Faiths Divide, Values Unite (FreePakistan Newsletter # 147)
FreePakistan Newsletter # 147
0 Faiths divide, values unite
By Atif Noor Khan
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Unmasking the Kargil adventurers
0 Basic social services to all
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FAITHS DIVIDE, VALUES UNITE
By Atif Noor Khan
[This article first appeared in Pakistan Observer on February 8, 2013.]
The relationship between ritualism and values is inversely proportional. The more one sees a society engrossed in rituals, putting on the garb of holiness and sanctity, the less respectful it becomes of the values. It grows more concerned with image than character. Rituals often have the tendency of raising a fad, putting on a mask, covering up the real face and robbing the individual or the society off the substance. People of faith, be they Muslims, Christians, Hindus or others, often camouflage their action under ritualism to put on a cloak of sacredness.
Rituals are a tricky business. They have an outward form and infinite capacity to deceive the onlookers. Politicians deploy them as diversionary tactics to expand their appeal among the nave men and women. Spiritual industrialists and the modern age gurus practice them for multibillion transactions. Peddlers of dubious and spurious wares survive and thrive on its strength. They have all the element of business what with these gurus flaunting colour, sound, symbols, and flags.
In contrast, values have to be practiced, are difficult to be observed, demand sacrifice, are intangible and therefore take long to be recognized and respected. Shorn of publicity, bereft of impressive array of followers, and devoid of noise, these have to be perceived only through behaviour, dealings, manners, etiquette and ones conduct in private and public. They are not superficial. They have a tendency to be latent, an obsession with subtlety, a passion not to be discovered and shy of being evident.
A cursory glance over the Muslims around the world would convince that over the last few decades, the community has come to betray several outer manifestations of Islamic rituals and symbols. There are more millions who gather for Hajj every year. The number of those who seek forgiveness on the 27th night of Ramadan at the Haram Mosque in Makkah has surpassed the number conglomerating for the annual pilgrimage. Beards have lengthened and hemlines of trousers have gone up. Headscarf has emerged as the universal bond of Islamic sisterhood. More people perform Itikaaf while millions of lambs are sacrificed on Eidul Azha. More rosary beads, miswaks and musallas find buyers.
Lament is that even if underlying piety has not changed that much, religions role in public life plainly has. Amid the noisy trumpeting of religious slogans, the lives of people are getting sterile of values. People are eager to make repeat performance of Hajj even by impersonation, beating the rules of legal disability. Just as the acquisition of an American Green Card has become a symbol of the Indian (and, perhaps, elsewhere too) elite, performing Umrah during Ramadan has also emerged as a status symbol. Treatment of an ailing neighbour, marriage of the poor ageing spinster in the back lane, or a child of the housemaid withdrawn from the school owing to lack of resources do not occupy their priority. People do not feel qualms in flaunting Haza min Fazli Rabbi (I owe it to my Lords bounty) on mansions raised through illgotten wealth. Individuals who find themselves ill at ease while doling out paltry sums for the poor, do not bat an eyelid on sacrificing a dozen goats on the eve of Eidul Azha. Spirit of sacrifice for the needy around does not even touch them. The very Imams who tirelessly pontificate on virtues of retaining the traditional syllabus for madrassas, somnolently make a beeline for admission of their wards in modern missionary run schools.
We indeed reside in a world that has made a business of religion and rituals. It is a soulless world, sterile of values of integrity, love, compassion, generousity, forgiveness and transparency. Spirit that characterize these rites has vanished into thin air. It is time we addressed the issue threadbare. Rites without values are like form without content, style without substance and body without a soul. Let us be reminded that religions survive by distinctions and differentiation. But values are one and the same all across the substrata of all faiths. In the final analysis, the religions differentiate, but values unite. It is up to us to choose. [Courtesy Pakistan Observer]
GIFTS OF OUR DEMOCRACY
[Asghar Mahmood, Islamabad]
Our elected Assemblies would complete five years in March this year; politicians are very happy that democracy has been given a chance and free hand for five years. If there is reason for celebration, there is also reason for self-introspection. Assemblies are voted in by voters and majority of them are ordinary people; What democracy has given to them? The long grim list includes: Mothers lost sons, wives lost their husbands, children lost their parents, sisters lost their brothers, friends lost friends, Army lost soldiers, police lost crime-fighters, Workers lost jobs, institutions lost respect, man lost hope. Democracy has also given unemployment, scarcity, poverty, disease, inflation, lawlessness, insecurity, mismanagement, bad governance, hatred, disharmony, despondence, corruption, loot and plunder, For a common man life has become miserable without gas, electricity and water, Green Passport has lost respect at international airports. Above all, Pakistan has lost dignity in the fraternity of nations (by all means this is incomplete list). Despite all this the people of Pakistan love democracy and want their rulers be happy and prosperous.
