The Army isn’t wearing Trousers!

The Army isn’t wearing Trousers!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

Many have questioned why I haven’t taken the Army to task as I oft do with the other civilian public sector institutions in Pakistan.

Two reasons.

The Pakistan Army, thank God, has not succumbed to the rot of say the Punjab Police. Yet. And this yet is why I’ve penned the perspective which follows. And secondly it’s done a pretty good job this last decade and a half. In fact saved the country! Literally!

But the ISPR announcement of troops to Saudi Arabia and Asma Jehangir’s death have resulted in this commentary. Both promoted several questions.

Why are we sending these troops and what are their terms of reference?

Was this discussed and debated in the National Assembly?

Did the cabinet discuss and approve it?

What are the regional geopolitical implications of such a deal?

And very puzzling!

Why did the ISPR make the announcement? Why didn’t the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Foreign affairs announce it in the Parliament or even through a press conference?

The issue here is not whether we should or should not send troops, which is a subject for another article, but of process, of the power of the army and the whole lot of questions listed above and many more.

While my views on the PMLN government are fairly well-known, even I was taken aback at this seemingly brazen hijacking of due process by the Army via ISPR. This wasn’t a Zarb e Azb, where time was of the essence and the civilian government was dithering and playing footsie with the TTP.

So why did ISPR announce this major defence and foreign policy initiative?

While wrestling with this I was reminded of the overwhelming emotion for Asma Jehangir on her sudden demise, both quite surprising.

While she was a controversial figure and to many even unpatriotic, but what stood out most about her, was her unrelenting, uncompromising and highly bitter vitriolic against the Army, especially its high command and senior officers.

She was willing to truck with anybody and everybody who was against the Army, despite many with highly dubious credentials such as Husain Haqqani, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, to name a few. Their acts and corruption notwithstanding, she still allied with them.

It was then that I realized that part of the outpouring of emotion on her death by many also represented people’s feelings towards the Army.

Why? I asked. Why should people hold such emotions for an institution which has paid in blood and sacrificed so much to save us from anarchy and near ruin?

Why is it that people fail to see how it’s young and old toil day and night for Pakistan? War on Terror. Earthquakes. Floods. Census. Elections. You name it and the Army’s there.

Why is it that despite supporting democracy, the institution is still plagued by its history of military dictators and military rule and Asma who symbolized the “anti army narrative” received such a heroine’s funeral?

While this may not be the only reason but several things stand out.

First and foremost, in my opinion, is the Army’s inability to hold its senior corrupt officers accountable.

While one does hear the oft-repeated refrain that “the Army has a very rigorous process of accountability”, I have not seen a single three star or two star or even a one star being stripped of their rank and titles and sent to jail. Yes we’ve had some minor raps on the knuckles and one Maj. Gen taken to task, but nothing about those who’ve looted and plundered tens if not hundreds of millions or a billion or two, in military procurement deals, in shady housing schemes and the many other ways that they do. Today ask any officer of reasonable mid to senior rank and above, serving or retired, to name at least a score or more of two and three star generals who in the last decades have looted and plundered while in service and taken the bank to the cleaners. And they will!

Yet no Army Chief including the current Chief, Gen. Bajwa has taken any action against these officers. The sad icing on the cake is that several were “honoured” with lucrative post retirement plum jobs.

This is a huge stain on the Army’s character and honour. Those senior officers who loot, steal and plunder are no different from the crooks and robbers who infest and plague our bureaucracy, our politics and other public sector institutions.

So, why aren’t they brought to book, I asked a senior retired officer? It’ll impact the Army’s morale, Sir, he said. I was aghast! Morale affected by not punishing corrupt officers? The logic was mind numbing!

If anything, as one would imagine, morale would be adversely affected when the rank and file see these corrupt looters getting away with murder. Imagine serving under a Div Commander or a Corps Commander or any other senior appointments, knowing that the boss has his hands in the till and yet continues to go unpunished.

Morality, ethics, integrity are the hallmarks on which we were trained to become officers right from our Military Academy days. Moral integrity and Moral courage, were and hopefully still are, values that mean something in this institution. But not to see a single senior corrupt looter sent to jail is a testimony to this institution’s failure to hold its senior leaders accountable.

The second factor, I think, is the manner in which the Army brazenly exercises it’s power and influence. By doing do it further alienates itself and opens itself to severe criticism.

The Saudi troops announcement by ISPR being one. In this case Gen. Bajwa should have sat in a press conference chaired by the Minister of Defence. The Minister should have announced the despatch of troops to Saudi Arabia, explaining the rationale and everything with any questions on their tactical role being answered by the Chief. This I say despite my genetic aversion to anything associated with Nawaz Sharif!

Others are examples of how State land has been continuously misappropriated on one pretext or the other for uses other than what it was given to the Army for. For instance land for military units converted to residential colonies!

The power, privileges and perks acquired by senior officers. General’s should not be travelling in BMW’s but in Toyota Jeeps. Their offices should not put the offices of Corporate CEO’s to shame! They should live in austere environments befitting their profession. The corrupt within the Army must be punished. The brazen display of brute force curbed.

Let’s not forget our Armed Forces are paid for by the poor people of Pakistan. The hundreds of millions who are indirectly taxed every time they load their phones or buy bread or switch on a fan or a lightbulb. It is incumbent upon the Army to spend this tax money from the blood, sweat and tears of its people, with care!

I know many of my fellow brothers in khaki will take great offence to this perspective. But while it is also painful for me, I must say so, because the Pakistan Army is one of the only two institutions in this country, the other being the Supreme Court, on which the very future of Pakistan depends.

The Army cannot go the route of other public sector institutions. They cannot allow their corrupt to go free or continue to misuse its strength and misappropriate authority which is not theirs. The institution must self correct, otherwise it will eventually succumb to the rot within!

And the sooner someone tells the General that the Army isnt wearing trousers, the better it is for Pakistan and the Army!

