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Pakistan Press (09 Sep 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Man Who Is the Party: New Age Islam's Selection, 09 September 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

09 September 2016

The Man Who Is the Party

By Asha'ar Rehman

In the Modern World, Patriarchy Is Very Much the Rule

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

Politics and Sedition

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The Corruption of Political Wisdom

By Durdana Najam

Picking Up Where They Left Off

By Faisal Bari

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


The Man Who Is the Party

By Asha'ar Rehman

September 9th, 2016

A FEW friends have taken it upon themselves to help us undertake eye-opening journeys into the past by frequently flashing pages from old newspapers files.

One such Facebook post recently brought back the essence of July 1948 captured by the front page of the famous daily Inqilab of Lahore. The reader is attracted to a variety of stories spread out with the minimum of fuss, not least among them a small item shedding light on the democratic nature of the relationship between the founder of Pakistan and the party through which he practised his politics for many decades.

It goes without saying that the party was a vital link which connected Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the people and their affairs less than one year after the creation of Pakistan.

The news item is related to the issue of who should be in charge of the administration in Karachi. Muslim League Sindh is reported to have asked the provincial set-up to not hand over the reins to the federal government, which obviously had a claim on running Karachi because of the city’s status as the country’s capital.

Work is now under progress to salvage the Muttahida from the enormous weight of its sole maker.

Not only did the provincial chapter of the League choose to assert its choice in the matter, it did so by doing something that would be almost blasphemous in today’s political culture. In adopting its stance, the party overruled the advice it had been given by the Quaid-i- Azam, providing the news story published in Inqilab with the headline ‘Majlis-i-Amal nay Quaid-i-Azam ka mashwara mustaard lkar diya’ ie the working committee (of the Muslim League in Sindh) rejects the Quaid’s advice. The emphasis is on advice.

That, by all signs, did not shake up those minding the newsroom. They displayed the story, filed by the United Press two days earlier — on July 5, 1948 — as an ordinary middle-of-the-page side story. Their focus was far from Sindh and Jinnah sahib on bigger topics of the time, such as Hyderabad (Deccan) and the riches it promised to those in possession of the state.

There might have been some minor hiccups faced by party leaders along the way caused by the less obedient of their colleagues. There might have been some instances of small rebellions erupting even when the all-powerful leaders shed old inhibitions imposed on them by convention and chose to proudly wear more dramatic, even if perfectly justified, titles, such as ‘supremo’.

But amidst all the changes — including perhaps some positive ones — brought about by the demands of the times it took a party in Karachi, a party with a mass following, almost 70 years later to openly disagree with its Quaid. And this time, the news was duly flashed for its unique occurrence.

By the time the party could muster and borrow the strength to overrule Altaf Hussain, all old notions about the working of political outfits had been forsaken for individual command — dictatorship. The lessons and formulae about how parties empowered individuals and how individuals were dependent and subject to the party’s will, had all turned obsolete.

Work is now under progress to salvage the party from the enormous weight of its sole maker. It is almost an impossible task. You may take individuals and their once revered Rabita Committees out of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement but you can only wish and hope to delete Altaf Bhai and save the party at his expense.

The ideal of a modern running machine consisting of educated middle-class cadres in a vibrant Karachi to lead the country forward is as distant as it was when the MQM’s precursor arose in Karachi’s campuses in the 1970s. What’s worse, the material to form a party with some resemblance to the dictionary meaning of the term is that much more difficult to find today than it was a few decades back. The sources have dried up. Indeed, they have long been discarded.

The MQM’s current state fully elaborates just how deep the problem is. But even those who must insist on saying the MQM is more a mafia than a party will be hard-pressed to define and name a bunch that could qualify for the exalted title. Amongst the various outfits that are there, the PTI is the one which tried to develop the cadres and create a party, encouraging a few amongst us to compare its organisational evolution with that of the PPP in Punjab after its formation in the late 1960s.

As a measure of the rot and the wrong precedents that have since been set, the PPP enjoyed the fruits of its organisation in the 1970 election, whereas the PTI has been heard wondering whether it had blundered by holding intra-party polls before the 2013 election.

There are the local thugs, the traders with their biradaris and gangs to provide the so-called party its nucleus. There are no student unions, no trade unions to speak of and the professional groups such as those formed by lawyers are inward-looking, lacking the dynamism and movement to push for a popular cause — as did Barrister M.A. Jinnah and his party. The Quaid-i-Azam — and his typewriter — did so dominate the party according to various accounts but the League was still sufficiently beholden to the old principles of democracy to openly disagree with the leader from time to time.

