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DAWN - Letters; September 1, 2002

September 01, 2002


Transfer of power and Mountbatten

IN his letter (Aug 20), Mr Qutubuddin Aziz writes that “there is now ample evidence to suggest that Viceroy Mountbatten, ... put undue pressure on Mr Radcliffe to alter his Punjab Boundary Award ... to please Nehru who had promised to make Mountbatten Bharat’s first Governor-General.”

From this, one can infer that Pakistan suffered in many ways due to the fact that the Muslim League high command turned down the proposal of having a common governor-general for the two dominions for a period of just seven months.

During a meeting with Mr Jinnah, “the viceroy while stressing the advantages to be derived from having during the partition period (August 1947 to March 1948) a common Governor-General for both dominions, made it abundantly clear that he was not asking for the appointment himself and that it was an entirely free choice of the two dominions concerned.” (The Transfer of Power Vol XI, P.580).

On July 4, 1947, Mountbatten wrote, “... Nehru had put in writing a request to me to remain on as the Governor-General of India ... I managed to persuade Congress to agree that I must also be allowed to accept a similar offer from Pakistan so that I could impartially look after the interests of both dominions during the period of partition.” (The Transfer of Power, Vol XI, P.898). Mountbatten wrote, “this gave me a good opportunity of saying ... that the provision which had been devised to safeguard Pakistan’s interests in partition had been the system of a common governor-general with a high class British staff whom both sides would trust to see fair play.

“I had ... got Congress to agree that an officiating governor-general should be appointed during those 7-1/2 months, and that I would only visit Pakistan territory by mutual arrangements with its officiating governor-general.

“Jinnah categorically refused to accept this ... he was unable to accept any position other than that of governor-general of Pakistan on the 15th August.” (The Transfer of Power Vol XI, P.899).

“Liaquat Ali Khan came to see me. He ... said sadly, “we must do our best but whatever happens I hope that you will stay on with India for otherwise there will be terrible trouble and Pakistan will suffer severely.” (The Transfer of Power Vol XI, P.900).

In fact, the idea of a common governor-general for India and Pakistan was that of H.M.G. Viceroy Mountbatten was simply trying to give it practical shape.

Nehru obliged the viceroy by accepting the proposal while the Quaid-i-Azam refused to accept it. What happened later was the natural consequence of the refusal. What else should one have expected from Mountbatten who was going to be the governor-general of India, and not of India and Pakistan?

The events of 1947 and 1948 confirm one’s impression that unlike the Congress, All India Muslim League had failed to do its homework in preparation of the transfer of power and the establishment of Pakistan.

The disaster that Kashmir represents today could have been avoided had we done our homework at the right time.



Dual citizenship confusion

I REFER to Dr Mumtaz Lakhani’s letter (Aug 26) in response to my views ‘Dual citizenship and divided loyalty’ (Aug 19). I am afraid he has completely missed the point.

The issue involved is a constitutional bar from contesting, being elected and being a member of parliament if the candidate has acquired a citizenship of foreign state. Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution are self-explanatory and there can be no exception.

With regard to Pakistanis who have lived abroad for 25 years and have seen with regret Pakistan burning and conditions deteriorating as stated by Dr Lakhani, I can only say that such people having a high degree of patriotism should have come back to Pakistan instead of working abroad.

The trend which has been going on in Pakistan for the past two/three decades has undoubtedly contributed to deterioration and falling standards but foreign citizens of Pakistani origin only come back to Pakistan when they are constrained to leave the foreign country of their choice or otherwise to take up lucrative employment in Pakistan.

Even this is acceptable as people with education, learning and experience are most welcome to Pakistan and nobody is jealous of them. All they have to do is to merge themselves into the fabric of Pakistan and get classified as Pakistani citizens saying good-bye to dual citizenship if they want to become members of parliament or hold a public office.

Dr Lakhani considers Pakistan to be his original motherland. Is it the US now. If not, we welcome him with open arms but if he believes that Mr Shaukat Aziz was selected as finance minister because in Pakistan you cannot trust leaders and that is the reason why a Pakistani from US was selected, I do not think Mr Shaukat Aziz would subscribe to this view.

Why stop at the finance minister? If Pakistani leaders cannot be trusted, this general statement applies across the board to every leader in Pakistan.

Americans of Pakistani origin are welcome to come back and work in Pakistan in the same way as Pakistani citizens work in America and other foreign countries. Both are expatriates and subject to the laws of the country where they currently reside and work.

If they wish to indulge in politics and hold public offices, they will be subject to the laws and constitution of such country. A foreign citizenship or passport does not carry with it any special benefits and privileges under Pakistan laws.



Karachiites and power tariff

THIS refers to a couple of news items (Aug 22) concerning the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC).

