Friday, October 15, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
There may be a scope for compromise among well meaning liberals who wish to bring about an egalitarian system replacing the existing unjust and feudalistic order under the garb of democracy, and the Islamists, if not the die-hard terrorists. The common cause among the two, otherwise diverse groups could be a “just socio-economic order’. Liberals may have to forego or postpone their emphasis on Western values of wining and dining, flaunting and exhibitionism, vulgar and obscene media etc.
The Islamists may have to forego or postpone their emphasis on initiating Islamic interpretation and implementation with “cutting hands”, caning the defaulters, mishandling women and restricting their participation in economic life.
Ziaul Haque’s Islamic rule came with trying to impose “hand chopping” punishments without arranging and providing for the poor and hungry (the latter) as enshrined by Islam. Talibans in
Elimination of hunger, poverty an injustice can be the compromising agenda, if the two sides are faithful to their ideals. The recent revival of the judiciary should not be confused with the social justice. The former is legislative and even elitist while the latter is real, enduring and all pervasive. Liberals could never have the wherewithal to change the system while the Islamists have a wider base and can mobilize support, mass appeal and street power. Islamists need respectability and acceptability in the corridors of power, national and internal, and a marketable outlook. Jamaat e Islami originally, perhaps, offered a potential vehicle, but has now chosen an extremist path. Many in this country dread a collapse of the system and sudden surrender at the hands of extremists in the form of a hurriedly organized compromise. The alternative prognosis of a pervading war of attrition with extremists led by TTP is not a good prospect either which may leave us divided and under developed, with our neighboring
Profile of a settlement
A conference of Pakistani Deobandi scholars and ulemas had been called recently by the government circles to garner support (and a declaratory supporting statement) against terrorism and suicide attacks. The organizers could not succeed in getting any fatwa or statement against terrorism unleashed by the Taliban, led by TTP and other factions. Indeed as reported by the daily Dawn newspaper and by its editor, everybody else was criticized and condemned for their failures; drone attacks, the
Subsequently the Swat peace deal did not succeed and was followed by operation Raahe Nijaat, in which the whole city had to be evacuated and the infiltrators and terrorists had to be wiped out after a deadly military campaign. If we look for the common thread in the demands and the conduct of the extremists, and the participants of the Deobandi scholars’ conference, we can conclude the following:
- Resentment against immorality spread through the media and films, CDs etc with the assistance or benign neglect of the government(s) of
- Establishment of some obvious manifestations of Islamic system especially a fast-track legal system based on Qazi Adalat and Shariat.
- If they have their way, they would also have demanded several anti-woman initiatives, stress on beard and salaat etc.
On the first two, even liberals may like to support the extremists. Many of us would not like to show us on TV, what is being shown e.g. vulgarity and raw sexuality and almost copulatory acts. All kinds of x-rated films and songs encouraging flesh trade are not the grievances of the extremists but also have a common cause of conflict with an average law abiding and progressive Pakistani.
That the existing legal system of
Small cause courts, felonies and personal laws like marriage, divorce, inheritance etc., could be entrusted to Qazi courts, wherein both lawyer and police are avoided and side tracked. Most people cannot afford lawyers and police and want to have immediate recourse to an institution which is readily accessible, without intermediary and un-necessary costs and whose quick adjudication can be achieved. Qazi / Shariat adalat system could be introduced first in NWFP, in the districts where there is excessive demand for the new system. Localized referendum can be organized to ascertain the will of the people. In
Keeping in view the deteriorating situation and even expanding and intensifying terror campaign by the militants and fundamentalists, the choices before liberal forces are not too many. They may risk a future war of attrition at best and a take-over at worst.
Attempts to force the change in seminaries curriculum and the associated pedagogy would not succeed. However, enmasse induction in these seminaries could be completed away by offering alternative education facilities to the children of the poor. Financial and modernization assistance such as libraries, computers and internet, provision of teachers of modern sciences such as economics, philosophy and natural sciences could in the medium to long run may dilute extremism and help produce more balanced and seminary graduates and scholars.
Earthquake, terrorism and now these floods; some people say, it is Azab (God’s curse). Nothing would be crueler than this kind of characterization. Most of the sufferers are poor people, who have no share in the wrong doings of our society, and the rich and the powerful. Most natural calamities are defendable against to quite a degree. Elsewhere people have leant building earth quake safe buildings and structures which greatly reduce the damage and impact, if not eliminate altogether. There are reasonable protections against floods like dykes and dams. We either did not build dykes or those were not adequately high or strong enough or were not in good maintenance.
