Pakistan’s Schizophrenia or the death of (un) common sense!

*Pakistan’s Schizophrenia or the death of (un) common sense!*

*By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.*

My recent piece on Bilawal’s Davos interview which set hearts aflutter, drew lots of feedback. Both for and against.

Comments ranged from unqualified support to qualified support, given the harsh language and phrases used for which I apologise to all those who were offended including Bilawal and take full responsibility for crossing the line of social propriety and good manners.

The brickbats were total condemnation of my perspective and full support for Bilawal as a potential leader for Pakistan.

While I fully understand people’s objections to the language used, one still cannot understand comments from those who I’ve personally known to have struggled against Gen. Zia’s dark years of militarism and Gen. Musharraf’s Martial laws and strived for the rule of law and democracy in Pakistan.

It’s painful to see those who fought against military rule and for democracy, becoming silent spectators if not, in many cases, willing supporters to the corruption, misrule, loot and plunder of civilian so called democratic regimes.

I know two former editors of leading publications, both brave souls. One in particular took on the mullahs, the drug cartels, the fascism of political parties, the underworld, putting her life at stake but has now succumbed to this “mirage”, for reasons which are incomprehensible!

Then one sees the romance that many have with the PPP, the Bhuttos or Zardari (ouch) and the Sharifs.

While it’s easy to understand this support by people hostage to their subjective and personal vested interests of wealth, business interests, political influence, feudalism, and family, ethnic and linguistic ties, the support of others, educated, aware, who are unable see through the democratic facade these rulers adopt, is mind boggling.

This to me is Pakistan’s Schizophrenia and the death of our (un) common sense!

Look at Benazir Bhutto 1, 2 and Zardari 1. Nawaz Sharif 1, 2 and 3 regimes. A total period of 21 years and 1 Martial Law regime of 8 years under Gen. Musharraf.

In these 21 years of civilian rule except for one, all goverments were dismissed on charges of corruption and misrule under the then constitutional clauses.

Let’s not forget that under Benazir, Nawaz Sharif and Zardari and the false facade of a democratic order, these rulers lorded over a period which can only be described as one of sheer incompetence, corruption, loot and plunder, resulting in the total and complete breakdown and destruction of all our public sector institutions.

Not defending any Martial Law regime, but we did not witness this massive loot and plunder and wholescale destruction of our public sector under Gen. Musharraf as we’ve seen under the PPP and the PMLN.

And the answer to why they get away with this loot and plunder is simple.

Our current democratic order and electoral process is so weak that it is consistently hijacked by these people and parties and then simply used as a means to grab power and loot and plunder.

Here’s how it happens. Get a certain number of electables, rig the elections through administrative measures and or the silent support of the Army high command, for which the hands of this institution is also stained with blood for the murder of good governance, and come into power.

This is what they call “democracy” and the “will of the people”. 13% of registered vote to Zardari in 2008 and 17% to Nawaz in 2013. This means that more than 87% and 83% of registered voters respectively either voted against them or chose not to vote, so disenchanted and disillusioned were they with the electoral process. They didnt see any hope and were resigned to the inevitable rape.

But even worse are our systems of public accountability and transparency which are unable to hold public office holders accountable for misgovernance or corruption and their malafide decisions and actions.

And the above is not a deduction but a fact.

Had it not been so, Benazir, Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, their relatives like Faryal Talpur and Ishaq Dar, cronies like Saad Rafiq, offsprings like, Hamza Shahbaz, Salman Shahbaz and Maryam Safdar and hundreds of others would be cooling their heels in the jails of Adiala or Landhi!

Who doesn’t know or believe, unless they lived on Mars, that Benazir along with Zardari looted and plundered.? The scores of offshore companies they owned managing their stolen hundreds of millions in real estate overseas, in wealth stashed in secretive bank accounts in Switzerland and other safe havens?

Who doesn’t know about the massive loot and plunder of the Sharifs and their cronies, especially Ishaq Dar, leading this dishonourable muster?

Who doesn’t know that they did so by destroying the efficacy of the State and it’s institutions and appointing cronies and loyalists to positions of power and authority, so they could loot and plunder at will?

