Tuesday, August 7, 2012

U.S. Immigration program could legalize 1.8 million people

As many as 1.76 million young illegal immigrants could qualify for temporary legal status under President Obama's
deferred action program, says a new report from the Migration Policy Institute. That's more than double the Obama administration's initial estimate of 800,000 people who would benefit from the program. The new number reflects the Obama administration's updated guidelines released last Friday depicting who qualifies for the temporary legal status. Initially, only young illegal immigrants under 30 who entered the country as children, graduated from high school and had no criminal record would make the cut. Now, young people who didn't graduate or receive their G.E.D. can still apply for the legal status as long as they re-enroll in high school by the time they apply. The government will begin accepting applications online on August 15, and administration officials said the nearly $500 application fee will completely pay for the administrative costs of reviewing the applications. Those accepted will also get work permits, and will have to renew their legal status every two years.

Only parliament has the right to legislate

PPP says lawmaking is the right of the Parliament which will not be abandoned at any cost. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday chaired a meeting of some federal ministers and senior leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party in Islamabad to discuss preparation for elections‚ overcoming energy crisis and the legal challenges before the government. The president called upon the party leadership to gear up for the elections which would be held on time in accordance with the constitutional and legal dictates and in consultation with coalition partners. He advised the party leadership to ensure that every MNA‚ MPA and ticket holder thoroughly checks the voters lists so that no one was left out and report any discrepancy to ECP for rectification. The President said that Pakistan Peoples Party believes in the power of the people and is never shy of going to the people for endorsement of its policies. He said that the party believes in free‚ fair and transparent elections for which it is important that the electoral rolls should be free of errors and no eligible voter is left out of the list. The president also asked the party leaders to reach out to the masses and address their problems. The meeting said lawmaking is the sacred responsibility of legislature which will not be abandoned at any cost.

Bahrain protesters demand release of women prisoners

Bahraini people have staged protest rallies across the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom in a show of solidarity with female political prisoners.
On Monday night, Bahraini protesters took to the streets in more than 21 districts across the country, and condemned the Al Khalifa regime’s crackdown on peaceful protests. Shouting slogans in support of political prisoners, they demanded an immediate and unconditional release of women protesters held in jail, including senior human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja. They also condemned Bahrain's Supreme Council for Women for its silence for the continued detention of female activists and the violation of their rights. The demonstrators blocked main streets by burning tires and called for unity among the Bahraini nation. Our might lies in our solidarity, they chanted. Bahraini security forces rushed to disperse the protests by firing teargas, rubber bullets and birdshot pellets at the demonstrators. The Saudi-backed regime forces also attacked civilian houses. A large number of demonstrators were injured in the attacks. Opposition activists published photos of the protesters who were injured on social networking websites. Anti-regime protests in Bahrain continue despite the heavy-handed crackdown by the Western-backed monarchy. Scores of people have been killed and many others injured or arrested in the suppression of popular protests since they erupted in February 2011 in demand of the Al Khalifa regime's downfall. The anti-regime demonstrators hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the deaths of the protesters during the popular uprising.

Pakistan: 'Too free' Judiciary is overstepping

Aitzaz says Gilaini’s dismissal was wrong, ‘too strong’ judiciary oversteps at times. Talking to BBC News Tuesday Senator Aitzaz Ahsan defended the former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani against his dismissal by the Supreme Court. He says the country s judiciary is ‘too powerful’ and has, at times, overstepped its limits. Supreme Court cannot terminate a law that is passed by the parliament with two-third majority, he said. Aitzaz said there was no doubt that democracy was strengthened when Chief Justice of Pakistan took bold stand against General Pervaiz Musharraf but now some the Supreme Court decisions are being questioned and people are pointing fingers at these decisions. He said Pakistan People’s Party would be able to form the government after the next elections as President Asif Ali Zardari had good experience of forming coalition governments. He said Supreme Court decisions have blocked the way Martial Law. There is a tense power struggle in Pakistan. The Supreme Court has forced out one prime minister and put the current one on notice.

