Held Kashmir under Wahhabi attack

Here’s how schools of faith, mobiles are radicalising Kashmir

Aarti Tikoo Singh | TNN | Updated: Jul 9, 2017, 08.49 AM IST


  • The Valley has been succumbing to a hardline Wahhabi Islam
  • The traditionally moderate school is being replaced by the radical Ahl-e-Hadith

Youth throws stones at Indian security personnel in SrinagarYouth throws stones at Indian security personnel in Srinagar

Last month, in a south Kashmir mosque, a fiery cleric in his raucous voice and shrill cries, defended former Hizbul commander Zakir Musa‘s call for Islamic jihad. For the first time, a cleric, using his religious pedestal, was exhorting his audience to support Kashmir’s most wanted terrorist who recently aligned ideologically with al Qaeda. The audio recording of Mufti Shabir Ahmad Qasmi’s incendiary speech was widely circulated on instant online messaging platforms in the valley. The Mufti very likely converted many of his ardent followers into Musa cheerleaders.

Kashmir’s mosques have always been used for religio-political ends, and for separatism since 1989 when the militancy broke out. But the character of the mosque has changed dramatically in the last decade.

Hanafi/Barelvi Islam, the traditionally moderate school followed by the majority in Kashmir, is being replaced by the radical Ahl-e-Hadith, the local moniker for Saudi-imported Salafism or Wahhabism. Though many Hanafi clerics like Moulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi are resisting their Wahhabi competitors, “the attendance in annual fairs of all major Sufi shrines has been decreasing,” said Muzamil, a Sufi practitioner. Of the roughly six million Muslims in the Valley, the once-marginal Ahl-e-Hadith now has over a million followers, claimed its general secretary, Dr Abdul Latif.

The Arab funded Wahhabism finds convergence with other already established conservative strains of Islamic movements, such as Deobandi and Jamat-e-Islami in Kashmir. The mufti who made a plea for Musa is a Deobandi from a Jamati household. Such religious intersections are not limited to fundamentalists. Last year, Sarjan Barkati, a self-proclaimed Sufi, earned epithets like ‘Pied Piper of Kashmir’ and ‘Freedom Chacha’ for mobilising people and glorifying the Hizbul commander Burhan Wani who had wanted to establish an Islamic Caliphate. These mutations from moderate to radical have been happening insidiously and manifested themselves in the mob that lynched deputy SP Ayub Pandith on Shab-e-Qadr.

The coalescing of all the schools of Sunni Islamic thought in Kashmir is result of a “common broad-based platform, Ittehaad-e-Millat, created to resolve differences” not only among the puritanical groups but also with syncretic Barelvi outfits, said Jamat-i-Islami Amir chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat. Incidentally, IeM was actively involved in organising protest rallies in favour of Wani last year.

Way before Wani was killed, the signs of Wahhabised radicalisation had already begun to emerge. Maulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, for example, was already popular in south Kashmir by 2015 for sermons in which he praised the IS and Caliph Al Baghdadi. “It was only a matter of time before the youth started waving IS flags while pelting stones, or Wani or Musa declared jihad for the Caliphate. Ironically, many moderate Kashmiri Muslims claim that IS has been created by the US and Israel to malign Muslims,”said a student of religion from Bijbehara.

Official sources said that there are over 7,500 mosques and seminaries in Kashmir, of which over 6,000 are Hanafi and around 200 are syncretic Sufi shrines. Ahl-e-Hadith, Deoband and Jamat put together have just over 1,000 mosques and charity based seminaries, of which Ahl-e-Hadith has the largest number. “Ahl-e-Hadith mosques are popular for their modern furnishing and facilities,” said Shahnawaz, a Barelvi follower in Anantnag, adding that the organisation also funds several orphanages, clinics and medical diagnostic centres.

Sources said Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and seminaries have doubled in the last 27 years. FCRA annual reports show that top donors to India among the Salafist Islam practising states are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Although it is not clear who the top donor and recipient in J&K is, the state has received between 10 and 100 crores as foreign funds each year in the last decade.

A lot of Salafist literature was being distributed for free in Kashmir through last 30 years, a Shia Kashmiri said. “There is a sizeable number of Kashmiri diaspora in the Middle East who send remittances, mostly through Hawala to fund not just this radical doctrine but terror too.”

Religious scholars in Kashmir point out that Ahl-e-Hadith has four sub-schools—Jamait-ul-ahl-e-Hadith (puritan), Difai (ultra-puritan), Guraba (religio-political ultra-puritans like Masrat Alam), Sout-ul-Haq, represented by ISIS, where a nonconformist is ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (eligible for murder). A scholar who didn’t want to be named claimed the radical subsects are anywhere between 1 to 5 percent in Kashmir.

Ahl-e-Hadith played a role in the separatist movement as a part of the joint Hurriyat Conference until it was split in 2003. The organisation is known to share a relationship with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, which is closely associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba. The TuM is a part of the PoK-based United Jihad Council headed by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin, who in 2014, had declared support for al-Qaida’s entry into Kashmir.

However, security officials believe that the influence of Wahhabi discourse through the Internet, social media and messaging platforms is far more dangerous than the mosques and literature. “Kashmir has around 2.8 million mobile internet users. Even if there is one Salafist preacher glorifying Burhan Wani or Zakir Musa and the clip is circulated over smartphones, it has a dangerous multiplying effect over a huge population,” a senior police official said.

Mobile data usage, officials claim, is higher in Kashmir than other parts of the country because of lack of other sources of entertainment. Cinemas, bars and discotheques were shut in Kashmir in the early 1990s when militant groups issued diktats against all things “un-Islamic”.

Schools of faith:

Wahhabism/Salafism/Ahl-e-Hadith: The most puritanical Sunni Islamic movement developed during the 18th century in central Arabia. It aims to return to the original ways of Islam by emulating Prophet Mohammad and his earliest followers. IS, al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad claim to be practitioners

Deobandi: Inspired by scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi and native to Indian subcontinent. Although Deobandi beliefs are almost the same as Salafis, in mainland India it is now a moderate school. Taliban claims to be Deobandi

Jamaat-e-Islami: A Sunni Islamist party that believes in the idea of an Islamic state under Sharia law. In Kashmir, terror group Hizbul Mujahideen is its armed wing

Barelvi/Hanafi: Native to India, this Sunni school is influenced by local culture. Accommodates Sufi practices and followers believe in saints and visit shrines

Modi visit to Israel

On July 4 2017 at 4 p.m., Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his whirlwind visit to Israel, that has now concluded in triumph, both for him and for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

In order to understand just how “historic” this visit was, a little history may help. Let’s go back in time, all the way back to November 29, 1947. On that date, the U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine was put to a vote; in the Asian-Pacific region, nine countries voted against partition. All of them, with one exception, were Muslim countries. That one exception was India, which was essentially voting against the creation of a Jewish state, even one that would have consisted of three non-contiguous tiny bantustans. And two years later, in 1949, India had not softened its opposition, and voted against admitting Israel to the United Nations. It did not recognize Israel as an independent state until 1950.

