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Pakistan Press (22 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pakistan Is Not Doomed After All By Hasnain Iqbal: New Age Islam's Selection, 22 August 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

22 August 2017

Pakistan Is Not Doomed After All

By Hasnain Iqbal

Let Better Sense Prevail

By Zafar Zulqarnain Sahi

How Afghanistan Could Affect Its Neighbourhood

By Shahid Javed Burki

As Dark As the Inside of a Needle

By Khayyam Mushir

CPEC in Gilgit-Baltistan

By Zubair Torwali

Above Suspicion at All Times

By Nazeer Ahmed Arijo

Changing With the Times?

By Kamal Siddiqi

Stench of Victory

By Fahd Husain

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Pakistan Is Not Doomed After All

By Hasnain Iqbal


Countries age no different from wine as years add both maturity and taste. 100 years old is better than 70 years old for sure for the discerning. Time has its own way and pace of dealing with the young. That said, growing up is inevitable. Let’s be a little more patient, give our nascent country time and try to distance ourselves from the turbulence on ground for a dispassionate view of the landscape. Pakistan is yet again caught in a maelstrom of political instability triggered by the Supreme Court verdict. Many view Pakistan teetering on the edge of the precipice for the umpteenth time. I see it all as creative chaos that will eventually blossom into order. A lot is going Pakistan’s way as the optimist in me refuses to pander to cynicism and Kafkaesque impulses. I let go of all the opportunities to settle abroad. Pakistan is now my home till death do us part.

I had always had a vague sense of endearing mystery about India, infected with a clutch of clichés, enamoured of the beautiful Indian actresses but weary of the common Indian. That changed when I went to UK for higher education and had my share of sparring with our neighbours. To be fair, I found Indians to be no less interested in us, smacking of a natural affinity due to a shared sense of history, traditions, values, cuisine, appearance and language. The young and educated on both sides of the border came across as more curious than apprehensive, unencumbered by the weight of the historic rivalry, the bloody spectacle of partition and two full scale wars. We now know that bigger enemies are not on our borders. Extremism, power crisis, water scarcity and exploding population are the tumors growing within. Our official relationship with India has, however, stood the test of time and remains to the pleasure of many, riddled with distrust and hate. It is time to seriously evaluate the legacy we bequeath to our young as our national security and foreign policies remain hostage to stasis and paralysis of thought.

Pakistan is on its way up. There are good omens and there are many. Terrorism is on the wane and the deafening sounds of blasts have muffled. PTI and media have politicised the fence-sitters and elections in future promise to be more representative as women and the middle class exercise their right to choose. The political landscape is a little lopsided with no clear Left, but there is definitely more competition in the space right of center.

PTI has broken the two-party stranglehold, affording more choice to people. Media is independent and unlike the fabled mirror of Snow White, ruthlessly reflects the disease infecting our nation, in addition to enlightening people and shaping public opinion on issues of national bearing. CPEC has descended and Pakistan is a key stakeholder in the grand Silk Route tapestry envisioned by the Chinese. Silk Road will connect Asia to Europe, integrating South Asia, East Asia and Central Asia into one great grid of countries with shared military and economic interests. Imagine the tsunami of infrastructure development and business activity CPEC will unleash. Peaceful coexistence with India will be a huge enabler as a Pakistan apprehensive of its eastern border will continue to disproportionately allocate resources.

Can we possibly eliminate extremism with only guns? No, we can’t. It will be a slow, long drawn process to weed out the rot that took several decades of patronage to entrench. This is a war we have to wage on multiple fronts: ground operations, reforms and narrative. The National Action Plan (NAP) should ideally be an all-encompassing exercise taking tangible, specific and measurable actions in all the three areas. Ground operation is at best a short-term fix. Building a counter narrative is long-term, attacking the incubators, from which sprout the perverted notions of xenophobia, self-righteous madness and hate. There are more than 50,000 public-sector schools in Punjab alone. The need of the hour is to have the curriculum standardised across Pakistan and dubious sections on religion and Pakistan history expunged. In addition, we have to disseminate a curriculum that encourages questioning, tolerance, co-existence and conformance to law.

