Current Affairs

Maalik vs Democracy

Mixed responses coming in from different school of thoughts on recently banned controversial political-thriller Maalik. Those in support of ban have an issue with deliberate ethnic profiling of Sindhis and Baloch people depicted as oppressors while Punjabis and Pakhtoons shown as saviors. The other objectionable issue is killing of Minister by his own guard who in the movie is portrayed as Hero reminds the Mumtaz Qadri episode and occurrence of violent incidents afterwards.

On April 26, 18 days after releasing the film was banned by Sindh Board of Film Censor, Government of Sindh. However, the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah intervened and asked the ministry not to issue it as it would be ‘against the freedom of expression but very next day, The Federal Government has banned Maalik nationwide in a notification.

Just like any other controversy Pakistani media got an issue for a couple of weeks and they are inviting politicians, actors, journalists and civil society to discuss ban on Maalik, the movie.

Apparently Journalists, politicians and civil society seems to be on same page and agreed that the movie contains controversial and sensitive nature of subject but actors and a handful of journalists (claim to be patriots) defying the ban under the garb of freedom of speech. Completely ignoring the fact that the same journalists cannot touch “Holy Cows” corruption in their very programs.

To ban Maalik or not is another issue but in larger perspective recent curb by Government of Pakistan exposed their vague and confused policy on freedom of speech. Seems just like other state of affairs they simply have no clear strategy on what to allow on media and what not.

Sometimes Pakistani Government set bench marks allowing freedom of speech to an extent that prisoners from the death cell come on media and record confessional statements and that too without bringing into the knowledge of interior minister and sometimes the same Pakistani Government blacks out MQM supremo Altaf Hussain from coming or issuing any kind of statement on media at all.

In my opinion movies on controversial subjects should be screened in Pakistani cinemas but the policy should be for all.

Selective censorship in cinemas, Tv programs or even on over all media appearances would push Government into more trouble since toeing policy on freedom of speech from “Power houses” of the country would ultimately bring down the so called democracy and its genuine custodians.

What Mustufa Kamal means to Karachi politics

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It seemed to be a real big day when all TV channels showed ex-mayor of Karachi Syed Mustufa Kamal’s unusual footages coming from Airport with the then deputy conveyor Anees Qaimkhani. As usual people who live in other parts of the country hoped that MQM cannot survive this dent and will suddenly collapse.

We in Karachi equally curious and logged on news channel websites to live stream the events concerning Kamal’s moves who rejoined politics as a separate entity after 3 year break,  during his Press conference he was supposed to reveal why he left MQM, why he came back to Karachi and what would be his next move. Although he spent about 3 hours maligning MQM with no clear future plans.

After few days Dr. Sagheer seen sitting in press conference with Kamal and Qaim Khani repeating the same grudges, so far no concrete development is seen in the newly formed group except inclusion of ex MQMers in new party, a part from membership drive we hear about same old MQM-RAW (Indian Spy Agency) relations, Altaf Hussain consumes alcohol, target killing and ransoms, Baldia factory fire etc.

Before Mustufa Kamal, it was Zulfiqar Mirza, Saulat Mirza, Nabeel Gabol, Afaq Ahmed, Rao Anwar and many other prominent personalities showed up on Tv channels after regular intervals and toed the same line.

So far there is a divided opinion on Mustufa Kamal among different political parties and majority of them believes he has no future at least in Urban Sindh politics.  Pakistan People’s Party, Jamat e Islami and PML N doubting intensions of ex-mayor and demanding proves of his allegations on MQM.

Contrary to general opinion Imran Khan and PTI’s top leadership see Mustufa Kamal as a ray of hope to counter MQM but Ali Zaidi in-charge PTI Karachi and other second tier leadership seems to be unhappy with PTI’s top leadership especially Jahangir Tareen’s statements and questioning their support since PTI would virtually wipe out from Karachi if Mustafa Kamal sets foot in politics and it will become PTI vs Mustafa Kamal Party.

