The Myth of the “Deep State”! Part 1 of a 3 Part Series on Civil – Military Relations in Pakistan

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 4 August, 2019

It’s time to take this ‘Deep State” bull by the horns. But first a full disclosure.

I’ve served in the Pakistan Army from 1974 to 1981, resigned as a Captain, and have a very soft corner for the institution. My father served it with distinction, as did my uncle and scores of other family members. I am very proud that I and my family have served Pakistan in this manner!

I think it is, without question or doubt, our finest, most professional, most well led, most merit driven, most process driven, most reliable and the least corrupt, of all our state institutions.

Its is my considered opinion that if every able bodied young man and woman of this great nation could serve two years in the military and undergo the physical and emotional experiences that the rank and file undergo, Pakistan and Pakistani society would be far better and it’s enemies, both internal and external, would not be able to mislead our people, especially our youth against this institution.

For this, I urge PM Imran, Defense Minister Khattak, Human Resources Minister Zulfi Bukhari and Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa to institute this great public service.

I think if there is one institution that has been saved, thank God from the massive institutional decay suffered by other institutions, it is the Army!

I also think that a major factor which saved them from the destruction faced by civilian institutions were the repeated Martial Laws and their 33 years in power, leaving them as the proverbial last man standing and all powerful!

Sad but true!

And here is where I must admit that military rule, despite the strong economic growth during the three military governments, has been the major cause of most of our problems. To name a few

1. The rise of a corrupt coterie of politicians.

2. The the elite capture of Pakistan and all its sources of power, wealth and governance.

3. The hijacking of a very weak electoral process by this small mafia like coterie of political kleptocrats and plutocrats symbolized by the political dynasties and the likes of the Bhuttos, Sharifs, Zardari, Ilahis, Khar’s, Fazlur Rehmans, Achakzais, Bizenjos, Mengals and many many others, who like the ladies of the night would and still bed any party, any leader, as long as they could stay in power.

4. The systematic destruction of all state institutions. This last was perhaps the deepest cut! Nearly fatal!

Once these groups had captured power, such as Benazir in the post euphoria of Gen. Zia’s terrible dark years, or Nawaz Sharif, propped by Gen. Zia or Zardari through Gen. Musharraf’s infamous NRO, all of them, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, systematically set about weakening and destroying every major state institutions, so that not only could they rule like feudal monarchs, but loot and plunder the nation’s wealth, at will, and not be held accountable.

They systematically hijacked, bribed, cowed, destroyed and weakened the entire Federal and Provincial infrastructure, the superior and lower judiciary, the law enforcing agencies, institutions which hold public office holders accountable, like the NAB, FIA, Anti corription. Economic and planning and development institutions like the FBR, SECP, State Bank, Planning Commission etc.

They did this by deliberately appointing corrupt cronies, corrupt and weak officials on positions of authority, power and influence, who would do their bidding.

All these politicians and their families, with very few exceptions, have walked, lived, eaten, slept with every mistress or master. Whether it was Gen. Ayub, Gen Zia, Benazir, Nawaz, Gen. Musharraf, Zardari and Imran.

This includes our so called intellectuals, symbolized in persons like Mushahid Hussain and Najam Sethi, the vast majority of our media anchors and journalusts (yes journaLUSTS) and many others who have and still are willing to sell their souls for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver!

This political mafia launched large scale massive infrastructure projects, not because of economic or developmental or social priorities, but because it was easy to skim off huge amounts from these massive projects.

Funds were not invested in major public impact sectors like clean drinking water, public transportation (not one bus or train service for a few cities) empowering local governments, low cost housing, education, schools, colleges, heath care, hospitals, population control, agriculture and very importantly in improving the capability and capacity of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The last used as personal militias to extend monarchist and fascist like control.

No effort was undertaken to reform the judiciary, because it served their purpose of buying judges and judgments whenever they so wanted.

It is my considered opinion that our judicial system, both the Superior and the Lower judiciary, has been one of the greatest causes of the greatest misery inflicted on the poor people of Pakistan!

Enrobed in their dark robes, they daily and darkly inflict death by a thousand cuts on our society.

And for all this mess, I hold the 3 military dictators directly responsible. Not the Army, but these three individuals.

Gen. Ayub because he short circuited the evolving political process of this agrarian feudal newly born country, blundered us into the 1965 war and worst of all, handed power over to another military dictator, Gen. Yahya, rather than to the Speaker of The National Assembly, a symbol of his own created political system.

Strangely, though, Pakistan’s fairest elections were held under Gen.Yahya in 1970 but under whose watch we also lost half our country and suffered a humiliating military defeat. The causes for the latter requires another article!

But perhaps Gen. Ayub’s greatest sin during his 10 year rule, was in creating a class of self serving, corrupt politicians who were willing to truck with military dictators and who have subsequently trucked with every civilian and political ruler since.

The genuine, true blue blooded democrats, starved of political power and platforms just died, politically! As did Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the Quaid’s sister who was cheated out of a Presidential win by Gen. Ayub.

And it was then that we also saw the emergence, for the first time, of dynastic politics, at the head of state level in the shape of Gohar Ayub Khan, Gen. Ayub’s son!

So this is how people like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, gained access to prominence and political power in Gen. Ayub’s cabinet.

This subsequently provided him the springboard to launch his political career and his party the PPP, by literally stabbing his benefactor, Gen. Ayub, in the back.

But for Gen. Ayub, ZAB would possibly not even have won a councilor’s election from Larkana and we would have been spared his administration which set us back 50 years in terms of our economy, education and health care, because of his ill thought through and disastrous policies of nationalization.

And lest we forget, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is the same person, who before he started sucking up to Gen. Ayub, calling him uncle, wrote to then President Iskandar Mirza, in his now infamous and public letter, calling him a leader greater than Quaid e Azam.

Let me say it without mincing words to those who are so still enamored in their love for Bhutto.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was NOT A DEMOCRAT but a FASCIST!

Yes he did come into power through the ballot as did Hitler and many others who destroyed their countries, by the way.

There’s no doubt that ZAB was brilliant, perhaps touching genuis. He was very charismatic and an outstanding orator. And he used these attributes to craft a very powerful message of hope of a better future for the most exploited segments of Pakistani society.

They loved him and he cheated them.

For in reality he was a truly evil man, part Devil, part Saint. Unfortunately the Devil won!

He was a fascist through and through, a haughty, arrogant, brutish autocrat, and as most autocrats, extremely petty and mean and very very vengeful!

This may shock those who do not know. But such was this person’s nature that he had the aging J. A Rahim, his own Party’s Secretary General, and co founder, sodomized by a jail sweeper, simply because J A Rahim saheb would not put up with his autocratic pretensions.

He had similar treatment meted out to Maulana Tufail, the then Amir of the Jamaat e Islami.

He had his own nominated successor Mairaj Mohammed Khan brutally tortured in jail. Mairaj saheb never really fully recovered from the physical and emotional trauma and inhumane treatment he met at ZAB’s hands! Hundreds, perhaps thousands of political opponents suffered great physical torture during his period.

ZAB’s and Zia’s periods were our darkest periods of political repression

Many of our young today do not know about a Para Military force called the Federal Security Force, established by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

A personal note here.

Our father, the late Col. S.G. Mehdi, considered an SSG pioneer and its third Commander, was approached by Gen. (Retd) Akbar, Bhutto’s National Security Adviser, in January or February 1972 to set up this Federal Security Force for the Government and the People’s Guard for the Pakistan People’s Party.

Our father Col. Mehdi refused the offer, saying that these militias would turn into Hitler’s Blackshirts or Mussolini’s Brownshirts and will lead to a fascist state and urged him to advise Bhutto not to go this route.

But Bhutto did.

And they did become his fascist militia and ironically also the eventual cause of his hanging!

For it was the FSF, who on his orders, while attempting to assassinate Ahmad Raza Khan Kasuri, a dissenting PPP party MNA, killed his father!

While I agree that the case did not warrant a death sentence, simply because Bhutto did not pull the trigger or commit the act himself, but as they say, one day our sins catch up with us and Nature has its own ways of delivering justice!

Gen. Zia’s present to Pakistan in the shape of Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Musharraf’s in the shape of Zardari and the NRO is recent history, so don’t want to dwell too much on them.

Sufficeth that what Benazir, Zardari, Nawaz, Shahbaz and company, subsequently did to Pakistan is now no secret!

Their loot and plunder is now public knowledge. Panama, Corruption, Money laundering, Fake accounts etc are there for everyone to see, except those whose political and business interests and futures are tied to these criminals and hence are blind, deaf and dumb

And for all this.

