Saturday, 30 April 2016


 While reading do not miss moles planted within the most vociferous opposition party and the moles within us. 

Like the simile of an onion I have used to frame my hypothesis, the most crucial and damaging is Pakistan’s susceptibility to US interests in chagrin to its short and long-term interests. Whenever a Pakistani leader has shown a flair for independence, he/she has been eliminated. Add to the list Pakistan’s tax evaders, money launderers, political business cartels, offshore businessmen, bad fiscal policies, impotency of regulators, opaqueness in transparency and economic hit-men to make a lethal brew of anti non-state actors. All these layers compliment each other but for the interests of Pakistan. They also coalesce when needed to subdue the winds of change. They exist in every sinew of Pakistan’s politic body. 

Pakistan has never had a cohesive, self-serving and permanent national policy; a sad but true reflection of a state that spent half its existence under military dictatorships or tailored democracies under the watchful eye. The first decade was lost to political conspiracies hatched by a group of bureaucrats and politicians, who had the advantage but not the conscience of serving with Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. They chose to wade through a muddied perspective on an elusive and unending journey of inventive nationalism that caused disfigurement. To complicate the national construct, foreign policy resulting in subservience to USA set in motion a diplomacy of invisible interventions that often became violent.

How intense were US interests in Pakistan that Prime Minster Liaqat Ali Khan had to be assassinated by CIA through the Afghan Government because he refused to destabilize Mossadeq’s regime in Iran begs no answer. Subsequently USA not only changed the regime but also reached a long-term alliance with Saudi Arabia that was to later forge the Oil-Dollar Equation. Pakistan’s close relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab Kingdoms are imbedded in working within US interests and in the bargain provide a security balance to Middle East. Now that USA is easing its policy on Iran after many decades, Pakistan will be dissuaded across the entire spectrum of policy from placation to violence to keep its relations with Iran in concert with US-Saudi objectives. 

This shift in Pakistan’s policy was the result of Bhutto’s policy of a greater Muslim alliance through the Islamic Summit. Ultimately it distanced Iran. But Iran too had its hegemonic designs that became aggressive after the Iranian Revolution creating frictions on international border, inside Afghanistan and sectarian lines. Ever since, both neighbors have played a game of brinkmanship with mutual suspicion under the watchful eye of USA and KSA. 

On his part Bhutto suffered a fate no different from Liaqat Ali through a military dictator groomed to work for US-Saudi Interests. His judicial murder was actually a correction course for Pakistan lest it became too independent and powerful. What did Bhutto do to merit such a cold-blooded end? The answers lie below.

First, he rebooted Pakistan’s nuclear program towards weapons. Bhutto envisioned a nuclear Islamic block strengthened by the oil wealth and Pakistan’s skilled manpower. However, his left leaning policies were viewed with suspicion by his Arab allies. Bhutto had a long-term vision for his country but his economic plan backfired. To put Afghanistan under pressure he supported the Afghan Student rĂ©sistance against Sardar Daoud. The pressure worked and Daoud was ready to sign a permanent deal on Durand line. Days before the two heads of states were to formalize the agreement; Bhutto was overthrown by a military coup. The military regime never pursued this agreement. Bhutto proving too big for his boots was made an example. 

Bhutto’s erstwhile military chief and his executioner fared no better. The military takeover in 1977 served US interests and infused permanent seeds of internal instability in the form of weaponisation of society, drugs, militant organizations, intolerance, sectarianism and religiously inspired violence. The mock Afghan jihad lasted as long as it served US interests and was conveniently relabeled as the invisible floating threat of Islamic terrorists. USA was suspicious of Zia’s growing nuclear cooperation with China. He had to go and so did that fatal flight on C-130. 

The daughter of the East returned to Pakistan with a thumping popular applause. But also attached to her Bhutto symbolism was an ill matched spouse willing to cut her to size whenever she over grew. Her spouse through his corruption twice got her governments removed. 

Yet within her limitations of working with many uncles, new entrants and a dubious husband, she never gave up her father’s vision. The nuclear program progressed to perfection including the weapon testing sites in Chagai. Then began the pursuit of delivery systems and their indigenous production. She continued to pursue the Afghan policy of her father. By 1996, Mullah Omar had agreed to the international demand of a broad based government and also signing the Durand Agreement. A day before she was poised to sign this historic accord with the new Afghan broad based government, President Laghari mysteriously sacked her government. Neither the interim not the subsequent PMLN government pursued this historic opportunity.

