Friday, 18 May 2018

The Royal Wedding

Spring is a great time for the royal weddings & we wish all the good things to Harry & Meghan.  Always get this feeling that something is not right about these royal weddings. Lets see if we could unearth that feeling this time. Is it Harry's 'Paki' thing but if Ahmed Raza Khan developed 'no hard feelings' why are we being grudgy about lil Harry?
Or he was forgiven for our colonial legacy of submission? Unless youngman from Pakistan was vying to outdo Mother Tereesa, young soldiers have high self esteem & they take every insult with a pinch of salt. Who really knows but personal experience suggests that those University Grads at Sandhurst from iconic Oxfords & Cambridges only had ostentatious courtesies. Their exterior was polite & accomplished but their reality lacked it all. Back in 1998, on our first outdoor, one of my 'mates' scornfully asked me to fetch him a cup of tea  as not long ago, we had been their slaves. And I had no qualms about fetching a hot cup of tea & pourig it over his crotch, telling him that things had changed. Such racist behaviour continued till the very end & my rebuttals were never short of the mark, though by the end of the year, there were signs of genuine respect earned on professional grounds with medals & As in my bag.
Back to royal wedding. Harry is not the sweetest bit of his royal floozy highness, late Princes of Wales, who could not respect the royal wedlock but never had the guts to get out of it. Harry, at best is a royal racist rascal. Now that he weds 3 years older LA's colored divorcee from Suits, lets hope he has learnt a lesson or two on race. And we sincerely hope that 'free spirited' Meghan has learnt all the royal courtesies of how many kissess on which cheek, when to bend & when to stay quiet. Well, quiet for the most part. Her transformation seems easier because she is an actress & now she has to perform at the royal stage.
What else is not good about this royal pomp & show. Yes, carefully crafted pomp & show has an economic value to it. The coverage. The tourists (there actually are losers who spend money to attend royal pretence show), the souvenirs (20 £ minted coin, 5 £ cup with royal couple's picture on it). This is how they keep these dummies relevant & in the process, generate huge economic activity. Kudos to persistent publicity of the event. They make it sound like the royal event of the globe and more obnoxiously, some people buy this crap.
People in Britain (mostly women) fantisize this high drama of unreal spending & idiotic fairytale stuff. Those 'oohs & aahs' of British spinsters come at a price of 30 Million pounds of UK's taxpayers. As part of these theatrics, Brits look as bizzare as this whole royal wedding thing. So much for typical British high-handedness; they never fail to make fun of every other nation on God's earth but this royal bonanza & its spending spree makes an 'arse' of'em.
For a girl & a boy getting married only warrants some blessings but this is a royal affair. Its anything but simple. But we still wish them luck.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Thank You All

Thank you Modi for investing in Nawaz Sharif. It was a mistake because he was not Mujeeb ur Rehman. Not good enough, he had no Mukti Bahani, trained & supported by Indian Army.
Thank you Nawaz Sharif for coming to your true colors in hours of desperation. However, you have officially joined the club of international political tools for sale. Best bidder will buy your services like Altaf & Haqqani.
Thank you Mariam Nawaz for speeding up the process & making sure he comes to his true colors.
Thank you advisors; Pervez Rasheed, Danayal, Talal, Mariam Aurangzeb & others for agreeing & ill advising.
Thank you media for its polorization. Jung & GEO get the first prize for being loyal to India & in turn to NS. Though they minted loads of money in the process but this is their formula for growth, 'a deal with the capitalist devil'.
Special thanks to Dawn for putting behind its legacy of responsible journalism that would have not published either Dawn Leaks or Mumbai Attacks statement of Nawaz Sharif as it carries national security risk. They must have consulted national security stakeholders before printing.
Thank you Twice to little twat called Cyril Almeida of Goa. You made a name son for being twice at the heart of it for all the wrong reasons. A declared prostitute is easily accessible because her motives are known.
Thank you Judiaciary for, finally, standing up for Pakistan and making him desperate.
Thank you Peoples Party of Benazir for wrangling with this monster before Zardari factor came to your demise.
Thank you new look establishment (Army, Judiciary & NAB). It looks credible as long its Pakistan First. Needs more independent pro Pakistan institutions under this umbrella. Though IK was eager for adotion but you kept him guessing which is good for his political growth & restoration of a credible Parliament.
And finally, thank you Mossack Fonseca for making it all possible. Otherwise, he was not coming to courts & none here were capable of bringing him to the courts.
Thank you all. Have a blessed Monday.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Change in Attock may change it all

