Nawaz Sharifs “Saudi NRO”

Nawaz Sharifs “Saudi NRO”

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Disclaimer: This is a perspective based on some unsubstantiated claims, some circumstantial evidence and some deductions.

Apparently the only NRO offered to The Sharif’s by the Saudis stands for “No Refunds Offered”.

From what I’ve heard and been told, unsubstantiated of course as no one’s privy to the discussions, but based on current circumstantial evidence and some whispers, the Sharifs are being questioned about their wealth in Saudi Arabia and it’s source.

This follows a similar pattern, apparently earlier done with former PM of Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, who has allegedly signed over several billion dollars of her wealth to the Saudi Exchequer, because she was unable to substantiate the source of her wealth and assets she had in Saudi Arabia.

The Sharifs, as is now fairly well known, have been using Saudi Arabia as their “money laundering clearing house” for quite some time.

Most of their ill gotten funds, plundered from Pakistan were routed to Saudi Arabia from other Gulf countries, especially UAE and Qatar and channeled into their accounts in Saudi Arabia. From there, as the story goes, these funds made their way to the UK and whenever required, routed back to Pakistan as gift transfers by his sons to him.

This was a really neat and tidy operation till things started to unravel. The biggest loss was the death of King Abdullah, their patron in chief and the subsequent coming into power of MBS who was unencumbered by any past relationships with or obligations to the Sharifs.

If anything MBS, as I’ve been told, has a very poor opinion of them, and is also terribly displeased with Nawaz, in particular, for NOT delivering on his commitment to provide troops for MBS’s Yemen misadventure, scuttled by the Army’s refusal to do so.

Qatar is also a factor. A substantial part of the Sharifs wealth in recent years has originated by awarding contracts to Qatari companies fronted by the effervescent Saif ur Rahman and Qatari Prince Jassem, the author of the two infamous Qatari letters showing Nawaz’s money trail during his hearing by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Panama case.

The Saudis and especially MBS would love to squeeze this particular portion of the Sharifs wealth.

So Nawaz was the brother who was “summoned” to explain the sources and means of the Sharifs wealth in Saudi Arabia. Apparently he got cold feet, given the recent arrest and incarceration of several hundred princes, including Prince Waleed Bin Talal, who has reportedly signed over 95% of his wealth to the Saudi Exchequer.

So the younger Sharif was sent, Nawaz excusing himself due to some very “important political commitments” in Pakistan. Some say the meeting between the NSA with Nawaz Sharif was also in the same context, apparently to discuss eventualities. Unsubstantiated though!

After being given an all clear by Shahbaz he’s also flown to Saudi Arabia to explain his wealth. The apparent inevitable end is that he will be signing off a substantial if not his entire wealth to the Saudis.

Now this is one heck of a story, if true.

And if it’s our standard NRO then boy oh boy are we in trouble and is the Army in even bigger trouble for allowing or facilitating this.

If Gen. Bajwa by any stretch of expediency or compromise does this, he would have signed a death knell for Pakistan and himself and his institution. So beware!

– Haider Mehdi

The protests in Iran

The protests in Iran

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thirdly it’s increasing regional power.

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

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

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

But two questions remain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Haider Mehdi

Benazir Bhutto – Flawed Diva

Benazir Bhutto – Flawed Diva

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

One of our biggest tragedies as a nation and society is the worship of false gods, and for want of a better word, Divas.

While Benazir Bhutto died a tragic and untimely death and one was shocked in the manner of her departure, I’m afraid as a political leader, she was no saint or this great upholder of democracy as she’s being made out to be.

I don’t know the “private Benazir”. She may have been a wonderful person, a great friend, collegue and a wonderful mother. But this is a commentary on her public persona as a political leader and a Prime Minister.

Let’s not forget that she became PM in 1988, after Zia’s terrible dark years and really had the world at her feet. Granted that her hands were tied in some areas, especially foreign policy, but nothing stopped her from rebuilding the institutions wrecked by her father and by Zia. But like all bloodline heirs to political dynasties she lacked experience and maturity. Some say she was intellectually bright, went to Oxford became the head of their debating society etc.

Excellent.

But what about experience in governance. The answer is Zero. What about learning how to manage teams, budgets, understand serious policy and political challenges? The answer. Zero.

So what did she have going for her? Four things. The Bhutto name and the romance associated with it as well as the whiffs of elitism and near royalty. Perhaps a slightly above average intelligence. Thirdly being a woman and that too, a tragic victim. And finally the powerful emotions and the tragic circumstances of her father’s death. In a South Asian society, like Pakistan, all four worked in her favour

But competence, experience, track record, ability etc ? Zero!

