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Elite Democracy (FreePakistan Newsletter # 146)


February 2013

0 Elite democracy
By Farrukh Saleem
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Dynastic democrats
0 Basic social services to all




FreePakistan Newsletter # 146
[February, 2013]


0 Elite democracy
By Farrukh Saleem
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Dynastic democrats
0 Basic social services to all


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[Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1990)]

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What is Philosophy of Liberty? A screensaver by Lux Lucre and Ken Schoolland explains it. ;

By Farrukh Saleem

[The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. The article first appeared in The News on January 8, 2013.]

Out of the 30 million families in Pakistan about 3,000 families have taken part in the past nine elections. Election 2013 would, in essence, be an intra-elite competition

Are we becoming a “representational dictatorship?” After all, there have been nine elections over the past 42 years but the same families have continued to return to power and rule the land of the pure.

There are 30 million families in Pakistan and of the 30 million there are no more than 3,000 families who have taken part “over and over again” in the past nine elections to occupy the 100-dozen seats in the provincial and the national assemblies. Election 2013 would, in essence, be an intra-elite competition.

Elections in 1970, 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 have established a “narrow elite that have organised society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it....The losers have been the [Pakistani] people....”

Elections in 1970, 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 have established two more things: exclusionary politics and “extractionary institutions.” Look at PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Electric Power Company, Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation and the Utility Stores Corporation. All these entities exist, in essence, to extract Rs100 crore per day from the masses to benefit the elite.

Elections in 1970, 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 have established three more things: Pakistani men “and women” getting rich via corruption not by hard work; money flowing towards those who “deal in favours not in goods;” and laws that protect the predators not the preyed.

Why is Pakistan poor? According to the World Bank’s poverty headcount ratio, 108 million Pakistanis are at $2 a day; 60.2 percent of the total population. It is not because our rulers do not know the right policy mix that would make Pakistan rich but because every political and economic entity in the country has been deliberately, under a conscious plan, organised to benefit the elite.

It’s a myth that Pakistanis are free to elect whoever they want. After all, one cannot really become a real contender in an election unless one has the required prerequisites, tons of money, time and connections.

Dr Mughees Ahmed in “Voting behaviour in rural and urban areas of Punjab,” after scrutinising the results of elections held in Faisalabad in 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997 and 2002, discovered that only candidates from five biradaris “Jatt, Rajput, Arain, Baloch, Gujar and Kharal” had ever won elections.

It’s a myth that our political leaders enjoy “popular support.” On average, six million votes are polled in urban areas and 30 million in rural areas.

To be certain, almost all rural votes are based on dharas and dhara votes have everything to do with redistribution of patronage and very little to do with popular support of the candidate or his political party.

Remember: of the 193 member-states of the UN, around two-thirds are operational democracies. For the record, Pakistan’s first-past-the-post electoral system exists only in Britain and Britain’s ex-colonies. The rest of the democratic world has adopted electoral systems other than first-past-the-post.

To be certain, democracy is the only form of governance that has solutions to our problems, but not “elite democracy.” [Courtesy The News]


[Gulsher Panhwer]

Until the federal information minister’s recent statement on how the PPP prefers dialogue over a military operation, the PTI, religious parties and a section of the media were vehemently attacked by liberals, led by the PPP, for advocating dialogue with the militants. Now the PPP has officially announced it is ready for talks with the same militants. The graphic atrocities of the militant Taliban against every symbol of modernity have been presented in the media and widely condemned by the majority of Pakistanis in the civilised world. Moreover, the previous ‘peace’ accords with the Pakistani Talban have also proved to be extremely counterproductive, enabling the militants to regroup and reinvigorate themselves. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has never hidden its anti-democratic aim of taking over the Pakistani state and converting it into a theocratic state from the Middle Ages. What wisdom have the anti-extremist party’s leaders suddenly woken up to? The present leadership of the PPP, which claims to follow the mission of Z A Bhutto and Shaheed BB, are doing a great disserve to the founder of the party and his daughter BB who were liquidated by the same mindset with which Minister Kaira wants to hold dialogue.

The so-called reconciliation drive has already erased the thin layer between others and the PPP and now any semblance of secularism is being erased by the pro-religious policies of the present party’s leadership. This statement of the PPP minister along with the same kind of strategic policy adopted by the ANP (Asfandyar Wali gave a similar statement a few days ago) will give a big boost to the TTP. The ANP and PPP should have been more vocal as they have lost their workers and top and second tier leadership but it looks like political expediency in an election year has resulted in this change of mind. However, as experience shows, retracting and caving in has never been a deterrent to the TTP and their ilk.