To her credit, Benazir never lost heart. After 9/11 she almost engineered the handing over of Osama Bin Laden to Turkey, a NATO country. USA refused. Then she returned infused with an elixir. She had made some of the most critical decisions of her life; amongst them to team up with Musharraf to make a formidable Pakistani team and secondly to shed off her yoke. As per her terms of agreement with USA, Nawaz Sharif was to serve his time of self-exile in KSA. She rejected the NRO. The daughter of East had become too hot to handle. Though her fire is seemingly extinguished, it is in the interests of Pakistan that the pyre must burn. Musharraf’s exit after her death and subsequent humiliation were writings on the wall. Zardari became the heir to the political dynasty through a controversial Will. 

So what does this entire ongoing drama in Pakistan mean? If precedence is to be followed, it is all hallow and the birds of feather will flock together.  These agents of instability are well placed in every system, organization and political party to allow a departure towards an independent Pakistan. Even if some amongst them wish contrition, they will be ruthlessly cut to size. 

Like a conventional current on a boil, everything must go down for a new to begin. 

Where are we heading? By Mumtaz A. Piracha


These days, the only crucial issue in Pakistan appears to be the Panama Papers and their impact on politics in Pakistan with special reference to civil-military relations and the future of Mian Nawaz Sharif.

We, at Good Governance Forum, do not have a crystal-ball to make predictions. We look at the events with their relevance to the past happenings and try to understand what we read and hear on different platforms. Our analysis and assessment are based on the situation at any given time. When the power players change their stance for any reason, the results are bound to change. So, there is nothing firm and final for all times to come.

As the system prevails in Pakistan, the politicians, the military and the US have a key role in the political happenings of Pakistan. They form the 'power nucleus.' Behind them are the UK, KSA and UAE. And still behind them are others like Iran, Russia, China, India, Afghanistan. In all, there are 11 major and minor players in the team. It is probably for the first time in our history that we have so many power players/influencers/opinion-makers because of the peculiar national, regional and international compulsions. The individual strength and say of the power players depend on the circumstances of any given situation. There are ups and downs in their own individual strengths.

Historically, the Sharifs carried and fostered the 'perception' of being the clean politicians. The Panama Papers have exploded and shattered the 'perception.' And the Sharifs have no clue as to how to defend themselves. Nor do their party stalwarts and the spokesmen. The more they try to defend, the more evidence surface of their doings. 

There is no doubt that the people, by and large, are really up their neck with corruption and its repercussions on their lives. The rank and file of the military sides with the people. So, there is obvious pressure within the military to act and get rid of the corruption and the corrupt politicians and the corrupt bureaucracy who is hand in hand with the politicians. 

The Panama Papers are not going to die out any sooner. The ultimate choice for Mian Nawaz Sharif is more than obvious and written on the wall. He will have to find a way to extricate himself from his children's doings, though it is hardly improbable that he will be able to do so. So, the next best choice will be to quit and let somebody else from within his party to replace him for the remaining period of the tenure. That again is highly improbable for that 'someone' may ultimately replace Mian Nawaz Sharif in the party or country's politics. 

The last and only choice for him will be to opt for midterm polls. What scares him and others in the PMLN is also more than obvious. The 'caretakers'  are not likely to just hold the midterm polls and go home; they are most likely to do an operation clean-up before the polls are held. In the process, Mian Nawaz Sharif and many of his party stalwarts are most likely to be declared ineligible to contest the elections.

What next then? The military will have to step in..... in one way or the other. There is no other choice, for the time being. And the 'power nucleus' knows it fairly well. I, for one, has no doubt about the inevitable to happen and happen in next few months and certainly before Nov 2016.

