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Terrorism in PK – Post Mumbai


Is it me or did the frequency of terrorist attacks on Pakistan decrease significantly following attacks on Mumbai??

Compared to lets say the mid of 2008 – compared to frequent attacks in Major cities of Pakistan. I’d say it is down.  But thats conjecture. One could just go through newspapers since the Mumbai attacks and check the statistics for the time before to come to a definitive answer!!

Wikipedia lists terrorist attacks for each year & each month – It probably doesnt have a complete list but it works just fine to make an estimate. If there are terrorist attacks missing – there are probably about the same number of attacks missing from that list after Mumbai attacks as there are before them!! So what does this list say??

Since Mumbai attack 54 people have been killed in in 75 days.

On the other hand in 30 days prior to Mumbai attacks 57 people were killed.

Even adjusting for a margin of error thats pretty damning evidence. Frequency of terrorist attacks in Pakistan decreased by half after the Mumbai attacks.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Politics | 1 Comment

Democratic Chicken and the Economic Egg


Why Democracies Excel: NYT

“Economic development makes democracy possible” asserts the U.S. State Department’s Web site, subscribing to a highly influential argument: that poor countries must develop economically before they can democratize. But the historical data prove otherwise. Poor democracies have grown at least as fast as poor autocracies and have significantly outperformed the latter on most indicators of social well-being. They have also done much better at avoiding catastrophes. Dispelling the “development first, democracy later” argument is critical not only because it is wrong but also because it has led to atrocious policies-indeed, policies that have undermined international efforts to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.

Countries often remain poor precisely because they retain autocratic political structures believe that a development-first strategy perpetuates a deadly cycle of poverty, conflict, and oppression.

Development Indicators from 1960 to the present, reveal a simple truth: low-income democracies have, on average, grown just as rapidly as low-income autocracies over the past 40 years. Outside of eastern Asia (about which more will be said later), the median per capita growth rates of poor democracies have been 50 percent higher than those of autocracies.

Moreover, because 25 percent of the worst-performing authoritarian regimes, including Cuba, North Korea, and Somalia, have failed to document their performance, the growth shortfall for autocracies is even larger than the available data indicate.

People in low-income democracies live, on average, nine years longer than their counterparts in low-income autocracies, have a 40 percent greater chance of attending secondary school, and benefit from agricultural yields that are 25 percent higher. The latter figure is particularly relevant because some 70 percent of the people in poor countries live in the countryside. Higher levels of agricultural productivity mean more employment, capital, and food. Poor democracies also suffer 20 percent fewer infant deaths than poor autocracies. Development practitioners should pay particularly close attention to these figures because infant-mortality rates capture many features of social well-being, such as prenatal health care for women, nutrition, quality of drinking water, and girls’ education.

Since 1960, poor autocracies have experienced severe economic contractions (falls of 10 percent or more in annual GDP) twice as often as poor democracies. Seventy percent of autocracies have experienced at least one such episode since 1980, whereas only 5 of the 80 worst examples of economic contraction over the last 40 years have occurred in democracies. Consider Chile. Although often touted as a model of autocratic growth for its 13 years of economic expansion during Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year rule, Chile also suffered two acute economic crises during this time: a 12 percent decline in GDP per capita in the mid-1970s and a 17 percent contraction in the early 1980s. It took until the mid-1980s for Chile to sustain a per capita income level higher than that of 1973, the year Pinochet seized power.

Poor democracies have, on average, not run higher deficits over the past 30 years than poor autocracies. Similarly, both poor democracies and poor autocracies spend almost the same on education and health. Democracies have just used their resources more effectively. Not coincidentally, low-income democracies typically score between 15 to 25 percent stronger on indices of corruption and rule of law than do autocracies.

87 largest refugee crises over the past 20 years originated in autocracies, and 80 percent of all internally displaced persons in 2003 were living under authoritarian regimes, even though such systems represented only a third of all states.

Poor countries fall into conflict often-about one year in every five since 1980. But poor democratizers fight less frequently than do poor authoritarian nations. In sub-Saharan Africa, where most civil conflict has occurred recently, countries undergoing democratic reform have experienced armed conflict half as often as the norm in the region.

Poor democracies outperform authoritarian countries because their institutions enable power to be shared and because they encourage openness and adaptability.

Although exceptional cases exist, it is the preponderance of experience that should guide development policy. And the overall evidence is overwhelming: poor democracies have had a consistent development advantage over poor autocracies over the past 40 years.