HOCKEY: Dutch top pool, Aussies rout Pakistan

The Netherlands defeated South Korea 4-2 Tuesday to top their Olympic Games hockey pool with a fifth successive win which also allowed defending champions Germany to enter the semi-finals. World champions Australia also advanced to the last four by hammering Pakistan 7-0 to move to the top of Pool A.
The other spot from this group will be decided after the match between hosts Great Britain and Spain, who were silver medallists in the 2008 Olympics. Britain, who have eight points, need just a draw to advance, but a Spanish victory will put them in second position in the pool with 10 points. Netherlands, assured of a semi-final spot before Tuesday's game, spiked a late rally from Asia Cup holders South Korea to complete an all-win record in the preliminary round-robin league. The Dutch emulated their women's team, which on Monday stormed into the semi-finals by winning all five matches. Netherlands finished with 15 points, while the defeat shattered South Korea's hopes of staying in contention. The Koreans finished on six points from five matches. South Korea's loss meant Germany, who have nine points from four games, will finish second in the group irrespective of the result in their last pool match against New Zealand later in the day. "We are happy, we feel strong and I have told the boys that I am proud to have 15 points," said Dutch coach Paul van Ass. "The semi-final is a new tournament, we want to reach the final," he said. "I am very confident with the way we are playing. The penalty corners are going very smoothly and the attack is doing well as we like it." Young penalty corner shooter Mink van der Weerden became the tournament's top scorer with six goals when he opened the Netherlands scoring in the 17th minute with a rising flick into the top corner. Valentin Verga fired from top of the circle in the 26th minute to make it 2-0 at half-time. Roderick Weusthof was obstructed inside the circle and he then converted the penalty stroke in the 47th. South Korea than came back strongly, pulling two goals back through penalty corner conversions by Nam Hyun-Woo in the 53rd minute and Lee Nam-Yong in the 62nd. The Koreans went all out looking for an equaliser when Billy Bakker scored for the Dutch in a breakaway move that saw him shoot into an open goal in the 64th minute when goalkeeper Lee Myung-Ho was caught out of position. Pakistan had no answer for the pace set by Australia for whom six players featured among the scorers. Liam de Young opened the scoring with a penalty corner in the second minute, followed by a deft penalty stroke by Mark Knowles that put Australia 2-0 up in the sixth minute. Christopher Ciriello then scored twice with a 29th minute penalty corner conversion and a field goal in the 34th as Australia seized a 4-0 lead at half-time. The second session saw Russell Ford (42nd), Jamie Dwyer (48th) and Glenn Turner (70th) shoot on target to complete Pakistan's rout. "We had plans to defend and counter-attack, but early goals opened up the game for us," said Australian coach Ric Charlesworth. "The finishing needs to be clinical and crisp. It needs more work even though I'm happy with the improvement."

Pakistan: Education targets remain elusive

Pakistan needs a strong literacy movement to achieve its targets of increasing the literacy rate up to 86 percent by the year 2015, and ensuring that every child had access to education, according to the report of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The present government successfully achieved the targets of formulating a National Education Policy 2009, inserting Article 25-A in the constitution under 18th amendment and achieving tremendous progress in the higher education sector to realize the dream of becoming a literate nation, and yet a lot of work still has to be done. The recently passed ‘Right to Free Education Bill’ was a landmark initiative for educating around 68,000 school children in the federal capital. This bill will ensure their access to the right to free education, making ICT a model for all provinces to follow. Talking to sources, renowned education expert, Professor Fateh Malik said that it was the responsibility of the state to provide free education to every citizen. He lauded the efforts of senators towards the implementation of the Article 25-A, for the betterment of future generations. "It was only Zulfikar Bhutto who brought revolutionary reforms in the education sector by making education free and compulsory for all the children," Malik said. "Private institutes were nationalized by Bhutto and salaries of teachers of private institutes were made equal to the salaries of government teachers," he said. Education was the backbone of any country and Article 25-A would provide free education to those children who were deprived of education due to poverty and had to resort to child labor, he said. According to the UNESCO report, 54 percent women in the country are still illiterate among of which, 64 percent rural women are from Punjab, 69 percent from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 78 percent from Sindh and 87 percent of rural women belong to Balochistan. The report says that the country had 18.64 million illiterate people in the year 1951, 22.08 million in 1961, 33.59 million in 1972, 42.69 million in 1981, 50.38 million in 1998 and 55.24 million in the year 2010. With a reported literacy rate of 56 percent in the year 2010 according to the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) 2010, Pakistan is among the least literate nations of the world. According to the UNDP's International Human Development Indicators database, Pakistan ranks 130 among 141 reporting countries and territories in terms of adult literacy. The hurdles include lack of political will, leadership and a clear strong policy on literacy and Non Formal Basic Education (NFBE), absence of permanent organizational structure for Literacy and NFBE in provinces leading to coordination gap, meager and inconsistent financial assistance and capacity gap.

