Tuesday, April 07, 2020
03:17 PM (GMT +5)

Go Back   CSS Forums > General > News & Articles

News & Articles Here you can share News and Articles that you consider important for the exam

Reply Share Thread: Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook     Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter     Submit Thread to Google+ Google+    
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
  #21  
Old Sunday, January 23, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

The ten-decibel rule

Irfan Husain

GIVEN last week’s terrible events in Pakistan, I have been compulsively flipping across as many desi channels as are available to me here in Devizes. Needless to say, the chat shows taught me little, and the news endlessly repeated what I already knew.
Ever since private TV channels began cluttering up our airwaves, I have been struck by how little most of them have added to the public discourse, apart from sound and fury. If, through an act of divine intervention or an electro-magnetic pulse, they were abruptly terminated, would we really miss them?
Of course, the legion of chat show guests who travel in herds from one studio to another would be lost. How would they spend their evenings, and who would be their audience for the bizarre views they regale us with? Considering that they are not paid a dime for their efforts, TV channels get good value from this generally clueless bunch.
Anchors and hosts, too, would lose their fat salaries and their time in the limelight. But the audience could get on with their lives without being subjected to hair-brained conspiracy theories, and the ravings of the lunatic fringe.
Seriously, though, the 24/7 news cycle puts pressure on already ill-informed and poorly educated anchors who amplify and perpetuate myths and prejudices. Of course there are a few honourable exceptions, but by and large, the content of most of our TV channels is so tedious that finding anybody talking sense is a huge relief.
Above all, I find our panellists extremely loud. It’s as though they are convinced that they can only win an argument by the volume of their voices. Once one of them has the microphone, he is reluctant to relinquish it. Anchors abdicate control, and the guests indulge in a loud free-for-all in which they lose not only their dignity, but the thread of their argument as well.
A few weeks ago, I was sent a YouTube clip showing one guest losing it so completely that he stood up, flung his glass at a fellow panellist, and stalked off the set. Even though he is an intelligent, charming chat show host himself, I’m afraid I’ll have to decline an invitation to appear on his show if he ever asks me again.
So what makes us so loud and aggressive as soon as the cameras roll, and the microphone is switched on? A British journalist wrote years ago that Indians spoke at each other, and not to each other. This is equally true of Pakistanis. We are so convinced of our own point of view that we want to ram it down everybody’s throat without hearing what the other person is saying. Our opinion is the only one that counts, and everybody else is talking nonsense.
When three or four panellists sit around a table with this mindset, they are not going to allow something as mundane as good manners get between them and the microphone. The hosts allow control to slip away, and we are left with grown-up men and women talking loudly at each other. Often, the audience is left baffled by this loud babble.
The other thing that comes across is the anger so many of our panellists express. Faces contorted, they rage at each other and at the cameras. People like Imran Khan are perpetually furious at something or the other. Mostly, it’s the Americans, with Asif Zardari being a close second.
In the UK, if a guest behaves obnoxiously on a show, he is not invited again. Anchors interrupt if a panellist is taking too much time, and invariably, the guest would defer to a request to get on with it. But in Pakistan, people take umbrage at being asked to let somebody else speak. I suppose since they aren’t being paid for their time, they feel they can behave as they wish.
Many years ago, I half-jokingly tried to impose what I called ‘the ten-decibel rule’ in my house in Lahore. This was an arbitrary level of volume I plucked out of the air to limit how loudly friends were allowed to speak late in the evening by which point everybody was well lubricated. Of course nobody took me seriously, and continued yelling even though they were seated next to each other. Sadly, most of them have not changed in this respect.
My wife has often observed that whenever two or more Pakistanis get together, the only subject they discuss is politics. And not just current politics, but how things got to where they are today, starting with partition in 1947. I fear she’s right: we are completely fixated by politics, and repeat ourselves endlessly, specially as the evening wears on.
Hence, I suppose, the popularity of current affairs chat shows on TV. We just can’t get enough discussions about politics, so that’s what we are fed. I almost wish for the return of the anodyne, censored contents of PTV when it had a monopoly of the airwaves. When private channels first began broadcasting around a decade ago, I had high hopes that they would open new vistas, and make for a more liberal, tolerant Pakistan.
But the opposite has happened, with many private channels serving as a platform for the most virulent, hate-filled messages. Democracy and politicians are under constant attack, the sub-text being that given the lousy job the government is doing, yet another bout of military rule would not be a bad thing. The most reactionary, offensive views are pushed by clerics who are not challenged by their TV hosts.
I suppose many poorly educated viewers are impressed by the sheer volume of the discourse. Calm, collected voices have no chance in this fish-market of competing ideas. So to allow for a level playing field, I would like to suggest that microphones be adjusted so they stop working when the speaker raises his voice over 10 decibels. This would encourage civilised debate where arguments would have to be based on reason and knowledge, and not on sheer volume.
On a more serious note, I occasionally wonder how kids view politics as seen through the distorting prism of the TV screen. How can they possibly respect a process that is the subject of so much yelling and frothing at the mouth? Woody Allen, the quirky American film-maker, once wrote: “God goes about His business silently. Why can’t mankind shut up?”
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old Sunday, January 23, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

What about the people?

