Books and Documents

Pakistan Press (31 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Time to Denuclearise The World

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


31 Oct. 17


BLF intimidating local media

By Reema Shaukat

Harassing women

By Bina Shah

Sacked through SOC

By Kamal Siddiqi

Nine days that shook imperialism

By Fawad Hasan

A momentary lapse of reason?

By Khayyam Mushir

Who’ll build Kalabagh Dam?

By M Zahid Rifat

The boy and the country

By Jawed Naqvi

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-section/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/time-to-denuclearise-the-world/d/113079




Time to denuclearise the world

By Abdul Sattar

October 31, 2017

The pernicious tentacles of war, death and destruction are likely to grip our planet following the recent lethal missile tests by Russia. According to media reports, the missile, also known as RS-28 Sarmat, travelled 3,600 miles before hitting its target on the Kura test range, an international ballistic missile impact area in the Russian Far East.

This destructive agent of death and annihilation is capable of carrying 12 nuclear warheads and could wipe out a whole country with a single strike. Three ballistic missiles were also fired from nuclear submarines as part of the drills to test Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

These tests were carried out by a country where more nearly 20 million people are surviving on wages that are below the poverty threshold and around 1.5 million are facing the scourge of homelessness while 5.1 percent are jobless. It is interesting to note that the collective income of the 13 percent poor in Russia is just $12.4 billion while the 97 wealthiest Russians jointly own a whopping $380 billion, nearly 31 times the collective income of the nation’s poorest individuals. It is claimed that Moscow now houses more billionaires than New York.

But Russia is not the only country that ignores the pressing needs of its masses and pumps billions of dollars into arms and lethal agents of destruction. In fact the US spent a whopping $5.5 trillion on its nuclear programme from 1994 to 1996, according to a 1998 book, ‘Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of the US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940’, edited by Stephen I Schwartz.

The author notes: “This figure does not include $320 billion in estimated future-year costs for storing and disposing of more than five decades’ worth of accumulated toxic and radioactive wastes and $20 billion for dismantling nuclear weapons systems and disposing of surplus nuclear materials. When those amounts are factored in, the total incurred costs of the US nuclear weapons program exceed $5.8 trillion.”

But, instead of bringing peace and stability, this huge spending created more paranoia among American policy makers. It triggered a mad race for these weapons of mass destruction. Today, the world spends around $105 on nuclear arms, $12 million an hour. Ironically, the UN body tasked to eliminate such lethal agents of destruction receives a meagre $10 million a year.

Now this recent test by Moscow will instil more fear among pacifists. This new missile is enough to wipe out a whole country with a single strike. This is a doomsday scenario for peace-loving people. However, war-mongers will seize upon this opportunity, raising the spectre of death and destruction, which is set to benefit the military industrial complex. The bellicose Trump administration will become more hysterical with this new test and more human energies will be diverted towards this destructive cause. China, India, France and UK will not like to stay behind in this senseless race of arms.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world splurged $1.686 trillion on arms in 2016, a 0.4 percent increase on 2015. The US remained at the top of the military spending league last year with $611 billion, 36 percent of global total and over three times the amount spent by the second-place China. Russia upped its outlay 5.9 percent to $69.2 billion, third overall. The think tank estimates that 10 percent of this could cover the costs of global goals aiming to end poverty and hunger     in 15 years.  

But it seems the global powers are not interested in listening to saner voices. Country after country seems to be falling to war mongers. First it was the US that launched the National Missile Defense system, pumping a whopping $60 billion into it. This prompted Russia and China to acquire the technology to produce hypersonic missiles which can evade such a missile defence system. Now, the US, Russia and China are blessed with these lethal agent of annihilation. Other countries will soon try to join them.

With the spectre of war looming large over the Korean Peninsula, it is feared that such addition of lethal arms will broaden the scope of any possible future conflict. Countries will try to exaggerate the capability of one another to acquire more and more destructive weapons. The history of such exaggeration is not new. For instance, in 1957 the US only needed 232 warheads to destroy the USSR but an American general, James Gavin, head of army research and development, who testified before Congress in 1956 and 1957, requested 151,000 nuclear warheads just for the army. Finally, in June 1958, it was recommended that a stockpile level of 51,000 to 73000 should be maintained. The US built a total of 70,000 warheads during the cold war.

xaggerations are already in vogue in American ruling circles. Even the threat of North Korea’s arms, which is not even an iota of what Russia possesses, is magnified. So, it is very likely that this new test will sound alarm bells in the power corridors of Western capitals. It is sure to trigger a new senseless race of nuclear arms that would be catastrophic for world peace, environment and the very existence of mankind.