The most important meeting concerning Indo-Israeli relations for the next several decades took place not at the U.N., but in Bandung, Indonesia. Israel was not invited. This was the site in 1955 of the famous Bandung Conference, where 29 African and Asian nations met to declare that they would not belong either to the Western or the Soviet bloc, but to a new, non-aligned bloc. And among other measures, the conference’s political committee also unanimously adopted a ferociously anti-Israel resolution, which declared its support for “the Arab people of Palestine” (the “Palestinian people” had not yet been invented) and called for “the implementation of the United Nations decisions on Palestine and the achievement of the peaceful settlement of the Palestine question.” The “U.N. decisions” that were referred to in the resolution provided for the internationalization of Jerusalem, the ceding by Israel of certain border areas and agreement by Israel to the return of Arab refugees to their former homes. Given Israel’s military weakness in 1955, that resolution would have made Israel’s continued existence doubtful, and certainly showed a palpable want of sympathy for the Jewish state. It is true that India’s Nehru did express sympathies for the Jews as victims of the Nazis in Europe, but as the representative of India, he voted for the anti-Israel resolution at Bandung with all the rest.

For decades following, India remained lukewarm, at best, to Israel. It consistently rebuffed Israel’s request for diplomatic ties. Israel, for its part, never stopped trying to reach out to India. Few may realize that Israel supplied military assistance — weapons and intelligence — to India during its conflicts with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965. In 1971, India quietly asked for, and again received, Israeli military aid, for use in the Bangladesh War. During none of this time, however, did India evince a more pro-Israel attitude. In fact, India continued to deepen its pro-Arab stance and demonstrated increasing hostility toward Israel. This process accelerated with the election of Indira Gandhi in 1966, partly because of the support she needed from the small parties, including the Communists. As the Soviet Union was then hostile to Israel, and wooing the Arabs, the Indian Communist Party took the same approach. Indira Gandhi’s government, needing the votes of the Communists, found it made sense to keep Israel at arm’s length, while Indian support for the Arabs increased. By the 1970s, such support for the Palestinian cause had solidified, and India’s relationship with Israel worsened. After the Arab League recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the “sole and legitimate” representative of the Palestinians in 1974, India quickly followed suit and permitted the PLO to open an independent office in New Delhi that was elevated to embassy status in 1980. The PLO provided nothing of tangible value to India, unlike Israel, which had aided India in three of its wars. Nonetheless, it was not until 1992, twelve years after the PLO opened its office, that Israel was permitted to open an embassy in India.

A quarter-century later, things are very different. The relations between Israel and India have been called “the most important new alliance in Asia.” Israel is a world leader in many of the areas where India most needs outside help: anti-missile weaponry, water management (for agriculture and for drinking), cyber-warfare (remember Stuxnet?) and cyber-security. As of now, Israel is India’s second largest supplier (after Russia) of weapons. Israel has just signed with India the largest single contract in its own defense industry’s history, for MRSAM, an advanced air and missile defense system. The latest version of MRSAM is now being used by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the Israel Defense Forces. Israel and India collaborate in anti-terrorism measures of every kind. India has agreed to buy 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel, choosing it, despite heavy lobbying by Washington, over the American-made Javelin. India has also chosen Israel’s Barak-8 air defense missiles for the Indian navy. Israeli and Indian experts collaborate ever more closely on missile development, on anti-terrorism measures, and, increasingly, on cyber-warfare, both offensive and defensive. For its part, Israel seeks greater collaboration with the Indian navy, that patrols the sea between India and Arabia, in order to ensure the security of the sea lanes on which so much of Israel’s trade with Asia depends.

Along with its high-tech weaponry, its famed intelligence services, its counter-terrorism experience, all of use to India, Israel is also a world leader in water management (drip irrigation, desalinization, recycling of “grey water”), for both agriculture and drinking. In agriculture, Israel has set up, in various parts of India, Centers of Excellence, demonstration projects of the latest ways to increase crop yields, to lower water demands, and even to encourage Indian farmers to grow new crops. Israel has already set up a demonstration olive farm in the Punjab, to see if olives from Israel, though new to the subcontinent, can become a viable export crop for India.

Finally, there is an increase in person-to-person exchanges, in education and tourism. Ten percent of the foreign students in Israel are from India. And India is a favored destination for young Israelis once they have completed their military service.

Who would have predicted, when India cast its vote against the Partition Plan in 1947, that tiny Israel would not only come into being, but survive many Arab attempts to snuff out its young life, and would thrive economically, in all the most cutting-edge economic sectors, and become the third largest trading partner of India, and its second-largest supplier of military equipment? Who could have imagined the deep security ties that would develop, the intelligence sharing about Muslim terrorists and the strategic and military capabilities of Muslim states, between Israel and India, intelligence ties that are certainly the closest India has with any foreign country, and, save possibly for its intelligence ties with the United States, also the closest for Israel?

There were several reasons for India rejecting Israel’s entreaties for so long. Partly, this reflected the desire of Indian politicians to curry favor with the Muslims who made up about 10%-14% of the electorate. Another factor was the desire to keep good relations with the Arab suppliers of oil. A very distant third factor was the attempt to keep the Arab states from supporting the Muslim separatists in Kashmir whom Pakistan backed.

All during this period, it is true, there were those Indian politicians, from the Hindu nationalist parties, who on both moral and strategic grounds argued that India should support Israel, but the Congress Party’s reluctance prevailed until the beginning of the 1990s. Things began to change, slowly, after Israel, as noted above, unstintingly supplied military aid to India in its 1962 flare-up with China, and then again during its brief war with Pakistan in 1965, and again in 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War (which lasted all of two weeks after India entered the war on the side of the Bangladeshis against Pakistan). Israel’s willingness to repeatedly come to India’s aid did begin to affect Indian views. But as long as the Congress Party was in power, not much would change in India’s policy toward Israel. Golda Meir had even dared to hope, in 1971, that in recognition of Israeli military assistance that year India might at least establish diplomatic ties, but she was disappointed.

