Nawaz Sharif -Traitor or Trader?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

There’s a famous dialogue attributed to Abu Sufyan in the movie “The Message” when he refuses to re-attack the Muslim forces who had defeated the Meccan hordes at Oudh. One person asks him…”What about your honour Abu Sufyan….?”

Abu Sufyan responds, pointing to the loads of merchandise on the camels

” …..My honour lies on the backs of these camels….”.

While the movie perhaps fictionalizes the account but what it shows, even from our own Islamic history how wealth and its singleminded pursuit can overwhelm the entire being of a trader or a business person.

Abu Sufyan and the merchants of Mecca, whose leader he was, were not as much concerned about the new Message brought by our beloved Prophet PBUH, but were more concerned about the loss of business and income due to homage people paid to the many deities and the associated power and influence, if people bought into the Prophet’s Message of Islam!

And such is the power of wealth that these Meccan merchants, were very soon able to regain and grab power immediately after the four Rightly Guided Caliphs.

They then transformed this great Spiritual, Social and Economic revolution into an authoritarian, autocratic, imperial, monarchist version of Islam, vestiges of which we still see in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain etc.

Kindly do not read any hidden sectarian agenda in this. The objective is to illustrate how quickly the forces of wealth were able to overturn the pristine Prophetic Message, destroy the State of Medina, which was subsequently attacked and significant portions burnt and razed to the ground, as was done to the Kaabah, by Abu Sufyan’s grandson, Yazid ibne Muawiyyah.

This historical battle between the forces and interests of big business, traders, merchants and rights of the weak, the exploited and the disenfranchised has continued since a merchant made their first profit, exploiting the weak!

Even though the line between the two frequently overlaps and gets murky, but their main narratives support these agendas.

Big business has its political parties.

For example, Republicans in the USA, Conservatives in UK and Canada and closer to home the PMLN.

Nawaz Sharif represents nothing but the singleminded interests of a selfish dukaandar, an evil merchant and a corrupt businessperson, whose only god is wealth. To him anything in the way of his wealth is an enemy. All business people of course are not evil.

And, thanks to the “illustrious upbringing” by his “pious father”, he learned that there were two ways to business success. Buy them. Bribe them, and if all else fails, fight them.

Nawaz is now in stage 3 of his battle to survive. Fight those who stand in the way of his wealth!

Here it’s also important to understand the man and his upbringing.

Nawaz was brought up in a house of traders and businesspeople. All he saw and participated in, growing up, was the wheeling dealing of his dad, Mian Sharif and his uncles. Daily, he and his brothers witnessed their father bribing and buying his way to business success. He and Shahbaz were both instruments of this wheeling and dealing, delivering bribes and hush money on behalf of their father.

And one can see how Nawaz has inculcated these terrible values in his own children, Maryam, Hussain and Hassan.

People close to the family describe how Nawaz was never trusted to do these acts alone, because his father didn’t think he was competent or trustworthy enough, so somebody always accompanied Nawaz in these unholy acts. Frequently it was Shahbaz. No wonder that Shahbaz used this learning to build his own huge empire

Nawaz was the family’s “failure”.

Considered a good for nothing, except chauffeur his father’s friends and business associates or senior bureaucrats around in their Mercedes. He wanted to become an actor and was given under the tutelage of Rangeela the actor/comedian. Rangeela had to embarrassingly admit failure. Nawaz loved uniforms so was made an honorary warden, uniform and all.

Mian Sharif kept him close to his person, lest he cause problems in the business and hence didn’t give Nawaz any independant role in the family business. So much so that he had instructed everyone in the business to not carry out any instructions issued by Nawaz, unless he, Mian Sharif, cleared them.

But everything changed when Gen. Jilani arrived on the scene and the rest is history.

Nawaz’s selection and appointment as Punjab Finance Minister by Gen. Jilani is still a great mystery. The version from someone who had worked very closely with Gen. Jilani is unspeakable.

But clearly one must question, what was it about this family that Gen. Jilani chose to ignore the many other brilliant business people and families in Lahore and Punjab and pick this village idiot?

Clearly it wasn’t Nawaz’s “brilliance”. Nor was it Mian Sharif’s wealth. So why?

Clearly someone very close to Nawaz had an inordinate amount of influence on Gen. Jilani to make him agree to this choice. And this I will leave at that!

And moving on.

Till Mian Sharif was alive, everything that Nawaz did was under his instructions. As Finance Minister. As Chief Minister and as Prime Minister. Everything. Government appointments, postings, transfers. Loans. Money was made with abundance and used in abundance to get and buy political loyalty.

By the time Mian Sharif died, he had created a mafia like organization around Nawaz with the likes of Ishaq Dar etc to ensure continuity of this bribe and buy model.

Fast forward to 2018. Nawaz is disqualified for life. His entire empire and political future in potential ruin. A long jail term likely, alongwith Maryam. A Supreme Court that cannot now be bribed or bought as he did, by buying Saeed uzzaman Siddiqi and an Army that he really has never been able to bribe or buy.

