Pakistan Army Appointments

New COAS: critical decision coming up for PM

By – Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD: Before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s proverbial honeymoon period is over he will be faced with critical decisions like succession in the army command and rotating the ceremonial chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee among other services.

When these decisions are to be made, Prime Minister Sharif, who is in office for a record third non-consecutive tenure, will find himself at the same crossroads he has been at twice (in 1993 and 1998) – in fact thrice if his botched attempt to appoint Gen Ziauddin Butt as army chief in 1999 is also counted.

On both previous occasions he chose men (Gen Waheed Kakar and Gen Pervez Musharraf) who sent him packing months later. Nevertheless, the choices were relatively easier in 1993 and 1998.

He now has to look for a man who can deal with the multi-dimensional threats to national security, turn around the country’s fortunes in the fight against terror and, more significantly, work with the civilian leadership in redressing the civil-military imbalance believed to be at the root of many of the ills the country faces today.

Last but not the least, the new army chief also has to be in sync with Mr Sharif’s vision of normalisation of ties with India.

If his previous words are taken into account, the prime minister does not have a tough choice to make: “I’ll go by the book. I’ll go by the merit. Whosoever is the most senior would occupy the job. The next one, the next in line.”

This would give Mr Sharif a panel of three generals who would then be in service: Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood and Lt Gen Raheel Sharif.

According to the rules, names from this panel would be sent to him by the defence ministry, which at the moment is headed by Mr Sharif himself.

Mr Sharif, who according to insiders will be cautious this time around in picking the next man, has already started screening the candidates. In this task he is being helped by the old duo – ‘heir apparent’ Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar — that made the choice for Gen Musharraf in 1998.

The two have been meeting the people concerned and one such meeting that was noted by many was their visit to Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Nawaz.

No one is privy to the discussions in the Chaklala Garrison. Is there a move afoot to grant Gen Nawaz an extension before he retires in October and subsequently make him the army chief or was the visit just aimed at consultations about the prospective candidates? No one can say with surety.

Gen Nawaz is a relative of Raja Zafarul Haq and belongs to a village — Nara Matore — located in the suburbs of the federal capital.

When silence is the order of the day in matters as sensitive as the selection of the next army chief, using simple arithmetic sequencing comes in handy.

Mr Sharif’s choice in 1993 was Gen Kakar who was then fourth on the seniority list and in 1998 he picked Gen Pervez Musharraf who was number three on the seniority list.

Can one say that this time around he would go for the man who would be number two (Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood) and technically also on the panel that would be presented to the prime minister.

The speculation that Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood would make it to the office is also supported by some ground realities. Gen Mahmood was earlier this year elevated to the coveted office of Chief of General Staff. Eight of the last 13 army chiefs had served as CGS prior to becoming a four-star general.

Gen Mahmood has served as Lahore Corps Commander which may go in his favour as the Sharifs are in favour of those who have worked in Lahore — an inclination that is reflected in their key bureaucratic appointments. And don’t forget the general too hails from Lahore.

Moreover, Gen Mahmood has remained military secretary to former president Rafiq Tarar.

Gen Mahmood comes from Baloch Regiment, the parent arm of Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and as a major general he had served under him in the ISI as deputy director general.

In Gen Mahmood’s appointment as the CGS, who is in charge of operational and intelligence matters at the General Headquarters, Gen Kayani has already indicated his personal preference, if one were to read it that way.

He also remained aide-de-camp (ADC) to former army chief Gen Aslam Beg, who was held responsible by the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case for creating the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and engineering the 1990 polls. The 1990 elections brought Nawaz Sharif into power at the centre for the first time.

The other person, who is not much discussed among the likely Gen Kayani’s successors, but is seen as a safe choice by the Sharif camp is Lt Gen Raheel Sharif, who is currently Inspector General Training and Evaluation at the General Headquarters.

A careerist like Gen Mahmood, he previously served as Corps Commander in Gujranwala and held the prestigious position of Commandant Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.

Gen Sharif is the younger brother of Nishan-i-Haider recipient Major Shabbir Sharif.

Curiously, very few are willing to bet on Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, even though he would be the senior most at the time of Gen Kayani’s retirement on November 28, provided the seniority list is not affected by any extensions.

Theoretically, he should be Mr Sharif’s choice if we go by: “The next one, the next in line”.

Gen Aslam is presently posted as Chief of Logistics Staff at the General Headquarters.

The current postings of Gen Sharif and Gen Aslam – slots that are seen in military service as positions where senior generals cool their heels prior to retirement — are why many do not consider them to be serious contenders for the slot.

Gen Aslam has had a brilliant career in military service where he remained Director General Military Operations, commanded Special Services Group (SSG) and then became Corps Commander in Bahawalpur, before being dispatched to the wilderness of logistics.

His role in Operation Rah-i-Rast (Swat), where he bravely took on Taliban insurgents in their stronghold of Peochar was and is widely appreciated.

His colleagues in the military simply say that “there are issues”, but throw no light on why a high-profile general has ended up in a dead-end job.

And if this was not a disadvantage enough, others feel that Mr Sharif may not have the stomach for another commando after his tryst with Gen Musharraf.

Other than Gen Nawaz, whom many are not counting on because his apparent retirement date comes before the succession takes place, the other dark horse in the race is Lt Gen Tariq Khan, Corps Commander of Mangla.

His fellows describe him as a ‘seedha fauji’ (a real soldier) and a hard-task master.

He successfully commanded counter-insurgency operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as Inspector General of Frontier Corps.

Other than stories of his gallantry in confronting militancy, what also goes in his favour is that the Americans speak very highly of him. He is a recipient of US Legion of Merit.

The cornerstone of US policy of the PML-N government, according to a Sharif’s top foreign policy aide, is to reinvigorate the Pak-US military relationship.