29 April 2016

Discontent of the Sharifovs: Ayaz Amir

April 29, 2016

Islamabad diary
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto got himself elected MNA unopposed in the 1977 elections, his Jamaat-e-Islami opponent, Jan Muhammad Abbasi, physically prevented from filing his nomination papers. Newspapers were ‘instructed’ to eulogise this triumph.
The Bhutto government being increasingly authoritarian, most newspapers obliged and carried identical photos of the PM on their front pages, with the words: the great leader, the incomparable leader, etc. Few were taken in. The exercise provoked cynicism and laughter.
I was reminded of this after looking at newspapers yesterday with half-page government-sponsored ads screaming that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name had been cleared in the Panama leaks, quoting this from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: “Due to an editing error, a sentence in an earlier version of this story implied that the prime minister of Pakistan controlled an offshore company…It is his children who control the companies.”
Whoever thought otherwise? And the government, embattled and beleaguered, is celebrating this as a victory. And the cabinet, meeting after full seven months, congratulated the prime minister, ministers outdoing each other in praising the PM and extolling his leadership capacities.
This is what happens when the curtains fall on sense and understanding. The Bhutto photos in 1977 and the PML-N ads now bear a spiritual resemblance. Bhutto was a greater leader than the Sharifs, ten times over. But his fall is instructive…in his hour of peril all his intelligence seemed to desert him.
The Sharifs have been around in the corridors of power longer than anyone in Pakistan’s history. In 1981 when a youthful Nawaz Sharif was picked as Punjab finance minister by Governor Lt-Gen Ghulam Jilani, what were the Sharifs? Who had heard their names? But under the wings of that military regime they rose to power and glory and along the way, thanks to official patronage, amassed wealth and a never-ending stream of factories. Politics for them was always politics plus wealth-creation, the means a secondary consideration.
Pakistan was not enough of a happy hunting ground for them. They ventured overseas, into the realm of offshore accounts and Mayfair properties bought surreptitiously. The scandal emanating from that offshore capitalism is now threatening to undo their kingdom. But that’s not the real source of their unease. That lies elsewhere. Let me explain.
They have dominated Pakistani politics like no other political dynasty, not even the Bhuttos. Military dictators have held sway in Pakistan but no military dictator could ever start a political dynasty. That distinction belongs only to the Bhuttos and the Sharifs have outstripped them.
They have conquered other institutions and bent them to their will. Punjabi judges have come to their aid at crucial junctures: Punjabi judges helping foment a revolt in the Supreme Court against then CJ Sajjad Ali Shah when that judge was proving difficult for the then prime minister Sharif; and a Punjabi-dominated Supreme Court reinstating Nawaz Sharif as prime minister after president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had deposed him in 1993.
And Sharifs long ago mastered the art of turning the Punjabi-speaking civil service into something very akin to feudal servitors. Turn the most powerful telescopes which scan the skies onto the Punjabi civil service and it would be hard to detect any traces of independence. No bondage could be more complete.
But to the Sharifs’ unending distress the one institution that remains unconquered is the army. That is the one fly in their ointment, what leaves their mastery over other things incomplete.
Not that they haven’t tried to exert this mastery. In Nawaz Sharif’s first prime ministerial stint the man chosen to head the ISI was the born-again zealot, Lt-Gen Javed Nasir, who had a beard over a foot long and who on a plane ride to Kabul after the downfall of Najibullah startled everyone on board, including the American ambassador, by yelling, as soon as they entered Afghan airspace, “Nara-e-Takbeer, Allah-o-Akbar”.
The BMW dealership in Pakistan was owned by their henchman, Saifur Rehman, who was later made Ehtisab chief in Nawaz Sharif’s second prime ministership. The Sharifs knew only one way to win allegiance. As recounted by Shuja Nawaz in his history of the Pak army, ‘Crossed Swords’, from which I quoted last week too, reports reached Gen Asif Nawaz, the army chief and the author’s brother, the PM had gifted BMW cars to some generals. He writes: “One day (Gen Asif Nawaz) was visited by Shahbaz Sharif, who brought over the keys of a BMW, and said, ‘Abaji has sent as a gift to you’.” In Murree the PM tried the same gambit. Gen Nawaz, profoundly embarrassed, of course said no.
Individual generals may have been won over in this manner but an army chief in their pocket still eluded them. This might have changed if Nawaz Sharif had succeeded in making Ziauddin Butt army chief in 1999. But the army command revolted and we know what happened afterwards.
Gen Jahangir Karamat was the Sharifs’ benefactor in 1996. If he hadn’t teamed up with president Farooq Leghari to overthrow Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif would not have become PM for the second time. But they couldn’t even abide the soft-spoken Gen Karamat. They wanted a total yes-man and in their quest to get one they got Pervez Musharraf – who taught them a thing or two about yes-manship, just as all those years ago Gen Zia had taught yes-manship to Bhutto. The more things change…
Now the Sharifs face another troubled relationship with another army chief, their own appointed Raheel Sharif, for no other reason than that he is his own man, standing up for the army and doing things that needed to be done in Fata, in Karachi, in Rajanpur. He saved their government at the time of the dharnas in Aug 2014. Any other chief, I am almost ready to wager, would have stepped in. The temptation was too great, and the government’s authority lay shot to pieces on Constitution Avenue.
The army’s stock has been high these past two years because of the sustained campaign against weakness and terrorism. And the government whose ship looked pretty stable just a month ago has been badly hit by the Panama leaks and doesn’t know what to do.
Still, if it was only the Panama leaks, and only Imran Khan, the Sharifovs would have weathered this storm as they have survived other, potentially more damaging scandals over the years. But it is Gen Raheel Sharif’s popularity – even democracy’s cheerleaders coming to accept this – which is causing them the jitters.
A man riding so high in public estimation, how can he be free of political ambition? This is the PML-N’s thinking, judging Gen Raheel by their own standards, seeing conspiracies everywhere and now afraid of the shadows…fears and shadows magnified by the Panama revelations.
A fresh confrontation is shaping up across the national landscape…sparked by the Panama leaks, but underpinned by the widening distrust between the political front and the army.
There is another Sharif disability at work here. In her second term as prime minister, Benazir Bhutto had overcome much of the army’s traditional distrust of the PPP. By then she could conduct a civil conversation with Gen Waheed Kakar. The Sharifs even after all these long years in power can only talk tea and pakoras and luncheons with army chiefs and generals. They have no other conversation.
And since today’s generals are not into accepting BMWs, the chasm between the world of the Sharifs and the generals is well nigh unbridgeable.
Email: bhagwal63@gmail.com