The PPP and ANP live in a fool’s paradise if they think that by issuing conciliatory statements their parties will be spared from future attacks. The PPP should have shown courage and supported the Pakistan army, which has asked the political leadership to take a decision in continuing and expanding military action against the militants but it looks like the PPP leadership confines itself only to paying lip service to the war on terror. When it comes to taking action at decisive moments, it speaks against its stated mission. After this shift in policy, an obvious inference is that the Pakistan People’s Party is being converted into the Pakistan Parochial Party by its present leadership.
[Daily Times]

[B A Malik, Islamabad]

Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf thinks that the PPP’s present tenure will be remembered in the country’s history as a golden era. Credit must be given to the PPP government for giving new meanings to many words and coming up with unique interpretations of various concepts. Its version of reconciliation and democracy can be quoted as a classic example here.

The so-called golden period has brought us to a dead-end. We don’t know where Pakistan goes from here. The next elections will judge the veracity of the PM’s claim, that is, if the polls are held under a powerful and independent caretaker government supported by an independent Election Commission. Let the people decide where they want Pakistan to go. [The News]

[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

According to ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ and Richard Halliburton’s book, Second Book of Marvels, the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from the moon. This notion needs to be revisited now because, in all likelihood, another visible thing on earth from the moon will be the long queues of vehicles waiting at our CNG stations. [Daily Times]

[Shaukat Ali, Muzaffargarh]

There is a theft of national wealth in almost every government department, but perhaps Wapda tops them all. There are all kinds of businesses under jurisdiction of Wapda subdivision such as flourmills, showrooms, hotels, tube wells and so on, which consume a large bulk of electricity. Perhaps, driven by the high cost of electricity, the owners of such businesses try to seek an understanding with the SDO’s of the area who, in return for a certain consideration, can make things easy for them.

Another source of private income in Wapda is encroachment by high-tension wires passing over private homes. At the time of laying these 11KV cables, the Wapda officials, it seems, made it a point to overrun private properties using the 1920 Electricity Act- originally an extension of East India Company rules. Under this Act, if the property owner wants to have the dangerous overhead wires removed, he must pay an exorbitant sum unaffordable by ordinary people. On the other hand, they are given an off the record choice to privately pay a smaller amount and immediately get rid of the danger to their lives. Such underhanded tactics have made some Wapda officials millionaires while bankrupting the people.

I request NEPRA to keep in mind these facts while hitting the common electricity consumer with heavy billing arrears under pretext of fuel price adjustment charges, a practice so common nowadays. [The Nation]

[Noor Muhammad Talpur, Badin]

The word lota is derived from Urdu, Hindi, Sindhi and some other subcontinental languages. It means to console someone or something by changing its physical location. Lotas are particularly flexible and moveable creatures, and they keep continuing their endless migration from one place to another according to the situation, time and interests. There are two kinds of lotas found in the world: living and non-living. The non-living lotas are commonly seen everywhere in mosques, potters’ shops and inside traditional latrines. Living lotas are supposed to be the closest friends and faithful allies of preachers, and always remain with them whether they are travelling by bus, train or airplane. While living lotas are a unique species that are found only on earth, their majority is frequently seen to and fro inside parliament, political parties, opposition parties, government institutions, five-star hotels and on TV talk shows.

Lotas have a significant role in Pakistani society; they are rewarded with special honours and a mainstream status in politics. There are special seats reserved for lotas in each political party. Analysts believe that lotas have a bright future in Pakistani politics and that they will play a dominant role after the next Pakistani elections. [Daily Times]

[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]

Regrettably, the democracy has not brought what was promised, by the present elite in the country, particularly, in my home province Sindh. Those in power do not feel any sympathy towards their poor voters and that such a democracy would continue the suffering of the native Sindhis.
The controversial local government system called “Sindh Peoples Local Government Law” has become the worst nightmare for the Sindhi people. Sindh has never seen such poor service delivery.
What the preset rulers have done is simply continued where the past successive dictatorial regimes left the Sindhis off and dug the holes of poverty and oppression deeper.

A heinous offence, “Kidnapping for ransom”- has transformed into a industry and Chief Minister Sindh’s hometown has become an ideal district for kidnapper and hardened criminals. A young collegiate of Jogi Family was kidnapped two weeks ago from Thari Mir Wah, Khairpur Mir’s district, but his whereabouts are not known. His parents have knocked at every door for the retrieval of their young son but who cares in such a country where killing and kidnapping has become a fashion.