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Many PTI followers praising Mustufa Kamal and wanting him to control Karachi, this unconditional love for ex-Mayor at some point is worrisome for PTI Karachi leadership which seems on different page altogether, and it is true to some extent since PTI top leadership is unaware of dynamics of this city and its politics and any irresponsible statements or rhetoric by Imran Khan or Jahangir Tareen might backfire and put Ali Zaidi & Co in deep trouble.

Time will decide if PTI’s top leadership is rightly playing its cards or should they pay heed to Ali Zaidi’s concerns.

So much so, at this point of time Mustufa Kamal is busy giving interviews to TV channels and trying to extract support from MQM but at the same time negating any possibility to join hands with PTI.

MQM being the victim of repeated attacks on its credibility and style of politics has decided to wait and see and refusing to discuss this episode on media perhaps following the strategy to focus issues related to their party and public interests.

MQM sees its supremo as a Kingmaker and believes without his support no party member can prosper or deliver.

Mustufa Kamal’s strength was his performance during the time of his mayor ship as a result when local bodies system wrapped up, the mayor had no work to do but was promoted as senator and given top rank in party by Altaf Hussain.

Why Mustufa Kamal came to Pakistan and maligned MQM is another question but what most of the Karachites think if the ex-mayor really wanted to deliver something to the people of Karachi after three years as a separate entity couldn’t he do a decent press conference highlighting his strengths and future plans rather than MQM’s weaknesses.

 

GEO TV: What goes around comes around

Not long ago Pakistani media labeled as Free and vibrant perhaps feckless and vindictive are the best descriptors today.

It all started when GEO Tv’s famous anchor Hamid Mir was attacked in Karachi and GEO newsroom in no time threw blame on Pakistan’s premier spy agency and defamed its chief without investigation.

They aired Gen. Zaheer uddin Islam’s footage for about 8 hours trying to build an opinion on the basis of Hamid Mir’s ‘concerns’ resulting countrywide public anger that subsequently provided an opportunity to other private channels to prepare a strong case on GEO’s alleged offenses.  Although attack on Mir was condemnable but GEO totally miscalculated the moment and invited further criticism over its credibility.
It was not easy for GEO to deal with different Tv channels, Army, Pemra, political parties and the Public on this particular issue especially when country’s environment is democratic with less or no Army interference in Government matters.
After the recent scandal regarding the ISI, Geo Television Network once again in trouble over a morning show, ‘Utho Jago Pakistan’.

The show, hosted by Dr. Shaista Lodhi, has been alleged to blaspheme against the Prophet (PBUH)’s family. An episode from May 14th played “Ali  Kay Sath Hai Zahra  Ki Shadi”, a manqabat originally sang by Qawaal Amjad Sabri, in the background of a clip showing the marriage ceremony of one of Pakistan’s most controversial actresses Veena Malik.

Why GEO falling into trouble again and again is a point to ponder. Is it because of the free hand given to the management without checks and balances or is it really a conspiracy as claimed by the media group.

Offenses committed by GEO in past were ignored by the then President General Pervez Musharraf as he was in a weak position to control irresponsible yet agenda based reporting of the group.

Although whenever he tried to tighten the noose of untamed channels he was blackmailed and maligned. Benazir Murder, Lal Masjid case reporting, The Chief Justice episode, Akber Bugti Murder and the case of missing persons were the issues Geo portrayed with the intent of maligning ex-President.

Not to mention how GEO team spotted Ajmal Kassab’s home in Punjab right after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai. This was the day that left Pakistanis in shock and grief but Geo was proudly announcing to be the first News channel reaching alleged attacker’s home and investigating the family about Kassabs whereabouts which was later aired and heavily propagated on Indian channels that made a mockery of Pakistan. Such cases have discredited the image of GEO Tv.

Hamid Mir on the other hand constantly indulged in maligning Pakistan’s security agencies and the Army in general keeping national interest aside.

Now the situation is getting worse for the GEO to an extent that a Fatwa has been issued against the channel by the Sunni Ittehad Council calling it ‘Haraam’ to watch Geo. Countrywide protests being held against GEO, Cable operators association considering to halt tv channel’s transmission, rival media groups and anchors are also on fire against Geo.

