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Monday, February 28, 2011

Direct CIA-ISI Links With Haqqani Group & Northern Alliance

By Ibn-e-Mehboob
IH Special Correspondent
In yet another surprising move the direct links between the Haqqani group, Northern alliance of Afghanistan and the stakeholders from in and outside Afghanistan and Pakistan have been revealed that include among others brother of Abdullah Abdullah, the former Afghan presidential candidate and the ex- foreign minister in president Karzai’s previous cabinet.

Moves and counter moves to eliminate Taliban from Afghanistan and Pakistan, direct or indirect contacts between the United States and warring Taliban factions, or the talks between the stakeholders are no surprise for people covering and analyzing the war on terror and its impact, but a direct contact between the Northern Alliance, Taliban, NATO/ISAF forces and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan will certainly be seen as a big surprise.
Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani
Indeed the Tribal belt between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Eastern part of Afghanistan are source of much trouble in the region and the United States and allies are engaged in a hard fight to eliminate the menace of extremism in shape of either al-Qaeda or Taliban, but the clash of interests between the two intelligence networks – CIA & ISI - make them adopting different policies. However, on few points they cooperate with each other and this has been the case in the said development, the sources in the diplomatic circles revealed.

Haqqani group is at top of the list against which ISAF forces intend to operate, however, Pakistan’s intervention is one of the major reasons for not launching strikes against the group in southern part of Afghanistan. The investigation by this correspondent revealed eye opener facts leading towards connivance between the CIA and ISI or other agencies.
Abdullah Abdullah, former Afghan presidential candidate & ex-foreign minister
 In a recent development, Ahmed Mumtaz, the real brother of Abdullah Abdullah, has been made part of peace Jirga to maintain peace and calm between upper and lower Kurram under an agreement in Islamabad. The issue came to surface few years back due to clash between the tribes in the agency, which resulted in closure of Parachinar-Sadda road. The sources inside the power corridors revealed that in lieu of the situation the local tribesmen were asked to allow settlement of the Taliban factions in the area between the upper and lower Kurram. The local tribes were ready to allow settlement of tribal groups no matter having links with Taliban or not, but they were not ready to allow other than tribal Taliban.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nazir Haqqani younger brother Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani shuttled between tribal areas, Kabul and the Islamabad and got Ahmed Mumtaz on board making him part of the agreement for reopening of Sadda-Parachinar road. It is also reliably learnt here that the agreement has some backing of ISI, CIA and NATO forces and no action will be taken against the deal brokers if Mr. Ahmed played appositive role in reaching another deal between Taliban-Haqqani group, Northern alliance and Abdullah Abdullah. The next step of the deal is cooperation of Haqqani group with the people of Mohmand agency to maintain peace.

Bhutto & the Politics of 1969-1971: In Response to Mir Thebo's Note

By Harry Pasha
There is no documented record on Bhutto’s strategy in dealing with an antagonistic Ayub Khan and also keep good relations with the army after he left the Ayub cabinet in 1966.  Apparently, Bhutto had three immediate concerns:

1. He had to deal with the army. Bhutto never wanted to go up against the army but he wanted to oppose Ayub Khan. That required a deft handling of the situation.

2. He needed to create alliances that would propel him in the feudal political structure but would still keep him distinguished from the run-of-the-mill feudal politicians of the Muslim League sort.

3. He was not interested in East Pakistan but the quandary was that without East Pakistan, chances of his getting to the top were zero.

He went around the first two issues by launching a campaign against anybody related to Ayub except the army. He lashed out against the capitalists, the feudal structure, the bureaucracy, and the other supporting cast of Ayub Khan. He told the poor to drag the rich out of their homes and to exact the revenge of the centuries. He asked political novices, the vagabonds, and the anarchists to work for him in changing society. In feudal Sindh and in the southern Punjab, he was talking to prominent feudal families to support him. The Peoples Party was such a mishmash of unlikely alliances that nobody but Bhutto knew what the party actually stood for. Before the elections in 1970, Bhutto had created enough alliances to cause sufficient mayhem in society to alarm the establishment and to cause the elitist to hate him profoundly and without any reservation.
Z. A. Bhutto
East Pakistan was a sticky situation. Bhutto probably had visited East Pakistan only a few times in his entire political life. Neither did he have any sense of how to communicate with Bengalis. Despite his limited knowledge of East Pakistan, Bhutto correctly defined his political strategy after assessing the trends and the leadership that was emerging from East Pakistan at that time, and set up his game plan accordingly.
Sheikh Mujib
Around the time when Bhutto’s role in the Ayub regime was coming to an end, a thousand miles away Sheikh Mujib in East Pakistan was putting together his Six Points agenda for the future of Pakistan. The 1965 war had changed many perceptions, paradigms, and equilibrium in Pak politics. What Sheikh Mujib came up with was a clear-cut agenda for East Pakistan’s secession from Pakistan. His Six Points called for two currencies, two capitals, and two central banks. In essence, he was asking for two prime ministers, two presidents, and two armies. Astute political analysts, the army, and Bhutto correctly assessed Mujib’s ultimate goal. But having a program and implementing it are two different things. There were still strong pro Pakistan currents among Bengalis. The Bengali middle class was disgusted with the West Pakistan elite, but it was not apparent then that they were ready to break off. In the most likely scenario, Bhutto must have concluded that if Mujib did not succeed the first time, he would eventually get an independent East Pakistan in the next round. Bhutto was willing to wait it out so he concentrated on West Pakistan for his future political strategy.

1970 saw a volatile and feverish election campaign. Bhutto toiled hard for his votes in the deserts and plains of Sindh and Punjab. Sheikh Mujib, helped by nationalistic slogans and a natural disaster, swept the polls in East Pakistan. With two different parties claiming a majority in two separate parts of the country, the stage was set for a brutal contest for the ultimate prize of controlling Pakistan between the three players: the army, Sheikh Mujib, and Bhutto.

