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Of Khaki And Mufti (FreePakistan Newsletter # 145)

CONTENTS:

 January 2013

 0 Of khaki and mufti
By Nadir Hassan
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Monkeying the CNG business
0 Basic social services to all



 


FreePakistan Newsletter # 145
[January, 2013]
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CONTENTS:

0 Of khaki and mufti
By Nadir Hassan
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Monkeying the CNG business
0 Basic social services to all
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URDU BLOG: SAB KA PAKISTAN

Protecting personal freedom and establishing rule of law can transform Pakistan already misappropriated by the elite classes into Sab ka Pakistan. The Blog contextualizes important news and developments regularly.

Visit, read and comment http://Hum-Azad.org/blog
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Quote of the Month:

What, then, do they want a government for? Not to regulate commerce; not to educate the people; not to teach religion, not to administer charity; not to make roads and railways; but simply to defend the natural rights of man -- to protect person and property -- to prevent the aggressions of the powerful upon the weak -- in a word, to administer justice. This is the natural, the original, office of a government. It was not intended to do less: it ought not to be allowed to do more.

[Herbert Spencer, "The Proper Sphere of Government" (1843)]
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Free Pakistan, a monthly newsletter, exists for the promotion of limited government, rule of law, protection of property rights, market economy, individual freedom, and private initiative. Its vision is a free and prosperous Pakistan; for only such a Pakistan can contribute positively to the creation of a free and prosperous world.

The Newsletter is an affiliate of Alternate Solutions Institute, Lahore, Pakistan, http://asinstitute.org, the first free market think tank of Pakistan. Urdu website: http://Hum-Azad.org
Urdu blog: http://Hum-Azad.org/blog

The Alternate Solutions Institute is a registered, non-profit, non-political, non-governmental, educational and research organization. Its mission is to promote a limited responsible government in Pakistan under the rule of law protecting life, liberty, and property of all of its individual citizens without any discrimination.

For more information, comments and contributions, contact the institute at info@asinstitute.org
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DISCOVER YOUR POLITICAL LEANINGS! World's Smallest Political Quiz

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PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY

What is Philosophy of Liberty? A screensaver by Lux Lucre and Ken Schoolland explains it.
http://www.jonathangullible.com ; www.philosophyofliberty.com
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OF KHAKI AND MUFTI
By Nadir Hassan

[The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad. The article first appeared in The Express Tribune on December 13, 2012.]

There are two diametrically-opposed ways legislators can act once they are voted into power. They can look at the Constitution as a chain holding them back — its principles ensuring that certain freedoms can never be curtailed no matter how much lawmakers may see the need to legislate them out of existence. Then, there are those who dislike a certain activity and feel their disapproval is enough to institute a ban. Right now, lawmakers which — thanks to an active judiciary — include parliamentarians, bureaucrats and judges, almost all fall squarely in the latter category.

The ban on YouTube, now into its third month, the constant cell phone blockades and the outlawing of late-night mobile phone packages all reflect the desire of our lawmakers to legislate individual morality. Right now, our democrats are not very democratic because they believe that simply being voted into power is enough cause for them to take any action they want, no matter how much it may infringe on our freedom. If shutting off cell phone services makes us 10 per cent safer but 50 per cent less free, then our representatives have decided that is all the justification they need.

There is one main reason why this obvious abridgment of freedom is tolerated by those who would consider themselves democrats. Any criticism of an elected government is seen by these self-appointed guardian of freedoms as an invitation to military rule. This point of view, no matter how absurd it may seem, is based on reality rather than blindness. Military coups have always been justified on the basis of how inept civilian governments are and so are always meant to exist only for a minuscule period of time, until those out of uniform can get their act together. This distant dream, obviously, is never realised and so the army sticks around indefinitely. All this leads us, during the rare moments of democratic rule, to overlook the ways in which civilian governments can be as thoughtless to the rights and freedoms of individuals.

That very same deference to non-military rule leads some to downplay corruption as a vice that is brought up only to enable the army. The plundering of the national exchequer may be a structural problem that can only be fixed over time but pointing out the foibles of individual problems should be the duty of every citizen. Doing so does not mean we crave the iron hand of the military, even as we should be cognisant of the fact that the military uses these allegations to justify its coups.

It can be difficult to maintain the fine line between criticising the dictatorial tendencies of democrats with actually embracing dictatorship. This fine line is one venal the civilian governments take advantage of by painting all its critics as wannabe Napoleons. One possible workaround to this perennial problem is by pointing out, whenever the individualised corruption of democrats is mentioned, the structural corruption that the military takes full advantage of, including stolen land provided at subsidised rates, inordinate benefit schemes and the largest industrial conglomerate in the country.

