Judicial and Institutional Witchunt! A short note!

*Judicial and Institutional Witchunt! A short note!

*By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

In recent months we have seen a plethora of actions by the Superior Judiciary and NAB in taking cognizance of an offence, conducting inquiries and investigation, conducting prosecution and convicting people.

NAB has all these powers vested in one person, the NAB Chairman.

While we have seen laudable and necessary actions both by the Supreme Court and NAB, it has also created an environment of fear, intimidation and helplessness amongst those who are clean, honest and competent, both in the public and private sectors!

Many such people have had their reputations torn to shreds, insulted and humiliated by institutions and their leaders because of unbridled power and authority vested in one person.

The old adage about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is very relevant in this context.

Information is deliberately leaked to the media and the media trial commences at the very early stages of taking cognizance of a potential crime, even before basic fact finding and inquiries commence. Forget formal investigation, prosecution and conviction.

With the advent of the new administration in Pakistan, it is imperative that the NAB law is totally reviewed to ensure that while the guilty are speedily brought to justice, the innocent are not destroyed!

Pakistan today desperately needs top professional talent from the private sector who are honest and competent to become an active part of the new administration.

But such is the fear of being hauled up and made to stand like errant schoochildren or common criminals, that many will baulk at taking up critical roles in government!

And even more importantly, honest and competent public servants will not work without fear or favor! Everyone will play safe, not take required decisions and only cover their posteriors!

No organization or institution should have unlimited, unbridled power and authority to play havoc.

In the hands of incompetent or even competent people such absolute power will corrupt anyone, absolutely! And corruption does not mean financial corruption.

Corruption of the ego, and misguided Jihad is far more dangerous!

Imran’s core fundamentals are that transparency, competency, due diligence and due process is essential for Justice to be served, as was done in Nawaz Sharif’s case!

This must be the norm not the exception!

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi

There’s still time to redeem yourself!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Just look at the enemies attacking Imran, the Supreme Court, NAB and the Army!

Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Asfandyar Wali, Achakzai, Fazal Diesel, Altaf Hussain.

Then the misguided and the misinformed.

Then those whose political, economic and social stakes are wedded to this terrible status quo of corruption, loot, plunder and institutional destruction.

And most dangerously those who want a weak Pakistan ruled by the corrupt. A Pakistan with a weak Army. A nuclear defanged Pakistan.

They certainly don’t want a progressive, forward looking, democratic Pakistan with strong institutions and strong leadership, working for its people and not the current rich and corrupt elite!

And then look at the media and writers and intellectuals who make fun of him. Deride him. Run him down.

And they do it so very cleverly. They cloak their daggers in silky narratives of “Saving democracy” “Army political meddling” “Judicial Activism” ” NAB witch hunt”, “Religious obscurantism”!

They are blind to the efforts of institutional reform in KP. They are blind to the massive efforts in the police, in healthcare and education. In strengthening the local bodies. And blind to their impact.

Not perfect, I agree, but substantial enough for everyone to see.

All they can see is the resignation of the Ehtesaab Chief.

But none will highight that for 4 years NAB was under a Nawaz toady called Ch. Qamarruzaman and were unable to investigate and or file a reference of any substantial corruption or wrongdoing in KP or against those who are close to Imran.

They lambast the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice for exceeding his mandate, but forget that the same Court, disqualified Jehangir Tareen.

They forget that with all state institutions lying on a death bed, the SC had to step in.

They question the Panama and accountability court’s judgements but forget the criminality of the Sharifs and the Zardaris and their terrible and abject deliberate misgovernance and criminality.

They question Hanif Abbasi’s conviction as a witch hunt, forgetting that this man has possibly been responsible for sending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands into the dark abyss of lifelong drug addiction and abuse!

And Shaukat Siddiqi. The evil maniac one who calls himself a Judge! Muddying the waters of his corruption and misuse of authority and nearing his convuction, wants to die as a political martyr in a hail of his own calumny! A petty, hypocrital liar, worthy of nothing but contempt.

