Feudocracy wins: local bodies system dissolved

The seizure of City District Government Karachi (CDGK) accounts by the Sindh government pounded the last nail in the coffin of Karachi’s golden era. With the implementation of commissionerate system, all commissioners and District Coordination Officers will now have unlimited power to manage the affairs of the city. The announcement of restoring the colonial style of governance in 21st century has left many Karachiites shocked.
Generally when governments depart, they halt new projects fearing credit-sharing. However, the former Karachi mayor, even at the time of leaving his post, made sure that the numerous projects initiated during his tenure continue in due course. By his action, he had proved himself to be the “Miracle Man”, who turned a messed up city into a truly beautiful megacity.

During his 52-month-long tenure (1,560 days), 2,159 mega projects, each worth Rs 30 million to multiple billions, were completed. Besides, 337 big machines and logistics meant for various amenity works were also purchased.
For the very first time not only the master plan of the city was prepared and given a legal status in the history, but the CDGK also completed 35 flyovers and underpasses; 356 parks; 194 water and sanitation projects; 316 major and supplementary roads and 451 educational projects. As many as 110 projects were completed in rural areas. In the transport infrastructure, 255 bus stops and 116 pedestrian bridges and a big car parking plaza were completed.
On the other hand the tried, tested and failed commissionerate system which openly negates democracy to promote toadies, would reintroduce the monopoly of privileged class over the politics of the country. Interestingly this system is in no way functional in any of the country of the world.

The people of Pakistan, especially in Karachi, have already witnessed what wonders local bodies system brought for them. It was the way for efficiently resolving the problems of the people at the lowest level, the system that had empowered the people who could easily access their representatives whenever they wanted. The commissionerate system in contrast would build up the bureaucratic infrastructure and further ruin the lives of commoners.
The ruling party had comparatively an easier way to provide relief to the people of Sindh by continuing the successful local bodies system. People might have ignored the shortcomings of government if they were educated about the system that ensures betterment of their lifestyle.

It is a time when the nation is being dragged back to the Stone Age. The media should bring the advocates of the commissionerate system to debates and ask them why the system engineered by the British does not even exist in the UK anymore. Anchorpersons should ignite a debate to educate masses about the benefits of the local bodies system and how it delivered.

Indeed the local bodies system was introduced by a dictator, but the people of Pakistan extracted maximum benefit out of it and this is what “true democracy” is all about.

The Op-ed of  “Pakistan Today

A Nation Overloaded with Religion

Frequent assassinations of Pakistan People’s Party leaders have not only shaken the ideology of this country but left a clear cut message for Government to avoid any confrontation against strengthening religious lobby in Pakistan.

The Tehreek e Taliban and Al Qaeda backed groups in Pakistan especially in Punjab are after the ruling party and eradicating its moderate forces one by one.  As a result the PPP systematically takes back seat, and gets blackmailed by the religious forces.
Government’s evident policy shift from the party manifesto of ensuring religious harmony among all faiths in the wake of doctrine of necessity further pushes nation in the hands of extremists.

From the assassination of Benazir Bhutto to Shehbaz Bhatti, the message is clear. Let Taleban pursuit their agenda of violent Islam and whoever comes in between will become history.

In such horrific circumstances when even the ruling party leaders are not safe how unarmed liberal forces would dare voice their opinion seems to be a big ask.  As a result the clouds of insanity steadily prevailing  and a common man is reluctant to counter them not because of being blithe but for his own safety resulting mass surrender of journalists, civil society, liberal political forces and minority rights groups against religious forces.

A common Pakistani despite wanting to express deep displeasure is suppressed by the bearded gun totted black sheep who are gelled up in the society to take necessary ‘religious measures’ against those who prefer humanity over religion.

Salman Taseer’s assassination by his own security guard Mumtaz Qadri and the subsequent showering of rose petals by lawyers’ community is one of the shocking examples of deep rooted religious fanaticism within our society.  Be it media, armed forces, politics (not to mention the historical speech of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Shareef during which he proudly endorsed the agenda of Taleban), judiciary, education or even sports.