The first one quotes Karachi’s City Nazim, Niamatullah Khan seeking more say in the KESC affairs. I fully support him because it is not understandable how a distantly based could controlling authority understand or be sympathetic to the problems facing the Karachiites.

The management of the KESC should be in the hands of professionals rather than bureaucrats.

The corporation had once gained surplus revenue and excellence in its performance. However, it lost both of the achievements and now its performance has gone from bad to worse.

The other news item which attracted me was the KESC’s demand for a hefty hike in power tariff. Please have mercy on the poor citizens of Karachi as they are already paying so much.

It is not the transmission losses which are causing loss to the KESC revenue. Corruption and within the KESC should not be ignored as among other causes.

It is surprising to note that different tariffs exist for different cities and those levied on Karachi consumers have been the highest.

Will some one please justify the difference in the tariffs (domestic, commercial and industrial) levied on consumers in Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad?

There should be uniformity in KESC tariff throughout the country and Karachi should not be treated as a colony.



Beyond Afghan operation

YOUR editorial ‘Beyond Afghan operation’ (Aug 28) says that a prolonged American military presence in Afghanistan is fraught with unsettling possibilities.

This reminds me of the time when the late Gen Ziaul Haque and his minions literally offered nafil nimaz for the continuance of US involvement in Afghanistan and the prolonged availability of the billions of dollars of aid that used to be funnelled through the ISI to sustain the Mujahideen’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

As things are in Afghanistan today, instability is a mild word, and the portends are dark for any pro-Pakistan regime coming into power there in the foreseeable future. The Afghan foreign minister’s recent visit to Islamabad was significant less for the diplomatic claptrap he used than for the constant frown on his face which betrayed the old and abiding hostility the Tajik and Uzbek-dominated government in Kabul still has towards Pakistan and which President Hamid Karzai can do little to overcome.

Altruism apart, our interest lies in the continuation of an active US involvement at least until Karzai is able to extend his writ to Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, and the majority Pashtoon population in Afghanistan gets its rightful share in the governance of its country, so far denied to it.



Doctor of Philosophy

I WRITE this in reply to Khalid Mehmood Hashmi’s letter captioned ‘A PhD aspirant’s dilemma’ (Aug 4).

I agree with Mr Hashmi that there are a limited number of research journals in Pakistan and I also do not deny that newspaper articles have their own worth. However, I have another point of view that these articles should not be given a place in the same category as the research publications.

Furthermore, a prospective PhD student should be aware of the fact that there are a large number of research journals in the field of management, social and other sciences published by many reputed universities around the world and they do publish a good research paper irrespective of what the nationality of a writer is.

So, I support the Punjab University and the interviewer (whom I have never met) for their attitude, however, they should also consider that there are very few students who wish to go for a research degree, knowing very well that there is no guarantee for learning how to research, in most cases.

I would also like to suggest all the universities (both public and private) in Pakistan to see the fact that on the one hand they should provide a better teaching faculty to teach research to the PhD students (and not merely introduce a PhD programme in their universities) and on the other hand to give a good amount of remuneration to the faculty that they hired to teach research, as they can uphold their interest.

At the time of selecting a supervisor to guide a research student, the university should be aware of ‘recent publications’ of the supervisor as unfortunately most of our PhDs are out of practice and they themselves do not know the latest techniques of research. And those who are in touch, are engaged with the attractive and more rewarding projects of foreign and local institutions; so, it is difficult for them to teach, if they are not highly committed to education.



Pride of Performance

“IT is better to be a swineherd and be understood by the swine than be an artist and misunderstood by the men.” — Soren Kirkegaard.

I was approached by the PNCA/Ministry of Culture, Islamabad, to fill in forms for my nomination on list of the award — Pride of Performance (Art/Painting).

With due deference to my well wishers at the PNCA, I reluctantly agreed to fill in my CV knowing the outcome. Needless to mention, with no surprise, this time, too. The award remained confined to Lahore’s ‘Luxman Rekha’.

I congratulate the winner who is my friend, and my former students who are professors at NCA and Punjab University who got the award and hope my other students who are professors at Sindh and Balochistan varsities, too, will get awards for they, too, are equally talented and some of them paint old buildings and landscapes (of cities, but other than Lahore and its food streets) besides holders of the NIC.



Benazir’s interview

THIS is with reference to the interview of Benazir Bhutto that was telecast on Aug 24 on a TV channel. I wish to register my severe protest and anger at the manner in which the whole interview was conducted and at the tone and tenor in which Ms Bhutto spoke. All she wants is return to power.

She is not frank and successfully manoeuvres the conversation along irrelevant issues. Take for example the statement that Sept 11 was planned by Osama bin Laden and if she were in office no such incident would have taken place.

Every rational analysis leads to the conclusion that Sept 11 event had more to do with events in the Middle East. But here we are with a person saying that Sept 11 event could have been stopped by her, just because she wants to please the US.

