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*

Pakistan’s transformation from a Kleptocracy /Plutocracy to a Democracy and the onslaught on the Army!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Given the massive onslaught on the Pakistan Army by International media, specifically USA and India and parts of our national media as we saw recently in Hameed Haroon’s recent BBC Hard Talk interview, a historical gallop is essential.

Historically one thing is clear. Our military interventions have sorely impacted the evolution of our State into a genuine and strong democratic polity

Notwithstanding the fact that we had the strongest economic performances during the three military regimes of Ayub, Zia and Musharraf, they used the same category of carpetbagger politicians to further their individual rules. Each blundered us into conflicts which had major impact on our political evolution and development.

Take our five military adventures under our military rulers. 65 war under Ayub, 71 war under Yahya, the Afghan cauldron under Zia, and most recently Kargil and the war on terror under Musharraf.

All these Military interventions grossly weakened the State.

Internally their administrations nurtured and strengtened the political mafias represented by the likes of the Bhuttos, the Zardaris and the Sharifs and gave rise to this kleptocratic and plutocratic class of politicians.

Kleptocracy and Plutocracy means a governing order of the rich and the corrupt, ruling a country!

This evil order has deliberately weakened and destroyed our state institutions, so they could loot and plunder unchecked, leading to the near social and economic collapse we face today.

Thus the responsibility for our current state lies squarely on the shoulders of both our military rulers and our politicians.

So lets get this “but what about the Army….” out of the way!

But today’s Army and its military leadership is starkly different.

The rank and file have been bloodied in a 14 year long conflict, sadly and as a consequence of decisions by its own leaders in the past.

But It has sacrificed with blood, sweat and tears, as have our law enforcement institutions and tragically, as have we, the people of Pakistan.

It has been steeled and forged in battle. It has the highest officer to troops casualty ratio in the world.

This is an Army that has paid and is still paying for the sins of their forefathers and in the process have saved the country from near destruction and total anarchy.

It has withstood the onslaught that destroyed civilian institutions, partly because its leaders ruled for 33 years and partly because it defended its turf jealously even under civilian rule. And thank God for their institutional discipline, for God forbid, had it gone the way of our civilian institutions, I shudder to think of the consequences.

This is a different Army with a different leadership and mindset.

They have seen the follies of their own myopic decisions in 1979 and 2004, as the current Chief has publicly stated.

This is no longer an Army with a “security mindset”. It is now truly a national army, which has come of age.

There is absolute unainimity of views in the Army that Pakistan’s future lies not in any military intervention nor in any backdoor manipulation, but in deep systemic internal reform and long term peaceful relations with its neighbors, especially India and Afghanistan.

Apologies for this tangent.

But its important to share this insight of the so called military economic complex, especially for many civilians brought up on a brainwashed diet of the Army’s domination of the economic sector!

Today our Defence expenditure is 2.5% of GDP vs 5.8% in 1960 and 9% of total expenditure vs 28.3% in 1960.

The collective value of all military owned businsses is a mere 4% of total market capitalization on the stock exchange. A drop in the ocean.

Their main military conglomerate is Fauji Foundation running 18 enterprises.

Four are wholly owned. Fourteen are associated companies. Another nine are public unlisted companies.

The Foundation earned dividends of Rs.13 billion in 2016. Of this Rs.11 billion was spent on ex servicemen welfare. Rs. 1 billion on Corporate Social Responsibility welfare projects. Only Rs. 1 billion was retained as earnings and another Rs. 1 billion on administrative expenses. No money goes into making anybody rich.

The Defence Societies have overwhelmingly benefited the civilians in a housing starved society!

So why do they exist?

These military businesses exist because the State of Pakistan does not provide any post service support to ex service people, except pension.

There is no “Veterans Program” as exists in the USA and all other developed western democracies to cater to the needs of ex-servicemen!

Unlike the private sector and the civilian bureaucracy, where everyone retires at 60, the vast majority of armed forces officers retire at the prime of their life at age 45 and troops at age 37, with no means of income, other than a very small pension, usually a growing family, with children still in school or college or university.