Ameer Bhutto

Democracy may be the system of government that comes closest to satisfying the delicate sensibilities of the politically squeamish among us, but it is not without significant flaws. Most prominent among these is the fact that in a system that purports to be “of the people, for the people and by the people”, the role of the people comes to a grinding halt once they drop their vote into the ballot box. After that, the government bears carte blanche to do as it pleases for their whole term in office and need not concern itself about public opinion till the next elections. The Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom promised not to raise students’ fees during their election campaign but effortlessly executed a complete somersault after having wiggled their way into power in coalition with the Conservative Party, provoking massive student riots. Such somersaults amount to dishonest ploys to hoodwink the electorate. The students can protest from now till the next general election, but they shall only have bruises and bloody noses from police baton charges to show for their efforts.
What are flaws in the system in western democracies get magnified into a macabre farce in Pakistan. The 2008 general elections were dominated not by ideological battles (when have ideology and principles ever taken the centre stage in any election since 1971?) but by Benazir Bhutto’s murder. Her party’s new leadership vowed to punish her killers. But once in power, not only did they not even lodge a formal FIR, but instead lobbed the matter into the United Nations, hoping that their inquiry would go on ad infinitum, as UN inquiries usually do, saving them the hassle of having to deal with the matter during their term in power. But the UN surprised everyone by completing its inquiry in two years, casting serious suspicions upon some members of the government. Instead of proceeding against them, the government discredited the report and tossed it in the dust bin. Since then, no further meaningful action or investigation has been undertaken and the whole issue has been shoved into cold storage.
Apart from this, the promise of roti, kapra aur makan and jobs for the poor (people remember Benazir’s slogan ‘Benazir aye gee rozgar laye gee’) as well as their oath to defend the sovereignty of Pakistan have all proved to be elusive pipedreams. The only people who have received roti, kapra aur makan and jobs are the few fat cats at the top and a handful of their sycophantic hangers on, while the nation as a whole has suffered like never before. The flood victims have yet to be rehabilitated and are dying by the dozens every day in flimsy tents in refugee camps in the bitter cold. National sovereignty has been reduced to a joke, as the rulers continue to extract personal benefits from their foreign overlords, having compromised it before them.
The people who voted this government into power on the above mentioned specific agenda have no venue of recourse. There exists no instrument or mechanism in the system by which they might hold the government accountable for its betrayal. All they can do is suffer the consequences of their rash, impulsive decision until the next general election two years hence. Most of them have neither the strength nor the resources for so much patience.
Recently JUI-F and MQM disassociated themselves from the ruling coalition. What caused this sudden fissure in the unholy alliance? A matter of principles or ideology? An issue of national or public interests? Perish the thought! Had such considerations carried any weight with this lot, the ruling coalition could not have lasted six months. In Pakistan, not only does the role of the people end with the casting of their vote, but all feigned concerns about their plight and national interests too are put on ice till the next election. JUI-F left the ruling coalition because the prime minister sacked one of their ministers for violating his orders and the MQM followed suit to extract further concessions from the government. They have been playing this game of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds for three years.
The government, of course, was bound to do anything and everything possible to revive its majority in parliament. That is why the MQM demands, that were hitherto unacceptable to them and supposedly illegal, miraculously became acceptable and legal overnight when their hold on power was threatened. This came as no surprise to anyone. After all, this is the same lot who struck immoral deals to bypass the constitution and laws and formed a government under the monstrous NRO that shielded criminals from the consequences of their crimes. Fake degree holders sit in cabinet and hold the destiny of the country in their hands. Court verdicts are bypassed by presidential pardons to spring criminals from prison. If only the government would display such urgency and resolve in hunting down Benazir Bhutto’s killers, keeping their electoral commitments with the people and safeguarding national interests and sovereignty.
Despite having temporarily lost its majority in parliament, why was the government confident that it would remain in power? It is quite amusing to see people trying to explain the turning of the wheels in Pakistan exclusively by local factors and indigenous phenomenon. The world changed after 9-11. The realities for Pakistan changed even more. Independence has remained an elusive myth for us since 1947, as we have continuously been manipulated by the superpowers with the complicity and connivance of our greedy politicians. But, due to our history with the Taliban and proximity to Afghanistan, never before has the control of a superpower over Pakistan been as complete and all-encompassing as since that fateful day in September 1999. For our foreign overlords, their perceived security interests, real or imagined, linked with the war on terror, take precedence over our national concerns, which must seem trivial and insignificant to them. As such, our future is no longer ours to mould. We have become an instrument in someone else’s war since Musharraf sold our destiny to foreign powers to save his administration.
Zardari has not only continued this policy of servitude but has gone even further to appease his foreign benefactors. Therefore, despite acknowledging the incompetence and corruption of this administration (according to Wikileaks), it has not suited the foreign lords of power to allow a change of government thus far. Wikileaks has also revealed that the opposition too panders to the foreign, in expectation of future considerations of benefaction, which makes it easy and convenient for them to pull the reigns when needed to keep the opposition inline. That is why many of the opposition parties often express their anger and frustration but stop short of demanding a change in government.
But these lords of power are very fickle minded. Sadam Hussain, their erstwhile blue-eyed boy, was unleashed to carry out chemical warfare on Iran, but eventually found himself hanging at the end of a rope. Pervaiz Musharraf, who sold this country to them, now finds himself in exile. How long can the foreign lords of power keep a straight face and claim to be supporting democracy in Pakistan, while propping up a highly unpopular government that is so easily manipulated by its own allies?
But why should we look towards foreign powers to bring about change? The change foreign powers bring about will be engineered, directed and aimed exclusively at addressing their own specific interests. The only change that can serve national interests and put the country back on the right track is a change brought about by the people. But the question is when, if at all, will the sleeping masses awaken?
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old Sunday, January 23, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