They question Imran’s monetary handout to Sami ul Haq’s seminary as evidence of his support for Taliban like organizations.

So, if that’s true is KP now a more radicalized province then it was before?

I also questioned him on this in my interview. His answer which he has shared publicly hundreds of time.

Do we leave the hundreds of thousands of madrassah kids, failed by the State, to the mercies of obscurantist thought or do we attempt to exercise oversight over them and teach them skills so they become positive contributors in our society vs being brainwashed into a life of intolerance, guns and violence?

So yes we paid them to establish a teacher training college, upgrade their facilities with computers and curriculum to teach non religious subjects.

In return we got membership on their board and management control and most importantly, authority of approval of their curriculm and complete oversight by the KP Board of Education.

Sami ul Haq also countered the Fatwa by the TTP/DAESH/AL QAEDA, supported by Fazal Diesel, that polio drops were haraam. Sammy’s people accompanied polio teams to address this Fatwa.

But who wants to talk about the rationale and the impact?

Who wants to talk about the crippled life that awaits those thousands of children without polio drops, because their parents and guardians were brainwashed by an obscurantist thought?

And finally lets get real. Sammy and Diesel are political enemies. What would you do if Fazal was your political enemy?

Internationally just look at the Indian and Western press and segments of our own media!

Look at the slander and the pettiness of the filth being heaped on our Judiciary, our Army, the NAB and Imran by his political opponents and many so called enlightened and educated!

So here are my questions to all who have joined this battle to defame Imran and hit out at our Judiciary, our Army and the NAB!

Why would you support known criminals, crooks, plunderers, money launderers like Nawaz and Zardari?

Why would you NOT support people and forces who are desperately trying to save Pakistan from collapsing and anarchy?

Why are you all pointing your guns at the Supreme Court, NAB, Imran and the Army?

Why are all of you desperately trying to scuttle and sabotage efforts to strengthen Pakistan?

Where were you alongwith all anti Imran, anti Judiciary, anti Army political forces when the wholescale loot and plunder in Pakistan was taking place these last 10 years?

Where were you when all our institutions were being royally raped and destroyed by Zardari and Nawaz from 2008?

Where were you when cronies and toadies were appointed to powerful posts so they could loot and plunder with abandon?

Why on earth would you support criminals like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari?

Why for God’s sake? What have they given us, except deprivation, destruction, corruption, loot and plunder and large projects to fill their own pockets?

You are either ignorant, misinformed, or have deep political, social and economic vested interests with the current mafia like status quo.

And many amongst you with full stomachs, wealth, power and access to state power are not directly affected, so far by this massive institutional destruction and plunder of our wealth.

Woe the day when the pain and the cries of the anguished and underprivileged burst out on the streets!

They will douse your lights, loot and plunder your wealth, burn your houses and end your lives!

Woe that day which is not far off, if this system continues.

Many of you, like me living overseas, in safe environments, are completely oblivious to the horrors, our poor and exploited face everyday.

You the rich and powerful and privilged, are untouched and unfazed by the cries and agony of the millions who suffer everyday.

You do not hear the cries and death throes of the hungry, undernourished malnutritioned poor child, man and woman.

The only cries you hear are of two convicts. The criminal Nawaz and the forgerer Maryam!

You do not suffer the agonies nor do you hear the cries of the millions of suffering sick as your sickness is attended to by the expensive private hospitals in Pakistan!

Or like Nawaz, Shahbaz, Kulsoom, Zardari, Asim Hussain and others like you, you fly off to hospitals in Europe and North America to save your blighted health!

Your ignorance of what’s happening, deliberate or unconscious, is a curse on your insensitive skins, your conscience and your souls.

Your ignorance and insensitivity is a far greater curse then the curse of ignorance which millions of our youth are blighted with. Our schools and colleges failing them, providing an education which offers them nothing. No skills. No competencies. No employment!

Your ignorance pervades because you do not face the fascism of our police and others, either buying your way out or using your influence.

You are a miserable, sick, prostituted lot.

