Representation at the UNSC
At a time when UN reform is being considered, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan are lobbying to get permanent berths on the Security Council with veto power.
Pakistan's stand on this issue, as enunciated by a foreign office spokesman, is that there should not be any 'new centres of privilege' in the Security Council. The body can be expanded beyond its present membership of 15 but without veto power by including non-permanent members to give representation to several other regions (Sept 21).
Many other countries support this stand. However, if new permanent members with or without veto power are to be inducted, then the OIC, as a representative of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, must be included for several important reasons.
The Muslims form the largest grouping of people, constituting nearly one-fourth of humanity. Their problems have a very important bearing on global affairs. Muslims of several countries/regions such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir, Kosovo and Palestine are either under foreign occupation or are undergoing or have undergone genocide and repression.
The Muslim world also possesses a large chunk of oil and gas reserves which are on the one hand critical to the smooth running of the world and, on the other, in danger of being taken over directly or indirectly by outside powers.
The just resolution of the political disputes facing this biggest segment of humankind is extremely important for durable peace in the world, as also pointed out repeatedly by President Musharraf. In a recent statement, he referred to the "challenges of extremism, terrorism, misperceptions and political deprivation born of non-resolution of political disputes involving Muslims" and called upon the US to play a vital role in ensuring justice for them (Dawn, Sept 17).
Therefore, it is obvious that the Muslims must get a seat in the UNSC so that they do not feel left out and are empowered to resolve all problems facing them or other religious groups and countries. If India, Brazil and South Africa can be seen as serious candidates, the OIC is even more deserving of inclusion.
The question as to which particular country should be nominated by the OIC can be resolved in the following manner:
Pakistan - being the second most populous Muslim country, the only Muslim nuclear power with a crucial geo-strategic situation, the largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping missions and having very good relations with the only superpower - appears to be the best choice. Saudi Arabia, with its holiest Islamic shrines and consequent sanctity for all Muslims, is another possibility. Perhaps the seat could alternate between these two countries periodically.
Another option could be to have a list of eight countries, with Indonesia and Malaysia covering Far Eastern Muslims, Bangladesh and Pakistan representing the South Asian fraternity, Egypt and Saudi Arabia representing the Arabs, and Iran and Turkey speaking for Central and West Asian as well as western members of the Ummah. Each of these countries could occupy a UNSC seat for one year by rotation.
Pushed to the wall?
Our stock market was near about 6,000 points and all the credit was taken by our financial wizard Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who also claimed to have turned our economy around.
Today the stock market has crashed to 5,000 points and is inching towards 4,000. Who should we hold accountable? Should not Mr Aziz and the CBR be held accountable?
When the stock market was doing so well, what were the reasons to undermine it with a levy of CVT and the margin financing scheme?
The government claims they wanted to bring stockbrokers into the tax net. That is fine, but was there no other way to do this? Could they not have tightened their tax collecting department, which is one of the most corrupt? Is this the real reason or is it their desire to collect more and more revenue so that they can spend extravagantly?
With government expenditure shooting up, specially the cost of the 60-plus cabinet, which will cost Rs200 million or more, and the defence budget, which has been increased to Rs189 billion, the government has to devise ways to increase their income by hook or by crook.
Has the government not learnt its lesson from seeking to net traders into the tax net through coercion? In Sindh the government was 70 per cent successful but in Punjab it was a total failure and not more than 20 per cent have been brought into the tax net even till today. The finance ministry and the CBR had to face violence and resistance from the Punjab traders. Why can't the CBR enforce the tax net in Punjab, especially Lahore, even today, to make up their lost revenues?
Mr Aziz was responsible for destroying the middle class in Pakistan by destroying the national savings schemes (NSS). First, the profits were reduced and then taxes were levied. The middle class for whom the NSS were launched has been driven into the wilderness because they do not know where to invest and from where to earn their living. They have been driven into the stock market about which they know very little. Today the middle class has lost 40 per cent of their investment, thanks to Mr Aziz and the CBR. The conspiracy to destroy the middle class is working well - the status quo has been saved.
The opposition parties should take up this question in the national and provincial assemblies and prove to the middle class that they are on their side, that is, if they want votes from the middle class.
DHA development charges
I have come to know from a news item in Dawn (Sept 19) that the DHA, Karachi, is demanding development charges from those who own plots in Phase VIII and Phase VII Extension. The decision has come as a bolt from the blue as the owners were not informed about these charges when they bought their plots.
Consider this case: a man dies leaving a 1,000-sq yds plot for his widow in Phase VIII, which he had bought many years ago when the prices of plots were low. Now the DHA asks the widow to pay one million rupees on the plot as development surcharge. If she does not have that big amount, she will not have any option but to sell the plot, thereby depriving herself of the only asset she has.