Certainly, there can be no denying the fact that civilian governments rob us blind and, in individual cases, take away vital freedoms. This is nothing, however, compared to military dictatorships that inaugurate themselves by suspending all rights and sustain their power by considering it their right to take any financial privilege. Both can be criticised but we should always remember which form of government is more worthy of condemnation. Our harshest words and protests should always be reserved for the men in khaki — who will never learn — rather than the democrats, who may someday improve. [Courtesy The Express Tribune]
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HumorWise

SON PM & FATHER PRESIDENT
[Iqbal Hadi Zaidi, Kuwait ]

Chair is after all a chair which doesn’t shun in any case but if it tinged with absolute power then everyone wants to get that chair and once if someone gets it then none wants to quit the chair and instead on the contra he invents different new ways and means both fair and unfair to stick to the chair for as long as possible if not till his death. Pakistanis have been found doing alike and our history pages tell us that most of those who occupied the chair to rule the country have resorted to both direct and indirect methods and actions by putting in their best possible efforts to prolong their stay and some of them did succeed as well. 27th December, 2012 Bilawal Zardari (I cannot add Bhutto with his name) son of President Asif Ali Zardai hasannounced publicly entering into politics of Pakistan whereby it goes without saying that Bilawalwill contest elections in 2013 and I can very well predict that he will win like PPP will win so Bilawal will be chosen as Prime Minister of Pakistan while father continues as President of Pakistan. Am I wrong in seeing son as PM and father as President? [The Frontier Post]

ANIMALS SYMBOLIZING ANIMALS
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

A majority of the election symbols issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan carry the pictures of different animals to represent parties and individual candidates. This is a very pertinent selection when based on the conduct of our parliamentarians. [Daily Times]

WHO RULES KARACHI; LAWS OR OUTLAWS?
[Imtiaz Ahmad, Takht Bhai, Mardan]

The vulnerable and maneuvering law and order situation in Karachi demands adequate steps and prompt action in the wake of time. No day departs without leaving tens of innocent commoners or security personnel being perished or slaughtered. One is puzzled at whom to confide in and whom to not in? Kidnapping for ransom, blackmailing, black marketing, target-killings and atrocities are the orders of the day. The law-enforcement agencies seem helpless in this regard owing to the mysterious and haphazard policy from all the stakeholders. The whole nation is worried and dare to ask why the outlaws are still at large not being dealt with iron hand. The nexus of Non-state actors, anti-social elements and foreign secret agencies have much more chances to exploit the situation to their advantage leaving no stones unturned to disintegrate Pakistan.

To add to the gruesome situation is the dying-or allegedly murdering of the hanged boy from the State Bank building heralds the dismal performance of our agencies-Rescue 1122 and our collective moral and social downfall. He remained hanged for almost 15 minutes but the spectators took lust by capturing videos providing so-called breaking news for media. We as a nation have become senseless wherein our country there is no value for human life. Those at the helm of affairs will have to address the matter seriously and mitigate the killings otherwise history will never forgive them. [The Frontier Post]

PIA PILOTS SACKED
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

Four PIA pilots have been sacked for possessing fake degrees. How much more disgrace can our national carrier bring to our reputation worldwide? It is about time we do away with the ‘Pathetic International Airline’ (PIA). [Daily Times]

TURKISH LIRA VS DOLLAR
[Roy Dilawer Khan, Hafizabad]

Imran Khan in many interviews and speeches repeatedly gives the example of Turkish Lira (currency) and Turkey’s progress. He reiterates that a decade before Turkish Lira was equal to 1 dollar. But then an honest leader came and now, 1.5 Turkish Lira is equal to 1 dollar. I don’t have much objection to the incorrect values of exchange rates. My objection is that he does not reveal that Turkish Parliament passed a law in 2003 which removed 6 zeroes from its original currency. Thus what was once 15lac lira automatically became 1.5 Lira. It was implemented on January 1, 2005 and today, one dollar makes 1.81 Turkish Liras. If he does so knowingly, it is active concealment and if unknowingly, then it’s innocent fraud. So, I would advise Khan to carefully research before making speeches in public, because he is a leader now, and in his very words, “A Leader does not lie”.
[The Nation]

PROGRESS IN CORRUPTION
[Dr Muhammad Yaqoob Bhatti, Lahore]

The Transparency International has issued a report over corruption during 2012 in Pakistan raising Pakistan’s rank from 42 to 33 in corruption from amongst 176 countries. During the last five years, the corruption of 12,600 billion rupees has been reported in different sectors of Pakistan i.e., 2,520 billion rupees yearly equivalent to $28 billion approximately. This is a horrendous figure, almost four times the IMF loan spread over five years. This has happened during the watch of Pakistan Peoples Party at the federal level with both the president and prime minister belonging to the PPP. As such the scourge of Pakistan is the main political party of whose henchmen have looted Pakistan to their heart’s content with impunity. The only dam to check this flood of corruption has been the Apex Court for the last three years or so.

It appears that the PPP has downgraded itself to qualify for the name of Pakistan Plunder Party with its minions and ministers behaving as if their five fingers were as many pies as possible. The PPP has thus forfeited their right to rule as it comprises a coterie of robber barons who have bank balances, palaces and property abroad at the expense of poor toiling masses of Pakistan.
[Pakistan Today]

WE TOP FROM THE BOTTOM
[Mohsin Raza Malik, Lahore]

Ensuring compliance with the rules is the basic function of all the regulatory bodies created in any country. These regulators are also entrusted with the task of overseeing and monitoring the performance of all the players in their relevant fields. So, in this way, they act both as whistleblowers and watchdogs simultaneously. The executive branch of the government is primarily responsible for the formation and function of various regulators for ensuring regulation in the different areas of governance. Among other things, the collective performance of these regulators is itself an important indicator of the state and quality of governance of the executive.

