Economic corridor: ANP denounces change in route, calls APC
SYED ALI SHAH
and other nationalist parties claim that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been ignored in the 3,000 kilometres long Gwadar-Kashghar route of CPEC. -Reuters/File
QUETTA: Awami National Party (ANP) has announced to convene a multi-party conference in Quetta on May 16 to discuss the issue of Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its proposed route.
ANP and other Baloch nationalist parties claim that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been ignored in the 3,000 kilometres long Gwadar-Kashghar route of CPEC. "We have approached and invited all political parties to the all parties conference (APC)," Mian Iftikhar, the ANP leader told a news conference in Quetta on Friday evening.
The party has also announced to hold a shutter down strike in Quetta on May 6 against the reported change in CPEC.
Iftikhar claimed that the federal government has deliberately created a controversy, neglecting the smaller provinces. "We will resist any change in route," warned the former KP information minister.
ANP delegation, led by Mian Iftikhar, had a detailed meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch, PML-N Balochistan Chief Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and other political leaders with regard to CPEC.
Iftikhar stated that if the route is changed or altered then the federal government will be held responsible for every kind of unrest.
He said the deprivation of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was at peak and that Islamabad was not paying heed to the sufferings of smaller provinces.
Iftikhar claimed that the rulers have ignored the people of Gwadar in terms of development activities. "Rulers must take people of Gwadar into confidence before taking any decision", the ANP leader stressed.
The project is part of Beijing's “Belt and Road” plan to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia. It will give China easier access to Middle Eastern oil via the deepwater port of Gwadar.
The project generated controversy with political leaders particularly of smaller provinces alleging the project has been altered to benefit Punjab.
The economic corridor
The route apparently under its original plan ran from Gwadar to Quetta, then up to Zhob before veering east towards Dera Ismail Khan.
The government was criticised for having changed this route to go straight east from Gwadar towards Khuzdar, then slightly northeast to cross the River Indus near Ratodero and connect with the road network in Sindh.
The government strenuously denied that any route changes were made, arguing that two routes are being pursued, and on the request of the Chinese, the second route is being built first simply because it is cheaper to do so.
The central route will link Gwadar, Khuzdar and other areas on way to Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar, while the eastern route will connect Gwadar to Ratodero, Sukkur and Karachi and upward to cities in Punjab and from there to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then Khunjerab Pass.
Then there have been security concerns over much of the plan, which relies on developing Gwadar — control of which was passed to a Chinese company in 2013.
The port lies near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, east of the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the Middle East's crude production passes.
But linking Gwadar to the rest of Pakistan and on to the western Chinese city of Kashgar, 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) away, would involve major infrastructure work in Balochistan. This is one of Pakistan's most unstable provinces and has been dogged for over a decade by a bloody separatist insurgency.
Ethnic Baloch rebels, who oppose Gwadar's development while the province is not independent, have in the past blown up numerous gas pipelines and trains and attacked Chinese engineer
Curtsey:DAWN.COM, MAY 01, 2015
Khattak threatens agitation to secure rights of KP on CPEC
PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has threatened widespread protests against the federal government’s alleged plan to ‘deceive’ the province and deprive it of the due rights in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
An official statement issued here on Wednesday quoted Khattak as saying his government would protest the federal government’s ‘deceitful act’ at every relevant forum to protect the rights of the province.
It said the provincial government had unearthed the federal government’s alleged plan to deprive the province of its due rights in the context of the CPEC though the latter had earlier made all announcements and commitments in this respect publicly.
Warns his govt will also withdraw cooperation for project if reservations not addressed
Pervez Khattak said all parliamentary parties in the KP Assembly would be taken on board for the proposed ‘unprecedented protest campaign.’
He warned his government would withdraw its cooperation being extended for executing the CPEC project until their reservations were not removed.
The chief minister said the support withdrawal actions by KP government might also be including stoppage of the land acquisition process for the KP portion of the project.
He announced the decision while presiding over a meeting, which was attended by Speaker of the KP Assembly Asad Qaisar and mineral development minister Aneesazeb Tahirkheli, additional chief secretary Dr Hamad Awais Agha, chairman of the Strategic Planning Unit at the CM Secretariat Sahibzada Muhammad Saeed, leader of KP Ulasi Tehrik Dr Said Alam Mahsood and lawyer Tariq Afghan.
Commenting on the alleged designs of the federal government in connection with the CPEC project, the Chief Minister lamented that the federal government betrayal had put the KP government as well as people of the province in grave kind of shock and shattered their trust in the federal authorities.
Criticising the federal government attitude towards CPEC plan with reference to KP rights, Khattak recalled that a national consensus was evolved when KP government had voiced against the usurpation of the province’s rights in respect of the CPEC and it was assured publicly by the federal government that all provinces will get equal share in the CPEC project and the western route will not only be included in the project but it would also be built on priority bases.
He regretted that nothing of sort had been found in the Planning Commission documents as well as the federal budgetary allocations.
He said the federal government was hiding everything regarding the CPEC project and kept the smaller provinces including KP in the dark.