Like the past successive regimes, the present provincial government has done nothing to address the following chronic problems of villages in the upper and lower Sindh districts. These problems include: the problems of agriculture, art and craft, population and the family planning, animal wealth and animal husbandry; rural health and education; status of women, child marriage, unemployment, land less (labour ) Rural indebtedness, malnutrition in villages, housing, sewerage and sanitation and roads & transportation,

Before the present provincial rulers leave this earth I would like them to take responsibility and apologies for their misdeeds, misdirection, misdoings and what they have done to the poverty and sorrow -stricken Sindhi people. They administratively and politically divided our land to appease one coalition partner. Like hundreds of thousands of thinking Sindhis, I have nothing but hatred for what the present ruling elite has done to my Jeejal (mother) Sindh. [The Frontier Post]

[Sana Bashir, Lahore]

According to news snippets from around the world, an ingenious new invention is making the rounds enabling young Muslim women who are fashion conscious to look good yet remain pious. The wonder that is ‘halal’ nail polish has caused a storm among women because it has long since been believed that the mandatory ablution before prayer cannot be performed if nail polish has been applied. The halal version promises a breathable layer that allows water to penetrate so that the water reaches the cuticles and enamel of the nail. One would find such news incredibly funny if it were not being taken as seriously as it is by women from all over the Muslim world. I myself have never really given the issue much thought as I have always believed that God sees our souls and intentions and not what has been applied to our nails. [Daily Times]

[Saeed Hassan, Islamabad]

Even in the foggy nights of Islamabad these days, when one can barely see the long end of the roadside, I am compelled to remember a fine man who contributed his maximum to make this city more organised and beautiful. Kamran Lashari aka KL, the ex-chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and renowned civil servant, has done much for this city. Islamabad has a suburban side to its lifestyle but KL made every effort to change this perception, as well as the lifestyle of the locals. Next time you visit Monal or the Margalla Hills late at night, remember that in pre-KL times, no one used to drive up the hills because of the high probability of being looted. The restaurants and terraces that oversee Islamabad, the structured roads and parks are now among the many features of Islamabad. After the end of KL’s tenure, many of his projects have been either shelved altogether or have witnessed unending delays due to red tape and our tendency of blaming the last office-bearer to hide the incompetence of the current ones.

I believe that KL must be given due credit for the great job he did. It is one man’s determination that can not only change a city but also the lives of close to a million who reside there. Hats off to Lashari and his ilk for making a difference, howsoever small, in our drab existence and showing us that better things are possible. [The Express Tribune]

[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

In a press conference our very pleasant Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira scoffed and ridiculed Dr Tahirul Qadri by mimicking his style. May we request the electronic media to offer some permanent place in the comedy programs to the honorable minister for the benefit of entertainment starved public? He seems to be a natural at it. [Pakistan Observer]

[Abid Mahmud Ansari, Islamabad]

Many have been comparing, quite thoughtlessly, Mao Tse-tung’s long march to the long march of Dr Qadri. Mao Tse-tung and his 100,000 companions undertook a long march from southeast to northwest China, during 1934-35, and travelled a distance of 10,000km. Mao and his companions left Jiangxi in October 1934. At the end of the long march, only 8000 companions had lasted the journey to arrive, about a year after, in Shanxi. There is no comparison between Mao’s long march and this one by Dr Qadri.

Dr Qadri’s march hardly covered a distance of 356km, on a level road. In contrast, Mao Tse-tung and his companions covered very hostile terrain in harsh weather, faced acute shortage of food and other supplies and fought the opposition forces, with the result that only 8000 out of the 100,000 could survive the march. [The News]

[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

During the long march, the President ran away to Karachi, fearing any eventuality.It seems that the President whose political carrier is built on the corpses of the shaheeds is too afraid to have a similar fate. [Pakitan Observer]

[Muhammad Jalil Khattak, Karak]

The fear of termites to the many other like I might have gone through the article of a famous columnist, captioned “get united for running it” is very reasonable, rational and highly motivational, expressing his wish that the stalwarts of different parties of our country, who the other day, got together instantly expressing unity among their rank and file to save the democratic system of the country which they feared to be derailing, as a result of Dr. Qadri’s long march on Islamabad and his “sit-in” in the capital, was a deed good and praiseworthy, but how better it would have been, if they could have come forward in unison, to eradicate all malpractices--no doubt, a blot good name of democracy.

Elaborating further that the democracy is like a tree which nourishes trunks and exposes them to be attacked at termites, and the tree, eventually, be fallen down. He finally asks questions all the politician generally Asif Ali Zaradari and Nawaz Sharif particularly, may be due to their majority in the country, to arrange for the nourishment of the tree of democracy or the termites will destroy everything. [The Frontier Post]

Letters to FreePakistan

[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

Maj Gen Azhar Mahmood Kayani, a renowned cardiologist and Director General of Medicine Pakistan Armed Forces, delivered a talk on Prevention of Heart Diseases, at H-12 Campus NUST, Islamabad on 29 March 2012. He introduced a very handy kit which could save a person’s life from dying of sudden heart attack.

Kit comprises of following items:-

a. Tablet Disprin - 4
b. Tablet Angisid - 4
c. Deponit NT5 skin patch – 1

The worthy professor elaborated that if one feels sudden tightness and pain in centre of chest, radiating to left arm or both sides of neck, accompanied by sweating and uneasiness, one is likely to be in a state of heart attack. Following immediate measures should be taken:-

Chewing and swallowing one Disprin tablet immediately.
Keeping one Angisid tablet under the tongue.
Peeling of the thin plastic side of the patch and sticking the medicated hard side of the Deponit NT5 skin patch on the left side of the chest, near the armpit where there are no hair.