The rule of law index report 2012 issued by a Washington-based World Justice Project (WJP) shows the poor state of the regulatory mechanism in Pakistan. It ranks Pakistan 88 in regulatory enforcement among the 97 assessed countries which is, of course, very disappointing and rather pathetic. We have many regulatory institutions both at federal and provincial levels. First of all, State Bank of Pakistan is the most important regulator formulating and enforcing the monetary policy in the country. Unfortunately, we have seen it as being only a ‘subsidiary’ of Ministry of Finance by lacking some independent regulating policies. NEPRA and OGRA have also failed in independently regulating the energy sector, both in terms of ensuring smooth supply of energy and establishing any transparent price fixing mechanism. Likewise, PTA and PEMRA are even less effective in the affairs and functions of the telecommunications and electronic media sectors respectively.

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), an important corporate watchdog and regulators, is also not successful in ensuring any fair and transparent corporate regime in the country. Likewise, The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has also failed in bringing about any significant qualitative change in the state of higher education in the country. Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) are regulators for the medical and legal professionals respectively. They are supposed to ensure the compliance of the professional code of ethics, but they seem to have nothing to do with these professions beyond granting them the licenses to start their practices.

Same is the case at Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a body that regulates and oversees all aspect of the civil aviation in the country. We have a high ratio of air crashes in the world. As all the important regulatory institutions in the country have somehow failed in the task entrusted to them, therefore, some comprehensive structural and functional reforms are imperative. They need to be made more efficient, vigilant and attentive towards their responsibilities. It is only possible by making them autonomous and accountable at the same time. [The Nation]

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT TAJ
[M Rafique Zakaria, Karachi]

Our Interior Minister Rehman Malik has expressed his desire to the Indian government to celebrate his 61st birthday with his spouse Saeeda Rehman in one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal on 12 December, 2012. According to media reports, Rehman Malik will be in India from 11 to 13 December. My advance sympathies are with the people of Agra. Possibilities are that cell phones might be blocked on the day Rehman Malik visits Agra if he feels a slightest threat to his life. [Pakistan Today]

WORSE THAN A BANANA REPUBLIC
[M Mohsin Shahbaz]

It is sad that my beloved country, Pakistan, has become worse than a banana republic. Pakistan not only meets the criteria of a banana republic, it, in fact, has crossed all parameters. Honduras is one of the countries known as a banana republic; when I compared the circumstances of Pakistan with Honduras, the results were shocking. Honduras is the 169th economy of the world and I am ashamed that Pakistan is at the 174th position. The ratio of joblessness in the banana republic is 4.8 percent but in Pakistan it is 5.6 percent. International loans given to the banana republic are worth half the loans given to Pakistan. The ratio of tax to GDP in the banana republic is 17.3 percent and in Pakistan it is nine percent. Fuel, mobile phone signals, food, shelter and other essentials of life are also easily available in banana republics but in Pakistan we do not even have these basic necessities. According to our politicians, leaders and president, Pakistan is a successful state because we have ‘democracy’. Can someone please tell our leaders that we cannot eat democracy when we are hungry? It is sad but true that Pakistan is a failed state. A new political system should be implemented and highly qualified people should come forward to change the miserable conditions of my country. [Daily Times]

ZARDARI’S DEMOCRACY
[Zahid Rashid, Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir]

According to our politicians it is a good omen for Pakistan that democratic Government will complete its five year term in March 2013. As election season is approaching majority of politicians fasten their belt to deceive this poor nation. PPP and its Government allies under supervision of Asif Ali Zardari is suggesting people to forget their worries because their country is going to complete five year tem of democracy. In the democracy of last five years what we achieved is a dreadful reality for Pakistan. This democracy bestowed us absence of CNG, shortage of Electricity in summer, and Gas in winter. This nation still remembered the attitude of Zardari and company in the restoration of judiciary. We have wasted four year to write letter to Swiss authority against Zardari. Coalition partner of PPP give full support to this government to plunder the assets of this nation. It is the fruit of this democracy that Zardari and his three children visit world on the expense of poor Pakistanis. Prices of utilities touch sky high. . World monetary institutions highligh millions of daily corruption in government institutions. People are fed up with such a worst form of democracy. Pakistani’s support democracy but not Zardari’s of democracy. [Pakistan Observer]

OUR BREED OF POLITICIANS
[Raja Shafaatullah, Islamabad]

The present lot of politicians is incorrigible to learn any lesson from their past mistakes and continue to tread the path of confrontation instead of reconciliation. Probably, this is due to the fact that with a few exceptions, most of them are products of martial law, as was boldly confessed by a former MNA in the previous National Assembly. He boldly declared on the floor of the House that they all were protégés of dictators. They supported one or the other martial law and as such no one was better than the other. He appealed to the lawmakers to forget each other’s mistakes and move forward to make Pakistan a truly democratic and progressive state. Recently, an MNA and a federal minister repeated the words of his predecessor. Alas, their words fell on deaf ears and politicians continue the practice of mudslinging and hate-mongering against each other.

The truth is that after judicial execution of an elected prime minister, the dictator needed legitimacy and public moral support to continue his rule. He induced different political leaders in his regime. A new generation of politicians, mostly from the PML, was inducted into the mainstream politics by the generals. They were nurtured and groomed by the military and ruled the country from 1980 to 1988 in different capacities and guises. However, they could not introduce any structured political, economic, social, or legal reform except for sowing seeds of hatred, animosity, ethnic and religious divide in the country.

