single day.
The fee varies from Rs500 to Rs1,000 plus expensive laboratory tests. Today doctors in Quetta are among the richest persons in the city. That is why they are the prime target for ransom by outlaws.
The percentage of medical supply stores in Quetta is far more than other cities of Pakistan. Medical distributing companies consider Quetta a profitable market and to sustain the high demand of drugs, these companies give share-profit in specific drugs to doctors who prescribe these drugs. Companies also provide other incentives to doctors such as family tour visit to foreign countries, brand new cars and household appliances, etc. To further enhance their income, doctors prescribe drugs which a patient does not need. So patients reluctantly buy those drugs at a high cost. As a result, patients’ health further deteriorates, forcing the poor patients to spend more and move to Karachi for medical treatment. This is the reason Karachi is having more patients from Balochistan, especially from Quetta. It is time the government and civil societies raised voice against the doctors-pharmaceutical company mafia in Quetta. [Dawn]
[Jan Mohammad, Charsada]
This is in apropos to news item captioned “Akhtar Mengal’s six points” (Oct. 04). The Ex-Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s squabbling in the Supreme Court on the case of forced disappearances has created hullabaloo in the political circle of Pakistan. In fact, Mengal’s six point agenda was essentially a call for cleansing the mess for holding a reconciliation process through negotiations that will lead towards resolving the Baloch quagmire including enforced disappearance. Nonetheless, a majority of Pakistan’s intelligentsia believe that the situation is not that culpable that warrants Akhtar Mengal’s charge-sheet. There is no military operation going on in Balochistan, so there is no question of halting it. There are no death squads, no covert or overt military operations, no missing persons in the custody of the military in Balochistan.
It is unbecoming of ex-CM of Balochistan, not to speak of the presence of death squads operated by Baloch militant youth and supported by RAW operatives that are killing “settlers” (ethnic non-Baloch) in the province - i.e, Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons, Hazaras and Urdu-speaking people. Currently, no group can argue that they are blameless. Taking Balochistan out of the quandary will require a gigantic effort by all the political parties, selfless intelligentsia and social reformists.
According to them, a better course might have been a call to an all partu conference to pave the way towards a just and rational resolution of Balochistan issues. In this connection, before identifying the key actors of the Balochistan conflict, the government and the armed groups should agree to a ceasefire.
All the Marri, Mengal, Magsi, Bugti, Raisani, Zehri and other tribes should be engaged in the consultations and the armed struggle should be terminated. With the placement of independent judiciary, an enlightened civil society coupled with a vigorous media, redress of grievances can be amicably addressed. Our well-aware politicians need to display greater responsibility by avoiding their narrow political gains over the national interests. The media also needs to act more responsibly keeping in front the axiom of “Pakistan first”. The law and order situation in Pakistan is not bigger than what was in Sri Lanka and if Sri Lankans can overcome their issues then, we can also resolve our inter and intra-provincial differences. [The Frontier Post]
BALOCHISTAN NOW ON INTERNATIONAL TABLES
[Professor Ali Sukhanver, Multan]
A sense of insecurity, a feeling of deprivation and a scenario coloured with dejection; what else do the people of Balochistan have in their lives. Countless target killings mingled with a continuous series of missing persons have added more miseries to the lives of the Baloch people. The situation is neither encouraging nor hopeful but the Supreme Court of Pakistan under the magnanimous command of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is doing its best to resolve this issue which is painful since the creation of Pakistan. It was hoped that things would improve and the people of Balochistan would live a peaceful life and prosper. The situation in the province would never have come to this if the province had been treated the same way as others.
The Baloch were never treated equally or given any justice. The most to blame are the rich Sardars that mostly live abroad and have no sense of patriotism in bringing this province, blessed with Allah’s bounty to this condition where not only local but international players are playing poker with the lives of the Baloch people. Today almost all members of the Balochistan Provincial Assembly are enjoying the status of provincial ministers but the poor people who live there are as empty handed as they have ever been. The high-ups of the Pakistan Army claim to have established a lot of school, building new roads and bridges and have started new plans for industrial development in Balochistan; but doing this kind of job is not a part of their responsibilities; these things should have been done by the political leadership of Balochistan. The Sardars must realise the gravity of the situation. It is the high time for them to take care of the people of Balochistan, otherwise things might change into a scenario which won’t be very pleasant and comfortable for them. [The Nation]
THE BALOCHISTAN CAULDRON
[Muhammad Ali Ehsan, Karachi]
Akhtar Mengal was blunt and honest in voicing the Baloch’s concerns when he said that the ISI and the MI were involved in enforced disappearances and covert military operations by “death squads” in Balochistan. The military leadership, after issuing an immediate denial, perhaps considers itself absolved from the accusations. The accusations exist nonetheless and so do frustration and anger among the people of Balochistan. Mengal rightly feels disappointed and frustrated but he must get out of the hopelessness mode and show the way forward to the people of Balochistan, especially when elections are fast approaching and there is a growing feeling that the Baloch nationalists may boycott the elections.
