Tuesday, November 28, 2017
God May Help You! خدا بود یارت God may help you God may help you Koran may protect you The Generous may assist you, the Generous may assist you, O my dear sweetheart, separation is hazardrous Separation is a fruitless sapling, Let's come together you and me Because separation is like an unexpected death, My heart and desire are depressed of your frown My desire for your love has made me powerless, If you go away, what will be my fate You will see my life lamp is off, O my sweetheart friend, you are witty and cheri Why do you keep your distance from me? I'm afraid if you come to see me one day You won't see any trace of me but the grasses on my graveyard!
Syed Hammad Ahmad
Anxiety and depressive disorders are common in all regions of the world. But unfortunately, Pakistan is one of those vulnerable countries where stress, anxiety and depression are at highest level. Its victims are alarmingly more in urban areas than rural districts. These patients don’t belong to any specific age or class.
According to medical experts, depression is a common and serious illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. It is a state of low mood when one avoids participating in social activities. It affects a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. It causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities one enjoyed once and leads to a variety of emotional and physical problems and ultimately decreases a person’s ability to function at work and at home. In short, it is a common mental disorder that is reflected by one’s behavior. If not treated at time, these problems can become chronic and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. A depressed person doesn’t enjoy even the good events such as starting a new job, or getting married. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
There are many reasons that cause depression or anxiety. Its symptoms could vary from mild to severe. One of the most common reasons is a family history, social environment and state of upbringing. It may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members. In addition there are multitudes of other factors which intensify the situation. These include poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, lack of health and education facilities, economic issues, stressful working conditions, poor housing or living conditions, bad justice system etc. Depressive disorders often start at a young age and imbalance people’s personality miserably and reduce their functioning. Because of these factors depression has become the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability. Research suggests that maternal depression may be a risk factor for poor growth in young children which affects not only this generation but also the next.
What is the need of the hour is to spread awareness about depression among common masses and should make them realize that its treatment is essential. We should tell people that investment in mental health makes financial and social sense, and failure to act is costly. Its effective treatment is available through talking therapies and antidepressant medications, or a combination of both. It is unfortunate that people in our country think consulting a psychiatrist means they are abnormal and others will treat them as a mental case. They do not realize that consulting psychiatrists are very much normal because their basic responsibility is bringing people back into their normal lives. There is nothing of being mental if one takes therapies. In developed countries people are not ashamed of discussing their problems with psychologist because they take it so normal. That is why the level of anxiety is less among them as compared to us as most people do consult therapists. If we do not change this trend then we will not able to flourish as a successful society.
In this regard, the governments should step forward to improve mental health services. It can involve NGOs to create awareness among the people about the symptoms of depression and its solutions. Due to lack of awareness people don’t know what exactly depression is, even if they know they don’t accept because of fear of being rejected by the society. Many of them believe that they will cope up on their own. The government should raise the standard of infrastructure and manage the budget each year for mental health of the people. There should be short term and long term goal to improve the worsening situation.
Currently, mental health is the most neglected field in Pakistan. When people with depression go untreated, they often find other means of coping; this can lead to addictions or suicidal thoughts. We should understand that people suffering from mental conditions are normal people just like others. But their only problem is that they failed to cope well with their issues due to which they suffer and need help of a professional. Such people need our help and support in order to live healthy and normal lives. The more we will be prosper as individual and as nations when we will live the more fulfilling, self-satisfying and less stressful lives. Depression awareness among the general public as well as people affected will help to decrease the stigma around the disease, making help and treatment a more viable option.
The state of Pakistan mortgaged its writ willingly yesterday by signing an agreement with religious protesters camped at Faizabad, which at best is an embarrassing blot on its face and at worst resembles the humiliation Pakistan had to endure in 1971 when the saviours of the nation signed off the dismemberment document. True that the agreement with these few hundred religious protesters lead by a cleric is not comparable to the surrender document with Indian army. But it is also a fact that the state voluntarily surrendered all its authority and powers to ensure people’s safety and right to penalize the violators of its writ. In the times to come, this shortsighted move by all organs of the state would haunt us in innumerable ways.
Whereas the government demonstrated its utter disregard for the parliament, it also showed how easy it is to blackmail political parties on religious grounds when the patronized violent clerics are out for blood of politicians. Opposition parties showed absolute lack of moral courage to own their actions in the parliament. This necessitates that all the parliamentary record must be made public for scrutiny by the masses.
In the face of this agreement, sheer failure of the security apparatus including the intelligence, law enforcement, defence and the executive was demonstrated. It was demonstrated that a few hundred ‘miscreants’ chanting slogans against parliament, government, judiciary and army can put the capital under siege and the maximum solution available with the organs of the state is to let them go scot-free and pay money as well. This happened despite claims from the military establishment (through WhatsApp messages and an audio message by an unnamed, self-proclaimed army officer) that this violent crowd was there on the behest of India’s RAW and America’s CIA.
Government invoking Article 245 and calling army to assist in law enforcement established that it has no strategy to deal with aggressive mobs committing violence against citizens, media, government functionaries and vandalizing public and private property, especially when it is armed with religious slogans. This is like providing a very easy route to the enemy for any future excursions if they want to hurt Pakistan.
