“Ambivalence” – An interim perspective on PM Imran Khan’s performance

“Ambivalence” – An interim perspective on PM Imran Khan’s performance (published on 07 Dec 19)
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Not sure if there’s such a phrase as positive ambivalence.  Something bordering on lack of clarity with some glimmers of hope. Or negative ambivalence with confusion wrapped in pessimism!

Been back and busy seeking insights, views, opinions, perspectives from a wide cross section of people.  Politicians from across the spectrum, members of our rich, corrupt & spoilt elite, crony capitalists, comrades in khaki, business people, social activists, technology gurus, serving and retired bureaucrats and that most important stakeholder, the salt of the earth, the person on the street. So has anything changed for the better since I was here 6 months ago?

And that’s where the “ambivalence” comes in as I attempted to seek answers. Has PM Imran, finally come of age?

Does he now understand the science and art of governance enough to provide the kind of leadership expected from a PM? The kind of leadership that goes beyond long lectures and motivational talks during cabinet meetings. Is he less stubborn around issues which bedevil even his closest advisors and confidantes.  Buzdar and Firdaus Awan being two such enigmas.

 The former in whose hands lies the political fate of Imran and may I daresay the future of what may be our best fighting chance for our country. Or Firdaus, a face that “turns off a million TV sets”. Somebody who does an outstanding job, much superior to anything Ahsan Iqbal and Maryum Aurangzeb  can ever do, in destroying Imran’s and his Government’s image.

Is he beginning to make the right people choices in appointing quality people, at least in positions over which he has total discretionary powers? Or is the cronyism we’ve seen in some cases of appointing friends to head crucial government bodies coming to an end with horror stories of one such crony usually found inebriated night and day? Or putting square pegs in round holes.

Will his flagship programs like Ehsas for poverty alleviation, Naya Pakistan Housing, Kamyab Jawan, and the most recent one on Digital Pakistan be game changers, or flashes in the pan?

I attended the last event and expected a bit more, beyond the rhetoric of a Digital economy, which for the last decade or so is fairly common knowledge. When are we going to move beyond the *”what is the problem”* to *”here is how we’ll fix it”* or better *”here’s how we’ve fixed it”.* Has Imran seriously begun to look at the negative impact many of his cabinet members have on his and his Government’s image? Is he serious in bringing sweeping changes and bring better people from his party into the cabinet? Is he becoming more statesmanlike or still stuck in his Dharna mode?

Are we seeing a tapering off in the angry, harsh, conflict laden rhetoric that he employs in his various speeches or is it becoming more shrill, negative and counter productive, which he thinks plays to his constituents? Are we seeing any early signs of green shoots after nearly 17 months in power? Are the economic and business indicators of reduction in the current account deficit, fiscal deficit, increase in exports, a rocketing stock market, Moody’s outlook change from negative to stable, Internationally a “buy” advice on the Pakistani Rs, with anticipations of a stronger Rupee in the forthcoming quarters, harbingers of a genuine recovery based on strong fundamentals or are flashes in the pan?

Has governance in Punjab and KP improved?

In 17 months have we seen any structural changes and improvements in health care delivery, in the manner in which the police deals with people, in quality of education, in the judicial system, especially the lower judiciary? Is there any evidence of improvement in government processes resulting in more efficient and effective delivery of public services? Does the common person feel any change? Any change, at all! Will Imran’s latest experiment in Punjab, as I’ve heard, of handing over pretty much all administrative and executive powers to the newly appointed Chief Secretary and IG, be successful in improving good governance in Punjab?   And will he continue in his stubbornness to impose Buzdar on a hapless, Punjab.

Is the tax reform resulting in behaviour change of people paying more taxes? The evidence says, yes!  Has political interference stopped or significantly reduced in the functioning of the police and bureaucracy ? Has the Zardari / Nawaz culture of friends and family members accompanying state delegations on foreign visits stopped, especially to China? I’ve seen disturbing evidence of such people accompanying the PM to China. Perhaps without his knowledge or perhaps with!

Do we see conflict of interest involving his cabinet members diminishing or do foreign firms find partnering with commercial concerns owned by advisors and people close to him, the easiest means to land lucrative contracts? Will the new NAB ordinance change the way people are arrested, investigated, forced to plea bargain, simply to get out?

I’ve personally witnessed a horror story of a man arrested without any complainant, who is being forced to plea bargain, because there’s no case which will stand up in court, and because of the very large percentage of the plea bargain amount, which officially goes to NAB staff. Will we see more genuine accountability and less victimization?

Will we see less double speak from the Government’s anti corruption point person, as we saw in the recent £190 million funds transfer from the UK, where he desperately tried to whitewash, “Angel” Malik Riaz?

