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Pakistan Press ( 13 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Allama Iqbal, France And Pakistani Journalists: New Age Islam's Selection, 13 November 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

13 November 2020

• Allama Iqbal On Economics

By Dr Pervez Tahir

• Macron, France And Liberté

By Aneela Shahzad

• Who Will Wipe The Tear-Soaked Face Of Sindh? (Part-II)

By M Alam Brohi

• Journalists Under Threat

By I.A. Rehman

• From Divided To United States — Of America?

By Dr Moonis Ahmar


Allama Iqbal on Economics

By Dr Pervez Tahir

November 12, 2020

Every November we celebrate Iqbal’s contributions to the idea of Pakistan, philosophy and poetry. How many know of his first book, Ilmul Iqtisad, or The Science of Economics, published in 1904. Here are some excerpts from the preface to give a different flavour of Iqbal.

“The science of economics discusses the ordinary business of human life and its objective is to investigate the matter as to how people get their income and how they use it. Thus in one respect its subject matter is wealth and in another respect it is a branch of that vast body of knowledge whose subject matter is man himself. It is an accepted point that man’s ordinary business has a great influence on his habits, conduct and his way of life. So much so that even his mental faculties cannot wholly remain free of this influence. There is no doubt that the religious principle too has been extremely influential in the spate of human history. But it is also borne out by every day experience and observation that the business of making a living is all the time with man, quietly moulding his visible and inner faculties. Just imagine the extent to which human behaviour is affected by poverty, or put another way, the inadequate satisfaction of the necessities of life. Poverty has a huge impact on human faculties, nay, many a time it covers the shiny bright mirror of human spirit with so much rust that its being is equated with nothingness in moral as well as socio-cultural terms.”

“Is it not possible that every individual is free from the suffering of poverty? Can it not be that the heart-rending calls of those quietly groaning all over the place silence for ever and the sad spectacle of poverty that frightens a caring heart, disappear from the face of the earth like a blot on the landscape? To give a categorical answer to this question is not the task of economics because, to some extent, the answer depends on the moral abilities of human nature for whose discovery the experts in this science do not have any particular method in their hands. But since the answer also largely depends on the events and outcomes which enter the sphere of inquiry of economics, this science is therefore of immense interest to man and its study is very nearly among the necessities of life. The study of this science and reflecting on its results is particularly important for the Indians, as poverty is becoming a common complaint here. Due to the lack of universal education, our country is completely unaware of her weaknesses and again of the socio-cultural factor, the knowledge of which is judged as a panacea for national welfare and prosperity. History of man is witness to the fate befalling nations who neglected their socio-cultural and economic conditions. In a valuable speech made fair recently the Mahraja of Baroda has observed that adjusting our present economic condition is the ultimate prescription for all our ills and our destruction is guaranteed if this prescription is not applied. Thus if the people of India wish to retain their name in the comity of nations, it is necessary for them to seek awareness of the principles of this important science to find out which factors are obstructing the rise of the country. My aim in writing these pages is to explain in an intelligible manner the most important principles of this science and also to discuss at places the extent to which these general principles apply to the present condition of India.”


Macron, France And Liberté

By Aneela Shahzad

November 12, 2020

“Liberty, equality, fraternity” is the French national motto that comes from the historic French Revolution (1799). Sadly, just like these slogans barely hide the 10-year-long, blood-soaked Reign of Terror of the revolution, likewise they fail to warp a pretty face on France’s present imperialistic inclinations, though France does pose to put up a pretty face anyways.

The French character of the colonial-era in Franc-Afrique is not worth forgetting. The massacre of around 1,500,000 Algerians in their War of Independence from France gives a glimpse of how ‘liberty’ was valued in French mentality even after World War II. However, the colonial era ended and states got their freedoms, and ex-colonials became the slogan-bearers of democracy and freedom in the world. In the new world, France became a leading member of UN organisations, with several organisations like the International Federation for Human Rights, the Interpol and Unesco, based in France. The FATF, mandated to combat terrorism financing, is also situated in France.

With all this good work, one might presume that a modern and refined state like France would not be involved in any crime against humanity at the least. But the truth is a bit ugly. It seems that even as most colonies gained their freedoms after WWII, those that were under French rule were not so fortunate. In fact, the bunch of 14 Franc-Afrique states from Mauritania to Niger and down to Gabon, never really got their independence because they practically remained in the CFA-Franc zone that was created in 1945. CFA, short for colonies francaises d’Afrique, is the name of the joint currency that is pegged with the franc and later with the euro, used in all these states. The CFA franc is printed under the supervision of the French National Bank and all these African states are bound to keep 50% of their foreign exchange reserves in French treasury, and 20% more of their foreign exchange is to be paid to France as financial liabilities, because France ‘is taking care of them’. According to Dakar-based economist N Samba Sylla, “the CFA franc is more than a symbol of the monetary system, which is designed to organise African countries in a way that treats the interest of French businesses, French government and more generally European businesses.”

