DAWN - Letters; 16 January, 2004

Published January 16, 2004

'Joyride of the victors'

Your learned columnist Ayaz Amir has a good pen, but his column "Joyride of the victors" (January 9) speaks of his indecisiveness as to whether he should support the Musharraf-Vajpayee joint statement as an "historic" one, or treat it as just another outcome of no or little significance after an extravaganza of speeches, receptions and protocols.

The writer is very critical of President Musharraf's reassurance to Prime Minister Vajpayee that he will not permit any territory under Pakistani control to be used to support terrorism in any manner. Mr Amir concludes that with this Pakistan has acknowledged by implication that support for "terrorism" was coming from Pakistan. This is reading too much between the lines.

Someone with a different viewpoint could argue that by this Pakistan has excluded acts of terrorism from the struggle for self-determination which Musharraf has been stressing since the Agra summit and before by mentioning the Kashmiris' struggle as indigenous and homegrown.

The Islamabad statement is "historic" when we compare it with what was concluded in Agra. In fact, the conclusion in Agra satisfied the egos of many Pakistanis who enjoy the game of wrestling and cheer wholeheartedly the wrestler of their liking. But to settle an issue of this magnitude which has been destroying both countries for more than 56 years needs much more statesmanship and wisdom than playing to the galleries ad infinitum.

The writer also has reservations about the talent of our military heroes as he is not ready to accept any initiation of a peace strategy from men in uniform. With his stint with the army, he should have known better than anyone else that those who cannot make peace are no good warriors too.




Mr Ayaz Amir in his column (January 2) has chastised the military planners of Pakistan who, according to him, have controlled Pakistan's Kashmir policy since Ayub Khan's time, resulting in strained relations with India, and causing two wars in 1965 and 1971, in addition to the Kargil debacle of 1997.

In respect of the present thaw in relations with India, he says: "It is good we are now opening up to India, good that fresh winds are blowing across the subcontinent. But this should have happened long ago. If the military had not been incharge this rapprochement would have come sooner."

He forgets that strained relations with India over the years were not the doing of military planners of Pakistan alone, but, as commented by your special correspondent from New Delhi (report on page 15 of the same issue), it was also the hegemonic ambitions of India which were holding back India from improving relations with its neighbours, including Pakistan,



Proposal to celebrate 1857 revolt

The suggestion (January 7) to celebrate the 1857 revolt as a mark of solidarity is appreciable. However, it was not the British who took reins from the Muslim rulers. The British came to India as traders. They established business houses under the East India Company Inc. after obtaining permission from Mughal Emperor Jehangir (1612).

After the death of Emperor Aurangzeb (1707), the wars of succession, coupled with Byzantine intrigues, wrecked the empire. Afterwards, destruction of Delhi by Nadir Shah Afshar (1738-39) and six consecutive invasions by Ahmed Shah Abdali (1747 to 1762) ruined the central authority. As a result of this uninterrupted mayhem, the empire lost its resources, and the governors of major provinces such as Bengal-Bihar-Orissa, Deccan and Oudh almost seceded and became independent, with nominal allegiance to the centre.

The weakness of the centre encouraged insurrections of and on, with no central authority to assert the writ of the emperor. After the battle of Buxar (1764), Shah Alam-II granted diwani of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa to the East India Company (1766), abdicating thus his sovereign rights to the British. Subsequently, Maratha power acquired ascendancy to such an extent that Shah Alam out of apprehensions for his personal safety appointed Mahadji Sindhia as supreme regent and C-in-C of the Mughal army.

Then during interregnums came Ghulam Qadir Rohilla who, out of personal vendetta, sacked the Delhi Fort, and blinded Emperor Shah Alam. The princes and princesses were flogged and dishonoured and imperial servants were beaten to death. The entire palace was dug to unearth the concealed treasure. For nine weeks the imperial city had been under siege of the Rohilla marauders. The hapless blind emperor was made to sit in the open, in scorching heat and was not allowed even proper meals. Later on the forces of Sindhia at the instructions of the emperor captured Ghulam Qadir Rohilla; he was blinded and put to death.

The Marathas were having sway over Delhi, and the emperor's power was restricted to the Red Fort. "Hukumat Shah Alam, uz Delhi ta Palam" was a popular saying those days.

In the Anglo-Maratha war (1803) Gen Lake defeated Doulat Rao Sindhia and took Shah Alam-II under his protection. An officer of Lake's army writes: "The descendent of the great Akbar and Aurangzeb was found... blind and aged, stripped of authority and reduced to poverty, seated under a small tattered canopy, the fragment of regal state and the mockery of human pride".

Thus, power was taken not from Muslims, (as they had already lost it, de facto, to the Marathas) but from the Marathas whom the British defeated and became masters of India.