So what are his options?

Fight and attack both these institutions. First the Supreme Court and then the Army.

He has attempted to fully exploit the military’s Achilles heels, their Martial Laws and some of the catastrophic outcomes of their rule. And he has gained traction and many willing ears from three segments.

1. Those whose business interests and politics are directly or indirectly inextricably intertwined with his, and fear their death if he goes.

2. A die-hard core of supporters, mostly from central punjab, who finally see a rare punjabi as a political leader.

3. Those who have an almost pathological aversion and dislike for the Army because of its history of Martial Laws, militarism and authoritarianism. This is a strange group in many ways. They willingly, despite being aware of Nawaz’s criminality, support him because in their opinion, he has stood up to the Army. They are the same people supporting the Pashtun Movement, not because of their grievances, but because the PTM roundly abuses the Army. More on them in another article.

But in his desperation to save his wealth and survive, I think Nawaz went a bridge too far with the Mumbai attack statement.

So clearly he did what he learnt growing up. Buy. Bribe. Fight. A true Trader!

But is he a Traitor? Depends on what definition we apply.

If it means someone who clandestinely and in secret, joins hands with an enemy and works against the interests and well-being of their own country, then I will hazard a qualified yes.

I say this because of stories of handing over a document to Jindal which supported India’s Kulbushan case in the ICJ. Not condemning India on Kulbashan. Private meetings with Modi and Doval.

If it means someone who openly through his actions and words works against the interests and well-being of their own country, then its an unqualified yes.

Nawaz has looted and plundered this country with abandon! He has destroyed all its institutions, except two. He has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy!

And in his final act of treachery and desperation to save himself and his wealth, blamed the State of Pakistan and its institutions, of supporting terrorism!

If this alone is not treachery, then what is?

We must not pretend to be hypocritically nice and socially or politically correct to say the obvious!

Nawaz Sharif is a traitor to Pakistan! He is no valiant gladiator standing up to the Army! The sooner he’s gone, the better for Pakistan!

It is people like him who destroyed the State of Medina!

-Haider Mehdi

Insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviours (Alcoholics Anonymous)

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Our core issue, now nearly a cliche, is good governance.

Good governance comes through people with competence and integrity and policies and processes which deliver it, especially processes and institutions which deliver public services, as well as hold public administrators, both political and administrative, accountable and answerable.

The most potent are our legislatures.

Our dilemma is that the pool from which our legislators are elected and chosen comprises corrupt and incompetent people.

Our electoral process recycles the same garbage over and over again.

Occasionally an urban voter makes a wise choice. Not the rural voter, victim and hostage to a baradari, feudal, tribal system of patronage.

Our only option is for a change in our electoral system and our form of government which allows competent people to occupy positions of policy making and governance at the highest levels.

Alcoholics anonymous, famously describes insanity as “expecting different results from the same behaviours (read same politicians and administrators)

Imran Khan will also have a tough time delivering good governance as he has to chose from the same gutter, when elected.

He may achieve some success in appointing honest and capable people to positions of authority in the key 24 or 25 public sector institutions and simultaeneously strengthening the institutions which hold the politicians and public servants, accountable. But a challenging task!

Long term, in my oponion, we have to change our electoral system and form of government, to allow people of integrity and competence into our legislatures and cabinet.

For the former a start is in a system of proportional representation which allows people of ability to get into our legislatures without going through the hustings.

Not ideal, because patronage will still play a part. But many good people will come in. Its like diluting a jug of dirty water with infusions of clean water till we have reasonably clean water.

No system is perfect. Our choice is to select the one whhich gives us the greatest chances of success!

For the cabinet, in my opinion, a Presidential system is far more aligned to our needs, where a directly elected President, and likewise elected Governors, can pick non elected, competent people to their cabinets.

This is similar to the USA model!

And whenever we tried it, under Ayub, Zia and Musharraf, unfortunately all Military dictators, we had the highest economic growth and relatively much better public service delivery.

The system was clearly effective, except it was tainted by authoritarianism and the many ills associated with it.

In a democratic Presidential setup with highly potent and effective institutions to hold leaders accountable, this system will flourish.

The election must cater to the smaller populations through a system of weighted average, ensuring an even playing field for the smaller provinces.

And to limit the influence of individuals, Presidential and Governor terms be limited to a maximum of two.

The question is how?

To me the only answer is either an overwhelming vote gor Imran to bring about these changes.

Or a recourse to the Supreme Court, under a fundamental rights constitutional petition, which states that the basic fundamental right of every citizen is to expect good governance and equitable opportunities of safety and security, healthcare, education and employment.

That this fundamental right is not available under our current system, hijacked by a small coterie of politicians.

That this has grossly weakened our institutions and the State resulting in an unhealthy imbalance of power amongst key institutions, especially the Army and the resultant conflict and Martial Laws.