And those who hide behind this snowflake excuse that “the courts found them innocent” is in itself the biggest symbol of this terrible rot that our system has become and of a judiciary which had in the past become a handmaiden of these corrupt rulers!

Name one public sector institution which improved under these terrible terrible people? Just one?

The only two state institutions that have managed to survive their savagery are the Armed forces and the Superior judiciary. The latter, coming of age more recently because it forcibly took away from the Executive their power and authority to appoint their own Judges. And for this act alone, former CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry should be absolved of all his sins, plenty they maybe!

While I’m all for the Armed forces to be subservient to a true democratic order, I will fight tooth and nail and till my dying breath, to save them from the fate of our other state institutions. Yes it is unacceptable for an Army Chief to stage a coup! It is unacceptable that the military governs, but it is completely unacceptable for them to become the Punjab Police or the Sind Police. Rana Sanaullah and Rao Anwar are two of the biggest symbols of this terrible rot.

The Army has saved itself by fending off direct interference in the way they manage themselves,and consequently, whether we like it or not, has saved this country from near total anarchy and civil war. But and its a sad but, its leadership has been guilty of the very mess that we are in today, because of their acts of commission and ommission in the past.

Pakistan is a great country with immense potential. The damage can still be contained. The haemmoraging stopped. The downward slide the slippery slope stopped. Because we all know the issues, we know the solutions, but we’re challenged by the process of making it from the problem to the solution.

The issues are simple. Our institutions are weak and virtually toothless. Our rulers dishonest, corrupt and incompetent. Our electoral process recycles the same garbage back into power. The institutions cannot hold them accountable, consequently the misgovernance, loot and plunder continues and the institutions become even weaker. Come next election and the cycle repeats.

And Nawaz and Zardari are now setting up their offspring to take over. And that is why folks, my outburst against Bilawal! An interview does not a leader make. Nor will time! He has no experience except privilege and biology! And is hostage to the current corrupt system!

The solution.

An electoral process that allows for competent people of integrity to occupy positions of public power, governance influence and authority who can rebuild our institutions for sustainable success!

Several key changes in the electoral laws will help.

1. 25%to 50% seats on proportional representation basis. This allows parties to nominate subject matter experts and specialists to become legislators, without going through an electoral process, so we can produce quality legislation.

2. Majorality win to replace first past the post. This breaks the hold of the baradaris and ensures greater people participation.

3. Subject matter experts and specialists can be appointed to cabinet positions, without being elected to legislature, as in the USA and subject to the approval by a National Assembly committee. This would significantly raise the bar of policy making and governance in highly complex and specialised sectors. Who says we cannot have technocrats in a democratic set up?

4. Independent governance of all Public Sector institutions, free of political influence. We have 341 such state run institutions. But about 27 key ones. This by itself is a game changer. Just look at how the Superior Judiciary has come out of the gutter and asserted itself, because of its ability to manage itself!

5. Complete bar on development funds to legislators, so the lure of money and corruption is significantly less attractive.

Longer-term we must have more administrative units, at least 20 vs the current 6, to bring governance down to the masses and break the dominance of larger or dominant groups. This is a ticking time bomb. The fascism of the MQM is rooted in the perceived deprivation of the Mohajirs, the problems in Baluchistan in the perceived deprivation of many Baluchis. Encouraged and fanned by our enemies!

This also means a much more empowered local government system answerable to the people on a daily basis and not an autocratic Chief Minister in a far of city. And it should be responsive to the differing needs of our society ranging from more empowered Local Governments in the highly urbanized areas to less relatively empwered in underdeveloped and rural areas. The latter important, so that local government capacity and capability is developed in these rural environments.

This means there’s a strong case to develop a hybrid of the old commissionerate system along with local government, especially in the rural areas.

Who will do all of this and how?

Like I said earlier, the issues and solutions are known, the who and the how is the question?

A simple way is for the current legislatures to bring about these changes. Clearly they will not as it sounds their death knell!

Elect a new leader who has the stamina and the will to potentially bring about these changes. And that is why I’ve consistently advocated for Imran Khan. Despite his warts and inconsistencies, today he clearly holds the greatest hope and promise!