Veena Malik back as host on special Ramzan show

Pakistani model-actress Veena Malik is back as the host of the special show prepared for the holy month of Ramzan.
The channel had previously decided to cancel the show featuring the Malik following a public outcry.
The 28-year-old, who rose to prominence in India after participating in reality TV show Bigg Boss will host Hero TV's 'Astaghfar'."I am very happy that my show 'Astaghfar' is going to be on air I thank Allah for giving me such opportunity to host this show. It is the love of the people there that has brought me back on the show," Malik said in a statement. The show is already getting high TRP's and the audience has started appreciating the show.

Pakistan: Preparedness ahead of predicted floods

The recent heavy rains have inundated 13 villages and destroyed standing seasonal crops on hundreds of acres of land near Bajwat and Chaprar in Sialkot due to floods in Chenab and its tributary, Tavi. In addition, five villages of Hafizabad were also inundated. Luckily, there were no reported flood-related casualties. As of August 2, the website of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), quoting Pakistan Meteorological Department's summer monsoon outlook 2012, reveals that "there is a strong likelihood that total amount of precipitation......is +05 to +15 above normal of the long-term average. However, erratic spread of monsoon on temporal and spatial scale is likely to be a prevalent feature, as such the possibility of very heavy localised rains, at times resulting in flash flooding, may not be ruled out." Given Pakistan's unique geographical context the NDMA's focus has been on floods, earthquakes, landslides, cyclones, droughts and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods. As is fairly well known, Pakistan is now particularly vulnerable to floods; the floods of 2010 and 2011 are a case in point. The NDMA plausibly argues: "Pakistan is experiencing a gradual shift in the monsoon pattern and the last twenty years' data has indicated that monsoon precipitation impact zones are gradually shifting 80 to 100 kilometers westwards of Indus and Kabul basins in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (PK) and Punjab from the traditional Kashmir catchment areas." This national agency in a National Monsoon Contingency plan 2012 (July-September) forecast localised flooding and carried out research to identify latent vulnerabilities which include: (i) the 2010 floods led to pronounced changes in rivers morphology in northern regions particularly River Swat which accounts for erosion, widened spans and unregulated flows likely to cause humanitarian consequences even in moderate flood situations; (ii) detailed flood plains mapping covering the entire Indus river system, its tributaries and tertiary rivers, nullah is still to be done even though NDMA has identified such mapping as the way forward; (iii) deferred allocation of irrigation and flood infrastructure due to inadequate operation and maintenance funds in provincial budgets, and (iv) population pressures leading to encroachment on river flood plains. Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf chaired a meeting on 2nd July to review nation-wide preparedness for 2012 monsoon season and a detailed contingency plan was presented that included the release of funds to ensure that the country's preparedness for the monsoons was up to par. The planning assumed the worst case scenario and each provincial government in co-ordination with the NDMA came up with a plan to deal with its unique flood situation. Punjab allocated 287 million rupees to strengthen the NDMA's Punjab chapter, allocated 2 billion rupees to strengthen embankments and 2 billion rupees for water and sanitation authority for effective management of urban sanitation, completion and restoration of all bunds after 2010 floods, removal of encroachments, vaccination of livestock, procurement of medicines and dewatering pumps, shifting of wheat stocks to safe places and desilting of 6000 kilometers of drains, including in Lai Nullah Rawalpindi. The money thins allocated has turned out to be grossly insufficient as is evident and the challenges that remain are identified as early rehabilitation of main road link breaches, mitigation of hill torrent floods through construction of dams, timely and accurate information on river flows and provision of flash flood forecasting and early warning systems. Sindh has formed district and taluka committees for risk management, evacuation, relief, transport, health, sanitation, food and hygiene, and undertook inventory of existing machinery for example bulldozers, tractors, dewatering machines, and mapping all resources including tents, mosquito nets etc. The challenges that remain are insufficient flood protection infrastructure on Indus river system, inadequate protective infrastructure, and deteriorating security situation in many monsoon-prone regions. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however, implemented flood protection works including restoration of 2010 flood damaged infrastructure and the provincial DMA has not identified challenges though one may safely assume many continue to pose a tough challenge to federal and provincial governments' ability and capacity. Balochistan too has been facing many challenges including encroachments on flood plains, limited design capacity of critical road bridges, inadequate forecasting capacity, poor management of cross-border irrigation system and weak data management at district level. The NDMA set up a system of countrywide monitoring of flood works with a request to India to issue advance warning in the eastern rivers, a 10-year flood management plan, flood communication cell established with Wapda tasked to ensure up-to-date flood telemetry, raising Mangla dam up to 1242 ft and rerouting floods to desert areas through Rainee canal in Thar desert at Guddu. A Pakistan army corps has been tasked to reinforce flood protective infrastructure in co-ordination with provincial irrigation departments. The foregoing reveals that scarce federal and provincial resources remain the major reason behind the failure to implement identified contingency plans in letter and in spirit. However, critics may well argue, with a great degree of credibility, that the actual fault lies with the low priority given by both the federal and the provincial governments to flood mitigating measures.

