DAWN - Letters; 30 June, 2004

Published June 30, 2004

Jamali and democracy

Pakistan's 'democracy' has yet again revealed its much-maligned face through the happenings of the day. From afar, one cannot but marvel at the incredible events and happenings through which an already distorted political system continues to be ruthlessly mutilated beyond recognition.

Very recently, a certain Zafarullah Jamali, a nobody to the common man, was thrust upon the masses by the president and his "establishment". Now, this same gentleman has been unceremoniously elbowed out at the whim of the same establishment.

Another unknown-to-the-people, Shaukat Aziz, former finance minister, stands ready to sit on the throne and lead our National Assembly of elected representatives. Democracy requires our people to choose an elected body, in our case parliament, which then elects the prime minister.

Our prime ministers are chosen first, and then elected to the assemblies, where they try (and fail) to lead the masses. Worst still, on top of all this we get to hear grandiose dictums on 'true democracy' that "did not exist" in Pakistan before (interview to Britain's Sunday Telegraph by General Musharraf, June 20).


Indianapolis, IN., USA


I am writing this letter with reference to the resignation of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as prime minister and the nomination of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim prime minister until Shaukat Aziz is elected to parliament as MNA and then made as future prime minister.

The mere fact that the former prime minister had no clue of the upcoming end of his tenure only a day before his announcement that he had not been asked to resign shows the authority of a single man over the representatives of the people. Mr Jamali's arbitrary removal is a blatant violation of the Constitution which holds all other institutions below that of parliament - more than that of an army general.

Further, an elected representative is being forced to vacate his seat to make way for Shaukat Aziz in order to strengthen the president's hold on the politics of the country after he sheds his uniform.



Hotel management institute

The Pakistan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (PITHM) was started with great efforts to develop trained manpower in the hotel industry for both national and international employment. It came into being in 1967. Later, during the '70s, the Bhutto government gave it financial and technical support through the UNDPO/ILO.

For the last 35 years, the institute has trained thousands of Pakistanis in the fields of hotel front office, cooking and bakery, housekeeping, stewardship, tourist guide, service purser and general servants.

The government, realizing the need for trained manpower as a pre-requisite for tourism development, considered that tourism and hotel training were part of the overhead of tourism development and took charge of this responsibility among other national socio-economic development strategies.

The NWFP has a much bigger and fully equipped institute with the financial support of the Austrian government. The PITHM and the institute in the NWFP are in the public sector, but only the institute in Sindh is being privatized.

People from the poor and lower middle classes had an opportunity to study in this institute at lower rates (compared to the same type of institutes in Asia) which would fetch them jobs in Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries.

The new fee structure will be so high that middle class students may not be able to take advantage of this institute as they used to. The privatization of this institute will not solve the problems of the young cadre, who have been suffering from unemployment. The federal ministry of minorities, culture, sports, tourism and youth affairs must consider the future of this institute, as well as the future of the youth of Sindh.



Producing 1,500 PhDs

I read with interest the letter by Dr Yaqoob Bhatti about the plan of the Higher Education Commission to help the univeristies produce 1,500 PhDs per year. Before we assign a wishful number to PhDs the HEC intends to produce, we need to establish educational and research institutions in Pakistan equipped with modern libraries with easy access to contemporary and old literature, well-equipped research laboratories, and most important, qualified and experienced experts and personnel to conduct research.

The scholars must have the freedom to express themselves and to explore and investigate in all scientific and technical fields. Is there any university or college in Pakistan which has these prerequisites? Serious commitment of resources and heavy investment is needed to promote research.

For almost 60 years, successive governments have failed to make this commitment. Is there a will to do this today? If not, I would rather ask the young men and women to work hard, get the best grades and seek admission to universities in the West.

My personal experience of 40 years ago was that with the best academic record from a Pakistani institution I was offered admission to a PhD programme and financial assistance by institutions in the UK, the US and Germany without even an application from me. My advice to the aspiring young students: Work, work, and work hard. The harder you work, the luckier you will become.

I believe that the most important investment Pakistan could make would be in this most important field. A small effort has been initiated to attract foreign and expatriate Pakistani scholars to Pakistani universities and research centres.

It is still to be seen that those responsible for that programme will recognize and invite real talent to help advance the status of research and scholarly activities in Pakistan.


Via email

'KU plagued by problems'

This has reference to the report "KU plagued by problems" in Dawn Karachi Metropolitan (June 22). Paragraph six of the report is most disturbing. It says the director of the centre has become an intruder and taken away the research material of a member of the science faculty. It was indeed a pathetic act committed in a institute of learning.