There is so much good to my Pakistan. And there is a lot to whine about. I choose to drink from the cup of optimism. Change is wafting all around, engulfing us slowly but surely. Democracy inching forward, an unleashed media bent on unveiling the rot, magically touched bourgeoisie flexing political muscle, a nation finally beginning to rein in the demon of extremism, CPEC promising renewal and rebirth, all indicate convalescence. And there is more to my Pakistan. There are frothy seas, lush meadows, peaks that kiss the skies and plains that stretch into infinity. There are seasons. Hot summer breathes fire to sweeten the mangoes and the glorious winter celebrates the marriage of ice and fire, serving ice cream on a warm plate. Spring is a riot of colours with blooms all around and autumn a saffron bride, minus the trappings but no less inviting. Monsoon splashes love onto the parched earth and rainbows descend to the ground. And the romance goes on.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Aug-17/pakistan-is-not-doomed-after-all


Let Better Sense Prevail

By Zafar Zulqarnain Sahi


There is a thorn in the lion’s foot and he is in excruciating pain, he is furious. Pulling it out is not his first priority, he first wants to burn the bush it grew on.

The mice are scared, they fear for their lives. Anyone who suggests a way of extracting the thorn is not welcome. Only those with ideas to chastise the bush may come close enough to be heard. They want to hammer the thorn in. The lion doesn’t care, he wants revenge.

There may not be a rift in the Sharif family. There is, however, a clear divide within the PMLN. Voices of reason and sanity against those of passion, vengeance and ‘glory’. The lion must listen to the former.

From the statement of Azad Kashmir’s Prime Minister to the decision of filing a reference against Justice Khosa by the Speaker of the National Assembly, someone wants to hammer the thorn in. Bad advice is not new for Mr Sharif, it has always been part and parcel of his political career. Like most men in power, he has a weakness for the glittery words of abject sycophants. A good sycophant never makes a good adviser. They may end up hammering the thorn in, albeit with the best of intentions.

The reference, if one is actually being considered, will only validate the remarks it aims to defy. Justice Khosa had commented on the Speaker’s bias in dealing with the reference against then Prime Minister. Inability of the Speaker, along with heads of several other institutions, to act in accordance with their constitutional role was cited as a reason for the Supreme Court’s pro-active interference in the matter. The remarks were taken as a jab at the Speaker’s impartiality, and rightly so. But it was a remark, not an order entailing any legal or penal consequence.

The reference will be unprecedented; being the first ever against an honourable Justice filed by the custodian of a House of Parliament. The ousted Prime Minister and a vocal majority of his party have been at loggerheads with the five member bench ever since they ousted him. Now through this reference the Speaker intends to have Parliament lock horns with the Supreme Court; legislature vs judiciary.

Sharif may not be the Prime Minister anymore, but he controls the PM's House. His party is still in govt in the  centre and two provinces. He seems prepared for retaliation but the fact of the matter is: he was not a victim of a coup

Mr Ayaz Sadiq, his advisers and the advisers of Mr Sharif know this move does not add to the prospects of a legal victory. Nor will it bring any more legitimacy to the vilification campaign against members of the bench. Why then is it being considered? Is it an attempt to lay the foundations for a constitutional amendment to tighten the noose around judiciary’s neck?

Repeal or modification of Articles 62 and 63 is already on the cards. Will Articles 209 and 184(3) suffer a similar fate? Such attempts are not likely to restore the pre 28th July state of affairs. It is far more probable that it leads to another October 1999 like situation. But then again, that may be the whole idea.

While sane advisers may want to devise strategies that reverse Sharif’s dismissal, others, it seems, wish to complete the job and have the system wound up or, at the very least, put it in considerable jeopardy.

Those close to Nawaz Sharif know him to be a calm, non-confrontational person. But he’s hurt and angry. He sees a hidden hand behind his dismissal, yet again. He feels wronged, betrayed, isolated and victimised. Naturally he is sceptical of all advice that even remotely appears to be cutting the ‘hidden hand’ some slack, or not abusing those who ‘wronged’ him. Only the obsequious seem sincere, only the ‘enemy’ bashing sounds legit. Their advice must thus appear to be the only advice worth listening to. But it’s not.