It appears that, in view of the recent surge in property prices, the DHA has decided to share the profits being made by short-term investors who are artificially raising property prices by buying and selling plots in the short term. The DHA should seriously consider the hardship to be faced by those who are not involved in these profit-making activities.
One way could be to levy this surcharge only on transfers of plots. This way the new buyer will know in advance how much money he needs to pay in order to get a plot which he is considering buying. At the same time those who intend to build a house will not be put to any hardship as they have not made any money from the hike in these prices. Justice demands that buyers should know in advance what the price for a plot is so that they can make a better decision rather than being told to pay additional charges once they have acquired a plot. These subsequent charges are always considered gross injustice by societies which believe in justice.
I hope that the senior management at the DHA will reconsider their decision.
Mulk Raj Anand
I had met Dr Mulk Raj Anand in 1964 at a conference of Afro-Asian writers held at the Nudo's Hotel premises on Upper Mall, Lahore. Dr Anand was a great art historian and an art critic with a profound knowledge of aesthetics.
I sought his help in connection with my thesis 'Paintings during Sikh rule', reminding him of his articles in Marg, Modern Review and Rupam. He was kind enough to invite me to breakfast at the hotel the following morning.
He introduced me to Dr Naryan Bendre, well-known Indian painter and head of the department of fine arts at Baroda University. Both great men impressed me with their unassuming behaviour, sincerity and absence of arrogance. I have acknowledged their help in my dissertation submitted to Punjab University.
Under Dr Anand's direction I discovered murals covered with dust and dirt at the Sishmahal and by removing dust and mud, a very colourful Ras Lila mural at the entrance of the Sishmahal courtyard at Lahore Fort.
Dr Anand was then dean of arts and literature at Punjab University, Chandigarh. He showed keen interest in my research project and asked me to speed up and have it published at Chandigarh under his care because W. C. Archers' book, on the subject was due in a year's time. (Archer was curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and perhaps, if I am not wrong, S. F. Aijazuddin was helping him in his pursuit of Sikh connections)
Dr Anand was a great admirer of Faiz and considered him the poet of century whose worth would be realized in centuries to come. Dr Mulk Raj Anand's death is both a personal and a regional loss.
PROF A. R. NAGORI
Quaid-i-Azam's house in Mumbai
I request the foreign office to let the nation know what the government of Pakistan has done to enforce Pakistan's claim to the Quaid-i-Azam's palatial house in Malabar hills, Bombay, which is now called Mumbai?
The government of India had seized control of this house soon after partition in 1947 and there was a move in New Delhi to declare it as evacuee property. The house was rented by the Bombay administration to the British government to set up their consulate there.
In 1983, when I was serving at the Pakistan high commission in London, I was asked by the Foreign Office to persuade the British government to vacate the Quaid's house, which it promptly did. Since then it has been lying empty.
Pakistan wanted to set up its own consulate in the building. In subsequent years, no progress in this matter was made and it lies in a state of limbo. It is now for the Pakistan government to pursue the matter vigorously and set up its consulate in the building or establish a Jinnah museum there.
'The uniform tangle'
This has reference to your editorial "Uniform tangle" (Sept 17) and the article by Prof Anwer Syed, entitled "Uniform debate" (Sept 19).
I protest against Prof (Dr) Anwar Syed's remarks that in certain quarters, including the military, our aspiration for democracy is seen as extravagant and frivolous. Ever since we lost East Pakistan, the army as an institution has been continuously criticized, which does not appear to be a just and fair course of action.
In the army we do not normally talk of politics. The involvement of the top brass of the army in some situations of national politics cannot be denied, but the rank and file of the army do not elect their commanders. If some of them acquire a political role, then it is not necessary to blame the entire institution as being responsible for the undemocratic acts of the few. You certainly do not expect army units to fight each other. Despite any dissent one may express, orders have to be obeyed unless they become unlawful commands when some of the officers will have the moral courage to say: sorry, sir. Anybody who is COAS has to be respected and obeyed. The loyalty remains to the commander and not to the individual.
It is for this reason that when political roles are thrust upon or acquired by generals they feel more secure in remaining in uniform.
Democracy is the best form of government and this is a point which is not debatable.
Like it or not, the fact remains that Gen Pervez Musharraf's situation is different. He has been elected by both the houses of parliament. Although he has the support of 56 per cent members of the National Assembly, his direct support may be more. The calculator which has worked out 96 per cent support needs to be replaced. Why are some people urging him to continue as COAS? Do they not have enough confidence in the system of governance so much overhauled during the last few years?