How will the recent run in regarding the Army Chief’s terms of appointment, extension, with the superior judiciary, pan out?  How has this impacted civil military relations and Imran’s ability to govern effectively? How badly has the Army Chief’s reputation and his office been affected by this event?  Is the entire military leadership on the same page with their current Chief?

Is it more of the same, with an odd good thing here and there or are we seeing a weakening of the status quo?

Finally the universal messages I received. He’s working incredibly hard. Harder than any other person in his team! Excellent!  The question is. Is that enough The bigger question is. Does he have a team that can deliver?

In my humble view, Pakistan’s and Imran’s biggest challenge is still “Governance”. Nothing else.  We have to get the right people, make correct policies, fix processes. But as one senior government functionary told me, hitting me with an uppercut.  “Haider it’s easy to write analytical articles sitting comfortably on the sidelines and something entirely different to be in the arena!”. I agree. There’s much merit in what he says and perhaps also some merit in an armchair analyst, like me, asking questions to gain insights.

I also agree that the entire system is polluted and changing it is a Herculean task! And that Imran has limited choices! But having said that!  There’s nothing stopping Imran to up his own game and even more importantly bring in a much much better team, to give Pakistan a fighting chance!

All we wanted and still want from him were and are two things. Meritocracy and appointing the right people in the right places to deliver good governance.  For this ask from him I don’t have to be in the arena. All I have to do is look at the people he’s surrounded himself with! For these two things, he alone is responsible and answerable! Meritocracy and the right person in the right role!

This is what he promised. This is what he must deliver. 

CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto”

CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto” (published on 26 Nov 19) By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

In my view and in the larger scheme of things and in the long term, the SC temporary suspension, highly contentious and suspicious, of the COAS extension notification, is a good thing, whatever their motivations. This order will certainly give rise to highly polarized views, great confusion and insecurity and conspiracy theories of attempts to oust PM Imran and weaken the Army and a treacherous stab in our efforts to come out of our current mess.

Many are aware of my perspective and very strong support for the military in its efforts to help rebuild civilian institutions and my considered view that it will take time for their footprint to be reduced and that it will not happen, overnight. But I have also maintained that PAKISTAN can only develop if its civilian institutions begin to assert themselves and in so doing send signals that the influence of the Army and its senior leadership beyond their mandated role, has boundaries.

I do not believe the CJ is trying to upend Imran or bring down the government or has been “bought” by Nawaz etc.  But the timing of this “suo moto” is very awkward and looks extremely suspicious, especially given that he’s rarely taken a suo moto. He denies that it’s a suo moto.  But it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck.  It’s clearly a duck or a suo moto!

And if ever there was an opportunity for a suo moto, then it was to stop Nawaz from traipsing off to good old London land, after the Punjab High Court allowed him to do so or in the least maintaining the Rs. 7 billion bond

While CJ Khosa is not anyone’s hand maiden, nor is he up for sale and is an extremely tough guy, my only question is “why now” and “why this issue? This has certainly cast a huge shadow around him! His recent public spat with the PM, does of course put a huge and serious question mark on the “objectiveness” of this order, coming at this time.

Having said that, I was always against the extension, and in my most recent commentary had requested the Chief to ride away in the sunset with dignity and grace and at the peak of his success. Were that to happen and a new Army Chief appointed, it would be good for PM Imran to focus even more on rebuilding civilian institutions and not have to rely, as is the perception, on one particular individual to plug in where needed, and lull him into a sense of complacency.

If there’s a new Army Chief, even he will and should extend full support of the institution to him and his government, wherever needed and required. And required it is!

Therefore, in my opinion,  this suspicious short order suspending the extension may actually turn into a good omen for Pakistan, long term!  Many will disagree and see this as a dark conspiracy against PM Imran and weakening the Army and an extension of 5th generation warfare against the State.  I don’t. I actually see this strengthening him and the civilian executive

And even if the suspension is withdrawn, a warning shot has been fired across the bows indicating no individual is omnipotent and that due process cannot be flouted. And if I were Gen. Bajwa, given this temporary suspension and even before its withdrawal, were that to happen, I would decline the extension and, like I said earlier, ride away into the sunset, with grace and dignity and the satisfaction of having done an outstanding job.

But the question of “Why now” and “Why this” will forever haunt CJ Khosa’s legacy and his motives, given that he’s picked at a “procedural lapse” at a time when the petitioner wanted to withdraw it, and unilaterally converting it into a suo moto! Had he taken it up, as a suo moto, say, on 22 August, 2019, no one would have questioned his motives!

Another mystery in our never ending conspiracy theories.