Bhutto, after having been ousted from the power in a palace power struggle just four years earlier, was knocking back with a mandate from two important provinces. It was time for him to play his cards diligently and with utmost shrewdness. Bhutto was ready for the game that would eventually make him the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Generals, Ayub Khan & Yahya Khan
During his election campaign and after it, Bhutto never criticized the army. His original focus was on Ayub Khan as an individual. Fact of the matter is he perhaps was working with Gen. Yahya Khan to launch a coup against Gen. Ayub after Gen. Yahya Khan was appointed COAS in 1967. Once Ayub Khan was removed; he focused on Wadera, Zamindar, landlords and capitalists. Bhutto was able to fool many both in the left and the right wing by his rhetoric but he understood correctly that without the army, he had no chance of getting power in Pakistan.

A few weeks after the elections, Gen. Yahya Khan along with some senior military generals huddled up with Bhutto in his hometown Larkana. I believe that in that meeting the army and Bhutto finally agreed on how to deal with the East Pakistan and the Mujib problem. It was not in their interests to see Mujib as the PM and soon after those meetings, Bhutto took a belligerent stand against Mujib and eventually went on to tell National Assembly members to not to show up for the assembly meeting in Dhaka or their legs would be broken. Then in a speech in Lahore, he came out with his famous declaration “Idhar hum, Udhar tum.” Within days, Gen. Yahya Khan postponed the assembly session in Dhaka causing a violent reaction there. It became clear to all that Bengalis would have a huge struggle ahead of them to control their destiny.
Pakistan military launched military operation, codenamed, "Operation Searchlight" on 25th March, 1971 in "East Pakistan" to crush Bengali nationalist movement. Hundreds of thousands of Bengalis were massacred in the operation.
Bhutto’s declaration of “Idhar hum, Udhar tum” was not some burst of emotions but a signal to the army that he would put his neck out for the army. It was also a signal to Mujib about what was to come next. Mujib got his cue and there never were any serious negotiations with the army. The Awami league leadership began to slip out to India and when finally the military action commenced, most of the Awami league leaders escaped arrest. Mujib was the only the major AL leader arrested by the army.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

National Language Bill: A Viewpoint

By Zulfiqar Halepoto 
The issue of the recognition of various languages as national languages in Pakistan cannot be seen in isolation. It has a direct link with the politics of ethnicity in Pakistan and fraction of the overall socio-political crisis of the state, which in fact was the outcome of the politics of communism, the genesis of the freedom and independence. Imposition of Urdu on Bengali and other centuries’ old languages by the founder of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah was the first outcome of the politics of communalism, which pushed Bengalis to the wall and finally they seceded.

To correct the situation with regards to the national languages issue, 22 legislators (MNAs) from PPP and PMLQ have presented national language bill 2010 in the National Assembly, demanding to declare Balochi, Punjabi, Pushto, Shina/Balti, Sindhi, Siraiki and Urdu as national languages. The bill was presented on a private member’s day by Nawab Yousuf Talpur of PPP with the signatures of 15 PPP legislators followed by 7 PML-Q MNAs. 

The bill seeks to replace Article 251 of the constitution that specifies Urdu as the only national language of the country. The proposed replacement reads: “The national languages of Pakistan are Balochi, Punjabi, Pushto, Shina/ Balti, Sindhi, Siraiki and Urdu.”
Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the civic ceremony at Race Course Maidan (currently Suhrawardy Udyan) in 1948, from where he stated about the language crisis of East Bengal. During the meeting he declared, Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan and no other language. (Photo courtesy Ahmed, Monwar). He made similar remarks at Dhaka University Karjon Hall, March 4, 1948
The bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which has already rejected another bill by a majority vote, presented by MNA Marvi Memon, to declare eight provincial and regional languages as national languages. The committee under the chairpersonship of Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry voted against the bill by saying that these were mere dialects and not languages.

Status of bill presented in the National Assembly of Pakistan:

The recent effort by some legislators is `full of contradictions that could cause fissures too difficult to heal`, as quoted by Dawn editorial `Speaking in tongues` (January 27th, 2011). The members have failed to understand political dynamics and the historical perspective of the language crisis in Pakistan. They have unnecessarily included the issue of Persian and Arabic languages in the bill, as the ill-drafted bill can weaken the historical case of the national languages of the four constituent units.
National Assembly, Pakistan
Mother tongues are not national languages:

There may be many languages spoken in a province and there may be many dialects of the same language. But the language of that province or area will be the one spoken by the majority. In Punjab, many dialects are spoken like Majhi dialect is spoken in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, etc., in upper Punjab.

Rachnavi is spoken in Khanewal, Faislabad, Chinniot, Okara, Sargodha, etc. Doabi is spoken by the people in the area between Bias and Sutlej basin (Rachna Doaab). Malavi is spoken by those who migrated from Anbala, Ludhiana, Hisar, and Haryana. Hindko/Pothohari is spoken in different areas of Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa, including Attock, Chakwal, Murree, Rawalpindi, Naushera, etc., but the language of Punjab is, and will always be, called Punjabi, which encompasses all dialects.

The same is the case with Sindh where Brahivi, Siraiki, Dhatiki, Gujarati, Marwaree, Urdu, Balochi and many dialects of the Sindhi language itself are spoken. But the majority language shall remain Sindhi. The same is the case of Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan where people speak various mother tongues and local dialects. All these languages should be given a proper status but all the mother tongues cannot be declared national languages.

The recent movement in Sindh:

Interestingly Sindh has already raised united voice for granting Sindhi, status of national language as it was centuries’ old and a forceful medium of expression. Sindh is speaking in one voice on the demand and all the stakeholders including the government, the Culture Department, Sindhi Adabi Sangat, Sindh Democratic Forum and almost all political parties especially nationalist groups are united on the issue.