The agreement signed by a serving Major General as broker, sets a dangerous precedent. It potentially puts our wide-ranging operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad in jeopardy and accepts the extremists’ narrative.
One wonders where is the ‘alternative narrative’? Once again, it’s an easy recipe for the enemies of Pakistan to follow if they ever decide to hurt Pakistan from inside. Rather, money was distributed among the miscreants with pats on the back. Last time when law enforcement officials gave pat on the back of a miscreant, it was Gullu Butt in Lahore.
The way this agreement has been reached has put a big question mark on Pakistan’s law enforcement as well as judicial process. Without resorting to legal procedure, the cases registered against protesters under the Anti-Terrorism Act have been quashed vide this agreement.
Our security establishment must keep this blunder in mind when the next time it reminds the world that Pakistan’s judiciary is free to handle the terrorism cases against LeT terrorists.
The state has proven beyond any doubt that that not only the loss of life during such acts of terrorism would go unpunished but also the destruction of property would be paid for by the government from the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
The state, in fact, has rewarded the ‘lowlife scoundrels’ who played havoc with civic life for over 20 days in the capital and three days in the rest of the country.
The reward, needless to say, came from the money the citizens pay the state for providing security. This has badly defeated the narrative built by the Supreme Court’s five-member bench in the Panama scandal against Sharif family: the law is certainly not equal for everyone.
Finally, the clash of ego within the state organs is out in open. To the extent that the aggressive and more powerful party to this conflict is ready to pay any price, be it peace in cities or the life of citizens in order to mutilate the other side.
IT is a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks.
The deal negotiated between the state, both civilian and military facets of it, and the Faizabad protesters is a devastating blow to the legitimacy and moral standing of the government and all state institutions.
In one brief page and six gut-wrenching points, the state of Pakistan has surrendered its authority to a mob that threatened to engulf the country in flames. The federal law minister has been sacked — in return for a promise by the protesters to not issue a fatwa against him.
Whether a decision made out of desperation or fear, the upshot is that the state has accepted that mobs and zealots have a right to issue religious edicts that can endanger lives and upend public order.
The decision to compensate the protesters and use public funds to pay for the damage to property caused by the protesters turns on its head the fundamental responsibility of the state to ensure law and order. The pledge to prosecute whoever has been held responsible by a government inquiry committee for abortive legislative changes is to invite further protests and violence.
Something profound changed in the country yesterday and the reverberations will be felt for a long time. How has such catastrophe befallen the nation? Devastating incompetence and craven leadership by three sets of actors appear to be the reason.
The PML-N government helped create the crisis and then managed to exacerbate it at every step. Until the very end, when the government used the veneer of a court order to try and forcibly evict the protesters from Faizabad, there were gargantuan failures of planning and shockingly poor tactics. The political opposition also played a miserable role, fanning a crisis for the most myopic of political reasons and searching for a pyrrhic victory.
Finally, the military leadership appears to have to let rancour towards the government in an ongoing power struggle affect its role in bringing this phase of the crisis to an end.
The government has been humiliated and the military leadership has further improved its standing with sections of the public for helping end the protests — but at what cost to the country and its people? A menacing precedent has been set by the protesters that will surely embolden others and invite copycats. It is no exaggeration to suggest that no one is safe.
Zealots had already demonstrated the power of mob violence and the strength of the politics of intolerance and hate. Now, a blueprint has been created for holding state and society hostage. Despair is not an option for a nation state, but neither can there be a pretence that a significant setback has not occurred. Is there anyone, in state or society, to help repair the damage?
Is Pakistan deal 'a dangerous trend for democracy'? "Surrender" and a "dangerous trend for democracy and the state".
By Faras Ghani
The resignation of Pakistan's federal law minister and signing of an agreement to end a weeks-long sit-in outside the capital Islamabad has been termed a "surrender" and a "dangerous trend for democracy and the state".
Thousands of supporters of a religious party launched a sit-in outside Islamabad earlier this month, demanding the resignation of minister Zahid Hamid for a change in the country's electoral law that they termed a softening of the state's position against Ahmadi Muslims.
On Monday, Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal from the ruling PML-N party, said the agreement would see the demonstrators in Islamabad, and other cities including Lahore and Karachi, disperse.
The agreement would also see all protesters who were arrested during the sit-in, which began on November 8, released within three days.
Videos circulating on social media showed a high-ranking official of Pakistan Rangers hand out 1,000 rupees ($9.5) in envelopes to members of the religious party as compensation.
"The trend which we are witnessing today is not only dangerous for the political class of a teething democracy, it is also quite dangerous for the state."
On Tuesday, English daily Dawn, in an editorial titled Capitulation, called the agreement "a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks".
By Kay Johnson, Asif Shahzad
When hardline Pakistani Islamists signed an agreement with the government on Monday to end a crippling blockade of the nation’s capital, the text of their deal concluded by thanking the army chief who it said had “saved the nation from a big catastrophe”. The effusive praise for General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s role as mediator has triggered some concern among moderate politicians and criticism from a judge in Islamabad, where 36 hours earlier the civilian government had called in the army to restore order after police clashed with the entrenched Islamists.