All in all, then, democracies present an enormously powerful set of institutions that propel development. The more representative, transparent, and accountable those governmental processes, the more likely policies and practices will respond to the basic priorities of the general population.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Random | Leave a comment

Jihad – Brought to you by the University of Nebraska


Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.

During that time of Soviet occupation, regional military leaders in Afghanistan helped the U.S. smuggle books into the country. They demanded that the primers contain anti-Soviet passages. Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines, agency officials said. They acknowledged that at the time it also suited U.S. interests to stoke hatred of foreign invaders.

“I think we were perfectly happy to see these books trashing the Soviet Union,” said Chris Brown, head of book revision for AID’s Central Asia Task Force.

AID dropped funding of Afghan programs in 1994. But the textbooks continued to circulate in various versions, even after the Taliban seized power in 1996.

Officials said private humanitarian groups paid for continued reprintings during the Taliban years. Today, the books remain widely available in schools and shops, to the chagrin of international aid workers.

“The pictures [in] the texts are horrendous to school students, but the texts are even much worse,” said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, an Afghan educator who is a program coordinator for Cooperation for Peace and Unity, a Pakistan-based nonprofit.

An aid worker in the region reviewed an unrevised 100-page book and counted 43 pages containing violent images or passages.

The military content was included to “stimulate resistance against invasion,” explained Yaquib Roshan of Nebraska’s Afghanistan center. “Even in January, the books were absolutely the same . . . pictures of bullets and Kalashnikovs and you name it.”

During the Taliban era, censors purged human images from the books. One page from the texts of that period shows a resistance fighter with a bandolier and a Kalashnikov slung from his shoulder. The soldier’s head is missing.

Above the soldier is a verse from the Koran. Below is a Pashtu tribute to the mujaheddin, who are described as obedient to Allah. Such men will sacrifice their wealth and life itself to impose Islamic law on the government, the text says.

From, The Washington Post: ABC of Jihad

Taliban – “Students”

I bet even the Taliban would be shocked if they knew whose “students” they really are and who taught them Jihad.

January 18, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | Leave a comment

Do you know why they call it Islamic Terrorism??


Well because it kills Muslims ….

A total of 2396 terrorist incidents occurred across the world during the said period, thereby killing a total of 4204 people and injuring 7614.

The country worst hit by terrorism, no surprise, is Iraq with 857 attack in 2007. The country ranked second worst hit was Afghanistan and third was Pakistan.

And then we had 2008

Figures compiled by the country’s elite intelligence agency show that Pakistan suffered 28 suicide attacks during the first eight months of 2008, killing over 471 people and wounding 713 others, including innocent civilians as well as the armed forces personnel.

On the other hand, the war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq, despite facing a higher digit of suicide bombings during the same period, underwent lesser number of human losses. Available figures show there were 42 incidents of suicide attacks in Iraq between January 1 and August 31, 2008, claiming 463 lives, besides wounding 527 others.

In contrast, 436 people were killed and 394 injured in 36 suicide attacks that took place in Afghanistan during the same period.

Thats only till August. In the days following the publication of the above article, Marriott was attacked. The figures on civilian toll of terrorism are incomplete & often contradictory. But what they are more than everything else, are horrifying.

The problem of Islamic Terrorism, plagues Muslims – Not the west. Its Muslims that are blown to bits. Muslim Families destroyed, body parts scattered.

This is the true face of Islamic Terrorism.

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | Leave a comment

Reflections


While as of yet I havent been able to find the transcript of Musharraf’s lecture in Michigan – I have read in many news sources that he said something to the effect that use of force is no solution to terrorism. His exact quote I still dont have and that is why I reserve my anger.

Till I can read what he said in its context. I dont want to get worked up over nothing.

While I dont have a transcript I do have quotes. He was quoted as equating terrorism to a tree. Saying that fighting terrorism is like plucking trees off a tree only to have them grow back. Thats something he has been doing since the war on terror was first waged.

Also in the US, the outgoing president has called the Iraq war a mistake. David Milliband went a little further and called the entire war on terror a mistake.

Better late than never?? Maybe so but why does my blood boil thinking of all the dead who ended up paying the price for these “mistakes”. Whats worst is that the world didnt learn a thing from these mistakes!!