Surprisingly, now they give sermons of democracy with authoritarian mindset and utterly autocratic behaviours. They take unilateral decisions without consulting their own party or their opponents. The culture of favouritism, entitlements, perks and privileges to friends and cronies is thriving. However, there is one noticeable change: they sing Jalib and while vehemently opposing army’s role in politics, they tend to seek similar help from the judiciary by filing frivolous petitions in the apex court. [Pakistan Today]

FREE MAKEUP FOR WOMEN VOTERS
[Mubashir Mahmood, Karachi]

Recently a news report was aired from a private news channel of Pakistan that in Indian city Rajkot a beauty parlour owner is doing free make up of those women who are casting vote in the elections. All those women who have mark of election ink on their hand are given this service. However this beauty parlour owner is not supporting any political party in the election, she is only giving this free makeup service to attract more and more women to give votes. This practice and idea is good but I doubt that any beauty parlour in Pakistan will provide this type of free service. Political parties bring people for voting and give them meal but now political parties can also practice this by bringing women to cast votes and also get their makeup free. [The Frontier Post]

ZERO PLUS ZERO
[Dr Ghayur Ayub, London]

The recent results of the by-elections in Punjab, in which the PML-N has had a landslide victory over the combined candidates of the PPP and PML-Q, confirms that zero plus zero equals zero. [Daily Times]
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Letters to FreePakistan

MEDIA’S NATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

Our media is quite vibrant and probably the most independent one in the region yet, I think, there is a scope for it to learn a little to acquit itself of its responsibilities dutifully and maturely. One of the uppermost obligations of the media is to educate the people also apart from providing them with the latest information and news. Presently our both electronic and print media seem to be more concerned about their ratings and increased circulation rather than their obligation towards nation building. Catchy sensational news, conflicts between the institutions, crime, rape, lawlessness, terrorism and other negativity of the sorts take precedence over the good deeds and achievements of the people which are either not reflected or not given due importance. For example; there was no mention of the three students of a Grammar School of Lahore who returned victorious from Delhi after winning all the prizes in an English debate competition there.

Similarly, though sad yet a very important event from the national cohesion and unity point of view was ignored by the media. On 7th of Muharram about 47 people had lost their lives in a bomb explosion at Dhok Syddaan, Rawalpindi. Media reported the bomb explosion but not what happened afterwards. While most of the dead were taken to the surrounding villages for burial, a joint mass funeral prayer was held for remaining 17 dead at the site of the explosion at Dhok Syddaan. Now, listen my dear country men, among these 17 martyrs there were Shias and Sunnis and the relatives of all these deceased unanimously agreed to hold a single joint prayer for their near and dear ones led by a single imam. What a momentous and significant an occasion it was where rows after rows of Sunnis and Shia were offering the prayers standing shoulder to shoulder together. Some with folded arms and others with open arms! What a wonderful sight it presented depicting the national unity and sectarian harmony that our media missed to highlight. It would have certainly sent a strong message to our adversaries that nothing can divide us – not even the bombs - as a nation.

ONE RANK ONE PENSION
[Sher Gondal, Mandi Bahauddin]

Ex-Servicemen will hold a rally at Press Club Mandi Bahauddin on 18 Dec from 10 am to 11 am to press demand of “one rank one pension” and other demands. This was decided in a meeting held at suburban village Jhulana. The meeting was attended by Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society (PESS) office holders of district and tehsils level. Addressing the meeting Major Sher Gondal District President PESS said most of the soldiers on completion of service came back; some of them did not make it home as they fallen in the line of duty; some of them left behind their widows, orphans and what the government was doing for them, he asked? He said government has forgotten the ex-servicemen and their sacrifices. Whenever there is increase on pension, government does not include commuted pension for increase and thus deprive them of their legitimate earned right. This was a gross injustice to the veterans who served in the defense of the country. He exhorted participants to ask ex-soldiers across the district to participate in the rally. He said success of the rally depends on the number of ex-servicemen in the rally. They must show their unity at this occasion. Remember there is no gain without pain, he stressed and appealed the ex-servicemen to join rally and make it a great success.

CNG Turmoil
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

The SC has once again ordered not to change the CNG prices till December 17th instant. At the same time OGRA has been assigned the responsibility of fixing the final prices for the CNG for the various zones in the country. This tug of war between the apex court, the OGRA and the CNG dealers of fixing the prices, revising them on protestations and then again partly accepting/rejecting them is causing great inconvenience to the motorists and loss to the public transporters and Rikshaw drivers.

The CNG dealers were not only happily selling CNG at Rs. 61.00 per Killo in July this year but most were also offering 10 to 20 percent discount as well on this price. One wonders as to why are they now agitating against reverting back to the July 2012 rates? Did the govt. raise the price of gas supplied to CNG dealers during this post July period? And if it did then in all fairness it must come clean and revert to the gas rates of July and pre July period. One hopes it is not a deliberately engineered ruse of murking the water to exploit the ignorant consumers, or still worse, someone trying to disparage the present rulers in the eyes of the general public by creating such an uncertain situation ?

BON FIRE IN PESHAWAR
[Ahmad Kamal Khattak, Peshawar]

Yesterday night, Peshawar rocked and people were walking fast. It felt as if I am walking in Dubai where people walk fast but for obvious reasons which are totally different from those behind the Peshawar ones.

It woke up the whole neighborhood. It was disturbing and bloody too but was a good wakeup call for those who like to divide and rule people. People are people. They have to move from Kabul to Peshawar everywhere. If we prosper the culture of Gardies, obviously we would have to wind up the business too. The genie is always easier to be released from the bottle but next to impossible to shut back. Now that some drummers have rocked the music and its bone fire so lets dance.