And that is why Pakistan has suffered massive institutional decay as we kept giving machine guns to monkeys, the latest in line being Nawaz Sharif, who even his own father wouldn’t allow to come near any family business. Idiots rising to positions of public governance has lead to our current rot. And many more in line. Bilawal. Princess Tubelight Maryam Antoinette Safdar. Hamza. We already have Shahbaz. Fazlur Rahman. Achakzai. Asfandyar. What a tragedy!

And that is why bureaucrats like the notorious Salman Farooqi, and Rehman Malik, who created for Benazir and Zardari the web of off shore companies to transfer their looted wealth, and many other terribly corrupt people acquire such influence.

In fact Benazir wrote the first book on how to use bureaucrats and public sector institutions for personal corruption. Something Nawaz Sharif elevated to an art form and authored a doctoral thesis!

And that is how she and her husband, Asif Zardari, together, embarked on this massive loot, pillage and plunder from the get go. She set the standards of rot, corruption and criminality in governance that we see today. She consciously, knowingly and deliberately allowed the wholescale loot and plunder and the amassing of her wealth, overseas. She was part and parcel and in complete knowledge of all the corruption Mr.10% was upto.

How can we forget and or condone the hundreds of millions discovered stashed away in Switzerland and in properties across the UK and Europe etc?

How her front man, Jens Schlegelmilch, whom Ms. Bhutto described as the family’s attorney in Europe for more than 20 years, and as a close personal friend, managed her and her husband’s ill gotten, looted and plundered wealth. Pakistan’s wealth. The money that should have gone to feed starving children. Save lives. Create jobs. Build institutions. But it went into her personal accounts.

Let’s face it. She was a crook.

But the tragedy being that Pakistan’s rotten, corrupt and extremely flawed and compromised judicial system allowed them to get away scot free from this loot and plunder. Tragically and in a manner of speaking she’s paid the price for her actions. Now, Nature’s nemesis awaits Mr. Zardari.

Like her father, she had many personas. The public face of the Bhutto’s legacy. The private face of a corrupt monarc and the western darling face of the liberal woman leader of a conservative society. And again, like her father, she carried both the devil and the angel within her. And, usually as with her father, the Devil won.

During Zia’s years she really didn’t wage any struggle herself. Truly. Her party certainly did. Her people did. Her jiyalas did. Thousands suffered jail and lashes and imprisonment. But not her. She was never imprisoned in a jail in Pakistan, but incarcerated in comfortable house arrest till finally under a deal with Zia she left Pakistan in 1984 only to triumphantly return in 1988 as do all our wonderful democratic leaders.

Her battle with Zia was also very very personal. He had hanged her father and like her father she could be very unforgiving. This is really what drove her. But when in power, both times, she and her cronies and her husband raped and looted and plundered the country as all others have and as her husband, Asif Zardari did earlier and doing so now in the most absurd and shameless manner by appending the “Bhutto” name to Bilawal Zardari’s name, with the hope that this evil journey of loot and plunder will continue.

And then we question why does the Army step In?

Benazir ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds. She was at heart a feudal and an elitist. She blatantly and brazenly purveyed her father’s name and legacy to cling and grab on to power, and revelled in the role of both Diva and Victim!

Between her and Nawaz and the period from 1988 to 1999, they both had unchallenged opportunities to set Pakistan back on the road to progress.

Between these two, they had 11 years to fix the rot. Build institutions. Implement transparent policies and processes. Implement meritocracy in public service as a cardinal principle of promotion, placement and advancement. Curb corruption. Provide equitable opportunities for education, health, job opportunities ( not stuffing thousands of jiyalas into government jobs and destroying these institutions like PIA)

But No!

Both, Benazir and Nawaz, looted and plundered with shameless abandon and when the Men on Horseback rode in, they cried foul and instantly became victims and martyrs.

These are the hypocritical and corrupt people and their political cronies who have destroyed the institutions of Pakistan, including being active members of all military governments.

With sincere apologies to those who think highly of her as a political leader. Unfortunately I do not wear rose tinted glasses. One can’t be half pregnant or be half honest or be half a democrat. Like all South Asian so called democratic pretenders she used her family name to acquire and cling to power.

And made a mess of it and unfortunately her legacy is Asif Zardari and Bilawal Zardari.

But to her credit. She was a brave and determined woman!

-Haider Mehdi

The General’s Visit to the Senate!

The General’s Visit to the Senate!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

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

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

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

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

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Why we must support Imran Khan

Why we must support Imran Khan

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

– Haider Mehdi

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

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

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

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

Pakistan’s current story is no different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, we’re not OK.

We lost half our country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try living an honest life in Pakistan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And good governance can happen in the following sequence.

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

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

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

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

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

At the risk of repeating myself.

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

And Incompetence and Corruption is what causes this decay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Reform institutions for better governance.

P.S.
And one last thing.

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

“Selection of Objective and Maintenance of Aim”

-Haider Mehdi