Time to save democracy? (Chukko apni apni democracy te nasso)

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Mr. Zardari is not in Pakistan. After his threat of ‘eint se eint baja dein ge’ he apparently went abroad in search for eints (bricks).

A threat from abroad just isn’t as effective, so Mr. Opposition leader had to do. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) through Mr. Opposition Leader has threatened the waging of a jang (war) if the anti corruption operation is extended to Mr. Zardari.

The threat has (not) fallen on deaf ears. High ups in the Army and Rangers have started consulting experts to understand what the word jang (war) means, since they have absolutely no idea. The Army or the Rangers have nothing to do with wars and battles so it is a pretty scary threat.

PPP, Mr. Zardari in particular, knows exactly how effective this threat is and thus is now preparing for the war. Weapons have been loaded with PPP’s typical ammunition which includes Bhutto, Bibi, adalati qatal, qurbanian, jamhooriat, mazeed qurbanian, 11 saal jail, taqleefain, adha kilo alu, awam, 4 rotian, 2 gazz kapra aur kirayay ka makaan.

It is prepared for sacrifices. Several men and women of some integrity will sacrifice their self respect, and what’s left of their principles, to defend a man who they all know to be corrupt.

The Army and Rangers are now scared and confused, wondering what a war is and aware of the huge vote bank (a bank account maintained by virtue of being in power with votes of the people) of MQM and PPP. It is reported that the Army may ask the government to give in to MQM and PPP’s demands for establishing a monitoring committee to supervise Karachi operation against terrorism and economic terrorism.

On a side note, on the same principle an amendment is also being brought for the Criminal Procedure Code whereby all future arrests and investigations of persons accused of murder, rape and dacoity, will be supervised by a committee of persons nominated by those accused.

After MQM and PPP, a few other political parties are said to be working on final drafts of speeches that include threats and words of protest, to be made at the right time.

An anonymous source of an anonymous friend of my anonymous self got his hands on a top secret book called “Zardari’s handbook on political terminologies”. Apparently this handbook is used by several senior political leaders. In it are the following two definitions;

“democracy” has been defined as: “a politician’s black money, ill gotten wealth, criminal activities and misuse of power”.

The term “to save democracy”: “to do all in one’s power to escape exposure and consequent legal action”.

It now makes sense why they hold democracy so dear when they don’t even apply the very basics of it to themselves or their parties. All their struggles to “save democracy” now make sense. Mr. Zardari spent 11 years in jail to “save democracy”. He will hurl, and have hurled, any and all threats and abuses to “save democracy”.

MQM has already been trying to save their democracy, PPP will join the struggle and some others will follow. Big “democratic” political figures will fall prey to the operation against economic terrorism. The question is, will a war actually follow?

I don’t think so. Because they don’t have an army to fight their war. The people who formed armies for these “democrats” want an end to this looting and plundering.

None of you have the army. Maybe that’s the most significant factor; none of them have the army anymore, the Army has itself.

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Say “yes” to by-elections or “bye” to elections?

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Election tribunals have ruled in favor of Pakistan Tehrik e Inshaf (PTI) in three out of the four ‘sample’ constituencies handpicked by PTI Chairman.

Imran Khan had sought investigation into these four constituencies to ascertain whether the General Elections 2013 (GE 2013) were rigged or manipulated. Later Imran made the demand for formation of a judicial commission (JC) to inquire into the fairness of GE 2013 on an overall basis. A JC was formed and no rigging or manipulation was proven. In its report the JC rejected all allegations of planned rigging but pointed out grave irregularities on part of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Of the three election tribunals that ruled in favor of PTI candidates, only one has held the winning candidate guilty of any corrupt or illegal practice; NA 154 where educational degree of the independent winning candidate has been found fake.

The other two tribunals have declared elections in these constituencies void as a whole on the basis of large scale irregularities on part of the ECP and NADRA.

It is pertinent to note that a total of 411 election petitions were filed in different constituencies all over Pakistan. Of these, around 24 remain pending, while all others have been adjudicated upon by the election tribunals. Of these, only 49 petitions were accepted. A total of 138 election petitions were filed against PMLN, of which 20 stand accepted. Against PTI, 30 petitions were filed, and 4 stand accepted.

In addition to election tribunals that adjudicated upon reservations regarding elections in individual constituencies, the JC inquired into GE 2013 on an overall basis. The trend visible in 49 tribunal decisions where petitions were accepted, coupled with final report of the JC leads to two conclusions;

1. PMLN or any other person’s involvement in a conspiracy to rig and manipulate the GE 2013 has not been proven. This assertion has failed to acquire the status of a fact and remains a speculation or an allegation, although the number of believers in this speculation has not changed despite JC’s report.