Nawaz Sharif never really got to retaliate in 1999. With him went his party, the Parliament, judges and the executive. Within hours all his power had vanished and before he came out of the shock, he was out of the country and its political landscape. This time he has considerable power even after his ouster. He may not be the Prime Minister, but he owns and controls him. His party is still in government, in the centre and two provinces. So he is quite equipped for retaliation. But the thing is; this isn’t a coup.

It is a thorn in the lion’s foot. You remove it and try to heal the wound. You don’t hammer it in and go try to burn the bush it grew on. Burning bushes may lead to burning forests. Some of the advisers may be fine with taking that risk, but Mr Sharif needs to listen to the ones who aren’t. The current path may only lead to more isolation and devastation for Nawaz Sharif, his party and his country.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Aug-17/let-better-sense-prevail


How Afghanistan Could Affect Its Neighbourhood

By Shahid Javed Burki

August 21, 2017

As the new prime minister in Pakistan extends the federal government’s efforts to areas that did not fully involve the previous administration, it would be appropriate to bring Afghanistan into focus. Afghanistan’s present and its future cannot — in fact, should not — be considered in isolation. The country has already deeply affected its many neighbours, Pakistan and Iran in particular. But it is not only the neighbours that have felt the impact of the happenings in Afghanistan.

India has always been involved in Afghan affairs, in part because of the long-running rivalry with Pakistan. China is taking interest in the country as a part of what analysts such as Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris in their 2016 book have called “geoeconomics.” This is the use of economic instruments to achieve geopolitical goals. Beijing has assigned Afghanistan an important place in its One Belt, One Road programme of infrastructure development involving scores of countries in three continents. The Chinese are pouring in massive amounts of capital into Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Two parallel road corridors are being constructed in these two countries that would connect China’s west with central and western Asia. Through these regions, the Chinese would use land to reach Europe and Africa. When the situation in Afghanistan stabilises, there are plans to connect these east-west highways with north-south links — thus creating a well-integrated system of regional highways.

Although the United States is still engaged in determining what are its short- and long-term interests in Afghanistan, it appears those will be secondary. It will give attention to Afghanistan as a part of its policy to deal with the rapid rise of China as a global power. Russia would not like to see Afghanistan fall into the hands of Islamic extremists since that would have influence on the countries in Central Asia that were once included in the cluster of nations that made up the defunct Soviet Union. Such a development would also affect Russia’s already restive Muslim population.

How to deal with this situation was one of the questions some of us asked and tried to answer in a book, Afghanistan: The Next Phase. The book was written by three scholars, including myself, working at the National University of Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies. It was published in 2015 and I presented President Ashraf Ghani a copy when I spent several hours with him in Kabul in May of that year. We suggested in the book that since the resolution of the Afghan problem would affect a number of states in the geographical space the country occupies, it might be appropriate to let a group of nations get involved in moving forward this troubled nation. The group should ideally include all the countries that border Afghanistan (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Pakistan and Iran) as well as those that have been involved in one way or the other in the country’s affairs. The latter group should include India, Russia, Turkey and the United States. This group of 10 countries, all “friends of Afghanistan”, should be mandated by the United Nations to manage the Afghan state over a specified period of time, say 10 years. After that time, the country’s affairs would be handed over to a constitutionally-created structure of governance.

This approach runs counter to the biases of the members of the current administration in Washington. While it does not favour a nation-building strategy and is inclined to leave the Afghan nation to its own devices, it is not clear how it would like to see the United States to get disengaged. There are many voices in the on-going Afghan debate in America’s capital. The Trump White House is divided between two factions with National Security Adviser H R McMaster seeking to bolster US troops there and give them greater freedom of action, Stephen Bannon, the president’s chief security adviser who has stepped down, opposes greater US involvement in Afghanistan.

Exasperated by the uncertainty this has created and noting the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, Senator John McCain put forward his own proposal. “We must face facts: we are losing in Afghanistan and the time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide,” he said announcing his plan of action. “We need an integrated civil-military approach to bolster US counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in Afghanistan and cooperation with regional partners.” The McCain proposal would broaden the scope of American involvement in Afghan affairs. By including a negotiated peace process as an element in the strategy, the senator has recognised that the insurgent and surging Taliban cannot be beaten on the battlefield. They should be encouraged to become a component of Afghan society.

