Democratic Centralization vs Rule of Law based Decentralization

Our political dynamics are changing drastically with new players emerging and old players losing their positions. We are also seeing a power struggle between so called Rightists vs Leftists or Seculars vs Theocrats and somewhere there are parties which place themselves in-between. People are even talking about Judicial Martial Law.

But over all out look shows that the focus is on putting together a centralized system with some aspects of democracy. Our feudal culture, history of martial laws and domination of state institutions have restricted our minds to run things from centre with iron fist or authoritarian ways.

What is lacking in this approach is the realization of our diversity in the society. We are a country with diversified ethnic, sectarian and other social classes. Many of us cite China as an example and consider their Democratic Centralization as an ideal concept for Pakistan. We need to know that China has a dominant socialist ideology and their culture is pretty much same throughout China. They have a civilization which can be called as a Chinese Civilization. On the other hand Pakistan doesn’t have a single Pakistani Civilization. Pakistan is on the meeting point of several civilizations on both sides of Indus and which show different cultural and demographic colors if we move from Karachi to K2.

We cannot have a same system for Karachi and FATA or Islamabad and Dera Bugti. Attempts were made by Military dictators like Zia, Musharraf and Ayub who tried to implement their personal ideologies on the whole country and ending up creating a mess. Similarly civilian feudal-corporatists also tried to implement their vision on the whole country and again added to the mess. Even those who talk about liberalism have their own sectarian, ethnic and social class prejudices backing their ideals.

We need a decentralized system where federal government has minimum authority to run defense, dispute resolution and few other things. Even with them a concept of voluntary involvement and local considerations need to be taken into account. We need a system where decision making is brought to the local level which will also ensure merit among different localities selecting their leaders. It is unfair for those who don’t elect a corrupt government but they also have to face the bad consequences of its actions. To keep things in tact we can have a constitutional setup where rules of engagements should be mentioned between different constituents of the country. In short we need a “Rule of Law based Decentralization”.

This decentralization should be in Governance, Legislation and Economics. This is not something impractical; we can see some colors of it in countries like United States or Australia. Obviously for that we need to consider the ideology which dominated at the time of the creation of the country which is also reflected in the Objective Resolution. If we talk about Islam then “Meesaq e Madina” can show us how Muslims and Jews made an agreement by accepting each other as a reality. Even in a centralized country like China, they had to make adjustments in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Even Russia has different Republics with some autonomy. In Pakistan’s case Quaid e Azam made agreements with our tribes which resulted in the tribes becoming part of Pakistan. These agreements allowed the tribal people to maintain their autonomy and also accept few fundamental laws of Pakistan. We also need a loose central structure to avoid the class clashes.

At the moment power is concentrated to center and everyone wants to control it either through the power of masses or power of gun. We even cannot afford a democratic system where 90% decides to suppress the remaining 10%. It will create the sense of alienation and hopelessness in the parties not in power and so can result in an undesirable retaliation which can be damaging for all.

We need to come out of the copycat mentality and be genuine in our approach as our problems are genuine and bit different from where we are trying to import the solutions.Mutual existence can only prevail through mutual acceptance of each other as a reality.

Note : A bit edited version is also available on http://blogs.thenewstribe.com/blog/66276/decentralization-a-solution/

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Intolerance and current mess:A note on Salman Taseer Murder

Recent murder of former Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer has left many things for us to think over. I really disagree with Salman Taseer,his politics and many other things especially of exploiting the blasphemy issue for political gain. But the issue for which he was killed is of academic and legal nature and there was no reason for anyone to kill him for this reason. This really shows the absence of Rule of Law in our country and also it shows the flaws in training of our security forces as the person(Mumtaz Qadri) who killed him was part of Punjab Police.

Apart from intolerance another issue for me is that our establishment can use the current situation to take out those whom they disagree with, whether they belong to this or that side of the issue. 

Rememeber its the policy of establishment ,to use sectarian and social class differences to expand the war for dollars, which has also contributed to the current mess.

The ideas which were floated to expand the war, especially in last 3-4 years, are really destroying our social fabric. We always had differences and diversity in terms of religion, sects and social classes but things were not that bad as today.

Sectarianism converted into sectarian violence from the time of Iranian revolution as attempts were made to replicate the revolution which many saw as sectarian based revolution. Later Afghan war, flow of weapons and boneless policy making added to the fuel. Iran-Iraq conflict and Arab-Iran tension also made the situation worse.

But even after that things were not that bad as today and even in 90s we were not that intolerant as a society. Current mess is a result of the unwanted dollar war we are fighting.

