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Pakistan Press (18 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Hypocrisy as Art Form: New Age Islam's Selection, 18 March 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

18 March 2017

Hypocrisy as Art Form

By Babar Sattar

The Numbers Game

By Irfan Husain

Belated Realisation

By Mohammad Jamil

The Two Punjabs

By A.G. Noorani

A Welcome CPEC Benefit

By Abbas Nasir

Sowing the Seeds of Change

By Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif

FATA’s Fate

By Dr Ziauddin

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Hypocrisy as Art Form

By Babar Sattar

March 18, 2017

Our defence minister tells us that Husain Haqqani has threatened our national security once again, this time by writing an opinion piece in the Washington Post. The bit that has patriots riled up is Haqqani’s disclosure that the Obama Administration wished to place intelligence assets in Pakistan to help track Osama bin Laden and that the Zardari government granted the request, and his assertion that the assets so placed might have been invaluable in helping US Navy Seals conduct the operation in Abbottabad without Pakistan’s knowledge.

Implicit in Haqqani’s disclosures and assertions in the piece is that Musharraf, towards the end, was seen by the US as running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. The Zardari government, on the contrary, was serious about helping the US fight terror and achieve its objectives in Afghanistan. Due to the relationship between the civilian government and the US Administration, which Haqqani helped develop, Pakistan secured the Kerry-Lugar funding and in turn facilitated the US in finding Osama without the support of our military.

The real problem with the piece is the larger suggestion that can be gleaned: that our military sympathised with the Taliban and Islamist militants and was not a trustworthy ally when the fight against terror was focused on these groups; and the Obama Administration didn’t coordinate the Abbottabad operation with our military out of the fear that the information might be leaked and used to help Osama escape. And that is why the role of US assets deployed on the ground in Pakistan was invaluable.

Osama being found, captured and killed in Pakistan was a perilous moment for us. The choice for the state was to accept either incompetence or complicity. We settled for the former. Our best explanation to the world was that lapses happen even in the presence of the best intelligence agencies. We presented 9/11 as an example. But the suspicion that there might have been a combination of incompetence at the top and complicity at some level hasn’t vanished entirely. In other words, that the world isn’t sure that our state doesn’t hobnob with non-state outfits.

That is the charge India makes against us. And that is the allegation Afghanistan is also levelling. The campaign to have Pakistan declared a terror state is rooted in the assertion that Pakistan uses non-state actors to pursue its security goals in the region. At a time when the new Trump Administration is in the process of formulating a South Asia policy and how to pursue US objectives in Afghanistan, Haqqani has reminded Washington of its past suspicion. That is what is wrong with the Haqqani piece.

But our reaction to Haqqani’s piece also highlights what is wrong with Pakistan. We are never in the mood to face facts. We would rather distort them. We have transformed distortion of history, deliberate misinformation and lies into an art form.     And we keep assuring ourselves that if we can manage to weave a justificatory narrative that we find plausible and there are no ‘traitors’ like Haqqani poking holes in it, the rest of the world would also believe it.

And two, we believe it is okay to use loyalty to state and religious purity as leashes to stir up public sentiment and then use heightened public emotion as a source of power and leverage to achieve tactual gains – ie generate leverage in institutional turf wars or in negotiations with foreign states. We do so oblivious to the fact that it is easier to provoke public resentment than to quell it. And that provoking public sentiment and encouraging xenophobia and bigotry polarises society and prevents us from building consensus over the way forward for our polity.

Why leash-up hatred against the US every now and then and patronise rightwing rallies chanting “Amreeka ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai” (America’s friend is a traitor)? Starting from Liaquat Ali Khan, to Seato/Cento, to Ayub’s ‘Friends not Masters’, to Zia’s embrace of Uncle Sam, to Musharraf’s enlightened moderation, and including almost all civilian governments in between, hasn’t it been Pakistan’s consistent policy that staying on the right side of the US is in our best interest? If the US is seen as an ally we must do business with, why poison public opinion?

