Category Archives: International Affairs

Thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy [Update-3]

Cadbury Malaysia

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy

Statement from Cadbury Malaysia

 

Update: Below is from Cadbury Pakistan on Dairy Milk sold in Pakistan

 

 

And now Malaysia authorities have cleared Cadbury of any traces of Pork DNA. But most consumers will likely remain wary of products for some time until this fades from memory.

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Businessmen’s Silence is Deafening

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MA-LAUGH-1A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

PAKISTAN is fortunate to have a formidable number of experienced, visionary, and dedicated entrepreneurs who have carved out a name for themselves in trade, in industry, in social activities, and at global forums. Inspite of monumental odds and roadblocks, whether in the domestic environment or in international markets, Pakistani businessmen and industrialists have persevered and succeeded. Over the years, they also formed Chambers, Associations, Forums, and Groups to protect, promote, and project their views, their endeavors, and their organizations.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr.

The trade and industry community has also boldly taken stands whenever the need arose. In 1990, under the aegis of SITE Association of Industry and APTMA, a forum SICORLO was formed to protest the deteriorating law and order situation. At that time, SICORLO issued advertisement on a daily basis making fervent appeals for the restoration of law and order. Millions of rupees were spent, and this campaign proved so effective that the government had to step in, literally pleading that this “sob-story” was giving a notorious reputation to the country and that it could turn out to be counter-productive in the long run. Things did improve for a short time thereafter and then the country was back to square one mainly due to juvenile politicians.

In 1986, under the dynamic leadership of a brave business leader, the late Ejaz Shaffi, the SITE Association of Industry led the campaign against the enforcement of a draconian system in Excise Duty that the mandarins in the erstwhile Central Board of Revenue had tried to introduce by camouflaging it as “simplification procedures”. This was a hectic nine-day protest, where five to six hundred industrialists would gather daily at SITE, keeping their factories shut, and listening to the motivational oratory of Ejaz Shaffi and other leaders. After nine days, Premier Junejo had to fly to Karachi, and at a meeting with the industrialists at the Sindh Governor House, declared that this draconian exercise planned by the egoistic CBR officers would be ended immediately. All this happened during the martial law tenure of General Zia.

The above events are narrated because I was fully involved in both. These brought me into limelight and established by bona fides as a representative of trade and industry.

In recent times, businessmen have had their protests but these have been few and ineffective. Once even FPCCI went on strike during the tenure of Benazir Bhutto but she got the better of it. Recently, a self-styled leader of small traders called a strike against extortion and law and order. Initially, the Karachi Chamber President agreed to support it but Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the Sindh Governor prevailed upon the KCCI leadership to cool down. Resultantly, the strike fizzled out and the small traders’ leader got, what Andy Warhol once said, his fifteen minutes of fame. He was a hot item for a couple of days on the media but then the party was over.

The reason I am presenting these examples is that today, when Pakistan needs to sort out its various problems, the role of the business community is zilch because it is at a crossroads. It has this feeling that policies and events in this country are working against businessmen and their very survivability is at stake. The businessmen have this feeling that they have lost whatever ground they had achieved in the last some years. A situation has developed where it seems that the businessmen are damned if they do anything and damned even if they do not do anything.

The leaders of the business community generally tend to play it safe when it comes to dealing with the ruling party, even in these days of democracy and freedom of expression. The present economic scenario and the recessionary trends in the country along with cost increases, utilities shortages and high rates, coupled with low demand, volatile business conditions, uncertainty of the rupee-dollar parity, and the deteriorating law and order situation, not to mention the upsurge in strike calls, have brought businessmen into a frenzy. Their long-term planning has gone to the dogs while in the short run the capital crunch is proving disastrous. The stock exchange is going down like a roller coaster and the media is showing the mess in vivid colors. It seems that in Islamabad the economy is on the lower strata of the government’s agenda, and the Finance Minister is spending more time in the corridors of IMF and World Bank rather than interacting with the businessmen. In his absence, the FBR fudges figures and the Finance Ministry gets pie in the face. All budgetary calculations are based on what loans and aid Pakistan will or can receive rather than endeavoring to expand the tax base at home.