Not only Pakistan jumped into a foreign war but Pakistani establishment floated ridiculous ideas in masses to use sects against sects , ethnicities against ethnicities and social classes against social classes.

The thing is that people who were supported by the establishment to take forward the war on terror against Taliban are now among those who are also or mainly supporting the act of Mumtaz Qadri. Also now a false sense unity is being promoted in different sects on the basis of the issue, which has nothing to do with the teaching of Quran and Sunnah, to start another clash between social classes.

Quran even teaches us to be reasonable and “Just” with those who are involved in doing bad with us or who don’t agree with us but are peaceful with us.

Do not allow your hatred of a folk who  stopped your going to the Inviolable Place of Worship seduce you to transgress; but help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty.  Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to God(5:2)

God does not forbid you to be kind to those who do not take arms against you.  God loves those who are just (60:8)

There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256)

Had God willed, they had not been idolatrous.  We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them” (6:107)

Using Wahabis and Sufis against each other, Liberals and Mullahs against each other or invoking Deobandi/Barelwi  and Shia/Sunni clashes to serve the “Divide and Rule” policy or to introduce the bogus concepts of “Pakistani Brand of Islam” in line with the wishes and  ideals of establishment and their foreign masters can only result in destruction of our country.

Ideas like fight against Takfeeris especially to justify Lal Masjid Operation and Swat Operations, fight against Yazidis, fight against people who don’t believe in Prophet (S.A.W) according to the standards they have set or spreading things like Mullah Umar’s one eye is the eye of Dajjal or spreading fake ideas like Ghazwa e Hind (To glorify the role of Pakistan Army and the dollar wars they fight) which are not part of any authentic teachings of Islam, all have contributed to this disastrous situation.

I mean it’s a real big mess we are into and it will take real honest and just approach to get out of this. We are in a real self destruction mode and we have to come out of it.

Blasphemy Laws : No point scoring but a legal and academic debate to resolve the issue

Recent heated debate over Blasphemy laws is getting worse day by day and now the issue has gone to the level of insanity and now people are using it to score political points.

The issue got worse when instead of taking the issue in parliament or Islamic ideological council , the issue is politicized for point scoring left/right politics or liberal/mullah politics. Now its high time for religious scholars, law experts and human rights experts to sit together and resolve the issue by doing a constructive legal and academic debate. We have a very basic principle in Quran :

“O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do.” [Al-maeda ,8]

The biggest blasphemy that can be done is to introduce things in the name of Allah and Prophet (S.A.W) which are not part of their teachings.

We need to improve Qazaf laws for false witness, law of witness itself, importance of personal testimony, procedure of implementation and also we need to see whether this law can be implemented on minorities or not. According to fiqh Hanafi the dominating fiqh , the law cannot be implemented on Zimmi or non muslims under the responsibility of an Islamic State. Even for majority muslim population we need to see what punishment is there according to Quran and Sunnah or social circumstances of the alleged person should be considered during the case like the punishment for Zina or adultery committed by muslim with backward or uneducated social background is half as compared to other muslims and also we need to see if apology in such cases can work. Current procedure is a legacy of colonial era where there is no consideration of alleged person’s s social background is given or law is applied in a real centralized manner.

We also need to see what is meant by Blasphemy? I have seen muslims being persecuted for this law just because of them having a different point of view on 12 Rabiulawwal and Waseela issue.

We neither want a Pastor Terry Jones type situation which can start a civil war in the country nor we should make it a holocaust issue on which even debate is not allowed in many countries including those who call themselves civilized.

The problem is that we are in a war mode and stuck in an unwanted war which has destroyed or social fabric and everyone is in hyper state to protect their ways and level of sanity has gone down. The policy of using sectarianism as a tool by establishment and foreign masters for expanding war has also contributed in this.

If we claim to be muslims and call our state an Islamic state then basic principles of justice and equality which were part of the first Islamic state of Madina and also part of Meesaq e Madina should be kept in mind.

RPPs return Rs 2b on SC orders ; Intelligence agencies confirm custody of 11 missing prisoners

Supreme Court is proving again and again that at least there is one institution in the country on which we can trust.