Gen Khan’s choice could help the government’s goal of strengthening military ties with the Pentagon.

Besides, the battle-hardened general is seen by defence analysts as the government’s best bet to give fresh impetus to the fight against militancy and dealing with the challenges that could arise after the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan.

Spymaster Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam (director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence) also holds an outside chance.

The other interesting move to watch would be the prime minister’s decision about the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The current Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne retires on October 6. The position is largely ceremonial at present and yet it has remained with the army for the past 16 years, even though in practice it has to be rotated among the three armed services.

The government is thinking about restarting the rotation, which may dent the oversized army clout.

In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity

PARIS — The operation in the private clinic off the Champs-Élysées involved one semicircular cut, 10 dissolving stitches and a discounted fee of $2,900.

Dr. Marc Abecassis carries out hymen reconstruction surgery on a 23-year-old French woman of north-African origin.

But for the patient, a 23-year-old French student of Moroccan descent from Montpellier, the 30-minute procedure represented the key to a new life: the illusion of virginity.

Like an increasing number of Muslim women in Europe, she had a hymenoplasty, a restoration of her hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse.

“In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said the student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.”

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Gynecologists say that in the past few years, more Muslim women are seeking certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce tell-tale vaginal bleeding on the wedding night. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive.

“If you’re a Muslim woman growing up in more open societies in Europe, you can easily end up having sex before marriage,” said Dr. Hicham Mouallem, who is based in London and performs the operation. “So if you’re looking to marry a Muslim and don’t want to have problems, you’ll try to recapture your virginity.”

No reliable statistics are available, because the procedure is mostly done in private clinics and in most cases not covered by tax-financed insurance plans.

But hymen repair is talked about so much that it is the subject of a film comedy that opens in Italy this week. “Women’s Hearts,” as the film’s title is translated in English, tells the story of a Moroccan-born woman living in Italy who goes to Casablanca for the operation.

One character jokes that she wants to bring her odometer count back down to “zero.”

“We realized that what we thought was a sporadic practice was actually pretty common,” said Davide Sordella, the film’s director. “These women can live in Italy, adopt our mentality and wear jeans. But in the moments that matter, they don’t always have the strength to go against their culture.”

The issue has been particularly charged in France, where a renewed and fierce debate has occurred about a prejudice that was supposed to have been buried with the country’s sexual revolution 40 years ago: the importance of a woman’s virginity.

The furor followed the revelation two weeks ago that a court in Lille, in northern France, had annulled the 2006 marriage of two French Muslims because the groom found his bride was not the virgin she had claimed to be.

The domestic drama has gripped France. The groom, an unidentified engineer in his 30s, left the nuptial bed and announced to the still partying wedding guests that his bride had lied. She was delivered that night to her parents’ doorstep.

The next day, he approached a lawyer about annulling the marriage. The bride, then a nursing student in her 20s, confessed and agreed to an annulment.

The court ruling did not mention religion. Rather, it cited breach of contract, concluding that the engineer had married her after “she was presented to him as single and chaste.” In secular, republican France, the case touches on several delicate subjects: the intrusion of religion into daily life; the grounds for dissolution of a marriage; and the equality of the sexes.

There were calls in Parliament this week for the resignation of Rachida Dati, France’s justice minister, after she initially upheld the ruling. Ms. Dati, who is a Muslim, backed down and ordered an appeal.

Some feminists, lawyers and doctors warned that the court’s acceptance of the centrality of virginity in marriage would encourage more Frenchwomen from Arab and African Muslim backgrounds to have their hymens restored. But there is much debate about whether the procedure is an act of liberation or repression.

“The judgment was a betrayal of France’s Muslim women,” said Elisabeth Badinter, the feminist writer. “It sends these women a message of despair by saying that virginity is important in the eyes of the law. More women are going to say to themselves, ‘My God, I’m not going to take that risk. I’ll recreate my virginity.’ ”

The plight of the rejected bride persuaded the Montpellier student to have the operation.

She insisted that she had never had intercourse and only discovered her hymen was torn when she tried to obtain a certificate of virginity to present to her boyfriend and his family. She says she bled after an accident on a horse when she was 10.

The trauma from realizing that she could not prove her virginity was so intense, she said, that she quietly borrowed money to pay for the procedure.

“All of a sudden, virginity is important in France,” she said. “I realized that I could be seen like that woman everyone is talking about on television.”

Those who perform the procedure say they are empowering patients by giving them a viable future and preventing them from being abused — or even killed — by their fathers or brothers.

“Who am I to judge?” asked Dr. Marc Abecassis, who restored the Montpellier student’s hymen. “I have colleagues in the United States whose patients do this as a Valentine’s present to their husbands. What I do is different. This is not for amusement. My patients don’t have a choice if they want to find serenity — and husbands.”

A specialist in what he calls “intimate” surgery, including penile enhancement, Dr. Abecassis says he performs two to four hymen restorations per week.

The French College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians opposes the procedure on moral, cultural and health grounds.

“We had a revolution in France to win equality; we had a sexual revolution in 1968 when women fought for contraception and abortion,” said Dr. Jacques Lansac, the group’s leader. “Attaching so much importance to the hymen is regression, submission to the intolerance of the past.”

But the stories of the women who have had the surgery convey the complexity and raw emotion behind their decisions.

One Muslim born in Macedonia said she opted for the operation to avoid being punished by her father after an eight-year relationship with her boyfriend.

“I was afraid that my father would take me to a doctor and see whether I was still a virgin,” said the woman, 32, who owns a small business and lives on her own in Frankfurt. “He told me, ‘I will forgive everything but not if you have thrown dirt on my honor.’ I wasn’t afraid he would kill me, but I was sure he would have beaten me.”

In other cases, the woman and her partner decide for her to have the operation. A 26-year-old French woman of Moroccan descent said she lost her virginity four years ago when she fell in love with the man she now plans to marry. But she and her fiancé decided to share the cost of her $3,400 operation in Paris.