Russia should not forget that at one stage the USSR possessed around 28,000 nuclear warheads besides acquiring ascendancy in space technology but all that could not stop the disintegration of the second superpower of the world. The USSR collapsed without any attack. History teaches us only one lesson: the bomb of poverty, hunger and starvation is far more dangerous than nuclear arms. Therefore, it is advisable to engage Washington in talks aimed at complete elimination of these weapons of mass destructions. If the number of nuclear warheads can be brought down to mere 15000 from over 70000, then there is every reason to believe that we can eliminate them. All we need is political will.



BLF intimidating local media

By Reema Shaukat

MEDIA is used as an effective tool to shape public opinion. Particularly in case of proscribed organizations, they find broadcasting of any kind, be it social or print an effective medium to presage public. Those who understand national narrative and know their responsibility as journalist do not get pressurized from such pressures. Unfortunately, these pressure groups or so called nationalist organizations finding no space in national medium try to coerce local broadcast. To grab public opinion and create fear in them they leave no stone unturned to impend local print or electronic media.

Recent such stance came up by BLF in Balochistan which is a declared proscribed organization and always working in Balochistan to get separated from Pakistan. Baloch Liberation Front, is an ethnic-separatist political front and militant organization that is currently fighting against the Pakistani State for an independent Balochi State. With the goal of creating an independent Balochi State, BLF leaders state that they would like to see the BLF become a powerful and influential political party so that fighting and diplomacy can push Pakistan to recognize Balochistan as an independent state. The Balochistan Liberation Front uses rocket attacks, IED’s, small arms, social media and nationalist press statements to attempt for its goal of an independent Balochi state. Since the group’s resurrection in 2003 the organization has targeted foreign workers, aid workers, Pakistani security forces, Pakistani political figures and many journalists. The group has used propaganda through press statements and the social media to attract local tribesmen, youth and students to join the organization. Its leaders have invested a lot in media dealings in an attempt to prevent the press from portraying the BLF as a radical terrorist organization.

It is reported that these separatist organizations like BLF get their funding from foreign countries and India and are willing to do anything on the Indian pointer to destabilise Pakistan. Particularly, after initiation of CPEC which will definitely benefit Balochistan, foreign hands have gathered to propagate against this billions dollar project. As one of main part of this project is development of Gwadar port in Balochistan, some adverse elements, local and foreign both, are working hard to subvert and fail this project. BLF is also actively involved in insurgent activities against Pakistan and they often target public and military to achieve their hidden agendas. BLF claims that they have thousands of fighters and as domestic news coverage of Balochistan conflict is rare and foreign journalists are broadly forbidden from visiting the province, that’s why no one can get an idea how local populace is struggling for freedom. Such claims by BLF are totally wrong as they threaten people to join them and raise voice for Balochistan separation.

Recently, BLF has again started a move to threaten Balochistan media by stopping circulation of all kinds of newspapers particularly local newspapers. In one of local newspaper Daily Tawar which is said to be influenced by separatist movements and supporting their cause BLF threatened to stop publication of all newspapers from 22nd October, 2017. A press release by BLF dated 9th Oct 2017 was published in Daily Tawar (Online) which is reportedly Baloch Sub-Nationalists (BSNs) newspaper. Press release states that BLF has issued a pamphlet suggesting Baloch people to boycott media. In a 20 days ultimatum for media houses, they have asked media to review their policy of ignoring BSNs freedom struggle.

BLF has sympathizers in BSNs diaspora who live in countries known for liberal media polices. While cautioning journalists in their press release BLF has asked them to start highlighting Baloch dilemmas and focus on what military is doing in Balochistan. Adopting an utterly wrong stance their prime target is military and government. This definitely is a threat to media independence and freedom of expression which is propagated by Western countries more often. Pakistani government some years back banned the publication of Tawar and stopped giving governmental advertisements to it. Pakistan considers Daily Tawar as an anti-state newspaper and blames it for doing propaganda against country. As this paper is also accused for inciting violence among the masses of Balochistan, that’s why government in order to keep peace among masses banned this newspaper which now this particular media claims that they are being stopped to publish freedom of expression by Pakistani government. Daily Tawar in its online press release of BLF mentioned that international media is not allowed in Balochistan which is again a wrong perception.