A high level committee comprised of leading intellectuals, writers, political scientists, linguists, and academia is formed to lobby with mainstream political and parliamentary groups including PPP, PML-N, PML-F, PML-Q and MQM and to urge them to evolve a joint strategy on the language issue.

These forces have started mass-mobilization and awareness campaign to sensitize public opinion for grant of national status to Sindhi language. Renowned scholars are active in dialogue with the leadership of political parties, social welfare organisations, representatives of civil society, journalists, writers, and media to play an important role in this campaign.

Though Sindh hailed members of the National Assembly of Pakistan for presenting a bill in the National Assemble for granting Sindhi and seven other languages national status but the bill was critically reviewed by think tanks and linguists and asked the members to remove the weaknesses in the bill, first. The bill proposes giving national language status to all mother tongues was ill-drafted, which, if implemented, would create problems as languages, other than Sindhi, were also being spoken in Sindh. This move would also adversely affect the actual demand of making Sindhi, the national language.

A high profile committee was formed under the lead of Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo to lead mass-mobilization campaign and lobbying with the government and parliamentarians for a politically correct legislation and implementation of demands. Committee is planning to convene a national conference of linguists, parliamentarians and writers for evolving a joint strategy.

Zulfiqar Halepoto is political analyst and development practitioner and can be reached at:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Case Against Kalabagh Dam: Aziz Narejo

Filling in the Dots: Why PILDAT is Reviving Kalabagh Debate: Introductory Note by Kamran Shafi

Proposed dam sites
Kalabagh Dam is a very bad idea indeed. If ONLY for the reason that 3 out of 4 federating units of this blessed country have rejected it.

I am familiar enough with the Mardan-Nowshera-Charsadda area well enough to know that when without this monstrosity there is water standing along the roads just three feet below the level of the road there has to be a big problem of water-logging already.

I can only hope that sense prevails and that our already frayed federation is not damaged further.
 We also must ask the question WHY an organisation whose goal is “to strengthen and sustain democracy and democratic institutions” in this poor country should re-raise a hugely contentious issue like the Kalabagh Dam? Which has been DEMOCRATICALLY rejected by three-fourths of the country.

This is not the first time that PILDAT has done this kind of thing – recall the “report” on the riches of our parliamentarians that PILDAT published just at the time when there were rumours afloat that the Establishment was about to move against the elected governments some months ago. Far more than that, there was no analysis – just a re-printing of the Election Commission’s data. In many cases the information was dated too, and had very little relevance to the present parliament.

Indeed if PILDAT was doing such a public service, why did it not publish the riches of our Air Marshals and Admirals and Generals and bureaucrats in comparison? (Kamran Shafi's note courtesy
Jinnah Bridge on Indus River. Proposed Kalabagh Dam site is behind the hills seen in the photo

A case Against Kalabagh Dam – by Aziz Narejo

A recent seminar in Karachi organized by an NGO, PILDAT has again brought the issue of Kalabagh Dam to the fore.  Especially an irrational and unscrupulous statement at the seminar by IRSA chairman (from Punjab) has flared up the emotions among the stakeholders.

Actually he is not alone in this. There is a certain lobby in Pakistan, which continues to insist on the construction of Kalabagh Dam on Indus River ignoring the fierce opposition from the provinces of Khyber- Pakhtoonkhwa and Sindh.

Proposed Kalabagh Dam site
The Kalabagh Dam project is undoubtedly one of the most controversial water projects in the country. If taken up, this project could prove disastrous for the country as it will further divide the people and become a constant source of internal strife. I request the readers to please consider the following points and see how prudent it would be to undertake the KBD or for that matter any mega dam project:

1.  There is no extra water for any new dams or reservoirs in the Indus River System. During the past few years, there has been scarcity of water in the country and even the present dams have not been filled to capacity. The lower riparian province has suffered immensely due to the damming of Indus River. It can’t afford any more losses. Water expert, Engineer A. N. G. Abbasi proves this in his note in the report of the Technical Committee on Water and Power.

2. Provincial assemblies of the three federating units have unanimously rejected the KBD.

3. Indus River System Authority, IRSA, rejected the KBD on October 22, 1996 on the basis that:

a) The Dam will be silted rather quickly.
b) Its short life: 22 – 30 years.
c) Poor performance.
d) Comparatively lower electric generation capability.

4. The short life of the dam and a diminished power generation potential would result in huge losses to the country’s exchequer. It is economically infeasible.

5. The dam will displace a large number of people and inundate fertile lands in the Khyber- Pakhtoonkhwa and Punjab. Many more acreage will be lost because of water logging in Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda, Pabbi, Nowshera, Dhoda, Kharmatoo and other areas. It will also cause land degradation in the Peshawar valley and affect the sweet water aquifers in Karak and Lakki Districts.

6. Additionally, the inhabitants of the low lying areas on both sides of rivers Indus, Sawan, Kabul and Tui will have to be shifted and given new houses and lands for settlement. These inhabitants are in hundreds of thousands and this will incur a heavy expenditure.

7. It will cause backpressure in the River Kabul, resulting in the increase in water logging.

8. Nowshera, a sizable city of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, will be threatened with termination or severe water logging, as it will stand 24 feet below the height of Kalabagh storage.

9. Several bridges and roads including the Attock-Talagang road on river Sawan and the Kohat-Rawalpindi road and the Peshawar-Rawalpindi road on river Indus besides some railway tracks and other infrastructure will be submerged by the KBD.

10. The Sui gas line between Peshawar-Rawalpindi and Rawalpindi-Kohat will also sink in the dam.

11. The Mardan and Swabi SCARP projects will be affected.

12. Possible backwater effects on the Ghazi-Barotha project.

13. The dam will need about 19.5 MAF (for storage and the proposed irrigation canals) water.  That will further strain the availability of water in the country especially for Sindh and Balochistan. Some statements say that the design will be changed and no canals will be built. But nobody in Sindh believes it as WAPDA and federal authorities have a long history of broken promises.

