DAWN - Letters; 15 April 2005

Published April 15, 2005

Conflict in Dera Bugti

THIS has reference to Prof Anwar Syed’s article “Conflict in Dera Bugti” (April 10). I appreciate his effort for initiating a healthy debate on this issue. He has discussed the overall scenario prevailing around Dera Bugti, proving the demands by Nawab Akbar Bugti as illegal and illegitimate in the light of Articles 24 and 172.

He has also held Nawab Akbar Bugti responsible for lawlessness, supported the establishment and criticized those who support a dialogue process. His views seem to be based on published government material.

Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan through an instrument of accession signed by the then Khan of Kalat, Ahmed Yar Khan, dated March 27, 1948 (under debatable circumstances) and accepted by Quadi-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, dated March 31, 1948.

Since Mr Syed has questioned the Baloch people’s claims on the their resources in the light of Articles 24 and 172 of the Constitution, it will not be out of place to bring to light Article 6 of the Instrument of Accession which says: “Nothing in this Instrument shall empower the Dominion Legislature (Pakistan) to make any law for this state (Kalat or Balochistan), authorizing the compulsory acquisition of land for any purpose, but I hereby undertake that should the Dominion for the purpose of a Dominion law which applies to this state deem it necessary to acquire any land, I will at their request acquire the land at their expense or if the land belongs to me transfer it to them on such terms as may be agreed, or, in default of agreement, determined by arbitrator to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

“The terms of this my Instrument of Accession should not be varied by any amendment unless such amendment is accepted by me by instrument supplementary to this Instrument.”

Baloch nationalists claim that after exploration of the natural gas at Sui in 1952, the Constitution was amended overnight without their consent, wherein natural resources were taken as federal government property.

Balochistan demanded the due share from the natural gas for the development of local area according to the provisions of the Indian Mining Act 1935 in vogue at that time, but no one listened to them.

In addition, it is not an issue limited to Dera Bugti. It is a sense of deprivation all over Balochistan that has caused the furore.

It is probably arrogance on our part that researchers, political scientists, sociologists and strategists have adapted a sort of a rock mentality and are not ready to see the other side of the picture.

Balochistan deserves serious attention of scholars like Prof Syed and others to diagnose the situation through in-depth research. One-sided contention will only add insult to the injury.

Via email

Taliban turning inwards

EMBOLDENED by the restoration of the religion column in the MRP, 40 MMA followers hailing from different parts of the NWFP launched a lightning strike on the Gujranwala marathon on April 2.

The law minister read out the names and addresses of the culprits in the National Assembly and showed their photographs while torching vehicles and beating people.

They had been brought to Gujranwala to disrupt the rally under the leadership of a local MMA leader. They achieved their goal by taking the administration by complete surprise and did their job with remarkable speed and precision.

Prior to this, district courts in Mansehra was besieged on March 25 after the cancellation of bail of a party leader. Women judges were abused indiscriminately.

Forced closure of shops by organized hooliganism and attempts to bring the normal activity of the country to a standstill by the MMA stalwarts speak amply of the intentions of the alliance.

It is on a collision course with the president’s agenda of enlightened moderation.

The MMA’s showdown so far is only the tip of the iceberg. It has been encouraged by successive backtracking by the government and is now preparing to embarrass the president in the joint session of parliament if he turns up.

It seems determined to impose its own brand of Islam on the nation, come what may. It appears to have gathered enough militants to accomplish this task. According to a recent report, there are over 16,000 government high schools and approximately 10,000 madressahs in the country. The student population of the two is almost equal and stands at 1.6 and 1.5 million, respectively.

Provincial textbook boards prescribe books for high schools, but madressahs have their own curriculum. A third category of schools known as deeni madaris has no compulsory prescription of curriculum at all.

There are thus anomalies and distortions among the three school systems. It appears that contrary to government instructions, some institutions are still producing religious extremists. There is urgent need to identify and reform this category of institutions.

The MMA’s plan to impose a particular brand of Islam in Pakistan must be challenged and thwarted by all right-thinking people and political parties with a liberal secular agenda.


Proposed federal courts

THE move to establish a federal court to hear financial, industrial, trade, banking and insurance cases is an attempt to curtail the power and jurisdiction of the high courts and to establish a parallel judiciary. It is also a negation of the fundamental right(s) as provided under the Constitution of 1973.

Further, these federal courts will not fall within the supervisory jurisdiction of the high court as provided for under article 203 of the Constitution or the Supreme Court. Rather, the Supreme Court will have only ceremonial appellate jurisdiction. In these courts the appointment of judges will be undertaken by the executive and the president of Pakistan. Persons not belonging to the legal fraternity could be appointed judges if the president so desired. Even retired judges and civil servants at the age of retirement could be appointed to these courts, which would convert them into kangaroo courts.

Speedy disposal of cases is provided for in almost all fiscal statutes, specifically in the Financial Institutions (Recovery of Finances) Ordinance, 2001. It is also a matter of fact that “justice rushed is justice crushed” or “justice hurried is justice buried”.