Prostituted by your arrogance, your power, your wealth, your egos, your privileged lifestyle, your vested interests and above all your insensitivity and your ignorance!

And because you’ve sold your souls, your self respect, your honour and your dignity, you will do everything in your power to bring down the man and the institutions, who for once in a long long time, in a rare moment in our blighted God Forsaken history, are desperately trying to fix our corrupted body politic and fight for the under dog, the poor, the marginalized and the socially and economically disadvantaged.

You want to kill this rare moment in our history!

If God Forbid, we are unsuccessful now in changing our system then please remember it was you who stabbed Pakistan in the back!

And then cry not when the flames engulf us all!

But there is still time to redeem yourself.

Please Vote for Pakistan and not this terrible band of looters and plunderers of the Sharifs and the Zardaris!

*Salaams and Prayers*
*Haider Mehdi*

The Case for Pakistan!

The Case for Pakistan
-By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

I’ve recently commenced a series of video interviews with eminent Pakistanis who have occupied positions of significant authority, power and influence in Pakistan.

The objective was and is to discuss and debate serious issues in a serious manner with serious people who know what they’re talking about.

A common attribute amongst these people is that by and large all of them have great reputations, outstanding achievements and are generally considered amongst the best in their areas of expertise. By and large.

Our conversations have focussed on what ails Pakistan, what brought us to this stage and what are some possible solutions.

I believe these interviews are different from the run of the mill narratives one hears on TV because these opinions, insights, perspectives and solutions carry the weight of the trophies these people have achieved in life.

I also recommend two books for those serious about what ails Pakistan.

“Governing the ungovernable” by Dr. Ishrat Hussain”*
and

“The Faltering State” by Tariq Khosa.

Both gentlemen have agreed to being interviewed for these special series as well, which I hope to start airing in a few days!

Hopefully these conversations will give us much better and informed insights about our challenges and opportunities.

Interestingly, each speaking from their vantage point and unbeknownst to others, unainimously agreed that the root causes behind the deliberate destruction of our state institutions were political interference and patronage, leadership incompetence, lack of meritocracy and lack of accountability.

All leading to our current dismal state and the terrible corruption, loot and plunder we’ve  seen, especially in the last 10 years.

The big picture emerging from the conversations to date is:

Pakistan’s recovery can ONLY happen if deep and widespread systemic institutional reform and overall is undertaken to ensure that

1.All public sector institutions are freed and made independant from damaging political and executive interference and given constitutional protection.

They must be headed by competent and honest leadership who will preside over a transparent, accountable and merit driven culture and perform their functions without fear or favor.

2. Very strong regulatory oversight regimes are put in place not only to check irregularities and corruption but also create an enabling environment for the public and business.

3. A Judicial system that supports and enables social order and economic growth. Today our society and business sector is hamstrung by a slow, overworked, mostly corrupt judicial system unable to decide cases for decades. One senior executive said off the record, they are “Pakistan’s Biggest Mafia” and have caused the most damage. Either they are corrupt, incompetent, lazy or overworked or they go on a rampage of judicial activism which scares the daylights out of everybody, especially the innocent. Where in the world do you find a judicial system which pretty much convicts a person facing only a NAB inquiry?

There was also near consensus that unless there’s serious and uncompromising political will by a leader and party in power, any party, no change is possible. Guaranteed no change!

And if we continue the path we are on, we will continue to sail in stormy waters bereft of sails, at the mercy of the elements, and the inevitable tragic consequences!

The terrible acts of terror in Peshawar, Bannu and Mastung are heartbreaking and evidence of how fragile we have become! The loss of life and limb just unbearable. Young Bilor and Raisani two symbols of a tolerant Pakistan, their lives nipped in the bud!

Only a committed political government headed by an uncompromising and honest leader can mobilise our economic resources. Collect more Taxes. Increase exports. Initiate rapid Industrialization. Attract investments and create jobs for the nearly 3 million people joining the employment market every year!