With the CFA, a French ‘financial and economic’ trap, tightly controlled by the French Ministry of Finance and the French treasury, a highly overvalued exchange rate of the CFA franc on the colonies of French multinational companies is retained. These French multinationals have exclusive rights to purchase or reject any natural resources extracted from the soil of former colonies, like crude oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, uranium, etc. French firms such as Avera and Total control these resources and take them at cheap prices, and only with the approval of France can these be sold to someone else. For instance, in Mali, French firm Bouygues controls the construction sector, Bolloré Africa Logistics controls the transportation sector, Orange controls the communication sector, whereas the financial sector is controlled by BNP-Paribas.

France has intervened militarily 40 times in these countries since the 1960s. Moreover, all these states are members of ECOWAS, a political and economic union that was made for “African solutions for African problems” but has practically been dominated by France, who ensures its own economic and strategic interests in the region. Under the cover of providing security and training, France maintains several bases in this region. French militarily interventions in the Central African Republic (2013), in Chad (1986-present), the Ivory Coast (2002-present), in Congo (1999-present) and in Mali from 2013 conducting the ongoing Operation Barkhane, give a clear picture of how France dominates these states.

In fact, when, in February 2011, Libya was toppled by NATO’s Operation Odyssey Dawn — of which France was a major participant — thousands of Tuareg fighters that had previously been part of military squads of Gaddafi’s army, fled back to their homeland in Mali, and started agitating against the government there. At this, French forces, stationed permanently in Chad, launched Operation Serval, wherein 90 missions including 30 airstrikes were conducted only in the first three days, to clear the land of the unworthy Tuareg. Make a guess about the collateral damages — of course Mali is an information-locked country like most of Africa — and the only news agency releasing reports on Mali was the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

With all this hegemonic baggage in place, Macron in a neo-Napoleonic air, seems to be craving for a more global role. First, he steps into the streets of Beirut after the devastating double-explosion, asserting that he would be “the savior of Lebanon” and that “France will never let Lebanon go”, only to remind us that he or France for that matter haven’t been able to overpass the memory of being the occupier of Syria after WWII and thereby carving Lebanon out of it as a separate state. It is also notable that the protesters that rocked Beirut after the explosions literally demanded that Lebanon should go back under the “French mandate” as if they were the true crusaders of Crux Transmarina, greeting their Emperor in Outremer.

And now, Macron has done what it really takes to get the attention of the world — to become the leader of Islamophobia. Islam “is in crisis” and he is going to “liberate” it from foreign influences, he said. He criticised those who seek French citizenship without accepting France’s “right to commit blasphemy” as “Islamist Separatist” and that he “will never accept that violence can be justified”, nor can that France’s “freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw” be taken away. In essence, what Macron is securing for his people is the right to ‘hate and insult’, things that are dragging France and the West into a lethal ‘Christian Separatism’.


Who Will Wipe The Tear-Soaked Face Of Sindh? (Part-II)

By M Alam Brohi

November 12, 2020

Sindh being in the grip of the self-centered oligarchs and the shortsighted nationalists is engulfed by multiple threats which are progressively renting asunder its political, economic and social fabric and rendering its administrative apparatus dysfunctional. The most disquieting factor is that the informed sons and daughters of the province continue to ignore the impending dangers to the very existence of their land as the second big and the resource-endowed federal constituent of Pakistan. This apathy to their land’s growing woes is unprecedented and painful.

Sindh has been politically stagnated since decades. The traditional politicians and the landed gentry have been strengthening their hold on the political power under the banner of Pakistan People’s Party since its inception. The circumstances helped the party frequently capture power in the center and the province of Sindh. The landed gentry in Pakistan worship the rising sun. So, they firmly nestled on the party’s perch, discouraging and resisting the emergence of any political party which could pose a challenge to their political monopoly. This situation has gone too long in increasing the apathy the educated middle class has been falling in. This political shackle is to be broken. If left to prolong, the people would further ensconce into this political bondage and fatalism.

