Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mobs take to streets in cities of Pakistan

Angry supporters of Benazir Bhutto have taken to the streets in Rawalpindi and Lahore, and other cities, setting fire to public transport vehicles, cars and shops. There are reports of intense rioting in Firdaus Market and Model Town in Lahore and Murree Road in Rawalpindi. Many banners and posters of PML-Q candidates have been set on fire. Similar reports are coming in from all parts of the country, including Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Peshawar.

Karachi engulfed in chaos following assassination

Karachiites experienced chaos as angry mobs set ablaze scores of public and private vehicles, and set fires to all major roads after the news of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assasination. PPP supporters also fired shots in the air which created panic, resulting in severe traffic jams. Korangi Road, Shahra-e-Faisal, University Road, M.A..Jinnah Road, Shahra-e-Pakistan, Shaheed-e-Millat Road were worst affected.

LUMS Students strongly condemn Benazir's assassination

The students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences strongly condemned the assassination of former Prime Minister benazir Bhutto in an on-campus sit in today (Thursday), as soon as news was recieved about her tragic demise . Fateha was offered by about 150 students and some faculty members who gathered outside the dining centre upon hearing the news. The students deplored the senseless murder and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice and stressed upon the need for calm and stability in the country.

Student Action Committee condemns assassination

The Student Action Committee Lahore condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the mindless murder of Benazir Bhutto and the other innocent victims of this tragic incident. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and mourners; we grieve alongside them in this hour of catastrophe. The state has once again proved criminally inept in providing for the security and safety of the citizens and leaders of this country. However, we ask the people to show restraint and not turn against each other. This is a moment where the nation must stand together. We must not let the perpetrators of this horrendous act succeed in dividing us. The SAC ( Lahore) calls upon the country to unite in the condemnation of this assassination and realize that now is the time to take our country back from those who have brought it to the brink of failure.

Benazir Bhutto assasinated

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) — Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack on Thursday, just two months after the former premier returned from exile for a political comeback.Bhutto, a two-time former prime minister, had just addressed a campaign rally for next month's parliamentary elections when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue, killing her and at least 10 other people. There were unconfirmed reports that the attacker had also opened fire on her with a weapon before the explosion."

It may have been pellets packed into the suicide bomber's vest that hit her," interior ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told AFP.

It was the second suicide attack at a Bhutto event since she had returned from exile in October, aiming to contest the elections, and comes amid an unprecedented wave of violence in the country.

The deadliest terror attack in Pakistan's history targetted her homecoming rally just hours after her return, leaving 139 people dead.After that attack, authorities repeatedly warned her they had information that Islamic militants were trying to killer her.

Government officials said President Pervez Musharraf had been privately told of her death.

(At this tragic moment in the history of Pakistan, we at the Emergency Times are shocked beyond words at this intolerable and brutal act of the murder, along with others, of possibly the most popular leader of our country. No words can adequately condemn this barbaric act, which can only lead to more death and destruction for this tortured land. Her death will leave a gaping chasm in our country's leadership. One can only hope, beyond hope, that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
May God help us all.)

Gunmen open fire on Nawaz Rally

ISLAMABAD (Courtesy Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on supporters of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday while he was campaigning for a January election, wounding several of them, Sharif said.
Sharif blamed supporters of the party that supports President Pervez Musharraf for the violence near the city of Rawalpindi. Police confirmed several people had been hurt in shooting.
"Some Q League workers fired at our people," Sharif told Reuters, referring to the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Q).
"We have reports that several people were wounded," he said.
Sharif was several kilometers away from the scene of the shooting at the time, on his way to Rawalpindi.
Officials of the pro-Musharraf party were not immediately available for comment.

The New Face of Controlled Media in Pakistan

Quaid's vision forgotten: Chief Justice Iftikhar

By Nasir Iqbal (Courtesy DAWN)

ISLAMABAD, Dec 25: The deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has said that after 60 years of its existence the country has drifted away from the ideals, principles and vision of the Quaid-i-Azam.“Today as a nation, we find ourselves at a crossroads. It is a defining moment,” he said in a statement released by Advocate Athar Minallah here on Tuesday on the birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Christmas.

