Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pakistan Happenings: The Karachi Turf And Armed Politics.

The MQM a political party mainly comprised of Muhajirs (a word used for people who migrated from India in 1947 partition) came into being in 1982 during General Zia ul Haq's dictatorial regime.
Mr Altaf Hussain , a Karachi University graduate was a founding member along with Mr Azeem Tariq ,Dr Imran Faruq , Dr Farooq Sattar (APMSO) Sindh Medical College and other students of Karachi. This party initially known as Muhajir Qaumi Movement vouched to safeguard and fight for the civil rights of Muhajirs who had a large population in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, Nawabshah in Sindh province. One of the major demands of this party was the removal of the qouta system in Sindh province for government jobs , admission to professional colleges and Universities put in place by the Sindh provincial government to ensure representation in these institutions and jobs on the basis of residence and not merit.This was to give due representation to underdeveloped areas of Sindh. It was to stay for ten years only. It continued.Later in the 1990s Mr Altaf Hussain decided to make it into a national party and change its name to Muttahid Qaumi Movement. A faction led by Mr Amir Khan and clandestinely backed by the intelligence agencies , some say , formed the MQM (Haqiqi) and parted ways with parent MQM. Lots of street fights, deaths continued for some time and the areas with strength in some areas n urban sectors  became no go areas for others. For example, a large section of Landhi ? Korangi went with MQM (Haqiqi) while large areas of district central went with Muttahida.
Turf power continued in status qou. The Sindh Rangers had established their law enforcement offices and areas of both MQMs came under their jurisdiction. Both factions cooperated and grew into power and increased their turf hold.
The Pakistan Peoples Party meanwhile , with its charismatic leader out of country for more than a decade never got the chance to increase their vote bank and continued to hold turf in three areas populated by ethnic Sindhis, Baluchis who were their die hard supporters.
During the dictator Mr Pervez Musharraf's regime Muttahida got support for Karachi and Hyderabad infrastructure which was a priority both for establishment and the political forces in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Meanwhile the killings of people known as targetted killings continued in Karachi and many  prominent people like Hakeem Said, KESC MD Shahid and recently PTI idealogue Zohra Shahid's murders were blamed on Muttahida which continues to deny to this day.
During PPP government under Benazir Bhutto Muttahida had to face army operation in which they claim many of its innocent workers were killed.There has been no truth and reconciliation done by PPP to this day on this. Some years back another massacre known as the Qasba Colony massacre also occured in which many young men were killed. No inquiry on this has also occurred.
Since last few years the Law Enforcement Agencies in Karachi are doing operations against armed gangs , criminals in areas that are notoriously famous like Lyari and Orangi Town.Many criminals caught have affiliation to political parties and Muttahida has been accused as harbouring many.
The most recent raid on Muttahida office has been the final aatempt by LEA and establishment to reign in the alleged power house that runs this party and many say their final attempt to replace Muttahida leadership with another one.
The PTI led by Mr Imran Khan looks with greedy eyes towards the large vote bnk in Karachi and wants to get more seats in next elections.
Meanwhile except for making decisions to use LEAs by the Sindh government, the PPP makes no attempt to increase or encroach upon the vote bank that the Muttahida still enjoys.
So with Mr Altaf Hussain repeatedly appeling to his workers to vote in another head, it appears that the turf war for Karachi may finally be coming to a head or is it just a conjecture or wishful thinking on the part of some who want to quickly change the political scene.
As long as there is no blood shed it is okay but any revolution has to be bloody and in Pakistan it is always a coup of sorts.
Meanwhile the huge arms influx helped , facilitated in the 1980s , some say by National logistic Cell chairman general Abdul Qadir using Logitics containers and neither investigated nor opposed at the time, made Karachi into an armed city in contrast to a peaceful city of poets, artists, businessmen and thousands of immigrants from other areas of Pakistan who daily come in search of jobs, education, a better life. After 9/11 and US invasion of Afghanistan the NATO and US allies supply used Pakistan for its logistics. Again huge quantities of arms and ammunition was shifted in containers both by NLC and private transporters. Some containers were stolen and the goods were freely available in arms markets in Karachi.
Again no attempt were made by Sindh, federal government, LEAs to reign in the arms dealers in Karachi and even the prohibited bore arms were freely supplied and purchased. It is no hidden secret that these arms dealers are patronized by big fish and all political parties are armed to the teeth along with terrorist and banned organizations, religious groups and gangs and mafia.
The LEAs are trying to clean some areas and recent raid on 90 the political party headquarters of Muttahida may be one such attempt.Let us see how long and how effective the cleaning of armed areas is.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pakistan Happenings: Of Soaked Protesting Women &Their Out Of School Children.

