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Rameez Raja recently made some suggestions how to attract good quality players for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and to resolve the problem of low spectator turnout in the UAE cricket stadiums.  His contention is that in PSL “each team has to stay under a predetermined salary cap set and cannot go over the budget – a restriction that keeps the absolute cream of world cricket away from the league”. The open auction system instead of the present draft system for player recruitment does have some merit. Teams pay a fixed price for each player purchase in the draft system i.e. with fixed wages instead of the preferred method of open bidding as done in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the other Twenty20 leagues. Attracting some of the best international cricketers, an auction will encourage each team to make an extra effort to get the best players. Big names in the teams will give cricket lovers that much more incentive to go to stadiums and see their favourite stars in action.

Rameez Raja’s other suggestion on how to fill up the near empty stadiums in Dubai and Sharjah by “hiring international tour operators to take fans from Pakistan to the UAE” is not only shocking, it is sheer and utter nonsense.  As one of the handful of Pakistanis “acceptable” to the IPL, was Rameez campaigning on someone else’s behalf to keep the PSL from ever being staged in Pakistan? Can foreign exchange-strapped Pakistan (US$ “spiking” from Rs 110 to 115 only yesterday) afford such luxury as their cricket-starved citizens spending hard earned foreign exchange on hotels, meals and taxis in cash-rich Dubai for nearly one month long tournaments or even only the few days when their favourite teams are on display with only about stadiums less than 10% full, even on Thursday nights and Fridays. Flying Emirates, Etihad or Fly Dubai, would 15000 from Pakistan fill even half the capacity of the UAE stadiums? Can Dubai and Sharjah Stadiums financially survive without the PSL funding them for 31 out of 34 PSL matches? Given the Pakistanis’ love and passion for cricket, one can safely guarantee that stadiums in Pakistan will be 100% full. Just look at the crowds for the “Eliminators” in Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium, someone please get me some tickets in “black” for the Karachi Final! The huge rentals for UAE Stadiums should be diverted to improving stadiums in Pakistan.

Even the 3 out of the 34 matches in the HBL PSL’s 3rd editions played in Pakistan provided some solace to our cricket hungry fans. Earning substantial revenues from the PSL, PCB spends a huge amount on travel, boarding and lodging plus other administrative expenses in the UAE for players (local and international), team officials, contingent of PCB officials and staff members, etc, etc. Add the expenses of the players, team officials, team owners, their families/friends, sponsor’s officials, staff members, TV engineers, crew, helpers, etc. Add also the Pakistanis travelling to Dubai for the PSL on their own. Rameez Raja could well be UAE’s Roving Ambassador, trying to augment the oil-rich, tourist-rich Gulf economies at the cost of Pakistan.

PCB direct expenses in UAE notwithstanding, count the direct and indirect expenditures and huge savings in foreign exchange. The amount that PCB spends hosting the event in the UAE would be at least ten times more than what the tournament would cost in Pakistan and would directly and indirectly economically boost local economy. With capacity crowds cheering the players for every match, PCB will earn more revenues than what it does in the UAE, this enables them to possibly double or even triple the amount of money and provide more incentives to foreign players to play in Pakistan. Moreover PCB’s overall profit of $2.6 million from the first Twenty20 League and around $6 million earned from television rights and gate money would increase significantly if the PSL is played in Pakistan.

To Najam Sethi’s credit, other than staging the PSL extravaganza, it would be fair to say that the PSL really has produced a good amount of talent in just 3 years. This can be force-multiplied many times over like the IPL has done for the Indian cricket team. There is wealth of untapped talent waiting to be discovered. With people coming to see their stars in action, if the tournament is held in Pakistan, the Sponsors’ message will also get increased exposure. A PSL on Pakistani soil will prove to be a huge boost in helping revive international cricket in Pakistan, a win-win situation for everyone involved.

More than any other sport cricket arouses widespread emotion.   The frenzy and enthusiasm of the Lahore crowd on Mar 20 and 21 said it all, it was stupendous.   Sports capture the dormant patriotism and evokes it to cement the unity of the nation.   Would this fervour be any less in Quetta, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan, Islamabad, Hyderabad, etc? For a country scarred by long years of terrorism, the collective activity of cheering for one’s teams and favorites will both heal and bind the nation.

More importantly despite Pakistan paying a heavy price in the “war against terrorism”, what is the perception the world gets by not holding the PSL in Pakistan? Despite all the heroics and ultimate sacrifice of our brave soldiers this graphically suggests that our security establishment is not confident about preserving the peace in Pakistan.  In effect PSL being staged outside Pakistan is an adverse propaganda against Pakistan’s national security, the irony is that PCB is inadvertently funding anti-Pakistan campaign to the world that Pakistan is still not safe for sports. No wonder this provides international cricketers with a tailor-made reason for not coming to Pakistan.

A team of global security experts had reviewed the security preparations for the Final to be held in Karachi. With thousands of troops, military helicopters, armed police and guards earmarked to ensure the safety of foreign players, they had expressed complete satisfaction that the arrangements met with international standards required for foreign teams to visit Pakistan.  Considering this green light once PCB makes the PSL lucrative for foreign players, they will come to Pakistan.  Najam Sethi has done a tremendous job providing Pakistani cricket with a world class stage to showcase its talent. Being on record that he hoped the entire 2019 tournament would be played in Pakistan, Najam must oversee the transition for the tournament to be played in Pakistan. No more PSL’s abroad please!



The ruling coalition says the Senate elections has been ‘stolen’ from them, the Opposition panel winning far more votes than expected. You can ‘steal’ things from a person only when he owns it, did Nawaz Sharif already “own” the Senate before the elections actually took place? Having purchased the votes are they now upset that they didn’t get their money’s worth? With Nawaz Sharif’s (and Maryam’s) very unique and weird understanding of democracy that election results prove court judgments right or wrong, they have every reason to be shocked by the opposition winning. That logic would confirm that the judiciary was right in disqualifying him! This Senate controversy has been force-multiplied by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by conveniently bailing out the PML-N candidates by letting them run as “independents”. What rot! With their nomination papers being subject to challenges, is the Senate legally constituted?