14. If the dam is built there will not be any water available for downstream Kotri in the future. As a result the Delta and the Katcha areas in Sindh will be destroyed and the sea intrusion will cause annual losses of billions of rupees to the Sindh economy.

15. As the Dam will sit on a fault area, any earthquake can cause a disaster. Its proximity to Khewra salt mines only magnifies the problem.

16. Other adverse effects:

a) Deleterious impact on environment, ecosystem, biodiversity, habitat, wetlands and subsoil aquifers
b) Intensification of drought and desertification
c) Acceleration of poverty in the lower riparian province with increased rural to urban migration d) Drinking water problems
e) Progressive, illegal decreases in share of Sindh in Indus River System waters, as is already the case.

17. Sindh will continuously be blackmailed, as water taps will be controlled upstream.

Isn’t it in order to call for dropping the KB and other mega dams and looking for better alternatives?  This is a public appeal to all the people of the world to please impress upon the government of Pakistan to stop its genocidal policies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sindh & PPP: “Before it is Too Late”

By Sindhu Yousuf
Sindh and PPP’s bondage is as old as the formation of PPP and the emergence of the talented and dynamic personality of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the political scene – but it was his Sindhi identity that attracted Sindhis towards him rather than his slogan of “Roti, Kapra aur Makan” (food, clothes & shelter). This very factor is keeping the bond intact between the two even today. Starting with ZA Bhutto, PPP has come into power several times at the Federal level and in the province. Sometimes while it has been in opposition, it has been able to form government in Sindh. The Sindhis have supported it all along be it in the power or in opposition. But the question is: ‘has the PPP also stood with Sindhis? Has the PPP ever raised the question of rights of Sindhis or has it strived to achieve rights of Sindhis when it was in power or does it intend to do so in the future?

The answer to these questions can be found looking at the track record of PPP in the past as well as its performance in the present government. It looks that PPP has not raised the question of the rights of Sindhis! But why is it so? The answer is also very simple: the PPP is not a nationalist party, which could easily raise Sindhi issues – it is a Pakistan level party. Hence it could speak on country’s issues and the Kashmir issue but it could not speak on Sindh’s issues. If it had taken up Sindhi issues, it would have lost vote bank from Punjab - the biggest province of Pakistan, limiting it to Sindh only.

It is not my intention here to criticize the PPP but to draw attention of readers on complex fundamental problems of Sindh that despite remaining in power, PPP could not take up. On the other hand, we Sindhis have never reckoned or reposed confidence in any other party that would have gone to Assembly and taken up our issues – while the PPP is in power even now but it has not initiated any major policies that could lead to solve problems of Sindhis. 

Even on the issue of Kalabagh Dam, PPP had been initially hesitant to take up the stand against it but when all three provinces opposed it, Mohtarma agreed to join the Obaro rally. This is however a past story.

PPP will now be completing three years in power. What steps has PPP taken or intends to take for the realization of Sindhi rights?

Since the creation of Pakistan, Sindh has remained the land of immigrants settlement no matter where they came from, India, Bangladesh or even Afghanistan. People from India continue to migrate even after 1952 and no step has been taken to stop this illegal immigration - flow from Bangladesh and Afghanistan also continues. It is strange that the MQM got a resolution passed from Sindh Assembly that Sindhis from outside Karachi can not seek admissions in Karachi’s educational institutions while our Sindhi representative have done nothing. Today Muhajirs and Pathans control the Karachi city and Afghan muhajirs, instead of living in camps, are dominating the city’s trade. Most of them possess fake Pakistani passports and Identity cards. The city is now divided into two dominant forces, Muhajirs and Pathans who occasionally clash with each other and the city has become unsafe.

When in 2009, Jeay Sindh opened their office and hosted its flag in Karachi, many of its workers were murdered at the hands of both MQM and Pathans fearing that Sindhis will grab the land from them. Musharraf Government bulldozed Sindhi villages and later when PPP Government came in power, it was expected of them that they will help Sindhi victims rebuild their homes and villages but I don’t think the government has really taken any practical step in that regards.

Intention to narrate this often told story is to come to the conclusion that ‘if PPP does not come to the rescue of Sindhi people even now, then when will it really do so? When will Sindh government frame policies to block schemes of pushing Sindhis into minority in their own cities? Will the PPP continue to get vote from Sindhis in the name of Bhutto on pretext that he was a Sindhi but avoid taking steps in favor of Sindhis? If it continues, perhaps our coming generations may curse us for voting for PPP and accuse us of supporting PPP trading of our rights. I mean to emphasis that since the PPP is in power today, it must take some steps to rescue the future of Sindh and abort efforts of pushing Sindhis into minority.

I would like to recommend here some practical steps that government may take which may be instrumental to salvage the situation to some extent.

a. Ensure strict implementation of Immigration laws to stop illegal incoming flow of foreigners.

b) Fake ID cards, domiciles and passports must be probed and cancelled and holders of such documents must be punished under the relevant laws.

c) Status of Afghan Muhajireen must be thoroughly probed and the people displaced by Afghan war, must be put in the camps and dealt under asylum rules and regulations.

d) Those foreigners who don’t posses work permit must not be allowed to open the shops and start trade in Karachi.

e) Performance of NADRA and other such organizations must be monitored to block issuance of passports and NICs to illegal immigrants. Immigration policy be reviewed and strict policy be adopted to eliminate chances of flow of illegal immigrants.     

f) Sindhi language proficiency test must be made compulsory according to the 1972 Language Act to qualify for jobs in Sindh. It should be basic condition on those desiring citizenship and jobs in Sindh so that the rights of indigenous population are safeguarded. Beside it will also facilitate Sindhi patients explaining their medical condition to doctors in their own language. It will facilitate Sindhi students to communicate with teachers in their own language and muhajirs settled in Sindh will easily learn and adopt Sindhi language that will ensure their assimilation in local population – they will face no problem learning Sindhi since they have been there for the last 63 years, which is not an inadequate time. Admissions should be opened for Sindhis in Karachi.

g) Karachi must be de-weaponized through Special Police Force.

h) Flood victims living in camps in Karachi must be settled in Karachi so that they have the employment & trade & business opportunities there. The villages razed during Musharraf government must be re built.