I still remember the days of scholars like Professor A.B.A. Haleem, Dr Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Dr Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui and Baba-i-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq. Then, discipline, respect and decorum used to be the order of the day. Even when the KU was housed in a small building at Ranchore Quarters within the old city of Karachi, the academic atmosphere was excellent. Nobody dared do anything wrong.

And the example of Dr Rasheed Ehsan a few years ago is that during his tenure, grants to Karachi University were stopped. He did not rush to Islamabad but went to offer his Zohar prayers at New Memon Masjid, Boulton Market, and apprised the imam of his mission.

The imam made an announcement that the VC had come to collect funds for KU and that he would be at the mosque during the Asr prayers. Before Asr prayers the mosque was thronged with businessmen and currency notes were showered on the VC like flower petals. Soon after, the UGC, cutting a sorry figure, restored the grant. This is how men of letters work and earn a name in history.



Image-building with public money

Can we learn a little from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has ordered the ministries and government departments not to use his photographs in media advertising, saying that he does not want public money to be used for his image-building.

But we in Pakistan forget that a bad product cannot sell even with a most creative advertisement campaign. For the last few months, full- and half-page advertisements have been appearing on behalf of various government departments trying to build and promote the image of the president and other government functionaries. These advertisements do not have any creditability, nor do they make any impact on the people of Pakistan.

In 1958, Ayub Khan celebrated his "Decade of Development" in the same fashion; full- and half-page advertisements were released by bureaucrats. But the "Decade of Development" ended in no time as a "decade of decadence" and with it a few months later Ayub Khan was consigned to the dustbin of history.

Compare the mindset of a democratic Indian leader with that of a Pakistani military ruler. Whenever a democratic government comes to power, I hope they will hold these shoe-shiners to accountability and make them pay for the public money they have wasted.



A failing war on terrorism

In May two suicide bomb attacks claimed 47 lives, besides the targeted killing of a religious scholar and a bomb blast at the PACC and another at KPT which killed four people in Karachi.

Come June, terrorists struck again. On June 10, 11 people were killed in an ambush on a corps commander's convoy in the city. In Dera Bugti district, 12 people were injured in Sui rocket attacks on the same day. Only three days back, seven Dir scouts at a militia camp in the Shkai area, west of Wana, were killed by suspected foreign militants and their tribal protectors.

The current month has not ended as yet and a suspected Uzbek militant has got killed in the Wana operation. Three more have died in South Waziristan, including a paramilitary soldier and two foreign militants. A night raid by security forces killed Nek Mohammad and four other tribal militants in a missile attack on a village in Wana.

In Karachi, Munawwar Suhrawardy, Sindh PPP information secretary and close confidant of Ms Benazir Bhutto, was shot dead in a targeted killing near the busy Guru Mandir intersection. The terminal building of Sui airport was blown up by some unknown people using rockets and high intensity explosives.

In Lahore PML-N vice-president and former provincial minister Pir Binyamin Rizvi, his driver and guard were shot dead some days back. Eight children and a woman were wounded when unidentified assailants fired three missiles at the Bannu cantonment.

The tribal militants, particularly Nek Mohammad, had warned that Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar would be made targets of attacks in retaliation of the Wana operation - the Karachi killings can be considered an obvious reaction.

Followers of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are still active mostly in the tribal belt to destabilize Pakistan for toeing the American line. As if sectarian extremists were not enough, targeted political killings are on the rise. The anti-American feeling is another contributing factor.

Former ambassador Mahdi Masud has observed that a dangerous impression is gaining ground that the government considers the people as an expendable item, whose security is not worth the antagonism of the extremist elements, including those in the law-enforcement agencies.

As for the judicial process, the percentage of those actually convicted of terrorist killings is so low that it constitutes no deterrent. A recent Dawn editorial says: "The bottom line is that we are in deep trouble, and the situation is becoming daily more alarming both politically and with regard to security and law and order.

The government has been unable to establish its writ in South Waziristan despite an effort lasting over two months. There is also an urgent need to investigate the infiltration of the country's military intelligence services, which have been so involved in politics over the years that they have assumed a pervasive political role of their own.

The attempts on the president's life and Thursday's attack on a military convoy strongly point in that direction."



Closure of factories in KEPZ

Having witnessed abrupt changes in policies, I cannot agree more with Mr Farrukh Hanif (Dawn,, June 28) who has said that by introducing major policy changes, many factories in the KEPZ (Karachi Export Processing Zone) will either face serious operational problems or shut down.