The “Insider Crowd”

The “Insider Crowd”

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi (originally published on 18 Nov, 2019)

So there’s this amazing group of people, all pretending “to know” having the “inside story”  on what’s going on in Pakistan. Boldy they claim to have been informed by “someone” who is an “insider.”  Often this implies a senior politician, a cabinet minister, a senior bureaucrat, a High Court or Supreme Court judge and that clincher of all clinchers, a “very senior serving military general” and one that even tops that “a senior officer from Aabpara”.

I became acutely aware of this sickness in the last 5 years as I ventured into the shark infested waters of political activism. Especially last one year when I was active in Pakistani media. Mainstream and Social Media have unleashed this cruel monster of unbelievable pathetic political discourse and opinions which haunts Pakistan 24/7. Pseudo analysts like me and pretentious TV anchors, sit on top of this dung heap, attempting to bless their highly questionable narratives with this “stamp of authenticity” of getting it from an “insider”.

Flaunting words like “Pindi” “Islamabad” “Boots” “Aabpara” tapping their shoulders to imply military rank etc. Their statements usually start with a phrase ” a very senior person told me…..”  Many amongst us are victims of the massive power of Social Media to build completely fake narratives, mixing half truths with outright falsehoods and pressing our political, religious, ethnic hot buttons, to power a very believable perspective.

Then we have these legions of politicians, business people, serving and retired bureaucrats, retired military officers who meet the same people saying the same things everyday in the same clubs (Sind Club, Boat Club, Karachi and Lahore Gymkhana, Punjab Club, Defence Club, Islamabad Club, Press Clubs etc etc). Please excuse me if I’ve missed your club. These people, after hearing the same thing over and over again,  actually end up believing what they’ve been saying to themselves and to each other.

One person, a highly successful businessman,  in particular continues to share his “inside nonsense”  with me, despite having been proved wrong every single time over the last 5 years.

Such is the power of a false narrative and how intelligent, educated, successful people can lap up this gutter crap! Not surprised this happens. Just look at Trump’s America. 97% of Republicans still believe he’s a great guy!  So why wouldn’t people in Pakistan lap up this garbage about Nawaz and Zardari being innocent.  That Bilawal and Maryam are great leaders. That the Army is calling the shots and Imran is a puppet.

But there’s a more dangerous crowd!

Today a large group of  people, with seriously dubious credentials and  backgrounds and integrity, credibility and ethical issues, have somehow catapulted from nowhere into a positions of influence & wealth, which itself is highly suspicious and are at the forefront of spewing this nonsense. You usually find them projecting themselves on Social Media, rubbing shoulders with power brokers, politicians, government officials, worming their way into military circles and portraying themselves as “insiders” with high level contacts with “Pindi” etc.

These types are very dangerous and most subversive because they deliberately use their platforms, forums, groups and positions to sow dissension, create confusion and spread fear and negativity.  Many are ripe to be turned by foreign intelligence agencies because of their clout and influence, their absolute absence of patriotism and their lust for wealth!

Then we have this smirking, smug, patronizing group of intellectuals, social activists, many still waging the “Cold War” against “Zia’s Army” and still not understanding that this is not your Dad’s Army.  That the institution is changing and will continue to change as civilian institutions become stronger. This group fails to understand that the shadows of 33 years of military rule cannot be undone in a few years. And that the rape, loot and plunder and near total destruction of civilian institutions at the hands of ZAB, Benazir, Nawaz, Zardari, will not be fixed in a few years. That Imran is hamstrung by a near bankrupt economy a devastated public sector, an incomptent and corrupt bureaucracy, an entrenced elitist mafia which is fighting back.

That change will take time!

So here’s the list of things I’ve heard in the last 5 years.

1. Zardari will be President. Deal done with Gen. Bajwa.

2. Shahbaz Sharif will be PM. Deal done with Gen. Bajwa.

3. National Government for 3 years. Gen. Bajwa will head it.

4. A coalition government with Zardari as President and Imran as PM. Gen. Bajwa has agreed.

5. The Army will never allow Imran to become PM.  “They” are scared they won’t be able to control him.

6. Gen. Bajwa is Nawaz’s man. Just wait. Nawaz will never go to jail.

7. Saqib Nisar is Nawaz’s man. Just wait. Nawaz will never go to jail.

8. The Army installed Imran. Just wait and see. (Wait for What?)

And now.

9. Imran is a puppet. All decisions are made by Gen. Bajwa.

10.  Fazlur Rehman’s Dharna was sponsored by the Army. Just wait and see.

11. The Army has decided that Imran has to go. Just wait and see

12. Finally. “Pindi” facilitated Nawaz’s departure. ( Seems it was true)

Well folks here are a couple of things as an “outsider”.

There is no “They” “Pindi” “Boots” “Aabpara” “Military Establishment”.