'CM Punjab in office due to stay order'

Advisor to Prime Minister on Interior Affairs, Rehman Malik Monday said Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has been in office for the last four years by courtesy of a legal stay order. Talking to media men at Karachi airport, Rehman Malik denied having any role in Zulfiqar Khosa's differences with Pakistan Muslim League-N and that Pakistan People's Party had not invited him to join hands with it but 'the doors are open for everyone'. To a question, the Advisor said 26 accused had been arrested for extorting money in Karachi. Measures are being adopted to uproot extortion in the provincial capital, adding every incident of killing in the city should not be labeled as targeted killing. With reference to Balchistan situation, he said the people of the province have become well aware of the fact that the foreign conspiracy was responsible for the ongoing unrest there. "I would reveal the names of some more countries involved in causing disturbance in Balochistan in the next in-camera briefing," he said. He said the Baloch people themselves were becoming victims of the atrocities and terrorism of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The people of Balochistan love Pakistan and the unrest in the province was a result of a pre-conceived conspiracy, he added.

Peshawar: Our melancholy booksellers

Blasé, borrowed from French, refers to the deadening of sensibilities or a state of tiredness induced by too much exposure to enjoyment or pleasure. A good example of blasé is the over prevalence of the modern and varied means of entertainment and their facile accessibility, which has rather than curbing boredom accentuated it. Reading, howsoever showy it may sound, is one eternally charming activity that is entertaining its pursuers for eons without enervating their senses in any manner whatsoever. The solidity of this argument could be judged from the fact that centuries old tomes like ‘War and Peace,’ ‘Anna Karenina,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Vanity Fair,’ ‘David Copperfield’ so on and so forth are still being printed with an increased frequency and read with an astonishing appetite in this fast-paced world. If one were asked for a fair opinion, there is an added pleasure in reading the timeless classics in their oldest editions. Dipped in the essence and fragrance of times, these books could be found at the oddest places. During a reading session at the residence of a respectable lady in Peshawar one had the good luck of seeing one of the oldest editions of Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ adorning the shelf conspicuously like a trophy, and an even more fruitful encounter with luck by reading Leo Tolstoy’s 1936 edition of ‘Anna Karenina’ found in a library in the murky alleys of Balamari in the old city of Peshawar. Peshawar now looks to be coming out of the shock forced by the closure of one of its biggest bookshops, and the owners shifting to Islamabad, lock, stock and barrel. One recently spotted one of the owners, not far from his sprawling shop, coming out of a mosque in the Jinnah Super Market. He looked to be more lost, and indeed more forlorn than what he used to be in his previous quarters of Peshawar. ‘Why did you betray Peshawar?’ one just couldn’t help stop asking the bookseller bluntly after an exchange of pleasantries. ‘Our sales had gone down below the level of sustaining them any longer,’ he came up with the not quite unexpected reply. There was little fun in taking the issue beyond that point despite the existence of sufficient grounds to do so. The wherewithal for the huge books empire in Islamabad was all garnered from Peshawar. The bookseller is just one more addition to the list of scores of politicians and bureaucrats who have over the years used Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the furtherance of their materialistic designs and ambitions and left it in the lurch for the fashionable addresses of Islamabad as their ultimate goals. There are still some booksellers who are resolutely clinging on to their avocation in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. One could literally bump into one’s favourite and much sought titles at nearly half a dozen bookshops, or their charitable replications, in Peshawar and Abbottabad. One was recently looking for Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go,’ and one was about to make a request to a friend in England after