ADVICE FOR REHMAN MALIK AND HAFIZ SAEED
[Masood Khan, Jubail, Saudi Arabia]
I have found disturbing the remarks made by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed, on the interview given to a US magazine by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan. In the interview, Mr Khan had spoken of how it was for him to be a Muslim in India and how it was at times a source of frustration and tension. Mr Khan is an Indian and has every right to complain about his country’s system but that doesn’t mean that these two Pakistani gentlemen enter into the debate.
First of all, he didn’t ask for help from either the minister or the LeT head. And besides, where does Pakistan itself stand on the treatment of its own citizens, and in particular, its religious minorities. Leaders from a country which is marred with religious, sectarian and tribal and ethnic conflicts have to put their own house in order before making offers to other countries. Such a cheap attempt to score a point may force Indian Muslims to keep quiet on the issues they face, otherwise they will fear that if they do speak up, what they say may be hijacked by the LeT and other jihadists for propaganda purposes. That in turn will provide fodder to extremists on the Indian side to bash Muslims more. It would be far better that the interior minister spent his energies on pursuing the killers of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Benazir Bhutto and Bashir Bilour instead of offering advice to Shahrukh Khan. [The Express Tribune]
MERRY-GO-ROUND OF ELECTIONS
[Aymen Ijaz, Lahore]
The upcoming general elections of Pakistan are scheduled to be held in the first week of May 2013. Our 13th National Assembly is going to complete its five year constitutional tenure on March 18, 2013, and according to the constitutional mandate, elections for the next parliament must be held within 60 days, after the dissolution of old Parliament. It is a big milestone in democratic history of Pakistan that any National Assembly would complete its specified democratic period of five years.
All possible attempts at pre-poll rigging are being prevented through imposition of bans on any fresh recruitments, employments and allocation of various jobs by the ruling parties. The army’s presence has been made compulsory for door to door verification of voters and at polling stations. Under Article 62 and 63 of the constitution, qualified and disqualified candidates are being scrutinized and dual nationals have been decided ineligible to contest in the elections.
The ECP seems very vigilant this year, the CECP Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has solicited necessary support from the Parliament and political parties; however controversies exist regarding other members of the commission. The government has granted worth Rs.5.099 million to the ECP for making the necessary arrangements for the upcoming elections. The nomination fee for any NA candidates has been increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 50,000 and for PA candidates from Rs 2,000 to Rs 25,000, for corrupt and illegal practices imprisonment of three years with Rs. 100,000 fine and also a penalty of Rs 100,000 for violation of electoral code of conduct for the candidates.
However, there is little hope that the political scenario will undergo a major transition after elections. Whether it is PTI, PPP or PML-N, the public demands an immediate remedy to the growing inflation, unemployment, energy crisis, power cuts, gas loadshedding and terrorists threats that have shaken the entire infrastructure of the country. It is not the question of party or party leaders; in fact it is a question of the welfare of individuals of Pakistan and their right to vote for anyone who will bring prosperity to Pakistan and address their major concerns and basic needs. [The Nation]
[Hussain Siddiqui, Islamabad]
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who takes pride in his middle-class roots, spent millions on his four-day visit to the UK. According to a media report, PM Pervaiz Ashraf, along his newly-wed son and his bride as well as other relations and friends, stayed in the Berkeley Hotel at Knightsbridge in London. Six rooms in the luxurious hotel, at £ 1200 a day, and another 20 rooms at £ 800 were occupied by the entourage. Thus, the exchequer paid a total of about Rs14.57 million only for hotel rooms! In addition, as many as 28 Mercedes Benz were acquired on rent for the entourage.
