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Pakistan Press (10 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Another Look at History By Kamila Hyat: New Age Islam's Selection, 10 August 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

10 August 2017

Another Look at History

By Kamila Hyat

What Freedom Meant

By I.A. Rehman

Principles Vs Pragmatism

By Khurram Husain

An Unburied Lion

By F.S. Aijazuddin

The Power Dynamics of Misogyny

By Abrahim Shah

Competing Traumas

By Enum Naseer

Follow the Money

By Rashid Javaid Rana

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Another Look at History

By Kamila Hyat

August 10, 2017

As preparations begin for us to celebrate what will be the 70th   anniversary of Pakistan’s creation and the independence of the Subcontinent, it is time to take a realistic and, possibly, not very palatable look at all that has happened.

Publishing articles and reports that document the memories of people who lived through that time provides a reminder of just how horrific the breaking up of united India was for millions of families. The largest genocide to have occurred in history is infrequently mentioned in our country and glossed over in history books. We know from anecdotal accounts that even Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself was shocked when he saw the aftermath of the sequence of events that led to the hasty division of a country.

A majority of people in their 70s and 80s who are now speaking out are attempting to leave behind some record of the true ugliness of what took place. Those who still live in Lahore describe the painful separation from friends belonging to the Hindu or Sikh community who vanished suddenly. Their belongings are still with families in Pakistan and are a reminder of how quickly they had to flee in order to avoid a massacre amid the madness that occurred.

Others who moved from what is now India describe the murder of family members and a sudden conversion of peaceful villages into killing fields. Jinnah and his peers are not around today to tell us how they had envisaged the divide would occur. It seems that they had astonishingly not predicted how much hatred, death and misery would be unleashed throughout the region – which, of course, stretches right into modern-day Bangladesh.

As we wave small green and white flags that are being sold everywhere or place larger ones on our rooftops, we should be thinking a little more about the reality of what happened. The purpose of Partition was, according to those who led the movement, to give Muslims a homeland of their own. As we look at the wave of intolerance seeping across India today under the government of Narendra Modi, we have reason to be glad for this. But is it not true that within the land that was created in 1947, a large number of Muslims have been killed at the hands of those who share the same religion?

The events of 1971 have been carefully obliterated from history books and are simply never spoken about in our country. Few can imagine the horrors that took place at Dhaka University and many other places or the racial intolerance that marked the attitudes of people living in what was then West Pakistan and, in a number of cases, working in the eastern wing of the country. The prejudice continues today. The basis of religion for the creation of a nation then falls into question.

Even since then, there have been many other needless acts of violence committed against Muslims and also against non-Muslims who should have been protected by a people who understood the damage that acts of discrimination by a majority population could inflict. Instead, as the decades have passed, we have become a country where sectarian violence is rife, certain groups are discriminated against and militancy has impacted tens of thousands of families across the country.

At a few forums, people are brave enough to ask why Pakistan was carved out in the first place. But, of course, it is easier to talk about this in hindsight now that they see what has happened. Interestingly, in Israel – the only other country founded on the basis of religion – similar forms of discrimination exist. It appears that those who are persecuted are no less willing to persecute others when they get the opportunity and power. The fate of the Palestinians in the Middle East and of many smaller groups in Pakistan serves as a testimony to this belief.

Of course, we must now think of the future and find a way to salvage the country that has been created. This has to be the primary goal. Merely staging expensive celebrations will not achieve this. We need also to look back at history and tell the truth. The truth is always subjective. But we can make an attempt to document the voices of different people who saw what happened to their cities and to their lives.

The project undertaken by the Citizens Archive to record and put together the history of people who lived through 1947 is an important one. Ideally, the media and other groups should follow on from here. But they will not do so. We have been told a false narrative for so long that we have come to believe it without questioning its authenticity. Very little thought accompanies this belief. There were some major parties that had demanded greater autonomy for all Muslim-majority regions that would have avoided a bloody slicing up of India and provinces, including Punjab and Bengal.