The Supreme Court today, like it or not, under its CJ is, in my opinion, fighting a tremendous battle to rid this country of corruption and the politics of patronage.

But, I’m afraid, unless and until we have deep reform, all their efforts will go in vain, despite their best intentions.

My fear is if that if we do not change this system to ensure good governance and equitable opportunities for all, we will continue down our slippery slope to much greater anarchy.

We eill continue to be hijacked and held hostage by the likes of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari and the system and values they represent.

And God Forbid fall victim to the desires of our enemies. Within and without.

And Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are clearly ones, within

Pakistan cannot continue to afford the severe body blows of abject misgovernance and massive loot and plunder as manifested by the Sharif and Zardari regimes.

In a worse case scenario, we may even have another praetorian intervention, which in my opinion would be an unmitigated disaster, perhaps even fatal for Pakistan.

Therefore a vote for Imran, in my opinion, is really a vote for a change in our system and the hope and promise of better, brighter future for Pakistan.

No guarantees. But our best fighting chance!

*-Haider Mehdi*

Gen. Bajwa’s silence on the NSC PRESS RELEASE !

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Khaqan Abbasi is a wily character. A bureaucrat, who worked closely with him says…” he’s a very cunning man, uses his soft demeanour to trick people in agreeing to him…in cabinet meetings he slyly gets his agenda through, and people dont even realise he’s making a “Mamoon” out of them….” he shared some more interesting details how Khaqan manupulates everyone around him, including his cabinet colleagues.

Apparently he used the same ruses to make a fool out of the NSC and has done a “Mamoon” on the Army Chief by distorting the NSC press release, stating that the committee condemned the Indian media narrative and not Nawaz Sharif’s statement!

Hats off to this Thund Abbasi from Murree. No wonder there’s a boycott Murree campaign!

So do we see another “it is rejected ” tweet from the DG ISPR, or silence?

My sense is that while the Army high command, especially Gen. Bajwa, must be smarting in the manner they’ve been made a fool out of Khaqan Abbasi, is now treading very carefully not to get into the same mess that he did, following the it is “rejected tweet” after his post Dawn Leaks meeting between Gen. Bajwa and then PM Nawaz Sharif.

Then, he was reported to have been incensed at Nawaz Sharif’s about face from what had been agreed to in their private meeting on Dawn Leaks.

So why the silence? Why has the Army not clarified that the NSC unainimously condemned Nawaz Sharif’s statement and not what that wily fox, Khaqan Abbassi is making it out to be?

The answer lies in two things.

One. The Army has learnt a lesson from its embarrassing “it is rejected” tweet by the DG ISPR to not get into a public media spat with the civilian government and get a large segment of society gunning for them for exceeding their mandate.

2. Gen. Bajwa is a much wiser man and knows that he and the Army are being deliberately baited to take an anti Nawaz position, publicly, and thereby provide more oxygen to Nawaz’s anti military rhetoric and move the focus away from his corruption!

He also knows, as we all do, that Nawaz is fighting a battle for his survival. Economic and political. If convicted, the liklihood is that he will eventually also be deprived of his wealth.

This is Nawaz’s worst nightmare. Because he knows that once deprived of his wealth, his political death is certain!

Therefore, however much Nawaz attempts to muddy the water and obfuscate the real issue of his corruption, money laundering and ill gotten wealth, by his inflammable and inflammatory, anti military narrative, his conviction is on the cards.

So why should the Army intervene in any form or shape and be baited?

Its been 10 years since Mumbai!

For 10 years we’ve had civilian governments. The former Army Chief, Raheel Sharif, if anything, was totally aligned to Nawaz, despite the media hype.

He owes his current assignment in Saudi Arabia to Nawaz. The evidence of Maryam’s and Nawaz’s involvement in Dawn leaks has mysteriously disappeared from the records of the security agencies, both military and civilian.

Later, Bajwa was his handpicked Chief. An avowedly anti martial law advocate since his younger days. He was a very strong voice against any form of Army intervention during the 2014 dharna days and was removed from his Corps Command assignment, and posted to a “khudday line” post by Raheel.

If this odious man, Nawaz and his brother had governed well, not resorted to unbridled corruption loot and plunder at will, there wouldn’t have been any Panama.

Panama is not a military establishment conspiracy against Nawaz. His corruption was uncovered by an International consortium of journalists.

As a senior PMLN leader told me recently *Ubb yay Fauj ki conspiracy ka Nawaz Munjan nahee chullay ga. Nawaz bohath khatharnak game khayl raha hay, aur mulk ko soch sumujh kay dabonay ki koshish kurr raha hay, upnee jaan aur maal buchaanay kay leeyay*

Here is the fundamental, irrefutable fact. The overwhelming evidence to date is that Nawaz is guilty of corruption, money laundering and ill gotten wealth. He will and should swing from the gallows, political or real, because of his own actions. Not because of any conspiracy by the military.