Pakistan faces on-going violence in Karachi, resulting from political grievances which have been enormously magnified by extremism and lawlessness. It is a shame that the law-enforcers are so impotent that they are not able to control the city. There have been reports that they tend to become silent spectators rather than assiduously performing their obligations. Moreover, if there were no Edhi, Aman, or Chhippa ambulances, how would the injured and dead be transported to the hospitals or the morgue? And the less said about KESC, the better.

The political impasse has been putting a heavy toll not only on Karachi’s economic picture, but also on the nation’s economic progress. At the same time, the effect on foreign investment in Karachi is also being felt. The head of a multi-national stated bluntly that “foreign businessmen are now becoming reluctant to invest under the prevailing circumstances and the only option left for them is to check out other countries.” Another declared in clear terms that the US investors have lost interest in funding projects due to civil strife in Karachi. His colleague added “although foreign investment is not a panacea of all ills, yet the influx of foreign investment in power generation, infra-structure development, and other sectors could help solve crucial issues.” A Japanese representative of a trading company stated that the Karachi problem has discouraged Japanese investors from coming here and that there “is a general feeling among the foreign investors that Karachi is no longer safe to invest.” Another Japanese moaned the circular debt when requested to invest in an upcoming coal-based power project. Ominous words that further erode the image of this city.

The beef against the business leadership is that matters are taken in stride and, if need arises, a press release is issued condemning this or that. That’s it. There is apathy even when rates of utilities are increased multifold. There are murmurs but no conviction in statements or actions. Extortion by vested interests is a daily occurrence but there is acquiescence within the business leadership. Market leaders collect funds on a shop-basis and then distribute them to various extortionists and political elements. Quite easily done. No hassles.

There is no better time than now for the business leadership to catch the bull by its horns. There have been no overtures made to the political parties or to the government or even to the armed forces and judiciary. There has not been a unified stance by businessmen to play a prominent and purposeful role to handle the crisis. The silence is truly deafening. Silence is not golden in this case. The FPCCI President with the support of business leaders like Tariq Sayeed, Siraj Teli, S M Muneer, Aqil Karim Dhedhi, and Asad Umar must initiate the dialog and must energize everyone towards the resolution of the crisis. Hope is there if businessmen mediate and if businessmen put some sense in the ranks of politicians. The FPCCI President is also a Senator and thus is better placed to carry on the task.

So, what it boils down to is that circumstances could look favorable for a solution to the political and economic imbroglio that Karachi is facing. The process should begin. All it needs is a pragmatic, resolute, and sincere push from the businessmen. From Asif Ali Zardari, Altaf Hussein, and the twenty million residents who want their City to become once again a peaceful, secure, and bustling city, this is the message. Peace and prosperity soon!

"There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back."

Tom De Marco and Timothy Lister

 

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.


TheMuslim.ca | Bin Laden the Vindicator, US a Chronic Liar

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By LINH DINH

Osama Bin LadenSINCE September 11, 2001, Bin Laden had been mostly an absence. His few video or audio tapes were highly suspect, and speculations about his death had often surfaced. On July 11, 2002, Amir Taheri wrote in the New York Times, “Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan […] With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival?”

But save for one doubtful video, Bin Laden never took credit for 9/11. In fact, he repeatedly denied any responsibility for those mass murders. On September 28, 2001, he was interviewed by the Karachi Ummat, an Urdu language newspaper. The US Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a component of the CIA, translated:

[…] I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people. Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel. There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia? Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies [of Muslims]. The US has no friends, nor it wants to keep one because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates […] Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed […] The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive […] Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taliban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of $40 billion. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance. Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks […]

Judge for yourself. Does this sound like the raving of some mad man with an ego the size of Mount Everest? He sounds quite composed, actually, and far more lucid, perceptive and concise than all American politicians and most intellectuals. In any case, this interview was the last substantial utterance from Bin Laden. After this, he more or less disappeared.

 

THE REMAINDER OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND AT THE MUSLIM.CA


This article is taken from another source. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and may or may not be the views of From The Pulpit and DiscoMaulvi. To submit content for From The Pulpit, please email FromThePulpit [at] MuhammadAly [dot] Com.