Dr Said Alam Mahsood informed the meeting that the federal government had allocated a share of only 1.4 per cent for KP contrary to the Punjab that would be getting 80.4 per cent of the total budget allocation of Rs359 billion for the years 2015-17.
He said the KP’s share would be spent on the only hydropower project of Suki Kinari in Mansehra district.
The meeting was informed that the six key components of the CPEC project had also been changed in favour of Punjab and the Dera Ismail Khan–Mianwali-Burhan link of the western route was also missing in the latest map of the CPEC route, which was kept secret by the federal government.
It was also found that Mianwali was being linked with Islamabad through another planned road at a cost of Rs10 billion under public sector development programme.
Dr Mahsood referring to the Planning Commission of Pakistan documents and sources said the total cost of the CPEC project had been calculated at $145 billion, which would be extended to the government of Pakistan in the shape of loan, while the promised $500 billion Chinese investment would be made only at the start and end points of the corridor and that, too, not before 2024.
It was also pointed out that Rs95 billion (51.35 per cent) of the total Rs185 billion budget earmarked for the current year for the motorway project of the corridor would be spent on the Eastern Route, while the remaining 48.65 per cent budget would be utilised for connecting Lahore with Gwadar and Karakorum Highway.
With reference to the monographic study of the roads and their facts reflected in the maps and other documents of the federal government, it was revealed that the Metro Bus and underground fast track railway project had been incorporated into the CPEC, which will link Rawalpindi with Karachi through Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad and thus, totally excluding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan from the project.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2015
KP warns Centre over CPEC route ‘rigging’
*CM announces protest campaign against Centre for ‘depriving KP of its due share in corridor projects’* Threatens to stop land acquisition process in province for the project
PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday alleged that the federal government was conspiring to deprive the province of its due share in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative despite all its announcements and commitments.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told a meeting held at the CM Secretariat that the province has decided to stage widespread protests against what he called the deceitful act on the part of the federal government. He announced that every relevant forum would be knocked at by his government to protect the rights of the province. He said that all parliamentary parties in the provincial assembly would be taken on board for this ‘unprecedented’ protest campaign.
The chief minister threatened to withdraw his government’s cooperation being extended to execute the CPEC project until reservations of the province are not removed. “We can even stop the land acquisition process for the KP portion of the project,” he warned.
Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek leader Dr Said Alam Mahsood said that federal government had allocated a share of only 1.4% for the KP province, contrary to Punjab’s 80.4% out of the total budget allocation of Rs 359 billion for the years 2015-17. He said KP’s share would be spent on one and the only hydro-power project of Suki Kinari in Mansehra district.
Dr Mahsood referred to the Planning Commission of Pakistan’s documents and informed the meeting that total cost of CPEC had been calculated at $145 billion, which would be extended to Pakistan in shape of loans, while the promised $500 billion Chinese investment would be made only at the start and end points of the corridor and that too not before the year 2024.
The meeting was informed that six key components of the CPEC had also been changed in favour of the Punjab province. He said the Dera Ismail Khan–Mianwali-Burhan link of the western route was also missing in the latest map of the route. It was also informed that Mianwali was being linked with Islamabad through another road at a cost of Rs 10 billion under the Public Sector Development Program.
The meeting was informed that Rs 95 billion (51.35%) of the total Rs 185 billion budget earmarked for the current year for the motorway portion of the corridor would be spent for the eastern route while the remaining 48.65% will be utilised for connecting Lahore with Gwadar and Karakurram Highway.
The meeting was informed that metro bus and underground fast track railways project had also been incorporated into the CPEC which will link Rawalpindi with Karachi through Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad, thus totally excluding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.
Lamenting on the alleged designs of the federal government in connection with the CPEC route, the chief minister recalled that a national consensus had been evolved when KP government raised its voice against the ‘usurpation’ of the province’s rights and it was publically assured by the federal government that all provinces will get equal share in the CPEC projects.
He regretted that nothing of the sort had been found in the Planning Commission’s documents as well as the federal budgetary allocations. He said that the federal government was hiding everything regarding the CPEC and keeping the smaller provinces, including KP, in the dark.
He declared that KP government would not tolerate such injustices to the people of the province and would go to every extent for protecting the rights of its people.
He said, all parliamentary parties in the province will be taken into confidence for launching a joint protest campaign against the federal government. He said as a first step, the ongoing process of acquisition of land for the corridor would be stopped. However, he said, the final decision in this regard would be taken after consultation with the parliamentary parties. He said that KP money will not be allowed to be spent for ‘unjustified’ benefits of the biggest province of Pakistan.
Describing the legal and constitutional aspects of the CPEC, the chief minister said that the federal government was not arbitrarily authorised to take such steps without consulting the federating units.
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > November 26, 2015
Baloch ire prompts security fears for
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
ISLAMABAD: Amid lingering security fears regarding a $46 billion economic corridor which involves major construction in some highly unstable areas, the army has assured its personnel would provide security.
Director General Inter Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa in a tweet announced that a special security division comprising army battalions were going to be deployed for the security of the projects.