-Haider Mehdi

The protests in Iran

The protests in Iran

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

These protests are both a natural consequence of a fascist totalitarian regime which limits personal freedom and imposes its harsh version of Islam and the overt and covert external interventions and attempts for regime change, lead by the USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The current Iranian dispensation is into their 37th year. I’m surprised it’s actually lasted that long. But having said that, several factors contributed to its longevity. Firstly, the savagery of the Pahlavi regime and the subsequent amelioration of 90% of the population following the downfall of said exploitative and elitist regime.

Secondly, homogeneity of race, culture, religion and sect is a big help which binds the people together over 2500 years of recorded history and common culture.

Next, the 10 year Iran-Iraq war in which millions of Iranians died gave rise to an unprecedented wave of nationalist fervour and an insular mentality and was further aggravated by USA led economic sanctions.

Having said that, even the Soviet Union’s fascism couldn’t last beyond 80 years, even though it was a much more powerful and regressive police state. Eventually all such political models die because of the innate weakness of a totalitarian system in trying to regulate the personal lives of people to an extent that it becomes oppressive.

Such are the Iranian and Saudi regimes. Both realise the inevitable consequences of fascist type controls. And both have recently loosened controls on personal choices and liberty and freedom.

For example Iranian women not adhering to strict hijab standards in public will no longer be arrested. Similar steps have been taken in Saudi Arabia such as allowing women to drive, opening of cinema halls and a public declaration by MBS to move away from their oppressive and exclusivist version of Wahabi Islam.

For the Saudis these are huge paradigm shifts, having known nothing better, and one reason that MBS has been able to carry the day so far. But in Iran, the freedom of pre revolutionary Iran is still a reality and not too distant memory.  Hence a desirable objective, sans the cruelty of the Pahlavi Savak driven autocratic rule or the oppressive fascism of the Iranian clergy.

The first big reaction against theocratic totalitarianism in Iran came in 2009, termed the Green Revolution. This movement was against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s questionable re-election. It was huge but crushed. It’s main leaders, former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moosavi, Mehdi Karroubi, former Foreign Minister Ebrahim Yazdi and thousands more were arrested. Its leaders still under arrest, even after 8 years.

The current system is not going to go away soon, because the people supporting it are still in an overwhelming majority, especially within the poorer segments of society.

Broadly speaking there are three big segments in Iranian society today.

The “Revolutionaries” who support the Revolutionary regime and are still in a majority accounting for perhaps 60% or more of the population.

The second group, very vibrant, active and growing are the “Nationalists” and comprise 30 to 35%, some say even 40% of the population. Accurate statistics are hard to come by. This group is more liberal in thought and action and were behind the Green Revolution movement of 2009. Today they have some representation in the government in the likes of foreign minister Javed Zarif. They are much more liberal in thought than the Revolutionaries and advocate much more openess in society while also being fiercely patriotic. They also advocate for closer ties to the USA but on equitable terms. This explains the close relationship between Foreign Minister Javed Zarif and former US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration.

The last and the smallest group are the “monarchists” who are about 5% to 10% of the population. This group is comprised of those who could not or did not leave Iran after the Islamic Revolution. They have deep ties to the extremely rich and wealthy Iranian diaspora spread across the globe, especially in the USA, mostly who fled Iran following the Revolution. Though small in number they are potentially critical to any regime change moves being orchestrated by external forces, especially in the areas of funding and information.

The last two groups can potentially align in instigating a regime change.

Since the Revolution,the USA has been assiduously cultivating the liberals and monarchists but have been consistently checkmated by the Islamic Revoutionary Guards Council, which today have their own Army, Navy and Air force and report directly to the Rahber, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The IRGC nearly upended the nuclear deal with the USA and EEC and are still virulently against any moves to mend ties with the USA and Saudi Arabia, considering them both extensions of Israeli / Zionist power in the region. A view also held by their Rahber and Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Therefore based on the above and in my opinion, the current anti government demonstrations in Iran, fueled by economic pressures and reaction against curbs on  personal freedoms are actively, directly and indirectly financially supported by the USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel to create internal unrest leading to regime change.

The factors working in favor of such a move are of course the poor economy, the innate desire in people for more personal freedom and choices, the limitations and controls imposed on Iranians across the globe and the incessant stress of continuous warfare.

Factors against the US, Saudi and Israeli moves are a deep rooted suspicion and even hatred by Iran for all three, based on history. Current and past.

Secondly an economy thats on the up and on the mend, perhaps not as fast as the people want. Oil exports have doubled. Trade with Europe and China has increased in several multiples. This coupled with a robust and indigenous technology base, developed in response to international sanctions and serving both the civilian and military sectors.

Thirdly it’s increasing regional power.

Fourth. A loosening of the oppression of personal freedoms and finally and perhaps, certainly in the short run, the IRGC.

The IRGC, much like the Pakistan Army, is perhaps the most powerful institution in Iran both militarily and commercially and will counter any attempts as will the State apparatus to upend the current regime.

Iran will eventually have to allow greater personal freedom to control and mitigate dissent.

But two questions remain.

Will the IRGC and the Rahber, Ayatollah Khamenei, supported by the conservative clergy, many of whom if not most have accumulated enormous wealth and privilege, allow this ?

And the other question is whether the USA, supported by Saudi Arabia  and Israel will allow this?

Because one thing that will be hard to overcome is the hostility between Iran and the three countries attempting regime range. The very strong Iranian nationalist segment, while though not as rabidly anti USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the Revolutionary group is, are hyper nationalists by nature and definition and will not agree to any relationship dictated by these three.

So one doesn’t see a major upheaval in the offing. If anything it gives hope for a much more open and less totalitarian government in Iran.

A big indicator of the direction the Iranian regime is taking will be the choice of the next Supreme leader after Ayatollah Khanenei. If it is somebody like President Rouhani then once can see the beginnings of a much more liberal regime.

