Tag Archives: Pakistan

Pakistani Politics in 2012

Politics in Pakistan is a hard and nasty business. After three years of a “democratic” government, corruption still reigns supreme. Over the past decade terrorism has become a bigger concern than the offering and taking of rishwat or comfort money: actually bribes.

So what does 2012 have in store for Pakistan? The country whose most popular leader Benazir Bhutto was murdered live before the international media, has been unable to bring the culprits to justice: the UN investigation into the circumstances of the murder has suggested that apart from the negligence of the Musharraf regime the Pakistan People’s Party was unable to provide security to Benazir.

Meanwhile new political forces in Pakistan’s political arena are also emerging.

Imran Khan’s party the Tehreek-i-Insaf claims that “Imran is set to play the innings of his life” and stalwarts of the PML(N) such as Javed Hashmi and PPP deserters like the former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi have flocked to the redoubtable cricketer’s side. (Moreover, it’s pretty obvious that the young people side with Imran in the hope that he will run the country in the way he once magnificently captained Pakistan’s cricket team.)

With the PTI, a major point of contention is that Imran is said to be the toy-boy of the mullah and right wing parties. It is also reported that a political tie up between Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan might be in the offing: will the ex-dictator join hands with the ex-captain? They are an unlikely match though and by the end of Musharraf’s disgraceful regime Imran and Musharraf had fallen out in a massive way … But a marriage of convenience might well be on the cards.

In the coming months some of the events worth observing will be whether:

  • The Pakistan Army interferes in politics (yet again!) by seizing power
  • The present government will last the full term of five years?
  • Pakistan and America will continue to do business on easy terms: something which neglects the interests of Pakistan’s interests
  • Neglected provinces such as Balochistan will be compensated for their predicaments
  • Accountability and transparency will be stampeded to undermine the national interest
  • The mullahs will continue to throw their lot in with the fundamentalists and the Taliban
  • The rich will pay their taxes (last but by no means least)
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The menace within

Pakistan was created to tolerate all people regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity and gender. However, in order to achieve this ideal, and this is palpable from recents events, our country has not matched neighbouring India in building our state institutions as a democratic nation. But this was because Pakistan was caught off guard when treachery struck us and “they”, the Indians, had “Joe”. So we might have an excuse.

Sadly, the military has dispossessed the Pakistanis of Mr Jinnah’s legacy of freedom. In that way Pakistan is still wedded to the vestiges of imperialism. In India, however, Pandit Nehru (or “Joe”) expeditiously settled the country’s constitution, whereas in Pakistan the seeds evil were sown when the venal Muhammed Munir CJ appeased his military masters by murdering democracy in its nascency. Munir upheld Ghulam Muhammed’s dissolution of the legislature in 1954 (for the Constituent Assembly’s failure to produce a constitution within a reasonable timescale) and in doing so he legitimised perpetual tyranny and violence in Pakistan.

I will not expand too much upon what Munir CJ did but he affirmed dictatorship – for example, in Dosso v The State, he used Professor Hans Kelsen’s theory of “pure revolution” to legitimise Ayub’s 1958 military coup d’état. Kelsen, of course, was truly repulsed by this and disowned what Munir falsely attributed to him. Continue reading

Khwaja Sarwar Hasan: founder of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

This entry prefaces the editor’s intention to expand this website so that the work of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) can be included in this site’s content. Therefore, prior to launching the PIIA pages, it is only apt to remember the achievements of its founder Khwaja Sarwar Hasan.

Khwaja Sarwar Hasan was born in Panipat on 18 October 1902. His illustrious family had lived in Panipat since the days of Emperor Balban. Educated at the Muslim University Aligarh and the University of Cambridge, he was called to the bar of England and Wales at the Middle Temple. For a few years he practised law at Aligarh and later become Professor of Law at Delhi University where he taught for 14 years. He was closely associated with civic life in Delhi and was a municipal commissioner of the city.

In his youth he was deeply influenced by Muslim nationalism in the subcontinent and became a staunch supporter of the Pakistan movement. Continue reading

Condition of widows in Pakistan

Dr Masuma Hasan

Being a widow is not a stigma in Pakistan either in religion or under the law. Marriage in Islam, which is the religion followed by the majority of the population, is not considered as sacrosanct. It is viewed as a civil contract between two individuals which can be dissolved. Thus the extreme sanctity attached to marriage in certain other religions does not operate to turn a widow into an outcast or be held responsible for her husband’s death. Traditionally, widows have been encouraged to re-marry and marriage to a widow has always been considered as an honourable act.

According to the latest Census (1998), in a population of 132.4 million, there were 2.7 million widows in the female population of 69 million. The largest number, 442,179, were found in the age bracket 75 years and above, followed by 416,773 in ages 60 to 64 years, and 326,176 between 50 to 54 years. However, Pakistan’s population in 2010 is estimated at over 170 million so the number of     widows has also increased.

Supportive influences

The law of the land, as embodied in the Constitution of 1973, and all previous constitutions, does not discriminate between the rights of women and men. The Constitution guarantees equal rights to both and rules out discrimination on the basis of sex. It empowers the State to make special laws for the protection of women and children and take steps to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life and protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child.

A widow inherits one-fourth of her husband’s property if she has no children, and one-eighth of his property if she has children. The Government has made humane provisions for the widows of its employees. After the death of a Government employee, his widow receives the family pension until her own death. Widows of lower paid employees also receive a one-time grant for rehabilitation from the official Benevolent Fund. In the private sector, which works for profit, there are no universal rules governing support for widows of deceased employees, but given the culture of philanthropy, some short-term provision is probably made. Continue reading

In memoriam: Fatehyab Ali Khan 1936-2010

Fatehyab Ali Khan speaking in 1962

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Chairman of the Council of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away on 26 September 2010. He was a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan. A visionary in politics, his struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, justice in society and the rule of law forms a glowing chapter in the history of our country. His support for the cause of the oppressed and under-privileged will long be remembered.