The special security division will be comprised of nine Army Battalions and six wings of civil armed forces, said Bajwa adding that the division will be commanded by a major general.
Pakistani and Chinese officials on Monday signed a series of more than 50 accords to inaugurate the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will create a network of roads, railways and pipelines linking China’s restive west to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
The project is part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” plan to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia. It will give China easier access to Middle Eastern oil via the deepwater port of Gwadar in southwest Pakistan.
The Chinese aid also aims to boost Pakistan’s long-underperforming economy, which the IMF projects will grow 4.3 percent this year, and tackle its long-running energy crisis.
Beijing and Islamabad have long enjoyed close ties and Xi’s speech on Tuesday, the first by a Chinese president to a joint session of parliament, was full of the flowery rhetoric that typifies their official exchanges.
“Today Pakistan has a historic development opportunity. Prime Minister Sharif has crafted the vision of the Asian tiger dream. It outlines a great blueprint for Pakistan,” he told lawmakers.
But away from the handshakes and backslapping, there are real security concerns over much of the plan, which relies on developing Gwadar — control of which was passed to a Chinese company in 2013.
The port lies near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, east of the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the Middle East’s crude production passes.
But linking Gwadar to the rest of Pakistan and on to the western Chinese city of Kashgar, 3,000 kilometres away, would involve major infrastructure work in Balochistan.
This is one of Pakistan’s most unstable provinces and has been dogged for over a decade by a bloody separatist insurgency.
Baloch insurgents, who oppose Gwadar’s development while the province is not independent, have in the past blown up numerous gas pipelines and trains and attacked Chinese engineers.
Earlier this month the Balochistan Liberation Front claimed an attack in the province that left 20 construction workers from elsewhere in Pakistan dead, the bloodiest separatist incident since 2006.
Siddiq Baloch, editor of the Balochistan Express newspaper, said the rebels want to scare off investors and developers who are working with the Pakistani government — such as the Chinese.
“There is the thinking that by doing this, they want to disrupt the working of the economy, disrupt the administration, challenge the administration in the area,” he told AFP.
Suppressing the rebellion by force in Balochistan’s desolate and sparsely-populated landscape, much of which is desert and mountains, has proven difficult.
Abdul Malik Baloch, the Balochistan chief minister, said strenuous efforts were under way to try to negotiate with the rebels.
“I am trying to convince them, but still they are not convinced,” he told AFP in the provincial capital Quetta.
“This is my honest opinion, this is the only way — to start talking and bring the insurgents to the table.”
In a bid to allay fears, President Mamnoon Hussain told him a special army division would be given responsibility for the safety of Chinese workers, a presidential source told AFP.
Baloch insurgents on Monday attacked an airport in Gwadar district, causing damage but no casualties, in a vivid reminder of the dangers.
Andrew Small, author of The China-Pakistan Axis, said China’s recent experience of working in Pakistan had given it a good idea of which projects could proceed in spite of security worries.
“China is certainly not completely confident that all the projects will be protected, but they think these security problems are one of the main reasons that it’s so important that they move ahead, for the sake of Pakistan’s stability,” he told AFP.
Even if not all the projects envisaged in the corridor plan went ahead, Small said, “The scale is so large that it should still have a major economic impact regardless”.
And while the Chinese projects dwarf an American assistance package to Pakistan of $5 billion that began in 2010, Small said Beijing was not interested in supplanting Washington in the region, preferring to see the US maintain its support.
Xi wrapped up his two-day visit on Tuesday before travelling on to Indonesia for an Asian-African summit.
Curtsey:The Express Tribune, Published: April 21, 2015
Politicians hit out at 'unfair' Pakistan-China Economic Corridor
By Qamar Zaman / Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Politicians complained on Wednesday that a plan for projects worth $46 billion to be built with Chinese funding has been unfairly changed to the disadvantage of provinces.
Speaking at a press conference, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed reservations on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
He said the provinces were not taken on board to build the economic corridor. Albeit welcoming all the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed with the Chinese government, Qureshi said only one chief minister was present when the deals were agreed upon.
The plan, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pakistan on Monday, involves energy and infrastructure projects linking the neighbours’ economies and creating an “economic corridor” between Gwadar port and China’s western Xinjiang region.
“Only CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif was present when the MoUs were signed,” Quresh said.
He added that that all political parties should have been taken on board when the deals were finalised. Further, he said the plan to build the corridor was not one party’s achievement but the project roots back to General Pervez Musharraf’s rule.
“The plan to build the economic corridor spans multiple governments,” Qureshi said. “Talks about the project were taking place when I was serving as foreign minister in the Pakistan Peoples Party government and even during Musharraf’s regime.”
Qureshi said that even though he cannot speak on behalf of the Balochistan government, he is aware that the Balochistan CM Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was also not consulted over the project.
Balochistan politicians also termed the move to build the corridor unfair.
“We will not accept this decision and will resist this move very strongly,” provincial Minister for Planning and Development Hamid Khan Achakzai told Reuters. “It will be a big injustice.”
Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, a former provincial minister, said there would be a “strong reaction” to the change which would only benefit Pakistan’s richest province.
“The change is meant to give maximum benefit to Punjab, which is already considered the privileged province,” he said.
The complaints highlight the political risks for a plan China sees as a key part of its aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.
The army said it was tackling the security risks by setting up a special division for the corridor, including nine army battalions and paramilitary forces. The move was welcomed by the PTI on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, six separatist militants and two soldiers were killed in clashes in Balochistan, officials said.
Militants have also attacked Chinese workers in Pakistan. And China worries about separatists from Xinjiang, whom it blames for a series of attacks across China over the past year.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised Xi Pakistan would step up efforts to battle terrorism.
Curtsey:The Express Tribune, Published: April 22, 2015
Of propositions and solutions:
ANP opposes construction of Kalabagh Dam
Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. PHOTO: FILE
PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan opposed the construction of Kalabagh Dam at a meeting of the party’s working committee at Bacha Khan Markaz held on Wednesday.
Asfandyar said the construction of the dam will be opposed at all cost and his party’s stance in this regard was crystal clear. “No one should misunderstand the position of ANP regarding the building of Kalabagh Dam – we will resist it and subsequently defend the rights and interests of Pukhtuns,” he said.
He added many people in the country were trying to create an impression that only Punjab was the real Pakistan. “This false assumption needs to change since all other nationalities and provinces are also part of Pakistan and will remain so,” said Asfandyar.
“There are some people in the country who only want to take care of Punjab’s interests on important matters like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Kalabagh Dam but let me tell them, ANP will work tirelessly to defend the interests of the Pukhtun nation,” said Asfandyar.
Restoring old friendship
ANP chief said it was a pity Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit created only a short-lived friendship.
“Peace in Pakistan is tied to peace in Afghanistan and since the age of installing Taliban on the throne of Kabul is long gone, both nations should cooperate and work together,” said Asfandyar. “None of the two countries should allow their soil to be used against the other.”
According to Asfandyar, Pakistan was faced with a lot of challenges but instead of solving these problems, the ruling elite was trying to create more anarchy in the country by touching controversial matters.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government was adopting dubious tactics,” he said. “At first, it expelled Qaumi Watan Party from the government on corruption charges but has now included it once again – this shows PTI’s real face to the world,” said ANP chief.
“In the areas where PTI won, it claimed voting was fair and impartial but in areas where it lost votes, it stated elections had been rigged,” he added.
Regarding the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Asfandyar said it should be made part of K-P and reforms should be introduced to make it a part of mainstream politics.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto:the forgotten villain of Balochistan
The year was 1972. The wounds of Pakistan’s breakup were fresh. For the first time in the history of the country, power was being transferred to provinces after direct elections. It was a new beginning for Pakistan.
The government of National Awami Party (NAP) was in power in Balochistan. After 25 years of struggle, finally the people of Balochistan had got the right to rule their province. Nine months into government, the dream was shattered courtesy Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
April 4 is observed as the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Opportunist politicians who get votes in the name of Bhutto and some misguided “jiyalas” observe this day and remember Bhutto as a hero. Just because his government was toppled by Zia-ul-Haq, the worst dictator in the history of Pakistan, Bhutto’s antagonistic role in Balochistan has been completely forgotten.
NAP government in Balochistan took power in May 1972 and it was dismissed by Bhutto on flimsy charges in February 1973. During this short period of nine months, there was not a single day when the NAP government didn’t have to face political machinations and pressure tactics thanks to Bhutto. The bureaucracy of Balochistan was under the federal government’s control at that time and Bhutto instructed all bureaucrats to not obey orders of NAP government ministers. Bhutto through his henchmen manipulated Balochistan Police to go on strike and created problem for NAP government to rule the province.
That was not all, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was the prime minister stooped low to the level of a street thug. He engineered riots and civil disorder in Pat Feeder Canal area and Lasbela district. When a country’s premier is hell bent on creating disturbance in a city, then of course, for obvious reasons no one can stop him. Finally, he concocted the Iraqi Embassy Weapons discovery case as the final excuse to topple the first democratically elected government in Balochistan.
In the aftermath of the NAP government’s dismissal, people vehemently protested against the Bhutto regime. Proving to be a true civilian dictator, Bhutto sent in the army and started a full scale military operation that would continue for the next four years. It’s ironic that it was General Zia-ul-Haq who called off the military operation in Balochistan after toppling the Bhutto regime.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is known as a democrat and his party, PPP, claims to be the torch-bearer of democracy in Pakistan. What Bhutto did in Balochistan after dismissing the NAP government was nothing but barefaced mockery of democracy.
Of the then 21 members in the Balochistan Assembly, 14 belonged to NAP and 7 to the opposition. There was not a single member of PPP in that assembly. Bhutto nominated Jam Ghulam Qadir as the chief minister and he ruled the province with the support of seven out of the 21 members. In 1973, the budget of Balochistan was passed on Radio Pakistan because there were not enough assembly members with the government to pass the budget.
