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Pakistan’s Emerging Democracy or Hall of Shame

Posted by yourpakistan on September 5, 2014

PTI people & leadership protesting in front of Pakistan Parliament in Islamabad

By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD. / Opinion Maker

The nation’s capital is under siege for over two weeks. People want political change and justice to their grievances that is nowhere to be seen. The demonstrators are not hired agitators but real people standing for hard core moral principles and democratic values. Islamabad depicts chaos, extreme insecurity and frightening trend of political mismanagement and failed governance. PM Sharif was already on a life support system of his own making. Now, the oxygen tank is fast running out of the life maintaining system. Nawaz Sharif  has lost sense of direction and political maturity to see the mirror and to resign from the powerhouse gained by rigging the 2013 elections. Undoubtedly, Sharif lives in a matrix of lies. He does not have the courage to encounter a truthful statement. Informed Pakistani masses can tell the difference between the truth and a lie. The millions Freedom March to Islamabad is self-evident of this public awareness.

According to the DAWN news media report of 1st September, 3 political activists were killed and 450 demonstrators wounded by the police action. In a knowledge-based 21st century age of reason and people’s rights, the people are met by brutal force to change their thinking and motives for political change.

A reality check filters out the truth that Pakistan’s democracy faces formidable turbulent challenges even at its infancy without moving forward. When elections were held in May 2013, it signaled a glimpse of a proactive change-making impulse away from the four military coups’ previously consumed precious time and opportunities to bulldoze the imperatives of systematic political change to take roots on its own. Conscientious new generations of educated and intelligent Pakistanis look for hope and are desperate to evolve a system of institutionalized political change to ensure protection of human rights, freedom and dignity and respect for law and justice and a sustainable future. Not so, the traditional elite comprising of the old feudal lords and most being the by-products of military coups are tantamount to dispel any signs of freedom and human dignity out of the box. At stake is the integrity of Pakistan and its future under the old echelons of the few thugs and political conspirators.

Those who sabotaged the political change process include the Bhuttos, Zardari, Sharif and few infamous Generals producing the junk history. The so called politicians have stolen few adhesive labels from the contemporary history to claim political parties: The Muslim League (N), The Muslim League (Q) The Muslim League ( H), The PPP, The National Awami Party, The MQM and lot more. Analyzing critically, these turn out to be just titles, names and fake images carved out by individuals and small vested interest groups who could not find a place in people’s thoughts and inspiration for the good of Pakistan. Across the Pakistani public mind, they are no more than transitory migrating birds that come to grab political powers through intrigues and backdoor conspiracies and in some case with foreign powers keen to make Pakistan a satellite for their own strategic priorities. All rational calculations point out to a new people’s spirit and movement demanding peaceful political manifestation for the good of the country.

Pakistani nation faces many critical perils in its search for a peaceful democratic future. Read the rest of this entry »


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Pakistan: Election Fever

Posted by yourpakistan on April 18, 2013

pakistan elections - political parties flags

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja – Opinion Maker

May 11, 2013 has been announced as polling day. Scrutiny of nominations papers has been completed and submission of appeals to election tribunals and their decisions ended on 16th. Final list will be issued on 18th. Election campaign will reach feverish pitch from 19 April. Notwithstanding the eagerness of the candidates and voters, security environment are not conducive for holding smooth, fair and free elections. Punjab is the only province where the security situation is not as bad because governance of Punjab government was far better than in other provinces.

Besides security concerns and fears that elections will be bloody, there is growing skepticism over the impartiality of caretakers and Election Commission (EC). Questions asked by the Returning Officers to ascertain whether the candidates fulfill the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 have generated a heated debate. The main objection is that focus should have been on financial impropriety rather than on testing candidate’s knowledge of Islam. Seculars are in ugly mood and are demanding scrapping of Gen Zia invented Articles in the constitution, not realizing that these were duly approved by the outgoing parliament while introducing 18th Amendment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Old Rivals (PPPP & PML-N) to Team up Against Common Foe “Imran Khan – PTI”

Posted by yourpakistan on December 29, 2011

Alarmed by the growing popularity of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), two bitter rivals of the past have started warming up to each other. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif has conveyed to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership that his party will not obstruct the Senate election scheduled for March next year. As a quid pro quo, he demanded that the government announce fresh parliamentary elections immediately after the Senate polls.

Officials from both the PPP and PML-N told The Express Tribune that the two parties were readjusting their positions on the fluid political chessboard and might reach an understanding soon. They admitted that the ‘unmatched’ rise of the PTI was the trigger behind this. Officials said Sharif’s message was delivered to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani by ‘top PML-N leaders’ a week ago. The prime minister then shared it with the PPP leadership at the meetings of its parliamentary party and core committee.