Many delegates and media journalists are allowed to visit Balochistan after ensuring their complete security and Pakistan has always welcomed media to highlight positive image of Pakistan whenever needed. Criticism is also taken as positive step towards improvement. Focusing on the power of pen, BLF narrates journalists to start writing in favour of Balochistan otherwise bear the consequences. While threatening media houses, transporters, circulation department, distributors, cable network owners and hawkers to stop supporting Pakistan government and military otherwise they should be ready for any kind of damage to them any time after deadline ultimatum. It is important to note that Pakistan has always welcomed media to highlight issues and those who are involved in sabotaging Pakistan are always tackled well in time. Media and journalists have always contributed best towards Pakistan and will keep doing so. Threats by such organizations cannot demoralize the journalists and concerned people.

— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.




Harassing women

By Bina Shah

October 31, 2017

THE incident of the Karachi-based Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) doctor who was reportedly fired/suspended after sending filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s sister a Facebook friend request has ignited our very own mini Harvey Weinstein scandal. Ever since Chinoy tweeted about the incident on Oct 23, people have been debating whether the doctor should have faced such action, whether Chinoy abused her star power in order to protect her sister, and whether what he did genuinely constitutes sexual harassment.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions, especially about what sexual harassment is. We have a horror of even thinking about the subject, and prefer to suppress it rather than confront it. This is a global reflex, but now it’s time to overcome it and think hard about what we’re doing to women every day in our own country.

Sexual harassment isn’t just vulgar comments to a woman walking by on the street, or the sleazy man at work forcing himself onto his colleagues or subordinates. It is also unwanted personal attention in everyday situations. According to the University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Centre, harassment can be “Letters, telephone calls, visits, pressure for sexual favours, pressure for unnecessary personal interaction and pressure for dates where a sexual/romantic intent appears evident but remains unwanted”.

People may claim that a Facebook friend request is an innocent attempt at social connection, but an emergency room doctor has no business sending a Facebook friend request to a woman he’s treated in the ER. Not only does this violate medical ethics and codes of conduct, but it violates the patient’s personal information and goes against the recommendations of many medical boards on social media and doctors. The British Medical Association, for example, states very clearly that doctors should not be Facebook friends with their patients.

It’s part of the system to doubt women.

Strangely, while discussing this on Twitter and Facebook with friends and colleagues, I encountered dozens of men and women defending the doctor, insisting that what he did was not harassment, and that Chinoy was defaming the country by having spoken out about the doctor’s misconduct. Even after it emerged that he was under warning from the administration for previous episodes of misconduct, and that AKUH had come to its own decision about firing/suspending him, these men and women continued to defend the doctor and slur Chinoy and her family.

But this kind of defensive behaviour is no surprise to anyone who studies gender interactions and is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment. People may claim to be very confused about what sexual harassment is, but the issue goes beyond simple ignorance. It’s simply a part of the entire system to doubt the woman who says she feels harassed, pick apart her accusation and label it ‘not really harassment’, and defend the predator as ‘a nice guy’ or a victim of a witch hunt.

Sexual harassment can be blatant or subtle, but the result is that it creates a hostile environment for women, in which they become psychologically affected and unable to do their job. In the case of a patient, the doctor’s office or emergency room transforms from a safe space in which she entrusts her life to the doctor’s care into yet another minefield where she has to defend herself against unwanted attention — the doctor holds power over the patient, no matter what their classes outside the emergency room. Not only is initiating an unwanted Facebook friend request highly inappropriate for a doctor, it can provoke feelings of stress, trauma, and anxiety in a patient who has just been through a medical emergency.

A Facebook friend request may seem trivial, and this is one of the main arguments men and women defending the doctor have been putting about: it was just a friend request, it was harmless, just block it, ignore it, move on. But as women we get hundreds of these a day and have to waste our time and energy rejecting them, changing our privacy settings, and protecting ourselves online in a way men never have to even think about. Instead of minimising the constant harassment of these messages, why not listen to women for a change tell you how annoying, intrusive, and stress-inducing this unwanted attention really feels, without suggesting that she should just get off social media if she can’t deal with it?

Finally, you should examine your motives when defending the actions and intentions of an alleged repeat offender. The tech website Tech Crunch spoke to a woman CEO, Joelle Emerson about this phenomenon. She said: “People who defend harassing behaviour do so because they have engaged in such behaviour themselves. Or they defend individuals accused of this behaviour because they believe them to be generally ‘good people’. Or, as a rule, they just don’t believe women.”