In the 1970 elections, PPP had won convincingly in Sindh and Punjab but was totally rejected in Balochistan and NWFP, now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Bhutto being an egoist and an autocratic leader could not digest this realty. As a result, he didn’t leave any stone unturned in ensuring that PPP forms government in these two provinces. By employing all undemocratic methods, Bhutto was successful in forming governments in both of aforementioned provinces within two years.
The policies of Bhutto destroyed Balochistan. Military operation in the province took its toll on the people. According to official figures 5,500 civilians died during this operation. It goes without saying that official figures are always understated in such cases. Bhutto pushed Balochistan out of mainstream Pakistan and created a problem that exists till date. If Bhutto had allowed the democratically elected government of NAP to complete its term then Balochistan would have been better integrated in the federal structure of Pakistan today.
The NAP government in Balochistan consisted of gems like Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, Gul Khan Naseer and Sardar Attaullah Mengal. Due to the villainous role of Bhutto in Balochistan these political stalwarts couldn’t effectively become a part of mainstream politics. That was not only a loss for Balochistan but also for Pakistan.
Every rise has a fall and the same was the case with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto; the forgotten villain of Balochistan. After treating Balochistan like an occupied territory for four years, Bhutto was preparing for his end. By 1977, he had become unpopular due to his autocratic attitude. In order to surprise the scattered opposition, Bhutto announced elections 18 months before time in March 1977. Bhutto massively rigged those polls and it triggered a country wide protest against him. Finally on the fateful day of July 5 1977, autocratic rule of Bhutto abruptly ended.
In his book “Rumor and reality” Bhutto writes about casualties in Balochistan claiming that thousands of people die when military operations are conducted and that it’s not a big deal. In this context, what I am about to write might not be liked by many, but let me say that eventually, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto got what he deserved.
Curtsey:The Nation, May 30, 2015
The fascist state of Pakistan
The Oxford dictionary defines fascism as “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization”. It is a system the world has put measures against since the end of WWII. There are laws that keep it at bay, such as making it illegal to deny the holocaust, of the countries that ban genocide denial, a number were perpetrators themselves.
In this post, I will put forward arguments to prove that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is in fact a fascist state. The argument is twofold; one argument will use Dr. Lawrence Britt’s ‘14 basic characteristic of a fascist regime’ and the other will draw comparisons from George Orwell’s fascist totalitarian state of Oceania from ‘1984’.
Lawrence Britt examined the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each. I will show how each is relevant to Pakistan:
1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
National anthem (in a language no one from the current generation understands today) in school every day during assembly; claiming the creation of this great land was predicted ages ago and in the Quran; claiming manifest destiny and preaching these in school textbooks.
2. Disdain for the recognition of human rights
What we did in Bangladesh was nothing short of genocide – something we still refuse to recognise. And are we allowed to discuss or even label the ongoing genocide in Balochistan? Genocides carried out by our own state. Our constitution persecutes the country’s inhabitants by taking away their right to call themselves Muslims. When one applies for a Pakistani passport, one is made to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims. 65 years after its inception did Pakistan introduce marriage registration bill for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
If you are an average Pakistani, you have blamed some other more powerful and more cunning, more well-funded foreign hand for the problems this country has faced; Yahoodis, Amreeki, Hindu, Indian, RAW, Mossad, CIA, FBI, Pakhtoon, Baloch. If it isn't a Punjabi Sunni man, you’ve blamed it.
4. Supremacy of the military
Pakistan’s great military received 30% of the country’s total budget for the year 2014 - over 10 times that of health and education. We are also drilled with the brave acts of our soldier in our school textbooks but never read of a civilian act of bravery. We are to believe without any citation that ours is the best army in the world. Questioning their meddling in the country’s politics is unthinkable. It also reports to no one; Bangladesh and Balochistan being grand examples.
If bin Laden lived less than a kilometre away from cantonment, he simply never existed. And everything is a conspiracy to malign our great nation.
Even if that notion is accepted, why is Abdul Aziz’s madrasah so close to ISI headquarters? How is LeJ allowed to be active in the capital of a province so completely under the control of the army that permission wasn't even asked from the parliament to carry out the Mashkay Operation?
Anyone speaking against the armed forces is quickly labelled a traitor. Even Fatima Jinnah. Regardless of political affiliations, elections and all that, every Pakistani knows deep down, due to some sense of a looming coup around any corner maybe, or due to all the drilling and glorifications in our textbooks, we know boots run this country.
5. Rampant sexism
I feel lethargic writing an argument for this, because it is brought home to me every day that women, despite giving birth to all of us, are at the bottom of the food chain in this dump. But alright, according to Human Rights Watch, 70 to 90 percent of women and girls have suffered “some sort of abuse”. Mind you, many girls I know don't even recognise abuse. That is how ingrained sexism and misogyny are.
6. Controlled mass media
I am somewhat proud of how free our media really is, especially print. But then I think, a bought and/or biased media isn't really a free one. You don't switch channels here, you switch agendas. I have never heard of any channel’s multiple political talk shows questioning the boots that rule. There was also a certain Saleem Shahzad. The news that needs to get to us, never does. We are kept busy with concerts in the capital and petty propaganda.
7. Obsession with national security
Tell me when was the last time the nation was not concerned with others trying to rob it of its glory and an even more glorious destination. We are all told India will take over the day the army’s budget is lowered, and Hameed Gul’s “9/11 bahana, Afghanistanthikana, Pakistan nishana” is oft repeated with fervor. All to give the military complete legitimacy and power. Fear is the most important tool of propaganda, be it politics, terrorism or religion.
8. Religion and government are intertwined
Let me remind you once again of the poor Ahmadis whose own constitution takes away their rights to self-determination. Our law is stained with religion; the blasphemy law, the president and prime minister are required to be Muslim. Article 227 states that all laws must be in accordance with Islam. Our prime minister and dictators have also been labelled “Ameer-ul-momineen”. Religion and government aren’t intertwined, religion is government here.
9. Corporate power is protected
“The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite” Malik Riaz, Mian Mansha, Jahangir Tareen also only the richest of this country have ever managed to penetrate political and powerful circles e.g. Sharif, Bhutto, Niazi, Leghari, etc.
10. Labor power is suppressed
Labor laws in Pakistan are alright. But the labor class has next to no dignity and no power. Since forever, it has been exploited by feudal lords. Child labor is also a serious issue that is rooted in our system. Our maids, drivers, butlers are rarely given respect and are largely looked upon as sub-humans and not worthy of even sitting next to.
11. Disdain for intellectuals and arts
The dean of Karachi University Islamic Studies was killed this year. I wonder if justice was even sought. Abdus Salam, our Nobel laureate, died in self-exile. Anyone trying to introduce something even slightly different from the norm is silenced and ostracised, and those that stand up amidst great odds are persecuted, for example Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousafzai.
Let us not forget we disowned Manto, we put Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Ahmed Faraz in jail. There have been multiple fatwas on poets, writers, actresses and actors. Anyone related to the entertainment industry, or the arts, was and is still to a smaller extent considered up for sale; especially the women.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
Scores are charged in anti-terrorism courts when they are barely related. “Traitors” are silenced. The establishment defines crime and the establishment punishes. These punishments are carried out within days as opposed to us poor civilians who spend years wasting away in courts.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
Must I elaborate on this one? To sum it up, politics (keeping in mind the military is the most powerful and popular political party in the country) in Pakistan is a network of people one way or the other related to each other. And they are all a separate breed from us civilians.
14. Fraudulent elections
Zia’s referendum. Musharraf’s referendum and 2002 elections. Elections here, I believe, are either complete shams or are manipulated. Both result in ceremonial figure heads with boots on. The best part about our brand of fascism is that there is an entire ruling apparatus for us to view and look towards, the one we view as the government; responsible for ruling and taking action.
Now moving on to Orwell.
Orwell wrote this great book called ‘1984’ in which he predicted the future of 1984’s England as a dystopian, totalitarian and fascist superstate of Oceania. I found some striking similarities to present day Pakistan:
- Double-think: An important tool of Oceania’s government is double-think: an act of ordinary people accepting two conflicting beliefs. Pakistanis do this when labelling foreign conspiracy i.e. Taliban is RAW. But Imran Khan said they are our “misunderstood brothers” and the maulvi Abdul Aziz at the mosque supported them. So are Imran Khan and Abdul Aziz also RAW? Of course not they are our saviours and bringers of change.
- Double-speak: A similar act to double-think, Pakistanis engage in this by coming up with things like“liberal fascists” and “Islamic republic”.
- “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past”:Remember when the Taliban were our little cubs? Or when Pakistan was a buffer against Soviet influence and was America’s BFF? Or when Musharraf called the Taliban his “strategic reserve and I can unleash them in tens of thousands against India when I want”? This was only in 1999. Remember when Pakistan was responsible for the civil war in Afghanistan? When we celebrated atrocities committed by the Taliban?
- “A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as permanent war”: I think this is the one we’re living. We must remain always at war to not let others take over in order to attain peace.
- “We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves”: Another of the threats of Oceania’s government. This has also happened, no need to be surprised, a lot of us have been cold-shouldered by our families for speaking against the norm of the system well-liked by them. Imran Khan’s dharna took over Eid-ul-Adha this year. We have left friends because they did not support the same “leader”/dictator or did not like the military. It is all about them.
Those were my arguments and I do strongly believe that Pakistan is a fascist state. It might not be the same for everyone, as a lot of people reading this will be from privileged houses and/or will have never faced maltreatment at the behest of the system.
The fact of the matter is: Pakistan is guilty of genocides, of unrest and terrorism. Not only in its own land but in neighboring India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. And it is high time we owned up to it, recognised the terribleness of ourselves, and made it criminal to deny our state’s shortcomings and brutalities.