Three factors that can produce a friendly investment climate are law and order, consistent and long-term policies and a functional judiciary. Unfortunately, Pakistan lacks on all the three counts, not only in the tariff area but also in the EPZs.

In order to make EPZs successful, it is important to give full authority to the EPZ authority rather than make it function under the Central Board of Revenue. Targets may be set by the ministry concerned, and the zone authority should be given a free hand to achieve results by facilitating the present and future investors in the zones.

I request the chairmen of the EPZ and the CBR to work in harmony in the larger national interest.



MMA's rally

This is regarding the 'amn march' carried out in Karachi on June 27 by the MMA despite all efforts, including a ban, by the government to stop it. But was the rally peaceful? Broken traffic lights at Gulshan Chowrangi and Jail Road traffic signals suggest otherwise.

I don't know anyone whose car was damaged but I am sure there are many. Can anyone empathize with those who suffered in the sweltering heat because major thoroughfares had to be blocked due to the 'amn march'?

The MMA succeeded in getting excellent photo coverage the next day in newspapers through the "arrest ceremonies" of their activists. Can anyone answer who are these people who have the audacity to damage vehicles or traffic lights?

It does not require an educated person to understand the importance of other's property. A simple training of dos and don'ts from parents would help.



Wagah-Atari checking

On June 18 some of my relatives were going back to India by train through the Wagah-Atari border. When they reached the Wagah border for customs checking, the official concerned forced them to give him Rs1,000 in Pakistani currency, though they did not have any prohibited/contraband articles or business goods.

Similarly, on the Atari border checkpost, the Indian customs official took from them Rs200 in Indian currency. Will someone in authority look into this matter and ensure that passengers are not looted anymore?



Law and order

The suggestions made by Lt-Col (retd) Qabil Shah Tirmizi (June 28) to improve law and order in big cities like Karachi are commendable and need the immediate attention of the federal, provincial and city governments. Let us join hands to make our cities peaceful and secure. The sooner the better.


Via email

Iraq war

George Bush says the decision to go to war was one the US always made reluctantly due to the high cost in human lives. Is that really so? We haven't forgotten the haste with which Bush declared the war on Iraq. We saw no reluctance on his part, but only over-enthusiasm.

The whole world pleaded with him through the forum of the United Nations to go slow. But the US president wanted to be smart and went ahead in cowboy style. We know things are getting really hot for him now, with the presidential re-run on one side and the daily arrival of body bags from Iraq on the other.

Poor Americans are dying and they will now fix him. Bush proved to be an immature leader of the world, and worse than his father.


Chicago, Illinois, USA

DHA-Clifton cantonment board affairs

I fully agree with the suggestion made by Mr Bashir Ahmed Qureshi (June 20) to merge the Clifton Cantonment Board with the DHA, Karachi, so as to end confusion created by the two offices.

My house is located on 20th East Street, Phase-I, which is the oldest and most neglected phase of the DHA. Main sewerage lines of the street laid decades ago are small, cannot cope with the increasing effluent and have remained choked for the last few years, resulting in sewage overflow which is damaging street roads and creating environmental problems and health hazards.

The matter was brought to the notice of the DHA and the Clifton Cantonment Board, but nothing has been done so far. The two authorities keep on shifting the responsibilities to each other. At present sewage has formed into a cesspool.

Recently, residents wrote a letter to the cantonment executive officer, as well as to the DHA administrator, requesting him to allow the area residents to replace the sewerage lines on a self-help basis as is being done in kutchi abadis of Karachi. A reply is still awaited.



Development funds

During Ziaul Haq's rule, development funds were placed at the disposal of legislators. The tradition continued through the Benazir and Nawaz Sharif governments. That gave birth to corruption and mismanagement.

This year also, funds are being given to legislators for development work in their constituencies. The job of legislators is not to manage development work but to make law and generally watch not only uplift projects but also government work in all spheres. The sooner this practice is discontinued the better.



Languishing in jail

This refers to the letter "Languishing in jail" by an unfortunate person who has been in jail for 11 years, awaiting a trial. This is the height of injustice. A person is innocent until proven guilty, and nobody should have to languish in jail for the ability of the state to judge whether he is guilty or not.

If the government cannot fix the court system quickly, it can at least pass a law that prisoners involved in non-violent crimes awaiting trials for more than a year will be set free. If there is any organization that takes up such cases, please contact me at jamilhs@yahoo. I would like to help in any way I could.


Columbus, Ohio, USA



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