Of course, this is a matter for debate and discussion by experts. There are pros and cons to this debate. However, there is no harm in bringing these matters before the people and allowing a freer discussion. The blocking of thought processes and the deliberate moulding of mindsets to fit a particular pattern reflects a legacy of fascism and other similar systems. The greatest gift we could give our people on the 70th anniversary of our independence is to offer them the power to reason, think and take an open look at history.

The willingness to examine history under different lenses is limited all over the world. The manner in which terrible events, such as the first and second world wars as well as more recent conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and other places, could have been avoided is not discussed frequently enough. Yes, we now know that the Iraq War was largely a result of falsehood and the lies told by major leaders – who had, in some cases, been fooled by their own intelligence agencies. Inquiries into those events and some excellent documentaries by the independent media have exposed Bush, Blair and many others. These are acts of true courage. Future generations can learn and benefit throughthese efforts.

We need to develop a similar form of bravery within our own broken nation. In the first place, we must admit that it is broken. It is badly divided along the lines of wealth, gender, ethnicity and religion that have deepened with time. Patriotism should involve an attempt to improve the lives of people and be honest about what we say and what we believe in.

When history is as distorted as it is in our country, people simply do not have the room to understand what took place or to learn about the horrors that mark their past. Recognising these facets can motivate them to make a bigger effort to undo the wrongs that took place and build a brighter future for every Pakistani who now lives within the boundaries of the country. This mission should have been undertaken many decades ago. But, perhaps, it is better to begin now rather than abandon this initiative forever and fall into greater disarray.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/222685-Another-look-at-history


What Freedom Meant

By I.A. Rehman

August 10, 2017

THREE days hence the people will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the birth of Pakistan in the hope that at 70 the state will start displaying some qualities of maturity and responsibility that many younger countries acquired in their youth.

Before we begin the Independence Day festivities, the members of the minority communities will be observing tomorrow, Aug 11, as Minorities Day in remembrance of the address the Quaid delivered before the constituent assembly. They will go over that speech again and again to remind the powers that be of the ideals the founder of the state had set for them. They will also recall the Supreme Court judgement of June 2014 that offered a broad framework for not only guaranteeing the minorities due protection but also according their rights as equal citizens better respect than they have so far received.

Mention might be made of the Supreme Court’s implementation bench that had been charged with ensuring enforcement of the verdict. The minorities should be forgiven if they think their case is as important as any other.

Why should the minorities alone celebrate Aug 11 with reference to the Quaid’s speech?

The next day, that is, on Aug 12, at a modest place in Hyderabad a relatively small crowd of people will be paying homage to Nazeer Abbasi, a different kind of shaheed, who had dared to oppose a mighty dictator so that we could hold our heads high, call this land our own and live without fear of falling to the sniper’s bullet. So let us also celebrate Nazeer Abbasi’s courage and his commitment.

It is necessary to remind ourselves of the tyranny of the regime under which Nazeer Abbasi was killed. But it is more important to remember Nazeer’s courage to speak out when most people had chosen to remain silent. While celebrating freedom we must not fail to honour all those valiant souls, from different parts of the country, who strove to offer its correct meaning.

But why should the minorities alone celebrate Aug 11 with reference to the Quaid’s speech on that day 70 years ago? Didn’t that speech have something that the entire nation ought to celebrate? True, the Quaid promised the non-Muslim citizens equality with the Muslims, but this was not a concession to the minorities. It was in the interest of the Muslims. Without taking the minorities along, the Muslims could not have realised themselves, then and they cannot realise themselves now. Besides, the Quaid said much more in his address in 1947 that the whole nation must seriously ponder.

When the Quaid declared that religion had nothing to do with the business of the state did he not reject the idea of a theocratic dispensation? After emphasising the sovereign character of the assembly as the federal legislature he defined as its first task maintenance of law and order “so that the life, property and religious beliefs of the subjects are fully protected by the state”.

