Archive for the 'Politics' Category

What the war is about? (Part 3)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

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Courtesy: Daily Jang (08-Oct-2009)
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Long March: Another Historic Decision?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hearing the news that Zardari government has decided to restore judges, I was relieved; I was relieved because country was saved from going into turmoil and uproar by Zardari deciding to retreat from his stance. Watching live coverage of jubilations and celebrations; people dancing on the streets, distributing sweets, excitement was everywhere, I was thinking if all these excited will ever justice or they just have been robbed again in the name of Justice. I could not convince myself that this was all about independent judiciary.

Though everyone who supported Lawyers’ movement claims that it is a “Movement for Justice” but when it was started – March 2007 – most of its supporters including political parties joined this movement only because of their hatred for Musharaf; all who wanted to get rid of Musharaf used Lawyers’ movement as a platform. If it was a movement for Justice and its objective was to restore then sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar, it should have stopped after 20th July 2007 – the first “Historic Decision” – but anti-Musharaf elements kept it alive and used against him until he was made to leave.

Pakistan People’s Party was an integral part of Lawyers’ movement and used it successfully to keep Musharaf under pressure; however, it distanced itself from the movement after it got into power. PPP got what it wanted from being part of lawyers’ movement – they got public support and then got into power.

PML (N) was also actively involved in lawyers’ rallies and demonstrations but it did not approve lawyers’ decision to boycott election 2008 – Politically it was too much to give up for PML (N). They abandoned lawyers, APDM and others to participate in Election 2008 and then managed to form its government in Punjab. From there on, it again got involved in Lawyers’ protests and used it – and used it well – to keep PPP under pressure; it also got political fame by supporting the movement that it can encash in next elections. However, it did not use Lawyers’ movement to confront PPP government until Sharifs were disqualified and Punjab was put under Governor’s Rule.  Did they not want “Justice” before they lost their government and were made ineligible?

With show-of-power on 15th March, Sharifs’ were able to break a deal with Zardari where they will get Punjab government back, their disqualification decision will be reversed and a possible removal of restriction for becoming Prime Minister more than twice. And as a bonus, they also get the credit for Restoration of Judiciary.

Jamat-e-Islami could not get its political objectives (i.e. a mid-term elections) so their first response to PM Gillani’s speech is “It is not the restoration of 2nd November Judiciary”.  This may mean they will start protesting in the name of “Justice” unless they get what they want.

Imran Khan’s first response is “It will not be acceptable if the Judiciary is restored through a deal”. His statement refers to the deal between Sharifs and Zardari.

Lawyers also came out with cautious statement and some indicated to continue the struggle in the name of what they believe is right.

It is hard to understand for me as to how a common person will get justice when we have not changed the system. I do not understand how justice will come to a common person’s life “only” with Chief Justice Iftikhar’s “suo motu” actions. I do not understand how we can fight for restoration of a single “person” when we advocate about “strong” institutions. Last time we restored Chief Justice Iftikhar, the only thing he did was to confront Musharaf and Ch. Shujahat had to say “Hum jahan bhi jatay hain agay se Chief saab aa jatay hain” (wherever we go we are confronted by Chief Justice).

For me, we just have been exploited in the name of Justice; in the very same way when “Pope Urban II” exploited Christians to go in war with Muslims – the first Crusade – but the objective was to save Europeans from Muslims who were knocking at the doors – just next to Byzantine empire, in the very same way when Muslims were exploited in the name of “Jihad” and were made to fight in Afghanistan – the objective was to serve US interests and not to save Islam. For me people could not say “NO” when they were asked “Do you want Justice?” to become a part of Lawyers movement – a movement where each participant had its own objective; it was same as when Zia asked “Do you want Islam?” and no one could say no, same as when Mualana Fazlulla (Pakistani Taliban) asks “Do you want Shria?” and many of us could not argue with him.

In my opinion, the only Justice who got is the Chief Justice Iftikhar – who has got his office back – and set a trend for others to get justice by use of street power. Burning tires, looting public (and private) properties, marches with batons cannot be justified in any way – same as use of Police force on public rallies cannot be justified.  And this is why Sharifs disowned all violent actions of long marchers and their supporters.

I think the decision to restore judiciary is “Historic” ONLY because it has stopped Pakistan going into turmoil, it has cooled down the political temperature, and it has avoided the confrontation between political rivals that this country cannot afford at this time.

Only time will tell if this “Historic” decision will bring justice in people’s life, if “movement for justice” will not be revived with new demands, if chief justice will work on providing justice rather confronting with government and obliging those who helped him get back in his office, if legal complexities created by restoration will be dealt through dialogues and not on the streets, if Chief Justice’s supporters will accept all his decisions whether these will be in favor or against them.