The desire of some Congress Party politicians to curry favor with Muslim voters was not shared by the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. When they came to power, those followers of Hindutva (the ideology seeking to make Hindus, and the Hindu way of life, dominant in India), who had always urged better ties with Israel, appeared to be vindicated. The Muslim electorate was not going to support the BJP, no matter how the BJP voted on Israel and “Palestine” in the U.N., so why bother to curry favor with it? And Israel more and more was recognized for what it was — a fellow victim of Islamic terrorism — and valued for being willing to share what it had learned from its long experience in countering that terrorism, in everything from effective vetting of airline passengers, to infiltration of terrorist networks, to cyber security. Israel was an increasingly valued trading partner for India, offering both top-of-the-line weaponry and help to India’s own arms industry, that no other arms supplier was willing to grant. Israel willingly shares with its advances as a world leader in water management and conservation. Finally, Israel provides a model of a “start-up” nation, that Indians admired and wished to emulate. In 2009, an international poll revealed that 59% of Indians viewed Israel with admiration, more than they did any other country, and more than did the people of any other country (in the same poll, 58% of Americans viewed Israel with admiration). Israelis have had their own love affair with India, perfectly aware that Jews in India had never experienced antisemitism from Hindus, but had lived safely in India for more than a thousand years, in such places as Maharashtra and Kerala.

Meanwhile, the feared Arab “oil weapon” turned out not to exist. Less than a quarter of India’s energy now comes from oil. Supplies of non-OPEC oil, and renewable sources (wind, solar, biomass), are taking an ever greater share of the world energy market. This means that the Muslim members of OPEC are well aware that they need to hold onto what customers they can, and certainly don’t want to be unreliable suppliers to such a major market as India, which would only push that country both to buy from other sellers of oil, and to switch as rapidly as it can to renewables (which now constitute less than 5% of its energy).

Indian attitudes began to shift after decades of non-aligned and pro-Arab policies which yielded no apparent benefit. The Arabs did not provide military aid or crucial intelligence to India; Israel did, in 1962, 1965, and 1971. The Arabs had no advanced weaponry to sell to India; Israel did. The Arabs had no expertise in irrigation, water conservation, desalinization; Israel did. In 1991, India defied the Muslim bloc and voted at the U.N. to repeal the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. In January 1992, India finally established diplomatic relations with Israel, and ties between the two nations have flourished since, primarily due to common strategic interests and security threats. The formation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the blocking of India by Pakistan from joining the OIC contributed to this diplomatic shift. It was now clear that India would never be truly accepted by the Muslim nations, no matter what it did to support “Palestine.” On a diplomatic level, India and Israel managed throughout this period to maintain healthy relations, despite India’s repeated strong condemnations at the U.N. of Israeli military actions against the “Palestinians.”

And then, the biggest change to Indian-Israel relations occurred when Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014. A Hindu nationalist, Modi has throughout his career exhibited an understanding of what the Muslim invaders and conquerors meant for the ancient civilization of Hindu India; he agrees with the writer V. S. Naipaul, who described India after the Muslim invasion and centuries of conquest, as “a wounded civilization.” Modi had always been known for his palpable lack of sympathy for Islam. When he was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat in 2002, inter-communal riots broke out after Muslims set fire to a train filled with Hindu pilgrims returning from a visit to the temple at Ayodhya. Sixty Hindus died, and many more were injured. In retaliation, Hindus started rioting and attacking Muslims. Muslims attacked back.These riots lasted three days. Hundreds were killed on both sides.. Modi did not immediately suppress them (nor is it likely he could have done so before they petered out of their own accord), which in the Western press, never sympathetic to the Hindu nationalists but always willing to cut Muslims some slack, earned him the reputation of being an anti-Muslim “bigot.” Muslims have repeatedly tried to have Modi convicted of supposedly fomenting the violence. The violence from Hindus did not need any “fomenting” by Modi; the burning alive of sixty innocent Hindu pilgrims was quite enough. In any case, Modi was absolved of the charge, by every court, all the way up to, and including, India’s Supreme Court.

Now Modi’s natural sympathies for Israel, as a Hindu nationalist, have meshed with a new kind of realpolitik calculation: that Israel can do far more than any other potential partner for India’s security against a common Islamic enemy (both terrorist groups and state actors). Israel is now able to supply India with advanced weaponry, including anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, that in some cases is superior to what either the U.S. or Russia offers, and with technology, know-how, and intelligence it is willing to share with India as that country continues to develop its own weapons industry. And Israel has also been willing to share its expertise in every aspect of agriculture and water management, especially in drip irrigation (which Israelis were the first to use), in desalinization plants (where Israel is a world leader), in its expertise in using treated sewage in agriculture (ditto). Israel has also become a pioneer in many aspects of agricultural research and technology, with innovative work in developing crop cultivars suitable for arid climates, and otherwise reducing the water consumption of agriculture. All this know-how in water use and crop management has become an important benefit for India, the palpable fruit of its good relations with Israel. Finally, India has something to learn from Israel about how best to encourage innovation more generally, how to promote a climate of entrepreneurship, how to link those entrepreneurs with those responsible for technological advances, and what legal and financial frameworks most effectively encourage the ”start-up.”

India’s relations with Israel have been so spectacularly beneficial for both sides that it is impossible to imagine any undoing of this new alliance. But will this unofficial military and security alliance lead, as it ought to, to a completely different Indian policy at the U.N., a possible public break with the kangaroo court that sits, in continuous session, with Israel always in the dock? Narendra Modi should be noted not just for what he has done on his visit to Israel, but what he did not do. He did not bother to visit, as so many other visiting dignitaries to Israel routinely do, the “Palestinian Authority” in Ramallah, only 30 minutes from Jerusalem. He did not once mention “Palestine” or the “Palestinian people.” The “Palestinian” leaders in Ramallah were and no doubt still are in a rage, but what can they do? Modi’s studied indifference will only make similar treatment by other world leaders more likely — no one wants to be the first, but now that Modi has done it, others — seeing there were no repercussions — can, if they wish, follow suit.

The India-Israel love affair has been a long time coming. But it is a real one, that goes deeper than arm sales and trade. A shared history of being victims of Islamic aggression, in having their lands seized and their own histories rewritten, an awareness in both Israel and India that Hindu India was one of a very few places in the world where there never was antisemitism, the Israeli awareness that it was an Indian regiment that drove the Muslim Turks out of Haifa in 1918, and the Indian awareness that Gandhi’s indispensable first supporters were South African Jews, even the fascination with India of young Israelis who after their military service so often choose India as the place to travel and decompress, and the admiration of Hindus for what the Jews in their tiny state — with less than 1% both of India’s population and its land area — have managed to accomplish, and finally, the recognition that Israel and India are the only true democracies in western Asia, all contribute to this alliance of interest, of affection, of esteem.

Now India under Modi can do something besides sign those agreements and exchange with Prime Minister Netanyahu those extravagant words of praise and bear hugs. In 2015 India began to abstain from, rather than vote in favor of, anti-Israel resolutions, at the U.N., UNESCO, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission, including those having to do with bringing Israel before the I.C.C. for supposed “war crimes” in Gaza. It has continued to abstain on similar resolutions in 2016 and 2017. This is an important shift, from Yes to Abstain. But it was not across the board. In 2016 India still voted in favor of a new resolution that would set up a database of Israeli and international firms working in the “illegal Israeli settlements.” Such a database, of course, could be useful for enforcing threats of retribution against those found to be listed.