MASSACRE OF THE BENGALI INTELLECTUALS
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

In the erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangla Desh, late Major General Rao Farman Ali was the DMLA (CA) {Deputy Martial Law Administrator – Civil Affairs} and I was his Principal Staff Officer (GSO-1) from 01 July 71 to 16 Dec 1971. In my such capacity, therefore, I was privy to his almost all actions and many another untold story of the Governor’s House of those days. However, nothing regarding his involvement of any kind in the elimination of the Bengali intellectuals in the last days of East Pakistan came to my knowledge or notice. I didn't see or know of any list of the intellectuals to be eliminated being prepared by Gen. Farman, alleged to have been recovered from his desk afterwards. As a matter of fact, he should have asked me – being his senior most aide – to prepare/produce/assist him in preparing any such list, which he never did. All visitors going to him used to go through me. As such I invariably knew the purpose/intent/nature of the meeting and the subject matter that would be discussed in it.

I didn’t come across any such visitor or know of any such meeting taking place discussing ‘intellectuals’ and/or any action to taken against them. Were any other ‘intellectuals’ taken away or killed from any other city/town/university/institution than the Dacca University? Were there no ‘intellectuals’ at those places? If the purpose of eliminating the ‘intellectuals’ was to deprive the newly born state of BD of its ‘brain’ then why were not the ‘intellectuals’ of other cities/places also eliminated? Mind you, Gen. Farman was the most powerful man after the Governor there in running the Civil Administration of the province. He was a very capable person also. Had a man of his intellect and caliber planned something like it, it would have been much more meticulous and all encompassing. He had the means and authority to plan and execute the operation in such a way that not a SINGLE Bengali intellectual would have survived!

Gen. Farman was a soft spoken kind hearted intellectual himself and expecting something so horrendous and drastic from him is beyond me. Had someone blamed the swash buckling Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi (Tiger Niazi) for such an act, I would have probably conceded to that. Lastly and sadly, if a few local academics of the Dacca university were killed that could have been purely an act of a few die hard pro Pakistan individual young men acting ENTIRELY on their own, who considered such intellectuals to be the root cause of creating and propagating the anti West Pakistani feelings culminating into an outright cession movement in the mind of the young emotional Bengali students and other dissidents.

As far as the extremely exaggerated stories of indiscriminate killings go, well --- we all know the power of the media and what havoc it can play with the TRUTH.

MESSAGE OF HOPE
[Bashy Quraishy, Brussels]

I visited Pakistan in November 2012, after 10 years pause. In the western as well as Pakistani media, I was made to think that it was not safe for anyone to travel to Pakistan, people were selfish, corrupt and the society at the verge of collapse. Nothing could be more false than that silly perception.

From the moment, I set foot on the soil of Pakistan and until I boarded a PIA jumbo jet for Copenhagen after 3 weeks, I found the country, its people, society and anything in between, a pleasure and a joy to be with. I would be grateful, if through your offices, this message of hope can be widely distributed for others Pakistanis to read.

A LETTER FROM GERMANY
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

Dr. Kurt Waschnig came across one of articles and started communicating with me about 9 years ago. He asked me to suggest him books on Pakistan and some internet daily as well. He learnt Urdu by attending language classes in Germany and by now can communicate fairly well in Urdu and English. He is well familiar with the affairs of Pakistan and a good friend and a well wisher, which is evident from his following email of 16 December 2012, that I would request to be shared with your august readers. I wish his prayers are answered soon, ameen.

Dear Col. Jafri: First of all I would like to convey best regards from my wife and my twins and we wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas. I hope you are in good health! Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. I became 60 years old. I had a very nice day with my family, relatives and lot of friends and former colleagues. I considered and thought what I really wish in my life and there is no doubt, it comes now deep from my heart.

I wish peace for Pakistan, a stable environment, a future for the children in Pakistan, no interference of western countries. Joy, happiness, harmony shall prevail among tribes and the People of Pakistan, no corruption and able politicians shall govern this wonderful country. Minorities shall enjoy equal rights and live in peace in Pakistan. There shall be an independent judiciary and the Army of Pakistan shall defend the country and democratic developments and institutions.

There shall be a never ending dialogue between religions. Dignity, mutual understanding, respect and tolerance shall prevail. And children should go to school to receive an excellent education to build up Pakistan in the new century. Dear Col. Jafri, this is my vision and dream and I do not know if it will become reality. But the People of Pakistan have dreams. Perhaps their dreams will become true.Best regards, Kurt
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Issue of the month: Monkeying the CNG business

WHY NOT DEREGULARISE GAS SALES?
[S.T. Hussain, Lahore]

Every year two natural gas distribution companies owned by the federal government are submitting their petition to Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) for permission to increase the prices of gas to meet their requirement for a final year. Ogra is holding a public hearing in which consumer rights protection NGO participate. After meeting this formality, the increase in gas prices is allowed. I fail to understand why the government has to fix sales prices of gas, petrol, diesel and furnace oil.