Schoolteachers' promotion

This refers to the letter "Schoolteachers' promotion" (December 9). It is suggested that the preparation of the seniority list for BEd primary schoolteachers should not be restricted up to the year 1992, rather it should be extended to the current year (either the calendar year or the financial year, as the case may be).

Likewise, seniority lists for other offices should be prepared annually for all the staff working under the purview of a district education (elementary) officer (male/female), showing each category separately (i.e. separate categories for MA MEd, BEd, CT and non-teaching staff), mentioning all particulars/information that are required for ascertaining/judging the seniority of an individual at a cursory glance.

While preparing the seniority list for a particular year, it should be kept in mind that the names of employees who have died, retired, resigned or discharged from service during the year should be excluded from the list, and at the same time the names of newcomers, either as a result of transfer from other circles or fresh appointments, should be included in the list of an appropriate category/place.

The seniority lists so prepared/arranged should be provided to each of the school headmasters through the ADO (education). Concerned with the instructions that irregularities/discrepancies, if any, noted by an individual regarding his/her seniority in the list, the same should be pointed out for rectification to the district education officer through a proper channel within a fortnight from the date of the receipt of the list in the schools.

At present, in the absence of any valid seniority list, cases have come to notice that some juniors have got undue promotions by adopting foul means (i.e. having links with higher authorities or through some agents), and have thus superseded their senior colleagues.

This being the case, it is essential to realize that maintaining regular and accurate seniority lists categories-cum-gradewise is necessary to curb sycophancy and corrupt practices prevailing in the education department.



CPSP regional centre

This refers to the news item "CPSP not allowed to set up office on CHH premises" (January 7). It is clarified that the College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) was allotted a piece of land, measuring about 1,500sqyd, at the old building of Orthopaedics Ward of the Civil Hospital, Hyderabad, for the construction of a regional centre there, vide a Sindh health department letter No. HD(P&E) I-2 (573) 2002, dated March 7, 2003.

The land in Hyderabad is being acquired to set up a CPSP regional centre at a cost of Rs10 million, from CPSP's own resources, for meeting the academic needs of postgraduate medical trainees of the area.

The learning and academic facilities will include a medical library, a resource centre, a computer lab, with access to the internet and virtual soft libraries having instant availability of updated medical knowledge in every field of medicine, besides the current issues of thousands of accredited medical journals of international repute.

Other physical facilities will include lecture halls equipped with multimedia and other state-of-the-art learning facilities for educational workshops for both trainers and trainees, besides facilities for conducting FCPS examinations for the benefit of local medical professionals and trainees.

It would have otherwise cost them much money in respect of travelling, board and lodging to avail themselves of these facilities in Karachi and other major cities.

It is regrettable that the despite issuance of the allotment order and confirmation, possession of the land has not been given to the CPSP. Till regular accommodation is made available, we are thus forced to close down our Hyderabad centre, together with all postgraduate academic activities being provided to the medical postgraduate trainees and fellows.

The statement attributed to the Civil Hospital sources that the CPSP charges from Rs30,000 to Rs40,000 as admission fee and an equal amount as examination fee is not correct. In fact, the examination fee for the FCPS examinations is Rs9,000.


Sr. Executive Officer, CPSP, Karachi


This refers to the editorial "Primacy of Education (December 23) that says the total population of school-going children between five and nine years of age is 50 million in Pakistan, out of which 13 million do not go to school at all.

According to the population census figures, the data referred to above appears incorrect. The total population of school-going children in the five-nine age group has been reported as 20,215,016 (20.22 million) in the 1998 census report (table 14). The 1981 census report gives the figure for the same age group as 11,342,337 (13.14 million), indicating the annual average growth rate at 2.57 per cent.

While projecting the population in the same age group up to March 2003, based on the average annual growth rate of 2.57 per cent, it comes to 22,949,846 (22.95) million), and not 50 million as reported in the editorial.


Deputy Census Commissioner, Population Census Organization, Karachi

KESC zone

The societies zone of the Karachi Electric Supply Company has devised a new way of generating revenue by sending a non-meter-read round-figure bill that is five/six times the normal monthly bill, thereby trying to hoodwink the consumers and threatening them with disconnection if the bill remains unpaid by 10th day of the month (the last date).

Is it fair? If not, will the KESC boss take corrective steps to remedy the situation?



The many shades of 'stand-up'

Reading the letter under the above headline (January 11), I thought Mr Omar R. Quraishi had started trying his talents at lexicography a la Russell Baker, William Safire (whom I address as "Old Father William"), James Kilpatrick or Smallweed. But it seems he has kicked off a debate; Syed Abdul Rafay picked up the gauntlet on January 13.

But the scholarship failed to impress. First, Bush had called Musharraf a "stand-up guy". Mr Quraishi acknowledges it in the title of his epistle. It would be clear to the most myopic eye that here stand-up is a compound word, used as an adjective to qualify the noun "guy".