The items of this kit cost a little and without any specific expert handling can definitely save a person from dying immediately of a heart attack.

The patient should be taken to the hospital immediately and care must be taken that he undergoes no physical exertion or stress (even if he is feeling OK). He should be carried and not made to walk or climb stairs etc.

On way to hospital the patient should keep coughing vigorously every few seconds as is normally done to clear the phlegm from the chest in the morning while brushing one’s teeth.

It is advised that every individual, above 40 years should carry this kit inside one’s pocket, and also keep one handy near his bed and in the car glove compartment. Happy and Safe Long Living.

[Ahmad Kamal Khattak, Peshawar]

Reading Dr. Ashraf Ali's article in today's The News is very interesting in a way that it someone propagates the new policy of reconciliation with the Taliban of Waziristan (If they were/are really Taliban at all like the taliban of Mullah Umar). It is really interesting to note the tone of a lot of hardcore Pro-ANP people in Peshawar after the killing of Bashir Bilour. A sudden shift in the tone of these people shows as if they are really concerned about the miseries of the people of Waziristan too.

It is a fact that in Peshawar, the ruling class might have sympathies for the plight of Swatis but had no sympathy for what was going on the Pashtuns of Waziristan. The point which perturbs me as a spectator of the events is not what so many people say but what our intellectuals like Dr. Ashraf Ali suggests as a solution for the problem. The word 'Taliban' is just tip of the ice burg and beneath this word is buried the socio-economic miseries of the Afghan people on both sides of the Durand Line. Probably this was something the Great Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan wanted to get rid of when he used to talk about the unity of Afghans from both sides of the durand line. The recent fiction 'Wandering Falcon' by Jamil Ahmad is reflective of all such happenings.

It seems no far that NATO would withdraw from Afghanistan. They will have to as there are no more options left for them too but obviously they will make some make-shift arrangements in Afghanistan which might include giving some share in power to Taliban (If they agree on that). Once NATO is gone from Afghanistan, fighting with TTP will have no point in it. The real issue is that of the solution of the problems of the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan and for that purpose the softening of the During Line as International Border is a crucial step.

Pakistan needs to actively support post-nato Afghanistan too as any problem in afghanistan would always penetrate into the very foundations of Pakistan. I wonder if the champions of War on Terror in Pakistan can make a case to be presented in UN for declaring damages from the NATO countries as they are ultimately responsible for the whole mess. If the intellectuals and the lawyers and the Policy makers make one such case and compel the international community that we have suffred because of their inflicted war and now we deserve support for developing what their war has destroyed would be some acheivemwnt at least. Short of this is just gossip. Nothing else.

[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

What was that that access to the YouTube was restored by the Interior Minister but was clamped down after only a few hours by the PM on a reportedly telephone call from a journalist?! Could the IM and the PM be not on the same page before the order and the counter order? In any case for how long more do they intend to keep the YouTube out of the reach of the millions in Pakistan and deny them an immensely huge source of all kinds of academic and general knowledge badly needed by from an ordinary high school student to a post doctorate research scholar?! As far as the availability of some objectionable material on the YouTube is concerned, it has been there from the day one YouTube was aired and shall remain there till the last day of its presence on the net. It is for the individuals themselves to access such a material or not and any right thinking Muslim would simply not do so.

I would, therefore, earnestly request the govt. to lift the ban on YouTube and trust the nation for its mature conduct rather than yield to the extremists who find Islam being endangered even by a male doctor treating a female dying patient.

[Ahmad Kamal Khattak, Peshawar]

Reportedly Barrister Baacha condemned Altaf's Speech. A big Report. I wonder if someone could ask Barrister Sahib about whether Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah used to have a British Passport or Not? A legal Question! I am throwing this question to Barrister Sahib as reportedly he stayed at the same room in Lincoln's Inn where our beloved Quaid stayed during his study of law.

[Javed Chaudry]

The oratorical letter of Admiral Fasih Bukhari to the president seems to be long on the motherhood statements but short on the essentail facts describing the actual reason(s) for his frustrations. The admiral appears to be alleging that the Supreme Court is acting in an unlawful manner. The allegation may have been associated with the matter he has cited whereby the court had taken certain actions prior to the Executive Board meeting at the NAB headquarters. It is more of a matter of formality with which the court may or may not have been familiar. But the important question that must be raised here is: Would the results of the NAB investigations be any different after the Executive Board meeting? If so, what would cause the revision? If not, then the court’s actions are valid except that it failed to observe certain NAB formality.

The wordy letter from the Admiral does not really explain the facts in any meaningful way but it is heavy on beating around the bush. The important questions remain unanswered about the RPP investigations and now we have additional complications because of the elimination of a NAB official who was investigating the RPP case. This is my reaction to the letter, I wonder what are the thoughts of others regarding the message of this letter?