Why is it not deregulating oil and gas sector? Ogra should fix the tariff of gas and oil products on the basis of btu value, i.e., equating calorific value of each fuel, gas, diesel, furnace oil and petrol and allow gas and oil marketing companies to have their sales prices. Ogra should let the user pay the international prices for domestic gas with no government subsidy. It is strange that, on the one hand, the government is imposing 50 per cent taxes on fuel and, on the other, it is providing subsidy. Only 10 per cent of sales tax should be imposed on fuel by adopting this long-term policy so that the chaos in oil and gas sectors being faced by the country can be controlled. [Dawn]

DEREGULATE CNG SECTOR
[Moazzam, Islamabad]

The government should deregulate the CNG sector after its failure to come up with a clear-cut policy to end the CNG crisis. This will allow CNG station owners to fix the fuel price proportionate to the supply and market situation. [The News]

THE CNG ISSUE
[Fauzia Sidiq, Lahore]

There never seems a time when one can actually breathe a sigh of relief in this country. When the Supreme Court (SC) slashed CNG prices some weeks ago, we thought there was some chance we, the citizens, might be able to make it when it came to fulfilling our transport needs. Woe to us who actually believed something brighter was on the horizon. Since CNG prices were slashed, we have been held hostage to the whims of those who control CNG supplies — pumps are closed and strikes are being observed. When CNG is available, the queues of cars lined up outside are, literally, miles long. The amount of time and energy one wastes to get CNG pumped into their car is something that can never be compensated for.

Now the powers that be are contemplating bringing the price of CNG at par with petroleum in an attempt to phase CNG out from being used in vehicles. Why are they taking so long to do this? The citizens have been left confused and inconvenienced, not knowing whether CNG is going to be available to them in the long run or not. It will be tough to meet monthly expenditures without the CNG option available for transport needs but we, as citizens, have a right to know so that we can be done with it. Can the government and CNG suppliers please let us know so that we can move on? [Daily Times]

THE CNG DEBATE
[Saifullah Qureshi, Islamabad]

I strongly advocate the use of CNG in vehicles, both private and public, since it is not only an indigenous and economical fuel but, above all, the cleanest one too. However, it doesn’t mean that we allow unchecked plunder of this precious natural wealth. I simply fail to understand why the authorities concerned do not devise a rationing formula like the one in practice in Iran for using CNG. The government should make sure that public transport vehicles, only those with valid route permits and fitness certificates, get CNG 24/7 without any interference. If this step is taken, it will not only encourage the culture of keeping vehicles’ requisite documents updated but, at the same time, control the sale of CNG for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially the general public.
[The News]

HUGE PROFITS
[Shahryar Khan Baseer, Peshawar]

There is a saying in the business community: “You have to spend money to make money.” Take, for example, the mafia of petrol/diesel importers who had to spend some money (underhand) to stop the sale of CNG for a week so that all their oil stock could be utilised before the closing of the year. Similarly, take the example of automobile manufacturers who sell us cars for Rs two million, and that too after waiting six months for delivery while a Japanese assembled car, which has been transported from Japan to Pakistan and has taxes paid on it, only costs Rs 0.8 million.

Another prime example is the manufacturers of electrical transformers and switches who, with the help of WAPDA, have fixed higher rates for locally manufactured equipment to get extra profits. An older example would be the flour manufacturers who pay good money to stop the flow of flour from Punjab into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to stop the export of flour from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Afghanistan for a few months during which time they increase the prices three-fold and make a huge profit. [Daily Times]

CNG MAFIA
[S T Hussain, Lahore]

The association of the owners of CNG is not prepared to accept the reduction in gas prices because many politicians own CNG stations, like they own sugar mills. There are also reports that hundreds of CNG outlets have been stealing gas and using much more quantity than was allotted to them by the two gas distribution companies. There are about 3.5 million vehicles with gas kits installed, including a majority of rickshaws as the Punjab government had banned the rickshaws on petrol on major roads to control air and noise pollution.

Both the CNG station owners and the government are not prepared to reduce their income. The users of gas are now spending hours waiting to fill their cylinders due to shortage in the supply of gas. This is a typical case of study as to how the policymakers in the land of the pure make policy without thinking about its long term impact. Now the CNG station owners and public transport owners, by joining the hands, can cripple people’s movement. Unfortunately, the government, instead of looking after the interests of the consumers, is helping the gas mafia. [Pakistan Today]

THE CNG PROBLEM
[Amanullah Turk, Larkana]

Dr Asim Hussain, minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, has, in a recent interview, said the natural gas crisis has cropped up as a result of its use as CNG fuel. The CNG sector consumes nine per cent of the total gas available for distribution. According to his own admission in the interview, the gas shortage is more than 40 per cent of the supply. Even if all the CNG is shut down, we still have a shortage of over 30 per cent, according to the admission made by our knowledgeable adviser. How can a responsible functionary of the government give such a rash statement in the same breath?

It is well-known that the country is about to experience the worst – ever natural gas crisis this winter. That is exactly what we are seeing. CNG has been very skillfully put out of action to manage the enhanced winter load from the domestic sector. While this is the case in Punjab, the case in Sindh is a little different. Here the CNG sector has been agonised because of the compulsion of diverting the gas to nonpaying, noncompliant KESC in the garb of saving Karachi from darkness, though the KESC can use furnace oil as an alternative fuel. But why should they when they are getting five times cheaper fuel and that too free! As they owe the SSGC Rs44bn.

For some strange reason the adviser is satisfied with this arrangement. Although CNG station owners have been pushed to the corner, if they decide to operate their stations, they will soon find out that there is no gas available for them anyway. What do you say to that, Mr Adviser? [Dawn]

BAN ON CNG
[Kamran Adil, Rawalpindi]

Pakistan is facing a severe energy crisis and one of the major reasons for it is the fast depletion of natural gas reserves. After resorting to many interim measures to control the energy crisis, such as closure of CNG stations for three or more days a week and suspending intermittently CNG supply to industry, the government is now thinking of banning altogether the use of CNG in all private vehicles above 1000cc. In my opinion, even if it is implemented, this decision will not solve the problem because a commercial vehicle consumes much more CNG as compared to a private vehicle.

