Shutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!

Shutdown to Rebuild - PTIShutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!? Seriously? What  were the PTI’s creative team thinking when they came up with this slogan?

On second thought, this might be perhaps the most clever way to present something that the party plans to do which happens to be so inherently outrageous and morally and legally unacceptable that the party leadership itself condemned the same in the past.

Wait a second: the words ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Lockdown’ as display pictures next to a tweet condemning the same. Now that’s irony and hypocrisy.

That were PTI Leaders Arif Alvi and Khurrum SherZaman criticizing MQM’s strike on 1st May 2014. Few months later, the party is doing the same thing that they know and believe is wrong: PTI is planning to shut down major cities and eventually the whole country. Shutdown or Lockdown to Rebuild. Its an oxymoron.

And not just the PTI leadership, their supporters too:

Lockdown - PTIThey go an extra mile in abusing the MQM for something that their party is now doing.

Massive loss to economy. Yes. That’s what you get when you shutdown the financial capital of the country, or any city, as a matter of fact.

Yes we all agree that shutting down a city, blocking roads or paralyzing any city, is illegal.

But what can we say? The PTI is adamant to go ahead and shutdown Karachi, and Lahore, followed by the whole country. Just as they did in Faisalabad.

Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.
Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.

Arif Alvi stated that the loss suffered is over 10 billion for a day the city of Karachi is shutdown. Khurrum SherZaman too states that the loss is in billions. Not just this, we have seen the nuisance Islamabad. Yes, I’m talking about the assault on the Parliament and Prime Minister House. The attack and ransacking of PTV. Occasional attacks on Geo News office.

Pakistan suffered more than just this. This paid protest of PAT and PTI caused much more losses. The Chinese President canceled his visit to Pakistan, that put a question mark (or possibly a full stop) on the future of $32 Billion worth of investment.

The unrest and clashes in Faisalabad, and the enforced shutdown of the city following the death of a PTI worker: it is all condemnable in the strongest words.

But why is PTI doing this then? Because their beloved leader said so.

PTI talks about Justice. Well, even the name of the party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf translates to Pakistan Movement for Justice. However the leader of the Party, cricketer turn philanthropist turn politician, is now a proclaimed offender in Anti-Terrorism Cases before an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore (well yes, terrorism in Pakistan is defined too broadly, therefore some of the acts he and his supporters have done fall under the category of terrorism),  and he has proudly challenged the incumbent government to try and arrest him.

Ironically…

PTI's Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad
PTI’s Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad.

Shutting down a city, just like they did in Faisalabad, if evaluated under the UK Anti-Terror legislation, is an act of terrorism. Yes, the same Anti-Terror laws for which the PTI grilled the MQM chief Altaf  Hussain, for this his statement about the Three-Swords monument in Clifton, Karachi.

Imran’s aid and ally, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has gone the extra-mile in calling out to the rioting workers of his party the Awami Muslim League and those of PTI to damage, burn and destroy public and private property to achieve the above stated goals. Incitement to an offence or speech that disrupts public order is criminally wrong. What Sheikh Rasheed has said does not sound just wrong, it is insane, treacherous.

Feisal Naqvi, a Supreme Court advocate, sketched Imran’s desperation to rid Pakistan of its elected Prime Minister in form of humorous future unreleased plans from Plan E to Plan Z; Plan X of which states:

Plan X: Imran Khan files a petition before the Supreme Court, asking for the Independence of India Act, 1947 to be declared unconstitutional. After the court accepts his petition, the Queen of England then appoints Imran Khan as her Viceroy.

Fortunately, or not so for Imran and PTI, English only has 26 alphabets and just like the article above, the number of plans end at Plan Z. However, people have suggested different approaches to this problem.

https://twitter.com/Secular_Pak/status/539093660151738369

The PML-N and PTI are quite similar, ideologically. They are both working in the same way, for the same ideology. They even share the same vote bank. Just as Babar Sattar rephrases it in a question:

Isn’t the Shahbaz Sharif model of governance in Punjab very similar to what Imran Khan is promising in Naya Pakistan: a strongman at the top and everything falling in place under him intuitively?