The Senate’s indirect elections has been under severe  criticism for years because of the vote purchasing going on unabated over the years, it continues as a horror story for those really interested in the progress of democracy in Pakistan. Can anyone explain the travesty why it resembles the un-elected House of Lords rather than the directly elected US Senate? Modelled on this British system where our National Assembly is directly elected and the Senate is not, our present version of democracy is colonial, feudal and farcical, only selectively democratic. The Magna Carta eleven centuries ago proved that it is in the DNA of the feudals to make promises that can be easily broken without fearing any accountability. Blatantly camouflaging their inherent feudalism over the centuries as a “democracy”, the British successfully call theirs a “constitutional monarchy”.  To counter the widespread anti-German protest in Britain during World War I, the royalty persisted with the “constitutional royalty” fraud by changing their very German “Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” name in 1917 to the more British-sounding “House of Windsor”. The basic principle “of the people, by the people and for the people” was mutilated by our “democracy” being intrinsically more flawed than a “constitutional monarchy”. Why do you think that our “democratic” feudal leaders never allow the “Local Bodies” to function? Being scathingly critical in The Telegraph in Aug 2015 Leo McKinstry could well be talking of the indirectly elected Pakistani Senate, “the continuing survival of the Lords is an indictment of the cowardice and inertia in British politics. Such an obese, obsolescent body should have no place in a modern democracy. …. every argument used to justify its existence is wrong. Its supporters like to pretend that it is packed with wise elder statesman, brilliant experts and distinguished public servants. This could not be further from the truth: most if its members are souped-up councillors, political apparatchiks, failed MPs and party donors.” Subject to fraud and manipulation, indirect election is an enduring disgrace which only serves to perpetuate feudalism, an insult to the concept of democracy.

Indirectly elected individuals becoming the electoral college for an indirectly elected president further corrupts the system. Most high officials in the Roman Republic, including members of the Senate, came from a few wealthy and noble families. A minority of powerful Romans got overwhelming control through a system of gerry-mandering. Our indirectly elected Senators not having claims to electability because of their popularity, competence and/or integrity through universal franchise, are they really any different from the 20 centuries-old Roman Senate?

While we stopped short of making Senate seats a ‘birthright’ of some people, indirect election seems to be the second worst option. Over the years Senate seats have been used by the leaders of our political parties to accommodate their favourites or reward people for favours already done or expected from them later. This undemocratic practice fosters corruption, nepotism and favouritism to be a part of Pakistan’s political system. Criticised by all over “democratic” parties the Senate Elections 2018 has graphically shown why the electoral process needs correction.

Giving an equal representation to all four provinces is not enough. To successfully fulfil their tasks towards good governance the Senators need to have a precise understanding of the Federal System in Pakistan and why it doesn’t function well. They not only need to know all rules and regulations for running a proper Senate meeting but extensive experience in public service, professions or other qualifications that enable them to work efficiently and achieve change in their terms in office. Given the manner candidates for Senate seats are “selected” and then indirectly “elected”, horse trading of the worst kind calls the whole process of democracy into question. There is demand for reforms in the Senate election for an open ballot system and direct elections. In addition, the Senate has to be made more meaningful by giving it budgetary oversight.

Although the Senate was conceived to be a forum for representation of provinces, it has become a representative of political parties which is contrary to its intended task. That was demonstrated by this election of the Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman with the political parties dealing and wheeling who would support which candidate, the names of whom were withheld until the last minute. The conduct of the Senate Elections 2018 records how weird the understanding of what democracy is in the heads of our politicians, and how it has to be implemented. The Senate elections has cast another shadow on our political landscape as well: the forthcoming general elections. One can only hope that the buying and selling of loyalties does not symbolise the way the next general elections (whenever) will be fought. Nawaz Sharif having declared that the electoral vote is the real judgment about his conviction by the Supreme Court will go overboard to prove himself right. By doing so he may well upset the proverbial apple-cart of democracy in Pakistan.

Instead of the traditional “doctrine of necessity” route the Armed Forces usually follow to “fix” things, the present circumstances makes it justifiable for the superior judiciary despite the patience exercised by them to apply a judicial ‘doctrine of necessity’. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s concept of combatting “clear and present danger” inculcates the spirit of the law rather than blindly following its wording. Can one give blind adherence to the Constitution when democracy is used as a camouflage to deliberately criminalise society? Because of one’s bounden duty and obligation to do what is morally right for the nation and its people, it is not only dishonest to take refuge in verbatim interpretation of the words of the Constitution but cowardly, too.



This adverse media focus propagating perceptions quite contrary to reality about the “Calibri Font” is meant to discredit the allegations of alleged forging pertaining to trust deeds in which Maryam Nawaz figures prominently.  This concerted “whitewash” campaign implies that Robert Radley, the forensic expert who analyzed the trust deeds, accepted in cross-examination that while the Font came into commercial use in 2007 it was possible to be used in 2005.  Other than the normal paid hacks even credible analysts are being used to propagate a coloured version of the witnesses’ statements, engaged in making of fake news real and real news fake. This deliberate misreporting has swayed great many people who were once convinced that the documents were forged and that Maryam had plainly committed perjury. Goebbels would have been proud!

The video-link testimony and cross-examination of the two witnesses, the Prosecution/Investigation team by the two defence counsels took place in the actual presence in the premises of the Pakistan High Commission London on 22 Feb, 2018.

The first Prosecution Witness (PW) Robert Radley is a forensic expert and belongs to the Radley Forensic Document Laboratory. Established for over five decades ago, this practice is one the longest existing private independent laboratories in UK dealing exclusively in the forensic examination of signatures, handwriting and the general forensic examination of documents. It deals with the examination of questioned documents for a variety of courts in the UK and abroad, both Civil and Criminal. Not an ordinary run-of-the mill institution, it has to be extra careful about its credibility. Areas of examination include: (1) signature examination to determine authenticity (2)  handwriting identification (3)  identification of ESDA impressions (electrostatic or indented writing impressions on documents from other documents) (4)  sequence determination of writing/impressions (5)  nondestructive differentiation of inks (6) printing/typewriting comparisons to determine common sources (7)  determination of common sources of photocopies (8) identification of alterations, page substitution etc (9)  deciphering of erasures and obliterations (10)  determination of sequence of writings (11)  dating of documents (12)  paper examination. Radley Laboratory also assesses reports of other experts, commenting, supplementing and, if necessary, criticising the same so that clients can fully appreciate the significance of the evidence presented.

Radley deposed that he received a copy of set of two trust deeds from “Quist Solicitors” London, one pertained to Neilson & Nescol {BVI Companies) owning Avenfield properties, whereas the other pertained to Coomber {BVI Company) comprising of 03 pages each. The forensic examination of the two trust deeds revealed that pages no. 2 & 3 of two deeds were identical. Moreover the deeds clipped with eyelets were appeared to be removed with some instrument and re-locked again. Further the two trust deeds also bore multiple staple pin holes, however the number of staple holes on top pages of two deeds and below appended pages were different, leading to the finding that the subsequent pages were substituted. Radley further deposed that he could also determine the relative age of staple holes on top pages and subsequent pages of two deeds if court allowed him to unlock the eyelets. The notarization date on both the deeds were found tampered and the date digits of 2006 were actually 2004 which was tampered to 2006. He was sent another set of two deeds subsequently comprising of fine coloured copies (provided by JIT submitted by accused while their appearance before JIT). The Coomber deed was different from the previous one whereas the Neilson/Nescol deed was identical to the previous one.