Secondly, as Mr Rafay has suggested, Bush, as an American, would be speaking the "President's English" rather than the "Queen's English". So, he was barking up the wrong tree by looking up the COD or Wordsworth's or King Lear, which Dubya would not have read.

Therefore, it was totally otiose to look into the verbal use of the phrase "stand up", in which case it always takes a preposition like "for, to, or with" as in the concluding sentence of Mr Quraishi's own letter. Yet he has tried to read George Bush's mind and reconsiders him as a confused codger who "couldn't clearly say" what "he had in mind". He says: "Other common idiomatic uses of 'stand up' are 'to stand up for (someone or something), which is to defend or support (someone or something) in a dispute - which is what Mr Bush had in mind but couldn't clearly say." Fantastic!

Even Condoleezza Rice could not so deftly read the Bush mind. But whom or what is Musharraf defending or supporting? It is not Bush who couldn't say clearly what he had in mind; it is Mr Quraishi who couldn't clearly understand plain English.

Mr Rafay has, in a display of punditry, further added to the confusion. He does not let us on to which Webster he consulted, because there are more than one, but treated us to some far-fetched meanings of "guy", which are quite irrelevant to the point at issue.

All this harangue was unnecessary. My Merriam Webster defines "stand-up" (adjective) as "erect, upright". And "guy" as "man; fellow". Bush, when he called President Musharraf a "stand-up guy", could not but have used the phrase as an adjective. He meant that the Pakistani president is an "upright man". Plain and simple!



Renovated roundabout

A few days back your newspaper published a report that says the Karachi nazim has the Gurumandir roundabout reconstructed and renovated. However, traffic lights at the intersection function intermittently, causing frequent disruptions in the traffic flow.

Chances of accidents are ever present as one finds drivers of buses, minibuses, rickshaws and private automobiles jumping the traffic lights from all directions, because except for a lone cop there is no proper arrangement for traffic control. Moreover, pedestrians find it difficult to cross the roads leading to the intersection.

Rickshaws are normally parked outside a hotel opposite the roundabout. Bus and minibus drivers stop their vehicles at this roundabout at will or at the behest of passengers. However, if by chance traffic constables are found in at this place (not on their normal duty), one can see them negotiating with drivers some graft money, little caring whether the traffic is blocked in the meantime.

The relevant authorities are requested to depute traffic constables at this roundabout during rush hours so that no accident takes place and pedestrians are able to cross the roads fearlessly.



Banking facility

I would like to draw the attention of the Services Corporation, a subsidiary organization of the State Bank of Pakistan, to the absence of adequate banking facility in a large area of Karachi, which has developed into a heavily-populated zone in the last 10 years.

If one proceeds beyond NIPA Chowrangi on University Road towards the Malir cantonment, except for a small branch of Habib Bank, the available banking facility is most inadequate.

On both sides of University Road, immediately after NIPA Chowrangi, a huge number of bungalows and apartments have been raised, and the residents are suffering greatly as a single small branch cannot meet the banking requirements of the entire area.

The SBP governor is requested to advise some other banks to open their branches in the vicinity of Safoora Goth. These branches, if opened, would provide the much-needed relief to the residents, besides offering business opportunities to the banks in a developing area.



Kashmir issue

The recent Saarc summit in Islamabad is being hailed as a landmark and a move towards archiving peace. But the question is: what has Pakistan really got out of it?

Pakistan has showed flexibility in its previous stand on the Kashmir dispute. Has there been any change in the stance of India?


Stockholm, Sweden

Working of CIRC

It appears that the Corporate and Industrial Restructuring Corporation (CIRC) has become insensitive to public consternation at lack of progress in completing its assignment. It has now become certain that the CIRC establishment is seized more of finding ways to prolong its life rather than revamping the economy by infusing a fresh life into the sick structure of closed industrial units.

The corporation's claim to have disposed of 80 sick units out of nearly 4,000 units is not at all vouched by ground facts. It gives figures only but not the names of the so-called disposed of units.

On the other hand, there are cases where fresh owners/bidders have accepted all terms and conditions, deposited 10 per cent down payment long ago, and are prepared to pay the remaining at one go, but their cases have been hanging fire for quite some time. The 11th meeting of the board was held in August last, and since then all has been quiet on the CIRC front.

It is unfortunate that CIRC people consider themselves above accountability. I wonder who can take them to task. Each closed unit is capable of providing employment to hundreds of people. The CIRC is doing a great disservice to the economy by its ineptitude.



Complaint to PTCL

The telephone No. 6667675, Orangi Town, Karachi, has been out of order since February 12, 2003. I have lodged many complaints both on telephone numbers 0800-44544, 106 and 18, and in writing, but no action has yet been taken by PTCL authorities. Even a complaint in writing to the PTCL complaint centre at Awami Markaz has not produced any result. Some time back my son visited the Orangi exchange, but in vain.

The officials concerned at the Orangi exchange are requested to look into the matter, as it has already been 10 months since the phone stopped working.





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