Today, all laments about the opportunities missed by Pakistan must end with what Mr Jinnah (given more time) could have done to set the course right. An even bigger source of regret could be his party’s inability to create the model of an organisation capable of making its presence felt. The system must find that crucial element — a role for the party worker — to evolve in the correct direction. The party is most unlikely to be restored through a toppling of the supremo at the top. There is no option but to begin at the bottom.

Source: dawn.com/news/1282963/the-man-who-is-the-party


In The Modern World, Patriarchy Is Very Much The Rule

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

September 9th, 2016

THE world is dominated by men. It has not always been this way — throughout recorded history there have been societies in which women have exercised significant power over both their own lives and those of men. In the modern world, however, patriarchy is very much the rule. While it is possible to identify pockets in which men and women are relatively more equal, they remain the exceptions which make the rule.

As male domination goes, Pakistan is up there with the worst. A casual perusal of daily newspapers, TV bulletins and social media sites confirms this; not a day goes by without report of abuse against women, including murder, rape and disfigurement. Meanwhile, the systematic discrimination against women in public and private spheres is so taken for granted that it is virtually invisible.

The fact that more and more is said about the status of women and girls in this country speaks for some kind of change, however nominal. Public discussions about male domination are the first step towards addressing what is a deep, structural problem. Having said this, the ‘debate’ is limited to a very small cross section of society. It often feels like those talking about patriarchy and the need to challenge it are speaking amongst themselves.

Certainly, it would be impossible to suddenly involve those who are deeply hostile to even the idea that women and men are equally human. The sway exercised by mullahs and so-called ‘tradition’ over a large majority of people in this society means that many of us actually believe that women are born inferior to men and that they are fated to have certain social roles — indeed, reactions to women who transgress established boundaries suggest that we also feel entitled to undertake punitive actions in the name of maintaining moral order.

Public debate on male domination is limited to a small circle.

It is indicative of just how deeply patriarchal norms are internalised within us that many women are active agents of male domination both vis-à-vis their understanding of the world and their actions within it. This deep internalisation is reflected in how women interact with one another as well as in their deference to men, and this is why those who challenge patriarchy assert the need to ‘liberate’ women from their mental chains, so as to be able to stand up to the everyday oppression that they encounter.

Those who are suspicious of the feminist cause — men and women alike — tend to see it as an attempt to turn all women against men, a characterisation which is both ridiculous and inaccurate. It is precisely the fact that we are all products of patriarchal structures that there is no question of propagating a simple, no-holds-barred war between men and women. It is the task of conscious men and women both to understand and challenge the structure — which, in turn, is upheld by men and women both.

Yet there is little question that the primary beneficiaries and defenders of male domination are men. And this is why men are likely to react negatively to the cause of women’s liberation, to one extent or the other. After all, relinquishing a position of privilege — especially that which is seen as ordained — is far from easy.

There are, of course, some men who consider themselves enlightened, who take up the cause of women (sometimes despite their suspicions of ‘feminism’). Many husbands and fathers accord relative freedom to women and girls in the home which then translates into longer-term gains. At a more general level, progressive men are active participants in various political and social movements challenging patriarchy.

I would count myself as one of the latter. But I still feel hesitant in calling myself a ‘liberated man’. Having been politically active for many years, I can safely say that my understanding of and commitment to the feminist cause has evolved considerably over time, and is likely to do so further. I am increasingly aware of just how deeply I have internalised patriarchal ways of being. To be ‘liberated’ is not a discrete event, but a process that unfolds over an extended period of time.

Indeed, there is a danger that men who see themselves as liberated can overlook the most obvious transgressions. Unfortunately many progressives can talk, think, and act in ways that are not always consistent with their overt commitments. We may believe that we are enlightened because we don’t engage in the barbaric practices of unbridled misogynists; that we fight for women’s causes in public; that we sensitise other men to the feminist cause. But the fight does not end there. In fact the most important part of the fight is in our daily engagements, in our everyday conversations, in reining in our convictions that our opinions matter more.

Since the ‘debate’ is still largely amongst ourselves, it is worth remembering that patriarchy begins at home, and liberation does too.