Both sides confirmed that they have negotiated in recent weeks, but did not say their talks were meant specifically to evolve a consensus on checking Imran Khan’s growing popularity. “This is a proposal from Mian Sahib (Sharif) … but has never been a point of discussion for us,” said PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira. “Let’s see what happens,” was his answer when asked whether Khan’s gains could draw the two parties closer to each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakistan’s Political Collapse: Three Fresh Signs

Posted by yourpakistan on December 13, 2011

The Pakistani political system has failed and is taking the country down. Here are three important signs in 2011: flawed party elections, influx of illegal weapons through airports, and parties running armed militias.


The Pakistani political system has reached a dead end. No reminders are required when we have an elected government led by individuals whose record for integrity and competence are questionable at best and possibly the worst in the nation’s modern history. 

But in recent days Pakistanis have seen three signs that confirm our worst fears: that our political system is beyond repair. It can’t be repaired through repeated elections and requires surgery to shape a new system that is both disciplined and forward-looking.

 Here are three cases that confirm this. Read the rest of this entry »

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PML-N warns Army, ISI to stop supporting PTI (Pakistan Tahreek e Insaaf)

Posted by yourpakistan on November 13, 2011

The frantic political stir created by the up-and-coming Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has provoked opposing reactions on Saturday from the two heavyweight parties of the country, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

While Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani calmly shrugged off talk of there being any threat to his party from the PTI’s monumental rise, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was more frantic – alleging that there was a concerted effort to undermine the PML-N, using parties such as the PTI, and saying he had evidence to support this claim. Though it had been fluid for a while, the political landscape was shaken by the PTI’s mammoth October 30 rally at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, the seat of power in Punjab, long considered the bastion of the PML-N’s power. Even before the Lahore rally, with PTI’s major political activity taking place in urban Punjab constituencies, analysts and observers concluded that the rise of Imran Khan’s PTI would hurt the PML-N the most.

The Lahore rally seemed to drive this point home emphatically for the PML-N, which has, since then, been in a huddle, planning what to do. Read the rest of this entry »

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Inventing A New Pakistani Leader

Posted by yourpakistan on November 12, 2011

It happened in the 1940s, the 1970s and once again is happening again. In the forties, there was a plethora of Muslim and scular leaders who wanted to lead the Musalmans of South Asia to Darul Harb and then Darul Islam. Others wanted the Muslim identity merged with that of the Hindus and become Muslim-lite. Folks like M.J. Akbar or Sahrukh Khan. With almost no leader around them, the invented one. Iqbal had to go all the way to London to find a Westernized man to lead the people to the promised land. They literally had to invent a leader. His name was Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The Muslims all over the lands chose Mohammad Ali Jinnah to triage and help two thirds of th Muslims. Some say that one third were sacrificed.

Today once again the Pakistanis see a sea of leaders around them, liberal onces, conservative onces, obsequious ones and belligerant ones. The two main parties of yesteryear are fraying at the edges like a worn out carpet. The PMLN is becoming unhinged, and the PPPP rank and file is so disgruntled with the leadership that the “jiyalay” may just decide not to show up. Fedup with the compliant leadership, the Pakistanis are once again inventing a new leader. This one has never been part of any government and has never run a province or even a tank or a plane. He has never worn a uniform and he is single. Read the rest of this entry »

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Imran Khan’s PTI holds Rallies on Directions of Establishment: Sanaullah

Posted by yourpakistan on November 1, 2011

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan is holding sit-ins and rallies on the directions of the establishment, Express 24/7reported Tuesday.

Sanaullah made the claim while speaking to the media after addressing traders in a meeting in Faisalabad.

(Read: Intelligence agencies at PTI rally fight over turnout)

Responding to a question regarding Khan’s demand for politicians to declare their “actual” assets, he said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members have already done so.

While not dismissing reconciliation with their new rivals in the province, he said that the PML-N is ready to hold talks on a one point agenda – of removing the government and eradicating corruption – with PTI and other parties including Jamaat-i-Islami.

He also said that the PML-N may launch a long march after Eid, building upon their “Go Zardari go” anti-government protest.

(Read: PTI rally: Students exceed ISF expectations)

He informed the media that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will hold a historical public gathering in Faisalabad on November 20.

Earlier, Khan said that he could consider entering into a dialogue with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif if he declared his complete assets.

(Read: The after-party: PML-N, PTI – the suggestive rhetoric begins)

The statements by both parties indicate accelerating intrigue in Pakistan politics – particularly in its largest province, the Punjab.