The entire military economic complex caters to these people by providing jobs, health care, education, retraining and most importantly, financial and employment support to the families of shaheeds.

And all this because the State cannot.

The Foundation runs 11 hospitals, 103 medical centers, 104 schools, 2 colleges and 77 technical and vocational training insitutes.

All business enterprises are not money making exercises to fill the pockets of serving officers or troops. Nor is this an attempt to control our economic engine.

No business owned by any armed forces foundation is exempt from taxes, other than what is directly attributable to verifiable welfare spend. The same as for any civilian welfare project.

In 2016 Fauji paid Rs 17.8 billion in taxes. Employing tens of thousands of people. Both civilians and ex service. *Their welfare activities impact over 10 million people, directly and indirectly.*

Can you imagine the disaster if the Army had not catered to their ex employees?

While one can criticise Martial Laws and military interventions as I have done, the terrible propaganda unleashed against the institution is a very deliberate effort to divide the country, sow serious dissension and conduct highly inflammable politics, as Nawaz is doing.

So here we are in 2018, with Nawaz convicted and imprisoned!

Let’s understand one thing clearly.

Nawaz is no innocent lamb or brave gladiator, valiantly fighting the cause of democracy and civilian supremacy over the military.

He is desperately fighting not just to save and his daughter’s political future and his wealth, but to save the sordid and evil kleptocratic/plutocratic order that he, Benazir and Zardari, presided over in turns.

Over 14 articles have been written in the US press and 27 in the Indian press in recent weeks and countless in our national press, all criticising the Army for political interference in the electoral process.

But strangely not a word about the wholescale corruption, loot and plunder and destruction of State institutions by Nawaz Sharif or Zardari.

Not a word about questioning the snowflake defence offered by Nawaz in defence of his Avenfield properties.

Not a word about his and his brother’s misrule and misgovernance. Nor anything about foisting their children on the nation!

Hameed Haroon’s BBC Hard Talk interview was perhaps the lowest depths that the once mighty Dawn has fallen. A media house which was once the pride of our nation, where I also once worked. And sadly, from a person who I’ve known personally, worked under and respect deeply.

A strong Pakistan with strong leadership is not something the USA or India relishes, despite their hollow protestations.

The USA would much rather have a malleable person like Nawaz or Zardari, or even a military strongman, who are easy to manage. But not a strong democratic order!

Internally those whose political and economic stakes are wedded to this mafia, including those in the media, have also come out in their support, masking their financial interests with high sounding defence of democracy, protestations!

And then those tragic souls who are still fighting a Don Quixote “cold war” against militarism, which they commenced during Zia’s rule! A sad and misguided lot, living in cuckooland!

These are the gangs that Nawaz has rallied to his “cause”!

Let’s get real folks.

The kleptocratic /plutocratic mafia has a stranglehold on Pakistan’s body politic.

Nawaz sits on top of this mafia. Zardari a close second!

They will not go easily and certainly not willingly. They will fight till the end, even if it means creating dissension in the country. Even if it means throwing the country into unprcedented turmoil, even civil war.

They will use every ruse, every trick up their sleeve to turn this battle against an evil order into one against “democracy” and “civilian supremacy”.

They will attempt to turn the nation against the Army, using all resources and people in their fight for survival.

And while all this is happening, does anyone seriously expect the Army to sit demurely, hands folded, like a shy blushing bride, while Nawaz, his misguided supporters, and sections of the media and our society, misinformed and ill informed, go on the rampage, putting the State’s existence and future at stake?

Well. Apparently not! And let’s leave it here! This is not a picnic we are talking about. This is about our survival and our future!

Clearly a strong, democratic, well governed and corruption free Pakistan is a political death warrant for Nawaz and Zardari!

Hence the battle!

So where do we go from here?

Pakistan’s salvation lies not in individuals be they Imran, Saqib or Bajwa or any others etc.

Our salvation lies in building strong public institutions, rigorous regulatory regimes with strong accountability and parliamentary oversight.

Our salvation lies in empowered legislatures and local governments.

