Five years on,
Photo courtesy: Guardian Unlimited
Five years on,
Photo courtesy: Guardian Unlimited
So they are going to the holy land together. For Mr. Sharif, it is also the land of sugar daddies; in plural.
According to The News, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have planned to undertake a joint visit to
Sadly, they are going for more prosaic reasons; seeking some petro-dollars. According to The News, “the kingdom, as it has demonstrated more than once, reserves a special love for Nawaz Sharif and is likely to favourably attend to his call for financial assistance in the shape of oil supply on deferred payments.”
This paragraph had me in splits.
Only a Jang group publication could have so beautifully put the love the kingdom has for our formerly bald leader. Needless to say, this has invoked all kind of images in my mind which has Mr. Sharif bent over, a few robe clad Arab princes and some user friendly fur and leather.
whip…. crack !!!!!
Mr. Sharif dithered for days before finally succumbing to request by Mr.Zardari to participate in February 18th election. His opinions and decisions sea-sawed after every meeting with the likes of Imran Khan, Qazi of JI and Mr. Zardari and this pattern will continue. Even after elections, he claimed, at least once everyday, that his party members will not ministries because that will mean taking oath from President Musharraf who, in Mr. Sharif’s opinion, is an undemocratic president. Last evening, he agreed to become part of the government and said that though it is extremely unpalatable for him and his party, members of PML-N will take up select ministries and will take oath from the president.
He has also pledged to release Dr. A.Q. Khan as soon as he can but will not be able to do that as Pakistani government is under agreement with IAEA to keep Mr. Khan under house arrest, so Mr. Sharif will have to go back on his word on this matter as well. And that would be just the beginning. He will go back on a lot of things and the general amnesia and short term memory loss that has engulfed the whole nation, most people will not even be bothered to remember what their formerly bald leader has pledged.
According to Daily Dawn (http://dawn.com/2008/03/07/nat1.htm) the commotion began at about noon when Mr. Khokhar sought the permission of Speaker to read out his call-attention notice seeking a discussion on “frequent foreign tours of Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and his family.”
Waving an official notification, he said that Rs1.59 million had been withdrawn from the budget of Kashmir Liberation Cell in advance for a 20-day tour to Geneva by the prime minister’s son, Usman Ali Khan, and three ‘relatively unknown’ women to attend the ‘7th session of the United Council on Human Rights’.
However, Law Minister Abdul Rashid Abbasi pointed out that under the rules of procedure, a maximum of two call-attention notices could be tabled in the house on a day. Taking serious exception to what he called suppression of the opposition’s voice to cover up malpractices of the government, the MQM lawmaker, whose mike had been switched off, walked towards the treasury benches and started distributing copies of the notification among the ministers sitting in the front row.
While the law minister tore up the copy given to him, Minister for Forests Ghulam Murtaza Gillani proceeded towards Mr Khokhar and tried to snatch the remaining copies. And Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Raza dashed towards Mr Khokhar and slapped him.
Stunned by the incident, several lawmakers from both sides rushed to the area in front of the chair and some of them tried to bring the situation under control. Minister for Food Abdul Qayyum Niazi was also stated to have punched Mr Khokhar.
It is believed that Mr Raza was angry with Mr Khokhar because he is known for uncovering secret official documents and giving a tough time to the treasury.
A number of meetings were held before the session was called again by the speaker at about 3pm, but opposition lawmakers in their speeches demanded suspension of Mr Raza, Mr Gillani and Mr Niazi.
The speaker said he had been in the assembly since 1991 but had never witnessed such an incident. Appealing to both sides to maintain the decorum of the house, he said Mr Khokhar should not have gone to the other side of the divide when he (chair) was constantly asking him to return to his seat. However, he said, this could not justify the treatment he had received at the hands of the minister for religious affairs. He announced suspension of Mr Raza’s membership under rule 206 of the Rules of Procedure “for the current session”.
However, as the opposition demanded suspension of the other two ministers as well, the law minister said the government would have no objection if they were “censured” by the chair. Upon this, the speaker gave a warning to Mr Gillani and Mr Niazi to be careful in the future and then read out the presidential order proroguing the session sine die.