There is just one guy! Yes! One guy! And he’s called the Chief of the Army Staff. What he says, goes! Period! And today, that guy is Gen. Bajwa.

One may have views about him, but from what I know and see, as an outsider, three things about him are absolutely crystal clear.

1. He believes in civilian supremacy and authority. Not now but ever since he was a young officer.

2. He has ZERO ambition to control government policy or take over.

3. Imran trusts him and both have a very strong personal and professional relationship.

 Imran has actively sought his and the Army’s help in rebuilding civilian institutions and providing interim support till these institutions become strong. Those who know Imran will vouch that he will never ever play second fiddle to anybody. He would much rather resign and leave.  Those who know Gen. Bajwa will vouch that Gen. Bajwa is genuinely and passionately committed to civilian supremacy and overlordship and will never overtly or covertly attempt to exercise control. He will only do what he’s ordered and asked.

Despite the fact that one wants the Army to reduce its footprint and influence, it will take time as they remain visible in helping build civilian institutions. My only plea to Gen. Bajwa. Do not allow corrupt serving Generals to go unpunished.  This is your Achilles heels. We must understand that the corrupt, elitist mafia that has reigned supreme in Pakistan is fighting tooth and nail to survive.  And their two biggest enemies and targets?

1. Imran and his reform agenda.

2. Gen. Bajwa and the Pakistan Army.

So their best strategy is to malign and bring into disrepute both individuals and their efforts. Hence my unsolicited advice to Gen. Bajwa.

There’s still time to not accept the extension even if Imran insists.

You’ve played an excellent innings. Leave at the peak of your career with honour, grace and dignity. Let the system continue. This will also take the wind out of every argument labeling Imran a puppet of the Army and Gen. Bajwa and the Army calling the shots. The Army has to make up for its sins of omission and commission. It is responsible for our state of affairs today and these corrupt politicians. Your not accepting the extension will be one such atonement!

Not that it will stop the Pakistani version of the “Trump” supporters to come up with something else.

A Final comment!

Every single time I’ve asked these “insiders” to name their “Pindi” source or other sources, the answer, vast majority of the time without fail is “Oh I can’t disclose it”. And the reason they refuse to share is because there is no insider source!  It’s the echo chamber echoing the same garbage!

People of Pakistan be careful. This is The Battle for Pakistan and our future.

Nawaz Sharif’s Departure – The “Death” Word…..!*

Nawaz Sharif’s Departure – The “Death” Word…..!*

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi ( this article was  published on 11th November)

While the Nation awaits whether Nawaz will fly out on Monday or not, or will the Mulla blink, a much bigger tragedy may unfold.

The tragedy is not the one defined by Nawaz Sharif’s brown nosing, spineless courtiers and vested interest driven supporters, of a “critical ill person” desperately needing expert medical intervention in foreign lands!  No, the tragedy is not even that between him and his brother, in the 35 odd years that they exercised power, these two vulture like robber barons couldn’t build even one outstanding medical institution to treat him in Pakistan. Even with the trillions in public funds they had at their disposal.

And guess who built three with people’s donations?

The tragedy is not that a blackmailing self styled, despicable, graceless, machavellian Mulla, can talk about destroying Pakistan and paint a grim picture of killing and violence and death, sitting in the comfort of his sofa while his ignorant, illiterate, misled supporters freeze in the cold.

The tragedy is not that a thirty something good for nothing pretentious molly coddled kid can be foisted to head a political party, simply because of biology and have educated, literate segments of our so called liberal intelligentsia look up to him as a beacon of democratic credentials.

The tragedy is that our educated and aware will run down our Army. They will criticize and demean any and all efforts to change this putrid status quo. They will support corrupt looters and plunderers like Nawaz, Zardari in the name of supporting democracy.

The tragedy is that unless we completely revamp our electoral and governance model to allow a much higher quality of educated experts and specialists to enter our legislatures and high public office, we will continue to witness the aforesaid.

And clearly the bedeviling question is the “How”. Our current environment will never allow and should not allow any sort of military or quasi military, autocratic intervention to “reform” our political order.  No. We do not want a “National Government for 3 years”. None of that nonsense.  No we certainly do not want an overt or latent behind the scenes military dictatorship leading to fascism. They have failed and will fail again. Guaranteed.

How do we then get out of this mess, without resorting to extra constitutional measures, which will set us back several decades. So hence the cul de sac!

In my view, the answer to revamping our electoral process, our politics and our governance model lies in good governance and in using the current system to uproot it. This includes, very importantly, reducing the military’s overwhelming footprint, and near asphyxiating strangle hold on our society!

The answer likes in strengthening our civilian public sector institutions, by appointing competent leaders at the helm, meritocracy, strong sustainable organizational processes and procedures and massive use of technology.