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RPPs return Rs 2b on SC orders

Source : http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/09-Dec-2010/RPPs-return-Rs-2b-on-SC-orders

ISLAMABAD – The counsels for Guddu and Naudero projects assured the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Rs 2 billion taken in advance would be returned with the mark-up.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heading a three-member bench comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday said, “Everybody should follow suit on matters of the national exchequer.”
Justice Ramday remarked that many problems of the society could be solved with the cooperation of bar and bench.
Dr Pervez Hassan, counsel for Pakistan Power Resources (PPR), and Shahid Hamid representing Walter Power International (WPI) informed the court that money had been arranged and would be returned to Central Power General Company Ltd (CPGCL) during the course of the day, which, according to the media reports, was paid by Wednesday evening.
The court directed Abdul Malik Memon, CEO GENCO, to conduct an inquiry into the case and submit a report, fixing responsibility upon the officers or the persons on whose instructions GENCO agreed to make the payment to both the companies without keeping facts and circumstances of the case in front of them, in the next date of hearing, and adjourned the case till December 14, 2010.
The bench heard fraud in payment of Rental Power Projects detected by NEPRA (Human Rights Case No.56712 of 2010) and alleged corruption in Rental Power Projects (Human Rights Case Nos. 7734-G/2009 & 1003-G/2010). Syed Najamul Hassan Kazmi appeared on behalf of NEPRA.
According to the statements, PPR and Walters Power International had paid Rs 405.9 million (Rs 405,992,246) earlier and the balance amount of Rs 301 million (Rs 301,058,766) today (Wednesday).
Further RPP is paying Rs 120 million (Rs 120,000,000) on account of interest/mark-up on advance payment, while WPI submitted that an advance payment of US $10.1 million (US $11,036,666) and interest amount of US$ 0.18 million (US$ 180,753) are being paid.
NEPRA has declined to approve a fresh tariff for Naudero-II after discovering that the project’s equipment belonged to Guddu rental power project, which had been dismantled illegally.
The Government paid 14 per cent advance of US $11.28 million to Pakistan Power Resources (PPR) in April 2010 for Naudero-II, while the same company was paid 14 per cent advance payment of $10.15 million for the same machines for Guddu rental power plant having a capacity of 110 MW.

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Intelligence agencies confirm custody of 11 missing prisoners – The Nation

Source : http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Regional/Islamabad/09-Dec-2010/Intelligence-agencies-confirm-custody-of-11-missing-prisoners

Pakistan intelligence agencies have confirmed before a bench of the Supreme Court that eleven missing prisoners of Adiala Jail have been in their custody. Raja Irshad, the counsel of the agencies, during hearing of the missing persons case confirmed before a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the missing prisoners are alive and have been in custody of the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The counsel further said that these persons were arrested under military act during various operations and more people are being arrested. He further said that the military, ISI and MI are subordinate to the judiciary under the constitution and law.

 

Old Games and New Challenges for Freedom and Justice Loving People

Pakistan’s political dynamics has seen its different colors over the last six decades. The country saw some of the most oppressive military regimes and also some of the most corrupt periods of elected plutocracy. Our history saw struggles between left and right and also became an active player in the cold war period.

Though our politics has been influenced strongly by the foreign masters of our ruling elites. But in that our establishment has always played a vital role either as a proxy rule for foreign powers or as a king maker in local politics, many times the role has been a mixture of both. The honest reality of our history is that this role of our establishment has seriously dented our political culture, damaged rule of law and also harmed our rights as free citizens of this country.
A country which was founded on the principles of justice and equality didn’t live up to the expectations due to the dismal performance of our establishment and their cultivated corrupt political culture based on feudal-corporatist mindsets. Right from the days of Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistani establishment strengthened its hold on the affairs of the state and its politics. Pakistan was thrown into an unwanted cold war and thus it gave up its freedom which it got few years ago into the hands of imperialist forces lead by USA, which at that time took place of United Kingdom as world super power along with its rival USSR.
Initially establishment rule was evenly balanced between civil and military establishments but later on especially after Ayub Khan martial law, military acted as the main force of establishment. Now by establishment we can easily refer to GHQ as main source of  political power. Even Fatimah Jinnah, one of the strong political figure of our country and sister of founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah was not able to defeat this system. But her role in politics did make our establishment to get involved more in party politics or politics of masses. Now if I see things as an ordinary student of politics, foundation of PPP was meant to fill the political vacuum in the country so that those forces including Awami League, Jamat e Islami and others, who opposed Ayub martial law openly could not strengthen their grounds as alternate political reality other than establishment.

This approach worked in West Pakistan due to strong feudal system but failed in East Pakistan so establishment with the backing of feudal political class decided to use force on our own people. And we all know the consequences of 1971 riots and later Indo-Pak war. There was a chance for the nation to learn lessons from the mistakes and change the future course of actions.

But it didn’t happen except for few adjustments, including a real major one of developing 1973 constitution, our political outlook remained same. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was a product of establishment, who tried to become larger than he should be in the eyes of establishment and also started a nuclear program against the wishes of our imperialist masters, became a liability to the system and so he was removed from the scene through Zia martial law and later hanged till death in a murder case of controversial nature.