So far, no denial or clarification of the press report stating these figures have been issued. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is lucky to be the prime minister of a country where there is no concept of accountability, checks and balances and no regard for any code of ethics. [The News]
FATHER VS SON
[Dr Jaffer Kapadia, Lahore]
In a TV debate a few days ago, Zulfiqar Khosa, with an MPA son each on both sides reaffirmed his oyalties to PML(N) and its top man – Nawaz Sharif. Khosa berated his middle son MNA Saifuddin Khosa who had ditched PML(N) and joined the PPP. Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Khosa, emotionally charged at the time, said he would himself contest the next election against his errant son Saifuddin. It means father against son, a spectacle if it took place, would amuse many in the backward district of Dera Ghazi Khan. We had heard of brothers facing each other in elections but not father and son. The famous three Saifullah brothers of Khyber PK who shudder at the thought of not being in the government would now contest against one another from the platforms of three different parties. Even if one of them wins, everyone wins. So is the case of Zulfiqar Khosa and sons. In any case, how will senior Khosa, a senior adviser to Punjab Chief Minister as well as a Senator, contest against his son? Will he forego his senator slot? It seems Khosas’ appearance on TV was a drama poorly enacted in the election year. But it is height of dynastic politics: father a senator, two sons MPAs, and one MNA. Sadly, Senator Khosa has only three sons. [Pakistan Observer]
COMEDY OF ERRORS
[Ahmed Bilal, Islamabad]
Once again, almost half the front page of The News (Friday 14) was covered with articles and news stories related to the Election Commission of Pakistan. However, the one that made me laugh was titled “ECP to ask Babar details of dual nationals.” A few days ago, I wrote a letter to the editor (Maligning the ECP) and stated that the ECP was inadvertently inviting criticism, mainly because of the steps it had taken. Unfortunately, the ECP has decided to continue its comedy of errors by seeking the assistance of Babar Awan, the much-humiliated fake doctor, to scrutinise nationalities of candidates to bar dual nationals from contesting the upcoming general elections. What about sitting MPAs, MNAs and senators who still hold dual nationalities, or held foreign nationalities when they were elected to parliament?
If the ECP refuses to take action against sitting legislators, how can we expect it to go after future candidates? The whole process can be completed within a few days by demanding the travel records of the past 10 years of all legislators from the Ministry of Interior. Only such an action, if conducted transparently, could restore the public’s confidence in the ECP. [The News]
BLACK SHEEP FLOCK POLICE
[Rehan Ali, Islamabad]
Torture cases have become a norm in our society. Recently a death by torture took place in police custody. During an investigation, it was discovered that eight police officials were involved in the death of an innocent laborer and the offenders had the audacity to contact his widow and ask for money. Police teams are investigating the case of torture in detail. During the investigating period, another alarming revelation was brought to light that the ASP (Assistant Superintendent of Police) himself was involved in crime. The institution that is responsible for maintaining law and order and protecting citizens from criminals and murderers, is itself involved in murder and criminal activities. This is why Pakistanis don’t trust the police because they are the most corrupt institute and department of our country. They provide protection to the criminals, whenever one is caught red-handed; the department head is heard saying, “there are some black sheep in our department” but I would like to say that the whole police department is full of only black sheep and they need to weed them out. [The Nation]
MONEY MAKES THE MARE GO
[Rashid Maqsood, Lahore]
After a discomforting refusal of his appeal for the dissolution of ECP, there could be a few options left for Dr Qadri. He is not going to appeal for sure. The other options could be that he either tries for a long march without the approval of the ruling party or goes for elections.
As far as elections are concerned, he is not likely to get more than a few seats, or may be just his own which he had in 2002. But, he will have to forego his Canadian nationality. Would he? The most likely option is that he returns to Canada and waits for another “safari”, if so acceptable by those who matter.
It all depends on the future strategy of some outside powers, who have miserably failed to get the elections postponed for now. After all, as the history goes, we accepted an ineligible person like Mr Moin Qureshi as our caretaker PM. In a cash-strapped country like ours, money makes the mare go. [Pakistan Today]
BATTING FOR TWO TEAMS
[Naeem Sadiq, Karachi]
The Supreme Court should be praised. We now have a clearer understanding of what a dual national can and cannot do. A dual national can vote but not be a parliamentarian - Article 63 of the Constitution does not permit that. A dual national can be a civilian but not join the Army, the Army law makes it clear that you can fight for only one country at one time. A dual national cannot be trusted on matters of national importance, the SC rightly thinks that their loyalties are divided and they could well be batting for both teams.
