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DAWN - Features; February 28, 2003

February 28, 2003


The best democracy money can buy: VIEW FROM PRESS GALLERY

By M. Ziauddin

The way the General Elections were masterminded by Mr Tariq Aziz and Lt-General Zamir Jaffarey in Oct 2002, there could not have been any other result in the Senate elections of Feb 2003 than what was finally achieved by the ruling alliance on Thursday. The EU Election Observation Mission in its final report on Pakistan’s Oct 2002 elections had said that the process of aggregation of votes made in the offices of the Returning Officers was chaotic and not transparent in many places. The involvement of public authorities and the misuse of state resources, the EU report said, played a crucial part in tipping the balance in favour of government-sponsored PML-Q candidates.

Those who were elected through this process were the ones who voted to elect 100 senators for the upper house. And the final touches to the ‘Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ was given by the civil-military duo on the concluding day of the election process when 12 MMA MNAs from Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) elected six PML-Q candidates for the eight Senate positions reserved for Fata . The remaining two went to the MMA. On the two general seats from Islamabad and one each for women and technocrat/ulema, the PML-Q bagged three, with the fourth (general) going to Prof Ghafoor Ahmed of the MMA. There was no way the professor could have won his Senate seat from Islamabad without a generous helping hand from the PML-Q. And this has given rise to the suspicion that perhaps the MMA traded its six Fata seats for one of Islamabad’s to accommodate one of its very senior members and a veteran parliamentarian from Karachi.

However, when the Fata MNAs did not show up at the NA at the time appointed for election — 10am — the corridors of the parliament building started buzzing with loud whispers of money changing hands. The price tag quoted was Rs10 million for each member. And when finally the Fata members started arriving at about 12 noon seemingly fully satisfied to cast their votes, some of those who were covering the event asked, still in whispers: Who is delivering them? Who is the front man? One veteran hack named a name who owns a restaurant in Islamabad. The man had provided similar services in the past as well to the establishment. But in the absence of any clear-cut evidence, one simply has to accept the version of the ruling coalition that all those who voted today cast their votes in accordance with their Zamir!

When the election schedule was announced sometime last year, the senators were to be elected through the list system provided by each party before the general election. Each party were to be allotted the number of seats in the Senate in accordance with the total seats won in the provincial assemblies. After some time, the government announced that it was reverting back to the old method of Senate elections except in the case of Fata where the region would be divided into eight constituencies and the senators would be elected by a direct vote. But after a few weeks in the Fata case too it was back to the old method. The government seemingly resorted to second thoughts and third thoughts perhaps simply to ensure a majority in the Senate for the ruling coalition. This, it seems to have accomplished in a highly dubious manner.

Syed Mushahid Hussain, information minister in the dismissed Nawaz Sharif cabinet has come back to the Senate on the PML-Q ticket. However, on his way back he seems to have lost the credibility that he had built for himself over the years, especially during his solitary confinement after the October 12 military takeover. He first cashed part of this credibility by joining the Kashmir committee constituted by the military government soon after his release from what some of his detractors had described then as ‘protective custody’ because during this period he was kept first in his own ministerial house and then in his sister’s. Early last year, the committee led by veteran Kashmiri leader, Sardar Abdul Qayyum, toured the Middle East, Europe and North America ostensibly to canvass support for the Kashmiri cause. During the trip Mushahid reportedly met PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, in Dubai, but was absent in the meeting Sardar Qayyum held with exiled premier Nawaz Sharif in Jeddah. PML-N sources claimed that Nawaz declined to receive Mushahid. The senator-elect from Islamabad, then stayed back in the United States and returned only last month, a few days ahead of the filing of nomination papers for the Senate elections reportedly with a letter of recommendation from Washington. Isn’t it ironic that the very man who used to ridicule the idea of reaching the corridors of power in Islamabad via Washington and who used to question the patriotism of those who were seen subscribing to this outlandish idea, is himself seen to have travelled the same route to reach a very low rung in Islamabad’s power hierarchy. But then the establishment hardly needed such a letter to re-own Mushahid reportedly because of his gallant defence of Kargil at various fora during his stay in Washington and also because the ruling coalition of civil and military seems to need his spin doctoring skills very badly, especially in foreign lands.

