Resolving Indo-Pak logjam —Shahzad Chaudhry
GBC Watch

If we lose the opportunity of a wholesale review, particularly when cooperative approaches alone will deliver, history may render us irrelevant to the future. It is time for some steel in the leadership, particularly in India The Sharm el Sheikh script has played as per expectations. Detaching terrorism as an issue from the rest has given India the opportunity to choose the course of its interaction with Pakistan. Its public opinion, based on historic acrimony suitably nourished under an opportunistic political manipulation, and aided by India’s traditional leaning for a status quo, dominates its nihilistic stance to any dialogue with Pakistan. On the other hand, it has now become the norm that on any occasion where the heads of governments, and in Pakistan’s case even the head of the state, of both India and Pakistan may be present, the local Pakistani Mission for that capital, and our envoy in Delhi, are expected to enable a meeting with the Indian leadership. A meeting eventually happens, and that is a feather in the cap for all involved, but it is in all its manifestations granted by the Indians after what one may call an element of suspended inactivity on Pakistan’s repeated requests for the same; all in the true Bollywood style, media frenzy and all. The question that begs some explanation, and one hopes with equal amount of desperation, is what are we hoping to achieve when we are bound to frustrated with the same message each time — i.e. “when will Pakistan deliver?” Deliver what? Enact within Pakistan a process that should be seen to finally hang the culprits of Mumbai! India’s latest fascination is with Hafiz Saeed — two nations held hostage to an individual who the courts failed to indict given the available evidence. For quite a number of years now, India has been hankering for an international consensus to declare Pakistan a terrorist state a la the famous Axis of Evil, but each time the effort has somehow fallen short of any meaningful outcome. Mumbai finally gave India the opportunity to manifest her own singular desire to enforce and encourage a perception internationally on Pakistan’s culpability despite that the origin of the particular incident has been established as a non-state undertaking. They are unlikely to let go of this opportunity any time soon. Lest it be misunderstood, dialogue is good, and the only way forward if there has to be hope for the region. But any dialogue needs two to tango. With one unwilling partner, it can best be compared to an empty pleasure. But why then are we so beholden to this act of the unwilling? To be fair, Pakistan perhaps has a few objectives embedded in the successful outcome of any such dialogue process. Issues such as Siachen and Sir Creek can be resolved with mutual benefit to both sides. It is almost established now that militarising Siachen is not only an environmental nightmare, it holds to ransom the future of both India and Pakistan in diminishing their water reserves much faster than global warming alone; it is equally a nonsensical expense, more so for India than Pakistan. It is time to turn around from the famous Zia-ul Haq quote and let a few blades of grass grow, if not in Siachen then at least in the plains below. Similarly, Sir Creek is being held back only as a matter of nationalistic obduracy despite the hullabaloo of oil prospects in the Rajasthan basin. Even if there is oil, though one suspects devoid of any meaningful significance, could we not create an opportunity for both sides to benefit; how about India being offered the opportunity to bid for exploration on the Pakistani side of the creek; and how about India returning the favour? But what you again need are two willing partners to mutually enjoy the bliss of cohabitation. Asking for too much? Saner minds have been known to visit the region before. Water and Kashmir are lifeline issues for both sides. One has been the cause of three wars without getting us any nearer to resolution, while the second, unless sensibly handled, may soon become the second biggest irritant leading to armed confrontation. The gravity of the situation calls for continued engagement, promising to deliver solutions on both. Though there are in place international arrangements to arbitrate on both matters, is it not time that we make attempts to resolve them like two mature sides, on a mutual format?
Failure to provide space to the other only reinforces hardened attitudes, leading to only one possibility — of defying every commonsensical effort to avoid resort to violent ways. After seeking India’s understanding on the need to continue with the dialogue process and failing to elicit a mature response, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s recent change of tack in bringing to fore the Kashmir problem and his public rejection of any dictation on the judicial processes related to Mumbai must be viewed in the same light. To cut the impasse, perhaps both sides should declare their abstinence from their long held positions on Kashmir and seek mutually acceptable measures towards a permanent solution. Resort to principled stand by both sides else becomes the graver and most useless probability. It is known that India prefers the closure of the Kashmir dispute along the present Line of Control. If revolutionary measures, such as a jointly protective but independent status of Kashmir, are unpalatable to both sides, could it not be possible to accommodate each other’s vision with slight alterations, importantly seeking an end to this perpetual environment of hatred and animosity? Similarly, trade is a win-win between both nations in particular, and the region at large. A lot has been said on all these counts for far too long, only to be defeated by that obfuscation of public opinion that provides incompetent or weak leaderships on both sides a very transparent façade to hide under. If public opinion is to be relied upon, nothing much will ever get attained, given that public opinion in South Asia resides almost at the lowest rung of reason and perception, and needs to be mentored towards consensus on critical issues.
Instead, leadership on both sides has manipulated public opinion to seek support for insidious political and institutional agendas.
What holds India back from moving on any of these issues? The world stands flummoxed on the Indian approach. Is it attitudinal defiance, an emerging power’s uncertain management of her perceived position in the regional and global hierarchy, or simply an opportunity to rub the nose of a traditional adversary in what India might perceive as uncomfortable humiliation; any or all of this is hardly the stuff of a rising power. Is it the travesty of realpolitik, as some would have us believe, that drives the Indian passion to sustain her hostility towards Pakistan? Whatever may be at the back of some extremely questionable Indian dispositions, it continues to hold the region back. Indian preference for trade and progress on other issues stands deferred to a single-point agenda: to force Pakistan to submit to India’s time-line of actions and deliverables on the Mumbai culprits. Such an approach is unlikely to cut with the Pakistani mindset, getting back to equal amount of obfuscation after genuine efforts to work things out. It may thus become a zero-sum game. When attitudes and traditional hard-headedness re-appear, common sense dictates alternate approaches.
The choices otherwise become stark: recourse to the old ways of confrontation, or an opportunity to succeed through cooperative mechanisms. There is a desperate need for alternative, less competitive and more cooperative paradigms based away from confrontation and capable of delivering jointly beneficial dividends. For a moment both sides need to move away from Kashmir and terrorism in joint parleys and develop a momentum of cooperation and confidence in other areas.
Rightists, and the ultra-right, on both sides sit in the opposition. That will possibly make such moves contentious. But the region sits in a flux, demanding some visionary decision making. If we lose the opportunity of a wholesale review, particularly when cooperative approaches alone will deliver, history may render us irrelevant to the future. It is time for some steel in the leadership, particularly in India. International opinion is chastened by the proclivity inherent in Indo-Pak responses to conflict resolution in a nuclearised environment; we may just enable a peaceful region, which includes the now protracting issue of Afghanistan, and turn the corner in favor of our peoples who deserve better than what their states have delivered to date.

The writer is a retired air vice marshal and a former ambassador

Courtesy: Dailytimes


Beards: a trim history

GBC Watch
By Nadeem F. Paracha

In his biography, Mirror to the Blind, Abdul Sattar Edhi complains how he detests being called a ‘maulana’. ‘Mine was never a religious beard,’ he says. ‘It was always a revolutionary beard,’ he explains – perhaps inspired by Karl Marx, whom Edhi identifies as an inspiration during his youth. In the book he is quoted as saying that hardly any man in Pakistan used to have a beard in the 1950s.
A senior journalist, Ghulam Farooq, agrees: ‘In the 1950s and 1960s, no self-respecting Pakistani from any class would have liked to be seen with a long beard, apart from the mullahs. All this stuff about the beard having any religious significance played absolutely no role in the lives of Pakistanis. In fact, the beard was seen as a symbol of exploitation and bigotry.’
Showing me black and white photos of political rallies of the late 1960s, a former progressive student leader, Naushad Hussain, enthusiastically challenged me to point out ten men with beards among the hundreds that stood listening to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Asghar Khan in the photos. I couldn’t.
‘Look closely,’ he smiled. ‘There are only three.’
‘What about the ‘revolutionary beards’?’ I asked.
‘Revolutionary beards became famous in the West after Castro and Che Guevara’s revolution in Cuba,’ Naushad explained. ‘But long hair and revolutionary beards (in Pakistan) really became popular from 1970 onwards.’
A. Kabir, another progressive student leader (at the Karachi University in 1973-74), suggests that very few male students had beards even in the 1970s. ‘Ironically, only the most radical Marxists on campus went around with beards, looking like Che. Even the staunchest members of the right-wing Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT), were clean-shaven. Being young and having a beard (and long hair) in those days meant that one was a radical leftist.’ Beards, especially heavy stubbles, also became popular as an expression of one having a creative and artistic disposition. Mahboobullah, a former graduate of the famous the NCA, Lahore, remembers that (in the 1970s), coffee houses and college canteens were full of long-haired and bearded young men sipping tea and beer, chain smoking and discussing politics, philosophy and art. ‘A young man with a neglected stubble or a beard, talking reflectively with a cigarette in his hand became a trendy pose in those days,’ Mahboobullah chuckled. ‘Women loved it!’Karamat Hamid a former student at the Dow Medical College in Karachi in the 1970s, says that by 1976 almost all leading Pakistani TV actors had beards. ‘Talat Hussain, Rahat Kazmi, Shafi Muhammad… the creative big shots had beards. It became a global fashion. Cricketers like Dennis Lillie, Wasim Raja, Ian Chappel, rock musicians, Hollywood actors and directors, painters, college boys and even university professors all over the world had beards,’ remembers Karamat. ‘It was a fashion expressing creativity, intellect and manhood.’ So exactly when did beards stopped being a liberal/leftist aesthetic and start becoming a ‘religious symbol’? ‘I believe the trend started in the 1980s,’ says Sharib, a former member of the Islami Jamiat Taleba (who later joined the MQM).
‘I remember a lot of us were very impressed by the looks of the Afghan mujahideen. Then we started to keep beards like them,’ he explained. In other words, one can say that the ideological symbolism of the beard had started to grow from left to the right. Fatigued by the exhaustive liberalism of the preceding decades and now under the propagandist hammer of a reactionary dictatorship, a lot of Pakistanis started rediscovering God, as it were, in the 1980s.
'Beards started emerging on the most unlikely of men,’ laughs Talha Naqvi, a middle-aged head of an NGO. ‘It became a symbol of piety. Everyone from mujahids to smugglers to traders grew a beard,’ he said.
But according to Talha the real beard explosion happened in the 1990s: ‘This was the time when we first started hearing about people going around and asking young men to grow beards because it was an Islamic tradition. I used to say, if this was a tradition then so was riding a camel or using a brick for a pillow by early converts, so why not follow those examples as well?’
Talha says that the rising number of Pakistani men having beards for religious reasons became even more ubiquitous after the tragic 9/11 episode. ‘More and more young men today keep a beard as an Islamic edict.’
It seems after all these years of searching for some kind of identity, many young Pakistanis have ended up finding one with the help of a beard (or hijab). It’s become an exhibition of instant piety, and more so, a somewhat long-winded belief system that with their purposeful new looks they belong to a special community of chosen people; a herd-like expression of some divinely cohesive uniformity – at least in looks, which in turn may only have little to do with religion. It’s a statement very much opposed to the notion of diversity. Courtesy: Dawn