The other primary responsibilities of the state were eradication of corruption as manifested in bribery, nepotism and black marketing. But these basic requirements of good governance were not being told to Pakistan’s politicians for the first time; these had formed part of the dream of freedom those fighting for independence from alien rule had including those working under the banner of the Muslim League and shouting for Pakistan.

It is often said that what was meant by freedom was never spelt out. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Maybe, the leaders by and large had not applied their minds to the needs and aspirations of the drawers of water and hewers of wood, as Iqbal described the poor Muslims, but what was said at the platform of the Muslim League too can give us an idea of what was meant by freedom.

We find that in 1908, the campaigners against colonial rule wanted separation of the judiciary from the executive, right to primary education, end of official interference in local, government and development of village unions for settling petty civil and criminal cases.

We also find the Muslim League demanding in 1918, the inclusion in the constitutional arrangement a bill of rights that guaranteed the people equality before law, the right to life, liberty, property, freedom of speech, expression and association, and freedom of the press.

Nearly two decades later the Muslim League was asked by the president of its annual session to adopt a four-point programme as its immediate aim. These points were:

A democratic, responsible government, with adult franchise.

Repeal of all exceptionally repressive laws and the granting of the right of free speech, freedom of the press and organisation.

Immediate economic relief to the peasantry; State provision for educated and uneducated unemployed; and an eight-hour working day, with fixed minimum wages for the workers.

Introduction of free, compulsory primary education.

The Socio-Economic Programme adopted at the Lucknow session of the Muslim League in 1937 has often been recalled. It also included a resolve to uphold the rights of workers and peasants, to end rural indebtedness, and also to free Muslim society of un-Islamic accretions.

All this is being recalled to demonstrate that the fact of Pakistan meaning different things to different people does not matter. The landlords had hoped to regain their mortgaged properties. The clerks in the secretariat perhaps wanted to become deputy secretaries and the assistant sub-inspectors of police might have fixed their eyes on DSP’s uniform. But what inspired the millions of ordinary people was simply a yearning for security of life and liberty and escape from poverty, disease and want.

The question that needs to be answered on completion of 70 years of a sort of self-rule is as to how could the rulers forget the dreams we had during the freedom struggle and the advice of the founder of the state, and why did the people let them get away with it?

Source: dawn.com/news/1350645/what-freedom-meant


Principles Vs Pragmatism

By Khurram Husain

August 10, 2017

THIS is neither about principles nor about the politics of pragmatism. This is a power struggle, pure and simple. One person has the power and the other one wants it. The other one says and does whatever he can (in this case since both are men, there is no need for gender neutrality in language) to strip the other of power and take it for himself. Once you realise that, and truly internalise its meaning, you see how little many of the terms being invoked to justify one or the other position really mean.

There are two courts at play here: the court of law and the people’s court. One party has prevailed in one court, so the other is leveraging his strength in the other court to build his position. The proximity of the elections is the key here. If the N League returns with a heavy mandate after the elections, it will have an opportunity to turn to everybody else, particularly the PTI, and say ‘Hun Das?’ (‘Now what?’)

And one cannot, should not rule that possibility out. Elections are strange creatures and it is a tricky game to try and forecast their outcome based on one’s ‘gut feeling’. One poll done in heavily contested constituencies by the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives in Lahore found that “[t]hirty-two per cent of potential voters remain undecided”.

Never underestimate the paradoxes of democratic politics. Never underestimate how large this field really is.

So the big question at the moment is actually this: what is the voter’s assessment of the PML-N’s chances of victory following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif? This is neither a principled question, nor a strictly pragmatic one. If anything, it is a supremely opportunistic question, much like the Punjab voter. On this question will hinge the endgame of this whole affair, not on how well the technicalities of the disqualification order are debated by one side or the other, and not on how Sadiq and Ameen the party leadership is on either end.