Mengal knows well that assemblies are the best platform to fight the province’s case. Believing, and asking the people of Balochistan to believe, in the independence and neutrality of state institutions, like the superior judiciary and the Election Commission, may just be the right step. Though the government’s rejection of Mengal’s six points has dimmed the prospect of reconciliation between the Baloch nationalists and the state, both parties should not give up finding a middle ground. Reconciliation must lead, at the minimum, to three outcomes: the release or handover of all missing persons to a judicial body; breaking off all links with any terrorist groups and their sponsors on the part of Baloch resistance; and complete freedom to the Baloch to carry out political activities without any interference. The reconciliation process must be monitored directly by the Supreme Court. [The News]
[Col Syed Riaz Jafri (r), Rawalpindi]
Ostensibly there seems nothing wrong with the six points raised by Sardar Akhtar Mengal, which are, an immediate end to all military operations, the missing persons to be presented before the court, the abolition of agency death squads, free rein to Baloch political parties to function, punishment to those found guilty of heinous crimes, and rehabilitation of thousands of displaced persons in the province. But what was surprising was his likening them to the Six-Points of Mujibur Rehman. Far from it, Mujib’s points had the seeds of secession in them, whereas these points, as he himself says, contain nothing against the constitution of Pakistan. If we analyse the points one by one, some of them are found to be without much substance. For example the first point asks for ‘an immediate end to all military operation’. There are no repeat military operations going on in Balochistan. What is taking place there is an odd action by the FC, which is a provincial Force and operates under the orders of the Provincial government. FC is a paramilitary force essentially to augment the provincial police in maintaining law and order and guarding the frontiers of the province.
If the FC is removed only the Levies will be left in the province who are not mobile, equipped or trained for rapid deployment at a troubled spot anywhere in the province which is a huge land mass with one of the most difficult hilly and desert terrains in the country and secondly they (Levies) are paid by the Sardars themselves in their respective areas. They shall as such carry out the orders of their local Sardars, which would not only tantamount to their being personal force of the Sardar concerned, but would also serve their interests. The next questionable point is about the ‘abolition of agency death squads’, which the agencies emphatically deny that any such squad exists. Whether they exist or not, the very name given to the squad is atrocious and must be eliminated if one exists. However, one wonders, as to why Sardar Akhtar could not himself unearth the existence of any such ‘Death Squad’ involved in the killing of his own brother when he was the Chief Minister of the Province for nearly a year and half.
We should also ask which ‘Death Squads’ are behind the killings in the province in the name of ethnic cleansing of the non-Balochis, the Hazarajats, the Pushtoons, the Punjabis, the Sindhis, the Urdu Speaking, the Shias, that have been killed in hundreds and are being killed daily basis. One sincerely hopes that when the Sardar demands ‘punishment to those found guilty for heinous crimes,’ he means to include the murderers of the above mentioned non-Balochis as well. One can understand Mian Sahib singing the tune of punishment, probably more on account of a personal vendetta against Musharraf, rather than sympathy with the Bugtis. However, as Gen Kayani, a man of few words but meaning each one of them when spoken – reportedly sometime back in a high powered meeting, where a member tried to blame the army for the murder of Akbar Bugti, had interjected emphatically not to malign the army for any such murder.
Akhtar Mengal also spoke of the need for the government to hold talks with the true leadership of the province instead of the ‘manufactured’ ones. Now who are the real leaders is a big question, to decide from a horde of Marris, Bugtis, Jamalis, Magsis, Raesanis, Jams, Rinds, Lasharis, Hooths, Korais, Khosas and Jatoisto name a few. The tribal societal bonds of a tribe are so strong that each one of them considers itself to be the pure blooded Baloch and superior to others. As such the Sardar of each tribe wants to hold the imperial scepter of representing the entire province all by himself.