Suspension of U.S.Taxpayer funding for the country's F-16 program


We have seen the first tangible outcome of Sharif family's corruption in Pakistan with the suspension of U.S.Taxpayer funding for the country's F-16 program. The family's corruption was discussed in open sessions of U.S. Congress this week and the entire U.S. aid package to Pakistan is in jeopardy because of Senate opposition. Nawaz Sharif had been using Pakistani public treasury funds in massive advertising all over Pakistan, claiming that his name was included "by mistake", an assertion laughed at and ridiculed by all concerned. Earlier, he had gone on television, after being tutored and coached by a team of twenty and after nine rehearsals, to deny the existence of his multiple off shore companies to hide his illegal assets abroad. It reminded me of his earlier dismissal as Prime Minister for corruption by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. But unlike this time, he was never allowed to present his case on television. I was in Islamabad during July of 1993 and saw first hand how Sharif was ousted. Shahid Rafi who was MD of PTV at that time, narrated to me minute by minute how army troops had prevented Nawaz speech and enabled President Ishaq speech even without the existence of a coup. Unfortunately, military is supporting Nawaz in the present scenario because of its own vulnerabilities. More Pakistani generals and admirals have Swiss bank accounts than Pakistani politicians have. In the attached photos, Zahoor and Maxim Cartoonist are highlighting the irony of the current situation where the Prime Minister has bribed every member of the Assembly to the tune of one billion rupees using scarce taxpayer funds to prevent a no-confidence move against him. But it is apparent that the military and civilian bureaucracy are totally compromised. Sharifs have been in power in Pakistan especially in Punjab for more than twenty five years with minor interruptions. They have impregnated all the decision makers in judiciary, parliament, bureaucracy, academia, media, and military with undue favors. Top appointees in every institution are beholden to the family for a life of perks and privilege. None will jeopardize his own prosperity and support any movement to oust Nawaz this time. That is why he has already embarked on his re-election campaign for a victory in 2018.
Dr. Mahmud Awan 4/29/16

Thursday, 28 April 2016



Good Governance Forum, the first and only interactive think tank on governance in Pakistan, is pleased to notify that the first-ever Good Governance Forum Convention 2016 will be held in Islamabad (Pakistan) in August 2016.

Good Governance Forum, the lead organizer of the convention, intends to form the Organizing Committee for making arrangements of the convention. Those based in and around Islamabad will be preferred but others who are needed to participate in the meetings from within Pakistan can also be facilitated in air travel and hotel accommodation on case to case basis.

The Organizing Committee will be headed by the Founder/Chairman of the Good Governance Forum. Other office bearers will include one co-chairman and one co-chairwoman, secretary general, joint secretary general, finance secretary, media and public relations secretary and so on. Other office bearers can also be added if need be. There will be one representative from each of the sponsors of the convention.

All paid members, honorary members, central advisory committees and the goodwill ambassadors based in Pakistan will be invited as participants at the convention's cost. All those among them who want to actively participate as members of the Organizing Committee are requested to please intimate us their expression of interest and the role each would like to play preferably by 5 May 2016.

All those NGOs in Pakistan and abroad who are interested in joining hands with us as co-hosts or co-organizers are welcome to email us their expression of interest with a brief introduction of their NGOs and how they can contribute as co-hosts or co-organizers. The president or the prime minister will be invited to be the Chief Guest. The convention can serve as a breakthrough for the co-hosts and the co-organizers as well.