For Pakistan this is a golden opportunity to continue to re-establish it’s close ties with Iran and wean them away from India. This is crucial to build our bulwark against the USA and her attempts to weaken us and nuclear defang us.

Only a strong Pakistani Chinese Russian and Iranian bloc will thwart USA and Indian designs !

– Haider Mehdi

The General’s Visit to the Senate!

The General’s Visit to the Senate!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

The General came, presented, answered questions and left. The questions were petty. As petty as the people who asked them.

The General’s briefings were detailed and deeply insightful with a message. Kindly get your act together.

His briefing to the Senate is being termed as a triumph for democracy and elevates its Chairman Raza Rabbani to the status of a near god and as the “true conscience” of Parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. Here’s my view about this so called great democratic pretender and conscience keeper.

 How can we call this elitist, egotistical, pretentious, hypocritical person the “conscience” of parliamentary democracy?
A man, who smilingly and obsequiously,  twiddles his thumb, standing slavishly behind a twenty something idiotic twit, and calls him his party leader?
A man who will condone the corruption, rape, loot and plunder of Asif Zardari and his sister and his cronies and continue to accept him as his party leader?
A man who will allow dynastic rule in the PPP and not oppose it so he can conveniently enjoy the perks and privileges and power of office?
A man who has had it good cannot be what people say he is. This is not being a conscience keeper of Parliamentary democracy. It is being a gravy train beneficiary and a boot licker, leeching off a corrupt system and enjoying it’s power, perks and privileges.
Either we need to redefine parliamentary democracy or conscience to justify these accolades to the Senate Chairman.
Raza Rabbani and  people like him are even more dangerous because they enrobe themselves in the holy garb of democratic pretenders and many good and well meaning people fall for these wolves in sheep clothing.
He and all those like him are hypocrites who have supported a putrid, decayed, morally and financially corrupt order and system.
If this is our definition of a representative  democratic order, then may we be saved from this stinking system and from painting these crooks as honourable people.
The quicker these people are dead and buried along with this terrible system they represent and perpetuate, the better for Pakistan.
-Haider Mehdi