She said his conservative extended family in Morocco was requiring that a gynecologist — and family friend — there examine her for proof of virginity before the wedding.

“It doesn’t matter for my fiancé that I am not a virgin — but it would pose a huge problem for his family,” she said. “They know that you can pour blood on the sheets on the wedding night, so I have to have better proof.”

The lives of the French couple whose marriage was annulled are on hold. The Justice Ministry has sought an appeal, arguing that the decision has “provoked a heated social debate” that “touched all citizens of our country and especially women.”

At the Islamic Center of Roubaix, the Lille suburb where the wedding took place, there is sympathy for the woman.

“The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

Katrin Bennhold contributed reporting from Paris, and Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome

Why Sydney Found Itself Looking Up At A Monorail

Sydney Morning Herald

Friday April 29, 1988


WHEN Laurie Brereton emerged from a Cabinet-sub-committee meeting on July 12 1985, officially there were two main contenders in the race for Sydney’s”people-mover” to Darling Harbour. But, in reality, the decision already had been made.

It mattered little that debate raged within Labor Government ranks for another three months over whether transport monorail or transport light rail was the better option. Argument was useless. Sydney was destined to get a monorail.

Extensive Government departmental and Cabinet documents, obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald, reveal for the first time the inside story of the monorail decision.

They include an environmental report on the monorail which Neville Wran and, later, Barrie Unsworth refused to reveal for fear it would create such controversy that the Government would have to bow to public pressure to scrap it.

They also reveal that the monorail’s greatest asset over its rival, being built and operated at no cost to the public purse, was only arrived at by a Government concession on its route.

This raises serious doubts about the ability of the new Government to reroute the monorail, due to the cost of having to subsidise TNT for its continued operation.

The documents show that the Government, in particular the Public Works Department, under the control of Brereton, appears to have thrown up obstacles to the light-rail (or tram) idea.

The full story of the monorail is a battle between two Government departments – Planning and Environment in one corner, Public Works in the other.

At a higher level, it is battle between two old friends, Laurie Brereton and Bob Carr.

Like the decision on the Sydney Harbour tunnel, there is no doubt who won. Brereton, with the backing of Wran, bulldozed all opposition. The argument over which system would be chosen was over even before the fight had been called.

Just weeks before the monorail is due to open, there still is no clear reason why it was selected over other systems. The documents reveal that examination of other systems, particularly the light-rail proposal, was cosmetic and never given what one former minister called “a fair go”. The monorail was always a fait accompli.

In May, 1984, Wran announced his plans for redeveloping Darling Harbour in time for our 200th-birthday party, and made vague mention of a transport system. The Government engaged consultants Pak-Poy and Kneebone Ltd, and the company’s first report the following month said a “people-mover” was unnecessary. The newly-established Darling Harbour Authority (DHA)nevertheless invited expressions of interest after identifying Kent Street as its “primary” route.

Five potential developers responded and were ranked on technical grounds by Pak-Poy – which again criticised the “people-mover” in its second report in January 1985 – while the Premier’s Department engaged consultants to assess the financial implications of each option. The DHA added the light-rail proposal which, Brereton maintained this week, was at his insistence.

Insiders say the first submission from Transfield/Comeng for its light rail connecting Central Station, the back of Darling Harbour and Wynyard Station was so poor the consortium was asked to develop its idea. In the end – when it had fine-tuned the proposal and offered to connect it to Circular Quay at no cost to the Government – light rail had become a viable and popular system. But it did not stand a chance.

Supporters of light rail in the Labor Government first resigned themselves to the inevitability of a monorail when the “people-mover” was taken out of the hands of two non-ministerial committees early in 1985 and put into the hands of a special Cabinet sub-committee, under the spell of Laurie Brereton.

The Inter-Departmental Committee, comprising the then director of Public Works, Wal Pilz, the then secretary of the Department of Transport, Gordon Messiter, the then general-manager of the DHA, Hank Laan, and and the director of the Department of Planning and Environment, Dick Smyth, was not given the chance of a second meeting.

Arguments between Pilz and Smyth over the monorail meant the”people-mover” became immediately the domain of the sub-committee, comprising Carr, the present Leader of the Opposition, the then Minister for Transport, Barrie Unsworth, and Brereton.

At the same time, responsibility for the “people-mover” was taken from the Quality Review Committee of the Darling Harbour Authority which included Professor Neville Quarry of the NSW Institute of Technology, Andrew Andersons, the assistant State Government architect, and Ken Woolley, a noted Sydney architect. Quarry said this week the official reason was that transport was a metropolitan matter and, therefore, was out of the the jurisdiction of the committee.

“We did not favour the light-rail proposal but we made sure we gave it every opportunity for a hearing. It began as a hopeless option but the notion was certainly workable towards the end,” he said. “There’s no doubt that the review committee questioned the advisability of a monorail.”

Quarry, who still is chairman of that committee, said that while his own view of the monorail was not so harsh these days, he certainly was against the system while it remained with the committee.

Following the transfers, negotiations with TNT did not proceed smoothly. The Government was concerned at the need for supplementary buses and trains to Darling Harbour on special-event days. It knew the system never had been proved in a comparable urban situation, and worried over the monorail’s environmental difficulties.

A financial assessment by the Macquarie Hill Samuel Corporate Services received a month before the monorail was announced, was used by Brereton in his attempts to persuade Cabinet.

However, in her report to Cabinet on the assessment, a senior public servant with the DEP, Helen Reid, complained that the monorail was “not as clearly defined as the report indicates and could also involve delays to the project or concessions by the Government”. Reid’s report said light rail offered “the best long-term solution” for Sydney.

This week, Brereton stuck by the Macquarie assessment.