But most importantly our salvation lies in the alignment of our four key institutions. The Executive, the Judiciary, the Legislatures and like it or not, the Army.

All four standing shoulder to shoulder and fully aligned towards the clear goal of a better governed and corruption free Pakistan.

Yes the Army, has become the fourth pillar in our country with influence far beyond its mandate. Something not to relish and a sad reality!

And it is my considered view that when the three real pillars of the state become strong, the Army’s role as the fourth will automatically diminish and eventually finish and should and must finish.

It won’t happen overnight, but sooner than most expect.

And if Imran wins, this will be the first time in Pakistan’s civilian history that we will have this strategic alignment between these key State institutions which matter!

And herein lies our salvation and transformation from a kleptocracy /plutocracy to a democracy!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

In conversation with Ehsan Ali Malik, CEO, Pakistan Business Council

Assalaam Alaykum,

Posted below is the first in a series of interviews, also on my Youtube Channel

These are with subject matter specialists and experts of Pakistan. In a wide ranging conversation with Ehsan Ali Malik, CEO of Pakistan Business Council, Pakistan’s largest business advocacy group we discussed the challenges and solutions facing Pakistan, especially possible solutions on how to kick start Pakistan’s economy and industry.

Should we go to the IMF? What has undermined local industry and possible solutions? Why have countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam sped ahead of Pakistan? How to broaden the Tax base, improve exports, reduce imports? CPEC and its impact; Kick-starting the Agriculture sector. What measures can be taken to generate employment for the 3 million entering the work force every year?

While It is a long interview, but very insightful about the above issues. Please do watch and spread it so we get substantive and informed insights on our challenges and solutions, well beyond the superficial chatter we hear on mainstream media and social media.

Thank you.
Salaams and Prayers

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.

5th July 1977 – The Day Gen. Zia took over!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Much has been written about Zia’s period, so I will only briefly dwell on a few major factors which caused immense damage to Pakistan.

The first was our entry into the Afghan theater against the Soviets at the behest of the USA.

An act which has led to the devastation of our society and the rampant culture of sectarianism, terrorism, guns, violence and drugs.

I remember the words of the late Air Marshal Asghar Khan who tried to convince our nation of this “myopic thinking” as Gen. Bajwa put it so aptly in his address to the Munich Security Conference in Feb, 2018.

Asghar Khan, said as far back as 1980 that “The fire we are helping ingnite in Afghanistan will also consume Pakistan”.

Many people called him a coward, a traitor and stupid. But, sadly he was right and Gen. Zia plunged us into a fire which continues to burn us.

The second was his advocacy and implementation of his personal brand and version of Islam with Salafi/Wahabi roots.

This destroyed the fragile but still intact culture of reasonably peaceful co-existence between the various muslim sects, especially sunnis and shias.

Pakistan which till now had a benign non violent Barelvi brand of Sunni Islam and living peacefully with Shias saw groups morphing into a violent, obscurantist, non inclusive wahabi brand funded by Saudi dollars.

This set in motion violent sectarian strife all across the country, resulting in thousands of deaths and assassinations, which still bedevil and haunt our society.

It set in motion the intolerance we see today.

It set in motion the burning of mosques, churches, hindu temples.

It set in motion the rise of highly obscurantist an intolerant society.

It set in motion the rise of religious preachers urging the killing of others.

It gave rise to the sectarian killing machines like the Lashkar e Jhangvi and Sipah e Sahaba now renamed the Ahle Sunnath Wal Jamaath (ASWJ).

Such is the impact of his thought that the ASWJ, an openly sectarian outfits, which openly advocates the killing of Shias, was last week, declared a non terrorist outfit, taken out of the 4th schedule and allowed to contest the 2018 elections.

Such were Zia’s gifts to Pakistan.

The third was the use of non state actors as agents of state policy in Kashmir.

This led to the rise of the jihadi militias and nexus berween the State and the aforementioned highly militant sectarian outfits.

These sectarian outfits were in return given a free hand to commit Shia genocide, with the State looking the other way.