Good Governance Forum
Leading the Way to the Challenge of Change in Pakistan
Email:       goodgovernanceforum@gmail.com

Statements of Assets and Liabilities of Senators

Statements of Assets and Liabilities (Fiscal Year 2014-2015) 
of all 104 Senators have been uploaded on TDEA-FAFEN’s parliamentary website www.openparliament.pk.
For details, please click the following link: http://openparliament.pk/mps-senate

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Monarchy in Saudi Arabia is Unislamic

April 25, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

Those who believe that Saudi Arabia has an Islamic system of government are either mistaken or ill-informed. It is outright a monarchy or kingdom that runs counter to the concept of an Islamic state. Even its name is “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” missing the world Islamic as we can find in the official name of Pakistan and some other countries. Islam ordains that a caliph as head of an Islamic government is to be chosen by the pious community notables.
A caliph or head of Islamic state is obligated to administer the state affairs with a group of consultants having immaculate character. That system if magnified comes closer to the democratic form of governance of the present times.  Religiously, Saudi government is a family dynasty and professes a typical Wahabi or Salafi brand of Islam founded by an eighteenth-century preacher and scholar Muhammad Abdal Wahhab.
The Islamic State of Medina (622 A. C.) founded by prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) and later carried forward by four of his illustrious successors or caliphs offers a veritable and original model of Islam. It survived only for 29 years (632-661 C. E.) Thereafter, it was converted into hereditary monarchy although the head of state was still called a Caliph.
 The personal lives of prophet and his associates were austere, simple and pious. They wore simple dresses, ate simple food and did not amass money. They dispensed justice in true sense. They were accountable to the community. They drew stipend from the Baitul-Maul (Islamic treasury) hardly enough for their barest minimum living.
 The Islamic authoritarian empire that began with the assassination of the fourth Rashideen caliph Hazrat Ali in 621 C. E, cleared the way for the rival Amir Muawiyah to lay the foundation of the dynasty of Umayyad clan(662-743 C.E. ). The Omayyad were succeeded by Abbasid (750-861 C. E.) and later by a string of other similar Islamic empires (868-1924 C. E.). But essentially most of these regimes professing to be Islamic were oppressive brutal, family dynasties that survived as long they could hold on to power by sword and military muscle.
The Omayyad converted the pristine Khilafat-e- Rashida into hereditary succession or a form of government that was akin to the Byzantine, Roman or Persian empires. Such autocratic Islamic empires continued for several hundred years in some form or another.
 The Ottoman Islamic Empire (1299-1924 C. E.) also ruled over most of the Arab lands including Saudi Arabia. In March 1924, Kamal Ataturk ended the Ottoman Empire, abolished the caliphate and exiled the last Ottoman caliph Abdul Majid- II (second) and founded modern Turkey.  It was a defining phase of Turkish history as it marked the end of the religio-political Islamic empires that had begun with the establishment of the Umayyad absolutist Islamic dynasty in 622 C. E.
 The story of Saudi Arabia, however, is different and needs elaboration. The first Saudi state was established in the year 1744 C. E. (1157 A.H.) following an alliance between Imam Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahab (religious reformer of Salafi or Wahabi sect) and the ruler Prince Muhammad ibn Saud. Thereafter the Saudi dynasty decreed the observance of Wahabi or Salafi creed of Islam in Saudi Arabia.
 As mentioned above under this Islamic system, such practices believed to be anti-Tauhid (oneness of God) were abolished and that abolishment is still rigidly enforced in Saudi Arabia. These practices inter alia seek solicitation of saints both dead and alive against sufferings and bad luck etc. The Wahabi religious doctrine prohibits various customs and beliefs such as visiting and venerating tombs, monuments, graveyards, saints, mystics, deities and spirits. It also decrees as sin to sanctify trees, caves, stones and similar other places.
 In line with the Wahabi theology, the Saudi government has leveled off ancient graveyards where the companions of the prophets and other Islamic icons were buried. The kissing or touching of the outer wall or grill of the prophet’s tomb is forbidden. The diverse customs and traditions that are observed by various Sunni sects as Brelvis Chishtia, Qadria, Naqshbandia etc. and also the mainstream Shia sect are sternly disallowed as being Unislamic.
 Implementing the Wahabi Islam may not be objectionable because, paradoxically, in Iran there is Shia faith that is markedly opposed to the beliefs of various denominations falling under the Sunni category. Rather to uphold the concept of Tauhid is plausible and that is what Islam stands for against idolatry and human shamans (spiritual healers).
 Islam exhorts that the Muslims around the world, irrespective of their region, color or ethnicity are one nation with God as the head. In Saudi Arabia there is acute distrust and discrimination about the Muslims from other countries. No external Muslim can settle in Saudi Arabia. The prevailing Saudi political system manifests violation of Islamic faith in terms of being dictatorial and authoritarian. This system suppresses human rights and dignity and discards a civil society.
