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Friday, 14 August 2009

The day demands unity

As we celebrate our 63rd Independence Day today, we have to review whether we have been able to prove ourselves worthy of the freedom we earned through a heroic and difficult struggle. This is also the moment to review our performance as a nation and take stock of our progress towards attaining the progressive vision expounded by Quaid-i-Azam. To begin with, the movement for carving of a new state for the Muslims of the Subcontinent was constitutional and led by a lawyer who believed in upholding the rule of law. We did away with his profound commitment to the law and constitution by first not framing the national constitution for the first nine years, and when we framed one in 1956 we quickly wrapped it up. The rest, as they say, is history. We deviated from the Quaid’s emphasis on the supremacy of parliament. The ‘doctrine of necessity’ played a vital role in perpetuating this aberration. Thankfully, this discredited judicial innovation has been finally buried by the lawyers and conscientious judges. From this perspective, the newly acquired judicial freedom is one gift the nation can rightly boast of on this occasion of Independence Day.

Yet to say that the blessing of independence is complete with the judiciary’s independence would be wrong. Pakistan continues to face the threat of militancy which is a direct result of denying the rights to masses. This militancy has destroyed our whole system. The militancy and the present situation the country is facing today is the outcome of denying the legal and constitutional rights to the people of small provinces. The framers of the 1973 Constitution had pledged to do away with the concurrent list after 10 years and implement the clauses dealing with provincial autonomy. That pledge remains unfulfilled and, resultantly, a strong anti-Centre sentiment exists among smaller provinces. The Quaid had amply stated that in Pakistan there would be no room for discrimination on the basis of religion and sect. We blew to smithereens this advice as well. Consequently, apart from the growing religious militancy, as evident in the tribal areas, there exist laws on the statute books that endanger the minorities. In the same vein, women face extremist actions. Though of late, there has been a movement towards women empowerment, it would need transformation in the general attitude before it bears fruit.

Today, it can be seen that the rights of the poor are trampled upon and the country is being used by the rich as their fiefdom. Nothing of substance was done for the poor of this country, no proper land reforms were carried out, no poor-friendly economic policies were framed and today the ever-rising inflation is taking its toll on the masses. Caught in the stranglehold of landed aristocrats and exploitive entrepreneurs, there is little respite for the common man from the ravages of poverty. With national defence taking a major chunk, even if we discount the associated cost in the form of the military’s overextended intervention in civilian affairs, very little is left for the social sector. The cumulative outcome of all failings is a country which has yet to evolve a sustainable political system and therefore is incapable of functioning as a state. It is high time that we come out of the inherited shackles of slavish mentality, the character and the civil customs and re-orient our national policies as envisioned by our Quaid. The new government must be allowed to complete its full term so that democracy can eventually take roots.