Yes, I’m afraid, a large part of the responsibility lies with Gen. Ayub, Gen. Zia and Gen. Musharraf! And we haven’t even discussed our involvement in the Afghan Jihad or the War on Terror, or giving space to sectarian and Jihadi outfits and using these non state actors as instruments of State and Foreign policy!

So there we have it.

Corrupt politicians, a broken hijacked electoral system, weakened or near destroyed civilian institutions, a bankrupt economy, a dysfunctional society polarized on ethnic, linguistic, religious and sectarian grounds.

But the most serious issue today are the attempts to polarize Pakistani society on pro and anti ‘Establishment” basis (read Army).

This is fraught with extremely serious and even existential consequences for us.

Yet it is the same institution, along with other para military institutions which successfully defended the country against terrorists for 9 years, giving tremendous sacrifices.

It is the same institution which responds most effectively to every natural and man made calamity, disaster or security situation, we face everyday.

It is the same institution, despite its terrible past and despite its current inordinate influence, which believes that the future of Pakistan lies in strong civilian institutions, not dominated by the Military.

It is the same institution which believes Pakistan’s well being is best served by a strong and corruption free governance model, fully representing the will of the people, their hopes, desires and aspirations of a just, equitable society where everyone has the same opportunities.

It is the same institution which is very clear that non state actors, militant jihadi outfits and sectarian religious groups have no role in the affairs of the State and will never and should never be used as instruments of State policy.

It is the same institution which believes that we have punched well above our weight in the Region and that we must live in peace with our neighbors, especially India and Afghanistan!

It is the same institution which believes that Pakistani has been grossly misgoverned and sucked dry by all its past leaders, military and civilian and they must do whatever they can to support the current PTI government, despite its weaknesses, to cleanse the system, so we have a fighting chance to rebuild the Nation!

It is the same institution whose current leadership realizes the terrible effects, a military coup has on the Country, its People and its Institutions!

It is the same institutions whose past two leaders, Gen. Kayani and Gen. Raheel, despite their weaknesses, and the current Chief, Gen. Bajwa, have studiously stayed away from directly interfering in the affairs of the state, but, and we must and should say, have exercised or attempted to exercise indirect influence to try and limit the unbridled loot and plunder that prevailed under Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

But for Panama, no government institution, no individual, no judiciary, no media would have been able to stop Nawaz from coming back in power by hijacking a highly compromised electoral process, using the entire force of the State machinery at his disposal.

In fact, on 29th May, 2018, then PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a day before their government was dissolved, told a senior diplomat, “Don’t worry we will be back in July”. So sure where they of their total grip on the electoral process and their ability to rig the results!

So what is this “Deep State” or the “Security Establishment” that we throw about with abandon?

Well in simple terms it is no different to the ones existing in the USA or UK or the democracies of the Western World or India, with one difference.

Because of our past military rule of 33 years and the consequent destruction of our civilian institutions, the Army Chief, who heads your so called “Deep State” or the “Security Establishment” or whatever name you want to call it, seemingly exercises greater influence as compared to other countries.

However the ground reality is that agencies like the CIA, MI5, MI6, RAW, MOSSAD or the Defence establishment of countries like the USA and India exercise huge behind the scenes influence on every aspect of society in their countries.

Does that justify the influence the Pakistan Army Chief exercises. Of course not.

There is no deep state! There is no “establishment”.

Its just the Army Chief heading an extremely powerful monolithic well run military machine, which happens to be the only functioning state institution, today!

But do not forget that there is also a very very dark and dirty side to national and international politics and someone has to do the dirty work as well!

So today we have a dysfunctional state a near bankrupt economy, civilian institutions in ruins and just “one man standing” The Pakistan Army!

And if you were an enemy of Pakistan like Modi or you wanted to regain political power like Nawaz or save your dad from imprisonment like Mrs. Safdar or Master Bilawal, and thought that the Pakistan Army or Imran Khan stood in your way, what would you do?

Well if you were Master Bilawal or Mrs. Safdar, or Modi or other enemies of the country, you would do everything in your power to weaken the Army, weaken Imran and bring them both down!

And how would you do it.

You would polarize the country against the Army and Imran.

You would attack the Army and Imran in direct and indirect ways.

You would launch slogans like “Khalai Makhlooq” Dayshath Gardi kay Peechay Wardi Hay”.

You would ridicule imran with labels of “selected”.

You would fund, launch and support movements like the PTM, under the garb of democracy and freedom of speech.

You would employ Cambridge Analytica type tactics to fill mainstream and social media, that Pakistan’s problem is not corruption, not misgovernance, but its Army.

You would buy media anchors and hacks to promote this theme of the Army running the country. That Imran is a puppet and continuously building resentment and animosity against Imran and the Army.

You would use the likes of Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar, to attack the Army. Two biological absurdities of zero ability, zero achievements, zero experience, terrible values, propped up by their Rasputins, because the entire status quo of the corrupt mafia, their political future, financial wealth, power and influence is at stake.

You would use the slogans of “Democacy” and “freedom of expression” to sully the name of the Army!

Or like Hasil Bizenjo, himself a beneficiary of Rs. 5 lakh from the ISI in 1988, boldy name the ISI chief as being responsible for not being elected Senate Chairman. By the way quite a cheapskate to sell his soul for a mere Rs. 5 lakhs, I must say!

And By God, you would have a lot ammo because today the economy is in a slump, thanks to Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, prices are sky high, people have lost jobs, there’s been significant erosion of wealth, a significant economic downturn and loss of business confidence.

On top of all this the military’ footprint and influence is quite visible and ISPR ensures we dont forget it!

But!

And, and it’s a very very very important BUT for us to understand.

In an environment which has been raped, looted, pillaged and plundered by Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, we have no option but to rely on an institution like the Army to tide us over this extremely difficult period in our history simply because no other institution today stands strong and firm!

It is difficult for me to say this because, like the vast majority of Pakistanis, I strongly object to the way the Army exercises its influence and is not held accountable and answerable!

Also like the vast majority of us, I abhor Martial Laws and military dictatorships, and in fact joined Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s, Tehrik e Istiqlal, immediately after I left the Army in 1981, to campaign against Gen. Zia’s rule.

But, I know that today, whether we like it or not, we have no option but to successfully navigate through these very difficult times.

We have to work diligently to rebuild and strengthen our civilian institutions and the Country.

And for this the Nation needs the whole hearted support of the very institution which we ironically also must, when the task is done help retreat and confine itself to its constitutionally defined role. The Pakistan Army.

It’s not going to be an easy ride. No individual or institution gives up power and influence easily, but this is the only way and it will take time.

We cannot undo the consequences of 33 years of military rule and 35 years of loot and plunder by the Sharifs Bhuttos and Zardari in one or two years.

My assessment is that this transition will take anything from 5 to 10 years before we have very strong civilian institutions, a revamped electoral process, based on proportional representation, which allows for competent professionals, specialists and subject matter experts to come into politics, legislatures and government so we don’t have to elect the same corrupt politicians from the same gutter over and over again.

But most importantly that we have complete civilian, legislative and executive oversight and control over all affairs of the State, including the Military!

And despite my personal aversion to any extension to the Army’s current Chief, Gen Bajwa, I think between PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa, the stars could not be more auspiciously aligned for Pakistan to get us to that state!

A lot is riding on the PTI government to deliver good governance and on the military to help rebuild Pakistani institutions.

And hence a lot is riding on the shoulders of PM Imran and Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa!

A piece of unsolicited advice for the Chief and his ISPR.

Please keep a low profile. Do not keep reminding us and the world how powerful and influential you are. Everyone knows it.

Just focus and help in rebuilding Pakistan and at the same time ensure that the Army is also accountable.

If a serving 2 star Maj. Gen or 3 star Lt. Gen is found to be corrupt, kindly revoke his commission, strip him of his rank, privileges and benefits, name him and shame him. Publicly indict him, prosecute him and convict him as harshly as you can and then send him to jail in handcuffs in the full glare of media publicity so you make an example out of him, so that the people of Pakistan know that there are no sacred cows!

But for God’s sake, don’t give him a cushy job to head a civilian institution!

So before I end, let me repeat what I said earlier, lest we’ve forgotten.

I think, the Pakistan Army, is without question or doubt, our finest, most professional, most well led, most process and merit driven, most reliable and the least corrupt, of all our state institutions.

It is my considered opinion that if every able bodied young man and woman of this great nation could serve two years in the military and undergo the physical and emotional experiences that the rank and file undergo, Pakistan and Pakistanis would be a far better country and society

Pakistan’s enemies, both external and internal, Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar, especially, would not be able to mislead our people, especially our youth against this institution.