It is important to recognise that some of the moves aimed at the Muslim world made by the US administration under President Donald Trump have created a chain reaction that might reach the South Asian sub-continent. Afghanistan would be the conduit though which South Asia might be affected. The world around the sub-continent is churning too rapidly for the countries of the region not to be concerned. The ripples from this churning should be guarded against before they do great and irretrievable damage.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1486821/afghanistan-affect-neighbourhood/


As Dark As the Inside of a Needle

By Khayyam Mushir

August 22, 2017

The celebrations began two nights before Independence Day and were much the same as they have been for a decade now in Islamabad. Draped in green and white, pillion-riding motorcyclists and flag-mounted cars arrived in hordes from Rawalpindi, their passengers perched precariously outside car windows or swinging dangerously from iron grills mounted behind transport vans.

Passengers aboard these vans were seen shouting, whistling, hooting and gyrating to azadi songs that blared and crackled through cheap speakers unable to sustain treble or bass, their tunes rendered further discordant against the din of booming horns, screeching tyres and the blasts of firecrackers chucked surreptitiously on the road. Cars, motorcycles, buses and pedestrians coalesced into an unending, thick, pulsing torrent of jarring noise, neon lights and hysteria that rose to a crescendo. They eventually choked the main arteries of traffic in the capital on the muggy August evening of our 70th year of Independence.

Pakistan 70 years on. Independence celebrations may remain the same, but one wonders: what has changed? If you live here, then you’re probably less concerned about the evolution of the country’s sociological and political character or its economic indicators and more interested in the jubilation of ousting Nawaz Sharif from his prime ministerial office and his rally along GT Road to Lahore. A time of reckoning most say, a final moment, a watershed event, the end to corruption and the historic rounding of a corner to emerge into a glittering tomorrow.

Except that we’ve been rounding corners for 70 years. And thanks to the culture of the 24-hour news cycle, we now round them every week. Through 70 years of military coups, ousted prime ministers, humiliated dictators, jubilant chief justices, leaked memos, assassinations, Dharnas and long marches, Pakistan has always been poised to arrive, yet it never really does.

But a history lesson is not the purpose of this article. And for all that we’ve gained – motorways, metros, nuclear bombs, strategic depth and what not – there are a few other things that we can include in the calculus of our losses, past and present.

The loss of decency is one. We’ve finally abandoned all pretense for the need of it – whether in public or private discourse. Coached for a decade now by an unfettered electronic media – that runs on ad money and employs uncouth chat show anchors who are paid by their masters to sit on live television every evening to engage in vulgar calumny, concoct conspiracy theories, lower the standard of public discourse to mimicry and lampooning of public officials and whip up public sentiment into a frenzy – we have arrived at a moment in our history when the only apparent solution to differences of public opinion is the waging of a zero-sum ‘us vs them’ war of attrition that is without rules. As a consequence, our polarised civil society is convinced that principles are dispensable and that every standard of decorum that was once sacred, is now profane.

The institutionalisation of misogyny is another thing we can include among our losses. It is clear from recent experiences, which happen to become the subject of debate in the public domain, that women are accepted in our patriarchal order as mute subjects of ridicule, violence and exclusion, with their chastity determined through a licence issued by male members of society, who further reserve the right to violate that chastity – verbally or physically – with impunity.

Should a woman dare to step out of these well-demarcated boundaries, should she dare to question the power structures that reside within this patriarchal order, she will be hounded into silence and submission (if not killed), with the morality of her lineal ascendants and descendants being called up to public scrutiny. That we indulge in public displays of misogyny to celebrate our machismo was ruefully displayed first in the shocking live interrogations and dismissals that Ayesha Gulalai was subjected to on private channels the night after her press conference and then during her national assembly speech, that was barely audible among the jeers, catcalls and insults from the gallery.

Similarly, Asma Jahangir was chastised across the expanse of social and electronic media for raising questions about the civil-military imbalance in Pakistan. Imran Khan is innocent until proven otherwise and you may choose to disagree with Asma Jahangir’s view. But both women’s fundamental right to freedom of speech is protected under the constitution and our national response is, therefore, abysmal.

