Sunday, June 12, 2005

PAKISTAN - The Social Meltdown

The Social Meltdown

By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The Dayaks of Borneo are famous for their head-hunting and shrinking the head which they used to display as coveted trophies. Considered primitive and uncivilized for their head hunting their violence was not the wanton violence that we today witness on the streets of Karachi and other Pakistani cities where worshipping places, shrines, Ulemas, political leaders and innocent people all become the victims of violence perpetrated by deranged minds who are certainly exhorted on to that sort of violence by even more remarkably warped ideologies and minds.

A Dayak head hunter considered it immoral to kill someone he didn’t know or didn’t have a score to settle with. The Dayaks were baffled when they learnt how the supposedly civilized people used bombs and other weaponry to kill and maim each other, killing of strangers and consequently the innocents with whom they had no feud with was something reprehensible and revolting to them because the wanton violence as practiced by the supposedly civilized societies had no place even in their primitive society. The so called uncivilized Dayaks were a lot more civil and refined in their violence than the people residing within the boundaries of this Islamic Republic. Here the violence is as wanton as it is senseless and immoral. We need to learn from the Dayaks.

What we are witnessing and experiencing in the this country is a sign of the deep rooted social malady afflicting this country, in fact it is the Social Meltdown that we are undergoing. Things are going to get a lot more worse before they start getting better, that is, if they ever start getting better here considering the shortsightedness of the ruling elite and their desire to cling to the power at any cost, compounded by the connivance and complicity of the political parties blinded by their urge and desire to be a party to the loot and plunder unleashed upon this blighted country. Politicians of easy virtue are a bane for any country and here we have them in excess. Unfortunately it also seems that the people having become disenchanted with their political and religious leaders have abdicated their right to resist the injustices and excesses perpetrated by the governments or the religious or political outfits. It wouldn’t be farfetched if someone were to assert that these regions have been in social regression since the times of Mohen Jo Daro and Harrapa civilizations.

Acts of indiscriminate violence do take place in other countries of this region but as exceptions and not the rule. Apart from the destruction of peace and unnecessary loss of life and property here it gives Islam and the Muslims a very bad image the world over because most if not all of the violence here is motivated by religious hatred and bigotry. The suicide bombing of Bari Imam Shrine or the Madinataul Ilm Mosque, which incidentally came after the qualified condemnation of suicide bombing by some Ulemas, and the resulting violence in Karachi which saw the death of six innocent employees of a restaurant and the torching of petrol pumps and numerous vehicles were a part of the pattern that has seen considerable increase in the recent years and becomes increasingly vicious with each passing incident. Recent years have seen an increase in the sectarian violence and its back lash, neither sect can be absolved of the crimes and outrages committed in the name of religion.

This kind of violence will certainly not be the last here because as long as there people here who not only have warped belief systems but also have the opportunity to preach and propagate their views to people who are disenchanted with life due to the miseries of economic and social hardships and are forced to seek salvation in the other world. The government has not only failed in providing a peaceful environment to its citizens but has also been guilty of willfully promoting violence due to its outdated laws and flawed policing system. It will be interesting to note that there has been not a single case of prosecution of those who are involved in acts of violence or of those who exhort them to violence. The breeding grounds of this wanton violence continue to prosper and flourish. Such violence gains impetus and momentum when the government of Enlightened Moderation backtracks on issues like Hudood Ordinances and the president calls people demanding rights for the people a ‘liberal minority’.

The Government and its various agencies preach and practice violence. In front of me is the Metropolitan section of the Dawn newspaper of 2nd June 2005 and in it is a picture under the news “22 held in Malir disturbances”. The image is reminiscent of the Israeli occupation of Al Quds, some eight blindfolded half stripped youth are sprawled on the road one of the Ranger is stomping on a youth , the scowling and sneering Rangers personnel in no way seem to be of the same country or the nation as of the youth sprawled on the road. This image vividly portrays the attitude of the government towards its people. Violence begets violence, when these youth will get a chance to get even they’ll try to destroy, maim or kill anyone without any compunction and discrimination because they themselves were victims of indiscriminate violence. The journalists and the Human Rights activists recently were victims of governmental violence just because someone thought they were getting too big for their boots and needed to be cut down to size lest they became over enthusiastic in their demands for rights for the people and too blatant in their criticism of the government.