In my view the traces of religious terrorism can be found back during partition campaign when the voices of independent ‘Muslim Land’  were on rise.

At that time some of the Muslims might had opted the idea of migrating to separate land due to vested interests  but by and large it was the dominating  religious sentiment that caused  division with the objective of turning Pakistan into the “Fort of Islam” comprised by majority of Muslims.

Two- Nation Theory which clearly rejects any of idea co existence of Muslims with Hindus is a true depiction of Pakistan’s current situation where Muslims are unable to coexist with other sects let alone religions and ethnicities.

Today, I being a moderate Muslim who is deeply concerned about his country’s image foresee not only the bleak future of Pakistan but raises the doubts whether creation of Pakistan was really an apt approach.

Welcome to Pakistan

A perfect example of  Pakistan’s Ministry of Water & Power’s seriousness towards service and safety issues . This dangerous image caught my attention while I was going through today’s newspaper at work.  I have seen lots of bare wires lying in streets but this one is enough to tell us the story of singular unconcern of HESCO ( Hyderabad Electric Supply Corporation) in Larkana where a mere log is being used as a support to keep in position a high tension electric pole.

Karachi witness deadly Ashura

On 28th December, A suicide bomber managed to kill 45 mourners as they marched in a procession in Karachi. The blast also wounded up to 60 more people, who were commemorating Ashura, the holiest day on the Shia religious calendar.

While no group has claimed responsibly for the incident yet but it’s obvious that the horrendous explosion on Shia procession was the contribution of our very own Sunni extremist alliance comprised by Lashkar e Jhangi and Taleban linked Jesh e Mohammad, the same Jesh-e-Mohammad that was formed by Molana Masood Azhar, the man released after a deal between Taliban and Indian authorities after the Indian Airline hijacked in Afghanistan.

These organizations are quite active in Karachi and despite being banned they are aggressively engaged in inciting sectarianism.

The Lashkar e Jhangvi & Jesh e Mohammad draw support, inspiration and assistance from various religious-political parties in Pakistan, primarily the Pro Taleban Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) who has a soft corner for Taleban and Al Qaida.

Just last week, Karachi police told Daily Times that they had intelligence that indicated Lashkar-e-Jhangvi would strike at the Shia processions in Karachi.

“They plan to carry out suicide bombings and target killings,” an anonymous police official told Daily Time last week. “These terrorists want to show their strength to the law enforcers and intelligence agencies, and they also want to take revenge of the killings of their leaders and workers in the last couple of months in the city.”

Right after the bomb blast at least 80 percent shops were torched by the extremist elements of Shia community as a reaction. It has been estimated that 2000(Rs. 30 billion loss) shops were set ablaze, which is hugely detrimental to the country’s economy.

Now the question arises how within seconds mobs torched the markets and no one could stop them. While the law and enforcement agencies were engaged in protecting rest of the procession that remained continued even after the blast, the extremist elements of Shia community (who vowed to react if incase of any terrorism during the procession) had loaded themselves with inflammable material that could blaze markets within minutes and did the job accordingly. It may be mentioned here that Iran has been accused of sponsoring Shia militancy (ISO)  in Pakistan.

So far MQM is the only political party that has been directly accusing Taliban for every major terrorist attack that has taken place in the country in the last five years however the PPP, PML N and ANP have turned a blind eye towards this issue.

Other than them Jamat e Islami and PTI of Imran Khan support negotiations with Taleban which seems an attempt to curb on going military operation against Taliban, to reunite them and to carry their agenda in more effective way since Pakistan’s tribal area  is the strong hold of Jamat e Islami.

The only solution to this problem is strict vigilance on the mainstream as well as underground religious parties of Pakistan whose leaders are freely roaming and preaching hate speech against different sects in Pakistan and gradually earning public support.