Cross-examined Radley stated before 2007 there was no commercial use of the Calibri Font and that it would be impossible for anyone to download the Calibri Font in 2005 without a particular “software engine” which could only be operated by IT experts, etc.  Even then it would take quite some time to do this.  Why should it be used especially for one particular trust deed?  Why not for others?

The Defence cross-examined Radley about the Calibri Font {one of the program of Windows Vista software). The PW explained that the beta version (prototype) of software was introduced in 2005 purely for trial testing by restricting it only to licensed IT expert, hardware manufacturer for rectifying bugs, problems, etc.  It was commercially launched on 31st Jan, 2007 for usage purpose, hence prior to that it was not available for regular/routine usage.   While explaining this he was referring to his research notes. The Defence objected to the PW reading his notes.  Radley replied that he was authorized to do so under British law and that he also discussed his research notes with the Prosecution team before. Whereupon, the defence then made a cardinal mistake by asking for the copy for their cross-examination, this became marked as evidence. On being read out his testimony, Radley objected to two narrations wrongly attributed to him. The judge corrected these after going through the video recording and confirming Radley’s contention.

The second witness Raja Akhtar recorded his statement covering his commentary on Orders of Queen’s Court London regarding Al-Tufeeq litigation (involving Avenfield Properties) and his correspondence with Notary Public Jeremy Freeman, who notarised/witnessed the alleged two trust deeds in 2006. He had sent an email along with scanned copies of two trust deeds, notarized by Freeman, raising queries regarding the notarization date and fulfillment of other pre-requisites while notarizing the deeds. Freeman responded that he notarized the documents in the presence of Hussain Nawaz and Mr. Waqar (Manager of Hussain Nawaz). Raja Akhtar emphasized that the close analysis of the two alleged trust deeds prima-facie revealed forgeries and that was why he referred the matter to forensic expert on the instructions of JIT.

Given the power that the placement of ads has influence over the media whether printed as news, comments, opinion, services, etc, the recent ads opposing each other’s stance published by the APNS and the CPNE highlights how payment for ads placed by the govt never reaches those  media considered anti-govt.  This has driven the “disloyal” print media to bankruptcy, conversely the “loyal” media in connivance with govt has the power (and financial clout) to twist facts into fiction.   This indulging in such malpractices must be investigated by a JIT and other than being jailed, should be blacklisted from having anything to do with the fourth estate.

Misrepresenting court proceedings is a crime, the actual version of events had to be brought on record so that white collar criminals, with financial clout and/or influence out of the ordinary, should not be allowed to get away with their committed criminal acts.



Arrested on Feb 22 by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for corruption in the Ashiana Housing scandal under Section 2 of the Schedule of NAO, 1999, Ahad Cheema, formerly Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Chief and now heading Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power Limited, had failed to appear before  NAB twice despite summons. Showing flagrant disrespect for the rule of law this BPS-19 officer rudely questioned with rank insolence NAB’s laws, competence, etc. This blatant arrogance is a sorry manifestation of having Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, newly elected Interim President PML (N), as a most powerful patron.

Cheema’s guilt is for NAB to prove, however in a most dangerous development his arrest drew a sharp reaction from a handful of the vested interest in the all-powerful Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), previously the District Management Group (DMG), the most coveted administrative service groups of the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP). Vociferously orchestrated by Punjab’s Additional Chief Secretary, Umar Rasool, a handful of PAS and Punjab Management Services (PMS) officers locked down their offices on Feb 23 to protest “Cheema’s unlawful arrest”. Instead of condemning,  PML-N members of Punjab Assembly joined the protest and passed a resolution against NAB. The other two Additional Chief Secretaries, including Maj (Retd) Azam Suleman, incharge of the Provincial Home Department were not part of this calumny.  Chief Secretary (CS) Punjab Zahid Saeed ostensibly had no active role in the “pen down” strike, could the protesters have the audacity to run afoul of the Punjab ESTA Code 2013 indulging in sedition without the CS’ benign silence? The stakes have force-multiplied with Shahbaz Sharif and the PM’s all-powerful Principal Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad being “mentioned in dispatches” by NAB in the Ashiana scandal.

Then PCS officers filed a Constitutional Petition in 2010 in the Supreme Court (SC) (still pending), wherein besides other issues blue-eyed boy Cheema’s illegal posting, then BPS-18 to a BPS-21 post, was challenged. According to rules the promotion of an officer is stopped even if an enquiry is pending against him. Consider why was Cheema  incongruously promoted to BS-20 contrary to the rules the day after his arrest? His educational qualification, MA in Mass Communications, has no relevance with the thermal power company of which he is the CEO.

The “strikers” threatened and cajoled their PAS colleague and PMS, (previously the Provincial Civil Service (PCS)) officers to join their illegal protest. Only a handful of PAS (about 18 out of 250, less than 10%) and about 18-20 PMS officers out of 1400 (less than 2%) joined in.  Individual protest because of genuine grievance can be condoned but a deliberate collective attempt from the very heart of government to threaten and intimidate others makes it mutiny, pure and simple, and incitement thereof. An overwhelming majority of PAS and PMS officers displayed tremendous discipline by remaining loyal to the institution despite dire threats from the influential strikers. To their credit the Punjab Police hierarchy led by the IG refused the mutineers’ incitement to take armed action against NAB officials, this could have escalated into violence. Many eminent legal counsel labelled this as outright treason. My good friend Aitzaz Ahsan said, “Imran Khan may or may not be a ladla (spoiled brat), they were “Bigre ladla” (misguided brats).

Everyone who participated in the strike should immediately be suspended. Did bureaucrats resort to defiance of the rule of law and good governance in this fashion in Balochistan, Sindh, and KPK when officers were arrested over corruption charges? Who and what is the mutineers’ motivation and influence thereof needs questioning. With Nawaz Sharif berating the judiciary (and the Army) in most derogatory language for months, this was inevitable as a desperate final ploy. Bureaucrats close to the Sharifs feel they are above the law, rumours are that this mutiny was initiated on behest of the Sharifs to test the system. Those taking part in the mutiny must be investigated for living beyond their known means of income. Projecting the strike as “total” and “peaceful”, what were elements in the media paid for propagating the blatantly fake news that gave a public perception of outright revolt against NAB’s actions? On the other hand, to stop NAB or the SC being pressurized, retired civil and armed forces personnel in a show of unity and patriotism voiced their opposition to the unlawful boycott and offered their services to replace the mutineers without any remuneration.