The blasphemy law

Ikram Sehgal

Blasphemy laws in the South Asian Subcontinent are nothing new. While there was no concept of blasphemy in Hinduism, such laws in practice during the Moghul Era were repealed by the British colonial to allow Christian missionaries to proselytise. However, in 1860 the commission chaired by Lord Macaulay made the law again part of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as Section 295, which gave protection to places of worship, scriptures and personages of all religions of India. Sections 295-A and 295-B were inserted in 1927. These prescribed punishment for outraging the religious feelings of any class or religious group with deliberate and malicious intentions. On independence in 1947, this became part of Pakistan’s Penal Code (PPC). While blasphemy laws exist in many countries in the world, Pakistan perhaps has the strictest blasphemy laws even among Muslim-majority states.
Seeking to secure support among the middle class, and mainly among religious radicals, Gen Ziaul Haq accelerated the Islamisation process. Several new sections relating to religious offences were added to the PPC, almost all made by presidential decree. Inserted in 1980, Section 298-A made the use of derogatory remarks in respect of persons revered in Islam an offence punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment. This law was amended further in 1982, as 295-B, by presidential ordinance. The amendment extended it to defilement of the Holy Quran. “Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran, or of an extract therefrom, or uses it in any derogatory manner for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.”
In 1986, anything defiling the person of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was mad a criminal offence. Article 295-C read: “Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) ruled in October 1990 that “the penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet…is death, and nothing else,” and directed the federal government to effect the necessary legal changes in accordance with the ruling. (The decisions of the FSC, under Article 203-D of the Constitution, are binding on the government, which may, however, appeal against such decisions to the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court, whose decision is final.) When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not file an appeal against the FSC decision, the death penalty became mandatory for blasphemy.
Following protests by national and international human-rights organisations against what they perceived to be abuses of the blasphemy laws, Benazir Bhutto’s government intended in early 1994 to introduce two procedural changes to lessen the possibility of abuse of Section 295-C, a formal authorisation by a judicial magistrate being required before a complaint of blasphemy could be registered and arrests made. A false allegation of blasphemy would itself be made a criminal offence to be punished with up to seven years’ imprisonment.
Ms Bhutto, and later President Pervez Musharraf, were unable to bring even slight changes to the law. Hard-line religious leaders organised street protests and issued dire warnings against making any changes. Ms Bhutto, amid widespread strikes and protests across Pakistan against any changes to the blasphemy laws, backtracked on May 28, 1995, declaring that her government had only envisaged procedural changes, and added: “We will not amend the law.”
Controversy over the law flared up after MNA Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan People’s Party tabled a bill in November calling for end to the death penalty for blasphemy after Aasia Bibi, a Christian, was sentenced to hang. Aasia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water that she was asked to fetch while working in the fields. Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (PBUH). Aasia Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by the police and sentenced. Sherry Rehman has been receiving death threats for speaking out. Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether Aasia Bibi should be pardoned. Following Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani announced on Jan 9 that “we have no intentions to amend this law.”
There is nothing wrong with the blasphemy law, since it keeps our society from disintegrating into vigilantism. Moreover, it does not target non-Muslims alone, of the 647 or so brought to trial since 1991, less than 50 per cent were non-Muslims. Only a handful have been condemned to death, and no one has been executed. However, some have been murdered, being victims of “vigilante justice.” Unless the laws for bearing false witness are made stronger and effective, vigilante incidents like the brutal murder of Salmaan Taseer at the hands of his security guard will increase.
The PPC must introduce draconian punishments for bearing false witness. My article, “Perjury” (Feb 12, 2010), said that “giving false statements under oath is perjury plain and simple, and perjury is a punishable offence. The Oxford Dictionary defines perjury as ‘an act of wilfully telling an untruth when on oath,’ and goes on to use the words, ‘lying, mendacity, mendaciousness, falsification, deception, untruthfulness, dishonesty, duplicity.’ In simple terms, a perjurer is a criminal and must be treated as one.” In most countries, perjury carries exemplary punishment, ruthless enough for people to try and avoid giving a statement under oath lest that statement (or part thereof) be detected to be false.
To quote my article “Targeting perjury” (July 15, 2010), “in Pakistan the militants used the facade of religion in Swat… If the whole system is taken to be corrupt and the justice meted out to be unjust and unfair, frustration forces those seeking justice to take the law into their own hands. Loss of faith in the judicial system can become a very potent breeding ground for vigilantes. Social upheaval turning violent can spill over into the Pakistani heartland. In criminal trials, the punishment should be exactly what the accused would have got if the evidence had been held to be correct. If based on the statements of the witnesses committing perjury the accused would go to the gallows, shouldn’t those giving false evidence face the gallows themselves? The judge (or judges) must decide each case of perjury on merit and come down with a heavy hand against perjurers, as well as their manipulators and abettors.”
The punishment for perjury should be the same as the accused would have to face if the he (or she) were found guilty. We must avoid polarising society by fuelling the controversy of amending/changing the blasphemy laws. If the laws are made strong against bearing false witness, miscarriages of justice will not take place, and it will not be confined to blasphemy alone.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old Sunday, January 23, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

A city in anguish

Taj M Khattak


As Karachi matured over decades after Partition, one hoped that the mix of explosive social forces would mellow, which regrettably has not happened. There can be many reasons for this failure, but lack of good political leadership is certainly one.
If people make the city, the city also makes the people, so goes the saying. Karachi attracts poor people from all over Pakistan in search of livelihood, and a trait commonly associated with this workforce is hard work, and not much else. The most significant factor why people choose to come and live here is that the city meets their needs.
Karachi, the “City of Lights,” is a place where everyone is in a hurry to get to nowhere in particular. It is a city gasping for breath. It would not be Karachi if it didn’t have its awful traffic, perennial power cuts, water shortages, spates of violence, manmade disasters, heat, dust, filth and squalor.
Karachi is bursting at its seams and its people’s nerves are taut with stresses of every kind. The city has nasty traffic jams, but its people have got used to the inconvenience and learnt to sit through them. Because of the long hours of load-shedding, its inhabitants have generators and UPS units factored into their monthly expenses. This is a city of scarce public transport and the buses which ply are torched every now and then, on pretexts such as the recent high-profile murder in far off London, the mystery of which the much touted Metropolitan Police there has yet to solve.
Karachi is where the country’s poor flock to earn a living. On the contrary, the whole country feels the affects if the Karachi Stock Exchange goes bullish or bearish. The land mafia is in brisk business and extortion is the order of the day. It is the provincial capital of the land of the ajrak and the topi and the rulers order “cultural” road shows in the city as soon as there is the slightest rise in political temperatures in the north. Corruption is cultivated here and commotion is deliberately created. Predictions about tomorrow are as unpredictable as London’s weather.
Karachi’s children are advised not to trust people outside their homes and not eat anything offered by strangers. Watch your pockets in public transport and on streets. Keep your shoes within your sight when you go to pray in a mosque. Karachi’s public transport drivers are perpetually high on hash and its taxi drivers always out to swindle passengers. Its police appear to be meant to promote the longevity of any regime in power, many of its doctors are unregistered, engineers can cause disasters and its lawyers’ fees are beyond the reach of the common man. The flyovers and signal-free corridors are deceptive, just as the inhabitants are disillusioned.
Karachi is where political workers squat on the roads for hours and listen to telephone addresses from some leader in some far away place, with the rapt attention prayer leaders in the mosques would envy. Its politics is hilarious.
As the northbound trains chug out of Karachi Cantonment railway station, one gets glimpses of the crammed houses, blind alleys, crowded streets, clogged drains, and overflowing garbage which constitute Karachi’s “ecology.” It is a city which lives in constant fear of where the next targeted killing will take place, where the warring political factions will square it out next. It is jittery and paranoid by day, dreading the prospect of the next shutters-down call tomorrow, and panicky at night because of carjacking and cell phones being snatched at gunpoint on crossings; or worse still, women being physically assaulted by criminals prowling the streets.
It is not quite like New York, but this city hardly sleeps. It is perpetually in conflict with its inhabitants. Expensive cars, vulgar lifestyles, the compulsive greed of the rich and powerful stand out in sharp contrast to the despair and seething poverty of the slums. Despite Karachi’s glitzy veneer, alas, there are no slumdog millionaires here. It is a city of offending bureaucracy, gutka addicts, sullen shopkeepers and daredevil stunt drivers. They diminish the beauty of the city of the Quaid.
It is a city where elderly clerics climb the tallest building in the country and scan the horizon for hours looking for a moon which an able seaman through his nautical almanacs can find in ten minutes flat. It is a city where the bazaars bustle with Eid shoppers during the night as soon as the moon of the holy month of Ramadan is sighted.
It is a city of grand contradictions, where religious piety and social deviations could go in lockstep. The city is expanding, but people’s tolerance is shrinking. So many people here appear to be more shadowy than their own shadows. Yet this is where poor Pakistanis come in pursuit of their dreams and get trapped in nightmarish lives. After every cycle of targeted killings, the city rulers bury their dead in specially designated martyrs’ graveyards at the expense of the parties to which the deceased belonged, and the national airline carries the other coffins upcountry free of cost for burial. This final act rubs in the ultimate contradiction of Karachi, a city where living is expensive but dying is for free. Karachi is in anguish, a city in pain.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old Sunday, January 23, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Fighting the rule of fear