Source: dawn.com/news/1282961/liberated-men


Politics and Sedition

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf


While the public response to the anti-government rallies in Lahore and Rawalpindi on the 3rd of September organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), and Awami Muslim League has not been so overwhelming and spontaneous as the organisers expected, there is nevertheless a probability that things might take an ugly turn when the PTI and PAT, possibly supported by other political parties, stage the announced Dharna (sit-in) in front of the private residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.

There are indications that these parties would go to any length to see the dismissal of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. There is already a discernible campaign to seek military intervention, as being openly demanded by Tahir-ul-Qadri and Sheikh Rashid with a nod of approval from Imran Khan. That clearly is an act of sedition in terms of article 6 (1 & 2) of the constitution that reads: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. Any person aiding or abetting (or collaborating) the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.”

Inviting military intervention is tantamount to subverting the constitution. Who cares about the constitution, anyway? That is the way our politicians have been behaving and paving the way for dictatorial rules and military interventions with disastrous consequences in regard to strengthening of democracy and state institutions as well as rule of law in the country.

It is a typical pattern. The demand for military intervention is being made by political ‘parasites’ like Sheikh Rashid and a religious scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri who has no political stake in the country, and is only here to play the role of a spoiler. The former has always thrived during the undemocratic dispensations or borrowed support from political leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan. He surely has no stake in the continuation of a democratic system. Khan is making a big mistake by forging alliance with them for which he might have to repent in the future. If he intends to remain relevant to the political landscape of the country he must revisit his strategy of besieging the private residence of the prime minister, or endorsing any calls for a military intervention.

Unfortunately, some media persons and TV channels have also joined the chorus for intervention by the army. Perhaps politicians, media outlets and anchors demanding a military intervention feel encouraged by frequent statements of the COAS and press releases of ISPR on national issues, laced with ‘political’ overtones. Media as a representative of society is under obligation to uphold the constitution and support democratic rule in the country, because it is only during democracy that it enjoys unfettered freedom of expression.

Polarisation of media and some media outlets becoming a party in the confrontation between political forces is indeed an ominous development, which can encourage non-democratic entities to make their move. I think media has lost its sense of proportion, and some sections of it have intentionally put blinkers on their eyes to perpetuate their partisan role. Is it not amazing that some of the channels have been and continue to have exclusive hour-long interviews of Sheikh Rashid to make their audience endure the ordeal of loud statements of a man who only has one seat in parliament, and even that courtesy of the PTI? There is surely something terribly wrong about this exercise.

Tahir-ul-Qadri has non-political credentials but, surprisingly, he is also getting undeserved media coverage like Sheikh Rashid. The whole episode has an aura of a conspiracy like the previous agitation by the duo of Khan and Qadri when they staged a Dharna in Islamabad. Qadri’s dubbing the prime minister as an ‘Indian agent’ and a security risk for the country is probably the most preposterous allegation made against a person who has thrice been elected prime minister, and whose party is the most popular political entity in the country.

The PML-N government may have many shortcomings, but there is no denying the fact that it has to, a great extent, been able to tackle the formidable challenges it inherited. Terrorism has been checked in its tracks; economy verifiably has been revived; Karachi is fast returning to normalcy; insurgency in Balochistan has been contained; and government remains committed to take the fight against terrorism to its logical conclusion, thanks to the supporting role played by the security establishment and law enforcement agencies that have rendered unprecedented sacrifices in defeating terrorists. They indeed deserve unqualified gratitude of the nation.

It is said that the worst democracy is better than the most benign dictatorship. Pakistan’s salvation, progress and chances of earning a respectable place in the comity of nations lie in more and more democracy. Mohammad Ali Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a democratic entity. The march on the democratic path and consolidation of its gains largely depends on the state institutions strictly adhering to their constitutional role. Interventions and transgressions into the territory of other institutions invariably lead to chaos and disastrous consequences for the country. The people need to guard against the designs of those who are demanding a military intervention. It is also obligatory on parties represented in parliament to make sure that the system remains on course.

The military establishment also needs to clear the haze by giving a shut-up call to those who are rooting for a military intervention, instead of embarrassing the government through frequent ‘indiscretions’, which also descend into the realm of a kind of intervention in the domain of the executive. The demand for a military intervention and attempts to destabilise the elected government through violent and unconstitutional means also constitutes an affront to the mandate of the people who are the ultimate arbiters in regard to who governs the country.