The solution lies in modern court management, the development of legal system and appointment of competent judges on the basis of merit. For the expeditious disposal of cases, judges to the high courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan should be appointed to make up the approved strength. The strength of high courts and the Supreme Court can be enhanced to achieve speedy disposal of cases.

Special benches can be established which can be termed high court special benches with the directive to expedite and/or dispose of cases within 90 days and appeal to the Supreme Court will be provided within 30 days. Funds which will be spent on the proposed federal courts can be allocated to the high courts and the Supreme Court which are institutions established under the Constitution and grow up with the passage of time.


Crowd apathy in India

OVER the past few weeks, watching the Pakistan cricket team progressing from being weak underdogs to where they are an actual threat in this current series has been an absolute pleasure.

Will and grit seem to empower these inexperienced young cricketers to play out of their skins. Even if Pakistan loses the series, I think they will still emerge as winners. What is truly bothersome, however, is the crowd support that the Pakistani players have received in India.

The third and fourth ODIs were magnificent displays of heart and talent and it just goes to show the calibre this team is made of.

Surely, the class of Salman’s innings at Jamshedpur or Rana’s guile with the ball deserved some applause. Or how about Afridi’s cameo or Inzamam’s rock solid knock at Ahmedabad being worthy of crowd appreciation?

Disappointingly, all that these displays of superb cricket managed to get out of an Indian crowd was silence. Perhaps, the crowd was too busy sledging their own captain with chants of “Ganguly, Hai! Hai!” that they just failed to acknowledge the breathtaking exhibition of cricket unfolding before their eyes.

I visited Pakistan last year and went to the National Stadium in Karachi to see the first ODI. The crowd was exhilarated by a run riot, but before my very eyes I saw the lively Karachi crowd cheer every Indian boundary. It was as if people were there for the love of the game and for the love of their neighbour. Hats off to the courtesy afforded to us at every juncture.

The arrangements made at the ground were impeccable. To execute a crowd management plan the way it was done at the bustling mega- metropolis of Karachi was a feat in its own.


Reckless driving

IN my small stay of one-and-a-half months in Islamabad, I have already seen four traffic accidents. In Lahore, we are able to blame every accident on either the wagon drivers, cycle-wallahs or rickshaws but Islamabad doesn’t have that excuse since rickshaws are not allowed in this city, you hardly find anyone roaming on cycles and there is only a very small number of wagons on the road.

All the accidents I saw were due to the recklessness of so-called literate people in cars. One accident which I witnessed was that a of white car slamming into a red car from behind and the only mistake the red car had committed was that of stopping at a red signal when the white car driver thought he would cross the signal since there were no cars visible on the road.

Ever since banks started leasing purchase of cars, we have seen a growing number of cars on the roads of every city. The authorities concerned are not willing to take any notice of these growing numbers. They are unable to control them and are thus putting human lives at risk.

In Islamabad, I hardly see any traffic policeman standing at the signals. Rather I see them roaming in cars and God knows what they are trying to achieve with that.


Intellectual property

THERE has been a lot of talk about the protection of intellectual property in Pakistan. But the World Intellectual Property Organization decided to observe April 26 as World IP Day, not many showed an interest in the event.

Why is it that people do not show any interest in something that is very crucial to our country’s development? Perhaps people do not understand the link between IP and a society’s progress.

All the inventions and the artistic creations that we see around us are intellectual property. The shoes that we wear, the ice cream that we eat, the bus that takes us to our place of work, these are creations of the human intellect, and are thus intellectual property. There may be creations of many kinds, but minus their physical aspect these things are all IP.

In Pakistan, we have laws for three main types of intellectual property: patent, copyright and trademark.

Whenever a scientist or an inventor comes up with an invention or an innovative idea that would lead to improvement in human life, we acknowledge his or her work by granting that scientist the right to commercially use the invention for up to 16 years. This right is called “patent”.

The Pakistan Patent Office works under the federal ministry of industries since it is industrial progress that the patent system promises.

So it is with artistic or literary work, be it in the realm of music, fine art, dance, drama, architecture or design. The moment an idea is documented in any manner, it becomes the copyright of either the person who created it or the person who hired the creator.

A copyright office under the federal education ministry exists to oversee the proper implementation of the copyright laws.

The violation of copyright is a criminal offence. It is theft. In Pakistan, such piracy is widespread.

A large number of IP violations in our country infringe upon the copyrights of the local people. We are discouraging our own creative people from coming up with beautiful ideas just because their creations are not protected properly.

The third kind of IP that is practised in our country is trademark. A trademark is a commercial identity. It is the link between a product and its producers. It is the only way a consumer can learn about the people behind the product he is using. There is a trademark registry in the federal commerce ministry.

Pakistan today needs a proper IP order, not to appease any so- called “foreign masters,” but to strengthen the creative process of its own people. This year’s message theme for the World Intellectual Property Day is think, imagine, create. The only way to do that is to strengthen the IP order. We should evolve a system of documenting our innovations so that the right of our patent creators are not flouted. And we must register our trademarks so that our creations can

reach our people, and the system can properly reward the creators.