Kickable Demons

The Sindh government has imposed ban on holding wedding functions beyond midnight. Daily Times

There is a famous saying in Urdu “Laaton kay bhoot baaton say nahi maantay” which means “Kickable demons are not agreeable to words”.

Recently placed ban on late night weddings is an example of above mentioned saying, this ban in a bid to counter security threats as well as to conserve electricity is largely appreciated by the citizens as well as the management of wedding halls.

This is the first time I witness Time Management practice by common people due to which most citizens would be able to go home earlier, reach to their work place on time and also be able to put their children to bed earlier. We will also be able to save reasonable amount of electricity and indeed it would be a big time relief for the “restless” wedding couples but the question remains — why citizens always need to be threatened for something which is even in their personal interests and for the nation at large.

In the wake of late- night -wedding- ban I appeal Government to also ensure implementation of one-dish and ban on usage of weapons and extra loud music at marriage ceremonies — this step would further help nation get rid of huge wedding-waste and celebrate decent weddings.

The day we realized sense of responsibility and discipline on such preliminary levels we would surely turn into one of the civilized and progressive nations on earth.

President’s Bullying

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad, said Euripides. This saying exactly fits in to the current PPP regime who to mark the party’s 43rd foundation day in Karachi thrashed almost everyone including media. Such an unprofessional attitude from the party’s top leadership exposed the fear and stress they have been confronting for quite sometime. The ‘Awami’ president  from his highly secured president house via telephonic address “warned” the nation (minus PPP supporters) that they are here because they have a mandate and PPP will foil all attempts of political actors. Mr. Zardari and co. during his bullying referred MQM, PML N, PTI, JI and Geo Tv as political actors who want to derail democratic set up by not supporting PPP’s corruption and mismanagement, in a sense he lashed at almost all the political parties and mainstream media out of frustration however the response came from the so called political actors should be much appreciated as they understand what the Awami government is currently going through and how fragile they are. The nation knows that a single long march or a comprehensive media campaign can topple this highly unpopular Government.

I believe at this point of time PPP should reconsider their governing strategy (if any) and include all the party veterans in their central executive committee who would not only sincerely advise the perplexed president but help PPP’s brand building as well. Currently Zardari brigade seems to be on defensive side as they have widely been criticized across the nation but unfortunately instead of fixing their blunders they have chosen to capitalize sympathy vote by portraying themselves innocent which is a sure way to self-destruction, People’s party under the disguise of democracy are putting all energies to earn people’s sympathy without realizing the fact that the hurdles of free media, courts and  now an alert Army would never let the nation befooled as we are facing one of the worst times in the history of Pakistan. This is the time when even opposition is reluctant to take charge of country and demand mid term elections despite their growing popularity graph but again whom gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Pakistan’s Plantation Miracle

Terrorists grip Pakistan, At least 30 people killed in recent wave of target killing, Pakistan witness highest ever inflation, 20 killed in suicide blast, plan to dissolve local governments finalized ….and so on and so forth

We are the nation generally known  as not-so-stable country in the world let alone our contribution in protecting human rights or efforts to increase forest cover in the country but to my surprise also we did the latter. Yes!

After the distasteful wave of non-stop bad news we have finally been able to do something great, something that sounds pleasant to hear about, that portrays our positive image to the world and more importantly something to make us proud.

Couple of days back when I was on my way to home I heard the BBC newscaster on radio updating that Pakistan’s

environment ministry has completed all arrangements to set up new Guinness World Record by planting maximum number of mangrove sapling in next 24 hours to break Indian record which they set up in Assam on 13th July 2009 by planting 447,874 trees in 24 hours.  Keti Bander’s coastal line will be the area in Thatta district of Sindh province –some 150 km from Karachi and three hundred people will take part in the exercise to break the world record.

This was indeed something new and amazing to me as Pakistan is not considered as environment friendly country. This information had obviously made me curious and I kept thinking for sometime how they would do that. I mean 500,000 is a huge figure! – On the other hand my lateral thinking had also been stimulated, pondering the deception aspects of their activity since our record in Fair Play is not so fair.