Though the successive leadership of the party talked of masses, what actually they did was to strengthen landed gentry giving them political power, recruiting their sons and nephews to powerful posts and helping them access to the economic resources of the province from agriculture inputs to irrigation water, bank loans, local government resources, contracts leaving the common man to fend for himself. This has enhanced the economic disparity, permanently dividing the society of Sindh into lower class living under the poverty line, middle class just making the both ends meet and the so called elite. The economic resources of the province are also divided on this pattern with the elite taking the lion’s share, the middle class crumbs condescendingly thrown to it, and the lower class living with the pangs of deprivation.

Should we, as a disinterested crowd, see our province being turned into a land of ‘aliens’ or throw the gauntlet down and stand to the oligarchs and their abettors to take our people out of the dark shadows of disillusionment and despondency

This stale and stinking system perpetuated by the oligarchs has destroyed the social fabric of the province with the underprivileged segment of the population resorting to crimes including kidnapping for ransom, robbery, drug peddling and theft. They are chased, and, sometimes, patronized by police; their children remain out of school; their sick die without medical service; their young are killed in fake police encounters or fill the ranks of religious militants. The entwined poverty and crime keep creating highway robbers like Paroo Chandio, Muhib Sheedi and Nazaru Narejo who came to be known as symbols of terror and fright for the affluent.

Sindh has never been like this. I feel sad while reviving the reminiscences of political and cultural ethos and human values that once prevailed supreme in this land where help came without strings; commitment to merit and fair play counted as an inviolable norm of life; professionalism and honesty were articles of faith; politics was a means to public service; political office and public funds were sacred trust and where it was an unforgiveable sin to think of auctioning lucrative jobs, promotions and posting to high political or financial bidders. The oligarchs have defaced and disgraced my land.

An old colleague, Ambassador Raana while commenting on the first part of my article says that Sindh needs a dynamic leader to galvanize the silent majority to challenge the ruling oligarchs. Being from Punjab, she does not know that the nationalists of this unfortunate province who all hail from the middle class are divided into many factions. They are so well entrenched into this factionalism that the idea of leaguing into one political party for the sake of their land never crosses their mind. Either their political shortsightedness or the fear of losing their limited political clout holds them back or they have been deliberately abetting the political machinations of the oligarchs to stem the emergence of a broad-based political platform as an alternative choice for voters. Because of their political inertia, the religious political entities are making inroads in this land.

The oligarchs have been auctioning the precious lands of the province in mega cities and along the Super Highway to estate developers. The middle class of Sindh has no resources to buy a house in modern mega housing schemes being developed along the Highway or the so called posh regions of DHA and Clifton in Karachi. Now the federal authority has conceived the expensive project of constructing skyscrapers on the Islands of Sindh. These schemes will further deepen the social stratification in the province. It seems some powers have been following a deliberate policy of changing the demography of Sindh turning the indigenous population into a minority. That will be the most unfortunate day for this land and its people.

We are simply trustees of the lands of the province which belong to our future generation. What are we leaving for them? The Punjab and KPK are saturated. Will they go and settle down in the barren deserts of Balochistan? We have to grasp the impending menace and its consequences which are dreadful enough to shake any dimwit out of slumber barring dead souls. We are constitutionally empowered to fight for the preservation of our lands, resources and rights. No power on earth can deny us this right. They can only mislead us into acquiescence by coercion, deception and inducement. This is what is going on, and the oligarchs are aiding and abetting this shameful game.

Should we, as a disinterested crowd, see our province being turned into a land of ‘aliens’ or throw the gauntlet down and stand to the oligarchs and their abettors to take our people out of the dark shadows of disillusionment and despondency. The daring men and women have changed the destiny of nations. Sindh is waiting for such daring sons and daughters.


M Alam Brohi was a member of the Foreign Service of Pakistan and he has authored two books


Journalists Under Threat

By I.A. Rehman

12 Nov 2020

THIS year’s report on impunity against journalists facing trial by law in Pakistan, issued the other day by Freedom Network, a widely respected media watchdog, will cause much distress to all those who consider the existence of a strong and independent media essential to good governance and social progress.

The report begins by recalling the regrettable fact that Pakistan continues to be ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, as more than 140 journalists and media assistants have been killed in the country since 2000. After this introduction the report notes the emergence of a relatively new form of persecution of the media, namely, institution of legal cases against journalists and entangling them in legal battles.

During 2018-2019, the Freedom Network documented 17 cases against journalists for which it could secure complete data. Cases started in 2020 were not taken into consideration as it was thought advisable to allow a one-year period to lapse before determining the seriousness of the challenge. The authors of the report have found the result of analysis not only startling but also shocking. The more significant findings are:

The humanitarian dimensions of the media’s economic crisis are much too evident to be discounted.