This is not easy, given the total mess left behind, the whole-scale destruction of our civilian institutions and now, Imran’s and his team’s, inexperience, ignorance, incompetence and arrogance!

However, as Imran grows in his role, begins to understand it better and masters the art and science of governance and public service, his decisions and the consequential outcomes will hopefully and progressively improve and have improved.  We do see some green shoots of some good work put in place. Economic indicators, Tax reforms. Poverty alleviation.  Its not a huge lot. But still something noteworthy, indicating we are directionally on the right path.

But the common man has yet to experience the benefits of Imran’s Naya Pakistan, currently reeling under inflation and a slow economy. This is crucial if he is to succeed! In my view, Imran’s faces two challenges. His weak team which he must fix. CM’s Buzdar and Mahmood are two of the most visible and sore examples of this!

Imran, whatever his justification and his own reasoning, in stubbornly sticking to his Buzdar decision, one being that he doesn’t want to repeat a KPK Khattak, is totally and completely wrong in continuing with Buzdar.  But there’s another threat that he fears.  If Buzdar goes, his Punjab and perhaps even his federal hold ends. But Buzdar is a disaster! Period!  And Imran does not have time on his side to continue with this failed experiment. Certainly not in Punjab! So he has to wither up his own game to start delivering in Punjab and or compromise with power brokers and get a better person on board!

Then we have the many questionable characters in his cabinet.  Advisors, special assistants, hangers on etc, some with serious issues of financial integrity and facing serious charges of corruption. He just cannot afford this confederation of the corrupt and incompetent dunces around him!

Externally, he faces the forces of a corrupt rancid political status quo and a degenerate plutocratic, kleptocratic order. Today, represented by the likes of Nawaz, Zardari, Bilawal, Fazlur Rehman, Asfandyar, Achakzai, Siraj Ul Haq and those like them. All desperate to get rid of him as they see in him the potential to destroy a political system and gravy train, which gave them access to political power, wealth and Influence.

This we see in Fazlur Rehman flexing his muscles.

In the manner the nation is being deliberately divided by spewing venom and hatred against the Army, because the Army, read Gen. Bajwa, is fully supporting Imran in strengthening civilian institutions and in breaking the stranglehold of the corrupt status quo mafia on every aspect of Pakistani society.  This is a battle which will determine our future. And a battle we must win*

If Imran,  were to prevail over his challenges, both of getting a better team and overcoming the forces of status quo, then over the next several years, our public sector institutions will begin to deliver outcomes, especially to the economically challenged segments of our society.  We should then see improvements in healthcare, education, employment, justice, law and order, social and economic equity, poverty. We should see transparent and authentic accountability across all sectors. We should see the beginnings of what will eventually become a professional bureaucracy.

A huge win will be a surging economic engine, delivering higher GDP, more taxes, more jobs, increased exports and raising our standards and quality of living, especially of the poor! It will also deliver an economic surplus and break the chains of indebtedness to foreign countries and institutions. It will safeguard us against external machinations and conspiracies to keep us weak and unstable and poorly governed.

This is what can and will happen if Imran succeeds.

And it this massive reform agenda that the status quo is targeting with a vengeance, especially so the common man does not get relief and will come out on the streets.  But and this is where the battle is, were Imran to succeed by the time the next elections come around, the masses will vote him in with a massive majority.  It is then, that Imran using the mandate he receives, changes our electoral and governance models!

This dear country people is how it should happen and will happen. It is this which keeps Nawaz, Zardari, Bilawal, Fazlu, Asfandyar, Achakzai their courtiers and vested interests, the elite of Pakistan who have looted and plundered at will, awake at night and soil their clothes!

Imran’s success in delivering good governance is our only way to transforming our society. He must, must, must fix his team. And the Nation and all its institutions must support him!

This is for us, for our children, for our future! This is not about our politics, our political party, our baradari or our selfish economic interests.

Hence the  “D”word about Nawaz’s Death. Death is in Allah’s hand! The issue is not whether Nawaz lives or dies. Or whether he stays or leaves!  Or whether his illness is really life threatening!

The real issue for us is that our current electoral, political and governance system must be totally destroyed and uprooted so people like Nawaz and Zaradari and their children cannot loot and plunder at will and when caught, still manage to fly away to live and die in comfort and luxury !

Nawaz must not be allowed to leave (unfortunately he was)*.  He must get his treatment here in Pakistan, unless our laws allow every convict, who can afford it to get bail, to go abroad for medical treatment.  The hypocrisy and double standards of many members of our Superior Judiciary, adopted in this case, is nauseating! This is not being cruel. This is being fair and just. Let Nawaz be treated by a system he ruled over for 35 years.

But, this terrible system must be destroyed and uprooted, if Pakistan is to survive!