Of the certain aspects of Imran Khan’s behavior and policies, as Babar Sattar  states in the same article, that would give even his well-wishers the jitters, that most bothersome is the inability of the PTI leader to distinguish between the State and the government and the fact that Imran is willing to hold a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with the PML-N.

2: His vigilantism. Khan’s argument is that since he didn’t get justice on his terms, he’ll now have to shut the country down. Can any rule of law proponent justify such course of action? There is a pattern here. In 2013, PTI had asked its vigilantes to forcibly block NATO containers in KP. That circus was eventually dispersed by court orders.

3: Khan’s inability to distinguish between the state and government. Whether it was Khan inciting everyone to refuse paying taxes and utility bills and sending money through legal banking channels, or his Plan C of shutting Pakistan down, he seems to have no qualms holding a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with PML-N.

4: Khan’s polarizing politics. In a democracy people need to be brought together to forge consensus and get things done, not torn apart. Khan’s message of hope is wrapped in bitterness and hate, which has polarized this country. Today Pakistan is a divided house; even its rational segments at war with one another over political differences. Forget Khan’s ire for opponents and critics, is there room for dissent even within PTI?

We really need introspection and self-accountability all around: the PML-N has to reflect upon whatever has happened the last few months and how they should have handled it; the PTI needs to realize that ends don’t justify means. Both parties need to work together, get to the negotiation tables and resolve their conflicts in a sensible manner, for the sake of the nation.

An Open Letter to Imran Khan

Dear Mr. Khan

You rallied for change just a year ago in the 2013 General Elections. Your party bagged 7.7 million votes in the General Elections, which set your party as the 2nd most popular party based on the number of votes it received.

Your call for change came at a time when the Election Commission, and the returning officers were screening potential candidates, and many were disqualified on the grounds that they evaded and did not pay taxes, and utility bills. 7.7 million Pakistanis pinned their hopes to your call for a change.

Unfortunately, this change seemed to be just another election buff. After the elections your party rejected the results, protested, and made government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

I would like commend your party’s policies on improving the educational infrastructure and the quality of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Credit should be given where it is due.

However, your attitude and actions have shown that you too, sir, are one of those elites who bend the law and Constitution to use it to their advantage. You and your party is not respecting the mandate given to your political opponents; you have shown yourself to be no better than those who were totally rejected by the electorate.

You had made a promise of holding local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within three months. It has been over a year now, and your promise has been just mere words. Is this call for Change just as another hollow promise?

IK in Azadi MarchThe Azadi March which you and your party came up with had dubious goals initially, and later on you settled upon asking a democratically elected Prime Minister to resign, threatening civil disobedience and public disorder. This is clearly against the law, and the Constitution. This, as defined by Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, is a ground for disqualification for members of the Parliament.

While protesting peacefully and without arms is a fundamental right of assembly under Article 16 of Constitution, this does not cover attempts to overthrow a democratically elected government, which may be classified as treason. Your actions not just undermine the rule of law, but also violate the laws of our country, and our Constitution.

So, at this point, sir, I am left with some questions unanswered:

  1. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa promote civil disobedience and non-payment of utility bills and taxes as a Government policy?
  2. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not collect GST and other provincial taxes, or would it be hypocritical at this point?
  3. What difference, if any, remains between yourself and your party’s lawmakers who would not pay taxes and utility bills and those prospective candidates who were rejected by the returning officers for evading taxes and for non-payment of utility bills?
  4. If this civil disobedience and public disorder initiated by your party leads to disqualification of PTI lawmakers, including yourself, under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, would you still blame it on this democratic government?
  5. Would you still blame the Punjab police for public disorder in the Capital which would undoubtedly result in PTI’s march towards the Red Zone?

The election reforms you seek are a welcomed change. However this change should come from your elected position in Parliament as a lawmaker and not from a show of force of your street power while laying a siege to the Parliament.