a fruitless search in Islamabad. Lo and behold! Ishiguro’s latest title was lying there on a long log panel, peering at its pursuer from under heaps of books at a roadside bookstall in Abbottabad, for just one hundred and twenty five rupees, and an original paperback. The bookseller, dim and withdrawn, accepted the cash from his rickety chair, without being wary of the value of his ware he was Our melancholy booksellers dispensing for a paltry sum. One wonders if old or secondhand bookshop is not a misnomer or at least not relevant anymore for quite a few of these shops have been found out to be selling out brand new paperbacks and indeed even hardbacks for unimaginably low prices. One literally pounced on a wonderful foursome in one such bookshop at a backstreet in the Peshawar Cantonment. The catch included two books ‘The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto’ and ‘The New Life’ by the two Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa and Orhan Pamuk respectively and ‘The Bone People’ by the Booker Prize winner Keri Hulme in addition to Zadie Smith’s ‘White Teeth;’ the first and the third mentioned in hard covers and in immaculate condition, all for rupees eight hundred only. One couldn’t have hoped for a better deal on a dull and listless day and with a dealer whose growing business from the buyer of old newspapers to being a veritable bookseller has done stupendous harm to his manners and temperament. A short and dark complexioned man, perhaps in his early thirties, this bookseller does not like repeating the price scribbled in pencil on each book by him in his own handwriting. He keeps glancing furtively at his customers rummaging through his stocks with visible scowls on his sharp featured face. He seems to have gained a fair amount of knowledge about what sells, and in no case would sell a Gabriel Garcia title for a song. It is good that the poor chap has not been caught singing high praises of Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Midnight Children,’ which he proudly claims to have got hold of and sold to an unsuspecting reader, and thus missing an edict for his scalp by the breadth of a hair. One found and bought several titles of Booker Prize winner Ian McEvan, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, Roald Dahl and two of the Raj Quartets by Paul Scott at a discount book point located in a basement in the Supply Bazaar Abbottabad. One’s heart really goes out to those great authors buying their great works for sums as little as rupees fifty. But even sadder is the specter of nearly all famous works produced by the pirates and splashed on the tables in this basement shop. All original copies have been consigned to the ground shelves where it is quite an arduous job to search while squatting on the haunches. The owner is rarely if ever seen in the shop to be requested for the better placement of the valued books leaving the job to his assistant who is almost always, as if of a habit or some compulsion, found gloomy and reflecting perhaps on his poor circumstances. It was in this particular shop where one excitedly put into the bucket ‘My Uncle Oswald’ by Roald Dahl, for consumption by the children craving for reading in the summer vacation. Dahl is a celebrated children’s writer, and one had mistakenly thought him to be restricted to that field. ‘My Uncle Oswald’ is strictly for adults as one discovered upon reading the back cover and the kind of work that allows no two moments of sobriety to the readers leaving them in splits after the nearly three hour long irresistible nonstop reading. Dahl’s naughtiest work was recently spotted at Kamran’s secondhand bookstore in Jinnah Super Market Islamabad, brandished prominently as a weapon of mass laughter perhaps to provide much needed relief to the people in these sad days of their life. Despite his perennially sad disposition, Kamran is one fine bookseller who sells his great collection of books virtually for any price indicated by his customers. He seems to be groomed in the mood of Milan Kundera whose works he flaunts as his most prized assets. It was here where one found Doris Lessing’s ‘The Good Terrorist’ and so many other of the octogenarian Nobel winner’s great works for pitifully low prices. Peshawar may have lost its biggest bookshop, the British and the US library services, but there is no stopping the earnest booklovers find the books of their choices, courtesy their considerate and sad-looking booksellers.