Sacked through SOC

By Kamal Siddiqi

October 30, 2017

The world of social media is flooded with opinions and comments over the sacking of a doctor at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s best private hospitals, for sending a Facebook friend request to one of his patients. The fact that the patient was a two-time Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s sister may have played a part in the doctor’s sacking, it is being argued by social media activists — many of whom are very upset at how this has played out.

The comments made by the Oscar-winning national hero suggest that a doctor made the request after her sister went to the AKUH emergency and the doctor who tended to her later tried to add her on Facebook. She added that the doctor in question “had messed with the wrong women in the wrong family” and she would definitely report him as harassment needed to be stopped.

Some are of the opinion that women have started to take things too seriously and at the slightest instance are ready to attack men and accuse them of harassment. I am not of that opinion.

The AKUH administration, however, neither confirmed nor denied the development. “The AKUH always maintains the highest standards of confidentiality and will not release any information on either employees or patients,” the spokesperson told this newspaper. While many may consider this issue trivial, there are many questions that come to mind to a media practitioner that need to be addressed.

First of all, does a friend request on Facebook be construed as harassment? Nighat Dad, lawyer and founder of Digital Rights Foundation, says she considered this harassment. “It’s a breach of confidentiality between a doctor and his patient,” she says. My colleague Khurram Husain, a senior journalist and an otherwise sensible person, argues that a friend request on Facebook does not mean sexual harassment. I tend to agree with Khurram. But Nighat isn’t wrong either. Possibly Nighat has taken the matter two steps ahead. While it may not construe as harassment at this stage, she is talking about the sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship. It cannot get personal.

In that respect, this is an issue of ethics. Ethically a doctor cannot use his or her position to befriend a patient. Legally, if the doctor does try to abuse this relationship with a patient, it could end up being a legal issue. But at this stage, it is an ethical one. Ethically, the doctor should not have approached the patient with a friend request. Possibly he got carried away watching all those American hospital serials where everything and anything can happen.

Two more questions remain. Should a doctor be sacked for breaching ethics and not breaking any laws? Was it too harsh a punishment? Also, whether the AKUH would have reacted the same way if this wasn’t a national hero and celebrity making the complaint but an ordinary citizen?

In my opinion, ethics are as important as law. I hold this true of my profession — journalism. And I hold this for doctors and lawyers too. If we ignore ethics, we can end up becoming monsters. Given this, I also think any person who has acted unethically should be given the chance to redeem themselves. In this particular case, I know that most doctors are unaware of AKUH’s social media policy. It is a matter of using this incident to drum home some basic rules on ethics with regard to social media.

As far as SOC is concerned, I think in the past too the AKUH has acted on public complaints. Being an international figure, I am sure played a part in how AKUH reacted to SOC. But given its status as one of Pakistan’s premier medical facilities, it has always been very sensitive about its public image. But of course there have been instances where the AKUH has been unable to get across its point of view when some posts of medical malpractice went viral.

In my humble opinion, all parties have a lesson to learn from this incident. The most important for me, of course, is to take public opinion and social media more seriously. And the need to evolve with the times. Doctors need to be educated on how to use social media, as is the case with other professions. Ignorance in my opinion is no excuse.



Nine days that shook imperialism

By Fawad Hasan

October 29, 2017

If there was one event of late which spread hope and humanist values instead of endemic terror and hate, it was seen at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia, beyond doubt. When xenophobia, religious terrorism, racism and fascist sentiments are on the rise, it was certainly refreshing to observe the world’s youth joining all progressive forces in the effort to build a humane, democratic future.

The nine-day festival was organised by the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) from October 14 to 22 with the support of the Russian government and its hospitable people who welcomed youth from 185 countries and successfully managed to accommodate over 25,000 participants in the city. What made it immensely significant is that all youth of the world had come together chanting one slogan: “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honouring our past, we build the future!”

It couldn’t have been a mere coincidence that Russia was chosen as the venue of the 19th festival whose undertones are socialism, lasting peace and anti-imperialism. President Vladimir Putin has invested huge resources with the support and help of his people in order to change the prevalent narrative against their country.

The youth of the world, especially of South Asia, who grow up listening to the career guidance experts everywhere that they should move to the United States or England for higher studies for that is the only civilised place where one can make their dreams come true, book an opportunity to see another part of the world where people will always welcome them. These youth were pleasantly surprised that the Russians were warm and friendly towards others — quite unlike their aggressive and uncultured image in Hollywood films.

