An evening with the Oakville, Canada, PTI Chapter.

*An evening with the Oakville, Canada, PTI Chapter.

*Haider Mehdi*

Last evening I was invited by Dr. Samia the head of the local PTI Chapter in Oakville to share my thoughts on the current political situation, Imran and PTI.

Here’s the link to the talk with thanks to our wonderful hosts Mr and Mrs Burhan and Dr. Samia.

Apologies for the poor audio.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1557236861158790?view=permalink&id=2065130390369432

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi.

Some Pakistani TV Anchors: Monkeys with Machine guns!

Some Pakistani TV Anchors. Monkeys with a machine gun

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

I think many Pakistani TV anchors such as Arshad Sharif, Rauf Klasra, Abbassi etc and others who try to expose the ills of our society, are well meaning and keep people on their toes.

I think they’ve also done sterling work in exposing corruption and criminal activities.

But I also think they have gone grossly overboard and have no idea of the damage they inflict on their viewers by completely distorting issues and facts. Sometimes deliberately. Sometimes because they do not understand the art of anchoring.

There’s a huge difference in letting loose full-throated, highly subjective and very superficial opinions in a closed room social gathering vs sharing the same juvenile stuff on prime time, watched by hundreds of thousands.

They grossly lack training, understanding the role of the anchor and the actual art of anchoring, despite years in this business.

They are conceited, pompous, arrogant with inflated egos and even more inflated stupidity!

For them its all about “their opinions” their views” and they use the ownership of the mike to completely take over the discussion and out shout their guests.

For them it’s about generating as obnoxious a show as possible and deliberately berating and humiliating people to get higher ratings.

They don’t know how to question, nor do they know how to anchor.

The golden rule of anchoring is 20/80. Anchor speaks 20% and guest 80%.

In the case of Klasra and company its a show with just one perspective. Klasra’s. No one can question him. No one can challenge his rants. He just sits there mouthing everything that comes to his mind. Amir Mateen is much better.

Klasra is the classical sophisticated bhaand! Pugg uchaalo, muzza daykho!

Most of our anchors have very superficial insights of the subject and most times are usually ignorant and ill-informed. They do not research the subjective, do not offer tentative views and try to coax an answer and never attempt to also let audience hear the other side of the picture.

It’s their opinion or the onion!

On top of this they have very subjective opinions, a sharp tongue and a manner of questioning and offering their perspectives which makes a Lahori Badmash look like an angel!

They want to been as “tough guys” in the Tim Sebastian, Hard Talk mode, but embarrassingly expose their pettiness, immaturity and emotional imbalance and lack of upbringing and basic good manners.

While one can grill and, expose the guest’s double speak and ask the tough questions, but no one has any right under any professional journalistic training, rules, protocols to behave obnoxiously and become jury, judge and executioner and conduct a witch hunt they way Arshad or Klasra or their fellow Neanderthals appear to do.

It is embarrassing to see the quality of anchoring on display by these Idiots in the idiot box.

People like Arshad Sharif or Klasra have a highly inflated sense of their own brilliance and professionalism and clearly like the nouveau rich unable to handle their new-found wealth, these anchors and some others are unable to handle and deal with their public exposure and fame.

They begin to see themselves as the nation’s conscience guardians, which is extremely welcome but they do frequently fall flat on their faces, showing an uncouth, ill-mannered and highly questionable display of professional ethics and behaviours in the manner they go about their so-called business.

Their one-sided judgements, the manner of enquiry, the manner of questioning, whether against Nawaz or Imran or people they invite to their shows or others is deplorable, condemnable and shows a pettiness of mind, emotions and values.

They present half-baked rumours as facts. They present their own superficial opinions as deeply researched insights and most times as facts.

They present one-sided arguments as if it is the complete case and perspective.

They do not allow others to present their side of the picture and cut them off in mid sentence, using derisive language and derogatory tone and behaviour of a fish monger.

In a society with very strong libel laws, Arshad, Klasra and the like etc would either have been cooling their heels in jail or begging on the streets, having sold everything they owned to pay those they had public humiliated in their programs.

I look forward to seeing that day!

I don’t want to liken them to Monkeys with machine guns, totally out of control, but clearly they are making a pretty good effort to achieve that accolade and stature!

P.S.

Here’s how I interview. I have no formal anchoring training or experience but I do believe the art is in the questioning. And if I ever do join this “august” fraternity, I would like to develop my approach along these lines.

I wish we had a Charlie Rose (sans the groping scandal) 🙂

 

Why I still support Imran and think he’s our best hope despite his avoidable blunders

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

As I have always said we love to focus on the juicy peripherals.

Below the belt comments like Pinky peerni, lambasting him for his recent travel on a charter plane for Umrah etc are symptoms of this terrible malaise we all suffer from.

Sophisticated bhaands maquerading as anchors with overblown egos are having a field day, having a go at him.

One in particular, who I do like because he keeps everybody on their toes, has gone completely overboard by twisting facts and in his typical style has taken on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner.