Read more

Why we must support Imran Khan

Why we must support Imran Khan

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

For those who continue to criticise Imran Khan, and in some instances with valid concerns, a humble plea. Please do read this.
We are an unforgiving people when it comes to others. But in our own lives we are deceitful, hypocritical, liars and cheats. Not all. But the vast majority.
Especially the well fed and privileged amongst us, who criticise from the comforts of their elegant houses and their expensive clothes and designer everything.
Those who question his leadership and find fault in his decisions, having never walked his talk, not even close!
Those who offer free advice by the ton but never care to step outside their comfort zones or put themselves at risk or sacrifice something substantial.
Those who live the privileged and elitist life in Pakistan or overseas.
Those who show off of our kids graduating from foreign universities and our houses and our elegant drawing rooms and our Koochi, Poochi and Timmy and Tony type friends celebrating botoxed birthdays on Facebook. Flaunting our houses and our lifestyles
And yet I hear many well meaning people wanting our society to change.
But do we really?
Nothing changes for us the elite, the rich, the powerful, the privilged, the well connected.
Our children go to elite schools, as I did. We use our privileged networks to get jobs, business contracts and escape the law. We spend more money on one dinner then what could probably feed a poor family of this wretched Country for a year.
We spend more money on our children’s weddings or their wedding dresses which could fund a small school or a health clinic or a free food kitchen.
We spend our vacations in the disney world’s and playgrounds of the Far East,  Dubai, Europe, North America etc spending money like water, enough to feed hundreds if not thousands of poor starving families.
And when the going gets tough or a little insecure we have our Canadian permanent resident card to run away with, as I have, or a dual nationality, which I don’t have.
We know everybody who matters, bureaucrats, generals, judges, police officials, tax officials, customs officials. Anyone that matters. Our work usually gets done either by connections or bribery. Unless, of course we encounter a bigger scoundrel than ourselves!
So really nothing changes for the privileged. We have generators to light our homes, gas cylinders to light our  kitchens. And we treat our house help worse than dogs but rant about the miseries of the Palestinians and the Kashmiris. We treat our minorities even worse and then complain about how we’re discriminated against in the West.
Our Allah of our faith and our God of the mosque are very different. We try to buy salvation by contributing to religious charities from our ill gotten proceeds. Exceptions of course excepted. And they will not take exception to these remarks.
We are a miserable, sick, hypocritical wretched lot and when a 3rd rate foul mouthed preacher takes on the state and all that we stand for, we quake in our shoes. We blame the Army. We blame the government. We blame the law enforcement agencies. But we don’t blame ourselves. Us the wretched elite who have along with the politicians and the generals and the bureaucrats looted, pillaged and plundered this poor country.  A small minority being an exception.
We have partnered with our political elite by active commission or spineless ommission to destroy this country.
And then comes a man, Imran Khan,  from this same elite and like a mad person, quite insane, I must admit, and says that he wants to change the system and provide equitable opportunities for the poor, the marginalized, the exploited and the disadvantaged. The very same wretched lot, we the elite of Pakistan, have used and abused for as long as one can remember to fill our coffers and our bodies and our egos!
And what do we do?
We rave and we rant against him. How dare he? We attack the man from the lowest of the low.
Even the educated amongst us. Oh he takes cocaine! Good for him, I say, if that’ll help him make this country better. I’ll gladly send him a lifetime’s supply, If it means destroying rhe blood sucking leeches that the elite are. But I don’t know if he does.
Oh he’s a womanizer! Well if he is, it’s between him and his Creator and he will be held accountable. Provided he is. This is not to offer a defence, it’s to illustrate the pettiness of our accusations. Oh he’s arrogant! Damn right he is. He’s achieved more in one lifetime than many of us would achieve in 4. Yes arrogance isn’t good and I’m sure he’s learning. But hey will it destroy Pakistan? In fact I think a great part of his success may actually be because he has such a high opinion of himself.
And so we slowly and gradually attack every part of this man. Why? Not because he’s bad. But because he may possibly upend everything that the elite and the privileged want to preserve.
Because he may destroy that entire system of power, privilege and patronage so assiduously and painstaking built up by the likes of Nawaz and Zardari. And in which we the privileged are full partners.
Many well meaning, sincere, honest and good souls joined him and  left. Perhaps because they were unable to give or take the terrible toll and cut and thrust of politics in Pakistan. Perhaps not all left, but most did. Some because of huge overblown egos. Many misrepresented their past and current credentials.  Many came wide eyed, wearing rose tinted glasses, looking for heaven.
Sorry folks, wrong place. Politics is a dirty business, especially if you’re in serious opposition to the entrenched mafias of the status quo, not the I scratch your back and you scratch mine kind of politics of the PPP-PMLN mafia combine.
Because if you’re going to be part of a movement which threatens to break the existing order you better be ready!
Your business will be attacked.
Your interests will be attacked.
Your life will be attacked.
Your family will be attacked
Your reputation will be attacked.
So either you’re very very powerful and strong to withstand that for a long time or you go under or you leave. And like any organization, political parties have their internal power struggles. Some win some lose. It’s about impact and influence and results. PTI is no exception!
Of course Aleem Khan is an unsavory character. But is he an existential threat to Pakistan now? Imran may have made some mistakes and errors of judgement and if so, he will pay the price for his decisions. But are those really as terrible as they are made out to be? I for one had and still have, a serious problem when the KPK government gave the handout to Sammy Sandwich. But Imran has a point. If we want to influence what is being taught in the Madrassahs, we need to have leverage on that decision. And what better than buy yourself a seat on the board? It’s a risky decision, fraught with consequences. But anybody got a better idea?
His KPK track record is better by miles then any predecessor government. He’s done a near miracle, in spite of and despite Khattak, that wily dyed in the wool traditional elitist politician.
But for heaven’s sake give Imran his due.
In 21 years he’s changed the political landscape of Pakistan by creating a third party in a two party system. And starting from absolute zero. Zilch.
In this journey, he has experienced the entire range of political options, and has become much more pragmatic and realistic about how to get into governance.
If his pragmatism leads to whole scale surrender of his political values, then lynch him. If he has been blindsided by some people then he will reap the consequences of his decisions.
But, for heavens sake, let’s wait and give him an opportunity.
This plea is especially to those who live comfortable lives in the snug confines of their homes, far from the terrible hopelessness of the poor and the marginalized and the dispossessed.
How many have been part and parcel of this man’s struggle and suffered? Very few.
The guy destroyed his marriage. His reputation is the target of all those who enrich themselves from the current system. Many also in his own party. People who have vested interests with the PMLN or PPP.  And then the “may na manoon” types. So if not Imran, then what? How will the system change?
And there is this stupid incoherent silence and then a rant against him and the stupid mantra of “let democracy continue”. Yes by all means let’s keep getting the same wretched lot from the same wretched gutter!
I personally, cannot see Imran allowing any of his questionable team members, if they are, like JKT and Aleem Khan or others using their offices to indulge in corruption when in power.
And he’s not God, for God’s sake. He’s desperately trying to make do with what he has. And that’s not much to begin with.
We’re trying to kill the horse even before he’s at the starting line. Fie on us!
Let’s give Imran the things he clearly has. His courage and bravery. His financial incorruptibility and his unmatched passion, drive, determination and above all his unquestionable patriotism.
And for that alone he deserves a chance so let’s give him that chance.
We are petty people. Very petty. Our egos overwhelm our good sense.We find fault in everything he does which reminds me of what Cassius said about Julius Caeser in Shakespeare’s drama.
 *Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus, and we petty men Walk under his huge legs and peep about To find ourselves dishonorable graves.* (Julius Caeser)
Maybe I’m wrong but till he proves otherwise, I see no man upending this wretched and terrible system of elitism, except him, with all his faults!
And he will use the system to destroy the system.
Otherwise, as I’ve always said, it’s back to the stench and vomit and cancer if the Sharifs and the Zardari.
Your call, folks!
– Haider Mehdi

Dr Kamran Bokhari on Haider Mehdi’s Perspectives- Trump’s Jerusalem Dec…

Dr. Kamran Bokhari, author of the book “Political Islam in the Age of Democratization” and a leading geopolitical analyst on Jihadism and The Middle East talks about the consequences of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. 

Why did he do it, especially now? 
Will this lead to more turmoil or kick start the Mideast peace process? 
Who wins who loses? 
Will Iran and Saudi Arabia reconcile? Will MBS survive? 
The shifting power game in the Middle East between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey? 
Will Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah retaliate militarily? What are the chances of a new war in the middle east? What should Pakistan do? The pros and cons of engaging with recognising Israel!
And much much more

 

Prostitution of our 163 Souls-Part 2 – Our Day of Shame!

Prostitution of our 163 Souls-Part 2 – Our Day of Shame!