Removal of Bhutto, instead of giving some relief to martial law forces became counter productive especially in the province of Sind so a new political reality of MQM was given space and support by military establishment. In Zia’s time not only constitution was treated badly but his use of religion to give cover to his oppressive and hypocrite regime proved to be another major blunder in the history of our country.

Later after the death of General(R) Zia ul Haq, PPP with sympathy votes and deals with local and international establishment came into power. Instead of learning from past mistakes and doing accountability of constitutional violations and corruptions by Zia regime, PPP started a new era of corruption and nepotism in Pakistani politics. They were also joined by their rivals, PML(N) which was a product of Zia remains, in this political culture. This culture saw its ups and downs and political maneuvering by establishment through the formation of IJI and sacking of governments.

In this time Nawaz Sharif of PML(N), also emerged as a big political force through a huge mandate in 1997 elections by bagging 137 seats. Nawaz tried to undermine the unwanted reality of our political history i.e. military establishment and did not follow the line of imperialist master while conducting nuclear tests in 1998,was sacked in a military coup by General (R) Musharraf. In Nawaz’s sacking his controversial 15th amendment and attacks on judiciary also played a key role as these actions weakened the rule of law and supremacy of constitution in the country and thus giving more room for unconstitutional measures by opportunist forces of martial law.

Musharraf rule proved to be one of the most disastrous periods of Pakistani history. In this tenure Pakistan get involved into a foreign war and this war was later dragged into our cities through some of the most evil policies. This war and Musharraf’s rule converted the diversity of our society into a clash between sects, ethnicity and social classes.

Actions like attack on Supreme Judiciary, abrogation of constitution, illegal abductions, extra judicial killings, military operations including heavy bombings on civilian areas, 12 May 2007 and 9 March 2007 and others really broke the back of Pakistani economy and society. The society after Musharraf is more fragmented and country is facing some of the worst consequences of his actions.
Then another foreign sponsored deal, between forces of martial law and feudal-corporatist political elite, resulted in current NRO government. In return of Musharraf’s safety and continuation of his imperialist slave policies, current ruling alliance was not only given power but all criminal cases were removed in the name of reconciliation. In the mean time, removal of Benazir Bhutto from the scene also helped her cronies and beneficiaries of NRO deal to capture more sympathy votes. Despite a report by UN, Benazir murder case is still not seeing much progress except for cover ups.
 
Our history saw politics of so called Left and so called Right, so called Red and so called Green and also the so called struggle between forces of dictatorships and so called forces of democracy. The reality is most of these setups were fake and were meant to serve the goals of ruling elite and their foreign masters.
 
Old games are now again being played by our ruling elite with assistance from foreign masters. Former dictator Musharraf is planning to come back into politics. Pir Pagara has also started his alliance of failed politicians in the name of uniting Muslim League.
PPP and allied parties are still playing their dirty games to strengthen their rule through fear and control politics as a result a commercial hub like Karachi is seeing one of the worst periods of target killings.Institutional corruption, high inflation and a huge government-created energy crisis to pave way for their corruption in Rental Power Projects are putting us into further economic disaster.

Natural resources and assets are on sale for nothing and again our nation is being fooled just for the monetary gains of few.So called opposition comprising of PML-Q and PML-N are busy in playing their hypocritical role. People are still not able to come out of their prejudices and short term greed and so giving strength to this system through “Zindabad” mentality.

Even floods have not changed the situation much. Supreme Court, which has provided some hope after restoration is being sidelined by government and institutions. Lawyers and media which emerged as a new force in national politics are now being divided through money and threats. Government involvement in SCBA elections and threats to media are examples of this approach. Situation in Afghanistan will come with its own dynamics and impacts on Pakistani politics.
Luckily few good things happened in recent times including the revival of civil society, emergence of free and resilient media, and an independent Supreme Court. These are real challenging times for those who love freedom and justice. These include all those who are struggling for rule of law, justice, accountability, freedom and respect for nation, and above all a better Pakistan.  Lot is needed to be done and it seems to be an almost impossible task but lets hope for the best as we are responsible for our actions and decisions not the given conditions and out of control realities.

Links :

http://infocrats.org/mag/2010/11/insight/analysisandopinion/old-games-and-new-challenges-for-freedom-and-justice-loving-people/

http://blogs.aaj.tv/2010/11/old-games-and-new-challenges/

Rule of Law, Shameless Plutocracy and Turbulent Economy

Recently, Transparency International published their Corruption Perception Index in which Pakistan was placed at 34th position. Also in UN Humanitarian Development Index, Pakistan is proudly placed at 125 with Zimbabwe at lowest on 169 and small countries like Srilanka and Maldives in better positions of 99 and 107 than World’s 7th Nuclear Power.  Many people especially those with some sort of sympathies with our ruling elite criticize the authenticity of these indexes.