 It concentrates power and wealth in a few hands. In this system there is no accountability through courts and national institutions. In Saudi Arabia, the royal family, sheikhs or heads of tribes are above law. The caliph was answerable in the state of Medina. Now he is a monarch and to criticize him or the royal family is a crime. The freedom of expression is unheard in Saudi Arabia and it is stifled forcefully.
 The House of Saud is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia for nearly three centuries. The major portion of oil income that runs into billions every year is distributed among the royal family members. Almost all the royal members are literally sitting on mounds of wealth. They have their private banks, their private jets, luxury villas and palaces in fun cities around the world. Their lavish, regal and extravagant life style defies description and looks like a sheer mockery of the sublime teachings of Islam as practiced by the founder and early disciples.
 Saudi Arabia, the abode of Islam has been turned into feudal, tribal and family fiefdom. No one can oppose this loathsome system of monarchy that survives on the accumulation of national wealth in private hands and servitude of its citizens. The land, wealth and resources of Saudi Arabia belong to the people and not 15000 members of the royal family with 2000 as the elite and notables among them.
 The religious scholars in other Muslim countries decry the Unislamic practices and sinful way of life in their societies but do not censure the Saudi rulers who have usurped power, pelf and wealth and at the same time call themselves as the custodians of Islam or the two holiest mosques: one in Mecca (Kaaba) and the other in Medina. It is a sheer travesty of Islam that judges the faithful by the level of piety and rectitude and not by their social, political and financial standing. Saudi imperial lords have kept the society backward and enslaved so that there is no challenge to their dynastic hold on power.
The Saudi people live under an orthodox and oppressive system that stifles freedom of expression, blocks modern education and emancipation of women.  The conservatism and obscurantism has engulfed that society. The people cannot agitate or protest due to fear of state brutality or else because of lack of realization that they live in subjugation. They cannot form associations for the protections of their rights.
Mutaween or the religious police is the most dreaded outfit whose task is to enforcing Sharia as defined by the government, specifically by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV). They had the authority to flog the violators. Mercifully in April this year the Saudi Arabian cabinet removed the Mutaween power to arrest and limited their power to the role of reporting violators to police or drug squad officers.
During Khilafat-e-Rashida the ordinary Muslims were free to question the caliphs for their anomalies. Such a question was asked from the second caliph Hazrat Umar by a commoner about the larger size of sheet he was wearing. The ruling royal Saudi family is above any censure of their policies and ownership of national assets and oil revenues.
I shall reproduce below a compelling quotation from Wikipedia that so vividly portrays the mammoth wealth owned by the Royal family members.
“The sharing of family wealth has been a critical component in maintaining the semblance of a united front within the royal family. An essential part of family wealth is the Kingdom in its physical entirety, which the Al Saud view as a totally owned family asset. Whether through the co-mingling of personal and state funds from lucrative government positions, huge land allocations, direct allotments of crude oil to sell in the open market, segmental controls in the economy, special preferences for the award of major contracts, outright cash handouts, and astronomical monthly allowances—all billed to the national exchequer—all told, the financial impact may have exceeded 40% of the Kingdom's annual budget during the reign of King Fahd.”
“Over decades of oil revenue-generated expansion, estimates of royal net worth is at well over $1.4 trillion. This method of wealth distribution has allowed many of the senior princes and princesses to accumulate largely unauditable wealth and, in turn, pay out, in cash or kind, to lesser royals and commoners, and thereby gaining political influence through their own largesse”.
In a nutshell the Saudi kingdom is Islamic in name but in practice is clannish dictatorship. The Saudi rulers are averse to democratic institutions, detest religious pluralism, abhor civil society, bar mass education, suppress dissent and keep the society socially and intellectually retrogressive. It is patriarchal government that is at the helm without elections, parliament, independent judiciary and free media.
 As Islam enjoins, in Saudi Arabia there is no elected Majlis-e-Shoora consisting of acknowledged pious and austere people. It looks like a medieval dynasty still embedded in the tribal mold. Saudi Arabia is alienated from it s own people and the rest of the world for not being an enlightened modern Islamic state.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com