Kamila Hyat

As though the assassination of Salmaan Taseer were not bad enough, the reaction that followed it was even more terrifying.
Over the Internet, on television screens and at private gatherings of all kinds, people leapt to the defence of murderer Malik Mumtaz Qadri. Many argued that Governor Taseer deserved to die because he had spoken against the blasphemy laws. Death, it seems, is the only solution that comes to mind when differences of opinion arise. Nothing short of this will apparently do.
Even Interior Minister Rehman Malik jumped on the death bandwagon, stating he will personally shoot anyone who considers a repeal of the blasphemy laws. The notion of rule of law and a judicial process that allows those accused of even the worst crime to defend themselves seems to have evaporated. There is fear too of what may yet lie ahead.
A prominent mosque in Karachi has issued a “fatwa” against Sherry Rehman, declaring her a “non-Muslim” and demanding death for her. This will encourage others to search out their own victims. The best the interior ministry can do is to advise Ms Rehman to quit the country.
The result, of course, is fear. Minority representatives say that within their communities there is a greater sense of intimidation than ever before. Many others will think again and again before raising questions about the blasphemy laws. And there is another reason for fear: the possibility that the battle for control of ideas has been won by the extremists suddenly seems very real.
The kind of future that lies ahead is far more uncertain than before. The optimistic notion that the younger generation may be different is not borne out by entries on websites, where highly educated teenagers and others a little older suggest death is an acceptable punishment for those who voice “anti-Islam” sentiments of any kind.
So, is the contest over? Have the extremists won? Has space been closed off permanently for all those who believe that citizens are equal regardless of their beliefs, and that religion should play no part in the working of the state?
There is, however, some reason to examine the crescendo of voices suggesting it was okay for a man who had done little more than express his opinion to be gunned down in the streets. There is some evidence that the opinions of a majority, which prefers to stay silent rather than take on the fanatical armies of clerics and madressah students, are not really coming across. The media is to a very large extent responsible for this.
The crazed quest for audiences between the television channels has created an environment that thrives on sensationalism and high-pitched tabloidism. Much of the content of talk shows that fill a high percentage of air time is determined by a score-sheet of viewer ratings, compiled on the basis of monitors placed in some 500 households, by an independent agency and sent out to the channels. The figures are scrutinised by channel bosses, anchors and producers, and virtually every other member of staff. They have an impact on decisions that include the hiring of programme hosts and the topics taken up by them. The result is that the more lurid of programme, the greater the number of viewers and therefore the tendency to replicate similar material on all channels.
When this principle is applied to events such as Salmaan Taseer’s killing, the results are horrific. In an effort to attract viewers, the most controversial voices are aired. These come from people who advocate death and favour violence of all kinds. The opinions of those who oppose this receive far less space. This lack of media responsibility, the conservatism within it and the desire to attract audiences, rather than to inform people, has resulted in growth of extremism. Every “fatwa” issued receives time, even when it comes from some obscure cleric aiming only for publicity, and images of sweets being distributed in Mansehra after the murder receive attention quite out of proportion to their significance.
It is impossible to say what the true balance of opinion is. Even the surveys conducted on issues that touch on religious belief are arguably flawed – with much depending on what organisation conducted them or how questions were framed. And, of course, people are wary of expressing views that may be interpreted as being “anti-religion” in any way. The question of what this comprises has become increasingly distorted over the years, notably since the Ziaul Haq era with its hypocrisy and the pushing of religion onto the centre-stage of national life.
There is, however, some evidence that extremism is not favoured by the majority. The results of the 2008 election and the handful of assembly seats claimed by religious parties offer some proof of this. But if this majority is not given a voice, there is a danger the seesaw will begin to tilt over the other way, with people opting to join the strongest flow.
Unfortunately, mainstream political parties which oppose hard-line ideas have backed away from providing leadership to the people. Salmaan Taseer was abandoned by his own party.
The PPP backtracked completely on the blasphemy issue and its initial stance on a pardon for Aasia Bibi. No other party has assumed the role of leading a change in this situation, though both the MQM and the ANP have made some brave statements. Without this leadership, it is unrealistic to expect civil society to meaningfully resist well-organised extremist groups capable of reducing happenings such as the first court appearance of Mumtaz Qadri to a farce — during which the murderer was garlanded and showered with rose petals while the judge cowered in the courtroom.
Changing reality and driving away fear will not be easy. It can be achieved only by addressing the real issues of state, rather than those created by fanatics. A commitment to defending the rights of all people, including their right to earn a livelihood, and to security of life can go a long way towards this. These issues are linked to that of extremism. Taking them up is vital to winning over people and using their power to battle fanaticism.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old Monday, January 24, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Could Bilawal and Rahul step in?