One of the main argument presented against the results is lack of understanding by these institutions about the local conditions and environment. This criticism seems to be valid and genuine because if the analysis is based on real conditions then the results might come out worse.

If we look at the problems a common person faces due to corruption, law and order situation, and incompetent governance then the seriousness of the issues become a bit clear. Reality on the ground is that not only corruption is destroying our so-called national institutions and costing us billions but it has buried a common man straight under.

From cartelization to paying forceful unnecessary taxes, there is no justification of calling the present situation even near satisfactory. High inflation and energy crises are a result of government sponsored cartelization and corrupt privatization without merit. If things are done in transparent way and Rule of Law is established then we can expect some improvement in turbulent economy, if it has not crashed yet.We are already moving around 4 percent GDP growth which is very low as compared to countries like India and China in the same region.

If a common man saves enough money through his hard work, even in this time of government sponsored inflation, and decides to build his house then a new series of hurdles and problems start for him. First one is to go through the government doors for transferring the plots, passing the site plan and other unnecessary approvals which not only cost huge amount of fees but a big amount is taken from his through forceful corruption otherwise his file disappears somewhere in hell.

Once he goes through the process then the process of construction comes, if high prices of construction material due to unjustified sales taxes is not enough then extortion money will surely take a lot juice out of him. All the major government parties and their allied mafias are involved in this game. In case of Karachi, areas are distributed and in each area people are bound to pay this money if they want to make their houses or they want to do business. If someone denies then Shersha Kabari Market incident is not that old to remind us what can happen.

Recent target killing also has some touch of this mafia war for taking more and more area under control. Many times where demarkation of areas is not clear people have to pay extortion to multiple parties. The situation has gone worse after floods, especially in Karachi, not only due to chanting demographics but also due to further slowdown in economy and high inflation.

Cost of doing and initiating business is also a major problem. Not only permits, licensing and quotas are a major problem but red-tapism, corruption, security issues and high electricity are things which in any country can break the backbone of business. Load shedding of 12 hours in a commercial hub like Karachi cannot send a positive message for any investor whether local or international.

The situation is not only resulting in the flight of capital but it has created unemployment issues as well which directly impacts the standard of living. We often demand overseas Pakistanis to bring their money in the country but if we honestly analyse the situation then the demand looks a bit unjust.

At the moment our country is facing worst kind of shameless plutocracy in the name of democracy with mafias and government cronies hammering the life out of our people.

 The responsibility also lies on the shoulders of people as they are the ones who chant slogans for these leaders and support either corrupt politicians or dictators.

The real issue is not just that how long this situation can go on but the real issue how long our country can sustain it. We need to come out of this situation otherwise time doesn’t wait for anyone and if worse becomes worst and worst becomes unchangeable then collapse of everything becomes inevitable. So the choice is ours and we are already getting late for the right choices to be made. Instead of cursing institutions for bringing out reports reflecting our dismal performance we need to focus on improving the situation and coming out of this mess.

– Also on : http://blogs.aaj.tv/2010/11/shameless-plutocracy-and-turbulent-economy/
by Faisal

Is Government planning another dirty game?

We have seen some interesting developments in last 4-5 days including NRO case and government deceptions, government sponsored rifts between lawyers and we also need to look at this in Supreme Court Bar elections and now the notification issue.

PPP leaders including PM gillani have given statements in the past regarding the March 2009 restoration notification . Circles in PPP have been talking about it as a possible card to counter the judiciary. PM also hinted this in parliament when he said that the restoration order is still needed to be endorsed by the parliament.

Its good to see that media , civil society and judiciary are alert on this issue. SC has clearly said that a move like this will be termed as high treason and will be dealt with according to Article 6 of the constitution.

Our ruling elite doesn’t want Supremacy of Law and Constitution based on justice and equality. They want a rule of elite including feudal-corporatist politicans and military establishment. They only know how to serve their greed and the will of their imperialist masters.

It seems our government is planning another game. They want to come out of this situation as victims as they are not able to government properly. It will be on judiciary, media and civil society to ensure accountability and justice to prevail.

We as civil society should keep ourselves ready for any attempt to again create a constitutional crisis. The struggle for Rule of Law must go on all grounds. We all need to play our part and the least thing can be done is not to support the evil.

Also there is a planning of North Waziristan Operation going on . The decision will further damage the federation and will result in more terrorism as we have seen in the past.