Redefining the NFC Award formula
By Shamsuddin Muhammad
Aug 27-Sep02

Unjust distribution of wealth causes frustration and chaos in the society, adding the exploitation of the resources has reached its peak in the provinces. Distribution of National Finance Commission awards should be based on the multi-factor formula:poverty, backwardness, cost of per capita development(Latin, By the heads or polls. A term used in the Descent and Distribution of the estate of one who dies without a will) and environment.According to media reports since last two weeks federating units have still not reached to a consensus agenda. According to the media sources the all provinces including Punjab have finally agreed on multicriterian NFC award. There has been concerns of other provinces against the population based distribution of national income.The problem of dividing the revenue is not new. It started with the creation of Pakistan.The first financial award was given in December 1947 by Sir Jeremy Raisman which was used on the same lines after many years like in 1951. Since then there have been seven financial awards but the composition of the divisible pool has not yet been determined to the satisfaction of all the provinces.The central government has had anxious to keep the pool restricted to the minimum possible items of earnings with strong will of foreign aid, project assistance, loans or privatization proceeds to come into the divisible pool of earnings. The center has thus become the sole custodian of all the official earnings and the provinces have been reduced to the position of supplicants for grants to carry on their development programmes. There seems no consensus has yet been evolved among the four provinces about the award of National Finance Commission despite numerous meetings and all statements of government functionaries so far hinting towards an agreement were false. Allocations of divisible pool were made as per the old award in the budget last year. The population based formula is also ineffectiveness due to drastic change in population in provinces, AJK, FANA and FATA.
It has been legacy of democratic governments to tackle this issue; nvertheless being unrealistic and not heeding legitimate demands never pays any new development. The problem of dividing the revenue is not new. It started with the creation of Pakistan.The first financial award was given in December 1947 by Sir Jeremy Raisman which was used on the same lines after many years like in 1951. Since then there have been seven financial awards but the composition of the divisible pool has not yet been determined to the satisfaction of all the provinces. The central government has had anxious to keep the pool restricted to the minimum possible items of earnings with strong will of foreign aid, project assistance, loans or privatization proceeds to come into the divisble pool of earnings. The centre has thus become the sole custodian of all the official earnings and the provinces have been reduced to the position of supplicants for grants to carry on their development programmes. There seems no consensus has yet been evolved among the four provinces about the award of National Finance Commission despite numerous meetings and all statements of government functionaries so far hinting towards an agreement were false. Allocations of divisible pool were made as per the old award in the budget for 2008. It appears that the recommendations of federating units will hardly meet the approval becuase of the complex award distribution machanism and discrimination against the smaller province of Balochistan and NWFP. , and this flaw should be rectified in the comptmporary move.The excessive share allocated to Punjab in the last NFC awards left no economic dynamics but to ensure the equitable share for rest of the provinces.
Experts say that the patern of NFC award that has been distributed by 80 percent of the divisible pool to the provinces, leaving the remaining 20 percent for the federal government requires a review. It was based on population and Punjab and Sindh being the more populous provinces got most of the pool. On the other hand, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) had been facing financial difficulties because of their backwardness. The federal government too had to cater to the needs of Federally Administrative Tribal Area (FATA), Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. There is a dire need to review the NFC award.The NFC is facing at least four major issues: an agreement on divisible pool of taxes-from which the federal government gets 20 percent, 5 percent as service charge for the collection of the revenue for the provinces, ,accord on payment of royalty on gas to Balochistan, an agreement on royalty to the NWFP on hydel power and the last rehabilitation and development of affected areas of FATA .The efforts to reach a consensus on NFC award could be abortive if the disagreement among the provinces rise again on the issue of distribution of existing resources and that of their past dues-thus the fate of the award still may hang in the balance. The provinces in 1990 and 1980 were allowed to get share a certain share on population basis; Punjab 57 per cent, Sindh 24 per cent, NWFP 13 per cent, Balochistan 6 per cent. The population based formula is also ineneffective due to change in popultaion. The figures in during the last twenty years in four provinces have been drastically changed and there are no prospects of a fresh population census this year. Therefore the Commission is in a fix as the population based formula is no longer logical. The Punjab government wanted to continue the current formula yet, due to constant pressure of other provinces it has agreed to withdraw some of its claims. Since the creation of the country, the central government, which controls all the revenues of the country so Punjab being the biggest share holder is ally of the central government in this matter. The official report asserts that the new National Finance Commission Award would possibly be announced within two months as PML-N government in Punjab has shown flexibility for change in formula of resource distribution, which is currently based on population. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said this while addressing the post budget press conference in Karachi. But government did not succeed in announcing the NFC award before new budget, but some benefits in the federal budget had been given to provinces. On political front Pakistan Pepoples' party least agree to change the formula while Pakistan Muslim league wants to cash the movement by sporting the causes of poor provinces like Balochistan. It has also been decided that if the central government makes the Award on revenue generation basis formula then the Punjab will ask to revise the mechanism of revenue collection. Currently in Pakistan almost all taxes are bases on end-users. The general public is paying every kind of taxes as they are consumers of the products and items. Thus it is also population-based and Punjab with the largest population has been paying more taxes in goods and services as well. As the head offices of most of local and multinational companies are situated in Karachi, the revenue collections are showed in Sindh account, benefiting the province. Now we come to Gilgit-Baltistan. Interestingly, it has very little share in country's national income as it has been kept out of national orbit. The demands of the dwellers of this region have been refused by playing tricks and forced them to live in twentieth century.

The writer is a freelance writer, researcher, social worker, HR practitioner and author of the blog.


No 'honour' in killing

By Beena Sarwar
GBC Monitor

AUGUST 19-25

Given the multiple issues facing Pakistanis, the last thing we surely need is for a legislator to defend a heinous crime in the name of tradition or custom. We don't need the heinous crime either, in this case the murder of women who were apparently defying their families by trying to marry of their own choice. The resistance of conservative families to expressions of autonomy by their daughters is an ongoing problem in patriarchal, conservative societies like ours. Some parents accept their children's wishes. Others submit to the inevitable, cutting off inheritance or refusing to meet them. In Pakistan, some misuse the legal system to gain submission, filing cases of zina (adultery) against daughters who elope, preferring to see them tried for a crime punishable by death rather than married to someone 'unsuitable'. Others resort to physical violence, locking up the erring child without food, cutting off all communication in an effort to gain submission. In the most extreme cases, some family member uses a gun, a knife or an axe to end the defiance once and for all -- termed a 'crime of passion' in much of the world. Here, it is called 'honour killing'. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded over 600 cases of 'honour' killings or karo kari last year – just the reported incidents, compiled from reports appearing daily in the media. The actual number may be higher, as not all cases are reported. Is the violence actually rising or is it just that the media is reporting such cases with greater frequency? The media boom is certainly instrumental in bringing more such stories to light. However, such cases may also be on the rise because of emerging conflicts within a rapidly modernising conservative, patriarchal society where women are traditionally seen as family property and the repositories of honour. Greater exposure to media and more education leads to a heightened awareness of human rights issues. Those who defy the old order have greater support – legal, moral, and financial -- from various non-government and even some government organisations. Pitted against these developments are conservative elements fearful of their culture and traditions changing before their eyes, who then seek to codify 'culture' and 'tradition', until now fairly amorphous. This may be the context of the inexcusable justification that Senator Israrullah Zehri of the BNP presented in defence of the brutal murders reported in his home province Balochistan: five women reportedly beaten, shot and then buried alive for defying their families. This is hardly the first time that culture and tradition, or even religion, were used to justify violence and suppression of women. The prosecuting lawyer in the Samia Waheed 'love marriage case' argued that in the sect of Islam to which Samia belonged, a woman must seek the wali or guardian's approval to marry "even if she is sixty years old". Although she won the case, fearful for her life, she fled abroad along with the man she had eloped with.Samia Sarwar wasn't so lucky. The young woman from Peshawar had left her abusive, drug-dependent husband. Her parents accepted that but drew the line at her intention to divorce him and re-marry. She took refuge at a women's shelter in Lahore. In April 1999, her mother asked to meet Saima at AGHS, the office of her attorney Hina Jilani, arriving with a manservant. As Saima entered the room, he pulled out a pistol and shot her dead. Her mother escaped in a rickshaw but a plainclothes policeman at AGHS shot the murderer dead as he left the office. Upstairs, the victim's petite black-clad body lay on the floor by Hina Jilani's desk, a bullet lodged in the wall behind it. What many found astounding was that Saima's parents were not some illiterate people from a remote tribal area, but educated, influential, city dwellers. The father was a businessman who had headed the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce and Industry while the mother was a gynaecologist. Then too, the issue had been raised in the Senate, when former law minister Iqbal Haider initiated a resolution against the murder. Like Israrullah Zehri of the BNP, a secular, nationalist party, Ajmal Khattak, the supposedly progressive leader of the ANP, a party with similar credentials, had shouted Mr Haider down. He held that Samia Sarwar had disgraced her family who had acted according to Pakhtun tradition. Some senators from FATA physically attacked Mr Haider. Only four senators stood in support of the resolution: the PPP's Iqbal Haider, Aitzaz Ahsan, then leader of opposition in the Senate, the late Hussain Shah Rashdi, and the MQM's Jamiluddin Aali. Twenty-four Senators including now-presidential-candidate Mushahid Hussain Syed, and luminaries like Javed Iqbal and Akram Zaki stood to oppose it. Flash forward to another democratic era barely a decade later. Another horrific murder, another voice raised in the Senate (this time by a woman), and another Senator's justification in the name of tradition.
Whether the women were buried alive or whether they were already dead when buried is beside the point. First of all, no one has the right to take another life. Second, the women's 'crime' (to want to marry of their own choice) was no crime under any law or religion. Third, even if murdering women who disgrace their families is accepted in some
areas, not every aggrieved family resorts to such action. And fourth but not least, slavery too was once a widely accepted custom. So was the burying alive of baby girls. Neither practice is condoned now, in any way, anywhere in the world. Interestingly, both these Senate debates for and against the murder of women for 'honour' took place after particularly gruesome crimes committed under a democratic dispensation. This is certainly not because there was less gender violence when the military was at the helm of affairs. Violence against women has risen over the last decade. It was at its peak under Gen Ziaul Haq and his discriminatory 'religious' laws that strengthened reactionary forces and reinforced negative stereotypes about women. But democracy, with elected representatives answerable to their constituencies, opens up spaces to discuss and debate such issues rather than sweeping them under the carpet, going beyond knee-jerk responses like incident-specific legislation such as that enacted after the public denuding and humiliation of women in the infamous Nawabpur case of 1984. Some would prefer not to discuss such issues because this 'brings a bad name to the country' (or province). They need to ask themselves who is responsible: those who perpetuate the violence, or those who are its victims? What would make us a better, stronger nation: dealing with the issue, or burying it in the sand?

