New Age Islam Edit Bureau
10 September 2016
No Honour in Honour Killing
By Salman Ali
The Hanging of Mir Quasem Ali
By Pervez Hoodbhoy
Saudi Peace Plan to End
By K S Venkatachalam
Underneath The Mango Tree
By Syed Mansoor Hussain
PTI And Imran Khan: Is The Popularity
By Hassan Shahjehan
The Love-Hate Pendulum
By D Asghar
Who Will Bell The Cat?
By M Ziauddin
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
An honour crime is an international
phenomenon; however, this phenomenon is more widespread in Pakistan. Killing of
women is largely due to inhuman and violent customary practices across
Pakistan’s conservative society in the name of so-called ‘honour’.
Recently, media highlighted many cases of
‘honour’ killings such as that of Muqaddas bibi who was killed by her family
members in Gujranwala when she was pregnant with her second child. Saba was
gunned down by her father in Lahore. Sumaira’s throat was cut by her brother
who murdered her with a kitchen knife in Karachi. And Khanzadi Lashari was
killed by her husband on the night of her honeymoon in Jacobabad. All these
women were killed by their father, mother, brother, husband and other family
members. These are some of the cases of women who have been killed in Pakistan
by their family members, people who are considered to be the custodian of
But the murder of the social media
celebrity Qandeel Baloch has shed fresh light on the vile epidemic of honour
killings in this country. According to the Federal Ministry of Law, 933 cases
of honour killings took place in the year 2015. The data collected by the Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan shows that there were 987 reported cases of
honour killings in the same year, which took the lives of 1,096 females, and 88
males, at least 170 of whom were minors. This means that in the year 2015 at
least three women were killed every day for the sake of some perverted
definition of honour, and about seven men, each month, lost their lives for the
same reason. A poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Pakistan as the
third most dangerous country in the world for women, after Afghanistan and the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, these statistics don’t take into
account the countless honour killings that aren’t even reported. Those are the
kind of murders that are committed by village elders/jirgas, and by people
powerful enough to stop such cases from being registered by the police.
Furthermore, the statistics available to us show that although men occasionally
are subjected to this horrible fate, the overwhelming majority of the victims
consist of women, which beg us to ask the question as to why do people commit
murder in the name of honour. Most people who commit these crimes claim to do
this based on their religious beliefs, mostly using Islam as a shield for such
crimes. However, no such thing as an honour killing is permitted either by the
Quran or any Hadith. In addition to that, all famous Islamic scholars have
dubbed honour killings as un-Islamic and a criminal act. The real reason that
honour killings are so prevalent in this country is because of the primitive
cultural patriarchy that is still part of the daily norm, and the apathetic
legal system of the country that allows such actions to go unpunished.
Does it not mean that women do not have any
safe place in Pakistan? What are the factors that have made the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan a dangerous country for women? How can we tackle this
situation? All these questions pose a serious situation. Social behaviour is
one of the factors that cause verbal abuse and violence against women. It is
important to educate people about the status and rights of women. Once they get
awareness, they might change themselves.
Dr Abida Rehman, who is an expert on the
issues of women in Pakistan, and also teaches a culture, society and media
course, said: “It is not as if nothing is being done in Pakistan with regard to
women empowerment, but whatever is being done is clearly not enough. It is not
only the duty of the government or NGOs to safeguard women’s rights. It is the
duty of every citizen of Pakistan to ensure that his or her rights are
protected. Truly speaking, the poor state of woman can only be improved by
promoting education ranging from primary to higher level and opening up the doors
of opportunity for jobs in different departments, so that they can become
socially, economically, politically and professionally strong.”
Dr Rehman further stated: “However, media
has always been effective in spreading awareness among people, literate and
illiterate alike. Media play a crucial role in influencing and reinforcing
social perceptions. There could be programmers and plays on reforming women’s
status in Pakistani society, and especially on honour killing. There should be
awareness among men about respecting dignity of women and treating them as
equal persons, and among women as well as about their legal rights. More
importantly, syllabus for young children should redefine their attitude towards
women as carrying an equal status and rights as men. Girls should not relegate
themselves to a status inferior to men’s and should explore their potential.”
Sarmad Ali, a legal expert said: “The
Constitution of Pakistan guarantees certain fundamental rights to all its
citizens equally without gender discrimination. Article 25 protects those laws
made especially for the protection of women and children. Women are given
special attention for safeguarding their interests and safety. Article 8 of the
Constitution protects against any law or custom or usage having force of law,
which is inconsistent with the fundamental rights conferred by the
Constitution, stating that such law or custom ‘shall be void to the extent of
its inconsistency’. Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees the security of
every citizen by stating ‘No person shall be deprived of life or liberty, save
in accordance with law’. Article 35 of the Constitution provides that ‘the
State shall protect the marriage, the family, mother and the child’. There are
laws in Pakistan, including customary laws, which negate the equality provided
by the constitution; even constitutional law provides fundamental guarantees
and special protection to women.”