The three highly talented media men of Pakistan, Javed Jabbar, Mushahid Hussain and Hussain Haqqani have many things in common. All the three would shine in any company. All are highly knowledgeable people. And every one of them knows what is right and what is wrong better than most people in this country. When they speak or write, they do sound like men with a sense of history and principles. Perhaps these very attributes of their personalities had attracted the establishment to them. And then seemingly the establishment successfully tempted them into giving up their principles to serve its own interests which the three in their self serving naivete perhaps thought were national interests. JJ seems to have learnt his lesson after a lot of heart aches. HH left the country when he finally failed to get a job in the military set up. It is perhaps now the turn of MH to learn the difference between the officially certified truth and realities of life.

Friends not masters?: NEWS ANALYSIS

By Rifaat Hamid Ghani

NEVER before has Pakistan’s internal political situation been more clearly linked with American policy. This correlation is something other than the familiar fixation about regime changes here being brought about by the United States.

What Pakistan has to offer, and what is demanded of it, in the context of the post 9/11 American-led war against global terrorism dominates Pakistan’s politics. Danger — be it from weapons of mass destruction, refractory regimes or rogue elements — is focused on by the American-led western coalition as having mainly Muslim wellsprings. Whether Pakistan acted through expediency or whether containment of the distorted Taliban extreme is something it wished for itself remains a question mark.

Pakistan’s grassroot liberal political party leadership, which is in Ms Benazir Bhutto’s hands, is personally unacceptable to the Musharraf-dominated regime. The long-term consequences of a suppression which renders her substantial following inert are obviously negative. But in the short term the convenience of dealing direct with Pakistan’s military command in case of combat is undeniable, and appears the preferred option to the world’s champions of democratic values. Our own political conflicts, inconsistencies and dualities are exacerbated by the contradictions America experiences in regard to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Democratic developments (and non- developments) pre and post October 2002 elections have come up against strains and supports provided by America.

That celebrated U-turn, when Pakistan’s military government revised its orientation in Afghanistan, had long been urged by secular political elements in Pakistan. But the fundamentalist strain, with which the military had a tradition of forging a civil base, was alienated. The Taliban debacle in Afghanistan subsequently prompted speculation as to the underground relocation of terrorist elements on Pakistan’s side of the porous Afghan border.

Iran, another Muslim state, neighbour to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, though no friend ever to the Taliban, has also had to allay suspicions as to displaced terrorist elements making it a haven. Iran has already been designated part of the America’s perceived ‘axis of evil’. That axis includes North Korea with which Pakistan’s technological contacts were recently branded suspect by segments in America and the western media. This theorising has sinister implications. The more so as the western coalition’s prism on Pakistan as a springboard to Afghanistan is changing.

When seen in relation to American interests in South Asia, where India undoubtedly comes first, and in the region, where India alone has the potential of counterbalancing China’s strength, the rhetoric of the global war against terrorism which India is applying to Pakistan in the context of Kashmiri resistance is fraught with menace. Escalation of the conflict scenario over Kashmir, which India can effect any time it chooses, irrespective of Pakistan’s belligerence or lack of it, makes a case for international ‘assistance’ at a nuclear flashpoint and the eventual safe-keeping or neutralization of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. The glib, unchallenged rhetoric and pre-emptive modes marking the onslaught on global terrorism have a wide sweep and applicability in the hands of the too powerful or the too well connected.

Without in any way discounting the nature of the international terrorist threat, the qualitative difference between the freedom- fighter and the global terrorist needs reiteration. The line drawn between the terrorist-villain and the soldier-hero is sometimes determined by political convenience and preference. Last-resort militant extremes in a theatre of proclaimed civil conflict cannot be categorized with the heinous terrorism manifest on 9/11. It is an unforgivable injustice if the Kashmiri or the Palestinian is one-sidedly branded terrorist and lumped with enemies of humanity and humane values.

In a converse parallel, the rhetoric of this new global war on terror allows what would formerly have been labelled as simple expansionism to express itself as a moral quest. How moral is the motivational force of impending war with Iraq, even under the sole superpower’s quaint theory of pre-emptive self-protection or a cosmetic UN mandate?

Pakistan is not as closely connected to that prospective battlefield as it was to Afghanistan. Turkey has that place this time round. But Pakistan is on the UN Security Council. A war ravaging Iraq and its people will alienate all Pakistanis. Pakistan’s military-dependent government will be hard-pressed at the Security Council and at home. A war whether resulting from a UN mandate for war or from belligerent action on the part of a coalition of the willing will embarrass Islamabad and enhance fanatic opposition.

In the Afghanistan context, American policy presented ‘the silent majority’ of Pakistanis with a serious dilemma: they could not hope to quash anti-democratic fundamentalist aberrations in their own politics unless they supported their own military dictatorship and aggression in Afghanistan.