And on this question, the jury has not even been assembled, let alone begun to decide. The disqualification and the long march currently under way, the fourth since a former chief justice made the same journey following his dismissal by Musharraf, are both just dust thrown up by the struggle whose end will be decided by factors far beyond courts orders and the legal debates that they kicked off.

A large part of the answer to the question will hinge on the candidates fielded by either party in each constituency. Those who think the narratives debated in TV talk shows decide elections forget that in parliamentary systems, the voter sees the candidate first and the party second. To some extent, the PPP managed to skirt this rule, but by 2013 the party’s own appeal and the sacrifices of its leadership were no longer able to bear electoral fruit.

Then there is the material circumstances obtaining in the country at the time of polling: widespread load-shedding, rampant dollarisation and galloping inflation can aggravate an anti-incumbency bias. With a large number of undecided voters already in the field, and perceptions in a flux following the disqualification, and the economy beginning to run short on the vital macroeconomic fuel needed to ensure basic stability on the surface in a year’s time, there could well be some swing in the elections. But it is nowhere near a foregone conclusion at this point in time.

Those people insisting that there is a play of morality here, please consider a little history. We have heard this tale of accountability far too often now to take it seriously anymore. None other than Nawaz Sharif himself argued, after his return from exile and the elections of 2008, that he was following a politics of principles. Remember his position in the restoration of the judges, or in the debates around the NRO? That was quintessentially the pragmatic vs principled politics debate, and his victory back then has become a thorn in his side today.

Today, it is his party arguing for a politics of pragmatism while the PTI has inherited the mantle of principles. But even the great Khan is not immune from the tides of inevitability that sway politics. Remember when he used to glorify the early years of Musharraf as the perfect moment in Pakistan’s politics? Politics was held in abeyance and technocrats ran the ship of state, he used to say. That’s what he wanted, to bring the curtain down on politics altogether.

Then came the inevitable participation in the game as elections approached. So his party went to the electorate, in 2013, asking for the vote and promising a ‘tsunami’. But then another prickly question was posed to him: with whom would he form a coalition if his seat share was short of the majority needed to form a government? His response: nobody.

He will not sit in a coalition with any of the parties because they are all corrupt, all tainted, and he has not come to play in the game of politics, but to stand athwart it, to end it and subsume its complexities into his simple, formulaic brand of born-again leadership.

Today, we see the same party fielding Sheikh Rashid as its candidate for prime minister after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, standing shoulder to shoulder on the containers with Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi, playing a video of Pervez Musharraf praising its leader at a rally marking its biggest triumph yet.

Yes, never underestimate the paradoxes of democratic politics. Never underestimate how large this field really is, how empty the words, how feeble the deeds and how vast the multitude that eventually sits in judgement. Never forget that the road of politics is endless, there is no endpoint. Above all, more than winning, the game is about survival, and survival is a brutal beast that feeds on the virtues of the pretender.

Source: dawn.com/news/1350644/principles-vs-pragmatism


An Unburied Lion

By F.S. Aijazuddin

August 10, 2017

ELECTED governments in Pakistan have less to fear from the Indian army than from their own — with good reason. For almost 60 years, since October 1958, politicians have lost every battle to gain the higher ground of civilian supremacy. Will they ever win the war?

After the fall of East Pakistan in December 1971, Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had the opportunity to send a demoralised army back to the barracks. Many assumed he would. Instead, he opted to become Pakistan’s fourth president and third chief martial law administrator. He could not resist imitating his militaristic hero Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1977, Mr Bhutto, accused of rigging the general elections, was brutally reminded that, while political parties owe their loyalty to the electorate, the Pakistan Army owes its allegiance to the state. Political parties may hustle to present themselves to their voters as the better option. They may take turns on the merry-go-around of selfish governance. But the Pakistan Army — one of the region’s largest standing armies — stands also as the vigilant watchdog of the national interest, the muscular alternative to mismanaged democracy.

The public has nothing but the lowest expectations.