Zulqurnain Asad says that the state has
taken no steps to prevent honour killings, which is a reflection upon how
serious the government is about tackling issues of injustice. And thus by doing
nothing, the state is as guilty as the ones who commit these heinous crimes.
Pakistan must also respect international treaties it is a signatory to, and
customary international laws to ensure respect for women’s rights and
fundamental freedoms. Pakistan being a state party to the Convention on the
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women is required to take
positive steps towards eliminating discrimination and violence against women.
State officials, rather than actively responding to violations of women’s right
to life, security and being free of discrimination, act through the police and
the judicial system to block access to redress and justice for female victims
September 10th, 2016
PAKISTAN’S Foreign Office says Pakistan is
“deeply saddened” by the execution in Bangladesh last week of Mir Quasem Ali.
Mir Quasem was found guilty in 2014 by a Bangladeshi court of torture, multiple
murders and arson. He was sentenced to death after what Pakistan describes as
“a flawed judicial process”.
But why is Pakistan so worried about the
integrity of Bangladesh’s judicial process? And why does our government care so
greatly about the death of another country’s citizen — one accused of heinous
crimes? The answer: when it comes to Bangladesh, Pakistan remains chained to
Abstract concern for human life cannot
explain why the FO expressed such strong feelings. Certainly, the death
sentences passed on countless people around the world meet with complete
indifference. Those horrors have not elicited even a murmur of protest from
Pakistan’s civil and military establishments. In fact, the killing of
Pakistan’s own citizens in foreign lands meets with silence. Think of the long
list of Pakistanis beheaded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling
after being tried there by kangaroo courts.
Rather than try to defend war criminals,
Pakistan must normalise relations with Bangladesh.
As for the fairness of the judicial process
in Bangladesh, Amnesty International and other leading human rights
organisations had already raised serious concerns about the process under which
war crimes are being handled. These include denying defence lawyers adequate
time to prepare their cases, and arbitrarily limiting the number of witnesses
they could call upon. But Pakistan can scarcely accuse Bangladesh of unfair
trials because its own judicial system has even shakier legs.
In contrast to Bangladesh’s — where the war
crimes trials are held before a civilian court — Pakistani civilians accused of
waging war against the state are tried behind closed doors by military courts.
Further, they are not allowed to engage a lawyer of choice, nor allowed access
to military court records. This is entirely inconsistent with modern ideas of
Mir Quasem’s trial and subsequent death
sentence matter to Pakistan only because he was formerly the head of the
pro-Pakistan Islamist militia Al Badr. Together with Al Shams and Razakar, Al
Badr worked closely with the Pakistan Army in its futile but brutal effort to
suppress the 1971 rebellion that shattered a united Pakistan, turning East
Pakistan into a free Bangladesh.
Mir Quasem was not alone. Since December
2013 five prominent Bangladeshi Islamists have been hanged for war crimes.
Irrespective of what these militia leaders may have actually done in 1971,
Pakistan’s establishment feels it must stand by them because of its ideological
fixation on the two-nation theory.
The two-nation theory — as I was taught in
school — was, of course, critical to creating Pakistan. Let us look at its two
key premises: First, that Muslims and Hindus are fundamentally incompatible and
must therefore live apart from each other with Pakistan as the homeland for
Muslims. Second, that Muslims form a single nation — the Ummah — one that is
robust enough to withstand local variations of sect, language, culture, and
The first premise does not need debate or
further evaluation now that Pakistan and India are separate nations and have
gone their own respective ways. The population of Hindus left in Pakistan has
dwindled to about one or two per cent and continues to decrease. Being a tiny,
oppressed and scared minority, they have no role in public life.
The second premise must be judged in the
light of events during 1971. There is also the ongoing bloody conflict between
the Pakistani state and jihadist groups like TTP, Al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Further afield, Pakistan’s poor relations with both its Muslim neighbours —
Afghanistan and Iran — shows that Islamic solidarity just isn’t enough.
Fratricidal wars across the Middle East, the recent declaration by Saudi
Arabia’s head mufti that Iranians are not Muslims, and the growing
Saudi-Israeli alliance, suggest that the ummah is a doubtful concept.
