Who’s next?



Another dignitary sacrificed. Shahzad Bhitti- A rather naïve, benign and serene federal minister gunned down by rogue radical elements in the name of Blasphemy Law. Indeed, a heart-rending event and one wonders if their ever is an end to this.

Personally, for some reason I feel deep assosciation with the Christian minorities amongst other minors. The anguish and insecurity this incidence will create among them is inconceivable. Losing a celebrated figure, already a rarity in one’s community must be torturous. Though, I wouldn’t buy the blasphemy excuse in Shahbaz Bhatti’s case and I believe theirs more to than meets the eye.

No matter how much one detests the conspiracy theories, the acceptance of responsibility by the banned outfit TTP, Punjabi Taliban, straight away after the murder is no less trivial. Especially amidst the series of events that took place in the last month; the news of tussle between the Intel agencies, the CIA operatives “leak”, two of them now in police custody is not insignificant. Shahbaz’s case is different from Taseer’s. Seems like blasphemy Law is only a new excuse the rogues have found. I perceive, this murder has deeper objectives and authorities must look into it.

As regards the govt, theirs should be an explanation regarding provision of security to the minister especially after Taseer’s assassination. It does not require a very high IQ to comprehend that he being the only minister from minorities was the most vulnerable in the cabinet after Taseer’s murder. In addition, family claims death threats. Why were they ignored? Why such grave negligence? Perhaps because he was relatively a “useless” minister for them as compared to Awans? Now the party will cash on his death (as always). The case will be put at the back burner very soon.

By all accounts, govt alone is not liable. Pardon me, but I have solemn concerns with the judiciary as well. Ever since this war on terror, even the arrested terrorists have not been put to task. Therefore, the signal to the mutineers is clear; you are free to do what you want.

The judiciary must seriously look into the matter. Why in a country which herself is now the prime victim of terrorism, not a single scoundrel has been convicted so far? Otherwise, I am afraid, but it is at the back of my mind and haunts me “who’s next?”

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Treat the disease; not the symptoms


Originally Posted @ LahorePostBlog

Discourse over Blasphemy law continues. Though I reckon the ruling party as a partner in crime given their fallacious hopes to Salmaan Taseer just like they have been doing to the rest of the nation. Clearly, the confidence in his speeches portrayed obvious strong reassurances from somewhere. The depraved players of unscrupulous power politics later ditched him altogether after his demise.

Paradoxically, the sensitivity of the issue was not taking into account by the parliamentarians as well as the media from the very beginning until to-date, creating perpetual hype. Considering the incredible literacy and escalating radicalization that has happened in our society, it is not rocket science to comprehend that such susceptible issues be dealt by in-camera, low profile briefings. Nevertheless, our politicians are not unacquainted of  how to deal with unpopular laws. After all, they did manage to twist sections in 18 and19th amendments, but then it was their vested interests. The deception is such that while there is grousing over minority injustice, parts in these amendments actually halt fair judicial system in the country!

Only a strong government having credible performance to its credit can now amend or look into Blasphemy Law. Moreover, a farseeing approach is desired now. Where there operates the law of the jungle, where every law is misused, the constitution is disrespected, the judiciary is the most corrupt of all institutes, where the majority is barely getting any justice; how can the weak, the minor be delivered justice??? I m unable to correlate this. Concisely, every law is black here.

Having spent twelve fundamental years in a missionary school, I have utmost respect for minorities. For they are not mere a minor religious group, but mentors, guides and trainers for me. I can still feel church bells subconsciously in my ears. Likewise, having resided as a minority myself in the regimented world, I perceive the difference is that everyone’s on a tight rein there; the rich or the poor, the influential or the powerless and for that matter men or women and religious or non-devout.