One word common to the lexicon of civilian governments and the security establishment is contempt. Civilian governments routinely display contempt for the public; the security establishment regularly betrays contempt for civilians. There is a view that elected governments are regarded as unwanted pregnancies, to be aborted whenever need be, to save the motherland. The latest still-birth is the ouster of a third-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif. It was done with a sleight of pen worthy of the late Sharifuddin Pirzada.

In time, books will be written on the way Sharif’s removal was induced. There will be tardy admissions of remorse, as there were after Z.A. Bhutto’s hanging. Many associated with this latest case may want, like Pontius Pilate, to absolve themselves. What no one in Islamabad will be able to escape is culpability for an unforgivable degeneration in standards at every level.

We know the army prefers to subsist within the boundaries of its own self-demarcated, well-defended political cantonment. Civil­ians envy its manicured order, its privileges like housing, schooling, medical facilities, preferential allotment of state lands, pensions (borne directly by the civilian budget), and gilded retirement. No wonder civilians feel like inferior ‘children of a lesser god’.

The custodians of our law have revealed a fragile fallibility. Many remember a former chief justice’s obiter dicta deciding Nawaz Sharif’s restoration to the prime minister-ship in 1993. “The law,” he pronounced, “is mightier than the King of Kings.” They have now seen his successors at the same Supreme Court stoop from that intellectual pre-eminence to quoting from an airport lounge novel The Godfather.

Many question why the Supreme Court has usurped the mundane functions of a magistrate’s court — that of investigation, prosecution, and judgement? By allowing the media to set up camp on its very doorstep and then live-stream the progress of the case being adjudicated inside, the dignity of the Supreme Court cannot but be demeaned.

From politicians, the public has nothing but the lowest expectations. Political debate has sunk to such abysmal levels that no one is shocked or surprised anymore by increasingly salacious, putrefying revelations. Scurrilous pictures of Mrs Nusrat Bhutto dancing with President Gerald Ford in 1975 were small potatoes compared to the present character assassination of the PTI leader Imran Khan. He is accused by Ms Aaisha Gulalai (a rebel PTI party member) of having sent her inappropriate messages four years ago. Only technology can affirm or refute her belated allegations.

The PTI has retaliated by fielding their own Ayesha — Ayesha Ahad, who alleges that she is the mistreated wife of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Sharif. With apologies to both, one is reminded of a poem — John F. Kennedy’s favourite — about a pet so elongated that “when its eyes were filled with tears of sadness, its tail still wagged from previous gladness”. With Ayesha and Aaisha on board, can the Sita White scandal be far behind?

Mr Imran Khan once boasted that he had been offered the prime minister-ship by Gen Musharraf. It seems he is now expecting similar largesse from his successor. Meanwhile, there is wounded Nawaz Sharif left to finish. Almost 175 years ago, on Sept 15, 1843, the Sikh Maharaja Sher Singh was murdered by his opponents at Shah Bilawal, outside Lahore. A Persian couplet described the tragedy: Ba Shauq Sagan Shikar-I-Sheran Kardand (‘for their sport, curs hunted lions’).

An unburied Nawaz Sharif plans to wreak revenge. Ironically, both Z.A. Bhutto in 1977 and Nawaz Sharif in 2017, when ousted from prime minister’s house, repaired first to Murree, then made a triumphant journey to Lahore. Will Nawaz Sharif like Bhutto be arrested before he reaches Lahore? Or will his revolution succeed where Bhutto’s revolt against Gen Ziaul Haq failed?

Source: dawn.com/news/1350643/an-unburied-lion


The Power Dynamics of Misogyny

By Abrahim Shah


Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations against Imran Khan and the subsequent invective the public has unleashed against her are another stain on Pakistan’s increasingly losing battle against gender discrimination and misogyny. Regardless of whether Gulalai’s allegations are true or not, the response she has faced from the public — including notable journalists and anchor-persons — is highly deplorable and highlights the sexism endemic to our society.

