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Surrender of “Naya Pakistan”

By Aamer Intsar Mohar

” You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State”. This was the vision of Pakistan that our beloved Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah expressed in his historic speech of August 11, 1947 to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi. We all know that over the past 70 years, Pakistan has not followed this vision of its founding father and the results have been disastrous. During the past few years, the nation as a whole has desperately been searching for a leader that can change the disastrous course this country is headed towards and can bring about a real change for the better future of Pakistan. 
Imran Khan entered the political arena in 1996 by forming his political party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. He has led a heroic 22 years long struggle for bringing real change in Pakistan and many Pakistanis including me have been his supporters during this epic struggle which culminated when his party emerged as the leading party in 2018 general elections and he became the Prime Minister. He is my childhood hero and one person I have always admired due to his leadership qualities that he displayed during his cricketing years and specially his daring feats as the Captain of our cricket team. His never say die attitude has been his special hall mark both during his cricketing and political years.
I am extremely disappointed by the way his government surrendered before the extremists by taking back the nomination of Mr. Atif Mian from the Economic Advisory Council. It was highly unlike the Imran Khan that I have known and observed and idealized over the years. This act is totally against the ideology of Mr. Jinnah the founder of Pakistan as well as the much publicized “Medina State” that Mr. Imran Khan wants to follow in building a “New Pakistan “.
As mentioned above the Quaid had clearly stated that Religion was a personal matter of every citizen and the State of Pakistan would have nothing to do with it and would not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of cast, creed or Religion, but unfortunately Mr. Atif Mian a word renown economist was removed on the pressure of extremist forces only because he belongs to the Ahmadiya community. The two days when Mr. Fawad Ch the Information Minister defended his nomination really made me believe that perhaps the much anticipated change has really come and Quaid’s dream of all inclusive state is finally taking shape but  the joy was shortlived and the next morning we were back to square one.
I personally know that people belonging to Ahmadiya community have rendered invaluable services for Pakistan. The first foreign minister of Pakistan Sir Zafarullah Khan was an Ahmadi and a very trusted colleague of Mr. Jinnah and he also played a pivotal role in Pakistan movement as he was the one who had drafted the Lahore resolution that was passed on March 23 1940 at Lahore and later on came to be known as the Pakistan Resolution. He also played an important role in securing the geographical boundaries of Pakistan as he was appointed by Mr. Jinnah to represent the Muslim League in the boundary commission. He was the one who played his due rule in passing of the Kashmir Resolution of 1948 through the United Nations which has been the cornerstone of our basis for supporting the Kasmiris struggle for their right of self determination.
During the Ayub Khan era another prominent economist was the financial advisor to the then Government of Pakistan and his name was Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad and he was also an Ahmadi. He played a very important role in securing finances for building of Tarbela and Mangla dam projects from international financial institutions and Ayub Khan is known to have said that the nation would always remain indebted to MM Ahmad for his tremendous services in making Tarbela and Mangla possible. Everyone is familiar with the name of Dr. Abdussalam the Nobel laureate from Pakistan. He was instrumental in the launch of SUPARCO and the launch of our nuclear program. Many Ahmadis have rendered meritorious services in the Armed forces. My late father was a proud officer of Pakistan Army and rendered his services for the defense of our motherland when and wherever required. By doing away with the services of a brilliant economist merely on the basis of his religious beliefs has sent a message that perhaps Ahmadis are not patriotic Pakistanis. The extremists have mentioned that they cannot and will not allow any Ahmadi to be appointed to any prominent position in government.
I belong to the Ahmadiya community and this act of the government to cede to the pressure of the extremists has caused me great pain because my loyalty to my country has been doubted. Times will move on and implications of this decision will become evident in due course of time.
I certainly do not doubt the good intentions of Imran Khan for bringing positive change to Pakistan but a few years down the lane whenever the history will be written, the historian will not take into account the good intentions but the practical steps that were taken for bringing about the desired change and unfortunately it will be written that he had an excellent opportunity to change the history and course of history but Imran Khan was not up to the challenge. Imran is still my hero because of all his services for Pakistan. I sincerely hope and pray that he is able to live up to the challenge and take prudent decisions for bringing true change in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Deen Aaya – OpEd