Only a committed political government can ensure that we benefit from CPEC ensuring that net net, our exports increase, our tax collection is higher and our employment increases.

Only a committed political government can begin the process of providing security of life and property, a speedy and cheap judicial system, equal access to quality education, healthcare and employment opportunities!

And even more interestingly, to the chagrin of some, I’m sure who read this, all seemed to agree, in some cases a trifle grudgingly, that Imran’s success of doing this in KP is evidence that such reforms are possible.

And if anyone can do it, it’s perhaps him.

While we can find many things to criticise him for not doing enough in KP, in my opinion even what he’s achieved in KP is revolutionary by Pakistani standards.

As I shared with someone earlier today, people’s view of Imran range from godlike adoration to incompetent buffoon.

Personally I think both views are wrong.

On the one hand people either grossly underestimate him expecting him to fail miserably or overly overestimate him, having unrealistic and sky-high expectations.

My personal sense is that he will deliver much more than his detractors think he’s capable off, and a trifle less than those who adore him like a rock star.

But if there’s any person and an opportune time in our history for deep systemic reform then this is it.

This is perhaps the first time in our history that all key state institutions are fully aligned, especially if Imran were to win.

Our Executive, Legislatures, Judiciary and of course the Army will, for the first time, under a civilian government, stand fully committed to reform and redeem Pakistan.

Will this be sustainable? What are the chances that we will revert to our older habits, even if a new government brought about these changes?

The answer. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that at least we would have started the journey and that’s half the battle!!

I’m often accused of my single minded support for Imran and my visceral hatred of the Sharifs and the Zardaris.

Let me rephrase it as I see it. There is no personal hate or love for anybody, but only and only love for the well-being of Pakistan.

I genuinely believe that the direct responsibility of the systematic destruction of our state institutions lies at the doorsteps of the Sharifs and the Zardaris and our military rulers.

I’m not a journalist, nor a disinterested geo political commentator making a living by writing “……on the one hand and on the other hand…..”, trying to please everybody!

Fortunately I only have one hand which carries the Flag of Pakistan

And after a very very long time I simply see Imran as Pakistan’s best fighting chance to keep the Flag flying, given the near Divine alignment amongst all our key state institutions!

This is not about politics. ,It’s about Pakistan!

It’s as simple as that!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

The return of Nawaz and Maryam – A short note!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

A non-establishment but very knowledgeable pigeon whispered in my ear that Nawaz, after the Avenfield judgement, had approached several quarters requesting that he and Maryam, and unsurprisingly no mention of Safdar Luggar buggar, be granted judicial relief from punishment and jail.

In return both will publicly renounce all forms of political and electoral politics and permanently live outside Pakistan.

The answer. We have nothing to do with the judicial process nor had or have any influence. Your decision to return or not return, seek relief and get it or not get it, and renounce politics is yours and yours alone!

So that’s that!

Senior voices in the PMLN are divided on their return.

One camp is against their returning.

They think a free Nawaz and Maryam, located in London, are far more potent and effective than in jail in Pakistan.

They argue that by being in London they will continue to have access to both Pakistani and International media, and use this access, to continue to hammer away at the Army and the Judiciary and protest their “victimhood”!

They also argue, that even if the PMLN loses this election, the fact that they are not in jail, gives their supporters hope that in a few years the situation might change and a good possibility of returning to Pakistan in triumph, like Benazir!

Those advising Nawaz not to return to Pakistan also advise that both Nawaz and Maryam get political asylum in the UK. They believe that by doing so they strengthen their case of being politically victimized in the Avenfield case and therefore saving their foreign assets from being seized and confiscated by any foreign government such as the UK, in line with the decision of the Pakistani courts.

Additionally, by staying out, also allows them to fight any case more effectively brought against them under the recently promulgated UK “Unexplained Wealth Orders” which asks people to explain their sources of wealth.

