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Archive for August, 2002

Private Security

For many years, successive governments have tried to reform the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in Pakistan. For the past decade they have also been trying to regulate private security companies which first came into operation in Pakistan in 1984 but really started proliferating since 1986. While this government must take credit for enacting Ordinances to purpose, no individual deserves more credit than the present Federal Minister for Interior, Lt Gen (Retd) Moinuddin Haider, who broke the bureaucratic logjam and kick-started the process five years ago when he was Governor Sindh under the PML (N) regime. Credit must also go to Mr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, present Sindh Finance Minister, who in the space of one short meeting erased most of the difficulties the draft Ordinance posed for a couple of years. Private security has made a solid contribution to nation-building as a significant support to the LEAs in maintaining law and order and reducing their workload. Moreover employment has been provided to khaki collar workers who would otherwise find it difficult to get jobs once they were over their service with the Armed Forces.

In a historical sense, private security has come a full circle. In a feudal society the concept of private security has not changed in thousands of years, in today’s modern world the same principles apply. Tribal chiefs, clan chiefs, etc paid private bodyguards out of their own pockets, it is the same today. Private security as an organized commercial entity came to Pakistan in the early 80s with a Joint Venture (JV) between a Pakistani and a US company, known primarily for its Cash-in-Transit (CIT) services. Between 1984 and 1986, there was a virtual monopoly of all private security in Pakistan by this one entity. As per the law of nature, the absolute domination of one single person over private security in Pakistan faded and despite his desperate underhand efforts through use of bureaucratic influence, by 1987 other companies had started to come on-stream. Today that foreign company is history in Pakistan. The number of letters this despicable individual wrote to government agencies against his competitors was not only crass commercial malfeasance but must be a world record in character assassination.


Making the Constitution Workable

Within hours of the unanimous approval of the 1973 Constitution by the elected representatives of all the Federating units of Pakistan, “fundamental rights”, the very soul of any Constitution, was held in abeyance. If then PM Bhutto had a legitimate reason for the immediate suspension, then the Constitution was unworkable and in need of suitable amendments to make it fit for governance of the country on an equitable basis. If on the other hand, the suspension was simply to gag the opposition to Bhutto and his PPP government, then it amounted to a civilian coup de d’etat which was violative of the Constitution. Civilian or military, it does not matter, suspending fundamental rights goes against the tenets of any Constitution. Always the wily politician, Bhutto got away with something that may have been legally correct but was morally wrong. For 15 years these rights remained suspended till restored by late PM Mohammad Ali Khan Junejo, in the meantime many amendments substantially changed the character of the original document, there always being “the doctrine of necessity”. The 1973 Constitution in its purest form certainly cemented the Federation in the aftermath of 1971 but was not geared for smooth governance, suitable amendments were required. Without going into the history of the amendments made and reasons thereof, some were done in good faith in keeping with the genius of democratic environment prevailing in the country, in many cases the speed and the manner of their passing through Parliament symbolized the bad faith manifest in them.

Contrary to public opinion, the 1973 Constitution has not been overhauled and defaced as some have suggested, it has simply been made more workable. Having involved a set of proposed amendments duly crafted by the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB), the military regime assessed the depth of the opposition and the motivation of the protest, and to their credit, the government has withdrawn almost two-thirds of the proposals. Therefore, what Gen Pervez Musharraf unveiled last Wednesday was that the National Security Council (NSC) was the bare necessity required to ensure that military interaction would cease in future in direct form and that a mechanism to gauge the issues and debate it in higher council (where the Armed Forces would have some say but not VETO powers) would be put in place. All the other amendments were under the Legal Framework Order (LFO) 2002 and were necessary to ensure that democracy would have some future on its return to Pakistan and would not be subject to intrigue and conspiracy as in the past, or repeated military intervention thereof.


The Quaid Goes Electronic

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the man responsible for the awakening of the muslims of British India and for carving out a nation out of an exploited and subjugated minority so that they could live in a country of their own and have their own cultural, religious and national identity. Never has one single man had such an impact on the course of events in history, he gave the muslims of India the reason, coherence, expression and then the direction for the creation of a separate muslim nationhood and a separate muslim state out of nothing but hopes and aspirations. Indeed the Quaid was a man of a great stature, blessed with a vision and a dynamism that saw the ultimate realization of the dreams of millions of muslims. Initially he was an advocate of unity between hindus and muslims but ultimately the machinations of the hindu leaders (and the British) and the sorry plight of the muslims convinced him that such a unity was not possible as they were two distinct nations having their own religion, ideology and culture.