Even after such severe floods, there are people who say there is no excess water to be stored. Elsewhere, people have built dams to prevent or reduce the intensity of floods and to store water to fight drought. They are against Kalabagh dam and not against other dams such as Bhasha. KP has some reason to oppose it, but why Sindh. Some people suggest that expediency demands that the issue of Kalabagh dam be not touched lest it may ignite opposition to other dams as well. But the fact remains, that we are not willing to see the light of the day, even after even probably God tried to convince us of the merit of the case through sending these floods. It has been estimated that 45 MAF of excess water has flown in these floods, which is more than the combined storage capacity of all dams, existing and future ones including the,”dreaded Kalabagh dam”. The only reason the proponents of Kalabagh dam raise its issue is that it can be built the earliest and fastest as all planning work on it has been completed. We can start getting cheap hydro power in a matter of five years, while in other cases it may take twice longer.
Terrorist have not spared their Muslim brothers during or after these floods. Are they really Muslims? They are but they are misguided mufsideen. Who were Kharjis and what they did. This is not difficult to identify this old strain in Muslim society. They attacked Data Darbar earlier and now yesterday they again struck at Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine and have accepted responsibility. Some or most fundamentalist parties and persons blame foreigners including the
There may not be any compromise with the terrorists but there can be a compromise with their front men and protagonists who are not directly involved but have considerable sympathy with the terrorists and their Jihad. Most fundamentalists avoid openly condemning terrorists may be due to the fear and more probably because of a common theme that the Pakistani state is almost a Darulkufr and it should be destroyed in its present form to be replaced by an Islamic system of their type where women are flogged and daughters kept away from schools. We may have to think about their ideology and thought process. Most poor people and by definition the majority of
Surely some mid-ground can be found. The background talks that are going on with some of the good terrorists or our own terrorists should be accompanied by some negotiations on philosophical and ideological issues with their front men. Some cultural adjustments would have to be made. Flagrant demonstration of flesh business by pimpic media must end. Democracy does not, at least the stage we are in, does not need, that kind of freedom. Many other flagrant demonstrations of western culture may have to be suitably curtailed. It is often speculated that documentary and media evidence of objectionable materials and other unnecessary carnal exhibitionism is used by the terrorist organizations in their training and inculcation?
One may argue and perhaps quite justifiably that it may be downward slippery ride to the abyss. For the likes of fundamentalists and terrorists we are facing, even Saudi cultural restrictions are not enough. On the other hand Muslim liberalism may have to also define as to where culture stops and flesh business begins. At this moment, it is also a slippery ride into the western permissiveness of 1960s.
Certainly, this government has to tackle many problems, many being simply inherited. All people and parties should be cooperative and show some compassion and sympathy than simple and cruel opposition, criticism and condemnations.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Bonded Labor: More needs to be done than passing a law against it
Poor laborers and Haris are always short of cash and have to borrow, often from their employers, some loan, advance salary etc. Once they borrow it, they can often not pay back, mostly due to harsh borrowing terms. And thus they become bonded labor aka slaves. Infact lending to employees and labor is often used as a tool for inducting forced or bonded labor. Most share croppers fall into this trap, especially when the crop prices used to be depressed, which is no more the case. Unemployment, sickness, marriage, birth and legal and police entanglements etc, may create conditions enough for the poor to borrow and fall into this trap. The most abominable aspect of this practice is that the whole family is taken into bondage including children and women. Human trafficking and rape are common inflictions.
Anti-Bonded Labor Act had been passed in 1992, after the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared this abominable practice as unconstitutional. However , the situation has not changed much. No violator has been convicted yet, despite this widely prevailing practice among employers and agricultural land lords. More has to be done than having passed the law. Only if a few violators were targeted, tried and convicted, some discouraging signals would have been sent. Only once in a while, some media stories are published because of some extraordinary cruelty and stupidity of a violator.
Agriculture, Brick kiln, mining and household is the major sectors indulging in bonded labor practices. There are some unscrupulous religious elements that ideologically support bonded labor as slavery, the latter used to be a permitted practice in Islam. No more. But some people may always make a morbid case. There is a strong case that a clear Fatwa is issued against it and widely publicized.
There could be other market based tools employed to discourage this practice on the lines of Environmental labeling. Businesses could be encouraged not to deal with the individuals and companies indulging in Bonded Labor practices by the way of publishing a black list of such persons. Business federations own byelaws could adopt such a practice. Governments, federal and provincial, should also compile a list of such persons and entities, under which prohibitory orders could be issued. Banks, for example may decline to do business and extending loans to such persons, whose name is published in such a black list. If government finds it difficult, some NGO connected with the Labor Departments could assume the responsibility of compiling such a list. A lot of other steps could be taken creatively such as requiring suspected or impugned violators to issue and submit certificate that he or she does not indulge or has abandoned this practice.