A sense of total alienation prevails among the people who think that they do not have a stake in this country or that the assets of the community are their own, so it is little wonder that whenever there are opportunities the people go on a rampage destroying and vandalizing without discrimination. It will be of interest to note that the violence is always at its worst in the areas which were slums not very long ago. It seems the physical appearance of these areas has changed but the social environment remains the same. People who are economically insecure carry a grudge and resentment against the society as they have nothing to lose. Population living below the poverty line in this country has risen considerably in spite of the claims to the contrary by the government and the more the poverty grinds the people the more violence there will be. Poverty reduction programmes are taking us nowhere as the sums earmarked are parceled out between different quarters and very little trickles down to the intended level. The ground realities belie the growth figures that the government occasionally state in favour of their contentions.

The unbridled urbanization has led to a social vacuum and aggravated the problems of poverty. This urbanization has seen the disappearance of all social checks and balances which are needed to keep the social fabric intact. The basic social unit, the family has suffered the most and that is the reason for the mayhem that we see and experience in our daily life here. Where the writ of the government ends the writ of the family or the social system takes over but here in present day Pakistan neither there is the governmental writ nor there is the writ of social system or the family and this has led to the breakdown of the social order. The existing systems have been condemned and put into disuse with nothing to replace them with the consequence that there is no check on the activity of the members of society who then readily adopt belief systems which stand contrary to once accepted norms and basis of civil society . Moral condemnation of acts violence and dishonesty by the family and the community had an effective deterrent value but of late it has vanished as a factor. This has led to social and moral meltdown the consequences of which we are witnessing today in form of this senseless violence and brazenly glorified corruption prevalent here.

The rural communities too have seen a breakdown of the society and its checks and balances but not to the extent that we see it in urban areas and there is still a spirit of tolerance prevailing in those communities due to which there has hardly been any violence that has come to be identified with the urban centres here. Gradually the foundations of the existing norms and conventions which have helped maintain peace there are crumbling away diminishing the hopes of everlasting peace there. The erosion of the conventions is being speeded up by the increasing economic difficulties and the aggressive thrust of preachers and propagators of religious bigotry there. Once mayhem and violence takes a foothold in the peaceful rural communities of this country the social meltdown will be complete and that will spell doom for this blighted country.

For this country to survive as a socially, politically and economically viable state it is imperative that the rulers awaken from their somnambulant state and give back the people their right to live a dignified life without fear of police or LEAs repression and the fear of destitution. The people need to given a sense of participation and involvement in well being of this country to ensure that warped belief systems do not become the norm. But then I maybe asking too much of the pampered, protected and self-righteous rulers who consider themselves as God given gifts to the people, those who spend millions of scarce and hard earned money on their junkets, on their favourite toys like bullet proof Mercedes and the near obsolete and strategically worthless F16s to have any feelings or compassion for the wretched masses of this blighted country.

Mr. Jamali woke up at last he needs a cup of tea to keep him fresh as we noticed these people wake up only when they are out of power, we expect similar awakening from our Baloch leady Zubaida Jalal, but only when she is out of her ministerial job.

Not bad but could be more batter.