Impact of the OBL episode on Pakistan’s economy

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MA-PP-20110505-WB-SMALLA Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

 

The Doomsday theorists and the ignorant anti-American elements in Pakistan have become over-active after the showdown in Abbottabad. Suddenly, they are back into action with their I-told-you-so rabble rousing posture and are trying to galvanize the citizens into a universal condemnation of not only Washington but also the civilian leadership and the military hierarchy of the country. President Obama is being considered as a re-incarnate of the younger Bush while all hell is being let loose on the two well-protected high rollers safely ensconced in Islamabad. The brave among this inciting crowd, all the more fortified by the drawing room analysts and pseudo-democrats, are out to get the scalps of the two Generals who had their tenures extended.

The Formation Commanders made the right noises by warning the White House, in fact, warning the world not to attempt such an adventure again inside Pakistan’s territory. There was the usual talk about ending the drone "culture", reduction in the number of Americans moving all over this nation, and threatening to "review" cooperation between Pentagon and Rawalpindi. Hallelujah. It reminds one of the classic Peter Sellers’ movie The Mouse That Roared. It may play well in maybe Gujranwala.

However, what is missing in all this wailing and blaming is that no one has seriously considered the impact this draconian adventure would have on Pakistan’s tottering economy. Come next fiscal year, there is going to be a fundamental shift in the nation’s budget planning and revenue expectations. The Finance Minister and his jolly band went to IMF with a structured begging bowl but the high priests sitting in the citadel of this institution showed them unusual courtesy by escorting them out the exit door sans any largesse. State Bank of Pakistan big boys have put their hands up in desperation that inflation is still an uncontrolled albatross around the economy. The euphoria in Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and in the minds of less knowledgeable spin-doctors of the ruling party that the export figures would be at all-time high, based on the extraordinary performance of the raw cotton and spinning sector is fizzling out sooner than expected. Half of the spinning mills are switching off their machines because all of a sudden the global demand went poof.

Copyright: Sajjad Hussain | Getty Images

The Finance Ministry officials transformed the Ministry from a being a facilitator to trade and industry by playing their own version of contract bridge by considering themselves as "us" and the businessmen as "they". When there was genuine opposition to the introduction of the macabre Reformed General Sales Tax, some hare-brained official came out with the asinine proposal to get the country’s President to issue three Ordinances as part of the Plan ‘B’ conjured up by minions in Federal Board of Revenue. Lo and behold. The trade and industry representatives got these officials on the carpet and within no time, the Ordinances became stale jokes.

The Federal Budget is due on May 28 and the energetic but elusive Finance Minister will again attempt to teach the Parliamentarians a lesson or two in Economics 101. He has already received a bagful of help from the Presidency who outmaneuvered seasoned politicians and got them to do the tango with him. The budget would be approved but at what cost? Is the country ready to bear the ramifications of what the good Senator Doctor Sheikh has in store for the 175 million denizens? Would it be an ingenious financial vision or would it be dictated orders from IMF and other International Finance Institutions? The answer would be certain when the dust clears on the last Saturday of this month.

Should one recount what is happening on the physical infrastructure scene? Very casually and without fanfare, the nation is now short of 7000 mw of power. Very brazenly, the natural gas people unilaterally decree that gas would not be available for industries and CNG Stations. Those who decide at what cost Pakistanis would get petrol ritualistically but forcefully announce that petrol, diesel, and other petroleum products would now cost an arm and a leg.

The reason why this economic picture is being presented is to bring to the fore the very fact that the OBL episode has come at a very delicate time for Pakistan. The billions spent on the Global War on Terror by this cash-starved nation, the fabulous military victories in eliminating terrorists and extremists from the wild, wild north of the country, and the confidence reposed in the valiant forces by Pakistanis have suddenly burst like a pin pricked balloon. The general feeling was that in spite of the difficulties people faced on the economic front, it was essential and crucial that the Armed Forces were provided with everything to protect and secure the borders and the strategic assets.

This confidence in the Armed Forces must not be allowed to wane. Pakistanis must continue to support and encourage the brave forces. The entire Defense establishment must learn whatever lessons it has to learn and must carry forward. Demagogues and Fifth Columnists must be ignored and should not be given prominence by the electronic and print media.