The US went to war in Vietnam over a lie. You’d think after the cost of that war the US would be more weary of lies told by their government. Clearly not, the Iraq war was started on a lie.

The people of Pakistan didnt learn anything either. Wasnt it a dictator when we started meddling for the first time in Afghanistan & placed the seeds of extremism in theirs and our soil. We let another dictator lead us again into Afghanistan in a war that soon spilled over into our borders.

We didnt learn. Gallup confirms that we didnt. After the disaster that was the Musharraf era, trust within the Pakistani people has fallen for all institutions with the exception of religious institutions. If I had to guess, I’d guess the people dont mean the religious institutions that brainwash the youngsters of our nations to blow up the people of our nation indiscriminate of age or sex.

But then which other religious institutions?? Did we accidently take the trust in God and placed it with religious institutions?? Well that would be odd. Any organized religious institution I can think of has been a force for destruction, barring few exceptions.

Maybe we did learn. Maybe the decreased trust in every other social and political institution ( like democracy and even the Army ) has pushed us into giving the religious institutions a chance. Imagine Maulana Diesel becoming the president of Pakistan – but wait – we dont like democracy. Hmm – make that ‘Supreme Leader’ of Pakistan. That’ll be the day …

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Random | Leave a comment

10 Year Old “Divorced Woman”


Tiny Voices Defy Child Marriage in Yemen .

One morning Arwa Abdu Muhammad Ali walked out of her husband’s house here and ran to a local hospital, where she complained that he had been beating and sexually abusing her for eight months.

She was the second child bride to come forward in less than a month; in April, a 10-year-old named Nujood Ali had gone by herself to a courthouse to demand a divorce, generating a landmark legal case.

Together, the two girls’ stories have helped spur a movement to put an end to child marriage. The average age of marriage in Yemen’s rural areas is 12 to 13 & not surprisingly The country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

The issue first arose because of Nujood The trouble started on the first night, when her 30-year-old husband, Faez Ali Thamer, took off her clothes as soon as the light was out. She ran crying from the room, but he caught her, brought her back and forced himself on her. ( One of the ten year old )

Nujood complained repeatedly to her husband’s relatives and later to her own parents after the couple moved back to their house in Sana. But they said they could do nothing. To break a marriage would expose the family to shame. Finally, her uncle told her to go to court. On April 2, she said, she walked out of the house by herself and hailed a taxi.

When Nujood’s case was called the next Sunday, the courtroom was crowded with reporters and photographers, alerted by her lawyer. Her father and husband were also there; the judge had jailed them the night before to ensure that they would appear in court. (Both were released the next day.) “Do you want a separation, or a permanent divorce?” the judge, Muhammad al-Qadhi, asked the girl, after hearing her testimony and that of her father and her husband.

“I want a permanent divorce,” she replied, without hesitation. The judge granted it.

After Nujood’s case became public, Ms. Nasser said she received angry letters from conservative women denouncing her for her role. But she has also begun receiving calls about girls, some younger than Nujood, trying to escape their marriages.

One of them was Arwa, who was married last year at the age of 8 here in the ancient town of Jibla, four hours south of Sana. As with Nujood’s case, Arwa’s situation aroused a legal and social outrage.

A third girl, Reem is still waiting for the court’s decision and says her two ambitions are to get a divorce and go to college.

Married at 12, she describes the moment when her 30-year-old husband insisted on sex. When she resisted, he choked and bit her and dragged her by the hair, overwhelming her with force.

Arwa, Nujood, & Reem

===============

Just so we know who it is we are talking about. There is no underestimating the bravery of individuals. Of these three little girls – of the legal precedent they set. To me one or two girl saved from regular rape and beatings is less important to me than the precedent the Yemeni judicial system has set.

A precedent that might save hundreds of thousands of girl!! She became a heroine in Yemen.

As far as my limited knowledge goes – This was the first time a Child bride sought and got a divorce on her own because she was forced into a marriage.

And as far as I know – that still has never happened in Pakistan. Children given in marriage usually stay in that marriage despite any opposition they might have had to that marriage.

In the months since – that girls courage galvanized Yemen, in those months two more Children given into marriage sought legal help ( & were not killed ).

Nujood became a celebrity in the western world when her story became more popular. Appearing for Interviews and featured in Glamour Magazine voted women of the year by them. That one girl saved herself & that is why she is the exception.


We are a far cry from persecuting those criminals at this point. First things first. Saving the children, victim to this evil.