All the above steps may be difficult but not impossible. Sindh is our land and if we cannot take such steps to save it and protect our rights then what will be worst than it? If any person or nationality living in Sindh feels threatened by taking steps to protect the rights of Sindh, then they are anti Sindh elements and such people have no right to live in Sindh. If Pakistan’s existence and Sindh’s existence are two different things opposed to each other, in that case we have Sindh’s existence dear to us. Sindh existed before Pakistan came into being and will exist even after it. Those who want to usurp rights of indigenous Sindhis in the name of Pakistan, they should look for another corner of Pakistan to live in – there is no space in Sindh for Sindh enemies.

I appeal to the elected PPP members that please do not slaughter Sindh after taking votes in the name of Sindhi ‘Shaheeds' (martyrs). Don’t tear apart belly of Sindh with daggers borrowed from aliens. If you can fight for Sindh’s rights, do fight or at the least vacate assembly seats.

(This article was originally written in Sindhi. It is translated in English by Mr. Ghulam Haider).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Notes From My Memory, Part III by Mir Thebo: Syed, Bhutto, Yahya Khan, 1971 military action & Bangladesh

The nationalists of earlier times in Sindh were very much traditional. They used to give much importance to culture, traditions, folk music, literature and history of the land. In the outlook they were modern and well educated.

Z.A. Bhutto, who emerged as a popular leader in late 1960s, had a dynamic personality. He was a modern man and loved Western style of living. You can say he was thoroughly Western with Sindhi blood and belonging to the landed aristocracy. He was not a nationalist but he had some feelings for Sindhis. He didn’t like traditional style of politics. Once he attended a meeting of an anti One Unit forum before the Ayub era. In that meeting, Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi very politely told him that ‘this is not the place for you’. Z. A. Bhutto also realized it and left that forum. In the beginning, Z. A. Bhutto didn't oppose the nationalists from Balochistan, Sarhad (now Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa) and Sindh.
In Sindh, the Party (Communist Party) invited Z. A. Bhutto through Sindh National Students Federation (SNSF) at a large student gathering at Jamia Arabia High School in Hyderabad, Sindh (probably on 13th December 1967) to influence him to get some support for the popular anti One Unit movement. During his speech, we raised slogans against One Unit but Bhutto was sharp enough to neither oppose nor support One Unit though he projected himself as a bona fide Sindhi and gave the people a catchy slogan, "Roti, Kapra, aur Makan" (food, clothes & shelter). The poor land-hungry peasants were promised to get land. Though, he himself was a landlord, Sindhi peasants trusted him and they surrounded him in millions, because through out centuries they were humiliated and coerced by the big landlords.
After signing Tashkent agreement, Indian PM Shastri, Bhutto, Ayub Khan, Soviet PM Kosygin: photo courtesy Dr Kazi's collection
In the failed adventure of Ayub Khan in 1965 war with India, Bhutto became a 'war hero' through his statements and his opposition to the Tashkent Declaration for peace. After coming back from Tashkent, he resigned from the Ayub cabinet or he was asked to resign. Before that he was a favorite minister of Ayub khan. He used to praise Ayub khan a lot.
Bhutto addresses UN Security Council in 1971 where he rejected Polish resolution
Although Bhutto did not join it, he was very cautious not to oppose the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) formed by democratic left parties and Awami League. G.M Syed also did not join the broader democratic front because DAC (Democratic Action Committee) did not give the nationalist slogans. That and Bhutto’s popularity in Sindh hurt G. M. Syed and he became isolated with only a few student activists, writers and his friends remaining loyal to him.
G. M. Syed with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman & other Bengali leaders in Dhaka in 1971. One can read a lot from Sheikh Mujib's demeanor: photo courtesy Dr Kazi's collection
Anyway, under the pressure of the masses, dictator Ayub Khan was removed and replaced by General Yahya Khan. Now the real political game and conspiracies started. In this game, the biggest player was the military junta. In a very calculated move, General Yahya Khan abolished one unit to separate the nationalists of the western part of Pakistan from the nationalists in East Pakistan.