There should not be despondency and blame-game either within the forces or among the politicians. Dejection at this stage will ruin the country by hampering its economic progress. This is the time for all decision makers to sit with the mainstream businessmen and industrialists to get the country out of this economic quagmire. The Pakistan Business Council attempted to get the politicians to sit with them at the same table and discuss the economic agenda. A noble step, but it did not create any waves because mainstream trade and industry representatives were excluded while third or fourth tier nominees from the political parties came to Serena in Islamabad to make the usual pompous statements. (Incidentally, this writer had proposed such an All-Parties Conference while taking part in a PTV program hosted by Dr Huma Baqai a couple of months back. So, credit to PBC for following it up and spending money to get politicians together).

The impact of the OBL drama would not be as damaging to the country as propagated by many analysts. This is not the time to strain relations with USA and other Western countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered a comfort zone to Pakistan. Assurances are coming from Foggy Bottom as well as from Capitol Hill that Pakistan would be supported and that Pakistan needs maximum cooperation from Washington. This is the time for the government and even the Armed Forces to ensure that American financial assistance is not squandered away and also that Pakistan should be provided all facilities to procure smart defense technology to continue its frontline role in exterminating terrorists and extremists from this country. Emphasis should be on foreigners who have created havoc by assuming the role of so-called Jihadis. The Saudi Arabian, Sudanese, Egyptian, and the Chechen Jihadi elements must be declared persona non grata and their native countries be forced to take them back.

The recent positive outcome of the talks between the Interior Secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi and the Commerce Secretaries in Islamabad and Bhurban will open new vistas of economic cooperation not only between the two countries but among all SAARC nations. This is a breath of fresh air and the expectations are positive and beneficial for Pakistan. Furthermore, there is expectation of foreign investment not only from India but also from other countries. This is the time to invite massive investment in minerals exploration, in information technology, and in livestock. These would create jobs and pump up the economy.

Pakistan cannot afford to be strangled by the OBL opera. Once lessons are learnt, once accountability has ended, and once the nation’s skies are really made impregnable, the concentration should be on the economy. The most unpatriotic thing a citizen can do at this juncture is to be persistent in carping about the capability and competency of the Armed Forces while at the same time, all those who are neglecting efforts to rejuvenate the economy are guilty of the same crime too. This is the ideal time to say "YES" to the Founder’s motto: Unity, Faith, and Discipline. By the way, what happened to Pakistan First?

 

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.


This article is taken from another source. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and may or may not be the views of From The Pulpit and DiscoMaulvi. To submit content for From The Pulpit, please email FromThePulpit [at] MuhammadAly [dot] Com.

Some Thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden

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Some thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden, written as part of a collection of tweets and thoughts by writers and Shayooks at MuslimMatters


As a Pakistani, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death brought a mixture of emotions:

Relief – Well that’s one less “problem” to worry about.

Skepticism – Yeah right, he was in Abbottabad! Just how in the whole world was he a stone’s throw from the Military training academy in Kakul and no one knew about it?

Dismay – The claim that he was in Pakistan all these years was true!

Fear – May Allah protect us (the citizens of Pakistan) from the backlash that is surely going to stem from this.

Cynicism – So what if he’s dead? There are many more such monsters out there that will continue to haunt us.

Anger – Why is the Pakistani government / military not issuing any statements about an event in which they obviously participated.

Mistrust – Was Osama Bin Laden really alive all these years? Or was he part of some grand conspiracy? Why did they do a sea burial without showing the body to anyone?

Sadness – A misguided individual died without being able to see the light.

Osama #BinLaden – The Terrorist with Nine Lives | #OBL

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After trying, unsuccessfully, to get my son out of bed to get ready for school, I sat on the bed and checked my email.

The subject “Turn on CNN or whatever news station you listen to” catches my eye!

Seems like the US has Bin Laden’s body. Obama is going to give a speech in a few mins!

A quick channel flip on the TV (sorry Diego, Bin Laden was more important right then). Lo and behold we have the CNN people claiming OBL died last week in a “mansion near Islamabad”. So the next move is to see what my tweeps on Twitter say. And then this post on Osama and whether he’s alive (reproduced below) I wrote back in June 2009 pops up in my head!

Seems like OBL has finally run out of lives. Killed in an operation carried by US Forces in Abbottabad, in an operation inadvertently tweeted by fellow Pakistani Tweeter Sohaib Athar.  Well in a way good riddance really, however, the question that leaves to be asked is:

Oh and for the record, to all the media people saying he was killed “near Islamabad”, Abbottabad is not near Islamabad!