Government of Pakistan Peoples Party has a special moral and political obligation to take action in this respect, as it has been founded on the pro-poor and pro-labor principles and philosophy. Other parties may also have propounded such philosophies, but PPP has a special standing and commitment in this respect. It would also be politically expedient. Sending influential violators Jails would create news. In politics, either you create news or your detractors or opponent would create news-against you. So go getting
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Parvez Musharraf delivered his inaugural speech, announcing foundation of APML and joining the same, in his typical authoritarian tone and style. Perhaps on the issue of style, he could not help it even after living in
Having ruled this country for so long, it was disappointing to find his level of ignorance on some of the fundamental problems and issues. For example, he repeatedly said that we had abundant water. However, the data and facts on which there is unanimity and consensus among experts and other knowledgeable people within and outside
Similarly ,he spoke of the abundant energy resources which I agree there are and remain unutilised.However,it was his government which caused major problems in this sector.It was in his period that Chinese offer , and a very reasonable and competitive and cost effective offer,was rejected on Thar coal.A big Chinese company had spent more than two years in Thar desert ,prepared its feasibility study and made the offer,which if allowed to be implemented , would have produced enough cheap electricity from domestic Thar coal , to obviate load-shedding and tariff increases.WAPDA files and media coverage are there to verify what I have just mentioned.Where was he busy with to let this happen.Chinese were so incensed that they did not come back on this issue and refuse to do so till today.It is highly unlikely that western companies would enter Thar desert due to a variety of problems ,including the anti-coal environmental policies in the West. Reportedly even World Bank has withdrawn from a technical assistance project on Thar coal among criticism for funding coal projects.
Dependence on oil started from his period and gas supplies started dwindling in his period. It was due to his vendetta and egotistic and knee-jerk policies and campaign in Balochistan ,that further Oil and Gas exploration activity remains suspended and may remain so for quite a long period.He is not repentant. He still uses the same vocabulary of using power to solve political problems and vowed again to ' crush' political forces in Balochistan.
No single MW was added to the electrical grid in his period.And no investment in energy either.He denies that charge ,saying: Were we stupid to not have invested in Electricity? Politeness prevents us from responding to this kind of question.He made false promises of opening Langar in every Union Council . Some kind of a Manna Salwa , as the government of
He spoke of Local Governments and the media and perhaps rightly claimed credit for innovation and development in these areas.Our provincial politicians have not yet been able to shun their skepticism and antagonism towards local governments which remain dysfunctional in all the provinces , some due to pure egotistic reasons and penchant for direct and personal rule and some due to ethnic issues.
Parvez Musharraf lamented about many problems and issues and criticized but hardly offered any solution or his approach to solve such problems.In an inaugural speech,one expected some new thinking. Only a few days ago,he may have heard the speech of the younger brother of David Miliband propounding a new vision for the Labor Party his country and its people.We have much more severe problems and our leaders so moribund. Musharraf talked about the poor and poverty ,but had hardly any proposal in this respect.He complained that the rich benefit from the laws and only the poor get punishment under it.On most issues he said or implied that he was right when he was in power and would like to do more in that direction.One wonders if he would imprison more CJs this time?He would trample upon the constitution again and disfigure it?He would commit the like of excessive violence on Lal Masjid type operations again ?He would indulge in arbitrary killing of more Baloch leaders again to compound the problems in that province once again? He did not talk about any reforms including land reforms or taxing the landlords or increasing the government revenue by bringing in untaxed incomes in the net. any thing new,he opened the Pandora box of 1939 vs 1940 resolution and spoke about new provinces,which would bring the dormant issue in the limelight and further controversy in this respect.
However there is a lesson for all democratic political parties in Pakistan especially the big ones.Parvez Musharraf is attracting the educated middle class , which has almost been disenfranchised by the political system and the parties.PML and PPP should create more space for educated middle classes in their leadership ranks and as well as down the line.Had they done so , Musharraf would have been buried in political debris.
If Musharraf poses any threat to some one,it is for Nawaz Sharif.It is Musharraf who can unite all factions of Muslim League except PML(N) or it is Nawaz Sharif,if he shows leadership,can unite all factions except APML.The ball is in Nawaz Sharif's court?