Criminal Penal Code (CrPC) 196 bars legal proceeding in cases against state officials based on FIR only and requires a formal complaint in the court by an officer formally nominated by the govt (Federal or Provincial) depending on the jurisdiction. Can this happen with complete control in the hands of the criminals themselves? CrPC, Ch-6, Sec 124-A the charge of sedition, comes closest to incitement. Not responding to NAB’s repeated summons tantamounts to considering oneself above the Law, the State and any prevailing order in the Country. Section 31 of NAO pertaining to prohibition to hamper investigation lays boundaries because of which Umar Rasool and Shahbaz’s other “blue-eyed” can get rigorous imprisonment upto ten years. Officials of PAS Group indulging in misconduct ran afoul of Punjab Esta Code 2013, the rules of business and the oath administered upon them. NAB can lodge an FIR against the mutineers under section 189 P.P.C and 186 P.P.C for causing obstruction to discharge of public functions by NAB’s officers, leading to imprisonment and heavy fines as a future deterrent for other politicized bureaucracy. NAB has all the evidence it needs to indict the mutineers for consciously, deliberately and with malice, compromise, hamper, mislead, jeopardise and/or derail an inquiry under process before NAB. At the very minimum they should be tried for mutiny, or incitement to mutiny thereof, etc.  NAB’s magnificent performance, particularly NAB Punjab’s, must be commended, NAB Chairman Honourable Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal must stay the course!

No mean coincidence that 100% of the mutineers were known Shahbaz’s blue-eyed bureaucratic coterie? Could they act without the blessings of the Interim PML (N) President? Has he condemned it? Devoted to serving the people a skilled, motivated and efficient civil service with professional ethos is an effective mechanism for good governance. Those who plot against the State and resort to mutiny must never be allowed to remain in government for even one day. The crime against an individual can be condoned but anything against the state tantamounts to destroying the whole edifice and razing it to ground, the country will head into anarchy if action is not taken immediately.



With general elections due somewhere after mid-2018, the expectations of the people and the stakes thereof has evolved dramatically with the political scenario changing almost on a daily basis. The Supreme Court (SC) verdict voiding Election Act 2017 and thus disqualifying Nawaz Sharif as party head has confounded all elections predictions by throwing what amounts to a monkey wrench into the electoral process.

In the NA-120 bye election held in Sept 2017 Begum Kulsoom Nawaz of PML-N polled over 61000 votes defeating PTI’s Dr. Yasmin Rashid’s 47000 votes. Ali Khan Tareen, son of PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen who held the Lodhran NA-154 seat before being disqualified in Dec last, received over 90000 votes but lost by a considerable margin to PML(N)’s  Iqbal Shah.      Lodhran was a significant PML(N) victory, for the PTI a major upset in a stronghold from where Jahangir Tareen’s margin of victory in 2015 was almost 40000 votes. Even with PML (N) dominant, expectations for mostly a straight PML(N)-PTI fight in the Punjab will change. There is now likely a late PTI surge to coincide with defections by the disenchanted in the PML (N) camp, this process force-multiplying after Nawaz’s convictions in the PanamaGate case.

Sindh’s rural areas remain a strong support base of the PPP. Except for individual PML (F) exceptions, PPP’s candidates have won every election hands down since the party’s inception in late 1967, this despite not bringing about any major change in the lives of the common man. The backing of the entire administrative machinery makes pre-poll rigging very much a certainty. With the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) becoming a laughing stock and in a meltdown, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) of former Mayor Mustafa Kamal, stands to gain. The joker in the pack be-devilling PPP is Rao Anwar who Zardari inadvertently confirmed as his rumoured “hitman” by labelling him “a brave kid” in a recent interview.  There was method in Zardari’s seeming madness publicly sending a message of support to Rao Anwar, his possibly turning “approver” adds to Uzair Baloch as a Zardari nightmare! Unfortunately Rao Anwar’s Catch-22 is that his detractors want him alive to face trial but his “friends”, and there many in the Sindh Police, want him dead.  Given the sorry history of witnesses against Zardari being murdered, not surprising that knowing this “routine” this “walking dead man” has done the disappearing act, from friend and foe alike.

Nawaz Sharif’s recent massive election rally in Peshawar notwithstanding he cannot overtake PTI in KPK. Following the PML (N), JI and JUI (F), PPP and Aftab Sherpao’s JWP may get the odd seat or two. Without an outright majority, PTI may well continue with a coalition govt with the JI. In our first-past-the-post system the loss of Nawaz the “vote getter” as opposed to Shahbaz Sharif the “doer” in the campaign trail will be badly felt by the PML(N).  Even given that they still get maximum seats in the Punjab, PML(N) will need the PPP and independents to form the govt in the Center. While the once-vaunted PPP may not have far more than a dozen seats or so, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto has come of political age, being “re-launched” post Davos 2018. Interviewed by an Indian publication while attending the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos recently, he vowed critics by deftly answering some very loaded questions.

The recent run-up to the Senate Elections shows that manipulation and horse trading of the worst kind is the order of the day. Former Speaker of the Senate Wasim Sajjad has expressed forcefully that there must be direct elections to the Senate. An indirect election is always riddled with corruption, the whole process of democracy being called into question. The PML(N) faces a potential electoral disaster in the Senate by taking an emotional instead of a calculated risk by having the Senate applications signed by Nawaz Sharif, conceivably all PML (N) Senate aspirants could have their papers declared “void”. Subject to legal challenges, one can be sure that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will bail the PML (N) out somehow.

During the hearing of   whether a person disqualified by the SC can head a political party, some remarks were passed by the Court, the PML (N) is militating against this. Across most country judges do pass such remarks but what is relevant is the contents of their eventual judgment. While he was eloquent about the right of Parliament to enact laws without direction from anyone, implying the Supreme Court (SC) (and maybe the Army?).  The PM’s parliamentary initiative out of the blue was certainly a desperate attempt at a pre-emptive strike.  While he was correct, Shahid Khaqan should have added that it is also the moral and bounden duty of the SC to strike down laws repugnant to the Constitution.  On Wednesday last the SC gave a fitting reply by exercising “their” prerogative under the Constitution to strike down Election Act 2017.

Convicted or not, Maryam Nawaz is clearly not acceptable to the hard core PML(N) loyalists like Ch Nisar Ali Khan who has openly called her “inept to hold office” and that he will “not work under her”. Those who know her or have worked with Maryam do praise her political acumen and other qualities, unfortunately in public perception she comes across as a spoilt brat. Logic demands Shahbaz becomes PM but Hamza’s taking over as Chief Minister (CM) Punjab will be opposed by cousin Maryam with Shahbaz unlikely to trust Punjab to anyone else, he will most likely stay on as CM. The PML(N) will have to compromise like they did earlier in choosing as stopgap Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PM Abbasi has surprised everyone, people generally across the board are more than happy with his commendable performance. Some hard-bitten foreign journalists asked me in Davos, “where have you been hiding him?” If the Establishment continues being comfortable with him, he will be the odds-on choice to be the next elected Prime Minister.