More critically, Pakistan cannot afford Imran’s failure!

The Day of The “Diesel”!

The Day of the “Diesel”!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

As the political temperature rises and falls in Islamabad, there is still confusion, ambiguity, ambivalence, perhaps even a fear of violence and unrest as a result of an intemperate action by Fazlur Rehman or his cohorts.

That Fazlur Rehman is way over the line. Any line, is absolutely clear!

Whether its political, moral, ethical, electoral or diesel, it’s not even worth repeating, how wrong he is in what’s he doing.

Or how wrong he is in attempting to blackmail the country, peace loving citizens, the government, Imran, the Army, with his implied threat of unleashing his goons and hounds on Islamabad!

I don’t think there’s anybody who actually likes him!

His political allies don’t, but they know he’s useful in bringing people on the streets, which none of them could.

And he’s also consistently blackmailed them with his half a dozen or dozen or so seats!

Nawaz and the PMLN, the most aggrieved, don’t like him, reluctant fundamentalists, them, but they go along, hoping his anarchy may save them!

Nor does the PPP like him! PPP is a party most at risk and tottering on disintegration as the Zardari / Faryal hold weakens and the Bhutto magic fades. And Bilawal continues to make a fool of himself, embarrassing himself and others and Pakistan, as soon as he opens his mouth, to try and emulate his grandfather’s demagoguery.

But, sadly, making a pathetic spectacle of himself in attempting to be seen as a firebrand political leader.

I shudder to picture what international leaders think as they see our political stalwarts brown nosing and sucking upto this thirty something, whose only claim to fame is biology!  From what we know he’s not done a day’s honest labor on his own merit, or has any other accomplishment to his credit, academic, professional, political or any other!

Hmmm! Well perhaps? But let me not go there!

Perhaps his only other claim to notoriety, is knowing the details of all off shore bank accounts left by his mother and his father, where the siphoned off corrupt booty is stashed!  Allegedly the one other person, other than Asif Zardari and Bilawal, it is said, who has most of that information is Monsieur Rahman Malik! It is also said by many, that NAB may uncover some interesting insights were the “Honourable” Rahman Malik saheb receive an MBS type “hospitality” shakedown for some days and nights!

But I have lurking and sad feeling that Mr. Malik may perhaps be “working” for some “people” and hence walks free! And unbeknownst to Master Bilawal is reporting everything to “them”! Even his highly questionable actions on the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, haven’t caused him grief!

So he’s clearly got someone looking out for him!

But really it’s a national tragedy that Bilawal can become a leader of a major political party.  But a bigger tragedy is how he is propped up by his courtiers, so they can continue to remain politically relevant and leech off and ride the political gravy train.

Tragic and shameful that many educated and aware people amongst us actually believe that Bilawal is a political leader.  As tragic as those who suck upto Maryam and Hamza as heir apparents!

And our biggest tragedy?

While one can forgive the ignorant, the poor, the exploited to fall into believing that Bilawal, Maryam, Hamza etc are political leaders, but the educated and the aware?  The less said the better!

 And that, dear Pakistanis, is our biggest political tragedy!

And the PPP is also in a quandary.  It is most at risk of losing power in Sind were they to fall into Fazlur Rehman’s trap of resigning from the assemblies.

And then we have Diesel’s other allies! Die hard secularists and leftists in bed with him!

What a horrible sight! All pretence of political values thrown to the winds as they publicly exchange vows, hugs, embraces and who knows what else!

Look at “Brave” Asfandyar Wali Khan, who “didnt” run away, when the going got tough! (He did!)  Himself another symbol of this terrible hereditary political order or moroosi siyasat, as we call it in Urdu, leeching off his Grandfather’s legacy, as did his father, Wali Khan.

And not to be forgotten that Bacha Saheb, his grandfather, opposed Pakistan, was a Leader of the Indian Congress Party and till his death never accepted Pakistan and asked to be buried in Afghanistan.

He and his supporters did not participate in the referendum for Pakistan because, they objected that it did not offer them any choices of either declaring themselves an independent country or join Afghanistan.

While he acquired significant political stature and was known as the Frontier Gandhi etc, the reason to share these facts is not to belittle him but to illustrate his position and views about Pakistan. A political legacy inherited by Wali Khan’s NAP and Asfandyar Wali’s current ANP!

It is no secret that the NAP under Wali Khan openly and continously advocated an Independent Pashtunistan and also had very close ties to India.  It is not commonly known that the ANP under Asfandyar Wali, tried to Trojan themselves into creating near anarchy and civil war, through the PTM. Mohsin Dawar, the PTM leader, formerly being their Youth wing, President.