Therefore, I think Gen. Bajwa is wise in swallowing his pride, accept that he was out maneuvered, and outfoxed by a cunning Khaqan Abbassi, made a “mamoon” and keep quiet.

Nawaz, as we all know, is sliding down a slippery suicidal slope, and hopefully for the sake of our country, will fall on his own sword!

Nawaz Sharif has over reached in his desperate attempt to stave off his inevitable conviction for corruption and his ultimate political death.

But as we get closer to his conviction, Nawaz in his desperation, will willingly put everything at stake, including the country!

So expect a drowning Nawaz to take many others down with him! Even attempting to grievously harm the country!

*Haider Mehdi*

Supporting Nawaz Sharif. Rooted in historical thought and mindset! A short note!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

With apologies to my Punjabi friends as this may hurt.

But to understand why Nawaz is still supported by a large number of people from Punjab, its important to understand some aspects of our dishonourable past.

This is the slavish thought which allowed foreign invaders to loot and plunder this land for thousands of years. From Alexander to the British.

For letting a small minority of 17% Sikhs lead by an illiterate and one eyed Ranjit Singh lord over a geography comprising 70% muslims, predominantly Punjabis.

Its the same mindset where Ranjit Singh’s army comprised a majority of Punjabi Muslims and converted the Badshahi Mosque into the Royal stables and munitions dump, guarded by punjabi muslim soldiers of the Khalsa Army!

The same thought because of which not a single punjabi Musulmaan unit of the British East India Company mutinied against their British masters, when everyone else mutinied, including hindu units and joined Bahadur Shah Zafar in May 1857 to fight the British.

The same mindset where 3/4 of the British Soldiery comprised Punjabi mussulman soldiers who raped looted and plundered Dehli after it was retaken from Bahadur Shah Zafar’s forces in September 1857. And mostly muslim women were singled out for rape by their punjabi muslim brethren!

The same mindset which ensured British rule till 1947.

And tragically it is still this same slavish, servile, spineless, disgraceful thousands of years old mindset, which continues to support a deranged and, treachorous criminal like Nawaz Sharif!

The objective is not to malign the Punjabis but to understand, and hope that our most populous province grows a spine and some self respect!

Look how the Kashmiris redeemed their honour, laughed at for centuries with the “thupp see thay thuss kursee” slogan.

Punjabis, its time to redeem your honour!

*- Haider Mehdi*

P.S.
A link to a more detailed insight on the subject, written earlier, is also attached if interested.

Our legacy, our democratic credentials and the Storming of the Bastille – 14th July- 1798

Free advice and ground realities!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

People have tons of free advice and opinions to offer from the sidelines without understanding context and environment.

We want the world to operate the way our individual minds think.

We dont understand the challenges of the person in the field, in the trenches in the thick of struggle and battle.

We pontificate from the sidelines but are not willing to step into the ring.

Go in Sir. Go and join a political party and strive for change and you will see and encounter the challenges of even influencing change within the party, let alone the government or the country! Its a hard slugfest!

So either do it or shut up!

I support Imran not because he’s an undhay may kaana Raja, but because he is an exceptional individual who has achieved the near impossible in this baradari ridden, mafia controlled political status quo.

He came from nowhere to become, today, arguably the most popular political leader of the most popular political party.

He singlehandedly broke the stranglehold of the two corrupt mafioso like parties. PMLN and PPP.

He singlehandedly, despite opposition from his own advisors launched the Dharna and the 2nd Nov 16 protest, which eventually lead to the SC taking up the Panama case leading to Nawaz’s disqualification.

He has changed politics and given people hope.

His party brought significant change in KPK in its first opportunity to govern. Despite not being in the driving seat and having to work with traditional politicians like Khattak or complete novices in the KPK cabinet. Perhaps not as much as the free advice givers would want. But still substantial. And most importantly he tried against the odds and was still able to bring change in many areas!

He’s not perfect. Far from it. But he is exceptional.

Only a person with his resolve and determination and committment would have continued for 22 years, despite the challenges, the entrenched status quo of the corrupt, as well as his own blunders and mistakes.

But grant him this. That he has tried every possible political approach and has taken corrective action, cruelly termed u turns and learned from his mistakes.

It takes a great person of character to acknowledge one’s errors and learn from them.

Pakistan will not get another like him for a long time, if we miss this fighting chance to take Pakistan back from the criminal clutches of the Sharifs and Zardaris and their loot and plunder.

Our choices will determine our future.

Choose wisely!

Haider Mehdi

Pakistan’s Tipping Point!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Malcolm Gladwell in his seminal work defined “Tipping Point” as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold….”

He goes on to state:

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do…..”

If ever there was and is a tipping point in Pakistan’s history, then it is Imran’s 29 April Jalsa in Lahore.

Looking beyond the sound and images, the charged mammoth crowd, the symbolism of Minar e Pakistan and the post jalsa coherent and incoherent chatter, for and against, here is clearly a man and an idea who’s time has come.

