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DAWN - Letters; 03 May, 2004

May 03, 2004


NAB and plea bargaining

How come NAB acts differently when dealing with the opposition and the government and its allied parties? How come it doesn't give any relief to people opposed to the present dispensation while others accused of similar or even more serious crimes are allowed to occupy important positions in the government and convictions are overturned and cases withdrawn against people belonging to allied parties in the centre and the provinces?

If that were not the case, then how could the official spokespersons be threatening that Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the president of the PML-N, would be deported if he sets foot in Pakistan? How could the government disallow the return of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif? Why can't they be treated at least as good or bad as the people in government -allied parties?

How about the spouse of Ms Bhutto who has been lingering in jail for the last seven years? During all those years the honourable courts of Pakistan haven't been able to decide over a dozen cases that he is facing except a minor one.

What would one say of the general perception that he could be freed the moment he or his party succumbs to government pressure and strikes a deal? And what a mockery of law and justice it was when in the mid-'90s he was flown from jail to assume the office of a federal minister when fortunes had changed.

This all tells what kind of society we live in and how we have refused to change even after so many hard knocks. How can the present rulers justify following the same ways and means that they have condemned while talking of the past rulers and which they have so often vowed to change? How can one wrong rectify another wrong?


Corpus Christi, Texas, USA


This is in response to the editorial "Plea bargaining" (April 23). Unfortunately, accountability in our country has been used as a political tool to tighten the screws on opponents and uncompromising politicians to alter their loyalties or face imprisonment. This has been the case for years.

If one looks around, one will find quite a number of people holding cabinet posts while their cases have been pushed under the carpet. On the contrary, Asif Ali Zardari is in chains, though the government has been trying unsuccessfully for almost eight years to prove him guilty. Is this not politically-motivated accountability?

Moreover, our president, speaking at the concluding session of a three-day international conference on 'UN contention against corruption' the other day, said some corrupt people had reached parliament and they were hindering the working of the government.

Here, a simple question arises as to why corrupt parliamentarians have not been brought to book yet, when the president is so sure of their wrongdoing. This delay may imply that these black sheep might be worked on to change their political affiliations and become holy cows like some others who are already enjoying such a status.

As far as plea bargaining is concerned, these deals breed corruption because those who have got billions through crooked means offer some amount of it in deals, while the remaining ill-gotten assets are legalized. They also go unpunished. This encourages others to indulge in unfair means to multiply illegal money because one day they may also strike a deal when caught.

The best way to curb corruption is to allow the legal process take its course and those found guilty of money-laundering and black-money mongering should be severely punished, whether they are politicians, uniformed men or civilians. Or else, the mission of the NAB to cleanse society of corruption will fail.



The rank of field marshal

Mr Gohar Ayub Khan in his letter published on April 23 tries to make us believe that Gen Musa was elevated to the office of C-in-C of the Pakistan Army much against the will of Gen Ayub Khan.

He refers to some meeting held on October 29, 1958 in Karachi where Gen Ayub was "out-voted" and Gen Musa was designated as C-in-C instead of Gen Habibullah Khan who had been proposed by Gen Ayub. This is contrary to facts.

Gen Ayub had clearly marked out Gen Musa as his successor by appointing him chief of staff before he clamped martial law on the country. It may be part of his plan of taking over the country when he would need a pliable, loyal and subservient C-in-C.

This was achieved by superseding Generals Sher Ali Khan and Latif Khan who were made to retire. Gen Habibullah Khan was of course appointed his deputy. But the two fell out and Gen Habibullah was made to leave - to concentrate on new pastures in industry and commerce.




I enjoyed the letter "The rank of field marshal" by Gohar Ayub Khan (April 23). The most interesting part of it was that "Gen Ayub Khan in a sense was outvoted by the majority present. Maj-Gen Musa was designated the C-in-C and Maj-Gen Habibullah chief of staff with the rank of lieutenant-general."

It reminds me of an utterance by Gen Ziaul Haq. When the late general did not promote his brigadier, who served him as his chief of staff in corps headquarters, Multan, and was later serving in the presidency, to the rank of major-general, he explained: "Afzal! I wanted to promote you, but, Allah ko manzoor na tha."



Retirement age

Much has been written for and against increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 years. Persons retiring at 60, in good health, fall in two categories: those who are not financially sound and those with no financial problem.

Most retired persons in both categories feel depressed due to loss of the work-related activity. Some readers have argued that an extension in the retirement age limit will mean unemployment or delayed promotion for junior employees. Surely not, as these persons with rich experience can be given a special assignment to train the young generation.