Given our bleak financial circumstances and other national headaches general elections may be delayed till September, or maybe even October. However the present political momentum and the damning court verdict gives PML (N) adequate reason for the elections announcement to come sooner than later, maybe soon after the Senate results, the elections being held 90 days thereafter.  Is electioneering possible during Ramzan and the heat? God may then well listen to the fervent prayers of all Pakistanis to rid us of the looters and murderers proliferating in our political leadership



On Feb 13 at about 1210 hours an armoured cash-in-transit (CIT) vehicle of a private security services company was parked outside the Tarnol branch of Meezan Bank in Islamabad to pick up cash amounting to Rs. 14 million from the bank . As the two security guards, Supervisor Muhammad Afsar and Armed Guard Muhammad Safoor Khan came out of the branch carrying two satchels full of money, they were attacked by five dacoits. Safoor (a former NCO from Air Defence), who was carrying the satchels, received a bullet in his chest when fired upon at point blank range (a later autopsy showed the bullet wound tearing the side of his heart).  As the dacoits tried to snatch the bags he turned even though gravely wounded, ran towards the bank branch with the satchels containing the money in his hand. The critical injury notwithstanding, his first instinct, developed through weeks of pre-job training and hundreds of hours of valuable experience gained while on the job, was to carry out his assigned mission of protecting his responsibility at all costs. Safoor collapsed and died just 20 feet short of the door of the bank.  What words can describe this selfless attempt to fulfil his prime mission?

Seeing this opportunity the other dacoit tried to grab one of the two bags but the Supervisor Afsar (formerly a Naib Subedar from 8 AK) acted quickly, firing a round on the dacoit he managed to snatch the bag back.  Taking hold of the other bag from Safoor who by this time had died, he started running towards the bank. One of the dacoits shot at him hitting him in the groin, badly injuring Afsar who nevertheless managed to enter the door of the branch where he handed over the two bags to bank officials. Only then did Afsar collapse gasping in pain and discomfort. The bullet is still lodged close to his femoral vein, surgically difficult to dislodge.

Supervisor Khalid (ex-16 FF) protecting the CIT vehicle had in the meantime engaged the other dacoits, Driver Noor Khan seeing his colleagues in danger left the safety of his vehicle contrary to the SOP. In the melee the dacoits left empty-handed, the prompt action by the CIT crew had saved the day. The bank’s cash was intact but it came at a heavy price from a dedicated professional who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Safoor gave his life and Afsar was injured. The bravery, dedication and commitment displayed by the crew was extraordinary. Their performance in an extremely dangerous situation was exceptional and exemplary. The injured Afsar could just as easily have stood by and watched while the armed dacoits took the bags and escaped, no one would have censured or blamed him, it being a matter of life and death. His partner had already died having already done his bit.

While it will not be fair to comment on the action, or the lack of it, of security guards on duty at the Bank’s branch, the fact is they did nothing to try and come to the support of our CIT guards even as the sordid episode was being played out. The first instinct of any good security guard would have been to challenge anyone trying to steal the bank’s money and if shots were fired, to respond in the same manner!

This incident highlights how given the right leadership and good governance environment Pakistanis are truly exceptional. Many have left their mark by demonstrating an unwavering commitment to their profession, and our success has been achieved through their aptitude and sheer hard work fully exploiting their capabilities. Risking their lives on many occasions only underlines the exemplary character of our uniformed personnel. Besides being a hardworking and industrious lot, Pakistanis are brave, patriotic, honest and dedicated to their responsibilities. Men with courage exist in all countries but not in the exceptional numbers as Pakistanis. A typical Pakistani is exceptionally so!  The Army’s rank and file is universally recognized as being among the bravest and most professional in the world.

An important trait of a security guard is that he must be honest, he should also be self-motivated to keep clients safe and secure by maintaining professional integrity.  He tries to represent the company and client to the same standard of quality they represent themselves. Whether he works at a bank, an office building, or residence, etc, a security guard has the vital responsibility of being vigilant and steadfast in protecting his responsibility.  Due consideration must be given to lives of personnel performing such security duties. These personnel must have adequate firearms training, including regular live firing. Because of the lack of proper oversight procedures, this aspect is again given mere lip-service, untrained guards without adequate experience of handling firearms are a hazard for themselves and those they are meant to protect without training and experience of how to react in such situations.

Our three guards (and the driver) performed well beyond the call of normal duty even when outgunned and outnumbered against five desperate dacoits who were willing to kill. The brave sons of the soil who were shot were both ex-servicemen, one was with us for 10 years while the other had service of over15 years. Their outstanding commitment and devotion to duty is a matter of great pride for us. Endowed with qualities of bravery, honesty and responsibility, their response exhibited these qualities to the fullest. Two days earlier guard Amin prevented a client being robbed outside Summit Bank in Karachi in the Bank’s car park by scaring off the dacoits by firing warning shots. Considered to be ordinary and lowly individuals, these security guards have stoic courage and are dedicated to their profession beyond the normal calling. Their overwhelming sense of duty secures a peaceful environment for our many clients.

Our unsung armed uniformed personnel carry out their assigned duties, unnamed and unrecognized, their performance saves precious lives by putting themselves in harm’s way. They have very little reward except for their salary and at times, overtime. Disregarding their personal safety they invariably display commendable initiative and courage when faced with very threatening situations. They are a selfless lot, not complaining but being satisfied with what they have and striving always to perform beyond the call of duty. One’s heart is filled with pride in having the selfless devotion to duty of such remarkable men of courage.  The rhetorical question, what have we done to deserve the loyalties and dedication of such magnificent men?



Truly independent and impartial the World Economic Forum (WEF) is not tied to any special interests or groups. WEF’s Annual Meeting at Davos presents a unique once-a-year opportunity bringing together the world’s most prominent politicians, Heads of State and/or govt, business and industrial leaders, policy makers, academics and scholars, scientists, philanthropists, social workers, media personalities, etc under one roof to discuss and shape global and regional agendas relating to economics, health, environment, media, security, and a host of other topics. CEOs of multinational corporations mingle with world leaders and A-list celebrities to discuss a range of topics such as the global economy, commodity prices, environmental issues, etc. The Forum produces a series of research reports and engages in a number of initiatives that seek to tackle global challenges through public-private collaboration.  Typically, more than 2,000 people are invited to attend, participate, or cover the event.

Pakistan’s signature event is the traditional PAKISTAN BREAKFAST hosted jointly by PATHFINDER GROUP and DOW MARTIN GROUP. Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the Chief Guest at the event being held since 2002. Pakistan faces a serious crisis of image internationally, the Pakistan Breakfast has been successful in dispelling the negative perception before a very precocious audience. PM Abbasi’s performance was above par, he  was on the dot when he said, “There are two Pakistan’s, one is on the CNN and the other is the reality” reflecting that at times the international media has shown bias in very quickly disseminating any news that paints Pakistan is a negative manner. The many positive and good aspects of Pakistan are unfortunately overlooked or misreported many times. The PM commented that the huge gap between perception and reality was bridged to a large extent by forums such as the Pakistan Breakfast. The guests at the event meet with senior Pakistan leaders in every walk of life to exchange views with a world audience in a very candid manner.