Nevertheless, even after the two-nation
theory became defunct after 1971, it goes to Pakistan’s credit that it was able
to rapidly reinvent itself. While doing so, it discovered to its surprise that
it could exist — and even thrive — without taking recourse to the ideas that
had brought it into existence.
Present-day Pakistan continues to pay lip
service to pan-Islamism. But in fact pure pragmatism and the priorities of
nation-building are shaping its behaviour more and more, making it a more
normal nation. Example: CPEC enthuses the Pakistani establishment enormously in
spite of China being a communist state with a clear aversion to Muslim
It is time to put the two-nation theory
behind us. While it created Pakistan, no harm can come if it is dispensed with
now. Nation states do not need theories in order to exist. Argentina or the
Netherlands, for example, have no national ideologies. However, in their own
ways, both are prosperous and stable countries.
Pakistan needs to escape a time warp. It
must understand that India was not responsible for the differences of race,
language, and culture between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Like
incompatible twins born within the same womb, we had little chance of staying
together for very long. Under the additional stress of misgovernance, the
relationship broke down. India midwifed Bangladesh’s birth by cutting the cord
that joined us; it did not create the incompatibility. The union had already
disintegrated by the time of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s reported remark where he
famously said idhur hum udhur tum.
Looking to the future, for Bangladesh it is
important not to be locked into the particularities of its birth circumstances.
Hanging aging war criminals may bring satisfaction but cannot bring peace,
stability and democracy. Instead, it is time to close a chapter filled with
pain and sorrow, and then move on.
Pakistan needs to do far more than
Bangladesh. As a starter, it must no longer allow young Pakistanis in schools
to be filled with wildly distorted versions of history. These ignore the
horrors West Pakistan inflicted upon the Bengalis. Rather than defend war
criminals or deny what happened in 1971, Pakistan should seek to normalise
relations with Bangladesh. Truth and reconciliation is what is needed.
We are now seeing a paradigm shift in the
geo-political landscape in the Middle East. Yesterday’s enemies are becoming
today’s friends. One example is the recent overtures of the Arab countries, led
by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, trying to reach out to Israel to form a
unified alliance to act as a counter weight to Iran.
The Saudi government, with the backing of
all members of the Arab league, has recently brokered a plan to Israel that guarantees
its right to exist as an independent state, and also offers normalisation of
diplomatic relations, provided Israel agrees to vacate from the territory that
has been under its illegal occupation after the six-day war in 1967. Turkey and
Egypt have also shown their willingness to normalise their relations with
Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the Saudi offer,
as “The Arab Peace Initiative” can not only end the six-decade old conflict but
will also pave the way for a two-nation state.
The question that comes to mind is what has
led to the sudden change of heart by the Arab countries. The answer is far to
seek: Iran. Iran is considered as an avowed adversary by all the Arab
countries. The United States and the members of the Security Council called the
P5+1 had entered into a nuclear agreement with Iran. Under the framework of the
agreement, Iran was to dismantle its nuclear programme in exchange of lifting
of economic sanctions against it, and also freeing up tens of billions of
dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets.
Another aspect of the growing closeness to
Iran was also necessitated due to export of radical brand of Islam known as
Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia. Many of the terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda,
Desh and its affiliates follow this brand of religion. We have also been lately
seeing growing mistrust between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
Israel is also warming up to the overtures
of the Arab league because like Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations it also
perceives Iran as a great threat. Israel also sees collateral benefit by
accepting the Saudi-backed proposal, as the plan can bring all the Arab
countries, Egypt and Turkey under a common umbrella to negate the growth of
assertion of Iran. Iran’s open support to the Shiite-controlled Hezbollah in
Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen, and its support to Hamas, has not gone well
with these countries. Israel, therefore, views the proposed peace initiative as
an opportunity to unravel the complex Israeli-Palestine dispute and create the
way for a two nation state.
The Saudi initiative is emblematic of
growing mistrust of Arab countries with the Western bloc, especially the United
States. Moreover, Riyadh expects the new alliance will help reduce its
dependence on the United States.
It may be mentioned here that the Arab
Peace Initiative was conceptualised by the late crown prince Abdullah (he later
went on to become king in 2005) in 2002. The “2002 Arab Peace Plan,” as it was
called, had the backing of 22 members of the Arab league. The plan had
recommended restoration of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its
capital, and Israel was advised to provide a “fair solution” for the 3.8
million Palestinian refugees who had been illegally evicted from their lands.
