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Archive for December, 1992

Documenting the years of neglect

The golden years for industry in Pakistan were the Ayub Khan years when maximum development took place. Unfortunately it also created a small ruthless coterie of robber barons who were so greedy and unscrupulous that both the white and blue collar labour class had reached a stage of desperation in their attempts at getting their just dues. Swinging to the other end of the pendulum’s limits, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto exploited this deep-rooted frustration into a tangible vote bank that along with the division of the country into two independent wholes, propelled him into power in the western wing and he in turn nationalised everything in sight. While it is true that he gave labour a voice and also spread the public largesse among the favourites and the faithful in that order, by rampant nationalisation instead of a measured modus operandi he destroyed the years of economic promise and turned industrialist entrepreneurs into commercial entities. When production declines or becomes stagnant, so does the economy. In place of industrial and commercial managers, he put in selected bureaucrats and technocrats, the numbers heavily weighted in favour of the bureaucracy, the selection based more on loyalty than ability. This created a new class of “commercial” bureaucrats who had motivation for profit for themselves rather than for the State.


What really constitutes state terrorism

The only country in the world, other than Israel, to have acquired land through conflict or intimidation after the end of World War II is India. Israel has the excuse at least that in some of their conflicts with the Arabs they pre-empted imminent aggression and thus were not the aggressor per se. In the South Asian sub-continent, India has openly coveted (and/or made designs to take possession thereof) before actually annexing their neighbour or their prime real estate. In every incident of aggression, care was taken to garb the nakedly expansionist moves under some camouflage or the other.

The first to fall into India’s grip was Kashmir, the legal subterfuge used was the Maharaja’s Letter of Accession. This was followed by military intervention to annex Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manawadar in 1948. In 1960 it was the turn of the Portuguese possessions of Goa, Daman and Diu in a farcical war. The smaller princely states of India were just taken over lock, stock and barrel at the appropriate time. As the world started to look askance at naked aggression, India turned increasingly to subterfuge. In 1968, they formed the Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) whose main purpose at that time was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh, in this they were actively supported by the Border Security Forces (BSF) whose Deputy Director General (DDG), in this case Brig Pande, was based at Calcutta with an alternate HQs in 91 BSF at Agartala for operational purposes.


Assessment of the economy

Pakistan’s economy has been in a transient state for the last couple of years because of the far-reaching liberal reforms enacted by the Nawaz Sharif Government. The revolutionary changes have taken place during a time of world recession and thus we have been passing through a difficult economic period. Despite the continuing law and order problem in the Province of Sindh (reduced considerably now due to the Army’s intercession over the past six months) and other factors affecting steady economic growth, an ingrained resilience in the economy has ensured that the transition period has not been inordinately effected and the predicted economic disruption has been avoided because of a combination of good economic management and divine Providence.


The wrong march-II

Who was it who once said, “We have met the enemy and it is us”? If they look in the mirror, the PPP might find their own worst enemies.

It is a fair bet that nine-tenths of the time these financial weasels may have misused Asif Zardari’s name. Ms Benazir may not have had anything to do with any of this and she may have been duped as has been done by other life partners to their spouses, but given the facts after the event, does she really believe the protestations of innocence or is she just brazenly defying the facts, knowing that the Pakistani public has a notoriously short memory? She is undisputedly one of the better leaders that this country has produced. For her sake and for that of the country one hopes that she will put her own house in order.

The 20 months of her rule is marked with failure mainly because she had set free hopes that were beyond her to accomplish and because the establishment was most uncooperative. As Prime Minister she seemed to become seemingly arrogant and aloof, even to the most diehard among her party’s inner circle. She created committees to submerge those among her Party faithful that she never wanted to hear about or from. No solid programme emerged except to try and undo the years that the PPP faithful had spent out in the wilderness. While it was right that she should assuage their bruises, it could not be done at the cost of public credibility in government.


The wrong march

The modest inception of the Pakistan People’s Party in 1967 in Lahore did not seek to hide its ambitious goals. With its catchy slogan, “Roti, Kapra aur Makan” representing socialist ideals and its charismatic leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, both catching the public imagination, the party confounded the Establishment by taking the majority of the seats in the then West Pakistan in the 1970 Elections, barely three years after its founding. A disparate crew of dedicated leaders with widely differing backgrounds made up its hierarchy and gave it a consummate national colour, though its main electoral base was (and remains) the Provinces of Punjab and Sindh. By all means of measure this was a creditable performance, made possible by the political sagacity and leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

On coming to power, Bhutto initially tried to follow the high ideals envisaged at the founding of the Party and implement that programme that he had outlined in his electoral campaign. In doing so he managed to achieve two totally different objectives, viz (1) the PPP gave a voice to the common man, particularly the worker class which had been stifled by the “robber baron” attitude of our industrialists during the Ayubian industrial reform and (2) by rampant nationalisation the PPP undercut the foundations of the burgeoning Pakistan economy and set it back almost two decades. Bhutto also managed to free corruption from the hands of the few and set patronage loose among the many, distributing the largesse among the party faithful, using that linkage to keep key people within the party faithful.


Crossroads Pakistan

Over the past two years momentous changes have taken place, the world map is still being continuously reworked as new countries emerge out of the memories of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and some even earlier than that, e.g. Macedonia (Skopje). With Stalinist communism’s iron grip loosened, the countries of Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain quickly acquired their freedom and in some cases proceeded to further split from their artificial nationhoods. Yugoslavia has split asunder bloodily and is still doing so, Czechs and Slovaks have chosen to divide following a more peaceful route, other new nations are waiting in the wings to come onto the international stage. The Soviet Union, having lost control over its servile and subjugated former “allies”, itself split into a dozen or so republics comprising the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). These new Republics are having their own problems keeping intact, exposing the hollow unity that the Soviet brand of communism had wrought throughout the region it held fiat over.


Turning of the screw

The basic premise of any democracy is that all citizens are equal in the enjoyment of their fundamental rights, the freedoms of expression, beliefs, worship, etc. To quote Alfred E. Smith, “Law, in a democracy, means the protection of the rights and liberties of the minority”, unquote. In utter contempt of the Supreme Court edict enjoining the Indian authorities to protect the premises of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the UP State Government stood back as the religious sentiments of the Muslim minority were trampled by the Hindu mob that reduced the mosque to rubble, exposing the farce that goes by the name of a secular democratic India.

Ayodhya was not an incident waiting to happen, this was deliberately stage-managed. The Indian Federal Government well knew that the para-military forces assigned by the State Government to secure Babri Masjid against any damage had no intention to do so, they were well informed by their intelligence sources that plans for the destruction of the mosque were in place and about to be executed. This makes them as culpable as the State Government, even accomplices in this great crime. Now that the old Babri Masjid has been destroyed, the Hindu aim has been accomplished. What good does it do for the Muslims that the debris has been reclaimed bloodlessly? What sentimental value would a new Mosque have for the Muslims, particularly when the Ram temple installed by the Hindu fanatics on top of the debris is still in place? What is the use of banning the virulent extremist organisations like the VHP after the event? Were the Indians deaf to the blatantly anti-Muslim inflammatory rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that was unambiguous in vociferously announcing the imminent perpetuation of this deed?