The venomous response to Gulalai’s accusations depicts how society intimidates and silences women who dare to speak out against their oppressors. Intimidation and physical threats are in fact fundamental tools males use to silence women. These threats can range from emotional duress to outright physical acts of violence. Indeed, many men went as far as to champion throwing acid on Gulalai as ‘punishment’ for her attempts at ‘maligning Imran Khan’.

The callous way in which males can advocate for violent measures such as acid throwing highlights not only their complete disregard for women but also shows the power dynamics that lie at the heart of misogyny. Whereas women like Gulalai are publically condemned for claiming they were harassed by a male in a powerful position, all males have the right to advocate violent acts against women.

Ayesha Gulalai’s vilification is both a product of this power dynamic and further reinforces it. Controlling the narrative is one way to shape opinions and discourse, and the conversation over gender parity is very much in the hands of men.

Moreover, the masculine segment of society is further able to perpetuate its control by shaming and publically ridiculing women who dare to challenge the hegemony of tyrannical masculine forces. This shaming, forces woman to remain silent in the face of oppression and accept their position as suppressed minorities in society. Thus, when men are ridiculing Ayesha Gulalai and threatening to act violently against her, they are exploiting the power they have over women which society has afforded them.

When men ridicule Gulalai and also threaten her with violence — they are simply exploiting the power they have over women and which society has afforded them

It is important to realise that this power dynamic is not at all limited to our political landscape. It is in play when a man beats his wife or threatens her with divorce. It is evident when a woman is castigated for giving birth to a daughter and not to a son. It is in front of our eyes when women are catcalled in public, and it is evident when the honour killings of women like Qandeel Baloch are justified on the premise that ‘she had it coming to her’.

This episode also sheds light on another aspect of misogyny in Pakistan — that a woman is never taken as an individual, but as a representative of her family, culture, and community. This aspect also lies behind so called ‘honour killings’ as well, where a woman is killed because she somehow violated the honour or public standing of a male relative.

This was very evident in the way our public resorted to condemning Ayesha’s sister, Maria Toorpakai. Maria was accused of wearing shorts and thus somehow promoting promiscuity in society, and this was in some way related to Ayesha’s own allegations against Imran Khan.

Society’s tendency to clump together Ayesha and her sister and shame both of them highlights how women are seen as representatives of those around them, and how they are considered responsible for the actions of others. This is very prevalent in common speak as well, where we continuously hear of how a woman must have corrupted a man, or caused discord in families.

These charges against women, and allegations that women are somehow more emotional and irrational than men stem from the narrative a male-dominated society has created to perpetuate the control of one gender over another.

Understanding the reasoning behind shaming Gulalai’s sister is in fact crucial to fighting misogyny all over the world. Since the advent of liberalism and the prominence of philosophers such as James Mill and John Stuart Mill, women have come to represent progress and modernity in society.

As a counterweight to this, traditional thinkers especially in South Asia advocated an ideology that claimed women represent ‘tradition’ and modesty, and thus, any steps taken by a woman which seem out of line from this definition of tradition are considered immodest and a violation of a society’s norms.

This is why a man’s honour is falsely tied to his wife or sister or mother or any female relative, and this also pushes men to shoulder the responsibility of ‘protecting’ women. This protection in fact, takes the guise of oppressing women and jealously circumscribing their freedoms of action, thought and movement.

Any discussion of fighting misogyny, therefore, must start with men acknowledging their culpability in promoting sexism. Claims such as ‘not all men’ and ‘it’s all in good fun’ must be jettisoned for they in fact perpetuate misogyny. Each and every one of us is guilty of promoting sexism if we ever claimed — no matter how casually — that a woman is more sentimental or if we ever laughed at a rape joke.

We must also appreciate that the fight against sexual harassment and against the oppression of women is indeed an uphill one, but we can initiate the struggle by supporting Ayesha Gulalai and defending her right to speak out in public. Let men take responsibility for once. And let us stop shaming the better half.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/10-Aug-17/the-power-dynamics-of-misogyny


Competing Traumas

By Enum Naseer

August 10, 2017

The spectacle of violent hatred on social media that started after Ayesha Gulalai went public with harassment allegations against Imran Khan and has continued to grow unabated brought us face-to-face with the level of our societal decay.