Monday, 25 April 2016

JI gearing up for street agitation once again

By Irfan Ghauri

Published: February 15, 2016
ISLAMABADAfter nearly two decades, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is preparing to hold a series of long marches, reigniting its fervor for the ‘politics of agitation’. This time round, however, the campaign is against corruption — financial, moral or institutional.
But while the strategy may seem a little antiquated, the party aims to carry out the campaign with a relatively liberal outlook.
“Corruption is at the top of the country’s most pressing issues today,” JI Ameer Sirajul Haq, told The Express Tribune in an interview. “The country’s institutions are on the verge of collapse. And when they fail, the government will look to sell them.”
“We don’t believe selling state entities is a solution to this issue,” he said. “We need to improve the way they are managed instead.”
Haq sees corruption as to root of why the country’s institutions are failing. But financial corruption, according to him, is only part of the problem.
“Yes, financial corruption is present in every institution,” the JI ameer said. “But there is also moral corruption. There is also electoral corruption when the spirit of the Constitution is violated with impunity.”
“We want to improve the present electoral system,” Haq said. “The current system negates our Constitution. The Constitution clearly states no corrupt person can contest elections, but corrupt individuals not only contest, but win elections,” he added.
“This is not politics. This is a business. And we oppose this.”
Haq held up the recent by-elections in Lahore and Lodhran as examples where contestants spent billions of rupees while campaigning. “Democracy could not be strengthened in Pakistan because of such corruption,” he said. “And financial corruption, in the meantime, has left our economy in tatters.”
The JI ameer said his party had been raising its voice against corruption for the past two and a half years. But since the rulers paid no heed to it, the party has decided to mobilise the public, he said.
Haq did not reveal the exact details of the JI’s planned mass movement, but said the campaign would be carried out in phases and culminate in a final showdown.
“We have planned many things for this movement which we will announce at a news conference this week. We will also lay out our roadmap and plan of action on March 1,” he told The Express Tribune.
Haq said JI will lay down a timeframe before the government for taking concrete action against corruption. “Once this deadline expires, we will go for decisive action.”
Asked as to what this ‘decisive’ action will be, the JI ameer said he is not in favour of any step which will lead to any unconstitutional move. “If we force the government to pack up through unconstitutional measures, the same precedent will be used to de-seat subsequent governments.”
Talking about his party’s new liberal outlook, Haq said JI will welcome anyone with clean credentials, “irrespective of religion or sect.”
“I don’t want to divide society along religious lines. I am against calling non-Muslims in Pakistan ‘minorities’ because this expression creates a sense of depreciation. They are all Pakistanis,” he said when asked if JI will take along non-religious groups in its campaign.
“Unless a person labels themselves non-Muslim or liberal, I am no one to call him anything like that. If I do this, I’ll turn the majority of this country, which is Muslim, into a minority,” Haq said. “Someone lacking knowledge of Islam is a different thing. You can say less people are practicing Muslims,” he added.
But when asked about why religious parties have been comparatively less successful in elections, Haq presented a different argument.
“I believe every party in Pakistan that accepts this country’s Constitution is a religious party. The basic principles of our Constitution are that sovereignty lies with Almighty Allah and that the teachings of Quran and Sunnah are supreme. Whoever accepts these principles cannot be called non-religious. But they don’t follow the constitution,” he remarked.
Haq added that Pakistan’s politics are dominated by the elite and feudal class, preventing the common man from stepping into the assemblies. “We want to change this by brining awareness amongst masses. The first step in this regard is binding political parties to hold intra party elections under ECP’s supervision. Only those parties should be allowed to contest polls that organise genuine intra-party elections,” he said.
“In today’s modern era, ballot is the best way to secure allegiance of people.”
When asked how his party’s planned campaign is different from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ‘dharna’ politics of 2014, Haq said: “They started by calling for vote audits in four constituencies, then they talked about 11, then they stated demanding the prime minister’s resignation.”
“We will not talk about any individuals. We will be talking about the system. Change of faces does not matter. We are against the status quo,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th,  2016.


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Sunday, 24 April 2016

India's Major Political Parties: Mike Ghouse for India

I was researching for major political parties around the world, and could not resist taking a snap shot of India's major political parties - by the number of seats in the Parliament. There 'were' several other major parties that got wiped out in the BJP sweep across India, which are not included. 

The website foundation for pluralism is being converted to Center for Pluralism, it will be about pluralism in politics, religion, society, cuisines, costumes....  Pluralism is respecting the otherness of others. 

One of the few reasons I took the snap is because - 4 major parties of India have 3 women leaders, which we are proud of.  However, we need to pass strong laws to zero in on rapists and women harassers, and work on educating our new generation to believe, feel and act equal with women folks. 

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism,InterfaithIslampoliticsterrorismhuman rightsIndiaIsrael-Palestine,motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) atwww.MikeGhouse.net and www.TheGhousediary.com for his exclusive writings.
Posted by: MikeGhouse@aol.com

'Hamare Abba Jan Kehte Thay,' Mumtaz A. Piracha

    Luckily, I was the youngest of my parents' four sons. Brought up by the parents with complete attention from the day I was born. Wherever my parents moved, I moved with them, though terribly affecting my school education. 