If all this is true, then how come we have Provincial Governors, State Bank Governors, Heads of political parties and a large number of senior bureaucrats who are unabashedly dual nationals and continue to hold positions of great national importance? The Supreme Court judgment has established an important principle. Dual nationals cannot be trusted on matters that have significant implications for the state of Pakistan, if that be the case could we ask the Supreme Court to take a suo moto notice to disqualify all government servants, Governors and heads of political parties who hold dual nationalities. It makes no sense to stop an ordinary dual nationality petitioner from even taking up an important issue while allowing the ruling elite, with divided loyalties, to rule Pakistan. One also hopes that the ECP will receive strength from the SC’s judgment and will find a foolproof method to filter out the dual nationals from the forthcoming elections. [The Nation]
UNITED POLITICIANS OF PAKISTAN
[S M Khalid, Peshawar]
It comes as no surprise to learn that our parliamentarians, “both from the treasury and opposition benches” have united against the Election Commission’s proposal of extending the period for scrutiny of papers submitted by contesting candidates to one month from the current seven days. Why shouldn’t they? After all, an extended period will allow for the checking and rechecking of their personal records, tax data and fake degrees. All these parliamentarians are in the business of politics, one of the most lucrative businesses in this country, and know very well when, and on what issue, to unite. [The News]
BOMB PROOF BILAWAL HOUSE
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
On a historical note, John F. Kennedy was well guarded, his brother Robert F. Kennedy was well guarded, Martin Luther King was quite well guarded by an army of negro young men, Indra Gandhi used to be well guarded and so was her son Rajiv Gandhi, President Sadat of Egypt, too, was quite well guarded and so was the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Closer to home includes Zia-ul-Haq, Liaqat Ali Khan and Ms Benazir Bhutto; all guarded to the extreme levels of security. Ironically, no security could protect them when their time came. [Daily Times]
[Asghar Mahmood, Islamabad]
The Pakistan Post has a huge bureaucracy presided by a Minister assisted by Chairman of the Board, Secretary and Managing Director. What is this White Elephant’s performance? An UMS bearing No 30180870, starting journey from GPO Islamabad on January 11 (Friday) took a week to reach its destination in Zone V, Sector O-9, Islamabad on 18th January (Friday). This is the state of UMS, which was introduced by Pakistan Post for quick and safe delivery of letters. What about ordinary mail service? This explains why people prefer comparatively costly private courier services. May be Pakistan Post is helping the private sector this way. [Pakistan Observer]
[Ans Majoka, Lahore]
There is one saying in journalism: “Doctors burry their mistakes, Lawyers jail their mistakes, But Journalists publish their mistakes for the world to see”. Journalists often seem to be vulnerable to criticism and correspondingly wary of public discussion about the working of their calling in general and their ethics in particular. This is because their point of view, their interpretation about different issues is explicitly open in front of public.
There is no other view that through Media people’s gets influenced, so it is big responsibility of media that they sound ethical and they should have to show the real side of the coin. But they are not like the way they have to be, Many of the advertisements are advertising in which such kind of advertising appeals are used which are not ethically accepted in our society.
Although PEMRA banned some of the Ads But still media houses are advertising those Ads.
In regards of Terms of Reference (TOR) of MEDIA COMMISSION my first suggestion to this effect is that; First inquire that does PEMRA is able to regulate its own terms on media houses to make them work accordingly. Secondly there is large number of literature on media ethics is available which is mostly based on rationality, Pick applicable views and suggestions from those accounts, define those suggestions with the true spirit of our society ethics and then apply the end results on media to make media more ethical.
Regarding TOR-F which is about elections I will say that PTV should have to be independent and election campaign should not be launched on PTV as in last election they did. Also being a student of journalism and being a citizen of Pakistan I have many concerns on pro-government approach of PTV. If it claimed about its independency then It must has to be pro-public not pro-government because it is recipient of public funding of billions of rupees. In last I appeal to the media houses that rules made to act not to break so whatever the judgment of media commission will be, just work according to that judgments. [The Frontier Post]
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
(A friend sent me and I thought of sharing with you all): Mule Trading
Curtis & Leroy saw an ad in the Starkville Daily in Starkville, MS and bought a mule for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day. The next morning the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry, fellows, I have some bad news, the mule died last night." Curtis & Leroy replied, "Well, then just give us our money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." They said, "OK then, just bring us the dead mule."