For example, a private car normally uses four to six cylinders of gas every month, whereas a taxi uses two cylinders per day on average. Similarly, a mini-bus uses CNG worth thousands of rupees per month. So, the major consumers of CNG are not the owners of 1300cc cars. Essentially, it is public and commercial transport which consumes 10-100 times more CNG than private cars. Therefore, a ban on private vehicles will not help solve the crisis. A ban should instead be imposed on commercial vehicles which run on CNG. [The News]

SHORT SIGHTED PLANS
[Malik Atif Mahmood Majoka, Australia]

Pakistan is a country rich in natural resources. Natural gas was discovered in 1951 and lifestyle of many Pakistanis changed forever. The use of this wonderful gift of nature remained confined to domestic and industrial use till early 2000s with the onset of consumerism under Shaukat Aziz who boosted the use of compressed natural gas when Banks financed countless vehicles for domestic as well as for commercial use.

Now when almost 3.5 million vehicles have been converted to CNG, government is discouraging its use. It would be a disaster and billions of rupees, including precious foreign exchange, spent on the import of Argentinean and Italian CNG equipment will go to waste. Government’s strategy to restrict the use of CNG or phasing CNG out is yet another blunder in our history. Did no one look into the long term repercussions of allowing CNG and LPG for cars when it started in Pakistan? Can sanity prevail and could a middle stance be taken by all stake holders? We could limit it to only domestic use. [The Nation]

NATURAL GAS LOSSES REACH 16 PER CENT
[Ghulam Shabir Tunio, Nawabshah]

Abid Hasan Minto, counsel for the two gas utility companies, has accepted before the Supreme Court that the natural gas losses now stand at 16 per cent. What a sorry state of affairs? At 16 per cent the natural gas loss is 512 mmcf a day whereas the total natural gas consumed by CNG (at 9.5 per cent) is 300 mmcf a day. Where is the gas shortage? Dr Asim Hussain is now blaming Ogra and even the ECC for the natural gas crisis, whereas, by the latest admission of their own counsel, the blame lies with the two utility companies. Another alarming figure that crops up from the learned counsel’s admission is that the nation is losing Rs75 bllion every year as a consequence of the line losses. [Dawn]

CNG-LPG-LNG
[Khair Buksh, Sukkhar]

It is more than clear that the present CNG crisis is engineered by medical doctor Dr Asim to import ‘gas’ to earn billion of dollars of commissions and government will still pocket heaviest profits by narrowing the margin of CNG and petrol prices. It is they who are in concert with CNG station owners to hang on with ‘strike’ to drive home to its users to switch over to LPG kits to make it a bumper corruption ridden, manipulative profit proposition on first sanctioning ‘stations’ and than dividends.

Again what profits will be allowed to them when already these LPG importers / manufacturers have increased its prices from Rs10/KG to Rs110/per KG. It is again a big scam as PIA, PSML, Railways, rental units, load shedding etc to reap hundred of billion dollars profits and ruin resource institutions.
However, it is tragic; man like Imran Khan is only interested in his ‘kursi-hate of Sharifs’ and letting country fast sinking to secure his ‘kursi’. Imran should also realize that there are thousands who are running free charity hospitals not alone him and dozens of captains have won ‘world cups’ for their countries. The difference is that they never boasted it nor made political career out of it. Think of Pakistan first than be selfish and self centered. [The Frontier Post]

WORSENING NATURAL GAS CRISIS
[Kazi Shafqat Hussain, Hyderabad]

The adviser on petroleum and natural resources (PNR) has grossly mismanaged this very important ministry. History will tell, and tell shortly, how much damage he has caused by first changing the board of directors and chief executives of some important corporations in his ministry by bringing his favourites and then micromanaging the decision-making. So much so that even allocation of gas, providing new connections and diverting gas from one sector to another are being done on his instructions.

Another scam that will open up is the purchase of dilapidated Progas LPG terminal for Rs2.8bn by the SSGC. A very bad investment decision, yet forced by the adviser on the SSGC. He now claims that by phasing out the closure of CNG he will divert gas to industry. Even if he closes all the CNG, he will not have enough gas for the industry. Both utility companies know this but the adviser will not listen. Recently he went to Iran with an entourage giving an impression that he has successfully negotiated with Iran a $500m loan for pipeline construction.

The IP pipeline has fallen into serious snags. Even the consortium of banks that were officially selected as financial advisers, headed by the Bank of China, has shown it inability because all these banks will have their branches shut in the US because of the sanctions. The natural gas shortages of the winter have already started to appear. Industry in Punjab is already on two days a week. The CNG in Punjab is perpetually closed due to a very shrewd move by the adviser through Ogra. Towns and villages in Sindh and Balochistan are burning wood for cooking as there is virtual clampdown on gas pressures.

The situation in Punjab is even worse. The results of the recent by-elections in Punjab should be an eye-opener for President Asif Ali Zardari. One of the major factors is and will be natural gas shortage. [Dawn]

CNG CRISIS AND ITS BENEFICIARY
[Engr Dilbar Detho, Shikarpur]

This is apropos of Qazi Shafqat Hussain’s letter on the worsening natural gas crisis (Dec 19). I agree with most of the views expressed by the writer pertaining to the CNG crisis and I have a few comments to add. We all know that in the eyes of the ministry of petroleum an appropriate solution to the crisis is a phase-out of the CNG from the transport sector through direct or indirect methods and its diversion towards industry. The burning of the gas in vehicles is seen as a sheer waste of a valuable natural resource and its non-availability to the industry is causing heavy losses to the economy.