“I was not aware of any complaint by the Department of Environment and Planning about the financial aspect of TNT’s proposal. The fact is that the financial aspects of both the light rail and the monorail proposal were the subject of a specific independent assessment by the Macquarie Bank which recommended the monorail.”

However, Reid’s report shows there were a number of risks to the Government in approving the monorail. These included no control on fares paid by patrons, and its impact on existing transport systems. It shows the legislation enacted for the monorail was, in part, to preclude compensation claims and court challenges associated with the transport system and that the Labor Government expected “large and prolonged opposition to the project”.

“Perceptions of the structure as ‘intrusive’, ‘ugly’, ‘exciting’ or’innovative’ will tend to be very subjective but the size of opposition on environmental grounds will certainly be very significant,” the report says.

By September 30, just three weeks before Cabinet took its controversial decision, a confidential DEP minute paper identified the light-rail proposal in glowing terms. It was the “best long-term solution as it ties together Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and the two transport modes of Central and Wynyard.” Such advice went unheeded.

When Brereton and his 19 colleagues met in the cloistered Cabinet room the next month, there was no fight. This was a different meeting to that which considered the Sydney Harbour Tunnel six months later. There, Ron Mulock and Peter Cox had waged war against Laurie Brereton and Barrie Unsworth over the$425-million tunnel.

But not so with the monorail.

Ministers knew which transport option Wran favoured and Brereton, his main numbers man, had been working long and hard to ensure what decision would be made. When the monorail minute arrived, there was no discussion, no opposition. Although Carr this week denied the vote had been that smooth, another former minister recalled there was not even a whimper.

Ministerial correspondence and reports suggest that Brereton exaggerated the faults of the light rail. When Carr wrote to Brereton just days before the Cabinet meeting, he urged him to take more time to examine all the implications of the monorail over the light-rail proposal.

“From the evidence to date, it does not seem as if the light rail proposal to serve Darling Harbour has been positively examined in all quarters,” Carr wrote. “Instead, all sorts of obstacles appear to have been raised without any attempt to get all the parties together to solve the problems.

“It seems to me that there is ample evidence available in this country that light-rail transit can be installed at relatively low cost and without the large-scale disruptions to services envisaged by the Director of Public Works

“In view of the potential controversy this project could create, it is essential, in my view, that our Cabinet colleagues have a full appreciation of the implications of proceeding with it.”

This week, Carr said he did not recall the letter: “I would need to look at the files. In the whole process of discussing any matter, there is a lot of toing and froing of correspondence and my answer really depends on what stage of the debate the letter was sent.” Told his letter was dated three days before the Cabinet meeting, he said: “I would really need to look at the files.”

There is no doubt that Carr was the monorail’s main opponent within Cabinet. Months before Brereton announced the monorail, Carr’s director, Smyth, had told him that a government would one day win an election by campaigning to reroute the monorail. Carr knew there would be stiff opposition to the plan, yet sources say the crucial Cabinet meeting passed without comment from Carr. Ironically, it was Carr’s department that recommended legislating for the monorail. One of his former advisers said: “Any EIS(Environmental Impact Statement) would have crucified it. There was no way it could remain within the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.”

Asked this week whether Brereton had bulldozed the monorail through, he said: “No, I don’t think so. I think today it’s getting harder to know what the fuss was all about.”

While Carr complained that Brereton had been unfair with the light-rail proposal, the DEP found that TNT’s favoured monorail route was unacceptable. A departmental minute dated three weeks before the Cabinet meeting found that as”TNT nominated route is not acceptable, the favoured financial package fails. TNT can now withdraw or propose an alternative route. For the people-mover project to proceed it is most likely that the Government will need to bear some underwriting risk or level of cost”.

Days later, Brereton acknowledged to Transfield by letter that he accepted that the light-rail consortium “would amend its previous position so as not to require the Government to bear the cost of movement of utilities”. However, there was no mention of this amendment in the crucial Cabinet minute.

This week, Brereton claimed that the fact the monorail could be built at no cost to the Government was an important consideration but was no means main factor.

“There were a number of advantages the monorail had over the tram proposal, including the fact that it was elevated and avoided traffic conflict in an already congested city; it connected with the key public transport facilities at Town Hall and the centre of the City; that it was a modern, quiet, fast and pollution-free form of transport.”

With the Cabinet meeting drawing closer, there still were serious and substantial reservations regarding the monorail. Increasingly, the financial considerations which Brereton insisted were in TNT’s favour did not add up.

“TNT will not supply any financial details of the people-mover system because as owner/operators they are taking all the commercial risks at no cost to Government,” Reid said in her minute.

“Without any financial details, there are a number of risks to (the)Government. What happens to the system if TNT walks away? No control on fares paid by patrols. Impact on existing transport system.”

They were questions which remained unanswered and, without public explanation, Transfield/Comeng withdrew from the race the day before the Cabinet meeting. Another DEP minute said the withdrawal had been announced to Brereton’s office by Transfield but recorded that staff at Comeng were”amazed” by the decision.

A DEP ministerial briefing note, written by Smyth, commented on the withdrawal: “It is noted that following the receipt by Transfield/Comeng of a letter from the Minister for Public Works enclosing estimates of costs for moving utilities, the consortium apparently decided to withdraw.

“It is significant that the advice contained in these letters is at variance with the advice obtained by this Department from the Water Board indicating that all of the utility estimates could have been based on a ‘worst case’ situation. The approach to the utilities appears to have been carried out in isolation and without round table consultation, seeking the best transport solution.”

Smyth warned there still were doubts with the monorail: “If the project should fail during construction or operation, the Government will bear the consequences. The proposal was not subjected to the same detailed investigation as was carried out for the light-rail proposal and was not referred to any of the utilities for comment, on the grounds that TNT would meet all service relocation costs.”