This brings me to the character of our elite. It is often glibly professed by the affluent members of our society that “Awaam Hai Jaahil” (the masses are uneducated). Following on from this declaration, a bizarre critique of democracy is presented, which strips the right of the people to vote until each person has perhaps secured a Bachelor’s degree from Punjab University or, better yet, passed their Senior Cambridge examinations. Till then, it is declared that they have no intelligence or basic understanding of right and wrong and will only choose the worst among them to lead. Well sir, we must ask: what about the intelligence and wisdom of the educated elite among us?

The members of this elite club – many of whom are scions of the feudal and industrial elite – is the class that is possibly the most literate, if not educated, in our polity, and are today the flag-bearers of the PTI and the politics of ‘change’. Till a few weeks ago, they were recommending the formulation of a jirga – a tribal court of elders – to prosecute Ayesha Gulalai.

Do we really need that kind of literacy masquerading as education? Are we to salute their wisdom for the hate and anger that this class has introduced into politics, their display of populism and fascism and their lack of political maturity as they vilify and deride any and all political opponents? Moreover, this elite club has supported every military coup and every unconstitutional move by dictators – from Ayub Khan and Zia to Musharraf – as long as their business interests and their wealth are protected. So, should they alone have the right to vote and, if so, what kind of leaders will they elect? If great change is to come from above, we are in deep trouble.

Finally, we must recognise the failure of democratic politics. For a party, which has been elected twice with a heavy mandate, to squander the chances of bringing about positive change the second time in a row, is just bad comedy. Today, our political scene is riven with animosity and the promise of mature politics envisaged under the Charter of Democracy is as much in tatters as the document itself.

If we are back to the mudslinging of the 1980s and the 1990s and if the blueprint of a democracy includes zero legislation and shoddy governance – not to mention the Achilles heel of the Panama Papers – then is it any surprise that the hawks and vultures that seek to undo the democratic project will swoop in for the kill? Seventy years on, on a wing and a prayer, we can only hope that our future is not, in the words of the poet Joseph Brodsky, “as dark as the inside of a needle”.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/225063-As-dark-as-the-inside-of-a-needle


CPEC in Gilgit-Baltistan

By Zubair Torwali

August 22, 2017

Passu is a beautiful village about 150 kilometres on the Karakorum Highway from the town of Gilgit. It is at the mouth of the 57 kilometre-long world’s fifth longest glacier, Batura. This beautiful village is surrounded by peaks that look like cones and are called Passu Cones or Passu Cathedral.

Passu is famous all over the world because of the features described above. But at the beginning of this month, Passu attracted attention for another reason. A good number of intellectuals and researchers from Gilgit-Baltistan gathered in the village for two days to analyse the impacts of CPEC on the ecology, sociology, cultural diversity, economy and political status of the region which is rightly described by linguist O’Leary “as a mountainous area where the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas and the Karakorams form a knot” and “a land of geographic and ethnic diversity, one of the most multilingual places on the face of the earth.”

The Aga Khan Rural Support Program had organised a formal gathering of researchers and public intellectuals of the region to discuss whether Gilgit-Baltistan is ready to exploit and sustain, or repackage, the forthcoming changes on its culture, economy, politics, ethnic and religious diversity etc in the wake of CPEC which starts in Pakistan from this region.

The underlying concept of starting an informed discourse around major projects and the socio-economic changes they can result in was envisaged in one of the core speeches as “the basic purpose of arranging the conference stems from the basic philosophy of [the] AKRSP, which takes into consideration the views from the periphery and bring voices from the margins onto the centre stage of the development discourse”. It further states that after the opening of the Karakorum Highway the region is witnessing a major development in the shape of CPEC, which has been called a game-changer for Pakistan. The socio-economic realities of the region have witnessed major changes in terms of education, quality of life and the economy.

Conspiracy theories aside, the much trumpeted CPEC is still shrouded in mystery. It seems the ‘centre stage’ in Pakistan deliberately keeps this economic corridor away from public discourse.

The idea behind holding the conference in a village like Passu, a periphery in Gilgit-Baltistan, was to bring voices from the margins onto the centre stage of the development discourse. Whether Gilgit-Baltistan, a periphery in Pakistan, has ever been heard while conceiving CPEC was evident from the key presentation which stated that the greater chunk of the CPEC budget is going to be spent on energy projects and the infrastructure of roads and railways. The remaining budget is for fibre optic work and the Gwadar Port.