People from at least 35 nations were in attendance numbering at least 250 braving the early morning cold at what has now become the traditional venue, the Steigenberger Belvedere. Much before the PM had arrived the hall was full to its capacity at 8.00 in the morning. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto’s presence, made even better was graciously acknowledging by PM Abbasi at Breakfast 2018, democracy was the winner and was acknowledged as such by those who attended the function. The Pakistan Breakfast is meant to project a Pakistani’s soft and positive image and as an attractive venue for investment. Considering that in 2017 the Breakfast with Gen (Retd) Raheel Shareef the Chief Guest was a mega hit, Breakfast 2018 was a very special occasion, matching if not surpassing last year’s success, with positive feedback and enthusiasm by attendees. Questions were raised in 2017 about the direction in which Pakistan was heading in as a democratic entity, this time around the event progressed smoothly in a totally non-controversial manner, appreciated very much by the Davos crowd.  The PM spoke in a very frank and forthright manner about the challenges facing Pakistan, the potential and opportunities for investment. Guests from Singapore, the USA, UK and Japan were especially interested about the security challenges being faced by Pakistan and how it could affect regional stability. The optimism and confidence displayed by PM Abbasi while elucidating Pakistan’s future outlook and in answering some very direct and probing questions in a totally unruffled manner was appreciated and received positively by the gathering of a very knowledgeable crowd.

The PM was kind enough to acknowledge the contribution being made by Pathfinder Group and Dow Martin Group every year to raise awareness about Pakistan’s many aspects and projecting a positive image of their country. He also endorsed the views expressed by the Chairman Pathfinder Group about keeping the public sector out from the management of the event, saying rightly that involvement of the public sector would spoil the spirit of organizing the event, irrespective of how expensive it was for the private sector to arrange such events at Davos.

Another important aspect of the Pakistan Breakfast is that it has now become a platform for people of various walks of life to get to know each other and interact in a closed and informal setting. With participants being heads of mutual funds, big conglomerates, chartered accountants, and notable social celebrities and media owners, the Pakistan Breakfast succeeded in portraying a strong message about Pakistan’s positive image.

During his two day stay in Davos, PM Abbasi addressed a panel consisting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun, Caixin Global Managing Director Li Xin, Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, AECOM CEO and Chairman Michael Burke, Singapore Minister Chan Chun Sing and China National Machinery Industry Corp Chairman Ren Hongbin. Later on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting he held meetings with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Chief Executive Officer Tadashi Maeda, Uber CEO Dara Khowsroshahi, Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke, Siemens AG CEO Joe Kasser, Mitsubishi Corporation Chairman Ken Kobayashi, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) CEO Ishige Hiroyuki and Trina-Solar CEO/Chairman Jifan Gao.

Davos presents a huge potential for Pakistan, unfortunately it has never been adequately represented at this forum on a consistent basis. In contrast the Indians have a contingent of over 200 top entrepreneurs at Davos, promoting their country and selling their  wares. The global village has become increasingly inter-connected and fast-paced with technological breakthrough, demographic shifts and political transformations having far-reaching societal and economic consequences. With the world becoming so fluid and changeable, leaders will have to share real-time insights and innovations on how to best navigate the future and inter-act positively on a plethora of issues. Pakistan needs to do more to communicate its case to the world given that it is a greatly misunderstood country, the initiatives taken every year by Pathfinder and Dow Martin groups on their own need to be boosted to be more effective. The handful of Pakistani businessmen that come to Davos cannot shoulder the burden of projecting Pakistan. While a Pakistani Head of State or of Government needs to represent Pakistan Davos every year, private sector participation also needs to be drastically expanded if we are to take advantage of commercial opportunities that can be networked in Davos and government-to-government interaction without the restraints shackles of red-tapism and protocol.

Where else would the PM have had an opportunity to hold discussions with so many top executives of global leader companies and organisations, except in Davos?



Employing more than 40000 workers, Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) was a gigantic force-multiplier for employment downstream in directly contributing to the national economy. Once a prized asset, the PSM now resembles a black hole and a burden on the economy, successive govts failing to capitalise on its potential. When Lt Gen Sabeeh Qamaruzzaman took over as Chairman PSM in Jan 1992 it was overstaffed, labour unions supported by political parties were a challenge to the management. Curbing union activities, the first savings Lt Gen Sabeeh effected were in overtime, incentive, medical, transport, etc. Within 18 months, he brought down total expenditures from Rs 223 million to Rs 165 million per month. In 1994 the mill ran at its highest ever production capacity of 95%, producing 1.04 million tonnes of steel that year. Despite Lt Gen Sabeeh’s successes, the upgradation endeavour failed because of poor contractual obligations and safety barriers with the Russian company entrusted to undertake the contract. By 1999 this vital project slid into anarchy.

In May 2006 PSM’s privatisation by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia Al Tuwairqi Group was reversed by the Supreme Court (SC) after protests by PSM employees, its unions and segments of civil society on grounds that the selling process was hasty and ignored profitability.           PSM’s freefall really started with the PPP govt coming into power in 2000 and the appointment of the most corrupt Chairmen ever, Usman Farooqi the brother of Salman Farooqi, a very close aide (Secretary General) to ex-President Asif Zardari. The already depleted resources were pushed to a point of no return through wholesale plunder and scavenging, the proceeds of corruption going to political benefactors using tainted officers, suppliers and vendors within PSM. Violating all norms of pre-procurement regime, contracts were signed with suppliers on exorbitant costs creating opportunities for kickbacks and commissions.

According to an Aug 19, 1996 article in The Washington Post “Beleaguered Benazir Bhutto” jointly written by Kenneth J. Cooper and Kamran Khan, “Last November, Bhutto promoted Usman Farooqi to be Chairman of Pakistan Steel despite evidence he had forged his educational certificates and purchased fake business and doctoral degrees from an unaccredited college in the United States. An internal investigation by Pakistan Steel in 1993 found that Farooqi had not earned a college degree but completed his higher education at technical schools in London and Pakistan. In the first eight months of Farooqi’s stewardship of Pakistan Steel, he made below-market deals that cost the state-run company about $140 million, according to two reports by its top executives. In January, for instance, the steel company lost $6 million by selling one of its prime products at more than one-third below the prevailing price. In May, the firm purchased five precision instruments from a Karachi supplier for more than $700,000 when the going rate was about $4,000.” Unquote.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) undertook twenty three inquiries particularly of the Usman Farooqi era from which eighteen references were prepared for the misuse of authority. Finally convicted to seven years rigorous imprisonment (RI) and disqualified for 21 years in two references, he entered into plea-bargain with two references, surrendering assets worth in excess of Rs. 330 million that he acquired illegally. He was somehow able to get bail after which he was neither seen nor heard from, managing to escape incarceration. Without someone with powerful connections helping him he could not flee the country while still on bail with criminal cases against him. If he was in Pakistan why did the authorities not find him? How he has escaped attention for many years remains a mystery. What was the quid pro quo?