Yours sincerely


Karachi, Pakistan

A Lesson from Iran

Last night, I searched for the news regarding two bomb blasts near my house when phone calls started pouring in from friends and well wishers asking me if I was safe. I had heard a blast, but thought that it was a tire explosion or some firecracker. It turned out to be an attack on a Police convoy near my house.

Flag of the Islamic Republic of IranOf the websites that appeared on Google search, one of them caught my attention: the tone and style of writing was very different, something you would not find in newspapers. I did not give much thought to it, and left the browser and my laptop open, and went out for dinner with my family. Next morning, I had a closer look to that news piece, and that website too. It turned out to be an Iranian Newspaper. I read articles about the Iranian Presidential Elections, in which Hassan Rouhani secured 50.70% votes. The polls itself recorded a massive 72.7% turnout. The articles mentioned Ayatollah Khamenei with extreme reverence and respect, and even talks about the other Presidential candidates and the incumbent President of Iran Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All the articles showed great respect to these people, and the comments by the readers further praised them.

A little girl casts her mother’s vote in Iran

One of the news articles about President Ahmadinejad congratulating the new President-elect and their supreme leader Khamenei. This particular article caught my attention, after reading that article I moved on the the comments below. Since the Newspaper was Iranian, its highly likely that its readers and the commentators were mostly Iranian. Almost all the comments thanked the incumbent President, and showed great respect to him.

I’d love to quote one of the comments here:

Farewell, President Ahmadinejad. Thank you for your honesty and tireless efforts to bring peace and justice to our world. May the Lord give us more leaders of integrity such as yourself. Peace by upon you, the Iranian people, and the world.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The outgoing President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

This is so unlike the foul language used by our nation for our politicians and leaders. Our current President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is lashed with obscene, profane and vulgar remarks, by both the public and the media. Our Prime Ministers, the incumbent, Mr. Nawaz Shareef, and the two previous Prime Ministers, Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani and Mr. Raja Pervais Ashraf, both saw vulgar remarks being hurled at them. The president is usually referred to as “Mr. Ten Percent” and Mr. Raja Pervais Ashraf as “Rental Raja” in relation to rental power scam during his term as the Water and Power Minister in Gillani’s cabinet. Mr. Nawaz Shareef is referred to as “Ganja” which means bald, although he underwent a really expensive hair transplant surgery.

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari addressing the United Nations
President Asif Ali Zardari addressing the United Nations

The problem may or may not be with our politicians and leaders. The problem is: we elected them our leaders. The Iranians bore a very politically mature outlook. There was a massive turnout, and no allegations of riggings after the polls. The current President and the unsuccessful candidates congratulated the new President-elect; it wouldn’t be unwise to say that a smooth transition of power would soon be in effect. The Iranians voted and choose their leader, and have faith in him; they are proud of their current President and all that he did for the nation.

In Pakistan, each and every current President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and other Federal and Provincial Ministers are accused of wrong doings and corruption. We reject them and raise our voices against them, in probably the most indecent manner. Yet we either do not vote at all or simply elect them again. We refuse to accept the mandate we give them. We talk about an uncertain future, a lost paradise; we simply refuse to set things right.

Yes, we Pakistanis elected our government last month. Just a month has gone by, and we cannot accept our current government’s budget.

Talks with the Taliban? Think again!

The Right-wing political parties gained the upper hand in the May 11th 2013 General Elections in Pakistan; parties like the PML-N, PTI and JUI-F had massive popular support. The Left-wing, liberal parties like the PPP and the ANP suffered grave losses. With ‘Talks and Peace deals with the Taliban’ amongst their top agendas, these winning Right-wing parties were adamant on putting an end to Pakistan’s War on Terrorism: actually a War for wrestling control from the Taliban and establishing the writ and sovereignty of Pakistan on its North-Western territories.