Javed Naqvi

CONSIDERING the dire straits that India and Pakistan are in today with their respective versions of religious insanity, who can deny the urgent need to sink mutual differences and bail out together before the gathering storm swamps both.
The religious right in both countries has nurtured a hidden alliance and each half screwdriver turn of madness by one has given vital oxygen to the other. Both need to be rooted out before they take over.
Call it desperation or realism, but there is no denying that the conventional secular leadership on both sides has had its say on approaches to combating terror and they have landed us in an untenable mess. That`s reason enough to risk a radical if uncertain change. That`s why Rahul Gandhi and Bilawal Bhutto might do well to exchange notes for a badly needed joint approach to fighting religious terror and other barbaric traditions that stalk both countries.
It is not as though their elders did not make any effort to confront the menace of medieval violence. In fact, the last serious effort in this regard was subverted by their respective intelligence agencies. Other entrenched interest groups too feared losing their monopoly over the conduct of bilateral relations to civilian governments on either side.
Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani offered the most promising agreement in July 2009 in Sharm el-Sheikh when both leaders had “agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries”. And they had “affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and to cooperate with each other to this end”. For daring to make the pledge they were condemned by their respective `systems`.
Inevitably, the only significant hope to row back from the Mumbai terror-linked standoff was abandoned. The tail wagged the dog, which it pretty much still continues to do.
There is a compelling logic to the need for Rahul Gandhi and Bilawal Bhutto to undo the damage and move on from there to build a secular, liberal and just society their forebears had promised but, for a variety of reasons — including exigencies of the Cold War — failed to deliver to their people.
On the face of it, the idea to park hopes on two rather young and relatively inexperienced men to step in to plug the haemorrhage may seem preposterous. But time is slipping. And they have spoken with unusual clarity to kindle hope. Both have lost a parent and a grandparent to bigotry, which they had indulged and only later, when it was too late, tried to challenge. The lesson is too obvious to be lost on either of the young scions.
The task at hand is not a straightforward secular versus communal or democratic against extremist confrontation. The problem may be more complex. Still, Rahul Gandhi`s assessment that Hindu terror is a serious threat to India could form a solid basis to work out a strategy to fight a decisive fight. Extremism nurtured by religious minorities should be similarly dealt with. Bilawal Bhutto`s earnest promise to defend Pakistan`s minorities is a good starting point for his country.
How, then, are they going to go about their tasks? The murder of Salman Taseer by a religious zealot has prompted an old question in my mind to surface again. Why are there two teams dominating Pakistan: one that wants to join the Americans to fight the Taliban and the other that seeks to fight the Americans with the help of the Taliban? Why can`t there be a third force that deters both? After all, the whole world knows that foreign military presence in Pakistan works to the disadvantage of those who genuinely wish to cast the country in the image of Jinnah`s liberal ideals.
Rahul Gandhi too needs to share his thoughts with the people of India and not whisper them into the ears of a foreign diplomat. Did he not know that sharing his fear of Hindu terror as a threat at par with Muslim extremism with the American ambassador was potentially self-defeating? Going by the flourishing alliance that has consolidated between India`s Hindu right and Israel`s Jewish right, is there any reason to realistically expect the Americans to sympathise with Gandhi`s implicit secularism?
As with Pakistan, where the Taliban`s widening terror imprint is used to consolidate America`s military presence in the country, the Indian middle class has become accustomed to taking sides between the twin threats of corporate vandalism and religious terrorism without acknowledging that the two go together. There is a tendency to turn a blind eye to the threat callous corporate culture poses to India`s democracy. That Ratan Tata and the Ambani brothers, among others, have explicitly endorsed the main suspect in the Gujarat communal carnage as prime ministerial material has been indulged as a workable possibility by the middle classes.
In their hurry to `develop` somehow on the debris of an inclusive society, Indian analysts ignore similarities between the gruesome murder of an Australian Christian missionary and his two sons by the Hindu right, for example, and the condemned Christian woman that Taseer spoke up for.
Curiously in India extremism of the minorities — the Sikhs and Muslims, for example — is readily described as terrorism, but the illegal demolition of a mosque or a massacre of Sikhs, Dalits, Muslims, Christians or tribespeople by the Hindu right is explained euphemistically as misplaced nationalist zeal.
The arrest of a group of activists of the Hindu right in an alleged conspiracy to attack Muslim targets across the country has lent credence to Rahul Gandhi`s fears. That this group and not any Muslim suspect was responsible for a spate of attacks, including the murder of Pakistanis passengers on the Samjhauta Express, is not the only reason for the two countries to come together. There is already the pending matter of Pakistani terrorists inflicting unspeakable carnage in Mumbai.
Bilawal Bhutto will not be able to go about defending Pakistan`s minorities if the zealots who attacked Mumbai roam free. Rahul Gandhi can start looking at ways to tackle the Kashmir dispute frontally. It is an enabling factor in terrorism in India. He should of course do so with a resolve that is not deterred by a rightwing Hindu backlash. Is it too much to ask of our young leaders?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old Monday, January 24, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Routed by choice

I A Rehman

POLITICS in Pakistan is more unpredictable than a game of cricket, even that of the local variety. The affair of Mian Nawaz Sharif`s ultimatum to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the latter`s celebration of his capitulation is fit to be included in the legends.