He may perhaps also fail, but it will certainly not be for lack of will or effort or trying, but because the forces of status quo are so strong and so powerful, fuelled by decades of money and nepotism that they will crush all such attempts!

But I genuinely and sincerely believe he’s a real hope, despite, that at times, he’s his own worst enemy. And that is why the entire political mafia of the current status quo so relentlessly attacks him day in day out! And they pick on his weaknesses, occasionally helped by his own actions and words, which by the way are nowhere existential, to destroy his credibility.

They do so because they fear him and the change he promises to bring! And if we join these criminals in not giving Imran and Pakistan a chance then we deserve our fate. For those with a religious inclination should re-read Ayat 11 of Suraa Raad!

Otherwise folks it’s back to the stink, stench and vomit of the PMLN, the PPP, the Sharifs, Zardaris. Bilawal or no Bilawal. Maryam or no Maryam. They are just newly minted coins from the same old garbage!

And here are the inevitable consequences if we are unable to change the system.

Pakistan will not survive in its present shape and state if the current system survives and we do not eliminate its most powerful and potent symbols. Nawaz, Zardari, Shahbaz, Ishaq Dar, Faryal Talpur, Maryam, Hamza etc. All to ne suitably charged and convicted for their crimes. The Supreme Court and The High Courts must not succumb to threats and blackmail!

But if we do not or cannot do so, and the current system continues, with a very heavy heart, I say, in a decade or even less we can kiss Pakistan goodbye as we know it, today.

This is not a prophecy but a considered conclusion

Expect total anarchy and lawlessness. And the Army will be helpless. Read history and see the inevitable consequences of continous misrule, misgovernance, corruption, loot and plunder and the wholescale destruction of State institutions.

And I also fear that this will also put great strains on the Army’s unity with the possibility of some young Turks or even an older Turk deciding to take matters in their own hands and run amok. Not a probability but a possibility. And yet again the inevitable consequences of this foolhardy act!

Be prepared to see your DHA’s and Bahrias and General Colonies and the villas, businesses and street line boulevards of all our cities in flames. Be prepared for marauding mobs, finally fed up and unable to distinguish the good and the guilty from amongst us.

Once the dam breaks nothing can stop the deluge. And then we will lament why it happened and see our country engulfed in destruction.

The international forces arrayed against us are very powerful. Our internal fissures and fractures deep and painful and we think that a Sharif or a Zardari or a Maryam or a Bilawal offer hope?

And sadly it will not be a revolution but just mayhem, bloodshed, chaos and anarchy!

So the time to act is now, Pakistanis, or face the consequences.

And then don’t cry for me, Pakistan!

-Haider Mehdi

Bilawal Zardari’s Davos Interview

(Urdu version at the end)

-Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

All those going gaga over Bilawal Zardari’s interview in Davos, in English, wearing a coat which only a certain type of “business broker”wears in New York (need i say more) and these colonial slaves waxing about his “eloquence” need to get their heads checked.

Those expecting a halfway dimwit 25 year old idiot to lead this country, really need to see a doctor.

I’m talking especially of those in the PPP and outside, educated, aware, well read. Former newspaper editors, journalists, newspaper anchors, political leaders, businesspeople, academics, analysts, owners of private equity funds, think tanks analysts etc.

I dare anyone of them to hand over their businesses or their wealth to him, if they have that much faith in his brilliance. These are the kind of people who would support a North Korean dictator or sell their soul because like vultures they want to live off the carcass that they want Pakistan to become.

If he had not been born to Benazir would anyone even have known he existed? Would you even have given him.a second look?

C’mon folks he’s just a spoilt Pakistani brat brought up on a diet of privilege and entitlement. He may perhaps have the appropriate highly anglicised and pretentious social graces, hallmark of our hypocritical elite and their wannabe country cousins, the other cursed family, the Sharifs of Ram gully Day naal aali gully

We shame ourselves, our families, our intellect and our souls by falling to such obscenely low depths and suck up to this kid! Shame on us, the spineless prostituted Souls of Pakistan!!

We happily promote….