Change is such an elusive drug for a nation whose democracy keeps shuttling between kleptocracy and kakistocracy.
11 points at Minar-e-Pakistan sounded Prime-ministerial but rhetoric is one thing and deliverance is another. PTI leadership should have the stomach to absorb position of advantage that fell in their laps from heavens in Panama Papers. There will be issues concerning distribution of tickets and constituency based differences between those who will get party tickets and those left out.  How PTI leadership handles this issue and how its workforce performs before and on the day of elections will determine the outcome of General Elections 2018.
Take for example my own constituency NA 57 which after 2018 delimitation has become NA 55. PML (N)’s Whip, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed remained undefeated from NA 57 since 1990. In 2002, he could not run for the seat due to graduation degree clause. Resultantly, his son Salman Sarwar had to run but lost against Malik Amin Aslam.
Dynamics of District Attock’s politics are very interesting. Attock’s election mood is quite predictable. In 2002, Q League made a clean sweep from hitherto three NA constituencies (NA 57, 58 & 59). In 2008, Noon, Q & PPP won a seat each. In 2013, Noon bagged two and NA 59 was claimed by independent Zain Elahi son of Major (R) Tahir Sadiq.
Major (R) Tahir Sadiq is brother-in-law of Ch Shujaat Hussain and a politicoholic. He eats, drinks & sleeps politics. Not only his son is MNA from NA 59, his daughter Eman Waseem also holds the office of Chairperson District Attock. Realizing, his in-laws’ growing politically irrelevance, he continued his political struggle of family aggrandizement independently as Major Group and lately, took a leap of political faith cum opportunity and joined PTI in November 2017.
Now the tricky part begins. At the time of his joining PTI, there were three constituencies, but delimitation reduced it to two. In previous arrangement of three NA seats, it was only fair for him to claim two party tickets (for himself (NA 57 or 58) & for his son Zain in NA 59) and third one could have been dished out to longtime PTI loyalists like Malik Amin Aslam. However, there are only two seats now (NA 55 & 56).  In current scenario NA 56 should go to Major Group. Who wins PTI ticket from NA 55 and how the aggrieved party takes it will determine the outcome of this election from Attock District. A quick analysis of results of last two general elections from NA 57 (Now NA 55) suggest only one thing, if change has to take effect, PTI ticket winners and those left out have to show a big heart.  
General Elections 2008
General Elections 2013
Sheikh Aftab Ahemd
Sheikh Aftab Ahemd
Runner up
 Malik Amin Aslam
Malik Amin Aslam
2nd Runner up
Eman Waseem
IND (Major Group)
Major (R) Tahir Sadiq
IND (Major Group)

Now that Major Group has joined PTI, together with runner up (Malik Amin Aslam) of last two elections, they should be able to muster double the votes of Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, only if they put their personal political gains or losses on one side and abide by the party discipline. PTI leadership must also consider sensitivities of constituency politics as however strong, the Tsunamis consist of tiny droplets of water, hence, every drop matters. Whoever, Malik Amin Aslam or Major Group does not get ticket of NA 55, should be promised important advisory role at national level because both are equally capable of delivering at bigger level. Otherwise, margins have been very narrow in previous elections and Attock will keep on waiting for another five years for change. Or change in Attock may change it all.
In the end, formation of government in center is not guaranteed by big jalsas rather it all boils down to the method of constituency politics, party discipline, electioneering and performance of party workers on elections day.   
Only Allah knows the whole Truth.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Nawaz Sharif's fear of aliens

Now that he is staring down the barrel, he is spitting all his venom against Army, probably a last gasp effort of this menace called NS.He dirtied the pond of politics & his back will surely do good to the political arena. I absolutely agree with metaphor of 'mafia' used in judgement against him. His self-serving style of governance can be tolerated but his coalition with anti-Pakistan elements has been alarming. Modi coming as personal guest at Jati Umra presenting Sarhi    (ساڑھی) was symbolic when we were lifting dead bodies due to Indian Army's cease fire violations from across LOC. Jandal visit, rallying of international media behind NS, Dawnleaks all indicate towards one thing that he was just a pawn, it was always our establishment versus international establishment. Prevailing over TTP & restoration of relative peace along western borders plus improvement of internal security, top-down corruption crackdown & Army's strict restrain from taking over executive powers of the country despite  NS' vigourous attempts for political martyrdom was all too much for them to take. With CPEC, Pakistan gains geo-startegic weight in the region. Russia is knocking on our doors. Change is around the corner. But there will be turbulence. Hazara community is again on target to vent sectarian unrest/ violence, sporadic fire & suicidals incidents, formation of PTM & international media along with NS & his idelogical friends in Achakzais, Bazinjos & Fazl ur Rehmans patronizing PTM are all weak attempts to destabalize Pakistan. Now we have become nerve hardy. Hopefully, this should be the last assault of NS on his own countrymen before he is pushed in to oblivion of irrelevance. Something that would be very hard for him to live with, specially when his daughter is also about to book a berth in Adiyala. However, international established can hit back with much harder force with a new pawn like NS. After all, reason for woes of NS could be that he never fully understood the power of loyalty to his nation and continued to fool the nation with false alarms & fears of aliens. Though in the end, his corruption had him yet continues to be exposed as a snake up our sleeves.
Only Allah knows the whole truth.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Politics of Siraj ul Haq