This May, an anti-Israel resolution at UNESCO denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) was again proposed. in April 2016, a similar resolution had garnered 33 Yes votes; in October 2016 there were only 24 Yes votes. In the latest, May 2016 vote, only 22 countries voted yes. The most important shift was that of India, from Yes to Abstain, much commented upon at the time.

And after that vote change, the sky did not fall for India. Expressions of dismay from Ramallah. But the Muslim states did nothing. After all, what could they have done? In a buyer’s market, could they have refused to sell India oil, thereby pushing India still more in the direction of renewable sources of energy? Could they have threatened to support the Kashmiri Muslims more than they do? How, exactly? Could Indian Muslims threaten to vote against the BJP? They already do. Modi is not indifferent to Muslim desires; he is openly hostile to them, and has no intention of hiding it.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Arabs are more divided among themselves that at any time in their history. They are preoccupied with their own problems. In the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and several Gulf sheikdoms (U.A.E., Bahrain), as well as Egypt, are relentlessly pressuring Qatar, which they charge with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. For the Saudis, the Muslim Brotherhood practices an inadmissible form of “terrrorism” because it has repeatedly shown itself a threat to the Saudi regime. In 2003, the Brotherhood attacked the Saudi rulers for allowing American forces into the Kingdom; the Saudis were even more shocked when the Muslim Brotherhood helped overthrow Mubarak in Egypt, for this was interpreted as a potential future threat to the Saudi rulers as well. Also unacceptable to the Saudis are Qatar’s continued close ties with Iran, that go beyond the economic links naturally resulting from the fact that Qatar and Iran share the largest natural gas field in the world. And Al Jazeera, based in and funded by Qatar, reports critically on the Saudi regime, as it does on other Arab rulers (though of course exempting those in Qatar itself); some of this news is highly embarrassing to the Saudis and other ruling families. In late June, the Saudis, the U.A.E, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and severed all their land, sea, and air links to Qatar, and made thirteen demands. These included ending all support for “terrorism” (i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, ISIS, among others), expelling known terrorists who had been living in Qatar, and stop paying ransom to Al-Qaeda and ISIS for kidnapped Qatari nationals. As for its ties to Iran, Qatar was told to close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar and the Qatari missions in Iran, to expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and to cut off all military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Furthermore, all trade and commerce with Iran by Qatar must strictly comply with US and international sanctions. And Qatar was told to stop funding Shi’ite militias in Iraq.

Another demand was for the Turkish airbase in Qatar to be shut down, presumably because Erdogan, though a Sunni, has been too friendly to Iran for the Saudis to accept.

Qatar shows no signs of accepting even one of these demands, and this mini-war in the Gulf appears to have no foreseeable end. Qatar has been able to use airfields in Iran; Iranian ships continue to bring in food. And being fabulously rich from its sales of natural gas, Qatar cannot be starved into submission.

The war in Syria has gone on for six years, with many different states and groups involved. Russia and Iran support Assad, while the Americans support only the “democratic” rebels. Turkey and Qatar support Muslim Brotherhood fighters; the Saudis oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and Assad, but will support Sunnis of the Salafist line. Hezbollah and Iran both help Assad. Turkey and Qatar oppose Iran in Syria, but outside of the Syrian theatre, both maintain relations sufficiently close to Iran — though Turkey and Iran sometimes have flareups — to anger the Saudis. Jordan and Lebanon, for their part, are also caught in the Syrian swamp, overwhelmed with refugees from Syria — 700,000 in Jordan, 1 million in Lebanon (or 20% of the Lebanese population — that have become full-time problems. There are 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, a profound threat to political and economic stability for that country, which has been, thanks to Erdogan, in a state of almost continuous upheaval, as he systematically undoes Kemalism, makes war on the secularists, and shores up his powers so that he has legalized his despotism. Finally, in Syria, the loss of the Assad government’s control has created a vacuum into which the Islamic State has flowed. And jihadis from elsewhere in the Middle East, and North Africa, and Europe have arrived to join the Islamic State, and to fight not just Assad, not just the hated Shi’a (Hezbollah, Iranians), not just the “secular” rebels, but all those, including al-Qaeda, who may be close to IS in ideology but do not themselves submit to the Islamic State. In Syria, or because of Syria, so many different groups are stuck in different parts of the quagmire; Syria has become, politically, the La Brea Tar Pit of the Middle East.

In Iraq, the Shi’a-dominated government shows no signs of wanting to relinquish any of the power that naturally devolved to the Shi’a Arabs once the Americans removed Saddam Hussein. And the Sunni Arabs show no sign of accepting this new arrangement, which makes them permanently subservient to the far more numerous Shi’a. They worry, too, about the Iranians in Iraq who are helping the Shi’a militia. And both Sunni and Shi’a Arabs oppose the Kurds, who have announced their plan to hold a referendum this September on an independent Kurdistan.

The unrest in Bahrain among the majority Shi’a population protesting against their Sunni ruler continues, low-level but unending. The Egyptian regime feels itself threatened by Muslim Brotherhood-backed terrorists, based mainly in the Sinai, where they receive aid and training from Hamas fighters who come from Gaza. It also worries about terrorists coming from ISIS training camps in Libya. After the beheading of 31 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February 2015, Al-Sisi bombed ISIS camps in that country. And after Islamic State fighters attacked a bus full of Coptic pilgrims hear Minya, killing over 30, Al-Sisi sent Egyptian fighters to bomb the Islamic State forces near Derna, in Libya. Islamic State fighters, undeterred, attacked an Egyptian army post on July 8, killing 23 soldiers, and triggering an attack by Egyptian forces. While the Islamic State appears to have dug in in the northern Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to attack police and the military, both from Sinai hideouts and from cells in Egypt proper. Both terrorist groups keep Egyptian forces, and the Egyptian state, fully occupied.

Saudi Arabia is the busiest of all, engaged on every front. It is leading the campaign of Gulf states against Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is propping up the Sunni ruler of Bahrain, keeping his Shi’a population under control. It is fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria, supporting Sunni rebels who are sufficiently religious to meet Saudi standards, but not votaries of the Islamic State, to meet Saudi standards. And since 2015, the Saudis have been involved in a live war in Yemen, bombing both military and civilian targets among the Shi’a Houthis, with no hint of an end in sight. If Syria is the equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits for Muslim Arabs, Yemen is for Saudi Arabia its very own Tar Baby.