We must start making it criminal to deny our own genocides. Make it criminal to be a Taliban apologist, ostracise and hold accountable anyone who does not outright call their entire cause terrorism and differentiates between “good” and bad Taliban. We, the privileged, the ones not Shia, Baloch, Pakhtoon, Hazara, Hindu, Ahmadi must begin punishing ourselves and begin penance for all the persecution we have let happen to our brothers and sisters not as fortunate. We must make it criminal to tolerate intolerance.
But obviously, the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it. Something very, very vital yet something that is not happening any time soon. The pain that comes with challenging notions that you have been indoctrinated with and the culture dominant in this country of not tolerating a difference of opinion and labelling anyone questioning the military a “traitor” – this is what fascism here thrives upon.
We must make space for nuance if we are to move on as a nation, this is the only way to beat the system.
Zaitoon Malik is a student, who's a feminist observing and providing critique on culture and politics. She has a keen interest in history. Follow her on Twitter
More by Zaitoon Malik
Zaitoon Malik is a student, who's a feminist observing and providing critique on culture and politics. She has a keen interest in history. Follow her on Twitter
Curtsey:The Nation, January 01, 2015
Altaf calls for UN,Nato intervention in Karachi
KARACHI - MQM chief Altaf Hussain has urged United Nations and Nato forces to stage on-ground intervention in Karachi, reiterating the demand for a separate province for Muhajirs.
Addressing annual party convention in US city of Dallas in wee hours of Sunday, he urged party supporters to stage sit-in demos outside Nato and UN offices, and the White House to demand sending troops to Karachi.
In his provocative address, Altaf again bashed Pakistan Army and (Punjabi) ‘establishment’ and accused them of persecuting Urdu-speaking people and singling out Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi operation.
He said India is a coward country because if it had any dignity, it would not let “blood of Muhajirs spill on Pakistani soil”, indirectly inciting it to stage some military action against Pakistan.
MQM leaders Nadeem Nusrat, Babar Ghauri, Khushbakht Shujaat, Wasay Jalil and others also addressed the convention in which satirical speeches against Pakistan security forces were read out.
Altaf dismissed money laundering charges against him and said all bank accounts in London had been frozen and party members were dealing with a difficult situation there. He said he hadn’t formed a linguistic or extremist organisation and yet was being booked in over 150 cases of treason.
He said that changes are being witnessed fast around the globe and opined that ‘Greater Balochistan’ and ‘Greater Pakhtunistan’ will be created while Karachi would be the headquarters of ‘Greater Punjab’. He said whenever party workers would give green signal the MQM would officially demand a separate province for Muhajirs.
MQM chief said biased elements in the ‘establishment’ have decided to eliminate those Muhajir youth who are raising voice for their rights. These biased people also have decided to force Muhajirs into slavery, he alleged. He directed party workers to write letters to US newspapers and make them aware of the ‘actual situation’ in Pakistan.
Terrorism is biggest threat for Pakistan, he asserted, claiming that organisations banned by interior ministry were still operating openly and raising funds while an unannounced ban has been imposed on MQM’s charity work. He said party workers are being tortured and target killed.
“The entire scenario is enough to realise whether it’s me who is afraid of Pakistan Army or the army is frightened of me... Earlier, I made a mistake by saluting Pakistan armed forces as these forces on direction of US army fired bullets in Holy Ka’aba and carried out carnage of Muslims in Bangladesh,” said the MQM chief.
Curtsey:The Nation, August 03, 2015
Censorship and Balochistan
Earlier this week, the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) was forced to cancel a panel discussion on Balochistan that would have featured activists and academics including Mama Qadeer, who marched from Quetta to Islamabad as part of his attempts to highlight the issue of the province’s missing persons. The orders to cancel the event were delivered by elements of the state’s intelligence services, although the state’s latest demonstration of its penchant for stifling debate and silencing dissent was not entirely surprising. After years of blocking websites, intimidating journalists, jailing activists, and manufacturing public opinion in support of its own ideological agenda, it should come as no surprise that the Establishment in Pakistan is still up to its old tricks despite the country’s admittedly uncertain transition to democracy. Furthermore, the fact that the state would react so heavy-handedly to a small discussion taking place in an ‘elite’ university should also be unsurprising when considering the topic that was to be discussed. Time and again, despite the manifest and obvious failure of its approach to dealing with the Baloch question, the state has consistently shown a refusal to learn from its mistakes, doubling down on the use of repression and force at a time when, perhaps more so than ever before, there is an urgent need for open and informed debate on this issue.
The facts of the matter are clear. For the past seventy years, Balochistan has been subjected to a systematic campaign of institutionalized discrimination that has left the province scarred by violence and deprivation. Repeated military operations, continued neglect at the hands of the federal government and its lackeys at the provincial level, and a renewed push to exploit the province’s tremendous mineral wealth have all contributed to fuelling the marginaliztion experienced by the people of Balochistan while also giving rise to the very same ethno-national sentiment that the state ostensibly seeks to address.
One of the more notable aspects of the Balochistan issue is the fact that very little is actually said about it. Outside of some small sections of the press, the occasional university classroom, and the odd public seminar, there is limited knowledge of what is happening in the province, and even less understanding of the dynamics of the conflict. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, but one that is actively cultivated and encouraged by a state (dominated by the military establishment) that seeks to maintain its monopoly over the narrative that characterizes the issue in the public discourse, as well as its ability to undertake whatever measures it deems fit in the province without fear of backlash or accountability.
