DAWN - Letters; 22 April 2005

Published April 22, 2005

Delhi meeting

THIS refers to the news item, “Peace process irreversible” (April 19). One feels satisfied to learn about the positive outcome of President General Pervez Musharraf’s recent visit to India. Apart from watching the one-day cricket match in Delhi on April 17, President Musharraf utilized the opportunity for holding talks with his Indian counterpart and also leaders of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

As it appears from the joint communiqué issued at the end of the visit, the two neighbours have managed to move forward on sustaining the environment of goodwill by pledging to defeat forces which want to subvert the Indo-Pakistan peace process. But the question is: how committed New Delhi and Islamabad are to move beyond their stated positions on issues like Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Baglihar Dam and Sir Creek?

History proves that a successful peace process requires two things: first, neutralizing those elements who have a vested interest in sustaining a “war process” and, second, ensuring a win-win situation for the parties engaged in that process. As far as India and Pakistan are concerned, since April 18, 2003, when the then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan and Islamabad’s subsequent positive response to his initiative, the acute level of tension and hostility which existed between the two countries since the attack on the Indian parliament on December 13, 2001, has been replaced with the beginning of a normalization process.

Several steps to diffuse tension have helped the two countries to build confidence and resume travel and trade relations. The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service has given an impetus to help seek stability in Indo-Pakistan relations and alleviate the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by encouraging interaction of people on both sides of the Line of Control.

But in the post summit period, the real task for India and Pakistan will be to make sure that the momentum is maintained and the process of peace, which both President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh term as “irreversible”, is not allowed to be subverted by the hardliners and vested interest groups from the two sides. After all, in view of past failures and lost opportunities for peace between India and Pakistan, one needs to keep one’s fingers crossed as far as the task of living like normal neighbours is concerned.

The coming days will really test the pledges made by New Delhi and Islamabad to move further and create conditions for the resolution of contentious issues. Any deviation from the joint communiqué will seriously erode the credibility of the two governments.



THE recent trip of Musharraf to India was a total flop despite the tall claims by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Mr Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri. Initially, Musharraf used to say that the Kashmir issue will take precedence but slowly and gradually the general has surrendered his position. Now the market is full of Indian goods and the bus service will definitely boost Indian business without an inch of progress toward Kashmir’s freedom.

The Indian prime minister has bluntly said that the question of changing borders did not arise at all. By allowing the bus service the Indian government has given a false sense of progress and freedom. Therefore, it is not surprising to see Syed Ali Shah Gilani’s sharp reaction over this deceptive strategy.

One fails to understand how Musharraf, Rashid and Kasuri are declaring the dialogue as satisfactory while India has not shown the slightest flexibility towards the issue of Kashmir and implementation of approved and binding UN resolutions.


Endowment scholarships

IN the last two years, Sindh’s education and literacy department has announced 100 endowment scholarships, with the ADB’s help, for those who study in private institutions but need financial help to meet their educational expenses.

The scholarships are given to only five top institutions. Every year the government announces the names of the top institutions through advertisements. It is also necessary that the income of the student’s father must be less than Rs300,000 per year. The list of eligible candidates are prepared on the basis of their fathers’ income.

Last year, only 41 students applied and they all got it, for the simple fact that there were more scholarships available (100 in all) than the applicants. This year the story was different. There were some irregularities which made the whole process suspect.

According to the advertisement, students of only six top institutes were eligible for scholarships, but students of other institutes, especially from Larkana and Sukkur, also applied and most of them were selected. Moreover, even after the last date, scholarship forms were on sale for up to one month for Rs80 while the original price of the form was Rs50.

Again, the government allowed the scholarships of the students from the previous year to continue without ensuring whether the students concerned had done well enough to retain their scholarships. Thus, many a student who did not clear his examinations has been able to retain his scholarship, contrary to the the rules.

Last year the scholarship list was prepared on the basis of the income of the candidates’ fathers, but this year the rule was ignored to allow scholarship to many candidates whose parents are quite well-off. It seems that the interviews were held just as a formality. This year 677 candidates applied for scholarship, though the available seats were 100.

We, students of different institutions of Karachi, appeal to the Sindh education minister to take notice of the above-mentioned irregularities and to re-conduct the interview under her personal supervision to provide scholarships to the deserving.


Rabi-ul-Awwal celebrations

A BEFITTING manner to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet would be by evaluating ourselves in the light of his teachings. Some of these relate to the following:

— Is our source of income “halal” or “haram”?
— Is the life and property of others as sacred to us as our own?
— Do we respect and take care of our elders and “haqooq-ul-ibad”?
— Do we make sure that no one in our vicinity is forced to end his/her life due to poverty or is sleeping on an empty stomach?
— Do we treat our employees with due respect?
— Are women given their inheritance according to “Shariat” or married off to the Quran as done by waderas?