As student leader, always admired Siraj ul Haq for his simplicity and passionate oratory. Hailing from humble beginnings of a small village in Lower Dir, despite holding public offices he still maintains a modest outlook. As Finanacial Minister of KPK, he never held a bank account for issues of interest. Respected by both friends & foes alike. Probably, the only politician having such long political career who fits the parameters of 62 & 63.
Since his student days at Punjab University, he never broke away from his simple lifestyle & motored along the highway of leadership in Islami Jamiat Talaba's Wolkswagon. After heading students wing of JI, he is now perched at the highest pedestal of JI. He has always voiced issues which were patriotically, religiously & morally correct but unfortunately, his political decision making like the rest of political leadership in business has been below par. Past few months, his decision making which persumbly is the outcome of collective wisdom of his Shura, has been a let down. He championed the drive against corruption and Panama Drama. But in strange turn of events, sided with Noon League in Senate Chairman Elections. Kia Yeh khula Tazad Nahin Hai?
Likewise, all politico-religious parties rallied for next elections & elected His Highness Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman as President of MMA. If anything, Maulana is synonymous with Hypocracy (Munafiqat). If our friends from JI would readily like to quote Meesaq-e-Medina or Hudabiya to gain political foothold, they should keep in mind earlier was with Jews & later with Kuffar but not with declared Munafiqs. And no one is judging Maulana Sahib, he had been in power through alliances with every govt in past two decades. He earned his repute through his actions. What about Kasmir Committe's performance? JI is the strongest proponent of Kashmir issue in Pakistan, did they question criminal silence of Maulana on Kashmir, despite enjoying perks in the name of Kashmiris.
If only JI had the work force like Tableeghi Jamat & or tableeghi Jamat had the political ideology of JI, politico-religious force could change the fate of this country.
If JI is running out of ideas, make alliances with political force that represents change. Stop this religious high-handedness that a religious party can only align with a religious party. Reach out to clean shaven Muslims as well. Have confidence in your conduct, make alliance with PTI, attract Youth of this nation to your good cause. The alliance could serve as recruiting campaign. Alas, they are happy with their little political niche, having to do nothing but farting along side Maulana Fazl ur Rehman & co.
No matter how high we think of Mr Siraj ul Haq, he has to make better political choices to go with his repute. Otherwise, his persona will also fizzle away like the ineffective politics of JI for the past six decades.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Good tidings for better Pakistan