But six members of the opposition who were in the house at that time did not leave as a mark of protest. Senior opposition lawmakers, except People’s Muslim League (PML) president Barrister Sultan Mahmood, reached the assembly building and joined their colleagues in the hall. They also addressed a press conference.
PPAJK secretary general and MLA Chaudhry Latif Akbar told Dawn that the opposition had given the 10am Friday deadline to suspend the membership of the two ministers.
“Till then, we will stay in this hall and will announce our next course of action if the government fails to meet our demand,” he said.
Mr Khokhar who was bleeding from his left ear, was taken to the nearby Abbas Institute of Medical Sciences. He was admitted to the hospital and sources told this correspondent that his eardrum had been damaged and he might take weeks to recover. Aaj TV’s Bolta
The most ironic thing is that the person who first started the violence was the minister for religious affairs. If this kind of behaviour is practiced in the legislative assembly, you can imagine how peaceful the streets are of the country.
It happens only in the land of pure.
I know I am a certified cynic and am generally pissed when grown up people (who in my opinion should grow out of their rose tinted glasses at the ripe old age of 8) present a hopeful picture of a future that none of us will see in our lifetimes. Waisay tau I have grievances against a lot of things but it pains me to see that people actually believe that the ongoing struggle for the restoration (!) of judiciary is anything but power struggle between two men (Musharraf and Chaudhry) with mammoth egos (both are delusional enough to think that they are indispensable).
For all my naïve friends who think this struggle is about reclaiming the dignity of the institution of judiciary and not about personalities should know that in Pakistani context, it is always about personalities and almost never about either the institutions or the country.
History provides us with enough evidence. Ayub Khan kicked the civilian govt. out for the betterment of the country, in his opinion of course, and assumed power becasue he thought he was the best man for the job. Pakistani politicians insisted that all cases be dropped against Mujeeb-ur-Rehman (of Awami league) after he was found guilty in Agartilla conspiracy to destabilize Ayub Khan’s govt, because it suited their immediate goal of rattling Ayub Khan (a personality). Z. A. Bhutto refused to hand over the power to the party, Awami League, that was in majority because he wanted to be in power, the country be damned, Bhutto Sahib, the martial law administrator, wanted to relinquish power only to Bhutto Sahib, the PM. No other candidate, even if he was in majority, was worthy enough. Zia hanged Bhutto because he feared that even a jailed Bhutto can be dangerous for his uninterrupted rule. He introduced drugs and small arms and Islamic militancy in the country courtesy over active participation in Afghan war to sustain his stay in power. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff fought it out between the two of them throughout 1990s, each claiming to be the saviour of the country and democracy. Musharaff toppled Sharif’s govt when he heard that the latter sacked him and CJ Chaudhry is striking back because it is now his job that is in the line. It never was about the institution of judiciary and it never will be. If supremacy of judiciary and constitution had been that important to Chaudhry Sahib, he would not have taken oath under the PCO in the first place and served the good general for such a long time. It never was between the president/army and judiciary; the war is between two personalities.
The mantra of all power brokers and politicians – past and present – is simple. Democracy be damned; constitution be damned; judiciary be damned; heck, even the country can go to the dogs, as long as they get to do what they set out to do.
I am officially sick of Mr Nawaz Shariff.
His new wardrobe that he acquired in London, while in exile on corruption charges, his pashmina scarves and his head of new, albeit wispy and surprisingly black hair may have fooled some, but I know that not much has changed as far as his mental faculties go. He is still a little thick in the head.
According to a friend, in a rally in Lahore before elections, he asked the people that what kind of a commando is he (Musharraf) that he changed his foreign policy in Afghanistan when a woman called (he meant Condoleeza Rice – Mian sahib was factually incorrect as usual because Condi only became secretary of state in Dubya’s second term, if anyone had called Mush after 9/11, it was most definitely not Condi). He also called him names on account of Article 58 (2) B. The funny thing is that he is abusing mush for 58 (2) B even though he is the only President who did not use it. Ghulam Ishaq Khan used it twice and Leghari used it against his party leader Ms. Bhutto.