There is no mention of any project for Gilgit-Baltistan apart from the road. Through media reports in June this year, we also found out that the corridor has also focused agriculture in Pakistan in addition to industrial zones in mainland Pakistan. The reports also said that the corridor’s master plan document has only been shared with one province – Punjab. This makes things further murky.

Another presentation in the Passu conference revealed that there is only a single paragraph on Gilgit-Baltistan in the CPEC documents; the paragraph vaguely states that the region of Gilgit-Baltistan ‘will be developed’.

Gilgit-Baltistan, though overwhelmingly rural, has undergone many socio-cultural changes because of its distinct natural and cultural landscapes, and owing to some rigorous but sustained interventions by humanitarian organisations.

It is unique in the way that one sees modernisation manifest itself visibly here despite the region being all the way up in cliffs in the extreme north – away from cities, the centres of modernisation. The urge for higher education is on the rise here.

Education has produced a great bulk of unemployed youth who cannot go along the path their traditional society delineates for them. These youth find themselves disgruntled with their meagre sources of livelihood, lesser means of expression and lack of opportunities of employment in the region. Many of the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan are thus scattered all over Pakistan in search of better education and jobs. They can hardly be retained back at home now.

The present state of cultural and religious pluralism is spectacular. However, undercurrents should not be ignored.

Gilgit-Baltistan is not merely a territory of high mountains and glaciers. It is also host to indigenous and unique languages and cultures like the Indo-Aryan languages Shina, Khowar, Dumaki and Gujarati; Indo-Iranian Wakhi; Sino-Tibetan Balti; and the unique Burushashki language. The area is also the custodian of thousands of rock carvings, inscriptions and petro glyphs.

It is a pity that a region so significant is altogether off the radar of the likely benefits of CPEC. Whether Pakistan just treats the region as a ‘route’ of CPEC or really wants to expand the promised bounties to this region is still a question worth questioning.

Both the players of CPEC need to think of ways in which the educated youth, existing social capital and diaspora of Gilgit-Baltistan can be utilised; and what safeguards can be applied to protect and promote this unique cultural and natural repository. And internal dialogue – such as the one held in Passu – should be continued.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/225069-CPEC-in-Gilgit-Baltistan


Above Suspicion at All Times

By Nazeer Ahmed Arijo

August 21, 2017

Those in positions of authority should avoid even a whiff of scandal or impropriety. This is a sound principle and ought to be followed closely, especially by those in public office.

In 62 BC Pompeia, the wife of Julius Caesar, hosted the festival of Bona Dea (“good goddess”), which was an all-women party. However, a young and flamboyant patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to sneak in disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, after the trial, Caesar divorced Pompeia.

When people questioned the logic behind Caesar’s decision to divorce his wife, he remarked, “My wife ought not even to be under suspicion”. Caesar said because she was suspected of illicit behaviour, his political career as well as ambitions could not allow him to be associated with her any more. In simple words, the holder of public office should have unquestionable integrity and morality. This is, and should be, the yardstick for the rulers and representatives of people ascending to the highest echelons of power in Pakistan and elsewhere.

On July 28, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court unanimously delivered its judgment in the Panamagate case, disqualifying the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, for not being “honest” under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and Article 99(f) of the Representation of the Peoples Act due to non-disclosure of his employment in Capital FZE, and chairman of its board on a salary in his nomination papers of 2013 general elections. It also ordered the main accountability body to subsequently file references against the disqualified prime minister, his three children; son-in-law Captain (retired) Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Thus, the cases of alleged corruption and money-laundering have been sent to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which is the proper forum for prosecution in the light of evidence collected by the six-member Joint Investigation Team.

After being declared ineligible to hold office by the Supreme Court, Nawaz Sharif has railed against the decision, calling it a deep and dark conspiracy. He reached his hometown Lahore on the heels of the Panamagate verdict in a bombproof container while addressing a crowd at the Grand Trunk Road while being flanked by PML-N lawmakers and party heavyweights. While his convoy was en route to Lahore, he directed his guns against the military and the judiciary alike as the disqualified and disgraced Nawaz Sharif considers his ouster from the office of prime minister as a conspiracy against him by the establishment — which was only executed by judges. This is both inaccurate and misleading. It was a case of corruption, money-laundering and accumulation of assets, establishment of a vast business empire and offshore companies disproportionate to known sources of income of the Sharif family.