The writer is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker.
Email: Courtesy: The News


Unenlightened governance: no libraries!

By: Nadeem Ul Haque


AUGUST 19-25

When I go to my rich friends’ houses, I see no books. A million-dollar household with a hundred thousand-dollar sports car outside has no books. Rich people who spend thousands of dollars on a dinner do not even spend a hundred dollars annually on books
We have five polo grounds and three golf courses in Lahore; and one library in disrepair left to us by the colonial masters, and a ‘sort of’ bureaucratic library that we built in our sixty years. Says a lot about us, does it not? Lahore even has more offices for the chief minister (Three or four. Who’s counting?) than libraries. Of course, the chief minister needs office space more than our children need libraries. Suppose an alien were to land in Lahore, what would he conclude about us? “They are decadent, pleasure-loving, authority-worshipping, and full of pomp and circumstance, with little regard for learning and education!” Growing and progressive civilisations have been known through history through their libraries. Love of books has characterised civilisations all the way from Sumer, where there were libraries of clay tablets. Recognising this, even Egypt has built a brand new mega-library in Alexandria to remember the famous library of Alexandria from ancient times. Libraries now flourish in all progressive and well-managed countries. Many of us, when we visit the British Museum, are stunned by the huge, airy reading room of the British Library in the heart of London. Their website proudly announces: “We hold over 13 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 57 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and so much more.” The Americans, early in their history, established by an act of Congress the Library of Congress in 1800. “Today’s Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. The collection of more than 130 million items includes more than 29 million catalogued books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 58 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.”
Most serious countries have not only large national libraries but also large networks of local public libraries. Most communities in the US and Europe and many countries have libraries with adequate library resources. In England, this network starting establishing itself in the 17th and 18th centuries and is now extremely large, with every locality having a library nearby. In the US, once again an act of Congress initiated the public library system in 1850.
In our history, we have built lovely government official residences such as the President House, Governor Houses, the Prime Minister House and many other buildings but no libraries. We have built many polo grounds and golf courses but no libraries. Lahore, an ancient city of culture, now has more polo grounds than libraries.
A search for libraries on the internet reveals only university and organisational libraries in Pakistan. When you go to the university and organizational libraries, you see what a sorry state these are in. They hardly have a collection and are operated like bureaucracies with severe entry limitations, and on a short working day, mostly during office hours.
Our national library did not even get space on the main Constitution Avenue. It is tucked away behind the PM office as if we ae ashamed of it. As its website puts it, is in a plot of 500 by 100; a little over an acre is all the government could afford for a library. It took us 46 years to come up with the concept for a national library. Even today, the National Library has 130,000 volumes, 555 manuscripts, 45 reels of microfilms, 48000 microfiches cards, 845 magazines and 135 newspapers. What a testament to our great civilisation. I might add that this collection does not even compare to a reasonably sized public library in a civilised country. When in Pakistan, I witnessed our bureaucracy and the Planning Commission playing this game called “Who Can Spend Our Development Money The Fastest On Pet Projects”. I saw many strange projects, like megabucks universities contracted to unknown consortiums, bureaucracies setting up mango pulp and football-making plants, textile cities, garments cities and so many others. I asked and wondered why we cannot have project for community libraries. Why can we not dedicate, say, about Rs 50 million for a library in the top 20 cities of our country per year? That is only a billion a year. Not a large sum of money when you think of the vanity projects, VIP trips and the sums required to maintain our VIPs. But then I was reminded of who demands books in Pakistan. When I go to my rich friends’ houses, I see no books. A million-dollar household with a hundred thousand-dollar sports car outside has no books. Rich people who spend thousands of dollars on a dinner do not even spend a hundred dollars annually on books.
None of the manifestoes of our political parties even mention libraries. So perhaps the government is right: there is no demand for libraries in our country. So too is our visiting alien!

Nadeem Ul Haque is former Vice Chancellor of PIDE. Email:
Coutesy : Dailytimes

Conspiracy Theorists

Shamsuddin Muhammad

July 20-July 27

In our country , unfortunately majority is accustomed to blame outside hands in every event with stark implications. Even the educated people with a historical background take every information as taken for granted without critical analysis. In one of the most interesting chapter of Aitizaz Ahmsan's famous book written on history of the region called Pakistan,he describes an interesting phenomenon about our habit of blaming foreign hidden forces behind whatever goes wrong with all of us in our country. He asserts that the the custom started between the era of decline of Mughal empire and arrival of British Colonialists.It was during this time that people of the region developed the habit of accusing nasty foreigner (alien) working with the insincere rulers of Delhi for all socio-economic and political misery that the then people faced.Today, it seems a habit of people that is not only alive but rapidly flourishing. The outcome of this conspiracy theory rose from the habit has brought its implications not to this region only but also to the west which, has its fair share of nuances-from those who claims to be abducted by foreigners and those to denying the Holocaust. Tyrannically, the phenomenon has resulted into a flourishing industry of Publishing and recording i.e. books, audio and video assets, dedicated websites that dresses fiction as a fact.
In Western countries, these publications have found their way into many major stores, but they are at once analyzed, challenged and comprehensibly dishonored by intellectuals a practice we lack in Pakistan. The media and DVD retailers here have been quick to grasp and exploit the commercial opportunity this "infotainment" Industry.
A number of these conspiracy theorists can be seen in terms of strategic analysts and religious scientists presenting their own socio economic and strategic analysis on television channels.Not a single one rationale intellectual in the country dare or venture to challenge them for their odd socio-economic and political perceptions. They are on apex of their weird business presenting their own breed of analysis regarding September 11, 2001 carnage as a Americo-Zionist-Hindu designs underestimating Lal Masjid trailer during General retired Pervez Musharraf's reign. There theory support the notion that big corporations in association with intellectual creative religious group are the main causes of sins-ranging from world wars, aid, economic crisis,patronization of democracy and introduction of capitalist or communist systems. But in real clergy has always bolster a pure capitalist regime against a due share in past either an form through exploitation of masses. Majority of Pakistanis believe that world is a flat substance except those learned intellectual personnel who refuse such notions for these theorists who are mastered to make irrational leaps of logic to prove an evidence of unwanted events to an enemy institution or country. Nevertheless, most young Pakistanis though educated actually are being sucked in. There are many intimations of this like:spread of irrational philosophies,critique of multiparty system, anti secular demagogy (egoism) and widespread antagonist to democracy.
One may wonder to think about the reward to these conspiracy theorist. These DVD retailers and personalities, who are mounding day by day along with their peculiar views in a very next programme may think of turning to a lucrative potential business industry in the country. Interestingly, most of these conspiracy theorists are parodies of critical socio-economic and historical analysis. They can be assumed as ready made models of displaying intellectualism for those academically sound, rationale, having analytical and critical thinking.
One can must minutely observe the events using faculty of his senses for human beings are the best creature having a distinct mind capacity on earth;as one has rightly said,knowledge is learned and wisdom lingers.

The writer is a freelance writer, researcher, social worker, HR practitioner SHRM and Geopolitical and historical issues and author of the blog.

The retreat of Jinnah's Pakistan
GBE Monitoring Desk

July 20-July 27
An event in the life of a nation sometimes has deeper significance than what appears on the surface. The accord by which the government all but ceded administrative and judicial control to militants and their Taliban affiliates in Swat is such a development. This has profound implications for the country that have been obscured by the facile discussions on many TV talk shows. It may well mark a turning point in the country's struggle with rising militancy. The Swat deal signifies several things all at once. First and foremost it represents a retreat for Jinnah's Pakistan. Whatever the apologists of the deal may claim, it is the very antithesis of the vision and ideals inspired by the country's founder, the core of which was a modern, unified Muslim state, not one fragmented along obscurantist and sectarian lines. Several times during and after the struggle for freedom, the Quaid-e-Azam emphatically ruled out anything resembling a throwback to obscurantism or any variant of theocracy. His leadership rested on principle and according to one of his biographers, he preferred "political wilderness to playing to the gallery".

Today the country's erstwhile leaders do not lead but are led by their dubious interpretation of what the "people want" in Swat, an act of monumental self-deception as any climate of 'opinion' created at gunpoint represents coercion, not consent. Rattled by more aggressive actions by militants, the political and security establishments caved in to the challenge rather than confront it. The Swat deal signaled weakness and bankruptcy on the part of the ruling elite that chose appeasement as the pathway to address the country's mounting internal security challenges. While the government showed no leadership or capacity to govern, the country's security institutions failed to protect its citizens, and legislators (save for the MQM) preferred expediency to principle. Can any of these actors claim to have upheld Jinnah's ideals or legacy?

The agreement forged between the ANP government and Sufi Mohammed, head of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammad (TNSM), on February 16 was effected through a presidential edict on April 13, and endorsed by a hastily contrived parliamentary resolution. This followed months of policy chaos, on again, off again peace accords and stop-go military operations, accompanied by rising violence and the virtual collapse of any civil administration in Swat. Indeed this backdrop of rudderless, directionless rule at the centre reinforced the state of national disarray and created the conditions for the eventual Swat surrender. Amidst this policy confusion, political leaders seemed bereft of any vision or the courage needed to steer the country in a clear direction, and preferred instead to strike a Faustian bargain with little regard for the consequences. Just as government figures were portraying the latest financial bailout from the international community as a triumph of its hat-in-hand diplomacy, Islamabad was conceding ground to militants in Swat.

A combination of factors, including political short-sightedness and expediency, pursuit of narrow agendas and fear of reprisals by militants, has resulted in choosing a course in Swat that will have serious ramifications for the country. This indicates, above all, a loss of nerve and will by the political and military leadership that seems to have convinced itself that it can contain militancy by conceding to it. But it has set the dangerous precedent of state power surrendering to a local militant force on the dubious premise of 'peace at any price'. Advocates of the deal in and outside the government marshal a number of arguments to justify it. A major rationale adduced for the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation is that it is no different from the agreements reached in 1994 and 1999 by the Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif governments and is sanctioned by the special status enjoyed by the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas in the constitution. The verdicts of Qazi courts provided in the Adl Regulation will in any case be subject to appeal in the High and Supreme Courts and so will ultimately be consistent with the laws in the rest of the country.