There are no two opinions about the fact that Pakistan needs drastic changes in the system of governance. Those changes and reforms can only be brought through the forum of parliament. There is a need for all political forces to show their commitment and sincerity in reforming the system that breeds a culture of graft, entitlement and has inbuilt avenues of corruption, instead of rocking the ship of democracy. Panama leaks or no Panama leaks, corruption needs to be eliminated. But there has to be a constitutional and legal method to go about it. Even at present a number of avenues are available to the agitating politicians and parties to seek redress of their grievances, and they have already approached certain forums in this regard. It would, therefore, be advisable for them to stick to that course, simultaneously joining forces with other parties and government to reform the system. There is certainly no quick-fix solution available to fix the maladies afflicting the system or tackling corruption.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/09-Sep-16/politics-and-sedition


The Corruption of Political Wisdom

By Durdana Najam


The duo is back. Both have a similar agenda. They both, however, have chosen to strike at different levels. Imran Khan wants the Panama scandal to be probed, and the accused, especially the Sharif family, be convicted. Tahir-ul-Qadri wants the Prime Minister (PM) tried under treason charges for having links with India. Khan wants the prime minister’s removal, to begin with. Qadri does not just want PM’s removal; he also wants to have him slandered. It is not new to consider an incumbent prime minister a security threat for the country. Benazir Bhutto had been relegated to this realm at one point. Pervez Musharraf too would have been given the label had the Article 6 of the Constitution been allowed to be applied. Or perhaps the judiciary had been given a fair chance to grind their ax against the former president.

That Musharraf had been permitted to leave the country and any negative provocation against the former army chief and the president was dismissed appears bizarre when the same treatment is denied to a democratically elected head of the state. Does the difference lie in the institution standing behind the political and the army leadership, respectively? Or does the difference lie in the malice that has eaten into the political milieu and not the military? Or is it only a perception that has played out too well to make one bad cop look good while the other just bad? We cannot deny that the army would defend Pakistan against its enemies on the borders. As it has been doing. The sacrifices given so far by the soldiers cannot be questioned. Musharraf’s decision to join the US against the al-Qaeda and Taliban after 9/11 and to storm the Red Mosque turned the boys we had nurtured in the backyard into militants, or what Hillary Clinton had termed as snakes. The snakes threw venom at their masters relentlessly.

Politicians have become saner since the last coup. The Charter of Democracy (CoD) that the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz created had made one difference: politicians now unite whenever they hear the boots coming. Other items in the CoD have been ignored. The masses are easy to con, perhaps. On Panama leaks, government is not in the mood to make a judicial commission. Instead, an accountability bill is being prepared to give overarching powers to investigation agencies. The Panama blame would be tried in this new mill. The tendency to protect one another against the army, and letting the malice of corruption survive would only take this country backward.

Politicians are voted into office not only to enjoy the perks or the grandeur of the power. The first responsibility of a politician is towards his constituents, which requires state institutions to be strengthened. It is only through the consolidation of public institutions that a government retains the right to govern. A politician in parliament speaks to his voter through laws that make the system more flexible, practical and accountable.

Lately, when the Sindh government demolished the offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) built on encroachments, a sudden clamour was heard from political parties to respect the mandate of the MQM. Some suggested going easy on the MQM, and giving them time to relocate. The MQM had been in absolute power in Karachi for the last 25 years. It may have brought the middle class to the assemblies, becoming a catalyst for change in the political milieu that had been ridden by the feudal class. But the fact that MQM turned its leadership drawn from the middle class into fascists and made them worse exploiters than the feudal lords cannot be ignored. Karachi has bled because of the MQM. It bled even when Musharraf was in power.

In his recent statement, Musharraf said that promoting the MQM was the political decision he needed to take to keep the wheel of statecraft moving. The question is if the army was to run the country using political wisdom, what was the fun of staging a coup and replacing the system? If the next was not better than the previous then what was the hullabaloo all about? If keeping the MQM in the political loop was important, if closing eyes to its militant activities necessary, and if keeping the MQM intact was essential in Sindh why did we need a new set-up? In another statement, Musharraf said he had nothing to do with the May 12, 2007 incident. Political wisdom is not exhibited when it comes to shielding dirty linen of others sharing a pie in corruption.

In the political wisdom of some sources, Tahir-ul-Qadri’s rejoinders or Imran Khan’s street presence is critical to keep the pressure on the Sharifs. Flowing from the same source is the political wisdom of spreading uncertainty among the people through media. Will there ever be the day when political wisdom would benefit the country, which would require some wise men thrown to dust?