This is how PTM was able to draw all these crowds. it was mostly the ANP rank and file. A dupliticous and most dangerous game they played!  Finally when confronted they had to kick out Bushra Gohar and Afrasiyab Khattak, two senior ANP leaders, who were openly supporting, siding and were seen at the forefront of the PTM!

Or take Achakzai. Another Fazlu supporter.

 Another symbol of hereditary dynastic politics living off his father, Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai’s legacy, another Congressite who also never accepted Pakistan!  Achakzai was also at the forefront of supporting the PTM, not for their rights but their ability to create anarchy.  When this great so called “democrat” acquired political power, amongst his first acts was to get his brother appointed, Governor, Baluchistan!

And our good old Fazlur Rehman? Another symbol of hereditary politics, living off his father’s legacy, Mufti Mahmud. As legend has it. Even his father was very vary of Fazlur Rehman’s shenanigans!

It is commonly said that as CM of Balochistan, Mufti Mahmood had publicly informed and advised his entire cabinet and the bureaucracy to be careful of Fazlur Rehman and to immediately bring to his notice any attempt by Fazlur Rehman to use Mufti Mahmood’s name for any financial or political gain!

So there you have it!

Really no one likes Fazlur Rehman!

But all have been blackmailed by him as a result of his political strength emanating from his father’s legacy, now diminishing, plus the petrodollar largesse to his party and madrassahs to counter Iranian influence, now also drying up.

Internationally he had no qualms sucking up to the then US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ann Patterson, swearing utter loyalty to the USA, in exchange for being appointed PM.

What a guy! What a guy!

And all these tricks, got him 17 odd years occupancy of a cabinet minister’s house and the Chairmanship of the Kashmir Committee which he fully milked with foreign junkets and privileges plus cabinet slots for his brother!

One could go on and on, endlessly, to describe his “virtues” and of those whose cause and survival he’s fighting for. Other than his own, of course.

But to the current situation!

Fazlur Rehman, in my view, because of his ability to get several thousand fierce looking, stick brandishing people in Islamabad, is spearheading the  desperate and hopefully last ditch attempt of a deeply entrenched exploitative and corrupt system, represented today, most visibly in Pakistan, by the likes mentioned earlier.

But here’s the roll call again, lest we forget!

Sharifs, Zardari, Bilawal, Maryam, Hamza, their families and their infamous courtiers.

And the so called secular left.  Achakzai and Asfandyar, and others like them and then finally the obscurantist religious right of the likes of Diesel!

Let us be very clear, my dear country people! These people and the forces and political interests they represent are the remnants of centuries of despotic, exploitative, extractive rule by small groups of elite.

Plutocrats, kleptocrats, foreign invaders, military dictators, imperial colonists, religious charlatans, especially those who purveyed religion and their souls for political power. Fazlur Rehman belongs to this last category.

In recent times, rapidly joining this exploitative elite capture of Pakistan are our bureaucrats, our businessman and traders, our Army and Police, the lawyers mafia and the entire judiciary, and tragically, our media as well, especially media owners and most TV anchors.

They have all milked, raped, looted, plundered and exploited this wretched nation at will! Without exception!

But my harshest criticism is for our so called liberal intellectuals who’s anger, venom and bile against the Pakistan Army is more akin to Modi’s, and who do not understand that this is also an institution in transition as we are a nation in transition.

That this is not the army leadership of Gen. Zia or even that of Gen. Musharraf but of an avowed believer in civilian supremacy and democracy and the constitution. Gen. Bajwa.

I could be wrong and he may be hiding his Bonapartist intentions well, or he may have changed his views, but I’m fairly certain I’m right about him and his democratic credentials.  And in any case any Bonapartism overt and covert will not last in today’s Pakistan

That our so called intelligentsia must understand that the only way to decrease the Army’s massve footprint and overbearing influence is by strengthening civilian public sector institutions and not supporting crooked criminals and looters and plunderers like the Sharifs or Zardari and others.

That Imran, whether you like him or hate him, is still our best fighting chance to break this terrible status quo in partnership with Gen. Bajwa!

That despite his many follies, early foibles & inexperience and some questionable team appointments and political compulsions, Imran is still the man we need!  I have a whole laundry list of issues against Imran, but the more desperate I see the opposition become, the more militant Fazlur Rehman’s calls,  the more I’m convinced that Imran beginning to crack the foundations of the old order!

That by supporting the so called democratic system, which in fact is a monarchical political order, these so called liberals give oxygen to these corrupt forces represented by the Sharifs, Zardari, Bilawal, Asfandyar, Achakzai.

They do not understand that they are consciously destroying any fighting chance Pakistan has to be rid of this evil, putrid, rancid order, which has sucked the lifeblood of the poor!