For long, the adviser to the ministry has been advocating this remedy, but this solution is not without its damaging effects on the economy and the common man. There will be a fresh wave of hike in prices of all kinds of commodities and services when CNG becomes as dearer as petrol and diesel. Therefore, consumers have to stand in long queues, which become longer with the passage of time, before the CNG filling stations for several hours, and tolerating at least three days in a week without gas.

But the situation created by protests leading to the closure of filling stations because of new prices suit the government. Now it has become more difficult for the government to take a decision in resolving this problem. If CNG stations become fully operational, millions of domestic consumers won’t be able to prepare breakfast. The choice is either to use gas to cook food or run luxury cars on cheaper fuel. While it is good that the court has exposed CNG station owners by revealing hefty profits they were making in the name of operating costs, the overall reduction in the fuel’s price from 60 per cent to 35 per cent of petrol is bound to encourage its rapid use, even by those who can comfortably afford consumption of petrol. Hence, it is not the poor but the rich who happen to be the beneficiary of the court’s order. [Dawn]

THE CNG CRISIS
[Amna Butt, Islamabad]

It is shameful that motorists queue up for hours at filling stations to get CNG. Can the government please have mercy on us and stop being so frustratingly inefficient about dealing with the CNG crisis? I need my car for work, and yet have to think a hundred times before I use it. Although there are long queues of cars even in front of the parliament building, it seems from their apathy as if the parliamentarians are completely unaware of the sufferings of ordinary users of vehicles which run on CNG, the cheaper fuel. But why should they care if their luxury cars are always filled up with petrol. [The News]
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Basic social services to all

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]

WHERE THEY BURN BOOKS
[Danish Jalil, Lahore]

It saddens me to see that the youth of Pakistan have never been enlightened about the joy of owning, reading and sharing books. There is hardly anything even close to a reading culture in Pakistan, with many young adults preferring to flip through magazines or switch on the idiot box instead of turning the pages of a paperback. This is because education and the art of reading, writing and loving the written word have never been given much priority by any of the governments that have ruled over Pakistan. We are now witnessing generation after generation of people who seem to be getting more uncivilised with each passing day. This is because they do not read.

It is implored that drastic steps be taken to make sure this trend changes. The government should set aside funds for the establishment and maintenance of libraries, for more to be spent on education and to promote reading through media campaigns. How much longer can this nation live in ignorance? [Daily Times]

ANJUMAN LIBRARY: A MODEL TO FOLLOW
[Jawed Ahmed Khursheed, Karachi]

Anjuman Behbood-e-Bashindigan, Block J, North Nazimabad, Karachi, owns a unique library where hundreds of students from nearby vicinities flock daily to concentrate on their studies. I have deliberately used an adjective ‘unique’ for the library as it provides maximum opportunities to its visitors which is rare in Karachi. It opens on weekly offs, public holidays and even on strikes. It also provides its visitors a day-long timing from 9am to 11pm. It has recently facilitated its visitors by installing three computers with internet.

On the other hand, many libraries in Karachi don’t provide maximum opportunities to their visitors as they are either public libraries or private libraries. Public libraries are not visitor-friendly as their staffers are not encouraging at all. As far as the private libraries are concerned, their organisations under which they are run don’t have a will to finance their libraries. They just want to take advantage of their very presence from the government in the name of running a ‘welfare activity’.
Two weekly offs, public holidays, strikes and black days mar the progress of students determined to excel in their studies. Persistent load shedding, not to mention scheduled or unscheduled, and political turmoil in the metropolis also hinder the progress of students.

I, therefore, appreciate the people behind the library as they have made a wonderful contribution on their own. Now the students residing in the nearby areas can get best out of their schedules. I also request the government of the hour and the organisations patronising public and private libraries respectively in Karachi to extend their libraries timings and try their utmost to make libraries visitor-friendly. I also request the Anjuman to subscribe maximum number of newspapers from home and abroad and widen its book sections as much as it could. Widening a book section of any library is not a problem now as every library should follow the model adopted by the Bedil Library, Sharfabad, Karachi, whose chief librarian Muhammed Zubair uses his personal contacts to invite attention of the people who have their personal book collections to donate either their entire library or a section. [Pakistan Today]

WHY NO GOOD BOOKSTORES?
[Rafay Bin Ali, Karachi]

Why are there so few bookstores in Karachi? Examples from the Western world include Barnes and Nobles in the US and Chapters in Canada. The bookstores were inviting to say the least; offering coffee, comfortable couches for people to read and a relaxing atmosphere. People came, read for hours, with no obligation to purchase anything. Why don’t we have such bookstores in Pakistan?
There is obviously no dearth of investment when it comes to upscale sheesha bars, coffee shops, late night lounges, high-end restaurants or pricey malls. So, money is definitely not an issue. I presume the answer that people will give to my question is that there simply isn’t enough demand — that people are just not interested anymore in the culture of reading and writing. We have managed to copy the West’s coffee/café culture quite well here, why can’t we do the same when it comes to their bookstores? [The Express Tribune]
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Edited and prepared by
Khalil Ahmad

Email: khalilkf@yahoo.com khalil@asinstitute.org

[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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