War on Terror – Part 2: Political Parties and Media in Pakistan

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about public support in Pakistan for our role in “war on terror” and gave reasons for which Pakistanis – in general – do not confirm Pakistan’s role in this war. Today, I will talk about our Political forces and role of our media and its support to Pakistan’s war on terror.

Political Parties

Our political parties throughout the history of Pakistan have exploited this nation in the name of democracy – just to get into the power. They were never able to get public support but supported public anger, frustration and hatred (for rulers at time) to get the support. No political party has ever given an agenda to work on but just the popular slogans to bag the votes or to destabilize the government at time. Unlike in civilized countries – where “democracy” is implemented like a democracy, where political parties survive based on their policies rather personalities, where public issues are crucial  to win votes, where parties are not political dynasties – our  political parties ( generally) are like group of people who fight with rivals just to hang on to power or to get into the power. They do this in the name of democracy, in the name of “public interest” and yet there is no democracy in Pakistan and “public” fighting over “aatta” (flour). Our political leaders are creation of our hatred for others.

In 2001, the leadership of major political parties was in exile and – as we have parties based on the personalities – there was a political vacuum. However, the political forces – that were present in the country at that time – did not approve of Musharraf’s “u-turn” in our foreign policy – and those who did were insignificant. These political forces opposed our policy on this “war on terror” not because they had a better foreign policy but they wanted to get popular; as its normal for political parties to get popularity by opposing the government. For these political parties, there was no argument of being responsible or being patriot or being principled– though they claimed; their resistance to Pakistan’s policy was because of their hate for a dictator and to get support of angry public. It was time when they all should have got together and forgot their personal grudges, when they all should have thought about “Pakistan First”, when they all should have stopped scoring points against each other, when all should have shown the facts to the public rather sparking more anger inside them; unfortunately that did not happen. In their hatred for a dictator, they supported – intentionally or intentionally – those elements who are, today, challenging writ of the govt. everywhere in this country. 

Even today, after 7 years since 2001, these political parties are not in agreement for on policy and everyone is calling its own shots – mostly with motions only. It’s a shame. 

Media

About a year ago, I wrote “Pakistani Media, Freedom and Responsibility”, where I discussed about the responsibility of Media and its powers. I talked about how irresponsible our Media is and today, after a year, I still have the same opinion.

We talk proudly about our media for being “free” and “vigilant” but we forget that freedom and vigilance does not mean bringing distress to people, it does mean to demoralize the public.

If you do not understand what I am bragging about then watch this video clip that will put you in deep anxiety and may make you insomniac. And then watch this video that talks about the same situation – that first one does or may be worst – but still leaves you hopeful and optimistic.

That’s the difference a media can make, media can pull the morals high in worst situations, media can unite a divided nation on one issue and media can make people to take on their responsibilities. Unfortunately, our media doesn’t do any of this; all we see on our TV screens is that sparks anger in public, makes them more frustrated and depressed, makes them more divided and make them more violent. If you read newspaper, just looking at the reporter’s name, you can tell what the report would be? Who it would be against? Who would have been criticized? How sensational it would be? It is hard to find an unbiased opinion from these reporters (off course there are few exceptions). 

Media could have led us to unite on this “war on terror”, media could have presented the facts to people rather selling emotional videos and talk shows to the public, media could have done intellectual debates to set an opinion rather gathering a bunch of emotional people who were just against govt. policy on “war on terror” – and then calling it public opinion. In these 7 years in “war on terror”, all media did is to criticize our policy and to promote people’s anger and emotion; why wouldn’t they have done this, after all it was the selling product. They sensationalized every aspect of “war on terror” to sell it more to the public and a little importance was given to “being responsible”.

Whether you agree with govt. foreign policy or not, interviewing people like “Molana Fazl-ullah” (a militant leader in Swat) was never supposed to help in reducing militancy or in helping Pakistan to deal with militancy. Only a responsible media can ascertain as to showing what on TV can be of assistance in handling with terrorism that Pakistan is facing today. 

Conclusion:

With the aim of fighting crises that Pakistan is facing today – be it “war on terror”, economic or any other – both political parties and media will have to change their current policies.

Political forces need to sit together putting all their personal grievances back and devise a common policy to fight with current issue – if this goes against public emotions then so it is, explain people with facts and they will understand. Politicians need to come united to fight all these challenges that we face today – even if this demands a change in their “principled” stance on certain issues. 