By Vice Admiral (Retd) Vijay Shankar
The impact of organised religion on nations has historically been a sense of contrived significance, but in essence has neither refined society nor elevated power status. The case of civilizational encounters is curious. The vanquished wontedly looked backwards for spiritual succour while succumbing to the influences of the aggressor; in the process, dogmas and rituals replaced inventiveness as the spirit that propelled development calcified (Toynbee, 1957). This state is symptomatic of a society in the throes of derangement. A failed response to the challenges of plurality and vigour of competing belief systems is thus marked by religious masquerade and a despairing choice inspired by fundamental ideologies. In the past, the Egyptiac world, Judaism and Christianity have succumbed to this fanatic impulse. Ironically, primitive Islam was spiritually tolerant of civilisations that it considered allied to as ‘People of the Book’. It is no coincidence that this very period saw Islamic civilisation flourish. Contemporary political Islamic movements are, however, marked by failed responses; the more radical, the more savage towards the idea of plurality and renewal.
In the recently concluded elections to the Pakistan National Assembly, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLP) polled nearly two and a quarter million votes (Election Commission of Pakistan), making it the fifth largest political party in that country. While this may not have readily translated to seats in the National Assembly, what it stands for is ‘street power’ of the radical Islam variety. Regaling the event, their chief, Allama Khadim Husain Rizvi narrated a grisly electoral episode from Nawabshah, a district in Sindh. “We were singing our anthem Deen Aaya, when the Peoples Party (PPP) camp started playing their electioneering jingles; we asked them to stop because our hymn was in veneration of Allah, but their leader spurned our entreaty.” Imagine ‘Allah’s wrath’, for that very night the PPP leader breathed his last. The next morning it was God’s will that all of the PPP followers switched their loyalty to the TLP!
TLP shot to prominence when it opposed the 2016 hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, convicted in 2011of assassinating the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Born in 1966 in Attock, Punjab, Rizvi, a self-acclaimed Barelvi cleric, was in government in the department of religious affairs, the auqaf. He was soon removed for radical activism. A paraplegic, he became deeply involved in organising public support for harsher and more invasive blasphemy laws. In November 2017, his siege of Islamabad for this cause paralysed the capital for over three weeks. The government and its law enforcement agencies made an abortive attempt to curb the mayhem but only succeeded in spreading protests to all the major cities. It was the army chief’s personal intervention that defused the situation with the offer of unconditional capitulation of the state to more severe blasphemy laws, sacking of the Federal Minister for Law Zahid Hamid, and the release of all prisoners taken. The siege of Islamabad was lifted. Allama Khadim Husain Rizvi had arrived; it is reported with a ‘little’ help from the army.
Karachi was a distant frontier for the TLP whose home grounds were the radical madrassas of South Punjab (Bhawalpur, Multan, Mianwali, Dera Ghazi Khan etc.) Their electoral gains in Karachi owed largely to pulpit intimidation, violence and menacing politics. The city, latterly dominated by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), represents Pakistan’s Urdu-speaking mohajirimmigrant community. The odious ‘mohajir’ moniker was dropped from its name and replaced by the less unpalatable muttahida (united). The MQM is known for its muscular methods in Karachi; it had in the past controlled the vote in the inner city and its immediate urban enclaves through a grid that organised the city’s underworld. Aided by the army, the TLP broke up these networks. The mosque became the platform from where the message of redemption was hammered home, in a manner and scale not seen since the call for jihad to fight the US invasion of Afghanistan. The argument now was that since the people of Karachi had committed crimes and violence for mortal reasons, atonement in the eyes of God was only possible if these same people took up Allah’s cause by volunteering their time and labour for the TLP. An irreverent ‘Anschluss’ between the deep state, piety and politics now paved the way for the electoral success of the Army’s willing protégé, Imran and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Central to the strategy was infusing politics with ritual, a messianic propagation of the Barelvi belief system, and of the TLP’s near prophet-like paraplegic leader and his ‘mystical’ powers over followers.  The irony is that of the two Sunni sects, the Barelvi was seen as the more reticent and less prone to militancy than the orthodox Salafist-driven Deobandis. Meanwhile, the legend of how deen has managed to purify and chasten non-believers flourishes despite being in mortal conflict with what makes for a democratic state. The question at the core is, what makes Pakistan more susceptible to ideological blackmail from such extreme shades of the religious right?
Ideological blackmail is potentially congenital to the Islamic state particularly when a myth of Islam-in-danger becomes the testament. To fully appreciate this phenomenon, one goes back in recent history to Partition. The disproportionate security apparatus that Pakistan inherited and the communal basis of award (33 per cent of the military as opposed to 18 per cent demography, 23 per cent landmass and 18 per cent of financial assets) fuelled the idea that Islam, communal hatred and perpetual hostility towards India were innate to the separation of the Muslim nation. Also, an army under the banner of Islam was an imperative to forge unity and guard both ideological and geographic frontiers of the fledgling state. That the concept not only gained salience but is also an abiding characteristic of the strategic culture that the army has carefully nurtured is today the idea of Pakistan.
And, in August 2018, when the Dutch politician Geert Wilders comes along and announces that he would hold a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest that was a thinly veiled attempt to attack and provoke one of Wilders’ favourite whipping-boys, Islam; the TLP seized the opportunity to once again show its strength. On cue, lakhs of TLP supporters made their way to Islamabad to demand Pakistan sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands or face a repeat of the siege of the capital. Why did Wilders call off the contest? It could not have been for economic reasons since the Netherlands’ GDP at US$ 830 billion is almost threefold of Pakistan’s, while bilateral trade is less than US$ 1.2 billion, nor could it be any influence that Islamabad wields for they have little of that (there was of course the threat of jihadi violence).The probable cause for cancellation was perhaps the fragile situation in Afghanistan which James Mattis explained as “co-existence of violence and progress” against a backdrop of stability. President Ashraf Ghani was less cryptic when he offered an unconditional peace proposal to the Taliban; a ceasefire, recognition of the Taliban, elections afresh, and a constitutional review. Any disruption of this process, in US’ perspective, may have provided space for exceptionable Chinese and Russian interference. So it could be that it was the US that reined in Wilders. At any rate, the cancellation served to enhance Khadim Rizvi’s notional power across continents and the reality that his ideas found resonance with leaders and elites in mainstream political parties. That this has happened raises the question, how close to being an extremist state is Pakistan?
As this question is pondered, comes Deen and the news that the Pakistan Supreme Court has sacked Atif Mian, a Princeton economist from the PM’s Economic Advisory Council for being an Ahmadi, and in quick succession lifted the international ban on the terror proscribed Hafeez Sayeed’s outfit the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Islamic State: The Torment of #Afghanistan’s Shiites