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Corrupt politicians supporting each other to rule Pakistan: Imran Khan

Posted by yourpakistan on October 18, 2011

Chairman Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has said that political mafia has occupied the rule in the country for last the six decades and corrupt politicians support each others rule in hard times. Speaking at a book launching ceremony here in New York, Imran Khan said that political leadership of the country has same agenda of divide and rule and leaders of all the political parties unite when they feel any threat to their rule.

It’s worth mentioning that book “Imran Khan Pakistan” is authorized by a PTI supporter in which he has highlighted the personality of the party chairman and his agenda and suggestions to drag the country out of prevailing crises including terrorism, economic stability and power crisis. Imran said that in ongoing circumstance we needed a democratic government which has ability to eradicate corruption from state institutions and give relief to common man by assuring provision of instant and inexpensive justice.

He lauded the services of judiciary in putting the state institutions on right path. “I pay tributes to Supreme Court (SC) for its services and entire nation was proud of the apex court.” The PTI chairman said that he was not follower of Secularism or Gandhi. However,he said that all the religions preach love and respect for humanity and patience towards followers of other religions.

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To Save Pakistan, Check Its Failed Political Parties

Posted by yourpakistan on October 12, 2011

If Pakistani State fails to regulate these parties and ban those that rebel against the state, they will bring us down faster than any enemy can.

Ahmed Quraishi | The News International

Pakistani political parties are violent and criminal-minded. They are a glaring failure of Pakistani democracy. And yet they get a soft treatment from our civil society and media.

Three parties in power and several others in opposition have turned Pakistan’s largest city and economic hub into Beirut. Karachi is a strategic port and a rich city. It has been home to Pakistani innovation in business, culture and arts. But today it’s best and brightest are moving to Dubai, Malaysia and even Bangladesh as the city’s control, indeed the country’s control, passes from the hands of innovative Pakistanis to a bunch of violent, criminal-minded mediocre politicians.

Instead of introducing democracy to the country, our political parties want to control the city’s riches and its multiple revenue streams running into billions of rupees. They want to use the city to smuggle contraband into and outside the country. And to do so they are ready to kill Pakistanis by the thousands and pitch them along fake and manufactured linguistic divides. They are ready to bypass the Pakistani state and talk directly to foreign governments. For the right price, some of them are willing to guarantee safe passage to NATO and US military supplies from Karachi to Afghanistan. Stunningly, we have parties now that demand international intervention when their interests are threatened by other criminal parties.

Like a war zone, neighborhood streets in Karachi have ugly ‘security gates’ that help political parties control and repel competitors. An ugly culture of identifying people by what Pakistani language they speak has been firmly put in place. If not stopped, these failed parties will poison the entire country at a time when the nation suffers from an acute leadership deficit. What European country has this kind of democracy? If we can’t tailor our own political system, we better be good at aping someone else’s.

The verdict of the Supreme Court over the weekend on the criminal activities of Pakistani political parties, though welcome, is severely constrained and only scratches the surface. While successfully identifying the criminal parties, the verdict fails to diagnose the full extent of the problem. Karachi does not suffer from any ethnic problems. It is wrong to use the word ‘ethnic’ in the Pakistani context, where the nation is deeply intermixed in all respects. On the night of 14 August, our Independence Day, over five thousand of the city’s young and old residents, representing all stripes of Pakistanis, gathered in open air to recite the National Anthem and create a world record. Do these Pakistanis look linguistically-divided to you? Nearly seven decades after independence, Pakistanis are more intermarried and intermixed today than ever before. Many of them speak or understand several different Pakistani languages.

Pakistanis are not divided on language. Failed political parties are dividing them. These parties have nothing to offer so they divide and kill. Our problems – establishing a prosperous country with good governance and basic services – have nothing to do with language or sect, except when these parties play up divisions over real issues. Except that these divisions, and the parties advocating them, will destroy the country faster than any enemy.

This is why Karachi and Pakistan are not beyond hope provided that the Pakistani State moves in swiftly to restrict these parties and ban those that rebel.

Who gave any political party the right to represent all Pakistanis who speak Pashto? Who gave a single political party the right to represent all Pakistanis who speak Urdu [national language spoken by nearly all Pakistanis]? Who says PPPP is supposed to represent Pakistanis who speak Sindhi or PMLN should be representative of Punjabi language? Last, who gave fugitive terrorists like Brahamdagh Bugti the right to represent all Pakistani Baloch?

The Pakistani State must seize back the right to represent all of its citizens. Educated Pakistanis, regardless of their spoken language at home, have been sidelined by failed and violent parties. Those are the people that should be brought forward by the State at the expense of failed parties and politicians.