While the policy may have given India some temporary grief in Kashmir, its impact on our own society was and still is, devastating and deep.

For decades violence has wrecked our wretched country. Tens of thousands if not more of our finest brains have left the country. Our economy suffered. Our society disintegrated and our people suffered

Our international image also suffered, dramatically. But for his death, a civilian hiatus from 1988 to 1999 and 9/11 and the consequent reprieve, we would have suffered grievous international sanctions and perhaps a pariah Iran like status.

While the Kashmir cause is a highly emotional one for many Pakistanis, the answer lies in a political settlement and not formal or informal military or militant actions.

One of our biggest white elephants today is what to do with the thousands of highly armed jihadi militant, mostly in the Punjab heartland, we nurtured for decades?

Another Zia legacy!

The attempt to mainstream these Jihadis into politics, in my opinion is the only viable practical option. Those who criticise this, must remember, that there are two options. Fight them or tame them.

The former is just not an option because we cannot afford another civil war in the Country’s heartland.

Our only option is to wean them off their diet of Jihadism and militancy and feed them a less toxic one of political activism!

And finally Zia masterfully used an unscrupulous class of politicians to serve his political interests.

Some who were honest and didn’t or wouldn’t toe his line, such as his own hand picked Prime Minister, Mohammed Khan Junejo, perhaps our finest civilian PM, were summarily and humiliatingly dismissed.

PM Junejo, is arguably considered one of our most honest Prime Ministers. He had set in motion major administrative reforms and the country was slowly recovering after the ravages of Bhutto’s so called socialism and Zia’s fascism.

But Zia would have none of it and destroyed the fledgling embers of this brave but unsuccessful attempt at change and recovery.

Another gift to Pakistan was the creation and sponsoship of the MQM to counter the PPP in Sind and Karachi.

Another strategy with very serious consequences for Pakistan, especially, Karachi. The MQM monster went out of control and wreaked havoc in Karachi.

Importantly it also shows how the seeds of ethnic division sowed by Bhutto, eventually gave rise to a violent, militant fascist political group like the MQM.

And that the Urdu speaking community was perfectly happy to follow a half insane megalomaniacal demagogue and accept the violence his party wreaked, in exchange for political participation and access to rights, which the state was progressively unable to provide.

But Zia’s crowning glory and final “gift” to Pakistan was Mian Muhammed Nawaz Sharif.

And along with with Nawaz, came a whole coterie of crooked, corrupt politicians.

Barring the odd exception all subsequently looted and plundered at will, whether in the PPP or PMLN or Gen. Musharraf’s administrations.

I believe, it was Zia’s dark period which has really divided the nation into the pro and anti army camps, quite visible today.

A schism smartly used by Nawaz to muddy the waters and convert his corruption into a battle between “Democracy and Army”

This, in my opinion is sad, because the current Army and its leadership, is very different from that off Zia’s time and even Musharraf’s.

The current Army has partially paid for the acts of commission by its former Chiefs, by its sacrifices in battling extremism and terrorism, and saving the country from near civil war.

But I digress. Insha Allah more on this in a later piece and back to Zia and to my conclusion

Zia, like Musharraf also presented Pakistan’s view internationally, successfully and forcefully. The nuclear program achieved much success during this time. Economic progress was made.

But his lasting legacy will remain of a man who brought sectarianism, terrorism, drugs, violence and fascism to Pakistan and wreaked even greater havoc on our civilian public government institutions!

*Haider Mehdi*

5th July 1977 -The day Bhutto was ousted

By Syed Haider Raza Haider Mehdi

As the PPP celebrates 5th July as a day of darkness, which it certainly was, here’s a perspective on how Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto betrayed the people of Pakistan as well.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was part Devil, part Saint and an enigma. Unfortunately the Devil won!

A person who was brilliant and brutal with inordinate ambition and a massive ego, finally falling victim to the betrayal of his own political values and the end he deserved!

Not for that crime of murder, which was a tragic travesty of justice, but for unspeakable horrors he committed against his own, like J.A Rahim and his son and Mairaj Mohammed Khan his own cabinet minister, and his political opponents like Mian Tufail of Jamaat e Islami.