When the National Security Council was being constituted, many of us wrote against it. At that time, the argument given was that it would provide a forum for the chiefs of armed forces, especially the COAS, to present their views and prevent enforcement of martial law and dissolution of assemblies.
The president as the C-in-C of the armed forces in the presence of the National Security Council will have enough authority to ensure that his instructions are followed. A COAS who tends to be unnecessarily defiant can be retired. Let us hope that nobody will take an unconstitutional step and judges of the Supreme Court will prefer to retire in unison rather than supporting an undemocratic system in the future.
If the president continues as COAS after Dec 31, it would cause unnecessary and avoidable political agitation leading to instability and economic depression.
Gen Musharraf's retirement as COAS will certainly increase his prestige, at both national and international levels.
In case the president apprehends that despite all the authority vested in his office, he will not be able to govern effectively, he should then seek retirement like president Gen Charles de Gaulle did. This is how he will enshrine himself in the hearts of the people of Pakistan.
BRIG (retd) S. K. H. M. BOKHARI
This refers to the report "Lack of interest causing decline of sports" (Sept 15). I regret to point out that none of the former greats has correctly diagnosed the disease. The lack of interest, devotion, sense of purpose and honesty displayed by educational institutions and sports administrators has eaten into the essentials of sports.
Pakistan ruled supreme in the world in certain sports when the facilities and infrastructure that exist now had not even been thought of.
Standards will never improve unless educational institutions change their attitude and evolve a scientific system to locate and groom unexplored talent. Sports bodies will also have to come out of drawing rooms and dirty their shoes to scout talent in unchartered rural areas.
It is a shame that a small country like Qatar boasts of a world record holder but Pakistan - a country of 150 million people - stands nowhere. I am convinced that dedication and the desire to excel will help us regain our lost glory.
People seeking office in sports bodies have to be sincere and devoted to shouldering responsibilities that accompany such appointments. A stage has now been reached to rid the sports bodies of self-seekers.
KHAN A. SHAMSHAD
Foreign TV channels
Mr Usman Naeem ("Foreign TV channel", Sept 30) writes: "Some of the programmes can be very embarrassing to watch with family." I don't know what to make out of this sentence. Are we all helpless creatures? The answer cannot be simpler. If that is the case, then don't watch these programmes.
This is something that happens in India also, and I only feel sad that people are only too happy to allow (in this case pleading for it) themselves to be shepherded. We must display that we are intelligent, freedom-loving people with a sense of discretion if we want our governments to take us seriously.
"We don't have any doping control arrangements. It's too expensive an exercise and we can't afford it," said the organizing secretary for the 29th National Games (Dawn, Sept 29)
Is this how we want to prove to the world that we are capable of holding international sport events?
I refer to recent columns on the distinguished writer Ashfaq Ahmed. Two points have been made. One, that he had a lot of talent in story writing and radio and TV plays. This is very true and full credit would always be given to him, and his work shall always remain a part of our literary history. However, the other point is somewhat debatable. It is about his mysticism.
He remained very close to Gen Ziaul Haq for a long time. What Zia has done to the country and its people is well-known. How could a person who compromised with authority be presented as a 'sufi'? An intellectual has the social obligation to stand up to evil.
The same happened in the case of Qudratullah Shahab. In his autobiography, he has presented himself as a 'sufi' and his admirers who write about him do the same. This is after Mr Shahab had served Ghulam Mohammad, Iskandar Mirza and Ayub Khan who all destroyed the country.
It is my request to our intellectuals to write to be objective.
Revival of KCR
This refers to the editorial "Reviving the KCR" (Sept 28). Karachiites must be fed up with hearing on and off of various mass transit schemes, particularly revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR).
All high-flying (elevated, magneto, etc.) schemes are economically unviable. The only practical solution is in revival of the KCR, which can be done through our own financial and technical resources.
However, President Gen Musharraf should ask the Sindh governor and the chief minister or the Karachi nazim to appoint a person with full administrative and financial authority to coordinate with all related agencies/authorities to get the KCR project going. If the will is there, it should not take the authorities more than a year to revive the
KCR. NAZIM F. HAJI
In his letter (Sept 21) Lt-Col (retd) Syed Ahmed has criticized the prime minister for the size of his government - 61, including three advisers. He has compared this to 67 in India. Far from criticizing the PM, he should be praised for his foresight.
If the present dizzying rate of our economic development continues, we shall soon be equalling or even surpassing India. There will then be room for the PM to appoint six more ministers to bring us on par with India.
BIRJIS HASAN KHAN