It also called upon Israel to vacate the Golan Heights and other
Israeli-occupied territory, including Southern Lebanon. However, the Israeli
response to the Arab peace initiative was lukewarm, as it was not willing to
concede its right over East Jerusalem. Secondly, Israel felt that the
acceptance of the offer would have replaced the UN resolutions 242 and 338,
which called for bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Hamas,
which controls the Gaza strip, had also rejected the Saudi offer.
The new plan offers a great opportunity for
both Israel and Palestine to bury their differences and settle the contentious
dispute left by historical legacy. Although there is consensus in Israel to
vacate the West Bank and other areas, but when it comes to handing over the
control of East Jerusalem, there is a large constituency there that opposes
ceding East Jerusalem, as it is considered the holiest site of Judaism. East
Jerusalem is also equally a revered place for Muslims and Christians, as the
Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre are located there.
One way to end the impasse is to declare
East Jerusalem an independent zone under the joint command control of both the
countries. This may not be an easy option, but it is the only viable option to
end the conflict and restore peace and normalcy in the region. If this is
achieved, the Arab countries together with Egypt could persuade Palestine to
dismantle all terror networks there. They will also apply pressure on Hamas to
support the statehood of Palestine. The United Nations has already agreed to
recognise Palestine as an independent state, provided it holds free and fair
elections and persuades Hamas to join the mainstream politics.
Although any settlement will be perceived
by Palestine not to its satisfaction, as Israel had expelled over 800,000
Palestinians, and had also forcibly captured their land after the 1967 war, but
today, Palestine has to compromise with the growing reality in the region.
Moreover, if it refuses to accept the Saudi-backed proposal, there is a danger
that it may lose the support of the Arab League, Turkey and Egypt, which may
not be in its interests, as their support is vital to its existence.
In sum, the new development shows that
countries have no permanent enemies or friends and it is the compulsion of
politics that dictates a country’s foreign policy. Both Israel and Palestine
need to fully support the peace plan, as it offers an opportunity for a “two-state
solution” to the over six-decade old conflict. Israel should understand that it
would be best served to negotiate with Palestine within the framework of the
Saudi plan to bring peace and stability in the region, as history will not give
another opportunity to resolve the 61-year Palestinian tragedy. On its part,
Palestine should realise that it can’t hope to correct the historical
injustice, but by persuading Israel to vacate all lands in its illegal
occupation, it would have scored a moral victory. If, however, Palestine does
not support the Saudi plan, there is a danger that Saudi Arabia and other Arab
countries may go ahead with their new strategy of forming an alliance with
Israel to counter Iran. This may drive Palestine into a hopeless situation,
where it will find itself being totally isolated.
All that is now required is the political
will from both the countries in implementing the peace initiative for making a
fresh start in ushering in peace, stability and prosperity in the region for
the benefit of people of both the countries.
Last night in a dream I watched Dr No, the
first James Bond movie. Not all of it but the part where Bond is on Crab Key
Island and hears a woman humming the song, “Underneath the Mango Tree.” The
scene is perhaps one of the most iconic ones in the history of cinema. As Bond
stands up to see who is singing he sees Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress
walk out of the sea. A great scene, but in my dream Andress as she comes out of
the sea is not wearing a bikini but a burkini. At about this time the dream starts
to change into a nightmare. Soon I awake up thinking about that scene.
The reason why the burkini came in my dream
was clearly because I was reading a lot about burkinis in the news. I am all
for burkinis, but of one thing I am sure that if Honey Rider had come out of
the sea wearing a burkini instead of that cute little white bikini, Dr No would
have been the first and also the last James Bond movie to be made.
Ever since the Burkini controversy started
when it was banned in some French towns, I have been wondering about how
important the right to wear a Burkini on a French beach is. For instance, would
a man wearing a Burkini also be forced to remove it? Personally, I am not at
all a beach person. Some 45 years ago, during my first summer in the New York
area, going to the beach was a very much done thing. A friend inquired whether
I had any desire to go to the beach. My response was that I don’t need a tan,
and I don’t know how to swim so what am I going to do on a beach. Obviously,
many people go to the beach to ‘see and be seen’. And some actually go there to
swim or get a tan. Anyway, walking around in public wearing something akin to
my underwear was never a pleasant thought for me.
The trials and tribulations of a classmate
from medical college are instructive in matters of beach-going. The young man
(young at that time) was by God’s grace of a skin tone a wee bit darker than
most Punjabis. He decided to spend a day at the beach, most likely at the
behest of a much lighter-skinned American girlfriend. On his return he dropped
in to see us, us being a group of still unmarried doctors living in hospital
supplied accommodations. On seeing him one of us suggested that our friend
during his visit to the beach had tanned rather well. At this our beach-returned
friend became most irate, and said that he had not tanned but had turned black.