A person whose sole claim to fame is biology.

A person who hasn’t done a days work in his stupid privileged life.

A person who cannot ever understand what Pakistani politics is except what he’s been tutored to say.

A person you wouldn’t trust with your garden, your kitchen, your house, your car, your business, your wealth, even picking up your damn trash, is being trusted to lead one of the most challenging countries in the world.

Shame on all those who think this idiot holds any hope.

Look what this family has given Pakistan.

Dismemberment.
Economic destruction.
Educational destruction.
Ethnic violence.
Fascism.
Taliban.
Unbridled corruption
Asif Zardari.
And now a ???????.

For God’s sake people have a bloody heart!!

*And if there are any plans by any institution, be it the Army or any other, attempting to cut a deal with Zardari to bring him and Bilawal into power, let me warn you loud and clear that the Pakistan Army rank and file, especially it’s younger officers who bury their comrades and their jawans everday will not have it, will not accept, and the Army and the Country will face the consequences of their anger.

Be warned! And this is a fear, not a desire!

If we can’t sort out the bloody mess this country is in, don’t make it worse!

Enough is enough!

-Haider Mehdi

*بلاول کا انٹرویو* ۔

سید حیدر رضا *مہدی* ۔

جو جو بھی بلاول کے انٹرویو پر واری واری جا رہے ہیں وہ اپنا دماغی توازن ضرور چیک کروائیں۔

ایک پچیس سالہ مشکوک شخصیت اور ذہنیت کے مالک بیوقوف شخص کو اس ملک کی باگ ڈور تھمانے والوں کو اپنا ڈاکٹری معائنہ کروانے کی ضرورت ہے۔

یہ میں خاص طور پر ان ہستیوں کے لئے کہ رہا ہوں جو پیپلز پارٹی کے اندر یا باہر ہیں، پڑھے لکھے، باشعور، دانشور۔ اخبارات کے ایڈیٹر، صحافی، خبروں کے اینکر، تاجر، اساتذہ، تجزیہ نگار، پرائیویٹ ایکویٹی فنڈز کے مالکان، تھنک ٹینک وغیرہ وغیرہ۔

ان میں سے کسی سے اگر کہا جائے کہ وہ اپنا کاروبار یا ادارہ اس مشکوک انسان کے سپرد کر دیں تو یقیناً یہ ایسا کبھی نہیں کریں گے، مگر پاکستان کو اس کے حوالے کرنے کے خواہشمند اس کام سے بھی دریغ نہیں کریں گے۔یہ وہ لوگ ہیں جو گدھوں سے بھی بدترین ہیں۔ اپنے ذاتی مفادات کے لیے یہ لوگ اپنے ملک پر کسی بھی بھیڑیئے کو مسلط کرنے سے بھی باز نہیں آئیں گے۔ یہ لوگ پاکستان کو اپنی خواہشات کی تکمیل کے لیے کسی طوائف سے بھی بدتر بنانے سے بھی دریغ نہیں کریں گے۔

اگر یہ عجیب سا لونڈا بینظیر کا بیٹا نہ ہوتا تو شاید آپ اسکو جانتے بھی نہ اور کہیں دیکھ بھی لیتے تو کراہت سے منہ پھیر لیتے۔ یہ بات یقینی طور پر ایک انتہائی گھٹیاپن ہے جو آپ لوگ اس عجیب الخلقت مخلوق کو پاکستان کے لئے سوچ بھی رہے ہیں۔ شرم کریں۔۔۔۔

اس کو پرموٹ کر رہے ہو۔۔۔۔

جو شخص وراثت کو اپنی مشہوری کے لیے استعمال کر رہا ہے۔

ایک شخص جس نے ایک دن بھی اپنی زندگی میں کوئی کام نہیں کیا سوائے گندگی کے۔

ایک ایسا شخص جس کو پاکستان کی سیاست کا سر پیر نہیں پتہ اور وہ صرف وہ کہتا ہے جو اس کو پڑھایا جاتا ہے۔ طوطے کی طرح رٹی ہوئی باتیں۔