It would be interesting to see how Pakistan’s largest media group manage to get out of trouble although never in the history GEO Tv Network seen apologizing and defending themselves on numerous allegations.

Once a dominating media group now seems to be completely isolated in such a way that it’s one time associate, PTI chief, Imran Khan who collected funds in account of Shaukat Khanum Cancer hospital and for his election campaign with the collaboration of GEO Tv network now became its most vocal critique. Mubasher Luqman of ARY News and Zaid Hamid the defense analyst are strongly pursuing case against Geo Group however PML N Government, MQM, PPP and JI playing their cards responsibly and not indulging in any sort of conflict with the Group.

Imran Khan’s move came to me as a surprise but reminded me of how maliciously Geo and its anchor Hamid Mir used to put forward their agendas in talks shows and in the News bulletins.

Its hightime for other media groups and Geo Tv in particular to implement accountability rules and set up media commission with committee/ board to monitor program content as Success on any major scale requires one to accept responsibility which is clearly missing in Geo’s case.

18 mind blowing quotes by Pakistani politicians in 2013

I could see improvement in politician’s behaviour and they have stated owning their statements.

Last year, our nation went through many a tragedy. From being held hostage by terrorists to being engulfed by sectarian violence, the terror spree has gone on without any breaks.

In this madness, we have had our politicians providing us their ‘pearls of wisdom’.

While this year we have missed the late Pir Pagara, Zulfiqar Mirza, Pervez Musharraf, Rehman Malik and the like, who had given us truly memorably comments regarding national security in the past, I was still able to collect some quotes which managed to become top headlines.

Here is how our leaders and politicians have shared their valuable opinions on issues of key importance to Pakistan and its people.

 

Diesel syndrome

“Even a dog killed by America is a martyr” – Maulana Fazlul Rehman (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam)

Maulana Fazlu Rehman’s brief statement on killing of banned TTP’s commander.

 

Guerrilla alert

“We are not going to succeed because Taliban are masters of guerrilla warfare” – Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf)

On killing of the TTP chief, Imran Khan warned the nation and Pakistan Army against the Taliban’s tried and tested warfare strategy.

 

TTP Pvt Ltd

“Allow the Taliban to open offices in Pakistan” – Imran Khan (PTI)

Imran Khan’s demand despite knowing the fact that Taleban in Afghanistan are fighting a war against external forces unlike TTP attacking Pakistan Army and own people.

 

Killer apps

“Dear burgers, sorry about Skype/Viber/Whatsapp. Excuse us while we catch some terrorists and save some lives. SMS for 3 months” – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (Pakistan Peoples Party)

This surprising justification came from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, when the Sindh government decided to ban different online communication apps.

 

Basant in Karachi

“Pakistan had won freedom from Britain in 1947 but our Karachi is still a colony of London. We’ll cut the kite controlled by phone calls from London” – Bilawal Bhutto (PPP)

Bilawal enlightens the youth on how Basant should be celebrated in Karachi.

 

Ministry of Fear

“The TTP should be given religious ministries in the federal and provincial cabinets as a good will gesture.” – PTI Central Vice President, Mian Mukarram Shah  (PTI)

In an attempt to protect the nation from the wrath of Taliban, the PTI vice president came up with the remarkable demand of distributing religious ministries to the banned TTP group.

Question of tamasha

Tamasha not an un-parliamentary word” – Chaudhry Nisar (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz)

The interior minister, after a thorough research, claimed that the word ‘tamasha’ (performance) had been used 45 times during the last five years in the parliament and no one had objected.

 

Call of duty

“Those people who are protesting – and grandstanding – near Three Swords – I don’t want to fight or quarrel but if I order my supporters now, they will go to Three Swords and turn them in reality”. – Altaf Hussain (Muttahida Qaumi Movement)

The MQM chief warned his opponents to either accept the election results or get ready to face the consequences.

 

From Britain, with love

“Even Jinnah held a British passport and took oath of allegiance to the then British King, George VI” – Altaf Hussain (MQM)

The MQM chief reminded the nation about the passport carried by the father of the nation, giving a lesson which seldom history teachers ever impart to their students.