Equality is not merely gender and religion related; it also pertains to the poor and the rich, the powerful and the weak. Had the lawyers and the human rights activists in Pakistan really toiled for a free and fair judiciary all these decades – minorities today would have been in a much better situation. I suggest, treat the disease and not the symptoms; be a doctor not a quack! The only solution is improved judicial system for everyone and fearless accountability.

Pertinently, it is disturbing to see same people defending R.Davis, who were outrageous regarding Qadri. What happened to humanity, justice, equal rights here?? Indeed a republic of fear, bigotry, and inequity. Both are killers, both must be condemned fervently for the sake of the rule of Law in the lawless land and both must meet their fate. Even if immune, waiving the right to immunity should be demanded as a rule. The hypocrisy and double standards on any end would only lead to more divides.

Actually, this would be the concrete test for our judiciary as well as the government. Albeit, I perceive and dread the day when both the assassins will be released with Qadri having a garland welcome or possibly the trials will linger on forever. May God bless Taseers & Ibads, Asias and Afias and the rest of 180 Mn Pakistanis in the land that is a jungle now.

Global Voices

“Dark Ages” of Pakistan


Posted @ LahorePostBlog

December marks the end of the deadliest 2010, the 201st decade, culminating after more than 100 drone attacks this year, killing mostly civilians. An era has passed, and it happened to be perhaps the most lethal and dreadful period for Pakistan. It proved to be a gloomy and historically “dark age” for the 63yr old country, in a rapidly evolving global geo-political environment. A nation that bore the brunt of WOT, sacrificed more men than any other ally, when no Pakistani was involved in it. Aided by, the most corrupt, and incompetent politicians as rulers of the state. It happened to be an age of bloodshed, extremely low self-esteem, and growing despair. Loosing, 10,000 cops, a good 30,000 civilians, and thousands of those who were crippled since the beginning of WOT. Still, we are not doing more.

The chaos began with the one man, dictatorial decision of Musharraf in 2001 to join War on Terror. It was a decision where options were limited but irony is that the gutless General gave in like a coward, and committed without any forcible terms and conditions.

Thereafter, giving in to their every demand as if Pakistanis were guilty. Later in 2004, he sent in armed troops without taking the parliament and the nation in confidence, and with no positive outcome whatsoever. Eventually an array of suicide attacks began, worsening as each day passes. Musharraf did manage to attract foreign investors but the economic boom proved temporary. Obviously, with a war going on at your borders and a growing concern over law and order situation, how could he have managed to sustain economic growth? Army once a pride and hope, thanks to him, earned an unruly, bad fame in his days. Lately, the 1999 coup fame, ex-Army COAS, Gen Zia-ud-din calls him an inexpert officer, incompetent general and a compulsive liar.

The 2007 Judiciary movement in due course commemorate the end of Musharaf and his continuous meddling with the constitution. He’s the pioneer of the unpardonable NRO which eventually allowed unclean politicians to take charge of the driving seat.

2008 marked the beginning of a democratic government, elected based on their slogan to revive and review policies. It lead in time to the rule of the most corrupt politicians. Theirs no change in the policies, no clear agenda whatsoever, and carnage and casualties continue. The world today is acquainted to drones through Pakistan.

Added to this is the escalating corruption, not even sparing institutions that previously had corruption free fame. Like, last month, motorway police got involved in a challan corruption scandal. It looks like an incurable epidemic. Steel mills scandal is outdated now. They have gone far beyond. The latest being the Reko diq scandal, which is equivalent to 200 steel mills.These guys are inventive and bold. The Hajj looting eventually leading to the prince writing to the CJ must have left many old ministers in a fury for not being so audacious!

More to it is the dooming economy. The Textile industry, our economic backbone, is barely surviving now, being forced towards an unnatural death. Foreign investment is out of question as there is not only miserable law and order situation but also distrust on the government by the International community, openly shown during the flood relief appeals. All of this is in due course leading to price hiking and hoarding of commodities. Might is right here now.