Fatehyab’s family migrated from Hyderabad Deccan to Pakistan after the Partition and settled in Shikarpur and Karachi. His bold stand against injustices in the local education system made him prominent at a very early age. Gifted with unusual organizing skills, persuasiveness and charm, he joined the National Students Federation and soon assumed leadership roles in the student community. He was elected as Vice President of Islamia College Students’ Union (at that time the president used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater. Continue reading

Aurat Foundation’s response to the floods

(By Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairman, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs)

The Indus River floods almost every year. After the flood recedes, the people living along its banks repair their homes and shops and pick up the threads of life again. In some years, the flooding is acute and the government, civil society and other donors mobilise to bring relief to those left homeless and destitute.

Dr Masuma Hasan

This year, the floods have been described by some, as the worst natural disaster in the history of mankind. Devastation? Tragedy? Calamity? None of these words truly describe the magnitude of what has struck disaster-prone Pakistan. As if terrorism and the war against it had not caused misery and displacement enough. It is estimated that 20 million people have been affected by the monsoon rains and the Indus flood which has broken dykes and embankments and submerged millions of acres of land. Hundreds of towns, villages and hamlets have been evacuated. People are on the move, desperately seeking a patch of dry ground and the means of survival.

The impact of this disaster will be felt for generations to come. The gains Pakistan’s economy, infrastructure, industry, health and education sectors had made have been washed away by the angry Indus. Heritage sites have been destroyed. Sludge covers the land, many feet deep. Crops, livestock and fodder have been lost, public and private records of governance, education, businesses and landownership have drowned. Stocks of grain and rice have been swept away. Who will sow the next crop? Epidemics and disease threaten our land. Continue reading

Blasphemy and the rule of law: Asia Bibi’s case

History

A barrister by trade Mr Jinnah shared with the profession its militant passion for espousing very precisely advocated arguments and it is not by chance that six decades after his death we can still hear his principles echo. In his first speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Mr Jinnah provided his people with clues for future action. He described the evils which threatened Pakistan’s interests and suggested remedies which would aid its inhabitants in achieving the secular dream that he had dreamt for the newborn state.

Mr Jinnah

In his first address to the Constituent Assembly Mr Jinnah very famously declared that in Pakistan there could be “no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another”. He also reassured Pakistan’s citizens by his declaration that:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Clearly Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan was very much about an impartial state which did not treat its minorities poorly and one which did not persecute them.

In his speech Mr Jinnah also reiterated his fears for the future. Pakistan, argued Mr Jinnah, would have to fight diseases such as “bribery, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and black marketing” and in order to win against such evils the post-colonial state would have to grant all its citizens equality and constitutional “human” rights.

Equally, even the later Objectives Resolution (considered to be the touchstone of the “Islamic” influence on Pakistan’s constitution) – which was passed in March 1949 under the aegis of Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan – clearly made provisions for the protection of the rights of minorities. Keeping with Mr Jinnah Nawabzada envisaged a nation: Continue reading

Land and the politics of ethnicity

Politically motivated targeted killings, sectarian violence, forced occupation of other people’s property, illegal bulldozing of poor settlements, an increasing crime rate and an increasingly helpless and corrupt administration, are making Karachi ungovernable. There are many local, national and international causes for this state of affairs. However, a major cause is the politics of ethnicity and the close link it has unwittingly acquired with the trillions that can be made from the land and real estate business.

According to the 1998 Census, 48 per cent of the city’s population is Urdu speaking, 14 per cent is Punjabi speaking, 12 per cent is Pashto speaking and about 9 per cent is Sindhi speaking. The rest of the population speaks all the remaining languages of Pakistan. Continue reading

Khairpur Nathan Shah

By Arif Hasan (published in Dawn on 28 October 2010)

Muhammad Iqbal Memon, DCO Dadu invited me to visit Khairpur Nathan Shah to “advise” him on its “rehabilitation”. In the briefing held in Dadu on 10 October 2010, and attended by Imran Zafar Laghari (the MPA of the area) and Sikandar Panhwar (the TMO) , we learnt that the town had over 15,000 plus homes and shops, its water came from tube wells seven kilometres away as the local subsoil water was brackish, and that the sewage system consisted of open drains (as in the rest of the small towns of Sindh) and disposed into cesspools or pumped untreated into the saim nali through three disposal points. The absence of an underground sewage system is a major cause of disease and environmental pollution. The town is divided into thirteen community based paras or neighbourhoods. It has functioning educational and health institutions including degree colleges for both girls and boys. Continue reading

Human rights in Pakistan: what’s next?

To say the very least the Pakistani “human rights” lobby is comprehensively impotent in changing the diminishing fortunes of Pakistan’s poor and repressed people. Thus far, since their inception, the “fundamental rights” enumerated in Articles 9-28 of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution have not been granted to the people. In fact military dictators and their civilian acolytes have done all that they could to murder democracy in its nascency in Pakistan. The crime, of course, has not gone unnoticed and in one instance  it has been exposed by Allen McGrath in his most excellent book The Destruction of Democracy in Pakistan in which he unequivocally holds Munir CJ as being the foremost accomplice of the Army’s designs in conclusively ousting the civilian leadership from running the country forever. Continue reading

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