When Ideas mix, better Ideas come from them!! Its what we call ‘awareness’

Granted what we say reaches too few people and too many of them already share our Philosophy – but those Ideas do make their way through society. Its just a question of time.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | 1 Comment

Why the Taliban Just wont Die


As I write this, the war on terror ( translated War in Afghanistan ) has been raging for 7 years. So has the terrorism threat diminished??

Not so says the Oxford Research Group.

Six years after the September 11 attacks in the United States, the “war on terror” is failing and instead fuelling an increase in support for extremist Islamist movements, a British think-tank said on Monday.

A report by the Oxford Research Group (ORG) said a “fundamental re-think is required” if the global terrorist network is to be rendered ineffective.

“If the al Qaeda movement is to be countered, then the roots of its support must be understood and systematically undercut,” said Paul Rogers, the report’s author and professor of global peace studies at Bradford University in northern England.

“Combined with conventional policing and security measures, al Qaeda can be contained and minimized but this will require a change in policy at every level.”

Lets not forget what the war was in Afghanistan was about – Not the Taliban, if thats what you were thinking!! Al-Qaeda. It was about Al-Qaeda and before this war started the Taliban were ready for talks back then over Al-Qaeda and despite the seven year war, are willing to cut ties with Al-Qaeda even now … but the US was just too eager for war.

7 Years ago the Taliban offered to hand over OBL – no talks then, straight to war – the US was just too eager to start a war!!

US leaders had to have something more than a hand cuffed OBL to show for 9/11 – they were looking for a war. Even BEFORE 9/11

And thats history. Afghanistan and the US go to war, Pakistan is dragged into it. The war rages on and there is no sign of it letting up, the civilian cost is heavy not just for Afghanistan but also for Pakistan, on account of the thousand of Taliban fighters that escape into Pakistan while the US looks on.

The Oxford Research Group report was not the first sign that things werent going well. In the infamous Guantanamo Bay turned into a recruiting camp somewhere along the way. Most of the detained had no links to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban but by the time the US realized and released them, many had developed ties to Al-Qaeda and Taliban – Some – Even became leaders.

Not all fronts in the war on terror presented such gloamy scenarios. There were sucesses. Most notably in Indonesia.

Even before the Bali attack, Indonesia had suffered a wave of bombings in the winter of 2000, and earlier that year someone had bombed the Jakarta Stock Exchange. The Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiah was actively recruiting across the archipelago, establishing radical schools to train a young generation of jihadis and planning attacks in Indonesia and throughout the region, including in the Philippines and Thailand.

But today, Indonesia has become a far different kind of example. Even as terrorism continues to grow more common in nations from Pakistan to Algeria, Indonesia is heading in the opposite direction, destroying its internal terrorist networks and winning the broader public battle against radicalism. And it has done so not only by cracking heads but by using a softer, innovative plan that employs former jihadis to wean radicals away from terror.

But if they really hoped to reduce the pool of possible new recruits for groups like Jemaah Islamiah, Indonesian leaders realized they had to win public support for their battle. Otherwise, police could arrest or kill hundreds of militants, and new radicals would just take their place.

And thats exactly what they did.

To win militants’ hearts and minds, Indonesia instituted a program called deradicalization. Realizing that hard-core militants will not listen to prominent Muslim moderates, whom they view as soft, as irreligious or as tools of the government, the deradicalization initiative employs other militants — former terrorist fighters or trainers. These are men like Nasir Abas, once a Jemaah Islamiah leader, who have sworn off most types of violence. Former fighters who agree to help the deradicalization program often receive incentives, such as reduced sentences or assistance for their families.

The result was the least violent and possibly most effective Anti-Terrorism campaign to date. But then again there is no foreign occupation in Indonesia. There is certainly one in Afghanistan and with Obama’s presidency, their presence in Afghanistan is set to increase. Another ‘Surge’. A repeat of, what the public thought were, strategies employed in Iraq. It wasnt a surge that worked in Iraq – granted – the level of violence fell, the Level of violence actually fell months before there was a surge in troop levels.  Not to mention there was a surge in violence in 2005 alongside a similar surge in troop levels in Iraq or when British troops LEFT Basra there was an even greater drop in the level of violence.

To say that increasing numbers of soldiers in Afghanistan would do any good is a leap of faith. It might just do the Opposite. Very likely would.