Have your say about these awakenings

Baloch Unity

Jamali blasts govt on privatisation, NFC, imports

ISLAMABAD - In a rare display of independence, former PM Mir Zafarullah Jamali Saturday disregarded party line as he criticised the government over NFC Award delay, privatisation of profit-earning departments, and import of food items from India in National Assembly Saturday.
Jamali, who took intermittent sips of water during his speech, said the budget his government had presented last year with Shaukat as then Finance Minister, has not been fully implemented. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was in the house during Jamali’s outburst, listened with his head down - busy taking notes or sometimes murmuring with the lawmakers sitting beside him.
After having made his forthright comments, Jamali said it was his right to criticise the government but he also extends his cooperation to Shaukat Aziz if he needs any advice from him.
About his resignation from the PM office, he said he did it in the best interest of parliament and democracy. “There would have been neither the present Parliament nor the Prime Minister had I refused to quit as PM,” he said.
Jamali also talked about Balochistan crisis as well as political rights and warned the champions of democracy sitting in the government against political victimisation of the opponents.
As soon Jamali ended his speech, State Minister Ishaq Khakwani questioned consumption of Rs 1.5 billion funds by Jamali in his Naseerabad constituency.
In response to Khakwani’s objections, Jamali asked him to change the habit of opposition for the sake of opposition.
When Khakwani said that the former PM should be punished for this injustice, Jamali said that he is ready to explain if government holds an inquiry into the matter.
However, Health Minister Naseer Khan and MNA Riaz Pirzada rescued Jamali when they asked Khakwani not to be arrogant, saying he (Jamali) is a senior parliamentarian and PML leader hence he must be given due respect.
The PPP-P lawmaker Aitzaz Ahsan during his composed and articulate speech on budget questioned the huge allocation for defence and stressed the need for balancing the budgetary grants for defence and social welfare.
He rejected the justification that the past governments have made defence allocations in same fashion, adding that the same army threw out all those democratic rulers who made such allocations.
He said that his party has great respect for army, but its interest should not be in clash with the interest of the country. He said only those countries survived, which have social welfare system while those with strong defence but poor social indicators have vanished from the world scene.
Taking part in the budget debate Jamali, who resigned soon after his government present the budget, expressed his displeasure over the small allocation for agriculture sector that has played crucial role in GDP growth during this fiscal year. About the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, he called for early consensus over it and asked the government to give due share in the award to Balochistan and NWFP for poverty alleviation and development projects.
He criticised the government policy of privatising the profit-oriented institutions and said the relevant ministers are being pushed to do this for reasons not known to them.
“I questioned a minister the reason for privatisation of an institution under his jurisdiction,” Jamali told the house while talking about privatisation of the PTCL that has prompted countrywide protests by the company’s workers.
“I am being compelled to do so,” was his reply, Jamali added.
Jamli also criticised the government’s decision to import food items including onion, meat, and wheat from India. Though, he said, efforts for easing Indo-Pak relations, for which he while in PM office had been part of this process, are commendable, he opposed the government decision to import food items from India.
Instead of giving incentives to growers here, the government is planning to import foodstuff from India, he maintained.
Jamali urged the Opposition Leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman to play his due political role and remove differences within Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal.
About his ouster from the PM office, he said that he was not forced to quit but he had himself resigned. He termed President Musharraf as his benefactor, who approved his ascendancy to the PM office, and thanked the PML leadership and allied components, which had elected him as Leader of the House.
“One should not complain against the benefactors,” he said while lauding Musharraf’s efforts for steering the country out of crisis.
Jamali talked about the political victimisation that has been a practice of every government against its opponents and urged the champions of democracy in the government to stop punishing the opposition members.
Rai Mansab, State Minister Amin Aslam, Maulana Abdul Malik, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, Abid Omang, Maulana Amanullah, Shagufta Jumani, Anwar Bhutto, Akbar Chitrali, Hizbullah Bhuggio, and others also spoke on the occasion.
National Assembly Speaker adjourned the session in the evening after allowing scores of parliamentarians to speak on the proposed budget for 2005-06. The House will resume its proceeding on Monday afternoon.

Iran, India upbeat on gas pipeline project

TEHRAN: Energy ministers from Iran and India voiced hope on Saturday that negotiations would be wrapped up soon on a proposed multi-billion dollar pipeline between the two countries that will run across Pakistan.

Iran’s Bijan Namdar Zanghaneh and his Indian counterpart Mani Shankar Aiyar also discussed a deal for Tehran to deliver gas to India and plans for an Indian role in developing oil and gas fields in Iran, news agencies reported.

"Negotiations are progressing well on developing oil cooperation between the two countries," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA student news agency.

"The two ministers voiced hope that these negotiations (on the Iran-India pipeline) will be finalised in the near future," the agency added.

The 2,600-kilometre overland gas pipeline project with an estimated cost of about $4.5 billion has been strongly opposed by the United States because of its concern about Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Negotiations for the pipeline began in 1994 but made little headway because of tensions between Pakistan and India. But since January 2004, the two countries have been engaged in a peace process and relations are at their best for years. The pipeline will supply gas from the massive South Pars offshore fields in the Gulf.

These border posts are only built only to harass and harm our Baloch people who live in both sides of dived Balochistan. We know these posts are officially called to enhance business between two countries but we know their purpose and know the realities they are meant to control and register the movements of our people and spy on us.

Baloch are already tired from these nets of army posts but these are in further violation against our rights.

Now having these posts we will have more hungry Punjabis or Muhajirs to feed as they will search out every belonging you carry between our eastern and western borders, they will not allow any objects to pass until you pay them bribes.

Baloch have bitter experiences in the past when they stop people who were carrying flours for cooking they called these flours as heroin but if you pay bribes then quickly these flours bags were renamed as simple flour bags, we remember recent out brakes of demonstrations through out Balochistan against these types of posts.

They are built to collect more illegal taxes from already poor people but Baloch must reject them and continue their life as before let them tax the caravan of ANTS.

We know Baloch know how to avoid these posts and Baloch shall carry on their daily retinues without fearing these posts.

Baloch Unity.

More border posts to boost Pak-Iran trade: Owais

By our correspondent

QUETTA: Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has said that besides Taftan, the bordering posts of Radek, Chadgai and Gabad in Mekran area would be opened to boost trade between Pakistan and Iran.

These posts to be opened in Mand, Punjgur and Gwadar areas and all possible facilities, including those related to Customs, would also be provided at the posts, said the governor while talking to people during his visit to Pak-Iran bordering areas of Radek and Chadgai on Saturday.