Justice Iftikhar said the vision of the Quaid was to see Pakistan prosper as a democratic state embodying principles of the rule of law, freedom of speech and expression, equality, tolerance, justice and fair play for all, protection of human rights and civil liberties.He said it was the Quaid’s dream to see all citizens freely practising their religious beliefs and achieving political and economic independence.The statement quoted the Quaid as having said: “Minorities to whichever community they may belong will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.”Justice Iftikhar said the Quaid envisaged for Pakistan an independent judiciary which would protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

“Today I join the Pakistani nation in their prayers and struggle to achieve the ideals of the Quaid’s vision for bringing back the country under the rule of law and the Constitution and to reverse the effects of this current darkest period of our constitutional and political history. It is our resolve and commitment to make the country, the Quaid’s Pakistan where there is supremacy of the constitution and rule of law rather than one-man rule,” the statement said.

The NAB Diaries - Part Two

Courtesy Teeth Maestro (

By Amer Nazir

Part One has already been published by Teeth Maestro last week – and which was subsequent to a letter written by me to the Chairman NAB requesting for either his resignation or else for him to justify NAB’s actions by making the details of this case public. A continued silence from him can only confirm that integrity is not a requirement in Pakistan for the role of Chairman NAB. And that NAB does not have any right to hold accountability since it is corrupt itself…
The other objectives of these diaries are also straight forward. One only needs to read the local and International press to realize that the army is yet being made to seem as a better option. Corruption by the politicians is cited as the reason. The third and the most important consideration, the common man, is never brought into the equation. The debate remains between the army and the politicians – almost as if the thought of such a comparison was appropriate… The issues most under discussion are nuclear weapons and terrorism, the common man still does not figure as much…
In a civilized society a single miscarriage of justice that concerns a common man is highlighted as much as the news of a celebrity. Prime Ministers are made accountable, systems are changed, it does not matter whether it is Labour which is in power or the conservatives, the fundamental principles of governance reign supreme. It is not the manifesto of the political parties that alone will change Pakistan. The common stories by common Pakistanis can also force whoever is in power to take notice. As it is, the most damaging legacy of the last eight years is that the world has been made to believe that the general Pakistani public is irresponsible, illiterate, corrupt and almost inhuman and therefore needs special treatment. The concept of Human Rights is out rightly rejected… It is therefore now time to tell the world the actual state of affairs – that, which Benazir, Nawaz and the Chaudhrys may not be able to tell… Musharaff will definitely not…
It is hoped that similar stories will appear more and more to force the world to re-think – to take the most important party in Pakistan into consideration… Failing this, governments will come and go but nothing will change. We will always remain at the mercy of whoever may be ruling us…
They seem strange. The NAB offices. I was repeatedly summoned to the ones at Karachi and Lahore. Both share an ambience, the charade is same as well, only buildings and cities differ.
A NAB setup is incomparable. It is unique. If the spirit underlying a court of law is justice for instance – this is not what NAB proposes. There is a vast difference between Justice and Accountability. One boasts the number of reliefs it grants, the other the number of convictions. The first bases its outlook on the rule of law, the other on self-righteousness. One is focused on the means towards an end, the other solely on the end itself.
Both the Karachi and the Lahore NAB offices are housed in large complexes. The one at Lahore was a palace once and takes lead in terms of grandeur, its rightful owners having abandoned it to cross over to India at the time of partition, and it seems as if it is ill-fated to this day. However, irrespective of the architectural arrangements the procedure to receive an accused is standard at every NAB location. They are told at the main entrance to deposit their identity cards, mobile phones and other personal effects in boxes placed at the reception. In return one is given a slip that has to be signed by the summoning officers. Failing which there is no way to leave the NAB premises. In other words, an unsigned visitor slip is nothing short of an arrest warrant that does not care for any legal formalities. The best place to locate an accused nay to imagine him otherwise would then be in the prison that each NAB office has within its compound… The procedure speaks for itself. It is a cruel design. No one entering a NAB office can be sure whether he will return within the hour or after months or even years and that too if he is lucky.
And if this is not overwhelming enough, before entering the main office block, an unavoidable glance at the prisoners taking their daily walk in the veranda of the adjacent block achieves the rest – the sight being only a bit less spectacular than the image of an orange suit at Guantanamo Bay which we are now so much used to seeing that it has stopped having an impact.
On entering the office block, the scene however changes dramatically. One can see serving and retired defence officers going about their business, darting in and out of corridors as if in a normal office. All have an executive smile on their lips, and certain gentleness in their manner. A game of make-belief seems to be the best way to describe the atmosphere. Each officer behaves as if he is a cross between an International corporate attorney from whom no anomaly has ever slipped unnoticed and a Wall Street broker that can unravel the most crooked balance sheet that may exist – and yet they are a different lot altogether once behind closed doors, during interrogations, this is when they reveal their full glory and are most brave.