One can go amiss and or overboard in one’s opinion, given the euphoria of the event.

Or be overwhelmed by the charisma of Imran himself.

Or the feeling and emotion that perhaps this event marks the start of taking back Pakistan from the clutches of its looters and plunderers.

But one thing stands out.

People desperately want change.

They came not for Imran but for themselves.

They and the millions who watched on televisions screens across the globe came and watched because they wanted a better, a brighter, safer, saner and an equitable Pakistan for themselves, their children and for their future generations!.

A Pakistan where public trust is not betrayed and mercilessly trampled in the name of “democracy or “sanctity of the vote”

Where the son or daughter of a poor citizen and the rich, privileged and powerful, both have the same access to equal opportunity of healthcare, education, employment, commerce, politics and all rights of a free and equal citizen, irrespective of cast, creed, sect, religion, race, colour or gender.

A Pakistan, as defined by that great leader, Quaid e Azam.

.”……You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State…..”

Simon Sinek, author of the runaway bestseller “Start with Why” says that ….”people are inspired by a sense of purpose….”

Narrating the event where millions came to hear Martin Luther King Jr he writes…

“…..And in the summer of 1963, a quarter of a million people showed up to hear Dr. King deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

But how many people showed up for Dr. King?

Zero.

They showed up for themselves.

It was what they believed. It was what they saw as an opportunity to help America become a better version of itself. It was they who wanted to live in a country that reflected their own values and beliefs that inspired them to get on a bus to travel for eight hours to stand in the Washington sun in the middle of August to hear Dr. King speak…..”

In exactly the same manner, the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Minar e Pakistan many travelling hundreds of miles, or the tens of million, who remained glued to their TV sets in Pakistan and across the globe, upto the wee hours of the morning, came and patiently watched Imran deliver his inspiring clarion call.

All came and watched for themselves, hoping and praying for a better Pakistan and to stop its pillage, rape, loot and plunder at the hands of the Sharifs and the Zardaris.

The time for Imran the man, and his idea of a peaceful, prosperous, equitable Pakistan, has come.

Its time to take back Pakistan!

-Haider Mehdi

Kh. Asif’s disqualification.

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

Behind the legal speak and the PMLN spin, also joined by guys like Hamid Mir and others, Kh. Asif was disqualified on two counts.

1. For deliberately lying, concealing and misrepresenting his residence status as a paid employee of a UAE based company.

Asif claimed that because he had attached his Iqama with his nomination papers, hence he was not concealing anything.

On this the court ruled.

*”Iqama is merely a residence visa issued by the immigration officials. In the instant case, the non-disclosure was that of the employment as an occupation and the salary per month received there under.”*.

2. For failing to disclose his salary of 50,000 dirhams and his bank account in the UAE. Asif claimed showing remittances in his nomination papers, and therefore did not conceal anything.

On this the Court ruled as follows.

*The lack of honesty was established by not disclosing the employment as an occupation and the salary received per month despite the vague and obscure amount of Rs 6820 million declared as foreign remittances having been specifically challenged. This would also apply to the non disclosure of the account maintained with the Bank of Abu Dhabi.”*

In summary the court ruled.

*”It is obvious from the facts and circumstances in the instant case that Asif had deliberately and willfully not disclosed his status as an employee of the Company , nor receiving of the salary per month pursuant thereto, despite having been expressly put to challenge by the other contesting candidates,”*

The court also noted that Kh. Asif being a lawyer was absolutely aware of this deliberate falsehood and concealment.

Kh Asif is unequivocally guilty despite the spin by the PMLN, that Botox trash Maryam Safdar and anchors like Hamid Mir, who lose objectivity, if ever there was any, because of his personal friendship with Asif. Bay painday ka Lota. Thaali ka baingan!

-Haider Mehdi

Pakistan’s democracy. Jithay dee Khothee Uthaay Aan Khalothee !

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

There’s a saying in Punjabi. “Jithay dee Khothee uthay aan khalothee”.

Loosely translated.The she donkey (or whatever one calls a female donkey) always comes back to where she started from. In more sophisticated terms its “back to square one”. Basically. No change!

Pakistan’s version of democracy is no different to this Khothee, aimlessly going round and round finally arriving back from where it started.

To move forward, Pakistan needs change as many of us know and want.

Deep systemic change which uproots the old order and brings in the new. Not just a cosmetic one with one bunch of looters and plunderers replacing the other.

Some misguidedly call for military dispensation or a temporary government of technocrats.

But the answer lies in neither, but in institutional reform under the due process of law and that willing handmaiden, the constitution, ever so often used and abused and or locked up, as the case may be.

But because our institutions are so weak, having been systematically debased, degraded, destroyed and debilitated by successive governments, both civilian and military, this reform cannot happen without getting rid of those responsible for this wilful destruction, and making it easy for them to continue their loot and plunder

Our electoral process recycles and elects the same trash and garbage, over and over again. Bhutto, Benazir, Nawaz, Benazir, Nawaz, Zardari, Nawaz. And interspersed by long periods of men on horseback, equally destructive. Clear?