WFDY President Nicolas Papademetriou spoke at the beginning of the festival and staunchly advocated for youth action over student rights as well as overthrowing colonialism and imperialism, which, he said, was the aim of his organisation consisting of thousands of democratic youth from all across the world. He recalled the history of WFDY and the youth festival which was first organised in 1947 in order to bring the youth of capitalist and socialist countries together for a better future without imperialism, colonialism and exploitation of man by man.

Being all too humble and hospitable, Putin thanked the youth of the world for believing in his country and trusting the Russian nation to serve them during the nine days when imperialist forces were showed the power of young men and women armed with progressive values to defeat racism, wars and deliver social justice.

Throughout the festival, the participating youth made a strong case for freedom and social justice. The activists of leftist parties from all over the world relived the charm and passion for a promised revolution which will narrow down the gap between the rich and the poor, the First World and the Third World, the occidentalists and the orientalists.

The festival participants celebrated the culture of different regions of the world, and valued the differences. One thing, however, became apparent that the 100-year legacy of the October Revolution was still alive and so was the people’s dream of a classless world. This was a source of great comfort.

The most significant part of the festival was the dialogue sessions organised by various groups from all over the world. Youth representatives got a chance to speak on topics which are usually suppressed in their home countries. South Asian groups representing the Communist Party of India and the Students Federation of India invited activists from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and their own country to discuss issues pertaining to women’s emancipation, religious fanaticism, neo-liberal policies and its impact and education, and the issue of heavy militarisation.

It was a golden chance for the 25-odd Pakistani activists to also bring to the fore the burning issues troubling their country’s more marginalised communities amid the tussle between civilian and military leadership in the country. Sadly, no panel discussion could be organised on issues such as forced conversions, lack of public space for women, religious terrorism and the menace of enforced disappearances. It was an encouraging sight to see how passionately and adamantly the revolutionary youth of India paid homage to their martyrs like Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgiand Govind Pansare, who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of speech. However, Pakistani delegates could only lament that there was no space to talk on issues such as the effort to define who is a Muslim and who is not and enforced disappearance of dissenters.

On the sidelines, though, Pakistani delegates discussed with progressive activists of other countries ways to deal with state tactics of suppressing dissent and human rights movement. Oppressed peoples of the world from Palestine, Syria, African states, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan joined in to share the common dream of a world where the fruits of progressive development could also be enjoyed by Third World countries.

The youth of Pakistan who availed the chance to visit Russia and interact with the international community as well as activists from all over the world now have an enormous responsibility to hoist the flag of freedom even higher and pave the way for a democratic, progressive, peaceful future in the region, for in the concluding words of the festival host, Vladimir Putin: “The future starts here and now. The future is you.”



A momentary lapse of reason?

By Khayyam Mushir

October 31, 2017

In the wake of a doctor’s termination from a well-known private hospital in Karachi – for sending his patient a friendship request over the social networking application, Facebook – a social media uproar in the last few days has questioned the severity of the verdict, with one side castigating the hospital and the complainant for overreacting, and the other supporting the doctor’s dismissal in support of the patient’s claim to having been harassed.

At the heart of the debate lies the accusation of harassment, the moral and ethical dimension of the doctor-patient relationship, not to mention the ethics governing internet communication. Of course the public attention the issue has garnered is also a result of the fact that the complainant, the patient’s sister, was the internationally acclaimed, award-winning documentary maker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. In the wake of the doctor’s faux pas, Chinoy took to Twitter, promising dire consequences for the doctor’s failure to recognise that he had irked the ire of the ‘wrong woman and the wrong family’.

Let us examine the various aspects of the issue under debate here: first, the ethical rules governing the doctor-patient relationship are clearly designed to ensure that a doctor’s behaviour and practice in providing medical treatment remain strictly professional to ensure that quality medical care – the right of a patient – is delivered objectively, in keeping with the highest professional standards of the medical profession and the hospital. In this reckoning, the doctor’s behaviour can only be labelled as unprofessional, unethical and in poor taste. No matter how compelled he felt and for whatever reason he decided to solicit the attention of a female patient through a social networking application, it would have been correct and prudent to perhaps only make such an overture once his professional medical association with the patient had been concluded.