But these are all non issues in my opinion. Embarrassing, yes. But still non issues.

Having said that, I must admit that Imran also doesn’t help himself.

He has this uncanny knack and impeccable timing and an amazing ability to do the perfectly wrong thing at the right time such as this Umrah flight.

Just the optics of travelling in a luxurious chartered plane are an eye sore.

Kumbukht PIA YA Saudia say chulla jaatha, even if he had justifiable reasons to travel with ZB on his plane.

Having said this also, I dont think he’s compromised in any way and is still our best hope.

Just wish sometimes he could just pay a bit more attention to the political fall out of such ill considered actions

Having said that also, here are the hard core facts.

1. He’s struggled for 22 years to reach this stage, with zero political capital, background or legacy. And yes he has compromised on the purity of his party realising that there was no other way. One hopes that the compromise is manageable. This only time will tell!

2. He has literally and singlehandedly by sheer force of undying effort given us three cancer hospitals and a world class university and was and still is able to convince people of his incredible financial integrity as they pour money into these institutions.

3. But for him, Nawaz would have gone away scot-free. Had he not done his November 2016 Dharna, the Supreme Court would never have taken up the case!

4. He refused close to 200 million pounds sterling as part of his settlement during Jemima’s divorce proceedings. If he was greedy for wealth, well there it was lying at his feet. Even the adjudicating British judge was taken aback at the refusal and had to ask him twice.

5. His financial integrity is impeccable. Accusations of ATM JKT and Aleem Khan are very targeted to attack his integrity, his greatest asset. JKT has been paid every single cent from party funds for the use of his plane. Every party has donors. Some huge. So does PTI. Does anyone seriously think a political party runs on air and a prayer? The question is will he allow these donors to take undue advantage when in power?

My considered opinion is that its about a snowball’s chance in hell.

6. He has a clear plan in making public sector institutions independant and free of political control and influence lead by competent and honest leaders.

7. He has vowed not to give a single paisa of development funds to any MNA or MPA. Everything through Local bodies and associated public sector enterprises.

8. He plans to give constitutional protection to bureaucrats so they cannot be changed like chess board pieces and work without fear or favor.

9. He plans to limit cabinet to policy making and legislatures to only legislate. Some aspiring legislators are in for a huge surprise.

10. He plans to make the police totally apolitical and all accountability institutions, strong, free of political control, so they can do their jobs without fear or favour, including haul PTI MEMBERS who deviate from the straight and narrow.

11. He is incredibly patriotic and won’t sell the country.

12. And unbelievably determined!

This is what gives me hope!

And if anybody can do the above, its him.

And if he cannot, well then its our tragedy. Because it will certainly be not for lack of effort or intent, but because the mafia like status quo forces were able to stop him, supported by many of us who have accepted the narrative of the likes of Nawaz Sharif.

And yes he is a maverick, occasionally puts his foot in his mouth, is arrogant and preachy and also makes some really dumb mistakes.

But I dont see any of these as being existential.

He is still our best fighting chance to get us out of the quagmire.

A personal view on award of Election tickets by PTI

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Imran knows that these elections are perhaps his last and best chance as a political leader to come into power.

And therefore he has to win at all costs and deliver on his promises.

I’ve always maintained that Imran’s bigger challenge is not winning the elections, but the subsequent governing of what Dr. Ishrat Hussain calls “Governing the Ungovernable” the title of his must read book.

Therefore PTI and Imran are awarding tickets to those candidates who they think have the best chance to win them a seat and get him and the party past the finish line.

In this list, while one finds some surprising choices, some dubious characters, ultimately, its about the assessment by Imran and his ticket awarding committee about which candidate has the best winning chances.

And in this assessment, clearly some compromises have been made. Some big, some small. Some really questionable people got through. A few I know personally.

But I also understand that in every case the person or group which got the ticket were more effective than the other group to convince the ticket awarding committee and Imran that their horse or mare had better chances of winning the seat.

It’s that simple!

And if Imran and their committee made wrong assessments, choices and decisions, then they have no one to blame but themselves. And consequently they will suffer the consequences of a wrong assessment and a decision, as we all do in our own lives.

Constituency politics is a mean, mean, mean and cutthroat business.

It pits children against parents. Siblings against each other. Families and friends against each other. The stakes, especially in rural constituencies are very high. Hence the battle to get a party ticket is vicious and severe.

There will always be winners and losers. And there will always be extremely powerful arguments for and against those who got the ticket and those who didn’t

And because I’m not a very insightful observer or participant of constituent politics, I will dwell no more on this and hold my peace.

Finally as we get to the last stretch.

Imran and PTI made some costly and embarrassing blunders in the recently concluded caretaker CM appointments.

It showed, thankfully, the weaknesses in the party’s consulting, feedback and decisioning processes.

I say thankfully, because hopefully he and his party have learned a painful but necessary lesson from these avoidable blunders and will take corrective action to set their house in order.

More importantly, going forward, Imran must give the people of Pakistan the confidence that he and his party are capable of good governance and good decisions as he moves from being a highly effective opposition leader to one with an effective and winning electoral engine and finally to governance and delivering on his promises, despite having questionable people as his party candidates.

He must clearly show that he is capable of dealing with the questionable electables, when he’s elected!

Having said that, personally and despite some reservations, their recent blunders and some questionable candidate choices, I will certainly and unquestionably still vote for any PTI candidate, irrespective of who he or she is, just to give Imran a fighting chance for Pakistan.

Otherwise folks as I’ve always said its back to the stench, stink and vomit of the Sharifs and the Zardaris, their unbridled loot and plunder and gross misgovernance and wholescale destruction of all our institutions.

And perhaps an existential threat. Foisting their completely incompetent children on us.

But If there’s any hope in rebuilding and strengthening our public sector institutions, it lies with Imran.

We’ve already seen what the Sharifs and Zardaris have done.

If there’s any hope of rebalancing the power balance between the military and the civil, it lies with Imran.

Not because he’s going to take the military head on as did Nawaz or try and “buy” them as did Zardari, but because he holds the best hope of strengthening civilian institutions and bringing them to their rightful levels of discipline, effectiveness and good governance, so that we are not constantly dependant on this one institution, the Army, to come and fix everything and in the process acquiring more and more power and influence.

The current imbalance of power in favour of the Army is extremely unhealthy and existential not just for the country but for the Army itself.

Nawaz has used this anger against military dominance in politics very effectively.

And the answer to correcting this balance lies in strengthening civilian institutions and not in weakening the Army.

If our police is effective we will see dramatic improvements in law and order and economic activity.

If we have effective accountability institutions which hold public office holders accountable, irrespective of party affiliations we will see many PTI legislators being hauled up and punished under Imran’s watch.

If we have public sector institutions headed by people of competence and integrity we will see dramatic improvements in revenue collection, health care, education, investments, job opportunities and all areas of public service.

If our public funds are not misused we will see visible symbols of growth and prosperity based on correct priorities.

If we have cohesive and aligned Economic, Political, Foreign and Military strategies and policies we will have internal and external cohesion and strength.

In a well-governed society with equitable access and opportunities to all, charlatans, bigoted mullahs, 5th columnists and Quislings cannot hijack the emotions of a society to serve their vested interests.

The likes of Khadim Rizvi, Fazal Diesel, Achakzai, Asfyandar Wali, Manzoor Pashteen, Altaf Hussain will never thrive in a well-governed society. They thrive on stoking the emotions and fears of people who have been misruled and misgoverned and denied their rights.

And if we are governed well, we have a fighting chance!

In my personal experience in change management across 44 organizations, including one major public sector entity, I’ve seen that a competent leader appointed to a position of authority gets like people, changes processes and achieves great outcomes.

In Pakistan institutions like KP police, Motorway police, Traffic Wardens, NICVD in Karachi, Urology clinic, 1122, IBA, and many others are some examples of amazingly well run public sector institutions.

Islands of excellence in our rotten public sector!

People change behaviour based on the context and environment they are put in.

Take for example the dramatic change in people’s behaviour from the fish market of Lahore airport to the quiet disciplined lines our own fall in at Dubai airport in a span of less then 2 or 3 hours. A miraculous transformation!

Or take the incessant honking and weaving and mad driving and full throated curses on GT road and compare it to the seat belted, speed limit serene disciplined drive, on the Islamabad Lahore Motorway. As the barrier lifts to enter the motorway, angelic transformation takes place. Seatbelts on. 125 kms max speed. Indicators to change lanes. No honking. And the devil overcomes us as soon as we leave the motorway at the other end. Miraculous transformation in 4 hours and back to chaos!

Imran plans to change the context and environment to change our behaviour and especially of the MNA’s and MPA’s.

For example;

He plans to make all Public sector institutions fully autonomous and independant with empowered boards, through executive fiat and by changing their rules of business, or through acts of parliament or presidential ordinances, freeing them from government or political control or interference.

This includes the police and all key institutions like NAB, FBR, Utlities, PSO, PIA, PTV, FIA, SECP, SUIGAS etc

He plans to bring back security of tenure for public servants so they are not changed like chess board pieces and hence can administer free of political influences and pressures.

Only policy making will vest with cabinets.

He plans to devolve administrative and financial powers to highly empowered local governments to ensure money is spent on local projects. No national or provincial legislator will be given developmental funds.

He knows that only by taking financial temptations away from elected legislators will he succeed.

His model is very similar to the governance model and legislators of the west.

1. Independent, autonomous governance bodies headed by competent people, to deliver public services

2. Legislatures only to legislate.

3. Cabinets to only make policy

These western democracies realised that politics and governance if mixed leads to corruption.

Remember nothing and no person is perfect.

No one is! Not Imran! Not anybody!

But we have to work with what we have and for me, despite everything, Imran still holds out the best fighting chance to unleash our potential as a great nation and do the things listed above!

Only time will tell.

But we have to give him the chance and the opportunity for the sake of Pakistan, ourselves, our children and our future.