An Iranian delegation, led by Tamandar of Iranian City Sarawan, Engineer Ali Ahmed Mujtaba, was also present in Chadgai.

The governor said the Pakistan government was keen to eliminate smuggling.

Owais said he had discussed the matter in detail during the visit of Governor of Seistan-Balochistan of Iran Hussain Amini and later during the visit of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to Iran in this regard.

Owais also said it was decided to establish Customs House at three new bordering places and provide all possible trade facilities there. In order to promote legal border trade, the Pakistan government has reduced taxes and duties on various goods, he said, adding that taxes and duties would be reduced further and other facilities were also being provided.

The governor urged the people to extend cooperation to the government and play their role in eliminating smuggling. He warned that no relaxation would be given to any smuggler and they would be dealt with sternly.

The governor thanked Iran for providing 30 megawatt electricity for various bordering areas of Mekran. He said the governor of Seistan-Balochistan had also made assurance to provide 20 mega watt more electricity to the border areas. Power supply lines are being laid for the purpose, he added. Owais said the two countries enjoyed traditional, historical, cultural and religious relations and these friendly ties would be strengthened further.

Addressing on the occasion, the Iranian representative, Engineer Ahmed Ali Mujtaba, said the traders of both the countries would benefit from the legal trade facilities. "It will also help prevent illegal trade," he added. The area people also apprised the governor of the problems they are facing. Owais assured them to resolve the problems. He also inspected the border areas.

In civilized countries kids go to schools but not sweeping generals and autocrats houses but in Pakistan the life is different because the rulers are different they only think of their own welfare not that of poor people, had they spent the money which they spend on weapons and building new one, the life of these kids would be different.

Baloch unity.

Every fourth house in Pakistan plagued with child labour: ILO

By Waqar Gillani

LAHORE: A rapid assessment (RA) on child domestic workers (CDWs) shows that about 26 percent of the households in Pakistan have at least one CDW (between the ages of 6 to 14). The RA has been conducted by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) with technical assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO)-International Programme on the Elimination of Child labour (IPEC).

The employment rate of CDWs is highest in Karachi where almost every third house has a CDW, followed by Lahore with 28.4 percent, Islamabad 26.3 percent, Quetta 22.0 percent and Peshawar 21.7 percent.

The majority of the children in the survey came from poor families who worked in houses to assist their low-salaried parents to meet the family’s living expenses. The study has recommended four legislative controls; compulsory education, skills enhancement opportunities, awareness raising and poverty alleviation

The results also show that these children were also subjected to abusive and discriminatory attitude of employers. According to the assessment, 55 percent of the male CDWs reported verbal abuse and eight percent reported physical punishment. About 1.3 percent female CDWs said that they were violently thrashed. About 41.8 percent of the CDWs were between 11–14 years of age while 27.2 percent were between 6-10 years of age. It was found that every fourth house in Pakistan employed a child domestic worker.

The study showed that the majority of CDWs were girls (between 6 to 14 years age group) who were from poor rural families who had migrated to urban areas in search of livelihood. When families migrate, the pressure of urban life compels them to send their children to work in order to supplement household incomes. Girls who are already at a disadvantage with little or no education and hardly any skills end up as cheap labour in urban homes. The rural areas lack adequate education, health, development infrastructure and employment opportunities for economic advancement so the provincial capital city becomes a major destination point for rural migrants.

The survey reveals that the majority of child domestic workers (CDWs) in Peshawar and Quetta were males, i.e., 13.3 percent and 12.3 percent respectively versus 9.4 percent and 8.7 percent females. The picture is completely opposite in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad/Rawalpindi which have a very high incidence of girls as CDWs. This difference can be attributed to the strong cultural and tribal traditions in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces that place high value on family honour which is inextricably connected to the female family members. Therefore families from these two provinces restrict females from working outside their homes.

However, in this context the paradox arises that on one hand girls are protected from exploitative situations and on the other their access to education and economic empowerment is restricted. Interventions designed to change the
situation of domestic child workers

Mr. Altaf is right in his words but his demands are not for Sindhis but for his Muhajirs

Pakistan existence is due to Sindh, says Altaf Hussain

LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder and leader Altaf Hussain claimed on Saturday that the existence of Pakistan was because of Sindh. He said that Sindh contributes 70 percent of the total revenue received by the national exchequer and demanded of the president and prime minister to do justice with Sindh by providing the province its due share through the National Finance Commission Award (NFC) and to refrain from implementing projects about which the people of Sindh had apprehensions and concerns. ppi


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