Feudalism continues to haunt Pakistan

BY:Dr Saulat Nagi
Daily Times
The state, being a representative of the capitalist class, develops the means to protect the dominance of capital by maintaining its hegemony over the means of production The tide is turning and history is unfolding and redefining itself for those who just two decades ago euphorically interred it forever. The rule of capitalism, the grand finale of the cold war, after causing lethal blows to humankind, has come full circle only to be condemned as a system based on greed and expropriation. Despite a lack of familiarity with its dynamics, humanity has come to realise the anarchy and brazen appropriation inherent in it. Hence, unrelenting protests are unleashing everywhere. Its apologists are unconvincingly advocating the introduction of accountability. For a system based on greed to embrace accountability as one of its tenets is nothing but an expression of marked naivety. While all of this is happening, in Pakistan the prevalent mode of production remains a subject of controversy. However, this ambiguity is not Pakistan-specific. In fact, it plagues most of the Third World. In the post-colonial era, the emerging nation-states inherited a strong state structure from their colonial rulers, but socio-economic development remained uneven largely due to longstanding oppression. This paved the way for co-prevalence of different modes of production within the same state. In Pakistan too, multiple modes of production exist in simultaneity. Balochistan is groaning under tribal ties. The conditions are hardly congenial for cultivation, albeit the land has the capacity to feed at least its people provided the means are available. Mining, a very primitive though still an extremely lucrative industry, is in the doldrums due to insurgency for which the high-handedness and villainy of the state are equally to blame. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and FATA, besides other pre-capitalist modes of production, trade in the form of smuggling continues to dominate. Sindh and southern Punjab, the centres of power, have large landholdings, whereas in the central and northern parts of Punjab, the land has undergone multiple divisions. By 1999, 88 percent of cultivated land in Pakistan was in farm size below 12.5 acres with just over half the total farms less than five acres in size. But the question remains: who holds how much land? The answer is that only 2.5 percent of the households own 48 percent of the land, whereas only 37 percent of the rural households own any land. The two land reforms conducted by the ruling elite of Pakistan were as farcical as their conviction to empower the people. Around 4.5 percent of the cultivable land was resumed by Ayub Khan and an even smaller amount was distributed. Bhutto’s reforms actually increased the holdings of his own class, hence it was a very conscious decision that sent a clarion call of reunion to his annoyed class. While Ayub had fixed the landholding ceiling at 36,000 units per family, Bhutto changed it to 15,000 units per person, i.e. 150 acres. This way, even a small family of, say, three people could hold up to 45,000 units of land. It was an exercise in deceit, reinforcing the power of the feudal elite and its iron-fisted control on the execution of social functions, which they continue to exercise with impunity. According to Engels, “It is the execution of social functions which is the basis of political supremacy.” Feudalism apart from being an economic relationship is a structure of power too, given that feudal landholding is not only a source of income, but also a symbol of power. In Pakistan, even the weak bourgeoisie imitating the feudal manifests its hegemony not through the machine, but through land. The bulk of our agricultural sector is still subjected to feudal sway. The salient features of this mode include bonded labour; the miserable condition of the hari (land worker); the coercive behaviour of the feudal; the political rule of the Junker class; a subsistence economy and the continued process of its simple reproduction. Pakistan is certainly an integral part of the global capitalist economy. To be a part of that is one thing, to have a capitalist mode of production is another. Bhutan, or for that matter, Nauru (a tiny country in the Australian continent that has neither an official capital nor a currency