This is the Pakistan Army, not the Indian Army, for God’s Sake

I urge PM Imran, Defense Minister Khattak, Human Resources Minister Zulfi Bukhari and Gen. Bajwa to institute this great public service.

And now Kashmir on the brink of a major conflagration!

Time to dump Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

Tread carefully Khan saheb! A short note!

 

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 27 July, 2019

Khan saheb,

Our key challenges are

1. Economic recovery so our people can get relief from back breaking inflation, business confidence is restored, industry is revived, exports and taxes increase and foreign direct and local investments restart.

2. Rebuilding and strengthening state institutions and improving governance. This also means reducing corruption and holding crooks accountable. But this also does not mean we use heavy handed and harsh measures to crack down on political dissenters and low life’s, however third rate they may be. This also means the delivery of quality services to our citizens! Health, Education, Employment, Safety and Security etc!

3. Reforming the Judiciary and law enforcement agencies so our poor can get quick and real justice.

4. Strengthening the Executive and ensuring the Army’s influence is limited to its defined security related roles. So we’re not headed towards a dark dystopian, fascist future. This is a hugely polarizing phenomena in Pakistan even amongst your supporters!

5. Rebuilding our relationships with our neighbours.

6. Reforming our electoral and governance system to allow people of competence, skills, subject matter expertise into positions of governance, power, policy making and legislating!

This is crucial so that you and future administrators are not held hostage by the small corrupt coteries from which we elect our lawmakers and cabinets under the garb of parliamentary democracy! Something quite unsuited to us.

So that we have professionals making laws and policies and overseeing and managing public sector institutions with professional expertise.

So that Pakistan is saved from the “Elite Captured” claws of this small bunch of corrupt rich and powerful!

So we forever bury the Sharifs, the Bhuttos, Zardaris, Asfandyars, Fazlur Rehman’s and who they represent!

This in a nutshell is what we need, Khan saheb!.

Please do not open too many fronts to take your eyes off these goals.

Do not take on others Estates like the media. Now is not the time and place for this battle.

Like the rest of our society our media is also like a Mafia. Yes, they’ve been bought over by the corrupt mafias of the Zardaris and the Sharifs. Yes they must be held responsible through strong libel laws and strict punishnents!

But do not allow the kind of media optics and very poor handling of arresting and handcuffing a 78 year old journalist, on charges as flaky as a snowflake, despite his questionable character and third class attributes.

Do not allow the opposition to get to you, upset you, rile you with personal attacks and and use of words like “selected”. If they do, they’ve succeeded. Because it takes you away from fixing Pakistan.

Because our entire institutional infrastructure is dead, dysfunctional, corrupt, inefficient, ineffective, very weak, the task is huge, complex and very challenging.

But if anyone can begin to tackle it, its you, Imran.

You cannot afford to waste this great opportunity for the sake of Pakistan.

Tread carefully, Khan saheb!

Not fearfully, but carefully!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

The Khan USA Visit….Veni Vidi Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) Plus a lot of work to do at home!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 25 July, 2019

So first the euphoria!

Never felt so good, so proud, head held high, to be a Pakistani as we did watching the Khan weave his magic in all his public interactions in the US.

The Presser with Trump; The Fox Interview, the USIP Dialogue, the Talk at the Capitol and of course the “Dharna at The Arena!

And in his private meetings as well!

The World Bank President went away in awe as quoted by an insider

* …..The (IMF) President is happy with the discussions….. felt that there is a genuine leader who cares about the country…..*

This is the impression Imran left people with. A genuine leader who cares about his country

I think this is perhaps his second “finest hour” since his election as PM!

This is what he does best when he speaks from the heart, with honour dignity and huge amount of self respect.

This is what he does best. Articulating an uplifting powerful message and a wonderful vision of the future!

So were there any tangible outcomes from the visit.

Perhaps a few by my count!

1. A strong personal relationship and direct communication between Imran and Trump. Hopefully ensuring that Trump and his administration are not misled about Pakistani actions or intentions by the anti Pakistan lobby, especially the Indian lobby!

2. In 3 days he’s quite literally changed the perception about Pakistan in a large part of the US administration, especially with hawks like Pompeo and Lindsay Graham, in the US Media and perhaps even amongst think tanks and opinion makers. Something we’ve not been able to do in decades.

3. A possible resumption of $1.3 billion US annual aid, enhanced trade and investment, and repayment of outstanding Coalition Support Funds, estimated at $9 Billion, owed to us by the USA. I think CSF repayment and aid will likely follow a successful deal with the Taliban and the USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

4. Renewal of military ties!

But perhaps an invisible benefit is the ouster of India from the Regional policeman role, given to it by the USA, especially in relation to Afghanistan and USA withdrawal.

Mediation on Kashmir? I’d not take it seriously!

As the joke doing the rounds when Trump asked Modi “Yo Mo you should relax more…you got bad bad body odour” (this after the embrace) Modi replies “I do meditation in Kashmir” “Oh, Mediation on Kashmir” said Trump…No..no Meditation says Modi.

“..Mediation, Meditation same thing says Trump” and the rest, as they say is, history!

But here’s a word of caution about Trump! Imran probably already knows this but worth reiterating.

Trump is known to be all sweet, honey and charming face to face, and then can bite back via a sarcastic tweet and throw his best friend under the bus.

Tillerson, Mattis and scores of other corpses litter the White House as Trump ruthlessly dumps people he finds no longer useful to his interests or serve his objectives.

He’s a “man of the moment” and clearly relished the limelight which he got from Imran’s visit and used it to greatly benefit his domestic electoral agenda.

He has a two point interest in Pakistan.

1. Save American money, by pulling out of Afghanistan and save American lives from Terrorism in mainland USA, after the pull out.

For this he needs our help in getting the Taliban as part of a stable Afghan government, post USA withdrawal. It also gives him huge political and electoral mileage.

2. Sell as many American goods and services to Pakistan to help create more jobs in the USA and dilute Chinese, political and economic influence over Pakistan. Also giving him domestic political benefits.

Both helping him in his relection campaign in 2020.

But the Afghanistan withdrawal and post withdrawal stability is the Crown Jewel, Trump desperately needs for his re-election. Chinese influence, vis a vis Pakistan for now takes a back seat, for a while!

The more realistic the expectations Pakistan sets with him about what we can or cannot do in Afghanistan, the greater the possibility of remaining on Trump’s right side!

So there you have it on the US trip and Trump!

Imran shouldn’t get too overawed or taken in by Trump’s charm. He has the values and ethics of a Cattle Rustler!

And now to the realities facing PM Imran at home!

1. The Economy. Especially Industrial and agricultural growth, exports and increased revenue. Reducing 1.7 trillion of circular debt, 1.4 trillion of state subsidies to high loss incurring and mismanaged State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s). This is a make or break factor. Existential if we fail. People are under back breaking high prices!

One leading private sector businessperson whose huge empire pays all taxes and doesn’t under or over invoice, wistfully told me last night. Every economic decision that the government has taken, when viewed individually, makes perfect sense. Rupee devaluation; Tax reforms; IMF loan; Reducing external account deficit, removing subsidies from electricity and gas, etc etc. But collectively we are just not getting the traction we’re waiting for.

And we’re still waiting! He said with a sigh!

Imran is a great visionary but greatly hampered by a weak team who are unable to integrate and implement his vision, because implementation, operational expertise and integration is not his strength, he said quoting Gino Wickman, founder of the EOS framework!

2. Rebuilding our completely destroyed civilian public sector institutions by appointing competent persons of integrity to leadership roles who in turn bring in similar professionals, implement effective and transparent operational processes and technology to pre-empt corruption and deliver quality public services to the common man.

Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman, FBR, is an example of one such person and what he’s doing in FBR.

Imran must now get similar competent professionals and subject matter experts and not rely on friends and cronies or the permanent Islamabad group of mercenaries to fill professional leadership slots, simply because “he or she is very bright” but have zero experience or achievements in that area.

Dr. Sania Nishtar heading Ehsaas, his flagship Poverty Alleviation program, now sexily renamed Poverty Graduation, and several others, some whom I know personally (they will know who they are when I write this) are cases in point of not putting the right person in the right slot.

Appointing an ex Army General, a recently retired Adjutant General of the Army, as Chairman of Naya Pakistan Housing Authority, is in my opinion, also a questionable decision. While understanding that the AG looks after Army Housing and has insights and expertise that could be useful, my view is that he has some really competent people in his own party with expertise in this area, such as Najeeb Haroon, the MNA from Karachi to head this. There are many other ways of seeking Army’s expertise and insights in this area.