Barely a week ago, Mian Nawaz Sharif gave Mr Gilani two ultimatums. First, the prime minister was asked to say `yes` or `no` to the PML-N chief`s 10-point plan, drawn up by him in his discretion. In case the answer was not in the affirmative, the PPP was to be thrown out of the Punjab government. Secondly, if the prime minister said `yes`, he was to fulfil the PML-N demands, artfully described as a “reform package”, within 45 days. Failing this he was to suffer, in the words of an over-excited reporter, “political liquidation”. Jo chahay aap ka husn-i-karishma saz karey.
The moment the prime minister threw his hands up in surrender, the PML-N chief was reported to have said that no ultimatum had ever been issued by him because the word `ultimatum` was never used by him. Indeed, he is quoted as saying that this word does not figure in his dictionary. Further, now that Mr Gilani has said `yes`, the PPP can stay in the Punjab government.
However, the PML-N leader`s part in the skit has been overshadowed by the prime minister`s haste in handing the challenger a complete walk-over.
One does not know to what extent the two leaders were free agents in the final phase of this affair but assuming that they were reasonably free, they could have reduced the cost to their political reputations.
There is much to be said in favour of a government`s attempts to build democracy through dialogue with all opponents. The government`s willingness to establish a process of consultation with a three-member PML-N panel can also be welcomed because it could be presented as a move towards governance under a bipartisan understanding. But politics is not that simple an affair. It may not be long before the prime minister realises that he has struck a one-sided bargain against himself and his party. Now, the PML-N will get the credit for any progress on realising the 10 objectives listed by its chief while it will not be liable for any failures — for these, the government alone will be blamed.
The only explanation for the prime minister`s press conference last Sunday is that Mian Nawaz Sharif threw a bouncer at him and instead of having the stamina to stay at the wicket, he panicked and declared himself out. In the event, the prime minister reinforced the impression that his government is weaker than it appears to be and that his party is mortally afraid of losing ministries, not only at the centre but in Punjab also.
It is difficult to imagine why the premier chose to expose his loss of nerve instead of exercising the options that were available to him. To begin with, he might have tested the PML-N`s capacity to carry out its threat and its possible consequences. Then, he could have held a proper consultation with his parliamentary party and the coalition allies. Neither the telephone calls he made before the press briefing nor his conversation (if any) with President Asif Zardari could be held as a substitute for consensus-based decision-making in a parliamentary form of government, which is different from both the presidential and prime ministerial systems.
A little reflection should have brought home to Mr Gilani the advantage of informing Mian Nawaz Sharif that the latter`s 10 points were part of the PPP`s, and indeed all democratic groups`, broader agenda, which included another 10 or more people-friendly reform items. Why should the government create the impression that popular ideas cannot originate from its councils?
The ruling party`s acrobatics for saving its government at any price and the way it is soliciting support from anyone who challenges it call for a discussion on political parties` fear of fighting an election while outside the chambers of power. The regularity and diligence with which elections have been manipulated have convinced the political elite that a party can win elections only when it is in power. It was this conviction that led to the demand that a general election must always be organised by neutral caretakers, although neutral caretakers have never been found. This is something all political parties, especially those who signed the Charter of Democracy, should address. They should sign a compact that they will jointly struggle to make any election manipulation impossible and that a party that is out of power today can hope to capture power at the next elections.
The response to the PML-N`s ultimatum apart, the prime minister`s other observations on Sunday should have caused concern. His statement on the blasphemy law might have been understandable in the prevalent situation but could easily have been accompanied with a firm policy announcement that the government will not tolerate lawlessness and that those guilty of violence or instigation to violence will be dealt with severely.
Further, the prime minister`s reference to expediting the privatisation of some property to meet the financial crunch suggests that the government is still following a bad feudal`s ways of generating resources: by selling land or family heirlooms, or borrowing from the moneylender. There is no reference to any plan to cut down the state`s non-productive expenditure, or to any move to control the profligate among the political and bureaucratic bigwigs. Money that is raised or borrowed will again be thrown into a bottomless pit and the crisis will worsen.
It is perhaps time the government tried to be a little unselfish and looked at the worst victims of the economic crisis — the millions of self-employed machine-users, petty vendors and other workers whose life has been destroyed by the disruption of their work due to fuel shortages. Let the wastage of scarce resources on the import of cars and luxury items be stopped and oil and gas imported so that the underprivileged can make a modest living and also contribute to the revival of the national economy.
Nobody will blame the government for making up with its political opponents so long as it does not ignore the interests of the ordinary citizens — the real masters of the fate of the government and the opposition both.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old Monday, January 24, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Self-appointed messiahs

Tariq Fatemi

THERE is no denying that the current government has been a deep disappointment, even to its devoted supporters, not merely because of its inefficiency but more for its failure to show any interest in governance.
Resultantly, not only is the economy on the point of collapse and national institutions crumbling, but the very fabric of the state appears to be tearing apart. As if this was not enough, the self-appointed guardians of our morals and beliefs have now taken it upon themselves to cleanse society of those that do not conform to their warped concepts.
The suffering of the masses is so extensive that it is prompting many to question the very wisdom and viability of democratic institutions. Even more frightening is that this sense of despair could once again encourage `adventurers` and self-appointed messiahs to fish in troubled waters, as was evident from Gen (retd) Musharraf`s article published recently in this newspaper.
As an effort to refurbish his credentials, his argument failed dismally. He comes across as still living in the past, convinced of his infallibility and confident of his indispensability. The fact that he had to flee the country on account of country-wide protests appears not to have registered.
Mr Musharraf refuses to accept that his decade-long authoritarian rule primarily accounts for the many ills currently afflicting this country. Not one major project can be credited to him, nor one worthwhile policy that he could bequeath to his successors.
Though he was the fourth in the line of generals who violated their oaths as soldiers, he has the distinction of having done this more than once. Having overthrown an elected government, sent parliament packing and causing some political leaders to go into exile, he created an edifice based on duplicity. When it began to collapse, he once again violated the constitution and its laws, muzzling the media, locking up members of civil society and attempting to sack the chief justice.
In his article, Mr Musharraf claims that “democracy is an obsession with the West”. He ignores reality in not recognising that it is an “obsession” with humans the world over, irrespective of their colour or creed. What else would explain the unceasing struggle, at enormous cost, in the hamlets of Africa and the fair fields of South America?
Closer to home, is it not “obsession” with democracy that has sustained the heroic struggle of the Burmese people, led by a seemingly fragile widow, Aung San Suu Kyi? Indeed, the very birth of Pakistan was the result of a democratic choice by the Muslims of the subcontinent.
The general seeks justification for what he referred to as “tailoring democracy” by bringing up the “existential threat” that he felt Pakistan faces from India and the “centrifugal forces” acting against national security from within. Yet as regards to standing up to the Indian threat, the track record of authoritarian regimes is abysmal. The first military ruler, who had the brilliance to gift to Pakistan a democracy “suited to the genius of the people”, initiated a war that sowed the seeds of separatism in the eastern wing. The second ignominiously lost half the country, while the third was unaware of the loss of strategic Siachen, so consumed was he by his passion to make us all good Muslims.
Mr Musharraf, meanwhile, launched the unauthorised adventure in Kargil which not only cost the lives of thousands of soldiers but left Pakistan ostracised by the international community. Meanwhile, with just one phone call, he succumbed to a foreign power`s onerous demands, oblivious to the country`s long-term interests. Most disastrous of all was his continued mollycoddling of extremists and militants.
Though it may have been the American preacher, Theodore Parker, who defined democracy as “a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people”, (later made famous by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address in 1863), the idea of an elected and accountable government is almost as old as mankind itself. Whereas in the animal kingdom, leadership is determined by raw power, humans seek some say in determining who should govern them. It may also be true that democracy can be slow, inefficient, and occasionally even corrupt, but as Winston Churchill remarked that it may be “the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.
The general claims that the state`s security needs should be given precedence over democracy. In fact, there is no contradiction between the two. They are mutually reinforcing, for a state is far stronger when its rulers enjoy a popular mandate.
Mr Musharraf would have been well-served had he recalled that the most dangerous moment in the life of the young American Republic came in March 1783, when the officers of the Revolutionary Army, profoundly unhappy with their elected representatives, gathered to discuss seizing power.
It was the country`s good fortune that its then Commander-in Chief, Gen Washington, used all his powers of pressure and persuasion to dissuade the angry officers, urging them to “give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings”. n
A multi-ethnic and multi- linguistic state such as Pakistan cannot afford even a unitary system of government, far less an authoritarian regime. In fact, experiments with systems in which power and privilege are maintained by an individual or a class in perpetuity would be utterly disastrous. At such a time as this, when extremism and militancy are striking at the very roots of this country, it is only a democratic polity, responsive to the people and sensitive to their interests, that can create domestic consensus and tolerance. And these are essential to prevent this land from what appears to be its head-long plunge into anarchy.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old Monday, January 24, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Clerics on the march

