Sunday, December 12, 2010

Processions, Religious And Political, To Be Shifted To City Outskirts

Ban gatherings and processions within cities and designate special areas for them outside major population areas.

I wrote this comment in reply to a discussion started on Internet group PressPakistan.

This is a healthy and overdue debate. And it is not limited to Muharram processions but includes other religious events, including Eid Milad al Nabi and other events.

Remember: this is not a religious issue but an issue of public order. Some of our fellow citizens and brothers and sisters will try to give this a religious color. This must not be permitted. Apart from Pakistan, no other Arab or Muslim country allows the kind of public order disturbances in the name of political and religious processions and rallies the way we do in Pakistan.

Laws need to be amended to prohibit any political or religious activity in public places where it could create inconvenience to the larger population.

Special areas should be designated on the outskirts of major cities and towns where political parties and religious groups can hold their events round the year without causing a public order problem for the government and the rest of the citizens.

These special-designated areas can be secured, organized and equipped to handle large crowds in an orderly way. Special facilities can be provided to help local and international media cover events right from the location.

Exceptions to the rule should be limited to events inside cities that are conducted inside halls and buildings with proper and ample parking arrangements. And with guarantees the gathering will not spill to the streets.

Most of our political and religious groups won't accept this. But a strong federal government can and should enforce this measure for larger public good.

This measure can help eliminate some of the factors that destabilize the domestic environment in the country.

A group of eminent, non-partisan Pakistanis have authored a detailed report in this regard which will be presented to the incumbent government sometime in early 2011. It is part of a larger effort to propose changes to our laws to strengthen the State and make it more effective.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ignore Guardian's Claim Of 'Fake' India WikiLeaks

The Guardian newspaper is claiming this report is 'fake'. Here is why you should disregard Guardian's claim for being biased:

WikiLeaks is not saying this. UK's Guardian newspaper is. It's one of 4 or 5 newspapers that have been selectively releasing the Wiki cables. About 1,200 have been released so far out of 251,000 or so. Guardian and others have manipulated the leaks to release material that supports US policy on Pakistan, specifically on Pakistani nukes and Pakistani policy on Afghanistan, India and Kashmir.

This selective approach was not limited to Pakistan. It extended to countries such as Russia and China, in addition to Pakistan, countries with whom US foreign policy is at odds.

WikiLeaks handed over the entire stash of cables to these 4 or 5 newspapers. What these papers did is to hold off everything and target these few countries in a surprising overlap with US objectives.

So the good work of WikiLeaks has been hijacked by these newspapers, including the Guardian.

Now there is this story in the Pakistani media and The Guardian is horrified that there is someone else practicing manipulation besides them.

Substantial parts of the story in Pakistani media is correct. It's only that The Guardian and the other newspapers are misleading the world public opinion by a selective focus on the things they want from WikiLeaks cables.

WikiLeaks did a good job of exposing US bully diplomacy, and here comes NYT, Guardian and 2 or 3 other 'partner' newspapers of WikiLeaks to selectively release the material to suit US policy objectives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sindh Is Not A Card, Mr. Zardari

A large Sindhi cap is permanently displayed at Ayub Park, Rawalpindi.

There is a clear stench of deceit in Sindh Culture Day, being celebrated across Pakistan's Sindh province tomorrow. It has nothing to do with Sindh or with culture. In all likelihood, it's President Asif Ali Zardari's latest trick to blackmail his political opponents.

After all, what's the point in political groups taking out rallies waving the Sindhi cap and dress?

Sindh's culture and language are thriving like never before. They are not under threat of any kind. Sindhi language, one of Pakistan's oldest, is growing with Internet websites, newspapers, books, and television stations. All Pakistanis identify with the culture and language of Sindh. It's our culture and language. And we all own it and swoon to the great Sufi tunes of legendaries such as Abida Parveen and Allan Faqir, and the great words of Abdulatif Bhitai and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the great poet and Sufi saint of Sindh.

Pakistan's modern art, music, television and theater are greatly indebted to and enriched by the contributions of Pakistani Sindhis.

A young girl in a camp for flood victims near Hyderabad
 Instead of galvanizing the people on language, Mr. Zardari could have issued a call to the people in Sindh and across Pakistan to rise again for the victims of floods who are still homeless, and a large number of them are in Sindh. In fact, it is Mr. Zardari's government that turned these poor flood victims, especially in Sindh, into beggars, queuing by the thousands at government-run camps and offices for help and often getting beaten up by police for protesting government's corruption and ineptitude.

Mr. Zardari, who owns lavish real estate in the United States, France, UAE and the UK, is not concerned about them. He is worried about his seat of power and is looking for ways to survive.

What Mr. Zardari is trying to do is to create conditions to use the Sindh Card. Which means: if my government is toppled in any way, I will whip up Pakistan's Sindhis into demanding separation from Pakistan.

This threat is not new. A Zardari aide and interior minister in Sindh's provincial government, Zulfiqar Mirza, bluntly admitted he and his boss were contemplating this after the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Interestingly, late Mrs. Bhutto never thought of this even after the execution of late Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto. Also, I am not sure who gave Mr. Zardari or the PPPP the right to represent Pakistani citizens who are Sindhis [or who gave the same rights to MQM, ANP, etc. to represent other languages?].

Mr. Zardari has spent three years in power and has done nothing for his hometown, Nawabshah, or his wife's hometown, Larkana, or for Sindh. When he's out of power, he and his supporters will conveniently blame Islamabad, the federation, the so-called Establishment, or the alleged Punjabi-dominated bureaucracy of neglecting his home province.

People of Sindh are patriotic Pakistanis. They are also not fools.

Not only did Mr. Zardari not do anything for his home province, he didn't even do anything for Taslim Solangi. A pregnant 17-year-old Taslim was thrown to hungry dogs by corrupt landlords in rural Sindh in 2008. Before she was ripped apart by dogs, she was forced to prematurely deliver her 8-month-old baby who was immediately thrown into a river. Her family begged for justice and never received it.

Taslim Solangi, thrown to hungry dogs
President Zardari won't help the victims of  floods, won't give justice to Taslim Solangi, but is ready to use Sindh to save his presidency.

Sindh is not a card, Mr. President. Sindh is Pakistan. Please don't poison the culture of Sindh by linking it to your politics.

Unfortunately, none of the many intellectuals in Sindh stepped forward and protested President Zardari's desperate attempts to politicize our Sindhi culture. That's because they know they will be harassed by Mr. Zardari's party that currently rules the country.

It is time that we stopped anyone in the future using language for politics and to divide Pakistanis in the name of democracy.

The federal Pakistani government should seize our languages from these political parties and own them by itself. It should not let two-bit politicians use language for politics and divide Pakistanis along linguistic lines. Parties such as PPPP, ANP, MQM, PMLN and others have no right to self-appoint themselves as representatives and owners of entire groups of Pakistanis. The federal government should pass legislation to stop political parties from becoming linguistic parties. Democracy and political parties should not become tools for linguistic divisions. And this was certainly not the intent of the writers of our constitution.

We should have Sindh culture day and other culture days every year. But they should be organized by the federal government and celebrated nationally. Why should Sindh culture day be celebrated in Sindh only?

We need a federal government that can correct these abnormalities in Pakistani democracy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Before You Download From Wikileaks Site

From a reader, Mr. Usman Yousaf:

I would like to suggest to people who belong to Pakistani govt & security departments. that please do not download any data from wikileaks website on computers where privacy and security is critical. I have doubts they must have done something with those docs. My suggestion is to print them and then scan them. All the best for Pakistan.
Pakistan Zindabad.
Usman Yousaf.