A RAND study, Titled “How terrorist Groups End” explains.

The ending of most terrorist groups requires a range of policy instruments, such as careful police and intelligence work, military force, political negotiations, and economic sanctions. Yet policy makers need to understand where to prioritize their efforts with limited resources and attention.

Against terrorist groups that cannot or will not make a transition to nonviolence, policing is likely to be the most effective strategy (40 percent). Police and intelligence services have better training and information to penetrate and disrupt terrorist organizations than do such institutions as the military. They are the primary arm of the government focused on internal security matters. Local police and intelligence agencies usually have a permanent presence in cities, towns, and villages; a better understanding of the threat environment in these areas; and better human intelligence.

Against most terrorist groups military force is usually too blunt an instrument. Military tools have increased in precision and lethality, especially with the growing use of precision standoff weapons and imagery to monitor terrorist movement. But even precision weapons have been of limited use against terrorist groups. The use of substantial U.S. military power against terrorist groups also runs a significant risk of turning the local population against the government by killing civilians.

The Last words of the excerpt are the most significant. Civilian deaths turn the people against the occupiers. Why wouldnt they turn against them or whoever is causing those deaths. Its a simple function of correspondent inference. People tend to infer the motives — and also the disposition — of someone who performs an action based on the effects of his actions, and not on external or situational factors. Its a Good rule of thumb, but like all cognitive biases, the correspondent inference theory fails sometimes. Most spectacularly when dealing with situations where civilians are exposed to violence.
One research paper looking into this theory was by Max Abrams titled “Why Terrorism Does not Work”

“The theory posited here is that terrorist groups that target civilians are unable to coerce policy change because terrorism has an extremely high correspondence. Countries believe that their civilian populations are attacked not because the terrorist group is protesting unfavorable external conditions such as territorial occupation or poverty. Rather, target countries infer the short-term consequences of terrorism — the deaths of innocent civilians, mass fear, loss of confidence in the government to offer protection, economic contraction, and the inevitable erosion of civil liberties — (are) the objects of the terrorist groups. In short, target countries view the negative consequences of terrorist attacks on their societies and political systems as evidence that the terrorists want them destroyed. Target countries are understandably skeptical that making concessions will placate terrorist groups believed to be motivated by these maximalist objectives.” ^

On the Flip side, that applies just as well to civilians being targetted by occupying forces. The objectives of the occupiers could be anything but will be inferred more often than not to be inflict death and destruction on the civilian population. Many a people of Afghanistan have turned towards the Taliban in the years of fighting that previously wanted nothing to do with the Taliban.

Infact one Taliban commander told the LA Times, he has been sending voluteers back because “There is no need for all of them”. The LA Times was told that Taliban ranks in Ghazni Province have been swelling by 10% a month. They control large swaths of land in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. The main Highway between Kabul and Kandahar is “enemy territory” for the Taliban, a busy two-lane road where U.S. troops race down the middle, trying to steer clear of suicide bombers. The guerrillas drive it like they OWN it.
Their actions speak of their new found boldness and strenght in Afghanistan. In January of 2009, as many as 600 taliban crossed into Pakistan for an attack on a militar base. Pakistani forces repelled the attack but how 600 militants can cross into Pakistan and creap back into Afghanistan while the ISAF slept is whats really troubling. Clearly the US is not winning the war in Afghanistan in its seventh year.

Lately, I have had nightmarish scenario playing out in my head when once again a Super power wreaks havoc in Afghanistan and packs its bag leaving Pakistan to deal with the mess. Mess thats clearly spilling over and the International community is powerless to contain it while its here – with all its military might. There is window of opportunity – a time frame in which the US must defeat the Taliban. Before the mounting civilian casualties turn the people against them and a Soviet-Afghan guerilla war type situation emerges. Before the political will in the US to fight this war fades.

The problem is – the Taliban dont have to win the war, they just only have to outlive American political will.

Addendum

The Taliban now holds a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year ago. Taliban forces have advanced from their southern heartlands, where they are now the de facto governing power in a number of towns and villages, to Afghanistan’s western and north-western provinces, as well as provinces north of Kabul. Within a year, the Taliban’s permanent presence in the country has increased by a startling 18%.