On the other hand it’s time for media to start taking things with responsibility. It needs to start showing both sides of the pictures rather showing only what people want to see or only what sells best. Media needs to rise above any political party, group, movement, institution or anything and needs to start looking at things with an unbiased eye.

What’s next:

In the next part of this discussion, I will talk about Pakistan’s Policy (read: Musharaf’s Policy) and role of Pakistan army in this ”war on terror”.

Pakistan: Why PML(N) left coalition?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

When writing my previous post, I feared – like many others – that unnatural alliance of PML-N and PPP will break apart soon. Though it was expected to fall since its birth yet everyone wished for its success, hoped that those who were voted for change will bring something positive in this country, believed that these politicians – not leaders – have learned while in exile. Coalition breaking apart and two major parties going their own ways has started politics like 90s –politics with full of hatred and vengeance.

Apparently, restoration of judiciary was the main issue between two parties – PMLN and PPP to part ways; this is what PMLN is advertising to get more fame and to score against PPP – one must admit PMLN’s tactics to use the power of media. No doubt Nawaz Sharif’s stance on judges’ issue has earned him great fame and popularity but this doesn’t mean that PMLN is a party of principles. It also doesn’t mean that PMLN decided to sit on opposition benches because judges were not restored.

Judges’ issue would have been resolved long time ago if both parties wanted; both PMLN and PPP needed it to be unresolved for other reasons. It never has been an issue of principles for Sharif and Zardari. However, today’s post is not about judiciary or judges issue – I will write about it some other time.

Since February 18th – to be more accurate, since March 22nd – both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are following two different outlines. Asif Zardari, with a script from America, was busy in strengthening its govt. and getting things in his own hands; reconciliation with MQM, alliance with PMLN, JUI and ANP, Musharraf’s impeachment and not restoring judges was all milestones for his long term plan. He has played his card very cleverly – though at the cost of his and his party’s popularity. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif, surprised by his party’s surprise victory in February 18th elections, kept his eyes on the next elections. His all moves, including his stance on judges’ issue, alliance with PPP – without sharing responsibility of govt. failures – and his statements against Musharraf and America, were all to be in-cashed in next election.

After getting Musharraf out, electing a non-PPP president and restoring Iftikhar Chuadhary – not judiciary necessarily – Sharif’s next move would have been call for early election but Asif Zardari had different plans. Zardari gathered parties together and mounted pressure on Musharraf – with approval of foreign stakeholders – and got rid of him. Once Musharraf is out, it was logical for Zardari himself to claim presidency; considering his plan to grab power in his hands and powers that still reside with presidency AND considering PPP’s experience with Farooq Laghari in 90s. However, PMLN could not accept Zardari (or PPP nominated) president unless the president’s powers are clipped – especially 58-2(B), the power to dissolve assemblies.

Letting PPP to get a grip at presidency – with so much powers – was in direct conflict with PMLN’s plan – the plan for early elections.

How?

Zardari – (Co-?)Chairman of PPP – becoming president will make sure that PPP govt. will not be dissolved using 58-2(b) – President’s power to dissolve assembly. And with Army recently getting out of politics, America’s support for PPP and Zardari sitting in presidency will make it almost impossible for PMLN to get into election before year 2013 – when current assemblies completes five year term. On the other hand, if – somehow – we go into early elections and PMLN wins, as it is expected with growing popularity, to a majority to forms the govt., it will be under constant threat by president house. Zardari sitting in presidency, with 58-2(B) powers to dissolve the assembly will not let PMLN play easily. This is why least acceptable option for PMLN was to clip 58-2(b) off before PPP installs its own president. So it will be like a catch-22 for PMLN if Zardari is elected as president with all the powers remaining with him as they were with Musharraf.

Understanding this catch-22 for PMLN, it is not hard to believe that judges’ issue is nothing (or least) to do with fall of coalition but it was about a president who can or cannot send current govt. home – when PMLN will be looking for it. If independent judiciary was ever important to PMLN, Supreme Court would not have been attacked under Sharif’s govt. – and by Sharif’s folks. If Chief Justice Iftikhar was any important to PMLN, it would not have nominated a Judge – Justice Siddiqui – who had thrown his own Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah, out of office in 1997 – again under Sharif’s govt. Zardari’s broken promises also have nothing to do with PMLN parting ways from PPP as Sharif himself has a long list of his own broken promises – if one starts counting.

For people like us, it is all about politics of principles and about broken promises – that made coalition fall. And funny as it is that we – well, most of us – believe that.

Having said all this, nothing in this post justifies that Zardari is the right person for president to be elected. It also doesn’t justify any of the wrong doings of PPP – in present or past. This just to unleash PMLN – image that is hidden under untrue campaign of “principles”.