On the other hand, we must consider the ethics surrounding internet communication. Facebook, is designed to connect people globally. In its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, clause 9 of section 5, titled “Protecting Other People’s Rights”, only prohibits the tagging of users or the sending of email invitations to non-users without their consent. There is nothing within the statement, however, that bars a user from approaching another user through the means of a friendship request. This is probably because, as a user, I have the right to decline a friendship request, block the person from ever sending me another friendship request, control whom in the general public can approach me over Facebook – along with a host of other security measures available within the application that are designed to protect a user’s privacy. It would follow then, that the mere solicitation of friendship over Facebook using the means provided by the social networking application – the friendship request – as not prohibited and would therefore not fall within the definition of harassment as it exists in the public domain of the internet.

Consider another aspect of the above: Facebook is a networking application designed in the US, and Section 16 of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, titled “Special Provisions Applicable to Users outside the United States”, offers the disclaimer that, while the application strives to create a global community, it also strives to respect local US laws. Now, in order to serve this purpose it is stated that all user and non-user information is processed in the US, subject to its local laws. This complicates matters: by signing up for Facebook, I’m therefore cognizant of and in agreement also with the social and cultural mores of engagement (that are increasingly global social and cultural mores) as they exist between individuals in the liberal West.

Are we then to consider the issue of harassment within the context of social engagement between opposite sexes in the Western world, or should harassment perhaps be redefined considering our conservative, patriarchal socio-cultural setting, with generally poor standards of accountability over the actions of men? As an example, a man approaching a woman in a bar in the US offering to buy her a drink would be considered perfectly normal, the woman having the option of either accepting the offer or declining it – whereupon the matter would stand closed. This would not be deemed harassment, but it is also certainly not the cultural norm in our country. By this rationale, should we then consider a ban on the use of Facebook in Pakistan?

And this leads to the problem that has caused the social media uproar in the first place: that of the accusation of harassment. It is clear that the doctor’s act was wholly inappropriate considering the code of ethics he has sworn to abide by in the practice of his profession. But it is also clear that the response of the complainant is not commensurate with the digression: a Facebook friend request is not harassment. For an act to be described as harassment, particularly sexual harassment, it would involve lewd misconduct of a verbal, intellectual or physical nature, characterised by repetitiveness and a failure to respect the right of refusal of the aggrieved party. From the evidence available in the public domain in respect of the issue at hand, this has not happened. And so the social media backlash centres on the position that had the same complaint been made – recognising Chinoy and her family’s right to complain – quietly and privately outside of the public domain, would the doctor have been merely reprimanded for unethical behaviour, or would he still have been sacked?

Which leads me finally to another problem we face in Pakistan concerning the use of social media and its mass effect. Social media is increasingly a medium utilised irresponsibly, and for the proliferation of inaccurate, often slanderous and at times even derogatory information, feeding a ravenous public’s appetite for sensationalism. Chinoy’s Twitter statement – while it was neither derogatory nor inaccurate – nevertheless amplified her anger, her resulting vindictiveness, not to mention the upper class pelf and power of celebrity she enjoys, through the megaphone of mass digital communication.

The impending public relations crisis led a conservative institution, it appears, to stringently apply its policy of zero tolerance on ethical digressions, and reportedly terminate the guilty employee as the best means of damage control available. Was it a momentary lapse of reason on the part of Chinoy or the doctor who behaved unprofessionally? That I leave you to decide, dear reader. The tumult on social media may quiet down in a few days, but it raises important questions about the morality and ethics surrounding internet use, the radical transformation in the modes of engagement between members of the opposite sex through the proliferation of cyber communications, and how all this fits the conservative, patriarchal and still feudal character of our social and cultural spaces.

And here’s the final downside of the cyber public domain and social media: in all this wailing and gnashing of teeth, the actual issue – that of the enforcement of a code of ethics in the medical profession – will soon be lost in the ether.



Who’ll build Kalabagh Dam?

By M Zahid Rifat

PAKISTAN badly needs to develop a major storage facility. In all fairness the only solution to this is construction of multi-purpose Kalabagh Dam. Only a couple of days back, experts from public and private sectors while participating in a seminar in connection with celebration of “World Environmental Health Day 2017” in Lahore while dilating on various aspects of the theme warned that Pakistan could approach “absolute scarcity” levels of water and face drought as early as 2025, just another eight years from now.