So what now?.
A military intervention?
A short term non elected technocratic administration?
A combination of the two?

Or leveraging some of our strong institutions like the Supreme Court and the NAB, to start to drain the swamp, getting rid of and punishing the most powerful and most corrupt and strengthening key institutions like ECP, FBR, FIA, SECP, Police, PEMRA, Railways etc to give us a fighting chance. All within the law and constitution.

And that is why I fully support the efforts of the Supreme Court in bringing some order, some accountability to our mess.

Many have crticised the “Good Governance and Anti corruption” jihad launched by the Chief Justice. This would have been justified if we were operating in an environment where our public sector institutions of governance, administration and especially of accountability were operating honestly and as per their mandate.

But they’ve failed. No institution could punish Benazir, Zardari, Nawaz Sharif for their institutional destruction and wholescale corruption, loot and plunder.

Nor could they haul up people under military government and many made fortunes. Take the example of the Akhter brothers, Humayun and Haroon, sons of Lt. Gen Akhter Abdur Rahman, or Ejaz ul Haque, Gen. Zia’s son, or Ch. Qamaruzaman the former NAB boss, one time ADC to Gen. Zia. Or those who got a free pass out of jail under Gen. Musharraf.

And the many generals, brigadiers and other officers who’ve been graciously helping themselves.

And then who can ever forget the terrible and infamous Gen. Musharraf, NRO .

So clearly the military is not the answer.

While I have great respect for our Armed forces being an ex Khaki myself and their tremendous efforts in winning the battle against terror and militancy, military interventions are not and will never be the solution, despite the organization’s professional brilliance, discipline and relatively corruption free environment, compared to other government institutions.

Any hopes from another Military government are, to say the least, seriously misplaced. This is because all military governments or administrations, overt or covert, eventually truck with the same kind of people they came to replace. Zia, Musharraf. No change. In fact they leave behind a system and institutions, even weaker.

This happens because of two reasons.

One the military mind while operationally outstanding, operates in a binary of “us” and “them” or “friend” vs “foe”. You’re either “with them” or “against them”.

That’s the nature of military training since time immemorial and rightly so, because they are not trained to operate in shades of grey or ambiguity or uncertainty or compromise. So any person, group, institution who offers a contrarian view, automatically gets pushed into the “other” “enemy” “foe” or “they” camp. Not their fault. In their world you’re either with them or against them.

And people who do not like authoritarianism, will disagree with them, irrespecive of their good intentions or good work.

And this to me explains why many intelligent, educated and aware people will support a known crook and criminal like Nawaz as he cunningly crafted his anti establishment rhetoric, muddying the waters and trying to move the focus away from his own criminal acts, and pretending to stand up to militarism. This despite the fact that he sent over six emissaries to the army desperately seeking a bail out!

Secondly and more critically because they are operationally successful in implementing programs within their own areas of expertise, and observing the abject misgovernance in the civilian sphere, they mistakenly believe that they will achieve similar success when implementing programs in the non military sphere, operating outside their organizational structures, policies, procedures and systems.

This is where they fumble and flounder and finally have to seek support from the “civilians” and the “politicians” to help implement any change agenda.

There they find the same leeches who have stuck to them. Not the bright intelligent ones, who will challenge them and who’ve been thrust away. Honourable exceptions apart. And many honourable exceptions did one find during Gen. Musharrafs regime, especially his first 3 or 4 years. Otherwise tragically once more its back to square one.

So how does one use the tremendous organizational capabilities of a disciplined and relatively corruption free institution like the Pakistan Army in helping Pakistan reform? The Army is a reality in Pakistan. Its latent power and influence in Pakistan is huge, especially coming out of its highly successful war against militancy and terrorism. While technically the Army Chief is a grade 22 officer, subservient to the Minister of Defence, his office is by far the most powerful in the country.

What can and should the Army do to get us out of this hell hole for which it shares equal responsibility with the corrupt politicians?

In my opinion, two things.

Stand behind the constitution and law and support any institution like the Supreme Court and NAB and others who are endeavouring to create space and opportunity for institutional reform, holding the corrupt accountable and ensuring that honest and competent people are appointed to positions of power and authority in key public sector institutions.

2. Ensure that they support the Election Commussion to ensure elections are free and fair, as much can be, given the total hijacking and destruction of our electoral process.

And they MUST NOT tinker with the political process and try and influence the outcome!

Nor should there be any ham handed and stupid attempts at muzzling the press, as one hears nowadays!

A free press even if it runs wild is the greatest shield against unbridled fascism and authoritarianism.

So back to democracy! Many people are of the opinion that in Pakistan, “Democracy” will eventually evolve into a better form than before. I have a very strong opinion to the contrary .