Instead of this, we see profuse lighting of streets by stealing electricity, which is causing frequent power breakdowns and misery to the residents.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could instead make a contribution towards the welfare of patients in so many government hospitals? Or provide books, clothing and food to hundreds of children in need?

Instead of declaring this day as a holiday we could give the earnings of this day to deserving institutions or charitable trusts and hope to be rewarded in the hereafter. To stem the degradations of our society it is time we started practising and not just preaching the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).


‘Conflict in Dera Bugti’

MR Nizamuddin Nizamani (April 15) alleges that in my article, “Conflict in Dera Bugti” (April 10) I have “questioned the Baloch people’s claims to their resources in the light of Articles 24 and 172 of the Constitution”.

I have done no such thing. I have instead argued that the oil fields in the Dera Bugti area cannot be regarded as the personal property of Akbar Bugti or as the collective property of the Bugti tribe, and that they belong to the state.

The provinces are the constituent components of the state of Pakistan, and the word “state” therefore applies to them as well as to the federation. Article 172 says that any property which does not have a rightful owner belongs to the government of the province where it is located.

It is my view that oil, gas, and other mineral resources lying under the surface in Balochistan do, and should, belong to the province of Balochistan, which is functionally the same as the people of Balochistan.

Herndon, VA, USA

Bottlenecks in projects

IT is very astonishing to see that projects are undertaken and completed but their practicality is not examined. The latest such example is the “Gora Qabristan” flyover in Karachi. Coming from Defence and moving on to Sharea Faisal, as soon as you descend onto Sharea Faisal there is a bus stop. This ultimately makes the feasibility of this project null and void as traffic is clogged as it used to be when there was only traffic signals and no flyover.

There is a simple solution to this problem — shift the bus stop ahead of the traffic signal but then for a couple of months the police should monitor it and ensure that neither the public stands there nor the buses stop there or a separate mini- wall is erected on the road so that traffic coming from Aisha Bawany doesn’t come on the track, and the traffic from the flyover keeps on moving without any hindrance.


Equally useless

YOUR comics too have a message. The “Wizard of Id” (April 4) was 100 per cent correct that purchasing a laptop by someone with bulging belly is totally useless.

How aptly that depicts the reasons for policy failures in this country as we have been opting for “laptops” (programmes) without doing away with our “bulging bellies” (impediments).

That is why rising economic growth rate has been useless with slumping purchasing power of the people. That is why efforts to wipe out extremism are useless as injustice within society still prevails. That is why NAB is short of their goals as morbid ostentations of opulence still go unchecked.

And that is why introduction of devolution-based system by the NRB for the sake of popular empowerment while leaving feudalism in place intact is proving to be equally useless.


Asra Nomani no kin of Allama Shibli

WE were extremely embarrassed to read in ‘Books & Authors’ (April 17) about Asra Nomani, a controversial personality, who claims to be a direct descendant of Allama Shibli, after whom she has named her son. Asra is in no way connected to the Shibli family. We five real granddaughters are the real direct descendants of Maulana Shibli, who had one son and two daughters, Rabia Khatoon and Jannutul Fatima. Both the daughters died in their youth in 1904 and 1909. They were married and their family lived in their ancestral villages in Azamgarh.

Allama Shibli had only one son, Hamid Hassan Nomani. He was born in 1882 and died in 1942. He had no sons but five daughters. They are:

A) Dr Nasim Jehan, retired director of health, Bangladesh, died in Karachi in 1997. She was married to Dr Zafrul Huda of Dhaka University. He died in 1978 at Dhaka. They have one daughter Shahla living in the US.

B) Shamim Jehan, married to Ehtesham Ahmed, who died in Azamgarh in 1982. They have eight sons and seven daughters all married and living in Pakistan, except one, who is in Kuwait.

C) Tahsin Jehan, married to Shaukat Sultan, principal of Shibli College, Azamgarh. He died in 1986. They have three sons and four daughters, living in India, the UAE and Karachi. The above three daughters were married in 1940 at Azamgarh.

D) Mohsina Sultana, married in 1950 to Amanullah Khan, director of industries, India. They have five children, all married, one daughter and three sons living in the US and one son in India.

E) Momna, the youngest, was born in 1935 and married in 1952 to Capt. Khan Sohail Sultan, who retired as general manager of Pan-Islamic Steamship Co., Karachi in 1993, now living in North Nazimabad. They have four sons, all married. Eldest Maj Khalid Sultan, Sitara-i-Jur’at, met ‘Shahadat’ at Siachin in 1992, Capt. Danish Sultan is managing director of Pac Marine Singapore, Wamiq Sultan, MD, living in the US, youngest Capt. Toaha Sultan is serving in the Pakistan Army.

Considering our sentiments and Maulana Shibli’s fame as writer of Seerat-un-Nabi, we hope you will publish this clarification.


Rate of penalty

I HAVE received a KESC power bill this month for payment of Rs2,000 within time and Rs2,200 after the expiry of the date i.e., 10 per cent more for a month’s time.

If the criterion for the rate of penalty is not a top secret, the KESC may inform consumers about its calculation which comes to 120 per cent per annum as interest. Why can’t we call it as interest when our economic wizards routinely call foreign loans as aid?


Export exhibition

In February, the Export Promotion Bureau organized an exhibition “Expo Pakistan” in Karachi with the collaboration of the private sector. More than 1,000 buyers came from over 70 countries to attend it.

I got a chance to work for the exhibition and gave my services as a volunteer whose duty was to guide foreign guests and provide them with information.

Because of this I was able to have a close look at the arrangements that were planned for them. Besides the exhibition of products, the EPB arranged some entertainment programmes for the guests like dinner at the Governor’s House, a fashion show and a music programme. But I think the EPB wasted a huge amount of money on entertainment that could have been better utilized in the arrangements made for the visitors.

For some visitors, for example, there was no one to receive them at the airport and they went to their hotels on their own.


Privatization cost

THE government intends to privatize PTCL, KESC, etc. A majority of the bidders happen to be foreign companies. On the other hand, it is said that the proceeds will be spent on social welfare.

It is regrettable that henceforth all utilities will be owned by aliens. This will be a recipe for higher charges and surcharges. The utilities if owned by foreigners are bound to have CEOs and others drawing large pay packages and perks, the brunt of which will fall on the poor consumer. As for the proceeds being spent on social welfare, history shows the deep pockets of corruption have devoured billions.

The government and the commission are requested to refrain from mortgaging the future by auctioning the family silver.


Gulmohur city

THIS refers to Dr Faridon Setna’s letter, ‘Gulmohur city’. I support the idea of growing such colourful trees in and around Karachi.

The gulmohur is a strikingly beautiful flowering tree. It has been widely planted elsewhere in frost-free regions for its red to orange flowers and its shade. It is a rapid grower, attaining a height of six to 12 metres with naturally divided (i.e., resembling a feather) leaves 30 to 60 centimetres long.

I suggest that all residents who have the space for it should plant Gulmohur trees outside their homes, at empty places and green strips.

The gulmohur can give a beautiful face to our city.


Parking charges

PARKING charges have been abolished for a long time by the elected civilian city government in Karachi. But the Faisal Cantt. Board and Karachi (Saddar) Cantonment Board have not discontinued the parking charges in their respective areas.

Recently, the Faisal Cantonment Board has deputed inspectors to check and ensure that no vehicle is allowed to park without paying parking charges.

The various cantonment boards in Karachi are running a parallel government within the government itself. They do not miss any opportunity to mint money from the public but standard of services being provided by them can be rated only as “poor”.

Would the chairman of the respective cantonment boards look into the matter and order immediate discontinuation of recovery of parking charges.


Islamic website

AN Islamic missionary group gaining rapid popularity through the Internet and audiovisual media identifies itself as “Alrehman-Alraheem.com”. But a simple paradox in all their literature available on their website and their website address misleads many people.

Although they promote their material with the titles of “www.alrehman-alraheem.com”, their website address actually is “www.alrehman-alrahim.com”. To complicate things further, it turns out that “www.alrehman-alraheem.com” is not an Islamic website at all. It is a search engine where there are international advertisements on display including advertisements of a highly graphic nature.

Since this is not a common name for a website, it is the responsibility of the original group to correct this paradox and make sure that a sacred name is not abused.


Cricket or diplomacy

INDIA came to Pakistan last year and India won. Now Pakistan went to India and Pakistan won. Hospitality at its best. Indeed a very cool and convenient arrangement. The rest I leave to readers’ imagination.


Costly petrol

THE increase in the prices of petrol all the country have come when prices are already high.It appears that the government does not care for the people.

Due to increase in petrol prices the prices of daily items have increased. Transport fares are also hiked. We can say that the flood of inflation has arrived in the country.




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