– Haider Mehdi

“Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years”, said William Pitt the Younger, the British Prime Minister in December 1805, upon seeing a map of Europe after Napolean Bonaparte’s  victory in the Battle of Austeriltz, against the Russian and Austrian Army led by Yaar Alexander 1 and the Holy Roman Emperor  Francis II
Roll up this Constitution says this wretched Country.
Burn it. Stuff it in the garbage.
Burn this Parliament. Bury these 163 prostituted Souls who shamelessly stood up, some embarrassingly looking at their feet as the death knell of our morality was sounded and these moral imbeciles voted against the bill prohibiting a disqualified person to head a political party.
The Nation cried as we saw all sense of our Nation’s self respect rubbished under the feet of these horrible and evil souls who voted to keep a criminal, a money launderer, a forgerer, a liar, a debased person as their party leader.
The great Dhoond Abbassi clan of the hills of Murree from which our 6 foot 3 inch PM Khaqan Abbassi belongs, will need quite some time to wipe off this dark stain from their honour, if ever there was any.
I’m ashamed to admit that this man has walked the portals of my alma mater, Lawrence College. An institution which has prided itself in producing men of honour, rare and dishonorable exceptions like him, aside.
And what of the other 162 prostituted Souls?
What of the Chaudhry from Wah? The great Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, the brave press conference warrior, the before and after hair club of men, model?
What a shame to his clan, notorious for their slavish  boot licking  of the British, and desperately trying to redeem its honour, now back in the dust and his famliy’s dishonourable legacy continues.
The less said about Saad  Rafique. His upbringing is reflected in his behaviour.  This is the mettle that allowed India to be raped by foreign invaders for thousands of years. It is because of the Saad Rafiqs of our history, thundering with fire and brimstone, defending their masters who raped this land that we see this day
And the rest? What of them.
Let history record their names. Their clans. Their Baradaris. Their constituencies.
Let the names of their spouses and children be listed and known.
Let us ask these wretched souls the values they have taught their own children and the example they have set for them!
What if your child asks you?
Will you hire a thief and a criminal to become a member of your team?
 Will you hire a criminal to become your driver, your cook, your house help?
Will you hire a liar, a forgerer, a money launderer, a criminal a crook as an employee  in your own business?
Will you send your children to schools being run by criminals and convicts?
Will you marry your children, your siblings, to a criminal, a liar and a money launderer?
Are you telling the Nation that we are a society where being a criminal is Ok?
Where stealing is Ok?
Where forgery is Ok?
Where lying is Ok?
Where  looting and plundering this nation’s wealth is Ok?
Shame on you, you shameless animals.
You have soiled and tainted and tarnished the soul of our Nation, of our Assembly, of our Constitution, with your blackened souls.
Shame on those who brought you up and taught you these values.
Not only do you shame yourself and your parents and children and families but all those teachers and professors who taught you. You bring shame to those  schools and colleges you attended.
Let history list the names of the schools and colleges your despicable evil souls attended. And with great sorrow and my head hanging in shame I see Lawrence College at the top of the list. Khaqan Abbasi has brought great shame to this great institution.
Let today be recorded as Pakistan’s day of Shame!
Let this day, when and if we are able to lift ourselves out of this moral degradation and ethical gutter, be forever damned in history.
Let then, when we are cleansed of this dark stain, our children be taught in our schools and colleges and universities,  how a society can degrade itself to the level that it did today.
And how  we should never be allowed to degrade ourselves to these levels again.
Let the names of these 163 prostituted Souls be spread far and wide to shame them and their families and their children.
Roll up the constitution. Burn it.
There’s something terribly wrong with a society which will defend the sanctity of our most revered  personage but will allow an evil man to become the head of a political party.
This farce must end!  Enough. We’ve had Enough!
Roll up this damn Constitution and this bunch of vagabonds and prostituted souls who cannot defend the soul of Pakistan and represent it’s people.
Burn it!
And let us honour the 98 who stood tall!
And the man who stood the tallest today and brought such great honour to his great Jamali tribe of Dera Murad Jamali was former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. Jabal as he was fondly known in his school days for his mountain like fortitude. He today stood like the Rock of Gibraltar amongst these pygmies.
And not only did he honour the legacy of his forefathers he brought some honour back to his alma mater Lawrence College and to Aitchison. An honour so disgraced sullied and stained by that man from the Dhoond Abbasi clan of Murree, who now calls himself  the Prime Minister of Pakistan. That disgraceful wretched man, Khaqan Abbassi.
A man whose name will henceforth be taken in the same breath as that of Mir Jafar and Mir Qasim of Bengal.
– Haider Mehdi

Reforming Pakistan – All or Nothing! – Getting rid of the dog in the well is not enough!

Reforming Pakistan – All or Nothing! – Getting rid of the dog in the well is not enough!
 Dr. Ishrat Hussain’s book on Reform

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

At a recent seminar in Toronto, organized by OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America) I heard a talk by Dr. Naseeruddin Mahmood, Trustee of the ChildLife foundation, describing very humbly, how in a 5 year period the  90% mortality rate of children brought into the Children Emergency centers of government hospitals in Karachi became a 90% survival rate.  Soon I hope to interview this remarkable man and share this wonderful story with everyone.  This and many others are remarkable stories of successful and sustainable institutional reform in public sectors organizations in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s current story is no different.

Currently an extremely poorly run country, where an exclusive and rapacious criminal elite, loots and plunders at will.   And its future should also be no different. An extremely prosperous and well run country, governed by honest and competent people!

The obvious misrule and corruption of Nawaz or Zardari and their coteries, or the perceived high handedness of the military or the Supreme Court, are symptoms of a society in which its public governance and institutional processes have degenerated into ad hoc activities, mostly, if not exclusively driven by personal loyalty and personal gain.  A few that have remain relatively unscathed like the Armed forces or one or two which have regained some institutional strength, like the Supreme Court, then acquire power and influence far in excess of their roles and mandate.

Hence it is important to frame our problem and thus the objective.

Pakistan’s problem is not corruption.  Pakistan’s problem is absence of good governance.

While this can be a chicken and egg argument, all the current evidence of societies that have transformed or become better than before is because of the change in the “context” or the “environment” in which their citizenries live. South Africa, Rwanda, even Bangladesh.

Post apartheid South Africa was a guaranteed bloodbath which didn’t happen. Of course there’s crime in South Africa but the massacres that were to follow, did not.

23 years ago in Rwanda, in 1994, over a million people were killed in one of the most horrific genocides in modern times when the Hutus killed Tutsis.  These killings were mostly done with machettes, knives, clubs, axes, etc. Imagine the horror and the country was completely destroyed. No institution survived. By 2000 they had a new constitution and today Rwanda is a thriving country.

Bangladesh despite its violent birth, violent past and the battle between the two “begums” is now ahead of Pakistan in human development and economic indicators.