Technically we’ve had “Democracy” in its current form since Gen. Musharraf’s 2004 elections. Since 2008, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have enjoyed and enjoy nearly as much absolute power as did Gen. Musharraf. Not a twig moves in the Federal and Punjab governments without the Sharif nod or the Zardari nod in Sind.

Yes we have the trappings of federal and provincial legislatures. These have hosted the august bottoms of the same people and families and mindsets since 1940 pre partition days. The only exception being the urban MQM, a party sadly tainted with horrible fascist crimes.

Has anything changed in Pakistan as a consequence of this more than a decade long “Democratic” period?

Are our national leaders less corrupt than before?
Has our law enforcement become better?
Terrorism apart, is our life, property more safe today?
Are our courts, both lower and superior judiciary, delivering better and quicker justice?
Are our government departments less corrupt?
Are public sector appointments made on merit on two fundamental criterion of competence and honesty?
Do we have better and more job opportunities for our youth?
Has our public health care system become better?
Has our public education system become better?
Has our economy grown ?
Have our exports grown?
Have our foreign exchange reserves grown?
Do people pay more taxes?

We live in a dream world of rose tinted glasses and a simplistic construct of “let Democracy continue and evolve.

Yes it must.

But then it must be democracy, a trust of the people, transparent, accountable and delivering good governance. Not a near total dictatorship disguised as a democracy as we see today. It must deliver growth and betterment to the questions asked above

Look at the election statistics. PPP got 13% of the registered vote to come into power in 2008 and PMLN 18% in 2012.

And they governed and govern as if Pakistan was and is their personal fiefdom.

Both parties have mastered the art of hijacking the electoral process through money, patronage and outright criminality called rigging. And then the audacity of foisting their children on this country as one does in a dynasty. Who is Bilawal? Who is Maryam? Who is Hamza? Little twits and nothings with absolute no right but their incident of birth.

Is this democracy?

Will we continue to pay homage to a twenty something twit Bilawal as our next “democratically” selected PM? or that trashy botoxed dumb blonde, Maryam in the same slot?

And their “courtiers” who’s only relevance is that they support such a dysfunctional order. This is no better than North Korea, or Saddam’s Iraq or our “brotherly” Muslim dynastic countries. But this is not democracy!

Gen. Musharraf was a military ruler and one in uniform, but compared to these two so called “democrats” he was far better, in both letter and spirit.

Did he ever try and push his children on us?

Did we not have one of the most effective local government systems under his watch?

Did we not have one of the least corrupt Government’s in his time?

I’m not here to sing his praises or defend him. He also has much to answer in areas of foreign policy, partnering with corrupt politicians, the whole post 9/11 scenario and perhaps the most unforgivable sin of not implementing deep institutional reform.

The last, more tragic, because he had the opportunity, the power and initially the whole hearted support of the Nation.

But in areas of governance, democratic practices, transparency, devolution of power to local bodies, and relatively less corruption, he comes out, smelling like a rose compared to Nawaz Sharif and Zardari!

So this is not “Democracy”.

Nawaz Sharif did not even pay token homage to the trappings of a parliamentary democracy. His record of attending the Parliament and the Senate is shameful. Shouldn’t he have gone to the National Assembly to make his position clear on the Panama Leaks and answer questions?

No. He did what a “dictator” does, hide behind a gentle camera and deliver a pathetic, embarrassing monologue of such juvenile logic that some senior members of his own party were reported to have thrown up! And now is out in the cold!

And trying to stir a near civil war!

So if we have elections again tomorrow and the silent majority does not vote, these criminals, looters and plunderers will come back in power. Not because they’re popular or they got the vote, but because they’ve captured the system.

Therefore cast your vote. Every vote counts and be very careful when you cast your vote. Each and everyone of us.

Look at your choices, Nawaz, Zardari and Imran. One would be daft not to see the obvious choice.

Yes we need an administration of honest and capable technocrats to get into positions of power and authority. Based on his track record, the only person who will appoint such people is Imran.

Get him in. The other’s we’ve tried and seen the outcome. Worst case scenario. Imran cannot be worse then the loot and plunder and the stench and vomit of the Sharifs and the Zardaris

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar is a God send! More power to him and his judicial activism. Either we let him drain the swamp, or wait for the men on horseback or slide further down into anarchy!

He has filled the vacuum created by the abject surrender of governance by the political order. Any vacuum will attract something to fill the emptiness. Thank our stars that he stepped ip to the plate and not the Military or anarchy and lawlessness!

And because of his activism, many others are showing spine.

Pakistan’s vector is heading north.

Please keep it this way.

Use your vote. And use it wisely!

The Hijacked Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement -PTM

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Interesting to see this emergence of PTM before our elections & especially when Pakistan is under constant USA pressure vis-a-vis the Taleban etc, an old mantra which has lost its credibility.