Carr’s letter to Brereton accuses him of using “some exaggerated estimates of the cost of moving facilities”.

The light-rail consortium later contested the Brereton line. In one statement, consortium spokesman, Toby Prentice, said: “Transfield/Comeng did not ask for any subsidy from the Government. They asked that, in the the unlikely event of a certain minimum patronage not being achieved over a two-year period, the Government advance funds to cover the revenue shortfall.

“The amount advanced was to have been repaid with interest after the bank loan funding construction had been repaid. The minimum patronage sought was less than the patronage predicted for the system in an independent (survey)conducted for the consortium by consultants.”

This week, Brereton insisted that the light-rail proposal “could only have be built with massive Government subsidy”.

Transfield declined to comment this week. However, a senior source at the company said that it got to the point where the writing was on the wall.

“I guess when you realise that the decision has been made, that the politicians already have decided on something, there is no point wasting any more time or money over it.”

The task force, too, warned that expert advice indicated that “in no way could the monorail system be made environmentally or aesthetically acceptable, particularly in Pitt and Market streets”.

Monday, October 28 1985, was a quiet day at State Parliament. In Canberra, Malcolm Fraser had chosen to accept the Australian Government post to implement policy on South Africa. Close to 5pm, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, came alive. Brereton emerged to announce the Government had chosen the$40-million TNT monorail.

Subsequent calls for a public inquiry were met with responses from Brereton that there already had been full and exhaustive evaluation over a 10-month period.



May: Neville Wran enacts special legislation to establish a Darling Harbour Authority giving Minister for Public Works final say not Minister for Planning and Environment; People-mover muted; Wran announces $200 million would be spent on Darling Harbour, including an exhibition centre, harbourside park and Chinese landscape garden.

July: Confidential report commissioned by Ministry of Transport, The Darling Harbour Transport Plan, by consultants Pak-Poy and Kneebone Ltd recommends against people-mover.

November: People-mover now being referred to as monorail. Brereton says he is “particularly keen personally” to see the incorporation of a monorail into Darling Harbour.

December: Five transport systems being considered for people-mover. Pak-Poy asked to forget reservations for its, People-Mover Feasibility Study, which contains further criticism of a people-mover.


May: Six companies submit tenders to build people-movers, Government announces; Talks begin over what type of people-mover to have.

June: Eight people-mover proposals shortlisted.

July: Architects, planners and the National Trust express serious concern about impact of the elevated people mover through inner-city. Five proposals submitted to the DHA.

August: Third Pak-Poy report contains numerous criticisms of monorail.

September: Cabinet sub-committee investigates people-mover; Department of Environment and Planning expresses reservations over monorail and requests more detailed analysis; TNT blueprints unveiled; National Trust says it favours light rail.

October: TNT wins people-mover bid. Brereton says special legislation would be passed to guarantee system finished by January 1, 1988.


Cost: Estimated in 1985 at $40 million. Now $60 million.

Route: Loop around Darling Harbour, Liverpool Street, Pitt Street and Market Street. 3.6 kilometres.

Journey time: 12 minutes.

Fare: $1.

Carrying capacity: 5,000 an hour.

Design: Overhead slim trains. Described as whisper quiet.

History: Never before tested in a comparable urban environment.

Construction: Was contracted to be completed by January 1, this year. Is now expected to be completed by late next month.


Cost: Estimated at $20 million cheaper than monorail.

Route: From Central Station to Darling Harbour to Wynyard under Margaret Street. Provision to extend to Circular Quay. 6.9 kilometres.

Fare: 60 cents.

Journey time: 20 minutes.

Carrying capacity: More than 8,000 an hour.

Design: Sleek, space-age trams running on the ground. Described as almost noiseless.

History: The choice for many new urban transport systems in many overseas cities.

Construction: In 1985, was expected by the consortium to be completed by mid-1987.

© 1988 Sydney Morning Herald

Four reasons why PTI could not change our political culture
Published at2013-07-23 16:40:13

Many enthusiasts of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf are disappointed that the tsunami could not happen. The more considerate analysts, however, think that tsunami or not, the party has done well. It has risen from the status of minnows to become the second most voted party of the country in almost no time. Its gain is substantial and its future bright. I tend to agree but what is disappointing for me is that the PTI is not only the change it had promised to be, it isn’t any change, not even the change of faces in many instances. It has joined the fray and become one of the lot. I am afraid that by the next elections, it will be hard to distinguish it from others. Here are the four reasons why I think so.

Number 1: PTI walas are blind followers too

Just like their PPP and PMLN counterparts, the PTI walas take their party as a cult, if not as a religious sect. They are the believers, the followers and the mureeds and I find it antithetical to being a political worker.

They are not critical of their party policies, stands and statements. Being critical of ‘their own’ party policy is considered a sin in our political culture and PTI has not changed that. The behavior is graded as a kind of disloyalty which in essence is a feudal trait. So instead of engaging with their party fellows and opponents in productive political dialogues on issues of importance, they take it upon themselves to defend, justify and cover up all of their party leaders’ deeds and words.

Their main locus standi in politics is that while all the rest are corrupt, they stand tall, untainted and clean. Their main vow is to rid the country of corruption which they present as the panacea. But when the party allows some of the known corrupt politicians into its ranks belying its biggest motto, its workers not only do not object to it but keep supporting their party with the same enthusiasm. That’s so typical of Pakistani parties.

Political leaders love hordes of unthinking followers. They do not promote critical thinking among their cadre nor do they institute mechanisms within their parties to facilitate critical appraisal of party policies. The same holds for the PTI.

Number 2: They hate and demean their opponents

I think a certain level of inebriation with self righteousness is allowed to all political workers but it becomes a problem when it gets so much to ones head that they start identifying themselves as a different species and superior ones, of course. This arrogance effectively blocks the way of political dialogue and debate and even public interaction with others.