One can imagine some of the more distinguished accused to have even found it amusing. The behind-doors behaviour of the officers is predictable and is becoming of them but the acquired demeanour of cool corporate executives is too artificial and surreal. In my case, the officers somehow reminded me of my House Master at Hasanabdal who was bad news even when he smiled. One could not be sure. There could follow either a congratulatory pat on the back or a resounding slap on the face – each being as predictable as the other. Though, the smile would remain undisturbed. The logic behind either of the two actions could not be challenged either. Each was backed by authority.
To add to the atmosphere, a yet another distinctive characteristic of a NAB office is the presence of a chart on each officer’s desk which states both the latest number of cases taken up so far and the latest number of convictions. Designed like a desk calendar, the chart stands upright and glares at each and every visitor. NAB’s declared objective is hundred percent results – a conviction for each case. The two numbers are therefore brought close at the slightest pretext. A conviction spreads a feeling of relief amongst the staff whose careers might be on line… A stinker is issued if a case does not result in conviction.
Colonel Abbasi (retd) was the officer assigned to my case. I was to learn later that it was a special privilege since apart from his other qualifications he was also the first cousin of Brigadier Abbasi the over all in charge of the investigation department.
It was common for Colonel Abbasi to summon me and interrogate me for hours. He had actually stopped asking questions after the first interrogation that had lasted for nine hours. Now, he only threatened. ‘I will put you through so much mental and physical torture that you will not survive,’ he would say. ‘Even if the alphabets N.A.B are carved on a tree this means that that particular tree is destined to whither and die…’
During the first interrogation he had asked where I had hidden the money and I had demanded to be told how much was missing in the first place. On this he had advised me not to act smart if I wanted to avoid spending the rest of my life in a dark cell… ‘I have audits reports from several auditors,’ I had added. His prompt reply was that he will soon get the auditors as well… After nine hours, once it was time for the Colonel to go home he asked me if there was a solution to this… Imagine an accused being asked for a solution… I quietly said that I will leave the country forever if the PIA Captains returned my assets… and equally surprising was the fact that the Colonel also quietly said that he will communicate this to his superiors…
‘I am going to the civil court,’ I told him once. ‘That may only happen if you ever survive NAB’s tentacles,’ was the answer. ‘The chances of your surviving NAB do not seem very bright…they never are…’
‘I am going to the civil court,’ I told him once. ‘That may only happen if you ever survive NAB’s tentacles,’ was the answer.By this time, I could not afford to pay the house rent and had shifted to my sister’s flat. My cars were also taken away by the leasing company, the Managing Director of which was my friend and neighbour. I had offered him a solution but confiscating the cars by sending armed men at my sister’s place to add to the eighty percent already paid on the cars was more feasible. It meant more profit for his company. Through out, my name remained on the Exit Control List of course. And all this time, my wife and daughters were alone in London, they would have been totally forsaken had it not been for the support of the British government.
They were yet better off. In Pakistan, my telephone was taped, and there was every day a new rumour that the PIA captains had arranged for me to be picked up any day. The propaganda was relentless. It continued for the next three years. All my staff was also summoned to the NAB offices and asked to furnish my weak points… Did I drink? Was I ever seen with a woman other than my wife…? Am I known to gamble at the tables? The auditors were also summoned and offered a leeway if they were to disown their audits… Instructions were sent to each and every bank and housing authority within the country to furnish details of assets that I may own – whether there was anything undisclosed. In the meantime I was made to sign on documents which stated that if any discrepancy in my statements was ever discovered it would automatically mean five years imprisonment without the possibility of bail or appeal – and which is according to NAB laws ratified through an ordinance. It is a standard term for providing misleading information to NAB…
I managed somehow. I believed in Divine Justice. Yet there were times when the pressure would be overbearing and I would escape to Lahore although I was told not to travel without prior permission. Sleeping every night with the thought that they could come anytime, more so at the time of dawn, does get to a person after some time.
During one of the visits to Lahore, through a civilian friend who was working in NAB, I was approached by a certain Colonel Asif. He seemed to be a nice man who informed me that he was the head of NAB’s counter-intelligence. According to him, both Brigadier and Colonel Abbasi were doing this at the behest of the PIA Captains although my case was not within NAB’s jurisdiction. To me, this did not come as great surprise since Brigadier Abbasi belonged to the Aviation corps.
Colonel Asif promised me relief if I was brave enough to go through his plan. He took me to an ISI safe house in Garden Town where I was met by a civilian ISI officer named Zohair. A recording device was then attached to the phone, and I was made to call Colonel Abbasi in Karachi. I asked Abbasi if there was any way for me to get off the hook. I said that I could not take the punishment anymore. Colonel Abbasi’s reply was recorded. He said that this was only possible if I were to seek forgiveness from the PALPA board and to not make any demands for my assets. Moreover, it was also expected of me to leave Pakistan for good once my name was taken off the ECL. The last demand was easy to understand. PALPA would not have been able to justify my being a free man. On the other hand, telling its community that I had absconded from the country was the best possible solution.
Both Colonel Asif and Zohair were excited. Asif congratulated me and asked me to await his next instruction. He said that before taking the next step he had to at first brief his chief and acquire his blessing… The next morning however, Asif sent me a message from Islamabad. He said that he had seen my file only now and that my case was much more serious than he had thought… and perhaps it was out of sympathy that he also disclosed the information that Colonel Abbasi was already in knowledge of the taping…
I think what saved me from being picked-up, whether judicially or extra-judicially, was the fact that my wife and daughters were British. Another reason could be the internal politics within NAB. Some officers did not agree with what was going on…
The companies during this time were in doldrums. I was still the Chief Executive and fifty percent share holder. It was because of this that I was now summoned to the NAB offices in Karachi. The Vigilante captains were there. And then right there, at the NAB offices, I was given an offer. I was to sell my equity at a price of 10 million. Earlier the captains had offered me more than 45 million for fifty percent of my share holding to which I had reluctantly agreed. As per PriceWaterHouseCoopers the value of my shares was four times more. But subsequently the Captains had refused to honour their commitment although we had put our signatures to it…
However, the stance of the vigilante captains was the same as before. I was to either take the now decreased offer and that too in 12 instalments or else face dire consequences. In reply, I told the captains to stuff their offer and turning towards Colonel Abbasi I asked if I was allowed to go home. He said that I could leave but that only God can now save me from a terrible fate…
The next day I filed cases of recovery and defamation in the courts of Lahore and Karachi against the PIA captains… Colonel Abbasi was furious. He made it a point to summon me to NAB each time there was a court hearing…
Up to then, I was averse to approaching the high and mighty that I personally knew. I was still under the illusion that NAB would be forced to do justice once it would realize that I could not be scared into submission. But now I approached Lt General Qadir Baluch who was Governor Baluchistan at the time and with whom I had played golf at the Karachi Defence Golf Club in the past.
Sitting in his bedroom at the Baluchistan House, General Qadir only looked up once I had finished telling my story. ‘Why did you not come to me earlier?’ He said. ‘You had a lovely home, a nice family, why did you let them destroy everything, why did you take one full year to reach me?’
General Qadir then asked the operator to get Brigadier Abbasi on the phone and once connected he patiently heard the Brigadier’s side of the story. ‘Only one question Abbasi,’ the General spoke half an hour later,’ Why did you offer to drop the cases against him if he were to sell his shares cheaply. What was the reason? And what has stopped you from putting him in the jail if he is such a big crook…?’
And this was when Brigadier Abbasi started to stammer. In response the General became abusive. ‘Abbasi, have some fear of God,’ he said. ‘How much more are you guys going to compromise the uniform…?’ And before slamming the phone the General said that he will talk to the President next day.
However, a few minutes later, there was a call from DG NAB, Major General Ijaz Bukshi. General Qadir took the call in the other room but seemed very angry when he returned. ‘Bukshi will see you in a few days,’ he said to me. And then after a few minutes silence the General remarked that all this was being done on the instruction of Chairman NAB Lt General Munir Hafeez…
Major General Bukshi came from around his desk to shake my hand a few days later. An ashen faced Brigadier Abbasi sat in front of the General’s desk. General Bukshi seemed more like an English Man. ‘English medium type’ as we used to call them in our younger days…
The General came to the point at once. He profusely apologized for all that had happened to me and enquired if I wanted to have my business back. I replied that all I wanted now was to get my share of the money and leave the country for some time at least. At that Bukshi looked at Abbasi and came near to swearing. Addressing him he said, ‘If people ever find out how NAB is being used to settle personal scores they will even refuse to spit on us…’
Bukshi then gave instructions for 15 million to be transferred in my account within the next few days – he said that this was the best he could do for me at the moment. Surprisingly however, Brigadier Abbasi still had the courage to object. ‘The captains managing the PALPA board will never agree to pay him anything,’ he said. ‘In case they were to pay him even a dime their community will take them to task. Now that the business has been closed down the community will demand to know why the PALPA office bearers had lied to them and had allowed Two hundred million to go down the drain…’ PALPA has got to have some face saving,’ he continued. ‘Up to now, they are promising their community that the entire investment will be recovered once the properties of the accused have been confiscated.’
And then suddenly, for the second time that week, I heard Brigadier Abbasi being mercilessly abused. The expletives having ended, General Bukshi told Brigadier Abbasi to deposit the money in my account no matter how and to strike my name off the ECL…
That day, I came out of NAB and started my packing. I also rang up my daughters in London and told them I was on my way.
Three days later, General Qadir was asked to resign by President Musharaff for some political reasons.
General Bukshi refused to see me again. Brigadier Abbasi denied that there ever was any settlement when contacted on my behalf by an army officer. ‘Who will believe his words against that of a General and a Brigadier?’ was his famous reply.
A few weeks later, I and my wife, as she was also a Director in the group, were both named as accused in the forex fraud cases that had recently taken the country by storm. A warrant for arrest was issued in my name by the Security Commission of Pakistan. The state bank and the FIA were also actively involved in this case although the main lead was retained by NAB.
I or my wife had never traded in Forex. The only possible connection we had with Forex was that the forex cases were also being headed by Brigadier Abbasi…

People’s Resistance Outreach Program - Street Theater at SeaView

Courtesy Teeth Maestro (

A few members of People’s Resistance organized a Street Theater on the Beach at SeaView for the general public. The short street play titled JADUGAR was conceived by Husna and Ambereen of People’s Resistance, the skit was about a Jadugar (magician) who lodges himself indefinitely in the house of a poor family, promising to bring khushali (well being) and health, prosperity and jobs. But these promises are hollow and he becomes a burden to the family, by using their space, and eating most of their food .

When asked about his promises, he demands that the family keeps dogs and build higher walls to secure the riches that are to miraculously fall upon them in the future. After months of enduring his “dictatorship”, the family decide to evict the jadugar. Not much has changed for them - the young son is still unemployed, and his grandmother has passed away. The skit ends with the actors engaging in the audience in a discussion about what is to be done with the jadugar. Most keenly responded that he must be thrown out with force. The skit was an allegorical reference to Musharaff’s dictatorship and his usurpation of resources and wealth that has contributed to poverty and class disparity in Pakistan.

Later while interacting with the audience after the play they asked, if they could personally relate to this play, there was a overwhelming response sharing with us stories of how the present circumstance in the country have made their life miserable and were quite open to state that the entire play resembled the eight year tenure of Musharraf and his long list of fake and broken promises. In unison they all agreed that its about time to also throw him out. The basic goal of the PR’s outreach program was to share with the people the present dilapidated condition of our country and urge them to stand up and say NO to these looters and plunderers who care for themselves while the people of Pakistan can literally go to hell.

A standing ovation to the team of actors Ambereen, Husna, Saad, Abira and Monezza who did a fabulous job in the spot light The Beach theater was conducted at three different locations on Sea View so as to maximize its exposure and as usual tons of pictures (60+) were taken, courtesy of a trigger-happy photographer [hopefully a mobile video to soon follow once its uploaded]

(Original article and more pictures on

The Comedian of Pakistan; Musharraf's punchlines

By Ahmad Faruqui

TIME magazine has declared Vladimir Putin as Man of the Year, even though he has severely restricted civil liberties in Russia and slowed its march toward democracy. The argument is that he has brought stability to the country and restored its status as a great power. What must also have weighed heavily in the magazine's choice is that Putin remains very popular in Russia. He can even count Mikhail Gorbachev among his supporters.
Being a dictator and restricting civil liberties is of course not a sufficient condition for making it to Man of the Year. No one knows this better than Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf. Like Putin he has been in power for eight years. And like Putin he is trying his best to extend his tenure. But unlike Putin, his popularity has tanked. Events have gone downhill since he declared an emergency on the 3rd of November. Things did not improve much when he lifted it on the 15th of December. All of this is a self-inflicted wound which began when he decided to "suspend" the Chief Justice of Pakistan on the 9th of March. That event set in motion a country-wide protest by the attorneys the like of which the country had never seen. This protest threatened the army's dominant role in society since it was designed to institute the law in the country. It brought out the worst in Musharraf.
That is why he was not on the short list released by TIME for its Man of the Year competition. This is ironical, since the general was featured extensively in the magazine just a few years ago as having "the world's most difficult job." His picture in uniform, taken as he stood overlooking a panoramic view of the white government buildings in Islamabad, spanned two pages.
This year, as a consolation prize, perhaps the magazine should have created a special category and declared him "Comedian of the Year."
On the global stage, Musharraf is the undisputed king of dark comedy. But mind you, Musharraf's humor is very different from the slapstick humor you might see on the Monty Python show, the kind that would leave you in stitches.
Musharraf's comedic device is the utterance of non sequiturs with a stern demeanor. And it is this austere visage almost bordering on anger that imbues his acts with an inimitable touch.
Who else would say the following? "Against my will, as a last resort, I had to impose the emergency in order to save Pakistan." You see, he is a man of many wills. The president in him did not want to impose it while the Chief of Army Staff in him did. Hah!
And what does it mean when he says, "As a last resort?" This is an admission, albeit a very indirect one, that without the emergency, he would no longer have remained president. Just the thought of Pakistan without him as president is enough to bring a smile to most people's face.
The script continues, "The conspiracy was hatched to destabilize the country." But the conspirators were never named. Dame Agatha Christie would not have approved of such an incomplete story but it is funny in an old fashioned way.
He goes on to say, "I cannot tell how much pain the nation and I suffered." Alice would have said, "Goodness gracious, general, you had complete freedom of movement, you could go visit relatives, stop by your office if you were in the mood for working and, come to think of it, you could even go shopping. So what caused you to suffer?"
Maybe he felt the police would pick up him up because he was openly expressing his opinions on TV, which was contrary to his own diktats.
But wait. Maybe the suffering was moral. As he went to bed every night, he lay awake thinking of the people that he had put in jail that were lying awake in rotten surroundings. To relieve his suffering, all he had to do was release them.
But did he? Of course not! He had declared an emergency precisely to make them suffer. How dare they rise against him on the streets, agitate against military rule and file petitions in the Supreme Court. He was going to fix them once and for all.
The emergency was not entirely unexpected. For a while, he had been dropping hints that he might impose an emergency if (a) the senior judges of the country joined in a "conspiracy" to end his eight-year rule and (b) if street riots caused political chaos that would hobble the fight against Islamic extremism.
Musharraf went on to say that the Supreme Court, which had been poised to rule on the legality of his October re-election, was acting beyond the constitution. Now that calls for a good round of applause.
The person who suspended the constitution was acting constitutionally and staying within its boundaries but the apex court that was seeking to prevent the abuse of power by that individual were acting beyond the constitution. Says who? Perhaps the Mad Hatter at his tea party.
He concluded his 20-minute address triumphantly by saying that "Now [that] the conspiracy has been foiled [i]t is my commitment to the entire nation and the world that the election on January 8 will be on time and will be absolutely free and transparent."
He threw the gauntlet at those political parties that plan to boycott the polls because they feared that the polls would be rigged. Musharraf warned, "This is all baseless and they must desist from it." To alleviate any doubt, he said the government would invite "any number" of foreign observers to come and watch the fairness of the polls. Whether the invitations have been sent out is an open issue. Whether they have been accepted is another open issue. And whether they will show up to monitor the polls is the $64 million question.
The dictator's comments beg the question of what is free and fair. Pakistanis have had a few elections under military governments. Perhaps the fairest was held by Yahya in 1970 and the most unfair election by Musharraf 32 years later. In both cases, the results were disastrous because the military was not prepared to share power with the elected representatives of the people.
Yahya refused to hand over power to the Awami League and plunged the country into a disastrous civil war that ultimately dismembered the republic. Musharraf pretended to hand over power to parliament but never did.
In his speech during the presidential inauguration, he took a swipe at the West and lambasted it for seeking to impose democracy on Pakistan. He said it had taken the West centuries to get there and they should not expect a poor nation like Pakistan to get there in just a few decades.
So why was he now proceeding to hold free and fair elections? Pakistan is either fit for democracy or not fit for it. Perhaps he was telling us that he likes to hunt with the hound and run with the hare. That is Musharrafian humor for you.
Like the three dictators before him, Musharraf is exploiting the fact that Pakistanis have not had much success with democracy. When he says that he intends to bring "the essence of democracy" to Pakistan with the next elections, he forgets that India has been a successful democracy for the past 60 years and that it has achieved this result without a single army intervention.
It is true that India under a single prime minister (Nehru) had better luck with democracy than did Pakistan under seven prime ministers in the 1950s. But the army has been in power in Pakistan since 1958 for all but a single decade. If feudalism was the barrier to introducing democratic traditions in Pakistan, the army could have eliminated it. Surely, the generals with their big guns had more power in the country than the civilian Nehru did in India.
But that presumes that the army wanted to eliminate feudalism. The truth is that the army had no interest in bringing democracy into the country because it would threaten its prima donna status in the country. Moreover, in Pakistan, the feudal lords and the army are two of the country's leading oligarchs.
Musharraf concluded a fairly difficult interview with the Washington Post's Lally Weymouth recently by lashing out at Weymouth at the end, saying that the interviewer was implying that Pakistan was either "small" or "a banana republic." The irony is that because of the army, it has become both.

Denial won't change the reality. But repeated denial will evoke a good laugh. That is why the man who was trained as a commando, the retired general who attacked Indian in Kargil and the former army chief who seized power illegally deserves to be declared "Comedian of the Year."

Dr. Ahmad Faruqui is author of "Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan," available from Ashgate. He can be reached at

Pictures, Account of Hunger Strike at Karachi Press Club

The Karachi press club hunger strike ended at 4.00 p.m on the 26th of December. The event was started at 10:00 p.m and included activists from civil organizations, like the Aurat foundation, Labour party leaders, Nasir Mansoor and Abdussalam , National Worker Party, APDM leader Yousaf Masti Khan, Dr. Azra and Wali from Roots, Uzma Noorani , Usman Baloch, HRCP Representatives Asad butt, Abdul Hai, Ejaz, Nadeem from PILAR, and social activists Afiya Zia, Sophia and Saleha. Many Trade Union leaders and Fisher folk representatives also visited and expressed sympathy with lawyers and media. The overall response from people was great and many felt it was an overall success.

In all its different forms and manifestations, the struggle continues.

Honour among thieves, while starving people for profit

Ministry declines to share names with other departments

by ARIF RANA (Courtesy The Business Recorder)

Islamabad: The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is not willing to share the list comprising the names of wheat hoarders with other ministries, thus undermining the government efforts aimed at taking the hoarder mafia to task. According to well-placed official sources, the denial by Ministry of Food to share the names of alleged hoarders with other government departments is said to protect some leading lights of major political party, whose mills reportedly have huge storage facility in Punjab.

Sources told Business Recorder that Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Planning Commission (PC) had approached the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the list of the mills involved in massive hoarding of wheat. They said the ministry of Food and Agriculture shrugged off the pleas of MoF and PC. They said both the MoF and Planning Commission repeatedly asked for the name of hoarders but each time their requests were turned down by the ministry. Sources said secretary MoF, Ziaur Rehman, read out a few names from the list of the alleged hoarders during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet in October and then suddenly closed his folder, saying the details would be provided to the concerned departments after the meeting, but it never happened.

Sources said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is protecting some senior leaders of a major political party who have huge storage facilities in Punjab. Some very influential politicians from NWFP were also involved in export of atta to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) for years and they make billions from their 'business' every year. The atta businessmen-cum-political leaders are so powerful that they can easily manage atta smuggling into Afghanistan and other CARs as much as they want. An atta businessman told Business Recorder that a difference of Rs 500 per 40kg atta in Afghanistan is a great attraction for powerful Pakistani mafia. He asserted the mafia is making huge money through this illegal business.

Re-inventing the Sharif Brothers

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

“Like piano players,” wrote a distinguished scholar, “leaders also need to be adept improvisers, willing to set aside their scripts and listen for signals, follow their instincts, and imagine a future that has not yet arrived.”

Imagining a future that has not yet arrived is what Pakistan’s contemporary politics is all about. Our future demands revolutionary changes from the political status-quo that has prevailed in this country for the past 6 decades – and from the anticipated political future, where the present political dispensation will continue after elections should the Musharraf-Benazir team be at the helm of political affairs. In a coalition government, the Sharif brothers’ role as leaders of a major political party (not as members of Parliament) will have to be defined as outrightly revolutionary.

This is how they will politically survive and contribute to the nation’s well-being in the volcanic future that awaits Pakistan, starting post-elections. Failing to reinvent themselves as such, the Sharif brothers will become lame ducks, as good as dead, politically. Musharraf’s 8-year rule, resulting in deformed political institutions in the country, has put the Sharif brothers in the spotlight. Being the leaders of the most powerful political party in Punjab, and with a reasonable following throughout the country, the burden of responsibility for revolutionary democratic change in the political landscape of Pakistan and its power structure rests squarely on the Sharif brothers now.

But the question is: Can they handle it? Are they capable of doing the needful and save Pakistan and its people from another impending future political atrocity? Are they aware of the historical role that has been entrusted upon them by the turn of events in the country? Can they honor their own commitments? Do they understand the demands of civil society? Can they comprehend the lawyers movement? Do they follow in earnest the constitutional damage that has been inflicted by removing the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of the apex courts? Can the Sharif brothers deliver to the masses what they demand? Can they conceptualize the difference between minor changes in the status-quo and revolutionary change? Are they politically competent to enact ground-breaking changes in Pakistan’s polity? Are they politically proficient enough to take on the challenges and constructively confront grave dangers that confront Pakistan now and after the elections, should the present political structure prevail? Are they able to differentiate between political managers and political leaders? Can the Sharif brothers re-invent themselves and transform their political role into revolutionary leadership?

In the historical and evolutionarily political context, the Sharif brothers can be best described as political managers. During their stance of power, they worked to preserve the political status-quo, pursued business-friendly economic policies, maintained the traditional rhetoric of promoting political and economical stability, enfranchised military with more economic and institutional power, remained faithful to the historical foreign policy linkage to the US and the West, and did not do much to enact fundamental changes in the power-structure and in the decision-making processes of the country.

In addition, many close associates of the Sharif brothers saw their main faults as being remote, dictatorial and disinclined to listen to the concerns of the party and its allies. There was a common perception that a “Kitchen Cabinet” invariably prevailed in all national and provincial political decision-making. It was in this context that decisions were made to appoint Rafiq Tarrar as president and General Pervez Musharraf as the COAS – in a unilateral decision-making anti-democratic mind-set.

In re-inventing themselves, the Sharif brothers will be required to transform themselves from political managers (which they have been so far) into political leaders (which they need to be to survive politically in future Pakistan).

Political management is a process that gets the work done through others. It involves planning, organizing, leading and controlling, which are critical steps in the process of getting the national agenda accepted. It is an essential component of an efficient state organization, but it is not a substitute for political leadership.

Political leadership, on the other hand, is fundamentally a different notion and involves a different set of dynamics. It involves developing a vision, an ability to influence others, creating willing followers, an appreciation of situational appropriateness, and consistent and constant communication with all levels of society (examine the present political regime in Islamabad in this context to understand the lack of political leadership in Pakistan).

“Perhaps… the distinction between the two perspectives is that managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things.” Leadership involves strategic and tactical skills in innovation and change, and constructive and productive dealings with national political turbulence. Political managers rely on authority and positional power to maintain so-called economic and political stability and pursue the status-quo. (Progressive democratic regimes do not impose a state of emergency or martial law. -- Again examine the incumbent administration in Islamabad in this context and see its recent failures.)

Political leadership, on the other hand, is the art of influencing others, adapting to the situational circumstances, effectively energizing followers, listening and using feedback, creating multiple channels of communication and recognizing public opinion in the making of national policies (it is evident that the present political establishment has failed on all of these accounts). An effective political leadership, in absolute essence, alters the political status-quo.

Can the Sharif brothers alter the decades-old political status-quo in Pakistan now? Can they stop relentlessly harping on the need for so-called economic and political stability as a cover-up for the reactionary and regressive politics of successive military dictators, civilian regimes and traditional right-wing politicians? Can they suspend the politics of fear imposed on the nation in the so-called “war on extremism and terror”? Can they terminate the nature of the contemporary American connection with Pakistan? Can they put the military back in the barracks? Can they restore the judiciary to pre-November status? Can they influence the followers and invigorate the voters? Can they heal the sufferings of Pakistani masses? Can they give an alternate model of economic development? Can they provide a new VISION? Can they engineer a White Revolution in Pakistan -- symbolizing a part of the nation’s flag and the metaphorical purity implicit in the name of the country (just as the Yellow Revolution signifies peaceful revolutionary democratic transformation in Kyrgyzstan by people’s power)?

These are the million dollar questions that only the Sharif brothers can answer. Due to the fact that the elections have not been boycotted (which they had pledged to), the task of national reconstruction and re-habilitation will become far more difficult and problematic.

And yet, the Sharif brothers can re-invent themselves to meet the challenges – but it needs imaginative vision and a departure from the politics of status-quo.

Will they do it? Time will be the judge.

“…leaders are like contributing members of an improvisational jazz group. The musicians carefully listen to each other and use the interplay to create new directions.” The nation awaits the Sharif brothers re-inventing themselves!

But will they? That is the real question…!