Members of Pakistan’s bicameral Parliament’s lower house (National Assembly) and of upper house (Senate) are curious to know details of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
"An impression is being felt that Imran Khan will extend begging bowl during his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia and he should not do so," Shah said, adding that because he has been opposing to begging.
However, Imran’s visit vindicated the stance of Shah.
In particular, Pakistan Peoples Party’s members have expressed their feelings in both houses. MNA Nafisa Shah asked the PTI government on the floor of the house why they don’t share details of the Saudi visit of Imran Khan with the Parliament.
Senator Mian Raza Rabbani already criticized the government’s dubious policy. Former opposition leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah had said prior to the Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Saudi Arabia that the visit seemed to vague.
Shah advised Imran Khan must not extend begging bowl to Saudi Arabia in his maiden visit In an informal chat with the media in Islamabad, Shah said, "PM Imran Khan should only pay respect to holy places during his first visit to Saudi Arabia. But this visit to Saudi Arabia seems to be ambiguous."
"An impression is being felt that Imran Khan will extend begging bowl during his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia and he should not do so," Shah said, adding that because he has been opposing to begging.
However, Imran’s visit vindicated the stance of Shah.

#Pakistan - OP-ED - Why this government won’t stand with the people

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government isn’t just a coalition government at the political level. It has many other partners who have invested in varied degrees in the party and its leadership. These investors range from crony capitalists to members of the judiciary and the deep state. Obviously, the PTI will not formulate any policy or reform which could hurt the core interests of these stakeholders. However, the masses are destined to pay a terrible price.
For instance — even though people witnessed this with their jaws on the floor — but the PTI government, among firsts of its economic actions, lifted the ban that barred non-filers of the tax returns from buying property or new cars. Instead of widening the tax net, thereby bringing more and more people into the taxation regime, the government has decided to appease notorious tax evaders and punish those who are already paying taxes. The whole idea behind lifting the ban is to benefit the property barons within the party and those who invested in PTI with funds and aviation services. With the ban gone, black money will flow freely into the property sector, which in turn will push the prices higher, making things more costly for genuine buyers.
Although mainstream media fell in line with the narrative and de facto bounds set by the deep state long ago, we still see politically motivated FIRs being launched against journalists. While all this may all be propelled by elements within the state, the elected government appears to be no more than a pawn against the free media and right of expression.In view of the glaring risk that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) might further downgrade Pakistan from the grey to black list, what we are seeing is deplorable. While radical organisations and their leadership, who the world recognises as entities and persons abetting terrorism, have been allowed to keep operating overtly and covertly, the journalists, rights activists, and members of nationalist organisations have been subjected to harassment, abduction, torture, and fatalities. Having itself been stoking religious sentiments to muster support from fringe religious groups, the PTI government will never be able to stem the sectarian hatred and intolerance in Pakistan.
It didn’t take this government months, but weeks to launch investigations into the two metro bus projects launched by the previous government. It is ironic that it conveniently ignored a similar project in Peshawar
It didn’t take this government months but weeks to launch investigations into the two metro bus projects launched by the previous government. It is ironic that it conveniently ignored a similar project in Peshawar the PTI led provincial government undertook in its previous tenure. The PTI’s project is still in tatters, mired in corruption stories and without any hopes of completion any time soon. The whole idea is to find something against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and then make a mountain out of a molehill. The world over, governments pay huge subsidies in public transport systems so that common people get affordable transportation and cities remain free of avoidable road congestion and air pollution. The PTI government, however, doesn’t seem keen on continuing with the subsidized projects of urban transportation. Ironically, it’s not so concerned about subsidizing the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), with the billions of rupees that it needs every year.