 

An Ajrak wedding

“A wedding reception at Sindh Assembly is not a big deal” – Agha Siraj Durrani (PPP)

Agha Siraj Durrani concluded the debate by endorsing wedding receptions at the Sindh Assembly as no big deal.

 

A swift solution to all our problems

“Democracy has failed and martial law should be implemented in Pakistan.” – Syed Faisal Raza Abidi (PPP)

After witnessing the democratic government’s performance, former PPP Senator Syed Faisal Raza Abidi revealed his swift and easy solution to all of Pakistan’s problems.

 

Terrorists, by invite only

“We did not invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan, or even to Afghanistan” – Yousuf Raza Gillani (PPP)

Former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani while defending Pakistan to the international community.

 

Seeing eye to eye

“I’ll see how anyone arrests me. The NAB (National Accountability Bureau) chairman is himself summoned, how can he summon me?” Yousuf Raza Gillani (PPP)

Former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani defends himself against corruption charges.

 

Rebel, much?

“Nawaz Sharif was, and remains, my leader, as I hold him in high esteem” – Jawed Hashmi  (PTI)

Jawed Hashmi showed complete faith and respect in his ex leader, whom he left because he was not in agreement with his ideologies in the first place. Okay, now I am confused.

 

The martyr debate

“Hakimullah was a martyr” – Munawar Hasan (Jamaat-e-Islami)

Munawar Hasan, chief of JI, gives the title of martyrdom to the TTP chief, ignoring the sacrifices of hundreds of Pakistani soldiers.

 

Of allegations and ideas

“Punjab University’s vice chancellor is a playboy type person” – Fareed Paracha (JI)

JI leader Fareed Paracha calls Punjab University vice chancellor a ‘playboy type’ because of his liberal ideologies.

 

Rumour has it

“Veena Malik is a bloody liar. Does she deserve coffee? I hate her.” – Shaikh Rasheed

Sheikh Rasheed reacts aggressively when a ‘coffee invitation’ to Veena Malik goes public.

 

Jail Break

“I think K-P government should resign on the failure despite having report of the exact date. I do not know what the K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, this teeli pehlwan (thin fighter), was doing” – Rana Sanaullah – (PML-N)

Rana Sanaullah shows his anger on the K-P chief minister’s helplessness over the Dera Ismail Khan jail break.

 

These were the most unquotable quotes by our leaders in 2013 and each comment had its own entertainment value – irrespective of how repulsive they might have been.

This also highlights one very important thing – our leaders really need to start practicing the age-old advice of weighing ones words before speaking them. It would do them well to follow it.

 

Team PTI’s unrealistic electioneering

Echoes of Naya Pakistan can be heard all around including the airwaves, social media and various tv channels. Kaptaan is doing Jalsaas across Pakistan and team PTI educating voters all over through election offices but unlike  Imran Khan’s tall claim of conquering Karachi we see no political activity in the most educated city of Pakistan.

Inspite of fielding candidates from Karachi’s all constituency there is hardly any PTI presence in metropolis – the party workers physically seem inattentive in Urban Sindh.

It is also noted that PTI who twice did huge Jalsas in Karachi is not even considered by the MQM in upcoming elections as they think their faithful and educated voters not going to change their mind for the party who seems least interested in the City.

If Insaafians  really planning to create Naya Pakistan on Facebook while MQM, and ANP workers literally losing lives to turn nation into a liberal and progressive Pakistan then it would be a sheer disappointment for their captain in Karachi as election 2013 are not going to be contested virtually.

Let alone camps, Karachites hardly see any banner or posters of PTI in the city which gives an impact that Karachi is least important in the PTI’s priority list and they are mainly focusing on Punjab or precisely PML N’s constituencies to win over as due to Punjab’s population, whoever scores majority will be in a good position to make Government or strong opposition.

The people of Karachi looking for an extremism free nation, the nation which could confront fanatics eye to eye. If PTI is ready to slash extremism its workers must bravely come out on the streets and condemn religious terrorism — else results in metropolis would not be different.

Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers have to work day and night in the right direction to keep party in limelight but if PTI sticks to its Punjab centric strategy and even secures majority, the nation would see no difference between the Nawaz Shareef and Imran Khan but a mere face change. If PTI claims to be a national party it must physically work hard to feel its presence across Pakistan.