The farmer asked, "What in the world ya'll gonna do with a dead mule?" Curtis said, "We gonna raffle him off." The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead mule!" Leroy said, "We shore can! Heck, we don't hafta tell nobody he's dead!" A couple of weeks later, the farmer ran into Curtis & Leroy at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and asked. "What'd you fellers ever do with that dead mule?" They said, "We raffled him off like we said we wuz gonna do." Leroy said, "Shucks, we sold 500 tickets fer two dollars apiece and made a profit of $998." The farmer said, "My Lord, didn't anyone complain?" Curtis said, "Well, the feller who won got upset. So we gave him his two dollars back."
Curtis and Leroy now work for the government of Pakistan. They're overseeing the public sector development and MNA allocation programs in Pakistan.
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
PPPP have invited applications though ads in the newspapers for the allotment of party tickets for the MNA and MPA seats for the ensuing general elections. In that the party has asked the aspirants to submit a bank draft of Rs. 40,000/= for the MNA ticket and Rs. 30,000/= for the MPA nomination also in the name of the party. However, the ad doesn’t say whether this amount is refundable and shall be returned to the unsuccessful candidates. Also, the ad doesn’t say if these amounts will be ultimately paid to the CEC as their fees along with the nomination papers of the selected candidates.
It is commonly known that there are always a number of aspirants from a political party for each constituency and if the sums of Rs. 40,000/- and Rs.30,000/- are not refunded to the non accepted candidates or not paid as the fees to the ECP for the successful candidates, the party will collect huge amount on this count only. It is also commonly known that the Party ticket winning candidates otherwise too are expected to contribute generously to the tune of few crores rupees towards the party funds. I hope the Election Commission takes due notice of such payments if it deems them to be against the Electoral rules laid down by it.
Issue of the month: Unmasking the Kargil adventurers
[Dr A Hussain, Islamabad]
Gen Shahid Aziz accuses Gen Musharraf of misadventure at Kargil. Gen Musharraf accuses Gen Shahid of being addicted to alcohol and drugs. Why did Gen Shahid stay quiet while his COAS was planning to play with the lives of his men? Why did Gen Musharraf keep silent over the addiction of a serving general (promoting him instead)? In summary I would say: birds of a feather, flock together. [The News]
KARGIL: INQUIRY NEEDED
One important point of media-TV debate on General Shahid Aziz’s book on media is being ignored or least emphasized. It is the dictatorship-illegal military take over of Gen Musharraf which is
chiefly responsible for his dictatorial, unilateral purposeless, hugely costing Kargil operations. I would request the defense chiefs to hold joint inquiry of this misadventure. [The Frontier Post]
[Lt Col (r) Sarfaraz Hussain, Karachi]
I wish General (r) Shahid Aziz had shown a little patience in launching his controversial book on Kargil. Indeed, this was no time to open this particular Pandora’s Box. I don’t doubt his integrity but fail to understand why he turned so hostile to his own superior officer who was no less capable then any four star general. We are all human and prone to make mistake. Warfare is a game more of luck than military genius. What Pervez Musharaf did or was trying to do at Kargil is not much of a secret. If we all agree that it was an intelligence failure of the Indians, then whose success was it?
Everyone in the armed forces knows that the DG, ISI is the eyes and ears of the government and all the three services. He does not report to GHQ or Joint Staff HQ but directly to the prime minister. If the DG, ISI as per his own statement could not inform his boss, the PM, of such movement of troops and logistics, then like his counterpart in India, he is equally guilty of incompetence. [The News]
A TRUTH COMMISSION TO PROBE KARGIL
[Lt Col (retd) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt, Karachi]
This is with reference to a report in your newspaper of January 31 titled ‘Musharraf hits back at Shahid Aziz’. It is true that the Kargil operation was an ill-planned and badly executed operation that resulted in hundreds of our soldiers losing their lives. The exact number of dead and wounded was never disclosed but it should fall in the range of 4,000-5,000. It seems that the culture in the military is more for people enhancing their careers and seeking promotions by not contesting and challenging the decisions of superiors. I say this because Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz served as a most obedient servant under General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. When in uniform, officers only speak when allowed by the army chief, otherwise, they are a party to whatever he says and does. Meetings of the military top brass and discussions mean nothing to the army chief because after hearing all that his subordinates have to say, he gives his decision and no one can dare to disagree, and anyone who differs has the option to seek early retirement.