All said and done, there is little doubt that the province of Balochistan has not been given its due share in its overall development. It is also a fact that the natural resources of the province have benefited other parts of Pakistan rather than the province itself. Ironically, it was during Musharraf’s regime that the Province made some progress which was more than the progress made in the past. It is, therefore, time that all political parties and state organs made a determined and concerted effort to bring the development of the province at par with the other provinces, which incidentally does not comprise of the Baloch alone. [The Nation]
COMPARING BALOCHISTAN WITH KASHMIR
[Dr Nisar A Kayani, Islamabad]
This is with reference to Nirode Mohanty’s letter “Which way for Balochistan?” (October 2), which was in response to Kamal Siddiqi’s article of the same name (October 1). Mr Mohanty wants Pakistan to give the people of Balochistan the right of self-determination in order to have the moral right to demand the same for the people of Kashmir. I fail to understand why Mr Mohanty is comparing Kashmir with Balochistan? Balochistan is an established province of the Pakistani federation, whereas Kashmir is internationally recognised as a disputed territory. The Kashmir dispute is even present on the agenda of the UN Security Council. India had agreed to a plebiscite under UN auspices to decide the status of Kashmir. However, it continues to deny the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris despite its promises. Pakistan does not support the demand of any other part of India to form a separate state. So, Mr Mohanty should refrain from equating Balochistan with Kashmir. [The Express Tribune]
It is for the people, especially for the think-tanks and NGOs, and no doubt for media also, that the big issue for the next election should be the provision of basic social services (water supply, sanitation, public transport, roads, paved streets, street lights, libraries, parks or playgrounds, and noise and pollution free environment) to all the citizens in Pakistan not only ensured in the constitution but binding on the next government also. If achieved, that will be a great step forward towards the unification of the ordinary and elite Pakistans. Is there any political party ready to take up this at the top of its agenda? [Editor]
[Monis Kumar, Makran]
I am a resident of Makran, a place where people have always suffered from lack of libraries. They look towards libraries to gain knowledge by reading books. While some of the concerned authorities have constructed a few libraries, all of them lack a variety of books because people have stolen many of the books due to the lack of CCTV cameras and employees who can keep an eye on things. The people of Makran have been known to go to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad just to be able to access libraries so that they can ready themselves to compete in their exams. I would like to request the government and the authorities concerned to construct more libraries, provide books and monitor them so that nobody gets a chance to steal books but everyone gets the chance to read. [Daily Times]
FUTURE OF PERSONAL LIBRARIES
[Jawed Ahmed Khursheed, Karachi]
The future of personal libraries in Pakistan is uncertain. Libraries and institutions are not capable of preserving personal libraries due to insufficient resources and devoid of scientific trend to preserve a personal collection. Many libraries are holding the personal collections of the noted personalities particularly scholars. Many literaties have donated their personal collections to some of the known institutions of Pakistan. The University of Karachi, the University of the Punjab and the Hamdard University are those universities where many known writers have donated their personal collections. Among those who donated their personal collections to the University of Karachi were Ahsan Marahravi, Molvi Bashiruddin Ahmed and Abulais Siddiqui. Dr. Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Mirza Ali Azhar Barlas, Hameedudin Shahid, Dr. Sohail Bukhari, Dr. Shokat Sabzwari and Dr. Riazul Hassan.
Prof. Dr. Moinuddin Aqeel said in his booklet, titled, “Mera Kutab Khana: its specialty, uniqueness… and its future” that he had seen some of the rare manuscripts and books collected by Muhammed Amin Zubairy, a known biographer, in the British library, England, which it purchased in seventies. He lamented that he saw books of his elders’ personal collections being sold at footpaths. In the booklet, Dr. Aqeel has shared to its readers what has compelled to him to ship recently his rare personal collection to Koyoto University, Graduate School of Asia and Africa Area Studies, Japan where the university has planned to name a section of its library as Aqeel Collection.
There are many personal collections waiting to be preserved for the generations to come. Dr. Jamil Jalibi and Dr. Farman Fateh Puri have also their significant personal collections. Dr. Aslam Farukhi, Prof. Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Prof. Sahar Ansari, Dr. Tahseen Firaqi, Ikram Chughtai, Afzal Haq Qureshi, Muhammed Alam Mukhtar-e- Haq and Iqbal Mujadadi are few scholars of high stature whose personal collections deserve to be preserved. I request the President of Pakistan and Chief Justice of Pakistan to look into the matter and reserve a place in Pakistan where personal collections can be preserved and efforts to upload such rare collection on line are also requested. [Pakistan Observer]
LIBRARY GATHERING DUST
[Hazqeel Murtaja Sarki, Larkana]
The Shahnawaz Bhutto Memorial Library in Larkana, instead of being a source of academic relief, is just another example of resource inadequacy. There is hardly enough space in the library to accommodate the ever-increasing student population in Larkana. I wish I had the resources at my disposal to reconstruct and make the library user-friendly with the latest books and up-to-date computer, periodical and newspaper sections. Alas! I can only protest. Even that falls on the deaf ears of the administrative wings of the provincial government. I salute the policy makers of the country who think little and resultantly invest peanuts on the education sector. This is in contrast to our spending huge amounts on developing deterrent weapons, often slicing away from the share of developmental projects. [Daily Times]
Edited and prepared by
[FreePakistan Newsletter, among other things, is a compilation of views and news taken from the national newspapers’ print and online editions. It is not possible to mention the source of every piece of news or view made use of herein; but as a matter of policy, where possible the source is mentioned with due thanks. However, no opinion expressed here should necessarily be taken as reflecting the view of Free Pakistan Newsletter.]
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