Three out of the four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by Taliban activity. The capital city has plummeted to minimum levels of control, with the Taliban and other criminal elements infiltrating the city at will.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Right to Protest


Of course protests dont always go right. They can easily turn into riots. That, generally, is the reason cited by authoritarian regimes to clamp down on protesters. Their methods are primitive. Batons, tear gas, arrests and the one odd protester shot and killed.

But we have seen that these tactics dont deter protests. On the contrary, I would say the harder a government tries to come down on its people, the harder the people push back.

The crowds will gather & dispersing them without incident is next to impossible. Or atleast used to be ….

So did you hear about the new non-lethal weapons they are making. There is one that emits a low frequency sounds that confuses a person’s sense into thinking they are off balance. That makes them dizzy, causes headaches & nausea. You cant really protest if your protesters cant even stand straight and are puking all over.

& In comes the “Active Denial System”
It effectively is a Giant microwave oven. Fires microwaves at the crowd which excite water molecules and make you feel extreme heat. You cant stand it. You can stand a water cannon – tear Gas and baton charge but you cant stand the “Active Denial System”. You have to get away from the beam. Its just too painful, while leave no marks and causes no actual burns.

So what when dictators get their hands on these things. Without actually engaging in human rights violations, murder, torture, detentions, beatings or anything else – these dictators could have the power to turn away protesters.
Well the protesters are getting clever too. Its likes an arms race. They control the press and we start blogging. You know how it works. Like a friend of mine said “People will nearly always find other way though”.

Protesters have gotten smarter.

.. Consider last month’s seizure of the airports in Bangkok, a development understandably overshadowed by the much more violent terrorist acts in Mumbai. While the world focused on India, anti-government mobs in the Thai capital shut down both Bangkok’s relatively new international airport and its older domestic facility. When the airports finally reopened over the weekend, the 10-day occupation had accomplished its goal: The prime minister was ousted, his party banned, and most of his top functionaries banished from politics.

.. A three-month-long siege of the prime minister’s office had been fruitless. In fact, halfway through the airports crisis, protesters abandoned the prime minister’s office and moved in with the mobs occupying Suvarnabhumi International and Don Muang airports.

Why did a week-and-a-half-long airport shutdown effect political change when a three-month-long occupation of the putative seat of Thai political power had failed? The power of the purse. By shutting down Bangkok’s airports, demonstrators essentially shut down the Thai economy. ( MSNBC: Like it or not, travel terrorism works )

Focussed protests. Like the author said – a three month long protest around couldnt do what a 10 day protest did. Of course it would have hurt the economy but the protesters got what they wanted.

It feels like it wasnt their numbers that pulled them through – feels almost like blackmail.

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Opinions – The News


The News – Sunday, December 21, 2008
The controversy ignited by the issue of additional examination marks acquired by Farah Dogar, the daughter of Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar, seems to be enwrapping others as well. A pamphlet circulated in the National Assembly says Maryum Nawaz, the daughter of Mian Nawaz Sharif, was able to obtain admission at a leading medical college in Lahore in 1992, after influence was used to arrange a migration from Rawalpindi. Ms Nawaz lacked the grades required to get into the more prestigious institution on merit. The story that circulated at the time spoke also of an unwilling principal who was transferred to pave the way for the privileged daughter. There is also talk of how Maryum Nawaz was re-admitted to the same college in 1998, during the second tenure of her father as prime minister, presumably as she failed to graduate successfully the first time round. The PML-N has denied the allegations made in the pamphlet. The PPP has denied any role in circulating it. But nonetheless, it is clear the acrimony between the two major political parties in the country is rising. This could have damaging manifestations in the days ahead. There is a reminder in the whole affair of the ugly, personalized politics that marred democratic rule through the 1980s. The post-February hopes of a new order of civilized cooperation are fading fast.

The issue of the two different daughters, who both benefited from the position their fathers occupied and their readiness to misuse power, is also a telling reminder of the way our society is structured. Nepotism and abuse of power are now a way of life. Few of us think twice about resorting to it. Our leaders, quite evidently, never hesitate at all. The latest disclosures are embarrassing for Mian Nawaz Sharif. They act to remove him from his pedestal and provide a reminder that we lack leaders capable of acting with integrity themselves but quick to point fingers at others who do so. This is our tragedy. It is one reason why we are unable to rise above the mundane when it comes to politics and why so much energy is consumed on unproductive issues that can in no way help the country to move towards the stability it so desperately needs in order to enable citizens, most of whom can of course never even dream of a place in medical college, to improve their lives.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment