Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A constant malaise

The need to customise policies to suit the personal needs of the ruler and the delegation of foreign policy formulation to the military brass has not allowed the foreign office to evolve and function

Policy formulation or the creation of a roadmap for the nation is a serious and complex business requiring foresight, vision, a thorough understanding of the realities, an adherence to its principles and clarity of purpose that points to the chosen direction of the nation. Unfortunately, such a thorough exercise was never deemed necessary by Pakistan’s successive, inept rulers. Mr Jinnah’s speeches provide more than a glimpse of such policies but we lost him and nobody else bothered thereafter.

Pakistan was created to provide a homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent to ensure freedom and opportunities of all kinds including religious freedom and the healthy, unfettered development of its people. Regardless of all the hair raising interpretations and controversies created since about its aims, one thing is quite clear from all the discernible facts that the founders were not in favour of a theocratic state. They were firmly of the belief that Pakistan should be a state that provides equal opportunity and rights to all its citizens regardless of caste, creed, colour or religion without discrimination. Countless speeches by the Quaid are proof of this philosophy. The mess that we have created is the result of our weaknesses, opportunism, inability to maintain direction and failure to grasp the fundamentals of a nation state. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

The status quo has to go

The military’s predominant role in the country’s politics and decision making have been the single largest reason for the failure of constitutional government

So much was expected from our recently held elections, change was the buzzword and hope was in the air. People were prepared to forget that ground realities did not support their wishes; they hoped against hope. In the end, hope was the victim and disappointment our fate.

Since 1958, three parties have ruled Pakistan. The army for 32 years, the PPP of Z A Bhutto for five years with complete independence, the PPP of Benazir/Zardari for about 10 years and Nawaz for another six years; the last two being under an unwritten arrangement with the military whereby the military controls the defence, security and foreign policies of the country, and exercises influence on major domestic issues — a complete violation of the constitution.



Sunday, 15 December 2013

How to reform a non-system

The deterioration is rapid; the new government is busy trying to control the new dimensions through the old beaten track methods and is therefore bound to fail 

Pakistan’s socio-economic and political decline along with uncontrolled violence has reached the stage where some are already using the phrase ‘failed state’ while others fear to utter it lest it comes true. Nothing much was done in the last two decades to rectify the mistakes and arrest the decline, as a matter of fact even more glaring errors were committed to compound the situation. There is almost total paralysis in the management of the state and matters are getting out of hand. The present government has done nothing in the last two months to infuse confidence. Its focus, like before, is still on motorways and development of the Punjab. We need to think of alternatives to reform Pakistan.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

A special place in hell

by Bradley Burston in Haaretz

In his eleventh-hour decision against attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Netanyahu proved that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He's something worse. The problem is not so much that the prime minister had first informed the South African government that he would, in fact, attend the ceremony, alongside Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, French President Francois Hollande, and scores of other world dignitaries, among them Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in what is expected to be a world gathering unprecedented in scope.

Nor is the basic problem the fact that the decision was made so abruptly and with such lack of consultation, that the office of President Shimon Peres was thrown for a loop, and it was unclear if arrangements could be made to have Peres represent Israel in Netanyahu's stead. The problem is the reason Netanyahu chose to give: Money. The trip would cost too much. The problem, then, is the message Netanyahu has chosen to send:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sanitising Mandela

"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice." Nelson Mandela.

No doubt like many of you I've been thinking a lot about Nelson Mandela. I've also been thinking about how his life and death affects our political fortunes both at home and further afield.

As a young man, on the edge of political consciousness, the anti-apartheid movement and the political left became one and the same to me. It was overwhelmingly the left that allied itself to the ANC cause. Ultimately it was one of the defining factors that allowed me to work out where my politics lay.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Karachi at the mercy of another experiment

The previous two attempts made to tackle Karachi’s violence and law and order situation ended in complete failure 

We are informed by Chaudhry Nisar that momentous decisions are on the anvil for ending Karachi’s misery and restoring law and order to what has been the totally neglected single most important issue in the country for the last 30 years. Over the years, the problems have been deliberately complicated, the players have kept on increasing, the firepower has become sophisticated, syndicates between gangsters and terrorists have emerged, turf wars have intensified, and what was initially a bad situation has been allowed to deteriorate into an enormously complex national problem.

It was surprisingly naive to discuss plans for an operation in such details or even at all. Why are we warning those whom we want to target? The vultures you want to net will fly off! May I remind the minister of previous occasions when people have disappeared with even lesser or no publicity?

The scandal of subsidising miserly employers

The taxpayer is paying benefits to more than 4.2million households in Britain where one or more parties are working, according to parliamentary answers to questions from Bradford West MP George Galloway. "And it's a scandal that we are effectively subsidising miserly employers to the tune of more than £5billion a year, companies who are paying the minimum wage insufficient to bring their employees above the poverty line. We are all paying so that the workers in these exploitative companies can keep a roof over their heads and their children a calorie or two above malnutrition," the MP said.

Galloway continued: "We need to scrap the minimum wage and ensure legally that all employers pay the living wage. That will take away most of the taxpayers' subsidy to these companies, which is the way it should be. No doubt we'll hear the employers' representative whinge that they can't afford it. Poppycock. We abolished slavery a long time ago and the minimum wage is just a legalised, dressed-up version of it."

The MP added:"Of course these are national figures and we know that in poor areas, like Bradford, the concentration will be much higher than one-in-six homes (there are 26 million households in the UK). You have high unemployment - almost 13% in Bradford West - and if you've got a job the likelihood is that you'll be claiming one means-tested benefit or another. And of course it will get worse as the welfare cuts continue to bite. George Osborne claims the economy is on the mend. Well tell that to the men, women and children in more than four million homes who can't earn enough in proper jobs to make ends meet."

Sunday, 1 December 2013

You can’t be SYRIOUS

For months, the West, led by USA, has been threatening military intervention in Syria on humanitarian grounds. For the time being, that threat appears to have diminished as the US and Russia cobble together a plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. However, the US says still retains the option to use military force, and with the Western opinion divided, many argue that the option should be pursued as the slaughter of Syrian innocent countries.