Sounds much better and not at all racially tinged in vernacular Punjabi. I am
sure that he never visited a beach again.
My point then is that wearing loosely
fitting, full body coverings are probably not conducive to getting tanned or to
efficient and safe swimming. So what then is the purpose of visiting a beach
wearing a burkini? All I can say is that it is to make a political point and
inevitably draw attention. What I do remember from my readings from the Holy
Book is that for Muslim females to draw attention towards themselves is sort of
frowned upon. It would seem to me that wearing a burkini on a French beach is
certainly going to attract a lot of attention.
That said as far as I am concerned it is
the right of every woman, Muslim or not, to wear whatever they think is
appropriate when they go out of the house including going to the beach. I am
also quite sure that the same applies to most men. As a matter of fact, it is
my opinion that Muslim men should wear burkinis when visiting beaches in
France. This will indeed be a worthwhile protest movement, much better than
shooting innocent people.
However, there is one place where I
strongly recommend the wearing of burkinis. That is in Pakistan. Since very few
Pakistanis have access to a beach so I feel that Burkinis should become every
day wear not only for the women but also for the men. Of course the ‘Mankini’
will have to end quite above the ankles while burkinis will have to cover the
ankles completely. After all, women showing ankles in public can drive virile
Pakistani men to unspeakable distractions. Here is another fine point in
religious propriety that I have never quite understood. Why is it a religious
obligation only for men to keep their ankles uncovered especially so when they
offer their prayers? It is not just about public behaviour. Even as a child I
do not remember women in the household pulling up their shalwars before
praying. But then I don’t remember too many men doing that either in those
To demonstrate solidarity with
burkini-wearing women, Pakistani men should start wearing mankinis. Especially
our religious divines as well as our politicians. The ever so well-dressed
chief minister of the Punjab, who is well known for his support for women and
their issues, should take the lead. Since our prime minister will be visiting
the United Nations in a week or so, it might make a great statement in support
of Burkini wearing Muslim women all over the western world if he turned up
wearing a mankini. And it would be entirely appropriate if government ordered
all its employees to wear Mankinis or Burkinis while at work. I am sure that
our Pakistani fashion designers can really do a great job for the Mankini and
burkini trade. And no, these ‘kinis’ do not have to be unisex. As it is, many
men and women wear kurtas and Shalwars, without these clothes being unisex in
Among the many advantages of democracy, one
is certainly more visible: continuous democracy can make people understand the
motives, intentions, strategies and policies of different political parties in
a country. Men are rational human beings, and their inner rationality guides
them towards what is good and/or what is bad for them. They apply this
rationality on a political level when they choose a political party, and reject
others through their vote on Election Day, and by giving a birth to public
opinion before the process of electioneering.
It has now been more than three years since
the present government has been driving the structures of democratic order.
Much has been changed since then. Those leaders who were once charismatic,
appealing and ideal for a large number of population, if not the majority, are
now seen as not-so-charismatic. Let’s go back to October 2011. Indeed, it was a
big day for Pakistan’s democracy. The party that was not in limelight since
1996 suddenly came out of the blue and became the new ‘hope’ for the population
— both rural and urban-based middle class and the elite. And their arrival on
the centre stage brought many defections in the other major political parties:
Yes! We are talking about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The poor
governance of the Pakistan people’s Party (PPP) brought a political vacuum on
the political stage, which was successfully filled by Imran Khan and his PTI.
It would not be wrong to say that 2011 was the real emergence of the PTI.
Soon the wave of defection started like a
‘tsunami’, and many strong pillars of other political parties — PPP and the
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — joined the PTI. It looked as if the next
government would surely be of the PTI. But that was not what people wanted. In
the May 2013 elections, people, overwhelmingly, cast their votes in favour of
PML-N candidates, enabling the party to form national and provincial
governments in Punjab and Balochistan. But the wave in favour of Khan that
started in 2011 was not an illusion.
For the first time, the PTI actually
managed to form government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and became the largest
opposition party in the Punjab assembly. That was a big ‘win’ for the party. It
was clear at that time that the poor governance of the PPP in the previous
years created a gap, successfully filled by the PTI. People were rational. They
ousted the PPP from power from all provinces other than Sindh (where the PPP
has rural dominance), brought in the PML-N, and also largely supported the PTI.
But then the situation turned upside down.