The funniest development is the opening of a donation account for the dam fund. Initially, it was a Supreme Court Dam Fund, then the Prime Minister (PM) also jumped on the Diamer-Bhasha bandwagon; he also declared that the collection of funds is the government’s job and not of other institutions. However, the populist Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) was already riding the crest on this issue and was in no mood to concede. So, now we have a joint donation account in the name of the PM and CJP. What could be a better proof of the joint stakes between executive and judiciary? Not only does this expose the collusion between them, it also violates the principle of the separation of powers between two pillars of the state.
A few months back, we all came across the ‘Bajwa doctrine’, the essence of which was that national security has become more expensive and that in the current arrangement of national finance commission the country’s security needs will be compromised. What’s in store here is that provinces will soon see their share in resources reduced so that defence needs could be met. It should not be forgotten that the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution is primarily responsible for development and welfare of people within their provinces.

‘Space for religious minorities in Pakistan shrinking’

Asma Kundi

The National Interfaith Working Group established by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday where it discussed the facilitation of interfaith dialogue and collective advocacy, awareness and action to protect the fundamental rights of religious minorities.
During the meeting, members of civil society, the media, government and political parties discussed the group’s future strategy and plan of action.
Former senator Farhatullah Babar said the rights of minorities have been shrinking, and intolerance toward them by the state and by society increasing, despite constitutional guarantees, religious injunctions and international covenants that Pakistan has signed in this regard. HRCP’s National Interfaith Working Group holds inaugural meeting
“I would suggest that the HRCP engage bodies like the National Commission on Human Rights, the Ministry of Human Rights, the human rights committees of the Senate and National Assembly and other bodies as force multipliers to carry forward this task,” he said.
Mr Babar said attention should be given on setting up caucuses in parliament and in provincial assemblies to take up the causes of religious minorities, similar to the women’s caucus in parliament.
Former senator Afrasiab Khattak also emphasised the importance of democratic struggle in this regard.
“There is a need to establish an interfaith committee to address the issues confronted by our religious minorities. They are people of this soil, no matter which religious they follow, as Pakistan is the homeland of people belonging to different religious beliefs,” he said.
For the last 70 years, we have only said that religion is a personal matter and the state’s only role is of a facilitator, former MNA Bushra Gohar said.
She also criticised the government for removing renowned economist Mian Atif from the Economic Advisory Council because of his religion.
“The role of political parties is very crucial in this regard. Unfortunately, whenever we face pressure from extremist groups parties that claimed to be moderate, like the Pakistan Peoples Party, take a back-foot position and play a defensive role,” she said. Fatima Atif, a representative of the Hazara community, said their community has not officially been declared a minority but is still suffering because of their faith.
“Our right to life is being violated because we are a Hazara community. I am sorry to say that the roles of commissions or caucuses are not satisfactory in absence of political willingness,” she said.
Romana, a Christian, also criticised organisations that believed Christians were there to work as cleaners and sweepers.
She said the space for minorities was shrinking in Pakistan.
A circular was issued at the end of the meeting that stated: “Apart from regular interaction with local and provincial stakeholders, including political representatives, the group will also carry out fact-finding exercises to monitor and promote freedom of religion and belief across the country, based on local realities and needs.”
It added that given the wave of religiously motivated violence this year alone, the HRCP believes it is critical that policymakers and civil society be prepared to take bolder and more consistent stances of freedom of religion and belief.