But while sounding such a warning, the experts did not dilate on how this fast approaching drought could be averted and as such also did not mention that such an alarming situation could be avoided by construction of Kalabagh Dam. Perhaps this was out of their purview but then they had sounded the warning about drought like situation. While sounding a warning, they could also suggest as how to avert such a situation. Only the other day a delegation of thr National Defence University Islamabad visited the WAPDA House in Lahore. The delegation, which included Senators, MNAs, MPAs, senior bureaucrats, technocrats, ambassadors, senior military officers and civil society representatives, was briefed by senior WAPDA officers. During the briefing the delegation was informed that water availability is gradually decreasing in the country and it needs to construct more Dams to enhance water storage capacity to adequately cope with the water requirements and that as many as 20 million acres of additional land can be brought under irrigated agriculture if water is made available by constructing more Dams. Again, rather most unfortunately, there was no mention that major storage facility can be developed in just eight years with the construction of Kalabagh Dam. The reports which appeared in the media made no mention about WAPDA high-ups naming Kalabagh Dam as a major storage facility nor any member of the delegation put the question as to why the country cannot build Kalabagh Dam and overcome not only increasing water scarcity but also get rid of lingering electricity load shedding.

It is rather surprising, shocking and tragic as well that every other day, the issue of water scarcity is being discussed and talked about at various forums but nobody seems to be taking notice of such warnings so being sounded. All those who are treading the corridors of power and outside seem to be with their eyes and minds blind to all bitter ground realities, facts and figures. Kalabagh Dam can be constructed in just six to eight years and it can generate 2400 to 3600 megawatt of electricity which will be as cheaper as less than Rs three per unit and can store more than 7 million acres feet of water for as long as three years and all the four federating units will be getting substantial additional water for irrigation purposes boosting agricultural production. If plenty of water is going below Kotri Barrage as sheer waste down in the Arabian Sea annually then we ourselves, the people of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Punjab, are to be blamed for that and none else.

There have been attempts from time to evolve much elusive national consensus among the four provinces for the construction of multi-purpose Kalabagh Dam. But somehow these have not materialized as the smaller provinces and their political leadership are subservient to their petty political vested interests and least concerned and bothered about the national interests which far long are demanding construction of another major water storage facility as soon as possible. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who has since been disqualified as the Prime Minister in the Panama case by the Supreme Court of Pakistan but has retained presidentship of the ruling party, had earned the distinction of evolving national consensus among the federating units way and got them around for signing the Indus Water Apportionment Accord way back in 1991 during his first tenure as the Prime Minister. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is no longer the prime minister but still he is head of the ruling party and can get things done directly through his successor Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. New Federal Water Resources Minister from Multan Syed Javed Ali Shah had after taking oath talked about making efforts to evolve national consensus regarding construction of Kalabagh Dam. But he has not talked on this subject again. Perhaps, he has also been silenced?

As a committed patriotic Pakistani, this scribe is all out for construction of multi-purpose Kalabagh Dam in order to avert onrushing drought and firmly believes that if major storage facility is not developed at the earliest to positively respond to India’s persistent water aggression then we all will have to commit suicide en masse for want of even single drop of water. The Supreme Court of Pakistan from time to time to time takes suo motu notices of important matters of varying kinds. The learned apex court can also take suo motu notice of this very vital and important matter and direct the federal government to construct Kalabagh Dam at the earliest as the country very badly needs to develop another major storage facility and that can only be Kalabagh Dam in the right earnest. This is in the supreme national interests and for the survival of the ever growing population of Pakistan. The burning question, however, remains as who’ll build Kalabagh Dam ? Someone has to answer this trillion dollar question and get his name written in golden words in the history. Will someone dare to answer.

— The writer is retired Deputy Controller News Radio Pakistan, based in Lahore.

Email: zahidriffat@gmail.com



The boy and the country

By Jawed Naqvi

October 31, 2017

WE can take the boy out of the country. The challenge is to take the country out of the boy. Through all the decades since school and college, I have lived with a silent difference of opinion with classmates who thought much of the institutions where we studied. La Martinière College in Lucknow was built by Claude Martin and Aligarh Muslim University was set up by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. I trusted neither, but I was lucky to have great teachers on both occasions.

The reason for my aloofness was my early unease with the fact that that I was in Hodson House in La Martinière College, Lucknow. The house was named after an unspeakably callous British captain who had gouged out the eyes of the grandchildren of India’s last Mughal emperor and murdered them at Delhi’s Khooni Darwaza (bloody gate) now located near the Indian Express office. There was a Cornwallis House named after the man who was thrashed in the battle of Yorktown by the Americans. His British godfathers, however, elevated him as governor general of India.