It was a great chance for Khan to prove his worth through action. Had the PTI
worked hard, and focused itself in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rather than going for
street politics and taking on ‘non-issues’, it would have managed to weaken the
all-powerful PML-N. Things were very much in favour of the PTI. Khan just
needed to show Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a model to the country, and put pressure
on the government in parliament. On both fronts, Khan badly failed. Instead of
focusing on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he wasted almost the entire three years in
allegations and counter-allegations.
If allegations were not sufficient to oust
the PML-N from power, Khan resorted to street power, civil disobedience,
resigning from parliament, re-entering parliament, and now re-launching street
power. Although the sits-in by the PTI in 2014 educated the citizens a great
deal about politics, PTI’s strategy backfired to a great extent. The dharna
(sit-in) fiasco and the attacks on parliament and PTV are now a part of the
political history of Pakistan.
At the same time when the PTI was focusing
only on agitation politics rather than making progress in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
the PML-N kept on becoming stronger. Now it has become a force to reckon with.
Thanks to the PTI.
Agitation only works when governments fear
them. And that fear only comes when the agitation is not done on a regular
basis. When agitation and sits-in become the regular party policy of one
political party, it not only exposes the ‘vision-strategy-policy’ of the
political party but also damages the element of ‘fear’. The PTI has done the
same. By making street agitation a part of their policy, they have been
becoming more a fun activity for people rather than a fear for the government.
Once again, they are going on the same wrong track.
Staging a dharna in front of the prime
minister’s private residence would greatly damage the reputation of the PTI and
Imran Khan. No one in the history of Pakistan has ever resorted to such a move.
Why? There is a socio-cultural unacceptability of people who threaten someone
by protesting outside that person’s house where family members including
females and children are present. If the PTI talks about the British practice
of protests in front of the 10 Downing Street, it should understand that the 10
Downing Street is different from the Raiwind house. Whereas the 10 Downing
Street is the official house of the British prime minister, the house in
Raiwind is the private property of Pakistan’s prime minister and his family.
The 10 Downing Street can only be compared to the Prime Minister House in
There can be justifications for doing a
protest in front of the Prime Minister House in Islamabad, which is an official
building, and not a private house. Already, the Karachi rally in the Nishtar
Park has clearly shown the receding popularity of the PTI and Imran Khan. And
then comes the internal conflicts between Faisal Wahda, Ali Zaidi and the other
official bearers of the PTI in Karachi. If the PTI still resorts to street
power it could be the political death of the party.
For now, one can easily predict the
elections of 2018 if the same factors remain constant: PML-N at the centre and
Punjab; PPP in Sindh; Jaamat-e-Islami-Jamaat-e-Ulema-Islami-PML-N in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa; and PMLN-Nationalists in Balochistan. The PTI may only get a few
more seats in Punjab.
PS: Only a rational analysis, and no bias
towards any of the parties.
If you thought that extremism of minds and
thought stemmed from some seminaries, you might be only partially correct. If I
were to tell you that our entire society has some infection of this fatal
disease, you would take an offence to such a sweeping statement. Allow me to
elaborate a bit further. We are highly emotional in most situations and always
stay on the extreme ends. We have this love-hate syndrome with people, and lack
the tendency of staying somewhere in between. I am a product of the same
society, and have suffered from this ailment to some extent as well. With
conditioning of my environment and exposure to critical thinking skills when it
comes to forming an opinion or a thought process, I have tried to improve to
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a social
gathering, and people were discussing Altaf Hussain’s offensive remarks and, of
course, parroting the lines they had heard from their favourite anchor person
of the idiot box. The buzzword on the table was ‘traitor’. I was quietly trying
to focus on my food and ignored the chatter. A friend of mine elicited my
opinion, and I told him that our country has had a long history, and a long
list of ‘traitors’. Starting from the man who should have been the prime
minister in 1947 by the name of Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy to Altaf Hussain.
The list is quite long, including none other than the sister of our
much-revered founding father. Some faces turned in shock, some in offence and
some in utter disbelief.
Then I asked the people on my table what they
would call someone who admits to bargaining with national security on national
television and seeks an unconditional pardon. Since when did national TV become
the venue to dispense verdict on such highly sensitive matters? What would you
call a person who openly defies the writ of the state in the capital and uses
derogatory terms for soldiers? What would you call the person who tramples on
the constitution and has no regard or remorse, and escapes culpability on
medical grounds? What would you call the folks who openly invite the notorious
ISIS to come and establish a caliphate in our country? I had a few more
questions on my mind but people now were almost angry. I was immediately
labelled as an Mutthaida Qaumi Movement supporter, and by default I inherited a
similar label but with a twist of a few words.
I explained that I had no regard or love
for the newly labelled traitor. I strongly disagree with his style of politics.