His party members have been sitting in a parliament for the past five years and he now calls it unconstitutional. If it was unconstitutional, then why contest elections and the participated in parliamentary affairs for the past 5 years?
Even the post election struggle is all about power. PML-N has selected Shariff brothers as their parliamentary leaders even though none are members of parliament. Can someone please tell them that they have to be elected members of any legislative assembly in order to lead a team of parliamentarians? Imagine, this guy has been our ‘elected leader’ twice and if things remain the way they are, we will have another election soon and will see him donning the cap of PM for the third time. Life is not fair, at least not in
As a rule, anything written at the beginning of year is usually optimistic or it should be full of hope. This rant of mine is neither. It is a reaffirmation of the fact that we may speak fluent English and want democracy, we live in a feudal/tribal society where anything populist and democratic would stay a distant dream.
On December 30th, we saw the coronation of a 19 year old “prince” (Bilawal Bhutto) who was appointed successor of a political party (Pakistan People’s Party) that is supposed to hold “democracy” dearest. It was a macabre ceremony that humiliated democracy most; perhaps more than the military boots. It looked more like a “Gaddee nasheeni” ceremony than the “election” of the head of a national political party working for, what else but, democracy. It was the Gaddee Nasheeni of a new, albeit a very young, Pir.
A few weeks prior to that, retirement of an army general (Good ol’ Mush) and appointment of another(the new pervez, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani), also became a scene of royal coronation where the symbolic baton was handed over to the new general with much pomp and solemnity like a vanquished head of state submitting to a victorious general.
These people, the so called leaders, are a disgrace to the country!!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Since Mr Abdullah Gul became president of Turkey last month, talk of rising Islamism (which has become synonymous with obscurantism of late) in Turkey has dominated many think tanks, They are linking it with the global political Islamism and they also believe that it can be replicated in other Muslim countries, especially those where Islamist forces have been politically active, such as Egypt and Pakistan.
Egypt may have a chance in replicating something like the success of the AKP, but it does not have much of a chance in Pakistan. The religious political parties are either under hereditary leadership or political opportunists with hardly any educated religious scholars to develop political alternatives to battle the current chaos. In order for it to work in Pakistan, the religious political parties would be required to take a 180-degree turn and rewrite their manifestos, which usually start with US-bashing and end with Israel-bashing, with women-bashing thrown in the middle for good measure.
Neither President Gul nor Prime Minister Erdogan are Islamists, they both started their political careers with the Welfare Party, but their politics have always been secular. Yes, they are Muslims and their wives wear headscarves, but to equate the personal choice of a spouse to the religious right in other countries is far-fetched and has little credence, if any.
The policies of the AKP, since it assumed power in 2002, had been miraculous. For instance, the 2004 reforms to Turkey’s Penal Code, which were passed by an AKP-dominated parliament, have been revolutionary in granting women personal freedoms and rights to sexual autonomy. A Berlin-based institute, European Stability Initiative, in its report earlier this year said that the new penal code eliminated all references to patriarchal notions that are restricted to women alone, such as chastity, morality, shame, public customs or decency. The new penal code also treats sexual crimes as violations of individual women’s rights, and not as crimes against society, the family or public morality. Perhaps the biggest achievement of the AKP is that it criminalised rape in marriage, something which the secular Turkish establishment never bothered to address and which is absolutely impossible to address in other Muslim patriarchal societies such as Pakistan. In addition, the new Turkish penal code eliminated sentence reductions for honour killings, ended legal discrimination against non-virgin and unmarried women, and criminalised sexual harassment in the workplace and treated sexual assault by members of the security forces as aggravated offences. A landmark legislation has been an amendment on the penalty of sexual abuse of children because the possibility of under-age consent has been removed.