DiscoMaulvi


Osama Bin Laden, the 25th son of Mohammed Bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire of Yemeni origins, carries a USD 25 Million price tag on his head. Among his alleged claim to fame are being Number One on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list, wanted for the bombing of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998), creating a gaping hole in the skyline of New York City (what is commonly referred to as 9/11), and finding a way to speak from the grave.

Around the end of 2001, OBL was thought to be dead by several governments around the world, including that of George W. Bush. His video released in December 2001 prompted the following comments from CNN Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen:

“This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he’s really, by December he’s looking pretty terrible. But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he’s barely moving the left side of his body. So he’s clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He’s got a wound in his foot. He’s apparently got dialysis … for kidney problems.

I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape.”

A wounded, almost dying OBL in 2001 revived miraculously and was in the best of health in 2004 (must be that great hospital in Tora Bora or a real life Benjamin Button). Following this, over the years, several people have voiced their belief that OBL was no longer amongst us. Hamid Karzai, Benazir Bhutto, Pervez Musharraf, FBI, and Israeli Intelligence all have publicly stated that OBL is dead.

laden2001decbinwho3
2001 and 2004 – Miraculous cure?

Based on the intelligence and the statements of the above mentioned, it can only be that OBL was conveniently replaced by an actor. Since then he (and his boy Ayman Al-Zawahiri) have a knack of appearing with a new production conveniently coinciding with major events on the US Political calendar. Just last week, a group of friends were discussing how OBL, Mullah Omar, and Zawahiri were missing in action. And this week to coincide with Obama’s maiden trip to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Pakistan, we see OBL speak up from the dead. How convenient.

OBL & Zawahiri (in 2001)
OBL & Zawahiri (in 2001)

What lends credence to the beliefs of many, of OBL now inhabiting a Tora Bora on the other side of the mortality divide, is that the last video of OBL was seen in October 2004 (OBL’s messages) and all subsequent messages from OBL have been audio tapes or videos with a voice over. Thus, it is theorized that the man we now believe to be OBL is in fact an actor. More on this can be found here.

But whether this OBL is the real man, or whether he is a better and more improved version (OBL 2.0 or Osama Bin Elvis as Angelo M. Codevilla refers to him), the question that one should ask is this. Why is it that a man whose head carries a tag of more than USD 25 million has not been found yet? Surely someone out there would be so tempted by that figure. And why can’t the US (or any other country’s intelligence agencies) find OBL? In an era where you can see someone on the street of New York using Google Earth from Antarctica, is it really that hard to find this guy? Or is it just that everyone’s looking in the wrong place? Instead of the mountains of Afghanistan (or even Pakistan as some speculation goes), maybe the US Intelligentsia should be looking for OBL 2.0 in a desert 83 miles from Las Vegas.

Some Suggested Links

Is Obama Really Osama?
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? – Documentary
OBL 2.0 – A Terrorist Resurrected

OBL Dead – President Zardari

Pakistan: Traditional security challenges and response

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Majyd Aziz

A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

PAKISTAN is on the global radar nearly every day. The world leaders, the universal media, and the international analysts and think-tanks have their daily dose of news and views from Pakistan. The country has never been so embroiled in safeguarding its sovereignty and its security than in these intense and severe times.

EXTERNAL THREATS

  • GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR:

PAKISTAN has, over the past some years, become the flashpoint as well as the most important country in the Global War on Terror. The Al-Qaeda obsession, the fear of Pakistan’s strategic assets falling into the hands of militants and extremists, the Western penchant for containing political Islam, the ever-increasing thirst for Middle Eastern oil, the fascination with mineral resources in Afghanistan, the domineering and influencing China factor, and the fixated concern for the safety and defense of Israel, have all resulted into an ominous scenario for the Islamic countries, with the paramount brunt being borne by Pakistan.

  • MUSLIM BATTLEGROUND:

PAKISTAN has, directly or thru outside influence, become one of those Muslim countries that is now a battleground where the armed forces of various countries have joined as a coalition to achieve the American great game objectives enumerated above. The oft-repeated American mantra of “Do More” has created a deep chasm between the Washington’s flawed Af-Pak policy and the pragmatism of the High Command in Rawalpindi.