PTI walas have three responses for their opponents. They consider the good majority of all those out of their party flanks as senseless goofs destined to suffer. They are the unfortunate lot; the wretched of the earth who have failed to see the light and missed the opportunity of their lifetime just because they could not recognise it. They mostly live in villages. The PTI walas pity them.

On the second level are those who are not the simpletons, stuck in traditional rots as they are semi-educated, live in cities, small or big and have articulated political pursuits. But what perplexes the PTI walas is that if someone has even an iota of political sense, how can he or she support any party other than theirs? So they are the ones who have been tricked into submission and blindfolded by their leaders. They frustrate the PTI walas, who think that these political puppets only deserve contempt.

Then, the last is the gang of gazetted criminals – the upper crust of their opponent parties, their leaders and representatives. They are all branded as looters and plunderers and the main cause of all the ills of this country, unless and until they are reborn as PTI stalwarts.

Number 3: They too suffer from the conspiracy theory syndrome

When it comes to theorising political phenomena, the favorite ploy of all Pakistani parties is to define them as a conspiracy, mostly hatched by foreign forces. That reflects upon the intellectual poverty of the party ideologues. They have no vision, no plausible answers to the complex questions that the current political discourse poses.

Conspiracy theories are easy to sell. They put the blame on forces that exist outside ones purview and their acts are beyond one’s ability to deliver. So there is little that could be done except scolding the evil forces. The modus operandi of these forces is invisible and complex so any event could be twisted to fit the theory. So you have suicide attacks by forces that target innocent Muslims and then attacks that are carried out by forces so that Muslims could be blamed for these.

From the Taliban to Malala, from Balochistan to the Mumbai attacks and from Ayla Malik’s fake degree to Aleem Khan’s multi-billion rupees land scam all are not what they appear to the naked eye. They are all conspiracies.

Conspiracy theories defy that politics is a comprehensible science, and that interests of groups and classes can be articulated and pursued as political causes through carefully designed strategies. They instead, convert people into hapless victims who have no other recourse than to bow before their charismatic leaders.

In Pakistan’s political culture, conspiracy theories substitute a sound political ideology; they proxy for long term vision. PTI’s reliance on conspiracy theories is no less, if not more, than others.

Number 4: Their party is not structurally different from any other

A party with a democratic structure has never happened to this country. There are cults driven by ‘charismatic’ personalities. There are mafias run by gangs of criminals. There are congregations lead by clerics. There are dynasties and fiefdoms but no party. PTI boasted to gift the country one, but it hasn’t.

None of its acts show it is any different from the others. The PTI party elections were a sham. Organising intra-party elections is a legal requirement for all. There are 250 political parties registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan and they have all fulfilled the requirement. Doing the same ritual with the exalted media fan fare does not make them any different. More importantly, this democratic superiority does not reflect in any of the party’s behaviors and decisions. The Chief Minister of KPK has three of his close relatives elected on the seats reserved for women. The same is the case with the parties that did not have ‘democratic party structures’ and are branded as dynastic by the PTI. So whether or not the PTI had genuine intra-party elections, the political culture, the end result remains the same.

The same is the situation in all other aspects. PTI too awarded tickets to the same old clique of politicians that included fraudsters, tax evaders and fake degree holders.

But what’s more irksome is that every now and then we come to know about some silent, selfless warriors waging a heroic struggle within the party and sacrificing their career, life and what not, and then suddenly they find reasons to revolt. These valiant revolutionaries who had, we are told, forgone opportunities worth millions of dollars and instead opted to serve the party generally fall out for very petty gains. Even more irritating are their antics that follow the bold revolts. Shireen Mazari resigns and rejoins. Fauzia Kasuri resigns and rejoins. This makes it evident that the party has not institutionalised internal decision making and like any other, it too, survives on a system of patronage flowing from the top.
Tahir Mehdi works with Punjab Lok Sujag, a research and advocacy group that has a primary interest in understanding governance and democracy.

HEC publishes book on journalists’ corruption in Pakistan


Tuesday, July 23, 2013\23\story_23-7-2013_pg13_8


HEC publishes book on journalists’ corruption in Pakistan

* Authored by Dr Shahzad and Dr Khalid, the book names journalists who took undue and illegal advantages
By Shabbir Sarwar

LAHORE: Corruption and misuse of power within press, acquisition of wealth and exploitation by journalists for personal gains are elucidated in detailed in the book “Press, Pressmen and the Governments in Pakistan: Mishandling of Power and Positions”, published by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
Different cases of corruption of journalists such as acquiring financial gains, getting high official posts, multiple plots, and foreign trips are discussed in various chapters of the book.
The book has been published by the HEC Pakistan and authored by Dr Shahzad Ali, distinguished assistant professor of Department of Mass Communication Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan and co-author Prof Dr Muhammad Khalid, Chairman Department of Mass Communication, University of Management and Technology, Lahore. The authors have dedicated the book to Habib Jalib calling him a “zealous revolutionist”, who believed that reticence is a sin’.
The book starts with discussing perception and notions about press freedom, as well as the media boom in Pakistan over the last decade. The opening remark of the book is a quote by Surin Pitsuwan, Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, who said, “No nation is so poor that it cannot afford a free press. In fact, the poorer you are, the more you need a free press,” highlighting the need of free press especially in developing countries such as Pakistan.
Different atrocities against press and freedom of speech in Pakistan are also discussed throughout the book, including violence against journalists, which continue to this day in different parts of Pakistan as a tool to keep the press in check and silence others who might raise their voices.
The most interesting part of the book is frank discussion and disclosure of corruption, misuse of the power by journalists. Details of many journalists’ and corruption have been discussed in the book with clear mention of their names as well their relatives who gained illegal advantages.
The book highlights the current as well as the historic situation of media in Pakistan, while focusing on the press freedom and developments and changes during different regimes in the country. Violence suffered by the press as well as cases of yellow journalism and bad practices are also discussed with details in seven chapters of the book.
Evolution of media laws in Pakistan are discussed and analysed in great details in the beginning chapters of the book, which also highlights the concerns and interests of different regimes in the country. Another aspect of the book is the chronological analysis of the media, which helps in understanding different phases of press in Pakistan.
In the preface of the book Dr Shahzad states that ‘most of the books published in Pakistan have deliberately or unconsciously overlooked the negative role of media practitioners. The primary objective of all previous books had been to highlight the severe actions of successive regimes, irrespective of democratic or autocratic in curbing the freedom of press. The ruling Junta was portrayed as a villain, oppressive, and fascist in a derogatory manner, whereas the media groups and their working journalists were depicted as custodians of constitution, of law, of human rights, and above all as comrades fighting for the rights of less privileged classes.
Several writers eulogised in hyperbolic way the meritorious services of the media practitioners as equivalence to Messiah of the country. In short, the projection of work for newspapers was exaggerated as sacred and as holy as the constituent steps of doing ablution or going on a pilgrimage.’
‘Press, Pressmen and the Governments in Pakistan: Mishandling of power and positions’ can undoubtedly be called the most in-depth look into Pakistani media, as it covers each and every historic event of press’ life in Pakistan.