Here’s the link for those interested in this UK order https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/circular-0032018-criminal-finances-act-unexplained-wealth-orders/circular-0032018-unexplained-wealth-orders

In summary this gives them a better chance of saving their ill-gotten wealth and assets, retain their freedom with access to media to continue to hammer away at the Army and the Judiciary and keep the flame alive of a possible triumphant return to Pakistan, at a future date.

The other group insists that Nawaz and Maryam come back and face the judicial consequences and even go to jail, if they have to.

They believe that like Zardari, both will emerge politically stronger and that a future judicial review of their cases may allow them to come back into mainstream politics with the focus on Maryam picking up the mantle, now having achieved the ultimate political badge of imprisonment!

They argue that if Nawaz and Maryam don’t return, the damage to the party and its morale will be irreparable and destroy any chances of a possible comeback, especially for Maryam.

They also believe that their return may generate a huge sympathy vote wave in PMLN’s favor, just before the election, and just enought to spoil Imran’s chances of an outright majority at the Center and in Punjab, with the field open for a coalition which may look more benignly at their case later, when in power.

When I asked about the “Kulsoom” factor, one pigeon said that if her condition is what’s being rumoured then by returning under such circumstances would result in a massive funeral, Ghaibaana Namaaz e Janazas all across the country and an even bigger synpathy vote wave.

Additionally this may thwart any plans by the authorities to either divert the flight to Islamabad or the possibility of heli lifting them from Lahore to avoid a tumultuous welcome, a possible serious law and order situation and a long procession from Lahore to Islamabad.

All covered, second by second, by local and international media!!

Because if the “Kulsoom” factor does play out, it will be very difficult for the authorities to divert the plane or heli lift them from Lahore, till the final rites are done!

So what will Nawaz and Maryam do?

Come back or stay away?

If I were him, and knowing how he cannot bear life in jail I would save my wealth, fight my unexplained wealth orders case, get political asylum and stay away.

And live to fight another day!

Or perhaps come himself and leave Maryam behind!

But who knows how the future unfolds.

Alea iacta est. The Die is Cast and no turning back!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

The die is cast. There’s no turning back now.

No matter how much Nawaz and company try to muddy the waters by a narrative of establishment high handedness because he wanted to control them, the inexorable march of accountability, will not stop.

One may find our judicial system leaky and full of loopholes but even this rickety system was able to nail Nawaz, so blatant and brazen was his loot and plunder.

One must question why not Musharraf or X or Y or Z?

Great question. And yes, why not?

But we can’t get to Lahore if you dont start the journey and stop at Soan! It’s a journey. As the Chinese say, all journeys start with the first step.

Perhaps our initial steps are clumsy and not perfect or sure footed.

But if we are headed in the right direction and on the right path, however clumsily, we will eventually get to our goals of holding everybody accountable.

Generals and Judges included. Guaranteed!

If an institution, read the Army, did NOT COME TO HIS AID, to bail him out.

Or another institution refused to be bought. Read the Supreme Court.

Or he was unable to get recourse from a former very pliant NAB as he earlier got from his toady, Ch. Qamaruzzaman.

Or he was unable to buy off the JIT and the NAB judge.

It doesn’t mean he’s being victimised.

It just means we are finally growing a few spines here and there and have commenced our journey.

But there’s no turning back!

Mark my words. No turning back, despite all the hoopla and the fierce resistance of these mafiosos of the status quo.

Despite playing the victim and martyr card. There’s no turning back!

And If Imran fails, then somebody else. Hopefully, he won’t!

Alea iacta est. Enough is enough!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

Vote ko Izzath Do! 25 July 2018!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*.

The sanctity of our vote, especially of those who have voted in the past, is reflected in the manner this trust was manifested by those who acquired power.

PPP got 13% of registered vote in 2008.

PMLN got 17% of registered vote in 2013

But whatever the percentage it is supposed to manifest.

In the quality of governance.

In our institutions responsible for delivering public services, becoming more efficient, effective, stronger and less corrupt.

In improved law and order and security of life and property.

In better health care, better education, better employment opportunities.

In a Parliament which acts as an eagle eyed watchdog on the Executive, ensuring this trust is not breached.