The Afghan Taliban armed to the teeth with lethal weaponsTo the dismay of these political and politico-religious parties, the Taliban withdrew the peace offer after its second-in-command Waliur Rehman was killed by a US drone strike on Pakistani territory on 30th May 2013. Soon after the attack, Imran Khan, chief of the PTI, was seen on news channels telling the then MNA-elect Nawaz Shareef, now the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to either stop the drone strikes or shoot the drones down.

On 29th May 2013 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which sought a declaration by the Supreme Court against negotiations by any person, civilian or military, with a forbidden private army waging war against Pakistan.

The petition was filed by Mr. Shahid Orakzai under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction on the enforcement of fundamental rights, asked how could the armed forces propose a truce/ceasefire/end of hostilities to the rebels on the territory of Pakistan? The petitioner also asked whether a citizen was empowered by the constitution to negotiate peace with a private army waging war on Pakistan. However the Supreme Court Registrar Office had returned his petition by raising objections that he had no locus standi to file the petition.

Article 256 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan forbids and outlaws any private army within the territory of Pakistan:

256. Private armies forbidden.
No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal.

The Taliban are a private army/rebel group, waging war against Pakistan since the beginning of the 21st Century, on Pakistani territory. They have killed and slaughtered over 50,000 Pakistani men, women, children, politicians and leaders, police officers and army officers; they have slain many social workers especially those working for the eradication of the Polio virus. The Taliban out rightly reject the democratic system of Pakistan, its legal system, sovereignty of the Parliament over the territories of Pakistan.

Regarding the activities of some politico-religious groups which support the Taliban and/or peace talks with them, Article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan clearly states the following:

5. Loyalty to State and obedience to Constitution and law.

  1. Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen.
  2. Obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.

Afthermath of a Taliban attack, sudide bombingUnder the provisions of Article 5 of the constitution, would it not be that, according to the constitution of Pakistan, any Pakistani keeping contacts with, communication with, aiding or abetting the rebels waging war against Pakistan, would be committing acts treason? Leaders of our winning political parties, Nawaz Shareef of PML-N, Imran Khan of PTI, Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI-F, all have been in contact with the Taliban, our media who receive calls of Taliban’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan when he calls to proudly claim responsibility of terrorist activities his organization carries out, Imams of mosques in rural and urban areas of Pakistan who openly sympathize with these terrorists, are they all not guilty of treason? I do not intend to accuse anyone; interpretation of the Constitution is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, which recently failed to take up the above mentioned petition.

In the video below you can see what the Taliban does in the areas it controls. The video below shows extremely violent acts committed by the Taliban (decapitating humans), NOT suitable for children, those with a weak heart and certainly NOT for those who do not wish to watch it. Be advised.

UPDATE: The copy of this video hosted on Vimeo, earlier embedded here, was removed by Vimeo staff because “it depicts extreme violence”, The video has been replaced by the same copy hosted on this server.

Pakistan General Elections 2013: An Overview

A ballot paper being inserted in the ballot box in Pakistan General Elections 2013Pakistanis voted on May 11th, 2013: it was followed by the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan. The general elections were largely free and fair, with the exception of some alleged rigging in Karachi, and some other parts of the nation. The polls recorded a massive, highest ever turnout of 60%.

The polls saw Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N rise to power at the center and stay entrenched in Punjab, the largest province of the nation. Imran Khan’s PTI got a chance to set up a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in the troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Sindh will see a coalition of the PPP and probably the MQM, and a coalition government of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party and the PML-N in Balochistan.

Surprisingly, the former ruling PPP and its allies the PML-Q and the ANP faced bitter defeat. It seems as if, in the words of the Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, “the people avenged the former rulers”.

Democracy - Everyone is equal and respected!In Pakistani elections, there’s never defeat; there’s victory for one, and rigging for others. For the first time in Pakistani history, ANP accepted its defeat. Never had a political party displayed this great level of maturity and accepted the shortcomings of its government for its defeat in election. The others blamed rigging, the establishment and whatever their vivid imaginations could draw.

Pakistan: Vote now!