The entire literature and research on individual and societal change also leads to one conclusion.  Change the rules of the game and people and societies change behaviour. For example, in the so called West, if caught you pay the penalty for over speeding or not paying taxes or breaking any law. If serious, you get thrown in jail for traffic and tax offences. And that is why people don’t over speed (unless they have a “fuzz buster”) and pay taxes. Politics is a public and scared trust. Of course there are crooked politicians in Canada and the USA and Europe. But if caught, they pay the penalty.

This year’s Ecomomics Nobel Prize goes to Richard Thaler, for his work on Behavioral Economics highlighting how individuals can be “nudged” to change behaviour

But there’s a very dark and tragic flip side to this behaviour change.  A society which keeps crossing red lines, be they legal, moral or ethical, and its institutions are no longer capable to punish the detractor, adopts this new world of criminality as the “new norm”.   In Pakistan we witnessed acceptance of this new norm, in one of our most shameful acts, when our elected parliament, passed a law allowing an indicted person accused of major crimes to be re –elected a party chief.  One can’t even picture the Labour or Conservative parties in the UK or the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA, re-electing a person, as its party head. A person indicted for money laundering, forgery, illegal assets etc. Nixon had to leave for lying and destroying evidence.  Bill Clinton, nearly impeached for acts “under the table” that had nothing to do with governance!

Misrule, corruption, crime, at any level happens as a consequence of weak institutions, weak policies, weak processes and incompetent people at the helm.

Why do we have a better run Army vs a terrible police force? Why is the NICVD (National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases)i, run with better efficiency and effectiveness vs the rest of the hospital” Why is the Urology Clinic run better than other departments? Why are the IBA, LUMS, Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Aga Khan Hospital, Indus Hospital, ChildLife Foundation, better run institutions than their counterparts? Why do people wear seatbelts and drive more carefully on the Islamabad – Lahore Motorway vs the GT Road.  Why was NAB most effective under General Shoaib and not under subsequent Chairperson’s even during Gen. Musharraf’s rule? Why was Gen. Musharraf so astoundingly successful in his first three years and not after? Why was the Higher Education Commission (HEC) so successful under Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman and Dr. Sohail Naqvi and now in the dog house under Dr. Mukhtar? Why was the State Bank such a feared institution under Dr. Ishrat Hussain and now Ishaq Dar’s handmaiden under that criminal Saeed? Why has the SECP fallen to such lows under that foul mouthing abusive individual, Zafar Hijazi? Why is the KPK police so much more effective vs the Punjab or Sind police?  These are mere examples to illustrate a point.  Institutional strength with robust process and competent and honest people (relatively) delivers value. Destroying institutions requires that dishonest (not necessarily incompetent) people be brought into key roles so that policies, rules and processes are changed and or subverted, allowing the loot and plunder to commence.

So I humbly submit.  Our problem is not Corruption which as old as humanity, ingrained in our DNA as is survival, food, sex.  Our problem is good governance delivered by strong institutions.

Today, our institutions are no longer able to deliver what they are tasked with. Institutions that build capacity, cannot. Institutions that deliver public service, cannot. Institutions that provide safety and security, cannot.  Institutions that uphold the law can no longer keep law breakers in check.  And the consequences of such decay are catastrophic.

While Nawaz and Zardari may yet escape their nemesis and flee to far off lands to enjoy their ill gotten wealth and may for a time create space for their children to continue the loot and plunder, eventually it will reach breaking point .  From sporadic symbols of mass discontent, this will eventually snowball into anarchy and a free for all. Many people dismiss this notion by saying that we’ve been listening to this doomsday scenario for ever and yet we are OK.

No, we’re not OK.

We lost half our country.

Nearly 800,00 people have been killed in the war on terror. Whole communities and families have been uprooted their lives destroyed.

The Armed forces have been in a state of war with for over 14 years.

Try being a Shia or a Qadiani in today’s Pakistan and you will know that all is not well.

Try setting up a business and you will find out all is not well. Ask a businessman trying to make an honest living.

Try criticising the Army and you will know all is not well.

Try opposing the religious right and you will know all is not well.

Try living an honest life in Pakistan.

Ask the poor, the underprivileged, the weak and at the risk. Ask them if all is well in Pakistan.

No sir, all is not well in the State of Pakistan.

The day the elite will realize all is not well is when the mobs ransack their houses lining the pristine boulevards of our Defence Societies, the Bahria Towns, the Askaris and the Gulbergs.  No General’s colony will be spared. No security guards will save you. Your Rolexes, your pretentious destination weddings, your BMW’s, your elite club memberships, your summer vacations to France and Spain, even your second Canadian residency. No not even that. And for those who think that in this state of total anarchy the Pakistan Army can save the system, think again.  No Army could save the Shah of Iran.  No Army could save the tottering Soviet state.  The Rwandan Army couldn’t save anybody.  Neither could the Iraqi, the Syrian, the Libyan, the Yemeni and the Afghan armies.

When anarchy overtakes, however big or well-trained your Army, we will all be swept away.  The good, the bad and the ugly. Everybody.

So fear that day, Mr or Mrs or Ms Pakistani, nothing will save you, if you unfortunately happen to be in that house that day! Therefore do not say we are not sliding down a very slippery slope. We are and very rapidly too, and God Forbid we hit rock bottom.  For rock bottom means total anarchy.

Why didn’t Zardari and Nawaz institute reform? What justifies not delivering on good governance other than a criminal, abject, unforgiveable and unpardonable sin of destroying these institutions so these two and their parties and cronies could acquire unlimited power and wealth?

if they really wanted to rule for the good of the people, what better way then to deliver good governance and keep getting re-elected.  But no! They raped the system and hijacked the electoral process, for their personal greed and in the process both have consciously and deliberately delivered near fatal blows to Pakistan

The solution is simple. The process complex.  In the Army we learned one cardinal principal. “Selection of objective and maintenance of Aim”. It meant that once the correct objective was selected then it is to be pursued with all resources till achieved and not be sidetracked.