We should also take into account the fact that a retired person does not get due attention and care from his relatives, particularly when his sons are abroad. Our valued combined family system is fast breaking up under the influence of western culture.

A retired person gets frustrated also when he finds that there are not enough libraries or affordable social clubs. When he looks back, he was considered to be very hardworking and useful to his employers, but as soon as he crosses the age of 60, he is no longer important.

I appeal to all organizations to consider extension of service for all honest, hardworking senior employees still in good health. I am sure they can never be a financial burden on the organizations as they can still add to the profit of the business, through their vast experience.



Charging parking fees

Finally, the issue of parking fees charged by the Karachi city government has come up for discussion in the provincial assembly. This is a serious issue and needs to be debated for the public good.

First, one would like to know on what basis the city nazim has decided to impose Rs10 as parking fee when previously the CPLC used to charge Rs5 from motorcars? Also, why is this is a flat rate? In most countries, an urban parking fee is charged according to the location of parking space.

Why has this not been taken into consideration? Nowhere in the world are parking fees charged from 9am to 12 midnight seven days a week. There should be no fees from 6pm onwards in the office areas and maybe 10pm onwards in areas where there are restaurants. Also, there should not need be any fees on Sundays and public holidays.

Finally, people would not mind paying fees if they see it is being utilized well. What we are seeing is that areas which have been earmarked for parking are in bad state and generally most roads are in a poor shape in the city. Under these circumstances the city government has no justification for charging parking fees in the first place.

The question is: where is this money going? We need to know why the infrastructure is not being repaired and instead fancy palm trees have been imported from Arab countries at our expense.



Postings against relevant fields

This is to draw the attention of the Balochistan chief secretary in relation to the postings of engineers in the C&W department. Engineers of different trades/cadres, i.e., electronics, mechanicals, electrical and gas, are being posted against the post of civil engineers in the C&W department.

Although 16 posts of SDOs/ADOs (BPS-17) have been allocated to the engineer of such cadres in sanctioned strength approved by the finance department, 38 engineers of such cadres/ trades still hold posts of SDOs/ADOs (BPS-17), which are designated only for civil engineers.

On the other hand, civil engineers are waiting for their postings against such vacancies.

How can electrical/mechanical, electronics, gas, town planner engineers take the role of civil engineers or design/supervise the buildings, roads or bridges. If such cadres are eligible for the post of civil engineers, so doctors, teachers, clerks, especially contractors, should also be posted as civil engineers.

Moreover, sub-engineers (BPS-11) of these technologies are working as SDOs/ADOs while senior civil sub-engineers are working under junior electrical/electronics, mechanical engineers.

I hope that the chief secretary will not allow illegal action to continue and give due consideration to my appeal in the interest of justice.


All Balochistan Civil Engineers Forum, Quetta

Treatment of Iraqi prisoners

Watching pictures of the Iraqi prisoners being tortured and humiliated by American and British soldiers is shocking. With this latest abomination, America should stop issuing statements and annual reports about human rights abuses worldwide and set its own house in order.




The world is shocked at the photographs of Iraqi prisoners of war, appearing in newspapers and on the electronic media. What else can one expect from the United States of America that attacked Iraq without the UN backing? These photographs are a tip of the iceberg and a glimpse into what the US-led forces may have been doing for decades in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chile and now Iraq.

Human rights activists the world over must protest against these war crimes, otherwise sooner or later it will be us who will be making the headlines.


Via email

How Waqar played cricket

Every Pakistani cricket fan remembers the year 1999/2000. The Pakistani team needed to produce their best to stave off a compelling fight back from South Africa before inscribing their name on the Sharjah Cup with an exciting 16-run victory.

South Africa, chasing 264 for victory, were very much in the running, scoring 198 for the loss of four wickets in the 40th over. But suddenly the fall of three wickets with the addition of just one run choked them.

The man who triggered the slide was none other than the famously nicknamed Burewala Express, Waqar Younis. With successive deliveries in his seventh and the team's 41th over, he removed Nicky Boje and Lance Klusener who was the most feared batsman of the 1999 World Cup, to firmly swing the match in Pakistan's favour.

Shaun Pollock averted Younis's hat-trick with a brace, but the successive blows took the wind out of the sails of South Africa and they had no clue how to handle his lethal pace attack.