سلیکٹڈ وزیراعظم نے مشکل حالات پیدا کردیے ، بلاول

پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ ملک ایک من پسند
حکومت کے حوالے کر دیا گیا، سلیکٹڈ وزیراعظم نے ایسے حالات پیدا کر دیے کہ ہر گزرتے دن کے ساتھ مشکلات پیدااور مزید بڑھتی جارہی ہیں اور عوام سوال کر رہے ہیں کہ نئے پاکستان میں بھی کنٹرولڈ جمہوریت تو نہیں؟
اسلام آباد میں نوابزادہ نصراللہ خان کی برسی کی تقریب سے خطاب میں بلاول بھٹو کا کہنا تھا کہ کشکول توڑنے کے دعوے کرنے والوں نے کشکول اٹھا کر اپنے دور کا آغاز کیا لیکن یہ ملک چندے سے نہیں چل سکتا۔
ان کا کہنا تھا کہ نواب صاحب نے ساری زندگی جمہوریت کے لیے ہر حکومت کے خلاف اپوزیشن کی، ان کی زندگی جمہوریت پسندوں کے لیے سبق ہے۔
پی پی چیئرمین نے کہا کہ پاکستان ایک اہم سیاسی دور سے گزر رہا ہےاور پیپلز پارٹی جلاؤ گھیراو کی سیاست کر کے ملک کو خطرے میں نہیں ڈال سکتی۔
انہوں نےمزید کہا کہ خان صاحب نے خود جانےکے کے بجائے اپنے وزیر خارجہ کو اقوام متحدہ بھیجا، بتانا ہو گا کہ کشمیر کا مسئلہ اٹھانے کے لیے وزیراعظم خود اقوام متحدہ کیوں نہیں گئے، صرف سوشل میڈیا پر خارجہ پالیسی کے بیان جاری ہو رہے ہیں، خدارا خارجہ پالیسی جیسے اہم شعبے کو مذاق نہ بنایا جائے۔
بلاول بھٹو کا کہنا تھا کہ الیکشن کے بعد پہلی تقریر میں دہشت گردی کے واقعات کی تحقیقات کا مطالبہ کیا لیکن آج بھی دہشت گردی کے متاثرین انصاف کے منتظر ہیں، شکوہ ہے کہ نہ شہید بھٹو کو انصاف ملا اور نہ بے نظیر بھٹو کو۔
انہوں نے بتایا کہ سابق صدر آصف زرداری نے تمام کیسز میں اپنی بے گناہی ثابت کی لیکن آج بھی سابق صدر کے خلاف مقدمات بنائے جا رہے ہیں۔

Video - Bilawal Bhutto Addressing Ceremony in Islamabad

#Pakistan - #PPP - Have to tell ‘selected govt’ public needs democracy: Bilawal

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said that the country has been handed over to the ‘selected government’, who needs to be told that the general public wants real democracy.

The PPP chairman was addressing a ceremony held on the death anniversary of Nawabzada Nasrullah.

Bilawal said that the PPP will continue to fight against the non-democratic forces, while continuing with its vision as foreseen by ZA Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
While criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led government, he said the ruling party is governing through social media platforms even on serious issues such as the foreign policy.
“For God’s sake, do not turn these crucial issues into a joke,” said the PPP chairman.
Bilawal said the PTI government does politics on non-issues instead of focusing of real problems.
He said that the United Nations has finally produced a report on the atrocitiesbeing faced by innocent Kashmiris and Prime Minister instead of attending the session himself, sent his foreign minister.
Bilawal further said that national consensus is needed on important issues such as water crises and foreign affairs through the parliament, something which the ‘selected government’ cannot achieve.