The cancer that was Musharraf’s regime

The cancer that was Musharraf’s regime

Like any illegitimate ruler, Musharraf’s core aims were survival and gaining legitimacy, and his every decision was a manifestation of these vulnerabilities
With the assault of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on the capital, doubts have been raised against democracy and the constitutional process once again. In the heat of it, voices are rising in quite a few circles for a military takeover in the county. The rationale they present is the glory of the Musharraf regime. Notwithstanding how the ‘glorious’ regime actually fell, even the record of that regime was abysmal to say the least. It is a fallacy labelling Musharraf’s regime a regime of stability, progress and prosperity. On the political front, the Musharraf’s regime’s failures outshine those of Ziaul Haq’s. It was the regime that pushed Balochistan to the brink of secession. An army operation there, confrontation with the pro-state Bugtis and alienation of all mainstream political forces in the province pushed the province away from the Pakistani federation. Had it not been for the political initiatives of Asif Ali Zardari and then Nawaz Sharif to engage the political leadership of the province, fully supported by the armed forces, we may have seen secession by now.
If Balochistan was not enough, his policy in the war on terror was enough to cripple the state. That he played a vicious double game in the war on terror with both internal and external stakeholders is no secret now. Those who portray him as the ultimate saviour of Pakistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda militants must remember that it was under his watch that the state of Pakistan ceded control of seven tribal areas and Swat to the terrorists. It is only in regimes after him, through the bravery and courage of our armed forces, that the state of Pakistan has gradually regained control of the ground lost there. His policy of harbouring the Taliban led to alienation of the people in the tribal areas and made them targets for drone strikes in later years. It was under him that Karachi became a hub for the Taliban and al Qaeda, and though Sharif’s provincial government cannot be absolved of its fair share of responsibility, the network of Punjabi Taliban expanded and consolidated in Punjab during Musharraf’s regime. If this was not enough, his double game policy compromised the Pakistan army the most. Do we forget that in the twilight of the Musharraf regime, because of his hypocritical double game to stay in power, he had pushed things to a level where confusion led people to refuse leading and attending the funeral prayers of soldiers martyred in the war on terror? If this is your de Gaulle, I salute your wisdom.
The ultimate defence of Musharraf is his economic performance. However, as far as the economic growth rate goes, it was only in 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 that the growth rate was higher than six percent, otherwise it was largely under six percent, which is hardly glorious. More importantly, the abundance of capital that we saw during the Musharraf regime had nothing to do with the policies of the regime but was a result of a global zero-interest rate environment. Unfortunately for Pakistan, thanks to the ineptness of Musharraf’s regime, this abundance of capital did not result in an enhanced industrialisation and production base. Industrial production as a percentage of GDP declined rapidly under the regime. Ironically, this global zero-interest rate regime was used effectively by our neighbours India and China to enhance the production base of their respective economies. Just when India and China were busy using abundant capital to enhance productivity, the Musharraf regime was using the abundance of capital to inflate the real estate and stock market, leading to an asset price bubble. Those who admire Musharraf’s economic marvels are the beneficiaries of this urban centric asset-inflation driven economic bubble that went bust during the last years of his regime.
Musharraf’s regime was a cancer from which Pakistani society, our brave armed forces and state institutions will take years to recover. Like any illegitimate ruler, Musharraf’s core aims were survival and gaining legitimacy, and his every decision was a manifestation of these vulnerabilities. He allowed the real estate and stock market bubble to appease the urban elite of Pakistan. Like his predecessors, Musharraf knew that regimes in Pakistan fall when the cities of Lahore and Karachi rise against them. Thus, they go the extra mile to appease them through artificial prosperity. Ayub did it, Zia did it and so did Musharraf. The problem is these policies are a stopgap arrangement and when the effect fades, everything crumbles. Similarly, to gain international legitimacy, Musharraf had to keep the threat of the Taliban alive while showing action against it at the same time, leading to a destructive double game. As they say, you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all the time; eventually the game had to fail.
There is a lesson to be learnt by us as a nation from the Musharraf saga. For one, those who are political players must acknowledge and respect the army’s role and strategic concerns in decision making, and should not push matters to a point where the army is sucked into the political space. For their part, the armed forces must realise that it is not in their interest to come to the fore as it only undermines their stature and power. It is in everyone’s interest that the system continues. For this, everyone needs to play by the rules of the game. It may sound a little Machiavellian but the system needs to be built so that it has institutional mechanisms to eject corrupt or illegitimate players. Another piece of adventurism like Musharraf’s will destroy it for all. In these vulnerable times, let us stay composed and say a prayer for Pakistan and for us all.