Mark Boucher held the faltering South African innings together, but it was Waqar Younis's day to seal a dramatic Pakistan victory by first clean bowling Pollock and then shattering the stumps of Boucher, to win both the Man of the Match and the Man of the Series awards. He ended with the match figures of 4 for 62 to take his tournament tally of wickets to 13.

This was one such example of how Waqar Younis bowled reverse-swing to deadly effect. He was the most destructive bowler of his time who possessed a great bowling action, pace, variety and stamina. Recently announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, he said: "It is a sad day for me as .... cricket has given me everything. It is not only a game, it is a lifestyle."

Indeed, it was saddening for all of us to see such a great bowler who perfected the art of reverse-swing to retire in such a manner after being dumped by the PCB following last year's World Cup in South Africa.

Waqar took 416 wickets in 262 ODIs at an average of 23.84 with his best haul of 7 for 36 against England at Headingly in 2001. He has also taken the most number of wickets in Rawalpindi, claiming 23 in five appearances at an average of 27.

The Pakistan Cricket Board should acquire his services as a bowling coach.



General Zia's ordinances

This refers to Mr Nadeem Ahmad Khan's letter of April 30, titled "Zia's laws". He says that the ordinances promulgated during Zia's regime should be repealed if found "repugnant to the Holy Quran and Sunnah".

I think that the laws to be legislated now should be able to meet the international standards in view of generality of policies adopted by nations throughout the World. Although the laws to be promulgated in Pakistan must remain within the four corners of the principles as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, their consonance with the international standards should not be overlooked.

If an in-depth analysis is made into the ordinances under discussion, they turn out to be nothing more than a "legal nuisance". I feel abashed to see that despite national and transnational criticism, the ordinances are still intact.



Mehran Town development

Mehran Town was established in 1975 by the Karachi Development Authority for overseas Pakistanis, but the allottees are still waiting for the development work to be completed. The cost of the land has been paid in foreign exchange, and the negligence on the part of the Karachi Development Authority is regrettable.

Time and again the allottees have been approaching the KDA, the local bodies minister and other authorities, who have been making false promises about the development of Mehran Town. The only remedy is to satisfy the allottees by converting these plots into cottage industry plots as Mehran Town is near the Korangi/Landhi Industrial Area and is not suitable for residential purposes.

I would request the city nazim to intervene in the matter and issue orders for speedy development of Mehran Town, converting its plots into cottage industry plots.



Green bus service

This refers to the letter (April 18) by Mr Imran Sial on the above subject. Green buses are a good addition to Karachi's public transport, but their number is very small. Residents, especially students, of the Gizri and Clifton areas face hardship due to a shortage in the number of Green buses.

The transport authorities are requested to immediately launch this bus service in the above areas.



'Giving women a voice'

It was good to read Mr Shahid Javed Burki's article which elaborated Islam's role in "Giving women a voice" (April 20). I agree with most of what Mr Burki has to say, except for the part where he identifies "sati" with Hinduism.

Sati indeed was a vile practice in India, but it was born of social ills in the then India. However, Mr Burki should be able to filter social mal-practices from religious practices. There is no room for such vile practices in Hinduism.

Sati was banned by the British only after being pressed upon by Hindu intellectuals like Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The British weren't concerned about sati before that; they weren't interested in Indian society.

Thus, Mr Burki's contention that the British banned sati isn't complete without mentioning Ram Mohan Roy. Witch-hunting, sati, stoning of women and karo-kari are all social ills, not spiritual practices.


Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Housing scheme

This refers to the news items (April 25) regarding a review of the Taiser Town Housing Scheme. I draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the legitimate outstanding claim for allotment of the land applied for under the scheme No. 45, as far back as March 1987.

The subject matter was personally referred to former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah on January 13, 1990, and an assurance was given to a firm to attend to the problem.

It is regretted, however, that the land has not been allotted, nor have the crores of rupees already paid for been refunded.

I appeal to the authorities concerned to ensure the redress being sought.



Safety of prize bond winners

Recently several cases about prize bonds winners being victims of kidnapping, robbery and dacoity have been reported in the press. Considering the state of law and order, no sane person who wins a prize bond prize would ever disclose his good fortune to anyone because of the danger of inviting dacoits, robbers and kidnappers.

In all probability, some of those dealing with this matter are hand in glove with dacoits, robbers and kidnappers who are furnished with the names and addresses of the winners.

It is suggested that the State Bank authorities should transfer all the existing staff of the prize bond department and replace them with other staff who should be specially instructed to treat all information regarding winners of prize bonds as secret and confidential.