It is also believed that PTI workers other than Punjab are more active on social media than to work genuinely on ground. Indeed no one can deny the importance Social Media but its just one factor to influence voters. Educating the voter and establishing presence physically always makes an impact on the people since elections being contested through ballot not Facebook.

What’s the status of PTI in Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and South Punjab speaks volume about PTI’s strategy towards upcoming elections.

While entering Peshawar a visitor happens to see billboards of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital  but apparently PTI has no concrete slogan to sell for KPK. The problem of KPK is not drones but day to day terrorism and poor economical conditions however Imran Khan finds stopping drone the only solution to all problems.

Why Imran Khan doesn’t speak against militancy, economic condition of KPK and over all misery of province is another question needs to be addressed by him.

In Balochistan there is no drone issue it’s purely an issue of Baloch rights likewise PTI has not come up with any solution for Balochistan as well nor do we see party presence there.

In short if Khan is eyeing Punjab to win upcoming elections, he might cut few Punjab seats but end up on being loser.

Its high time for 1st, 2nd and 3rd force to stop focusing one province but work diligently to secure rest of the nations’ seats as well, since Naya Pakistan would be fueled by everyone not one province.

Delimitation without census pointless

Much has been said about delimitation of Karachi but the controversy seems to gaining pace.  Election commission is all set to conduct house to house voter’s verification and somehow preparing to review the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi as well. Though in his recent statement ECP chairman in his “personal opinion” supported MQM’s stance and said that once delimitation is conducted after the census, then delimiting those constituencies again without holding a new census is “pointless.”

It is pertinent to mention that on Nov 26, a five-member bench of the apex court had observed that constituencies in Karachi should be delimited in a manner that they comprise “mixed population” to avoid political polarization.

And later on Dec 20, The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had virtually isolated itself from other political parties when it opposed the issue at a meeting in which Election Commission had convened in this regard. MQM as a result decided to convince Supreme court on legal grounds.

At this point of time the people of Karachi seems confused about Supreme courts decision of delimiting Karachi only as population census are held in different countries of the world before the redrawing of constituencies and then demarcation of constituencies is carried out. On what legal grounds delimitation would take place is still a question to be answered by the Law hawks.

Not to mention that the election commission’s decision to review constituencies of Karachi only and that too without census can open a Pandora box.

As ECP reports for the General Elections 2002 gives province wise break down of complaints. According to the report, total 97 complaints were filed from Balochistan, 238 from Sindh and 165 from Khyberpakhtunkhwa, these statistics roughly indicate that there was nothing extraordinary raised against the ‘delimitation’ of the province.

Also, Pashtuns living in Balochistan have long contended  that their number was not accurately recorded in 1998 population census as they had boycotted the census hence they are underrepresented. Likewise Karachi can also demand greater number of seats as a result of mass migration from up country during the recent years.

Karachites also ask whether Election commission would reduce seats from KP, Balochistan and Punjab and allocate those seats to the metropolis since most of the people moved to Karachi from these provinces in recent years.

When would Honorable Supreme Court enforce other parts of judgment where it said that land should be recovered occupied illegally is another question being pondered by the citizens of Karachi, as implementation of this particular judgment would bar illegal occupants living illegally in the outskirts of Karachi as well as on the mountains from manipulating the voting lists, using land illegally, stealing electricity and other resources being utilized without paying taxes.

Contrary to the current situation, just a few years ago the Election commission of Pakistan in its press release on May 23, 2007 had taken a very clear position against delimitation of constituencies in the absence of new population census.

This is the position which Election commission respectfully needs to communicate with the Honorable court as demands for delimitation could also be raised from other cities of Pakistan and it would be irrational to believe that except Karachi rest of the country’s constituencies were perfectly drawn.

In my opinion Karachi should not be given “priority” on any other city of Pakistan. Along with Karachi, delimitation of other cities should also be carried out as per “law” because without a fresh census, the act of delimitation, which in essence is meant to create equality in the constituencies, would be nothing but a futile exercise.

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