The adversity everywhere is eventually leading to an extremely low self-esteem of the nation as a whole, as is being manifested by the current sporting culture in the country. Cricket being a religion in Pakistan is not mere a sport here but also a representative of the spirit and morale of the nation and the youth. Cricketers are now being scrutinized. Another one, lately fled the field. Guilty or not, but the impact it creates is detrimental.

It is the end of 2010 and like Obama, the change that the elected democratic govt in Pakistan, comprising of the two mainstream political parties, promised is nowhere to be seen. The nation now awaits a messiah and a changeover.

Being an ultimate optimist, I also believe that it can’t go on like this forever and renaissance is round the corner! The nation that carries tremendous potential within herself now desperately yearn for a change. The best educated Muslims in the world today are Pakistanis, proving their mettle all over the world. The brainy, creative youth here is capable of not just making “copy” but “original” as well, (as can be witnessed by the rare opportunities they manage to get). All that is now desired is a changed and charged leadership.

I aspire that the new year and consequently the new age marks the beginning of a new blooming era for Pakistan – I still dream of a prosperous Pakistan, gearing steadily on a dodgy road towards the vision of Quaid, and the dream of Iqbal.



Sky is the limit for Pakistan,s ruling elite


Posted@ letusBuildPak

Global Voices

First the million dollar nuptials of Shoab-Sania, than Ishaq Dar,s son,s wedding at Atlantis Palm Jameirah. Mr Dar later showed the 27, 000$ dollar bill of the banquet hall in a TV show, (remaining expenditure of the wedding will remain undeclared! I bet it must have easily crossed the 1 crore  mark! ) modestly admitting, he goes, the expenditure is justified since it is his declared earnings and that he’s a big donor as well, not mentioning even if he’s right; Is it morally acceptable for a Govt representative of his stature to advocate such high-priced lifestyle, when the economy here’s is barely surviving. What kind of ultimately lucrative standards are they setting for their followers?

Moreover, I wonder what really is the limit of spending from one’s declared property? Especially for an office bearer. As corruption, and especially money laundering has been proven Hilal by majority of our rulers! What next? A trip to the moon? So much for the spoilt politicians and now their children.

Likewise, MP son of Sharif’s, the greatest flag bearers of simplicity, and who pay lesser tax than I do, imported a Siberian leopard a while ago. The Leopard needed special dietary requirements and a perfectly air-conditioned room round the clock, while the industry here is dying an unnatural death because of unwarranted load shedding. Though daddy Shahbaz disapproved it, yet such contemplation of a parliamentarian is beyond my mind.

Similar to them are our hypocrite mullahs, who send their own children to the best institutes in the world but always, promote and construct Madrassas here in Pakistan, of course, to keep a steady source of workers and voters. I absolutely have no issue with their kids obtaining foreign qualification, but the least they should do is advocate and toil for a unified curriculum in Pakistan.

The ecstasy of power is exclusive! Expenditures of PM house and Presidency in millions is to everyone’s knowledge. Lately, the £2m Harrods furnishing for Gillani,s place by his wife remained the tittle-tattle. The paradox is, there are no donors for the 2b flood affectees, and when every penny counts, the wealthy rulers are obliviously and religiously busy squandering.


Surrey’s history! Mr. Zardari,s visit to his Chateau in France was disapproved of all over the world as one of the worst flood of the century hit the country. I bet, the rulers abroad must be jealous of the empires he has made out of his job! No wonder, finally Hillary Clinton tells the govt to stringently draw tax from the rich.

The prime minister’s obsession for branded suits is no less trivial, his favorite said to be Bruno Magli costing between £3,000 and £7,000, and reportedly, he does not wear them twice. Instead, he declared to auction them (I doubt anyone showed interest!). Not to forget, the famous tale of family being imported on a chartered plane for a diner with Angelina Jolie, while she was making humble pleas to the world to donate to rescue the 2 billion flood victims.