And it is my considered opinion, that in a manner of speaking, Gen. Bajwa may perhaps do a “Gorbachev” not in presiding over the disintegration of the Army as an institution, but in ensuring that civilian institutions are strengthened, meritocracy prevails, civilian supremacy is regained and the Army’s influence and footprint considerably reduced.

But let me also add!

It will take a decade or more of continous civilian institutional rebuilding, a new electoral and governance model, before we stop seeing and hearing sermons from ISPR or hushed whispers about the DG ISI running his own circus, etc!

And more importantly seeing an Army Chief, firmly under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence and not a supreme power unto himself.

Where corrupt generals, serving or retired are also put in chains, deprived of rank and privileges, sentenced to class C jail and not side kicked into lucrative appointments to head civilian institutions!

And if Gen. Bajwa is reading this, he knows who I’m talking about!

But, and as it should be and as we see in all first world countries as well, the military and security establishments will always be an extremely powerful force and voice in matters of national security and national power!

But today we cannot wish away the Army’s massive footprint.

33 years of military rule and a decade of quasi will not vanish overnight! Unfortunately, yes, unfortunately the Military is today our only functioning institution. In a perverse reversal of fortunes, PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa may be presiding over the baton change as Gen. Bajwa uses the military to strengthen civilian institutions.

Some may find this hard to believe, but if ever there was a chance towards civilian supremacy, it’s under Gen. Bajwa.

And if I may hazard another intuitive thought.

I believe never has a time been more opportune to revamp our political and electoral process to get rid of the current fossilized electoral system, hijacked by these kleptocrats to be replaced by one which engages subject matter experts and specialists, who otherwise would never make it to parliament or to high public and policy making office to handle the most complex art of political governance in a highly complex, technology driven world.

And also never has a time been more opportune to revamp our judicial system, especially our Superior Judiciary, who allow criminals to go free, using the letter of the law and sadly, also playing god!  It is this destruction of the current order and privilege and elite capture which everyone fears!

The desperation is very high. The stakes massive. Financial, political, social power, all up for grabs.

Were Imran, despite his own struggles and challenges, succeed in uprooting this putrid status quo and rid our society of its elite capture, it is clearly the end of the road for these guys and these institutions in their current shape and form.

And it is in that context that we must view the antics of Fazlur Rehman and his comrades in arms and why they are so desperate to get rid of Imran!

Is Fazlur Rehman dangerous? Is a cornered animal dangerous? Is a rotting order seeing its destruction, dangerous? Yes!

So will he go all the way or slink away? My sense of the man and his history says, he may slink away. But looking at the stakes and the fact that these guys may be finally put to sleep, the chances are that Fazlur Rehman may go beyond his usual blackmailing and brinkmanship!

I’m not a soothsayer and can’t say what will happen! But I can hazard, what should happen!

In my humble opinion, the Diesel has had his day in the sun. This is now the time to take him on, fully and without fear! His bluff or his act must be called.  It may result in violence or may not. But the Mulla has to be put down, politically, once and for all times to come! Were he to walk away today with some sort of a victory or even a draw, or even some egg on his face, to fight another day, he and the forces he represents will be further emboldened. It is a tough call to take him on or call his bluff!

But if Pakistan has to be saved and given a fighting chance for a better future, we must finally rid ourselves of these vermin. This is our only option! No pussyfooting and no compromise!

And it is the only way to also defend ourselves from the conspiracies of foreign powers like the USA or India and others who would love to keep us continuously unstable, weak and nuclear defanged and not allow us to unleash our potential and use people like The Diesel!

And Fazlu seems to be  playing their game! If I were PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa, I would ensure Fazlu has had his final day in the political sun!

This is what I would be planning to execute!

Yemen’s Deafening Silence

30th Nov, 2019- Yemen’s deafening silence.
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi
The UN fire and Brimstone speeches were silent on one of the biggest human tragedies taking place in Yemen.
All those who so righteously railed against India for their atrocities in Kashmir and rightly so were convenient silent on Yemen.
Especially the 3 leaders of the Muslim World, Imran, Erdogan and Mahathir.
While one highlighted the hypocrisy of the world in turning a blind eye in Kashmir for economic interests, the same person turned a blind eye in Yemen for our economic interests and even traveled in a plane offered by the person who instigated,  initiated and is directly responsible for this horrifying blood bath.
Selective morality, Selective outrage, Selective values,
Total Hypocrisy.
Here are the horrifying numbers of tragedy since it started in 2015..
91,600 killed including 12,000 civilians. As per ACLED.  Armed Conflict Location and Data Center
49,960 wounded, including 10,768 civilians.
3,154,572 people made refugees. UN report
84,701 children died of starvation. Save the Children report.
*Children of a Lesser God?*
Be ashamed! Be very ashamed