Combination of four pronged strategy revolving around offloading shares, handing over management control, divestment and selling assets can be effectively applied to attract potential contenders for privatization of PSM. The restructuring however, emerges as a necessity to ensure post privatization viability. The pluses like exponential real estate value of PSM due to its location and skilled manpower do place it at a better bargaining position for privatization  as regards value to money is concerned. The employees’ laid off package has to be attractive to avoid politicisation of the issue in the election year.

After the plunder done by Farooqi, efforts to turn around PSM’s fortunes failed. Lt Col Muhammad Afzal Khan who took over in 1999 did manage to achieve a bit of success but he died prematurely. Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum took over the PSM that was still tainted with charges of corruption and in a state of disrepair due to bad management and lack of capital investment. Qayyum did excellent work managing to clear it of debts and to his credit signed an agreement with Transparency International (TI) to remove any stigma of corruption associated with the organization but because of ageing units and very poor maintenance the process of its downward slide could not be prevented .

The NRO rescued many culprits involved in plundering PSM and accumulating wealth beyond known sources of income. Annulled by the Supreme Court (SC) as violating the Constitution but the NRO’s beneficiaries continued enjoying and subsequently were even able to manage their cases through friendly NAB prosecution.  NAB announced in Dec last year it would “conduct a detailed inquiry into the PSM’s collapse to identify those responsible and to ascertain whether or not its collapse was part of any conspiracy”. Since June 2015 all operations in PSM have shut down, it is incurring loss of approx Rs. 1.4 billion each month. When the incumbent PML-N govt assumed power in 2013, PSM losses and liabilities stood around Rs. 200 billion.

If one were to focus responsibility, as the person most responsible for bringing about downfall of Pakistan’s largest and extremely profitable industrial unit, Usman Farooqi could not manage to evade NAB without somebody influential hiding him. Held accountable Usman Farooqi would have been a timely example for others to heed. The question is, who was hiding Usman Farooqi, and what was the consideration? The morally depraved person who thus helped Farooqi erode justice thus caused great loss to Pakistan is still influencing decisions in the corridors of power. The real question is, does NAB have the commitment to hold this morally despicable scoundrel accountable for his baser urges, are we resigned to this conspiracy of silence? That is the crux of the problem, what is the personal motivation of a very powerful bureaucrat continuing to protect this time-bomb ticking at the heart of future investment in Pakistan?



The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland is a major creative force for engaging top leaders from across the world to undertake joint action relating to events for shaping the global, regional and industry agendas.  Having attained a reputation for great integrity, WEF is not tied to any political, partisan or national interests, it is “committed to improving the State of the World”.

Over 3,000 leaders from business (representing hundreds of WEF member corporate companies), govt and international organizations, civil society and religious organizations academia, media and the arts converged in Davos from 23 to 27 Jan. This year’s theme was “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, one of the aims being, “The fractures that have emerged politically, economically and socially must not foster intolerance, indecision and inaction. The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting therefore aims to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of the world”.

Top global leaders, in addition to the US President included our own Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Indian PM Narendra Modi, Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, British PM Theresa May, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Argentina President Mauricio Macri, Brazil’s President Michel Temer, PM Norway Erna Solberg, PM of Sweden Stefan Löfven, and Lebanon’s Council of Ministers President Saad Al-Hariri. Among the Royals were King Abdullah-II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The global business sector was represented by, among others, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandburg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty were among the dozens of others.

PM Abbasi was accompanied by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister of State Anusha Rahman. Unlike last year when former PM Mian Nawaz Sharif did not address any of the 400 or more sessions, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was among the five panelists who spoke at the “Belt and Road Impact” session on Jan 24.Pakistan is partnering China’s high profile initiative through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), this focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, Europe and China. PM Abbasi also interacted with heads of States and govt in a special session of the Informal Group of WEF leaders (IGWEL).  Meeting with many govt and business leaders in bi-lateral sessions his focus was on encouraging the private sector to invest in Pakistan.

PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the Chief Guest at the traditional PAKISTAN BREAKFAST hosted jointly by PATHFINDER GROUP and MARTIN DOW GROUP. The PM was quite eloquent about the present economic and security situation, the geo-political changes taking place in adjacent regions, its effect on the region and Pakistan and what a game-changer and an economic force-multiplier CPEC is to Pakistan. What was very noticeable was his confidence and comfort, particularly in the Q & A Session, in which he was not flustered despite repeated searching questions. It was a great honour for Pakistan that the Chinese guests requested that their Ambassador in Geneva say a few words.  The high point of the PAKISTAN BREAKFAST was the presence of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.  24 years earlier I was privileged to accompany his mother as her aide in Davos inside the Congress Center.   I have never ever seen charisma like hers ever in Davos.   PM Abbasi graciously acknowledged his presence, what a great day for democracy!

This year the PATHFINDER GROUP and MARTIN DOW GROUP took a private sector initiative establishing a small but representative Pakistan Pavilion in the GREENHOUSE of the Hotel Panorama. The first in WEF history, the intent of the Pavilion was to showcase PAKISTAN’S image in a soft and positive light. This experimental initiative was a walk-in affair where Pakistani entrepreneurs/officials in IT media, Financial Services (including microfinance and financial inclusion), philanthropy, etc were available to interact with international investors, experts and officials.  . On both the days, speakers from Pakistan spoke about Pakistan’s economy, gender empowerment, law and order situation, etc.   At the invitation of Ikram Sehgal and Jawed Akhai, Dr Ishrat Husain journeyed to Davos to speak about the challenge and the opportunities in Pakistan.  At a dinner at the Schatzalp on Tuesday among those who spoke were Shabbar Zaidi of Ferguson,  Dr Daniel Ritz of PTCL, Jerry Torres of AES Torres (USA), James Rubin former US Press Secretary to the President, Dr Marc Siegel of California (USA), Dr Huma Baqai, Ms Sidra Iqbal, Mr Aamer Mahmood of CPNE, Ambassador Zamir Akram, SPD, Jawed Akhai and Zarrar. Among those who braved the cold were Saifuddin Zoomkawala, Wamiq Zuberi, Fawad Rana, etc.