In public office holders being transparently and swiftly held accountable when they misuse public office for private gain.

In public institutions headed by honest and competent professionals who do their jobs without fear or favor.

And ultimately it is all about improving the quality of life of the citizens of Pakistan!

But this sanctity of the vote is not an unchallegeable license to kill, murder, loot, plunder and pillage our national wealth, misuse authority and destroy our institutions.

It’s not a shield to save a public leader from corruption, criminality and blatant and brazen abuse of office.

It’s not a “victimhood” card when a leader and his family is caught with their hands in the till for the entire world to see.

It’s not a means to weaken and destroy public sector institutions so the corrupt cannot be held accountable.

It’s not to flood government positions of authority and power and influence with toadies and cronies who are both corrupt and incompetent and their only attribute being loyalty to an individual and their ability to use these positions to illegally siphon off public funds and taxpayers money for themselves and the leader.

It’s not to foist their incompetent children on the country, as heirs to a throne.

It’s not to weaken other State institutions who they fear can check their unbridled loot and plunder.

It’s not to plunder obscene amounts of ill begotten and stolen wealth and , stash them away in overseas properties and assets and bank accounts in UK, Dubai, France, Switzerland, Spain, Malaysia etc.

*It is a sacred public trust to be honoured and not betrayed.*

On 25th July, vote with your feet and your heads.

Vote for those who you think are most likely to honour and not betray this trust.

Vote for those who you think will actually give “Izzath to your vote”.

Vote for Pakistan, for its future, for your own future and for our coming generations.

Vote for those who will give us a “fighting chance” to once and for all rid ourselves of this mafia of looters and plunderers.

*Salaams and Prayers*
*Haider Mehdi*

Slapping Jibran Nasir!

By Haider Mehdi.

A slap is the ultimate insult.

It demeans a person. Humiliates them.

While its physically not as painful, the paychological and emotional wounds are much deeper and painful.

The manner in which Jibran was dragged, slapped and bundled in the police van, yesterday by police accompanying a Sind High Court Judge, for “not giving way” is symptomatic of the fascism our society has faced for thousands of years in one form, shape or the other.

Foreign invaders slapped us for centuries.

Our feudal lords, sardars, nawabs, maliks, chaudhry’s did likewise, after earlier receiving their due share from those more powerful then them.

We have been slapped by military rulers, civilian administrators, supreme courts, high courts, every court.

We have been slapped by our politicians, Imran Khan included.

By our preening bureaucrats. By our business people. By our academics.

And by that most sacred of cows the purveyors of our final salvation, the Mullah!

In fact every and any damn person and institution which was and is powerful and thought it was above the law has slapped us.

And we’ve taken it lying down.

But occasionally a mad hatter like Jibran decides not to. He challenges the powers as he has done in the past.

While on occasions I’ve had serious differences with him in his support of causes which I think are questionable, Jibran the person and his defiance symbolizes the rare awakening in a society cowed down by the “slaps” of the powerful.

I don’t know what will happen to him and pray for his safety and security and that he wins a seat in the provincial assembly.

But I do hope and pray that others also pick up courage to defy the fascism that prevails in our society. Whether it emanates from someone in uniform or out of! I wish I had that courage!

Perhaps in the long run, the salvation of our society and our country does lie in a Jibran type defiance against this arrogance of entitlement and display of uncouth, uncivilized, illegal power.

Perhaps it does lie in finally standing up to the established order after a millennium of slaps!

Perhaps technology, especially smart phones, the internet, social and mainstream electronic media are the harbingers of this revolution and not “guns, germs and steel”. This last phrase, a title of a must read book on why certain societies became more powerful than others.

Perhaps it is not in the hotch potch political mess we see today across all political parties using questionable strategies to come into power. No exceptions! PTI included!

Perhaps this will become the proverbial slap “heard around Pakistan that will change our destiny”

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi

The Imran Khan “Fighting Chance”!

The Imran Khan “Fighting Chance”

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

The recent hooplah over PTI ticket allocation to “electables” has set Pakistan abuzz.