This list has no end, as more such scandals keep rolling in now and then, given that it’s a “Family First!” policy. These very politicians than advocate simplicity, considering it times of adversity. Instead of pragmatic resolution of issues, they tell us to quit sugar if it is expensive.

Accountability aside, as policy makers and money handlers, what message are they sending across with such lucrative life styles, even if it is their Halal money as they always claim! Had we been an oil-drenching, gold-producing, sheikh land, I would have absorbed such lavish outgoing, but for heaven’s sake this is a war-poverty-flood-hunger-stricken bankrupt Pakistan at the disposal of IMF. Why can’t they postpone their shopping drills until the phase is over?

While they and their children are busy partying, the folks who advocated and demonstrated democracy show different values. There, the rich volunteer to pay more taxes to resolve the crunch, the PM leads from the front in economic crisis and flies in club class on local airways, and their heirs join troops, a tribute, and a symbol of solidarity to those at peril on the frontline.

Shaukat Khanum is not helping much


Posted @ LahorePost Blog

Seems like writing for and mainly  against Imran Khan is in vogue in Pak blogging world. Here is my contribution!

40 yr old Salma, a local villager, was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus. She received treatment from SKMT H and had full recovery. As I met her, I explained to her that cancer is not common cold and that it can recur, so religious follow-up is obligatory. On her follow-up visit at Shaukat Khanum, she was asserted clear.

Weeks later, I found out that she was having similar symptoms again. This time her family chose to take her to the nearby quack who they told me was “qualified” in treating such illnesses and had an excellent medical record. Jolted by the statement, I explained to them the consequences of not seeking professional help, as it could be recurrence of her cancer. Since they were tenants from my local village, I became persuasive and even authoritative. To my utter disappointment the family (otherwise very caring & concerned but ultimately illiterate) rejected  and got her treated first by the specialist quack and later by a peer baba, who I found out charged more than what a doc would have. 6 months later, she died.

It made me realize that she must have been tagged “cured” in SKMTH registers but here she was down in the grave and then I wondered how many more poor “cured” patients in SKMTH record actually met the same destiny. I don’t have any post-hospital discharge statistics, but I suppose almost all the impoverished who are “cured” per hospital record, IF get recurrence, end up having fate similar to Salma.

Cancer after cure needs from minimum 2 yrs up to lifelong follow-up. The gullible poor in Pak cannot afford such lucrative follow-ups. Even if the hospital charges nothing, they have their own social and financial issues (travelling, food and lodging cost/issues etc) and they are too naïve to handle such jagged situations.

I believe institutes of excellence like SKMTH are serving only the affluent, some meagre and of course doctors. Unless, an appropriate infrastructure is built in terms of health and education, I am afraid erecting centers of excellence in the name of poor is yielding little, they cannot be utilized to their optimum capability, and no matter what they do they can never justly serve 70% of our indigent population.

One million spent on Salma,s treatment went down the drain by the end of the day. Obviously, SKMTH is not at all at fault. I blame a nonexistent public health system and illiteracy for that. Besides, optimum health & education services can never be attained by relying  solely on humanitarian organizations without the earnest involvement of the state and hence politicians.

As a matter of fact, Salma’s local GP should have summoned her after her discharge from the hospital. The GP than should have kept a record of her future appointments. In addition, she and her family should have been educated enough or at least have had baseline knowledge and awareness of her disease.

Irrefutably, altruism is a pursuit of the past and must be taken as a temporary way out. Otherwise, it results in callous, unending exploitation of the deprived. Circumstances have gone downhill. Now, I reckon this similar to an act involving attack on civilians from the top and later on tendering aid from the ground.

Moreover, the state has turned a blind eye over decades and has shed most of her health responsibility by deviously assigning the task to philanthropists and doctors – victims of collateral damage I would say. In fact, the state has manipulated doctors and humanitarians in the name of humanity for her advantage to cover her shortcomings. Doctors in Pak govt teaching hospitals spend 70% of their time & energy in arranging free investigations & medicines for poor patients (when practically they should be receiving medical training).