Pakistan’s private sector was represented by Javed Akhai, CEO Martin Dow Chemicals, Hussain Dawood, Group Chairman Engro Corporation Ltd, Saad Hamid, CEO Demo Enterprises, Dr Sania Nishtar, Founder and President Heartlife, my son Zarrar Sehgal Deputy Chairman Pathfinder Group and Ali Siddiqui, Vice Chairman JS Bank. Special Assistant to the PM, the person responsible for the PM’s visit to Davos. Davos presents a huge potential for Pakistan, it is imperative that Pakistani political and business leaders rethink the importance of participating in the WEF Annual Meetings. The global village has become increasingly inter-connected and fast-paced with technological breakthrough, demographic shifts and political transformations having far-reaching societal and economic consequences. With the world becoming so fluid and changeable, leaders will have to share real-time insights and innovations on how best to navigate the future and inter-act positively on a plethora of issues. Mostly bi-lateral meetings do benefit Pakistan but our negative image can only be erased by casting a longer “soft” shadow over the Davos world stage.

The overwhelming consensus among the world’s rich, powerful and/or knowledgeable is that the WEF Annual Meeting at Davos truly remains the most important economic and socio-political event in the world calendar.  WEF’s mission to “improve the state of the world” means engaging top global leaders to collaborate in shaping the global, regional and industry agendas. Davos gets your narrative not only heard but understood, while going there is important, to make it happen you have to be heard in public sessions. A handful of Pakistani businessmen at Davos can never shoulder the burden of projecting Pakistan. Davos is a unique opportunity to showcase Pakistan, it is imperative that our major business leaders use the Davos platform to be counted as the outstanding entrepreneurs they are.



As its youngest and first ever Pakistani Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) to head the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from 1957 to 1965, Air Marshal Asghar Khan is eulogized not only for his professional acumen but also for the national significance he achieved. His vision and honesty, integrity and commitment to his mission were just a few of his attributes. Conducting himself both in military and civil life in the highest traditions of an officer and a leader, he was a source of national inspiration. A man of honour with conviction in his beliefs and a seeker of truth, this outspoken and blunt Pakistani tried many times in his political life to being light into the darkness that Pakistan has been shrouded in through most of its existence. He was only one of three senior military persons who opposed a military solution in East Pakistan in 1971, the others being Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Khan and Col SG Mehdi. Maj Gen Ghulam Umar, than National Security Advisor to Gen Yahya, did suggest a conciliatory approach in Gen Yahya’s inner circle, this sane voice was drained out by the hawks.  Unfortunately when Ashgar Khan died on Jan 8 this year, the country moral compass was in far worse shape than when he entered politics almost 50 years ago.

Listening to Quaid-e-Azam’s advice speaking to a unit of the (than) Royal Pakistan Air Force in April 1948,“….Pakistan must build up her Air Force as quickly as possible. It must be an efficient Air Force second to none and must take its right place with the Army and the Navy in securing Pakistan’s defense…….. But aircraft and personnel in any numbers are of little use, unless there is a team spirit within the Air Force and a strict sense of discipline prevails. I charge you to remember that only with discipline and self-reliance can the Royal Pakistan Air Force be worthy of Pakistan,” From the fledgling unit flying mostly WWII aircraft, Asghar Khan molded the PAF into tremendous fighting entity. The professional and disciplined force the Quaid envisaged proved its mettle when tested in 1965, getting the better of an enemy having many more sophisticated aircraft and weaponry.  Numbered among the world’s very best air forces, PAF is renowned for its fighting capabilities and professional competence. The Quaid would have been proud that at least one of his aspirations of the country he created seven decades earlier come true.

A straight shooting person of rare qualities, Asghar Khan persevered with the criteria of merit and qualification in matters of promotion or posting in the PAF, and later in PIA, to quote Wikipedia, “ensuring that the best qualified officers needed to fill the key appointments, particularly in the combat units.” While he ruffled feathers he never wavered from the high principles and values he held himself to.

Never taking undue privilege of his rank and status, this officer and gentleman from the old school diligently followed rules and etiquette that are no longer fashionable, almost a rarity today. He retired on July 23, 1965 because even though he was the PAF Chief, he (and the Naval Chief) were kept in the dark about the impending launch of the disastrous “Operation Gibraltar”. Another capable and outstanding aviator Air Marshal Nur Khan succeeded him, under his leadership the lean, mean fighting machine that Asghar Khan built drastically changed the balance of the 1965 war with India into our favour.

As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PIA after retirement, Asghar Khan transformed it into a highly profitable organization. Inducting new fleets of modern jets he opened up new air routes, giving a new look uniform to cabin crews.  Boasting the lowest accident rates, PIA earned the highest net profit and became one of the most competitive airlines in the world. Along with Nur Khan’s tenure later as Chairman this was a golden era for PIA, the airline literally living up to its slogan, “Great People to Fly With!” Thereafter the national airline went to the dogs, becoming associated with nepotism, corruption and inefficiency. PIA now exists solely for the benefit of whoever happens to be running the govt, oblivious to the losses incurred worth billions year after year. It provides gainful employment to scores of supremely incompetent and uneducated political sycophants who are at best leeches.

A strong opponent of military rule and a believer in fair play. Entering the political arena in 1968 Asghar Khan led many anti-Ayub campaigns in both the wings of Pakistan. Opposing Gen Yahya Khan’s subsequent Martial Law, he returned the national awards bestowed upon him in protest. Forming the Tehreek-i-Istiqlal (TI) in 1970, he contested the 1970 general elections but failed to secure any seats in Parliament. During ZA Bhutto’s rule, he was a major figure in the Opposition, allying his party with the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Called ‘a prisoner of conscience’ by Amnesty International (AI) after being incarcerated under house arrest from 1979 to 1984 for opposition to Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s iron rule, his political career did not lead him to the corridors of power.

To quote the late Ardeshir Cowasjee in July 2002, “As an old-time officer and a gentleman to his fingertips, as an honest man of moderate means, and as a man who genuinely wished to do good by the poverty-stricken, uneducated of this country, there was no way, no way at all, that Air Marshal Asghar Khan could succeed as a politician of Pakistan, given the environment, the atmosphere that prevails and the mindset of the majority”, unquote. Having served with distinction, sincerity and integrity he paid quite a stiff price for his beliefs and views. Asghar Khan will remain a prime example of why it does not pay to preach and practice morality in politics in Pakistan.

Purchasing the Defence Journal (DJ) from Brig A R Siddiqui on the advice of Brig Tafazzul Siddiqui, one felt it needed having a respected ex-serviceman of some stature as CHIEF PATRON.  While among those servicemen that I looked upto as my role models were, other than my platoon commander in PMA Lt Gen Imtiaz Ullah Warraich, Lt Gen Lehrasab Khan, Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan, Maj Gen Hedayatullah Khan Niazi, Brig Muhammad Taj SJ & Bar and Col SG Mehdi, for me the only option was the Air Marshal.  After a thorough consultation with Col SG Mehdi, the Air Marshal Asghar Khan agreed to come on to the Defence Journal’s masthead as its CHIEF PATRON.  Even in death he will remain alive in DJ.