Our generation should be able to handover a better Pakistan to the next. Where do we stand today and where do we go from here shall determine the fruition of the first line or otherwise. If institutions are strengthened in correct proportions, it can be said with absolute conviction that we may be able to pass the baton to the next generation with great pride that Pakistan is on course to become what it was destined to become i.e. a great country. In subsequent paras, mention of some political science and some powerhouses on ground shall keep you interested to explore the hope for better Pakistan.
Principally, government functions on cardinals of Political Science which ensure that ‘authority’ is distributed among Executive (PM and cabinet), Legislature (Senate and assemblies) and Judiciary. The trias politica model allows relative independence, checks and balance of power among institutions. However, our beloved country has never been a theoretical wonder, nor an academic ideal. So what went wrong? And the nominees are; army for protracted martial laws and her omniscient yet invisible hand in political landscaping, judiciary for doctrine of necessity, executive for corruption and legislature for partnering the crimes of executive.
1958 marked the beginning of martial laws. Army got out of hand and executive never had the guts to tame her due to her own incompetence and corrupt practices, judiciary adopted the skin for every occasion and parliament was always the sanctuary for executive to hide behind. Nowadays, parliament is just a sacred tool in the hands of executive to perpetuate her rule e.g. promulgation (and annulment) of dodgy 203 Election Reforms Bill 2017.
 Purpose of this post is not to spread doom and gloom but hope. Last couple of decades saw an awful dictatorship, a hybrid government with Pervez Musharraf as Chief Executive and Q League as political component of it. This was followed by another stint in the office for PPP but with a different ‘face’ and however tumultuous it was, PML (N) is completing her term in couple of months’ time. If this is not sign enough for democracy, then brace yourself for a potent dose of optimism through this post.
Post Pervez Musharraf, four powerhouses have emerged in the country namely Media, Army, Judiciary and Executive. True that Legislature in principle is the cardinal of trias politica model but it is not a powerhouse in ours because legislators remain ‘loyal’ to party leadership. Legislation is the last thing on their agenda. Passage of 203 may come up again as it reflects how ineffective parliament has become and how indifferent parliamentarians are to their basic duty i.e. legislation. We shall discuss all powerhouses one by one. First spot has been booked by media for its enormous growth and impact in recent past.
Hunger for power is never satiated. Last two decades have seen an unprecedented transformation of media industry. Initially, media owners remained focused on minting money and now they have learnt to rub shoulders in the power corridors of the country. They have created a new line of thought and life style. Couple dozen media houses in Karachi have stamped their way of ‘thinking’, ‘lifestyle’ and ‘ideology’ right across Pakistan including places as far as Kohistan, Thar, Khuzdar and GB. It is a separate debate whether we must preserve our cultural identity or adopt whatever is in fashion or follow those who think they define what is hip, modern and fashionable? Purely in term of impact, media has already impacted peoples’ lives beyond measureable proportions. On political grounds, the polarization among media houses comes as a blessing for the people. Now they go an extra mile to expose their media rivals and political opponents which is good for commoners. Politics savvy society is charged with political awareness and debate. However, there is criminal negligence on the part of ‘investigative journalism’. No one goes out to expose the dirty laundry of the big fish. People like Iqrar Hussain are exposing criminals playing in few millions, they need to up the ante and expose corruptions of billions. Poor hygiene of a butcher or a baker or motely incident of sexual harassment are not the serious problems of this nation rather mega corruption and institutional imbalances. Likewise, Umer Cheema style investigative journalism is a classic example of what not to follow at all. Laid back journalism will only yield risk free, inconclusive talk shows which are meant to get ratings, bully opponents and sell deceitful political schemas. In those heated discussions, they do not solve problems rather politicians achieve their political objectives and anchors get their next installment of favours from them. Journalism is scared than the sacred but it will not yield substantive results if media anchors and producers are having party time each evening with politicians or their brokers. Non-partisan investigative journalism is what this country deserves and what is obligatory on the journalists as well. Finally, media people will only be fed on the waste booty of politicians. It is up to them to choose their course of action because hunger for power has never been satiated.
Problem with hope is that it floats. Including current term, this should be completion of third consecutive term for the parliament. Democracy has every chance to flourish but why still army remains the thorn in the side of politicians or should we say certain politicians in certain circumstances? Army is a professional institution which is loyal to the country and it is quite independent in its decision making. That’s all good as long as her independence stays short of intervention. Quite certainly, it’s the independent decision making of the Army which hurts politicians with agendas. Frankly, Army has outgrown politicians and has changed her ways. General Raheel Sharif has set the bar correct (not high). He did what a professional soldier should do; nothing extravagant nor anything below par. General Bajwa is following suit and probability of Army takeover is diminishing by the day but that fear of takeover is here to stay for psychological and political reasons. More than army, politicians use this as a ploy to keep people guessing or confused. Second issue is of the invisibles. Since they are invisible, so not much could be said or we could throw the kitchen sink at them. International establishment does not like them and naturally those politicians who sing to the tunes of international establishment go on to sell their anti-establishment cum army mantra. Experience suggests that they are the most over-rated lot in the world. Again reasons for this over-rating are political not professional. However, it would be prudent if senior army officers are not seen distributing ‘return fare’ among Tehreek-e-Labaik youngsters for prevention is better than cure. A floating hope of better Pakistan is tied to their conduct as well. Now we take on judiciary.
Independence is not privilege but responsibility. Rise of Judiciary as a state pillar and a powerhouse was overdue. Iftikhar Chaudhry’s dismissal and re-instatement was a misfire. Along came Panama and the opportunity to redeem. Judiciary was also given enough confidence to do their job judiciously. Judiciary, like Army is on course to make independent decisions. As the cliché goes, judiciary should speak through its decisions not through public statements specially when there is an active campaign in progress to malign judiciary. Likewise, trespassing in to other’s territory is not independence it remains trespassing. Judicial activism is on the rise but it should not crossover in to realm of executive’s domain. At this point in time, the focus should be to mature judiciary’s on procedures. What to talk to Supreme Court and High Courts, justice in lower courts in delayed and unaffordable. It is time to focus on judicial leadership in the pipeline enabling them to take judiciary to the next level. Happy independence to judiciary but the gravity of situation and onus of responsibility has to be understood for better tomorrow.  
Fourth and final powerhouse is all encompassing Executive of the country. In Pakistan, it is two in one because Legislator has opted to remain a quiet stooge of the Executive for its entire existence. Instead of holding separate identity and role in state power matrix, Legislator has gone missing in action. Instead of keeping executive in check, legislator has become its mistress. This is where central control of political parties becomes critical to power relevance of political leadership. Only if legislator breaks the shackles and other institutions get strong legislative protection to perform nothing stands between this nation and success. For polarization among media houses, political maturity of Army and newly found independent identity of Judiciary, space on stereotype politics is shrinking. Personality based politics is also getting out of fashion. Narratives will not sell the merchandize anymore. Clean politics will be the only way forward and woes of MQM contain signs for the rest the pack as well. Institutions if strengthened can make this country a formidable force.  
Sun of hope is shining in the distance and few of its rays are visible now. Writing is on the wall for change in the fortunes of this country. It only seems like a matter of time.
Only Allah knows the whole Truth.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Shrines, outdoors and malls