General Musharraf could well have moved against fanatic clusters in Pakistan’s politics at the time of the counter-coup. Mr Nawaz Sharif’s pursuit of unrestricted power as the state’s custodian of Islamic practice under the proposed 15th constitutional amendment had created a climate of popular disgust with the misuse of religious tradition.

Liberals and democrats in the middle-class intelligentsia, who do not subscribe to either Mr Sharif’s or Ms Bhutto’s virtues as representative democratic leaders, defend General Musharraf’s inaction by maintaining that it was only against the intimidating backdrop America provided that he could take the firm measures he did indeed take post 9/11. If this is true, it cannot but reinforce American doubts as to the actualities of popular orientation in significant segments of Pakistani opinion.

Democracies offer authentic and visible indices of popular feeling. Pakistan is still denied these despite having gone through the motions of a national elections and the installation of a civilian government. Voluntary abatement of political activity by exiled leaders is only wise, given the atmosphere of regional uncertainties and an imminent move against Iraq. Protest against controlled democracy and political repression could fall between two stools: its leaders could be deemed reckless of national security or accused of cresting a tide of xenophobia and fanaticism.

Government-friendly media here derides them for it, but, because of the situation in which Pakistan has been placed, it is as important for leaders in exile as it is for regime-installed personalities to work out their American equations. And it would be much healthier if America used its leverage with the powers in Pakistan’s government to encourage the natural inclusion of these significant exiles in the political process. For the facility of dealing with monolithic controls has to be weighed against the drawback that they are unrepresentative. Such relationships skate on very thin ice.

General Musharraf speaks of the silent majority. It is silent because the regime took away their voice. The preferred electoral representatives have not become convincing or acceptable spokesmen. At some point, something will burst the artificially induced vacuum.

It would be an even uglier polarization in politics than that experienced under Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif if Pakistan’s new polarities crystallize as an ill-disguised military dictatorship at one end and religious zealotry on the other.

India’s win may serve as catalyst for Pakistan: COMMENT

A CRICKET buff in India has nicknamed him The Eliminator. There could not be a better appreciation of Ashish Nehra’s match- winning spell of six for 23 which helped India achieve a crucial 82-run victory over England on Wednesday night. It was not only Nehra’s brilliant spell but the determined approach of the team and sensible leadership that helped them achieve the much-needed win.

The Indian victory may come as a blessing in disguise for Pakistan, who are still struggling to qualify for the Super Six round with eight points from four matches.

The Pakistan team and its senior members should learn a few lessons from the India-England tie. The disciplined manner in which the Indians went about tackling the Englishmen. Their fielding was sharp — Nick Knight’s run out by Mohammad Kaif being its high point. That dismissal left England players stunned and proved fatal in the end.

Nehra, the unsung hero, added quite a few feathers to his cap on the way. He practically demolished the English batting and in the process ended up with the fourth — third until Glenn McGrath’s monumental feat against Namibia on Thursday — best bowling figures in World Cup history. The young, unassuming seamer has almost single-handedly taken India to a position from where they can now look forward to entering the Super Six — the result of their match against Pakistan on Saturday notwithstanding.

Nehra deserves all superlatives, more so because he is not a ‘superstar’ and does not belong to the ivy league of the likes of Wasim Akram, McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee. Far from that, the Indians a day before the match were still pondering over his inclusion in the lineup because some of them still favoured Anil Kumble.

So far for the Indian performance. One hopes that the Pakistani players and the think tanks of the squad (and believe me there are quite a few there) must have watched the Wednesday match very closely. In fact, they should be watching the recording from now till Saturday.

Pakistan simply cannot take this match as lightly as they have taken two of their previous ones — against England and Australia. This is their last chance — thanks to India, and they have now beat them (and to be more sure beat Zimbabwe).

Obviously Pakistan have to win both the matches if they hope to reach the second round so that if England, by some stroke of luck, beat Australia in their last Group ‘A’ match, Pakistan may sneak into the next round on a better net run rate.

The big question before them is what is to be the strategy. Firstly, they have to change their resent frame of mind and the negative approach which has been so visible in the previous matches including the two they have won.

Pakistan have, if not best, the second best bowling attack — at least on paper — among the 14 participating teams. We have bowling superstars aplenty —India have only one, leg-spinner Kumble. But minus Wasim Akram, all others — Shoaib and Waqar Younis in particular — have so far failed to deliver. It is time they did now.

Against the Indians they will have to bowl a much better line and length than what they have been doing so far. Shoaib will have to push the ‘fastest bowler’ obsession to the back of his mind and concentrate on accuracy. He will have to keep in mind the fact that he will be bowling to world’s best batsman — Tendulkar — as well two veterans of one-day cricket — Dravid and Ganguly.