— Journalists working for the print media are twice more likely to be targets of legal action than their colleagues in the electronic media.

— Sindh is a three times riskier region for journalists than any other province or the capital territory.

— Most journalists (over one-third of them) are charged with offences under the Penal Code while another one-third are likely to be charged with terrorism, while some others may be tried under electronic crimes or defamation laws.

— The most common allegation against journalists is “acting against state institutions” or “defaming state institutions”. Other allegations can be “illegal possession of arms /explosives”, “drug running”, “keeping proscribed literature”, or “harassing citizens”

— In 15 out of the 17 cases (88.2 per cent) analysed action was initiated by the state or its functionaries.

— Those initiating cases often demanded more than one remedy from journalists. The most common demand was proof of journalists’ assertion in their reports, followed by a demand for an apology.

— In the two-thirds of the cases in which investigations were completed by the police, only half of them were declared fit for trial. The trial in 60pc of the cases was never concluded, leaving most journalists without a chance to prove their innocence. In over 80pc of the cases in which the trial did conclude, the journalists-accused were found innocent and acquitted. However, 10 out of the 17 cases never reached a conclusion and thus most of the journalists concerned did not receive justice at all.

This study leads to the conclusion that during 2018-2019, the law was used more often than not to harass working journalists with a view to preventing them from offering the people truthful accounts of happenings around them.

This year’s report should be read along with last year’s findings that there was 100pc impunity for killers and zero per cent justice for 33 murdered journalists. There are no signs that the situation has changed for the better.

Both of these reports’, however, cover only part of the journalists’ concerns. They do not extend to the crisis confronting the media houses that has been caused by a shrinking of their revenues, discrimination in the distribution of state-controlled advertisements, unlawful restrictions on the circulation of some newspapers in certain areas, and other insidious campaigns against the dissidents or vehicles of independent opinion.

The bitter struggle for survival that has been for­c­ed on the media as a whole is gravely undermining its capacity to help the rulers govern justly and gui­de the people to fulfil their unexceptionable responsibilities of responsible citizenship. Unfortun­a­tely, the traditions of civil discourse have been undermined to an extent that the expression ‘the fourth estate’ itself has gone out of currency. If there are any people in authority or who have access to it who believe that a responsible and pro-people dispensation is possible without a healthy and independent media, the sooner their minds can be disabused of such outlandish ideas the better for all concerned.

The humanitarian dimensions of the media’s economic crisis are much too evident to be discounted. More than 15,000 journalists and support workers have been rendered jobless, and the process has picked up speed over the past few weeks. Many more journalists have been compelled to accept unbearable cuts in their wages thereby causing a sharp decline and deterioration in their services and lifestyles both.

That this should cause serious concern to the powers that be is self-evident. Like other industries, the media industry deserves a rehabilitation package. But media is much more than an industry, for it plays a significant role in the dissemination of information, promotion of knowledge, advancement of democratic values and refinement of culture. To ignore it amounts to disregarding a vehicle of political development and sociocultural flowering. A holistic view of the trials and tribulations of the media will clearly bring out the urgency of a full-scale debate in parliament on the need for a high-powered parliamentary commission to examine the media crisis in all of its dimensions, identify the causes and suggest both short-term and long-term remedies.

Tailpiece: The method of crowd management adopted by the Punjab government has obviously been copied from the textbooks of Italian and German dictators of the 20th century. These European dictators used state employees and their so-called volunteer forces to harass and manhandle opponents and dissidents and used methods that were eventually condemned across the globe. The kisan demonstrators were subjected to impermissible violence at Lahore’s points of entry. They were dispersed by force and at least two of the injured have died. Afterwards, a mockery of negotiations was staged and an enforced settlement announced. Such unwarranted and indefensible tactics will shorten the life of the regime faster than all the labours of the opposition. All those advising the government to use such tactics or keeping quiet about these matters can hardly be counted as its friends.

Headline of the month: Pakistan’s economic difficulties caused by the Pakistan Democratic Movement.


From Divided To United States — Of America?

By Dr Moonis Ahmar

November 12, 2020

“We have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They’re Americans. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify,” was the victory speech of President-elect Joseph Biden on November 8.

It will be a hard task for the Biden administration to unleash the healing process and transform the divided states of America to the United States of America because of the mindset which Trumpism deepened in the last four years, based on racism, intolerance, Muslim bashing, xenophobia and a non-serious approach on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic which has so far taken 247,000 American lives.