As it was the long cherished goal of the nationalists to end the One Unit, many nationalists congratulated General Yahya Khan for this positive step. From Sindh, G.M Syed and Hyder Bux Jatoi welcomed this change. General Yahya Khan also declared holding general elections on the basis of ‘One Man-One Vote’ to fulfill the longstanding demand by the people in East Pakistan.
General Yahya Khan
 In the 1970 elections, Bhutto’s PPP scored big win in West Pakistan defeating several stalwarts in Punjab and Sindh while Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League won almost all the seats in East Pakistan. After the elections, behind the scene, political game started. General Yahya Khan had earlier spoken to Bhutto and gave him false promise that he will be given power after the elections. The famous talks were held on the lawns of Bhutto’s residence in his hometown, Larkana. In return, Bhutto promised to oppose Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as it was also in Bhutto's interest. Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League had secured majority in Pakistan and was in a position to form a government on its own. Sheikh Mujib was in a certain position to be next Prime Minister of whole Pakistan.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressing a rally
Bhutto opposed the newly elected Assembly’s first session announced to be held in Dhaka and warned his party members that "I will break the legs of those MNAs who will go to Dhaka”. Again pre-planned game started by military junta. Yahya Khan went to Dhaka. Bhutto and NAP chief Wali Khan were also invited there for talks. The talks ‘failed’ as they were supposed to. After the failure of the talks the ruthless military oppression began in East Pakistan. Wali Khan said about the talks on his return at the airport that it was a drop scene of ‘the drama’ while Bhutto said that ‘thank God, Pakistan is saved’. The tanks rolled in the beautiful city of Dhaka. The military took over the Dhaka University and started killing unarmed people to crush their rebellious spirit. In Sindh, the Party (Communist Party), some writers and some G. M. Syed workers opposed the military oppression in East Pakistan.
Wali Khan meets Sheikh Mujib in Dhaka in 1971
After starting the military operation in Dhaka, the junta started extremely oppressive policies in East Pakistan. In West Pakistan also, Junta took away freedom from the people, which they enjoyed during the elections process. People were severely punished even for minor acts. Jam Saqi, Mehar Hussain Shah and I made a program to violate Martial law and distributed badges with slogans, ‘Jeay Sindh’ and ‘land to the tiller’ written on them at Bhitt Shah Mela. We were arrested while distributing the badges and were given rigorous imprisonment for one year by a summary military court.
General Yahya Khan arrives at Mohenjo Daro airport in January, 1971 to hold talks with Bhutto: photo courtesy Dr Kazi's collection: photo courtesy Dr Kazi's collection
Gen. Yahya Khan also cheated Bhutto and backed away from his promise to hand over power to him. Bhutto became furious at the betrayal of Gen. Yahya Khan. Up to that time, Bhutto had a solo flight. Now he needed some allies who had some courage to fight with military and had some parliamentary seats to pressurize the military junta. He chose National Awami Party (NAP) headed by Wali khan with Baloch nationalists and leftists. He went to Peshawar to meet Wali Khan. Wali Khan was busy in his party’s meeting at that time. Bhutto was informed, but he said seriously, "I'll not go with out meeting Wali Khan". He waited for Wali Khan restlessly, continuously moving to and fro in anger. It was Bhutto's usual style. When Wali Khan met Bhutto, he asked Wali Khan to give him support to bring down Yahya regime. Wali Khan’s response was: "Bhutto sahib previously you said that you don’t need any alliance and also how would we bring down the generals"? Bhutto thumped his foot on the floor with force and said in a defiant tone, ‘I’ll crush the generals. Only you be with me’. Wali Khan reported this exchange to the NAP meeting.
Bhutto meets Sheikh Mujib in Dhaka in 1971
Anyhow, that alliance couldn’t materialize but the military was finally defeated on the Eastern front. The great tragedy occurred in the East Pakistan as Bhutto wrote in his famous book, ‘The Great Tragedy’. New map was drawn in the subcontinent and a new country of sovereign nation emerged as Bangladesh.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Immediate Measures Needed to Turn Around Alarming Malnutrition & Poverty Situation in Sindh

Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Economic Uplift in Sindh

By Saleem Shaikh
Malnutrition has long been known to hurt economic growth and perpetuate poverty while improving nutrition can add 2-3 per cent to the GDP in a poor country like Pakistan and drive their economic growth. Yet, over past several years, various governments have failed to tackle the problem. 

Economic and health experts believe that appalling state of malnutrition in the resource-rich and fertile Sindh is end-result of the grinding poverty and mal-utilization of uplift funds for health, water and sanitation infrastructure.

It is, they said, depressing to note that while tons of grains and other farm produces go waste due to official negligence and mismanagement, millions in the province have to sleep without eating enough food.

Officials in provincial food, agriculture, rural development and planning and development departments argue that many plans have already been put in place to fight the underlying causes of poverty, create employment opportunities and boost people’s income.
But those, who critically look at such government initiatives, said that the situation on the ground refuses to improve – perhaps because of official ineptness, inefficiency, corruption, misappropriation or under-utilization of development budgets and absence of monitoring and evaluation of such uplift plans.

Senior economic planning officials in the provincial planning and development department (P&DD) opine that factors such as the income mal-distribution, exploitation of the primary (agricultural) sector, the commoditization of agriculture, overt or covert un- or underemployment are some of the macro causes at the base of this social disease. Besides, the poverty rather than parasite or worn is the key vector of malnutrition and diseases in the province.

Poor households across the province spend around 75 per cent of their income on food and healthcare. A major study found that 36.3 per cent of the people surveyed in Sindh consumed less than 1,700 calories a day and another 25 per cent consumed between 1,700 to 2,100 calories per day.

According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2006-7, a vast majority of rural households are more than 10 kilometers away from basic services that include district administration headquarters, ambulances, functional maternal and child health centers and hospitals. Rural populations access drinking water through a range of methods of which tube-wells, boreholes or hand pumps account for more than half of such sources. But only 2.8 per cent of the rural households in the province use an appropriate treatment method, such as boiling or filtering.
An independent development economist Dr Javed A. Ansari said the poverty and rural urban disparities in the province continue to spiral up unimpeded because of bad governance, rampant corruption, inadequate budgetary allocations and their misappropriation or poor utilization.

He, however, believed the soaring poverty, which had deepened mal-nutrition, was unlikely to alleviate significantly until there was increased investment in health, education and basic infrastructure.

“Besides, there is a strong need to finally put nutrition at the center of development so that a wide range of economic and social improvements that rely on nutrition can be realized,” said a senior rural development planner in the provincial rural development department.

The Unicef’s recently released report’s findings that the province is grappled with levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger has sent shivers down the spines of many, who are concerned about the province’s aggravating socio-economic indicators and express their pity for the provincial government that even such findings had hardly pushed government into action for addressing the underlying causes of the malady.