Seven people had been killed and nearly 200 wounded in an unsuccessful police-led operation to clear the Islamist protesters, who accused a government minister of blasphemy.
Instead of sending in troops, General Bajwa requested a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqi Abbasi on Sunday. The next day, the government capitulated and met most of the Islamists’ demands, including the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who stood down.
A High Court judge issued an order on Monday demanding the government explain why the military had helped negotiate the deal. Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said the army appeared to be overstepping its constitutional role, which requires it to “act in aid of civilian government when called upon to do so”.
Critics worry the military may be meddling in politics - always a concern in a country where the army has repeatedly seized power - rather than simply following the orders of the civilian administration.
“The job of the military is to be subservient to the government’s orders,” said political analyst Zahid Hussain. “The military’s role as facilitator has raised many questions.”
A ruling party spokesman said the army and government had acted in consultation and said the army did not balk at government orders. No evidence has emerged to contradict that account. The military itself did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Zahid said he was resigning “to take the country out of a crisis-like situation”, according to state-run news channel PTV.
Tehreek-e-Labaik, a recently formed ultra-religious party that has made punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry, had blocked main roads into Islamabad for nearly three weeks, demanding Law Minister Hamid’s removal.
It blamed the minister for a tweak in the wording in an electoral law that changed a religious oath proclaiming Mohammad the last prophet of Islam to the words “I believe”, a change the party says amounts to blasphemy. The government put the issue down to a clerical error and swiftly changed the language back.
Insulting Islam’s prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are almost impossible to defend against. Last week, the Islamabad High Court had ordered the government to remove the protesters, but not to use firearms.
A clearing operation on Saturday quickly descended into chaos, with protesters armed with iron rods and stones battling police to a standstill and scores on each side hospitalized, after which the government called in the army. In an order made at a follow-up hearing on Monday, Judge Siddiqui said it appeared that the “role assumed the top leadership of the army is besides the constitution” and “beyond its mandate”.
The judge said it was “alarming” that Major General Faiz Hameed had signed the agreement as a mediator. Hameed is a senior member of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, in charge of counter-terrorism, two senior military officials confirmed. Ruling party official Jan Achakzai confirmed that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief General Bajwa had met on Sunday, but said the process was consultative and it did not constitute the military questioning orders.
“The army ... suggested the government resolve it through negotiations,” Achakzai said, adding that the government, after deliberations, directed the interior ministry to meet the protesters’ demands to avert further violence. “It was affecting the whole country,” he said, adding the government had yielded “in the larger interest of peace and maintaining law and order”.
Tehreek-e-Labaik leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi gave his account of the army’s role in ending the stand-off at a news conference on Monday.
“So the general took personal interest and sent his team, saying ‘we will become the guarantors, and have your demands fulfilled’,” Rizvi said. “So we said, ‘All right. That is what we want’.”
The military’s press department did not respond to questions about Rizvi’s account. Tensions between the military and the ruling party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have occasionally broken out into the open.
Sharif had last year rejected a plan put forward by the army to “mainstream” some hardline Islamist groups into politics, government sources have previously told Reuters, including a forerunner of Tehreek-e-Labaik.
The Islamist party has denied it has any links to the army and the military declined at the time to comment on the report.
By M Ilyas Khan
A video showing a senior Pakistani army officer distributing money to anti-government protesters in Islamabad has prompted a fierce reaction on social media.
The footage is being interpreted by some as rare evidence of the "soft spot" the military is believed to have for religious groups, whose support can be mobilised against mainstream political parties. The demonstrators blocked a main road in Islamabad for three weeks until the military brokered an end to the protest on Monday after a botched police operation. The law minister then resigned, meeting a key demand of the protesters who had accused him of blasphemy. The deal was seen as capitulation by the civilian authorities under pressure from the military.
In the video, director-general of the Punjab Rangers Maj-Gen Azhar Navid Hayat is seen giving envelopes containing 1,000-rupee ($9.50; £7) notes to participants in the protests, who were described as having no money to pay their bus fare home. "This is a gift from us to you," the general is heard telling one bearded man. "Aren't we with you too?" He then goes on to pat another protester on the cheek and offers a reassurance that, "God willing, we'll get all of them released" - presumably a reference to arrested protesters.
"This is all we had in one bag. There's some more [money] in the other," Gen Hayat says, before the footage ends.
It's not clear who shot the video, or how it ended up on social media. And there was no immediate reaction from the military, which has long played a prominent role in the country's politics.
No politicians from the governing party or the opposition have commented and TV channels have refrained from running the footage, perhaps reluctant to antagonise the powerful military.
The Nation and Dawn newspapers did cover the story but did not headline it, and it got a back-page mention in the Urdu-language daily Jang. However, there has been fierce reaction from some Pakistanis on social media.
Omar R Quraishi, a Samaa TV journalist, asked whether it was a good use of taxpayers' money.