We will preserve our Azadi with honour and dignity: Kayani

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday assured the nation that 'we will preserve our Azadi with honour and dignity', and from position of strength'. "Let no one underestimate the resolve of the Armed Forces, and, resilience of Pakistan nation," he said addressing the dawn of 63rd Indipendence Day of Pakistan Parade at the Military Academy here. He said "we are a peaceful nation with no aggressive designs, However we are concerned at massive arms acquisition in the regions". He said that Azadi brings both liberty and responsibility. "Azadi demands collective responsibility to defend Pakistan, to further Pakistan's interests and to serve our motherland. This demands of us to refocus on ideals of Quaid-e-Azam; that is Unity, Faith, Unity and Discipline." "Let us therefore," he said, "on this day pledge to the solidarity and territorial integrity of Pakistan. On this Azadi day, let us pledge to preserve and protect the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal." He said that the nation of Pakistan and its identity is based on 'Two Nation Theory'. "Islam is the soul and spirit of Pakistan. Islam is our strength". "We are and shall always remain Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Inshallah". He emphasised that no extremist or terrorist can impose his distorted version of Islam through violent means. "We, in Pakistan, are committed to defend our country against all external and internal threats." He said Pakistan's current fight is against extremism and terrorism. "This is not a fight based on religion, ethnicity, sub-nationalism, or provincialism." He said that a terrorist has not caste, creed and religion. "He (Terrorist) respects no boundaries and has no nationality. Extremists are those who have blinded themselves in a self righteous mode and are not amenable to reason and logic. When this small majority resorts to coercion, through terror and violence, to impose their will on the majority, they run into terrorists." He said that the valiant nation of 170 million people will not bow down these handful of extremists. He said that Armed Forces of Pakistan have made tremendous sacrifices to rid the country of the menace of terrorism. Recent operations of Malakand Division are clear examples of the will, determination and professionalism of the Armed Forces. "Within a span of four months a complex military operation was conducted and concluded to establish writ of the Government. This was made possible only due to the unflinching support of the entire nation, and the great sacrifices made by the people of Malakand and the Armed Forces." He said that during the recent operations over 300 soldiers embraced Shahadat and over 900 others were wounded. "In line with our proud traditions of leading from the front, 38 officers and JCOs embraced Shahadat and 61 were wounded." He acknowledged and paid rich tributes to the sacrifices of the soldiers and to their families who have displayed tremendous courage and pride in the sacrifice of their beloved ones. "I salute the great mothers who rendered sacrifices". He said that this operation resulted in displacement of over 2.5 million people who endured this suffering with great sense of sacrifice and patriotism. He said most of those displaced people have returned to their homes and it was possible through comprehensive and integrated approach adopted by the Government and overwhelming support to the Armed Forces by the people of Pakistan and media. He cautioned against absolute notions, "let it be clear that there is no notion of absolute victory in this struggle. Attempts to impose a pure military solution, through brute application of military force, is a dangerous and destructive propositions. Use of force should be the last resort and to the extent necessary to achieve peace, security and stability. This is our country, our motherland and the ultimate objective must be to reconcile and unite and not to divide and destroy". He said as the complexity of environment has increased, so have our challenges. "Today our challenges are far greater and complex than ever before. We will require absolute faith, conviction and moral strength to stand our ground; and stand we must and stand we will, Inshallah". Earlier, he reviewed the parade and hoisted the National Flag to mark the occasion. Children presented national songs and accumulated thunderous applause from the participants who included senior Military Officers, their families, and families and next of kin of Shaheeds. It is the second time that the Azadi Parade is held at PMA Kakul and Pakistan is amongst a few nations which holds the night parade event. Various news channels carried the live telecast of the parade. The function concluded with a lively fire work show.

Pakistan to celebrate 63rd Independence Day

By Qamar Zaman Kaira

Another Day of Independence has dawned seeking from us the account of 63 years of the emergence of Pakistan, achieved after the largest exodus of the world when 100 million people crossed borders. Still a greater price was the bloodbath of some 150,000 men, women and children who were killed in addition to looting and arson that shook the entire humanity. Despite the unfortunate that befell, the people arriving here felt no despondency because they had a hope kindled in their hearts by founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah who declared in an unequivocal terms that they would not remain like this for ever. They drew inspirations from what the Quaid-e-Azam told the first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 at Karachi upon being elected its first president. “…we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor… no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, he is first, second and last citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there is no end to progress you will make”, was the first and the foremost message of the father of the nation.

This was the Quaid’s policy, a Magna Carta for the new country that he envisioned would be a state guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities, civil liberties and socio-economic justice. He envisaged Pakistan as a state that will ensure “... we are all citizens, equal citizens of one state …we should keep that in front of us our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.... I shall be guided by the principles of justice and fair play without ... My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and cooperation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world”.

First blow: But all the succeeding governments rejected with contempt the vision of the Quaid and started indulging themselves in practices alien to democracy and other high national ideals. The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by governor-general Ghulam Muhammad in October 24, 1954 at a time when all constitutional disputes had been resolved and the assembly was to pass the first constitution within a week or so, was the first blow dealt to the state that laid the foundation of cessation. Then Commander-in-Chief Gen Ayub Khan supported the move and was later taken in the new cabinet along with Lt Gen Iskandar Mirza paving the way for military intervention.

Provinces were also dissolved to create a One-Unit the same month laying the foundation of an unending conflict of the provincial autonomy issue. Then came military regimes of Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf and they consumed 33 of the 63 years of the national life leaving behind a trail of tragic events including the fall of Dhaka, introduction of drugs (heroin) and Kalashnikov culture and the rise of terrorism and extremism on the heels of sectarian violence.

These dictators weakened political process and added to instability of the country. But a majority of those in politics those days and even today, as Gen Zia once said followed all dictators wagging their tails. They were in Liaqat Ali Khan’s Muslim League, Iskandar Mirza’s Republican Party, Gen Ayub’s Convention League, Gen Zia’s PML formed under Muhammad Khan Junejo after non-party elections and finally the PML-Q as founded by Gen Pervez Musharraf. Incidentally, all dictators had (mis)used the name Pakistan Muslim League that always had several factions at one time and all claimed to be “true followers of the Quaid-e-Azam”.

By contrast, the Bhuttos sacrificed one member of the family after the other because they stood by the Pakistan People’s Party’s founding principles. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was put to the gallows in what is generally believed to be a judicial murder. Shahnawaz Bhutto was poisoned to death in France and Murtaza Bhutto was killed in the middle of a Karachi Road. And finally, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi. No family across the world still matches the degree of sacrifices that the Bhutto family has offered for Pakistan and its teeming millions of the people.

Rise of militancy: No one can dispute that religious parties seats in the National Assembly ranged between six to a maximum of 10 and this is reflected in all elections from 1970 to 1997. But what transpired in 2002 elections may be an electoral wonder as the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, the alliance of six religious parties, won more than 60 seats in the National Assembly and won enough seats to form their governments in NWFP and Balochistan bordering Afghanistan. The fact that the same religious parties were once again relegated to their original electoral strength in 2008 elections, shows that some handiwork by the Musharraf regime enlarged them beyond their genuine electoral share. Evidence is available that the MMA governments in the two provinces had patronized militants and the recent arrest of an MMA MNA on the charge of abducting and killing a Polish engineer augments the claim of their contribution to the rise in terrorism and militancy.

Hope at last: However, there is also no reason to be disappointed either although a huge mountain of problems accumulated in more than six decades has been placed ahead of the PPP-led coalition government. The people, after a very long time, now have a hope for the future because an elected parliament is in place and is fully functional; it has the singular credit of not indemnifying the acts of a dictator although all the previous assemblies granted indemnity to autocratic rules. Besides, a dynamic judiciary is there and its historic judgment on July 31 also goes in history as the first verdict against a dictator in 62 years.

Last but not the least, a determined PPP government is there with all its commitment to a polity bedecked with a democratic order, political conciliation, constitutionalism, strengthening of national institutions and involving them in all national affairs. One example of the politics of reconciliation is a draft 18th Amendment that was mutually agreed between the PPP and the PML-N in implementing the Charter of Democracy, has already been seized by a parliamentary committee for the preparation of the amendment to do away with the president’s power to dissolve the National Assembly and removing other constitutional imbalances.

The will to resolve certain national issues, as shown by the government, also adds to this faith. For example, the government reflected its determination to curb the twin menace of terrorism and militancy, that was posing a potential threat to the very existence of the country. But our armed forces have not only succeeded in accomplishing a major part of the duty but also started the process of rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of the displaced persons sending them back home. The almost eradication of this menace within four months is by no mean a small achievement.

Second, a concerted effort is underway to end power shortage, a major national issue, by the end of the year. Electricity shortage was first felt in 1981 and Gen Zia’s regime failed to take notice in the remaining seven years of his autocratic rule. This phenomenon lingered on for another six years before the second government of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto entered into agreements with independent power producers and by the end of 1996, Pakistan had started generating surplus electricity and at one time India was talking with Islamabad for import of Pakistani electricity. Then came the second Nawaz Sharif government and the eight-year dictatorial regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf and, unfortunately, not a single kilowatt of electricity was added to the system in the next 12 years. This problem also became part of the PPP government’s agenda and there seems no unwillingness on its part to achieve the goal.

Swat over newly won liberation

People of Swat celebrated their liberation from militancy with patriotic fervour on Thursday on the eve of the Independence Day.

Men, women and children in festive mood thronged the main bazaars of Mingora and other towns in the valley with youths waving national flags and raising Pakistan Zindabad slogan.

Slogans of ‘Pakistan Fouj Zindabad’ and ‘Taliban Murdabad’ were also raised whenever people came across a convoy or passed through army posts.

A large number of women also took part in the celebrations on Thursday evening. People were seen distributing national flags and greeting each other.

Major buildings in Mingora were brightly illuminated and shops and markets tastefully decorated.

People here are celebrating a national festival for the first time after two years of violence and militancy had turned the valley into a virtual hell.

The administration has relaxed curfew from 6am to 11pm to allow people to give vent to their joy and feeling of relief.

MNA Muzaffar Malak, MPAs Jaffar Shah, Haider Ali, Waqar Khan, Ayoub Asharay and Sher Shah have arrived in Mingora to take part in celebrations on Friday.

A 50-member team of journalists from electronic and print media has been invited to attend the special programmes to be held at Wadoodia Hall in Saidu Sharif, including skits and tableaux to be presented by children. A military band will also perform on the occasion.

American Military Base in Islamabad

It’s an open secret that the Americans use their embassies to conduct intelligence and covert operations in the host country. There is no need to go in the explanation of such operations, as we clearly understand the America is involved in anti-state activities in Pakistan. Besides the official attachments of their civil and military personnel in our establishment and cantonments, they have created a scattered network of minor covert command centres in different key locations of Pakistan. Following the attacks on some of their such centres, specially the Marriot Hotel, Islamabad and Peshawar, they manipulated to have a formally protected command centre along with a military base in disguise of Embassy in Islamabad.
They secured a very precious and strategic land of 18 acres just on the very back of the Presidency, at a dirt cheap rate of Rs 1 billion only. As they want to live next to their friends, the puppy and puppet rulers of this nation. Who granted them this a land? Nobody else but our democratic leadership while ensuring their traditional commission. Following the failure of buying the Marriot Peshawar, they are going to make a state within state by building a de facto military base in disguise of an embassy, the world’s second largest American embassy in the world. It would be equipped with all necessary command, control and communication hardware along with hundreds of soldiers on this military base. And above all, it’s around the Presidency, Parliament, Secretariat and GHQ. What else they may wish for? Without firing a single bullet, they are getting a de facto control of the nerve centre of Pakistan, to take charge of Presidency, parliament and GHQ, as they did in Iraq. Where is the writ of Zardari and Kiyani now? Isn’t a seamless challenge to their so called bloody writ, which they rut every time before their own people.
What the hell an embassy is meant to do on a foreign soil. It’s only to coordinate and bridge the diplomatic ties between the two countries. But neither they grant visas to Pakistanis easily nor they involve in any promotion of trade and technology. Then what are they are doing in the embassy? They are simply coordinating and facilitating the military operations, political manipulations bedsides sponsoring the Politicians, Generals, Journalists, Scholars and NGOs through media to destroy the socio-political and econo-religious fabric of Pakistani society. The current strength of 750 personnel in US embassy is already more than the double of it’s limit. Now around 1000 strategic civil and military personnel are preparing in US to report to this new military base, in disguise of an embassy in Islamabad.
Our civil and military leadership has turned their eyes blind to their such activities. Just because they are their subordinates. The planted NRO criminals are looting and deceiving the nation in the name of democracy, whereas the sponsored military is fighting their war to eliminate all such elements resisting the American agenda, under the cover of war of terror. Who are these people? They are the bloody traitors of this nation, who not only sacrificed the integrity, peace and prosperity but also the honour of the nation by selling the daughters of this nation to please their American masters. Just wait and see, whose daughter is the next? Don’t they deserve to be made a symbol of Ibrat?
Everybody should realize the gravity of the situation and do whatever he can in his personal, political or official capacity to rescue Pakistan. It’s a constitutional binding upon all to disobey any unconstitutional, unlawful and any such order which is against the interest of the nation. Anybody who supports such a criminal leadership due to his personal liking or interest, is indirectly involved in the treason against the state and it’s people and would be responsible for any national disaster. A leader or an officer by himself is nothing without the support of workers or subordinates. Now it’s a test of our conscience, whether we prefer the national interest over the personal benefit or not. If we can’t, then there is no need to cry when suffering from poverty, injustice and humiliation all around. Only those nations survive and are respected, whose people sacrifice their individual interest over the collective benefit and stand out against the evils. Choice is simple. Die like a rich but hated Mir Jafar or live like a nationalist but honoured like in China.