Many have criticised his “electables” electoral strategy and there’s a rift amongst his own people on specific ticket allocations.

These are both strategic and tactical questions.

Strategic in questioning this approach of using “electables” as a winnable electoral strategy vs the “Bhutto Khumba” strategy.

Tactical, in questioning specific ticket allocations.

A strategy is always questionable. One can always argue for or against an adopted strategy. “Electables” or “Khumba”.

Let us remember that the Bhutto phenomenon came after 14 years of quasi military and military rule. The electoral environment was very different.

And Imran’s Khumba strategy failed in 2013.

The question to be asked from those offering criticism of Imran’s electables strategy is to ask themselves whether they possess the expertise, insight and most importantly their own practical experience in Pakistan’s political environment.

At a tactical level, I think its a question of who is able influence decisions. And clearly some errors were made.

And if these are serious and widespread then Imran can only blame himself and no one else.

But I think our bigger problem is that we offer free advice by the ton without having walked in the shoes of others.

Most who criticise Imran, have not journeyed Imran’s 22 years in this harsh political mafia like environment.

But we choose to become self appointed gurus on electoral strategy and tactics and what he should do and not do.

If anyone had walked in Imran’s shoes to try and change the system, in my opinion, would have had four obvious options available to them.

1. Give up after trying several times. Most do. He didn’t.

2. Join the loot. Most do. He didn’t.

3. Launch a violent and bloody revolution. He didn’t. He’s a builder not a destroyer.

4. Use the existing system to somehow pole vault him over the bar so he comes into power and sets about his agenda of change. He opted for this and made compromises, some of which apparently are tactically questionable. But his strategy, given current realities, is the only option available. And yes it may fail.

But one has to win the election to come into power.

And given the current electoral process, having potentially winning candidates on your side is now the only option.

One can argue that had Imran built up a very powerful intra party organizational structure and electoral engine, he may not have accepted as many “electables” from other parties.

But for now. This is his best strategy. Moaning and groaning and grumbling won’t help him.

For now as the battle begins, he needs the unqualified support from all of us who want a better, brighter, more just and equitable Pakistan.

Hence I would still give him my unqualified support till the elections and about 1 year beyond.

This unqualified support could be shorter after the elections, if one sees that he is wavering and following the path of the Sharifs and the Zardaris.

And most importantly if “questionable” people elected on his party ticket are doing the same what the Sharifs and Zardaris were up to.

And that he is unable to control them.

Laykin aik chance bilkul buntha hay!

I say this, because a man who can reach this stage of political influence and power in the gutter called Pakistani politics, without a political legacy, without being a wadera or a sardar, with no ties to any political groups and most importantly not acquired political power riding on the shoulders of military dictators like Bhutto and Nawaz, must have amazing qualities and stamina and something exceptional which keeps him going.

Bhutto would have been just a smart lawyer, but for Ayub Khan.

Nawaz Sharif, would still be bribing government bureaucrats but for Gen. Zia and Gen. Jilani.

I personally think Imran is not just an “undhon may kaana Raja” but a giant in our political landscape. Otherwise he would have faded away much earlier.

There’s a phrase I use for the nitpicking we do in running him down, but which perfectly describes what those who have never suffered hunger, never been exploited by the rich and the powerful, those who belong to the privileged elite of Pakistan, full stomachs, electric generators, wealth, power and influence.

They are the ones who indulge in this terrible exercise called “Intellectual Analysis Paralysis”.

There’s another much more colorful and graphic phrase to describe this mind set but parliamentary norms restrict me from using it here.

We are like all those half assed cricket “specialists” watching a match on TV or sitting on the sidelines, commenting on why Mohammed Aamir didn’t ball a yorker or an inswinger or Why Misbah played that shot or why didn’t he?

Useless people, never having achieved anything substantial in life, never ever been in the cut and thrust of this quagmire called politics, pontificating and sermonising, criticizing freely, hoping this would elevate their pygmy like stature closer to someone who has sacrificed his entire life to try and fix this nation.