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/09-Sep-16/the-corruption-of-political-wisdom


Picking Up Where They Left Off

By Faisal Bari

September 9th, 2016

ALBER dropped out of Grade 8 about six years ago. His family circumstances were such that he could not have continued in school. He had to get a job, as a helper at a photocopying shop, to be able to contribute to the family income. He found himself without work three years later when the shop closed down. He has been out of a job since then.

Alber wants to go back to school and continue studying until he completes his Intermediate. But he does not have any opportunity to do so. With no job, little money at home and almost no support from any other source, he does not see how he can re-enter the education stream.

Alber has tried to enrol in vocational training programmes provided by the government. It has not worked so far. He was not accepted in some of the programmes as he had not passed his middle school examinations when he was forced to leave. He felt that many of the courses he could get into did not offer good job prospects so he decided not to spend his time, money and energy in acquiring non-marketable skills.

Where should Alber go? What can he do? It seems that, like millions of youth in the country, Alber’s only choice is to continue looking for jobs in the informal sector of the economy and spend his working life there. If he is lucky he will be able to find some stability of job and income. If he is not, he will end up with the millions of unemployed and frustrated people that Pakistan has been producing for quite some time.

Many among our youth who have dropped out of school want a second chance at education later in life.

Millions of children in Pakistan, even today, never see the inside of a school. But equally, if not more tragically, of the ones who enrol in Grade 1, millions drop out of school before they reach matriculation level. Out of 100 children who enrol in the first grade, it is estimated that only four to six children reach institutions of higher learning.

Many among our youth who have dropped out of school, for whatever reason, want a second chance at education later in life. Data from one youth survey shows that more than 60 per cent of young people who had dropped out of school before reaching the level they aspired to wanted another chance to get educated. Given our population base, this means millions of young people.

Where we have been making efforts at increasing enrolment rates through various reform efforts in the education sector, we have not yet concentrated deeply on the issue of children who have dropped out of schools and now want to re-enter the education space. There are a few non-formal education models that allow children to come back, but these programmes are very small and do not have substantial government support.

What should a 15-year-old who dropped out of Grade 4 a few years back do now? Should he or she try to enrol in a regular school and interact with students who are 10 years old? Most schools will not allow that. But even if they did, this would not be the solution to the problem. It will create disruptions in regular classes and will not be good for the child either. More importantly, if the child could come to a regular school, he or she might not have dropped out in the first place.

Zaheer is a peon in an academic institution, Bashir works in a motorcycle repair shop, John is currently unemployed and looking for a job, Amna volunteers as a teacher’s assistant in a low-fee private school, and Latif makes and serves tea in an NGO office. All of them are young, energetic and intelligent. All of them had to leave off studying. All of them want to go back. None of them sees a way of being able to do that. Becoming private candidates for higher examinations is not a viable option for any of them: they cannot afford the cost of books and coaching lessons, and those who have jobs cannot afford to take time off from their work.

The Punjab government launched the Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF) a few years ago to ensure that students who do well in at the matriculation/intermediate level but do not have the resources to continue their education further get scholarships to continue. PEEF, by most accounts, has been quite successful and has provided scholarships to thousands of deserving students so far.

Could provincial governments come up with a similar programme for youth who are looking for a second chance in life? Instead of spending money distributing laptops or setting up expensive Daanish schools or even giving five chickens to each female student in school (to teach kitchen skills), a support programme that allows second chances to youth could have significant benefits for the millions looking for such opportunities. These opportunities could consist of pathways that allow the youth to complete their education and/or acquire vocational training after attaining some minimum level of education.

One-time errors of omission or even commission should not have consequences that can never be reversed or addressed, especially for young people. Whether circumstances have led to dropping out or it is the young people’s personal choice to do so, if they learn better later, it should be possible for them to find pathways that allow them opportunities to address the deficiencies in their education or vocational training.

But they cannot do this on their own. They need government support to be able to break out of the usually vicious cycles they are caught in: unemployment or poorly paying jobs that have no future prospects leading to low incomes, leading to no opportunities for growth. A major rethink is also needed by our educational and vocational training institutions and programmes to be able to come up with ways that could cater to this category of youth.

Source: dawn.com/news/1282964/picking-up-where-they-left-off

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-man-who-is-the-party--new-age-islam-s-selection,-09-september-2016/d/108510


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