Thursday, May 16, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Friday, April 5, 2013
On 2nd April, I was reading Dawn Newspaper when my eyes fell upon this headline:
“Poll Scrutiny turns into an Islamic Studies Test”
And then of course we all heard about how veteran and brilliant columnist, Ayaz Amir's application was turned down by the returning officer because in the past his articles have been accused of being against the "ideology of Pakistan".
Word is that ECP officials are employing “ruthless scrutiny” measures for properly screening the candidates. Candidates from different parties are being asked questions about Islamic injunctions, and upon failure to properly answer; the returning officers are rejecting candidates applications thus enjoying their five minutes of media fame.
In order to grasp the sheer foolishness of such a process, let us run through this small mental exercise:
Suppose a candidate from an XYZ political party having degrees in civil engineering, town planning etc from prestigious universities around the globe, and who plans to introduce many changes in his constituency if elected as an MNA, presents his credentials to the ECP returning officer, who checks the documents. The returning officer , let’s assume, asks him to recite ‘Ayat-ul-Qursi’ , and let us suppose that the candidate doesn’t know it, and just on that basis the returning officer dismisses the candidate’s application. Degrees, aims and objectives, plans and policies be damned.
So now, those degrees, credentials and professional experiences are irrelevant, because the ECP official has to be satisfied that the candidate has necessary knowledge of Islam rather than governance to become Member of Parliament according to Articles 62 and 63.
After such a ‘Zia-esque’ demonstration of electoral scrutiny, I am guessing that the said ECP officials somehow time traveled from the good old’ Islamist 80s into 2013.
Thankfully, the political parties also have taken issue with these practices and ANP’s Mr. Bashir Jan was quite right in saying that “One can’t reject an honest and upright candidate just because he has not learnt any Quranic verse by heart”.
In the recent years, much has been written over the utter pointlessness of articles 62 and 63 and to summarize various commentaries, the contents of these articles are mostly vague and terms like “good character” ,“abstains from sins” etc can be easily slanted to serve one’s own purpose. It would be highly irrational to even presume that 90% of parliamentarians have never indulged in major sins and I have not even begun commenting on 63-G (defaming judiciary) as politicians in the past and present have been guilty of indulging in it with relish.
The main point that can be gleaned from such articles in our constitution is that though the political parties are proposing to launch many projects and reform initiatives, one key reform that all parties have overlooked is the constitutional reform. It is irrational to build a tall building if the structure on which you plan to erect the building is corroded and fragile. No reform, no policies in Pakistan can succeed unless and until structural changes in our constitution are made. Abnormalities like the Blasphemy laws, parallel judicial system (Federal Shariat Court), Articles 62-63, 203, are glaring examples.
Thus before attempting to screen candidates, the ECP, respected lawmakers and upholders of those laws should revisit Quaid-eAzam’s oft quoted (and oft forgotten) excerpt from his 11th August 1947 speech:
“… You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State...”
Sadly, we have mixed religion with the business of the state and evolved into the exact anti-thesis of what the Quaid preached on 11th August 1947. Hence, now it has become more important to remember Quranic verses then to have proper educational and professional credentials. This has to end.
PS: On Ayaz Amir's case I shall just say as epigrammaticaly as possible:
There never was an Ideology of Pakistan. The closest thing that we had near to an ideology died on the streets of Dhaka on December 1971, so don't kid us.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I thought that this was it.
The brave Hazara protestors by sitting silently on Alamdar road, without firing a single shot, without burning a single building had brought down one of the most corrupt and inept governments in six decades of Pakistan’s existence.
I thought that a new day has begun, the overwhelming support for the Hazara community and the rejection of all forms of sectarian violence was heartwarming. We Are All Hazara, Justice For Hazara and Quetta Sit-in hash tags flooded twitter, in the end, the government decided that ignoring the issue was no longer an option and caved in.
Peaceful struggle had won.
But then, on the evening of this Tuesday, another tragedy struck. This time in Alam Gudar, KPK, where 15 tribesmen were reported, shot dead by ‘unknown’ persons, which tribesmen claim were security forces and which the security forces claim were the militants of Mangal Bagh.They rose up in protest, bodies were lain down in front of KPK Governor, Syed Masood Kausar’s house, a delegation sent to present demands, negotiations were reported to be successful, the delegation returned to the protestors, but they did not accept the offer. Their demand was that the government should end operation in the tribal area.
The delegation had failed them.
They protested on, Senator Hameedullah Jan Afridi, attempted to speak with the tribesmen, but the enraged tribesmen hurled shoes and stones at him, police came in, tear gas shells were fired, protestors were beaten, dispersed and the dead bodies hauled over trucks and moved to cold storage.
This happened in the province of a democratically elected government of Awami National Party.Regardless of who killed the tribes people, whether it were Mangal Bagh henchmen in FC disguise or whether it was the security forces who shot the civilians, in the end it mattered how a democratic government who’s steeped in the ethos of non-violence promulgated by Bacha Khan, ended up dealing with the protestors.
It was a sensitive issue dealt with all the sensitivity of a blunt knife. If that’s the way the KPK government chooses to end protests of Tribesmen, then their reconciliation approaches in the war-ravaged areas of FATA must be questioned.
I ask the KPK government, did the protestors set fire to any government building?
Did they destroy any public property?
Were they a threat to the security of KPK?
Were their hurled shoes similar in threat to rockets and shells?
The protest was overall peaceful; the 12-member delegation that was sent couldn’t effectively fight the tribesmen case and hence enraged the tribesmen. However, the tribesmen didn’t go on a rampage, they chose to sit in. If they chose a peaceful method of protest in the hope of being given the same justice as the Hazara community and have their grievances addressed, then it was the government’s responsibility to reply in a similar manner.
Another important thing that strikes me in this tragedy is the deafening media silence on the issue. How many channels covered the sit in? But perhaps the important question here is how many Pakistanis actually chose to give an ear and an eye to the sit in?
Let’s ask ourselves truthfully; weren’t we looking for more entertainment provided by a Canadian national hiding behind bulletproof glass?Let us answer honestly; aren’t we desensitized over daily killings in FATA?
The details of the massacre are wooly and the nation needs to ask questions. Who did the killings? Why is it so that those killings come days after Lashkar e Islam Chief Mangal Baghthreatened violence against Khasadars, and for the first time in three years, Tribal Militia was redeployed in Bara to counter that threat. Who were those people that were gunned down? Were they related to the Khasadars? Answers must be given, perpetrators must be brought to book. The KPK government must be made to apologize for using force against the protestors !But no, perhaps the answers to these questions, the solution to our problems lies in the hollow harangues of a certain Shaikh Ul Islam. I blame you Pakistanis.