The AKP has broken the myth that only liberal and secular forces can safeguard women’s right. On the contrary, it was the 1924 constitution of Ataturk which stated that women’s bodies were the property of men, and that sexual crimes against women were in fact crimes against the honour of the family. The AKP reforms are supported by efforts to empower Turkish women and minimise the gender gap. According to the ESI report, a new liberal and Islamic feminist movement is gaining momentum in Turkey. Effective campaigns have been organised for the education of young girls in rural areas and shelters have sprung up across the country for women threatened by domestic violence or honour killings. (A very interesting statistical figure on the social change in Turkey is that between 1997 and 2004 the percentage of arranged marriages fell from 69 percent to 54 percent.)
The AKP proved its commitment to its electorate and moved beyond the traditional notions of what constitute women’s rights. It achieved this by working closely with Turkish civil-society and women’s groups, something which we don’t see happening in Pakistan. Here, the religious right is sceptical of civil-society organisations and terms many of them agents of West. The situation has deteriorated in the NWFP to the extent that for the ruling religious alliance the word NGO is now synonymous with immoral. The idea of working with women’s group to bring about constitutional reforms to achieve greater personal liberty for women is preposterous for such politico-religious parties.
Another factor that distinguishes the AKP from other religious political parties is that it has never been involved in West-bashing. For instance, Mr Gul, in his capacity as foreign minister, was responsible for the initiation of negotiation of Turkey’s entry into the EU. The massive penal and constitutional reforms were also brought forward to comply with EU demands. President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan believe in the importance of engagement, especially economic engagement, rather than that of confrontation. Such common sense or sagacity is not prevalent in countries like Egypt or Pakistan.
Compare this to Pakistan, where religious groups force women to stay at home during elections in the NWFP. People like Mullah Fazlullah (of Swat) forbid parents, via illegal FM radio stations, to send their daughters to school. It is the MMA and its cohorts, such as the Tehrik-e-Insaaf and the PML-N, that first opposed the women’s protection bill, which does not grant any groundbreaking freedoms but just redressed the grievances that they endured since promulgation of the much-hated Hudood Ordinance, and were later responsible for watering it down. In addition, it is the same set of parliamentarians that has consistently rejected moves to toughen sentences against honour crimes.
One cannot deny that overwhelmingly religiosity is gaining ground in Pakistan and no political party which is overtly and vocally secular can hope to gain much, hence the need for moderate Muslim voices is greater than ever before. Gul and Erdogan belong to that group of reformers who wanted to break away from the rigid and dogmatic. Similarly, reformist members of the famous Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, who are disillusioned with their leadership, have been trying to form a new party. We need such forces in Pakistan to bridge the gap between various political groups at both the ends to encourage the spirit of democracy and harmony. Ironically, despite creating the country through a democratic process, most political parties in Pakistan are undemocratic in their own structure and only surface during elections. They do not have honest Islamic scholars amongst their ranks who are in sync with the voice of the common man and can provide with the intellectual framework under which political and social action can be taken.
In short, the AKP won not because of its Islamic leanings but because it practiced liberal democracy. It replaced a more authoritarian character of the government and made it more inclusive for weaker groups such as ethnic minorities and women. Easing curbs on the Kurdish language, which was previously considered a threat to unity, perhaps won it lasting sympathy in the Kurd areas. In addition, the AKP delivered economic reforms which resulted in high growth rate and improved infrastructure, employment and services with equitable distribution. The AKP won because its achievements during its first tenure outweighed the achievements of its many Kemalist predecessors.
With the recent reforms and the promise of some more, Turkey has emerged as a post-secular, post-patriarchal democracy which is a lesson for leaders of the struggling Muslim world today. The so-called “pro-deal” liberals in Pakistan should learn a lesson or two from all of it. Instead of branding their own countrymen bogeymen, to seek international legitimacy, they should respect democracy. Instead of shunning the Islamist forces, one should work with them, not for temporary political gains, but for lasting social justice, rule of law, development and democracy. Just like Turkey, the educated middleclass in Pakistan must reclaim its place in politics. It is this class that was instrumental in creating the country, it should also be a torch-bearer in bringing about the much needed social and political change.
originally published in The News http://thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=73815
originally published in dawn