A lot will also depend on the lineup and the batting order. I for one have lost faith in Inzamam. Of course he cannot be dropped but they better bring him down in the batting order. He should bat at No 5

Although his last innings was far from convincing, one cannot look beyond Saeed Anwar to open with Taufiq Umar. Younis Khan has to be in the side and should bat at No 3, followed by Youhana and Inzamam.

Last but not the least will be the leadership factor. So far Waqar has buckled under pressure. He has to do a lot of thinking and prepare more than one plan of attack. In the last four matches he has glaringly blundered in handling his attack bowlers and quite often exposed the ‘weaker’ bowlers to the opposition for longer spells than was required. This strategy will not work. He has to keep attacking and for that he has to keep one of his main bowlers (including himself) bowling along with the weak links like Razzaq and Afridi.

Importance of Tauheed : FRIDAY FEATURE

By Muhammad Asghar Chowdhry

RISE and fall are two eternal and inescapable natural laws every individual and nation as a whole has to pass through. History endorses the fact that different nations underwent the same: rose up to the zenith of glory and then withered away. Muslim Ummah, however, has been gifted with exceptional endowments that can help arrest the declining course to revert to the previous position of eminence.

The holy Quran highlights this fact by describing it as a general rule in the following words: “For every Ummah there is a decisive moment.” (49:10) But the law also changes: “Allah removes at will whatsoever He wants and adds at will whatsoever He deems fit and lies with Him the original Book.” (38-39: 13) That is why Muslim Ummah survived every setback and efforts aiming at its revival brought forth fresh gains whenever they were in harmony with the basic Islamic precepts.

The holy Quran presenting the modus operandi of the renaissance in “Surah Asar” suggests: “By (the token of) times (through the ages) verily man is in loss except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy”. Analysis of the given Surah brings to fore that only that nation is absolved of the eternal loss and absolute obliteration whose members embody the following attributes:

1) Unshakable faith and belief.

2) Character (of the believers) attributed with piety.

These points are a sine qua non for Islamic revival without which no effort can bring about positive or constructive change in society. The comprehension of the above points needs no explanation. What is required is unflinching faith and strict adherence to the Islamic beliefs as a pre-requisite for renaissance. That’s why we can say that Islamic revival means the revival of basic Islamic values/beliefs in society. Unless this end is achieved no positive change can be brought about.

It is, therefore, appropriate to shed light on the importance of values/beliefs and discuss the position they occupy in individual and collective human life.

Broadly speaking, the values are determinants, which mould and shape human character and give it a new style, a unique outlook, a different way of thinking and an independent behaviour. According to psychiatrists, individual character is conditioned by certain forces, which are called determinants. Undoubtedly these determinants are of great value so far as personality development is concerned but Islam disapproves of these deterministic factors as having the pivotal position in shaping human character. Rather it believes that these determinants can be got rid of by internalizing the fundamental beliefs.

Basic Islamic beliefs of Tauheed (monotheism), Risalat (prophethood) and faith in the revealed books, angels and the Day of Judgment are the foundations upon which the whole superstructure of Islamic faith is raised. If the base is sound the building will survive for long and if not any stormy wind can pull the whole structure down turning it into rubbles. These fundamental beliefs are inter-related and inter-dependent with regard to their very existence.

Tauheed is the first and foremost belief that plays a vital role in fashioning individual and collective human life. It is the belief in oneness of God, which demands true resignation to Allah Almighty. A person, as he embraces Islam, in fact negates every thing including his own self, his wishes and aspirations and submits every thing else to Allah’s will. In Islam true resignation comes first before all beliefs. No Muslim can become a true believer unless he believes in the oneness of Allah Almighty. This belief in turn rids a Muslim of all centres of influence as an individual.

A Muslim becomes totally a new human being apparently wearing the old physical garb but inwardly absolutely new being: One who is God-centred in his perception and God-motivated in his actions. All his actions stem from the Divine will. He becomes the embodiment of Divine will and so his actions become the manifestation of Divine orders.

Such individuals as are possessed of the belief of Tauheed constitute a society, which in the eyes of Iqbal “provides the foundations of world unity in the principles of Tauheed” and stands diametrically opposite to society, which considers “blood relationship as basis” of its establishment.

Iqbal explains the principle in the “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” as follows: “Islam, as a polity, is only a practical means of making this principle (Tauheed) a living factor in the intellectual and emotional life of mankind. It demands loyalty to God, not to thrones. And since God is the ultimate spiritual basis of all life, as conceived by Islam, it is eternal and reveals itself in variety and change.