Or then those who are simply hard wired in their opposition to him because of high stake political and economic vested interests with the Sharifs and Zardaris.

A PPP Senator and a friend since 1984 recently cut off ties with me when I questioned her slavish servitude to the “House of Zardari” and Bilawal Zardari.

I questioned her on how someone like her with a lifeling track record of fighting injustice could sell herself like a courtier paying homage to a “twenty something nothing” called Bilawal, because of vested political interests and economic power and influence?

But their support for a criminal like Nawaz or a looter and plunderer like Zardari is understandable.

And then there is this wonderful lot of so called liberals who will support crooks like Nawaz and Zardari as symbols of “democracy” and everything that is anti military.

They live in the “cold war” era of anti militarism and anti authoritarianism of the Zia and Musharraf eras. And still believe that they are fighting a Jihad!

And Nawaz has used this anti military sentiment very effectively to muddy the waters and make this into a “Democracy vs Martial Law” narrative with the help of these so called anti army crusaders.

Those who have bought into this narrative are treading very very dangerous waters, because were this terrible mafia to survive, Pakistan is headed for major anarchy.

Get ready to see your wonderful boulevards and house in the Bahria’s, and DHA’s and Gulbergs etc go up in flames.

Get ready to see your freedoms and rights usurped as mad militias loot, plunder, rape, pillage and destroy.

The anger we see amongst the poor and downtrodden on videos circulating on social media are small eruptions of the massive lava of anger and discontent lying just below the surface.

Once it erupts, no one will be able to stop it. No one.

No. Not even the Pakistan Army.

Innocent and guilty will be swept away in this tide of violent anger.

And this will not be a revolution. But total anarchy.

This last group in my opinion is worse than any other. In their singleminded anger against the Pakistan Army, they are willing to support and truck with the most corrupt criminals of this land. Nawaz and Zardari and lead us to anarchy.

One very well known journalist, currently in the USA, publicly shared that he would vote for the PPP. This person, highly educated, well read, brilliant, is an example of this terrible terrible affliction which impacts our educated and aware.

Another owner of a main stream newspaper waxed eloquently about the “accomplishments” of Nawaz, Khaqan and of all people, Maryam Aurangzeb, blinded by commercial interests and blind to the loot and plunder of the Sharifs and Zardaris.

Hence my unqualified BUT timebound support for Imran because in my opinion his “electables” strategy is a means to an end.

And once in power he gives Pakistan a fighting chance to get us out of this terrible quicksand:

1. He plans to insulate public funds from legislators. Restrict them to legislating.

2. Restrict Cabinet to policy making and limit their administrative and functional interference in operational implementation.

3. Institute major civil service reforms, especially restoring constitutional protection for civil servants so they are free of unwanted political and government influence

4. Dramaticall improve the delivery of public services for the common man by appointing competent heads of public sector state owned enterprises with independant boards, free of political interference.

5. Institute major judicial reforms with Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms as an important fundamental.

6. Ensuring that administratively and financially empowered local governments deliver public services.

Thats his plan.

So lets give him a chance andnot shoot him down before he’s even started.

KP was his first shot at governance.  He has done a very credible and effective job, despite the entrenched mafias and vested interests, including those in his own party.

And he has learned much!

And to Imran

If Imran betrays our faith and trust.

If he doesn’t walk his talk.

I will be at the head of the long line to cast the first stone!

This I assure him and everybody!

No one is above Pakistan.

And a last word for the critics from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt.

“…….It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat……”

Haider Mehdi

Nawaz Sharif -Traitor or Trader?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big business has its political parties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nawaz was the family’s “failure”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And moving on.

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

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

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

So what are his options?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If this alone is not treachery, then what is?

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

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

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

-Haider Mehdi

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

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

The most potent are our legislatures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is similar to the USA model!

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

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

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

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

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

The question is how?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are clearly ones, within

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

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

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

No guarantees. But our best fighting chance!

*-Haider Mehdi*