Pakistan’s core objective, is the  delivery of good governance, brilliantly articulated by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, the former State Bank Governor, who, in my opinion and of many others, is our foremost public sector reform specialist.  The details of his research and plan are a must read and implementation when the time comes.

Good governance is our objective.  This will deliver well being on all fronts. Law and order, security, education, health care, employment, economic development, investment, research, human development indices.  In fact everything to create a much better society then we are now!

And good governance can happen in the following sequence.

1. Getting rid of the current cabal of corrupt and incompetent rulers symbolized by Nawaz and Zardari and what they represent. The powers that be who can, must and quickly consign these people  to their respective locations in Adiala etc, including the untouchables like Maryam Safdar Hudood. So the message is as clear as day.  If there is even the whiff of a compromise and “arrangement” between them and others, then you will never be forgiven.  Do this quickly and totally. No quarter taken no quarter given.  The longer these cancerous cells are allowed to thrive the more dangerous they are for Pakistan.

And don’t bank on Shahbaz Sharif. He’s as crooked as they get and as dishonest and as evil!

2. Getting honest and competent people into positions of authority. This is the biggest challenge. In this all political forces which are anti status quo must be fully supported. People like Imran and Tahir ul Qadri, despite their failings, real or perceived. Fresh elections under the current parliamentary system and rules are a garbage in, garbage out exercise.  It will bring back the same people in one form shape or the other.  It will force good people like Imran to compromise their position by having to truck with these same wretched creatures.  Some arm twisting, some late night “meetings” some cajoling, some eye balling, some money, anything that offers the opportunity to upend the current stench filled system and be replaced by one which gets honest and competent people into power. A referendum perhaps or maybe a Supreme Court petition. Anything, but Martial Law.  But this system must be changed, otherwise we are doomed!

3. Once in, initiate institutional reform based on Dr. Ishrat Hussain’s priceless work and research. I would make him the head of the National Reform Commission and Finance Minister in any new government.

4. Deliver good governance for a better and prosperous Pakistan.

At the risk of repeating myself.

Pakistan’s major issue is poor governance caused by the institutional decay of all key public institutions. Those that plan our future, those that deliver our services and those that hold people accountable for breaking the public trust.

And Incompetence and Corruption is what causes this decay.

No reforms will succeed till we don’t get competent and honest people into positions of power and authority for institutional reform and improved governance.

Getting the dogs out of the contaminated well is not the answer. Nawaz Sharif, Zardari etc are the symbols and symptoms of dishonesty and incompetence leading to institutional decay and the core problem of poor governance. Removing them will not resolve the core issue of poor governance.

Getting honest and competent people into power so we can reform our institutions to improve governance and rebuild our society and country is the core issue.

Its all or nothing!  Either go the full route and complete the job or sit back and enjoy the inevitable rape, whilst enjoying your spit and polish and perks and privileges, as long as they last!

This is the big one- two knockout punch and we must go all the way!

1. Get honest and competent people into authority. What a future PM like Imran needs, or whoever is in the Chair, as long as he or she is honest, are public sector professionals with private sector expertise in their teams. These people are Unicorns and rare. I’m not one, lest people think its a plug.  Dr. Ishrat Hussain is. And plenty more.

2. Reform institutions for better governance.

P.S.
And one last thing.

No military person should ever be in public sector governance. They will make a hash of things. But they must and should play whatever role they can, to save the country and facilitate any process to get good and competent people  into power through a clean, transparent and sustainable electoral process.

“Selection of Objective and Maintenance of Aim”

-Haider Mehdi

Gen Qamar Bajwa on the Economy.- A way out?

Gen Qamar Bajwa on the Economy.-  A way out?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

I think this may be the beginning of a move to build public opinion for a possible interim arrangement to try and stop the bleeding and improve governance!

But if this process hasn’t been very deeply thought through and rigorously war gamed to the “nth” degree, evaluating all eventualities and counter measures, such an arrangement will ultimately leave the system even worse then it currently is.

While it is clear that we are currently heading for a train wreck and that must be averted, what we don’t want is a bigger train wreck, later.

Our short history is replete with how well intentioned interventions turned into monumental disasters for the country.

In my humble opinion, the short term solution still lies in strengthening the judiciary, building public opinion, supporting the agents of change like Imran, reformulating and strengthening the Election Commission with people of integrity and competence and hoping in a fair and free elections we will get relatively better people into governance. I’m not so sure this is a long term solution because long term the solution lies elsewhere.

I believe, the long term answer really lies in a complete overhaul of our Constitution and our electoral and governance processes.

There doesn’t appear to be a way in which the basic structure of  current constitution can be amended or changed.

I’m not sure if the current National  Assembly and Senate can even change this basic structure of the Constitution.

And even if they could, why on earth would they legislate amendments and sign their own death warrants?

Therefore the only option to somebody like me appears to be a Supreme Court directive on a petition of fundamental rights to seek a mandate of the people through something like a referendum, for a major overhaul of our constitution especially our electoral and governance models to get the right kind of people into positions of governance.

This could lead to a body which would do what the Assembly did in 1973.

Let us remember that in 45 years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto we’ve had 25 years of civilian rule and 20 years of Martial Law and this form of parliamentary democracy hasn’t worked for us.

Hence a major  change to the system is required to allow better  “inputs”. The inputs being the kind of people who reach positions of public governance, power and authority.

This to me and all others who understand governance is the “simple-mentation” solution.

Hence some of the broad but key parameters of such an overhaul are or could be.

1.Directly elected chief executive. President and Governors so that there is one Chief Executive and a maximum two term, 4 year limit per term, to ensure fresh thinking.

2. More provinces. 17 to 28. So that the hold of a dominant Punjab over other provinces is broken. The tragedy of allocating nearly Rs. 200 billion for four large massive metro and train infrastructure projects vs investing in health and education or law and order, is perhaps the most stark symbol of how taxpayers money was hijacked and looted by a single individual, the CM of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif and deployed at his and his brother’s whims.