Clearly it is very well-funded and getting a lot of social media support from the usual suspects, Husain Haqqani, Mazdaki (Mohammed Taqi), Raza Rumi, Marvi Sirmed, ostensibly under the facade of “free speech” and “Pashtun rights”. But in reality pushing their “cold war” agenda of anti militarism, another dead dog, forward.

While many of the PTM grievances may be valid such as the large number of security checkpoints, midnight knocks, being subjected to what are perceived as highly unnecessary restrictions. But unfortunately these are an ugly and harsh reality of a geography which has seen war and violence for nearly 40 years.

Lest we forget, post 9/11, even the world’s so-called most vibrant democracy, the USA, has behaved worse than a Nazi fascist state in treating its own citizens and still do. As have others when they felt their security threatened.

I fully sympathise and empathise with those who suffer from the high handedness of the State. And only someone who undergoes the pain and the indignities, can understand what it feels being the victim of extremely harsh security measures. As do the youth of FATA.

Pakistan has been through civil wars and extreme violence and militancy in FATA and Balochistan. Unfortunately and as a consequence the landscape is not just physically scarred but also emotionally and intellectually, scarred on all sides. Including the State. Every shadow is potential terrorist, a suicide bomber. And then of course power also results in its misuse as well.

Clearly no one wants to live in an environment of constant surveillance, security checks, sometimes even being treated as possible criminals or terrorists?

But this is the unfortunate, tragic and sad part of our reality, and while I fully support every effort to normalize the lives of every citizen in our country and for the removal of this very harsh security blanket, we must also understand the rationale.

Several years ago, I remember coming from Dubai to Lahore, and just because my driver had a very long beard and wasn’t carrying his original identity card, we were stopped for three hours, despite my ex military credentials, till his brother brought his genuine ID card!

While this is nothing compared to the many indignities people in FATA or Quetta or other parts suffer, it manifests the paranoia of the State and their own insecurities and experiences where seemingly innocent people wreaked havoc!

Only with time and peace will things become more normal, and the journey has started.

But what for me is seriously questionable and extremely dangerous for Pakistan, is how the PTM has clearly being hijacked by anti state and anti army elements, using the genuine grievances of the people.

And what is also not clear is what this movement wants to achieve other than abusing the Army, shouting platitudes about freedom and “our rights”. There’s clearly much more to this movement than meets the eye.

Running the risk of being dubbed a conspiracy theorist, it does appears that the PTM, in some of its highly inflammable rhetoric, advocates what the USA, Afghans and Indians have been saying about Pakistan and the Pakistan Army.

And to me also offers them the perfect opportunity, to create dissension in Fata and KPK, and bring pressure on Pakistan and the Army.

Also not far behind are possibilities that local politics may also be fueling this.

Nawaz Sharif, ANP and the likes of Mahmood Achakzai have a lot to gain by the PTM stance of constantly abusing and attacking the Army and the State.

And the cherry on the cake is to divide the PTI Pashtun youth vote. Imran’s flagship!

One symathises with any beleaguered community, especially the residents of FATA for the hell they have been through and highlighting and complaining against high handedness by the state, which is every citizen’s right, more so if its outside the bounds of the prevailing law.

But Manzoor Pashteen must be careful that the genuine cause of the movement does not turn into an Army and state bashing exercise, hijacked by our enemies! He is either a willing co-conspirator or stupid enough to be used.

From what Ive seen, he’s far from stupid!

All the current signs tell me that its turning into something sinister. But I could be wrong!

For one, the language used against the Army gives them away!

Secondly I’m very wary when certain types of people begin to endorse any movement in Pakistan.

The final giveaway will be an International Conference!

-Haider Mehdi

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto -Part Devil, part Saint!

  1. By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

Bhutto was an enigma.

Brilliant and brutal. Part Saint, part Devil. Unfortunately the Devil won!

Inordinate ambition, a massive ego and the betrayal of his own political values got him the end he deserved!

Not for that crime of murder, but for the many unspeakable horrors he committed, especially on his own, like J A Rahim and Mairaj Mohammed Khan, and his political opponents like Mian Tufail, which cannot be repeated here!

He could have turned and moulded this nation into a great power but he couldn’t rise above his own terrible inconsistencies and his personal ambitions!

His politics were schizophrenic. His pendulum swinging from the man of the masses to a ruthless fascist dictator.

A flawed angel and a Devil incarnate, directly responsible for the breakup of Pakistan.

As Pakistan’s only Civilian Chief Martial Administrator, with one stroke of the pen on midnight, 1January 1972, he destroyed Pakistan’s economic engine, it’s educational system and it’s health care, by nationalizing all three.

And then the coup de grace in destroying the bureaucracy, which has since become the handmaiden of all administrations!

He set us back decades including, in my opinion, directly responsible for Zia’s takeover.

He was also cruel, sadistic, vindictive, unforgiving, petty and mean. Never forgot a slight. The last got him the gallows!

Brilliant he was, no doubt.

But not in the mould of great leaders, but that of a charismatic con man!

-Haider Mehdi