Moreover, it is argued, that the regulation is in consonance with the wishes of the people of Swat who want the restoration of peace above all else. Trading a form of Sharia justice in return for peace is not being lily-ivered but pragmatic. As the NWFP governor and assorted ANP leaders have declared, this regulation was "the only way to bring peace." The deal in fact aims to separate the moderates from the militant Taliban. These claims ignore the political context in which the deal has been forged, with whom and on what terms. Invoking the parallels of 1994 and 1999 is spurious logic as 2009 represents a vastly transformed environment in which the militants entrenched in Swat are affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which, officials themselves say, poses a threat to the country's security. How this agreement de-couples Sufi Mohammed's TNSM from these allies no one has cared to explain. It is the TTP militants who hold sway behind the figure of Sufi Mohammed, who was the mediator between the government and the Swat Taliban.

Nor does the argument hold up that the system instituted in Swat will be consistent with Pakistan's constitution. The fig leaf of the state's writ overseeing the Nizam-e-Adl implementation has already been ripped apart by Sufi Mohammed who announced last Sunday that the decisions of the Qazi courts will be final and not subject to appeal in the High and Supreme Courts which he denounced along with the constitution and democracy as un-Islamic. He also declared that judges to the Qazi courts will be appointed with the consent of his organization. This has thrown into sharp relief the reality of a parallel law being established. The argument trotted out about Swat's 'special status' overlooks the fact that modern statehood requires that laws are unified whereas the regulation fragments the system of law and justice. And as the people who will administer the new regulation are no experts in Muslim jurisprudence or even theology, this cannot even be considered a move toward Islamisation. It is little more than surrender to a medieval form of obscurantism practised by the Taliban. As for the rather rich claim that the regulation has been promulgated in deference to the popular will in Swat, this confuses coercion with consent. If the men of violence are able to create a climate of fear and intimidation and the army too fails to come to the people's rescue, local inhabitants will obviously want a cessation of violence. But this is fundamentally different from people becoming instant converts to the worldview espoused by the TNSM and the Taliban.

Few will take issue with a peace agreement if it is forged with those prepared to renounce violence and predicated on an explicit acceptance of the writ of the state. The Swat deal doesn't meet this criterion. Negotiated in haste and under duress, the agreement has not been accompanied by any explanation as to the obligations agreed to by the TNSM, much less about how these will be enforced. Even an undertaking of decommissioning weapons is shrouded in mystery, contrary to official claims that the TNSM will ask its Taliban allies to surrender their arms. The Swat deal marks a dangerous precedent for several reasons. One, it sets up a parallel justice system that has been 'won' in the shadow of the gun. One-third of NWFP, which the Malakand division represents, has been placed under this parallel law. Two, it cedes space to the militants who wreaked violence, killed at will, burnt girls' schools and spread mayhem that led to the exodus of tens of thousands of people from the valley. Virtually handing over Swat in this backdrop is tantamount to the state acceding to a form of Taliban warlordism. Far from halting creeping Talibanisation, Islamabad's concession has unintentionally conferred legitimacy to their agenda.

Three, it serves to embolden militant forces to advance further and beyond Swat. Already Sufi Mohammed has vowed to spread the system he calls the 'sharia' to the surrounding region and the rest of the country. The demonstration effect is also evident in the call given by the recently released cleric of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, for the Swat success to be replicated in all of Pakistan. What is to stop a small band of militants from seizing territory, coercing the inhabitants and holding them to ransom until their cries for peace are responded to by Islamabad with another dose of 'pragmatism' and deference to public wishes? And four, the Swat experiment risks stoking sectarian tensions which will have further deleterious effects on the social fabric and the body politic.
Finally it is worth recounting what an Afghan friend once told me as she recalled her country's experience: "They don't have to seize the capital to take over the country". The sense of distance and complacency that is bred by the atmosphere of power and privilege in Islamabad should not blind the government to the looming threat of militancy which its own missteps have heightened.

The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK, and a former editor of The News newspaper. Courtesy Dailytimes

Why so impatient with democracy?
Ayaz Amir
July 19-July 26
Monitoring Beauro

This nation suffered Field Marshal (self-appointed) Ayub Khan as its ruler for eleven years, and General Ziaul Haq for another eleven years, and Pervez Musharraf for eight and a half years. There was opposition to their rule at the popular level but it was to little avail when pitted against the army's divisions. Power slipped away from Ayub and Musharraf when they could no longer count on the army's unquestioning support. Zia went because of other causes.
But it is a strange characteristic of our chattering classes whose supreme vocation in life, after the worship of Mammon, is the nurturing of conspiracy theories that while they resign themselves all too readily to military rule, their impatience starts bursting at the seams as soon as there is a democratic government in place.
For the folly and ultimate futility of military rule their patience is unbounded. But surveying the imperfections and shortcomings of democracy which are many it is their anger which is limitless. Thus we see the strange spectacle of those who not only saw nothing wrong with Musharraf, but indeed served him loyally throughout his years in power, transformed suddenly into merciless critics of the present order.
This is no argument against criticism. If those who hold democracy's cup in their hands play out their shenanigans, they must be taken to task. But we must remember at the same time that while the alternative in Britain to Gordon Brown is David Cameron, and the alternative in the US to the wild fantasies of neo-con Republicanism is someone like Barack Obama, what usually comes after the wholesale trashing of democracy in Pakistan is the march of the Triple One Brigade. President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani are easy targets, not least because of their various shortcomings. It is perfectly legitimate to target them as both could do with extended lessons in vital aspects of adult education. But given our past and the ambitions of the Bonapartist class, we must beware of the distinction between those thrown up by democracy and democracy itself. No calamity could be greater than George Bush. But America waited for an election to rubbish his legacy. Our chattering classes show not the same forbearance. And it's not as if Zardari alone is the problem. If Nawaz Sharif had been in power I can bet anything the chattering classes would have ganged up against him. Our record speaks for itself. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were in power twice each in the 1990s. They proved their own worst enemies by not managing affairs of state as well as they should have. But they also had to contend with well-entrenched conspiracies. Senior ranks in the military could not tolerate the thought of another Bhutto in power. And there were champions of the liberati, stalwarts of the English-language press, who had convinced themselves that anything was better than Nawaz Sharif, including a military takeover. During Nawaz Sharif's first stint as prime minister 1990-93 these elements egged on then army chief General Asif Nawaz to undermine the elected leadership. His untimely death frustrated their designs. When Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif from power in Oct 99 to cover up his Kargil sins and satiate his thirst for supreme powerthe chattering classes celebrated, as if their time had come.
I was just now reading the first column I wrote after Musharraf's takeover and I have to say parts of it leave me ashamed. Basically the line I took was that the army's hand had been forced. By the next column my sights had cleared and I was condemning the coup. But in the immediate aftermath of the coup I had, unforgivably, provided some justification for it. I of course recanted within a week but the love affair of the chattering classes as a whole with Musharraf lasted for a long time. The argument is always the same: that the country is in danger, and saving the country should take primacy over such luxuries as safeguarding democracy. The prescription also is always the same: that riders on horseback should take to their horses to save the country. From Ayub to Musharraf we have had four attempts at saving the country. Each attempt has brought the country to its knees. The brigade of the perennially disgruntled has a disarmingly simple agenda: to sup at the table of power, even if at the far end of the table. In that exalted, or relatively exalted, state their qualms are miraculously suppressed. But removed from that circle of hospitality it is touching, and not a little alarming, to see their hearts bleed for the nation and its problems.
If in the 1990s it was a favourite refrain of the drawing room classes to condemn by turns Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, now the entire post-Feb 18 edifice is being undermined and called into question because Zardari happens to be president of the republic.
Zardari has his failings and who can deny them? Both he and Gilani are accidents of destiny, gifts from the heavens at their most sardonic. But they are also products of a democratic process and therefore to be tolerated until the next turn of the political wheel. For if it is democracy that we aim to secure then we have to get used to the idea that whatever our preferences, however strong and passionate our likes and dislikes, change must come democratically and not through any other means. If this country can survive Musharraf it won't be undone by Zardari. Let us have greater faith in our ability to override the vagaries of fortune.
Who in Italy would give high marks to Silvio Berlusconi for financial probity and political integrity? India has had its share of scandal-ridden prime ministers. And while we may have much to lament as far as our present heroes on deck are concerned, we must learn from our past and apply some rein to our collective impatience, restraining some of the nihilism that we often demonstrate towards our institutions and democratic processes.Nowadays of course we are witnessing something new, a variation on the theme of third-party intervention. It is not the army which is being called upon to save the country. It is the judiciary, specifically the Supreme Court, which is being asked to come to the nation's rescue, even if this amounts to crossing the limits set for it in the Constitution.
Those egging on the judiciary to overstep its limits are forgetting a few simple facts. Their lordships put under house arrest by Musharraf were freed not by any storming of the Bastille but by a few plain sentences uttered by Prime Minister Gilani even before his swearing in. In his maiden address to the National Assembly he said the judges would be freed and, lo and behold, hardly were the words out of his mouth before the barriers guarding the judicial colony were swept away. Is the irony lost on the self-appointed champions of the judiciary that while the lawyers' movement had boycotted the February elections, it was the outcome of those elections, the emergence of a popular National Assembly, and not any long march, which led to this outcome?
Again the restoration of Justice Chaudhry and the other deposed judges came about because of a complex interplay of factors which were purely political in nature: Nawaz Sharif breaking out of his house arrest and leading the mass outpouring of feeling and marching feet that we saw in Lahore on March 15; and hectic behind-the-scenes activity on the part of Prime Minister Gilani and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. If no man is an island, no institution can be an island unto itself. An independent and powerful judiciary is a protector of parliament. At the same time, without democracy and the political process an independent judiciary is a meaningless concept. On Nov 3, 2007, when Musharraf imposed emergency, deposing Justice Chaudhry and replacing him with Justice Dogar, all it took to bring this about was a detachment of the Islamabad ISI. It is the imperfect democracy emerging from the Feb 18, 2008, elections which has nullified Musharraf's actions. As we trash everything around us, let us not forget these facts.
The expected meeting between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif is a good omen for it shows that despite their sharp differences they realise that at this juncture when the army is fighting a war within the country's borders, national unity rather than any fresh invitation to instability is of the highest importance.

Email: Writer is a mainstream politician and political analyst. He can be contacted at: -Courtesy Dailytimes

Development: Reform, not repeal

July 19-July 26

Devolution must also take place from the federal to the provincial level. This way devolving power will no longer be seen as a tool by a centralist state to bypass the provinces After the meeting of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee last week, the prime minister has announced that conditions are presently not conducive for holding elections for the local bodies, despite the fact that the current term of local governments is going to end soon. Instead, the federal government has been asked to revive the defunct office of the district magistrate and executive magistracy to be put back in place. Thus, it seems that all the effort that had gone into setting up local government structures since the promulgation of the Local Government Ordinance 2001 are simply going to be wasted.
Let us examine why the present government is so adamant on dissolving the local government system, and take a retrospective view of the performance of local governments over the past few years in order to assess if the complete dismantling of this system is merited, or what else may have been done to enable the genuine devolution of power.
The local governments set up by the Musharraf regime have certainly not been able to gain much political support. Besides the MQM, which has control over Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and other large local bodies in Sindh, all other political parties are keen to do away with the existing local bodies. The PMLN is resolved to do so in particular. The Punjab government has even approved a new Local Government Act. Main features of the new law, which is to be enacted through the Punjab Assembly, include separation of the rural and urban areas of cities, re-introduction of municipal corporations and district councils, and giving only municipal functions to them so as to return administrative powers to the official machinery, to be headed either by a deputy commissioner or the DCO.
While the local government system now seems doomed to dismantlement in its current form at least, the fact remains that many of the local governments have made some major achievements on the ground. These achievements range from more responsive service delivery in health and education to the launching of major infrastructure projects or the formation of numerous self empowered Citizen Community Boards across the country.
Local governments are also better placed to spend money more quickly than federal and provincial vertical programmes. Critics have pointed to the lack of fiscal accountability of local governments. In Punjab alone, the Auditor General of Pakistan has identified massive irregularities to the tune of 94 billion rupees and embezzlement of 4.6 billion rupees during the three year period of 2005-2008. However there is no evidence that the bureaucratic system was any less corrupt than the two-pronged Nazim-DCO system established under the Local Government Ordinance of 2001.
This does not mean that the local government set up was perfect. There were several evident problems with it which still needed to be resolved. A host of chronic administrative and financial issues have continued to plague the system. The administrative structure never really got the kind of human resources it needed. A disjoint between urban towns and rural tehsils was also furthering disparities on ground.
Although the local government system managed to create a new category of politicians, based at the district, tehsil and union council levels, the issue of representation of peasants, workers and women remained problematic. It was more common to find factory owners, landlords and the husbands of female councillors occupying these reserved seats then the intended beneficiaries. The capture of Citizen Community Broads by more resourceful people was also a common problem, preventing this entity to become a source of empowerment for the more marginalised segments of society.
Perhaps many of these problems had to do with the fact that drastic changes were made to the entire district administrative set-up without pre-testing the local government system anywhere in the country. It is also hard to dispute the fact that the history of the local government in our country is chequered and mostly it has been put into place by military instead of democratic governments. It has also been scrapped on the basis of political expediencies instead of performance-based indicators.
However, these lessons concerning the technical robustness of local government design or the incremental prospects of reform seem to have been set aside once again due to the political imperative of dismantling a system put in place by a military dictator to break the back of political parties in the country. The fact that these local government elections were held on a non-party basis also fuelled this perception. Moreover, the eventual domination of local governments by PMLQ-backed candidates, and their feared interference in the last general elections, created even more resentment against local governments.
Given the fact that devolution of power has become so politicised, it will be a good idea if the future form of such a system is decided in consultation with the major political parties. While this local governance is being done away with through a process that seems democratic given that major political parties are demanding this action, delaying elections of local government for more than a year will begin to undermine the larger democratic process of holding elections when they are due.
The death of an elaborate local government system which had been put into place already, despite some weaknesses, is regrettable. But it is hard to ignore the fact that decentralisation and devolution are internationally acceptable means of making governance more efficient and responsive.
If fresh local government elections are actually held after a one year delay, one hopes that this time around the provinces will have a greater say in the formation of the system of local governments since even the Constitution of 1973 places the formation of local governments within the domain of provinces. Furthermore, devolution must also take place from the federal to the provincial level. This way devolving power will no longer be seen as a tool by a centralist state to bypass the provinces, but instead imply letting power generally rest at a level which is most responsive and efficient.

Dyed Mohammad Ali is a researcher. He can be contacted at

BASHA DAM is just only for the NWFP & PUNJAB not for GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Iqbal Burcha

It is great issue raise for the NORTHERN areas to disperse their concentration from the basic problems of the region, it is common in Gilgit-Baltistan that "Is Basha Dam benificial for us or not?" everyone is discussing on this topic but still we have not understand its fact. The question is simple, where is it located? is there any industry in Gilgit-Baltistan? who will get the interest from it? who will be the Owner of it? why DAM is constructed here? what will be given to the residents of the region? when any person try to think about the mentioned questions he or she will understand it automatically, so no one should disperse their concentration by it. we residents of Gilgit-Baltistan should give priority for the education which is only way for the progress in the region. According to the servey of a reliable source , there are 75% people who believe that people of NORTHERN AREAS can achieve their goal only by getting education not from any source, so it is clear here that we have to focus on education not other time wasting topics. Northern areas have not yet a MEDICAL COLLEGE or any ENGINEERING University , there is KIU which is very new, there is needed a lot of time to show its affect, so we can imagine that what is the future of GILGIT-BALTISTAN ? who will be the leaders of Northern areas? BASHA DAM and other thing are just only for the other provinces of Pakistan , if we have any thing that is GILGIT-BALTISTAN and its educational institutions.

Iqbal Burcha has served as President NASA - University of Karachi he can be contacted at Mygilgit

How Do You Act Under Pressure?
By: Naseema


How a person acts under pressure tells a lot about what that person is like. A valuable strategy is to observe yourself when the pressure is off and when the pressure is on, notice the differences and see if you can learn something that may help you become successful. If you put a grape into a press and turn up the pressure what happens? Well of course the grape gets squashed but what do you get? You only get 4 things; grape juice, grape pulp, grape seeds and grape skins. Why? Because no matter how great the pressure you can only ever get what the grape is truly made of This is exactly the same with human beings and mental pressure.When people are under pressure they often act in ways that they would not necessarily be proud of but they justify this by blaming it on the pressure or the supposed creator of the pressure. They say things like "he made me angry" or "work is stressing me" or "my spouse is making me unhappy".Just like the grape you can only give out what you have inside you. If you become angry it is because you are carrying the seeds of anger, if you become stressed it is because you already have the seeds of stress inside you, if you are becoming unhappy it is because you have already planted within you the seeds of unhappiness. Most people carry some negativity inside them but when things are calm it is easy to keep the negativity under control. But as the pressure increases the self control decreases until eventually that negativity is released.----The greater the negativity stored inside the easier it is to release it. If you are full of stress and negativity then you are like a fat, ripe, juicy grape just waiting for the slightest amount of pressure so that you can burst open and let it all ooze out. How little pressure does it take to anger you, or make you unhappy, or stressed, or depressed, or feel defeated and give up, or become impatient, or bitter or resentful or mean to others, and so on? The easier a negativity is to bring out the more important it is for you to work on ridding yourself of that negativity. The first step is to accept that the negativity is not being caused by your circumstances, or others in your life, or by the government, or your family, or your responsibilities, or bad luck or anything else external to you. Only you can put negativity into yourself and you do it by what you choose to think and by the internal model of the world that you have chosen to create. Equally, only you can remove those negative emotions and replace them with positive emotions that will empower you, allow you to function well under any circumstances and help you create a rewarding and enjoyable life.----It is your mind. what you allow into your mind is your choice and your choice alone. The next time you find yourself cracking under pressure and allowing the negativity to come out, think of that grape and make a decision to change what is inside of you once and for all.

Naseema is a Student Of BCS Form Gilgit and can be meet at Mygilgit

Job Depression in Youth ,its Solutions
Syed Mujahid Ali Shah

Our eastern society has many good characteristics in the social attitudes of which we might be proud, but some are not according to the growing challenges of our society. The one most concerning of them is our socialization toward a dependent behavior's a result of which our youth seem in trouble when they are in practical life As we know that our problems are growing. The population is doubled 'overnight' and job finding for youth has become a dream and the youth seem under extreme depression. AJKAL TO NOKRI MILTI HI KAHAN HAI.BUSSS YAR..........APNA KIA HOGA? These words are often coming out of the circles of just passed out and youth in the practical field of life. And the responsible persons of society say "ASL MAY HAMARA SYSTEM KHARAB HAI" and they demand system change. Many other people present other mega theories as well. But when ask youth they are found confused and frustrated. on realistic basis what might be a way out? I think the main problem exists in ourselves, in the youth more than more any other sector of the society. Because we are socialized to expect much more on the society and state than courage to think ourselves of accepting each work which you are currently able to do, it may be good, it may be very good and it may be bad ,it may be very bad. We the youth need first kill the cultural shame of doing any job which is so called minor, Because what you learn from doing in minor level jobs is practically what you need for being on the top level jobs. It is also a cultural taboo for you in our society to take an initiative with innovative idea. A few young people know that a minor innovative idea of a real educated man can not only provides a livelihood to him but also to a lot more others But in the current situation seeking only a white color job after getting education and trying non for self initiation has been destroying our educated youth. I hope our youth will change this trend as soon will learn to take initiations as a very few young men are in who have not hesitated to take innovative, initiatives like establishing entrepreneurship, Web designing and small business initiatives as well.

Writer is an intellectual and can be contected at Mygilgit

Dusty Nation-Pakistan
By:Noor Muhammad

About 842 million tourists, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, arrived at different destinations across the world during the last year, marking around five percent growth. The Asian tourism Industry expanded by seven and a half percent. South Asia attracted ten percent more international arrivals, India receiving the major chunk, almost half of the regional total. And as usual, our beloved Pakistan is to be seen nowhere on the horizon.>The abysmal state of tourism industry in Pakistan is not caused by dearth of tourist resorts. Indeed, Pakistan is home to some of the most interesting tourist spots known internationally. From the mountains, glaciers and lakes of Gilgit-Baltistan to the deserts of Thar, in Sindh, there are hundreds of identified and established tourist sites. In Gilgit-Baltistan alone, we have more than half of the world’s most famous peaks and glaciers.
The meadows and valleys of that region are also famous for their beauty and charm. Culturally rich cities like Lahore, Multan, and Karachi, Peshawar, Ziarat and even richer traditional societies that live in the rural areas are not lesser in their potential as major tourist resorts. What kills Pakistan’s tourism industry then? Pakistan has been a member of the UNWTO, since 1975, but it is depressing to see that it has not been able to boost the industry significantly. Over the years there have been periods of very low tourist arrivals and the growth, if any, has been at Snail’s pace. Definitely the government has “statistics” to “prove” its “achievements” but in reality tourism has been a major failure in Pakistan. Not blaming the government entirely for the failure let us admit that it has even not been able to perform what it ought to. Many nations around the world have made their tourism industry the engine of their economic growth and development, for instance Malaysia and China. And we are still struggling to make ourselves presentable, despite of the millions spent on promotion. The question is: What had they been promoting if we were even not presentable over the course of these many years? Bomb blasts, riots, sectarian killings, fear of the Mullah, poverty, illiteracy, political mayhem and the the-sponsors-of-Jihad Tag, have overshadowed the lush green meadows, the lofty, God touching peaks and the serene valley of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, damaging the nations’ economy. This negative reality, not image, of Pakistan is what hurts us the most. Let’s not play the Ostrich game any more. Admit that our governments have been dirtying their hands and heads by not being able to govern. We all know what needs to be done. Educate them and implement the laws, which are so abundant in this state of ours. Another major obstruction in development of tourism in Pakistan is the emphasis on traditional sight-seeing mindset attached, somehow, in our industry. While the web portal of the PTDC makes an effort by mentioning “Spiritual Tourism”, “Eco-Tourism”, etc. all of these falls under the category of sight-seeing. The scope of tourism can be modernized by establishing and developing research institutes near important ecological, archeological and mineral-rich tourist sites of Gilgit-Baltistan. The impact, clearly, would be very different. Apart from adventurous mountain climbers and casual sight-seers, we would, systematically, be able to attract researchers from various parts of the world. This, while adding to the number of arrivals, would be another major source of promotion. Researchers publishing books and articles about sites in Pakistan would be able to influence further research and resulting in more international visits.The indigenous societies of Kalash, Baltistan, Hunza, Ghizar, Potohar, Thar, and Baluchistan are so culturally rich that they can become a major source of cultural tourism, if managed and promoted objectively. Winters in Gilgit-Baltistan, parts of NWFP and Baluchistan are severe. The severity hushes all economic activity in these regions, throwing them back in poverty and resourcelessness. And this too, despite of the wonderful opportunities offered by the snow, the ice, the wind, and the water so abundantly found there. Winter sports and not only Polo, needs to be focused. A Skiing resort is already present at Naltar Valley, in Gilgit, which needs immediate modernization and up gradation. Similarly there are other resorts in Baltistan, Hunza and Diamer, specially the Deosai Plains, which can be used to host events featuring winter sports. However, there is a dire need to expand, upgrade and standardize the facilities that are demanded by international tourists. The need for up gradation increases manifolds if we are to promote winter sports. The hotels must equip themselves with all necessities. PTDC and all its hotels can help other hotels, if they themselves are aware; prepare for offering services during harsh winters.Gilgit-Baltistan is also environmentally rich. The Flora, Fauna, the societies, the ecological system, all, need to be explored and promoted even more. Places like Khunjerab National Park, Deosai National Park, rare wild life sanctuaries, conserved societies and habitats have many gifts and inspiring offerings that the world has not had the opportunity to view. Environmental and Eco-Tourism appeal more emphasis to offer alternative vistas for the expansion of tourism in our country. Metropolitan Tourism can not be expected in a country where Mega Metropolises like Karachi lack peace and safety, not to mention the dust, the fume, the jammed roads and ready-to-snap electricity supply lines. Cities like Islam Abad and Lahore, which are relatively clean, can be used to introduce the boiling plates of, proud, ethnic and cultural diversity. There is also a need to urge local tourists to not empty their pockets in shopping malls of Dubai and instead open their eyes, stretch their arms and take their children to the lands of bewitching beauty, far from commercialism, close to Mother Nature. In conclusion, tourism industry in Pakistan, has been suffering because of lack of planning and exploration. If the agencies responsible for developing tourism start researching the mountains and plains of our country they would find thousands of features that are even not known to citizens of this country, let alone international tourists. It must be kept in mind that most of the essential requirements of tourism industry are present in our country; we just need to reflect, get focused and realize what we have been neglecting.

The writter intellectual thinker and can be contacted at:
outesy mygilgit

Pakistan’s Kashmir problem
Alok Rai

My Pakistani interlocutor assures me that it is the hour before dawn that is the darkest, that the present generation, even in Punjab, is ready to move out of this mutually destructive cycle and start a new chapter in the sad history of our sub-continent(The present article grew out of a series of exchanges between two friends, one Indian, the other Pakistani. "Kashmir" is a problem with far-reaching consequences for both societies. It is important that members of civil society on both sides of the border talk to each other in a spirit of serious engagement, and so carry forward the people-to-people dialogue beyond the not insignificant level of biryani and banter. It is in that spirit that this view from India is offered.)My proposition is simple — despite the proclamations of generations of Pakistani leaders, Pakistan’s Kashmir problem has nothing to do with Kashmir. It is a fact that the transfer of power in Kashmir way back at the time of Independence and Partition was a messy business — but that is over and done with.As far as the UN Resolution is concerned, there is simply no possibility of a return to the status quo ante. Even if it were possible to imagine Pakistani forces vacating "Azad Kashmir" — a.k.a. POK, but why bother to go that way? — and of Indian forces vacating Indian Kashmir, there is no possibility of returning to that time in which the plebiscite was supposed to be held.Further, it needs to be asked: what is the nature of the engagement of Pakistani civil society with "Kashmir"? Is it an engagement at the level of our common humanity — in the sense in which I may, for instance, be deeply involved with the tragedy of Africa? But if it is something more or other than that, it needs to be spelt out just what that something more is. Because the most evident explanation for Pakistan’s special claim to a locus standi in "the Kashmir problem" can only be in terms of the two-nation theory.I realise that the state of Pakistan must have a somewhat fraught relationship with the two-nation theory — it is after all the necessary foundation for the state of Pakistan. But members of civil society may well feel — on both sides of the border — the "theory", first propounded by the ideologue of Hindutva, Savarkar, was a historical blunder, a catastrophic political mistake, one that was at the root of millions of destroyed lives, Hindu and Muslim. It also left the Muslims of India, the putative beneficiaries, somewhat less politically consequential than they would have been otherwise.(This rejection of the two-nation theory is entirely consistent in my mind with accepting the present reality of two independent, sovereign states, India and Pakistan, which should have mature relations.)In the light of this, "Kashmir" becomes a way of addressing the Pakistani problem of legitimacy — because if Kashmir can be maintained as an "issue", then the "two-nation theory" is still available as a founding principle, despite all that has happened in the last 60 years.In the context of "Kashmir" that fatal "theory" raises its ugly head again. Still, it would be the height of political irresponsibility if it were to be legitimised now, and allowed to work its malign destruction again, unleashing the ethnic cleansing that would necessarily result in Kashmir — with its Muslim majority and its Hindu minority, in Jammu with its Hindu majority, and in Ladakh with its Buddhist majority. The notion of a religion-based plebiscite at this point in history is quite simply a horrible idea — and one that should be unthinkable even, perhaps particularly, in contemporary Pakistan. Is it?I do not by any means wish to suggest that all is well in Kashmir — even in Indian Kashmir — I don’t know enough about the other one. The Indian state has a serious problem with commanding the loyalties of the people of Kashmir, who might legitimately be said to have a problem with the state of India and its armed forces.It may be argued that the widespread exercise of democratic franchise by Kashmiris in the last election shows that the situation might be changing — that the people of Kashmir have, so to speak, voted with their votes, and voted not only in the immediate elections, but even in that hypothetical plebiscite on whether they wish to be a part of India.But it would be silly — worse, cruel — to pretend that "India’s Kashmir problem", and "Kashmir’s India problem", has thereby come to an end. It hasn’t. A lot more needs to be done — and trigger-happy soldiers cannot be part of the solution.But all this — and more, much more — has nothing to do with Pakistan. In fact, the best thing that Pakistan can do for the people of Kashmir — for whom many tears are shed — is to lay off, let be, recognise that while it can certainly make things worse — difficult for Indian forces of course, but also worse for the people of Kashmir — it can certainly not make them better. Pakistani meddling — infiltration, "freedom fighting", etc — can only prolong the agony of the people of Kashmir and their ordeal at the hands of Indian forces.But is Pakistani civil society prepared to recognise this? It appears that there is far too much invested — in terms of material resources, of course — but also in terms of emotion, of national purpose — for Pakistan to be able to let go of "the Kashmir problem". This is not the same as letting go of Kashmir — nothing is going to change the situation on the ground, not in J&K, not in AJK. It is "Kashmir" — the foolish fantasy of "freeing" Kashmir — that enables the Army to maintain its stranglehold on Pakistan. The ideological investment in "freeing" Kashmir — in schools and out of them — will not easily be dissolved. Pakistan’s Kashmir problem is its inability to rid itself of the notion that it has a role to play in the resolution of Kashmir’s India problem.There is of course the valid military insight that Pakistan can, by keeping "Kashmir" on the boil, bleed India, and "avenge Bangladesh". But such is the dynamic set in motion by the explosive rise of jihadi Islam in Pakistan that now India, too, can crucify Pakistan by teasing it over Kashmir and so prolonging its ordeal at the hands of the jihadis.However, it devolves upon civil society in both countries to force their states not to continue with this cynical game, a game in which Kashmir — and Kashmiris, "ours" and "yours" — are merely the pretext; the instrument, the bloodied means to a suicidal end, a wilful prolongation of the tragedy of South Asia.But my Pakistani interlocutor assures me that it is the hour before dawn that is the darkest, that the present generation, even in Punjab, is ready to move out of this mutually destructive cycle and start a new chapter in the sad history of our sub-continent. I am writing this in the hope that he is right and I am wrong. Happy to be wrong.

Alok Rai is a professor at the University of Delhi-Coutesy Dailytimes

A state of failure...again?

Salman Tarik Kureshi

There are three kinds of scenario that emerge during state failure and collapse. One such scenario is that of political break-up along ethnic or regional lines. Some examples are British India, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and, of course, Pakistan itself in 1971In the wake of the Time magazine article on state failure in Pakistan, this correspondent watched a TV talk show featuring two parliamentarians. One, an especially articulate member of the PMLN, praised the commencement of action against the anti-state insurgents but was unrelenting in his criticism of the government for having failed to address the failures of governance that could presage descent into state failure. The other discussant, a PPP minister of state, seemed somewhat miffed that a magazine from the country his government was most concerned to impress by its decisive actions in the NWFP, should "accuse" us of state failure.We shall not argue here as to whether or not the present military campaigns in the NWFP and FATA were undertaken on the initiative of our elected sovereign parliament. The point is that they constitute only the minimum First Actions against the most egregious agents of state failure anywhere — the rabidly savage and murderous Taliban insurgents.Much more needs to be undertaken, on many more fronts. In an earlier article in these pages, I had argued that there are ‘fatal flaws’ within the elites this land has been obliged to suffer — blind spots, political illiteracy, dishonourable motives, absence of real morality. These are distinct from the societal ‘fault lines’ (of ethnicity, class, sect, tribe, whatever), so beloved of political commentators, which, if properly handled, can in fact yield powerful syntheses. But the kinds of fatal flaws that lie deep within the psyche of our ruling groups, have led only to violence, bloodshed and social breakdown. They prominently include a deep contempt for constitutional principles and the rule of law.Pakistan stands today as, if not a ‘failed’ sate, at least a ‘failing’ one. How has the country in fact scored, according to the Failed States Index (FSI) of the Fund for Peace? Five countries — Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad and Iraq — have been judged as the most failing states, with an FSI of over 110. Next among the Top Ten, with an FSI of over 103, were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan and the Central African Republic. Pakistan had in fact ‘risen’ by three positions to attain this ranking as the ninth most failing state in the world.What is it that happens when a state finally ‘fails’ (as Pakistan, along with these other nine, may be close to doing)?There are three kinds of scenario that emerge during state failure and collapse. One such scenario is that of political break-up along ethnic or regional lines. Some examples are British India, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and, of course, Pakistan itself in 1971. Now, such processes are always painful and, all too often, extremely bloody. However, political break-up may not be an altogether negative development if it leads to a cessation of disorder and the emergence of more viable national entities (as for example, Bangladesh or the numerous Soviet successor states).A second ‘failure’ scenario comprises the lawless ferment that precedes a successful revolution. A decrepit ancien regime must collapse before a new revolutionary administration can emerge from the rubble. The street fighting, upheavals, bloodshed and armed struggles during the transition may sometimes be quite short (Iran in 1979) or may be prolonged over many decades (China, prior to 1949).Beyond the revolution itself, as the new regime consolidates itself and begins its societal transformation processes, further disorder, bloodshed and new kinds of tyranny are usual. All this time, such societies remain traumatised. Internal order and peace are a long time getting established. The USSR, China, Iran and Cuba are all informative examples. I am not arguing against the validity of any political revolution, or even of the very concept of change by means of revolution. In a number of historical circumstances, there is no other method for a people to assert itself against the malign Leviathan of a tyrannical or unjust socio-political order.Coming now to the third kind of state failure, let me suggest that the worst, the most hopeless scenario is that of a sustained collapse of political authority. With political disintegration, society itself collapses into a febrile, continued anarchy. Afghanistan for much of the last thirty years, Somalia, Chad, and Congo are examples that come to mind.In this third scenario, the Leviathan of state authority, malign or benevolent, has been destroyed and no valid authority or order has come together. This is the conceptual territory of Thomas Hobbes and his "war of all against all". The lives of men are "poor, nasty, brutish and short", for the atomised society is dominated by its most brutal and violent members: warlords, bandits, village ‘Jaggas’, urban turf warriors. The creative minority, intellectuals, scholars, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, are either exterminated or they emigrate. They take with them the society’s hopes for any future...other than to be militarily conquered and rebuilt, as could be taking place today in Afghanistan.To return to the FSI rankings, these are based on twelve indicators of state vulnerability: (a) demographic pressures vis-à-vis resources; (b) massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples; (c) atrocities committed against communal groups and/or specific groups singled out by dominant groups; (d) chronic and sustained human flight, ‘brain drain’, voluntary middle class emigration; (e) uneven economic development along group or regional lines; (f) economic decline and the growth of hidden economies, including drugs, smuggling and capital flight; (g) criminalisation of the state, endemic corruption of ruling elites; (h) deterioration of public services, including failure to protect citizens from crime, terrorism and violence; (i) disregard for human rights, emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule; (j) security apparatus as a ‘state within a state’ that operates with impunity; (k) use of nationalistic political rhetoric by ruling elites in terms of communal irredentism or of communal solidarity, e.g. "defending the faith"; and (l) intervention of other states or external actors, military or paramilitary, in the internal affairs of the state.Interesting, yes, but before my readers start ticking off which of these indicators are visible in Pakistan, let me suggest that they all are. The point is to note the extent to which they are strictly relative and contingent. How many of these indicators would also be applicable in, say, Brazil and India today? But no one would suggest that either of these two countries is on the brink of state failure. On the other hand, a few of these indicators would have been considered as descriptive of the ‘Superpower’ Soviet Union, prior to its spectacular collapse as a state entity in 1991.Why? Oh, that’s simple. Brazil, India and a number of other countries have achieved the benefits of democracy, rule of law, a vigorous civil society and, most of all, an elite that identifies itself with its homeland. The former USSR did not.

Salman Tarik Kureshi is a marketing consultant based in Karachi. He is also a poet-Courtesy Dailytimes


By: Piar Ali

July 12-19 Self Esteem means “belief and confidence in your own ability and value” It is often said that the best competition you can is with yourself. That is outdoing your own performance and learning from your own good & bad actions. This also helps you focus better on yourself, and lets you develop at a balance speed. It surely ensures that you never look up at yourself as a loser that can be very dangerous for any individual. But this practice becomes negative as well. As the experts also say that world's worst criticism is the self criticism. When you are unkind to yourself and are looking yourself as a failure, you start taking all the meaningful & meaningless criticisms of the world also on your self very seriously. As a result you manage to destroy all that you had. You become your own greatest enemy. You must realize it before it gets too late! Focus on building your self esteem yourself. Here are some tips to build your self steem successfully: 1. To begin with, think positive. An optimistic person is he who is able to see the silver lining in the clouds of problems. We must understand that there is no person on this earth who has no problems absolutely, and those who are probably have never tried to accomplish any meaningful action! You have problems because you are trying and the fact that you are trying makes you a inner automatically! So do not linger on to that problem 2. Being optimistic does not mean that you have to become unrealistic. There are sad moments that you have to tackle with a happy mode and there are tough times where you have to be brave. Look for the points where the other find optimism and you might find some relaxation for yourself as well. 3. Try helping the others, as this is another effective means of building your self esteem. In order to help people you need not be extremely rich or powerful. Remember help here does not mean charity in the times when you yourself need some. Try sharing some happy moments, some emotions, some valuable time with the others that can uplift their lives. 4. Use your special talent to help the world and find pleasure for yourself. For example, in case you like teaching, volunteer at some community school that helps the under privileged. Remember, kindness that you serve, always comes back to you when you need it the most. 5. Be kind to your self as well. Right form the childhood we are trained to reach higher & higher and hence we all have big dreams. Do not stop dreaming but achieve them one by one by setting some realistic goals for yourself. In case you are left behind your time table, instead of pestering your self all the more, thinks about the plans by which you can get back on the track. 6. You must not give up trying. Believe in your self! It's your dream and your soul prepared you top charge ahead; then even if people are there to help you, you really can't depend on them! Rather, meet your targets as much as you can all by yourself! Tell yourself that as I have seen the bad part of me, now that will come will be the good & yet if it is bad, I shall work further to improvise on it! That is self esteem!

Piyar Ali is a well known writer and IT professional, he can be reached at

Courtesy: My Gilgit dotcom


Post a Comment

Monitoring every regional historical development

Monitoring every regional historical  development
Click above to visit blog

Discerning social Change in Gilgit-Baltistan

Discerning social Change in Gilgit-Baltistan
Reflecting socio-economic, administrative and cultural impulses in regional periphery

SRs Times

SRs Times
Click on above picture to know....

World in Focus-Top News

Valleys with invaluable natural beauty

Valleys with invaluable natural beauty
Gift of Nature

Click to read unheard regional stories

Click to read unheard regional stories

Mission Statement & Weekly VoH Publishing team

Voice of Voiceless

The blog aims to disseminate the accurate regional information without consideration of race, color, ethnicity, religion and ideology to the valuable readers across the globe. We promise to abide with the moral and professional ethics of citizen journalism through this medium of communication. The voiceless masses of this one of the most beautiful places on earth, situated in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan experience hard times due to continuous natural and man made disasters which have left them at surviving stage. Shortly speaking, in a short span of time, Hunza valley has embraces a steady socio-economic and ecological development making it self an authentic book to read about or take a model for rest of far flung valleys bordering Chines Sinkiang province in the extreme north of the country. The haphazard material development in this comparatively small area has also served to create various socio-economic and ethical problems which ultimately served to shake the fabrics of very roots and foundations of culture and civility among dwellers. On geo-political front, analysts find a very little say of a common man in the major decisions related to regional socio-economic development, violation of meritocracy by mafias in political parties, pressure groups which safe guard their own interests, a unbridled bureaucracy, corrupt regimes that patronizing nepotism or favoritism and who wield powers in Gilgit, the main hub and capital of Gilgit-Baltistan. Rapid increase in expenditures ranging from general commodity price hikes to transportation has left no option or time for people to think on other issues.
The so called Economic-Recession, unequal distribution of wealth, concentration of opportunities towards certain beings, lack of social responsiveness and transparency in government sector and no check and balance on private sector has brought its ugly implication in terms of high unemployment, depression among the youngsters, anxiety and hatred towards system of governance.
We vow to bring fore the issues of common man at grass root level, strive to highlight irregularities in government sector and flaws in public policy and finance in a democratic way. We shall continue to give our opinion on issues of importance and determine to prove a viable platform to have a positive role for public welfare, inter-communal harmony, integrity and social justice.
Amid such a situation when even the survival of country is on stake and is defamed due to continual terrorist incidents throughout the our county, we may pray for a peaceful and prosperous future of the nation. May Lord save the peaceful Gilgit-Baltistan region from the evil designs of devils in human form.

The blog has been developed and upgrading by the efforts of the following dedicated volunteers.

Board of Editors
Editor: Shamsuddin Muhammad

Co-editor: Inam Karim

Reporting Team
Karachi: Sartaj Karim

Hunza: Naeem Hamoon

Gilgit: Aslam Shah


Islamabad: Ikramullah Baig

Voice of the voiceless!

The blog is a venture with exclusive news updates, unbiased analysis and opinion on historical, cultural, ecological, socio-economic, geopolitical and administrative issues and events occurring in country in general and the region particular. It would serve as a portfolio of credible information retained first hand from own and secondary reliable electronic and print media sources and aspire to become a powerful voice for a common man. We are committed to adhere with the professional ethics of citizen journalism, a new trend to shackle the chains of excessive curb over dissemination of reality either for any cause in the name of so-called sensor, with maximum possible accuracy and least deviation while delivering information to show the real side of picture of events so that our valuable readers will have an alternative portal to know what developments are going on various levels, particularly backward areas like that of Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, Azad Jamu and Kahsmir, Tribal areas etc., across the country. One can easily discern a great social change in terms of attitudes, perceptions both in individual and society; values and reaction to the variables in daily life patterns among the dwellers of the comparatively backwards areas like Gilgit-Baltistan, a deprived region of its fundamental rights for more than six decades of its liberation from colonial yolk. In a quest to voice over issues of vital importance, keeping closer to circle of concern, Hunza, a name famous for its beauty and rich cultural heritage has been selected to represent as a case to further the cause and issues of the rest of the region. Virtually, the region especially Hunza-Nagar retained a rapid development with a short span of time after remaining isolated for centuries to out side world. The blog also aims focus largely to identify core areas from on bottom or grass root level to the top. Keeping due consideration of inter-religious harmony, tolerance, respecting pluralism, diversity, mutual respect, democracy, equal opportunity and other aspects of human rights and professional values of journalism, the blog will serve as a binding force and medium of voice of the voiceless people of the area with reference to Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The idea of creation of this blog came into my mind during a visit after spending few years of career at Karachi, capital of Southern province to the region. While traveling from south pole of the country to north, I experienced many new changes nearly in all aspects of life explicit in urban areas and implicit in rural belts: people have opted to modern technology, availed faster means of communication; task centered behavior, selfishness, following short-cuts, chase of wealth and more opportunities in their career and many more that made their lives much more easier but crazier than before. Nevertheless, the scene suddenly turned bit dim when I entered the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. I could not believe my eyes that this was the Gilgit I saw four years ago. Many things, except the faces were utterly unchanged formats primitive outlook. The Chinese bridge that linked Danyore and Gilgit and a main source of transportation was no more. Few people told me that few journalists have lost their lives in lethal road accident due to lack of arrangements on part of concerned authority to avoid the incident. Karakorum High Way (KKH), one of the highest truck able route and so-called eighth wonder in the world is under construction and many places portray nothing but a passage through a rough stony pasture. It took nearly twenty four hours from Rawalpindi to reach after an exhaustive journey to Hunza, my home town, compared to nineteen hours in past. The scenario seemed worse in Hunza, my home town which remained unchanged for last four years except a drastic decline in standard of living of more than fifty percent of the population. One may think that people have replaced muddy homes with cement ones but that are not the real yardstick of measurement of both mental and material development. Infrastructure, fixtures, telecommunication systems were largely depreciated to their estimated life coupled with inappropriate number of personnel required in educational, administrative and health institutions. The so-called economic meltdown that started from American giant Leman soon took the world into its tyrant claws, shaking many stable economies of the world including the rural areas of developing states- a big example of negligence and subjugation by the rulers of respective countries where people live not above the level of animals. Apart from the allegations on policy makers of industrialized nations having economic interest only, the poor, irrational, incompetent, self-centered and corrupt leadership in Pakistan like other third world countries where immature economies spends it larger portion of budget expenditure on defense could not resist the negative consequences of economic crisis in terms of high rate of unemployment, recession, right or down sizing, price hikes, violation of consumer rights and so on. Hunza-Nagar, like other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan was no exception. The smiling faces that greeted us once warmly few years ago turned unhappy for the crisis brought its ugly implication on the daily life pattern of an individual thus sucking down the unique attributes of population: courtesy, generosity and hospitality. Having a so-called high rate of literacy in the country unfortunately, the region is facing many problems ranging from health to drinking water and energy sector. To many, it was because of lack of geo-political awareness and excessive tendency towards NGO culture where people little bother to beg their rights from the states besides emphasis on duties. Historical chronicles vindicate that the region remained in isolation for many centuries due to a specific location and lack of access to out side world. Many dynasties ruled the area that hardly accepted change in a traditionally sophisticated feudal based society. The wheel of transition continued to move and finally the area got librated through a mutiny with the help of indigenous population from the clutches of Dogra subjugation. Later, the area was affiliated with Pakistan vide a secret treaty called Karachi Treatise as defacto part, unconditionally. Gilgit-Baltistan region got on real terms an impetus to grow from zero level with the visit of three icons of development: Aga Khan, President Ayub Khan and Z.A.Bhutto- a historic event of its nature with long standing implications on live of the people of the region.The area could hardly observed any impulse for more than half dozen years of affiliation with Pakistan when Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan (3rd) first time introduced Diamond Jubilee Schools network during mid fifties in the region. A real phase of development gain impetus when Shah Karim Alhusaini, Aga Khan (fourth) stepped in the region, a population with miserable conditions in 1960. He initiated many new projects in different aspect of life, strengthening the existing educational network under the umbrella of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for the betterment and uplift standard of living of masses lived under poverty line. Aga Khan Development Network in collaboration with donor agencies, with a view to bring social change from grass roots level, initiated rural support programme and other services for less-privileged societies in the region. In simple words, initial projects were stretched to new areas under AKDN umbrella ranging from self-entrepreneurship to planning and building services. These development programmes served a catalyst for a common man who, earlier was confine to a certain limit where facilities and perks were confined to a specific creed, definitely a big change in society led to process of decline of so-called nobility. By, 1974, Z.A.Bhutto, chief of Pakistan Peoples Party and his cabinet undertook a disintegrated country following the fall of Dhaka, albeit eliminating princely status of numerous states gave them democratic structures, initiated socio-economic, political and administrative reforms in civil services cadres under 1973 constitution of Pakistan. These reforms opened a path for further reforms in tribal and affiliated princely states, mostly in mountain regions. Elders assert, by 1976, when Bhutto abolished the princely status of the units and replaced the princely flag with that of the country declared region formally its de-fecto part. The new development allowed for the first time a limited right of franchise and representation in a parallel council governed from capital. He in collaboration with international donor agencies like UNICEF and World Food Programme helped ensure provision of basic necessities like food to indigenous population still in poor conditions. He gave word to poor and enables to build his destiny. The facility fell a prey of Zia-ul-Haq who abolished the programme to benefit his favorite breed. He altered such programmes to facilitate Mujahideen busy fighting Afghan war against Soviet invasion on behalf of American assistance. By, 1988, before the withdrawal of USSR, Zia regime played a dirty game: as an integral strategy to get parallel success, he supported a breed of militants to eliminate all those against his faith in Gilgit-Baltistan. Unfortunately, the indigenous people could not understand his nefarious designs under the veil of religion that had to sustain his regime using divide and rule tactic and nothing to do with public welfare fell a prey of communal discord. Thousands of innocent people were brutally killed without a reason from both sides and this in turn sowed the seeds of sectarianism thus introducing a Kalashnikov culture in this region. On country’s political front, frequent interventions of military in politics in the wake of undemocratic moves of leadership, double standard attitude of bureaucracy and excessive influence of establishment forces harmed political evolution during last sixty two years of country's history. A finest dictatorship is considered worse than a worse democracy for it largely overlook the opinion of masses. The undemocratic regimes since 1952 onwards in general and during dictators’ regimes left people with no option but to support immature, corrupt and unable leadership confined to their self interests coupled with narrow vision. On global front, with the withdrawal of USSR from Afghanistan, American administration started to shift its strategy of dependency and support for Pakistan especially that to check movement and expansion of communist philosophy, an anxiety among the then US policy planners. Political front once again passed through a new change in 1999 when military took over in October 1999. Numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), both national and international rapport delivered remarkable work since 1990s to 2004 in many sectors like education, health, cultural preservation, design and building.

History repeated itself, but in a new form under different circumstances after cold war, when terrorists attacked twin towers of World Trade Centre, an icon of prestige and glory of America killing thousands of innocent people as a response to US policies inviting a fresh hostility between US and Islamist groups or in other words initiated an open conflict between two countering forces. To some, hidden forces worked behind the incident: Muslims thought it was a Judaist elements while to Europe and US a strike of Islamist elements; even the then Bush administration alleged Islamist groups behind this nefarious act to initiate an open armed struggle to defy its policies and interests. The September 11 incident served a cause to create sufferings for the Muslim communities residing in America and Europe. Being a sponsoring source of Jihadist elements, Pakistan was in real trouble as it was asked either ally the US or ready to go into stone age. Consequently, Pervez Musharraf took U-turn in state policy against billions of dollars as assistance. Once again, US dependency on Pakistan after Afghan war, in an endless war against an invisible enemy in terms of Osama started, leading farmer to think to gain control over natural resources in Afghanistan and Central Asian states. As a state, Pakistan endured many hardships, mostly from inside elements, Majority of our political leadership, for instance is largely nurtured under the aegis of military establishments and always ready to achieve their own interest lest it comes to compromise on national matters, evident from the successive overthrowing of representative regimes. They could not deliver any remarkable to uplift the standard of living of a common man except false promises. It was the Musharraf regime which can be given credit for many reasons: allowed a national government to complete its five year tenure, introduced local government systems for dicentralization of power though a move to by pass the then political and administrative forces like his predecessors military dictators to bolster one man show. Apart from few of blunders in terms of killing of Akbar Bugti, subjugation of judiciary, appointment of army on service and retired personnel in institutions offering higher education, other key positions in major public organiztions and using force as a decisive force instead of dialogue his regime can be recalled for many things during last eight years. He was the first who put hand on non-state actors, brought changes in status of deprived regions like Gilgit-Baltistan bringing reforms and took initiatives to improve education and health facilities. He gave us an International University, increased woman representation, empowered Northern Light Infantry, established N.A scouts and notified Hunza-Nagar district and many more. Yet, at the same time on mass level, despite many accomplishments, it failed to address the real issues of poor. Giant fishes got most and poor further got depressed as the regime greatly revolved around the interests of Chaurdhries and lords. December 2007, shall be remembered a black day when Benazir Bhutto, a female leader of international repute was assassinated at the same place where one of the most famous Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan as killed. Country fell into chaos and observed an extreme internal and internal threat to her existence second time after 1971. Good heaven, the situation soon normalized. With the dawn of democracy, based on Benazir Bhutto's sacrifice has brought a hope of change of image of the country in global economy. PPP led contemporary government has given a new Self Governance Reforms Package 2009 ahead of poles to empower the assembly to legislate on various subjects not allowed in past and choose their own Chief Minister unanimously with the consent of Prime Minister, the head of set up-a good initiative after Z.A Bhutto's compassions for the region. The package has opened a door for more autonomy resembles to that of Azad Kashmir. Though, there are many flaws in the package yet, it will serve to reduce feeling of deprivation among the masses.

There is another side of the picture that the poor performance in many of the departments in government sector during last two years has raised many questions in our mind regarding its capability to cope the challenges that the country faces internally and externally. Public welfare, security from internal and external aggressions and provision of basic necessities to the citizens is the fundamental responsibilities of modern states. Yet, more focus on external threats under security syndrome has left the country nothing but to expend on defense-thus neglecting other sectors like education, strategic personnel planning, health, trade and industry and exploitation of natural resources to strengthen our economy. As for as the private sector especially the NGOs are concerned, the are now confine to reporting to get funds, roam and measure the length of roads in their luxury vehicles. Now it depends on flow of events that will decide the future course of history.

Shamsuddin Muhammad,

Author and Editor,



free counters

About Me

My photo
Hyderabad,, IslamicRepublic of Pakistan, Pakistan
I am social person with a tendency towards learning knowledge that will balance the material world and the hereafter, a legacy obtained from the family. I earned my MA (General History with specialization in Modern History) and M.A.S (Master of Administrative siences with speciliazation in HRM) both from University of Karachi in 2005 and 2007 respectively, am fond of social work and public welfare. The blog focuses on social change caused by socio- economic and geo-political impulse in the country in general and the region particular.