Barefoot on a hot earth Dr Tahirul Qadri lays to waste all his 35 years of  religious and moral teaching.
As the Islamabad protests continue in its rain soaked 21st day, the women protesters of Pakistan and their children from Pakistan Awami Tehrik, mostly religious followers and employees of  Minhajul Quran, a religious and educational institutions' conglomerate, the entire nation of Pakistan wants these protests to end and  a semblance of normality back in their poor, as it is difficult and miserable lives.
These children which mostly belong to the small privileged class that  are lucky to go to schools out of the millions of children of Pakistan who are out of school for reasons such as poverty, lack of access, lack of transport, parents' illiteracy, lack of motivation, extreme malnutrition, anemia and many more.Their rights are being trampled incessantly by all the adults including their own parents and the leaders of their adult caregivers. These children were forcibly taken away from their homes and schools and made to live out in open, exposed to conditions where violence , lack of food and lack of safe drinking water,exposure to violence,tear gas,infections and other health challenges and other security problems.
These children were made to stand barefoot on hot earth outside in the sun both by the leaders and their mothers for no fault of theirs.This is to be condemned . Their basic human rights have been blatantly violated by adults who have exploited them for their own political and religious purposes.
The lack of responsibility shown by the adults who are participating in these protests and  especially the leaders who are insisting on the presence of these women and children.
Since last 12 hours continuous rain has soaked these children and their caregivers exposing to diseases such as pneumonia which is the largest cause of death among children .
Who will take responsibility of this? the whole country is only thinking about the vitriolic speeches and the  leaders are justifying their protests but non is even thinking of what these innocent children and their mothers are suffering.
Meanwhile the negotiations are going on a slow pace and because there are two separate groups. The Pakistan Tehrike Insaf which is a political party has given many demands to the government among which is the electoral reforms package which they say if  agreed to can bring about the judicial commission's report and the election 2013 rigging be exposed and can bring the current government down.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pakistan Happenings: Of Poor Rights, A Political Solutions & The Dharna Women.