The author can be reached on twitter at @aalimalik

ARMY architects of disasters and disgrace go scot-free

The merchants of menace

Those questioning this dogma are instantly labelled traitors and ostracised while the architects of disasters and disgrace go scot-free
His clients ranged from Libya to North Korea and properties from Timbuktu to Dubai. At the height of his power his net worth was reportedly $ 400 million. His face, with a Hilteresque moustache, appeared on the February 14, 2005 Time magazine cover captioned ‘The Merchant of Menace’. That man was Dr Abdul Qadir Khan and his trade was nuclear proliferation. While everyone on his trail was convinced that Dr Khan could not have run a sprawling network of aeroplanes and yachts shuttling his P-1 and P-2 centrifuges across international airspace and maritime borders all by himself, the Pakistani authorities insisted that he was a lone wolf. The recent revelations by the former spokesman of the Pakistani armed forces, General (retired) Athar Abbas about the ex-army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, make it sound as if Kayani — like Dr A Q Khan — alone was responsible for the monumental mess Pakistan made in the North Waziristan Agency and the terrorist menace it peddled in the region.
Dovetailing with General Abbas’ disclosures about his former boss is a slew of panegyrics praising the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif as the ‘soldier’s soldier’ by the same coterie of analysts and anchors who once celebrated General Kayani as the ‘thinking soldier’ who alone had ostensibly changed the army’s doctrine and identified domestic jihadism as the existential threat to the country. The chief has retired; long live the chief! How convenient indeed except that General Kayani did what his institution had trained and required him to do, like the chiefs before him. Was General Ayub Khan alone in staging the 1958 coup d’état? Did he not have Lieutenant Generals Mohammad Azam Khan, Wajid Burki and K M Sheikh with him all the way? Did General Yahya Khan pull off his putsch all by himself? Did Major Generals Ghulam Umar and Sher Ali Khan Pataudi not prod the deep-in-the-cups dictator? Was that most evil of them all, General Ziaul Haq, the sole architect of so-called Operation Fair Play on July 4, 1977? Did Generals Faiz Ali Chishti, Sawar Khan, Iqbal Khan, Jehanzeb Arbab, Fazl-e-Haq, Rahimuddin Khan and K M Arif not go the whole hog with Zia? And was the commando dictator General Musharraf not airborne still when Generals Aziz Khan, Mahmud Ahmad and Muzzafar Usmani wrapped up Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government on October 12, 1999? Barring a handful of honourable exceptions during the army’s brutal campaign in Bangladesh, did any general ever refuse to carry out unlawful orders and resign?
General Kayani may be an easy punching bag but he, his predecessors and his successor are chips off that same old block, which avoids accountability like the plague. An institution that produced four overtly adventurist chiefs, suffered humiliation in four wars, brutalised the Bengalis and Baloch, meddles incessantly in civilian affairs and has no culture of accountability has a lot to answer for. Instead, stonewalling civilian inquiries into debacles like Kargil or forcing politicians to suppress damning findings like the Hamoodur Rehman or the Abbottabad Commissions’ reports is the military’s standard operating procedure. Even internal inquests into military disasters like the 1965 twin operations Gibraltar and Grand Slam are scarce and read more like a biography or a travelogue than a professional analysis of the rout. Rather than acknowledging and rectifying institutional shortcomings, the military has, for decades, commissioned analysts to write a revisionist history in which even the 1971 resounding defeat is portrayed as a betrayal by the “untrustworthy and Hindu-ised” Bengalis who had “conspired with India”. This poppycock is then taught as the gospel truth in Pakistani schools and, along with other fairytales, passes for history. Those questioning this dogma are instantly labelled traitors and ostracised while the architects of disasters and disgrace go scot-free.
Whatever General Athar Abbas has said is merely partial truth. The key question is if it was Kayani or the outfit he headed that incubated the jihadist legions in North Waziristan. As discussed in this column for years now, General Kayani refused to act against the jihadists in North Waziristan because that risked disrupting the security establishment’s meticulously crafted ‘good/bad’ Taliban tactic — a bedrock of Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy before the good jihadists could be let loose on Afghanistan come 2014’s US withdrawal. Kayani, along with Musharraf, was the architect of the establishment’s good/bad Taliban ruse to keep the US off their backs. The security establishment stoked anti-US sentiments through its assets in the media and the religio-political parties, and then used it as an excuse not to act in North Waziristan ‘under US pressure’ lest it provoke a hyper-nationalist and jihadist backlash. Kayani could not have carried out this convoluted narrative management without his top media manager who has suddenly spoken out now.
The series of operations conducted under Kayani’s command left the good Taliban unscathed and the Zarb-e-Azb offensive is no different. All major operations were announced with fanfare, giving advance warning to the jihadists to flee, as has happened in North Waziristan now. Other than netting Muslim Khan of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) through a talks ploy, no top good or bad jihadist ringleader has been captured or killed in any of the grand sounding military operations conducted to date. The US drones have taken out almost all the TTP and Haqqani network leaders killed thus far. The bravado in the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) communiqués notwithstanding, reports from the locals suggest that Zarb-e-Azb’s outcome will be no different. Two weeks into the ground assault there is no independent verification of the army’s claims of killing hundreds of terrorists. The handpicked embedded journalists are en route to croak victory from North Waziristan soon. Another round of the mock whack-a-mole with the jihadists nears its completion. Unfortunately, the tremendous human cost of this eyewash is being paid by the 800,000 Pashtun civilians uprooted from their homes.
Shifting blame for past disasters to political governments, General Kayani or for that matter even the ISI is a mere diversion to insulate the military establishment against domestic and international criticism for allowing the domestic, regional and transnational jihadists consort freely in North Waziristan resulting in the deaths and maiming of thousands of innocents. The buck in this instance stops not with General Kayani but with his institution. General Raheel Sharif’s pronouncement to fight terrorists of all shades is welcome indeed but without ushering in a robust and transparent institutional accountability that assembly line will keep producing more merchants of menace who, contrary to whatever anyone says, have never acted alone.

Aziz Ihsan

Listen Mr. Taqi, the self proclaimed father of all the truth and nothing but the truth since you know damn everything which happens on this green earth.

Not sure but since Maj-Gen ® Athar Abbas was of Maj-Gen rank but his
rank doesn’t make him privy to decisions made in the Corp Commanders /formation commanders meetings, where the normal rank is of Lt-Gen.

AQK is the BIGGEST FRAUD and TRAITOR Pakistan has ever seen.

  • Avatar

    What is it that you disagree with the writer? The writer is just pointing the obvious. he is trying to open eyes like yours. Counter his points with what you got. A media manager is indeed privy to everything.

    • Avatar

      I replied in a statement second para which contradicts the validity of Maj-Gen (R) Athar statement. He was not part of Corp/formation commanders meetings. Only officers with rank level of Lt-Gen are present in these meetings. Therefore, how did he come to know that what Kiyani was thinking out loud?

      As so called media manager is not present in these meetings. At the end of the meeting one of the Lt-Gen gives out his sanitized notes to the ISPR DG.

      Second this Taqi, with a intellectual level of cab driver knows everything about everything.

      • Avatar

        Aziz Ihsan! your comments are not worthy to replied to. They are merely based on malicious rejection of the obvious. People of your sort and ilk bring the sky down to earth when it comes to Israel and India…condemnable as they are for their atrocities…but you will never say a word about the blood shed of Pashtun being shed under the shadow of Afghan policy being engineered by the Generals.

  • Avatar

    Congratulations, Dr. Taqi – couldn’t have been written more succinctly! Is there anyone listening?

On a wing and a prayer

Updated 2014-01-20 10:24:49

Until it became something of an affront to its long-suffering passengers, Pakistan International Airlines’ slogan, “Great people to fly with” was not an empty boast. Earlier ads mention its “record regularity, top performance”; one breezily announced, “Every airline has a thing. You know, like serving 179 hors d’oeuvres or something like that. Our thing is being on time.”

Innovation was its hallmark. It was the first Asian airline to operate a jetliner and the first in the world to show inflight movies on international routes. But that was then. How the mighty have fallen. Short-sighted, flawed policies over the last few decades have left PIA a shadow of its former self, with poor inflight service, delayed and cancelled flights, and a monthly deficit of three billion rupees between revenue and expenses which has to be covered with bank loans, thus trapping it in a vicious cycle of debt. Corruption, an ageing, gas-guzzling fleet, and overstaffing on political grounds further stretch its limited resources.

Fire-fighting tactics keep operations going. For instance, with nine of PIA’s 34 aircraft grounded, the management recently took four aircraft – two each from Czech and Turkish private airlines – on wet lease, a contract that includes the aircraft, cockpit crew, partial cabin crew, and maintenance. By all accounts, this short-term solution has been a successful move. The 15 to 20 flights added on both domestic and international routes are all turning a profit.

In fact, a senior management source says, “If we could carry on the entire PIA operation with wet lease aircraft, and tell the operational staff to sit home, the airline can stand on its own feet again. The amount of fuel we save per hour on these newer aircraft is equal to their hourly rental of $2500.”