I am not here to defend General (retd) Musharraf but before commenting on army matters, senior officers should have pity on the institution that they have worked for. It is absolutely right that everything is not disclosed to all the corps commanders; only relevant people are taken into confidence. Our three-star generals should know that by disclosing such state secrets they have harmed Pakistan more than the Kargil fiasco. How can the then, prime minister Nawaz Sharif, deny that he was not informed, especially since Mushahid Hussain was mostly present at the briefings on Kargil that were given every day to the media. This was a very costly war that saw death and destruction, therefore, there is a need to establish a truth commission headed by a senior judge with members from civil society and one senior non-controversial retired general. Most of the characters of Kargil war are alive and must be brought to justice to prevent similar misadventures from taking place in the future. [The Express Tribune]
KARGIL AND LADAKH PEOPLE’S MISERY
[Basharat Baltistani, Rawalpindi]
THE people of Kargil and Ladakh, who became refugees after the war in 1971, are living a miserable life in various areas of Gilgit Baltistan especially and all over Pakistan. After the 1971 war many families in these areas were compelled to migrate to Pakistan. These families are now divided on both sides of the border of Pakistan and India. Now even after 41 years these divided families do not get a chance to meet each other.
As confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan are getting better with the opening of roads on both sides of the Kashmir region, it is the need of the hour to also look forward to allow the divided families of Kargil and Ladakh settled in Baltistan to meet each other. This will help to further normalise relations between the two neighbours. [The News]
[Col (r) Shah Ali Raza, Rawalpindi]
A healthy and lively debate on the Kargil operation has been taking place in the national media. I feel compelled to share a few lines to express the feelings of the rank and file of the armed forces on the subject. To start with, I retired from the army at a mid-level rank. I never served with Gen Pervez Musharraf or Lt-Gen Shahid Aziz neither do I know them personally. As such, my comments are based on what I heard and saw. Aziz’s claim that he did not know anything about Kargil is a pack of lies. I, then a mid-level officer, along with all my fellow colleagues, knew about an operation in Kargil although we didn’t know the actual details. Our corps commander, and later the COAS himself, had also spoken to the officers on one occasion. It is my observation that those officers who are kept out of the loop, mostly due to operational reasons, usually resent it but keep quiet due to considerations of career advancement.
It could be that, being in the ISI, Aziz was not supposed to know the operational details but his claim that had no clue about the issue is simply ridiculous. As far as I remember, he was Musharraf’s blue-eyed boy and enjoyed all the perks and rewards the army could award him but never voiced his opinion on the issue. Lastly, I strongly recommend an enquiry to determine whether or not the prime minister was informed about the operation, leaving aside the operational details. [The Nation]
[Sayed GB Shah Bokhari, Peshawar]
After keeping mum for a decade and a half about the infamous Kargil operation, Lt-General (r) Shahid Aziz decided to spill the beans. Thirteen years ago, after the Kargil “misadventure” “as he now terms it” Aziz not only accepted promotions and got the most coveted post of the chief of the general staff at the GHQ, but even enjoyed the perks and privileges of the powerful post of the chairman of National Accountability Bureau doled out to him by none other than Pervez Musharraf himself. Our soldiers fight and lay down their lives for a cause and have blind faith in the ability and sincerity of their commanders. Shahid Aziz’s disclosure will dampen the fighting spirit of those soldiers who are engaged in anti-insurgency operations in the tribal areas. Being a former general, Aziz should have kept this in mind before going public with the revelations. [The News]
KARGIL ONCE AGAIN
[Khurshid Anwer, Lahore]
Khwaja Rahat Latif in his column has said that the PM should have supported to retain what had been gained by the army and mujahideen and should have agreed to a ceasefire rather than total withdrawal this wrong decision caused immense damage and was responsible for the soldiers, who died in the Kargil conflict. The writer ignores the fact that it was because too many casualties were already taking place, communication lines had been cut and the battle was almost lost, despite what Musharraf says that the decision was taken to approach Washington.