3. Elections to 50% seats on proportional representation and not first past the post so that every vote counts and parties are able to induct technocrats, experts and specialists into the assemblies for improved and quality legislation.

4. Non elected people can be appointed to cabinet posts so that subject matter expertise drives policy making in governance.

But in doing all this, and while it’s under process, one thing is of paramount importance. An administrative infrastructure which doesn’t disenfranchise the people.

I say this because the biggest downside of a Technocrat or Martial Law type intervention is that they take away, what little access the poor and marginalized communities and segments have to government services, which is provided by the local elected MNA or MPA, however corrupt they may be.

So if there is a need for an interim solution to stem the rot, our Local Governments must continue to function with more empowerment and more delegated administrative and financial powers so that the common citizen continues to have access to government.

But let’s not forget that any attempts to rebuild the system will be attacked with full force by Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen. The likes of Ahsan Iqbal at one end and Capt. Safdar at the other. All evil creatures cut from the same cloth.

Nawaz is a wounded fox, not mortally, but serious enough to realize his time maybe up and on his desperation to survive, still capable of mad destruction around him, including Pakistan. A person who was willing to meet an Indian interlocutor without any aides is not someone who can be trusted.

I had suggested in an earlier piece that he will do anything and everything to survive. Hitting at our fault lines. Sectarian. Religious. Ethnic. Provincial. Political. Social. Cultural. Institutional. The first and last most serious.

Pitting state institutions against each other. And attempting to  weaken and defang them. The Supreme Court and the Army being in his cross hairs as prime targets. And now in plain sight for all to see.

And only for two objectives.

1. To save his financial capital.
2. To save his political capital.

And in that order of priority.

He knows that if he’s convicted and sentenced for money laundering, amongst other charges, his entire financial assets, inside or outside Pakistan,  whether in his name his wife or children will be frozen.

This takes away his biggest weapon, his wealth.  Without his wealth he’s just another, has been.

Without his wealth and jail term, he’s totally stripped naked. And his party breaks up, as most fly to other coops.

And for this he’s willing to bring down Pakistan and unleash terror and mayhem, hoping to invite a military takeover.

This will allow him to take the position with countries where his wealth and assets and properties and bank accounts reside that his convictions are politically motivated and hence his assets should not be frozen.

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

It is in all this context that we must view Capt. Safdar’s vile comments about the Ahmediyya Muslims.

Some may disagree, but I have a personal position on this.  As I’ve said earlier, in all the Scripture that I’ve read and all the insights from Islamic scholars, it is certainly clear to me that no one can declare any person or sect a non Muslim, as long as they maintain and say that they are.

The fact that very few other Muslim majority country, other then Pakistan,  have passed similar legislation is in itself something to reflect upon.

I may personally have differences with the belief frameworks of others but it doesn’t give me the right to judge them.

I’m not venturing into a theological debate about who is and who isn’t a Muslim.  Butif we start witch hunting people on the basis of their religious beliefs then we will unleash a massive storm of violence and murder in Pakistan.

Who next? The Shias? The Barelvi against the Deobandis?Christians? Hindus?

And just for the record. The young Captain of 1 Punjab who with his troops, guarding GHQ and Gen. Zia and his Commanders deliberating the consequences of their actions, on that fateful night of 5th July 1977, was an Ahmedi.

And this same Captain continued to provide personal security to Gen. Zia for the next few weeks.

And of course Gen. Zia knew he was an Ahmedi. Because the same Officer having been earlier posted out of 1 Punjab, then on Presidential Guard duties when Bhutto was in power, for being one, was posted back to his unit under Gen. Zia’s express and direct orders.

Such was and hopefully still is the ethos of our Army. It does not discriminate.

But what this insane Sharif stud did in the National Assembly was total insanity and crazy crap which only an evil mind like Nawaz could conjure up and use his son in law, to fire the first public salvo.

If we allow these demons to unleash their evil, as Nawaz wants, we will put the Nazis to shame and make Syria and Iraq look like a walk in the park.

But the issue is why did this person make such a vile speech?

Why was it broadcast fully and live by PTV?

To me and to many others, first and foremost it was a direct attack on Gen. Bajwa to cast aspersions on his religious credentials and weaken his authority and credibility as Army Chief.

Nothing could be more disastrous for Pakistan to use a religious card to destroy the credibility of an Army Chief. Imagine the terrible consequences of such an evil thought, if allowed to flourish.

This is a new low in politics that we’ve not seen before.

The second is to incite hatred and violence and public unrest so that the Army intervenes and Nawaz gets a reprieve.

While the PM and Ahsan Iqbal have come out with limp statements, as limp as their spines and their conscience and morality, the attempt to cause damage is quite clear.

On another note. A trifle below the belt but nevertheless important to bring out.

Capt. Safdar Hudood should be very careful what he says when he pretends to take the high moral and religious ground.

Let him be reminded that there’s enough circumstantial evidence  to convict him and his wife for acts falling under the Hudood ordinance which he so vociferously also advocates. A law that I personally have huge issues with.

Beware Capt. Safdar Hudood and Maryam Hudood, for throwing stones while sitting in your very flimsy glass houses. You both are  skating on extremely thin ice.

Such are the dogs of war and evil that Nawaz Sharif and his cronies have unleashed on Pakistan to save his wealth and his political future and in that order.

For him and his associates, Pakistan is secondary and only a means to more wealth and power.

Otherwise why would they have misgoverned, raped, plundered and pillaged this country as their spoils of war in the manner that they’ve done and continue to do?

This we must understand.

Especially those who still support him and his evil.

And more importantly those who sit on the fence and hope somehow, as if by magic, things will sort themselves out!

Remember. Insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviours. It’s Garbage in – Garbage out.

If we don’t change the “inputs”, that is, the quality of people, who represent us and govern the country, we will continue to recycle this garbage called Nawaz Sharif, Zaradari et al under the current system and back to the stench and vomit which exists today!

-Haider Mehdi