2. The ECP largely failed in fulfilling its constitutional obligation under Article 218(3). There were irregularities and shortcomings owing to the ECP, returning officers and other election staff. In many cases the ECP staff failed in their pre and post poll duties which has put a huge question mark on the GE 2013 and mandate acquired thereof.

Post JC report, PTI was pushed to a defensive position. Tribunal verdicts in NA 122 and NA 154 have been used well, with a little help from the media, to once again put PTI on the front foot. Now it is PMLN’s turn to respond.

Opting for by-elections instead of applying delaying tactics by going to the Supreme court seems to be a wise decision on PMLN’s part. All three constituencies are from Punjab where PMLN rules. PMLN has fared pretty well in cantonment board local government elections recently and there are indicators that PMLN is still ahead of PTI when it comes to popularity among the masses. JC disproving PTI’s allegations and PTI’s internal turmoil have brought PTI’s popularity down a notch. PMLN knows that PTI is capable of regaining lost ground and thus the sooner by-elections are held the better.

PTI, on the other hand, seems unsure of its fate in by-elections. The party faces internal rifts, which have dimmed out owing to two consecutive victories in tribunal decisions. However, by-elections, nomination of party candidates and election campaigns may re-ignite the dying flames of internal turmoil. Then the fact that PMLN rules Punjab can and may work to PTI’s disadvantage.

If by-elections are held, it is absolutely crucial for PTI to bag all three seats or at least two of three. A loss in two or more seats from the constituencies that Imran alleged were snatched from him through rigging, coupled with a loss in the local government elections may end the hopes of a victory in 2018 general elections for good.

So while going for by-elections is a wise move by PMLN, PTI’s wise move maybe to not go for by-elections. PTI does not have the option of going to Supreme Court like PMLN, so what options do they have? They will probably boycott the by-elections and maybe the local government elections too.

PTI claims to have lost all confidence in the ECP. Imran Khan has demanded resignations of the four ECP members from four provinces in light of JC’s final report and dissatisfaction over ECP’s performance therein. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is also towing PTI’s line, this may be owing to completely different reasons that have more to do with the Karachi operation than reservations regarding GE 2013. Nevertheless PPP along with PTI makes for sufficient pressure on the PMLN government.

PTI along with other political parties may take a justified stand for reformation of the ECP and implementation of electoral reforms before any by or local government elections.

For the first time in decades Pakistan’s electoral shortcomings and irregularities have been brought out in the open, it would be criminal to hold another electoral exercise without having addressed them first.

One cannot predict with certainty the winner of fair by-elections in NA 122, NA 125 and NA 154, but PTI needs to be certain of its victory before jumping in. It would be interesting to see whether Imran Khan jumps in with his trademark overconfidence, or does he opt for keeping his chances alive for the next general elections.

I am not saying…

Rashid godil

I am not saying that the attack on Rashid Godil was an inside job. I am not saying that Altaf Hussain, in a desperate last ditch effort to save himself and his party, planned this attempt to loosen a tightening noose. I am not saying that the beneficiary of a crime and its perpetrator are often one and the same person. If that was an established principle, we wouldn’t need an inquiry into Benazir Bhutto’s murder.

Despite the fact that most Karachiites I met in the past ten or more years agree that MQM was responsible for Karachi’s deplorable law and order situation, I am not saying that Rangers were correctly targeting MQM in its operation.

The planners of Dr. Imran Farooq’s murder and the attack on Rashid Godil are most probably the same people, I am not saying who.

MQM’s recent resignation show gains masala, and its attempt to discredit the ongoing operation in Karachi gains credence, by an assassination attempt on one of its leaders. This maybe a coincidence, I am not saying it was planned.

I am not saying that a plan has been made by Altaf Hussain and “his friends” from other parties – that are next in line – to jeopardize the ongoing military operation, especially the portion that pertains to economic terrorism.

All I am saying is that Altaf Hussain, like “his friends” from other political parties, is a man of impeccable integrity and has the utmost love and compassion for his party members and Pakistan. It is highly improbable that he would stoop so low just to protect himself from unfounded and baseless allegations.

I am just an ordinary individual, I don’t need any extra ordinary courage or honesty to say, or not say, anything. Anything I say, or don’t say, does not have any significant impact. I am interested to see how many extra ordinary politicians or individuals from the media have the guts to not say what I am not saying.

The patriot is dead, long live the patriot!