When Nawaz Sharif tried to bargain with Bill Clinton, the latter showed him a satellite map of Indian troops amassed at the Pakistan border. Nawaz Sharif averted an all-out war with India which Musharraf had almost precipitated. Musharraf’s motivated attempt at sabotaging the Lahore Declaration resulted in India hardening its position on Kashmir and it was many years before Vajpaee so much as even agreed to meet Musharraf. The Kargil misadventure not only cost unnecessary loss of many precious lives but also did immense damage to the Kashmir cause.
[The Frontier Post]
[S Mazhar Abbas, Rawalpindi]
This is apropos of former president Gen Musharraf’s recent vociferous defence of the Kargil (mis)adventure on a private TV channel. He kept referring to the Kargil military operation as a military success, which we lost on the political front. Yes, it was a success but only till the time the Indians had not woken up to the “incursion.” After that, their all-out retaliation ensured that it became a total failure, resulting in the needless loss of lives of our brave men sent for the ill-conceived and poorly planned operation. The main flaw was the supposed conclusion that either the Indians would docilely accept it as a fait accompli or, at worst, the tactical advantage, bearing strategic effects, gained by carrying out the operation would be taken in a stride by the Indians, and the whole episode would not be more than a “localised” skirmish. What an erroneous conclusion. Here we are, besieging thousands of troops and gaining an immense strategic military advantage over the enemy, and expecting it to react in the manner of a damp squib! What if the position were reversed? If threatened in such a manner, wouldn’t we retaliate to the gravest extent?
One could say that the thought process was reminiscent of the 1965 war with India (a precursor of the 1971 debacle), where the Foreign Office had (reportedly) given the assessment that the Operation Gibraltar would remain a “localized” affair and that the Indians would not cross the international border. So, no wonder the GOC Lahore was cosily sleeping when the Indian Army was advancing towards Lahore. Musharraf also asserted that the PAF was not consulted during the planning phase because it wasn’t needed for the operation. So obviously, the likely escalatory aspects of the operation were either totally ignored or, at best, given a broad-brush treatment. And that too for an operation entailing such major military “strategic” consequences! Lastly, Musharraf repeatedly called Lt-Gen (r) Shahid Aziz “unbalanced.” Yet, it was Musharraf himself who promoted Aziz to the rank of a lieutenant general, and also made him the corps commander!
[Muhammad Nawaz, Lahore]
Lt-Gen (r) Shahid Aziz has drawn the wrath of many, including some Mush-sympathisers, ever since he spilled the beans on the Kargil incident. It’s a pity that we haven’t learnt any lessons from our past blunders and hesitate to call a spade a spade. Taking S Mazhar Abbas’ argument forward (News Post, February 7), some people criticise Aziz for not resigning and, instead, accepting promotions and prized appointments (CGS, corps commander and chairman NAB) from Musharraf, despite having reservations about his policies. These are weak arguments, as one can’t resign his commission because of differences of opinion with his superiors. Secondly, Aziz got promoted on merit and according to the established military system of promotions, not because Musharraf happened to be the COAS or did him a favour.
A subordinate must give his honest and professional opinion on any matter and then it is the superior’s responsibility to accept the outcome of that decision. The gentleman needs appreciation for exposing the truth, though late, even at the cost of his personal reputation and standing. Unfortunately, Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, the two major players, continue to conceal and distort the facts and defend their respective blunders. This is all the more reason for forming a commission to probe this case, as the public has the right to know who “both the military and political leadership” were responsible for this humiliation of the armed forces and the nation. [The News]
[A citizen, Islamabad]
This is with reference to the article ‘Kargil heights” by Ikram Seghal. It has been a Gen Shahid vs Gen Musharraf war so far and many critical points have been missed by analysts, which is not fair to Shahid Aziz’s book. I intend to make some comments from a broader perspective. How to make wars and differentiate between localised and all-out conflicts are not trivial matters. Pervez Musharraf keeps saying that Kargil was a localised affair. In our operational environment, initiation of hostilities at the corps or divisional level cannot be termed a localised affair. How could we believe that the enemy’s reactions would be confined only to the area of our choice? It is even more unfortunate that some of our accomplished officers committed such a huge error of judgement. Could the army ignore such a big mistake at the lower level? Being a part of the army for over three decades, I can say with conviction that the processes to undertake operational planning are very comprehensive and there is a proper system of operational and logistic coordination.
Now what happened in Kargil was a clear malicious act of a few senior officers who should have been punished for violating the rules. And probably this was the reason for a political government being overthrown. Truth never hurts as much as hiding it does. Had we taken due cognizance of the failure of the 1965 war plan, I am sure Kargil would not have taken place. There will be no harm if the army initiated a study to understand the environment in which Kargil was conceived. All operational assumption must be debated. Subsequently, Kargil must become part of the curriculum of the National Defence University and Staff College. [The News]
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]
PARKS FOR THE PUBLIC
[FATIMA MOTALA, Karachi]
Karachi is a big city with too much population. After a whole week of busy routine, people need a healthy picnic on weekends. The common man finds it in public parks which are best for recreational activities. Public parks are the only source for relaxation and peaceful environment in stressful urban areas. As the population is expanding, the demand for public parks is also increasing. Karachi’s population is well over 15 million but the number of public parks is very low. Parks are necessary for the people of all ages. In a highly populated city like Karachi, the number of parks should be adequate to the population’s needs.
The condition of parks is not good. The administration does not paying attention to them. Due to insufficient arrangements, lights and fountains are almost always out of order. Drug addicts can be seen in the evening and at night in these parks. It is requested to the concerned authorities and CDGK to take steps to construct public parks in central locations in all the major localities of the city. This will very helpful in maintaining the physical and mental health of the people.
CATALOGUING PERSONAL LIBRARIES
[Jawed Ahmed Khursheed, Karachi]
Researchers and students always word hard to find ways to carry out their research and relentless pursuits of knowledge of movements, historical and social trends, men of substance and agent of change. In doing so, they either take support from what has already been researched or find new ways of source of knowledge. Dr. Nasim Fatima in her well-researched piece of startling facts not only gives her readers an inners look at Syed Khalid Shamsul Hassan’s life but also helps the students of research realize through her thorough and exhaustive research article about the personal collection of books of Hassan Sahib: the author of Quaid-e-Azam. Unrealized Dreams.
He was born in 1887 at Breli, India. When Muhamed Ali Jinnah was elected in 1919 as the president of the league, Hassan Sahib found an opportunity to get close to the great leader and was reckoned to be his trusted colleague. Qaid-e-Azam once said, “League is nothing but Shamsul Hassan and his typewriter”. This very rearching article was published in Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal, the only specialized journal of its kind in Pakistan, ably edited by Dr. G.A. Subzwari.
His personal collection includes books on research, journalism, philosophy, religions, economics, education, politics, law, linguistics, history, music, paintings and literature.
The article writers shows that he had rare manuscripts and publications, poetry collections, literary magazines and journals, letters he received from various dignitaries and literati and some important documents significant for the history of British India and Pakistan. The personal library of Hassan Sahib remained open for readers at his residence in Defense area of Karachi where a sitting of his friends, scholars, journalists and researchers was held every Friday. Before his death, his library was shifted to his new residence in Gulistan-e-Johar, Karachi. Dr. Farman Fatehpuri says that Stanlay Walpert, an American historian, not only stayed at Hassan Sahib’s home and benefited from his rare collection to write a biography of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
I must recognize the work of Dr. Fatima particularly the way she has done her work to classify each and every aspect of the collection bringing to light a source of knowledge for the researcher of political science and literature. The article will certainly motivate others to carry out their research pertaining to personal collection in Karachi and its outside as there are many personal collections of books and rare documents are gathering dust. Such articles also trigger interest among the people and government to preserve them. Preserving and classifying these collections will enable us to recognize the most important aspect of future progress i.e. the classified data. [The Frontier Post]
LAHORE BOOK FAIR
[Danial Khan, Lahore]
The Lahore International Book Fair is currently in progress in the provincial capital of Punjab. It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I state just how well it is doing and how many people in Lahore are coming out in droves to attend it, learn from it and get into the habit of reading because of it. Various publishers have erected their stalls and have kept their wares on display. There are books on every topic and in every genre. It is so satisfying to see how people are finally appreciating books in our country — students, young and old alike can be seen coming in and out of the expo centre just so they can be a part of the book experience. I greatly appreciate this initiative and hope to see a more alive and animated reading culture in the future in my home city. [Pakistan Observer]
Edited and prepared by
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