I think he should task a team headed by Jehangir Tareen, Ehsan Malik (CEO of Pakistan Business Council) MNA Najeeb Haroon to source top talent for our Public sector institutions!

3. Fixing relations with India, Afghanistan, Iran and the USA. Afghanistan and USA is on an upward trajectory. India is a long haul. But given the final delinking with the Jihadi outfits and USA’s new found love for Imran, there may be some minor moves forward with India.

But with Modi around, forget any serious discussions on Kashmir. Trade yes! Kashmir No!

Iran is complex. At a minimum we cannot take sides. We must not allow our territory to be used against them. And if we can, to try and mediate between them and Saudi Arabia and perhaps even the USA.

4. Returning the balance of power from the Army to the Civilian Executive!
The Army is today the only State institution which has fortunately escaped the rape by our politicians, considerably helped by their 33 years in power. But also, as people forget, by having a very merit driven system of promotions, placements and transfers.

Their best and brightest go as Instructors to the premier training institutions, PMA, Staff College, NDU, ensuring that the trainees learn from the best. Compare this to the police and the civilian bureaucracy, where instructional assignments are “punishment” posts.

Hence today by default, because civilian institutions are dysfunctional, the Army’s footprint is overwhelming and overpowering! And the ISPR makes sure we do not forget this for a moment. It is unbelievable how those guys, living in an echo chamber, don’t understand how they’re polarizing public opinion about the Army and Gen. Bajwa.

But let’s be real. But for the Army, we would today be in a far worse situation then we are!

That’s reality! So lets move on from here!

Gen. Bajwa has done a marvellous job in cracking down on non state actors, putting his and the institutions full weight and support behind the civilian administration!

In my opinion he’s as committed to a corruption free Pakistan as is Imran and wants Imran to succeed for the sake of Pakistan.

As an interim arrangement, this is essential for our survival today to help tide over these very difficult times and defeat the current very powerful and corrupt status quo.

Take the USA visit. Gen. Bajwa’s presence and discussions with the US military High Command were essential to give USA comfort.

But in the long term this continuing influence in the civilian realm is very harmful, even existential for Pakistan as it will move us towards a harsh, fascist society!

The big white elephant in the room?

Should Gen. Bajwa get an extension? Should he be offered one? Should he accept one?

My personal opinion is a NO to all three.

While he’s done an outstanding job, I think he should retire gracefully, let the system continue and let the institution continue to support the Executive as its doing now! He could continue to serve as a National Security Advisor or Minister of Defence!

Having said that, there is a strong argument in many circles that because of his deep understanding of the issues facing Pakistan and his strong relationship with Imran, there’s a case for him to continue on.

But my view is that there will always be exceptional circumstances. There will always be an argument to break a rule! But the system must go on!

I have NEVER heard of a retiring Lt. General being given an extension! Never an extension to an Air Chief or the Naval Chief!

So why the Army Chief?

In summary, Imran faces a huge Herculean task at home!

We are a hugely dysfunctional society and country.

Our institutions do not work effectively.

Our past rulers, both military and civilians have systematically destroyed our institutions resulting in the elite capture of all our institutions and sources of power by a small group of corrupt, rich and powerful people, who’ve either used the hypocritical garb of democracy (our politicians) or the Doctrine of Necessity (our military rulers) to grab and hold onto power.

This elite capture has resulted in an environment of desperate survival by the poor and the exploited, desperately latching on to those who represent this corrupt ststem to seek recourse, justice, employment and succour.

Just sheer survival!

The masses accept as a given, a system of plunder, loot and handouts as symbolised by the Sharifs and Zardaris and their courtiers and hence accept the status quo, because their self interest and survival are now also interlinked to this corrupt system.

They do not believe that Imran or anybody can change the system to a more equitable one with equal opportunity for all!

Their hopes have been dashed to the ground again and again! Bhutto, Zia, Musharraf….now Imran!

This is a battle for the Soul of Pakistan and our future and those of our children and beyond.

It is a battle to provide equitable opportunities of healthcare, education, employment, entrepreneurship, business etc.

We hope this rotten political and electoral system is destroyed which continues to elect from a small, corrupt coterie of looting, plundering mafia like Plutocrats and Kleptocrats!

We hope no son, daughter, brother, nephew, uncle of any politician gets into power simply because of a biological event!

Mrs. Safdar and Master Bilawal being two of the ugliest most evil symbols of this terrible accursed system!

We hope our civilian institutions are strengthened so our Army retreats into its defined role and does not exercise the immense and inordinate power they exercise now, directly and indirectly and their support is indispensable to remain in power.

We hope we have a media of serious objective analysts, journalists and anchors who do not sell their souls to the highest bidder.

We hope of a judicial system which dispenses quick and fair justice and holds everyone accountable, high and low. We hope sons and daughters, sons and daughter in laws, nieces and nephews of former and serving Judges are not the only ones elevated to our High Courts and the Supreme Court

We hope we have an electoral process which allows people of competence and integrity to get into positions of power, authority, governance and into our legislatures.

Mrs. Safdar and Master Bilawal do not represent these hopes for Pakistan.

PM Imran does!

With all his inadequacies, which he is fast overcoming, he is still our best fighting chance!

The poor await a Pakistan where they live in peace and security, get quality healthcare and education, earn a decent livelihood and get speedy and fair justice!

Today they are burdened with massive back breaking inflation, high prices, but they still wait patiently!

Now its time for you to conquer Pakistan, PM Khan!

And you can only do it if you have competent people of integrity around you. A great team that can execute and implement effectively!

Because its a long hard tough battle and there is no such thing as “Spontaneous Combustion”, or a “Magic Wand”, PM Khan!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

JKT……Imran’s de facto Chief of Staff. Was he a victim of a gross miscarriage of Justice?…A Subjective appraisal!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 5th July, 2019

Disclaimer. Every view is biased! Mine, yours and the so called objective one

To say that JKT evokes strong emotions for and against, is the classic understatement.

Opinions about the man fluctuate wildly. One hears about.

His very close and trusted relationship with Imran.

His enormous influence in party and governance matters.

His role in PTI’s electoral success, in corraling independents and political partners to get the required majority numbers in the Center and Punjab.

His being central to the fairly public slugfests with the likes of Shah Mahmood, Ch. Sarwar, Hamid Khan, Saif Niazi and the silent rivalry with Asad Umar and others.

Depending on who you talk to, he’s either a brilliant genius, highly disciplined, organized, professional and meticulous in his planning and execution. An incredibly powerful negotiator, a very successful deal-maker in the cut and thrust of Realpolitik.

Many acknowledge him as the mastermind behind Imran’s and PTI’s electoral success. He is still Imran’s closest confidante and advisor who Imran listens to, respects, and a rainmaker who delivers impossible results.

Or

JKT is an ambitious, ruthless, vicious, selfish, political infighter who mercilessly destroys his political foes, inside or outside the party. He has caused great harm to the party bringing in the traditional corrupt politicos, destroying the party’s clean image. He has an amazing ability to rub people the wrong way, is arrogant and aloof and wants to exercise total control.

Some even allege that he is unscrupulous and leverages his political strength and closeness to Imran to promote his business interests.

So there you have it. An enigma!

Wherein lies reality?

Difficult to answer in a binary black and white. But clearly somewhere in between!

So why am I writing about him, when there’s so much other stuff going on!

Rana Narco behind bars:

Zaradari’s benami properties being attached:

No silver linings for the Sharifs!

Desperation striking the opposition.

BLA being declared a terrorist outfit.

Imran’s forthcoming Trump meeting etc.

And most sadly, Bilawal opening a whole new Pandora’s box by alleging Imran’s “drug habit”.

This coming from a person whose sole claim to fame, as is Maryam’s, is being born into an incredibly evil, wicked and corrupt family, who have looted and plundered Pakistan with abandon!

Be warned that some really ugly allegations on their characters are sure to follow. Sad! Very sad!

But back to JKT!

What piqued my interest was a recent discernible and positive change in the quality of Imran’s decisions who, appearing fairly rudderless a few months ago, seems to be much more confident and in control and taking better decisions!

Why?

In my opinion, other than Imran finally getting a serious handle over governance, overcoming his near existential inexperience, ignorance and incompetence, coming out of the lowest point in his first year, perhaps his worst, the lowest point being Asad Umar’s sacking, and then the slow upward swing with the new economic team, the passing of the budget, the IMF loan, Rana Narcos, AZ in the dock, a successful amnesty scheme, it was JKT’s return back into the active inner sanctums of Imran’s decision making circle, which has a lot to do with Imran’s coming of age, say the “church mice!”