Despite their financial benefits, these wet lease operations have met with resistance from the airline’s pilots and engineers on the grounds that they make the airline’s existing infrastructure redundant. However, in many ways the infrastructure itself is an albatross around the airline’s neck and pressure from employees’ unions prevents retrenchment even if it makes eminent business sense.

For example, of the engineering division’s total annual budget of 20 billion rupees, only three billion rupees worth of repairs are carried out locally but its 4,000 personnel remain on the company’s payroll.

Contrary to the perception that the major drain on PIA’s resources are the salaries for its bloated employee base, the company spends barely 15 per cent of its revenue on salaries as compared to other airlines which spend about 30pc. However, the remuneration structure is skewed in favour of pilots, cabin crew and engineers – who comprise 40pc of the employees but consume almost 60pc of the salary budget. “The problem is the quality of manpower,” says a source. “I have so-called MBAs working under me who don’t know financial basics. What else can one expect when their starting salary is Rs25,000?”

Political appointments exacerbate the dearth of qualified manpower and institutionalise a culture of impunity. “A large number of such appointees who had earlier been sacked – often for good reason – were reappointed under the previous government,” says a pilot. “Many of them came in, collected their arrears and resigned the very next day.”

Lack of accountability pervades virtually all aspects of the airline. Senior executives create posts to accommodate relatives – which may perhaps explain the plethora of general managers in PIA. ‘Orders’ are placed for expensive spare parts that are already available in the inventory and over-invoicing in every department is rife.

More serious still, fuel constitutes the biggest chunk of its expenses – at least 60pc compared to about 40pc in other airlines. This is not just because of PIA’s older aircraft but also, according to PIA sources, because of pilots who routinely take more fuel than required, thereby incurring needless additional expenditure.

“They treat the airline like a personal fiefdom,” says a pilot. “Fuel requirements depend on the aircraft’s total weight, but pilots don’t wait to be informed of it before making fuel calculations.”

The general consensus among industry professionals is that privatisation is the only way to salvage PIA and run it on professional lines. Until that happens, it seems Pakistan’s flagship carrier will continue to flounder, caught between farce and tragedy.

The PPP leader said that terrorists wanted to make Pakistan a “backward society”.

Mohenjodaro 2014 — peace through culture

Staff Report

KARACHI: The nation hit by terrorism, sectarianism and ethnic tensions burst into applause on Sunday night when young leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party announced to use one of the richest cultures of the world for promotion of peace in the society.

“Terrorists want our country to have a primitive society …It is up to us to preserve our history and culture,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a charged audience, comprising national as well as international dignitaries, at the Mohatta Palace in Clifton.

The PPP leader said that terrorists wanted to make Pakistan a “backward society”.

“We are promoting the culture of peace while terrorists want to impose their rules on us through the barrel of gun. We have been taught distorted history about our culture and religion by military dictators like Ziaul Haq and his protégés. But we won’t let them succeed,” Bilawal, who anchored the colourful event along with his sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, told the participants.

“Our heritage is under threat. Pakistanis are being dragged backwards, towards more regressive dark ages. A fictionalised and imported culture is being imposed on us despite that we have our own rich cultural heritage”, Bilawal said.

He lamented the gradual degradation of Mohenjodaro, the 5,000-year-old world’s last surviving Bronze Age city. “The great archeological site is disappearing before our eyes,” he said, and announced that opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival 2014 will be held in Mohenjodaro.

“Eyes of whole world will be watching and people across the world will know about Mohenjodaro for the first time,” Bilawal added.

“Let’s bask in the glory of Indus Valley civilisation. Let’s live in the Pakistan we want to see. Move away London 2012, we have Mohenjodaro 2014,” Bilawal said to a cheering audience.

“I’m proud to be a Sindhi, Muslim and a Pakistani. Let’s protect, preserve and promote Sindh. Let’s protect, preserve and promote our heritage,” he said as he invited his political rivals, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, PTI chief Imran Khan, and common people to participate in the Sindh Festival. “All Pakistanis are invited,” he said.

Bilawal also announced the ambitious plans to host the popular festival of Basant on the beach in the port city in February, five years after authorities in Punjab banned it.

According to Bilawal, the Basant in Karachi would be “Beach Basant”.

“Sindh estival is bringing all the cultural activities back that were closed by government in 2006,” he said.

“I have realised that Pakistan is gradually becoming ‘banistan’. If we find someone offensive on YouTube, we ban the website. If we can’t compete with the Indian cinema, we ban movies,” he said.

Unveiling the events to be held during the two-week festival, Bakhtawar said it would have ‘the best of what Sindh and Pakistan has to offer’.

Laws will be formed to avert accidents during Basant, such as those caused by metallic kite strings. Kite flying will be organised on the beach to avoid any untoward incident.

The festival will include Sufi music nights, cattle races, a donkey derby, handicraft carnivals, film festivals and cricket tournaments. The festivities would begin with a grand opening ceremony at Mohenjodaro, Larkana, on February 1 and would continue till mid-February.

On Valentine’s Day, a special ghazal night will be organised for couples and families. A painting exhibition of some of the top artists and the private collection of late Benazir Bhutto would also be held.

During the festival, a singing competition ‘Voice of Pakistan’ will also be organised. A bus would travel across the province to stage auditions for picking out the most talented singer from the rural areas.

For two weeks, Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim will house most of the activities, where stalls will be set up by artisans from rural Sindh displaying pottery, handicrafts and traditional souvenirs.

The closing ceremony of the Sindh Culture Fest would be staged at Keenjhar Lake with an open air concert and fireworks. The festival will be an annual event.

Population Control is no Shame – Pakistan has no oil and Electricity or Gas

fertility in check

-Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed
-Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

While contraceptives do help with family planning, what really helps is preventing women from marrying very young.A survey in Pakistan revealed that women under 19 years of age at marriage were much more likely to give birth to five or more children than those who were at least 19 years old at marriage. The same survey also revealed that visit by family planning staff did not have a significant impact on reducing fertility rates. Instead, women who watched family planning commercials on TV were much less likely to have very large families.

Being the sixth most populous nation in the world, Pakistanis are also exposed to disease, violence, and natural disasters, which increase the odds of losing children to accidents or disease. At the same time, many consider the use of contraceptives to be un-Islamic. In addition, the preference for a male offspring is also widespread. As a result, Pakistani parents are inclined to have several children. The immediate task for the governments in Pakistan is to ensure that the rate of decline in fertility rates observed over the past two decades continues. At the same time, the governments in Pakistan should learn from Bangladesh that has made significant progress in stemming the population tide.

Source: The World Bank (2013) – Graph generated by Murtaza Haider.
Source: The World Bank (2013) – Graph generated by Murtaza Haider.