The presumption of innocence for the accused quickly morphed into a vicious demonising of the accuser. It did not stop here. The ease with which her sister, a squash champion, was dragged through a nightmare that she did not sign up for was abhorrent. Just days ago, we were all decrying a revenge rape in a village near Multan. To add insult to injury, a Jirga’s decision is now a part of the recourse plan of the aggrieved political party.

In a society as violent as ours, a woman coming forward with such a claim not only puts her image but her entire life at risk. And when she takes such a step, she must be heard. In cases involving the harassment of women by men, among the many things to consider are gender and power relations in tandem with the burden of proof which, sadly, lies with the accusing women.

In total negation of these nuances, while championing the presumption of innocence of the accused, society often denies the accuser the empathy that it will happily extend to an idolised man and backs her against a wall. While it may still be hard for us to wrap our heads around the idea, in no way does simply listening to the latter’s account jeopardise the innocence of the former.

How long will it take for us to inculcate the decency to hear a victim’s account quietly before we start foaming at the mouth over defiled honour? When will we understand that the accuser has a case that deserves to be heard simultaneously while we believe the accused to be innocent until proven otherwise?

For future reference, harassment is a sensitive issue. It is as real as the air we breathe and may be just as difficult to substantiate. And it is widespread: in the workplace, at bazaars and on the road in the form of unsolicited attention and commentary and everywhere women have learnt to tune out. Educated women and women who know their rights also know that they don’t have an inexhaustible reservoir of energy and courage. Out of fear of being ostracised, shamed and even subjected to violence – which are significant components of women’s social conditioning – they might choose to remain silent.

And when they are ready to tell their truths, they must be prepared for a societal backlash. They often learn the hard way that their pain amounts to nothing if their thoughts and stories aren’t organised to communicate their concerns effectively. They often learn that the very systems that give them the proverbial golden star on their foreheads for model conduct are systems that will not come to their aid in times of need. They often realise too late that the veil of ghairat across their heads can one day strangle them in panic when they transgress the lines of acceptable behaviour.

It is interesting to note how an entire political party rushed to its chief’s defence as if it had already decided, without due process, which one of the two was guilty and whom it needed to own. The response to Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations eventually stooped to the level of ‘this is the same man who made you an MNA’ – as if a female lawmaker should spend the rest of her life in grateful awareness of her dependency and eventually acquiesce to benevolent oppression.

The current episode started with a presser, involved two high-profile politicians and took place after the Panama verdict during a time of political turmoil. Audiences who are accustomed to fashioning their living rooms as mock courts had their own theories and understandings of justice. Many of these theories were ghastly and left on Twitter for the world to see, with threats of acid attacks and murder being the key themes.

Meanwhile, the situation has developed at a pace of its own. It is unfortunate that given the portrayal of Ayesha Ahad’s emergence on the scene – much like pawns on a chessboard – two alleged victims of misogyny are being pitted against each other. The party chief tweeted: “First test for new PM: Will he set up [parliamentary committee] to investigate serious allegations levelled by Ayesha Ahad [against] PML-N MNA Hamza Sharif? Or will he remain a Darbari of the Sharifs [and] ignore allegations by Ayesha Ahad [including] torture by Punjab police [and] deception by Hamza Sharif?” This was followed up with: “Women rights activists should stand by Ayesha Ahad’s quest for justice denied to her for [seven years of] physical [and] mental abuse by Hamza Sharif.”

It is all up for public show as traumas are made to compete in the political arena. Regardless of the merits of Ayesha Gulalai’s or Ayesha Ahad’s allegations, the way that such sensitive matters are being handled and the narrative is being constructed trivialises what we call ‘women’s issues’.