Evidently, Social work has limited upshots. In chaotic conditions such as we are in, one should consider pragmatic solution. It appears, political solution is the present and the future now. And for that matter, All politicians should turn into philanthropists and all philanthropists should join politics.

Health and education is the responsibility of the state and if they are unable to endow it, they should resign. Unless the state takes hold of her responsibility and demonstrate practical results, not mere slogans and policies, perpetual exploitation of everyone including patients, poor, and philanthropists will carry on.

 



“White Poison” Industry necessitates radical reforms


Originally posted @All Things Pakistan

The sugar scam resurfaces yet again. Skyrocketing sugar prices, in an environment where inflation is already a critical concern, is only adding fuel to the fire. Concisely, a whole chain involving politicians, ministers, mafias etc are said to be responsible. To begin with, I am unable to understand the mere basis of this industry. What is the gain? Apart from jeopardizing health, discontent farmers and public frustration now and then. Was it meant for exports? If yes, how can a commodity be exported contentedly when it is unattainable for a massive own population? Cane it seems is no more a cash crop.

The saga is more complex than it appears to be. To get down to it; minor farmers are bullied because of the manipulative legislation that does not allow farmers in specified areas around the mills to do crushing on their own. They are destined to give away their crop to the mills on conditions prescribed by the industry. According to the sugar factory control act 1950 (this is an old one, but very similar legislation exists even today, cud nt find a link on net)

The Cane Commissioner may, after consulting the Board, issue an order declaring any area to be reserved area for the purposes of the supply of cane to a particular factory during a particular crushing season or seasons, and may likewise, at any time, cancel such order or alter the boundaries of an area so reserved. Also,

If the cane growers or Cane Growers’ Co-operative Societies in the assigned area are not willing to enter into agreement to supply, the Cane Commissioner may, by an order in writing, require them to do so on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by him, which order shall be legally binding on the cane growers or the Cane Growers’ Co-operative Societies, as the case may be

Such legislation has led to the growth of an unwanted, uncalled for industry in Pakistan. In what way is it aiding to the progress of the country?

Health hazards of this “Chemically treated Chemical”, also known as “White Poison, is an acclaimed fact now. In brief, refined sugar is obtained after processing, using several chemicals like phosphoric acid, formic acid, sulfur dioxide, preservatives, and/or any flocculents, surfactants, bleaching agents or viscosity modifiers. All vitamins (A,D,B complex), minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes, fiber and every nutrient is removed during the process.

Ironically, no research facility is available in Pakistan to tell you if there are other indigenous causes of the Diabetes mellitus epidemic in the country, apart from the usual risk factors like genetic predisposition, changed lifestyle etc, though references linking refined sugar to Diabetes are available.

“Refined white sugar is to a large extent to blame for some forms of diabetes, whose victims face the threat of blindness and other serious impairments, not to mention heart disease, stroke, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and possibly some kinds of cancer,” according to Dr. Robert D. McCracken, University of California (UCLA) anthropologist”.

Well, sugar being sugar is unhealthy, but unlike raw sugar, the refined sugar rushes through the stomach wall, and stimulates excessive secretion of insulin by the pancreas.

The traditional raw sugar, or muscovado sugar or “shakar” as we call it, is made by evaporated cane juice. It is already reasonably refined, free of dyes and chemicals and contains mineral salts, fiber, and vitamins as well.

West has acknowledged the worth of naturally acquired food and is raising “Go Green” slogans, thereby promoting the new trend of organics. Gradually recognizing the hazards of refined and processed food, theirs slow twist in lifestyles; organics is now much more expensive and represents class and flair as compared to the so-called refined or synthetic. Since we the complexed faction of sub-continent do what the west does, and devotedly refrain from using own brains, so in this respect particularly, I believe the trend of traditionally made sugar be revived in Pakistan.