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Patriotic, graceful, sharply dressed, eloquent, polite and charming, this was my first impression of Shuja Khanzada. I first met him as a colleague in the Provincial Assembly of Punjab in 2008. I was twenty seven years old and Shuja Khanzada became an inspiration at first sight. His careful selection of words, composure, integrity and infectious optimism were something to look up to for newcomers in the infamous field of politics.

Shuja Khanzada was one of the politicians whose presence made me believe, and repeatedly assert that there are several sincere, patriotic and honest people in our assemblies, only they fail to get much public attention owing to lack of scandals and being devoid of moral or ethical turpitude.

Shuja Khanzada was not an alien imported from another planet or another country. He was a Pakistani, as are the corrupt elements of our society. His life and death are a reminder for us voters to send more people like him to the assemblies.

In the wake of terrorism and our country’s effective engagement in the war thereupon, Shuja Khanzada held the most significant responsibility in the Punjab cabinet. A responsibility he fulfilled to the best of his ability. His death is a testament to his sincere efforts.

He was neither sitting behind a bullet proof glass, nor fifty feet away from the people who elected him and whom he served. He lived among them and died among them. He was the interior minister of Punjab, law enforcement agencies were under his command, yet he did not surround himself with armed public servants. He was aware of threats to his life, and no he was not callous. He put the lives of his people before his own. He was brave, courageous and sincere to the people who depended on him for eradicating the animals that we know as terrorists.

The cowards responsible for his death may be celebrating this as a victory. But in Khanzada’s death resonates a loud and clear message from the peace loving people of Pakistan: we still have some Sibghat Ghayyurs, Fayyaz Sumbals, Ch. Aslams, Bashir Bilours and Shuja Khanzadas among us. They don’t hide behind brainwashed suicide bombers, they stand tall in the open as a display of their faith in Allah, calling you out from your holes where you hide. Your last will have been long sent to hell before our last patriot becomes a victim of your shameless cowardice and barbarity.

Shuja Khanzada was leading the fight being fought for us. He risked and lost his life so that we could live in peace. His death will not be forgotten, but more than that, it needs to be remembered. The terrorists need to know that they may have killed one more patriot, but have reinvigorated patriotism in thousands of us.

After many years I felt an air of optimism and patriotism on this 14th of August. I may be wrong, but the fire of national spirit seems to have been reignited after all these years. Let this attack on our patriot brother be fuel to this fire. Lets stand behind those who continue to fight this menace, and push forward those who show any reluctance. Let not all the Khanzadas have died in vain. Above all, lets stand firm and united against any and all forms of extremism.

May God bless Shuja Khanzada’s soul…

God bless Pakistan..

The (fictitious) conversation

A friend of mine who is in the media heard from a friend of his who is in the Army that he heard a friend of his saying that he heard from an anonymous person that following conversation between two very famous anonymous individuals was recorded by an anonymous institution.

Mr. Anonymous 1: You should call for a strike. It’s been a long while since you guys called for city wide strike. Maybe that will help.

Mr. Anonymous 2: We would, we did actually, but had to retract. We don’t have the “resources” to ensure city wide shutdown anymore. We’re afraid our call may turn out to be an embarrassment, exposing our popularity – or absence thereof – in the masses.

Mr. Anonymous 1: The supreme court has ruled in favor of military courts. You know what that means don’t you?

Mr. Anonymous 2: Well, it doesn’t make much difference to us, we are already facing the military. As for you, you may be joining us soon now.

Mr. Anonymous 1: I know, but you are like a brother to me, I worry for you like I worry for myself.

Mr. Anonymous 2: Bull crap! When they raided my home and all this began, you said you are with me, but then you ignored us and went silent to save your own skin.

Mr. Anonymous 1: Well that seemed right then, this seems right now.

Mr. Anonymous 2: Now, saving me is saving yourself. So? what should I do?

Mr. Anonymous 1: Hmm..how about en masse resignations?

Mr. Anonymous 2: I don’t know what good would that do. I mean from the looks of it, resignations would readily and happily be accepted.

Mr. Anonymous 1: No no, what if I assured you that your resignations would not be accepted? Do it just as a topi-drama, you are the master of topi-drama any way.

Mr. Anonymous 2: Hmm…still what good would that do?

Mr. Anonymous 1: Well, for starters, it will give us a chance to “save democracy” again. And in that, you know we can do a lot.

Mr. Anonymous 2: What about your brother? Is he on board?

Mr. Anonymous 1: I haven’t talked to him yet, but I am sure I can convince him. After all, he maybe next in line after me.