  • GEO-POLITICAL LOCATION:

PAKISTAN is in an unenviable geo-politically strategic location and is the sole Islamic nuclear power. It also borders China, India, Iran, and Afghanistan and thus any vibrations from these countries are strongly experienced within the borders of this nation. Pakistan’s international commitments to the Coalition Forces has put a disastrous dent in the already-strapped financial resources of the country, although since 2002, the United States has pumped in over US$ 10 billion in security-related support and nearly US$ 4 billion in economic support.

  • PROXY WAR:

PAKISTAN has also, for many decades, become involved in a proxy war between the two major sects of Islam. This has primarily been supported by Saudi Arabia and Iran thru financial resources, thru ideological guidance, and thru tapping of the myopic approach of the clergy of both the sects in Pakistan. This has also intensified with the rise of militancy and extremism that has played havoc with the peaceful internal environment of Pakistan.

  • INDIAN INTERFERENCE:

PAKISTAN has also been embroiled in the never-ending militaristic, propagandistic, and diplomatic onslaught by the traditional nemesis India. The non-resolution of the Kashmir issue and the atrocities committed in the Valley by the Indian armed forces, New Delhi’s skewed mindset for blaming Pakistan for every event or problem faced by India even if these are concoctions or perpetrated by third forces, the blatant interference in Balochistan by Indian-supported militants, and the demonic influence of India in instigating Kabul against Pakistan have played a disastrous toll on the resources of Pakistan.

WAY FORWARD

PAKISTAN policymakers have to juggle various options in order to maintain its relationship with the Coalition Forces and at the same time, address the concerns of citizens who see Pakistan being a pawn in what a former American National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, referred to as “The Grand Chessboard”. At the present moment, there is an exploding anti-American sentiment and its negative consequences are directed towards the political and at times the military hierarchy. The army is the last bastion of assurance for the people and thus this must be further consolidated and strengthened. This requires that a proper approach should be initiated by the GHQ in which the denizens of Pakistan are taken into confidence and the ground realities are presented thru a correct media approach. It is imperative that the population be mobilized, it is important that the country’s strategic assets must be modernized and deployed within a given time frame, the nation’s political elements must have the stamina and critical mass to generate diplomatic and moral support for the armed forces, and more importantly, trade and industry must provide the needed back-up thru mobilization of financial resources, thru international image building, and thru private–public partnerships in areas crucial for the military to become a potent power. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to be pro-active in economic diplomacy, in promoting a soft image of the country, and being aggressive in public international relations. This rethinking is essential in the countering the negative implications of external threats as well as removing the perception that Pakistan is subservient to Washington’s dictates.

INTERNAL THREATS

  • ISSUES:

PAKISTAN also suffers from the ignominy of being in a quagmire of internal problems that either are fallout from the effects of the external threats or are also self-created or self-generated due to non-resolution or diffidence to these issues in the past. These threats are as follows:

  • ECONOMIC FRAGILITY:

PAKISTAN has witnessed a severe economic downturn over the past couple of years. The nation has seen inflation inching towards the 20% mark while the State Bank of Pakistan is religiously increasing the discount rate in every Monetary Policy announcement. The unemployment lines are increasing daily while industrial investment has stagnated. Non-performing bank loans have breached the Rs 500 billion threshold, while the government keeps obtaining loans from commercial banks and the State Bank of Pakistan. The foreign exchange reserves are positive and at an all-time high, but at the same time, the external debt is over US$ 57 billion and growing. IMF has blocked the release of the next Tranche citing the inability of the government to undertake taxation reforms, specifically Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST).

  • NATIONAL NON-INTEGRATION:

PAKISTAN is currently facing the negative ramifications from various actions taken or ignored by successive governments especially in trying to achieve national integration. The hard stand taken by the Musharraf government in the Kalabagh Dam issue pitched Punjab against the three smaller Provinces. The Akber Bugti episode alienated a significant percentage of Balochis resulting in the influence of the Balochistan Liberation Army which itself became fodder for Indian and other countries’ manipulations and machinations. The renaming of NWFP as KPK brought Pakhtuns and non-Pakhtuns at loggerheads and the issue continues to create heartburns. Even the disastrous Lal Masjid imbroglio created rifts within the country. Recently, the exercise to amend the Law of Blasphemy has further vitiated the already traumatized nation. Punjab’s Governor became a fatal victim due to his vociferous views on this law. The obsession of various political parties to use the parochial card also aggravates the delicate environment. While PML (N) uses the Punjab Card, the PPP depends on flashing the Sindh Card to achieve desired objectives. Of course, the Raymond Davis problem is another gigantic headache for the government and other political parties.