It appears that JKT may have taken over the role of a de facto Chief of Staff to Imran.

A role Imran desperately needed to fend off the bunch of incompetent qaseeda khawaans and lotus eaters surrounding him, help him vet data, information and offer well thought through and objective advice on key policies and decisions.

In my opinion, despite what his detractors may say JKT seems most suited for this role.

A role, critical to Imran’s success, as I’ve stated countless times before.

The Chief of Staff role requires someone who has a brilliant understanding, insights and experience of project planning and implementation in public sector and political environments.

Someone who is also a technocrat and subject matter expert in a critical area, as well as a hard nosed, hard core political animal who understands the vicious cut and thrust of politics.

Someone who Is highly experienced in public sector governance and the ways of the bureaucracy.

Someone who is financially independent and wealthy.

But above all someone who is utterly and fiercely loyal to Imran, has his ear, professional respect and confidence.

Today, who better than JKT? Its that simple!

Let’s face it. The reality is that JKT is now disqualified for life, and hence has no subjective agenda to push through, other than Imran’s and PTI’s success. Which brings me to JKT’s disqualification!

This may seem like a plug for him, but the details of the case and the disqualification truly shocked me!

In in the interest of full disclosure.

I barely know Jehangir Tareen. He is certainly not a friend or even a passing acquaintance. I have only met him once, briefly for 30 odd minutes, and that too, by chance.

We have exchanged the odd WhatsApp text. In fact I have oft held him responsible for many of the ills besetting PTI especially the internecine intra party strife etc.

Also I’m neither a PTI member or an office bearer. In fact my recent comments and articles about Imran and PTI have been harshly critical of many of Imran’s decisions and actions, costing me dearly, including being declared persona non grata around Imran.

But JKT’s disqualification intrigued me!

How could someone as smart and brilliant as JKT, with the best legal and professional advice available to him, be so incredibly stupid to put his entire political career at risk by “hiding” or “not disclosing an asset” bought through an off shore inheritance trust set up by him for his children, in which he, his wife and children were also beneficiaries?

How?

So I decided to dig deeper and pored over the case, the judgement, petitions, the English and Jersey law governing these trusts, plus seeking advice from those who know.

In this I did approach him seeking details of the case, which he kindly provided!

What I discovered was to say the least, surprising and very disturbing.

For context, I regularly read Barrister Babar Sattar’s columns, often disagreeing with his political perspectives, but admiring his legal ones.

His basic contention in many of his articles has been that our Superior Court Lordships have penned judgements, based not on past precedences or solid legal grounds, but in a fairly cavalier manner, perhaps based on personal whims, egos, and or political expediency.

Could petty jealousy, political conspiracies or personal vendetta be causes as well? I don’t know!

Time and again we see benches authoring completely conflicting judgement on cases which are very similar.

And we saw a lot of this during the Ch. Iftikhar and Saqib Nisar reigns.

Yes I call them reigns, because both lorded over their functions like arrogant, despotic and frequently irrational dictators, throwing judicial functioning in complete disarray, through their contradictory judgments and behaviours unbecoming of a Chief Justice!.

In my opinion, JKT’s case was also a sad reflection of the above.

So what was JKT’s case?

Hanif Abbasi, himself now a convicted drug smuggler, filed a petition to disqualify JKT on four grounds.

Insider Trading – Not Guilty.
Misdeclaration of Agricultural income tax – Not Guilty.
Written off loans – Not Guilty.
The Kicker – Property in UK – Guilty

As I stated eatlier I pored over the case and here have attempted to provide a simple overview without getting too much into the mumbo jumbo of the law.

1. JKT earned money in Pakistan legally, and paid the requisite taxes on it.

2. He then transferred a portion of these legally earned, tax paid funds. through official and legal banking channels, to his bank accounts in the UK and onwards into an offshore inheritance trust in the UK as an investment for his children. So there was no intent to “hide” money or “sources” from where money was made. All transfers were through legal banking channels and certified financial instruments.

3. The irrevocable inheritance Trust so created, meaning that JKT could not undo it, then incorporated a company, Shiny View Limited which bought the asset, Hyde House, held in trust by EFG Trust Company Limited. These are absolute standard ways to create trusts, especially for one’s children’s inheritance purposes.

4. Under Laws governing such Trusts, JKT’s role was that of a “Settlor” meaning the guy who “deposits / settles” the funds in the Trust. Absolutely correct, JKT paid the money to form the inheritance trust and acquire the property, for his children.

5. The beneficiaries of the funds in the Trust or any assets it may acquire were his 4 Children and so named in all documentation.

6. All his children regularly, every year, declared their ownership of this “asset”, Hyde House, in their regular tax returns to FBR well before the 2015 nomination papers filed by JKT. This again showed that there was never any attempt by JKT to “hide” the asset” as it always appeared in the tax returns of his children.

7. He and his wife were also named discretionary lifetime beneficiaries of the Trust to preclude the children from dissolving the trust and selling off the assets, in his or her lifetime. But could do so after their demise. This is a fairly standard clause in most inheritance trusts.

Now here’s the tricky legal part. Please read 8 and 9 slowly, preferably twice.

8. JKT set up an irrevocable discretionary inheritance Trust under which complete legal and beneficial ownership of assets of the Trust vested in certified professional Trustees who were trusted to ensure that any funds / assets vested in the trust would be given to JKT’s children, as per the terms of the Trust, after his and his wife’s demise.

9. Unless there is actual transfer of any asset to any discretionary lifetime beneficiary, in this case JKT or his wife, such discretionary beneficiary has a mere expectation and no proprietary interest in the assets held by such Trust. There is decades of unbroken English and Jersey law on this.

In simple words, the asset, Hyde House, belonged to the inheritance Trust, with his children as prime beneficiaries and the asset did not belong to JKT or his wife, under the laws governing such trusts. This is fairly common in Pakistan Trust law as well.

His lawyers advised that because his children already declare Hyde House as their asset in their tax returns in Pakistan, he was not required to do this.

Stupid advice? Perhaps.

Bottom line.

Nothing in the transaction showed any intent to “hide sources of money” “money trails” or “the asset”.

Everything was done through legally earned, tax paid funds, transferred through legal banking channels (not on the backs of Camels) and publicly reported in tax returns by his children who were the beneficiaries of the trust.

So now to the judicial case.

A three judge bench comprising, Chief Justice Saqib, Justices Ata Bandial and Faisal Arab, disqualified JKT by first rejecting that a valid trust was created, which owned the property, Hyde House, calling it a sham front!

Once they did that, they then proceeded to link the property directly to JKT because he was “discretionary lifetime beneficiary” of the trust, by his own admission. The same Trust the Lordships called a sham!!

And then the coup de grace!

And therefore because he had not disclosed his being a beneficiary in this property in his nomination papers, hence under Article 62(1) (f) was declared dishonest and unfit to hold public office under section 99 (1) (f) of the Representation of People Act, 1976.

This is really strange reading.

They reject the Trust as a valid asset holding entity, but accept his being a “lifetime discretionary beneficiary” in the same Trust they say does not exist or was a sham and use this to convict him!

Unbelievable Logic!

Adding further salt to this “remarkable” judgement is the following observation by the learned Judges, perhaps their most damning comment in the judgement which gives away an intent to pronounce a guilty judgement, whatever the facts may be

“…….. Perhaps SVL was created as a repository to hide his tax paid money, sent through banking channels and shown to have been spent on the creation of SVL and the purchase/construction – of the “Hyde House”; but this was done in a clandestine and dubious manner. The object behind this exercise was to hide and stash the said money, SVL and the property from the tax authorities and from the public eyes…..

Stupid Question from me!

Which “brilliant” mind or minds would draw this conclusion or observe that someone would be so stupid as to “HIDE their LEGAL TAX PAID MONEY sent THROUGH LEGAL BANKING CHANNELS”, for the purpose of HIDING these legal tax paid funds FROM TAX AUTHORITIES and then dub these actions as “dubious and clandestine” ?

Speechless! Just speechless.

Bottom line!

Nothing in the transaction showed any intent to “hide sources of money” “disguise money trails” or “hide the asset”.

And to repeat myself again!

Everything was done through legally earned, tax paid funds, transferred through legal banking channels (not on the backs of Camels) and publicly reported in tax returns by his children who were the beneficiaries of the trust.

The Bench did not pay any heed to the fact that he had not displayed any deliberate intent to hide the asset or was deliberately committing a dishonest act.