In small towns and suburban areas, people would flock to the shrines on Thursdays and other days they thought were sacred to visit such places. Not only men but women and children would also pay visits in numbers for prosperity and contentment in their lives. Some would always have stories of how good omens at shrines changed their lives for good while others would persevere with their visitations in hope of hitting the jackpot someday. Whether fortunes change or not, shrines which are not easily accessible; offer an opportunity for an adventurous day out.
This Sunday, while going for a hike on Trail 5 with my boys, the scenes were reminiscent of shrines. The parking was full to the hilt. The trail track was loaded with people of all ages. The kind of rush one sees at Bari Imams and Hajveri shrines.

Track leading to Wali Kandhari shrine in Hassan Abdal
Not making a case to visit outdoors instead of shrines. Because, shrines are outdoor and some are located at relatively difficult locations to reach out to e.g Baba Wali Kahdhari’s shrine is at the top of a mountain in Hassan Abdal. I remember visiting the place as a child and thoroughly enjoying the adventure that came with it. If we relate the shrine going culture with outdoor trends like hiking, trekking, hunting etc; outdoor activity is common in both. People of all walks of life like to go out in leisure time particularly places closer to the nature. Besides, women who perform household duties for six days a week deserve a let out, may it be a visitation to a shrine which normally involves dressing up, travelling, shopping and eating out; all good for a change and normalcy for next six days in the house. And if 'Malangs' at shrines get a little high, it does not take away anything from the those good men in graves nor those simpletons who visit shrines out of affinity or habit.
The thread of thoughts today does not really stop at shrines or outdoors rather at the new plague in town; the malls. It is worse than visiting shrines or outdoors but it is fast becoming a lifestyle. Big malls like Dolmens, Packages, Gigas etc are capitalist fortresses.
The Packages Mall, Lahore
The mice traps that only have bad effects on human economy and health. Firstly, controlled temperature is a curse. If one temperature was good for human health, God would have done just that.  However, everything comes at a price; with single transaction on a mall you start paying for the controlled temperature costs. Secondly, there are no stairs for healthy people only escalators or elevators for which you pay with every transaction at the mall. Then the sky-rocketing goods’ prices, unhealthy food at food courts and inactive games at fun cities for kids are all rippers. They just rip you off of your hard earned money (if so) and may not have any healthy outcome for you and your family. Finally, it’s a vicious cycle, you get ‘tempting’ offers like membership cards, honey-trap discounts and fun city cards to return to the same mall and get ripped off again and again. Although, mall culture is here to stay with so many malls in the pipeline, yet the adaptation remains consumer’s choice. Consumers, however, are the best of the creations and can do better than mice.
We quite conveniently distance ourselves from anything conventional and readily assimilate and like to be associated with anything modern and upscale. If we juxtapose shrine visitation culture with the recently acquired culture of mall visitation, shrines beat malls by a mile. Because shrines are outdoors with ambient temperatures and without escalators. They offer low scale indigenous business activity, poor are fed for free and last but not the least, people return with hope, however, false it may be.
Bottom line is, if you can manage, go out and immerse in to the nature once in a while and stay away from malls because they do not add any value to your lives.

Only Allah knows the whole Truth.