My school’s founder Claude Martin had built the cannon that Lord Cornwallis used to slay Tipu Sultan with, not without the help of Maratha troops and soldiers of the nizam. This aspect of Maratha valour is seldom discussed in school books, how they helped the British and the nizam take down Tipu. Since Hindutva ideologues despise Tipu, they should perhaps build a temple around the Cornwallis cannon, which is displayed in front of the main school building in Lucknow.

Martin was himself a French mercenary who defected to the British side after Clive overwhelmed Dupleix in southern India, not militarily, but by a diplomatic subterfuge in Europe whereby the British and the French joined hands in a treaty to redistribute the spoils of colonialism.

A less discussed attribute of the 19th-century educationist is that he was a social snob.

It was the 200th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan on Oct 17 and there were the familiar eulogies at seminars and symposiums. Some Indians or Pakistanis like him, a few adulate him, and most ignore him. Partly, Allama Iqbal’s towering presence as a liberating (some say revivalist) Muslim icon crowds out the older Sir Syed. A less discussed attribute of the 19th-century Muslim educationist is that he was a social snob who reserved thinly veiled scorn for the less privileged men and women in his community, at par in this way with any caste-embracing Brahmin.

There are good reasons to have a higher regard for Raja Ram Mohan Roy who Sir Syed emulated in some ways, as a Western-inspired educationist, although there was a half-century of turbulence diving them, including the great revolt of 1857. Roy initiated social reforms within his Hindu community, working to ban sati and inspiring the next generations to work against regressive Hindu practices like child marriage, while encouraging widow remarriage and so on. In the course of his reforms, he shook the hidebound caste structures.

I am grateful to Sir Syed for setting up the Aligarh University where I got to study history with Irfan Habib and Shakespeare with Zahida Zaidi. The latter had helped shape the artistic careers of Naseeruddin Shah and Muzaffar Ali, directing them in numerous Chekhov and Ionesco plays she staged in the verandah of her famed home. Habib had the hard task of fighting Hindu and Muslim communalists who stalked the campus or preyed on it from outside. Habib, a Marxist and Zahida Zaidi, a left-leaning liberal, would perhaps have more in common with Majaaz, Sardar Jafri or Jazbi who were students at Aligarh before them. I can’t see either of the two respected teachers being influenced by any significant aspect of Sir Syed’s pursuits, be they religious or societal. His academic research into aspects of Indian Muslim history has been more useful.

Masood Alam Falahi has worked closely on the Urdu sources of the period to throw light on Sir Syed’s worldview. In an address to the second convention of the Muhammadan Educational Conference in Lucknow in 1887, Syed Ahmad claimed that “lowly [adna] families” were “not useful [mufid] for the country or for the government”. In contrast, the “nobles (ra’is) of high-status [’ala] families” were loyal to the British and so “are useful to the country and the government”.

He referred to “Pathans, Syeds, Hashmis and Quraishis” as his “own brothers [hamarey bhai]”, “from whose blood ... the smell of the blood of Abraham emanates”. He shared their hope that they would be employed in top posts in the British Army, “wearing shimmering uniforms”. He assured them that this would happen soon, but for this, he added, they would have to win the favour of the British. He also advised the Muslim ashraf attending the conference that only through higher modern education could they succeed and progress.

Sir Syed was not unique in his avowed casteism but merely following a tradition of elitist Hindu-Muslim bonhomie to the exclusion of Hindu-Muslim hoi polloi. In this sense, Begum Hazrat Mahal, the valiant warrior of 1857, may have set the example for Sir Syed’s clear prejudices though he disagreed with her role in fighting the British.

“Everyone follows his own religion [in my domain],” Hazrat Mahal wrote in a pamphlet she circulated from exile. “Everyone enjoys respect according to their worth and status. Men of high extraction, be they Syed, Sheikh, Mughal or Pathan among the Mohammedans, or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaish or Kayasth among the Hindus, all these retain the respectability according to their respective ranks. And all persons of a lower order such as a Sweeper, Chamar, Dhanook, or Pasi cannot claim equality with them.”

I am not surprised that Begum Hazrat Mahal lost the battle against British colonialism. As for Sir Syed and Claude Martin, they represented colonialism’s positive moments but only in the interest of colonialism. There is much for the boy to learn still.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-section/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/time-to-denuclearise-the-world/d/113079


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