It is indeed strange and sad that in this era of computer technology there is very little content available on the Internet on the Quaid and whatever little there is, it certainly is not enough. No official site exists. It is imperative that all aspects of the Quaid’s life and his never-ending struggle for the creation of Pakistan be made available in such a manner that easy access can be possible and maximum benefit can be derived. With this in view the Jinnah Society launched the first ever CD Rom and Website on the Quaid in an impressive function at the Governor House, Karachi on 12th August 2002. The CD Rom has been designed and developed by Enabling Technologies, Karachi who have also developed CD Roms on Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the 50 Years of Art in Pakistan. The Sindh Governor, Mohammadmian Soomro was the Chief Guest and Mr. Sharifuddin Pirzada was the Guest Speaker. The CD Rom has been based upon the Jinnah Anthology which was also compiled and edited by Mr. Liaquat Merchant who is the Quaid’s grand nephew and President of the Jinnah Society. The CD Rom, although based on the Jinnah Anthology has more content to offer as it also contains additional material such as articles and speeches of the Quaid and impressions and personal recollections of the Quaid’s contemporaries and a superb photo gallery which give it a more special flair. Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Yousuf Haroon, Justice J.A. Channa, Princess Abida Sultaan of Bhopal, Sahabzada Yaqub Ali Khan, Ata Rabbani and Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada dwell on their personal memories of the Quaid while impressions are given by Beverly Nichols, Lady Wavell, Aga Khan III and a host of others. Stanley Wolpert has presented a new tribute to the Quaid, Akbar S. Ahmad writes about what he calls Jinnah’s “Gettysburg Address”, Liaquat Merchant presents a study while S.M. Burke presents a historian’s perspective on Jinnah but there is much more. Some of the material contained in the CD Rom has never been published before and whatever was published was not easily accessible to the readers.
There is no doubt that this CD will be a source of great utility specially for students and for the younger generation who do not have access to such information at the present time other than books or whatever little information that exists on the Internet. Mr. Liaquat Merchant rightly said that it is imperative that the younger generation be made aware of the struggle that went into the creation of Pakistan and about the Quaid. In order for the CD to be available to everyone 10000 CDs are to be produced initially for sale in Pakistan and abroad. This is a most welcome step and will certainly be beneficial to many.


Crunch Time

That this military regime has been able to manage good governance as much as a basically corrupt system will allow without the formal declaration of martial law is no mean achievement. Yet in not being able to bring the Bhutto-Zardari combine and the Sharifs to justice as promised at the beginning of their tenure, the Musharraf government have managed to resurrect the fortunes of those who should have been politically dead and gone. The eloquent official waxing about our present rosy situation notwithstanding, what we have today is a political morass without great future for the country. Economically, we are far better off than on Oct 12, 1999, sound reforms and Sep 11 combining with really good monetary policies of the State Bank of Pakistan to provide a good base for economic resurgence.

Living in a glass house, the Choudhry Shujaats of this world do need the discretion of a front man, relatively clean (but nevertheless a nonentity outside of Lahore) Azhar is custom-built to take the heat, and if the electoral manipulation being blatantly done by the civil administration succeeds, odds – on favorite to be our next PM. Is this what Pakistan deserves? All the print and electronic media (barring PTV) have confirmed that the Choudhrys of Gujrat have Tariq Aziz as a friend, obviously he carries greater clout than Lt Gen Hamid Javed, the other Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the Chief Executive. It is no secret that Tariq Aziz kept National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cynosure away from the Choudhrys. If Tariq Aziz was a corrupt, inefficient person, this would have been logical, but he is essentially a good man with misplaced loyalty to his friends superceding what should be responsibility and commitment to the people of Pakistan. That unfortunately happens to be Pakistan’s major problem in every level and strata of society, whether one is in politics, judiciary, the Armed Forces, civil administration, business, etc. nepotism and favouritism is always far more important than what one owes to the nation.


Benazir Blinks!

The Bhutto family functions on the premise that most Pakistanis have very short memories, unfortunately they are quite right. Ms Benazir was the first major politician to welcome the military regime’s dispatching of Mian Nawaz Sharif on Oct 12, 1999, the “honeymoon” went on for sometime. The PPP Chairperson finally realized that the one-sided “love affair” was going nowhere, the military regime being in no mood to drop corruption charges against her or her husband, Asif Zardari. Frustrated in the hope that on the basis of “an enemy of an enemy is a friend”, the military regime’s animosity towards Mian Nawaz Sharif would force political compromise with her. Ms Benazir did a smart U-turn, transforming her politics into virulent opposition. A consummate political animal, she gave the appearance of keeping back channels open to the COAS, mainly to shore up the morale of her increasingly demoralized supporters who were expecting some relief in Nawaz’s ouster. When the military regime denied any such contact, she declared “war” on the Pakistan Army.

For the past eight months Ms Benazir has been assailing the defenders of this country, synchronizing her attacks on our men in uniform in line with India’s contention, i.e. Pakistan Army is to blame for cross-border terrorism across the LOC, the attack on Indian Parliament, harbouring and sponsoring terrorism of all kind, etc. To retain the loyalty of her party workers while in self-imposed exile, she has kept a barrage of misleading propaganda going, the latest being that she would return to Pakistan by special aircraft on August 14 and fight the elections despite the election laws. This brinkmanship may be brilliant politically, the fact remains that other than being forced to knuckle down to the existing reality of the military regime’s ground rules for politics in Pakistan, she has succumbed to internal pressure within PPP forcing her to nominate Makhdoom Amin Fahim as the head of a newly created Parliamentary entity of the PPP. Her choice as rubber-stamp was Aftab Shahban Mirani. Winking at the military regime for sometime, she then tried international pressure to stare them out, Ms Benazir has now blinked.


Two Countries, One Nation

For over 30 years now we have been carrying the burden of the horrific experience of the break-up of the country, in one symbolic measure the President set the ghosts of 1971 to rest. A simple apology meant a lot to the Bangladeshi psyche, the President being a uniformed person the effect was force-multiplied many times. The official Bangladeshi reaction was swift and concise, 1971 is now behind us, it was time to move ahead and strengthen relations to the benefit of both countries. Both for Pakistan and Bangladesh it was important to get over 1971.