[Ahmad Kamal Khattak, Peshawar]

It is very interesting to read the term ‘writ of the government’, in newspapers at times. What one wonders by reading such terms is whether what does writ of the government actually mean? In the worst law and order situation, a chauvinist like Rehman Malik might mean a single salute to the Pakistani Flag. Military style, perhaps! But the problem is that this kind of writ of the government is no solution to any problem of the common man.

In my mind the term always arouse the concept of respect for the government functionaries. Probably this is what we expect the common man to observe when we talk of writ of the government in far flung areas of the country. Well! Sometimes there is no government at all so we shouldn’t expect any writ too. This is the ground reality of our country.

Imran Khan maneuvered his discussion with Najam Sethi and tackled his questions well about the creation of new provinces and tackling extremism etc. but the loophole in his agenda is that he does not seem to have workable solutions. At least not for a big part of the country.

Pakistani media seems to be all up in arms on the issue of south Punjab and Bahalwalpur and one of the good logic Imran gave for the creation of new province in Punjab was that it is difficult to travel from Mianwali to Lahore if someone has any issue in the provincial capital. The strange aspect of the whole story is why these politicians don’t think the same way for the rest of the country.

For instance Imran’s plan to tackle extremism was not satisfactory at all. Even if we break up from the US led war (which eventually will happen automatically in 2014), the problem of extremism cannot go away unless and until we have a concrete administrative system in the tribal regions.

The law and order situation in the tribal areas can get better only if we stop the draconian state policies towards the tribal people and start treating them as equal citizens of the country. Now in order to get rid of the problems f extremism, poverty, lawlessness and to achieve the goal of efficient governance, the future governments would have to redraw provincial lines in the whole Pashtun inhibited area of Pakistan.

If Imran Khan is really serious about bringing a change in the country, I suggest him to amend his agenda and talk about the creation of three more provinces in the Pashtun inhibited areas of Pakistan too. Northern, Central and Southern Pakhtunkhwa /Pashtunkhwa and the merger of the adjacent tribal agencies in these provinces.

This is how we can effectively administer each town from Dir Upper in the North to Quetta in the south. Such a solution will not only solve a lot of administrative affairs of the people of western region of the country but also would make it easier to govern these areas of the country effectively. It will also slow down insurgency in Baluchistan and the separatist trends once the Pashtuns of Baluchistan have a province of their own.

Issue of the month: Dynastic democrats

[Mohammad Fayyaz, Charsadda]

This refers to Farrukh Saleem’s article “Dynastic politics” (The News, January 2). The correlation he formed between poverty and dynastic politics was very convincing. It is time we all spoke and wrote against this exploitation-based politics. Are we to stand in respect for, and bow down to, the sons and daughters of politicians, just like our forefathers did to their parent politicians? Against this backdrop, the chief election commissioner’s recent reminder to political parties of holding internal elections (intra-party elections) before the forthcoming general elections is a positive step and will go a long way in discouraging the trend of dynastic politics.

A modus operandi should be discussed, and approved, for intra-party elections so that the whole exercise bears some fruit. Dynastic politics has been a hurdle in the way of competent, honest and visionary people who wish to enter politics. Let all writers and TV show anchors write and speak with one voice against this type of politics. Instead of wasting time on other issues, such as who motivated Dr Tahirul Qadri and why, we should deal with the real issues at hand that are affecting our lives. [The News]

[Bismah Mirza, Karachi]

Dcember 27, 2012, marked the fifth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. The ruling party was quick to cash in on this occasion by launching Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as the new face of the PPP for the next elections. Though this government has almost completed its tenure of five years, it has failed to catch the culprits behind Benazir’s assassination. At Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, Bilalwal, rather than questioning his father, posed this question to the judiciary, asking the chief justice to explain why he has not punished the culprits behind the heinous act. The Pakistani nation, especially the youth, want to ask Bilawal the steps his father has taken to punish Benazir’s killers while he is the president of Pakistan.

The installation of Bilawal as a new political leader in this prince-like manner shows the absence of democracy in the Pakistani political system. Bilawal has not entered politics as a political worker but as a nominated leader. It is very surprising that the PPP claims to be a democratic party, yet its members have proved to be believers in monarchy. The track record of our rulers shows that the country is run without a proper merit-based system that recognises and appreciates the talents of the deserving. Our rulers’ children spend their lives in luxury in foreign countries. How can we allow such people to rule us as this is against the ideals of democracy? [The Express Tribune]

[Dr Muhammad Yaqoob Bhatti, Lahore]

The description of Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the next king on the horizon in a section of the press betrays a nostalgia with the worn out kingship of bygone days of Moghul and English kings and emperors that ruled us, including Mahraja Ranjit Singh. This is certainly in bad taste since the democracy has dawned upon Pakistan. The very idea of displaying our democratic rulers as kings and queens feeds a wrong idea to the population that Pakistan, born out of an epic struggle by the Muslims of the subcontinent under the historic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is to have kings now in the 21st century.