They paid no heed to the fact that the money was legally earned, tax paid, officially transferred through banking channels and regularly declared in the tax returns of JKT’s children!

I then looked at Khawaja Asif’s case, seemingly an open an shut case of clear guilt, or so it would seem, because he was held “NOT GUILTY” for not declaring an asset in his nomination forms, virtually an identical case under which his party leader, Nawaz Sharif was declared GUILTY for not declaring his salary as an asset he received from his employers as a permanent resident of the UAE.

The Honorable bench in that case comprised Justices Faisal Arab, Umar Bandial (yes the same two who disqualified JKT) and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

This judgement, unlike JKT’s, waxes eloquently about “intent” about “clarifying source of income” about “omissions being a case of poor judgement but not of wilful dishonesty”

These phrases are worthy of current Chief Justice Asif Khosa’s judgments.

A man with as strong a spine and as worthy a rare mettle one has seen in the Superior Judiciary. Sadly one cannot say the same for some others.

Khawaja Asif’s case with Nawaz Sharif’s case as a binding precedent, should really have been an open an shut case but for reasons that must be investigated, Justices Ata Bandial, Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah adopted a very different approach.

In Khawaja Asif’s case Judgement, we come across such beauties!

…..There are many conceivable instances where an omission to declare an asset on the face of it cannot be regarded as dishonest concealment. … Such like omissions at best could be categorized as bad judgment or negligence but certainly not dishonesty… Hence mere omission to list an asset cannot be labelled as dishonesty unless some wrongdoing is associated with its acquisition or retention which is duly established in judicial proceedings. In our view attributing dishonesty to every omission to disclose an asset and disqualify a member for life could never have been the intention of the parliament while incorporating Article 62(1)(f) in the Constitution. All non-disclosures of assets cannot be looked at with the same eye….

Yet in JKT’s case, this principle was not applied.

In their wisdom, they then go on to say…

……Where a matter with regard to an undisclosed asset is taken to court, it would not form the opinion that it is a case of dishonest concealment without first calling upon the elected member to explain the source from which such an asset was acquired…..

And when the source was explained by JKT their laughable response is what was shared earlier.

They then go on to say…..

……It is the credibility of the explanation that would be the determining factor as to whether non-disclosure of an asset carries with it the element of dishonesty or not. The test of honesty with regard to non-disclosure of assets and liabilities is to be applied in that context only and certainly not in a case where a clean asset has not been declared on account of bad judgment or inadvertent omission…..

In JKT’s case non-disclosure of the asset clearly carries with it the element of open transparency and honesty

And thus Khawaja Asif was declared NOT GUILTY because the Honourable Bench determined that it was “inadvertent omission without ill intent”!

Masha Allah! Subhan Allah!

Don’t know how many others have suffered such a travesty of justice. It is shocking, senseless, saddening and appalling.

Over to you, Chief Justice Asif Khosa. I hope you get to read this.

I say this because you’re an honourable man out to reform this rotten system which results in such gross miscarriages of Justice.

I say this so such a travesty is not committed again and past wrongs, set right.

To begin with a Supreme Court review appeal MUST NOT be heard by the same bench which passed the original judgement, but by a different bench so it receives fair and objective treatment.

It is not possible to expect the same bench to review its own judgment, overturn it and bring into question their own competence.

JKT should not have been punished in this case. Because he hid nothing, earned money legally, transferred them through official channels, and his children declared their ownership in their tax returns.

His case must be reopened under a new bench and his review petition heard again.

Many will conjecture on why I wrote this piece.

Some will allege that “JKT bought me”.

For them in the words of Rhett Butler/ Clark Gable in “Gone with The Wind “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

As I stated earlier, JKT, despite the controversies surrounding him, is on the balance a very positive influence on Imran, helping him take good decisions and govern well and effectively!

And that is good for Pakistan, as Imran is still our best fighting chance!

Plus I’ve always had a soft corner for the underdog and those who have suffered grave injustice. Including people like Hamid Khan, who I greatly admire and respect.

I hope JKT reconciles with him, Saif Niazi, Shah Mahmood, Ch. Sarwar and others and distances himself from the likes of Fawad Chaudhry!

Haider Mehdi

“……And we missed the Boat!!!…..

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 13 June, 2019

Earlier today, a friend and former classmate sent me a short news report on the quality of Indian graduates of the IIT, established by Nehru, in the early 50’s, soon after partition.

Our story was very different and how we in Pakistan, missed the boat, not just in developing strong public sector institutions but in establishing similar high quality science, technology and engineering educational institutions.

It’s my considered opinion that a key reason was that at Partition, a cabal of hereditary, rich, corrupt and powerful, landed feudals “elite captured” all sources of Pakistani power, simply to perpetuate their hold over the people. They had no love for Pakistan, or its people or its future, except their own selfish interests.

The vast majority already lived in the geography which later became West Pakistan. They sacrificed nothing for Pakistan. They lost no property, no fathers and mothers, no sisters and brothers, no sons and daughters but in fact, acquired even more power and wealth as a consequence of the infamous evacuee property scams!

By and large this evil cabal of plutocrats and kleptocrats still exists today.

Today, these rural political heavyweights, are joined in the merry plunder, by the urban merchant elite, the bureaucratic elite and that most elite of elites, the Pakistan Army General.

Our political and social contract has always been of an “elite cabal” lording over poor masses. Imran and PTI included.

Despite Imran’s desire and protestations to the contrary, his desire to clean up the mess, I do not see him succeeding, unless this stranglehold of the Elite Mafia, is broken.

Unless he is able to, as a start, throw out this mafia like cabal of crooks, self seeking carpetbaggers, power brokers, corrupt and crooked cabinet ministers, advisors and, special assisstants who have leeched onto him.

Not all, but certainly the vast majority!

We need a new Republic!

A new political and social contract.

Perhaps an anarchic revolution, if not a real revolution. But anything, literally anything, which will uproot the existing order.

We need something so harsh, so cruel so painful that the wounds make us think twice before allowing another crooked cabal like mafia to take over.

Last week I saw a documentary series on The American Civil War by Ken Burns, on Netflix. A strong must see.

Made me realise why they’re the most powerful and influential nation on earth.

1. 4 million people fought against each other in over 10,000 place over a 4 year period. And over 160 years ago!

2. 620,000 died to defend what they stood for. Their State, their way of life, their values. For and against slavery!

3. 4 million black slaves were released from bondage.

4. A President was assassinated for not giving in.

Father against son, brother against brother. Former classmates and childhood friends mowed each other down in cornfields and cotton plantations.

That is how this Nation was forged in the most painful way.

The vast majority of the people of Pakistan got this country handed to them on a platter on the morn of 14 August by one of our greatest leaders, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

But for him we would have still been living in even more abject misery as a marginalized ghettoized community, much like the Muslims of India today.

If anyone lives in some fools paradise of a united secular India with Muslims and Hindus living together in communal harmony, they need to look at Modi, the BJP and what’s happening to Muslims in India.

Those who migrated to Pakistan, and sacrificed their all had to start from scratch.

Those who spoke one of the regional languages, and came from East Punjab, mostly Punjabis, assimilated well.

Those who were alien to the land and spoke Urdu were and are still hounded for calling themselves Mohajirs.

Interestingly, have yet to come across a single Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi or Pathan who identifies himself as a “Pakistani”.

Who are you?

I’m a Balochi, a Sindhi, Makrani, a Punjabi, a Pathan/ Pakhtun, Baltistani, Kashmiri, Gilgiti etc etc or some even call themselves Afghans. Then the tribes, sub tribes, clans, sub clans etc etc.

But we berate the Urdu Speaking community for trying to establish their own identity, bereft from the one they left behind and because no one will take them as their own.

The solution?

No idea!

Perhaps a revolution or sheer anarchy with marauding unruly mobs, finally fed up, go on a looting and plundering rampage. Centuries of anger hurled on the riches of the privileged.

Mobs looting and plundering those living in the comforts of the Bahrias, the Defence Societies, the Gulbergs and even the privileged no go areas of our most powerful elite, the Army Generals, living in the fortified safety of their palaces in pristine Cantonments and colonies.

And Golf Road in Pindi, perhaps symbolises this most ugly and visible symbol of this elitism, alongwith their luxurious residences, gilded huge offices and palatial messes.

Perhaps a major calamitous event which breaks the stranglehold of the elite.

Perhaps a mad dictator.

Perhaps a complete change in our electoral process which allows highly educated, committed people to come into positions of governance and policy making.