ایک ایسا شخص جس کو آپ اپنے کسی بھی ذاتی کام کے لیے بھی نہ چنیں گے، یہاں تک کہ کوڑا بھی نہ اٹھوائیں۔ اس شخص کو آپ دنیا کے سب سے اہم اور مرکزی کردار کے حامل ملک کی سربراہی دینے کی بات کر رہے ہیں؟؟؟

شرم آنی چاہیے ہم سب گھٹیا، منافق، پست ذہنیت، بےضمیر اور نفسیاتی طور پر مردہ لوگوں کو جو اس سے امیدیں وابستہ کیئے بیٹھے ہیں۔

یہ اس خاندان کی اولاد ہے جس نے یہ ملک توڑا، معاشی تباہی لائے، تعلیمی نظام کو برباد کر دیا، تفرقہ بازی کو جنم دیا، فاشزم، طالبان، کرپشن کا ڈان زرداری اس ملک پر مسلط کیا، اور اب ایک اور نمونہ ؟؟؟؟؟؟؟

اللہ کے واسطے، پاکستان کے لوگو کچھ ہوش کرو۔۔۔!!

*اور اگر کوئی ادارہ، چاہے وہ کوئی بھی ہو، فوج یا کوئی اور، زرداری سے ڈیل کرکے اس کو اور اسکے اس انوکھے لاڈلے کو لانے کا سوچ بھی رہے ہیں تو خدا کی قسم اس ادارے کے لوگ جو روز اپنے ساتھی دفنا رہے ہیں وہ معاف نہیں کریں گے۔۔ خبردار!!*

*اگر آپ اس ملک میں پھیلے گند کو صاف نہیں کر سکتے تو کم از کم اسے اور مت پھیلائیں۔۔۔۔*

بہت ہو چکا۔۔اب اور نہیں!!

حیدر مہدی۔

Zainab – Take a look in the Mirror!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Lying beneath the crumpled, broken, lifeless body of a little girl with dreams and hopes, who once merrily skipped ropes, played with her friends, lies the dark ugly face of a degenerate society, unable to distinguish between good and evil, between right and wrong. Between law and criminality. And as complicit in this terrible crime as the perpetrator !

There are untold stories of many other Zainab’s, who have suffered such terrible evil, and society looks the other way.

Zainab in her terrible victimhood shows us the ugly, scarred, horrible face of our society.

Kasur is a microcosm of the larger malaise where the boundaries of human conduct, decency, morality are being continuously pushed and accepted. A society which continues to support a criminal shamefacedly, will also allow its wholescale destruction!

She and her tragic death will soon be forgotten, as we get over the shock and back to what we do best, living a self centered life in which we continue to support the filth that prevails in our society to serve our own interests.

And then when another Zainab happens, we will, yet again, stop for a fleeting second as we did now. And then, happily go back to our stench and vomit. Zainab once again forgotten

Zainab happens when we allow society to deteriorate. When we allow the institutions that should and could have saved her, to become private militias, bowing and scraping to the personal whims and desires of their political and administrative masters.

When institutional breakdown is so widespread that despite the frequency of such incidents in a small geography, nothing happens. Nothing!

Zainab and many others at risk segments in our society, symbolise in many ways what’s wrong with our individual selves and all institutions which make up society. Family, friends, neighbourhoods, schools, colleges, workplaces. Everywhere one sees compromises in how we conduct ourselves. In our ethics, morality, decency and just plain old good manners and behavior.

But most importantly it is the State which is responsible to ensure the safety and security of its people.

But if it’s leaders squander it’s limited resources on grandiose schemes, destroy the professionalism of these institutions who are supposed to protect Zainab from predators, and deprive it’s people of its basic need of security of life and property, then these terrible and tragic outcomes are inevitable.

Zainab’s story and broken body is actually the story and broken body of our society.

Because it us who have allowed the wholescale destruction of our institutions in our society by supporting and foisting criminals to positions of power and authority.

Look not for the predator who snuffed tiny Zainab. Look in the mirror and you will find the criminal!

What have we done to save this society from rotting?

-Haider Mehdi

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

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

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!

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

Continue reading “The General’s Visit to the Senate!”

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? I ask. 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 of 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