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DAWN - Letters; 09 March, 2004

March 09, 2004


Sindh Assembly member's murder

The murder of a Pakistan People's Party member of the Sindh Assembly, Abdullah Murad Baloch, in Karachi on Saturday is yet another blow to our already vanishing spirit of democracy.

On the one hand we have our own military trying to choke the life out of democratic system in Pakistan, and on the other we have even lawmakers being killed on the streets. What chance does an ordinary Pakistani stand in this vicious circle of crime and vendetta? What will happen to a country where even the lawmakers are not protected?

This murder reminds one of the assassination of Mir Murtaza Bhutto who was killed when he was a member of the Sindh Assembly and whose killers have not yet been identified, let alone punished.

In this day and age where our innocent young Sassis and Hajras are monstrously raped and mercilessly killed while the murderers are at large, not much is expected of the government or its shareholders.

If there is any chance for decent people who are still in our power corridors to give a glimpse of hope to the citizens of Pakistan, urgent practical steps, including an unbiased inquiry into the murder, should be taken.

"Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."- Mahatma Gandhi


Boston, MA., USA


This refers to the murder of Sindh Assembly member Abdullah Murad Baloch and his driver.

The killers of politicians are seldom traceable. During the last one decade, many political leaders and workers were killed but none of the culprits have so far been arrested.

To ensure no such incident takes place in the future, there is an urgent need to provide foolproof security to the members of the assemblies, whether they belong to the ruling party or the opposition.

There are a number of policemen who, due to one reason or another, instead of performing their duties at police stations or in areas of their jurisdiction, are deputed at the residences of their bosses and work there as their personal servants.

Similarly, at times police vehicles are also used by family members of high police officials. This is not only abuse of the facilities provided to the police force for performing official duties, but also a burden on the national exchequer.

The provincial governments should ensure a judicious use of the facilities given to the police force. To begin with, the MPAs should be provided with police security.

Had Mr Murad Baloch been escorted by a police mobile van, his life could have been saved and the assailants arrested.



Vice-Admiral Choudri

This has reference to Mr M. H. Askari's article on Vice-Admiral Choudri (February 29).

I would like to correct two points in that article. First, the admiral did not specialize in gunnery. He was a torpedo and anti-submarine specialist. Second, the first Indian to be commissioned in the Royal Indian Navy was not a Parsi. He was Sub-Lieutenant D. N. Mukerji, an engineer from Bihar. He rose to the rank of captain and took premature retirement from service in 1950.

Admiral Choudri had to resign because he opposed General Ayub Khan's attempts to hinder the expansion of the navy. Even the Quaid-i-Azam had visualized a strong navy for Pakistan.

Very few people know that when the subcontinent was being partitioned, Mr Jinnah made serious attempts to acquire the islands of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal as part of Pakistan.

So astute was his vision that even before partition, he realized the importance of a navy and these islands as a link between the two wings of Pakistan. Unfortunately, General Ayub did not understand either the maritime compulsions of Pakistan or the importance of a navy. He was sea-blind.

There was a longstanding background of differences between Vice-Admiral Choudri and General Ayub Khan, dating back to the time when as head of the navy, then the senior service, the latter insisted upon being regarded as senior in protocol among the three services chiefs.

The general tried, as army commander, to become supreme commander of the armed forces. His plans were thwarted by the admiral. The general was persistently opposed to the navy's plan for acquisition of a cruiser and, at meetings and otherwise, expressed himself strongly in favour of maximum resources being directed to the development of the army and the air force, with the navy's plan being relegated to a lower priority.

The two could not sail in the same boat. While the admiral was a professional sailor devoted exclusively to the fledgling navy, the general was a scheming manipulator for whom power became an end in itself. The admiral resigned in disgust.


Rear Admiral (retd), Karachi

US democratization plan

This is with reference to the letter by Mr. Z. A. Kazmi (February 26, 2004) on the introduction of democracy in the Middle East.

I think Mr Kazmi got off the track when he tried to degrade the democratic institutions and human rights record of America by mentioning that every 50 minutes an American child dies of hunger and more young black Americans are in jail than in universities.

I am wondering what one has to do with another. Yes there is poverty, crime, hunger in America but that has nothing to do with democracy or human rights. I know many people just love to bash the US, but here Mr Kazmi, I think, went too far.

There is lot to be learnt for the rest of the world from America about democracy and values like freedom, equality and justice for all. But the path that the United States has taken to teach these values in the Middle East by imposing them is dead wrong. The US would have been much better off if it had tried to set an example for other societies to follow.