A ballot paper being inserted in the ballot box in Pakistan General Elections 2013On 11th May 2013, the people of Pakistan will vote and elect our Parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly; along with the Provincial Assemblies of the four Provinces. This will be a landmark day, that will decide the future of Pakistan for the next 5 years to come. This day, Pakistani’s will, according to their wishes elect their representatives to rule the country for a mandate of 5 years.

Electing our government is not just our right, enshrined by our Constitution and the Law of our land, or by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by our founding fathers; it is, I believe, an obligation, a responsibility, that we owe to our nation. Casting our votes wouldn’t just be exercising of our constitutional rights, but fulfillment of our responsibility and our obligation towards our nation and our effort for a better, brighter future.

Election Commission of PakistanBeing citizens of a democratic state it is not just our right to be a part of, or be represented in, the government of our country; it is our obligation! We share as much guilt and sins as our corrupt and/or bad politicians. Why? Because they have had been our representatives, and ruled our nation on our mandate! And for those who overthrew our elected governments and assumed control of our nation, well our silence and ignorance was their approval to plunder our nation, and our money which we pay in form of taxes for the functioning of our country!

Now is the time for a change! We wish for and really need a better, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan, we have to vote for better representatives to do that.

I don’t care who you vote for, I am not asking you to vote for a particular political party or ideology or individual. I am just requesting you to vote! Vote for and elect the party whose manifesto matches your vision for the future of Pakistan; for the party you think is honest and determined to tackle the problems faced by this nation! It is our country, our motherland! We cannot allow corrupt, morally bankrupt people to do whatever they wish to do with our nation!

The Pakistani flag flys high in the skyPlease exercise your right and fulfill your obligation onto our nation! Stamp your ballot paper! Cast your vote! Only you have power to decide the nation’s future! Your action will write Pakistan’s destiny for the next 5 years, and your inaction will seal the country’s fate for another 5! You have been given the right and the authority to decide the future of the nation! Please use this, and use it wisely and fairly!

11th May 2013 is the opportunity and chance we have of fixing our nation, helping it stand on its feet once again, and make our great nation, great once again! I will be casting my vote… Stamping the ballot paper and putting it in the ballot box, with a believe and satisfaction that I did my part!

Democracy - Everyone is equal and respected!Democracy isn’t just casting our vote, we have to keep a check and balance over the people we chose to represent us. If the go astray, we have to remind them that we have given them the mandate and we have the ultimate, collective authority over the way our country shall be governed. Staying silent and turning a blind eye to evils, especially by our representatives is some not less than a sin! I read a quote which was something like this:

The world’s problems do not lie in the evils of a few but the silence of the many!

Its time to rise up! For our nation, for our future and for ourselves! Please cast your vote and vote wisely!

I earnestly request each and every adult Pakistani reading this to vote! If you aren’t old enough to vote, please make sure that all those around you who are, do go to the polling station and cast their vote! Share this with those around you; the least you can do is to ask your loved ones to vote!
SMS your CNIC number to 8300 and check the polling station where you have to cast your vote, and then DO vote please! For Pakistan!

An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record

Coat of Arms of Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Govt. of Pakistan

Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution.

Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death.

Public  flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime
Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation?

After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women.

After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency. The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes, and introduced articles, to safeguard the right of education and grant the right to a fair trial.

Islamabad Police beating up a protester
Police Brutality – quite common in Pakistan

Judiciary and the Election Commission in Pakistan are now fiercely independent; this means that the right to a fair trial and right to participate in the country’s government for all Pakistanis are now secure. Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports.

Sindh Police beating a protester in Karachi
More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice

Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing platform is not in Pakistan, just because a few videos insult Islam. This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens; many people fall victims to target killing and terrorism each day. There have been instances of the law-enforcement agencies doing just that: in June 2011 the paramilitary forces shot dead an individual in a public park accused of armed robbery.

Protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan
The poster says it all – protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

The situation of human rights abuse is improving in Pakistan, ever since the democratic forces have come to run the country. Pakistan, however has still a long way to go, before it transforms itself from a security state to a welfare state, which safeguards all the rights of its citizens without any discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

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