As the 10th day of the so called Inqilab & Azaadi marches rolls across the television screens and we see a hot summer landscape in Islamabad, many thoughts come to my mind. How much the leaders of  movements are responsible for the comforts,discomforts of the women and children in these marches.How and what is the commitment of these marchers? What does their demands actually translate into?
I t seems to me that the marchers of the Inqilaab march are very committed as a religious duty to their leader . They are disciplined and are ready to brave any hardship, sincerely believing anything that their leader says.They are not clear in what their demands actually are except one that the June Model Coloy, Lahore firings and alleged killings by police be probed by a formal process of law by a fair trial and not as by a commission appointed by the government which itself is a party as said by the aggrieved.This issue is the strongest point for which they have the support of all the people of Pakistan as the  lack of access to justice especially in cases where the accused are in positions of responsibility and power is the real dilemma.
the other demands about a fair system in  Pakistan, a fair governance etc are areas which can only be brought about by a debate , discussion in the parliament and deciding the mechanisms and modalities of implementation and the skeleton of the policies in parliaments by the consensus of all the political parties.representatives only. for this the whole system of governance cannot be wound up and non-political forces brought into the picture as repeatedly warned by the much pragmatic and better leader . Mr Siraj ul Haq of Jamaat e Islami & Qamaruzaman Kaira of the PPP.The most logical tangible demand in this scenario that can be immediately accepted and implemented by the government is that of the Local  Bodies elections. The Punjab government should announce immediate Local Bodies elections and appease the Inqilaabi marchers .
The issue of the Model Town fiasco will not go away simply and Mian Nawaz Sharif should understand that linking Punjab politics to Federal politics is not helping their party in any way.If this issue would have been addressed in  a fair non-partisan manner earlier this march would have been avoided. The persistence of the Punjab government to non resignation of their chief executive is dragging a dead horse and has bode very bad, ominous signs for the federal government.
This issue has given Mr Imran Khan also an impetus in his fast tracked Azaadi march.Thier demands are generally acceptable to the government except the sequence or the order of demands. The country cannot afford the kind of dragging their feet politics Mr Nawaz Sharif and his buddies are doing at this critical juncture. As Azaadi marchers have toned down their demands for his resignation so should the Chief Executive consider  the free and fair recounting and election results audit as an urgent exercise.
The economic losses caused by these marches have to be quickly recovered and Mr Imran Khan should realize that Pakistan cannot be either liberated or made New by empty slogans and damaging the economy. He should reverse his call for non-compliance and ask his followers to behave as responsible citizens. Just by reading books and giving calls does not a change make. The process of good governance and just rule is slow. It is an attitude and will only come with strong institutional oversight.The parliament needs to be strengthened at this critical juncture in our history.His much publicized change will come with time. He has won in so many ways. His bringing young, unconcerned elitist and upper middle class into functioning, protesting politics is one big achievement.His forming a government in KPK was another good achievement where they should implement their change and good governance ideas and compete for a renewal in next elections.His demand for fair and free elections is close to the hearts of all Pakistanis. He has already brought about a change where the Pakistanis have become much aware of voting process, hurdles and fairness methods for next elections. A concession to end the protest in a dignified manner will only heighten his stature and make him a frontline player in this game of electoral politics.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pakistan Happenings:Of Stolen Azadi ,Mandate, And The Poor Pakistani.

As we ordinary, hard working, citizens waited for our 14th August "Azaadi" festivities to begin, we were suddenly made to realize that our freedom had been rudely, ruthlessly stolen. stolen and snatched away by biased media channels, ill informed, unprofessional television anchors and last but not least by in experienced, simplistic, leaders, not necessarily ill- willed.So the simpleton Pakistani nation instead of rejoicing on the festivities of 14 th August saw with held breath how we tore each other apart on non-isssues and made rhetoric our biblical support and logic. How the leaders of azaadi and revolution marches traveelled like princeses and made the entire cities and country hostage to their whims, wishes, rhetorical promises and myopic vision and the ordinary joy of the citizen was stolen. The greenbelts of clean Islamabad have turned into dustbins and toilet refuge.The clear demand by Shaikh Rasheed of asking the military to come for Imran Khan's help in rain soaked emotions has really let the real cat out of the bag. As the troupe of sorts for Musharraf ki baqiyaat or the leftovers from Musharraf's "Last Supper" gather in rain swept Islamabad and the motley show of actors' flitters around the capital, a citizen looks with apprehension bordering on humorous cynicism how empty and incomplete the promises made by politicians to the simple voters. While the khwancha walas, sell their channas, bhuttas,and amroods to the rain soaked, tired, simple followers mostly Pathans and Punjabis from other cities in Islamabad, the relatively affluent leadres and upper cadre workers of both PTI and PAT retire in hotels, posh homes and relatives houses and the revolution goes on. The stubborn Prince asks for the Moon.
Anokha Ladla Khalen ko Mange Chaand..... so sings a crooner.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pakistan Happenings:The plight of Displaced Women, Beachgoers and Minorities.