Whether it is him or anyone else who uses force or fear to advance their agenda
is not someone that I follow. But I do agree with some of his views about the
rights of his community. I do not completely shift my pendulum overnight about
someone. I reminded them of a few more statements of Mr Hussain that were
equally offensive, yet ‘all was well in those days. An exiled leader who will
perhaps never set foot again on the soil that gave him birth would chant a
slogan, and all hell would break lose. As if God forbid, this country will
wither on a derogatory slogan from a person who was terribly insecure to begin
By now, the people were calming a little
bit, and yet cross-questioning my stance. I categorically stated that I was
equally offended by the nonsense that Mr Hussain had uttered, but knew that
whatever he had uttered was protected under free speech. No matter how much our
sentiments were bruised because of that we cannot do much. The only legal
argument that we could make was the incitement to commit violence. That too had
to stand in a court of law in the United Kingdom.
If we were to make that argument, then in
order to be fair we have to pursue a similar course of action against people
who resorted to such unruly behaviour against Pakistan Television when
Islamabad was under siege by the ‘revolutionaries’. By now people at the table
were trying to bring their counter-arguments of what about this and what about
that. So and so got murdered at the behest of a certain someone in London. I
calmly responded that there is a thing called state and it has investigation
agencies, prosecution and all legal powers within its ambit to enforce law and
order. The allegations and rumors have to be investigated and evidence has to
be presented. If it is so overwhelming then even if need be a trial in absentia
must be held. Chances of the British government extraditing the suspect to face
any charges in Pakistan are very slim. But again the state has to enforce law
evenly and follow the letter and spirit of the law for every one equally. There
should be no selective prosecution. Similarly, when government demolishes
political offices under the pretext of illegal encroachment, it must serve
proper notices. Every action of government sets a precedent for any situation
in the future.
Later, I asked the folks why is it that a
certain defector of his party who alleges many things on screen, and has formed
his own party now just abruptly left the party and resurfaced after almost two
years? If someone who claims to be so patriotic and knew a lot about the inside
happenings, especially about the ‘RAW connection, why did he not approach the
law enforcement agencies at the time of his quiet exit? By now some folks on
the table nodded, and some stared at me as if I was trying to invent facts. My
plate was empty, so I simply told the folks on the table to question things and
events. It is your right. Form an opinion based on your independent thinking
and on facts, be objective and not emotionally react emotionally to everything
that is presented to you as ‘breaking news’.
No Visas for Minorities
By Hussain Nadim
September 9, 2016
The current refugee crisis in Europe is not
the only event that debunks the myth of Western civilisation’s high moral
standards of human rights, by bringing out the dark side of the ‘developed
world’. While the war in Syria brought the dichotomy out in the open, under the
bureaucratic procedures that developed Western countries have followed for the
past few years, it has become almost impossible for minorities in Pakistan to
obtain visas to travel abroad — a draconian measure designed to keep the
victims of persecution deliberately in their home countries.
The problem is that such measures also at
the same time discriminate against legitimate members of minority communities
who wish to travel abroad for tourism or work, restricting their economic and
The Ahmadi community in Pakistan is one
such minority group, the members of which are having serious troubles obtaining
any foreign visas, practically blocking the community at large from travelling
outside the country. There have been recent cases where individuals of Ahmadi
community applying for visas to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Europe, Australia and
Canada have been refused in bulk, despite there being proof of financial
stability and a past record of extensive travel.
When this was discussed with the visa
applicants from the Ahmadi community, they pointed out that no reason for the
refusals was provided. Visa applicants of their Muslim co-workers and friends
with similar backgrounds having Islam written on the religious column of their
passports were, however, granted visas even when they applied together in a
group with Ahmadis. In the case of Thailand, the passports are being returned
without any comments ostensibly so as to avoid any debate.
The crisis emanating from the global wave
of refugees, asylum seekers and migrations has caused a major disruption in the
West, hence the policy of refusing visas to Pakistani minorities, who are
potential ‘asylum seekers’, is automatic. In usual cases, the countries
wouldn’t be aware of the religious background or minority status of the
applicants, but in the case of Pakistan with a highly discriminatory religious
column on the passport, the victimisation starts from home and makes it a lot
easier for the Western countries to pick and choose who to grant visas to based
on the religious background, which is in direct contradiction to Western
ethical and moral values.