Mr. Anonymous 2: Ok, this sounds exciting. We will resign, then a committee will be formed to bring us back. Wait, wouldn’t that be exactly what that youngster did? We just recently bashed him for this. If we do the same, wouldn’t that be wrong? Morally I mean.

Mr. Anonymous 1: ………………………….

Mr. Anonymous 2: …Hahahahahaha.

Mr. Anonymous 1: …Hahahahahaha.

Mr. Anonymous 2: Lets do it.

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Disclaimer: This post may have been written, published and shared “by mistake” in case it offends, or appears to mock, any political party.

PTI: Learn from past mistakes, make new ones.

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I am one of the people who do not see the Judicial Commission’s (JC) report as Imran Khan’s or Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf’s (PTI) defeat. Although Khan’s allegations of organized and planned rigging have been rejected – for lack of evidence, the report seems to agree that the general elections 2013 were largely irregular.

The report is now in and is a public document. For the first time in Pakistan’s history an election has been audited as a whole. The resulting conclusions have exposed most of the irregularities that have, since decades, created opportunity for electoral malpractices. This has provided the parliament and state with a real opportunity to rid our system of these shortcomings and move towards better, fairer elections in the future. No political party deserves more credit for this opportunity than PTI.

However, allegations of rigging and foul play, formation of JC, its proceedings and subsequent report are a thing of the past. How PTI reacts in the aftermath of this report would decide its future. 2015 may not be the election year after all. Imran Khan may not get a shot at premiership just yet. He and his party should now be eying 2018 elections and begin anew on the path to victory.

Visibly shaken and not very confident, Khan did accept the JC’s report and vowed to learn from past mistakes. That is what progress and improvement is all about; learning from mistakes. But are Khan and his party on the same page when it comes to identifying ‘past mistakes’? Is Khan’s idea of in-house cleaning in line with that of party’s ideological supporters?

Since the early months of this year, Imran Khan and Justice (retd) Wajih Ud Din seem to have been at loggerheads with each other. The bone of contention were alleged irregularities in PTI’s intra-party elections. While Wajih Ud Din; head of the party’s election tribunal, recommended fresh elections and action against some big names in Khan’s new PTI, Khan – apparently at the behest and under the influence of these big names – seemed more inclined towards rendering Wajih and his findings ineffective.

Wajih Ud Din has, on very rare occasions, gone public with his sentiments on his party’s inner workings and also on the influence and interference of “big names” in party affairs which is, according to him, causing detriment to the party. I remember questioning PTI’s legal minds in one of my earlier pieces on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between PTI and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN). The language of the MOU and the TORs therein were hinting at a potential setback for PTI and I wondered how a party that has legal minds like Hamid Khan and Wajih Ud Din within its ranks, could overlook such obvious lacunas. Now that Hamid Khan and Wajih Ud Din have both revealed that they were not even a part of the process, my questions stand answered.

Keeping these two gentleman out of the loop is one of the biggest ‘past mistakes’. How is PTI learning from it? Apparently by suspending Wajih’s basic membership of the party. Khan’s justification for adhering to the requests of his “real friends” is that Wajih Ud Din acted in violation of Imran Khan’s gag order. The gag order was circulated on 4th of August, part of the order states:

“PTI is a democratic party and members have the right to express their opinion within the party,” (bold added for emphasis)

When Mr. Wajih appeared on a talk show and re-iterated his reservations, along with his support for and confidence in the party’s chairman, his membership was immediately suspended. I have a feeling that Mr. Hamid Khan would be next.

The journey it seems, has begun anew. The phase of picking hitch hikers from any and all political parties is almost over, now begins the phase of evicting those who formed the old PTI. Before naya pakistan, there is a nayi PTI in the making.

PTI is a “democratic” party, one that does not allow freedom of expression. I think I have seen such attitudes somewhere else, Oh yes, in PMLN, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and several other political parties. Khan’s “change” is beginning to sound more and more like “same”. Every year, PTI is a little less different, a little less progressive.

I am in no position to advise Imran Khan. Primarily because mine is not a ‘big name’, secondly because I am not a member of his party, and also because maybe I am not that wise. But there are wise people in Khan’s party. And apparently they are standing in line by the exit door. If PTI wants a shot at the next elections, the chairman has to think things over. Maybe go on a vacation alone. Meditate, introspect and let him be his own advisor for a few days. Above all he needs to identify friends from foes, and before beginning to learn from past mistakes, he needs to correctly identify his mistakes.

Imran Khan does have blind fans, just like PPP and PMLN, who will follow Khan anywhere, I am sure to find some in the comments below, but there are ideological, prudent PTI supporters too, ones PTI stands to lose every time it shows the door to people like Wajih Ud Din.