Then she observes that the reason for Musharraf’s survival is President Bush’s backing and the former has deliberately wooed the latter to ensure his political survival. Has she herself not tried to be in the good books of the US just to get back into power? Last year, she flew to America to attend a breakfast hosted by President Bush so that she could meet him.

She talks about how much she was victimized during Nawaz Sharif’s rule but she forgets about the extra-judicial killings in Karachi and how 50 or more false cases were framed against Ghulam Hussein Unnar, an opponent of her husband. Unnar was ill but could not get proper treatment on time and died as a result.

But the interviewer did not counter Ms Bhutto even once. Did he forget the Surrey Mansion scandal and the multi-billion wasteful ‘Awami Markazes’ and the opulent prime minister’s secretariat constructed during Ms Bhutto’s rule?



Cuts in NSS profits

THIS July, the rate of return on the national saving schemes was reduced a third time since January, 2001 by 2.5 per cent. In 2001, it was reduced by two per cent and further cut by 1.5 per cent in January-July. Such a drastic reduction of six per cent has severely hit the septuagenarian pensioners, widows and orphans, who are the hardest hit because their source of income was purely the profit on their savings in the NSS which has now been considerably reduced due to cut after cut in the rates of interest.

The present government does not seem to be people-friendly and is least interested in the well-being of the people.

The argument given by the government in defence of this cut is that inflation has been brought down from a double to single- digit figure which is most ambiguous. The prices for commonly used breads has gone up from Re 1 to Rs 2.50 each and so is the case with other necessities of life.

On the one hand, the government says it is working on poverty alleviation but it is creating more poverty by throttling those who subsist on the interest on their savings on the other.

The finance minister, if he is of Pakistan origin, must consider the difficulties of the poor people depending upon the NSS.



Why politicians oppose NSC?

THE formation of the National Security Council is a step in the right direction. It is wrong to term it ‘against the spirit of democracy’. It is a forum that will enable all of the power-brokers to sort out differences and avoid uncalled for situations.

The NSC provides answer to the politicians’ stand that refusal of the security establishment and the generals to accept the supremacy of civilian rule had been the cause of successive derailment of democratic process in the country.

Political leaders, including Benazir Bhutto, have been raising such issues vociferously. The NSC would now provide ample room to sort out all such issues as any member of the Council, including the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, can convene the meeting of the NSC and raise the issues like the ruling party’s highhandedness to victimize the opposition and suppress the voice of dissent.

Wouldn’t it be more democratic to safeguard the interests of the opposition which is considered the government in waiting in all democratic societies?

The politicians who have since long been in the opposition should better highlight the positive aspects of the constitutional amendments rather than just condemning the amendments and strengthen the forces that would again behave in unconstitutional manner if the checks put in place by President Musharraf are rejected.

The armed forces of the country have a role to safeguard the national interests and that they cannot be absolved of the responsibility to come forward and help the silent majority that has been deceived time and again in the name of democracy.



Wheat stocks: position explained

THIS is with reference to the news item ‘Sindh faces wheat, financial crisis’ (Aug 28). According to the report, the Government of Sindh would face financial crisis on account of Rs10 billion borrowed from the banks for purchase of wheat and as the wheat is not being sold, the government is incurring liabilities on account of mark-up, etc. It also suggests that there will be wheat supply problems in coming winters.

I would like to state that, every year, the provincial governments borrow money from the banks to purchase wheat from growers at a price fixed by the federal government which is normally higher than the market price. The federal government agency, Passco, also does it on behalf of the federal government.

All this money is borrowed and mark-up paid only to help small growers and to encourage them for further cultivation of wheat. Because of such encouragements, Pakistan during the last three years has a surplus wheat production. Wheat imports have come to a halt.

In Sindh, during the year 2000, we had 1.7 million metric tons of wheat in our godowns. By June 2001, the stocks got reduced to 0.700 MTs. In the same year, the Sindh government also procured 430,000 MTs from the new crop thereby increasing the stocks to 1.13 million MTs. In the current year, stocks were reduced to 0.690 million MTs. The government again procured 255,000 MTs from the current wheat crop and the stocks now stand at 945,000 MTs.

Off-takes of wheat in the province start from the month of September and it is expected that before the next harvesting season, which would start from March, the Sindh government would be able to dispose of considerable quantity of current wheat stocks. Besides, the government is also considering exporting 100,000 tons of wheat and the TCP is in the process of finding buyers.

As regards damage to the wheat, a negligible percentage has got weevilized due to natural reasons.

The wheat which would be issued to the millers would be free from any weevils.

It is not understood as to how will there be supply problems in winter — as suggested in the report — when our godowns are full?

The government of Sindh is confident that there will be no supply problem. The liability of mark-up will also decrease to a very lowest extent once off-takes start from September.


Secretary, Food Department, Government of Sindh,