Political parties are supposed to be incubators of leadership and produce a steady supply of capable new blood. The Supreme Court verdict has to reestablish this fact. Merely asking these parties to disband their terror wings is not enough.

No political party should be allowed to operate if its sole agenda is dividing Pakistanis on language or sect. Only national parties should exist with a clear mission statement. Parties should not be free to block streets and create public disorder. In March, during city government elections in one of Switzerland’s richest cities, Geneva, parties and candidates were only allowed to establish few neat and clean kiosks manned by a single volunteer. Swiss citizens interested in picking up pamphlets bearing candidates’ pictures and manifestos could so. Few were interested. You could have mistaken these kiosks for a cell phone ad campaign. No messy street demonstrations. No wild party flags and posters. And no direct contacts between our parties and foreign governments. Local TV channels relegated local political news to the third or fourth slots. Sports, cultural events and news relevant to improving people’s lives took precedence in TV coverage.

In short, banning terror wings is not enough. To stabilize Pakistan, correct the failed political parties first.

Column published by The News International. The newspaper’s rights are reserved.

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Reclaiming Our Pakistan

Posted by yourpakistan on May 10, 2011

No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but the Pakistani state entangled itself in someone else’s war and weaved a web of deceit for its people. We could have helped US get to al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, but this did not require handing over Pakistan to CIA.

By Imran Khan (Chairman PTI)

Today the Pakistani state – that is its government and security structures – stands exposed as never before in front of its own people as well as the world.

Never before, since 1971, has the Pakistani nation felt so defenceless and so full of anger and shame. Yet the disastrous outcome for all of us to see today was the natural outcome of self-serving policies pursued by a dictator and subsequently by a US-manufactured and NRO-sanctioned leadership. Policies based on lies and propaganda were inevitably going to end in humiliation and disgrace not just for the leadership of the country but for every living Pakistani. That is what finally happened when the US invaded Pakistani airspace and carried out its operation against Osama bin Laden, unhindered and undetected by the seventh most powerful nuclear armed military in the world.

The US had always stated that in case they had actionable intelligence on a high value target, they would take unilateral military action. Why was this strategic US policy decision that directly impaired our security and sovereignty not made a bone of contention in any strategic dialogue? Similarly, the US has stated that in case of any terrorist attack on US mainland, all options would be on the table. Why has our government never sought the revision of this policy conditional to our cooperation to protect Pakistan from a massive military retaliation in case of a terrorist attack against the US mainland is linked to Pakistan?

By fighting a US-led war and hypocritically telling the people of Pakistan that it was their war, the state of Pakistan lied shamelessly. After all, Al-Qaeda was all in Afghanistan, until the US attacks on Tora Bora left an exit route for them to escape. Even more critical, no Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks. But in the aftermath of 9/11 the Pakistani leadership weaved a web of deceit for its people.

Certainly Pakistan should have helped the US get the 9/11 terrorists and their organisation but this did not require handing over the country to the US, allowing the CIA to set up a parallel intelligence network across Pakistan seriously undermining our internal security and indulging in the renditions of Pakistanis to the US. As Clive Smith of Reprieve has pointed out, 90% of those handed over to the US turned out to be innocent; the case of Mullah Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan and a serving diplomat, was just one such case, where Pakistan also violated its commitments under the Geneva Convention.

To our everlasting shame, after three years at Guantanamo, Mullah Zaeef was found innocent.

Using fear as a weapon and having trapped the country into deception and deceit on the US behest, the Pakistani state sent its forces into Waziristan while the US pounded FATA with drone attacks, killing thousands of civilians. It was hardly surprising to find a full-blown tribal rebellion and the Pakistani Taliban as a result of these erroneous military-centric policies. Lies continued to be fed to the Pakistani people on the casualties of the drone attacks. Much before the killing of the tribal jirga in March, a drone attack in September 2004 killed 70 people while another 40 were killed the next day during the funerals being held for the earlier victims.

With no substantiation, incumbent Interior Minister Rehman Malik has declared that all those killed by CIA drones were ‘militants’ when the Member of National Assembly from South Waziristan had declared that if even one of the victims was a foreign militant he would resign!

Who can forget the 2006 drone attack in Bajaur which targeted a Madrassah and of the 80 killed, 60 were children? Three days later, a relative of one of the victims committed a suicide attack on soldiers in Malakand killing 50. By far the biggest lie was that Pakistan Army was fighting an ideological Taliban rather than 90% of militants being our own tribal people. There was another blatant lie emanating from a Pakistani general that drone attacks always kill militants. There is no way of ascertaining who has been killed. There is no DNA test conducted as people are just blown into pieces. Drone strikes constitute not only a blatant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty, but it is also a grave violation of the international humanitarian laws where the US acts as the judge, jury and the executioner – all put into one – killing suspects’ wives and children.