“A society based on such a conception of reality must reconcile, in its life, the categories of permanence and change. It must possess eternal principles to regulate its collective life for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change.”

This analysis of individual and society governed by the conception of Tauheed reveals that it is the belief which is embedded in ideal nature of man and society as well. A polity, which shuts its eyes upon the above fact sows the seed of its own destruction and cannot stay for long by removing the basic element from its very foundation.

The Muslim Ummah in the present time is very much in need of recognizing this principle and making it a living factor for social change. This is the only remedy for social ills we are caught in.

Moreover, the world, which is on the collision course, can escape the eventuality only by harmonizing itself with the principle of Tauheed, which is common to all original religions.

Bad blood won’t help: GALLERY NOTES

KARACHI: It was all rowdyism and commotion that dominated and therefore marred the proceedings in the first half of the Sindh assembly session on Thursday. Though lasting only for half an hour, it was all in bad taste and uglier than all such previous incidents in the house. An uncalled-for exchange of hot words between some opposition MPAs and Speaker Muzaffar Hussain Shah simply seemed to be adding to the already simmering mistrust between the two sides of the divide.

The Pakistan People’s Party MPAs, Sassi Palejo and Marvi Mazhar, besides Manzoor Shah Shirazi of the treasury benches, must be credited for instigating the rumpus which could not come to an end before Leader of the Opposition Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and Muzaffar Shah exhausted themselves in a full-throated shouting match punctuated by noisy interventions by other honourable parliamentarians from both sides.

It was during the question hour that all this started. Humaira Alwani of the PPP had asked a question about a police raid on a Thatta village and arrest of 40 people which, according to her, took place on December 26, 2002. The answer provided to members by home minister Sardar Ahmed termed it incorrect. He, however, in his written answer maintained that there was a robbery incident on December 3, 2002, in which five bandits had been arrested. Ms Humaira, showing a roznamcha report, disputed the answer. On this the bureaucrat-turned-politician home minister came out with additional explanation that while the incident took place on December 3, the arrests were made on December 26. (One wonders if Sardar Sahib really knows the police practice of taking somebody into custody on a specific date but showing his or her formal arrest in FIR on a subsequent date). As Sassi Palejo stood up and began speaking on the issue, the Speaker told her to observe rules and resume her seat which she would not. In the meantime, Manzoor Shirazi stood up on a point of order and said that no such incident occurred and it was all Bakwas. It was enough to create a pandemonium in the house. Several opposition members stood up en masse to protest which soon turned into a verbal brawl between the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker as the latter repeatedly told the former to resume his seat. Mr Khuhro was heard telling Muzaffar Shah that he would be compelled to move a no-confidence motion against him. To this, the speaker said: “You may try your luck.” As the Speaker compelled Shirazi to withdraw his remarks, Sassi Palejo and Marvi Mazhar again stood and raised their voices over that of the speaker for allowing treasury members to speak. Annoyed and perturbed Muzaffar Shah warned the two PPP ladies of action under rule 197 pertaining to the order and decorum of the assembly. Mr Khuhro stood up and as he started speaking the Speaker told him to sit down. “I will not,” said Mr Khuhro, and as he started moving towards the exit, the Speaker was heard saying “Yes, you may go.” On this, Mr Khuhro returned and, resuming his seat, said: “I will not.” The Speaker then threatened to adjourn the house and asked his staff to produce the order. It was a call for Zuhr prayers which brought to all this to an end.

Later talking to Dawn in his chamber, Mr Khuhro accused the Speaker of not behaving impartially. He also accused Muzaffar Shah of engaging himself in frivolous discussion with opposition MPAs during the question hour simply to provide the treasury benches with a face-saving device. “He probably doesn’t know it, but by constantly threatening to adjourn the house he (speaker) in fact is working against the interests of the treasury benches,” Mr Khuhro said. Referring to what he said on the floor of the house, Mr Khuhro said: “Yes I will bring a no-confidence motion against his discriminatory behaviour.”

But Muzaffar Shah, in his chamber, told Dawn that opposition members were sadly mistaken if they thought that they could pressure him to run the proceedings according to their whims.

“I am under oath to conduct the house proceedings in accordance with rules of procedure and the Constitution,” said the Speaker, lamenting that most MPAs were not doing their homework and had not bothered to go through the rules.

As both the leading actors stick to their guns, one fears if this acrimony would be of any help to run the proceedings in a smooth and orderly manner. — Abu Ayesha