    My father late Faiz Mohammed Piracha was a renowned lambskin businessman in Delhi. He shifted to Karachi in 1945, two years before the partition of India, leaving behind a thriving lambskin business. We belonged to West Punjab and the family (excluding my father) used to stay in Delhi/Kashmir in summer and Delhi/Makhad Sharif in winter. Makhad Sharif was part of District Campbellpore (now Attock) on the border of Punjab and the N.W.F.P. The famous Attock bridge divided the two provinces. Makhad Sharif was on the Punjab side.

    My sole maternal uncle H.M. Habibullah also moved from Amritsar to Karachi and set up the Paracha Textile Mills in Shershah, probably the biggest textile mills in Karachi at that time. Other family or 'khandan' members also moved from different parts of India to Karachi before the partition.

      As most of the members of the Piracha community had businesses in India, it was natural for them to move to Karachi being the only trading hub in post-partition Pakistan. 

      My father was a highly social person having friends like Malik Amir Mohammed Khan of Kalabagh, Khan Sher Ahmed Khan of Makhad, Sardar Hayat Mohammed Khan of Tamman, Sheikh Fazal-e-Haq of Bhera, Nawabzada Dur Mohammad Khan of Multan, Hazrat Nizamuddin of Taunsa Sharif, Syed Faqir Hussain Shah of Mishori Shareef, Hazrat Syed Ismail Shah of Hazrat Karmawala, Okara and so on. 

      Two of his closest friends happened to be Dr Qasim Piracha who had close links with the House of Saud and Brig(r) Fazlur Rehman Kallue whose son Lt Gen Shamsurrehman Kallue retired as Corps Commander, Mangla and later became the DG, ISI--the first retired general to head the agency. He had friends and associates in almost all the segments of the society.

       Lt Gen (r) Shamsurrehman Kallue and me remained friends for 27 years till his death.

       I used to act as my father's part-time secretary as I had learned typing at an early age. I used to make calls and fix appointments on his behalf. I used to go with him to meet his friends and associates. Although the age difference was huge between his friends and me, I had the opportunity of listening to what they talked about without uttering a word and learning the lifestyle of the elite and their philosophies.

       Over the 30 years that my father and me spent together, I learned a few ever-lasting lessons from him.

1. You can either be a friend or a foe; nothing in between. Dosti bhi khob nibhao aur dushmani bhi. But if your enemy comes to you for ending the enmity, embrace him and forget that he was ever your enemy.

2. Never be afraid of dying. Nobody can kill you before time. My father had many assassination attempts but none succeeded. He died a natural death on bed in his sleep.

3. Be bold to speak out the truth and stand by what you say, no matter what the cost.

4. Be responsible for what you are supposed to do. If he had to go somewhere, he will go. He won't wait for his Corona Mark II car or driver. He will ride a rickshaw, taxi or even bus wearing achkan and karakuli cap. He was full of enviable confidence. He was handsome. Tall, well-built, well dressed and fascinatingly healthy. 

He suffered a heart attack while travelling by air from Multan to Karachi. He couldn't figure it out. On reaching home, he just said his tabiyat was kharab. Next day, his ECG revealed he had a massive heart attack. He refused to believe it and refused to be hospitalized. He died in sleep on his second heart attack after a few months.

5. Do whatever you can for your family, relatives, mohallahwala, city and country without expecting anything in return.Even don't recall what you did for whom. He lived by his philosophy. He was one of the most influential persons of his time in Pakistan. His phone call and a handwritten note really meant something to the government officials. Anybody could come to our house any time, day or night, and get a call or note from my father especially when Malik Amir Mohammed Khan of Kalabagh was the Governor of West Pakistan.

      My father loved me so much that he used to call me 'Taj' (Crown), not Mumtaz. I was the only person in the family who could stand up and say 'NO' to what he said. He always respected my advice. May Allah bless him profoundly. He was a truly great man who lived by what he believed and didn't care whether others were pleased with him or not for what he said.

'Hamare Abba Jan Kehte Thay' is extracted from the manuscript of autobiography 'Living Beyond Self' by Mumtaz A. Piracha due to be published in the UK and the US in Oct 2016, In sha Allah.

Tehreek-e-Insaf ka yaum e tasees: Prof Raffat Mazhar

Jinnah ka Pakistan, Bhutto, Zardari aur Nawaz Sharif: Rana Abdul Baqi