Why China is getting richer

  • By POPULATION control so investment cash is spend on new roads and new factories, water and electricity spread to places Already Needing them INSTEAD of exploding population asking for defaulter power subsidies and food import and new more poor schools and hospitals. China and Pakistan do NOT have oil that we can breed like 7 kids each woman and then country not having medicine or Dai like Pakistan.
  • Mirza Danish Jamal China killed off its Mullah type Zamindar mentality 70 years ago. One child policy was going to bring prosperity for sure. Still it took 25 years and more to cover damage done by LARGE FAMILY then cry poor mentality. Their GOVERNMENT will arrest if ANYONE steals ELECTRICITY. Our Mullah never told us if anyone steals electricity SOON there will be NO electricity. 30% line loses and DREAM china.
  • Mirza Danish Jamal Pakistan already is 6th largest populated country in world and illiterates can not read what I write in FB. So making Pakistan = Afghanistan. Keep women uneducated you get Afghanistan NOT GERMANY after WWII and Japan too recovered in 15 years after A-Bomb !! Why ? Women all educated always in China too.

Don’t let Malala down, stand up and be counted

Published 2013-07-15 14:46:58


How many times, O the people of Pakistan have you seen representatives from around the world giving a standing ovation to a Pakistani? The UN Secretary General wiping off his tears while listening to a Pakistani? Young men and women from many nations vying with each other to get closer to a Pakistani?Perhaps never.

So be happy that you have a daughter like Malala. Be proud of this little girl who brought you so much positive attention at a time when the whole world looks at you with fear and suspicion.

Bow down in gratitude and wipe not your tears for they will wash away your sins. And you may have committed many. But your greatest sin is silence.

You are silent when your priests incite violence, when they urge you to kill those who disagree with them. Although you too disagree with them, you do not speak up. Worse still, when they ask you to empty your pockets for hired killers, you do so without thinking of the consequences.

You are silent when suicide bombers kill innocent people in your streets. When extremists bomb mosques and kill worshippers. When they raid schools and murder little children.

One of them put a bullet through Malala’s head because she, unlike you, refused to be silent when they tried to snatch her books.

She spoke up. She stood for her rights. And she defied them by going to school, ignoring their threats.

And now that the entire world is answering her call, praising her defiance, embracing her as a beacon of hope against the forces of darkness, many among you are jealous of her.

Some curse her. Others call her an American agent and some say she is an enemy of Islam.

Yes, most of you do not endorse such views. You do recognise what she has done for you by defying the forces of evil. Yet, you are silent; not because you are afraid.

You cannot be afraid because you are the overwhelming majority. If you just come out in the streets to show that you reject these forces of darkness, they will run away.

You are so many that if you just allow yourself to be counted, you can do anything and everything you want.

But you do not bother. You are too busy with your daily chores. You have been imprisoned. Enslaved. You cannot break out of your prison. You cannot break your chains.

So you prefer to be silent.

You are silent but your enemies are not.

Soon after Malala spoke at the United Nations, they invaded her Facebook, posting crude remarks on her page, calling her an “American agent.”

Can a million people visit her page tomorrow and show the whole world that there are people in Pakistan who love this girl? Can you let these evil-doers know how wrong they are? Can you stand up for the bravest girl you have had in generations?

And there are others among you who say that many others also have spoken against militants, even sacrificed their lives fighting the terrorists, why are they forgotten?

Well, if you really care for those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against militancy, then join Malala. Do not oppose her. It will hurt your cause. Do not be jealous. Jealousy is negative; it sometimes causes more damaging than the enemy’s gun.

And here is a little story to cheer you up:

A peasant was chopping timber in the woods. Another peasant was watching him; comfortably seated on a fallen tree trunk. The man cutting the timber was using a heavy axe, lifting it above his head and hitting the wood with effort.

Every time, the chopper hit the wood, the second peasant cried out: “Wow, well done.”

When the woodcutter finished his work, the peasant went to him and demanded his fee.

“For what?” asked the wood chopper.

“For cheering you up,” said the peasant.

The woodcutter did not agree that the peasant needs to be paid for cheerleading.

The dispute led them to Mullah Nasruddin.

Nasruddin listened to both sides and then took out a purse.

He took some coins out of the purse and dropped them one at a time on his desk. The coins tinkled and clinked onto the wood desk.

“Did you hear the sound of the coins jingling?” he asked the cheerleader.

“Yes, I did,” he replied.

“Then you have received your rightful payment. You supplied the sound and you got paid in sound.”