English Column

This is not about blasphemy or the honour of the Holy Prophet. This is now all about politics, about the forces of the clergy, routed in the last elections, discovering a cause on whose bandwagon they have mounted with a vengeance.
The blasphemy issue ignited by Aasia Bibi’s conviction was virtually over in November, the government making it plain that it had not the slightest intention of amending the blasphemy law, and no government figure of any consequence stepping forward to support Salmaan Taseer on the stand he had taken.
There the matter should have rested if Pakistan’s clerical armies were not masters of manipulation and cold-blooded calculation. They whipped up a storm in December, when the issue was no longer an issue, and fanned such an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred that it would have been strange if nothing terrible had happened.
There’s a danger of moaning too much. But what with the lionising of Salmaan Taseer’s killer and hailing him as a ghazi and defender of the faith, the impression is hard to shake off that what we are witnessing are the last burial rites of what remains of sanity in a Republic not particularly famous for any striking monuments to reason.
No cleric worth the name has refrained from adding fuel to the fires thus lit across the country. But if a prize has to be given to anyone, the honours will go to Pakistan’s path-breaking contributor to political gymnastics, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and the Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Professor Munawar Hasan (professor of what?…one is tempted to ask).
The Professor is a study in contrasts: soft-spoken, even beguilingly so, and possessing a keen sense of humour but, at the same time, a master of virulence and of confusion spread in the name of the faith. The 2008 elections had laid the Jamaat low. It had made the mistake of boycotting those elections and its performance in bye-elections since then has furnished further proof of its dwindling political relevance. The Jamaat’s exploitation of the blasphemy issue is an attempt to engineer a political comeback, although there’s no altering the fact that its vote-getting ability comes nowhere near its high nuisance value.
But the issue has to be faced squarely. The clerics are on the march not because they are strong but because those on the other side of the divide – the non-clerical forces – are weak, directionless and devoid of vision…without any strategy and plan of battle.
Zardari’s vision is to stay in power and further enrich his person and his family. End of story. The common belief is he has enough but, by all accounts, we are dealing with insatiable appetites. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s vision is to enrich his family. If a tenth of the stories doing the rounds are to be even tentatively believed, they are doing pretty well for themselves. Names close to the army high command are also the subject of lurid rumours.
But the problem is greater than a few names. Pakistan’s governing class as a whole has earned the distinction of being rotten and corrupt. Everyone rightly-placed is on the take. Those not so fortunate are less emblems of virtue than martyrs to opportunities absent or lost.
A leadership thus tainted, compromised by ineptitude and greed, can neither initiate reform nor reverse the tide of obscurantism now washing against the walls of the Republic.
Lest we forget, the armies of the faithful – with their fearsome beards and shaven moustaches, shalwars pulled up over ankles – have never been in power in Pakistan (the MMA’s stint as Musharraf’s co-travellers in the Frontier not really counting in this equation). What Pakistan is today, the depths it has plumbed, the failures courted, the follies assiduously pursued, have been the handiwork of its English-speaking elite classes – who wouldn’t be caught dead calling themselves secular but who, for all practical purposes, represent a secularist point of view.
The mullahs have not been responsible for our various alliances with the United States; our entry into Cento and Seato; our militarist adventures vis-à-vis India; and the honing of ‘jihad’ as an instrument of strategic fallacies. This last piece of brilliance came from the army as commanded by Gen Ziaul Haq. Religious elements became willing accessories in this game but were not its inventors.
If the first Constituent Assembly lavished attention on a piece of rhetoric of no practical benefit to anyone, the Objectives Resolution, instead of writing a constitution which was its chief duty, the fault lay not so much with the clerical fathers as with the Muslim League leadership. The phrase ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was an invention of Gen Yahya Khan’s information minister, Maj Gen Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan. The central tenet of our security doctrine which sees India as an implacable foe out to undo Pakistan was woven in no madrassah or mosque but in General Headquarters, and a mindset which has been a distinguishing feature of the Punjabi elite.
Our fractured education system is a gift, paradoxically, of our English-speaking classes which have never felt the slightest need for framing a common education policy – the same books and curriculum, the same medium of education – for the entire country.
The army, a secular institution to begin with, has ruled Pakistan. The mainstream parties have been in power. Pakistan’s failures are their failures. The religious parties have been the hyenas and jackals of the hunt, yelping from the sides and helping themselves to the morsels that came their way. Lords of the hunt, lions of the pack, have been Pakistan’s generals and politicians, assisted ably at all times by a powerful and equally short-sighted mandarin class.
If the misuse of religion, the exploitation of religion for less-than-holy ends, the yoking of religion to unworthy causes – such as our never-ending adventures in Afghanistan – has poisoned the national atmosphere and narrowed the space for reasoned debate, the principal responsibility for that too lies with those who have held the reins of power in their hands. Why could they not have reversed the course of events, especially when it lay in their power to do so?
True, Gen Zia’s rule amounted to a visitation from the outer reaches of purgatory. We say he distorted Pakistan, which of course he did. But it is 22 years since his departure, time enough to have healed the wounds he caused and dismantle his legacy. But if the many temples to hypocrisy he erected survive, who is to blame? The Pakistan of today is Zia’s Pakistan not Jinnah’s. But if we have been unable to go back to our founding principles the fault lies not with the zealous armies of the bearded but Pakistan’s secular rulers, in mufti and khaki.
It is not the mullahs who frighten the ruling classes. These classes are afraid of their own shadows. And they have lost the ability, if they ever had it in the first place, to think for themselves. They live on imported ideas and the power of their own fantasies.
It is not a question of the English-speaking classes – our so-called civil society with its small candle-light vigils, usually in some upscale market – standing up to the clerical armies. This is to get the whole picture wrong. It is a question of the Pakistani state – its various institutions, its defence establishment and the creeds and fallacies held dear as articles of faith by this establishment – getting its direction right and then creating a new consensus enabling it to retreat from the paths of folly.
If the Pakistani establishment continues to see India as the enemy, keeps pouring money into an arms race it cannot afford, is afflicted by delusions of grandeur relative to Afghanistan, and remains unmindful of the economic disaster into which the country is fast slipping, we will never get a grip on the challenges we face.
The raging cleric, frothing at the mouth, is thus not the problem. He is merely a symptom of something larger. Pakistan’s problem is the delusional general and the incompetent politician and as long as this is not fixed, the holy armies of bigotry will remain on the march.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old Monday, January 24, 2011
Senior Member
Medal of Appreciation: Awarded to appreciate member's contribution on forum. (Academic and professional achievements do not make you eligible for this medal) - Issue reason:
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Peshawar
Posts: 546
Thanks: 300
Thanked 538 Times in 309 Posts
imran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura aboutimran bakht has a spectacular aura about
Default