The drone strikes have created more hatred against the Americans than any other single thing. According to those who attended the sit-in against CIA drones, the rationale was that every one killed out of ten may be a militant. The others are innocent citizens who have nothing to do with any terrorist activity. The New America Foundation Survey that was conducted aboput six months ago has reiterated that more than 80% traibal people oppose the drone strikes as they believe that these attacks mostly kill innocent people.

So why did the Pakistani state accept such a suicidal policy under US pressure?

Pakistan’s ruling elite – civil and military – since the sixties have sought US crutches for prolonging their hold on power at the cost of building state institutions and our economy. Instead of investing in education and social reforms they have taken shortcuts at the expense of the Pakistani people, seeking US dollars whenever the opportunity presented itself to sustain its corrupt and extravagant lifestyle as well as inept governance. The same rentier class obliged the US during the Gen. Zia’s period to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with the help of the CIA by creating and funding several militant groups. The one time heroes of the West turned villains after 9/11, our leaders also changed their colours and with their new found passion to be portrayed as liberals and bulwarks against Islamic extremism. Their latest mantra of liberalism was music to Western powers who were willing to ally with every scoundrel and thug as long as they danced to their tunes. Most disgracefully, by seeking to make themselves indispensable to the West, our rulers have played a major role in creating the misperception abroad that Pakistan is a haven for radical Islam, despite the reality that every election has shown the religious parties to be marginal in the politics of the country.

Meanwhile, fear has been used as a weapon on the Pakistani people: fear of US military action against them; fear of an economic collapse; and most damaging, fear of the country being overrun by militants and extremists. As a result, while the wealth of the rulers continues to multiply, the country has faced $ 68 b in losses over the last decade, as well as 35,000 dead and a national debt that has doubled in three years from Rs. 5 to $10 trillion. Add to this the displaced people from FATA where the population of 6 million has seen its lives devastated and traumatised, and the disaster visited upon Pakistan becomes clearer. And, yet we are not trusted by our so called western allies who are pointing accusatory fingers at us as harbourers of terrorists. Typically, President Zardari had declared at a FoDP meeting in Japan (2009) that “we are fighting to save the world” and then demanded dollars; but in reality it is Pakistan that needs to be saved from its rulers and their lies and corruption.

Way Forward

There is only one way forward for Pakistan today. The NRO-sponsored leaders came to power through fraudulent elections as the Election Commission has now made public that out of 80 million registered voters, 37 million were bogus and 35 million unregistered in the last elections. This government must resign or made to resign through public pressure so that fair and free elections can be held under an independent Election Commission and NADRA based electoral rolls.

Reforms must be instituted. An austerity drive must be in place to stop the shameful extravagance of the rulers. A democratic government needs to own its war on terror based on indigenously-formulated policies. Most significantly, a democratic government must take responsibility for all acts of terror in its country. The more our military and political leadership is seen as a mercenary of the US, the more it increases the radicalisation, extremism and terrorism within Pakistan. Whenever Al Qaeda and the Taliban announce Jihad against the US, they also announce it against US agents – meaning the Pakistani state. This undermines the Pakistan military’s ability to fight militancy effectively. The US should be told categorically that no help or aid is required from it and that the Pakistani state cannot be America’s hired gun anymore. The tribals, who have never been involved in terrorism, need to be co-opted into a national policy to fight and isolate the real terrorists.

Rule of Law is critical and all militant groups, private armies and other non-state actors carrying arms must be disarmed. There can be no exceptions to this rule.

Corruption can only be tackled through an independent accountability process involving auditors and lawyers while tax collection needs to be widened by withdrawing all exemptions so that the rich can be taxed. A most important aberration that needs to be tackled is illiteracy. An education emergency must be declared and one uniform educational system needs to be put in place as a soon as feasible for the whole country.

These problems and their solutions are totally doable but only by a credible and democratic government that has the capacity to mobilize the people and indigenous resources. Perhaps the crossroad that Pakistan has been pushed to at present can be a blessing in disguise. At a time when the whole Osama operation has exposed the Pakistan state and its duplicity internally and externally, with overseas Pakistanis suffering an extreme reaction especially in the United States, Pakistanis can choose to rid themselves of this complicit and disgraced leadership. This is the time for a national revival through restoration of national dignity and sovereignty.

Today Pakistan has no other choice.

Imran Khan is Chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf [Pakistan Movement for Justice]. This opinion was published in The News International.

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