One of the architects of the Unicef’s report working in the provincial health department, who preferred anonymity, told this scribe that it was not known as to since how long the people of the province had been in this fashion, eating hardly enough to keeping themselves alive. “But, it is certain that the malnutrition is not a new phenomenon for millions in the province and it has only surfaced more evidently in the wake of recent floods,” he remarked.

The members of civil society including NGOs and media, who have visited Sindh during the disastrous deluge, have been appalled at the face of malnutrition they have witnessed.

The province’s fertile farmlands yield surplus grains and vegetables, but these remain unaffordable for millions of people on account of soaring inflation and falling incomes.

“Biting inflation and escalating food prices have forced economically-battered families to divert their grocery budgets the funds that previously used to be utilized for providing education and minimum health to their children,” remarked Dr Fawad Ali of the P&D department’s health section.

He said that falling incomes and malnutrition coupled with increased consumption of unsafe water and unhygienic/poor quality food because of abnormally higher food prices had sent millions more below the poverty line.

Those, who feel aggrieved over Sindh’s depressing socio-economic profile, have slammed insensitivity of the public representatives towards the deplorable social and economic conditions of the populace.

They warned that escalating poverty, soaring food prices, unemployment, de-industrialization could together translate into volcanic outrage of the people against their rulers, who had hardly bothered to highlight the people’s genuine issues in the provincial and national assemblies and play their due part for resolving them. Instead, they had been seen fighting for protecting their own interests.

But, PPP MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur claims that he has often drawn government’s attention towards people’s social and economic hardships.

“I’ve raised issue of massive grain losses and worrisome state of education, health and ruptured basic infrastructure on the floor of Parliament and asked the public representatives on a point of order whether they are destined to ruin fertile and resource-rich Sindh, which contributes more than 70 per cent of the country’s total revenue, accounts for some 65 per cent oil and more than 70 per cent gas,” he said.

He recalled that he had also highlighted issue of non-availability of quality storage facilities for farm produces during last budget speech of the federal finance minister. But, it was a matter of pity that nothing concrete transpired.

Officials in the provincial food department said: “There are some nefarious elements in the government, who foil efforts with full force whenever taken for building up the modern silos. Because, they get heavy kick-backs and bribes when renting spaces for storing the grains,” told one official in the provincial food department.
Inadequate storage facilities pose a major problem
There are many others who blame dismal social spending for the current socio-economic maladies. “There are ample evidences that adequate social spending in transparent manner is indeed very effective in overcoming poverty and inequality and in promoting health and prosperity,” said Dr Khalid Pervez, who is providing healthcare services at a health facility in Al Jamkanda village of Karachi’s Bin Qasim town, which has been set up by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

He believed that adequate spending on health, education, and rural development could turn around the situation of poverty and malnutrition in the province. But, unfortunately such social spending gap had translated into the grinding malnutrition, rise in health diseases, illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and unsafe water and sanitation.

Sadiqa Sallahuddin, a prominent rural and health development expert of the Indus Resource Center, believes that remedy to gruesome malnutrition in the province lies in increased spending for alleviating what she described ‘wild poverty’.

She remarked: “Despite so many socio-economic uplift initiatives and whatever health budget allocation and spending, Sindh remains the most backward in all walks of the life. It is because there are some pro-active forces having mal-fide interests, who want to keep the province trapped into a socio-economic mess. However, nefarious designs of such unscrupulous forces are only aimed to water down/bog down endeavors of progressive forces. Because, they are those who want to see the province driven on the path of socio-economic development.”
Landlords, so-called public representatives sitting on treasury and opposition benches, corrupt bureaucrats and mafias were, among others tough challenges to the province’s overall development. These forces hamper every initiative taken for the uplift of education, health, political empowerment of the masses, etc., she believed. 
Villages & small towns in Sindh don't have water supply system while in Thar & some other areas. womenfolk have to walk miles to fetch water. Unhygienic water is cause of illness & diseases

Friday, February 18, 2011

Injustices in Pakistan, Part III: Employment in the State Bank of Pakistan

Indus Herald Report:
Some comments to earlier two parts in this series had said that the injustices to Sindh (and Balochistan) are not limited to the employment in the federal secretariat. According to them, even more discrimination is meted out to the two smaller provinces in banks, insurance companies and several other autonomous or semi-autonomous organizations. What is more shocking is the fact that the federal government or the relevant provincial governments have not taken any meaningful steps to end these injustices.

We have received some figures with regards to the employment in the Central Bank of Pakistan, the State Bank, which are as startling and upsetting, as were the earlier facts and figures about the employment in the federal secretariat.
These figures of the Central Bank officers belonging to grades equal to 20 and above show gross discrimination against Sindhis. According to the figures:

The bank has a Governor and two deputy governors: NONE is Sindhi-speaking

There are 12 Executive Directors: NONE is Sindhi-speaking

There are 33 Directors: Only 1 is Sindhi-speaking

There are 31 Additional Directors: Only 3 are Sindhi-speaking

There are 67 Senior Joint Directors: Only 3 are Sindhi-speaking.

The bank has several subsidiaries and the situation there and among the lower grades in the Central Bank is even more appalling.

According to the information Indus Herald has received, the Central Bank followed unjust and discriminatory policies under the Musharraf regime when the military dictator appointed Ishrat Hussain as Governor who appointed people belonging only to a particular linguist group to key posts. Almost same policies are continued till today notwithstanding the cries for justice from the people of Sindh.
Military dictator Pervez Musharraf & State Bank Governor Ishrat Hussain
It is not just for nothing that a sense of despair and hopelessness is prevalent in Sindh. It is appalling to see that the present government, which was seen as a ray of hope by many Sindhis, has done NOTHING to end the highly discriminatory policies in employment as it has not done much in any other sector either.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Injustices in Pakistan, Part II: Discrepancies in Federal Employment Including Appointments in Presidency & PM House

By: Aziz Narejo
It is a general feeling in Sindh that the province has suffered injustices in almost every field since the inception of Pakistan – from the days of the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to the present PPP led coalition government. Some governments have been outright hostile and hateful to Sindhis while others have not been able to help mitigate injustices due to several reasons.