This shows that we have not shed the hangover of English emperors like George the fifth who called himself King of England and Emperor of India. We ought to move away from the shadows of “Zilley Illahis” that adorned the titles of Moghul kings and move into the glorious period of democratic rule. A section of press ought not be carried away by the personal charm of a would-be-ruler to belittle the people at large whose votes will decide the future leadership. As such our press must be people oriented rather than personality worshippers. The drama of life operates on a much broader screen rather than the moustached generals in decorated uniforms or civilian dictators who pose as “gurus” of politics but are incapable of improving the lot of poor masses. The people’s needs have moved further than “roti kapra and makaan”. They also need shoes, clean water, basic education as also basic health care and social justice to dispel the notion of rich rulers and abject poverty of masses that are destined to remain forever so. The “welfare state” concept of Islam needs to be observed at all times, instead of encouraging rulers to become kings and the people as downtrodden subjects being mired in sloth and hunger. [Pakistan Today]

[Mohammad Fayyaz, Charsadda]

Thursday, January 03, 2013 - Poverty can be convincingly matched with dynastic politics. It has been source of most of our problems. It is time we all spoke and wrote against this type of useless and exploitation-oriented politics. Have we to clap hands and stand in respect for the sons and daughters of politicians as our forefathers did for their parent-politicians? The Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan’s decision, asking the political parties to hold internal elections (intra elections) in their respective parties, before participation in forthcoming general elections is a positive step to discourage the abominable dynastic politics.

My personal opinion is that a modus operandi should also be discussed, and approved for the intra-elections of these political parties so that the whole exercise does not result in mockery, but proves fruitful. Dynastic politics has been a hurdle for the competent, honest, and visionary ones to enter the field of politics. Let all the writers, and anchors speak and write vehemently against this evil type of politics. Instead of wasting time, and the time of the citizens on issues like who has motivated Dr. Tahirul Qadri, and why, we should deal with the real issues at hand, affecting our immediate life. [Pakistan Observer]

[Asad A Khan, London]

Fatima Bhutto’s articles have appeared in many prestigious international publications like the London Times and the Telegraph. She was also interviewed by Stephen Sackur on the BBC’s HARDtalk. How many other Bhuttos have been honoured this way? Yet, she is hardly given any importance by the Pakistani media and people, probably because she doesn’t have strong political backing. Fatima would have confidently answered all of Ali Moin Nawazish’s questions, which he put to Bilawal in his article recently. Let us wait and see if and how Bilawal responds to those questions. [The News]

[Ahmed Khan, Lahore]

This is with reference to Salman Ahmad’s article of Jan 1 titled “Democracy yes, dynasty no.” Dynastic politics isn’t limited to Pakistan alone, and if you look at the sheer number of countries that seem to have it, it would suggest that it is inherently a symptom of failure of democracy. South Korea just elected a daughter of a former dictator, India has far more dynastic politics at the local, provincial and national levels than Pakistan. Many American families (the Kennedys, Bushs and the Rockefellers, to name a few) have had several generations of their families serve in the Senate, Congress and as governors. Japan’s prime minister is a grandson of a former prime minister and so was his opponent in the previous election. Indonesia, Malaysia, any number of South American countries and the list goes on.

Therefore, claiming that all the ills in our political system stem from dynastic politics is overly simplistic and borderline ridiculous (which are signature PTI characteristics). If you really do believe that it is the problem then maybe you should compare our political frameworks and system with the above mentioned examples and see where the solution lies. Most importantly, unlike monarchies (such as Saudi Arabia) and dictatorships such as North Korea and Syria the people have a clear path to getting rid of these ‘dynasties’. [The Express Tribune]

[Raj Wali Khan, Swabi]

This is with reference to the article “Of born leaders and followers” by Hussain H Zaidi (Jan 7). Zaidi is quite right in saying that no one is a born leader; circumstances turn a person into a leader. Actually, the political system of our country has been hijacked by a few families. These families are not ready to part with what they have “political clout” and accept anyone else into their fold. The people of Pakistan have a chance of changing their fate by selecting sincere candidates and shunning biradari and tribal affiliations while casting their vote.

To make certain that only honest and able candidates make it to parliament, past records of up to ten years of all candidates who are going to contest elections must be checked. No income tax evader should be allowed to fight elections. There is also a dire need of putting a ban on the ruling party’s use of public money on election campaigns. Every outgoing government should face a thorough audit. [The News]

[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

Mr. Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim while talking to the news reporters on a private TV channel this evening said that if the coming elections were not free and fair that will be the end of Pakistan. The free and fair elections are a must but more important than that is to have honest and truthful candidates to elect from. It is quite likely that most political parties shall nominate the same hereditary and professional ‘electables’ who are gifted with the skill to beat any election process howsoever free and fair it may be.

And, if the same lot of the corrupt politicians is returned to power again then that would be God forbid the end of Pakistan. The honourable justice must, therefore, ensure that only those who qualify under the Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution are allowed to contest the elections. Also, in order to force the political parties to elect the right kind of candidates, a law should be enacted to debar the political party as a whole from taking part in the elections if the ECP finds the nomination papers of more than 25 percent of its candidates unacceptable. Only then the party chiefs will give the party tickets to the honest and ameen people instead of the professional electables. [The Nation]

[Syed Sadaqat Hussain, Karachi]

Pakistan is not an ancestral land to be taken advantage of by any ruling party or its family. It is an independent, democratic state achieved after the huge sacrifices of Indian Muslims decades ago. It is ironic that the leaders of the two biggest political parties in Pakistan only think about seeing this land ruled by their sons and daughters in the future. They should be fully aware that Pakistan is not an empire estate. We are a Pakistani family and we rise or fall together, as one nation and as one people. This should be the ideology of our politicians in every adversity and misfortune suffered by the nation. They should stand with us through every trial and play a key role in resolving the nation’s problems. However, our elite political leaders never stand together to reduce the miseries of the people while the nation faces its worst ever inflation, scarcity of electricity and gas, unemployment and rampant terrorism. Recently, the PML-N called an urgent meeting of some 10 opposition parties, in and outside parliament, to combat the situation that arose due to Dr Qadri’s long march and sit-in.

They expressed their firm resolve to resist any unconstitutional move to derail democracy, and asked the government to immediately announce a schedule for holding the general elections in a free, fair and impartial manner after the formation of a neutral caretaker set-up. Why was this not ensured earlier? Today the Pakistani nation is well aware and free to decide about its future in the light of the past and what it has been taught by incapable rulers and their incompetent rule. I firmly believe that the people of Pakistan will reject outright our current lot of politicians.

While it is true that we cannot stop every violent act, we can definitely try to prevent them. The people of this country and the economic situation will not allow the same rulers for the next term because we are tired of seeing the same people preparing the ground for their own family members as though governance here belongs to only dynasties. There is ethnic violence in Karachi, sectarian violence in Quetta and separatist strife in Balochistan — all this is beyond the control of the present government. Is Pakistan a banana republic? Similarly, the violation of the LoC from the Indian side and the threatening statements by the Indian army chief are totally being ignored. The nation has suffered too much pain; it is wounded and floundering. The upcoming elections may just be the answer to our problems provided we make a change. We must say no to dynastic politics and elect fair leaders ready to work for the nation, not for themselves. [Daily Times]

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]

[Jawed Ahmed Khursheed, Karachi]

Anjuman Behbood-e-Bashindigan Block ‘J’ of North Nazimabad Karachi has 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 stays open on weekly off days as well as public holidays and even during the continuous strikes in Karachi. It also remains open for longer hours from 09am to 11pm. It has recently facilitated its visitors by installing three computers.

On the other hand, many libraries in Karachi don’t provide many opportunities to their visitors as they are either public libraries or private libraries. Public libraries are not visitor friendly as generally their staff is very rude to the general public. As far as the private libraries are concerned their organizations, under which they are run, don’t have a will to finance their libraries. They just want to take advantage from the government on the name of running a ‘welfare activity’.

Two weekly offs days; public holidays, many strikes and black-days mar the progress for the students who are determined to excel in studies. Persistent loadshedding and political turmoil in the metropolis also hinder the education of students. I therefore appreciate the people behind the library of Anjuman Behbood-e-Bashindigan, Karachi as they have made a wonderful contribution. Now the students residing in the nearby areas can avail the best. I would like to request the government and the organizations 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. [The Nation]

[Sagheer Sagar, Turbat]

A library is a building or a room amassing a collection of books and other informative educational materials where a person goes and reads in order to obtain a high position in his/her field. In other words, a library is the place where students and teachers go to study their respective subjects. No doubt, reading needs a quiet environment and libraries are considered the most silent places for studying but it is irritating to mention that nowadays these studious places lack discipline. I myself always go to a library where I study my course books but the other students who come there for studying always keep talking and whispering amongst themselves and that disturbs the entire library. Most of the time, I want to scold them and tell them to be silent but the worst thing is that the librarian is always too busy talking with these talkative students!

A student must have a sense of discipline and he or she should be different from others. It is my humble request to all people who frequent libraries to stop creating disturbances there and in other educational places. [Daily Times]


FAISALABAD: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) will build 24 public parks in the city in 2013. The 32 parks the city currently has will be upgraded. This was announced by PHA Managing Director Aashiq Dogar on Saturday. Dogar said that Rs222 million would be spent on the development of new parks and on up-grading the existing ones. In addition to this, a sports avenue would be established at Faizan-i-Madina green belt in Madina Town at an estimated cost of Rs15 million. Dogar said that the authority also planned to build a marriage garden at the Faizani-Madina green belt. Flood lights would also be installed at the venue. Of the 24 parks, six each would be set up in Lyallpur Town, Madina Town, Jinnah Town and Allama Iqbal Town at an estimated cost of Rs96 million. Eight existing parks in Madina Town would be up-graded at a cost of Rs15 million, 10 in Jinnah Town at Rs30 million and 10 in Allama Iqbal Town at Rs25 million. Dogar said that Rs15 million would be spent on the renovation of Kaleem Shaheed Park, Rs13 million on the installation of steel fence and lay track in the jogging parks in Allama Iqbal Town, and Rs13 million on installation of the fence around the Tanki Park and Usmania Park in Allama Iqbal Town.
[The Express Tribune]

[Sadaf Rehman, Islamabad]

“None could be a person’s best friend as compared to friendship with books,” is a famous adage. Following the golden saying, in old days’ book readers always remained in search of good books everywhere, they considered books as their best friends and thought nothing is as satisfying to their reading instinct as the habit of reading latest and interesting books. No doubt, reading is one of the most important ways of education and is therefore the books are very powerful in that they can be read by a large number of people and thus opinions reflected in the books spread. But unfortunately, it has become a rare feature now a days that the people visit the bazaars and shops to buy books. Book reading habit, us on the verge of decline because of rapidly integrated computer technology where anyone could access any thing by spending a meager amount and, that too, without leaving their homes.

Many people nowadays prefer movies over literature, Internet over scientific books. The decline in book reading culture is a bad sign for the development of a society, which needs prompt response by the concerned authorities to attend this crucial issue and revised culture of book reading by enhancing importance of books. [Pakistan Observer]

[Anum Razi, Lahore]

These days, books are not used for reading but are instead treated as decoration items for shelves. Books have been around for ages, even before they were available to the common man. In the beginning, books were read only by the elite class or by scholars. At that time, books were extremely expensive and were copied by hand. Some of these manuscripts are still available in different parts of the world. Books not only increase one’s knowledge but also enhance one’s skills. Reading books enhances not only the grammar and diction of a person but also broadens one’s knowledge, thereby enriching the inner world of that person. Good readers can easily and effectively communicate (both orally and through the written word) with others. Such skills are essential for improving an individual’s overall personality and persona in the eyes of the listener or reader. Books also help in shaping one’s leadership qualities. No leader is a born leader; he has to develop his strengths to influence his subordinates while working on his weak points. This demands extensive work, precision and discipline. However, this is not practically possible until one learns to lead oneself. For this, reading books comes as the best rescue.

Books help in developing a strong self-image as required in different aspects of life, especially business. Maintaining a positive attitude is highly essential to develop courage and mental strength. There are a number of books that can guide one towards effective communication, which is an important tool for entrepreneurship. Books are also a valuable asset for children. A child is better able to think critically and analyse the skills and strategies that he comes across while reading a book, rather than when they are spoon-fed to him. It is rightly said that books are the only true and best friend that a person can have. A room without books is like a body without a soul.
[Daily Times]

[Hamayun Zaki Hunzai, Hunza-Nagar, Gilgit-Baltistan]

I used to believe that the Internet has replaced books and now one needs to go to a library and waste his time while searching for a bit of information. Instead one needs the Internet to search for information. But thanks to one of my teachers who, with his strong arguments, made a paradigm shift in my viewpoint. He said that if there had been no importance of books at all, the people in the West would have stopped reading them and relied only on their handy gadgets. But this is not the case. The book-reading culture is always encouraged in the West and is the secret behind the developed western society.

A society always needs books for its prosperity and effective existence. The Internet can never replace books permanently. Books contain more details about a particular topic and are unbiased and a credible source of information. Regardless of the technological developments, books will always remain a source of knowledge and information. The people of a developing country like Pakistan can prosper by developing the healthy habit of reading books. I now consult books from the library as well. After all, one can’t get everything on the Internet. [Dawn]

[Jahanzaib Baloch, Islamabad]

The Dr Hamidullah Library of the International Islamic University, Old Campus, Islamabad, lacks sufficient computers. Since I frequently visit the library, I know how difficult it is to study without enough computers. There are only seven computers for BS and M.Sc level students, out of which only three are in working condition whiles the rest have been out of order for a couple of months. This shows the importance the library management gives to computer facilities and reflects the negligence of the authorities in protecting whatever resources are available to them.

Students doing research, which occupies a major chunk of MS and MA education, have to wait for hours for their turn to use computers. I request the authorities of the International Islamic University, Islamabad, to take effective measures in this regard or at least allow the undergraduates to use the library of M.Phil and PH.D students. [Daily Times]

Edited and prepared by
Khalil Ahmad


[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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