I don’t see any of this happening, hence my temporary “retirement” from political commentary and activism and media.

But that IIT report just compelled me to pen this!

Alas and Sigh!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

I want to write about another piece of Heaven

I want to write about another piece of Heaven!
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 4 May, 2019

I was so tempted to write about Nawaz’s bail rejection; Shahbaz’s Great Escape ; Maryam’s ascent to the throne (nearly); The sacking of the State Bank Governor and the FBR Czar.

Was itching to comment on PTI’s 23 Anniversary, where a message by a couple of the new spineless minions, who’ve taken over the party was delivered to Hamid Khan on the morning of the event to not attend the event, as his presence may offend King Khan, because of Hamid Khan’s views about his new “Deputy PM” Jehangir Tareen.

A resounding slap on the face of Saifullah’s Niazi’s subsequent high sounding speech on the occasion!

I even contemplated writing a note, following the recent DGISPR presser, on why the ISPR must relook and review how it articulates and manifests the perspective of the Army Chief, the Institution of the Army, the Government and Pakistan without having guns being fired at them and consequently causing great damage to their own credibility, that of their Chief, Gen. Bajwa, the Institution of the Army, the Political government, Imran and Pakistan.

Weakening all!

I so wanted to write why key decision makers and senior leaders in the military will find great merit and value in regularly, frequently and, proactively seeking perspectives and opinions that are very controversial, contrarian, thought through, analytical and insightful but aligned to our National interests, and most importantly very different to their’s, rather than only those they hear in their own “echo chambers” with everyone singing from the same music sheet!

I also so wanted to share my insights with the Army’s leadership that perhaps the greatest service they could do for this country and also atone for their many sins of omission and commission, past and present, is to help build capacity in our civilian public sector institutions transferring their own brilliant best practices, processes and systems onto the civilian institutional infrastructure.

They could help build capacity in the Establishment Division, Foreign Office and Key Ministries of Finance, Power, Petroleum (Oil and Gas), Information, Planning and Development and Commerce, all critical for future growth and success, by instituting an MS Branch type of system which delivers a very effective and transparent system of performance management, postings, transfers, promotions, punishment etc.

I so wanted to write why, despite his monumental blunders, his ignorance, his inexperience, his incompetence, his narcissism, arrogance and hubris, his complete lack of competence in selecting the right people for the right job, Imran must still be fully supported by all of us, to succeed for the sake of Pakistan.

Supported, so the wolves of the Houses of Sharif and Zardari and the interests they represent are buried under six feet of political earth, never to return and God Forbid, continue their terrible loot and plunder!

I so wanted to write that this could be done by “someone” getting people of competence and integrity around Imran, in place of the vast majority of extremely incompetent and in many cases also corrupt Special Assistants and Advisers and Cabinet Members he currently has. This coupled with his own inexperience results in the poor decisions he has been making. He has to be made to get rid of many and bring in new ones. One current Special Assistant, earlier rejected by Imran, to head a government media organization because of his “colorful” past in a similar role, because Imran couldn’t afford to have his government’s credibility scarred, now “manages” Imran’s media engagements.

I so wanted to comment on the cringing feeling I get watching Fawad Chaudhry chair meetings of scientific organizations attended by scientists who must be wondering the reasons behind this terrible punishment being inflicted on them and Pakistan’s scientific landscape, by King Khan!

I so wanted to write about the Punjab CM Buzdar, who in the words of a very close insider says the following about Buzdar

“He (Buzdar) has bought the (power) bullshit hook line and sinker, he now wants all of us to do baait on his hands. Not for ourselves but in order to make a difference in our ministries we will either choose to do so or spit on his face. Choice is ours. The biggest problem is, we are now in the place we have wanted to be to make a difference. Are we going to let his ego get in our way or will we overcome our own egos and March on?

March on, I advised!

So its now King Buzdar, in Punjab, who King Khan insists on continuing with!

But none of this.

I want to write why, despite all of the above, despite Imran’s follies, despite the ISPR’s ham handed heavy handedness and communication indescretions, Pakistan will unleash its Potential and become a great Nation!

Here is why!

I want to write about a person and an organization who has impacted the lives of 33 lac (3.3 million) very poor people, by giving Rs. 80 Billion in INTEREST FREE small micro credit loans, through a network of 817 offices, in over 400 cities, towns and villages spread all over Pakistan, employing 7000 of the most dedicated, committed and awesome people, I’ve ever come across in my life!

I want to write about an organization which has unleashed a near and quiet revolution in our rural heartlands through some of the most effective community participatory models, I have seen, uplifting them not just economically, but socially, culturally and behaviourally!

I’ve personally experienced two such “model villages” funded through the philanthropic magnaminity of a Media Mogul!

I want to write about an organization which does not distinguish between class, colour, creed, sect, gender, ethnicity in who they employ and who they help.

I want to write about an organization which uses the many Houses of Allah, be they Mosques, Churches, Mandars to engage with the poor communities they serve and help!

I want to write about an organization which disburses interest free “Liberation Loans” to the most deprived segments of our society, handcuffed and shackled by “Money Lenders” charging interests ranging from 100% to 300% annually.

No longer is this the proverbial money lender from a particular ethnic group, but mostly women who now control this evil!

One woman money lender when contacted over the phone so that her money could be returned, (she was charging 150% interest) was told “wo abhee Ithaykaaf may bayhtee haen”!

I want to write about an organization whose board of directors and Executive Director do not draw a single paisa from the funds of the organization! Who’s administrative and operating costs do not exceed 7% to 8 %.

I want to write about an organization which has collected and disbursed millions and millions of clothes to the poor and the needy!

I want to write about an organization which employs transgenders to give them a fair chance in life!

I want to write about an organization that has used its Rs.18 billion credit pool nearly five fold to disburse over Rs. 80 billions in interest free loans.

I want to write about an organization which is visited by research teams from Harvard and Columbia to study and understand this remarkable interest free poverty alleviation phenomena.

I want to write about an organization which started with Rs. 10,000, 18 years ago and has now disbursed over Rs. 80 billion. And today, is the world’s largest interest free poverty alleviation organization!

I want to write about an organization which is inspired and hence implements and emulates the core principle of “Muakhat” of Riasat e Medina of our Holy Prophet PBUH!

I want to write about an event planned by this organization in early Ramzan, 2019 to disburse over Rs. 2 Billion in micro finance, interest free loans to over 77,000 poor people, 20,000 alone in the Badshahi Mosque and the rest in mosques, churches and mandars all across Pakistan, in one single day at the same time!

I want to write about this organization which has invited King Khan to this event and have yet to hear from His Highness or his Rasputins!

I want to write about this organization which has committed to build 1 million houses for the poor as part of the PM’s Naya Pakistan Housing Program, if the government funds them with Rs. 50 Billion, and then also promises to return the entire amount back to the government in 4 years!

I want to write about Dr. Amjad Saqib and Akhuwath!

And that is why, because of pieces of Heaven like them and thousands of others, Pakistan will succeed!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

Nov 2017 Longest Media Interview – PM Imran Shares his Plans for Pakistan

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 29th April,  2019

Nov, 2017 – PM Imran sharing his plans on Pakistan in his longest media interview ever 

In November 2017, 9 months before he became PM, a very upbeat and confident Imran Khan, perhaps gave his longest and most wide ranging TV interview ever. 1 hour and 7 minutes.

We discussed his questionable choice of electables to bring Tabdeeli.

How he plans to reform institutions, especially the Punjab Bureaucracy.

His views on then MD PTV, Ataullah Qasmi and I can’t help but contrast this with his treatment of his own handpicked MD, PTV, Arshad Khan, who he threw under the bus.

How Sharifs destroyed institutions by appointing incompetent, inexperienced people to senior posiitions and his plans to address this.

His views about Jehangir Tareen and Aleem Khan and the criticism that Jehangir Tareen controlled him and basically ran the party.

His plans to address the economic crisis, the fiscal and current account deficits, FBR reform, increase taxation and exports.

The charge of being a Taliban sympathiser.

His plans for civil service reforms.

Criticism about the Peshawar BRT.

Review of CPEC projects.

Now 9 months into his Prime Ministership it is interesting to see how successful he’s been.

But in all fairness to him and his government, many are long term.

To me of particular interest were his comments about merit and competence in appointments, economic reforms, reforming the Punjab bureaucracy and Police, FBR and Civil Service reforms.

While I’ve temporarily moved away from political commentary, but believe that this interview is a must watch to understand the contrast between being in opposition and in power and the current situation in Pakistan.