The rest may be left to how things shape up in the coming days, what investigations reveal and what is concluded after legal proceedings. But there is much to learn from all that is going terribly wrong around us.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/222688-Competing-traumas


Follow the Money

By Rashid Javaid Rana

August 10, 2017

EVER since the Panama Papers were exposed, many voices advocating accountability have surfaced on electronic, print and social media. Time and again, the higher courts have reprimanded the accountability machinery for its inaction, and the prevailing accountability laws have been subjected to vitriolic criticism for their controversial provisions.

By declaring corruption a provincial subject, the Sindh Assembly recently repealed the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. For all practical purposes, does this not mean that NAB has become defunct in Sindh? Provincial anti-corruption departments have limitations in exercising their respective jurisdictions, and the existing framework of accountability laws does not cater for thorough accountability, especially for financial crimes.

The concept of a welfare state is built upon a vibrant revenue collection mechanism. Taxing citizens is one of the core functions of the state. Article 7 of the Constitution defines the ‘state’ as the government or the authority “by law empowered to impose any tax or cess”. The very definition revolves around the functionality of an authority that is responsible for exercising the power of taxation.

Tax Evaders Rarely Make The Headlines.

Among federal laws, the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 (ITO) is the most comprehensive. A public office holder, being salaried, remains in the domain of tax jurisprudence. Having taxable incomes from salaries or other sources, he or she is under a statutory obligation to file an income tax return. Non-filing may result in the imposition of a penalty. Likewise, in almost every public-sector organisation, a record of assets and liabilities of its employees is maintained. Some institutions — like the Lahore High Court, Benazir Income Support Programme, ECP, FBR, etc — have ensured submission of asset declarations (even return filings) of its employees and other stakeholders.

The FBR has taken a positive step towards transparency and accountability with the latest parliamentarians’ tax directory, published for the fourth consecutive year. Essentially, it’s a who’s who and what’s what of income tax paid by the honourable members of the national parliament and provincial assemblies. Every public-sector organisation must publish similar directories of their employees or other subjects under their administrative control or jurisdiction.

Ultimately, all institutions engaged in the process of accountability have to turn to the income tax returns of the accused. Presently, under the income tax law, the order for assessment is deemed to have been passed when a declaration of income and assets is filed. Presumption of the truth is attached with this declaration unless it is subjected to an audit, through which this self-assessment of a person’s income may also be amended on the basis of ‘definite information’ received by the department.

In cases where the money trail is not provided, or the lifestyle of an individual does not match that of the declared means of income, provisions in the ITO — entering and searching premises and calling for information from any person — become powerful tools in the hands of the tax machinery in order to investigate such practices and make such individuals accountable.

If someone conceals their income or furnishes inaccurate particulars they may be prosecuted for the offence, punishable with imprisonment up to two years, or with fine, or both. Moreover, concepts like foreign sources of income, resident and non-resident persons, etc also act as a stringent control against tax evaders internationally. In general, the enforcement of returns and wealth statements of public office holders with a salary or any other source of income is an inclusive task in the administration of tax law.

Pakistan became a signatory to the Orga­nisation for Economic Cooperation and De­­velopment last year, which was a step in right direction. The formulation of an anti-money laundering agency in the FBR’s Inland Revenue wing is a silver lining in the accountability process through taxation. Likewise, bilateral tax treaties also serve as an effective tool for further scrutiny in such cases.

Perhaps due to the absence of an evolved tax culture, tax evaders rarely make headlines in this land of the pure. If the person under investigation is a public functionary, he or she may be held accountable through the tax law more effectively. It would be a useful alternative even in cases where the accountability law has been omitted or its wings clipped by provincial enactments. The framework provided by tax laws is more effective and efficient in cases of scrutiny for accretion in assets of public office holders, as there is no plea bargain contained therein. It is the need of the hour to prioritise and implement Pakistan’s income tax law framework in letter and spirit.

Source: dawn.com/news/1350642/follow-the-money


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/another-look-at-history-by-kamila-hyat--new-age-islam-s-selection,-10-august-2017/d/112151


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