An evening with the Oakville, Canada, PTI Chapter.

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

*Haider Mehdi*

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

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

Apologies for the poor audio.

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

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi.

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

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. And unbelievably determined!

This is what gives me hope!

And if anybody can do the above, its him.

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

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

But I dont see any of these as being existential.

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

A personal view on award of Election tickets by PTI

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s that simple!

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

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

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

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

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

Finally as we get to the last stretch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islands of excellence in our rotten public sector!

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

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

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

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

For example;

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

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

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

Only policy making will vest with cabinets.

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

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

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

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

2. Legislatures only to legislate.

3. Cabinets to only make policy

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

Remember nothing and no person is perfect.

No one is! Not Imran! Not anybody!

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

Only time will tell.

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

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*

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

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!

“Damned if he does. Damned if he doesn’t”

Election results 2013. Nawaz 17% of registered vote. 83% did not vote or voted against him.

This is how these evil looters and plunderers get into power through this version of a sham democracy!

What amazes me is the narrative being promoted by Nawaz about “honouring the vote”. Not amazed at his propagation but its resonance in the ears of the educated and the aware.

If this version of a prostituted democracy, hijacked by a coterie of looters and plunderers is acceptable to us then good luck to Pakistan.

If some of us can accept these criminals who’ve done nothing but lined their pockets, then good luck to them.

If some of us are happy with a Nawaz Sharif, his brother, his family, his coterie of criminals to loot and plunder the national exchequer, money laundered 300 billion rupees, trying to foist a bimbo on us as his heir, then good luck.

He shamelessly purveys her in front of drooling crowds to save his wealth and politics. One wonders if these crowds would have gathered had either one of his two sons been doing the rounds.

This shameless woman, Maryam has the temerity to equate this evil man, Nawaz and her trashy character with Nauzobillah the Prophet PBUH and his daughter Bibi Fatima. She’s treading on very dangerous grounds. There are many today, who can and may do something that cannot be spoken here.

The real story behind why he was picked up by Governor Jilani is another very dark stain on this family’s character. Sufficeth. This whole family is shameless, devoid of self respect with serious issues of morality!

And these are the wretched we want as our leaders?

Or a Zardari, having looted and plundered at will as well and now attempting to foist a twenty something twit on us. Then good luck!

If some of us are happy with a Nawaz or a Zardari, who have both systematically destroyed every institution in Pakistan so that they and their evil coterie can continue to loot and plunder at will, then good luck.

Those who support these evil men are as guilty of their acts of commission and commission, as if they committed them, themselves.

They do so perhaps, either out of ignorance, or self centered vested interests. I can see no other reason.

If the former, then they are forgiven. If the latter then understandable, because they’re riding and eating and benefiting from the same evil gravy train of the Nawaz’s and Zardari’s of Pakistan and fear the end of this terrible status quo.

They will hit out, cry out, fight anybody and everybody who are battling these evils. Whether it’s the Supreme Court, or Imran Khan or the so called establishment.

They will pick at the soft spots in these three, higlight inconsistencies and their errors of judgement to try and destroy them.

None who support Nawaz or Zardari talk of the genocide of values these two evil men have wrought on Pakistan.

None of these laud the Supreme Court in bringing Nawaz to justice.

Not even acknowledging that he was and is corrupt and evil! But they pick holes in minutiae, nit picking laws, muddying the waters.

None admit that this man siphoned the taxpayers money out of Pakistan and ensconced it in properties and businesses abroad.

None question the whole scale destruction of our institutions by him.

Democracy they cry! What democracy?

A democracy which has made this nation poorer?
A democracy which has destroyed every semblance of good governance?
A democracy which puts Pakistan on top of the list of infant deaths?
A democracy which couldn’t provide education to its poor and exploited, giving rise to the thousands of madrassahs and all the challenges associated with it?
A democracy whose health care system is in tatters and yet these evil demigods run to London and the USA at the slightest sniffle!

Fie on this terrible perverted democracy!

Democracy means a system which vests those governing with the public trust. A trust which expects good governance, progress, development, better education, healthcare, employment, justice, security!

It doesn’t mean multibillion dollar projects which allow these snakes to siphon off tens of billions of the top!

To me the battle lines are stark and clear.

The battle is for the future of Pakistan and it’s people against the terrible evil, misgovernance and loot and plunder of the Sharif’s and the Zardaris who use the shield of a prostituted democratic order to save their wealth, their power and influence and to continue to acquire power!

This is a prostituted, cancer ridden version of a democratic process.

Unless and until we don’t have a system which allows people of integrity and competence to get to positions of governance, power and authority, it will continue to be hijacked by those with wealth, for whom the only value system is further acquisition of wealth and power and not the good of the people of Pakistan!

Our Electoral process, as it currently stands, cannot stop evil and corrupt people like Nawaz and Zardari acquiring power. This must be stopped. And the only way is for institutions to be strong enough to stop this rape, loot and plunder.

While the Supreme Court may be displaying activism of a sort that may not appear to many as fair, at least laud them for bringing a crook to justice, because all others failed!

Imran is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. His Senate play stopped a major and evil ploy by Nawaz. And he had to compromise with another evil to ward of the bigger evil!

When he doesn’t…he doesn’t understand politics…when he does…he’s sold his soul.