From any standpoint, the US can certainly be termed “one country with two nations”. On the one hand, there are people who want democracy, political pluralism, racial diversity and tolerance as a source of strength for their country. Whereas, on the other hand, one can observe the segment of American society which is inward, ultra-conservative, intolerant, authoritarian and unscientific in its approach. The first nation, which Biden of the Democratic Party represents, won the November 2020 presidential elections, but the second nation following Trumpism wants the US to remain exclusively for the white Christian race and rejects any space for multi-culturalism and pragmatic thinking. The two nations are so poles apart in terms of their ideology that reconciliation between the two is not possible in the near future even if Biden tries to pick up the pieces and attempt to unite America regardless of its structural fault lines.

It is for the first time in American history of 246 years that an incumbent president has totally disregarded ethics, values and moral principles of elections and remained adamant that the elections were a fraud, stolen and marred with irregularities. One example, close to Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the election results, is that of John Adams, the second US president, who lost to Thomas Jefferson in November 1800. When he refused to vacate the White House on January 20, 1801, his staff refused to accept his orders and removed his belongings, following procedures. Jefferson, the new president then moved to the White House. It seems that history may repeat itself after 220 years if Trump remains inflexible and refuses to leave the White House despite losing elections. The White House staff will simply displace him because they will follow procedures and are not influenced by any one.

How the Biden administration can unleash the process of uniting America and how can he use his pluses in order to garner the support of those Republicans who are ostensibly wise and are concerned about the enormous damage done because of Trump’s rash, unrealistic and arrogant behaviour, not only against his political opponents but also against some of the senior Republican leaders. The manner in which Trump ridiculed late senator John McCain who lost to Barack Obama in November 2008 is still afresh in the minds of people. Indirectly referring to McCain’s services during the Vietnam War, Trump remarked that “they are losers and suckers”. Trump not only divided America and the world but also the Republican Party because senior Republican leaders like Mitt Romney decided to keep a distance from him. Yet, despite his arrogant and humiliating behaviour, majority Republicans still side with Trump which will create problems for Biden in the transition period and once he assumes the responsibility as president on January 20, 2021.

The journey from “Divided to the United States of America” needs to be analysed by taking into account three major realities, as follows:

First, despite the deep-rooted polarisation which Trumpism deepened in the US in the last four years, the vast majority of Americans will support Biden for rebuilding their country and taking America out from the mess created during Trump’s presidency. Referring to the blue and white states divided on party lines, Biden made it clear that these are united states. Even the saner diehard supporters of Trump will think twice before plunging their country in the vicious cycle of economic crisis, racial violence and societal breakdown which will end once and for all the US status as a world leading power. If the American public opinion, which was suppressed during the Trump administration, renders meaningful support to the newly elected president and vice-president to cope with serious challenges emanating from the pandemic, economic meltdown and racial polarisation, one can expect positive results to appear in the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

Second, it is true that Biden got 75 million popular votes as compared to Trump’s 70.5 million, but the influence of Trumpism is reflected in the Senate which is so far retained by the Republicans and the House where the Democratic Party despite maintaining its majority has lost seats. In that case, the level of polarisation in America which deepened during the election campaign and during the voting process because of Trump’s allegations of fraud and cheating can only be reduced if the saner elements of the Republican Party marginalise the influence of their former president and for the sake of America cooperate with the Democratic Party in making a new beginning. The US is not what it used to be a couple of decades back. Proliferation of white militia armed with weapons and hatred against those who are different is a new phenomenon. Had Trump got re-elected and served as president for another four years, he would have done exactly what Narendra Modi has done in his second term by sharply dividing India on communal and religious grounds and by letting loose the forces of Hindu extremism, targeting and lynching of Muslims. It seems God has been kind with America and to the world that the forces of retrogression, hate, xenophobia and intolerance have been booted out of power.

Third, the exit of Trump perceived as an icon of white supremacists will also mitigate the culture of populism in Europe and elsewhere. Right-wing political parties and groups getting patronage from Trump will now find it difficult to expand their influence using anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The journey to severely divide America under the Trump administration has taken four years, but it will take several decades to repair the damage caused and to reduce the level of polarisation in the deeply divided US. It all depends on dealing with critical issues of the pandemic, economy, race and the poison which under the patronage of the Trump administration permeated deep inside American society. Divisive culture promoted by Trump also impacted the world particularly when he refused to concede his electoral defeat and vowed to take the matter to court. As a result, Russia, China, Mexico and some other countries decided not to congratulate Biden under the pretext that unless issues about alleged rigging, fraud and cheating are not addressed they will not render official recognition to US election results.



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