New Jersey, USA

A breeding ground for mosquitoes

It is brought to the notice of the authorities concerned that Block 3 of Karachi's Clifton has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes since the sewerage treatment plant located at Bagh Ibne Qasim has stopped working. The plant has become choked and silted because of the absence of maintenance and the apathy of the authorities.

Sewage is now overflowing all over the road adjacent to the park, causing great inconvenience to the residents, particularly those of Clifton Gardens 2. Besides stinking, the area has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which pose a great threat to the health of the people.

The residents despite several visits to the union council office have fail to draw the attention of the city government officials to these problems. Besides being a major health hazard for the area people, it is a matter of concern for thousands of families from all over the city which visit Bagh Ibne Qasim and get exposed to the polluted environment.

Clifton Block 3 is considered a posh area but lacks basic civic facilities like a sewerage system, sanitation, potable water and streetlights while there is no maintenance of its four parks. We hope the authorities will take notice of the residents' problems and provide them with relief.



'Moderating Islam'

In the article "Moderating Islam" (March 7), Mr Zafar Iqbal has pointed out some pertinent problems facing Muslims in these days. I disagree in his characterization of western forces and I quote his statement: "It also happens that pink faced, alcohol drinking men, who can be seen cavorting on the world's beaches with their slightly clad porcelain beauties, have been kicking the Ummah around for the last 250 years and will probably continue to do so in the foreseeable future unless the Ummah pulls up its socks and faces the reality."

He is totally misleading us to believe that some alcoholics and beach bums in the West are responsible for our state of affairs, or are the backbone of the West's success. In fact, being open to knowledge and reasoning, sense of discipline and organization, which developed over the centuries, is the reason for the success of the West in a very brief terms.


Potomac, Maryland, USA

Thanks to PCB

I got beaten up this morning by the police at the National Stadium, Karachi. My arm is bruised and aching. The same happened to my friend who was slammed with a stick by the police on his waist and from that moment on he has been having problems walking straight.

Our crime is that we showed our ardent enthusiasm for cricket and our team. We went to the stadium at 6am to stand in the cue for four hours (in vain) with the sun soon scorching on our heads and a huge crowd ll around us. It was difficult to even breathe while standing in the cue in front of the ticket counter which never opened for us.

I just want to know if this is what we young cricket lovers deserve. We stood and waited patiently for four hours in the heat but even then didn't become a party to those who reacted rather violently.

I have learnt my lesson and want others to know what it means when a quarter page ad is got published by the Pakistan Cricket Board assuring us of security and elaborate arrangements for the purchase of tickets.

I got myself bruised but I still never got a ticket. Thank you, PCB, for your worthless efforts.



US-Israel-India trilateralism

Consequent upon the US recommendation, Israel has agreed to sell its Phalcon radar system to India for $1.1 billion. Initially, the US administration was reluctant to okay the Israeli deal with India, viewing its impact on Islamabad, but its concerns soon evaporated in the heated expediency of the US-Israel-India growing trilateralism.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has recently visited India and Indian army chief General Nirmal Chandra Vij is scheduled to shortly visit the United States.

New Delhi and Tel Aviv established de facto diplomatic relations in 1992. Jason Issacson, director of the American Jews Committee, has visited India seven times since 1995. The visit of Shimon Peres to New Delhi in January 2002 became an occasion to cement strategic ties between the two countries.

The American Jews Committee plans to set up a liaison office in India, thereby advocating that relations between India and Israel are a natural corollary. Further, Ariel Sharon's visit to India (September 8-11, 2003) was a glaring endorsement of the links strengthened among the US and India and Israel in recent years.

Leavened by the climate of the war on terror, the security relationship between India and Israel has developed into a strategic alliance in tandem with the India-US strategic partnership.

In an article, recently published in The Hindu, fomer US ambassador to India Blackwill writes: "Taken together our defence cooperation and military sales activities intensify the working relationships between the respective armed forces, build mutual military capacities for future joint operations and strengthen Indian military capability, which is in America's interest."

Israeli intelligence agencies have been increasing their relations with the Indian security apparatus, thus helping New Delhi combat militants in Indian -held Kashmir. India and Israel use the same diplomatic shenanigans with regard to their policies towards Kashmir and Palestine.

The Indian design of building unjustifiably and illegally a fence along the Line of Control on Israel's model is the case in point. Israel has become the second largest supplier of arms to India, next only to Russia.

It has provided India with sea-to-sea missile radar and other similar systems, border monitoring equipment and night vision devices. It also has upgraded India's Soviet-era aircraft.