Our litmus test

Amir Zia

The polarisation between rationalist and Islamic literalist forces in Pakistan had never been as sharp and visible in recent years, as it stands following the assassination of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer by a policeman assigned to protect him. With some leading Islamic parties and scores of religious-minded individuals branding the assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a hero for what they perceive as “a justified act” of killing a person opposing the blasphemy law, the very trial of the accused has all ingredients to become an explosive issue that could prove a test case for the state itself.
Top leaders of religious parties, including Maulana Fazlur Rahman, have already upped the ante by announcing at a Karachi rally on January 9 that they plan to defend the killer of Taseer come what may. The country’s civil society, led mainly by non-governmental organisations, remains in the forefront in condemning the murder and the killer. Ironically, one side’s villain remains a hero for other. An active section of lawyers, supporters of religious parties are showering Qadri with rose petals, underlining the complexity and sensitivity of the issue.
As frenzy and rigidity reigns supreme, there appears no middle ground on which the two ideologically opposing sides could see eye-to-eye. The Islamic forces of all shades and colour appear more aggressive and emboldened following this high-profile murder. As they try to build a campaign on incontestability of the blasphemy law, there are chances that the radicals among them may like to broaden the agenda and set bigger goals. Currently, the active street power appears on their side.
The liberal, secular and rationalist Pakistanis are without an organised political force. The political parties, which should have represented their aspirations on the issue of blasphemy law and Taseer’s murder, have been found wanting. Even the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party appears on the back foot despite the fact that two of its leaders – chairperson Benazir Bhutto and Salmaan Taseer – were murdered by the extremists. Its federal ministers – as they have done on so many other issues – have been issuing contradictory, self-defeating statements aimed at appeasing the religious forces rather than taking a clear and firm position on this sensitive issue.
But political expediency of one side does not mean that the religious groups are in a benign mood. They have become more assertive. No wonder there is pessimism and fear among many liberal and educated Pakistanis about the country’s future as they see the space of democratic discourse, moderate views and tolerance shrinking in the society. For many affluent and liberal Pakistanis, today’s black humour – which also serves as a grim warning – is when they ask one another whether they checked loyalties and religious leanings of their security guards.
Yes, today’s Pakistan stands not only divided but at war with itself. The tidings are ominous. When law-breakers and murderers are hailed as heroes and the state institutions keep mum about it, then something has gone terribly wrong with society. No so-called lofty ideal goal justifies taking the law in one’s own hands. If collective conscious of any society allows this, it is a one-way road to anarchy, chaos and lawlessness. It results in the weakening and collapse of the state.
The government’s weak reaction on the killing of Governor Taseer has exposed the fragility of this democratic dispensation, surviving on a day-to-day basis. The religious parties can now smell blood and radicals among their ranks can try to expand their boundaries. There is a growing realisation among the religious-minded hardliners that their movement has a potential to gain momentum because of a frail government, state and civil society. The situation can encourage them to go for an adventurous course.
While Pakistan struggles to adjust and get to terms with itself post-Taseer, the international community appears more sceptical about a nuclear-armed Muslim state. The notion of a failing and crumbling state is likely to gain more currency about Pakistan – whether we like it or not. News from here does nothing to change this perception.
Indeed, Pakistan is at the brink of becoming a pariah state because of the unabated rise of extremism and terrorism. It has already become a no-go area for international sports and tourism. Foreign investors and businessmen like to stay away from this country, while even leading local businesses are making fresh investments abroad because of security fears. The government’s incapacity to carry-out the much-needed reforms, provide clean governance, fight extremism and militancy from inside Pakistan are fuelling fears of Pakistan’s slide into anarchy and strife.
The need of the hour is that the leadership on both sides of the ideological divide makes sustained efforts to bring down the rising temperatures. The government needs to play an active role to make this happen and open channels for dialogue and exchange of ideas on proper platforms. Taking such sensitive matters on the street or trying to decide them in emotional debates on television screens won’t help, but add fuel to the fire.
But this does not mean that there should be a compromise on the supremacy of the law or the writ of the state. This needs to be ensured in an emphatic manner by dispensing justice to the killer of Governor Taseer. There are religious scholars and clerics belonging to all the Islamic schools of thought, who stand for the constitution and rule of law.
There is also an urgent need to address concerns of the religious minorities of Pakistan with the participation of Pakistani clerics. Whether regarding procedural issues of the blasphemy law, which is not meant to target innocent people or implicate anyone on false charges. Yes, it is time to assert for supremacy of the law – nothing less than that.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Roedad Khan Columns AATISH News & Articles 10 Saturday, October 17, 2009 10:32 AM
British Boer Wars 1889 to 1902 in Africa Rana Munawar Farooq Topics and Notes 1 Friday, May 15, 2009 08:42 PM
SQL (Structured Query Language) Janeeta Computer Science 0 Saturday, January 19, 2008 12:25 PM
Data Base Design Glossary: Najabat Computers and Technology 0 Monday, November 27, 2006 01:58 PM


CSS Forum on Facebook Follow CSS Forum on Twitter

Disclaimer: All messages made available as part of this discussion group (including any bulletin boards and chat rooms) and any opinions, advice, statements or other information contained in any messages posted or transmitted by any third party are the responsibility of the author of that message and not of CSSForum.com.pk (unless CSSForum.com.pk is specifically identified as the author of the message). The fact that a particular message is posted on or transmitted using this web site does not mean that CSSForum has endorsed that message in any way or verified the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message. We encourage visitors to the forum to report any objectionable message in site feedback. This forum is not monitored 24/7.

Sponsors: ArgusVision   vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.