Such a trend in our region, if promoted, can have remarkable impact. Apart from health safety, it will help counter exploitative mill owners mostly politicians, and prevent manipulation of small farmers. Increased awareness will raise demand and perhaps some day sugar industry and mafia that controls it will die a natural death. BTW, Brown sugar is a refined or partially refined form of white sugar with some molasses mixed in and not at all a substitute of raw sugar.

To get rid of sugar crisis once for good, radical measures must be adopted, including earnest will and an amendment in the sugar factory control constitution. I cannot see a point in breeding such an industry, which is more of a nuisance than a benefit.

It should only be limited to provision of sugar for industrial use and available resources be shifted to certain new feasible industry.

Thriving on your own charity


…a flood rehab donation reminder!

Rehabilitation is underway in the flood-hit regions of Pakistan. Key players in this reconstruction include numerous NGO,s working strenuously in the field. Billions have been collected by them through charity given by Pakistanis alone, though efforts of international community indeed is well appreciated. However, considering a catastrophe of biblical scale, it is not surprising that 7 million still lack shelter according to a UN report and 30 billion dollars is estimated by World Bank for rehab. More recently,Oxfam has cited,

“The funding shortfall is so serious that existing regular food rations to 3.5 million people could be in jeopardy,”

Hence, still a long way to go.

It is being said that of the foreign aid pledged to Pakistan, only 20% has reached so far. Looking at the corruption graph, it is evident where that too would be spent. But, it is a time of crisis and the nation along with the NGO,s must stretch their efforts for more money.

Pakistanis are one wonderful nation, resilient and altruistic. Nevertheless, challenges continue as cholera and dengue hits now. No wonder, we possess the potential to manage the debacle on our own. In this respect, I could not resist mentioning the work of some brilliant organizations active in the filed.

Citizens Foundation; Apart from distributing 20 million meals in all provinces and providing food rations to families returning home, they are now working on rehab of more than 60 school units, as well as construction of new schools. Khidmat Foundation is running couple of rehabilitation programmes including micro credit. Islamic Relief USA coordinated a $23 million aid shipment filled with medical supplies.

After proving their mettle in relief activities and collecting a record 2 billion+ donation, MKRF and IKRF are now focused on rehabilitation. Their project includes provision of wheat seeds for flood-hit farmers owning 25 acres of land. The scheme will cost Rs 600 million and benefit 200,000 affected farm families. Under the scheme, certified and good quality seeds will be made available to farmers for 150,000 acres of land. Apart from this, houses, micro credit and health facilities are also being made available.

Subsequent to relief efforts, Pakistan Army is busy in rehab activities now. Army has completed as many as 49 Schools, 15 Health units, 11 Mosques, houses and roads in various areas of Southern Punjab. Extensive Army Engineer’s effort is underway to restore communication infrastructure in Swat and repair of Karakorum Highway. Likewise, many acknowledged organizations like Edhi, Zindaagi trust, Madad, News channels relief funds have their share.

These are only handful compared to scores of others operational in the field, doing exceptional work. All that is indispensable is more and more donations from our own resources first. For instance, A little change in lifestyle is the demand of time.

  • Setup a direct debit for at least 6 months for a particular amount of money that you can easily donate.
  • Give away the amount equivalent to every restaurant visit to the affectees.
  • Dig out your winter wardrobe; give away warm clothes -people are dying of cold now.
  • Spend less on clothes and accessories this season and donate the savings.
  • Eid is round the corner. I advocate, scholars should declare that instead of slaughter, the cattle this time be distributed among the affected. This is a sacrifice that God will accept Inshallah.
  • Make a resolution as not to eat junk for a couple of months, instead donate that money. Relish your body as well as your soul!

Let’s rebuild Pakistan, and make “opportunity out of misery” really happen.

Donate Generously!

Posted @Pak Spectator

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