Next day the first thing I did was to check Newspaper whether they have really fulfilled their vow — surprisingly they had smashed Indian record. Guinness book of World Records confirmed that 541,176 trees were planted in the 750 acres of the Indus river delta region. Each group was issued saplings by a panel of experts and officials who also monitored the planting process to ensure standards set by Guinness World Records.

The record has been set under the two conditions of Guinness Book of World: 1) plantation was allowed only in day-light and was not allowed in artificial light; and (2) not more than 300 people were allowed to participate in the plantation.

Every line of that particular news was telling the story of triumph, the more I read the more I delighted but alas! Our highly commercialized mainstream newspapers didn’t allocate much space to this good news nor did our Tv channels since this world record do not sensationalize masses.

Our media’s ignorance towards such significant developments speaks volume.  Had Ms. Hillary Clinton called President Zardari they would have been publishing this NEWS as Headline or running as News alert to the extent of annoyance but who cares for environment and that Pakistan’s pride which cannot be capitalized.

I am also surprised that many fellow Pakistanis have either no clue of this event or they simply have no or little interest towards this development but whatever behavior they demonstrate at least in this case I am proud of Govt. (especially ministry of environment) and give credit to their sincere attempt to protect nature and to positively bring Pakistan in limelight.

In the end I would quote environment minister Mr. Hamidullah Jan Afridi’s words who beautifully replied to that BBC correspondent’s question who asked that how these 0.5 million plants would help stabilizing Pakistan’s polluted environment. He said “these plants would not only help Pakistan in eradicating pollution, floods, storms, global warming but protect global environment too since nature has no boundaries

Internally DISGRACED Persons (IDPs)

Right now battle of SWAT and Rehabilitation of IDPs are the two main fronts where Pakistan is struggling for. By the grace of God our forces have almost accomplished the task and successfully destroyed major militants’ hideouts but regrettably the excuse for fighting this war is still there. Some days back our Government along with all parties had unanimously decided to cleanse SWAT from terrorists and urged to resolve problems of Taliban affected areas once and for all. I don’t know in which state of mind those political parties had taken this decision because right after the beginning of operation, our nation has out rightly rejected the entry of our brothers and sisters of war affected areas into “our” cities.

All major as well as minor political parties seemed to be united on something which is perceived as barbaric in civilized nations; these political parties have shown grave concerns over the settlement of IDPs and have obstinately been exhibiting inhumane behavior towards them through various evil tactics. All what they want is to keep IDPs restricted to WAR ZONE and leave them dying of starvation and bombings.

Every political party according to its capacity is playing up by deliberately issuing confusing statements on IDP issue; for instance MQM talks of IDPs registration, JSQM, the nationalist party of Sindh has straight away stopped IDPs to enter in Sindh province and threatened to pull their camps if installed. Likewise PML N of Nawaz Shareef has adopted a strategy of self-denial. They would pass an Anti IDP statement today and another party member would deny it next day. PTI instead of speaking for IDPs- rehabilitation is still busy in bashing the Government and has remained silent on this issue. PPP being the big brother and weak coalition Government is getting black mailed by their allies and still trying to find out a solution of such a “complicated problem”. ANP and JI in the whole situation are getting maximum mileage out of IDPs and encouraging their influx in their dream cities to strengthen their vote bank.

I believe entire IDP matter is basically revolving around the issue of “Vote”. So called custodians of urban population believe that entrance of IDPs into their cities would negatively affect their vote bank and turn the potential local voter into minority and somehow shrink the existing giants’ market share.

Besides political parties, our own people by embezzling aid for IDPs are worsening this situation. In short all political parties of Pakistan and some individuals have not only worsened this crisis but have unanimously proven to the world and to those poor war victims that we, Pakistanis are the most hypocrite and self centered people on earth.

I don’t know if I should refer this here but after seeing our response to SWAT crises, that statement of American Lawyer has popped up into mind – who once said on record that “these Pakistanis can sell their mothers for money”……

Divided We Stand United We Fall

Instead of waging war on the ones who have brutally murdered our Pakistani brothers, slaughtered our soldiers, bombed girls schools, blasted barber and CD shops, shot innocent women, our nation is proudly engaged in fighting a war against MQM on various fronts.

Be it parliament, media or internet our patriotic nation has again proved themselves united against the “Racist-Indian-Pro American-Party of infidels MQM”

Recently Maulana Fazl ur Rehman blamed MQM chief for inciting sectarianism in Pakistan. PML N, ANP, Jamat e Islami and PTI have unanimously opposed MQM for rejecting Taliban-Parliament deal.

To obey their racial thirst, followers of said political parties have started a massive campaign against MQM. Their obnoxious statements like incitement of sectarianism and following foreign agenda have exposed their mentality.

After the failure of deal and refusal of Taliban for laying arms, now situation has become quite clear but interestingly a new suggestion is being heard on various forums. Our patriotic Pakistanis instead of appreciating MQM for their bold and honorable stance are demanding MQM to quit coalition for being “ignored and humiliated”.

For me this demand is not only shocking but disturbing as well however I appreciate MQM for sounding so logical and principled on their stance against terrorist Talebans who right after the deal called parliament (the same parliament with whom they made a deal) “un Islamic” and captured “Bunair”.  Both the post-deal events have endorsed MQM’s decision of refusing Taleban deal.

International community, civil society, Pakistan’s judiciary, human rights organization and other non governmental organization have actually supported MQM’s stance but unfortunately our  mainstream political parties and their followers despite knowing ills of Taleban preferred to side with them, their racism and blind hate against MQM made them to join Anti Pakistan forces and they kept picking and cursing MQM during the whole episode.

All political parties including senate members, intellectuals, writers who initially supported the deal have started giving second thought to the Taleban-Government deal but they are still shying to say even a single supportive word for MQM.

Some days back Nawaz Sharif of PML N who supported the deal with Talibans in parliament found saying something entirely different in his interview to USA Today [April 21, 2009], according to Mr. Sharif

“Militants there are trying to export their particularly harsh version of sharia, in which the hands of thieves are amputated, women are forbidden from going outside, and adulterers are stoned to death”.

This statement clearly states who stands where. Who is double faced and who is fooling Pakistanis. Sharif has taken U turn on Shariah deal for Europe and America but in Pakistan his stance is  completely different, just because he wants to remain popular among the religious groups of Pakistan.

During his interview he came up as a different person.  Nawaz said he had had a good relationship with President Clinton — and is a fan of President Obama.

“I have never met Obama, but I have a good impression of him,” he said. “I think he’s a good guy.” [Daily Times Wednesday, April 22, 2009].

The man who is responsible for drone attacks in Pakistan and is being heavily criticised by Nawaz Sharif et al has suddenly become the favorite person of Mr. Sharif.

I have never seen such hypocritical behavior in any country’s political scenario. What worries me is the ultimate rise of hatred against MQM on every front despite MQM’s professional and highly responsible attitude in talk shows, press statements and  parliament.

MQM might have done numerous mistakes in past but at this point they have taken a remarkable stand against the non democratic forces of Pakistan. They preferred to embrace majority’s hate for the sake of Pakistan.

Just like PML N, ANP, PPP, JUIF, JI, PTI — Altaf Hussain could have gone for the majority opinion to capitalize vote bank in NWFP and Punjab for which MQM has been struggling but he never compromised on principles and in return what he got?

“Sheer hatred!”

In such circumstances where racism is literally fuming up against one segment of the society,  I might have to re-examine the word “provincial harmony”.


Mufti Munib and Aitezaz Ahsan question Sufi’s statement about apex courts
[Daily Times Monday, April 20, 2009]
Sherry questions implementation of Nizam-e-Adl
[Daily Times Wednesday, April 15, 2009]