of its own), is also a part of the same globalised economy. After all, there is a consumer class in these countries as well and they relish Coca Cola just as much. Can the economies of such states be categorised as capitalist? Prior to the British Raj, the subcontinent had a despotic Asiatic mode of production named jagirdari (estate ownership). India was fettered by feudalism after the peasant war of 1857 when the British Empire decided to create its hegemony by allotting land to its loyalists on permanent basis. However, an agrarian social structure that existed in medieval France, or the particular feudal formation that existed in Western Europe during the 15th century — forms considered to be ideal feudalism — never developed in the Indian subcontinent. This does not mean that the peasants in Pakistan are not subjected to pre-capitalist exploitation and the domination of the landholding class; nor does it follow that the relation between a hari and a landlord is bourgeois just because Pakistan is a part of the world capitalist market and relations here are predominantly financial. The thesis on the development of the capitalist mode of production in Pakistan is bleary. If we accept the premise that in Pakistan a change in the means of production has already taken place, then it leaves a quandary unresolved: why such a change has not been followed by alteration in the relations of production (a necessary change in the workers’ relations with the conditions of production)? Technology may have taken over, but without ameliorating the condition of peasants. Any change in relations would have heralded the end of primitive accumulation and guaranteed an expropriated but free worker. The old bonded relations and the private jails would have become a story of the past. The state, being a representative of the capitalist class, develops the means to protect the dominance of capital by maintaining its hegemony over the means of production. Had the modes of production been predominantly capitalist, at least the Pakistani state would had ensured a permanent supply of electricity and gas to the industrial class even at the cost of the ordinary folk. However, in this case both the classes are sailing in the same boat. Due to an anaemic bourgeoisie, the working class is frail. That is why religion — a passive residue of social formations eclipsed by history — remains a dominant force. Pakistan is a capitalist socio-economic formation of the periphery. Its ruling class is composed of pre-capitalist landowners. Their political and economic power has the backing of the army and clergy. One wonders, despite the insistence of the IMF, which otherwise has the last laugh in our affairs, not to mention the dismal economic squalor that we wallow in, land-tax has never been imposed on this parasitic class. Unlike India, we do not even have any class-conscious peasantry that can challenge this aristocratic hierarchy. The Maoist phenomenon may be a diversion from classical Marxism, but it still carries a shimmer of hope. In India, at least, they do not end up elevating pirs as premiers. If this ruling class alongside the dominant mode of production is not feudal, then what species does it deserve to be named after?
The writer is based in Australia and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at saulatnagi@hotmail.com

Afghan capital,Roadside blast kills eight

The bomb was placed under a bridge and the blast occurred at around 7 a.m. A militant detonated a remote-control bomb Tuesday morning, killing at least eight Afghan civilians who were traveling in a bus just northwest of the Afghan capital, police said. The bomb was placed under a bridge and was detonated when the bus traveled over the span, said Mohammad Zahir, the criminal director for Kabul police. Five other people were wounded in the bombing, which occurred at around 7 a.m. in Paghman district of Kabul province as Afghans were making their way to work. "The person who pushed the button on the remote-controlled bomb was captured by villagers who saw him running," said Abdul Razaq, an Afghan police official in the Kabul area. Initial reports were that the bus was ferrying government employees to an Afghan ministry, but those reports could not be confirmed. Police speculated that the bomber might have been targeting a bus full of government workers, but blew up a civilian bus by mistake.