Also its worth noting, that, to date, Imran has not given a single one on one interview to any Pakistani anchor since taking oath. One of his media handlers, who earlier was rejected by him for the post of MD, PTV, because of his tainted past in the same role, now periodically “selects” groups of “gentle” anchors.

A huge contrast and departure from Imran’s bold free wheeling confident chats and interviews when he was in opposition.

While I’m not amongst the chosen who have access to him, although Imran personally promised me, thrice, his first interview to a Pakistani anchor, after being elected, I hope he comes out of his cocoon and the Castle his handlers have captured him in and plead his case to the people who had, perhaps still have faith in him, as well as all others in Pakistan!

But clearly from the interview we can see that IK had, perhaps still has, his heart in the right place. And he may yet pull an “Imran rabbit” out his hat, as he has done in the past.

We hope he is able to understand better, the art of governance, gets a group of extremely competent advisors around him to fill his inexperience gap and as per his own criteria, appoint the right people for the right roles!

Buzdar, anyone?

But the Jury is still out on him and his government, as they’ve 4 years to go.

Our hopes and prayers for Pakistan.

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi

Hazara! Lambs to the slaughter and Imran’s Shame!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

They are said to have been part of the great Mongol hordes of Changez Khan as they swooped down from Central Asia into South Asia!

Now mostly living in the heartland of Afghanistan and contestably comprising berween 9% to 20% of Afghanistan’s population, the Hazaras as they are known have a history of being violently persecuted, because of their religous beliefs!

From being serfs and living in slave like conditions to the highest political offices in Afghanistan and an occasional high military office in Pakistan, Gen. Musa being one, these people have been over centuries been repeatedly subjected to persecution, violence and mass killings both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where they number about half a million, mostly in and around Quetta.

Converted to 12 Imam Shiaism during the Safavid rule in 16th Century Iran and living in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan and later Pakistan, they have been singularly targeted because of their religious beliefs and their distinctive physical features distinguishing them from non Hazaras!

Their targetted killings in Pakistan and of other Shias have been the natural consequence of the terrible, violent, obscurantist, exclusive, militant interpretation of Islam adopted by extremist groups, funded by petrodollars, mainstreamed by Gen. Zia ul Haq and violently propagated by militant preachers originating from the terror following the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the Saudi Iran proxy war, both in that calamitous year of 1979.

The Hazaras of all communities are the most vulnerable living in an extremely hostile environment in Quetta, Baluchistan, because of the extremist sectarian militant outfits that appear to operate with impunity in a province which in all manner of speaking has been under strict military control for over 20 years.

Hence it is extremely strange for such a terrible, tragic, cruel, heartbreaking incident to take place in supposedly the most militarized province and city of Pakistan.

Where is the State?

Where are the Security agencies?

Where is Prime Minister Imran Khan?

Where is the PM who would tweet and roar and shout at the then Prime Ministers for their indifference, their lack of empathy, their lack of sympathy,  their lack of courage and spine when the Hazaras were earlier targetted by sectarian terrorists?

And all our “brave” PM could come up with was a pitiful tweet? A Tweet?

He should be ashamed of himself!

Some say he was advised against travelling because it would be a security risk!

A security risk?

He should be ashamed of himself if he listened to this advice. He should have said “I’m going, you take care of security” boarded his plane and been there the same or next day.

What sort of PM are you Mr. Khan?

Where’s your courage?

Where’s your Spine?

If ever the Nation wanted you to grasp a leadership moment, it was now!

If nothing else, you could have helped wipe their tears and shared their sorrow!

What a fall, PM!

“A little piece of Heaven” in Pakistan

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

While the chattering, thumbing, typing, opinionated, full stomached, overly wealthy, overly stupid and ignorant, so called elite of this country bitches and moans every day on WhatsApp and Facebook in drawing rooms and meeting rooms, many angels quietly slog away at making a difference in the life of the extremely vulnerable, poor and most at risk, in Pakistan!

They impact the lives of the very very poor who belong to a socio economic status that perhaps may shame even the shameless.

Mohra Fatima is a small hamlet on the road to Chakwal, where a dedicated team of local and foreign qualified doctors have been providing free health care to people suffering from severe emotional and mental disabilities.

“80% would either commit suicide or kill somebody if they hadn’t been treated by us” says Dr. Shakil, Consultant Psychiatrist at Sussex Hospital, UK, the person behind this effort and now based in Pakistan.

I spent a day there a few weeks ago. What I saw would melt the hardest heart. These were people who were extremely poor and in great mental and emotional distress.

“Many were tied in chains by their families, because they didn’t know what was wrong and how to deal with them”.

“Then other doctors take advantage of them prescribing wrong medicines, keeping them hooked as potential earning assets, till these poor people run out of money, and either kill somebody, commitv suicude or end up in chains and die.”

“Pakistani Society is suffering from serious psycho -social toxicity. The violence and trauma we’ve suffered these last 40 years has corroded our society, destroyed families and normal social interaction. And the most impacted are the poor and the underprivileged who have no safety nets, financial, family, social and emotional”

How can we fix it, I asked? Is there a solution?

“Yes, we can.”

“We have to address this at the levels of our schools, colleges and universities. We have to equip our teachers on how to address this phenomenon, how to weave it into our teaching curriculum.  Federal and Provincial education authorities, Higher Education Commissions, University Vice Chancellors etc, should seek advice from people like us on how to weave this into our curriculums.”

“We must educate our political, public and private sector leaders and our military leaders about this terrible social bomb which is exploding all across our country.”

*”Institutions like the Civil Services Academy, the Pakistan Institute  for Parliamentary Services,  National Defence University, Staff College, Pakistan Military Academy, Police Training institutes, Pakistan Institute of Management, etc must get insights. We are also planning to establish an institute to take this forward!*”

What about children suffering from mental and emotional disorders?

“They really are the most at risk. Many are abused.  They are unable to participate and learn. They cannot become productive members of our society. So in a humble effort we’ve started a school, free of cost for such children.

I visited this school yesterday in Gulzar Colony, Rawalpindi and saw my little piece of heaven.

Children with severe disabilities being looked after, cared for and taught by people with hearts of gold, the patience of Hazrat Ayub and the virtues of Saints.

How do you support this?

“Our own funds, friends and family and well wishers.  One lady in the UK didn’t use her car for a month and biked to work, and then donated the fuel money she saved.”

“You don’t have to be wealthy to donate or care, just have to have a heart that cares!”

Any support from our government poverty alleviation organizations. BAIT UL MAL etc?

He just smiled and offered me a cup of tea!

*-Haider Mehdi*

A short note on the CJ LHC reprieve to Hamza!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

In a truly messed up society like ours where either nothing or everything works depending on who you don’t know or know!

Anything is possible! Including Hamza’s reprieve !

Where a PM can drag on a never ending nasty feud between his minister (Fawad) and his Special Assistant (Naeem ul Haque) involving his own personally hand picked extremely honest and competent PTV MD (Arshad) without intervening!

Anything is possible! Including a totally screwed up narrative of your own creation!

So why blame your opponents!

Where a PM appoints idiots and carpetbaggers to cabinet, advisory and special assistant positions while brilliant honest people from his own party are sitting on the sidelines, because he has no idea about the skills required. And because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Anything is possible!

So why not the continous disasters one after the other?

Why pick on a Judge, who’s clearly biased, when every morning Imran calls for a razor sharp axe to hack at his own foot!

Therefore anything is possible!

So why blame the opposition for having a go at you when you do it to yourself, every day!

I dont blame the Judge or the putrid screwed up system but the PM who we voted in to do the right thing.

And I’m talking about the many many things that he could have done right, but isn’t because he’s inexperienced, ignorant and incompetent and refuses to listen to sane and good advice!

So anything is possible, when you don’t know, you don’t know!

Including turning a blind eye to the obvious!

Buzdar is a royal disaster. So is Mahmood in KP.

Even his closest advisers can’t figure out why he’s continuing with these.

So anything is possible!

So why blame others! When you insist on insisting that your decision was right!

So forget a small fry like the Punjab CJ. He’s part of a terrible system which has been tainted, poisoned and destroyed by decades of institutional decay!

But focus on Imran who really is his own worst enemy!

So anything is possible!

One hope and prays his learning curve and understanding of governance, management and identifying the right people, out runs the disasters chasing him. Many of his own creation!

And hopefully then perhaps, good things are possible!

One piece of unsolicited advice, Imran.

*Get someone like Shafqat Mahmood as your Chief of Staff, so you can get at least some sane piece of advice, currently completely non existent from the Qaseeda Khwaans you’ve gathered around you.*

For me, I give up!