Getting down to two children per family may seem an elusive target, however, Pakistanis have made huge dents in the alarmingly high fertility rates, despite the widespread opposition to family planning. Since 1988, the fertility rate in Pakistan has declined from 6.2 births per woman to 3.5 in 2009. In a country where the religious and other conservatives oppose all forms of family planning, a decline of 44 per cent in fertility rate is nothing short of a miracle.

A recent paper explores the impact of family planning programs in Pakistan. The paper uses data from the 2006-07 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, which interviewed 10, 023 ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women used contraceptives in Pakistan. Though the paper in its current draft has several shortcomings, yet it still offers several insights into what contributes to high fertility and what the effective strategies are to check high fertility rates in Pakistan.

The survey revealed that the use of contraceptives did not have any significant impact for women who had given birth to six or more children. While 24 per cent women who were not using any contraceptives reported six or more births, 37 per cent of those who used contraceptives reported six or more births. At the same time, 27 per cent of women who were not visited by the family planning staff reported six or more births compared with 22 per cent of women who had a visit with the family planning staff.

Meanwhile, demographic and socio-economic factors reported strong correlation with the fertility outcomes. Women who were at least 19 years old at marriage were much less likely to have four or more births than those who were younger at the time of marriage. Similarly, those who gave birth before they turned 19 were much more likely to have four or more births.

Education also reported strong correlation with fertility outcomes. Consider that 58 per cent of illiterate women reported four or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were highly educated. Similarly, 60 per cent of the women married to illiterate men reported four or more births compared to 39 per cent of the women married to highly educated men. The survey revealed that literacy among women mattered more for reducing fertility rates than literacy among their husbands.

The underlying variable that defines literacy and the prevalence of contraceptives in Pakistan is the economic status of the households. The survey revealed that 32 per cent of women from poor households reported six or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were from affluent households.

The above results suggest that family planning efforts in Pakistan are likely to succeed if the focus is on educating young women. Educated young women are likely to get married later and will have fewer children. This is also supported by a comprehensive study by the World Bank in which Andaleeb Alam and others observed that cash transfer programs in Punjab to support female education resulted in a nine percentage point increase in female enrollment. At the same time, the authors found that those girls who participated in the program delayed their marriage and had fewer births by the time they turned 19.

“In fact, women in Punjab with middle and high school education have around 1.8 fewer children than those with lower than middle school education by the end of their reproductive life. Simple extrapolations also indicate that the 1.4 year delay in marriage of beneficiaries associated with the program could lead to 0.4 fewer births by the end of their childbearing years.”

The religious fundamentalists in Pakistan will continue to oppose family planning programs. They cannot, however, oppose the education of young women. The results presented here suggest that high fertility rates could be checked effectively by improving young women’s access to education. At the same time, educated mothers are the best resource for raising an educated nation.

General Qazi looted Pak Railway under Gen Musharraf

Updated 2013-08-31 07:06:04

ISLAMABAD: If a federal minister is to be believed he intends to send a retired army general and former railways minister behind bars for causing a severe haemorrhage of the institution.

Painting a bleak picture of the state of railways in the National Assembly on Friday, Khwaja Saad Rafique said the organisation had been bleeding profusely since 2000 at the hands of its managers and at present it was literally on a ‘life support system’.

He lashed out at retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi for triggering collapse of the Pakistan Railways in 2002 as its minister and said he was waiting for the appointment of a new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file cases against the general.

“We have done the homework and the moment a new NAB chairman, whose appointment is due, takes charge, we will bring all those, including Gen Qazi, to the dock for causing irrevocable losses to the organisation,” Mr Rafique said.

It may be mentioned here that Gen Qazi and a number of PR officials were accused of being involved in the controversial leasing of railways land in Lahore to a private company which built a golf. A special parliamentary committee of the previous National Assembly had recommended filing of criminal cases against people involved in the leasing of the land. According to the findings of the committee, the deal caused losses of over Rs25 billion.

“Until now many officials of the PR have served sentences for their part in its mismanagement, and some are serving, but so far none of the big guns has been held accountable,” Mr Rafique said, adding that time had come to bring them to book. “I will not spare anybody.”

The minister was replying to lawmakers’ questions about how soon the government would be able to bring some improvement in the operations of the railways which over the years had severely deteriorated.

“At the moment the entire fleet the PR locomotives have completed their shelf lives and one can well imagine how trains are being managed,” he said.

The PR is running 96 passenger trains in the country and at least during the current financial year the government can’t afford to start any new train due to shortage of engines.

About a deal for importing 75 locomotives from China signed by the PPP government, the minister said not only had the contract been cancelled but the Chinese company had also been blacklisted.

“It was the same company which provided 69 faulty engines in 2002. Notwithstanding the Chinese government’s pressure, I have also through the Foreign Office filed a claim of Rs2.5bn against the company.”

Sharing details of how the PR had suffered because of sheer ineptitude of its former bosses, Mr Rafique said: “I got the shock of my life when I was told that the director general (legal) of the PR is not a law graduate.”

He said the ministry was hiring a former high court judge as director of legal affairs to retrieve its land from illegal occupants.

He said the railways had suffered a loss of Rs32bn in 2012-13, which he hoped would be curtailed because he had recently managed to put about 10 redundant locomotives back on the tracks after maintenance. The PR also has to repay loans of Rs71bn.

The minister said in a written answer that the railways owned 167,690 acres of land which, if put to use, could be of great help in ending its losses.

New Electricity Plants in Pakistan

Pakistan HAS NO Money to BUILD future of PAKISTANIS. Pakistan needs FOREIGN AID investment from UAE to CHINA’s skills to build BASIC RUINED NEEDS of Electricity. And THEN will COME time to COLLECT electricity BILLS of these GENERATORS. In 20 years of OPERATION these PLANTS will have NO Spare Parts. Like RAILWAY of today.


This is NOT proud photo of Pakistani ACHIEVEMENT !!! Just a ruined little electricity COLLECTION ability country thinking CHEAP future ELECTRICITY !!!
NO MULLAH, or DEAD ZIA ul HAQ or PPP or PML or PTI or USA or SAUDIA can PROVIDE you CHEAP CHEAP electricity. Its just BRAINWASH ruined MENTALITY that we even think ELECTRICITY is like a bus or car = Foreign QUALITY countries can send you on SHIPS. Price Controlled ELECTRICITY is like Pak Railway and Pak Schools = LISTEN = you get what you pay for. More Zias and more Osamas but no QUALITY. Look at Price Controlled RAILWAY and FAILED CHEAP SCHOOLS and HOSPITALS for majority of Pakistanis.

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

BUSINESS PERISCOPE : Govt’s decision to cut power subsidies hailed


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