Indian defence officials have acknowledged the acquisition of two Israeli Elta Green Pine long-range radar systems, a component of the arrow ballistic missile defence system. Israel and India established a joint commission at the ministerial level back in 1999. India has participated in a joint patrol with the US navy in the Indian Ocean and even co-participated in exercises in the South China Sea.

Israel's decision of benefiting India with hi-tech phalcon jets and radar technology will entail strategic asymmetry in the region eventually - stimulating a vertical arms race in South Asia and thwarting the peace efforts between India and Pakistan; hence a warranted protest by Islamabad.



PTCL's earnings

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has earned a net profit of more than Rs13 billion in the first half of the current financial year, which has surprised all analysts.

However, it is partly a result of a number of 'surprise bills' received by customers. While the PTCL has reduced international and NWD call charges, the local call charges have shot up owing to the time-bound billing.

The privileged class making overseas calls is benefiting from the rate cuts, but thousands of customers making local calls are suffering. In our country where housewives are used to having long talks over the phone, it is a bit unfair to make millions and billions of profit by increasing the bill of an average customers.

I request the company not to charge local calls on the basis of time. In fact, it should reduce the rate of local calls, too. This will give relief to millions of low-earning families. My request to the PTCL is: do not go for making billions; go for serving millions of customers.



Hoodbhoy's stance

This is with reference to the article in the March 6 edition of Dawn, entitled "Speakers criticize nuclear policy".

The reporter has loosely stated the following: "Dr Hoodbhoy, who is an ardent advocate of unilateral dismantling of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, voiced his ideas and said that since 1987 four times India and Pakistan had become locked in a situation when the nuclear option looked like a possibility."

The first phrase of this sentence is a complete misrepresentation of Dr Hoodbhoy's stance on Pakistan's nuclear policy. I know him well enough to say that he does not believe that Pakistan alone should retreat in the arms race. Such statements only mislead the public into thinking that Dr Hoodbhoy advocates 'sell-out'. Nothing could be farther from the truth.


San Jose, CA., USA

Heavy traffic

It is obvious that the ban imposed by the Karachi nazim on the movement of heavy traffic at peak traffic hours does not extend to some parts of the city. For example, on the main Khayaban-i-Roomi heavy trucks and trailers of all sizes and varieties are seen at all times of the day despite the much-trumpeted ban.

These vehicles cause delays and clog the traffic, but it seems that the city government and the traffic police are helpless when it comes to enforcing the ban on them.



Official attitude

This has reference to the photograph on the front page of your newspaper (February 26) showing Rehmatullah Wazir, assistant political agent of South Waziristan, and another gentleman sitting on two chairs while the tribal elders and others are either sitting on the ground or standing.

This behaviour of the government officials is deplorable. But can one expect anything else from state functionaries who treat the public with contempt?



Misnamed ministry

For a long time I have been bothered by the grammatical violation inherent in the name of the ministry set up ostensibly to improve the lot of Pakistani women. It is called "Ministry of Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education". This is a grave offence against the English language. It should either be renamed Ministry of Women's Development" or "Ministry of Woman Development" or simply "Ministry for Women".

Similarly, the First Women Bank should either be called "First Women's Bank" or "First Woman Bank" or something else.


Washington DC, USA

Change of heart

The United States has indicated that it will ease visa restrictions for several Muslim countries, including Pakistan. It sounds good as the US plans to do this in the next eight months.

The questions arise: how did this change of heart come about? And why just now? Could it be because President George W. Bush wants to give the Muslims living in the US a cozy feeling? If he is re-elected, will Muslims no longer be harassed, demonized and humiliated?


Chicago, IL., USA

Railway station

The Pakistan Railways (PR) is doubling the track from Multan to Karachi. Multan city has expanded towards Khanewal, and it is time the PR planned a new railway station near the Bahawalpur bypass.

A dry port can also be built at this place as ample agricultural land is available near the Piranghaib railway station. Moreover, a modern housing project can be planned adjacent to the new railway station. This will boost both economic activities in the area and revenues of the Pakistan Railways.



'Piety and sin'

This is with reference to Mr Abdul Majid Jaffry's letter (March 1) where he has asked Mr Ayaz Amir ("Piety and sin, balance destroyed", February 27) to provide references substantiating his claim in respect of the role the Ulema played in the creation of Pakistan.

I request my learned friend to read a book by noted historian K. K. Aziz, entitled A History of the Idea of Pakistan, where lies the answer to his question.