The mainstream, state-sponsored account of the ‘troubles’ in Balochistan paints a picture that casts Baloch nationalists as being dangerously subversive terrorists intent on destroying Pakistan at the behest of multiple hostile, foreign actors. This formulation of the problem is defined by outright falsehood, and is also devoid of any historical context. An alternative view is one that recognizes the importance of the Balochistan issue because of the way in which it poses at least two fundamental questions that have broader implications for the future of Pakistan.
Firstly, Baloch ethno-nationalism, like that of the other smaller provinces (and, in an earlier period, Bengal), problematizes the hegemonic national project that has thus far been at the heart of the state’s attempts to garner support for itself and its domestic and international agendas. In its attempts to define the Pakistani nation in purely religious terms (that have become increasingly narrow and parochial over time), the state has actively undermined alternative expressions of identity, suppressing cultural forms and politics that seek to articulate the heterogeneity of Pakistani society. Rather than accommodating difference and championing pluralism, the state has continued to treat diversity as a threat. There are multiple reasons for this, but they essentially boil down to a few main causes; the need to maintain the dominance of a political and military establishment dominated by a small Punjabi elite, and the use of Islam as a means through which to generate domestic legitimacy while simultaneously perpetuating a rivalry with India justified in almost exclusively communal terms. To accept the validity of Baloch ethno-nationalist sentiment is to concede to the idea that Pakistan’s national project, as conceived thus far, has been lacking.
Secondly, the Balochistan issue also throws up questions about citizenship and rights within the broader framework of the Pakistani state. In addition to the economic exploitation of the province, which has consistently seen its indigenous inhabitants being excluded from processes of accumulation that have enriched external sources of capital (from within and outside Pakistan), the systematic repression of the Baloch, through killings, abductions, full-fledged military campaigns, crackdowns on opposition, the dissolution of governments, and the ever-increasing and intrusive presence of the security forces, illustrates how many in the province have clearly not benefitted from the rights and privileges that they should ostensibly be guaranteed as citizens of Pakistan. Questioning the state’s conduct in the province means exposing the ways in which it routinely makes use of arbitrary, despotic power to impose its will at the expense of the citizenry.
In its attempts to prevent these questions from being asked, the state has historically resorted to coercion, with what happened at LUMS earlier this week simply being a contemporary manifestation of a very old strategy. This also explains the state’s self-evident hypocrisy when it comes to these issues; while many express disbelief at the fact that the leaders of ‘banned’ sectarian outfits roam around Pakistan unimpeded while activists like Mama Qadeer are routinely harassed, the difference between the two lies in how the former do little to challenge the state’s narrative while the latter raise critical points about the nature of state power in this country.
Yet, as even a cursory look at Balochistan would show, the state’s strategy in that province continues to fail. Decades of repression and violence have only served to fan the flames of the conflict, and there is little reason to believe that the escalating brutality of the state, as evinced most poignantly by the plight of the families searching for answers about the thousands missing from the province, will settle matters. It is increasingly obvious that there can be no solution to the Baloch question unless there is more open debate and discussion around the root causes of the problem, and the very questions that the state continues to avoid.
The writer is an assistant professor of political science at LUMS
Curtsey:The Nation, April 12, 2015
Balochistan on fire
A systematic campaign is in progress under patronage of RAW to brainwash the Baloch youth, inculcate in them Baloch nationalism and turn them against Pakistan.
20 teachers were sent in 2008 from Balochistan to Afghanistan for receiving training to subvert school/college syllabus in Balochistan as had been done in East Pakistan through Hindu teachers and professors.
Pakistan History, Social and Islamic Studies in particular are being distorted.
In many schools in Baloch dominated districts like Mastung, Kalat, Naushki, Sui, Dera Bugti and Kahan, students no more sing the national anthem or display Pakistan flag or eulogize services of Quaid-e-Azam.
Hatred against Punjabis, army and federal government is inculcated on grounds that they are plundering the resources of Balochistan and thriving on Baloch natural resources.
Pattern of propaganda themes is on lines played by Awami League in East Pakistan.
Nawab Bugti is eulogized as a Baloch hero and BLA projected as a vehicle in the struggle for emancipation and independence of Balochistan from the yoke of parasitic Punjabis who have colonized the province.
BRA is idolized for confronting the army.
It has claimed responsibility for all acts of terror including target killings of Punjabi settlers.
It is holding 21 police officials and 14 laborers as hostages since July 30 and has already killed 12 policemen and threatened to kill the remaining abducted persons if arrested Baloch dissidents involved in anti-state activities are not immediately released.
COL (Retd) AMJAD FAROOQI, Rawalpindi, via e-mail, August 18.
Curtsey:The Nation, August 24, 2009
Managing Diversity in Pakistan: Nationalism, Ethnic Politics and Cultural Resistance [review essay]