Teenage smoking

CIGARETTE butts are better named cancer sticks or coffin nails now. Almost one-third of American high-school students are regular smokers. In Pakistan these figures may be even higher. According to world survey, nearly 3,000 children are becoming smokers every day.

Why do kids smoke even if they know it’s harmful to their health? Part of the answer lies in advertising, movies, peer pressure and parents’ examples.

Research shows that 80 per cent of adult smokers started before they were 18. Teenagers tend to underestimate how addictive smoking really is. They think smoking lifts their spirits but in fact it is the opposite. Research shows that if there were a way to get teens to understand deceptive advertising and the consequences of their smoking, far fewer teens would ever get trapped by the addiction.

Thanks to the warnings on cigarette packs and in magazine ads, just about everyone can recite the risks of smoking: lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, cancers of prostate, bladder pancreas and colon. Smokers also expose their friends and family to smoke hazards and carcinogens.

Parents and physicians can play a major role in the effort to curb teen smoking. The Pakistan National Heart Association is working on an anti-smoking project. It has walks and campaigns with banners and slogans at high school and college level to help young ones quit the habit.

Colleges could also take steps to make it harder for students to smoke. Separate smoking areas in hotels and public places can make a big difference.


Dug-up road

ABOUT two months ago our residential lane, P-Block, Model Town Extension, Lahore, was dug up for recarpeting. Stones and bricks were piled up and the road levelled. The residents felt relieved that the road would be carpeted within a few days. Alas! this was not to be.

The road was left to the elements to erode. Initially, it was said that work would resume once the weather improved. It had been raining during those days. Now, about a month-and-a-half later, the contractor has quit the project. Result: our street looks even worse than before.

Interestingly, the adjoining roads have been fully recarpeted over the past week or so. To pacify us, our lane was given a coat of tar, raising hopes that it would finally be completed. However, work has again been halted.

The residents of our lane are entitled to the same privilege extended to people living in the neighbouring streets.


Vacant PIA seats

MY colleagues and I wanted to travel on April 4 by the morning PIA flight No PK-356 to Islamabad. The seats could not be confirmed until departure time. This forced many of my colleagues to travel by other means. I was fortunate to get my seat confirmed. When I boarded the aircraft about 15 seats were vacant in the economy class. Is this not callousness?

At least 10 hours before departure all seats reserved for various departments should be transferred to chance passengers and only two seats should be left vacant.


Boating Basin

IN her letter (April 12) Hina Fatema has referred very charitably to Karachi’s Boating Basin as a lake. A lake conjures up images of sweet water and freshness, whereas the Boating Basin is an accumulation of a city’s filth brought there by the ironically named Nehar-i-Khayyam.

The Boating Basin is a very large open sewer, upon the banks of which reside the Karachi Grammar School and the fast food strip.

Existing in such close proximity to the wretched Nehar-i-Khayyam, both institutions are faced with a serious challenge to the health and self- esteem of their young charges and visitors.

A similar situation exists on the seafront near Bilawal House where untreated refuse is allowed to flow onto the Clifton beach and the Arabian Sea.

The city government needs to get proactive in this regard, and ensure on a priority basis that untreated sewage does not enter the Boating Basin nor the Arabian Sea, and reclaim the quality of water for safe swimming.

The Boating Basin, as indeed Clifton beach, is visited by thousands every day from every nook and corner of the city and country, with the numbers multiplying on weekends. It is a primary place of recreation for the citizens.


Dyed pulses

FIRST we were told not to eat fish, then it was poultry. Vegetables had their own dangers because of the system of spraying the crops. The one thing you could be eaten without was pulses, but not any longer.

Notice the bright pinkish colour of masoor dal. Dip it in a glass of water and notice the coloured water. The same is true of moong dal.

We are being fed chemical dyes. Will someone in the department concerned take notice of this? (Saunf) is dyed green. I went to the bazaar to buy some and came back as no store had undyed saunf.

I am sure no official will do anything about it, so my appeal to readers is to refuse to buy all dyed pulses and spices. It’s time consumers started demanding their rights.




‘Draconian’ law
06 Oct, 2022

‘Draconian’ law

THE debate over what it means to be ‘sadiq’ and ‘ameen’ has reignited after the incumbent Supreme Court ...
Welcome clarity
Updated 06 Oct, 2022

Welcome clarity

There needs to be consensus amongst all political actors that matters of governance should be the exclusive domain of civilians.
Car purchases
06 Oct, 2022

Car purchases

IF we are in the market to buy a new car, we end up paying a significantly large amount as premium over the sticker...
More than economics
Updated 05 Oct, 2022

More than economics

Ishaq Dar’s appointment is but a sign of the paradigm shift in economic policymaking.
Dens of corruption
05 Oct, 2022

Dens of corruption

MOST prisons in Pakistan are a microcosm of the inequitable and exploitative world outside their walls. A probe by...
Football tragedy
05 Oct, 2022

Football tragedy

SPORTS arouses the rawest of human emotions. Football is no exception — in fact, the passions on display at...