As August makes its announcements many issues stand tall in Pakistan. Foremost is the plight and hunger of the internally displaced  women and children of Waziristan and FATA. As daily Dawn reports many women , second wives and those who are not registered with the NADRA registration authority go hungry and destitute along with their children  as they cannot receive food rations supplied to the IDPs.
The outdated customs in far flung remote areas of FATA and KPK have made lives of women and children miserable. As this news highlights two women married to a bedridden 70 year old man with twelve children to feed are not registered with NADRA and so cannot recieve food. As their husband is pld and bedridden he cannot go to the ration distribution points where only men are being given food rations so they are at the mercy of other people who themselves are displaced and dependent on rations. The mismanagement of food distribution system and not allowing international and many national NGOs to help these IDPs is hampering the process of food distribution in these areas.Women and children are suffering enormously.The international and national NGOs should be allowed to help these people. The need is urgent.Educational rehabilitation should also be undertaken for children.
Another program on television also showed the plight of  many people from Waziristan who could not go to Bannu for collection of rations highlighted the need for international NGOs such as World Food Program to help in towns where the government and armed forces cannot supply food rations.
Minorities are also suffering many problems which need to be addressed by the governments both provincial and federal.
the burning of houses with women and children inside in Gujranwala, Punjab ought to be taken up by the Punjab government seriously. The mob violenec should not have been allowed in the first place and if has done so much damage the government should take the police to task for not controlling this incident. Such blatant acts of violence where women, children and innocent members of a community are impudently massacred by a majority community bid very ominous signs for the well being of Pakistan.It is high time that the Punjab government and the federal government woke up from the slumber of impunity and arrogance and addressed this issue. A board should be formed where all past such incidents including the Gojra massacre be investigated and those responsible punished.

The news of Hindu traders being kidnapped and killed in Umerkot is also ominuous. This community also needs protection as they are peaceful citizens in Sindh province. The callous attitude of the Sindh government also speaks volumes of the apathy and neglect towards the issues being faced by the minorities

Eid is a festival of joy and celebration but this was not to be so for 38 persons who drowned on the Karachi Seaview beach. As summer moths of June, July, August and September approach this are
a of the Arabian Sea becomes unusually rough with totally unsafe beaches for people. Previously city governments used to post warnings on the beach and disallow access to the sea. Many deaths were prevented although in the last five years an average of nine to ten deaths was seen. this year so far 38 bodies have been recovered from Karachi beaches out of which 35 from Clifton, Seaview beach only. The responsibility solely lies on the administration of Karachi and the Sindh government. No amount of shifting of responsiblity or excuses can cover the negligence, callousness and indifference that the citizens of Karachi have been witnessing for some time now. Two main factors are responsible. First and foremost is the absence of a responsible ,elected city government that is local government system. Since the Pakistan Peoples Party has come into power in Sindh and when it was in power at the federal level too it made sure that   MQM stays out of power at city level of which it is a major contender in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. In doing so it has deprived a mega city like Karachi many of its facilities and recreational safety and infrastrucure. There is no sense of responsibility, ownership or well being even in average citizens and tragedies like these happen.This could have been easily prevented. Had a local government been there, the citizens would have put up warnings, made scouting activities to man and guard the beach, help visitors and revellers with safe areas to enjoy in etc. The parking lot attnedents who fleece millions of visitors daily are only there to collect money. They are neither responsible citizens nor have any intersts in public well being or welfare. They are doing their job at a very low level for the Clifton Cantonment Board, which is again a semi autonomous body under the Defence Housing Authority entrusted with collecting taxes, garbage disposal and maintenance of roads, gutters etc. A citizen board which mans it also deals with such issues. There is no ownership of  safety issues as such.
Simple measures like warning signs, roped enclosures for safe areas and more scouts from the Navy or Coast Guards as a preemptive safety measure would have prevented these tragedies to occur.The attitude of the Sindh government towards Karachi shows apathy and irresponsible behavior. Either they do not understand what safety is all about or they do not care for Karachi citizens. The irony is many of the people who drowned were young men from Quetta, Gilgit and Peshawar who probably being  new to the sea could not understand the ferociousness of the waves. Being an old Karachiite and seen this beach for decades I can vouch for the small, ferocious currents that come to these waters at this time and without warning a person is swept away. The currents are small and so fierce that the non-swimmer does not stand a chance to prevent drowning. Even a strong swimmer will survive with difficulty. These beaches should be prohibited to visit during these months. The roadside should be made into a holiday area for the season so that people can enjoy a view only.It is hoped that the Sindh government does not forget this tragedy and does some safe practices next season and also thinks about a local government election.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Karachi Airport Attack..Some Thoughts On The Tragedy.