All the respondents failed to present credible evidence to prove their innocence. Was it the establishment that asked Nawaz Sharif to conceal his assets in his nomination papers? Was it the establishment that pressured him not to declare his “Iqama” (residence permit) in his declaration papers filed ahead of the general elections in 2013?

Did the establishment get the records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills tampered by Zafar Hijazi, the ex-head of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)?

Did the establishment coax Nawaz Sharif to produce evidentiary material like the Qatari letter?

Was it the establishment that compelled the Sharif family to ask their defence lawyers to adopt an evasive approach and produce bogus documents in court?

This leads us to infer that it is a figment of his own imagination. The establishment, in fact, has nothing to do with the judgment delivered by the top court of the country.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1486818/above-suspicion-at-all-times/


Changing With the Times?

By Kamal Siddiqi

August 21, 2017

This summer, my daughter introduced me to Kendrick Lamar. It was en education in itself. Not only did the lyrics make me wince, I wondered whether this was actually music. But then, it caught on. And I realised that amongst all the cursing, there was a message. A series of messages, actually.

I think one of the mistakes we make as parents is to try and stay ahead of the game when it comes to our children. One day, I was told matter-of-factly that most children were not on Facebook because their parents were. So much for parental control – and staying ahead.

There can be a great debate on what could be the best parenting techniques. I don’t want to get into that. I just try to go with the flow and figure out how to make the most of what is offered to me. Time is of essence. Muqabla Sakht Hai.

I continue to think about how the world is changing and how different it was when I was younger. That’s usually considered a bad idea but as a human, one cannot help but think of the bad times we lived in. Now we marvel at how Pakistan is changing as the millennials, those who became adults in the early 21st century, are now taking control and making decisions.

In my days, public transport in Pakistan was really bad. We had to make do. Today we have Uber and Careem. I read in the paper that Islamabad taxi drivers are protesting against web-based private taxi companies terming them a security threat. Like many parents, these taxi drivers seem to have lost the plot.

Technology is overtaking the state’s desire for control. Pakistan is becoming a different place. Services like Careem and Uber, which allow hundreds of men (and, hopefully, women soon) to provide a safe, cheap and clean alternative to the appalling public transport available is fast becoming the preferred mode of transportation.

In Karachi, every day hundreds of women use these services knowing that not only are these safer than the average taxi or rickshaw but there is the added convenience of picking the passenger from their pre-determined point. Prices are fixed and any complaints that arise are dealt with swiftly. For those who argue that some of these companies exploit their drivers, one advice is to see how our conventional taxi and rickshaw system works.

Technology is challenging us. Imagine some decades back when we had to watch PTV or a VCR to see some good movies. Television programmes were strictly controlled. We could not watch what we wanted. The state decided what was best for us.

Television is another challenge today. The young do not like regular TV. They want to choose what they watch. Hence the popularity of NetFlix. They don’t want to watch in the family living room but on their phones. Live and adapt, I say.

The great hope was the telephone which helped us immensely with our social lives. I know many a couple who started their courtship through crossed lines or wrong calls. To own a phone meant years of waiting. Fax machines needed a separate licence! And then the phones would get “held-up” for days – with which our lives were also held hostage.

Now we live in the age of Whatsapp and YouTube. The younger generation spends more time texting on the phone than actually using it to talk. Again, we can argue about the pros and cons here but at the end of the day, it is for us to adopt.

Web-based services continue to expand as the younger generation starts to take control of their spending. Look how the food ordering business has picked up. From barely one such service ten years ago, today we see hundreds of food-order outlets in place. Every day you see one or the other rider whizzing past you at speeds that defy gravity only to make a few hundreds for hot food delivered to one’s home.

The web plays an important part not only in mode of service but also in choice as well. There are Facebook pages where thousands of people share their experiences on restaurants. It is said these comments make or break businesses. The habits of the new generation should be studied more carefully and this will help understand how doing business will be shaped in Pakistan in years to come. That’s my plan. Till then, this ex-editor lives on a diet of Kenrick Lamar songs for inspiration.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1486825/changing-with-the-times/


Stench Of Victory

By Fahd Husain

August 20, 2017

The view from outside the bubble tends to be a bit different.

From this vantage point the ‘system’ that we all love to debate and defend appears not so holy, not so sacrosanct and certainly not so humane and paternalistic in its intrinsic nature. And neither do its primary beneficiaries.

So when elites fight, the grass is not alone in getting trampled. When elites are inside the system and the system is inside the bubble, the fight — however epic it may be — remains localised in its ability to have a wider societal impact. The debris from this intra-elite fight may scatter across the known landscape but rarely does it break the perma-frost that divides the elite from the rest.

The events of the last few months have brought the traditional intra-elite fight into renewed focus. The debate and discussion on who actually constitutes the elite is an unending — and in many ways inconclusive — one that usually shapes around the situation at hand. And therefore it may be natural to ask if the ouster of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is a classic case of a power struggle disguised in the lofty goals of accountability and the rule of law?

The evidence is far from conclusive. The former PM clearly thinks so and is busy articulating it from every available platform. Perhaps he does not have the luxury to choose his narrative and he doesn’t have the time to construct a brand new one. So his opting for a fight armed with the conspiracy narrative is but natural and far from surprising. But that’s not the point.

The judgment that formed the sword that decapitated the former PM is far from a perfect one. And that’s saying it politely. The grounds on which Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified are weak and therefore elicit derision from many legal experts. The ensuing trial of the former prime minister and his children may fulfill the requirements of due process and may lead to convictions, but that would still not erase the fundamental weakness of the argument that formed the basis for the disqualification of a sitting prime minister. But that’s not the point.

The tweet that launched a thousand whispers and its ultimate reversal formed the climax of the ‘DawnLeaks’ affair — and yet was it really the climax or the buildup to the final one? The scandal revolving around the front-page story by Cyril Almeida was more than the sum of all its paragraphs. Perhaps the publishing of the story resulted in the crossing of many red lines that are never meant to be crossed within the traditional matrix. This was made worse by the fact that the lines were crossed in public. The final catastrophe was the over-the-top reaction that snowballed into a national security crisis. The fight had to be fought and fought it was. But that’s not the point.

Was the cocktail of dharnas ever about the change of system? In a bare-knuckled fight for power, the PTI resorted to anything and everything that can be used by anyone and everyone to win a bare-knuckled fight. Did Imran Khan use the system to change the system? Did he fight the fight inside the ring or outside it? Perhaps now might be a good time for the PTI high command to read up on Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil): “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” But that’s not the point.

Inside the Technicolour world of the bubble, the PML-N has had a good run. In this world it pretended that it had bought, not brought, progress for the people through projects. In this world projects completed with efficiency provide an enhanced standard of living to those who benefit from them. They also attract investment via better infrastructure and services which in turn triggers greater economic activity leading to job creation, income generation and ultimately economic benefits at the grassroots level. Isn’t this what governments are supposed to do, the PML-N asks. They may have a point — to an extent. And they did deliver — to an extent. But that’s not the point.

If the whole point of the fight is to win, then who won? And more importantly, what defines this victory?

In fact, the point is not inside the bubble. It never was. Within the cozy confines of the bubble, the revolution has already happened — or is at least in an advanced stage. The great transformation is unfolding in front of our eyes, swaying to the beat of the cherished tomorrow breaking its dawn over the horizon. Inside this delightful world the mighty court has heralded the onset of accountability where no one will be above the law; where dreams will flower from translucent ballot boxes and where institutional elite will burn the midnight oil to melt the perma-frost that separates them from their beloved masses.

Outside the bubble though lies the smouldering wreckage of the National Action Plan. Here the criminal justice system is still as rotten as it always has despite loud proclamations from their Lordships; here the cops still investigate with rods and lawyers dispense legal services with their fists. Here outside the bubble educational reform is still measured in bricks and mortar and hospitals are hunting grounds for young doctors and pharmaceutical predators. Here democracy is still a concept measured in patronage whose outflow depends on your proximity to the inner circle. Here joy is nothing more than the distant sound of trumpets somewhere beyond the hills. Reflected glory is all that is available.

Inside the bubble, victors toast to their success. Outside, the stench of victory is overpowering.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1486086/stench-of-victory/


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pakistan-is-not-doomed-after-all-by-hasnain-iqbal--new-age-islam-s-selection,-22-august-2017/d/112278


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