We pontificate from the soft recesses of our armchairs, especially mine and forget that he’s been in this game and in the trenches for 22 years. Has experienced and tried every trick in the trade, every tactic, every strategy to fight the status quo.

We forget that he has literally and singlehandedly broken the two party system. That it was his doggedness in the valleys of despair that kept the party going.

That it was his unrelenting and unforgiving approach which got the Supreme Court to take notice of Panama, otherwise It would have been buried in the dustbins of history.

We forget that despite his errors of judgement, by sheer force of his character and charisma he’s set up a university in a place where no one would set up even a goatshed! Where kids come from 54 districts and 95% are on free scholarships.

He’s set up 3 Cancer hospitals. He’s broken the back of the political mafia and made key institutions wake up from slumber.

We forget that this person, with all his faults, his inconsistencies, his errors of judgement, stands taller than Nawaz and Zardari!
And yet we petty things in our ultimate pettiness quibble over issues that are for want of a better word….petty!

I pity the good people of this nation who do not and cannot differentiate the good from what is truly evil.

Even a flawed Imran, and minor are his flaws, is a thousand times better then these evil people!

Choose your side’s carefully!

For all of us and our future generations will have to live with the choices we make today!
-Haider Mehdi

The Battle for Pakistan’s Soul!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

This story perhaps describes best what’s happening in Pakistan today….

……A grandfather tells his grandson there are two wolves inside us, always at war with each other. One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, love, honesty and good. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like dishonesty, evil, greed, hatred and fear. The grandson thinks for a second and then asks his grandfather, “Grandfather, which one wins?”

“The one we feed!” says the grandfather, gently!

One couldn’t help but think of this story, as the reaction, both for and against The Supreme Court decision, disqualifying Nawaz from holding party office, set social media ablaze.

Many who represent the so-called thinking intelligentsia poured scorn on the Judgement. Some calling it a Judicial coup. Others sarcastically and highy inflammably, questioning if Nawaz’s appointment of the Army Chief was also null and void. Many said this would further strengthen Nawaz. Some went as far as to say that this handed Nawaz the 2018 election on a platter.

But none of these good people of Pakistan for a second reflected and said that it was the absolutely right legal decision and it was the only morally correct decision.

None of these good people said. Bravo! Thank God, for once our courts had the spine and the guts and the chutzpah and the courage to stand up to the highest and the mightiest in our land, and say enough is enough and no more!

They did not say that thank God, even the most powerful in the land are finally getting their comeuppance.

They did not say that being elected to public office is not a license to loot and plunder at will, for over 35 years.

They did not say that a person who wilfully, consciously and deliberately, destroyed every institution in this country, except the Army and the Supreme Court, was finally being held accountable!

They did not say, thank God this man is being put away and we will be spared the possibility of his daughter being foisted on us.

They did not say that we are happy that the evil committed by our spineless, prostituted parliament to save a crook and a criminal, has been overturned.

They did not say that our high and mighty cannot get away scot-free, as they have done in the past. They did not say that finally Nawaz will be held accountable even if he was legally elected.

But what they did say embarrasses, humiliates and insults not just them or their so-called intellect and their families and the names they carry and the legacies they will leave, they also tarnish the name of other people of good sense.

But more importantly they blacken the Soul of Pakistani by feeding their wolf of evil, dishonesty and greed.

In their mindless, irrational insanity and anger for the Army, who they think is behind Nawaz’s ouster, they will support a criminal and a looter and a plunderer. And they will tarnish the Army, the Supreme Court and attempt to destroy Imran. His third marriage becomes a nuclear option. His Lodhran loss the devil’s dance around a sacrifice.

How low have they fallen?

What has happened to this society? What has happened to our sense of right and wrong? What has happened to our ability to differentiate good from evil?

By what value system can the good thinking people of this country support the loot and plunder of Nawaz and his rampant and wholescale destruction of all our institutions?

By what logic can people question the decision of the Supreme Court in disqualifying a person to hold party office if he or she is disqualified to hold public office?

While I admired Salman Akram Raja’s masterful defence beautifully articulating Nawaz’s fundamental rights, it was appalling to see how the whole moral edifice was being destroyed by this man! How Western concepts of fundamental rights were being offered to upend the highest moral code of all times. Truth and Honesty!

Pakistan’s battle for its Soul is as much a Moral one as it is a Legal one. If the law subverts morality, integrity, ethics, then throw that law into the garbage heap. Burn the building and the people who enact laws which honours crooks and imprisons morality.

Burn them who will legislate to defend a thief and make it easier for other criminals to be elected to public office, but are deaf and blind to the tens of millions of our poor and exploited and hungry, bereft of health care, education, employment opportunities and even Hope!

Burn those who exploit the helplessness of these poor wretched people, held ransom to a system of patronage, to get elected again and again.

But one doesn’t blame the poor and the helpless. For to them all that matters is sheer survival. But those who stand with Nawaz and against the Supreme Court, with full stomachs and education and awareness, they are the real evil that has prostituted the Soul of Pakistan.

Whatever perverted logic they may espouse to support this evil man, their inability to stand for good against evil, for truth against dishonesty is inexcusable!!

We must reflect deeply before this evil wolf devouring others, devours Pakistan!

-Haider Mehdi