Horrors that cannot be repeated here! But such is Nature’s nemesis.

With his brilliance, his amazing grasp of history, and the adulation by the masses, the nation at his feet, broken and shattered after its breakup, Bhutto could have turned and moulded this nation into a great power.

But tragically for him and Pakistan, he couldn’t rise above his own terrible inconsistencies and his personal ambitions and failed us!

His politics were schizophrenic. His pendulum swinging from the man of the masses to a ruthless fascist dictator. A flawed Angel and a Devil incarnate, he was directly responsible for the breakup of Pakistan.

Brilliant and cunning, calling Iskander Mirza a leader greater than the Quaid, addressing Ayub as “Daddy”, Bhutto wormed his way into the corridors of power, and as always happens to people of inordinate ambition, finally turned against his own benefactor. Ayub.

And as his own chosen Army Chief, Gen. Zia, who once reportedly followed him meekly a few steps behind him, carrying his glass of scotch at a military function, turned against him and hanged him!

His period and that of Gen. Zia’s, in my opinion, caused perhaps the greatest damage to our country.

On 1st January, 1972, Chief Martial Law Administrator Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, with one stroke of the pen, destroyed everything that we had achieved since independence.

He destroyed Pakistan’s economic engine, its industries, its financial sector, it’s educational and health care systems by nationalizing them all and setting us back decades.

He marginalized the Mohajir community by closing the chapter on evacuee trust property. His nationalization hit the Mohajirs badly as they had been the main drivers behind Pakistan’s industrial and educational sectors. And concurrently he let loose the monster of ethnic Sindhi nationalism.

These actions eventually giving rise to the MQM fascist monster we saw emerge in later years.

But a little discussed act with huge repercussions was his destruction of the Civil Services of Pakistan. He removed their constitutional protection of service and tenure and allowed direct lateral entry into the Civil Services.

For the first time in our history political favorites were appointed directly into government positions. And It was for the first time we saw the blatant rise of political control and patronage of ‘loyal and pliant government servants”.

This culture, later extensively used by Benazir and Zardari to loot and plunder and finally transformed into an art form by the Sharif brothers.

The rot and destruction of our institions we see today, was started by Bhutto.

Bhutto also attempted to curb the power and influence of the Army by creating the Federal Security Force, a new para military force. Ironically this eventually led to his death, convicted for Nawab Kasuri’s murder, who was murdered by Bhutto’s own FSF goons.

My late father, Col. S.G. Mehdi M.C, was initially offered the post to create and head the FSF by Bhutto’s National Security Advisor, General Akber. He politely refused, saying that it would become ZAB’s private militia, much like Mussolini’s and Hitler’s Blackshirts and Brownshrts! This they eventually did under his handpicked man, Mahmood Masood who ironically turned state witness against Bhutto in the murder trial.

To his credit. He gave hope to the poor and the exploited. But then, tragically betrayed them.

As a person, Bhutto was cruel, sadistic, vindictive, unforgiving, petty and mean.

He never forgot a slight. And this last attribute finally got him to the gallows!

By 1977, Bhutto’s luck had run out.

Economic distress, erratic policies, angry business people who had been ruined, fuelled the street agitation against him.

Then the large-scale attempt by him to rig the 1977 elections, another first, and use the Army to browbeat his political opponents eventually caused his downfall.

Theories of international hands cannot also be discounted in the context of our nuclear program.

Sufficeth, that he created the perfect storm against himself!

He left behind a devastated economy, a highly politicised bureaucracy and a divided nation!

And into the hands of the Army and a decade of infamy and darkness under Gen. Zia!

Brilliant he was, no doubt. But not in the mould of great leaders, but that of a charismatic con man!

-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

An evening with the Oakville, Canada, PTI Chapter.

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

*Haider Mehdi*

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

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

Apologies for the poor audio.

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

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi.

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

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. And unbelievably determined!

This is what gives me hope!

And if anybody can do the above, its him.

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

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

But I dont see any of these as being existential.

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