As the whole of Pakistan mourns the tragic deaths of the innocent people at Karachi Airport many questions arise at the state of preparedness by our major public areas like airports, ports etc.
Since Karachi Airport is under the control and administration of the Civil Aviation Authority, a review of this authority is necessary.Its website states that it is run by the federal government under the ministry of Defence. Its chief executive is always an air force retired person.The accident and emergency section clearly states situations only by accident with aircraft and there are forms given for complaints.There is no section for any other complaints for accidents such as fire, cargo accidents etc.
On a closer look at the premises and infrastructure at the airports it is seen that none of the areas are supplied with water sprinklers, firefighting equipment. There are no safety exits in work areas and there has been no fire drills whatsoever. The SOPs for accident and fire preparedness are not only absent from the website but also actually no department  has them. The tragic loss of precious lives is  the result of callous attitude of the administration towards taking accident and fire preparedness as a necessary standard operation procedure and policy for its employees. The CAA is trying to cover up its short comings by saying that the seven unfortunate people who died inside the burning cold storage area were actually shot by terrorists. This is sheer callousness. how can you provide solace to the relatives by this kind of attitude. They died due to sheer lack of rescue provided to them as there was no escape preparedness in case of fire. In fact there is no terrorist resistance plan for the airport as such.
This attitude is apparent in all civil and public institutions also as well as private institutions and factories. No fire drills are carried out nor water sprinklers and firefighting equipment provided in any large or small places.
Everybody is talking about the bravery of the fighting forces like the ASF but no one is questioning why fire fighting was not done. Why were chemicals if any stored and why were the trapped persons not evacuated. Simply damage control after each incident will not help at all. The state is at war and the enemy is within .We should at least preempt the kind of damage that can occur and be prepared for the same.
Why the NDMA, PDMA are quiet on this. Were not airport areas a priority?In any war they are to be safeguarded as a first priority. What is happening here?
A look at the PDMA Sindh website will show you the state of the mind of people running these organizations.It seems like a photo op show case for the useless people running the show. There are no latest procedures and preparedness advise tips for citizens. There are no links to useful sites and help addresses.
In developed countries even small things like looking after one self are given in case of disaster
Preparedness or basic knowledge of fire prevention is necessary
It is high time that people in responsible places realize the seriousness of urban terrorism and at least show some sense of responsibility and develop preparedness plans for their institutions and organizations.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why DNA Evidence Is Important In Sexual Assault & Incest In Pakistan.

An Interactive article by Dr Meher Zaidi

In Pakistan the collection of evidence for prosecuting rape and incest cases is very incomplete. Apart from social apathy and the inability of police in this making a strong prosecution for bringing justice to the survivor, the scientific methods are lacking. Entry of DNA evidence should be made a mandatory legal procedure. It is done all over the world now. The following interactive sites will show why and how is this important.

The latter article describes all aspects of the importance of DNA evidence in great detail with references. It shows how and why it is important for both the survivor and the accused to be given the fairest chance for the justice to be done.If an accused is innocent , then also scientific evidence will help him get exonerated.

Recently the Council of Islamic Ideology chief raised many retrogressive amendments to Pakistan laws concerning child marriages and the admissibility of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases.Zohra Yusuf has written a detailed article on this. Link here