So be the chopper, not just a cheerleader.




zakat on jewellery

zakat on jewellery

Answered by Sidi Suheil Laher


I wanted to ask you a question with regards to Zakat as I have been getting mixed views on this. May Allah reward you for responding to my query.
Basically I want to know if Zakat is payable on women’s jewellery that is NOT for business purposes.
Basically as far as I remember I have never accumulated wealth or had it for a year, the value which reaches the nisaab. Does one owe Zakaat if he has to the value of nisaab and is studying or not working full time? After finishing university I have been in debt and am still in debt for about 6000. I have a car, computer etc. Do I have to pay Zakaat on any of these?
Now the main question. My wife has Gold jewellery which was given to her on our wedding and which weighs a total of approx. 95 tolas (95 * 11.66 = approx 1108 grams). (this figure is the maximum estimate we could make out the jewellery to be. I don’t expect it to be more than this) ( so do I have to weigh it and get the exact weight (it could be less, definitely not more) or can I stick to the estimate. Does it matter if you end up paying more. I know it is sinful for paying less.
So now this gold is not for business purposes or investment. She wears it every now and then. but not regularly at all.
Is Zakaat payable on this Gold?
If it is, and as my wife doesnt work and it is her responsibility to pay Zakaat, not mine as I have heard. How does she pay it. Does she have to sell her jewellery? Or do I have to pay for her. If that is the case would you please show me how to calculate how much I have to pay.


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Mercifulwa`alaykum as-salam

All praise is to Allah. Blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah.

May Allah reward you for your concern about His religion.
Please forgive me for the delay in replying. I was overseas and recently returned.
Answers to your questions are below.

1) Zakat is payable on gold and silver jewelry, even if it is not for business purposes, provided it reaches the quantity of nisab and has been possessed for one lunar year or more.
It is reported that a woman came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his Household and grant them peace) with a daughter of hers. On the daughter’s arm were two thick bracelets of gold. He asked her, “Do you give the zakat of this?” She said, “No.” He said, “Would it please you for Allah to put them around you as bracelets of fire on the Day of Resurrection?” Thereupon, she removed them and threw them before the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his Household and grant them peace), saying, “They are for [the cause of] Allah and His messenger.”
[Narrated by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ahmad and others.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar said, in Bulugh al-Maram, “Its isnad is strong.”]
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his Household and grant them peace), says, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and his Household and grant them peace) entered upon me and saw bands ( i.e. rings without any stones) of silver on [the fingers of] my hand. He said, “What is this, O `A’ishah?!” I replied, “I put them on to make myself beautiful for you, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Do you pay their zakat?” I said, “No.” He said, “They are sufficient for you [as a share] of the Fire [of Hell].”
[Narrated by Abu Dawud]

2) The nisab for gold is approximately 87g. According to your data, the quantity of your wife’s jewelry is more than this. Therefore zakat is considered to be due on it. There is no harm in overpaying the zakat, so if your estimate is a “safe estimate” ( i.e. definitely not less than the value of the gold) then you can use this figure, and you do not need to weigh it exactly.

3) Yes, the zakat on your wife’s jewelry is payable by her. If she does not have enough money to pay the zakat, then either she could sell some of the jewelry, or you could give her enough money to enable her to pay the zakat.

4) To calculate the amount of zakat due on gold jewelry, proceed as follows:
i) Determine the weight of the gold (Note that if the jewelry is not pure gold, then you will need to make a proportionate adjustment for the weight).
ii) Find out the current price of gold (you can find this on the internet, from sites such as (in US Dollars) or (in British Pounds).
iii) Calculate the price of the gold you have.
iv) The zakat due is 2.5% of this (i.e. one-fortieth)

i) Weight of gold jewelry is 1110 grams.
Divide by 31.13 to convert to troy ounces (or use an online conversion utility, such as . Or to convert directly from tolas to troy ounces, multiply the number of tolas by 0.375).
=> Weight of jewelry is approximately 35.7 troy ounces.
ii) Current price of gold is approximately US$ 360 per troy ounce
iii) Therefore, value of the gold jewelry is approximately $12852
iv) Zakat due is therefore 12852/40 = $321.30

5) If you have never possessed the amount of nisab, then zakat is not due upon you. (According to the Hanafi school, the nisab for money is (nowadays) calculated on the basis of silver, and according to current silver prices, the nisab is approximately US$191.) What is of consideration, in determining whether you must pay zakat, is whether or not you possess the nisab in excess of your basic needs and debts. It is irrelevant, for this purpose, whether you are working part-time, working full-time, studying, etc.

6) If you are in debt, then you can subtract the amount of your debt from your zakatable total. (Your zakatable total is the combined value of all your current cash, gold, silver, investments, trade goods, produce and free-grazing livestock.) Note that if you have enough cash to pay off your debt, then you should do so before starting the zakat calculations.

7) No zakat is due on items of personal use, such as your car and your computer.

And Allah knows best.


MMVIII © Qibla.
All rights reserved
No part of this article may be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, please submit a request at our Helpdesk.

(IWCCI) lauded the decision of the government to phase out power subsidies

BUSINESS PERISCOPE : Govt’s decision to cut power subsidies hailed\story_9-7-2013_pg10_1

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) lauded the decision of the government to phase out power subsidies gradually terming it in the best interest of country. It is very difficult for Pakistan to survive without foreign aid in presence of power sector and energy subsidies, Farida Rashid said. The subsidies have not benefited poor but rich while it misbalances the budget. Subsidies leave little funds with government to spend of public welfare, it boost demand while reduces investment in renewable. Subsidies also contributes to social injustice, discourages private sector and push up the global warming, she added. She said losses of the power subsidy have reached to an extent that it has become an issue of national security. Last year our oil import bill was $14 billion, which will touch mark of $50 billion in seven years, enough to leave Pakistan bankrupt. app