More disturbing is the fact that the Sindhis never even get a sympathetic hearing from any quarter that matters – especially when there is a PPP government at the center. “But Saaeen, this is your government”, they would be told when complaining about continued injustices against them. We will write in these pages about injustices to Sindh in various sectors with a hope that the rest of the countrymen will listen and add their voice for justice and fairness.

We had published a report in this blog about injustices in the federal employment. This report has more information on the subject and particularly Sindhis’ share in the employment at Presidency and The Prime Minister House.
Part of Cabinet Division, Presidency & Parliament House
A report issued by the Establishment Division as quoted by daily Kawish confirms that appointments have been made in violation of the quota rules in Presidency, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, National Assembly Secretariat and the Senate Secretariat. According to the report there is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in the President’s Principle Secretariat from grades 1 to 16. In the president’s Public Secretariat, there is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in grades 1 to 22.

There is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in Prime Minister’s Internal Secretariat. The report also confirms that there is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in some of the departments working under the ministries of Transport, Culture, Education, Establishment, Environment, Health, Interior, Kashmir Affairs, Labor and Law & Justice and the Planning Commission.
Prime Minister House, Islamabad
According to the Establishment report about the facts and figures of federal employment in year 2009:

There are 341 employees in grades from 1 to 16 in the Prime Minister’s Public Secretariat. Punjab share of the employment is 184 but there are 244 employees from the province.

Sindh Rural share is 41 but there are only 14 employees from Sindh Rural.

Sindh Urban has a share of 27 but there are only 7 employees from Sindh Urban.

Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa share is 42 but there are 50 employees from KP.

Balochistan share is 22 but there are only 3 employees from the province.

There are 58 officers in grades 17 to 22 in the President’s Public and Personal Secretariats. There are 42 officers from Punjab, NONE from Sindh Rural, 3 from Sindh Urban, 4 from KP and 5 from AJK.

There are 167 employees in grades 1 to 16 in the President’s public secretariat. There are 129 from Punjab, 4 from Sindh, 25 from KP, 9 from AJK and NONE from Balochistan!

There are 477 employees in grades 1 to 16 in the President’s personal secretariat. Punjab has 365, Sindh Urban 12, KP has 70, AJK 20, FATA 10 and again NONE from Sindh Rural and NONE from Balochistan!

There are 742 employees in grades 1 to 16 in the National Assembly Secretariat. Instead of its share of 401, Punjab has 544. Sindh Urban share is 60 but it has only 28. Sindh Rural share is 91, it has only 47. Balochistan has a share of 48 but it has only 13 while KP has 81, AJK 18 & FATA 16.

There are 605 employees working in grades 1 to 16 in the Senate Secretariat. Punjab share is 302 but it has 361. Sindh Rural share is 73 but it has only 34. Sindh Urban share is 49 but it has only 21. KP share is 70 but it has 126. Balochistan share is 37 but it has only 20 while there are 27 from AJK & 16 from FATA.

There is not a single employee from Sindh Rural or Urban in grades 1 to 22 in the Civil Service Reforms Unit working under the Establishment Division.

There is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency.

There is not a single employee from Sindh Rural in the National Council for Conservation of Wild Life working under the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency.

There are 1,653 employees in grades 1 to 22 in Pakistan Met. Department. There is not a single employee from Sindh Rural.

Yes, there have always been injustices to Sindh but this is PPP government, which is supposed to give due right to the province.

Figures taken from:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Benazir Murder Case: PPP Government Impedes Investigation, Prosecution

Comment by Aziz Narejo
It is extremely disappointing to see that instead of pursuing vigorously the Benazir Bhutto murder case, the PPP government is making all out efforts to obstruct the investigation into the case and impede a fair trial. It was expected that the PPP government, immediately after coming to power, would order a robust investigation in the case and will forcefully go after the killers of its leader Benazir Bhutto. But as the news reports indicate, it is instead going after the upright investigation officers and the prosecutors who have worked hard to build a strong case.
It was mentioned in an earlier post on this blog that according to news reports, the interior minister Rehman Malik, who is a close confidant of president Zardari, was ‘furious’ over the inclusion of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s name in the murder case. He had inquired from the head of the FIA’s Joint Investigation Team as to who had given him permission to include Musharraf’s name in the case. It was feared that the official might soon be sacked.

Reports now say that JIT official Khalid Qureshi has been removed from the position. It is also reported that the government may also sack Chief Prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali. With the efforts of these two officers the case may have moved in a direction that might have helped the courts to punish the killers and the conspirators. The court had issued summons for Musharraf to appear in the court. Now it is reported that the FIA, on the orders of ‘higher’ authorities have requested the court to stop proceedings against Musharraf.
When contacted by news reporters, Chief Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali has said that he has not filed that application in the court. It has been done through an Assistant Director of FIA. He said that he has not yet been informed about his removal from the case. He said that he has worked hard on the case and that there was enough material to prosecute Musharraf. He told reporters that if he were removed from the case, he would go public about ‘many facts’ with regards to the Benazir Bhutto murder case.
The present government as well as the main opposition party, PML (N) must understand that to strengthen democracy in the country, it is important to uncover and punish the people responsible for the assassination of PPP leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Not only that but the people responsible for the murders of Baloch leader Akber Bugti and Murtaza Bhutto should also be prosecuted. If it is not done, the democracy in the country would always remain fragile and the so-called establishment would maintain its sway.
It is expected that all pro-democracy political parties, political workers, activists, civil society leadership, writers and intellectuals should press for a genuine effort to prosecute the culprits involved in political murders in the country. 

(Photos taken from internet).