If Ayub did a swell job securing Western funding for mega-projects and hitching Pakistan to the US wagon during the cold war, if Musharraf committed no crime leasing out air bases to the US (we found out about that when Senator Feinstein expressed surprise at Pakistan’s opposition to drones, which she thought flew from Pakistan), what crime did the PPP commit when allowing US intelligence personnel to track Osama’s whereabouts in Pakistan? Unless we wished to hide Osama, why would we obstruct US efforts aimed at sniffing him out?

Was our state fuming after the Abbottabad operation because a declared ally breached our sovereignty and embarrassed us before the world? Or because we didn’t want Osama to be found – or at least not found unless we wanted him to be found? Do Haqqani’s words and actions cultivate an atmosphere of rancour and distrust between the US and Pakistan or merely expose it? When we declare Haqqani a traitor or punish Shakeel Afridi we unwittingly confuse the world and our own people regarding the side we are rooting for in the fight against terror.

Pakistan has a terror problem. It’s not just that terrorists hide amongst us due to broken borders or a dysfunctional governance system or that the problem would vanish if our enemies stopped paying mercenaries to blow themselves up. The real sanctuary for terrorists in Pakistan is a segment of public opinion that sympathises with them and their worldview. The sympathisers might disagree with the means used by terrorists, but deep down they support those who have declared war in the name of Islam against all infidels and against bad Muslims who side with the infidels.

The fact that Muslims in Muslim-majority states are prime victims of our faith-inspired terrorists becomes an irrelevant detail for sympathisers. In this environment, an equivocal state narrative that distinguishes between terrorists on the basis of their targets and seems to implicitly endorse the view that it is okay for some within a Muslim majority state to define what a good Muslim is and force others to measure up to such definition is manna for the terror narrative. Such equivocation encourages vigilantism and culminates into terror.

A decade ago, Lal Masjid was a den of terrorists that had to be cleansed through a military operation in which several SSG officers lost their lives. Today, Lal Masjid is leading the move against bloggers who were picked up (reportedly by intelligence agencies) and later returned after being labelled blasphemers. It is quite inexplicable why blasphemy should be a major problem in a country where 96 percent people identify themselves as Muslims and minorities are too vulnerable to deliberately try and offend the religious sensibilities of the majority.

But when little-known social media activists who are critical of state policies go missing and are later released after being branded blasphemers through a whispering campaign and Lal Masjid folks show up in court with ‘evidence’ of blasphemy (that no one else has seen or verified) demanding their prosecution, two things happen. One, fear spreads even among right thinking citizens that they can be framed for this most heinous crime if they fall on the wrong side of the state. And two, people wonder if the state and Lal Masjid are allies working together.

The practice of using patriotism and religion as part of tactical manoeuvres to win turf wars must end. Let there be a wider debate on the mistakes we have made in the past, and the corrective steps required. Self-criticism doesn’t hurt nations and their interests – self-deceit and bigotry do.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/192941-Hypocrisy-as-art-form

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The Numbers Game

By Irfan Husain

March 18th, 2017

WHO wants to be PM? Not me, for sure. I keep a mental list of jobs I’d hate to have, and Pakistan’s prime minister — or all-powerful dictator, for that matter — is at the very top.

Consider: we are a country of 200 million people mired in ignorance and poverty; the infrastructure is stretched beyond breaking point; we are bedevilled with internal and external problems, mostly of our own making; and we define ourselves more by sectarian and ethnic markers than we do as Pakistanis.

So who would wish to run this circus? Plenty of people, apparently. As though we didn’t have enough internal divisions already, Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-based Awami National Party, has just written to the prime minister to complain about the treatment of Pakhtuns living in Punjab.

The background to the alleged racial profiling of Pakhtuns in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad is the recent spate of suicide bombings. According to security forces, the perpetrators were Pakhtuns of Pakistani or Afghan origin, and the Jamaat-ul Ahrar — the group that has claimed responsibility — is based in Afghanistan.

In retaliation, Pakistan has closed border crossings, and launched a dragnet aimed at Pakhtun housing colonies in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Who Would Wish To Run This Circus?

Earlier, in the wake of the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014, many Afghan refugees were pushed out. Apart from waking dormant separatist tendencies, these moves also threaten already fraying ties with our north-western neighbour.

As it is, our national identity is a fragile thing. Some 45 years ago, it was undone by Bengali resolve to forge a separate destiny. In the mid-1970s, it was tested by Baloch separatism that has resurfaced in recent years. Jeeay Sindh was another potent voice, and the MQM once clamoured loudly for autonomy verging on independence.

Many of these forces appear to be stirring again after being prodded by a fear of the results of the long-delayed census. They have good reason for concern, as the 2017 census will overturn many assumptions about demography and power.

Consider its implications for Sindh: between the census of 1981 and 1998, figures show that the percentage of the province’s Urdu-speaking population fell from 24.1pc to 21pc, while the number of Sindhis rose from 55.7pc to 59pc in the same period. Over the last 19 years, many Pakhtuns, Punjabis and Baloch have migrated to urban Sindh for economic and security reasons.

This migration, together with lower birth rates among Mohajirs, could translate into fewer parliamentary seats for the MQM, and alter the power dynamics of the province. In Balochistan, there are concerns that there has been a steady increase in the number of Afghans in the northern part of the province. Many reportedly obtained Pakistani identity cards, thus being eligible to be registered as citizens in the census. This has alarmed the Baloch as the new numbers would call for a redrawing of the electoral map of the province.

Punjab also has reason to be concerned by the census. Rapid urbanisation will result in less rural seats and, thus, reduced clout for the established feudal families that have called the shots for years. And higher birth rates in the smaller provinces will reduce Punjab’s lion’s share of the country’s resources and civil service jobs. A rise in numbers in southern Punjab might well revive the demand for a Seraiki province.

The census will cause changes in the allocation of resources as well as parliamentary seats, so there will be winners and losers. And, as we know all too well, there are few good losers when it comes to money and power.

Already, Balochistan has demanded a delay in the census until the Afghans in the province leave. But if we wait for this to happen we might have to leave it till the next century. Traditionally, there has always been a significant Afghan presence in both Balochistan and KP, and since 9/11 it is believed to have grown considerably.

In most countries, a census is seen as a routine administrative exercise held periodically. But in Pakistan, it becomes a contentious struggle for power carried out to further certain interests in the eyes of those directly affected. This is why the army has been deployed in large numbers to ensure security for the enumerators.

The MQM sees the census as a weapon being used to cut the party down to size. The Baloch view it as an instrument to make them a minority in their own province. For feudal landlords, the whole exercise is a means to deprive them of their traditional power.

Given these apprehensions, we can expect howls of protests and accusations of foul play. After all, if politicians don’t accept elections as being fair, why would they endorse census findings? See why I don’t want to be the PM?

Source: dawn.com/news/1321121/the-numbers-game

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Belated Realisation

By Mohammad Jamil

March 18, 2017

SINCE Hussain Haqqani’s article has been published in the Washington Post on March 10, a war of words has started between the PML-N and PPP leaders. They are blaming each other for having connection with Hussain Haqqani, what they call traitor. They appear to have woken up from slumber after six years, as he has said nothing new but repeated what he has been saying in the past. In his article under reference, Hussain Haqqani stated that he had facilitated presence of CIA operatives in Pakistan by acting under the authorization of PPP government, which helped track down Osama bin Ladin without the knowledge of Pakistani military. Anyhow, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif on Wednesday proposed formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate into the claims made by Hussain Haqqani. Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah called Hussain Haqqani a traitor.

He welcomed the proposal for formation of the commission to probe his allegations, and said that the commission should also determine who called Osama Bin Ladin to Pakistan in the first place, who facilitated him, and who asked him for help. Though the commission’s report has not been made public, but Al Jazeera had published parts of the report. It is not know how it got the copy of the report. A resolute probe conducted by the Judicial Commission had concluded that it was authored by Hussain Haqqani former Pakistan ambassador to the US. The report confirmed that former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani was not a trustworthy person and has been disloyal to the state. The sealed report presented by Memo Commission was read out to the apex court’s nine-member bench, and it was observed that the former ambassador was not loyal to the country.

The memo had accused then army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of planning to bring down the government in the aftermath of the raid on Osama bin Laden on May 2. According to the leaked report, the worst part was the proposal in the memo which read: “The government will allow the US to propose names of officials to investigate bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan, facilitate American attempts to target militants like Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Taliban chief Mullah Omar, and allow the US greater oversight of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”. In his book ‘Pakistan between Mosque and military’, he had denigrated Pakistan’s institutions and wrote many things to appease his masters. The book had analysed and traced the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and military, thus disparaging Pakistan and its armed forces. He is shrewd and canny, and could do anything to appease his masters.

Anyhow, during Haqqani’s tenure as an ambassador approximately 3000 visas were issued to US officials/diplomats by Pakistan’s embassy in Washington between 14th July and December 31, 2010. Prior to authorization of Ambassador Haqqani by the Prime Minister on July 14, 2010, all visas to US diplomats used to be issued after approval from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also after clearance from security agencies. However, visas were issued to dubious US officials arbitrarily, who were suspected of being involved in espionage and other anti-state activities in Pakistan.

Haqqani was compulsive detractor of Pakistan and its institutions; yet he was pampered by the two main political parties of Pakistan. During an interview to NDTV on September 26, 2015, he ‘advised’ Pakistan to stop competing with India; and that Kashmir issue should not be linked with other issues. Having said that, a brief summary of Hussain Haqqani’s changing loyalties and changing goalposts would be appropriate to read his mind. Hussain Haqqani was once correspondent for Far Eastern Economic Review; then he was media advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif when Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan during her first stint in 1988-1990. He had switched to serve caretaker Prime Minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi in 1990, and then switched back again to serve Nawaz Sharif when he was elected Prime Minister. He stooped so low as to use vulgar language for Bhutto family’s women folk.

In 1992, he was sent to Sri Lanka as Pakistan’s High Commissioner showing disregard to the merit. On the eve of Nawaz Sharif’s dismissal by the then president under 58-2(B) on 18 April 1993, he jumped out of the sinking ship and joined President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s bandwagon. Immediately, he was rewarded and made special assistant to the caretaker Prime Minister Mir Balakh Sher Mazari with the rank of Minister of State. He was a turncoat having no parallel in at least Pakistan’s history. There is a perception that during his stint as Ambassador to the US he did not care for the prime minister and president of Pakistan. It was unfortunate that Hussain Haqqani was appointed as an ambassador to the US when everybody knew about his dubious character, and especially his views in his book titled ‘Pakistan between mosque and military’.

It was CIA that had trained Afghan Jihadis, and after the Soviet forces were pushed out, the US left the region in a lurch. Anyhow, the firm positions that the Pakistan military leadership took on certain issues vis-à-vis Kerry-Lugar Law, Raymond Davis episode and particularly resistance to a military operation in North Waziristan, had put Washington in a huff, as it expected unarguably not defiance but obedience from Pakistan’s every state arm. The then chief of army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had the spine to say ‘No’ to CIA’s dictates, which was the reason that the CIA had gone berserk, and strived every nerve to denigrate Pakistan’s military and premier intelligence agency. Attack on army headquarters in Rawalpindi and Mehran Base were part of the plan to demoralize military and to lower the prestige of armed forces in the eyes of people of Pakistan.

Source: pakobserver.net/belated-realisation/

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The Two Punjabs

By A.G. Noorani

March 18th, 2017

LAST month, the government of Indian Punjab asked the central government to negotiate with Pakistan to allow the transportation of exports through Pakistan’s land routes. It said this would also improve India’s trade with the Commonwealth of States countries.

What is far more significant is that Punjab also wants the centre to invite it to future trade meetings with Pakistan. The centre conceded that this issue would be taken up when trade and economic cooperation are next discussed following a resumption of dialogue.

Fortunately, Amrinder Singh has returned to power as chief minister of Punjab. In his previous tenure, he gave ample evidence of a commitment to good relations with Pakistan. Not very long ago, the chief ministers of both Punjabs met to discuss matters of common interest.

Foreign affairs is a subject of the union under India’s constitution and, indeed, of all countries. But there has been a significant shift towards giving the states some voice on the conduct of foreign affairs, especially on matters that directly impinge on their interests and their people’s feelings.

The centre needs to loosen its grip on the states’ affairs.

But Article 253 of the constitution enables the centre to ride roughshod on the states’ rights when it implements not only a treaty but also a decision at an international conference. It states: “Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this chapter [on centre-state relations in the legislative sphere], Parliament has power to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body.” If the government concludes an international convention on, say, health, parliament will have the power to make any law to implement it, despite the fact that the subject falls in the state list.

In the last nearly 70 years, the number of such international ‘bodies’ has grown significantly. Article 253 will cover an international sports ‘body’ too. But the political realities since have also altered radically. From 1990 to 2014, India’s central government was propped up by regional parties. Political realities affected the play of Article 253 in another respect as well.

Even when Rajiv Gandhi commanded a massive majority in the Lok Sabha, his policy on Sri Lanka was hostage to the wishes of the Tamil Nadu government. It was the West Bengal’s chief minister Jyoti Basu’s trip to Dhaka that enabled India to settle the dispute on the sharing of the waters of the Ganges with Bangladesh. His stature ensured acceptance of the agreement in his own state while also persuading the leaders of Bangladesh to cooperate.

In June 1948, the Indian government offered the nizam of Hyderabad a draft ‘heads of agreement’ on defence, foreign affairs and communications, which were reserved for the Indian government. Paragraph 7 added a qualification: “Hyderabad will, however, have freedom to establish trade agencies in order to build up commercial, fiscal, and economic relations with other countries; but these agencies will work under the general supervision of, and in the closest cooperation with the Government of India. Hyderabad will not have any political relations with any country.” If that was appropriate for Hyderabad in 1948, it is even more so for the states of India’s union in 2017.

It is not necessary to amend the constitution to confer on the states a consultative status on foreign affairs when their own interests are directly involved. Procedures can be devised by the centre in consultation with the states and the document can be endorsed by a joint resolution of both houses of parliament. There is a precedent for this.

In the wake of the constitutional crisis that engulfed Australia when governor-general Sir John Kerr dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam from office in 1976, a series of constitutional conventions were held on a wide range of subjects, including Canberra’s treaty-power. In May 1996, in a detailed statement to parliament, then foreign minister Alexander Downer announced the government’s decision on parliamentary scrutiny of treaties and consultation with the states. Treaties will, as a rule, be tabled in parliament “at least 15 sitting days before the government takes binding action”. Simultaneously, a ‘national interest analysis’ would also be tabled to set out reasons for ratifying the treaty. Two new bodies would be set up: a joint parliamentary committee on treaties and a ‘treaties council’, which had been rejected earlier.

An agreed parliamentary resolution can give the states greater say on foreign affairs when their interests are involved and also recognise the right of the chief minister to engage with foreign governments on economic affairs, provided that the centre is kept in the picture. They do that already — but the practice should receive formal recognition.

Source: dawn.com/news/1321120/the-two-punjabs

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A Welcome CPEC Benefit

By Abbas Nasir

March 18th, 2017

GIVEN its magnitude, the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) remains the subject of considerable debate in the country, with several experts weighing in with their figures of how much the $50 billion-plus projects are going to eventually cost Islamabad.

Over a 30-year repayment period, these figures, which do not differ wildly from one another, put the cost of CPEC at around 4.5 to five per cent per year. This means Pakistan will have to repay the $50bn plus interest at around $3bn to $3.5bn a year for the period.

Experts are right in asking whether the projected growth in economic activity as a result of CPEC generate enough national wealth for the country to service and repay annually for 30 years what seems not an insignificant amount of money, totalling about $90bn.

The Sri Lankan example has also been pointed out, where a large Chinese investment did not necessarily generate enough income or revenues for Colombo to successfully service the debt. This led to erosion of ownership of key assets such as a seaport and loss of ‘sovereignty’ over some 15,000 acres (6,070 hectares) of land earmarked for an industrial zone.

The benefits of this investment can only be accurately assessed if its impact on terrorism can be calculated.

Apart from raising the matter of annual cost, my Dawn colleague Khurram Husain, with an enviable grasp over economic and business issues, has also highlighted the matter of ‘exclusive’ economic zones for Chinese companies along the corridor and asked whether such exclusivity is desirable from the Pakistani point of view.

Social media has taken this debate to a different level altogether, where some analysts have asked if the large sums to be repatriated mean that China may come to represent in Pakistan in the 21st century what the East India Company was to India in the 19th.

Whether this argument is valid or alarmist I will leave to the reader. What I do wish to say is that there can be no denying that Pakistan, with its huge defence and debt-servicing allocation, has very little left over for infrastructure development.

And it is also not rocket science to say that an economy can only grow to a point with poor or obsolete and creaky infrastructure in this day and age, and no more. Nawaz Sharif critics may deride the prime minister for being obsessed with building multi-lanes motorways. But they will also acknowledge that even with the major ports in the country, the road and rail infrastructure along the north-south axis exists more or less in a time capsule.

This may have been expanded but nowhere near the needs of a country with a population of 200 million. One need only drive from Karachi to Peshawar, for example, or take a train to understand how little has been done in any real way since the colonial plunderers left over 70 years ago.

Also important is to examine how many investors were prepared to sink in the required investment of the magnitude that the Chinese are pledging. China’s imperative for doing so is clear as its western part lags in the pace of development attained by the rest, particularly its east.

CPEC provides western China with a quick connection, access to the rest of the world via Pakistan and, therefore, it is sinking in what from Islamabad’s perspective is an unimaginably huge investment.

However, for any cost-benefit analysis of this investment to be all-encompassing and meaningful it needs to include factors generally excluded from such analyses. The benefits of this investment can only be accurately assessed if its impact on religious militancy, even terrorism, can be calculated.

The Chinese have long been concerned with the extremist Islamic movement in the western reaches of the People’s Republic and also understand where some of its own militants find common cause, go and train themselves only to return and cause unrest.

Sources say the Chinese leadership has repeatedly raised this issue with both civilian and military leaders in Pakistan. Although they have found sympathetic ears, they also realise that this is one area where the civilians’ ability to deliver is very limited.

Against the backdrop of newly shaping realities in the region, where India sees itself as equal to China regionally (of course with Washington’s encouragement), the Chinese leadership is moving closer to Pakistan, particularly in military cooperation.

As western sources of armaments appear more and more challenging and expensive for Pakistan, its reliance on China is increasing. Latest reports in the media suggest a deeper commitment between the two to enhanced defence production, among other areas.

Who would have been surprised to see the photo of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa meeting his counterparts in the People’s Liberation Army high command? But the fact that he also met the foreign minister for face-to-face talks is significant.

One can (and with justification) just focus again on the civil-military balance in the country’s power structure, or perhaps look at a wider, global perspective and its impact on us. To me, the only institution in the country capable of taking religious extremism and terrorism head-on is the army.

After all, for years and years, GHQ has nurtured and used such elements to project its power beyond our borders and considered them as a second line of defence for our nuclear-armed country. In the process we have all witnessed the disaster that has unfolded.

If it takes Chinese persuasion to convince our key decision-makers that it may have been a bad idea all along and, in any case, that it is definitely not viable any longer, it would be a huge, possibly incalculable, benefit of CPEC. Who would not welcome it?

Source: dawn.com/news/1321119/a-welcome-cpec-benefit

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Sowing the Seeds of Change

By Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif

March 18, 2017

It was an amazing afternoon. I stood next to the young girls of my province as they recounted their extraordinary stories of relentless struggles and shared their passion for knowledge despite the grave hurdles posed by poverty and severe financial constraints. I was again reminded of the class divide that characterises our country today as well as the cruelty this system has imposed on its people.

The level of criticism attracted by pro-poor welfare projects under the pretext of one shiny jargon or another smart explanation is ever growing. The line between the haves and have-nots could not be deeper. This thought never leaves me even for a second.

It is extremely unfortunate for a country, which came into existence on the principles of the equality of opportunity and growth for all of its citizens without any discrimination, to be held hostage by the so-called elites. Even worse is their willingness to go to any extent to protect their vested interests without realising the needs of their less privileged countrymen.

My interaction with these brilliant young girls has left me even more motivated in countering this narrative and ardent in furthering my resolve and agenda to nurture equality across my province. I am convinced that a system that allows 10 percent of the elite to ride a roughshod over the 90 percent of the population cannot sustain itself for long. Establishing an egalitarian society that takes care of its less fortunate lot is our noble goal.

If the doors of impending revolution have to be shut, then it is about time we abolish the culture of patronage, rent-seeking and injustice that is so rampant and deep-rooted in our country. The persistent feelings of deprivation among the poverty-stricken youth are a ticking bomb that can explode if well-to-do sections of our society fail to acknowledge that our youth need us and we are running out of time. If our elite support me in pouring a balm on the wounds of the people who have been exploited for so long, then we can hope to integrate them into the mainstream.

In doing so, nothing is a greater equaliser than an investment in education – and that too in the education of girls. Islam, our great religion, places utmost emphasis on education – especially the education of women. Wherever Islam ordains its followers to acquire knowledge, it does not discriminate between man and woman. It is evident from the Holy Quran and Hadiths that the acquisition of knowledge is obligatory for women in the same way as it is for men. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) was a great advocate of providing girls with education and training and making special arrangements in this regard.

As I sat down with hundreds of girl students in Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex to launch the Khadim-e-Punjab Zevar-e-Taleem Programme and listened to their extraordinary stories, I could not help but wonder about the unparalleled talent that our youth is blessed with which, if tapped through the right incentives and enabling environment, can drive our country’s progress.

Zevar-e-Taleem is a game-changing initiative by virtue of its potential impact in improving the literacy rate among girls as well as lifting the socio-economic status of their households and families. The Punjab government will provide resources to the tune of Rs6 billion per annum for this purpose and 460,000 female students will benefit from this revolutionary initiative.

Under this programme – that provides stipends to girls at secondary school – the monthly stipend of Rs200 per student has been increased to Rs1,000 per student. This programme has been launched in 16 districts of Punjab that are lagging behind on the educational indicators for girl child education.

I can confidently say that the selection process of these students and the distribution of stipends are error-free. It is robustly developed through the integration of information technology tools, multiple data checks and is regularly synchronised with the school monitoring data. This process is fully transparent and completely based on merit.

The Zevar-e-Taleem programme seeks to increase the enrolment of female students and improve their retention rate through two necessary enablers: catering to the out-of-pocket expenses of girl students and providing better nutrition to these students. These are supported by empirical research and findings.

This programme will help us in move towards the actual fulfilment of the vision of our founding father. It will lay the foundation-stone of a society that is moderate, humane, economically prosperous and morally upright. In recent history, the creation of Pakistan over the short span of seven years is a living tribute to the highly important role and amazing struggle waged by our women to transform Iqbal’s dream into reality under the inspiring leadership of Quaid-e-Azam.

I firmly believe that if inspiring and brave women such as Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, Begum Shahnawaz, Salma Tassaduq Hussain and Begum Liaquat Ali Khan had not been in the forefront of freedom struggle, the dream of Pakistan would have remained a dream. My country has witnessed various women in the leading roles of legislators, doctors, jurists, preachers, educationists, ambassadors, businesswomen and entrepreneurs.

For our society to optimally unlock its potential and fulfil its purpose, girls and women must come forward. To make this possible, their brothers, husbands and fathers must support them, not as a matter of privilege but as a right. It is time that we rise above stereotypes and expose every person and ideology that opposes the education of girls and encourages miscreants to bombs girls schools. We have to stand guard over the pristine teachings of our great religion about the education of girls.

Investing in the education of girls at the primary and secondary level entails huge future dividends as women today constitute more than half of our country’s population. Investing in their empowerment involves investing in the well-being of our society.

Preparing them to take on the challenges of tomorrow and supporting them to play an effective role in the socio-economic development of our country is our collective responsibility. The Zevar-e-Taleem drive is a national movement. Empowerment through education provides the bulwark against terrorism, extremism, ignorance and under-development.

The seeds of a lasting change are being sown. Let us make sure that it grows into a fruit-bearing tree. The launch of a stipend programme to promote the education of girls is a significant step in this direction. Now we have to build on the initiative and expand its reach to enable more girls from the remaining districts to benefit from this venture.  

I would like to end this article with an African proverb: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/192942-Sowing-the-seeds-of-change

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FATA’s Fate

By Dr Ziauddin

March 18, 2017

Deciding the future status of Fata took a new turn when JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman demanded that the opinion of the people of the tribal belt must be sought in this matter.

This is quite important because the people of Fata are the real stakeholders and their opinion should be the deciding factor. Any opinion about the matter that emanates from other parts of the country has little value as compared with the views of Fata’s people.

A referendum is one of the main instruments to seek public opinion on an issue. In Pakistan, a few leaders rejected the proposal of a referendum on Fata’s fate on the grounds that such instruments have a tainted history in our country. These reservations are justifiable. But when rigging allegations were hurled against a majority of national elections, did we stop holding elections? There is a process of continuous reforms in the electoral process. In a similar vein, a referendum in Fata can be held in an open, organised and transparent manner.

An argument against holding a referendum is that other areas of provinces – such as Hazara or southern Punjab – will also demand a referendum. There are many ways to determine the opinion of people. Opinion polls and surveys can be conducted by a respectable organisation to determine the opinions of people through a representative sample.

Fata has an area of 27,220 square kilometres of area. It has an estimated population of between five to 10 million people. It is strategically located and six out of seven tribal agencies are situated along the border of Afghanistan. Fata has hundreds of schools and dozens of colleges. Its mineral resources have not been explored. There is a clear-cut process prescribed in the constitution of Pakistan to deal with this and therefore any referendum in Fata cannot be used as a precedent.

One argument that has been put forward in support of Fata’s merger with KP is that members of the National Assembly who belong to the tribal belt are in favour of the merger. In the 2013 elections, Fata had an extremely low voter turnout and the participation of women remained limited. Moreover, these elections were not held by giving a mandate to Fata MNAs to decide the future status of the tribal belt.

The third option is that a grand tribal jirga should decide this issue. Historically, a jirga is an integral part of Pakhtun culture whereby disputes are settled. The credibility of a jirga depends on the honesty and integrity of jirga members. Due to the decline in values, there are reservations on the decision of a jirga. In a male-dominated society, a disputing party often has a woman from their tribe married to man from the opposing party to settle disputes. In the tribal areas, the decisions of a jirga are influenced by the political agents and no member of a jirga can go against the PA if he has to survive in the area.

The future status of Fata should be decided in a peaceful manner and not through the threat of dharnas. Maulana Fazlur Rehman has a strong influence in certain districts of KP and South and North Waziristan. He also has a large following among madressah students. ‘Mainstreaming’ Fata is not possible only through a merger. If people think that a merger will stop terrorism, they should consider the example of Swat which witnessed a terrorist uprising twice even though it is in the settled areas of KP.

A few political leaders even think that the transitional period of five years for the merger is unnecessary and the tribal belt should be merged with immediate effect. Even if there is a consensus on the merger, different systems operate in both KP and Fata. This could result in a series of differences that will take a long time to reconcile.

The merger of East and West Germany and Hong Kong and Mainland China serve as useful examples. Hong Kong still enjoys a special status in China even though it operates under a democratic system that is fundamentally different from the latter.

The future status of Fata must be decided by the main and primary stakeholders: the people who are living in the region. The decision must be taken in a peaceful manner. The people of Fata should be responsible for their destiny and their resources. This will put an end to the controversy once and for all. Any turmoil in this strategically sensitive region is not in the interest of the country.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/192945-Fatas-fate

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/hypocrisy-as-art-form--new-age-islam-s-selection,-18-march-2017/d/110436




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