In order to keep the migration and refugee
populations under check and away from entering the developed world, Western
governments have for decades provided development aid that many academic
scholars on the subject believe is highly political and a depiction of Western
selfishness to keep the West safe from the flooding migrant and refugee
population. In other words, the idea of development aid is to keep a Third
World country stable enough for the large populations to not end up on the
shores of the West. Syria, hence, has been a nightmare scenario for the West,
which believed in keeping the wars localised in developing countries and
avoiding any spillover effects. The way in which Syrian refugees have been
managed is evidence in itself of the principles that guide the actions of
For long, Western comfort on the backs of
the Third World has continued to deepen the divide between the two worlds. For
an equally long period of time, the West believed it was protected through its
development aid spending and tight border controls. But it is no more possible
to ensure that poverty and plight in one part of the world does not have an
impact across continents in another part of the world, as can be seen through
the recent refugee crisis.
It is for a reason that the refugee crisis
and immigration have become the most important subjects of debate throughout
the West with tensions and racism soaring within Western cities. The peace that
the West enjoyed for decades since the Second World War appears to be at stake
and very little is on the table with regard to a policy solution to the
dilemmas it faces.
As the UN and other agencies come up with a
plan under the security-development nexus to stabilise parts of the developing
world from total collapse, the minorities in those countries in the meantime
are the first to suffer, both at the hands of domestic governments and the
hypocrisy of the West.
Denmark has become the first country in the
world to apparently buy data from the Panama Papers leak, and now plans to
investigate whether 500-600 Danes who feature in the offshore archive may have
evaded tax. According to a report by Luke Harding in The Guardian (“Panama
Papers: Denmark buys leaked data to use in tax evasion inquiries” — September
7), Denmark will pay up to DKK9m (£1m) for the information, which comes from
the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. An anonymous source is said to have
approached the Danish government over the summer.
The source, the report said, sent over an
initial sample of documents and the government reviewed them. After concluding
they were genuine, it secretly negotiated support for the controversial deal
from political parties in parliament.
Going by how our government has played with
the case since Panama Papers were leaked in April this year, it is hardly
likely to take the Danish route to investigate the ‘who’ and the ‘how’ of the
scandal. In any case, considering the government’s reluctance even to discuss
the matter in parliament, it is again hardly likely the so-called ‘John Doe’
would approach it for a deal. But no need to give up hope. The other day former
finance minister Dr Salman Shah, speaking at a seminar “Challenges to
Democracy’ organised by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability
mentioned a far more effective and perhaps relatively more economical way of
getting to the bottom of the scandal. The Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR)
initiative launched in 2005 jointly by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
and the World Bank Group in response to the serious problem of theft of public
assets from developing countries is available for the asking, he said.
The cross-border flow of global proceeds
from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion is estimated at between $1
trillion and $1.6 trillion per year. Corrupt money associated with bribes
received by public officials from developing countries is estimated at $20
billion to $40 billion per year — a figure equivalent to 20 to 40 per cent of
flows of official development assistance (ODA). These estimates, while
imprecise, give an idea of the large magnitude of the problem and the need for
concerted action to address it. Indeed, the coming into force in 2005 of the
landmark UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which devotes a chapter to
asset recovery, signals the growing global consensus for urgent action. Stolen
assets are often hidden in the financial centres of developed countries; bribes
to public officials from developing countries often originate from
multinational corporations; and the intermediary services provided by lawyers,
accountants and company formation agents, which could be used to launder or
hide the proceeds of asset theft by developing country rulers, are often
located in developed country financial centres.
Jurisdictions where stolen assets are
hidden, often developed countries, may not be responsive to requests for legal
assistance. The international legal framework underpinning StAR is provided by
the UNCAC, the first global anticorruption agreement, which entered into force
in December 2005. The UNODC is both the custodian and the lead agency
supporting the implementation of UNCAC, as well as the secretariat to the
Conference of State Parties.
A fundamental premise of the StAR Action
Plan is that a successful effort on stolen asset recovery calls for global
action. Examples of proposed actions include: implementation of UNCAC,
including developing and strengthening partnerships with multilateral and bilateral
agencies in pursuit of this effort and developing a pilot programme aimed at
helping countries recover the stock of stolen assets by providing the needed
legal and technical assistance. This could include help on filing a request for
mutual legal assistance and advice of experts.
the 2007 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings, during a side event introducing the
StAR Initiative, representatives of developed and developing countries and
multilateral development banks expressed strong support for the Initiative. The
consensus was that StAR is an idea whose time has come and that every country
or international agency must do its part to make it succeed. In this sense,
StAR was described as the “missing link” in an effective anti-corruption
effort. But the big question is: who will file the request on Pakistan’s
behalf? “Judiciary,” asserts Dr Salman Shah.