  • SECTARIAN DIVERGENCE:

PAKISTAN also suffers from the menace of sectarian divide. The Sunni-Shia issue is exploited by inimical forces to create a disturbing law and order situation in the country. The Deobandi and Barelvi routinely fight over ideology and rituals and this has been intensified by suicide attacks on shrines and mosques. Ahmadis, Christians, and Hindus also face threats to their lives, property, and places of worship. Hindu families prefer migration to India rather than living in perpetual fear. Theocracy has managed to exert control over many aspects of daily lives of citizens. Unrestrained leeway is accorded to rabble-rousers who cash in on the misguided sentiments of people and use this to further their own agenda. The misuse of the Madrassahs has eroded the sanctity of these important learning institutions

  • ETHNIC POLARIZATION:

PAKISTAN is also facing suffocation due to ethnic distrust or ethnic hegemony. The emergence of ethnic-based political parties has further intensified this polarization. The country is still trying to figure out how many ethnic nationalities are dominant in the country. Turf wars between the land mafia or the drug mafia or even criminals are portrayed as ethnic clashes and this tainted colorization destroys civic peace and harmony. Karachi is a perennial hostage to the conflict created by the two major ethnic groups, each with its own vituperative agenda and blatant disregard for the consequences.

  • POLITICAL STABILITY:

PAKISTAN is endowed with juvenile politicians who are still unsure whether they have grown out of the influence of military rule since they still harbor the draconian tendencies and wield the proverbial machete on real or perceived political enemies. The concept of a democratic order is espoused ad nauseam and every action or statement against them is defined as an anti-democracy offensive. Opposition for the sake of opposition is the norm and the advent of talk shows on electronic media has further stoked up this instability and this infighting. Moral as well as material corruption has generally been the hallmark of a political government and this has ensued into a situation where institutions are brought to the precipice of disaster and where the country’s resources, whether these are financial, human, natural, infrastructure, or strategic are ravaged, plundered, and brazenly exploited.

WAY FORWARD

PAKISTAN is a country that in the past six decades has been subject to five or six wars, that has seen devastation due to floods and earthquakes, that has never reconciled to the fact that all its residents are Pakistanis firsts, that has seen political experimentation that has always boomeranged diabolically on the experimenters, and in the process, brought pain and sorrow to the citizens. What is imperative is a sincere effort to achieve reconciliation and integration that would usher in progress and prosperity, and would open new avenues of economic support and improvement in the quality of life for the citizens. What is essential is that intellectuals and social activists must ensure that people are motivated towards achieving a better and livable Pakistan rather than developing an apathetic mindset that gradually erodes every sense of nationalistic participation.

PAKISTAN has the largest percentage of youth in the world. 60% of the population is under 25 years of age. At this moment, the present, as well as the future, looks bleak for them. This negativism leads to resignation and that in turn impels them to drift towards anti-state elements who then use these young people as human cannonballs. The passion and energy of the youth have to be harnessed in a positive mode thru a visionary process that can be possible only when the policymakers themselves become immune to narrow-mindedness and parochial biases. The Armed Forces can play a prominent role in this respect. ISPR can initiate and finance motivational programs that can ignite the fire of patriotism, national integration, and challenges in the youth of today. The business community can contribute towards the development of the youth by supporting programs for entrepreneurship, for skills development, and for venture capitalism. The reason why focus should be on the youth is very logical. Nationalism and patriotism are forgotten words today. The youth of Pakistan must be steered on to the right path as they hold the key to the future prosperity of this motherland. Chinese President Hu Jintao, in his speech to the Chinese Parliament stated, “Let’s build a harmonious society in which the no-holds barred economic growth will be replaced with a more socially responsible form of development, with increased spending on education, healthcare and rural infrastructure”.

February 18, 2011

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.

Views expresses in guest posts are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of DiscoMaulvi and From The Pulpit…

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